Monday, August 8, 2005

Expressing herself--Suisun City teen loves animé, poetry

From Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey
SUISUN CITY - Brittany Arakaki has found many ways to express her inner self, whether it be through drawing or writing.

The Fairfield High School junior began doing animé, a Japanese art form, about eight years ago. "It looks easier than it really is," she said of the genre that has produced everything from Speed Racer to Pokemon.

The first animé artist she admired was Rumiko Takahashi, one of Japan's most loved cartoonists. Takahashi also wrote many comics.

"I really like her stories rather than the drawings," Arakaki said. "They had a lot of humor and were weird and funny."

Today, Arakaki does most of her sketching with an art tablet on the computer at her Suisun City home. From start to finish, she can do a picture in about an hour.

Before the art tablet, Arakaki often spent more than 10 hours on one picture.

She regularly contributes her talents to an online animé comic book, too.

And, friends often call upon her to draw their favorite animé characters. "I think they say, 'this involves art. Let's ask her,' " Arakaki said.

Such practice has perfected her skills. "I didn't have a knack for it," she said. "But I did it until I was at least decent at it."

Last month, for the fifth consecutive year, she attended an animé convention in Anaheim. In 2004, she began dressing up for the cast-playing at the event.

"Everyone there is like you," she said. "You don't feel weird."

This year, she and her cohorts wore costumes from the video game Guilty Gear XX.

"I love the game," she said, explaining it has a character that wears a paper bag on its head.

Arakaki played the character that was a boy raised as a girl.

Arakaki has a Japanese father and African-American mother. Her exotic eyes and dark skin made people question what race she belonged to.

"It was really weird," she said. "I would be sitting somewhere and hear people whisper, 'Is she Chinese or something?' "

She would love a career in animé, especially writing comic books.

She also dreams of being a novelist, noting her favorite author is Anne Rice.

"Her characters are so compelling," Arakaki said, mentioning Lestat, from "Interview With a Vampire." "I like how her stories are told in the first person."

She emulates Rice's style in her writings. She likes to blend tales of angels and demons. "It's more fun to do that," she said. "You can create a whole different world."

One of her animé pieces is "Play With Me?" featuring a character called Shinrai, which is her online name.

"I don't like to touch anything too happy; it's boring," she said of the waif-like female.
That comes across in her poetry, too.

In "Fatal Canvas," Arakaki writes: "I promise I'll paint you a picture, using all the tears I shed over thee with blood stained fingertips and every 'I love you' I tried to believe."

Arakaki enjoys music, particularly that of visual kei bands that often wear makeup, dye their hair in unnatural colors and wear everything from feather boas to fur coats.

She opts to dress in only black and white. And, when she doesn't have any white, she'll wear red.
And, depending on her mood, her art is often done in black and white.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or

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