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Alethea & Athena
Labyrinth of Andersen 
16th-Apr-2016 05:24 pm
It's another busy Saturday. While we were at the grocery store, our little sister texted and said she was going to video call us. The reason she had to text first is that we don't have smartphones, so all video calling needs to be done with an iPad. But we were at the grocery store! So I texted her back to tell her to wait, and then we raced through getting our groceries and getting home, and the sun was pretty strong so now I have a little headache.

But on the bright side, we got to have a lovely chat with our sister and nephew, the latter of whom assures us all that he got is goldfish-shaped little bowl for Goldfish crackers in the mail, even though his mother is pretty sure it came from Grandma. The only reason I bring this up is that later in the conversation, we were talking about how we needed something, and he suggested, "You can get it from the mail." He also warned us that it might take a while if we did that. I think Mom's habit of buying everything on the internet (by which I mean, everything she sees on the internet, she buys) and having it sent to our sister's house has convinced the nephew that you can get everything in the mail, and there's nothing to it at all.

Anyway, yesterday we started playing Labyrinth of Andersen. Some of you may remember our adventures with Labyrinth of Grimm several years ago. We loved the game immensely, so when we found out there was a new game from the same people featuring Hans Christian Andersen characters, we had to buy it! And then we didn't have time to play it, and then we didn't have a memory card, and then we didn't have time again, but all of that was okay, because eventually we realized that we are actually woefully unfamiliar with pretty much all of Andersen's actual stories. The only reason we had any clue that The Little Mermaid story was any different than the Disney movie is that...well, first we just know the Disney versions are different, but also because, before the Disney version was released many many years ago, we had seen a different animated version that was truer to the original. At age six, we hated the story, because anything that has a remotely sad ending is bad, period.

But the point is, we had also bought a collection of Hans Christian Andersen stories as part of our Disney Reading Project...and then realized that it didn't have The Little Mermaid in it, so we had a copy of that, too. But we hadn't had time to read any of those, either. (Actually, Athena had read The Little Mermaid.) So we took some time to read the stories before we started playing the game...and so far most of the characters that have shown up aren't in the stories we read. Unless the Dragon Knight and the Black Knight happen to be the learned man and his shadow. Now that's a cool story...but also the only one that had us going, "But...why, Andersen!?" at the end. The concept's really neat, though. The story is called "The Shadow", by Hans Christian Andersen, and it's a really neat concept, so check it out!

So yeah, the book did not have Thumbelina, or the Ugly Duckling, or the hippie ranger guy, so we're still playing it like, "Wow, I have no idea who these people are." Except that we have seen Don Bluth's Thumbelina within the last five years, so there are certain developments that have us going, "Oh, yeah!" Like when the toad showed up, we were like, "Charro!"

But none of this is making any sense! Okay, so here's the story. You play as a girl, and you can name her anything, but we went with the default of Charlotte. She's just you're average super nice village girl until her fifteenth birthday when she wakes up and she's tiny! Oh no! Well, everyone from the village has been invited to her birthday party, which apparently was an all-day affair, because nobody had any time to go around saying, "Sorry, guys, Charlotte's not feeling well. Party's cancelled," before everybody shows up. But the Charlotte they know is a normal-sized girl, so they all assume this new tiny girl is a flower fairy and they call her Thumbelina. (Maybe some of them knew it was her, but the prologue chapter was long, so we may have missed some details.)

And then some big lizards with giant scissors come and burn the village down and stab people with their scissors and cut of appendages. It was really violent, but fortunately there weren't any visuals on that stuff. They were working for the Black Knight, who was there in search of--you guessed it--Thumbelina! So there's a dramatic fight scene with Charlotte's mother and childhood friend, the Little Match Boy (his real name is Lars Christensen, but everybody calls him Matchseller), and Lars finally manages to use the magic from the magic matches his grandfather had to trade ten cows to get (he gave them to Lars on his deathbed and told him to use them when he needed them; ever since, Lars would try to use them just whenever and they'd do nothing, so Lars thought he was either crazy or a liar, but he still loved him).

So the lizards kill Charlotte's mother, but Lars gets away because of the magic matches, and he hides Charlotte in the basket where he carries all his matchboxes. And then more stuff happens, but the point is, that's the setup. Charlotte and Lars have fled their hometown and are now on a journey to figure out how to get Charlotte back to normal, or at least stay away from deadly scissor-wielding lizards.

And then we finally get to see the opening sequence and see all the characters! But there are so many of them and we're so eager to see them all (and there was one guy that we were like, "Why is he naked!? ...Oh yeah, the emperor and his new clothes." they gave him a long feather boa, for convenient placement) that we're kind of impatient with the story, even though it's pretty interesting with just a few characters, except that the action sequences sometimes go on forever, which is not always ideal in a text-based game. But we were playing almost all day yesterday, and so far we've only added one more character to the party! And he's not even officially on the party yet!

And that's what I have to say about that so far.

Today I'm thankful for getting to talk to our sister and nephew, chocolate being on sale, getting to play Labyrinth of Andersen, getting to watch a spider deal with its prey, and getting to watch fun anime this morning.
16th-Apr-2016 11:39 pm (UTC)
The mail is so convenient. Whatever would we do without it?!

Ohhhh the Andersen game!! Fascinating! Please feel free to keep telling us (me) about it as you play :)

We had a series of classic-books in my family growing up and I know one of them was Andersen, and I know I read that thing a few times through (because I knew how the Little Mermaid ended since forever, alas...), but I only first read Thumbelina in college when I worked in the computer lab and would browse Project Gutenberg for fun. But I loved it!! It felt more detailed than I expected, or something. Now of course I have some Andersen in my current book collection, but I wasn't sure exactly what (...because I don't read my books, I just buy them for the pretty pictures...) A preliminary search came up with two collections, one of which also includes some Perrault (can't be for lack of Andersen material, since it's kinda skimpy...), and three picture-books (Nightingale and Little Mermaid illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger who I love (she's done some Grimm stories too), and Snow Queen by someone else). The one without Perrault has a lot more stories, including Thumbelina and Duckling (who's the hippie ranger guy???), but neither of them have The Shadow. And now I've found out there's a collection of 11 of his stories all illustrated by Zwerger, and it lists some others that neither of these two have! Goodness! (AND it credits a contemporary translator, so it must be different than whatever the default one was (Mary Howitt, 1846, is mentioned in one introduction and it seems to be the same translation used in the other, but these were published in the days when translators didn't get credited I guess.) ...anyway my train of thought was that it would be interesting to compare the translations of the stories, coming from the 1800s and now.)
17th-Apr-2016 02:22 am (UTC)
I know, right? Another cute thing he said while we were talking was that he knows everything there is to know about whale sharks (apparently this comes from watching Octonauts). That reminded me that we just translated something where they went to the big aquarium in Okinawa which has more than one whale shark, so I told them that in Japan there's an aquarium with whale sharks. I don't know what happened after that, because the kid sometimes wanders away from the phone and I don't always hear him, but I did hear his mom tell him, "No, we can't go down the mountain to Japan!" (Apparently whenever they leave the town where they live, which is in the mountains, they're "going down the mountain".)

We will! We just met the Ugly Duckling! I don't know who the hippie ranger guy is supposed to be (he's not really a hippie, because he still hunts for food, but he is a devout lover of nature and makes it a point to be grateful), but he wears green, and a pointy green hat like a witch's hat, and he listens to the wind, and his name is リューン.

I really like Andersen's stories! And it's true, they are a lot more detailed than you'd expect, possibly because we're more used to a Grimm style, which is pretty much bare bones storytelling. I really liked the Snow Queen--there was an animated version of that, possibly by the same people who did the Little Mermaid way back when, but we never watched it all the way through because it was too scary. He got glass in his eye! That's scary! But that one turned out to have a much happier ending than the Little Mermaid. On the other hand, the animated version left out the more optimistic part of the Little Mermaid's ending, so now that I've read it, I definitely like the original a lot more than I thought I did back in the day.

If you want to find The Shadow, I know for a fact that iBooks has the exact same collection that we have available for free (I don't know if you have iBooks, but I know you're a Mac user...). But comparing the translations does sound fascinating! But of course, we won't be fully satisfied unless we can also compare it with the original Danish...
17th-Apr-2016 05:16 pm (UTC)
That is so cute about your nephew! And here is another one of my childhood stories, which, bless you, you never seem bored to hear:

When I was 4 or 5, I used to watch Lassie on TV, and at one point, there was a contest that you could enter, and you might win a collie puppy! Of course, I wanted to enter it, so my mother helped me, and we mailed it, and I was SURE that I was going to win. So every day, I went to the post office (we didn't have a mailbox; we lived near enough to walk to the post office, so we had a post office box), and looked in the teeny tiny box, expecting a puppy to somehow (magically, I guess!) to be in there. Sadly, it never was, and I don't remember being traumatized over it or anything, but it seemed like I checked for it for a long time. It's weird that no one ever told me that a puppy would not come to a post office box, so I suspect that I may have not told anyone that I was checking so frequently, or I may have just told my parents that I was checking to see if I won, or something like that, and of course, it wouldn't have occurred to them that I was expecting to come home from the post office with an actual puppy and not a notice that I had won. So that's my story. ;)

I don't think I'd want to watch a spider dealing with its prey *shudders*, but I'm glad you found it interesting! :D
17th-Apr-2016 10:55 pm (UTC)
Aww, that's so cute! (I'm glad you included the part about not being traumatized, though, because that would have made us sad.) Kids are adorable.

It wasn't anything gross with the spider, it was just wrapping it up. And the prey was a cockroach, and cockroaches have lost many, many sympathy points from us in the last several months, so there may have been a bit of schadenfreude.
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