Tag Archives: Folklore

Saving the Child in Nie Jun’s Seekers of the Aweto

13 May

Amazon.com: The Hunt Is On: Book 1 (Seekers of the Aweto) (9781728420219):  Jun, Nie, Jun, Nie: BooksBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Lerner Books
Available to Purchase on Amazon USA 

“The Hunt is On” for Nie Jun’s Seekers of the Aweto. This herb heals any ailment a human has. Rumours say it also grants immortality, but only one out of many has that celestial ability. This plant grows on the heads of a chadolo, multi-coloured earth elementals and to remove it can incurs the wrath of Buddha. Locals believe they contain the soul of the soil that makes up the land, and they will do everything they can to save them.

Xinyue is a seeker of this plant since it’s his family’s business, but he’s something of a bard. He can play the drums and insects will swarm to him to do his bidding. They help him find an Aweto, but when he sees its alive and as cute  as The Child in The Mandalorian, he can’t kill it, and nor can he see it get harmed. The adventure he has with it is as wild as the said Star Wars television show and the Asian flavour lays in how exotic this locale is.

When considering this young lad makes a promise to protect it, to dishonour this land deity can mean bad things for his afterlife. His elder brother Qiliu doesn’t care; The family trade is to locate and sell it to the highest bidder. Volume one sets up the conflict still to come–it’s him and the plant, or him and his brother. The matriarch believes he’ll do what’s right, and it’s no surprise she passes on in this tale. Nobody can dictate what he can do.

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Finding The Legend of Hei is Like Coaxing a Cat out of Hiding

11 May

The Legend Of HeiBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Shout Factory

Available to order (when back in stock) at Amazon USA

No feline can be contained in the release of The Legend of Hei (罗小黑战记). Those adorable big eyes of the woodland sprite will win over many cat lover’s heart. Also, this movie about Luo Xiaohei (an elfin) has a unique charm to it which makes me wonder if there’s any merchandise to buy. There’s plenty to choose from on eBay, and the licensing potential is huge. When he’s competing against Kuroneko Sama (from Trigun), the challenge will be in brand recognition in North American markets.

This movie was released in China during the Summer of 2019 and made limited circuits at film festivals the following year before a pandemic halted those plans. This prequel to the lesser known web series is at least more accessible and my hope is for Shout Factory to get the rights to the web series so both are globally available. This title quickly sold out at the shops I checked out today, and even Amazon had trouble keeping up. There’s a book which covers the online tale. When this cat is proving hard to contain, I’m hoping Hei has that forever home in place. (Thankfully I was able to view this title digitally)

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Wolfwalkers on Apple TV+ Today!

11 Dec

Wolfwalkers on Apple Tv+ this Friday!Available on Apple TV +

If you’ve missed catching this latest Cartoon Saloon work at earlier this year for one reason or another, now is the chance to see it at home. Available to stream is Tomm Moore‘s Wolfwalkers!

This beautifully rendered work sees man against beast. The wolf is feared throughout Ireland. But young Robyn sees beauty, and when she befriends a girl of the woods, Mebh, she discovers something else. The locals have a connection with the land and this lupine creature is not meant to be feared. It’s a glorious story about change and acceptance.

A full review can be read here.

For the latest news about this studio, please visit their Twitter or Facebook page.

 

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Where to find Krampus Around The World (Part Two)

5 Dec

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Krampus is certainly a very famous creature for the early holiday season! On December 5th, he has to visit a lot of homes throughout Germany to identify who the wicked children are.

But in order for him to get around, even he needs help! Saint Nicholas can only do so much, and perhaps all that’s needed is a wormhole so he can jump around. Realistically, he just needs other people who serve the same purpose as him to punish those who had been bad in the past year.

Some folks say he’s the one and only original. All others pale. Fortunately, this statement is not true. Although Krampus has been around since circa 4th Century AD, a few other figures have popped up in later centuries to help out or serve a similar purpose as him in other countries.

On this list includes a top ten (approximately):

In Hungary, St. Mikulás is basically Saint Nicholas without Krampus tagging along. He has full honours. The representative forces of good and evil who tag along is a generic angel and devil. The dentist may well replace the latter because any child who consumed all the sweets in a day may well have cavities!

In other parts of Germany, three legends have a sixth sense for identifying the naughty.

The Belsnickel hail from the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg. He’s special because he was directly brought to America by immigrants who landed in the east coast to form the Pennsylvania Dutch colonies. But his influence is not limited to this region. Some have brought this figure to be recognized in Canada. Alternative names include Kriskinkle, Beltznickle, Pelsnichol, and the Christmas woman.

Like Mikulás, he visits alone instead of accompanying his compatriots.

Frau Perchta is better known in Austria and Southern Germany. Stories of her dates from the 13th Century and are often varied. In what ties her to this season is in how families can maintain order. More specifically, for the lady of the house to have finished spinning that flax into threads for use as linen. If it’s not done by the Twelfth Night (January 6th), she’ll know and thrash that house! And yes, she’ll punish the woman of the house instead of the kids.

She’ll slice open the stomachs of those who have been bad. This gruesome fate can be avoided by families who make Perchtenmilch (a porridge) and offer it to her. They have a taste as though it’s to represent stuffing themselves with garlic to spoil the meat.

Haling from the northern territories is Knecht Ruprecht and he’s truly a wild man of the woods.

He didn’t come into prominence until the 17th Century. One account of his origin describes him as a human whom Saint Nicholas saved. Because of his size and strength, he did all the heavy lifting. He didn’t appear in literature until the late Middle Ages.

The confusion of whether the Krampus-like figure is man or beast is interesting. There’s no solid reason he must be furry and horned.

In France, Hans Trapp (Hans von Trotha) was a knight of ill repute. His infamy came because of his feud with the Order of Benedictine monks at Weissenburg Abbey and after death, he became a supernatural figure (because of his imposing height) to which many say appear in December, accompanying Saint Nicholas, in his sojourn to reward children.

The kids who weren’t got to hear about his legend, and the hope is that they will change their ways (akin to a certain Charles Dickens story) so they don’t end up like him.

Only two stories (one 12th Century piece and another 16th) exist to identify who Père Fouettard once was.

He committed murders and for some strange reason, was redeemed. He mended his ways after witnessing one of Saint Nicholas miracles and vowed to help. When considering this tale contains notes of cannibalism, the judicial system of France (more like the saint) is very lenient!

However, the other tale which saw the war with the Holy Roman Empire grow very inhospitable, just what he represents is not very well explained. Tanners took what they witnessed and created a new version of this figure. His purpose was to be the bad cop to the good cop that Père Noël represents.

His sphere of influence is in the North and Eastern regions of France, South of Belgium, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland.

Further north, in the Netherlands, lives Zwarte Piet (aka Black Peter). His time may well be up when considering today’s socially correct climate.

In 1850, he was introduced to the modern world as a dark-skinned servant from the Moors who would help Saint Nicholas out on December 5th. He’s less about punishing, but more about why many social classes exist. In parades, his role is to distribute gifts to those his superior has found to be good and not admonish anyone who admitted has done wrong in the past year.

In Italy,, La Befana is not as widely known. Some folklorists believe she’s a modern creation to reveal how good deeds are often rewarded. Those who helped received a gift, and those who ignored her got a thwack of her broom.

This concept came from how she helped the Three Wise Men. They came to her abode seeking rest one night, and she gave them a place to stay. They invited her to join, but she declined (a decision she would later regret). When she realized she’s missing out in history, her pilgrimage became the stuff of legend and she’s forever looking for baby Christ.

But the list doesn’t end there. Three fantastical monsters exist.

Over in Iceland Grýla has been around since the 13th century and she’s an ogre. This Christmas witch didn’t get this label until the 19th Century.

In this country, Yule is celebrated and has similarities to Halloween. The supernatural can wander the mortal realm and do what they like! This matriarch of beasts hunts down naughty boys so she can make soup out of them! Her kids, the Jólasveinar (Yule Lads) have the duty to scare children to behave when even she has a tough go (or is busy preparing the soup base).

When they aren’t tough enough, the Jólakötturinn (Yule Cat) comes out. He can only be placated by seeing kids wear new clothes. The poem the latter exists in is told by parents to encourage their kids to work hard year round!

Ultimately, these creations are similar such that they are to frighten or punish those miscreants. The hope is for them to change their ways, otherwise where they end up is often at the end of a stick or in the stomach of one of these beasts. No child wants that!

LAAPFF 2020 Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad “Bakemono?”

30 Sep

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Available to viewers in Southern California (excluding San Diego County) from Oct 1 at 12pm PT to Oct 31, 2020 at 11:59pm PT. Click here to watch the film on Eventive.

In South Asia, Hungry Ghost Month is over, but in America, Halloween will soon be here! I’m thrilled to watch Bakemono, a short film about Ayumi (Claudia Fabella), a very young girl acting out and wanting to accept the supernatural in her life, despite her parent’s fears. The word refers to a class of monsters who are shapeshifters, and they don’t have to be ghosts.

I found out in my research that writer/directors Sumire Takamatsu and Jorge Lucas are working on expanding this short into a feature length work. Thanks to Gus Wood of Pop Horror for this revelation, and I’m hopeful this can blow the beans away from how Paranormal Activity was made. In this short film’s case, the throwing of beans from the entranceway of a home during Setsubun is said to keep the evil spirits at bay. This spring ritual has no place during autumn, but I get where this belief comes from. It’s no different than the Japanese ritual of pouring beer over the gravestone.

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