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Show Me the Meaning (Every Beat...)

By five-pm
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UPD July 2016: Please, support Sparkler Monthly Magazine: Year 4 Kickstarter! Final days!

 Volumes 1 & 2 being available on comixology  leads to me buying them which leads to me re-readying the series which leads to fan art.

Featuring onmyōji!Tory, possibly(?)-shinigami!Paul and the absence of kitsune(I think?)-spirit!Colin, this drawing depicts a moment from the 1st chapter (you can read the first chapter of 'Off*Beat' right here:… ) and is a sort-of tribute to that dream of Tory's, but also it's my way of working through some of the feelings Volume 3 caused (as suggested by the title).
(Also, it must be stated that my perceptions of anyone dissolving into sakura petals is forever going to be colored by CLAMP, doesn't help when there are onmyouji-es involved >__< Undoubtedly, it influenced the mood of this piece.)

UPD 22.10.2014 Yay! Now Volume 3 is also available on comixology =^__^=

UPD 07.11.2014 Be warned, everyone who hasn't read Off*Beat Vol. 3 yet, there are now spoilers in the comments to this deviation!
Off*beat fan-art.
All fights to Off*Beat belong to Jen Lee Quick, :iconwulfmune:

P.S. This is also my Inktober day 3 (20 oct, 2014) drawing. On Tumblr. -

P.P.S. I am enjoying being a VIP member of Sparkler Monthlythe awesome digital magazine of comics, prose and audio where Off*Beat, among many other wonderful stories, is published - immensely.  =^__^=
Hey! Why don't you subscribe too? Being a paying member is $5/month and there is a Membership Drive running right now with cool prizes to be won ^_~
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anonymous's avatar
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wonder1440's avatar
I was looking at this again and had more questions LOL... what do you mean by Tory being onmyoji, Paul being shinigami and Colin being kitsune?  :)
five-pm's avatar
Oh! Hi!) I just thought it was what they were in Tory's dream from Chapter 1?

Tory seemed to be dressed like an onmyoji and Colin had a kitsune mask, I think.
And Paul was sitting on a tree, wearing all black and smoking, in a Japanese-themed dream, so I sort of assumed he was a shinigami... But I don't know what shinigami are supposed to look like traditionally, so I'm not sure about that one. I might have had Yami no Matsuei-like shinigami when I assumed that. Maybe he was the spirit of the Sakura tree instead? I don't know...

I did not really mean anything by it, aside from indicating that they are versions of Tory, Colin and Paul that come from that particular dream sequence of Tory's.

Do you think they were someone else in that dream?)
wonder1440's avatar
I just didn't know what an onmyoji, kitsune or shinigami meant lol.  I found some stuff on the first two, but what is a shinigami?

And how are you doing???  <3
five-pm's avatar
Oh, sorry! Shinigami are Japanese "death-gods". In some versions, they decide when a person is going to die, sometimes they are believed to guide the souls of the dead to the afterlife, etc. I don't know what actual shinigami from traditional Japanese mythology are supposed to be like, but, for some reason, shinigami are popular characters in manga and anime. Though even in popular culture they are depicted in various different ways. In Yami no Matsuei anime and manga, as far as I remember, the main characters were shinigami, and they were people who died and started working as some kind of supernatural agents, investigating mysterious deaths, stopping evil spirits from murdering people, helping lost souls find their way into the proper sector of the afterlife, that sort of thing. Some of them sort of dressed like ordinary fictional detectives would, a white shirt, a tie, a suit and a long coat... and that's how Paul was dressed in Tory's dream from Chapter 1, so I assumed he was supposed to be a shinigami.

An onmyoji is a "Master of Yin-Yang", a traditional Japanese ghostbuster medium or shaman. They are also popular in manga and anime. They are usually depicted as helping people when mischievous spirits cause trouble... or helping spirits when mischievous people cause trouble^^ (when someone desecrates a sacred place, for example)

And kitsune are fox-spirits from Japanese folklore, they are shapeshifters and can turn into humans, they are often cunning and mischievous. They are also often character in manga and anime.

So, in a Japanese-mythology-and-popular-culture-inspired fantasy setting - like that dream of Tory's - it is not strange to see an onmyouji, a kitsune and a shinigami interact. So, onmyoji Tory is chasing after kitsune Colin, because a kitsune is a mischeavious spirit and chasing after them is what an onmyoji does, it's like the natural order of things ^^ And if Paul is indeed a shinigami in this setting, it makes sense that Tory can hear/see him, because he's a shaman/medium. Also, Paul being a shinigami - or some other kind of spirit - explains how he apparently appeared out of nowhere, surprising Tory.

And... I'm doing relatively fine, thank you! How are you? ♥
wonder1440's avatar
Thank you for a huge huge huge explanation. Paul's not there because someone is going to die right?
wonder1440's avatar
I have some questions... What's with the shading on Tory's face? What does "Every Beat" mean in the title and has Colin just vanished?
five-pm's avatar
Finally, I have some answers!
Yes, Colin has just vanished or rather he is vanishing at this very moment, sort of. He turned into a cloud of sakura petals that's flying away. The petals are flying up and to the right of the picture and they are the thing that's supposed to be casting shadow on Tory's head and shoulders (and a part of his arm). That was my intention, at least. But instead, it just looks weird, right? >_<
"Every Beat" is a quote from Vol. 3, Chapter 18: The Conclusion. From: "...and for a while, every beat was painful..."
wonder1440's avatar
Its Tory's dream, so no worries, it should have a wierdish look to it... That's why they're dreams!

What do you think about that last line in Chapter 18?
five-pm's avatar
Um... I must confess it's still too soon (after OffBeat ended) for me to be doing much rational thinking about this particular line or anything from the last chapters and epilogue. (I do have some totally irrational thoughts - like the time Colin and Tory spent apart paralleling the time between Volumes 2 and 3 - but you already know about them. So, in a similar vein,) I could say that this line could as well be describing the bittersweet ache that is the ending, as in "OffBeat ended, and for a while every beat was painful" - but that's more about what I am 'feeling' about it, and not so much 'thinking'...
Oh! But maybe I do have one thought about that line, after all. This is something that occurred to me yesterday. This line stands apart from all the other non-dialogue lines, like so: all the other "narration" lines have exact time and place specified (like: "5:21 P.M., Friday, December 23rd, 2005. Colin Stephens left Woodridge, Queens...") or are in the present tense (like: "The commute is fine, because it gives me plenty of time...") - and they are entries from Tory's notebooks, right? But this line - it can't be something that Tory wrote about the current events, it's a look back on a past part of his life after a long long time. Every beat was painful "for a while" - it's something you can't really know before that while has passed and then some more time has passed after that and you are able to distance yourself a little.
With this last line, what appeared to be a series of journal entries turns out to be a memoir, sort of. And I think it gives a sense of closure, I guess?

And what do you think about that line? :)
wonder1440's avatar
I never thought about Tory reflecting during that last journal entry, but you are right, the way its worded it had to have happened in the future.

On the last page of Chapter 18 we see his journal open with all this info on Grow Pak. He may have stopped his journal for a bit and when he started researching Grow Pak he may have made that his first entry when resuming his journal.

You're right, that feeling in your chest, the emptiness... I think that line and that emotion drives Tory to find Colin. Did you notice in the epilogue that Tory is being led to the DOMESTIC wing?? That tells me there's a chance they're married or at least very close if Tory has come to live and work with Colin.
five-pm's avatar
Oh! I just figured all the staff members - or at least the ones  involved in the research - had to live there because the project is super secret. But, wow, yours is an very interesting interpretation. Then the epilogue wouldn't be them meeting for the first time since Ch. 18...
wonder1440's avatar
I think Colin's smile at the very end of the book was his way of seeing Tory finally at Grow Pak after they married and probably worked to get him hired/living there. So while they probably haven't seen much of each other since Colin left Woodside, I think their first meeting at Grow Pak is not the first time. Colin looks happy and Tory relieved to finally see Colin for what will seem like permanent situation.

Also, the project must be going well since, at that point, Grow Pak has been backing the project for some time in the story line.

I love talking about this stuff!!!! I've needed to for some time :)
five-pm's avatar
I love hearing (well, reading) you talking about this stuff =^^=
Though I'm not convinced that's what's going on there - but that's the beauty of the ambiguity, no? - I really really really like your version! *_*
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