Category Archive – Randomness

Week of Geek: My rather aloof relationship to Manga/Anime

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Hello again Geeklings!

So, it’s almost that time of year again!  Toronto’s massive Sci Fi/Comics/Horror/Anime & Manga/Gaming Convention, Fan Expo.  Pure heaven for the average geek.

Funny thing is though, of the five big categories Fan Expo caters to, there’s one category I still haven’t quite latched onto.  Any guesses which one?  If you’re a regular reader, you know Sci Fi, Comics and Horror are covered.  Gaming?  No, though I am no hardcore gamer I have dabbled a bit there with certain gaming systems and what’s on my iPad.  So that just leaves one; Anime/Manga.

You may recall a couple weeks back I touched on the whole Pokemon phenomenon that has us gripped in it’s tiny yellow fist.  But I’ve come to realize that my lukewarm reaction to that has pretty much been the same for all anime and manga.  And it is HUGE in fandom circles, no question.  You’ve got Attack on TitanDeath NoteNaruto, Miyazaki films, etc.  So why am I not all over it?  Why, Al, why?

Well, short answer, for me anyway, is that anime is weird.  And kind of creepy.  I mean, am I wrong?  I don’t think I’m wrong.  One minute you’re watching nicely drawn people (and the art can be quite gorgeous) doing what people do and then all of a sudden their faces change to inhuman grimaces or they shout or freak out for no reason or something hideous emerges from somewhere.  Anime can be super cute but sometimes… it’s really, really not.  And when it’s not it can be downright unsettling.

There’s really only been two shows that I’ve watched with any kind of regularity…

Sailor Moon: This appealed to 13 year old Ali.  Girl-power and super heroics are always a direct path to my heart, and I still have a soft spot for the Sailor Scouts.  But… Serena is pretty darn whiny.  I know she’s supposed to be, but that’s the kind of thing I can only take in small doses from my main character.

Black Butler: This appeals to 30-something year old Ali.  Victorian England, Faustian bargains, gothic sentimentality, tall dark and handsome but morally ambiguous and non human protagonists who use utensils as weapons (and also loves cats).  Sign me up!

But one of my biggest complaints with this one was said best by a podcast review I listened to.  Black Butler has a hard time deciding if it wants to be a horror or a comedy.  And sometimes the two aesthetics don’t mix in the best way.  And again, weird.  The whole reverse werewolf thing never caught on with me (don’t ask).

So yeah, my challenge to you before I take off and immerse myself in nerdiness is to (again, gently) tell me if I’m wrong and why.  Or maybe you don’t think I’m wrong and just want to agree with me.   That works too.

Have an awesome week geeklings, whatever you’re up to.  Stay tuned for my exclusive report from the front lines of the convention, and until next time, End of Line.

Big order.1 (Manga)

by  | Category: Blog for Hours, Must-Read Fiction, Randomness
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By: chris0444 category: Randomness

Author Esuno Sakae

Categories: Must-read fiction, Randomess, Blog for Hours

Ten years ago the world was nearly ruined by a destructive event of an unknown cause. During those ten years nearly over 2 thousand people in the world have gained powers from just wishing and the number is still increasing. Just a day before the destructive event, a man from Yamaguchi robbed a bank who single handedly did the job just for wishing “I wish i had money”. This shows proof of these powers of wishing and the people with these powers are called”Orders”. The main plot is mainly focused on this highschool boy named “Hoshimiya Eiji”. A boy who does not attend school too much, lives alone in a small apartment, has a fairy that can only be seen only by Eiji and it apparently gives out orders for people who make wishes over the past ten years, has a little sister who is hospitalized and he wants to take care of her at any cost. Eiji seems to claim himself for the cause of the destructive event because he wished for it to happen but the fairy told Eiji that was not his wish for the destruction, making Eiji very curious on who wished for it and what he wished for. Then Eiji decides to go to school and students around him were surprised that he came. A cute transfer student girl named “Kurenai Rin” transfers into his class and Eiji seems to be very interested and attracted to her. After school Eiji sees Rin in his own apartment building right beside his room. Rin notices Eiji and ask him if he remembers her in class. Eiji notices how Rin is polite and nice she, making her more attractive. “You’re Eiji right?” Rin says. Eiji was thinking how lucky he is to be living next door to a girl he is attracted to and that she remembers him. But then Rin seemed  to have a problem with the door. It  “won’t open” Rin says. Eiji wanted to make a great impression of him for Rin so he decides to help her out by opening it himself, but then he got tased in the back and has been knocked out by the shock. Eiji started to regain consciousness waking up in a room where Rin was sitting right beside holding her katana ready to kill Hoshimiya Eiji because he was the cause of the destructive event killing Kurenai Rin parents.

Now I don’t really want to include the rest of the volume so right here I’m going to review it. so far this whole volume has just caught me into the series hard and I would totally recommend it for those who are looking for romance, action, physiological, and supernatural genres. I personally found this manga very interesting to read and I personally got really attached to it.
Tags: Anime, Big order, Manga

Watership Down

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cover imageWatership Down by British author Richard Adams, tells the story of a group of rabbits who leave their home in search of a place free from humans and other predators. The first rabbit that we are introduced to, is named Hazel. Hazel is a rabbit that’s very protective of his younger brother, who is named Fiver. Fiver claims to have a kind of sixth sense, that alerts him to the presence of any danger. When Fiver starts to believe that the rabbits who live in his warren are in danger, he and Hazel try to persuade the Chief Rabbit (or ‘Threarah,’ as he is also known as) to relocate. The Chief Rabbit doesn’t believe Fiver, and dismisses his admonitions entirely. In an attempt to save as many rabbits as possible from impending danger, Fiver and Hazel gather seven of their friends, and set off on a journey to try and find a new home. On their trip, they encounter many foreign animals, plants, and a few other rabbits before finally reaching Watership Down.

What I find interesting about this book, is that even though it’s a story about rabbits, it’s not necessarily for children. The language used in this book is quite advanced, but the story itself is very easy to follow. There are also lots of interesting facts about rabbits and their behaviour woven into the story. The only problem that I have with this book, is that it’s quite lengthy, and it can sometimes get tedious. Other than that, there are a lot of great moments story-wise, and all of the different characters are very memorable and likable. The way that the rabbits interact with each other, and the way that they behave at times, makes them feel human. I would recommend this book for animal lovers, and for people who enjoy the fantasy genre.

Week of Geek: Be it ever so humble…

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Hello Geeklings!

How was your weekend?  Fun, I hope.  Know how mine was?  I moved.  To my brand new home!  *happy sigh* New apartment!  Big bedroom!  Kitchen!  Living area!  Painting!  Unpacking after so much packing!  Buying things you never knew you didn’t have!  Figuring out which parking space, locker and mailbox is yours!  Adventures galore!

As you can tell, I’m excited!  I know a lot of you guys are still living with the families, but your day will come.  Be it moving out for school or getting a place after getting your first job, there’s nothing quite like having a space to call your own.  And of course, my very own space is going to be a fangirls dream.  ‘Cause it’s me!

So of course, this whole endeavor has got me thinking about houses and homes in pop culture.  A home can be many things in our favorite stories.  A base of operations.  A gathering place.  A sanctuary.  And just so much more.  Let’s look at some examples…

The Burrow, Ottery St. Catchpole, Devon, England: Home of the Weasley Family in the Harry Potter series, the Burrow is a mash-up of different houses with varying furniture and rooms all held together with magic and a prayer.  But there’s a big yard for Quidditch practice, which is always a selling point.  And though the Weasley’s may lack funds, they are never lacking in love, and their home reflects that so much.  I want them to adopt me.

Bag End, Hobbiton, The Shire, Middle Earth: As J. R. R. Tolkien himself wrote in the opening lines of The Hobbit: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”  The home of Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, and then Samwise Gamgee and his family, Bag End is filled with comfy chairs and delicious food.  Bilbo was reluctant to leave it for his great adventure, and who could blame him?

Carl and Ellie’s House from Up: There has probably never been a more versatile house than this one.  We first met it when it was an abandoned shack acting as a clubhouse for 2 9-year-old wannabe explorers.  It then turned into a restored home for those same children when they grew up and got married.  Later on, the home they built together would turn into a makeshift airship with the help of thousands of balloons, and launch skyward into an amazing adventure.   The house itself represents so much about what makes a home a home, and just what it can mean and what it can become.

Wayne Manor, just outside Gotham City, USA: Like it’s owner, Wayne Manor has many secrets.  Though on the surface it appears to merely be the stately home of the Wayne Family going back several generations, deep underground is a massive cave Bruce Wayne discovered as a boy.  That cave later turned into what is now known as the Batcave, the headquarters and base of operations for Batman and his partners.  Though the films and comics have often shown Bruce also owning penthouses and other residences that also act as Batcaves, Wayne Manor is the residence most utilized across all stories, and has been a home not only to Bruce, but to his butler Alfred and to several Robins over the years.

742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield, USA: Over the Simpson Family’s many, many adventures (about 27 years worth) Home, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie have always called this pink 2 story dwelling their home.  Sure they’ve moved a couple of times, but Evergreen Terrace is always where they end up again.  While hunting for my own home I often thought about Homer and Marge shopping for a new house in one of my favorite flashback episodes.  Thankfully I did not have to shop in any neighborhoods referred to as “Rats Nests”.

221B Baker Street, London: The stories of Sherlock Holmes have had many incarnations, many authors, many actors, many eras.  But one of the big things that has always stayed constant is the address.  When Sherlock Holmes first meets John Watson, they decide to rent a flat (which is like an apartment in England) run by landlady Mrs. Hudson.  Though John would move out on occasion, Sherlock would stay a constant presence, seeing clients in those very rooms, keeping experiments in the fridge and using the walls for target practice, much to Mrs. Hudson’s chagrin.  221B is as much a part of Holmes canon as any character.

So there’s a short list, but there are many more stellar examples out there.  I hope my new place can become as much of a happy part of my life as many of these homes have been.  What about you, Geeklings?  What are your favorite houses and homes from fiction?  Post away in the comments section.

May all your homes be as cozy as hobbit-holes, and until next time, End of Line.

There And Back Again: Part Four – Forth Eorlingas!

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Arise now, arise, Riders of Théoden! Dire deeds awake, dark it is eastward. Let horse be bridled, horn be sounded! Forth Eorlingas!“― King Théoden of Rohan

So now we have finally come to this, the climax of our little adventure. It has taken us a while to get to the fourth and final chapter in the There and Back Again story but we made it! I do apologize for the delay. This part of the story telling has always been the hardest to put into words. I…well you will understand soon enough. No need to go spoiling the ending now is there?

Very well. Are you ready? Let us continue on!

It has been quite the journey to get to this point so let us see what was waiting for over that last absurdly tall mountain peak. After all, what else could there possibly be left to do?

After a courageous but very foolhardy attempt at testing my ability to fall in a spectacular fashion it took me a day or so to recover my nerves. Nothing does the mind or body good quite like a quiet lake-side retreat out in the mountains where there is absolutely nothing for miles in any direction. Silence, snow, turquois waters, and plenty of tea in the vast wilderness of New Zealand is just what I needed.

The Southern Alps of New Zealand

It came as a bit of a surprise when I noticed something odd during one of my lakeside rambles. You see, it was grey and overcast that day but for some strange reason there was a bright flash of light on top of one of the nearby mountains. Do you see it? Sunlight off a snowcap perhaps? Oddly bright and strangely positioned for that. Or could it have been something else?
From where I stood it looked like a flash of a beacon of some sort. But a beacon on a mountain peak? Could that mean the beacons of Minas Tirith? Did somebody light the beacons? Because as everyone knows if the beacons are ever lit then Gondor was calling for aid. And if Gondor called for aid…I was going to need a horse. Where in Middle Earth do you get a horse?

One word: Rohan. So that is where I went.

Middle Earth is never more real then when it is experienced from the back of a horse of Rohan.

Film location for the Two TowersAs my travel companions and I made our way throughout the borderlands of the Riddermark Tolkien’s words sprang to life before us. Harsh winds screamed across the plains with such force they threaten to blow the bus away in an instant. We passed through the location where the Warg Riders of Isengard ambushed Théoden and his people as they fled to Helm’s Deep. I knew that place in my bones.

It is hard not to become emotional when you realize that everything you have kept locked away in your mind for decades suddenly comes into being right where you are standing. Seeing this, being here, knowing that it is real and not merely a figment of your imagination is what travelling half-way across an entire planet was for. It stopped being about New Zealand a few miles back and then Middle Earth took over in full spectacular force. This, my friends, is what Middle Earth is all about. This was horse country. The land of the Horse Lords of Erol. And it is very real.Theoden

When you reach this point there is one thing left to do. You must go forth on your own and fear no darkness. Take yourself to the very edge of the modern world and journey into the mountains. Follow the Dimholt road if you dare.

When you are well and truly lost, and you will be I can guarantee it, you will come to a green valley hedged by the ancient forests. These are the forests of Fangorn and Lothlórien, where Peter Jackson made trees walk and Elves sing. It is in this particular valley that the war horses of Rohan can be found. If you are very lucky you may be given the chance to ride one.

Picture of horses of RohanThese horses are nobody’s pack ponies. Most of them are fresh off the racing circuit and know only one speed. Fast. You need to be a prolific rider in order to be allowed to go riding out across Rohan and Gondor. There are no trails, no pit stops, nothing but the wildness of New Zealand, the mountains, and plenty of mud. You will get soaked. You will freeze. You will end up covered head to toe in freezing muck. If you are lucky you will still have the ability to bend your knees by the time you dismount.

Twice I rode out across that valley and both times felt like pivotal life moments, the point when all the threads of a storyline finally intersect at that one part that everything has been building up to for so long. You see it wasn’t about riding a horse across what is probably one of the most beautiful spaces of untouched nature on the planet. There was much more to it than that.

Horse and Rider in New ZealandAfter all this is an adventure. In every adventure story ever told the main characters always have to face off in some sort of a built-up major conflict where the stakes are high and the final outcome is unknown. This journey was no different. So off I went astride a Rohirrim warhorse named Tobias to do battle with an enemy that only I could overcome. Myself.

For years the idea of coming here, doing this trip, was a personal motto that I would mutter to myself over and over again when things went bad. And they did go bad.

With the help of Tolkien’s magical world and the unforgettable characters that existed in it I was able to wage a relentless internal battle against the darkness that I could arm myself against. It may have been all in my head but if that was where the battle lines were to be drawn then I was not going to go into the fight unprepared. You cannot fight ghosts in darkness because you cannot see.

So I gave faces to the names that would have meant nothing without them. Stress, Anxiety, and Depression became the whispers of Grima Wormtongue, the Nazgûl shadow screams, and the long hard-fought battle with the Balrog of Morgoth. Whenever the “Dark Times” broke out the battle cries of Théoden King and Gandalf the Grey became my own.

Forth and Fear No Darkness! Forth Eorlingas! You Shall Not Pass!”

Spending time venturing through the land of the Rings reinforced a valuable life lesson that I would share with you now. I learned it long ago but I will admit that there were times where I had forgotten it. Never give up hope. No matter how deep the darkness gets you are worth fighting for. Despite what your mind might try to make you believe you are loved and are never alone. Help will always be given to those who ask for it and there is no shame in asking. You are not alone in this fight.

Look to your local library as you would to Minas Tirith, a place of refuge and learning. There are a number of fantastic resources available through the library and its databases if you or someone you know is looking for answers to questions that are needing to be asked. Do not fear the unknown. The darkness can be terrifying and overwhelming but know that you are never alone in such times. There will always be someone with a bow, a sword, an axe, a staff, a shield, and a frying pan at your back to help you through whatever the deep dark of Mordor can produce.

If there is one thing to be said about journeying is that you have to always go in expecting the unexpected and hoping for the extraordinary. Because if you do you will never be disappointed. I set out as a bundle of nerves one problem shy of a breakdown but returned a little older, much wiser, and all the calmer for it. Journey taking does a person good I think. Facing lifelong fears head on does wonders to a person’s constitution and I can honestly say I now know how Bilbo, Frodo, Samwise, Merry, and Pippin must have felt when they returned home to the Shire after their incredible journeys. Things may appear the same but there is something a little different about the way you see things.

And with that we end this tale. It was a rather good one I think. Full of adventure, unexpected revelations, and plenty of good cheer. I hope you have enjoyed hearing it as much as I have in telling it. Until next time, I wish you all a good morning.

Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go! ~ Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Book