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Dragon Ball Z: An Anime Review

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Tales of heroes who find their destiny are always beloved. There is just something that lifts that hearts and spirits about that narrative. To see a person struggle with their true identity and what that means for their future is just a troupe that audiences never get tired of. 

From 1984 till 1995 Shonen Jump had new volumes of Dragon Ball Z being released in manga form. Audiences enjoyed the story and the humor in it. Perhaps that is why it became an anime so quickly. In 1996 Dragon Ball Z got it’s chance to air for a larger audience. The anime ran till 2003. That’s right. For seven years there were episodes airing for fans all over the world. 

Goku learns that he is not of the world he has been living in. He is, in fact, from a warrior planet. As if that isn’t enough there are those from other planets who are coming that he must fight. So he trains and fights for those he loves. However he does it in a comical Goku fashion. Goku is big part of why this story is such a success. His loving and gentle nature is something that has been drawing in fans for years.

The characters in Dragon Ball Z are interesting. There are mothers, trainers, warriors and all kinds of people in between. They mess up, laugh and generally save the world. There are love stories that they play out. There are parents and children. 

The settings and the art are also interesting. Most anime have a style to them. You can always tell a scene or character from Dragon Ball Z. The clothing and hairstyles help tell the story of how characters are transitioning and evolving in the story. The music sets the tone of scenes, whether it be a battle or lighthearted. 

The elements all work together to create a story that people love. The unique style of the anime will always set it apart. The characters will keep you interested. The story itself is fun with twists to keep it going. 

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While it was never my favorite anime I have fond memories of watching it with friends. I have seen people be brought together by it. I have seen the joy that this story brings. Enough so that there is even a new game out! 

So I would recommend giving it a try if you haven’t yet. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!

Death Note: An Anime Review

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What would you do if you found a way to punish those who do wrong? What if it seemed simple but in reality it had some big consequences? What is the only way to do it resulted in a person’s death, would you still do it? 

It is an interesting concept. Anime is a fantastic medium to explore such a question. It’s potential consequences. That is the aim of Death Note. To explore a world where such action could be taken by one person.  

Like many other anime Death Note started off in book form, a manga,  written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The manga was first published in Japan in 2003 the series became extremely popular. It is not surprising that by 2006 an anime form of the story was released. The anime did not disappoint and is a favorite among many fans. No doubt a factor in its popularity is the story itself.

Light is a high school student. He is extremely intelligent and seems to have the world opening up to him. There are just two problems. One is that he is bored beyond belief. The other, the world around him is dark and full of crime. One day Light finds a book with “Death Note” written on the cover. What Light doesn’t know is that the book was dropped by a rogue death god. After he discovers what the book really is he begins to use it to kill those who he deems as worthy of such a punishment. 

This starts a series of events into motion. People are dying suddenly. International police are called in. Will Light stop? Will he be caught? Is he going to spin out of control? Will the Shinigami ever have enough apples? 

Death Note has a great vibe. The whole anime is dark by design. There is almost a layer of grit on so many of the scenes. The character designs are just really interesting. The music is good and helps set the mood for scenes. 

As previously stated there have been a few incarnations of the story of Death Note. First the manga, then the anime and most recently a live action series by Netflix. The last was met with more of a mixed reaction. That is to be expected with source material as loved as Death Note

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I would highly recommend the anime. It is a great anime for an older audience that enjoys a slightly darker story. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!

Thia’s Top Ten “Superhero” Movies

Heroes. I love stories of heroes. Stories of those who overcome all the obstacles and odds to save those who cannot save themselves. Like most fans of comics/graphic novels I have been thrilled with the influx of movies that have come out in my lifetime. How lucky we are to see our favorite heroes and villains on the big screen. Here is a list of some of my favorites. Some are movies that do not, strictly speaking, feature “heroes” as the leads but they still fit and I love them so in no real order here we go. 

  1. The Incredibles: Written and directed by Brad Bird this animated movie hit hard with a lot of heart in 2004. After Supers are outlawed what are the former masked fighters supposed to do? Get a job in a cubicle? What if your children have powers and now have to hide them? This family friendly movie features a family dealing with these issues. This movie is full of humor and love.
  2. Thor: Ragnarok: The great Taika Waititi gave the Thor franchise the lift it desperately needed when he directed this 2017 film. With a tight story line, great cast and a lot of humor this movie is a must see. Thor returns to his home and falls into a wild series of events that will push the god of war. Thor has to navigate new family drama as well as trying to save his home world. This film has the quirky brand of humor that fans love from Taika. 
  3. Captain America: The First Avenger: Steve Rodgers finally got his own movie in 2011. Steve’s story is of a little guy who always tries to fight for what he believes is right. Joe Johnston directed this fantastic film about a hero who is so beloved by many comic fans. All Steve wants to do is join the army and fight in World War Two, however he is repeatedly denied due to his poor health. He finds a way and allies to help him. 
  4. Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman has been an American hero for years. She is part of the triad that also consists of Batman and Superman. Patty Jenkins directed this 2017 movie. Diana is a restless warrior who finds a purpose when an American pilot lands on her island and tells her about the war outside. The film finds the balance of humor and Diana’s warrior ways. I was so happy as a lifelong fan of Wonder Woman to see this movie. 
  5. Shazam!: Superheroes are complicated. Shazam is a great example of this as he is both an ancient wizard and also young Billy Batson. David F. Sandberg was a great director for this 2019 film. Billy is a foster kid who is just looking for his mother. Instead he stumbles into a cosmic war. Tough situations and feelings are dealt with such humor in this movie. 
  6. Batman Returns: So there had to be a Batman movie. Like Wonder Woman Batman is one of America’s oldest heroes. In 1992 Tim Burton directed this campy movie that takes place in Gotham at Christmas. I know a lot of people have written off these earlier films, they aren’t as dark as many of DC’s newer movies. I like that they aren’t as dark though, Bruce’s life is dark enough. He needs a few laughs thrown about. I also love this Catwoman and how they played with her story. 
  7. Deadpool: Oh what can you really even say about Wade Willson? In 2016 a wonderful movie came out in time for Valentine’s Day directed by Tim Miller. It was funny, violent and yes there even was a love story in it. I think it was interesting to have so much of Wade’s story be about his love. For a movie about a mercenary there is a lot of humanity in it. Wade is a beloved character and this movie has all the reasons why; from his dark humor, to the fourth wall breaks to all the wonderful things in between. 
  8. Captain Marvel: Carol is such an interesting character. She is funny, she is dealing with trauma and she loves to fight. She fights for what is right. She fights to break down barriers. Anna Boden directed this great take that was released in 2019. I was really happy with how they treated this story, Carol has a lot of source material to play with. Carol encourages us all to go higher, further and faster. 
  9. Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse: One of the reasons why some people won’t get into comics is because of the multiverse. Comics go through a story line and then there is a reset that happens when new creators take control. Instead of choosing one version of Spiderman to make this movie a story was woven together by taking multiple versions of people who have the powers and use them in their own ways to protect others. Bob Persichetti’s 2018 film gives us an amazing story of a hero’s struggle, complete with multiple styles of animation. The music and the characters of this animated film are just wonderful. 
  10. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey: This movie has everything. A strong ensemble cast, good dialogue and a tight storyline.Cathy Yan, thankfully, took over this 2020 movie and gave fans the origin story that the Birds of Prey deserved. The story is told from the perspective of the one and only Harley Quinn, who is newly dumped and trying to find herself. What she finds is a lot of trouble and perhaps even a purpose outside of her old life. I walked out of this movie so happy. I didn’t know how badly I needed this story, for it to be told this way and with this cast. I can even forgive them changing the title of the movie to make it easier to process tickets. 
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Wow this was a lot more difficult then I thought it would be. I thought that my very strong opinions about this genre would make it a little easier. 

What are your favorites? Did they make the list? If not then comment below so I have suggestions on what to watch next. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Netflix’s Witcher: A Review

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Well done high fantasy is such a wonderful story to enjoy. The mixing of myth, history and modern forms of storytelling can be difficult to get right. However when it is mixed properly it is truly fantastic.  

Witcher began its story in novel form. Written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and translated by Danusia Stok the first novel in the series was a hit. Since then the series has grown, much to the delight of fans. The story continued to evolve in the form of video games. This different format brought new fans to The Witcher franchise. With multiple books and games there were many who wanted to see the story evolve even further. In 2019 Netflix released a dramatized version of the series to stream on it’s platform. 

Geralt is a witcher. After being mutated by magic at a young age now he travels to kill monsters for coin. His world is one of magic and uncertainty. Wars between men, elves and other things are waging. As Geralt travels he finds possible comrades. He also ends up on crazy adventures, the effects of which ripple through the kingdoms for years. In the Netflix series viewers also get to see many different stories play out that will connect to Geralt.

These stories give us rich characters. Some are just beginning their journeys while others are at the end of theirs. These characters are interesting all on their own. They not only enrich the story but make it more fun, no matter what side they are on. 

The story is interestingly told in the series. From all the source material to choose from a rich tale is woven for fans. The characters are just as multifaceted. The soundtrack is amazing, yes particularly that one song. The one that is still stuck in our heads. The costumes and prosthetic pieces are magical in and of themselves. The sets are phenomenal. 

So much work went into bringing this story to life.  The writing is a love letter to high fantasy itself. One of the shining accomplishments is how the female characters are treated. They are so richly created. They are so diverse and real. Truly the work put into the characters of this show are what I wish every fantasy show would be bold enough to do. 

Yes I highly recommend Witcher. This lowly bard will sing its praises to all who want to talk about it. If you haven’t seen the show yet do yourself a favor and watch it now. 

Always keep sparkling!!!

Sarah Graley: Female Creators in the Nerd Community

sarah_graley The nerd community is vast and full of amazing creators. With an immense amount of subject matter to draw from, these creators bring so many ideas to light. They are artists who use their passions to bring joy to others in many ways. 

Sarah Graley is an artistic creator who is using her talent to make a plethora of comics. Starting in 2013 Sarah started a comic called; Our Super Adventure. It was almost like a diary of her nerdy life in comic form. As her popularity grew so did her opportunities. She has also made a comic about a girl who can enter her own video game. A unique look at love in a comic about a part time grim reaper and the girl who has a crush on her. 

Sarah uses her platform to tell diverse stories. Female heroes. Different body types and races grace the pages of her stories. The importance of this has not been lost on the big name comic industry. Sarah has also created a comic about Minecraft published by Darkhorse comics. She has also gotten to do variant covers for Doctor Who comics!

A resident of the UK Sarah has been drawing for years. As documented in her comics she loves cats and four of them. She also lives with her “cat-like boy” who has been featured in her comics as well. A proud nerd she draws what she loves. Sarah has created wonderful worlds, and opened up her own, to her readers. She has created a safe space for different protagonists and different love stories to thrive. Her work is a place where readers can see themselves as heroes. 

So if you have a comic fan in your life steer them toward Sarah’s work. If you like comics go take a look. If you have never read a comics but think you would like to she has books that are great to start with. 

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If you would like to connect with Sarah on social media her is her Twitter

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!

Pokémon: An Anime Review

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There are some anime that really need no introduction. It takes a very special kind of story to captivate audiences for over twenty years. It would have to be the kind of story that has a little bit of everything that makes a story great.

That is exactly what Pokémon is, an anime that came at the right time with all the right elements for a great story. The anime first aired in 1997 and hooked fans from the start. The story had an interesting group of “pocket monsters” who were inspired by real animals and creatures. While starting in Japan it also became a huge hit in the United States. The television series spawned spin-off movies, trading cards, stuffed toys, games and all kinds of toys. New seasons of the show are still going, helping to inspire new trainers everywhere. 

A young boy named Ash is on his way to make his dreams come true. His world is full of amazing creatures called Pokémon. Pokémon can be tamed and trained to fight with the help of their human trainers. Most trainers form a very strong friendship with their Pokémon. Each Pokémon has special abilities based on what type of Pokémon they are. They can also evolve into a more powerful version of themselves. Ash and his new friends have many fun adventures in store as they gain new Pokémon allies and, of course, try to fend off the sinister group called Team Rocket.

Pokémon utilizes the tools to make a great story. The character’s have wonderful and sometimes even whimsical designs that intrigue the viewer. The real design stars, though, are the Pokémon themselves. They are drawn from real creatures and myths so so they, like the show itself are both something we know but also something magically different. The music is perfect with what is happening with the story line. The characters are interesting. They, like their Pokémon, also evolve throughout the series. 

I, like many other anime fans, grew up with Pokémon. It is a great anime that showcases the power of friendship and learning. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is kid friendly but also funny enough for anime fans of different ages. It also has a fantastic theme song. 

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

What Nerdy Women Create: Nerdy Nummies

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The nerd community is vast and full of amazing creators. With an immense amount of subject matter to draw from, these creators bring so many ideas to light. They are artists who use their passions to bring joy to others in many ways. 

Nerdy Nummies was started by Rosanna Pansino on April 7, 2010. The channel was started on Youtube as a way to share recipes inspired by different interests that she has within nerd culture. Cakes from video games? She’s got it. Donuts from video games with special guests from other YouTube channels? She’s done that. Macaroons based on science fun? Yes, those have been done, as well. There has even been a video about partnering with American Girl dolls. 

Yes, American Girl.

The company was impressed with the work that Pansino has done. By celebrating her love of the plethora of things within nerd culture, Pansino has inspired her viewers, who span all ages, to create. Her creations are beautiful and look complex. Pansino breaks down how to make them with her own brand of cheerful humor in a straightforward way. She also works to make sure that she has recipes that are good for viewers with options for different dietary needs. 

Pansino didn’t start off looking to bake on YouTube, though. Her first dream was to be an actress. Pansino was guest starring in multiple shows and had started her YouTube channel. She found herself at a crossroads. She had to commit to one career or the other. Pansino choose YouTube, even though she knew it was a big gamble. She said that it took a while before she started to make money, but she pushed on with what she loved. 

Pansino was taught how to bake by her grandmother. She now often works with her sister, the two of them using the lessons of their past to create nummy creations. Pansino is a gamer and now also an author. She has books available to help us nerds create tasty things to bring to parties. Thanks for teaching us how to look cool, Ro! She also works to showcase other’s creators talents on her channel through crossover videos. 

What we can learn from Nerdy Nummies is to keep going. Pansino could have quit at any time, but she didn’t. Now she is inspiring bakers of all ages. She shows that it is okay to mess up and evolve in her videos. She also proves that being a nice nerd really can pay off. 

If you want to learn how to make some really fun food that is inspired by nerdy things, check out Nerdy Nummies!

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!

Games Created By Women: Candy Land

Some pretty fantastic games have some not so sweet origins. Some games have been created because of some dark reasons. However dark the beginnings of these games though they still bring joy and distraction for the players.

Candy Land is one such game. It was released by Milton Bradley, now Hasbro Games, in 1949. The game was created by school teacher Eleanor Abbott. Abbott contracted polio, which is a disease that can cause paralysis by the infection affecting the spinal cord and brain. While recovering in the hospital Abbott was surrounded by children who couldn’t move, children would be out in a machine to help them breathe called “the iron lung” that totally encased them. Seeing how these children suffered she wanted to find a way to help them pass the time. Immobility was a big problem for these children. They were stuck for most of their time in the hospital, and children back home were confined indoors for fear of the spread of the disease. Mobility would be the main part of the game for Abbott. 

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Candy Land has always been a brightly colored board game. The game is also very easy to play as it doesn’t even require the player to read. It was perfect as a way for children to play who were stuck indoors or if they were having a quick break from their treatments. The player picks a brightly colored token to play and sets them on the star of the path through the board. All candy themed with certain perils that can turn players around or force them to be stuck for a turn. The player moves by picking up a card, with colored squares on it that indicate how far they can move. It is a fun game of chance. 

Candy Land has been a popular game for children since 1949. It was a game that gave children without mobility a way to move. It has been a game to occupy children who are stuck inside. It is a game that multiple ages can play together. It has gone through some aesthetic changes throughout the years but it remains beloved. 

I would highly recommend Candy Land. It was created to help children. It has been able to entertain children for generations. 

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Thia the Bard’s Top Ten Favorite Final Girls

It is no secret that I love horror movies. One of my favorite things in a horror movie is a “Final Girl.” A Final Girl is a term coined to refer to the trope of the last female character who is left alive to confront the killer and tell the story. Final Girls come from all walks of life but they all live through torment and torture. As the genre of horror grows and evolves, so does the role of a Final Girl. This is by no means a list of all Final Girls, but it is a rounded list. Some of comedic elements while some are straight up slasher survivors. 

Oh, and obviously there are spoilers below. So proceed with caution. You got your popcorn and your candy handy? You think you’re ready? Okay, then put on shoes you can run in, stay away from the stairs and let’s see who survives.

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Sally Hardesty The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We have to start with this lady as she is arguably the first Final Girl. When Sally, her brother and some friends go to visit their grandfather’s grave the road trip takes a turn. The group ends up with a crazy family of cannibals. After seeing everyone else die and living through torture Sally stumbles her way out of danger. The end of the movie is her unhinged laughing, covered in blood in the back of the getaway truck. While Sally is not very proactive on her own she does live and becomes therefore is the momma of the Final Girls.

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Max Cartwright The Final Girls. Okay so I know this is the first unconventional entry to the list. The Final Girls is a parody and a love letter to the camp slasher genre. Max’s mother starred in a slasher hit and after her untimely death that movie is one of the only ways Max can see her. Unfortunately she and her friends get sucked into the movie. Max faces her fears of watching those around her die and becomes the hero they need to get out of the movie. Or do they?

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Kirsty Cotton Hellraiser; Hellbound: Hellraiser II; Hellraiser: Hellseeker. Kirsty just, well she really goes through it in these movies. After her uncle dies Kirsty and her parents move into the family home. After an accident were blood is shed her uncle is resurrected. She finds her uncle’s puzzle box which leads to the unleashing of the cenobites. The cenobites wants to bring souls back to their sadomasochistic world. Kirsty escapes this dark thriller and comes out even stronger in the sequel where she uses her connection to the cenobites to help her out of a terrifying mental hospital. Kirsty uses the tools at hand to survive and be the Final Girl of this twisted franchise.

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Needy Jennifer’s Body. Needy seems like she is all of us for so much of the movie. She is the voice of reason throughout so much of this cult classic.When Needy and her best friend go to see an indie band play at a local bar everything changes. Boys start being attacked and Needy finds out it is a demon that has taken over her friend in a ritual gone wrong. Now Needy and Jennifer square off in an attempt to stop the killings. Needy then takes it a step farther to get revenge on the band who ruined her life in the first place. Needy goes from a shy and mousy girl to an actual badass whose chart says that she is a K-I-C-K-E-R.

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Rhonda Trick R Treat. Trick R Treat is an anthology of stories that happen on Halloween night. Rhonda isn’t like most of the kids in her town. They take it upon themselves to play a Halloween prank on her that goes wrong. However Rhonda survives. She uses her knowledge and respect for the traditions of the night to make it home alive when the others do not. Rhonda is a Final Girl who proves that being different can be the key to your survival.

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Mia Allen Evil Dead. Mia is the hero of this remake, not to be confused with the groovy original. Mia is trying to get clean so she, her brother and their friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. After reading from an ancient book aloud terrible things start to happen. Mia gets possessed and the dead rise with the intent to drag souls to hell. While Mia does spend a good chunk of the movie possessed she does become a Final Girl when she takes matters, and a chainsaw, into her own hands. Mia is a great example that anyone can take control of their situation and become their own hero.

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Sidney Prescott Scream; Scream 2; Scream 3; Scream 4. The scream queen of meta herself. This list would not be complete without Sidney, partially because she is amazing and partially because these are some of my favorite horror movies. The Scream series came out just when I started being allowed to watch horror movies and they helped to cement my love of them. Sidney is still recovering from the murder of her mother when suddenly her classmates begin to be killed in the first movie. With all of her friends as both potential victims and suspects how is Sid supposed to survive? Her quick thinking and will to survive help her make it through all of the movies in this franchise as we get to see Sid grow stronger in each film. So remember the rules, then throw out the rules and learn the new rules of how to survive a horror movie!

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Nancy Thompson A Nightmare on Elm Street; A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Nancy helped create a whole new franchise in the horror genre. When Freddy Krueger is killed by a vigilante mob of parents they think their children will be safe. That is until he starts to kill a group of teens in their sleep. Nancy fights sleep and for answers to help her stop Freddy. In the end she is able to use her own dream world against Freddy as she finds her own power within it. She then works to help new teens who are fighting Freddy.

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Alice Friday the 13th.  Alice really sets the mold for a Final Girl for a long time. She is a kind and mousy girl who ends up being the survivor. Alice comes to Camp Crystal Lake for what is supposed to be it’s grand reopening to be a counselor. She and the rest of the staff ignore the warnings of the “harbinger” character, in this case an old man who tells them that they will all die at the camp. Alice then cheerfully gets to work, and a little play, to set up camp for the incoming campers. However the campers never get to come as staff get murdered one by one. Alice discovers the bodies, the backstory of Jason and fights for her own survival. Horror fans owe her a lot for helping give us so many of the rules to survive a horror movie and for helping put camp based slasher flicks on the map, also her scene in the boat scared my horror fanatic mother beyond belief.

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Laurie Strode Halloween; Halloween II; H20: 20 Years Later; Halloween 2018. We started this list with a woman who helped start the genre and now we will end with a woman who has kept the genre going. Laurie is the first Final Girl that most horror fans will think of, and rightfully so. Her battles with the boogeyman Micheal Myers have been going on since the 1970s. Laurie is also the Final Girl we have gotten to see evolve the most. She survived the first movie and saved the children in her care due to her quick thinking, we saw her struggle with alcoholism and guilt throughout many of the other movies. Then we got to see her have a whole new story in the 2018 movie where the entire story line was erased from movie one on and changed to give us a gritty veteran obsessed with survival. Laurie has endured decades of horror and now stands tall as the epitome of a female in the horror genre, as well as paving the way for many heroines after her.

Well gang, we did it. Ten ladies who have made the horror genre. They have scared us, made us laugh and feel through the years. They have given their actual blood, sweat and tears to entertain fans. So now we salute them. It is time for this article to come to an end as I have eaten enough popcorn and candy to be feeling very sick. So take care of yourselves gentle readers and go watch some movies, you might learn something. 

Oh and I didn’t include some of my favorites from foreign films in this list because, well, we already covered them here.

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files: An Anime Review

yu2Death is a difficult thing to deal with. Particularly if it is the premature death of a young person. Beyond the grief of the family and friends left behind is the question of  what is to happens next? Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files gives us one version of what could happen. 

In 1990, the manga version of Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files was released. The creator and artist behind the manga is Yoshihiro Togashi. The story took off and became gained popularity. Fans continued to show support as the manga was adapted into an anime in 1992. The show was successful enough to run till 1995. 

Sometimes all it takes is one selfless act to change the course of a life. Or to end it. When juvenile delinquent Yusuke saves a child’s life it costs him his own. Once in the underworld Yusuke’s actions are judged. His one selfless act puts his afterlife on a trajectory no one could have guessed. Now he must navigate the dangers of the afterlife. Along the way he meets new allies and some old friends. 

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files was one of those great animes that I was able to watch as it had reruns America. My younger brother and I loved it. We watched every episode we could when they would air after school. It helped cement a bond between us and a lifelong love of anime that either of us have yet to quit.

The designs for the characters are interesting. They may seem a little dated to fans of more current animes. To be honest the style is very typical of characters from the 1990s. However the choice of hair and outfits does give the audience clues about the characters and their goals. The music is similar but fun. The scenery is well drawn and very different depending on where the characters are. 

The concept of the story is fascinating and evolves well. It is also just fun. The characters are relatable. Most of them are young and bold which makes for interesting decisions. They not only push the story but give the audience someone to root for. 

I would highly recommend Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files.
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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!