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Author Archives: thiathebard

Maid-Sama!: An Anime Review

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Everyone has different versions of themselves that they present to the world. Who we are at work or school verses who we are when in the comfort of our own homes. Sometimes these worlds collide before we are ready.

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In Maid Sama! that is exactly what happens. Misaki Ayuzawa is a girl on a mission. She and her female classmates are the minority at Sieka High School as it has just become co-ed. The rowdy boys of the school are harassing the girls and Misaki is not about to stand for it. With her top marks, get it done attitude and a passion for equality she becomes the first female class president. To protect the girls and to get the boys in line her persona at school that of a unrelenting dictator.

However Misaki has a secret. At home her mother is ill. She has a younger sister and her father has left them in debt. So she has a part time job at a Maid Cafe. Yes, outside of school she wears a maid outfit and waits on patrons with the most demure of dispositions. What happens when her a popular boy from school discovers her job?

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The story of Maid Sama! started off as a manga written by Hiro Fujiwara in 2006. The drama and the romance of the story attracted many readers. In 2010 Maid Sama! came to life in the form of an anime. Again the drama of the story and it’s continual twists drew viewers. The artistic style of the characters is lovely, particularly the differences in Misaki school verses maid looks. The music is cute, particularly the upbeat theme.

Maid Sama! is an anime that I would recommend to a viewer who is looking for a love story. There is a lot of humor in the series as well.

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Top Ten Ways to Engage with your Nerdy Child

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Understanding your kids can be tough. Particularly if they have very different interests then you do. Fandoms can seem weird and perhaps even a bit scary to a person who is unfamiliar. They are also a lot of fun! For some of us these nerdy years will be the foundation of who we will become. I think my parents would have loved a list of ways to engage with me, probably still would. So here are ten ways that you can engage with your nerdy child.

1. Listen.

I know it can be difficult, particularly if you have no idea what they are talking about. However just sitting down to listen to them talk will not only keep your child’s trust but will also give them a confidence boost. It makes them feel important. It will also give good memories associated with both you and the interests that they are cultivating. Who knows you might end up loving it too.

2. Check out your local Library.

Yes I know that I have a bias for this as I have run many events for children in different fandoms and activities. So take this one from personal experience that these events can be really great. They are usually free. They give your child a safe space to interact with others about what they love. So please go check out your local Library and see what they have going on.  Also the staff who are running the event are having just as much fun as the kids. As proof here is a picture of myself and Iris the Keyblade Master at an event we were working.

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ThiaTheBard and IrisTheKeybladeMaster

3. The internet can be your friend.

You can and should research what your child is into. Not only will it help you talk to them about it but it gives you resources that you can look into on your own time.

4. Go to your local shops, comic or gaming.

There is a lot of good that can come from this suggestion. These shops are one more space for you and your child to experience what they love. The employees can also help you to learn more about what your child is into. How you can support them and can also help support you. Also, you being a patron of these places helps them to stay open and provide these services for others. It is a great, grand nerdy circle of life!

5. Get together with other parents to learn from each other and support each other.

As mentioned above you also need support. You can all learn from each other. Vent to each other. Just try to figure out what is happening together. Being confused in a group is always better than being confused alone.

6. Encourage your child.

Particularly if they are doing art, cosplay or writing. It can be difficult when just starting out. You are a person they can look to for guidance and a little boost.

7. Help them with goals related to their interests.

Anything from cosplay, making models or word count. It can be really tough for children to break up their path to success. Sometimes they may need a hand in figuring out how to best navigate the steps to their goals. What may seem insurmountable to them but something you can break down to make it a little more manageable.

8. Help them get to safe spaces they can make friends who actually share their interests.

Sometimes just giving them a ride can be a huge help.

9. Try their interests.

Ask them to help teach you to draw, sew, design, game, watch the movie or read the book. Not only will this help you learn it shows them that you care. Also, you may really like it.

10. Remember something you loved.

Remember what you needed and try to give it to them. Talk to your child about it. Let them know you have cool interests too.

I hope that this might have helped a little. Mostly just remember to show love. Love will always be the best way to have your child’s back and give them a little advantage in this world. If you have any other tips leave them in a comments below! 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Review: The Umbrella Academy

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Everyone wonders what it would be like to grow up with superpowers. How would we be? How would we take those powers and make our own justice? We grew up inspired by the heroes of comic books and want to be like them.

Netflix’s new hit show, The Umbrella Academy, gives viewers a look into the lives of superheroes. The children of the Umbrella Academy were adopted as babies by an eccentric billionaire. He schooled them, fed them, clothed them and trained them to fight. These children have grown up in the spotlight created for them and the consequences that come with that. Some of them left, running from their demons, and some were lost. Now those that are left have been called back to their childhood compound by the one thing that unites them, their “father.” They will be faced with a mystery that will lead them to a crisis. Will this dysfunctional and emotionally stunted group be able to band together to save the world one more time?

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The Umbrella Academy started off as a comic which was rolled out by Dark Horse Comics. Written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá this dark story took fans by storm in 2008. After rumors of a movie the title was picked up by Netflix as a series. We can all be grateful that Netflix did because The Umbrella Academy is almost too good. The line of dark realism and humor is straddled perfectly in this show.  

The casting is spot on and they give fantastic performances. The sets are masterfully crafted, really allowing the viewer to become immersed in this world. The soundtrack is perfection. It sets the mood for every scene and helps the audience to get to know the characters. The costumes were also perfection. Every character has their own look. It is clear that a lot of attention was put into giving us clues about the characters, both what they want to be and who they truly are, through their clothing. The cinematography is a thing of beauty.

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I would highly recommend The Umbrella Academy. I was blown away by the experience that is this show. Everything comes together to tell an interesting story. The characters are well thought out. You feel for them and root for them. My only words of caution are be careful about binge watching it, and you will, because when the ten episodes are over you will be left with a very real need for the next season. Seriously though, just go watch it.

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!  

Games Created by Women: Centipede

250px-Atari0028For many gamers, there are fantastic memories associated with games from the 1980s. Between the accessibility of arcades and finally being able to play at home these games became a foundation for so many of us who like to game.

One such game was released in 1981. Centipede was sent out into the world by Atari and it has been a favorite ever since. Many quarters have been lined up on Centipede machines in arcades through the years. One of the creators of this game is Dona Bailey. Dona has truly been a pioneer for women in the field of programming.

 

If you choose to play this game you should know that you are our only hope. Using a gun at the bottom of the screen you must target and shoot down threats. These threats come down the screen in waves. The player must try to shoot them down with a gun at the bottom of the screen. You can only go so far and so fast so this game so it requires patience and skill. It is a lot of fun though!

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The game isn’t very complicated looking by today’s standards. However that is not to take away from the graphic design of it’s time. Centipede has a classic look and feel when being played. The concept is great. The music is timeless. So if you are looking for an old school game to play this is the one to get.

 

I would like totally recommend this game. It is a great game to start off with. It is also a great game for nostalgia feels. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Review: Black Butler

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A legacy can be a difficult thing to live with. The knowledge that you have something so important tied to your name that you must protect. What lengths would you go to? Would you make a deal with a demon if you had to?

Black Butler premiered in Japan on May 2 2008. The series is based of a manga that was written and illustrated by Yana Toboso. There are three whole seasons of this wonderful anime.

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Young Ciel  is an earl in Victorian England. When he loses his parents he understands that the world sees him as weak due to his age. So he makes a choice and gains a very capable butler, of sorts. Sebastian certainly has many talents and can help Ciel to continue the family name. He can also help the young Earl on dangerous errands they are sent on by the Queen. They also have a household staff of dedicated characters who often add a lot of humor to the story.

The character design in Black Butler is stunning. The costumes designed for each character enrich the anime and are just a treat to watch. The art for the settings are also just so well done. Black Butler easily transitions between the pristine upper class life of Ciel’s station and the dark underworld of Victorian England. The music subtly sets the mood for every scene.

The story itself dances between darkness and humor flawlessly. The characters are all well written and fleshed out. None of them are perfect but their complexity adds to the story.

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I would very much recommend Black Butler. It is a great historical anime. Fans of the fashion if the ear will enjoy the eye candy that is the character designs. Fans of darker anime will appreciate the themes of the story. It is also just a plain fun anime. The story is good. The music is good and the characters are likable.

I hope you will all pay a visit to young Master Ciel very soon, I hear he has one hell of a butler.  

 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Games Created by Women: Uncharted

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UnchartedIn a world were so many of us grew up with the Indiana Jones movies it is no wonder that so many people want to search for hidden treasures. To travel the world to gain that next artifact armed with a certain skill set and a lot of wit. Surely nothing bad would ever happen, especially nothing with lasting consequences.  

The first three games in the Uncharted series were created by Amy Hennig. The first installment was released in time for the holiday season of 2007. Uncharted utilizes a third person style of gameplay. It is an action filled game that fans have been enjoying for years. Uncharted is a key title for PlayStation and has been developed by Naughty Dog.

uncharted 2 Uncharted is also just a fun game to play. The protagonist is a man named Nathan Drake. Nathan is joined by reporter, Elena Fisher and his mentor Victor Sullivan. Together the team is trying to find the possibly mythical treasure of El Dorado. They face many challenges along the way that help to make the gameplay interesting.

Uncharted is a lovely game from a visual perspective. A lot of work went into designing the game and it shows. In some ways the game has a feel that is more like a feature film then a game. The characters are well designed. The voice acting is well done as well. Overall the game is an immersive experience that has left the gaming community continuing to ask for more.

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Amy Henning and the rest of the team from Naughty Dog made sure that a great world was provided for players. They have been able to continue to build off of that world. Different characters have been able to take on larger roles and the games have been able to evolve. Really though so long as audiences want to search for lost treasures the Uncharted games will continue to deliver a world for gamers to play in. So happy treasure hunting and gaming!

You can follow Amy on her personal Twitter here.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Rurouni Kenshin: An Anime Review

rk3All anime gives the viewer different reasons to watch. Rurouni Kenshin is no different. It is an anime that shows that everyone can make a fresh start, no matter what they are battling.

Rurouni Kenshin started off in Shonen Jump magazines in 1994. The stories were created by and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki. These stories then transitioned into a television series starting in 1996. The series closely follows the manga, even the American version, for the first two seasons. The show ran for three seasons. It has also had different variations created, even live action theater productions.

During the Meiji era in Japan there is a wandering man with a sword named Kenshin. He stumbles upon a struggling martial arts school.Through a series of events Kenshin becomes entwined with the school and the master of it. Kenshin finds a place not only to live but also to come to terms with his past. He finds people to protect and, maybe even, a future. His past actions do have consequences but now he doesn’t have to face them alone.

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The music of Rurouni Kenshin is an important part of the storytelling process. The score perfectly sets the mood for different scenes. It also gives the viewer insight into the characters.

Speaking of the characters they all have great designs. Everyone looks a little different. The characters all dress within the parameters of the historical confines of the show while being unique. The designs also help the viewer remember the time period in which the story takes place. The settings and the art style are also lovely. All of these elements come together to bring the viewer an anime that not only a great story but that is also visually stimulating. Rurouni Kenshin is a fantastic anime because everything comes together in such a seamless way to bring the story to life.  

I have always enjoyed this show. It was one more anime that my friends and I rushed home to watch. I would highly recommend it. The show is great for people new to anime or someone who just hasn’t seen this particular title yet. It has a great message and a well developed story.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!