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Author Archives: thiathebard

Hellsing: An Anime Review

hellsing Vampires. There is a very real fascination with them. The idea of being immortal, powerful and supernatural is something that can be very appealing to many people. 

Hellsing is an anime that premiered in 2001. Created first by Kohta Hirano as a manga it was then developed as an anime. In Britain there is a special task force with a very interesting mission. Hellsing, the official name for the task force, is led by the descent of famed vampire hunter Van Hellsing.  It’s primary aim is to protect England from vampires, ghouls and over supernatural creatures which are threatening it’s civilians. This is no easy task, even for such elite soldiers. Thankfully Sir Integra has a few tricks, including one very surprising one. 

There is one vampire that England can trust. He has sworn to work with the Hellsing family and therefore to take care of those who it protects. This gives Hellsing one big advantage to go with their guns against the forces of the supernatural. Will it be enough though? Are their enemies too strong? Is one vampire enough to help turn the tide and keep England safe?

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The character designs are really what shine in the original anime. The costume designs are very interesting and unique to each character. While some are extremely impractical, if you have seen the show you know EXACTLY which one I am talking about, the overall feel of the show is aided by the costumes. The colors that the animators use are perfect. The settings are so well done in this anime. Between the aster setting of Integra’s office to the dark and gritty settings everywhere else the animation is critical to telling the story. The soundtrack is also well done. 

Hellsing is an interesting anime. The concept is a particularly fun one. I enjoy a lot of the characters. I know there are many who are fans of the manga first who dislike the changes made to the original anime. Because of this there was a remake called Hellsing Ultimate. This follows the plot of the original story more closely. 

So if you like vampires and anime I would suggest giving Hellsing a try. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

The Unicorn Store: A Review

220px-Unicorn_Store_(Netflix_poster) Growing up is hard. What is one of the worst parts is probably the pressure to give up “childhood things.”

Giving up the things that you love because of the pressure to act like an adult is something that everyone has struggled with. However for many of us these things are still a fundamental part of who we are. In the Netflix movie The Unicorn Store Kit is on a precipice of who she was and who she can be. After being dealt a harsh blow of failure in art school Kit moves back in with her parents who seem to have already moved on. Hurting and confused Kit needs to decide what to do next in her life.

Should she put aside all of her creativity and glitz for a “normal” job? Is this idea of what being an adult is all that there is for Kit? An invitation and the promise of a unicorn of her very own, if she can meet the requirements, is presented to Kit. She then begins her journey to be worthy of a unicorn. She meets allies along the way and starts to find the strength to be her own version of an adult.

A lot of work clearly went into this movie. Costumes, hair and makeup are big tools in showing where different characters are on their own journey. The sets are amazing. The diversity between sets is really a treat for the eye. It also really helps to set the mood for every scene. I was really blown away by how much attention to detail went into making The Unicorn Store.

The cast really knocked it out of the park. They took interesting characters and breathed them to life. I very happy with how well written these characters were. To be honest if they hadn’t been then the premise of the story would have fallen flat. However all the hard work paid off and we are left with a lovely movie about growing up on your own terms.

I think everyone should watch this movie. The Unicorn Store gave me a lot to think about and I wasn’t expecting it to. I thought it was just going to be a silly, glitter filled movie. What I was presented was instead a thoughtful and heartfelt movie that was still filled with copious amounts of glitter.

So grab a stuffed animal and give The Unicorn Store a chance.

unicorn store 2

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Review: The Boys (2019)

the boysThere has been a trend in comics, television series and movies for superheroes to be darker. To look at the gritty, dirty parts of their world. While some fans are getting sick of this trend, it does lead to some interesting stories. 

The Boys is, once broken down to its core, one very interesting story. The show can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video. The origin story of The Boys can be found in comic form. Created in 2007 by Garth Ennis, this comic didn’t pull any punches, which is just what a fan can expect of any of Ennis’ work. The story was then picked up and revamped for not just the current times but for its current streaming format. 

The Boys starts off with one of the protagonists, Hughie, being dealt a harsh blow at the hands, well sort of, of a superhero. Not just any supe either, but a member of the most elite group in the world, known as The Seven. The Seven are treated like celebrities, or even more so like untouchable Gods. For the last decade, they have been molded by a huge corporation, so it is no surprise that when things go wrong with a supe, it is quickly covered up.

After learning this firsthand, Hugh is left angry and disenchanted. He is approached by Billy Butcher, someone who seems to know not just what really happened to Hugh, but also all about the dark secrets of the superheroes that the world adores. Hugh is then brought into a crazy series of twisted events as he tries to get revenge with the rest of the team.  

The soundtrack for The Boys is a great selection of music. The songs not only set the mood, but also give the audience hints about the overall tone of the scene. Sometimes they are used as juxtaposition against how dark of a twist is just around the bend. The sets are really amazing. The costumes are also well done. Even just looking at the supe’s suits, the viewer can see clues about the heroes. Really, the costumes are amazing and enough of a reason to watch the show in and of themselves. 

Would I recommend this show? That is, honestly, a really good question. I will say that I think that the show is so much better than the comic. The changes made gave characters a lot more depth and really helped the story flow. Without giving anything away, I want to stress that this is a VERY dark show. Pay attention to the rating and the warnings at the start of every episode. By the way, I am so grateful for the very thorough warnings they put up and am hoping that more shows will follow suit. 

It is a very interesting show, but it will not be for everyone. If you are a fan of darker versions of superhero stories, give it a shot!

homelander that fuck

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Games Created by Women: Galactiquest

galactiquest Space, we obsess over it. We wonder what is out there. We want to live there. Well what if you could? What if you got to colonize a planet other than your own?

Galactiquest is a game about colonizing the galaxy. It was developed and invented in 2017. It is for ages seven and up which is perfect for all kinds of imaginations. Not only is this game perfect for kids of all ages it was also invited by a kid. Ellie Skalla invited the game at eleven years old when she submitted it to a challenge.

The Young Inventor Challenge is a great initiative that was started to inspire children. It gives children, ages six to eighteen, the chance to develop and then to even pitch original ideas to major toy companies and other very interested audiences. This contest is an opportunity for children to use their skills to shine and maybe, to even have their ideas put out into the real world. Ellie entered the contest and had a lot of fun developing the game and testing it with her friends. The experience was very positive for Ellie and she enjoyed working to make her idea a real board game that is now being sold by Target.

The aim of the game is to conquer the most planets to win. Just be careful because you will also still have to defend the ones you have from your fellow players. This board game encourages strategic thinking. It is for two, though I would encourage more, to four players.

ellie-yic-winner

I found this game when I was browsing the games aisle for my younger cousin.  He loves playing games and it is something I really want to do more of with him. We both also love space so this seemed like a win win. Then I read the bit about Ellie and how she won the contest. Into the cart it went. My cousin really enjoys the game and I think Ellie did a fantastic job.

Not only is this a fun game but the story behind it is also just really neat. I think it is important that we spotlight the accomplishments of children and organizations that help them realize their goals. So go pick up this game and blast off to space. It will help encourage programs such as the Young Inventor Challenge and you will get a really fun game!

 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Kiki’s Delivery Service: An Anime Review

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kiki delivery Moving out on your own can be daunting. It can also be exciting to plan but what to do when the reality doesn’t live up to the reality? These are some of the themes that are tackled in Kiki’s Delivery Service.

This is a beautiful anime that comes from the studio of Hayo Miyazaki. In 1989 audiences were first given the chance to see Kiki’s story come to life on film. Like all Miyazaki films this has beautiful imagery and a great soundtrack. Audiences feel not only as if they have been invited into Kiki’s world but like they are a part of it with her. Perhaps that is why we keep returning to this anime.

Kiki has just turned thirteen. According to her family’s traditions she must leave home for a year to complete her training as a witch. Kiki has been excitedly planning this trip for a long time. A night of perfect weather send Kiki out into the world. However Kiki soon learns that it isn’t going to be as easy as she thought. She is going to have to work to overcome her own insecurities and become the best witch that she can be.

As I mentioned above the imagery of this anime is lovely. I am aware that animation is something that Miyazaki films are known for but I am blown away every time I watch one. The feeling of calm that these movies can bring out with the art is amazing. The characters all also have costumes that add to their story. Every bit of their costumes are integral to helping the viewer get to know them.

The music also helps the story along. Differences between when Kiki is flying or when things look a little bleak are clearly portrayed in the score. This is one more anime that has every element working in tandem to give the viewers a great story.

I would recommend Kiki’s Delivery Service to anyone. They story is easy to relate to. The characters are solid. Honestly I wish that I would have had a copy when I had first had my big move earlier this year because this anime would have comforted me immensely. So I hope this recommendation will also give you joy and comfort when you watch it.

kiki and cat

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Thia’s Top Ten Foreign Horror Movies

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There are few things in this world as enjoyable as good horror movies. There are so many kinds of horror. Ghosts that makes you question every shadow on the wall. Killers who slash their way through the cast of attractive teenagers. One of my favorite sub genres is J-Horror. This has led me to start watching different movies that also weren’t American. Here are some of my favorites that I hope you will enjoy!

    1. Ringu. This movie is a great example of the “found footage” genre of horror. Released in 1998 and directed by Japanese Hideo Nakata this movie is so popular that it has an American remake. When a reporter’s research leads her to an unlabeled videotape she may find herself in for more than she bargained for. If you like found footage and creepy ghost girls then this is a movie for you! 
    2. Shutter. Shutter has a fantastic story with many twists. This thriller hails from Thailand and was directed by  Banjong Pisanthanakun and  Parkpoom Wongpoom. It was released in 2004. When a photographer and his girlfriend see something strange in one of his photos it triggers a series of spooky events. If you want great surprises with your horror then check out this one.   
    3. Ju-On:The Grudge. This is one more fantastic Japanese horror movie. It was released in 2002 and directed by Takashi Shimizu who also directed the American remake. A social worker enters the wrong house during her rounds. This one has ghosts and a killer story to uncover.
    4. A Tale of Two Sisters. This amazing film hails from Korea. It was released in 2003 and directed by Jee-woon Kim. Two sisters come home from a mental institution with more hurdles to their recovery then just their cruel stepmother. This movie is honestly my favorite on the list. The story is just phenomenal.
    5. Reincarnation. This was my first foreign horror movie and it is so good. Reincarnation was directed by Takashi Shimizu, yes this is his second mention in this article, in 2005. A Japanese actress starts to see things after landing a coveted role in a horror movie. 
    6. Tag. This 2015 Japanese film was directed by Sion Sono. A field trip gone wrong leads to a very bad day for a Japanese teenager. Careful, this one is gory. 
    7. Train to Busan. This one is for all the zombie fans out there. In 2016 director Sang-ho Yeon unleashed this movie. Set in South Korea passengers on a train must survive the zombie outbreak on their way to Busan. 
    8. Tales of Terror from Tokyo and All Over Japan: The Movie. Directors Keita Amemiya and Shun’ichi Hirano released this film of a collection of horror stories in 2004. It features many different chilling stories from throughout Japan. There is also a television series of a similar name that is very good!
    9. The Phantom of the Theater. This movie is a treat for the eyes. Full of bright imagery and directed by Wai Man Yip this movie was released in 2016. The setting is Shanghai in the 1930s. A movie is being filmed in an old theater but there are setbacks happening and some of them might be deadly. 
    10. The Wailing. This Korean film was released in 2016 and directed by Hong-jin Na. When a small village contracts a mysterious disease local police step in to try to find a solution. That leads to a stranger with dangerous ways.

 

 

If you haven’t tried a foreign frightening film then I hope you will take these into consideration. All of these films have great stories. Many of them have lots of twists and turns in their stories. Some have even been remade into American versions. So happy watching and pleasant dreams!  

a tale of two sisters

 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Review: Magic Knight Rayearth (anime)

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magic knight rayearth

Sometimes love of an anime can come just from the tropes it uses and how well they are executed. Some of my favorite animes are the ones where there is a perfect storm of a great trope married with a well done story. This anime has multiple great tropes, not to mention a wonderful story!

In 1994 The first episode of Magic Knight Rayearth aired. The show was based on a manga that had become very popular. The show would later air in America during the early 2000s due to an increased interest in anime. That is a time when most American audiences fell in love with three girls who are transported from their world to save a princess.

Magic Knight Rayearth is a story about a kingdom in peril. The princess has been abducted and drastic measures must be taken to save her. Three girls from Earth are chosen and transported to this brand new world. They are given weapons, abilities and technology to help them in their quest. They will become so much more than they ever thought they could be.

The character design is really interesting. While the drawing style is similar to that which was really popular at that time the animators put their own spin on certain facial features such as eyes. The animators also switch between regular animation and sometimes using a Chibi design of the characters which made the show even more fun. The soundtrack is really well done, particularly the opening song. The characters are interesting. You want them to succeed in their mission. The story was also interesting because it blended the “magical girl” trope and also gave them mechanical tools to use and fight. Finally a show were girls got to do both, my friends and I ate it up.

I would highly recommend Magic Knight Rayearth. The show is fun. It has a great story. Interesting characters. Really it is just a solid anime.

magicknightbig

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!