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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!

Games Created by Women: Gravity Ghost

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gravity ghost

Sometimes you need to play a game that is just visually appealing. No killing or shooting. Just great graphics and good music.

Released in 2015 Gravity Ghost is just a lovely game. It was developed by Erin Robinson Swink, who is not just a game designer. She also helped start the label that launched Gravity Ghost. IVYGAMES is taking a new approach to video games. Currently you can play the game on Steam, but 2019 is the year it will also be available on PS4 with some new content.

erin robinson

Gravity Ghost is a peaceful game all about planet hopping. Iona is a ghost in search of her best friend, a ghost fox, who is lost. As you play you will meet guardians. You will explore the galaxy and rescue survivors. There are multiple levels of interesting gravity challenges for the player as they level up in the game.

The soundtrack for Gravity Ghost is really lovely. It perfectly sets the mood of floating through space. The character design is rich and colorful. The overall design of the game is full of calming colors. There is story woven through the challenges in the game.

All together Gravity Ghost is a lot of things that we don’t get an abundance of in games anymore. It is a game that is meant to stimulate. It is also calming by design. You feel like you are free in space as you play. The colors and the music come together with the challenges of the game to build this perfect world.

I would recommend this game if you are looking for challenging yet alternative game play. If you want a treat for your eyes and a more calm form of stimulation this is the game for you.

gg

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

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!