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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!

Review: FAR: Lone Sails (2017)

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FAR: Lone Sails
2017

FAR: Lone Sails is an exploration adventure game by Swiss developer Okomotive. Available on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Where you traverse a dried-out seabed littered with the remains of a decaying civilization. Keep your unique vessel going, overcome numerous obstacles and withstand the hazardous weather conditions. How far can you make it? What will you find?

Now that that’s been said, I’ve beaten this game 5 times in 3 days and got 100% steam achievements. That’s something I rarely do. It isn’t a long game so beating it several times will only take a few hours. However, this game is full of magic.

Let me explain. In this game, you have an androgynous character traveling a grayscale landscape with red being the only other color. The art style is beautiful. As you side scroll in your large land vehicle, the scene is ever-changing. 

You start in a small house/workshop after taking a moment to honor the passing of, what I assume is your father or mentor. After leaving the building behind you walk until you come across a massive vehicle. It reminds me of many things, reminiscent of movies about a dystopian future, you do everything you can to keep your vehicle operating. 

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Stopping to gather items for fuel, solving puzzles to upgrade the vehicle, outrunning disasters. All while a quiet story is told in the background. A story without words, which can be the best story there is. As I travel, my mind races to try to fill in the blanks. Wondering if it’s a comment on our current society and where we are headed or it’s just a simple story to be interpreted how we wish. This was magic to me. 

As I stated, I played the game over and over, hoping to grasp more and get all 14 achievements on steam. Each playthrough I noticed something different, something I was surprised I hadn’t noticed before. Honestly, these discoveries excited me and now that I’ve achieved everything I may slowly go through one more time to see if I’ve missed anything else.

This is definitely a comfort game for me and I could see myself booting it up after a long/bad day. It’s stunning, well worth the price and time. I can’t wait to see what else this developer has to offer.

TL;DR: Great Game, Must Play

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.

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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!

A Trip Through the SNES Classic: F-Zero

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It’s shameful, I know, but up until I got the SNES Classic, I’d never played a game in the F-Zero series.  I didn’t even know what type of game that it was, though the title sounded familiar.

For those in the same boat, F-Zero is a racing game set in the future.  It’s the series that introduced everyone to Captain Falcon, though he doesn’t have a clear presence in the first game.  If you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer like me, I recommend reading this interview with Kazunobu Shimizu, Yasunari Nishida, and Takaya Imamura, three of the original developers of F-Zero.  They share some great stories about the history behind the game and the reasoning behind some of the decisions they made.  Some highlights include: Captain Falcon was initially designed to be a mascot for the Super Nintendo system, not F-Zero, and that the game was set in the future to work around different programming issues.  They didn’t have the technology yet to create effective tires that turned, so they just took out the tires and designed hover cars for the racers.

The original game allowed you to pick between four different cars and race through three different sets of tracks: Knight, Queen, and King.  In a manner similar to Mario Kart, once you pick a set, you have to play through all of the tracks. I wish these games would just let me select a racetrack that I really enjoy and let me play it without going through hoops to get there.  That’s something that I appreciate more and more about Diddy Kong Racing.  (And yes, F-Zero has a Practice Mode that lets you do this, but only for seven tracks.)

Regardless, I fell in love with the original F-Zero. I couldn’t get over just how fast and smooth it feels, even when using a control pad.  It doesn’t have all the extra bells and whistles that you get with racing games like Mario Kart or Diddy-Kong.  You can’t pick up items that give you colorful shields or the infamous Blue Shell missiles.  But that’s not a bad thing at all.  It’s just straight, pure racing and I appreciated the change.

When you start a race, your hovercar has a Power gauge that functions similar to health.  If you hit the edge of the track, or your fellow racecars, your power diminishes.  If it drops down to zero, your hovercar will explode and it’s game over.  You can also fail if your hovercar goes completely off-track or if you fail to complete laps after a certain period of time.  It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of things, and it helps having Practice Mode available if one ever needs a quick refresher.

If there’s one thing that holds F-Zero back from being a perfect experience, it’s the lack of a multiplayer mode. While it is fun and challenging, playing against an AI can get boring after a while.  Having the option to play with friends would have made it even better and increased the replay value.

Still, I’m so glad that I had the chance to discover the original F-Zero on the Super Nintendo Classic.  I’ve had a blast playing it, and if the other games in the series are just as good, I’ll have to check them out too.  If you’re a fan of F-Zero and have any recommendations, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments!

I’m rating this game 9 out of 10 hovercars.

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!

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.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!