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Review: Magic Knight Rayearth (anime)

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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!

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: 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!

Zenkaikon 2019: The Experience

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Those of you who know me know that I’m fairly new to the convention scene. My first convention was just two years ago. It was TooManyGames 2017, a small gaming convention in Oaks, PA. After that, I went big at PAX East 2018 and completely overwhelmed myself. Zenkaikon 2018 was my 3rd convention and it seemed to be just the right size for me.

My experience at Zenkaikon 2019 was a bit different than 2018. Last year, I had more mobility. I was able to go to more panels and peruse more vendor wares. This year, I was the camera person, so I was able to join Crymson for the guest interviews. Both experiences definitely helped me develop a big picture view of all aspects of the con, from the perspective of the press.

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This was probably our best year at Zenkaikon. The weekend went by smoothly. With one exception, the communication between the convention staff and us was impeccable. We had some technology hiccups (it wouldn’t be RWOG if we didn’t), but we were able to quickly assess and adapt. Crymson and I make a great team (and actually had our 7 year friend-anniversary on the Saturday of Zenkaikon!)

We tried to rush to the con on Friday to see the Anti-Bullying panel, but we unfortunately missed it because we got pulled over on the way. No matter, though! We were still there in plenty of time for our interview with Michaela Dietz. We walked around the vendor hall, spoke to quite a few people, waited 2 hours for dinner with Corgi Cosplay, and then ended our night with the amazing Cosplay Burlesque show (review coming soon!).

On Saturday, we rushed again. It’s definitely a pain commuting over an hour each day to the convention center. We ran to our interview with Charles Dunbar, only to find out that he was missing! His handler, Timothy, couldn’t find him anywhere! A few more con staff come in, only to let us know that the schedule that we have is incorrect. Charles wasn’t late, we were all just early. We had the pleasure of not only interviewing him, but also getting coffee with him at the Rabbit & The Dragonfly.

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We went on to interview our friend Nicole, founder of Corgi Cosplay, and get a ton of footage of Kiba doing super cute and amazing things. Crymson then fangirled over Monica Rial, who did her Mey Rin voice from Black Butler. Crymson about fell off the couch, she was so excited.

We ended that night with Night Time Stories with Todd Haberkorn, then Guests Against Humanity where we laughed so hard that we actually disrupted the panel.

Finally, Sunday. Day three. The day that sleep deprivation caught up to us and we giggle at the mere mention of Brendan Urie (long story). We spent the majority of this day in the press room as we interview Laura from the Carolina Manga Library, Oliver from Cosplay Burlesque, Austin Tindle of Attack on Titan, and the amazingly talented artist, Sincerely Sam. We finished the con with Closing Ceremonies, a fun panel where we got to meet everyone behind Zenkaikon and give feedback.

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Overall, this Zenkaikon was fun, informative, and exhausting. We saw a ton of amazing cosplays, ran into some old friends, ate amazing food, and met some wonderful new people. If you’re already planning your 2020 cons, make sure Zenkaikon is on your list!

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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!

Review: Escaflowne

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Escaflowne is one of the most gorgeous animes I have had the pleasure of watching. The series also has an interesting story and cast of characters. This is probably why fans enjoy Escaflowne so immensely.

The Vision of Escaflowne, it’s original title, first aired in both Japan and America in 1996. The series has had Mandy different directors for various episodes. The series was originally released by Sunrise.  Escaflowne was then licensed by Bandai Entertainment for release in other regions. Currently Escaflowne is licensed by Funimation.

Hitomi is an ordinary high school student. She runs track, has friends and other interests. Though, in reality, Hitomi isn’t quite as ordinary as it would seem. She has psychic abilities. After having a vision of a battle she is transported to a magical land called Gaea. There is a war raging and Hitomi maybe able to help.

The soundtrack of Escaflowne is lovely. It helps set the mood for the story being told throughout the series. It also gives the viewer clues about different characters and situations. The soundtrack is also fantastic to listen to on its own.

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The setting and character designs are really fantastic. The industrial, pastoral and modern settings are well animated as well as diverse. Each character has a different design. The costumes are a real treat to view throughout the length of the story. The battle scenes are also just really fantastic. Escaflowne treads the line between what most animes looked like in the mid-nineties and having a very distinct difference in animation. It really is a great anime to watch.

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It is safe to say that I really enjoy Escaflowne. The series is a total package for any anime fans. Great soundtrack. Interesting story. Fascinating characters with a little bit of romance. It was an anime that I would rush to watch on television. It was also a favorite in my group of friends, the series has clearly inspired our styles of art and storytelling through the years.

I would really encourage giving Escaflowne a try if you haven’t seen it yet. There is also an interesting, and slightly more grim, movie version that came out in 2000. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!