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Inuyasha: An Anime Review

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Inuyasha is an anime that ran from 2000 to 2004. That means that it was airing perfectly in time with my tenure in High School. It was also a magical time where Cartoon Network ran anime everyday after school. Inuyasha helped cement my lifelong love of anime.

When highschool student Kagome accidentally falls down the ancient well that sits on her family’s shrine she is transported back in time to a parallel timeline in feudal Japan. Kagome stumbles upon a figure trapped to a tree by an arrow. When she frees him it seems like a terrible mistake. It is the half-demon Inuyasha who was trapped to prevent him from stealing a powerful jewel. Through a series of crazy events Inuyasha and Kagome find themselves bound and on a mission to find shards of the jewel.

This mission will lead them both on a series of dangerous adventures. During which they will encounter other demons and threats. Together they have to fight off the forces of evil. They collect allies as well as shards along the way. However both Kagome and Inuyasha have other problems though. Kagome keeps returning home to try to balance her new mission with her school life. Inuyasha has to face his own demons so that he can protect Kagome long enough to get his hands on the jewel.

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Inuyasha is a slightly older anime but the art is still lovely. I particularly love the different colors used to differentiate between scenes set in feudal and modern Japan. The soundtrack also does a wonderful job of adding to the story. Whether it be humorous or ominous the score is so well written. I love the characters and all the work that has gone into their designs. They are all so layered and complex. The relationship between Kagome and Inuyasha is one of my favorites in anime.

 

One thing about Inuyasha that I am very grateful for is how the lore of ancient Japan is mixed with rest of the story. That is to say that by splitting the settings of the story Inuyasha is able to create a world were demons exist. This was the first way that I learned about some of my dearest myths to this day.

I would most certainly recommend Inuyasha. It’s blend of humor myth and darker themes make it a wonderful anime for anyone to watch but particularly someone new to anime.

Always keep sparkling!

 

Review: Ready Player One

Review: Ready Player One

ready coverReady Player One is the highly anticipated movie based on the book of the same title by Ernest Cline. It is a love letter by Cline to many aspects of nerd culture. By creating a futuristic world of destitution where the only prospect of bettering yourself is through a virtual world Cline is able to incorporate many of his favorite things.

Cline’s world takes place in the year 2045. The real world is low on natural resources and space. People live in cramped trailers stacked on top of each other. There aren’t many jobs available forcing most people use the online world, The OASIS, to acquire any kind of currency. Upon his death one of the creators and the owner of The OASIS, James Halliday, declared a contest to see who would become his successor. A series of three “Easter Eggs” have been hidden in The OASIS for those who can find and win them. The winner of all three will gain control of The OASIS and all of Halliday’s assets. People called “gunters” search for the eggs. Some through the corporate sponsorship of IOI, others in clans and a few search independently.

One of those few is a teenage boy named Wade Watts. He has nothing. Well nothing other than a love of games, everything from the 1980s and an obsession with finding Halliday’s clues. Using the gamertag of “Parzival” Wade emersess himself in all things Halliday and plays his way through The OASIS.

The movie did differ from the book. I do not want to go into too much detail and spoil the movie. What I will say is that I liked most of the changes. In fact, it is one of the few circumstances where I preferred the movie to the book.

I really enjoyed the movie. I loved the pace, which was much faster than the book. The graphics were amazing. Ready Player One is such a joy to watch. The transitions from the gritty life of the real world to the vibrance of The OASIS alone make the movie worthwhile.

The soundtrack was full of fun tracks that fit the storyline. I felt other members of the audience around me moving to the music. 

I would highly recommend going to see Ready Player One. If you haven’t read the book you will still enjoy the movie. The book version has so much more of the lore if you want a more indepth look at the world that Cline wrote.

Always keep sparkling!  

 

C2E2 is Still Better than Comic Con

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Yah, I said it.

I used to go do Wizard World Chicago every year, like a religious pilgrimage to the closest shrine of comic geekdom we had. Then, one year, everything changed and it was suddenly Comic Con Chicago. Vendor booths, artist alley tables, and dealer areas were eaten away to make room for roped off and curtained no-go zones for those who paid big bucks to get signatures from celebrities like Bruce Campbell and Patrick Stewart.

Around the second year of that, if memory serves, we also went to C2E2, Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.  I believe it was their second year, and it was a small convention, but it reminded me of the early years going to Wizard World.  We had a blast and decided that would become our regular yearly stint.

A bonus was that we always had to make the choice between GenCon and Wizard World. WW always won out due to price.  With C2E2 being earlier in the year, that opened up the opportunity to start going to GenCon as well.  We went to Comic Con one more time after starting to go to C2E2 and, if possible, it was worse than the time before.  It wasn’t about comic books and artists anymore.  It was all about getting in to pay ridiculous sums just to get a glossy picture of an actor signed.

C2E2, while mostly about comics and artists, doesn’t pretend that it’s only a comic book convention.  They do dedicate most of the floor space to comic artists and vendors though.  The amazing part is that in just 7 years they’ve gone from a small show with just shy of 28,000 attendees to a juggernaut topping 80K this past year.

McCormick Place is the perfect venue as well.  Where Comic Con is limited in growth by the Rosemont’s (Donald E. Stephens Convention Center) limited space at 840,000 square feet, McCormick Place boasts 2.6 million, 1.2 of which is all on the same floor.  Just three years ago C2E2 topped New York Comic Con in size, with over 670,000 square feet of space used.  It’s safe to say if it exists in the world of geek culture and you can’t find it at C2E2, you aren’t looking hard enough.

Due to its size, I recommend any attendee go for more than a day.  One day used to be enough for us, whether it was Wizard World, Comic Con, or the early years of C2E2. After the 2015 trip though we knew that wasn’t going to be enough. We were there from opening until about an hour before the floor closed and we felt like we only saw half of it.

Even this year, with two days in Chicago, we didn’t see everything, but we ran out of spending money about lunch time on Saturday and the crowd was getting to be a bit much.  Take your time. Don’t rush; and don’t spend all your money right away.  Best practice, see everything you want to see, and if an item you saw earlier in the day is still on your mind, then go back and get it.  Better to have to backtrack than buy something early and find an item you want more later, but have spent yourself out of funds.

Here’s some other tips for anyone new to large cons:

  • Deodorant
  • Comfy shoes – the show floors are hard despite the carpet
  • Backpack with water bottle compartment – water fountains are free
  • More deodorant – halfway through the day, you’ll wish you could jump into the bathroom and refresh with a damp paper towel and application of deodorant
  • Print/poster tube – pick it up early at one of the many booths selling Dick Blick products. You’ll be glad you did if you buy any art.
  • Phone charger/backup battery – Your battery will drain fast if you use your phone for anything inside a steel and concrete building with no signal strength
  • Dress light, even if it’s cold outside – no matter the temp outside it will be hot in the hall. A short cold walk beats a long sweaty day on the show floor.

Of course, C2E2 is also an entertainment con, so it has a long list of celebrity guests, and some of them cost a lot just for one signature.  The convention does a great job of giving the celebrities space without taking away floor from the comics, artists, and vendors.

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Many of the celebs you meet will also vary in price for autographs from free on up to $60.  I would avoid the meet and greets, though, honestly.  My wife did a meet and greet with Wil Wheaton this year. $60 for a picture with him that he didn’t even sign.  Want that signed? Another $40… yeah, a little disappointing for a long-time fan.

Sure, you get to stand next to them for a second, maybe get a, “Hi, how are ya!” but Michael Cudlitz (Walking Dead, Band of Brothers, Southland) was doing autographs and taking a ton of selfies with fans at his table, and actually talking to people.  We watched from the line to meet Timothy Zahn and it was great to see Mr. Cudlitz treating all of his fans like friends.  He didn’t even sit behind his high table they set up for him.  He came around the side, standing right there with the fans, and it was fantastic.  Granted, Cudlitz had far fewer people in line, but damn if he didn’t show the utmost appreciation for every single one of them.

Other than all that, plan ahead.  Make sure you know what you want to see, and prioritize. You can be in line for a signing longer than anticipated, so don’t schedule anything back to back.  Look for things that aren’t at your local shop, or easily ordered cheaper on Amazon.  Really scope out the deals and find those items that you must have and are hard to find.

Make frequent trips to the car to drop off stuff, but also to get out of the crowd and noise for some fresh air.  The population of a decent-sized city descends on that convention hall and sometimes you just need to get away from it to recharge before diving back in. Above all, have fun.  Any convention you go to is ultimately about that.  Sharing your love for geekdom and having fun.  That’s what makes it all worth it.

Game of Thrones Season 8 DELAYED?!

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With the seventh season of Game of Thrones delayed until July, many fans – myself included – are going a bit crazy waiting the few extra months. Thrones fan pages are posting more and more fandom related memes and articles in anticipation, including fan theories and frame by frame analyses of the official trailer.

 

Well, we can take this short delay as a practice run because the creators of the wildly popular HBO series have said that the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones may not return until 2019.

You may be thinking, “We couldn’t handle two months, Vanri. How are we going to last TWO YEARS?!”

I urge you to try and understand.

The two month delay for season seven was brought about by the plot line itself. Winter is here and the set needs to look authentic. The world of Game of Thrones is so large that they can’t simply build a set. They needed to wait until actual winter to shoot the winter scenes. It was simply practical.

Season eight’s delay is something different, though, and we should be happy about it. D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, the show’s creators, expect season eight to be so grand that they don’t want to risk rushing through it and disappointing the fans.

As the most popular show in HBO’s history, they have to make sure they go out with a bang. They can only do that with enough prep time. Benioff and Weiss have said it could possibly take them 18 months to prepare and film, which would put the season eight premier date in 2019.

HBO’s President of Programming, Casey Bloys has said, however, that they will know more once the writers begin to piece together the episodes. Bloys stated that there’s a possibility they won’t need the extra time.

I may not know nothing and I may not drink and know things, but I do know one thing… Us Sherlock fans have prepared for this.

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Power Rangers: A Movie Review

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Power Rangers: A Movie Review

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As a “90’s Kid” Mighty Morphin Power Rangers holds a very special place in my heart. I watched it every day it was on. We played Power Rangers at recess and after school. The franchise also launched many video games, some were better received then others. Currently, there is also a new mobile game available, so check your app store!  There was definitely an obsession that was fueled with high kicks and fights over who could be which Ranger. I always wanted to be yellow. In short, I loved Power Rangers. I wanted to be a Ranger. I wanted to save the world with awesome friends. I wanted to learn martial arts, which my family could never afford, and kick Rita’s goons in the face.

Because of this, I was a little concerned when I saw that a reboot movie was being made. My apprehension started to ebb away as I saw more about the Power Rangers movie. The humor in the trailers really helped. I agreed to see it with my friends on opening weekend. I walked in without high expectations. I don’t think any of us really expected more then to see flashy suits and to have a burst of nostalgia.

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I am so glad I did go. I laughed. I laughed a lot, which a person should do when watching Power Rangers. I cried a little. My friends and I kept looking at each other with these huge, goofy grins on our faces. The crowd around me, who were mostly grown up, hardened Rangers fans like myself kept laughing. We could all feel it. That collective moment of, “YES! They did it right.” They had made the movie and we were all LOVING it. This was beyond anything I thought it would be. I was happily surprised at how much I liked it.

Power Rangers is a story about a group of misfits coming into their own. In the small town of Angel Grove, not everything is idyllic as it seems. As an evil rises to take over the world, so must a group of heroes rise to stop her. First, they have to get out of detention, though. Yes, in this remake the kids really do have the attitude and some very real challenges in their lives. After finding colorful crystals, they have to figure out how to use their new powers and become a team in order to save everything they love.

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Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that I really liked the plot. The story was really well done. I enjoyed the costumes and the suits when seeing them with the overall story, which was something I had been a little concerned about prior to seeing the movie. The fight scenes were also really well done. I appreciated how the cast was diverse, and not even just in terms of race. I think a lot of us could see ourselves in at least one of the characters. They were all well developed and given a bit of arc, which can be difficult with a larger ensemble cast.

The music was great. The soundtrack really added to the movie. Rita, who I was probably least impressed with during trailers, ended up being one of my favorites. I was always kind of happy and also… cringing, in a good way… when I saw her come on screen. The effects were good without detracting from the action. The pace of the movie was also good.

Overall, I think it’s a great movie. I felt hyped up when I left, almost like a little kid again. My friends and I talked nonstop in the car. Even my two friends who have watched every episode of Power Rangers were really happy with the adaption. Yes, it had campy moments but, as a Power Rangers movie, it should. No, it wasn’t the series, but it was a very well done modern adaptation of it.

I would rate it: Must see.

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Always keep sparkling!

Top 10 (Nerdy) Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

So here we are, deep into February with March right around the corner.  It’s the beginning of tax season and with all that’s fit to buy, I’m going to offer up my top ten choices to spend a tax refund on:

10. Steam Wallet

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First off, Steam is addicting. With a sale for every season and weekly deals the year round, I suggest you dump part (or all) of you refund into your steam wallet. When the Spring sale starts, you won’t be able to cry you don’t have money in your bank account; it’ll be right there on Steam waiting for you to spend.

9. Kickstarter

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Following a close second to the constant games on sale are games yet to come out. Feeling nostalgic for a game you used to play? There’s likely a reboot, or an anniversary edition being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. I’ve got my 20th Anniversary Whiskey Box Edition of Deadlands coming and I can’t wait. New ideas abound there as well. There might be an awesome game you don’t know you’ll love just waiting for you to back it.

8. VR Equipment

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Virtual reality is hot, even Pornhub is into it (so I’m told). The high end phones, and even the PlayStation all have VR tech waiting to gobble up your cash.  There are inexpensive models you can purchase for your phone if you’re not ready for a setup the same price as a full console.

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Women in Gaming: Felicia Day

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I can’t even tell you the first time I heard of or saw Felicia Day. To me, it felt like she burst out of nowhere and was suddenly everywhere I looked. I knew she was a nerdy girl but that is about all I was sure of until I saw The Guild on Netflix and, after having it on my list for months, decided that I was going to watch it.

I was confused because the episodes weren’t long at all and quickly found out they were webisodes, so entire seasons were only 20 mins long. I dove in, watching an episode lead to more until I binged everything they had to offer.

I quickly identified with Codex.

A quirky, weird girl who loved to play video games and didn’t get people. Just wanted to have friends and for people to get along. Couldn’t help but be awkward at the best and worst of times. Check, check and check. Hell, I am still all of those things; there is nothing I could do to change any of that. However, representation matters. So, more than anything, here I was, being represented. Even the character Tinkerballa wasn’t a healer (nothing wrong with healers).

I played World of Warcraft, my main (the character I played the most) is a two-weapon fury warrior. No one believed that I am a girl. Girl’s should be healers, boys play warriors. Watch me roll my eyes. I love my warrior and I always typically make a warrior first in all games I play, even RPGs like Dragon Age. /End Mini Rant.

So here I was staring at my representation and at first I had no idea how to take her. Not only did she fit, but she was the center of the show. A show full of awkward, nerdy, typical geek stuff. Ok, some of it’s exaggerated but not always and not always overly so. So of course, I looked into her even further.

In real life, she is a quirky, weird girl who loved to play video games and didn’t always understand people. Um, what now? I was floored. What am I supposed to do with that? More representation at my very finger tips. She geeks out, is running a successful Gaming Entertainment Company with a fabulous community and is just like the rest of us. She is an inspiration.

Felicia even appeared in one of my favorite shows (Supernatural, so jealous) and played a quirky, weird gamer girl. Even as I do research for this article, I realized that she did the voice acting for a character I just encountered in Guild Wars 2, last night. SHE’S EVEN BEEN IN BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Holy crap, I have to go back and watch that again.

She is accessible. Even if you’ve never been on YouTube or Twitch, people typically know who she is. Maybe they remember her from that one episode of House, a commercial from Supernatural or caught her one of the millions of places that she has popped up.

Of course, we could name the tons of times that she has appeared in video games, even getting her own character in Dragon Age 2 DLC, Mark of the Assassin, Tallis, a character she created. They created DLC for a character she created. I can’t even wrap my head around that.

To me, Felicia Day is epic. She is helping to normalize women in all forms of gaming, while actively affecting the gaming industry in more ways than one. Not only her, but her company raises so much for charity. Even more, her representation continues as she announced she is going to have a baby very, very soon.

I wish her all the luck and welcome her to the geeky mom club.