My Top Obsessions From This Month: September 2019

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Welcome to a new series for the blog: “My Top Obsessions from this Month” (title still under construction). This came about after some consideration on the nature of my blog and what I really want to talk about. I love having a blog specifically dedicated to Romance and all the anime, manga, and comics that fall under that genre, but there are times when I want to gush about other things. Well I figured I’d create this little space for myself to talk about some of the things I’ve fallen in love with on a monthly basis (to be published on the last day of every month), to give me the space to step away from the romance genre for a little bit and give everyone some more exposure to different things and myself the space to gush about various things on my mind. For this month I’ve included sections for manga/comics, books, TV shows/Movies, Podcasts, and youtube channels. Let me know in the comments if you also are obsessing over these things or have anything in particular that you’re currently obsessing over.  Continue reading

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Waxing Philosophical: “Nobody Likes a Critic”

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I feel like being a critic or a reviewer of anything pop culture related has always been a hard job. Especially when it comes to large news outlets, pup-culture criticism and reviews have always taken a back seat to politics and larger news stories. In the past couple years, a lot of newspapers and websites have dramatically scaled down their review sections in favor of covering more political news stories, which is understandable in this volatile climate, but I think people forget just how important pop culture criticism can be for the wider population of fans or future fans. 

Being a pop culture reviewer can at times seem like a daunting job when you start seeing the kinds of backlash reviewers get for daring to voice any sort of opinion about a specific franchise. Marvel is one of the recent examples, with each movie garnering a wide array of opinions, some of them toxic and others not. We had boycotts of Captain Marvel and fights over Wonder Woman and Avengers: Endgame. In addition to this, we have the anime and comics fandom that have shipping wars, arguments over the opinions on Goblin Slayer and Rising of the Shield Hero, and comic book fans trying to gatekeep women and minorities out of the fandom. It’s an interesting time to be a reviewer right now, and I think a lot of writers wonder with every post whether they’ll get barraged with hate. 

While I think the climate of pop culture reviews and criticism has definitely changed over the years–especially with the rise of social media–where there has been art there have always been critics of some form or another. But what I think has changed is the fans and how much of fandom has become tied to the creation of individual identity and pride.  Continue reading

Celebrating the End of the Summer: The Sunshine Blogger Award

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Thanks so much Rise From Ashes for nominating me for this lovely award. I’ve been on vacation for the past couple days, so it’s nice to sit down and have something simple to write about for the blog. I always enjoy doing these posts and award Q&A’s. A lot of you have some pretty interesting questions.

The Rules

1) Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog so others can visit them.
2) Answer eleven questions asked by the nominator.
3) Nominate eight (or is it eleven???) bloggers of your choosing and ask them eleven questions of your own.
4) Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.
5) List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post or on your blog site.


My Answers

1.Have you ever had a paranormal/ghost experience? If so, care to share? If no experience, do you believe in the paranormal/ghosts?

To be honest, I’m not sure. A few years ago I would’ve said yes, but the more I think about it, the more I think it might have just been a case of group panic. Back in my middle or high school days I went over to a friend’s house for a sleep-over. Back in those days, one of the popular games to play was manhunt, which was like hide-and-seek in the dark with flashlights. So we decided to play that in her basement. One of my friends was “it” and we all hid in various places around her basement.

After a few minutes of hiding, I hear a scream. I jumped up from my hiding place and went over to where they were. My friend had decided to hide on top of a table underneath a laundry basket. She claimed that something pushed the table over and she felt like she was going to fall off. Only the table was bolted to the floor. We all ran out of the house fairly freaked out and took a walk to calm down. I’m not sure what happened in the house, we all kind of got really intrigued by the paranormal and were looking into Wicca at that point. The one time I went back to that house, I was standing in front of her closet and felt a cold breeze pass behind me. I couldn’t for the life of me remember if the closet was open or not before I stood in front of it.

To this day I’m not quite sure what happened that night. I haven’t really had another experience since, but I do believe that there is some merit in believing in something after death. There’s way too many stories for there to be nothing going on.

2. What’s a food that your region is known for? (for example: Chicago is known for Chicago Style pizza).

Currently, I live in Boston, and I guess we’re known for our clam chowder and baked beans.

3. If you don’t mind, could you recommend me some new music? Singer/idol/band, anything is okay~

Sure! I’m currently obsessed with an indie pop band called Foxes, but I would also recommend HAIM, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Ben Howard. All of them are fairly indie with some pop, country, and rock influences.

4. What’s your favorite piece of fandom merchandise? Big or small, include a picture if you can!

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My favorite piece of merchandise right now might be my Cardcaptors figurines or the enamel pins I’ve started to collect. It’s hard to really pinpoint one favorite piece though, so I’ll just include some pictures of the ones I have so far. I keep trying to limit myself to only buying cardcaptor’s figurines because I know it’ll become a slippery slope to buying way too much if I go past that. Enamel pins have become really fun to collect though and I find myself scrolling through Instagram a lot looking for new ones to add. I bought a cork board for my wall and I’ve been slowly trying to fill that up over time. I can’t resist buying them anytime I go to a convention, especially Cardcaptor themed ones.

5. Do you prefer reading hardback, or paperback books, or digitally?

I generally prefer reading in any form of print, but have no problem reading in digital if I have to. Especially for manga and comics, I love having physical copies to flip back and forth through the pages. It’s a lot easier when it’s a comic I plan to review on the blog as well since I can easily flip to a page I want to scan into the review.

However, digital copies can be really good for some things like saving space in your bookshelves and provide a good option for people who may be on a budget. Most ebooks are half the price of their print counterparts so it can be a good option for people who are short on money or are unsure if they will like a particular series since they’ll only have to pay between 6 and 8 dollars for a digital manga copy.

6. What’s the biggest takeaway you have from your personal blogging journey?

I would say the biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from starting a blog is to really enjoy yourself. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to step back and re-evaluate how and what you’re writing. Don’t be afraid to take breaks and make sure to take care of yourself. Your writing will suffer if you don’t feel like you’re into it.

7. Oddly specific, outside of blogging what kind of online content do you comment on? (example, youtube videos, reddit, etc)

I don’t usually comment on many other platforms, maybe Twitter and Reddit at times. I’ll occasionally comment on something on Instagram if I really like it. Most of the time though I’m just trying to avoid inadvertently saying something that would spark a comment war or argument.

8. Do you have any special talents/party tricks you can do?

Not really, unless you consider art being a special talent. I can draw but I don’t really have anything that I could take to a talent show.

9. Do you have a topic that despite it suiting your blog, you’ve decided not to write about?

I don’t usually like to write about ecchi, harem, or shonen romance. Mostly, I don’t usually like to write about things that don’t really interest me personally. After a while of running this blog I find that I have less time to devote to things that I’m not interested in, so I usually like to write about things that I don’t mind watching or things that I actually enjoy. I have less time to watch mediocre anime series or read less than good manga or comic series. I may do a review of the first volume once and awhile, but I usually don’t follow-through to any more volumes.

10. In a game of truth or dare, which do you pick?

Truth.

11. How do you feel about blog tags/being tagged?

I don’t mind honestly. I may not always have the time to do them, but they’re a fun diversion from the regular blogging schedule.


My Nominees

(No pressure to anyone nominated below)

A Nerdy Perspective, The Anime Madhouse, Reasons to Anime, Confessions of an Overage Otaku, Rai’s Anime Blog, Otaku Orbit, Amanda.Actually, The Animanga Spellbook

My Questions

What was the scariest movie or show you’ve ever watched?

Are there certain genres of TV shows or books that you stay away from or hate reading? Why?

Who was your first celebrity/character crush and why?

What was one show your parents hated you watching but you watched anyways?

I’ve recently gotten addicted to podcasts, do you have any recommendations for podcasts or other talk shows you enjoy listening to?

I’m currently relaxing on vacation right now. What’s your favorite summertime or beach read?

It’s starting to get towards the end of summer. What’s one aspect of this season that you look forward to the most? Vacation? A certain event? Warmth?

Conversely, Fall is pretty much upon us. What’s one thing about the season you’re really looking forward to?

Tell me about the style of your blog and why you picked the color, banner, and subject matter that you did.

What about blogging drew you to make your own blog?

Is there anything about content creators in particular or contention creation in general that you find annoying or frustrating?

~~Thanks for Reading!~~


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Five Ways to Improve Your Comic Reviews

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Have you ever wanted to get into comic reviewing or thought your reviews just needed a little extra something? I see a lot of reviews missing some key aspects those few times when I do actually read other people’s reviews. It’s been three years since I’ve started this blog and over the course of that time I’ve learned a lot about comics and the medium in general, but more importantly how to write about them. I’m in no way an expert, but I do have pretty strong opinions on what makes a good review and how we can better talk about and analyze comics as an artistic medium and an entertainment medium. Below are five tips to improve your comic reviews. Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips to add. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes – Blogging with Anxiety

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Writing is always hard for so many reasons. We even have a word for when you have trouble putting pen to paper: writer’s block. So what happens when you add in mental illness? Things just become infinitely harder. I’ve always been an advocate of pushing through writer’s block, with the notion that sometimes you just have to force yourself to get things done or they never will get done. But with an illness like anxiety, your brain sees this as a form of stress and creates a stress response. Most of the time this comes in the form or avoidance: procrastination, letting yourself get repeatedly distracted by little things, or just doing nothing at all. The stress and pressure to create piles up as the sense of satisfaction from creating decreases and then this leads to a spiral of depression, which leads to more avoidance, which leads to more depression. It becomes a whole cycle. Continue reading

Waxing Philosophical: What We Can Learn from even the Trashiest of Romances

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Valentine’s Day is behind us but I think it’s important to continue thinking about romance and the kind of impact these kinds of stories have on readers. It’s one of the reasons I created this blog and continue to return to romance series. Reading romance books and manga were majorly important to me when I was growing up. I started reading them back in middle school, or about 12 to 13 years old. I’ve never really thought about the significance of starting around that time until this article from Vulture pointed it out: the kinds of books you read in school are mostly stories of boys and men with the occasional dead girl so, in essence, romance books become a way to see girls and female characters in prominent roles. They’re thrilling, a way to experience and read about sex, something that is usually frowned upon in academia and some social circles. The US in particular isn’t very good about including comprehensive sex education in their schools, so for many girls, this is their first and sometimes only major way to learn about sex and sexual relationships.

The romance genre has gotten a bad rap over the years, considered “popular” literature or just not literature at all. Why? It could be because its an industry dominated by women who are writing predominantly for women. It could be the sometimes silly, “bodice-ripper” covers showing half naked women and men on full display. It could also be the escapist nature of romance fiction in general which tends to make people point at it and say, “there’s nothing good or intelligent you can get out of a story like that. It’s all just trash for bored housewives.” Which is completely and utterly wrong. Dismissing a whole genre in and of itself is wrong, and I’m here to tell you there are quite a few important life lessons you can learn from romance. Continue reading

Valentine’s Themed Episodes to Get You in the Mood

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Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all! Even if you’re not celebrating with a special person today, you’re all welcome here. My fiancee has to work tonight, so I’m here to talk some anime and manga with all of you while I eat some sweet, sweet chocolate. So grab your candy and beverage of choice and a snuggly blanket cause tonight we’re looking at Valentine’s Day themed episodes and chapters from anime and manga. Now these are just personally my favorite episodes or moments that focused on Valentine’s Day in ways that were either amusing or touching in the context of the show or series. I know there are a ton of others I could put on this list, so I’m interested in hearing your picks down below, or even just your favorite treat to eat on Valentine’s Day. Here are four picks for some of my favorite anime and manga moments this holiday. Continue reading

Waxing Philosophical: Embracing Predictability

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Happy new year and all that jazz. I have returned from my long break and will be slowly working my way back up to a predictable post schedule. I didn’t really have a chance to plan any posts last month while I was on break, so I figured I’d ease myself back into the blog writing schedule by doing a fairly short Waxing Philosophical post today.

I spent a good amount of time over Christmas watching those all too familiar Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. You know the ones I’m talking about. The super corny love stories that almost always feature some “big city” guy or girl who needs to be reminded what Christmas and family is all really about and wind up falling in love with either their childhood sweetheart or some stranger they meet by chance. They’re stories are ridiculously predictable, and yet…watching them winds up being a weirdly comforting experience. Why is that? What is it about these types of movies and shows that make them enjoyable when their plots are so straightforward to the point where I can almost always predict what will happen next? Continue reading

Comics as Literature Part 2: Literary Graphic Novel Canon

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What would be your response if someone inexperienced with reading graphic novels and comics came up to you for advice on where to start? What kind of titles would you recommend? I bet I can name a few of the ones you just thought of. Maus, right? The Watchmen? It’s easy enough to pull these titles out of the many hundreds of thousands of different comic and graphic novels, not just because they’re so popular, but because over the years fans, creators, and academics alike have developed a fairly specific graphic novel literary canon. It’s become second nature to recommend these books to new fans of the medium, and I see the same titles come up again and again in message boards, from articles, and from classes at colleges trying to teach graphic novels as literature. It’s become sort of ironic to me in a way how many fans and creators, through the quest to be taken seriously as a literary medium, have created their own literary canon with the same few books recommended again and again. Continue reading

Waxing Philosophical: Current Opinions on Comics as Literature, Part 1

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by Michael Kupperman

Just this past week, the late and great Stan Lee passed away, one of the founders of the US comic book industry. He was and forever will be a cultural icon so many in the industry hold dear, and his passing reverberated across comics media and into the mainstream media. Unfortunately, the news reached the ears of Bill Maher, who responded to the passing of Stan Lee by criticizing comic books in a blog post. In it he says, “twenty years or so ago, something happened – adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature.” He got a ton of backlash for the things he said, but his comments point back to a long-time struggle of comic artists and the industry: the struggle to be taken seriously. Something I had hoped was starting to seriously fizzle out, but apparently not. Continue reading