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Personal opinions and commentary.


Plastic Love – Nendoroid Lina Inverse

Before we get down to business this week, I thought I would point out this video interview with Max Watanabe, legendary modeler and CEO of Max Factory, a company that produces many of the Nendoroid and figma toys that you’ll see on the average comic shop shelf. There’s a lot of footage of Max and company hard at work, and a bit of insight into how and why people get so into plastic. The whole “toco toco” series is excellent, and I’ll leave it at that before I swerve off topic.

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How eSports Can Live Up to the Dream of Overwatch’s Diverse World

“Huh. I think I’m the only brown person in this room right now.”

I say that phrase to myself a lot. Most of the time—like when I’m at work, or back when I was in school—the thought would sidle up to my train of thought like some sort of bandit, hijacking it for a few seconds and then whispering, “This isn’t for you!” into my ear before kindly derailing the whole thing. When I’m at an event like E3 or Comic Con though, the metaphorical bandit doesn’t even need to hijack my train of thought—it’s already the conductor.


Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Takes You on a Personalized Mind Trip

It’s been a long time since I’ve come into any piece of entertainment completely unspoiled. Even in the case of shows that deliberately keep a low profile, I’ve usually seen something to judge by. The only way for me to come in completely fresh and unawares is to have never heard of the subject before.

In the case of Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, that’s exactly what happened. For funsies, I decided not to look into it at all before I hit Play. And let me just say, boy, that was a choice. Because Birdboy is a heck of a thing to approach with no forewarning. That said, I’m actually glad I did, because it meant I was bowled over with just how dark the movie was willing to go at every new twist and turn.

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How I Learned to Love the “Damsel in Distress”

It took me twenty years to learn to like Anthy Himemiya.

I much preferred Utena—after all, she was the titular character of Revolutionary Girl Utena, a 1996 manga turned into an anime in the following year that follows Utena’s quest to free Anthy from ownership by their school’s Student Council. Utena finds herself fighting a series of increasingly bizarre duels, with Anthy—the “Rose Bride”—being given to each victor. At the end of this tournament, the champion will be granted the power to “revolutionize the world.”


A Photo of a Naked Girl: Online Angst and Agony in Assassination Nation

While teenage best friends Lily (Odessa Young), Bex (Hari Nef), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), and Em (Abra) lounge in Em’s bedroom watching Yasuharu Hasebe’s 1970 exploitation flick Stray Cat Rock and wearing red raincoats in imitation of the film’s protagonists, masked men surround the house. The camera drifts down halls and through empty rooms, looping in silence around the suburban house and up to the eaves to peer in at the distracted girls. Slowly, as first Em and then Sarah is taken hostage, the tension grows. More men slip in through jimmied windows and doors left ajar. One by one, they begin snatching the teens.


Three Cartoons From Your Childhood That Were Totally Terrifying

Who doesn’t have strange, vaguely off-putting memories of childhood nightmare fuel? You know, those cartoons pitched to youngsters that were full of of imagery and implications sure to terrify you for weeks to come. The shows  that were clearly not age-appropriate, and that you can’t believe you sat through now that you look back and see just how disturbing they were.

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The Door to The Twilight Zone Opens Once More

The portal to the fifth dimension has opened yet again. The Twilight Zone is coming back, and this time, Academy Award-winning director and comedy king Jordan Peele will be behind the spooky wheel. What can we expect from this latest edition of the anthology classic? To answer that question, we have to enter the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge… we have to enter The Twilight Zone.


Sharing the Love of Korean Pop in Berlin

Five years ago, a friend posted a K-pop music video on her Twitter, saying that it was “fun, but a bit too much”. Feeling adventurous, I decided to see for myself. Little did I know that one click would be so significant—I became completely hooked in a way I hadn’t been since childhood, when I watched the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC on MTV.

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Why We Believed in the Blair Witch (and Why We Can’t Anymore)

France, 1981: the Italian film Cannibal Holocaust is released to theaters and the magazine Photo claims that its depictions of butchery were real. Its director Ruggero Deodato is brought before French courts to disprove the allegation and to explain why the film’s cast have been suspiciously absent from the public eye. Deodato acquiesces and produces his actors, revealing that they had agreed not to appear in other media for one year to preserve his film’s illusion of authenticity—an illusion that was perhaps too successful if it landed him in a French court, and an illusion that worked only because Cannibal Holocaust wasn’t a conventional movie. Instead, it allegedly depicted what was recovered from the expedition of a doomed documentary crew filming cannibal tribes in the Amazon rainforest: “found footage.”


A Day in the Life of a Cosplay Camgirl

Any online sex worker will tell you the same thing—the job is so much more than what we put on social media, and frequently our only real breaks are to sleep or do something else that’s essential to our offline lives. This is especially true for me and people like me, because of my interests and my niche—games, animation, and net aesthetics—the introverted creative independent’s special.


(Mis)Understanding One of the Greatest French Filmmakers of All Time

Robert Bresson was a French director who made thirteen feature-length films and one short between 1934 and 1983. Adored by the New Wave of directors who sprang up around him during the 1950s and early 1960s, the much older Bresson stood at a remove from any cinematic movements of the period, making films sporadically when funding was available before retiring and falling silent between 1983’s L’Argent and his death in 1999.

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The Complicated Role of Race in Boys’ Love Stories

It’s generally agreed that the origins of the BL (boy’s love) subgenre of manga can be traced back to the influential Year 24 Group, a loosely classified group of female shoujo mangaka who were said to have revolutionized the shoujo scene. It’s also generally agreed that the two “canonical” works of BL made by members of this group are Takemiya Keiko’s Song of Wind and Trees and Hagio Moto’s Heart of Thomas. BL is a twisty, self-contradictory genre almost by definition—the entire premise is essentially “male homosexuality for girls”—with a lot to unpack, and these early works only double down on the complexity by the ways in which they racialize their protagonists.


Spoiled Milk, Fresh Meat: Beauty and Feminine Competition in The Neon Demon

In many ways, womanhood in the Western world is a zero-sum game. You’re the “it” girl or you’re nothing. You’re beautiful or ugly. You’re virtuous or evil. You’re fresh or you’re spoiled. But where does this brutal, winner-take-all model leave friendship between women? Or romance? If another woman’s beauty could spell irrelevance for your own, how could you feel anything for her but paranoia and jealousy? Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2016 horror thriller The Neon Demon, the story of a young, beautiful ingenue breaking into the modeling scene in LA and running afoul of a coven of envious women, digs its gleaming talons deep into that question.

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Media Franchises I Only Know About Because of Fanfiction

Teen Wolf

Derek Hale is a werewolf, part of a pack that lives in the town of Stiles Stilinsky, a normal human boy who maybe looks like the gawky kid from The OC. Various supernatural threats slither through the town and it’s up to Derek and his werewolf powers to keep everyone safe. Derek and Stiles have tense chemistry. They are in a gay relationship.


Organizing a Course on Harry Potter in India

When I sat down and read the entirety of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the day it was released back in 2007, I thought I couldn’t love the series more.

I was wrong.

Since then, once a year I’ve revisited all of the books, finding new things to enjoy each time. Harry Potter made me want to be a writer. Looking at this wonderful series, so dearly loved by millions, all I wanted in the world was to be able to write a story that might be beloved in the same way.


Metamoroid Luluco and the Mechanics of Transforming Figures

Hi! I’m Dave, and I want to talk to you about toys. I’ve been digging in the toy, statue, and figure subcultures for years, and the craftsmanship and engineering of these little mass-produced art pieces have never ceased to fascinate me. In this regular feature, I’m going to share some of the more interesting pieces I’ve come across, ranging from videogame characters like Street Fighter’s Chun-Li to Freddy Mercury. Yes, the one from Queen. Toys and figures have come a long way from GI-Joe.


The Time Tiny Tim Tiptoed Through the Tulips and Into a Slasher Movie

Let’s be honest—some people are just really fucking boring. They lack that spark, that magic element that makes you sit up and take notice. They can’t help it, of course, but that doesn’t make things any less maddening.

Director Bill Rebane is really fucking boring. The ukulele player who used hemorrhoid cream as hand moisturizer, however, was not. Together, they made Blood Harvest.

I should explain.

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The Baseball Series That’s All About Mommy Issues

When you look at stories about sports, you start to see some commonalities pretty quickly, regardless of the sport in question. This is especially true when it comes to the question of why the characters are playing sports in the first place. “For the love of the game” comes up a lot. Right next to it is “to be the very best”, which you’ll find in a lot of shonen (young boys’) sports stories. For rivals or villains, the motivation will often be the baser desire to make money or an urge to dominate and humiliate their rivals. But one major motivation that pushes people ahead in sports—especially below the professional level—tends to be forgotten. Stories of high school athletes fighting rivalries or to win someone’s love, like you’ll find in Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk or Oota Moare’s Teppu leave out a very important factor that deeply affects almost everybody’s participation in high school sports: our parents.