Doing Nothing is Not Enough Sep13

Doing Nothing is Not Enough...

There’s always a reason to avoid helping someone. Finances, distance, capability, health, or other obstacles often stand between me and assisting a friend. Maybe they need help moving, but my sprained ankle won’t allow me to lift boxes. Maybe they’re having a rough day, and I can’t take them out for coffee because I’m out of town. Maybe they’re going through financial difficulties, but I have no money to spare. Standing by and doing nothing makes me feel worthless. What can I do when I’m prevented from offering something tangible to those in need? Granny from Summer Wars is intimately familiar with this problem. At eighty-nine years old, there’s not much she can do when a vicious virus breaks out in OZ, the virtual world that connects just about every facet of society. Some of her family are prevented from visiting her on her birthday because of traffic jams; others, because they are dealing with the crisis in their jobs. She could have easily looked at all the things she couldn’t do, and let the situation play out. She could have stayed put, bitter that this event occurred on what was supposed to be a special day. It’s not like there was anything else for her to do—she couldn’t drive out to help direct traffic or volunteer at a hospital. She could have easily looked at all the things she couldn’t do, and let the situation play out. But instead, she decides to encourage. After hearing about the crisis on the international news, she gets out her address books and starts calling everyone she knows who might be involved with the situation—emergency personnel, old friends, government officials. “Don’t lose heart!” she tells them. “This is something only you can do.” “You betcha you can!”...

5 Characters Who Made Bad First Impressions Sep01

5 Characters Who Made Bad First Impressions...

When I tell people I was homeschooled, they often ask if I was shy or antisocial as a child. When I tell people I’m a geek, they ask if I have a job and still live in my parents’ basement. When I tell them I’m Southern, they ask why I don’t have a strong accent. When people assume things about me, they often get a first impression that isn’t accurate. It frustrates me because they’ve attributed characteristics to me within the first few minutes, and I have to fight to counter a negative first impression when I shouldn’t have to. I feel hurt when people think they know me from a few stereotypes they heard through the grapevine. But I’m guilty of doing this too, with people I meet and with fictional characters. Sometimes I make up my mind about them before I give them a chance. Here are five characters I didn’t like at first, but changed my mind about later. For some of them, I grew to like them as they changed and adapted; for others, I started to like them because I understood them better. What characters would you add to this list? “GOLLUM =D” by speedportraits (speedportraits.deviantart.com). 1. Gollum (The Lord of the Rings) When I first saw Gollum in the movies as a child, I was terrified of him. I wasn’t sure of what to make of this “gangly creature.” He was an odd schizophrenic who seemed bent on doing anything, including murder, to get back the Ring. But as I learned more about his character and understood his addiction, watched his development I realized, like Frodo did, that he really is a creature to be pitied, not feared. “Cactus Love…” by Moni (moni158.deviantart.com). 2. Sokka (Avatar: The Last...

Your Words, Your Voice, Your Story Matters Aug28

Your Words, Your Voice, Your Story Matters...

My voice is constantly drowned in a sea of noise. I’ve always been a quiet person. In the past, I would try to speak up at the dinner table and no one would hear me, so I would just stop talking and keep what I had to say to myself. At other times, I’ve felt like what I’ve had to say is somehow less important because someone has had it worse than me or they know how to say it better. If someone seems to lose interest in the middle of what I’m saying, I’ve let the subject die even if it means a lot to me. But I want to be heard. In the anime Terror on Resonance, the two teenagers Nine and Twelve pose as terrorists named Sphynx One and Sphynx Two. They plant bombs in different locations while taking no casualties as they lead Detective Shibazaki and the Tokyo Metro police on a trail to unravel a conspiracy—a conspiracy that wants to crush what Nine and Twelve have to say to the world. Talking about my past might make me feel vulnerable, but if it encourages one person, it’s worth it. Years before, Nine, Twelve, and twenty-four other children were handpicked from orphanages to participate in the Athena Experiment: an experiment to drug gifted children into become savants without the mental challenges. However, the experiment was a failure, so the government decided to erase the evidence of the projects’ existence; that meant destroying all the test subjects. Nine and Twelve were the only ones to escape. They were the only ones left to remember the suffering their friends endured. They don’t want the deaths of their friends to be forgotten, or the murderers to get away with their crime. They want...

Anime’s Racial Representation Aug18

Anime’s Racial Representation...

Racial representation is a very hot subject in Western media. There has been many an uproar about Americans and other western countries misrepresenting ethnicity by whitewashing characters or stereotyping. On the flip side, Eastern media, particularly Japanese, sometimes portrays race in unusual ways. The infamous satire Hetalia portrays just about every race under the sun in the most exaggerated style, but I want to take a look at anime that is taking these racial portrayals seriously. Japanese: In most anime, Japanese characters are animated with a variety of hair colours, as opposed to the realistic sole black (with the exception of hair dye). Kallen Kōzuki in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion has red hair, Light in Deathnote is blonde, Amu in Shugo Chara has pink hair, and so on. However, in shows such as Terror on Resonance and Psycho-Pass, characters with hair outside of black or brown are rarer, possibly because they are targeting older viewers. Chinese: In Black Butler, there are two Chinese characters—Lau and Ran-Mao. Lau is portrayed with black hair and small eyes, while Ran-Mao has larger eyes and black hair. Both are always seen in authentic Chinese garb, though this may also be due to the Victorian time period. Other Chinese characters include: Code Geass’s Xingke Li, Darker than Black’s Hei, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’s Ling Yao and May Chang. Vietnamese: In Young Black Jack, the show takes place during the Vietnam War. At one point the characters travel to the Vietnamese front where they encounter many Vietnamese citizens including their translator Phan. The citizens are shown with darker skin as is accurate, but for some reason any Vietnamese spoken is muted then translated by Phan into Japanese. Other Viatnamese characters include: Sakura Wars’ Coquelicot. Indian: Also in Black Butler are the characters Prince Soma and Agni. They are shown...

Worse Games to Play: Katniss’s Gratitude and Depression Jul31

Worse Games to Play: Katniss’s Gratitude and Depression...

When you go through a deeply painful and life changing experience, how do you move on? The stories I love answer this question again and again through characters like Frodo from The Lord of the Rings and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games—protagonists who go through traumatic experiences. They lost people they loved. They sustained mental and physical injuries that will never fully heal. Frodo could never completely move on, so he had to leave his world for the Gray Havens to find peace. However, Katniss didn’t have that option of escape and had to find a way to be at peace in her own world. After Panem’s revolution had been won, Katniss married Peeta Mellark and together they had two children, something Katniss swore she would never do at the beginning of The Hunger Games. The Girl on Fire has watched countless people die and even caused death by her own hands. She’s seen her friends tortured and severely injured. Katniss has gone through so much, yet somehow she finds peace. At the end of Mockingjay Part 2, when her son cries as he awakens, she explains to him and the audience what has changed in her heart: Even if I can find one thing to be thankful for that day while everything else seems dark, I count that as a win. “Did you have a nightmare? I have nightmares too. Someday I’ll explain it to you. Why they came. Why they won’t ever go away. But I’ll tell you how I survive it. I make a list in my head of all the good things I’ve seen someone do. Every little thing I can remember. It’s like a game. I do it over and over. It gets a little tedious after all...

Video Game Music for the Soundtrack Obsessed...

Special care must be taken in composing video game soundtracks, since the majority of the pieces are played in the background on loop while the player is traversing the game. Thus the pieces must be good enough so they don’t drive the player bonkers. I’m a complete soundtrack junkie, so when I find at least one piece that I love from a video game soundtrack, I must check out the entire thing. Below is a list of my favourite pieces from my favourite video game soundtracks! 1. “Three Years of Anger” by Austin Haynes from Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller This soundtrack was composed for an indie game, and this piece was actually what sold me into buying the game. It has a sense of sinister grittiness with the grating instruments and the male vocals. 2. “The Star Festival” by Mahito Yokota from Super Mario Galaxy In my opinion, Super Mario Galaxy by far has the best soundtrack of all of the Super Mario franchise since it actually was performed by a full orchestra! I love the light and bouncy tone of this piece. The synthetic instruments add a celestial feel. 3. “The Adventure Begins” by David Stanton & Ben Stanton from King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember I wasn’t too crazy about this remake of a classic PC adventure game series, but I have to admit some of the tracks are quite beautiful. This piece has an enchanting fantasy flavour with flutes, piano, and harp. The original game soundtrack theme even plays into it. 4. “Main Theme” by Gustavo Santaolalla from The Last of Us The reason why I decided to play this game was because I first heard this piece. I love the prominence of the guitar. With just this main instrument...

Not Afraid of Falling Up Jul03

Not Afraid of Falling Up...

Understanding someone else’s point of view can be difficult when I’m stuck looking out from my own. It’s hard to see the world from the eyes of someone from a different culture, religion, upbringing—or even someone who’s just not me. In the anime film Patema Inverted, the world is divided by two different polarities of gravity. Half of the population are subject to one and the other half to the other. If someone from one side enters the other half of the planet, they are still affected by their polarity of gravity and are in danger of “falling up.” Age’s teachers have taught him his entire life that Inverts are unholy pests. When he stumbles upon Patema, and she’s deathly afraid of falling into the sky, it’s hard for him to empathize with what she’s feeling. Falling into the sky? It sounds ridiculous. To him everything looks right-side up. Not until he journeys to her side of the planet does he finally understand how she feels. He experiences the sensation of falling up and has to rely on her to keep himself grounded. Seeing through another point of view allows me to reach a level of understanding and wisdom that I can’t on my own. I can’t always experience what other people are feeling or step into someone else’s world the same way Age enters Patema’s. And sometimes I don’t want to; I feel like dealing with my own problems is difficult enough without adding someone else’s to the mix. When I visited a close friend while her father was sick with cancer, I felt like I’d been turned upside-down, though it was her normal. Pushing him around in a wheelchair and going on weekend trips to the Mayo Clinic three hours away were...

My Neighbor Totoro and Exchanging Fear for Wonder Jun07

My Neighbor Totoro and Exchanging Fear for Wonder...

Fear is one of the most difficult things to unlearn. We begin to learn fear at a very young age, but there is a sweet period before children learn to fear. Many little kids have a sense of innocence, curiosity, and fearlessness that’s often lost in adults as our years on this earth teach us to be afraid. During my recent rewatch of My Neighbor Totoro, I was especially enraptured by the fearlessness of Mei. When the little totoros lead her into the tunnel of trees, she follows without hesitation. When she sees the big Totoro, she is only curious. When he roars so loudly at her that her hair blows, she screams in delight at this new marvel. This is a very different reaction than Satsuki’s when she first encounters the great fantastical beast. When she first sees Totoro by a bus stop on a dark rainy night, she’s a little nervous. Despite being a child, she’s still afraid of the unknown. Fearlessness or Foolishness? I also admire Mei’s effort to take her ear of corn to her sick mother. Yes, it was foolish, but the fact that a four-year-old girl would even think to undertake the journey in an attempt to help heal her mother is commendable. She was brave enough to try and that counts for something. To a child, many simple things in life seem absolutely extraordinary. Fearlessness can often be equivocated as foolishness, because children can often stumble into trouble due to their curiosity. But children also see the world through a unique perspective because of it. Instead of seeing the world through a lens of fear, they see it through a lens of wonder and possibility. In my adult life, I could use some of that childlike fearlessness. Fear...

Wolf Children and a Mother’s Sacrifice May15

Wolf Children and a Mother’s Sacrifice...

Hana from Wolf Children is the ultimate mother. After unexpectedly becoming a single parent, she gives up everything to take care of her two babies, Ame and Yuki. She gives up university, living in the convenience of the city, and the entire direction of her life to ensure that her children grow up healthy and happy. Her sacrifice and perseverance touches me deeply and I can’t help being reminded of my own mother. My mom took care of my sister and me while she was in an unhappy marriage so we could grow up with a father in our lives. To me, that sacrifice is as big as raising us as a single mom. She chose to live unhappily so her children could live happily. When Ame and Yuki were babies, Hana barely had time to sleep or eat or do anything for herself while she took care of them. She too lived unhappily for a time for the sake of her children. To give us more freedom in our education, my mom homeschooled us. Much of the research she did herself to provide the best education she could while also letting us grow up with plenty of extracurricular activities and time for fun. Similarly (somewhat), Hana researched everything she could to ensure she could raise Ame and Yuki as both humans and wolves. She wanted to give them the freedom to choose which path they wanted. Both of these mothers gave their children the freedom to choose their future paths and did so without judgement. When my sister and I grew into our teenage years, our relationship with our dad became strained to the point my mom felt like we should leave him. In a matter of days, she packed up everything and moved...

Attack on Titan Reminds us to Value Our Origins May10

Attack on Titan Reminds us to Value Our Origins...

I come from a region known for ignorance and stupidity. In media, residents of the Southern United States are often portrayed as unintelligent people with thick accents. I can’t tell you how many cartoons I’ve seen with a character in overalls, a piece of wheat hanging from his mouth, driveling with an obnoxious southern drawl. Because of this stigma, in the past I’ve detested using southern words like “y’all” or “buggie.” I didn’t pick up the southern accent on purpose. Sometimes I’ve wished I was from somewhere else, so I didn’t feel like I had to continuously prove that I’m not an idiot. Attack on Titan’s Sasha Braus felt the same way about her humble beginnings. She grew up with her father in the woods, struggling to find food that they hunted with bows and arrows. She also adopted her father’s deep southern accent. When she decided to join the 104th training corps in the military, she changed her accent, carefully choosing her words to make sure no one knew what she really sounded like and thus disguising where she came from. The places I came from formed who we I am and will always be a part of me no matter where I go. At one point, one of her fellow trainees, Ymir, calls her out for “acting too nice,” accusing her of covering up how she feels and being a fake. Another trainee named Krista Lenz defends Sasha, saying that she likes how Sasha talks and that “her words are her own.” In Season Two, Sasha is forced to return to her village to warn her people of an oncoming titan attack. Memories rush back to her about her home and who she is. There she finds a young girl trapped by...

Only at a Convention Apr21

Only at a Convention

San Diego ComicCon, MegaCon, and DragonCon are just around the corner, a long with many other conventions spread across the country. For a weekend, geeks flock from all over for unadulterated fictional fun at these events. And while attending them, I’ve found my mindset changes. I act in ways at conventions that I wouldn’t elsewhere. It’s weird and wonderful. Here are some things you might find yourself saying when you’re at one of these fan-centered events. 1. Elsewhere: “I’m not parking in the back forty to get into the supermarket. I’ll just do my shopping somewhere else.” At a Convention: “I don’t care how far I have to park, nor how far I have to walk. I’m going to see Nathan Fillion if it’s the last thing I do!” 2. Elsewhere: “If I’m not comfortable in it, I’m not wearing it.” At a Convention: “This costume may take two hours to get on and cause me to overheat… it may be hard to walk in and wearing these coloured contacts hurt my eyes, but I look epic and that’s all that matters.” 3. Elsewhere: “I never spend more than ten minutes on my makeup, except for maybe weddings… Maybe…” At a Convention: *Spends almost three hours doing elaborate contouring and erasing eyebrows to look like L from Death Note.* 4. Elsewhere: *Passes by stranger. Says nothing.* At a Convention: “Oh my gosh! That costume is amazing! Can I take a selfie with you?” 5. Elsewhere: “I maybe take two pictures a day and they’re usually of my cat.” At a Convention: *Fills up memory card within the first two hours, frantically deletes bad photos while waiting in line to free up space for more because there’s an awesome Obi-Wan Kenobi cosplayer over there and must get 30 photos of him.* 6. Elsewhere: “I’m not waiting in this line...

When Life Begins with Fear Apr07

When Life Begins with Fear...

My comfort zone is my safety zone, and it’s my favorite place to be. I have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, in order to do something outside of it. I’m not a risk-taker. I like playing it safe. I hate the idea of gambling, because there’s such a big risk of losing. I like staying in my own little world with my laptop and the internet where my life is unexciting most of the time. It’s where I’m comfortable. When I saw Tangled for the first time in theaters, I immediately related to Rapunzel. She’s a girl with many talents and interests I share, including art and cooking. We both have long hair. Mine’s not that long, but still. And we both really like our comfort zones. Rapunzel longed to leave the tower and see the lights on her birthday. Anytime in her eighteen years, she could have left on her own to see them. Mother Gothel persuaded her to stay by telling her about all of the scary things beyond the tower, but she still had a choice. She chose to listen to fear. There are so many things I want to do in life, but often fear holds me back. There are so many things I want to do in life, but often fear holds me back. Whether it’s fear of a new job, talking to someone I’ve never met at a party, or even trying a new ride at an amusement park, it keeps me from doing things I want to do. When Flynn arrives, Rapunzel gains the courage to leave her home and see the world. At times she regrets leaving the tower, because doing so made herself vulnerable and she gets hurt. But if she hadn’t stepped out,...

The Paris of My Childhood Mar24

The Paris of My Childhood...

The live action version of Beauty and the Beast does character backstory well. One subplot concerns what happened to Belle’s mother and why she had to move to this “poor provincial town.” In this version, the Beast has a magical map that can take people to the place they truly want to go. He allows Belle to use this item to take the two of them to a windmill attic on the outskirts of Paris where Belle was born. Belle remembers this place with fondness because this is where her family was together and happy. This is the Paris of my childhood These were the borders of my life In this crumbling dusty attic Where an artist loved his wife Easy to remember, harder to move on Knowing the Paris of my childhood is gone. In this simple song, I felt Belle’s yearning for wholeness in her life, especially as she discovers the true reason why her father fled Paris and had to leave his dear wife behind. When I think of the home I grew up in before my parents’ divorce, I tend to elevate that place. I remember days in my childhood when drama between my parents and how I’m going to pay my bills weren’t at the forefront of my mind. Like Belle, I also left my home abruptly without the chance to say goodbye when my parents separated. I suppose we both needed closure. Home doesn’t necessarily mean the four walls around me. When Belle returns to the crumbling attic, devoid of life only filled with shadows of what once was, she realizes that this home she had in her head, the place she wanted to go back to for years, is no longer her home. She makes this clear...

Through the Mist: Patience and Ronja Mar20

Through the Mist: Patience and Ronja...

I want to have good friends, but sometimes I forget to show my friends the same virtues I wish they would show me. One of those is patience, specifically when a friend is going through a hard time and they start acting unlike themselves. They stop laughing at the same things, they’re more sensitive about certain subjects, and maybe they’ve even taken up harmful habits. It’s hard to be around someone who is suffering. I just want to swoop in and fix all their problems. But most of the time, those problems aren’t something I can fix. They might be dealing with an external issue, like a fight with a family member or stress at their job; or they might be facing an internal problem that only they can change. A particular instance from Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter, a new animated series co-produced by Studio Ghibli, illustrates similar frustrations with friends. If I respond with patience, maybe I can help a friend avoid getting caught in the mist. When Ronja, the child of a bandit chief, and her friend Birk, the son of a rival clan chief, traveled through the forest one fall day, mist clouded the way. Mist children danced within the fog, tempting unsuspecting travelers with their siren song to become forever entrapped in the fog. Ronja fell under this spell and started to follow the mist children. Birk tried to stop her, but she fought him. Instead of letting her go because of her harsh protests, he held on and finally embraced her to hold her in place. Ronja scratched and bit him, but he still held her through the pain. Later when she snapped out of this trance, she didn’t remember what happened and asked him where his injuries came...

I May Fall: RWBY and Isolation Mar06

I May Fall: RWBY and Isolation...

At times I fall apart. Sometimes I feel so beat down by life I just want to curl up in a ball and cry “a million tears.” Just like the lyrics from the RWBY soundtrack (“I May Fall,” sung by Casey Lee Williams), the “skies rain blood”, “the moon is gone,” and the “sun won’t rise.” Creatures of darkness seem to triumph in my life, taking the form of doubt, worry, and fear; my shields are shattered in the fight against them. Sometimes they all seem to beat me down and I “succumb to fear.” I feel like “help won’t arrive” to mend a problem that seems unfixable. Ruby, Yang, Blake, and Weiss reach many low points during their adventures. When Beacon Academy is destroyed, instead of leaning on each other, the girls separate. Yang loses her arm, Weiss’s father forces her to return to a toxic family life, Blake runs back to her home, and Ruby travels with another team, feeling shunned by her sister. Team RWBY has spent three seasons nigh inseparable, doing everything together. They’d survived many rough times, but this one finally broke the camel’s back. Instead of coming together, team RWBY races apart. When we lose our faith and forsake our friends, the song lyrics say. Funny how those two actions can go hand in hand. Instead of coming together, team RWBY races apart. Yang suffers from depression because of the loss of her arm. She feels so down that she even rejects a very expensive replacement her father found for her. Blake rejects help from Sun as he tries to be there for her as she adjusts to being with her family again and feeling ashamed about the loss of Beacon. I know I’ve reached low points where...

Corruption Everywhere but Within Feb22

Corruption Everywhere but Within...

“He saw corruption everywhere, but within,” sings Clopin as he introduces Claude Frollo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This line particularly stands out to me because Frollo is a villain who believes he’s right in every way. He believes his treatment of Quasimodo is just, he believes the gypsies should be dealt with revilement, and he believes he must shepherd others in his professed righteousness. He sings: You know I am a righteous man Of my virtue I am justly proud You know I’m so much purer than The common, vulgar, weak, licentious crowd. Since Frollo gives to the poor, takes in a scorned and ugly “monster,” pursues injustice, prays, and attends mass, he believes he’s doing good. He thinks God and the saints should be pleased with him, because he’s checked all the boxes. But he fails to notice all the virtues he’s neglecting—mercy, compassion, and love, for starters. Claude Frollo is abusive, cruel, and above all arrogant. In trying to become a better person, there’s always the danger of pride. Pursuing virtue is a noble endeavor; I believe kindness, selflessness, charity, patience, love, and honesty should be encouraged. But I know I must keep in mind the danger of being so caught up in the right that I stop recognizing when I’m wrong. Many people in the film such as Esmeralda, Phoebus, and the Archdeacon recognize Frollo’s wrong actions and they even call him out on it. However, whenever Frollo is confronted, he gives excuses and tries to justify himself. Archdeacon: See there the innocent blood you have spilt on the steps of Notre Dame. Frollo: I am guiltless. She ran. I pursued. Archdeacon: Now you would add this child’s blood to your guilt on the steps of Notre Dame....

I Want it to be Over: Suffering and A Monster Calls Feb03

I Want it to be Over: Suffering and A Monster Calls...

Suffering makes me so tired; lugging physical and emotional burdens is draining. It makes happiness hard to feel and strains relationships. It makes me feel heavy, even on days when I’m not distracted by work or projects. Or perhaps especially on those days. “Pain is the gift that nobody wants.” That’s what Philip Yancey writes in his book, Where is God When it Hurts? He’s talking about the fact that pain keeps us safe; it warns us not to keep our hand in a fire and tells us when there’s something wrong with our minds or bodies. But it’s hard to see it as a gift when that pain becomes unbearable. Conor O’Malley is a twelve-year-old boy who watches his mother’s life drain out of her due to cancer. For over a year, he’s witnessed a vibrant, hopeful woman wither into an emaciated, fragile shadow of her old self. Anger and fear consume him, and that comes out in how he interacts at school and with family. It is human for us to want suffering to end, even at the expense of others. Conor’s negative emotions also manifest in a reoccurring nightmare. In it, he sees his mother falling off a cliff. He races to grab her hand and catches it before she plummets into an abyss. For a long time he grips her wrist with all of his might. She yells his name and for him not to let go. But every night he lets her fingers slip out of his, and she falls into a pit of darkness. He claims he could have held on longer, but lets go instead. Why would he give up? Why would he let go? Why wouldn’t he fight for her? When a great monster comes walking,...

Lonely Like Naruto Jan27

Lonely Like Naruto

Feeling alone in a crowd is the worst. At events, parties, or even just walking through a mall, I’ve watched people laughing with their friends and wished mine were there with me (my two best friends live hundreds of miles away and I only see them twice a year). I’ve watched a daughter holding hands with her father, and wished my father had behaved that way with me. I’ve seen families play together at the park and wished I was the daughter with the grin on her face, looking up at two parents who are still together. Many people believe that loneliness means you don’t get out of the house much or you’re craving a romantic relationship, but the sort of cure for loneliness I’ve wanted in my heart is simple, innocent companionship. This is a desire that Naruto understands. Naruto grew up surrounded by people, but not by friends. He became an orphan within the first hour of his birth. He longingly watched families happy together. He wished for friends, but the kids around him neglected him. He was shunned for a past he had no knowledge of. They treated him as a parasite. In retaliation, Naruto began acting out to make people stop ignoring him. He played juvenile pranks and became the outspoken class clown. This gained him attention, but it didn’t gain him what he truly wanted: friendship. “The pain of being alone is completely out of this world, isn’t it? I don’t know why, but I understand your feelings so much, it actually hurts.”  —Naruto Uzumaki I didn’t act out for attention as a child, but I wanted friends. I had a few in middle school and high school, but after we moved I lost most of them. When distance...

A Quiet Suffering Jan23

A Quiet Suffering

Happiness is more attractive than sadness. This was an idea instilled into me from a young age. No one should know my problems, so I should hide them behind a smile and dodge answers when someone asks how I am. Growing up, I tried my best to keep up appearances. When my friends were on the way over and my dad had just been verbally abusive, I had to mask my feelings. If a friend called on the phone, I tried to cover the fact that my dad was bullying my sister in the background by moving to a different room. On the way to church, I had to listen to my parents scream at each other, then dry my tears and sing in worship and read Bible verses like it never happened. But it did happen, again and again and again, and it hurt so deeply. Pretending everything okay was destroying me. No one should know my problems, so I should hide them behind a smile and dodge answers when someone asks how I am. Lady Bishamonten is a very tenderhearted god of fortune in the anime Noragami. She has taken in more regalia (former wandering spirits now bonded to a god) than any other god, giving them a home safe from phantoms. When a regalia sins or feels negative emotions, it affects their god, therefore one of Bishamonten’s spirits, Kazuma, urges his fellow regalia to hide any bad feelings they have for one another. The regalia disguise their fears, sadness, and worries behind smiles. But instead of creating an area of peace, this incites even more discord as they tried harder and harder to cover up how they feel. Eventually, these bottle feelings poison Lady Bishamonten. Ironically, their attempts to stop a...

Her or the World

Many people joke about the end of the world, but the concept of an apocalypse frightens me. I shudder at the thought of humanity falling into depravity. I cringe at a devastating loss of cities, nations, and people. I feel empathetic towards the pain humanity will experience. The human race is a confounding, yet beautiful thing, which is why the ending of the Last of Us made me stop and think. Joel witnesses an apocalypse firsthand. As a disease that turns humans into fungal monsters plunges the world into ruin, his daughter, Sarah, dies in his arms, and humanity degrades. He becomes bitter towards humankind until he meets a girl named Ellie, who is about the same age as Sarah when she died. A woman hires Joel to deliver Ellie to a group called the Fireflies. Over the course of their journey battling infected humans, cannibals, and murderers, he begins to see Ellie as his own daughter. If we force someone else to give up her life to save ourselves, are we worth saving? When Joel and Ellie finally reach their destination, Joel discovers that to acquire a cure for the disease that plagues the world, Ellie must die. After hearing this news, he breaks Ellie out of the operating room and escapes, but not before killing all of the Fireflies to make sure they can never come after them. When Ellie wakes up, he lies to her; he tells her the cure wouldn’t have worked. Later, she asks him to look her in the eyes and tell her the truth. He swears that it was the truth, and she accepts that. The game ends there. This finale took me aback. I was appalled at Joel’s actions. He left humanity to die? That felt...