The Handmaid’s Tale Counters Religious Fanaticism Sep26

The Handmaid’s Tale Counters Religious Fanaticism...

I’ve been supremely irked for years when I see crazy characters on TV who are zealots about their faith, with little to no representation that values religion. For example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Caleb, a sociopath who dresses like a priest but acts nothing like one; Carnivale has Justin Crowe, a man who attracts a crowd of followers for his own selfish reasons; and The Hunchback of Notre Dame has Frollo, a character so self-righteous he is unable to admit his own hypocrisies. While these are wonderful characters as they make terrifying villains, I wish there were more examples of religious characters who demonstrate a loving, peaceful faith. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the few shows I’ve seen that presents Christianity as a valid life choice rather than as religious fanaticism. Though June Osborne, the main character, doesn’t consider herself a Christian, her character hints at many biblical truths I try to live my own life by, including mercy, forgiveness, and fortitude. At first glance, The Handmaid’s Tale appears to represent everything that bothers me about representing religion in the media, where villainous characters cherry-pick scripture to propel their objectives and create brutal laws. In the show, infertility has become commonplace and the human race is beginning to die out. The totalitarian theocracy that is Gilead has taken over most of the United States and uses biblical scripture to its advantage, pushing its tyrannical ideals on others. At first glance, The Handmaid’s Tale appears to represent everything that bothers me about representing religion in the media. This government justifies raping women who have committed any form of infidelity in order to conceive children because, in the Bible, Abraham took Hagar as a surrogate when Sarah couldn’t bear children. Another law justifies literally taking...

I’m Still Mighty—Depression, Anxiety, and All Aug01

I’m Still Mighty—Depression, Anxiety, and All...

I feel like I’m composed of two parts: the actual me and the depressed or anxious me. Actual Me is diligent, light-hearted, and brave, but  Depressed Me procrastinates, is fearful and sad, wanting to hide at home forever. When I watched My Hero Academia and saw All Might struggle between his two personas as a career superhero and an ailing man, I finally found a character who I can relate to in regards to mental illness. All Might is a powerful superhero and the symbol of peace for the super-powered futuristic earth in My Hero Academia. He is heavily muscled, always smiling, and brings hope to everyone. But behind the scenes, he suffers daily with an old battle wound that causes his lungs to hemorrhage whenever he strains himself. Often he’ll be in the middle of talking about his strong desire to help others and push forward despite his challenges, and then blood spurts out of his mouth as he reverts to his weaker, human form as Toshinori Yagi. I don’t like people seeing me weak, but like Toshinori, I’ve been met with understanding and love. I relate to these sudden attacks in a metaphorical way. I’ll be in the midst of saving up for a trip, or boosting my novel’s word count, or being more active in the pro-life community, or any other plans, then next thing I know I have a “blood-spurt.” These episodes are bouts of anxiety that keep me up at night for hours or depression that drags me down into a slothful, weepy stupor. All Might can only keep up his muscled form for so long. One day, on his commute to teach the students at UA High School, he decides to help others on the way. Though I...

Why I Envy Simon Tam’s Patience Jul16

Why I Envy Simon Tam’s Patience...

When it comes to my younger sister, patience is not my strong point. She and I are the exact opposite in every possible way: I’m tall, she’s short; I’m blonde, she’s brunette; I love science fiction, she loves chick flicks; I’m introverted, she’s extroverted. I haven’t been close to her since we were little and we’ve gotten into big fights because of our differences. It’s been hard for us to find common ground. I’ve always admired strong sibling relationships in fiction, the kind where the characters have a lot in common and will do anything for each other: Al and Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist, Ruby and Yang from RWBY, Fili and Kili from The Hobbit. But perhaps the relationship I admire most because of their closeness is River and Simon Tam’s from Firefly. Simon comes to accept all the parts of River and learns to live with who she is now. Even though River is a child prodigy and can probably school Simon at nearly everything, the flashbacks to their childhood suggest that Simon admires and loves his younger sister. He could easily have let jealousy get in the way of their closeness, but he doesn’t. Simon is, in fact, the one who notices something is wrong in the letters she writes home from the prestigious academy for gifted children she attends; he realizes she’s using phrases that don’t sound like her and talking in codes. When his parents don’t believe him, Simon risks everything to free his sister from her captors, but by the time he reaches her, she’d taken severe brain damage from the experiments she’d endured, leaving her unstable. “That young man’s very brave,” says Shepherd Book. “Gave up everything to free his sister from that place. Go from being a...

Arrietty and Keeping Our Failures a Secret Jun18

Arrietty and Keeping Our Failures a Secret...

Children’s movies often tout the dangers of secrets. Many a story surrounds a protagonist keeping a secret from friends, guardians, or other adults with lie after lie throughout almost the entirety of the films. George lies to his parents about Stuart leaving on a dangerous journey in Stuart Little 2; Mr. Incredible lies to his wife so he can moonlight hero work in The Incredibles; Miguel lies to his deceased family so he can break his curse in Coco. In the end, after a barrage of damage dealt to relationships or the characters themselves, the secret always comes out. On the other hand, The Secret World of Arrietty, a Japanese animated film, also has a plot surrounding a secret; but instead of lying, right away this little person takes responsibility for her actions. One of the biggest lies I’ve used repeatedly is two words: “I’m fine.” This film is Hayao Miyazaki’s interpretation of The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Fourteen-year-old Arrietty is a girl only a few inches tall, called a borrower, who lives with her mother and father under the floorboards of a house in Japan. While thoughtlessly running in the garden one day, she’s seen by a “human bean,” but she hides this secret from her parents. Their presence being known jeopardizes the safety of her family. As opposed to dragging this secret out for the rest of the film, not far into the story, Arrietty admits to Papa and Mama that she was seen while being careless. Arrietty could have lied to make it easier on herself. Taking responsibility for a secret that’s hurt others can be a humbling process because admitting you’re wrong takes guts. If I admit I’ve done something wrong, then there are all these horrible feelings of guilt...

Expecting People to Conform is Not Love May02

Expecting People to Conform is Not Love...

Over the course of my life, I’ve developed a mold in my head for the ideal way to live. I often think I know better than others, with opinions about how they should act, what job they should have, etc. When someone doesn’t fit into this mold, I’ve disassociated with them or tried to cram them into it. Subconsciously, I’ve thought of these people as “uglies”—a term from the YouTube dystopian short film by David Armsby called Being Pretty. Being Pretty is a three-minute video that’s gained over three million views. In the video, “pretty” doesn’t mean physically attractive, but refers to conformity into the artificial intelligence-controlled city of Autodale. The first half of the short is a public service announcement, given by a Handyman (a robotic sentinel), explaining to children that their dad is “pretty” because he reads the newspaper, kicks his feet up after a hard day’s work, and provides for his family; their mom is “pretty” because her cooking is great, she keeps the house clean, and reads them bedtime stories. The Handyman tells the children they will grow up to be “just like” one of their parents and reminds them to “stay pretty.” Perhaps people I think are “ugly” just aren’t like me. In Autodale, anyone who doesn’t conform is considered “ugly.” The second half of the film reveals that “uglies” include anyone old, gay, crippled, sterile, disfigured, fat, or even those who suffer from depression—and the Handymen brutally discard them like trash. This chilling tale made me think, “Do I see people as ‘uglies’ and discard them out of my life?” If we consider beauty as something more than physical appearance, the phrase “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” takes on new meaning. Someone I consider “pretty”...

My Soul for a Suit of Armour: A Supernatural Response to Grief Mar07

My Soul for a Suit of Armour: A Supernatural Response to Grief...

Grief is debilitating. It clouds my judgement. It breaks me, tearing off pieces of my heart and revisiting after I hoped it had left for good. Staying at my grandparents’ house recently, I was overcome by emotions because of my grandpa’s death. He died a year ago, and I miss him. If I could do something to get him back, I would. If I could hear his voice again and it would ease the pain, even for a second, I would jump into the TARDIS to do so; I’m not sure even the threat of tearing time apart would stop me. People respond to the death of loved ones differently. Some seek retribution out of anger. Like Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride, they dedicate their lives to hurting the one who hurt them. Others try to force the grief away. Like Rose Tyler from Doctor Who, who attempts to reverse her father’s death, they’d do anything to get a happy ending. Characters who deny their grief often end up paying horrible prices. Just ask Edward and Alphonse Elric from the Fullmetal Alchemist (and the more faithful to the manga, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) anime series. At a young age, Ed and Al lose their mother. In desperation, the two boys attempt to resurrect her with a forbidden alchemic spell. As a result, Ed loses an arm and a leg, and Al loses his entire body. Ed manages to attach his brother’s soul to a suit of armour, and they are left to deal with the consequences of meddling with death—their losses only compounded by the contorted corpse of the woman they love. The brothers wanted a fast way to solve their problems. They knew they felt sad—sad to the breaking point—and they wanted the horrifying emotion to go away. Who doesn’t? Grieving is a process, and at such a young age, they may not have understood that. Many adults don’t, either. There is arrogance in the brothers’ actions—they thought they could cheat grief and death when no one else had ever done so—but they were ignorant as well. On the other hand, Dean Winchester from Supernatural knows exactly what he’s doing when he makes a similar decision. He’s dealt with crossroad demons before and knows the price of striking a deal with one, but does so anyway because he wants to save his brother, Sam. His motives are similar to those of the Elric brothers; he’s acting out of intense grief, love for the deceased, and the fear of being alone in the world. Several times, Dean has lost Sam. Each time has been as devastating as the next to him as he can’t bear the thought of being without his little brother. He makes so many deals with demons and other supernatural beings, that he actually becomes blackballed from ever making such deals again. With each deal he strikes, the cost is high. He constantly puts his own life and humanity on the line, which may mend the problem of losing Sam, but causes more grief than good to Dean, Sam, and those around them. To respond irrationally to grief, to run away from horrifying feelings, is to be human. No one wants to feel unhappy. No one wants to miss someone so much that their chests hurt and they have trouble breathing. However, how we respond to loss impacts our mental health and influences how we react to others experiencing similar situations in the future. Ed and Al learn from their mistake—from attempting to bypass the grieving process—and when they encounter a young woman who has lost her lover, they understand why she wants to bring him back from the dead. When she sees that Al doesn’t have a body, Al says, “This is my punishment for setting foot on holy ground where mortals are forbidden. We made a mistake, Rose. And we’re paying for it.” When she...

The View from the Bottom: Weakness in Kekkei Sensen Feb12

The View from the Bottom: Weakness in Kekkei Sensen...

I try to hold back tears when I’m emotional, because I don’t want to seem weak. I often don’t let myself cry even in private, hoping that holding back will make me stronger. Society frowns upon weakness and I feel like people will think less of me if they see me in a vulnerable position. However, I’ve learned the hard way that shoving down my sadness does more harm than good, and even scientific studies have confirmed this. In the anime Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront), Riel is a dimensional alien that Leonardo Watch and Sonic Speed Monkey befriend in Hellsalem’s Lot (formerly New York City). Riel is fragile and an easy target for bullies. He hates himself the way he is because he feels like a crybaby who others ridicule. He wishes he was stronger because that would mean his problems would disappear. “If only I wasn’t so frail. If only I were bigger and stronger I wouldn’t have to deal with this terrible stuff,” says Riel. I’ve tried to put on a mask of indifference, but vulnerability is what creates connections between people. Like Riel, I often find myself wishing that I could power through my problems. I look at other people and envy how strong they seem in a situation and then am hard on myself because I can’t handle something as well as they can. Riel encounters a bacterial terrorist named Gimnimo, who’s even smaller than a flea. He appears to empathize with Riel and offers him what he wants: to be strong. He offers Riel enough power to become a danger to Hellsalem’s Lot. “Power is the only thing that matters in this world. So many people get trampled into the ground and for what? Just so the powerful...

Reading Grimm: Selfishness begets Fear Nov17

Reading Grimm: Selfishness begets Fear...

People in fairy tales really don’t trust each other. Husbands assume their wives are lying and listen to the advice of murderous mothers-in-laws, a bird believes his housemates’ are overworking him, and a father plans to kill his sons for fear his daughter won’t be taken care of—just to name a few. Oftentimes, selfishness lies at the heart of this mistrust, and characters try to hold on to their desire so tightly they are constantly afraid of losing what they have. In the fairy tale “The White Cat” (the Grimm version is known as “Cherry” or “The Frog Bride”), a king has three sons “so clever and brave” he is afraid they will take over his kingdom before he dies, so he gives them an impossible task to perform. Whoever succeeds will receive the crown. I can’t help wondering why the king is so scared about losing his throne. If people in power are so constantly afraid of losing it that they spend all their time worrying, what’s the point? He’s actually inviting resentment from his sons by pitting them against each other, though they don’t seem troubled by his decree. While the youngest son is on his quest, which is to find the smallest and most beautiful dog in the land, he stumbles upon an enchanted mansion in a forest and there he meets a talking white cat. He decides to stay with her because he likes spending time with her so much. When the year is almost up, she reminds him that he still has a task to complete, then provides him with a dog tiny enough to fit into an acorn. The son presents it to the king, who has nothing “to say against the beauty of the little dog.” But...

When Warped Community Feels Right Nov15

When Warped Community Feels Right...

There’s wisdom in seeking counsel from those who are older and wiser than me, from friends who can view my situation from an unbiased perspective. Any time I have to make a big decision, I consult those close to me. However, advice still needs to be taken with careful consideration. A solution that worked for someone else in a similar situation may not work for me—it might not even be the wisest thing for me to do. In Stranger Things 2, Eleven meets Kali (another girl with superpowers). She finds safety and belonging with someone who can empathize with her troubles. Kali gives her advice on how to harness her power and tries to coax her into seeking revenge against the people who hurt her. But Kali tempts Eleven to the dark side of the Force—I mean, convinces her to do more harm than good. She advises Eleven to use anger to fuel her abilities and be unmerciful to those who have hurt her. Eleven chose the more difficult path—one where she had to face her ultimate fear and reconcile with people who’ve hurt her. Kali’s advice isn’t malicious; she genuinely wants to help Eleven. But Eleven comes to realize that Kali’s life is dark and bitter; and Kali is surrounded by friends who let her thrive in her depravity. Eleven soon realizes Kali’s life is not something she wants to aspire to. Kali tries to convince her to kill a man who abused Kali and hurt Eleven’s mama. When Kali tries to kill the man herself, Eleven stops her and Kali responds by saying, “If you want to show mercy, that is your choice, but don’t you ever take away mine. Ever.” Kali respects Eleven to make the decision to show mercy, proving...

Reconciling with Mickey: Choosing Peace over Resentment...

Oswald Rabbit understands what it feels like to be forgotten. As a creation of Walt Disney, he starred in cartoons even before Mickey Mouse was a thumbnail sketch. But as the white-gloved rodent grew in popularity, the rabbit faded into obscurity. It’s fitting then, that in the video game Epic Mickey, Oswald lives in a world called the Wasteland, where Walt’s forgotten cartoon characters dwell. They all lack hearts because they no longer exist in human memories (poor things!). While Mickey stars in film after film, Oswald performs for the small crowd of his fellow forgotten cartoons. He feels usurped and bitter against his sketchbook brother for stealing the world’s love from him. Oswald could have easily been the villain of Epic Mickey. But instead of letting his anger incite him to lash out, he makes the Wasteland into the most pleasant place he can for the other forgotten toons by building them a safe city called Ostown to live in, performing for them at the theater on Mean Street, and protecting them from the Mad Scientists and other monsters. The other characters (and I) admire him for his desire to find good in a depressing place. I can’t force someone else to care. However, there is still pain festering inside Oswald. Oswald erects a statue of himself and Walt Disney, similar to the one in front of Cinderella Castle in Disney World (except that one features Disney holding Mickey’s hand, not Oswald’s). He builds a house for Mickey in Ostown, hoping the mouse will be forgotten too and end up living there. Though he’s never unkind to those he considers his friends, he’s bitter when he finally comes face to face with Mickey Mouse in the game. Similar to Oswald, I often hold resentment against people who’ve caused me pain. I’ve avoided going to stores and restaurants I’ve previous loved because I used to work there and I don’t want to run into the bosses or fellow employees who were unkind to me. I’ve felt so hurt by people, including family, that I react negatively when I see their faces in pictures, catch the sound of their voices, or even hear their names mentioned. I’m ashamed to admit that their opinions matter to me. In Epic Mickey, Mickey sacrifices his heart to the Blot, a malevolent creature created from paint thinner, to save Oswald from being squeezed to death by the Blot’s giant fist. After the battle is won, Mickey’s heart ends up in Oswald’s hands. Oswald has a choice: keep the heart for himself and leave the Wasteland (replacing Mickey and gaining all the fame for himself), or give the heart back to its rightful owner. As the scene pans out, conflict rages in Oswald’s eyes. He holds the heart, wavering back and forth on his decision. To make matters more complicated, Mickey had admitted to causing the Thinner Disaster in the first place, which unleashed the Blot on the world. Surely, Oswald would never have made such a stupid mistake. Wouldn’t Oswald be a “better” Mickey? He wants so badly to be remembered again. But instead of succumbing to his selfish desires, he gives the heart back to Mickey, because he doesn’t want to inflict his pain on someone else. Sometimes, I want to hurt people the same way they’ve hurt me. I want to lash out at them for not caring, for not thinking well of me, for injuring my self-esteem (whether their actions were purposeful or not). But vengeance is a selfish choice, and it’s not mine to take. Hurting someone else to get what I want won’t make me feel better or mend things in the long run. I want to hurt people the same way they’ve hurt me. Like Oswald, I’ve had to find a way to make peace with the ones who’ve wronged me. Mickey didn’t have bad intentions. He didn’t...

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...