Sunday Review: Jem and The Holograms

I grew up in the 90’s. That means I grew up in a childhood surrounded by the Spice Girls, The Magic School Bus and reading Goosebumps. I was exposed to anime through the power of Sailor Moon and was a kid when the best movies Disney ever made all came out. It also meant that I was exposed to the power of Blockbuster and renting retro movies and shows. I got to see some pretty great movies that way … and some crappy ones. One in particular really caught my eye as having potential for a great reboot and thank god it received it!

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Jem and the Holograms was officially released in March of 2015 by IDW Publishing with writer Kelly Thompson (Storykiller, The Girl Who Would Be King) and artist Sophie Campbell (Glory, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) on the helm of this remake of the classic 80’s television series that combined camp and kitsch into

In the original Jem and the Holograms, Jerrica Benton was the daughter of a wealthy deceased music producer who used the power of the holographic computer Synergy to create the alter-ego ‘Jem’ to hide who she was from the public and create some bubblegum coated pop with her ‘sisters’. In this 21st Century re-write, Jerrica Benton creates her alter-ego Jem for an entirely different reason: the girl has some series stage fright.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t for the fact that she and her band mates Aja, Shana and Kimber wanted to compete in an online competition to face off against punk-rockers The Misfits in a battle of the bands style competition. The simple battle of the band premise is amped up (pun not intended) when a romance blossoms between Kimber and Misfits member Stormer, leading for questions of loyalty to be thrown about as fast as the insults are between the two very different, yet very similar bands.

The series has already received rave reviews on most sites (Tumblr in particular) for it’s amazing art, great outfits, good storytelling and nods to other forms of popular culture. But what is really turning heads is the diversity that has been included in the cast. Both the Holograms and Misfits are made of a real mixture of personalities and body types, giving every reader an opportunity to see their body type portrayed in a comic book, something seriously lacking in both Western and Japanese comics. Another great new upgrade was the inclusion of a truly adorable lesbian relationship and

If you are looking for a brightly coloured comic romp would definitely recommend picking up and falling head over awesome heels for IDW’s 21st century remake of an 80’s classic.

Shana, Aja, Kimber, Jerrica, Pizzaz, Stormer, Jetta, Roxy and the ultimate obsessed fan Clash after a stick first meeting.

Shana, Aja, Kimber, Jerrica, Pizzaz, Stormer, Jetta, Roxy and the ultimate obsessed fan Clash after a stick first meeting.

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Return of the Sunday Reviews: Mahou Shoujo Site

If I say the term ‘magical girl’ what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it the classic overly long transformation sequences of Sailor Moon? The sickly sweetness of Pretty Cure? Or when you fall in love with Mami Tomoe only to watch her head get bitten off? In the Mahou Shoujo genre, Puella Magi Madoka Magica was a game changer. It took a primarily sweet and playful genre and turned it completely on its head, opening up a new world for the genre. A world where being a magical girl is not really something you want.

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Main characters Aya Asagiri and Tsuyuno Yatsumura, likely wishing they were in a different series.

One of the new contenders for the messed up magical girl crown are the girls of Mahou Shoujo Site, a Supernatural psychological horror from Sato Kentarou. Released in 2013, Mahou Shoujo Site is the second work of Kentarou who burst onto the manga scene the year before with Mahou Shoujo of the End.

This still ongoing,series follows Asagiri Aya, a sweet bundle of joy who eats a lot and has great friends who help her through the trials of High school life! One day she meets a magical cat who … no wait, that is Sailor Moon, let me try this again.

Asagiri Aya is a girl who is viciously bullied every day at school (think stuff like threatened rape and forced to eat garbage) and then goes home to be the punching bag of her psychotic older brother, Kaname. After a particularly vicious day, an image of a strange girl shows up on her computer and offers her ‘Magical Power’. Before she knows what she is doing, she clicks yes. The next day a pink, toy looking gun shows up in her school locker … as you can guess this weapon is anything BUT innocent.

With the help of her mysterious classmate (it’s always a mysterious classmate)Tsuyuno Yatsumura, she learns more about the screwed up job she has signed herself up for and that she is not alone in her new abilities. Like more cheerful magical girl series, the girls of Mahou Shoujo Site all have their own abilities based on their toy-like weapons. That is pretty much where the similarities end. In this manga an MP3 stops time, a toy gun teleports people to random locations, a yo-yo slices through metal and a razor blade lets the blood of its user heal others.

Dark, gritty and often messed up, Sato uses his talents for drawing cute anime girls to pull you in and then his skills as a writer to slap you in the face with the absurdity of the world he has created. This series touches on a lot of really adult topics including rape, child molestation, cutting, suicide, bullying and torture, and it definitely isn’t a manga for someone who is easily shaken by gore or triggered.

However, like all magical girl series before it, Mahou Shoujo Site does put a lot of emphasis into the power of friendship and how good friends can help you through even the darkest of life’s moments. The characters are all highly likable with great back stories and interesting personalities that ensure that you always have someone you are cheering on, whether it be against those who have hurt them in the past or against the new situations they find themselves in as a magical girl.

If you were a fan of Puella Magi Madoka Magica or just enjoy any series that leaves you a little shaken and questioning what you just read, all while pulling you back in to keep reading, then I would definitely suggest you check out Mahou Shoujo Site.

Swearing in a magical girl series!? For shaaaaame!

Swearing in a magical girl series!? For shaaaaame!

Con Review: Kitchener Comic Con

Back in February, February 18th to be more precise, I attended the first ever Kitchener Comic Con. The event was a one shot, a one day only free event being held at Kitchener City Hall. The event was billed as:

Kitchener Comic Con is the newest pop culture event for the Region of Waterloo within the city of Kitchener. KCC celebrates the wonderfulness that is comic book pop culture and all of It’s multi-generational fun, we invite all ages and genres to celebrate their passions and embrace the fandom culture within the region with the events that we host.

But sadly what it ended up being was a cluster of only okay vendors and normies walking around judging the more hardcore nerds. On one hand the lack of really good vendors made sense because it was a FREE event which meant that they did not find

My sister and I arrived at 12 PM (the event started at 11AM) and we had plans of checking out the masquerade, an event we had become attached to at Con-G. Unfortunately though things were very poorly organized and we never ended up getting to the event (or ever finding out where it even was). We were disappointed to discover that all there was to do at the event was look at the booths, as all of the events were impossible to find.

Though my sister and I had planned on staying till 3 PM, we only ended up staying till 2 PM as we quickly lost interest in the event. Due to the size of the event there really was not a lot to do.

Usually at cons we browse through the vendors and check out and chat with fellow cosplayers, but KCC proved to be 251267_wooly16_whitereally low on cosplayers. There were very few cosplayers except for the occasional Halloween costumes teen or closet cosplays so photoshoots were out.

We briefly checked out the gaming section but the Con Funk and attitude of the players, quickly chased us off. The gaming area was small and crowded by overly serious gamer guys who wouldn’t hand the controller to the girl even if she flashed him (they wouldn’t even allow kids anywhere near the systems!)

On a plus side, I did become obsessed with the adorable products of The Littlest Gift Boutique who sell freakishly adorable plushies and figurines and who I will likely be spending a chunk of money with at Anime North. (I have plans of reviewing the store).

Most of my fellow attendees agreed that the event was … a nice distraction. Kind of dull, very poorly organized and t

There is already plans for the event to run again next year with plans of making it an actual paid event, rather than a free one and many people question this decision. Without some serious changes, the con will not be worth any amount of money and likely fail.

 

 

Review Sunday: Love Live! School Idol Project

It is a well-known fact around my geeky friends that though I dress and act like a total girly girl, I am actually not a fan of animes made for women/girls. I tend to find all of the plots the same: take one socially awkward girl with a crush on the class bishie add a sprinkling of a bitchy rival, mix with a love triangle and simmer over a low ‘I am not good enough for you’ heat and you have pretty much every shougo manga ever. Sometimes the setting is different but the plot is pretty much always the same. Now you can guess my surprise when I found a girly anime that I actually enjoyed watching!

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World’s cutest cast (Bottom left to right – Nozomi, Rin, Hanayo, Kotori, Honoka, Umi, Nico, Maki, Eli)

Love Live! School Idol Project is a 13-episode multimedia project co-developed ASCII Media Works’ Dengeki G’s Magazine, music label Lantis, and animation studio Sunrise. The series combines regular anime animation with a more unusual computer graphic element for the musical numbers that allowed for greater movement to be given to the characters

The first season focus on the trials and tribulations of Honoka Kosaka who, along with her group of friends, creates a school idol group called μ’s (pronounced muse) in order to save their beloved school, Otonokizaka Academy from being closed down by competing in the idol competition ‘Love Live’ and attracting new students. Along the way to achieve their goal the girls face rivals that become teammates, reluctant classmates, and the realization that being an idol is way more than just smiling and looking cute!

I could tell you about the second season as well but it kind of gives away the ending of the first, so I will leave the plot at that and move onto what really makes the series stand out, the characters.

Love Live has a pretty large cast, which can sometimes get overwhelming, but they all look and act differently enough to help them stand out and let the viewer’s choose a favorite. The main trio consists of Honoka Kosaka, the chipper and bubbly heroine who is sweet but stubborn to a fault; Kotori Minami, her childhood best friend and daughter of the school headmistress, who tends to be air-headed but sweet; and Umi Sonoda who serves as the level-headed foil to her best friends. As the series continues the group continues to grow as new members join up including Eli Ayase the rival turned friend who is also the student-council president; Nozomi Togo, Eli’s level-headed second-in-command who is secretive and mischievous; the tomboy Rin Hoshizora who often serves as comedic relief; Hanayo Koizumi, a shy girl whose love of idol’s is only known by her best friend Rin; the cool and collected Maki Nishikino who has a lot of pressure on her shoulders from her family; and Nico Yazawa who his serious and a little mean normally but as an idol is very childlike and playful.

There is pretty much a character for every type of fan, whether you like girls in glasses like Hanayo, tomboys like Rin or characters who look younger than they are like Nico (personally I really relate to Nozomi and I may even cosplay her in the future).

The thing that really surprised me though is that every character is really likable! Characters who start off bitchy, like Eli, are quickly forgiven as their stories come to life, and even Nico, who comes off as really annoying, is actually quite likable once you put her with the rest of the cast.

Bright and cheerful, the series was made to be total eye and ear candy, from the voice acting and singing work of the VA’s to the brightly coloured scenery and characters.

Ultimately, I think if you are looking for a fun, bubbly break from some of the more hardcore animes and like the bubbly sweetness of J-Pop I would definitely suggest giving Love Live! a try and you may even find yourself addicted to some of the music … like I did.

Mini Review – SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation

Today I am going to do a BABY REVIEW! Aka a rather short review since I have only watched the first episode of the series.

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When watching any anime it is easy to tell who is going to be the main character.Why? Simple they either (a) sit in the back right corner near the window, (b) their name is in the series title, (c) they have a hair colour that looks totally out of place compared to everyone else or (d) they actually wear an outfit that stands out.

So now I want you to consider what I just said and then try and guess who the main character of this series is

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One of these kids is not like the others!

…If you guessed the only character wearing colour with not brown hair YOU WERE RIGHT!

SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation is a 12-episode series produced by White Fox (producers of Akame ga Kill! and Steins; Gate) in partnership with the video game software company Nitroplus who have been using Sonico as their mascot since 2006.

The series follows Sonico, an 18-year-old college student and her misadventures as she tries to keep up with school while also working as a gravure idol and vocalist/guitarist First Astronomical Velocity.The series is a pretty classic slice-of-life following the daily life of Sonico while also throwing in a liberal amount of ecchi elements including skimpy outfits, sexy poses and more than a few boob-centric camera shots.

Despite its ecchi nature though, Sonico remains a rather enduring character. Friendly, hardworking and definitely not always comfortable with her part-time job, you can’t help but get attached to Sonico and her antics.

My main issue with the first episode is that everyone other than Sonico and her two bandmates, Suzu Fukimi and Fuuri Watanuki, are very bland characters coloured entirely in a dull palate. I guess I sort of get it, Nitro wanted their mascot to be front and center and with her pink hair in a sea of brown it is pretty easy to always know who the main star is.

All in all if you are looking for a brainless series to take your mind off of the deaths in Attack on Titan or heartbreak in the finale of Naruto and you enjoy a sweet and cheerful slice-of-life I would suggest you try queuing up SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation.

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Will I continue watching it? Yes, I think I will.

Sunday Review – Attack on Titan

 This is only based on the manga series. I will be taking a look at the anime on a seperate date since I find them so different.

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Naruto. Bleach. Sword Art Online. These three series all have one thing in common – They were imagesall the biggest and best thing since sliced bread when they first hit the anime and manga scene. But the noisy ninja and dual sword wielding warrior have since been pushed away under the force of a series who popularity is as massive as its villains.

On Sept. 9 2009, Shingeki no Kyojin (often shortened by fans to SnK) or Attack on Titan, arrived onto the pages of Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shonen Magazine with its crazy plot and chaotic art style. It took another three years though for the Titans to break free from Japan and head for North America with Kodansha Comics USA being the driving force behind their arrival and when it did, nothing could stop the series from becoming the smash hit of the season.

SnK is based in a world where humanity has been forced to hide in cities surrounded by stone walls or face death at the hands of the Titans, a race of huge humanoid creatures with an insatiable appetite for humans. The story centers around Eren Yeager, his adoptive sister Mikasa Ackerman, and their closest friend Armin Arlet, whose simple lives are thrown into chaos after the one of the protective walls is destroyed by a Colossus Titan leading to the destruction of their home and death of Eren’s mother.

Disney called, they like your style of killing off the mom first!

Determined to get revenge on the Titans and reclaim their world, Eren, Mikasa and Armin enlist in the suicide squad known as the Survey Corps—an elite group of soldiers who fight Titans outside the walls. Of course, things are never quite so simple as just joining the military and soon friendships and partnerships are tested as secrets are revealed. Oh and as you have likely guessed, there us a LOT of blood and death.

The characters of SnK go through constant emotional turmoil as they come to terms with the world they have been forced to live in and the fact that at any moment they could be eaten alive
Sometimes the story itself feels a little repetitive. Talk, fight a Titan, talk, fight a titan but then a huge curve ball is thrown into the story that leaves the reader reeling and unsure of what will happen next … and to whom. It’s these curve balls that keep the story from getting too repetitive and boring.

Artistically, SnK feels very unrefined compared to a lot of manga but it actually works for the world Isayama created. Many artists consider fear to be one of the hardest emotions to draw but Isayama has perfected the emotion in his characters.

However at some points the art starts looking jumbled, particularly in large scale battles with gore and background mixing into the characters to make a hodgepodge of chaos that might turn off a lot of readers.

Another issue is that a lot of the characters feel like colour swapped copies of one another leading readers to wonder who they are looking at, a particular pain when the bodies start hitting the floor.

Look ma! Clones!

Look ma! Clones!

What really sets SnK apart from the other dystopian manga on the shelves though is the pure insanity of the idea behind it. Humanity is essentially cattle to these massive creatures who can only be killed by the best of the best. These are not just another batch of zombies who any schoolgirl with a sword can kill, these are building sized monsters who kill indiscriminately.

Despite its somewhat all over the place art and occasionally repetitive plot, Shingeki no Kyojin is a pretty epic tale that offers up one big question to the readers: what would you do to save the human race?

Score: 8.5 / 10
Recommendation: Check it out!

 

Review Sunday: Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare

This review is going to be a bit longer than most of the ones I will be writing for this site. Why? Because it was originally written for a school assignment!

So enjoy the first ever REVIEW SUNDAY!

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When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth”- Dawn of the Deadimages

So when hell is full the dead will walk? Okay I can buy that! But what happens when the video gaming industry has completely run out of ideas? Well then the dead may start walking around in popular videogames.

Back in 2008 the wildly popular Call of Duty franchise chose to give players something new to shoot at when developers added Zombies’ mode to Call of Duty: World at War. The popularity of this game led ‘Zombie’ mode to later on be added to the 2012 release Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, – thus cementing the shambling undead as a gaming staple.

However, it took till 2010 for any gaming company to consider placing zombies in a less modern setting, in the case of Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare  the American Old West.

Players don’t have the option to jump into a helicopter to fly away to safety or to use a rapid firing machine gun to fight off the zombie hoards because they didn’t exist! Instead players have to rely on the old western panache of gun savvy western cowboys to take out the undead and pray like hell that their horse can plow through zombies without you getting pulled off to a bite by bite death.

Unlike Red Dead Redemption, Undead Nightmare starts off rather peacefully with John Marston, a onetime outlaw turned family man and farmer, enjoying some family time with his wife Abigail and son, Jack. However their peaceful lives are quickly disrupted by the arrival of the questionable named ‘Uncle’ who quickly turns the Marston family into a family of the undead – leaving John once again with gun in hand as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on.

Upon arriving in the nearby town of Blackwater, John quickly discovers that nobody has any idea what is going on not even Harvard professor Harold MacDougal (who players of Red Dead Redemption will remember) who offers up this brilliant bit of Rockstar writing –

“Well, sir, I’m a man of science, a man of great learning, a thinker, a wise man and I’ll be honest with you, sir… I haven’t got a f&%*^*g clue.”

And do you know what happens in a zombie infested world when you haven’t got a f&%*^*g clue? You get eaten. So now John will need to get his arsenal of guns to go on a cross country zombie shooting spree to try and discover why the dead are walking and in the words of John “biting chunks outta people” all while helping survivors, and cleansing cemeteries and towns of the undead.

When you think about it there is something just right about zombies in the old west. Not only does everybody already have a weapon (I am so not kidding about this) but everybody already has a strong survival instinct that makes them way less useless than the bots in most zombie games who scream ‘Save me’ every five minutes (cough Ashley Graham cough).The-Verdict-Red-Dead-Redemption-Undead-Nightmare-Pack

New gamers get to enjoy all the perks of the previous Red Dead Redemption game but with more zombie goodness thrown in! So you no longer get to skin any animals – now you can pull bits of zombies off to create ammunition for the zombie powered Blunderbuss! Yeah there’s no more bounty hunting missions but now you can rescue innocent people in the ‘Missing Persons’ side missions.

However, the game does feature a few major differences from its predecessor including the removal of money as currency. In most games you receive money after helping someone but in Undead Nightmare  money has deemed as pretty much useless since who needs money when they are about to be eaten anyway? Instead the characters and missions of Undead Nightmare award the player with bullets a seriously valuable commodity in a world overrun by the undead.

The game also removed the ‘Honour’ meter which could lead John to jail time in the last game. This lack of ‘Honour’ meter means John can literally do whatever he wants in a town. If you want to just walk in a town and start killing survivors to steal some bullets – go right ahead, though the other townsfolk may not be so pleased with your decision.

Though the game originally started off a downloadable DLC pack, it became popular enough for Rockstar Gaming to decided that releasing a separate disk would be totally worth it, thus making this onetime DLC playable not only without Xbox Live but also without the original game.

If the game does have any flaws they are very minor including the inability to climb ladders or jump onto objects while zombies claw at your feet. However these sort of challenges actually can sometime make the game more enjoyable as you find yourself panicking to find a place to shoot from while zombies claw at your back.

Oh and did I forget to mention that it has a multiplayer option for those of you with Xbox Live? Well it does and it even lets you play as a zombie character if the mood hits you. Not only does the multiplayer mode feature the classic games like Free Roam and Mexican Standoff but now gamers have the option to choose Undead Overrun where you fight endless waves of the undead or Land Grab where you fight to take control of a particular area of the game.

Red-Dead-Redemption-Undead-NightmareWhen all is said and done Undead Nightmare is definitely a zombie game that packs serious bite! With a strong storyline, great missions and endless waves of the undead, Undead Nightmare is a game that offers you hours of awesome gameplay. Oh and did I forget to mention that you get to kill Sasquatch? Yeah – you get to fight Sasquatch.

Score: 9/10

Recommendation: Buy it and love it forever