About ladybacula

I'm a hipster-cosplaying bagpiper.

Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses Review

zelda-orchestra2Because I’m boss and have a mom who loves me enough to enter me in free raffles, I won tickets to see Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, which was playing in mid-August in New Jersey. The first of its kind as a video game concert actually arranged into symphonies, Symphony of the Goddesses featured some of the themes from the Legend of Zelda franchise including Majora’s MaskOcarina of Time, and more. In addition, visuals and gameplay were displayed above the orchestra, which I mentioned in my Wii U post. The show is touring throughout the world.

Instead of the musicians themselves traveling, the show “uses” the local talent. In my case, it was the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. I think that’s a really great idea, not to mention cost-effective. As a fan of musical things, I know my local orchestra, and I always look for opportunities to see them. So it made me really happy to know that a group I already loved was playing music I already loved.

To make a long story short, the concert was fucking awesome. The only thing I didn’t exactly like were the visuals being projected above the performers of Link running around defeating Ganon in a bunch of different games. I would have preferred just the music and felt the visuals detracted from actively watching the musicians perform and the music itself.

Specifically, this Skull Kid cosplay

Specifically, this Skull Kid cosplay taken by me on my phone.

In my corner of New Jersey, there aren’t many nerds to surround myself with. So another thing that made me really happy was seeing all the nerds at the orchestra. There was a costume contest before the show (which I unfortunately did not participate in because I didn’t know I was going until twenty-four hours before the show, which was not enough time to whip up a costume) where there was the best Skull Kid cosplay I have ever seen. It was possibly one of the best cosplays I’ve ever seen in my life. It was a lot of fun having nerds to laugh with at the corny jokes of the emcees, and I’ve missed that.

In short, this was a great experience. And you don’t have to know anything about the games to enjoy it; my two friends who I brought with me didn’t know the games but liked the music. So it’s a fun night for anyone and everyone. I suggest you check out their website to see if it’s going to be near you.

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Art Appreciation: Khallion

I love me some good fan art. It is, in fact, the bomb-diggity. I have recently started using my Tumblr (post on that forthcoming) and the art below popped up on my news feed (Is it a news feed? My home page? Or is that the one that’s a dashboard?) Anyway, pretty things popped up and I thought that I would share.

Karen Hallion, or Khallion, is a professional artist/illustrator from Massachusetts. I personally love her art. The style is very Disney inspired with some clear influences from classical storybook art and tarot cards. And some steampunk things; you should all know I like steampunk things. Oh, and she draws nerdy and geeky things, which is why I’m featuring it at all.

What drew me in the most was her series of Disney princesses encountering the TARDIS. It was such a clever idea and I couldn’t help but like it. I like the idea of the Doctor replacing your typical prince charming (or actual as the case may be). Some of them just had the Disney princess staring at the TARDIS, but my favorite (the Sleeping Beauty one below) cleverly incorporated the TARDIS into the actual story, which is why it’s my favorite.

A lot of her art is crossovers of various kinds. The ones with clear Tarot-card inspirations weren’t my favorite, probably because I’m not a Tarot-card person. However, there seems to be two sides to her work, almost like two separate artists: the one who draws Tarot-card, steampunk-ish things and the one who does Disney crossovers of various kinds. If you didn’t guess, I prefer the Disney ones. And as much as I like steampunk in general, I think that if used in excess or used it on top of five other elements (I’ve seen this plenty of times in cosplay), it tends to overwhelm.

Even looking below, you can see a stark difference in style between the Sailor Moon picture and the Red Riding Hood picture. In many ways I suppose it’s commendable that Khallion can change her style that dramatically, but in other respects it’s rather jarring when looking at her entire body of work. I guess it’s a toss-up: either you like that she can work in two completely different veins or you don’t. And because I’m not very attracted to the work in her second, Tarot-card-steam-punk vein, I guess I fall in the latter category.

Anywho, here are my three fave pieces below!

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Khallion has had some of her designs featured on TeeFury, and she has her own Etsy and deviantArt pages. So you have no excuse not to check her out!

Why Are You Sad That There’s No Female Doctor?

Much of the internet has feels (this blog included) about the lack of female Doctor. I personally do not have such an opinion simply because Moffat has proven time and again that he is incapable of writing a decent female character, specifically his female companions.

female doctor1Too frequently Moffat treats his female companions like an audience for the Doctor: that they should just smile, nod, and take everything that is given without question. It’s getting to a point where the Doctor is hero-worshipped by his companions as opposed to the companions balancing him out. I’ve discussed before how the companion’s job is to, in a sense, keep the Doctor from losing control of himself. Eleven, in my opinion, has had too much freedom and not enough checks. And it is the writers who didn’t give us strong female companions.

I also think that Clara and Amy are too similar when you get right down to it, and that I can most definitely attribute to poor writing. Our first female companion is Amy, a plucky Scottish girl with a supposedly impossible problem, a crack in her bedroom wall that keeps following her around. And then we have Clara, a plucky English girl with a supposedly impossible problem: multiple lives/existences. For me, they’re just way too similar in initial concept. I honestly don’t think that Amy had much of a personality while she was a companion and so far Clara hasn’t exhibited much of a personality either. Amy’s personality came out in her relationship with Rory. And when you need a male character to give your female character personality, that’s wrong. And I blame Moffat.

Now I know a lot of you are saying “What about River? She’s got a personality!” right about now, but Moffat hasn’t exactly done her justice either. First, he made her entire world revolve around the Doctor, just like the other companions. Then, Moffat couldn’t even figure out a way to work in her sexuality to the series for goodness’ sake. If that doesn’t demonstrate an inability to write, well then I don’t know what does. Not to mention if you’ve ever seen something else with Alex Kingston (the actress who plays River Song), such as her guest starring roles in NCIS and Upstairs Downstairs, you know she plays practically the same character every single time. So any personality River has I attribute more to Kingston as an actress than to Moffat’s writing ability.

So we have three female protagonists and three failures for decent character writing. One could say that Moffat is bad with characters in general, but Moffat can write a good male character. Take Rory for example. So many people liked Rory more than Amy simply because he had a stronger character that was much better written. So it’s only the ladies who are suffering from bad writing, not the gents.

Now imagine if Amy was the Doctor. Or Clara. How boring would Doctor Who be? It would be a snoozefest! I’d go so far to say a female Doctor under Moffat’s leadership would kill the show. For more information, check out this link to Saika’s Tumblr and a plethora of discussions on the topic.

What do you think? Am I spot on or losing my mind? Let me know in the comments!

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Manga Mondays: Flow

flow2I pressed the “Surprise Me” button again, you guys. And this time I got something really cool!

Flow features a boy named Leerang in an alternate universe. There, every child gets to meet God once in their life. God takes a form of a specific animal and can grant the child one wish. Usually, kids make their wishes fairly quickly. Leerang, on the other hand, has waited ten years to make his wish. However, Leerang knows he can’t make a very exciting wish because his God has taken the form of the cat, the weakest of animals. The “stronger” (or most revered) the animal form your God takes, the more powerful wish you can get and the higher your status in society. After you make your wish, God goes away but you still retain some residual power that you can use. Anyway, this story follows Leerang as he decides what his wish should be and the consequences of that wish.

This is a Korean manga and it’s quite interesting. For one, the layout of every page is very different. Blank, white space is frequently utilized; there may only be one our two small panels on a manga page. I think it’s intriguing, but I don’t see what the layout does to enhance the story. What it does do is make you appreciate the art more. First off, this manga is entirely in color. Secondly, it’s beautiful art. Some of the artsy scenic panels (of which there are a lot) are truly gorgeous. The one thing that irks me, though, is that there isn’t much variety in character design. There are two female protagonists and they look like they could be sisters; both have reddish eyes and red hair. I just wish the coloring could have been switched up a bit.

I love the premise too. It’s like a combination of Fruits Basket and His Dark Materials and it’s really cool. Like Furuba, the animals of the Zodiac are the most featured. Leerang’s friend, Ryun, has a dragon and is considered to be the strongest kid around. Leerang is still my favorite character though. He’s gutsy and very much your stereotypical shounen hero, but with a slightly different twist, in that he doesn’t feel the need to “try and save everyone” like Naruto or Ichigo; he has a much more self-centered goal. I guess that might come from being a Korean series and not a Japanese one.

Anyway, there are thirteen chapters available for your reading pleasure, and I highly recommend you go check out my new favorite series, Flow!

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The Depiction of “Asia” in Pop Culture

So I was in Boston for a week on a business trip. While I was there, I stopped by the Boston Museum of Fine Art. To my surprise, upon leaving I was rather disappointed. I think that was largely due to the museum’s presentation of “Asia” as one solid unit as opposed to allowing for diversity of cultures by depicting it as a series of diverse countries. The sad thing is, this is frequently done by pop culture as well.

asia1First off, we have that Sherlock episode, “The Blind Banker”, where Sherlock and Watson track down some Chinese mafia bad guys working for Moriarty. At least I think they were Chinese. I’m not exactly sure because Moffat wasn’t straight-forward on that one. When I first saw this episode, I’m fairly certain I watched it with Luce and Saika, who spent the majority of the time yelling “This actress is Chinese but her name is Korean; the teapots are Japanese and so are the lucky cats! This makes no sense! Couldn’t anyone do their homework?!” at the TV. So needless to say, it was a very Asian episode, but there was no fact-checking. If something was considered stereotypically Asian, be it teapots, ninjas, acrobatic circuses, etc., chances are it was in this episode and just attributed to China for the sake of simplicity. That’s a no-no. Attributing every Asian thing to China is like making every South American thing Brazilian; it’s just not correct.

asia2Sherlock is the most obvious case of this happening in a plot that I know of, excluding every parody movie along the lines of Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie where everyone and everything gets stereotyped like it’s nobody’s business. It also happens frequently in more episodic TV series. In almost every crime show, at some point they have an “Asia” episode, where chances are the crime takes place in Chinatown, the Yakuza are involved, or something along those lines. Blue Bloods just did an episode like this a couple of months ago and it was a hot mess. That’s the opportunity to throw in every stereotype about Asia you can possibly can, almost like getting Asia out of the show’s system.

More frequently, however, this done through casting. How many shows exist in the world where it seems that the casting director said, “Okay, we have one Asian, that means we’re good on that score”? So many shows. Even looking at Elementary, which we practically tout as a gold standard for portrayal of racial diversity on broadcast television, only has one Asian character. To be fair, it’s Watson, who is one of the two protagonists, but even as minor characters go, there are very few other Asians in the show. There is more than one Asian in New York City, and Elementary is only portraying one. Granted, Watson’s ethnicity is never made an issue: she’s just a normal person that happens to be Chinese and happens to be a woman. And Watson has characteristics that show her relationship to her ethnicity, such as her preference for natural remedies and her “tiger” mom. But she is so much more than her race, and that’s what Elementary does so well: making characters more than the stereotypes that surround them. However, just doing a better job than everyone else doesn’t mean it is the end-all, be-all.

To be honest, I’d be interested to see Elementary try and tackle a Chinatown episode just to see how they treat it. It could make for really interesting TV viewing, namely because they are so good at creating characters who are more than stereotypes. Hopefully, other television shows can look at Elementary, see how they treat different groups, and apply that to their own writing. And take it further.

Boston Wanderings and Wii U

So I was in Boston for a week in August on a business trip, and in the evenings I would wander around fairly aimlessly. One night, I discovered Faneuil Hall, which is a sort of street fair, and there was a giant set of booths set up by Nintendo promoting Wii U and some of its many games. In general, the setup was poor, so I didn’t get to observe all of the games; in fact, I couldn’t tell you how many there were. Here are some of my opinions about the games that I did observe—I didn’t get to play any, sadly—that night.

wii u2In general, it seemed that gameplay for most of the games was too confusing or complicated for younger kids. While the kids (seemingly) ten and older had no trouble playing games without the assistance of one of the many Nintendo employees, everyone younger had at least one helper lending him or her a hand. This wouldn’t bother me if this was Sony or Microsoft who generally make games for an older, adult audience. But Nintendo prides itself as a family-friendly company making games that anyone at any age can play. With the new system, that doesn’t necessarily seem to be true.

Now on to the actual games that I spent significant time with:

Batman Arkham City

This seemed like a truly awesome game. While I didn’t get the chance to play it (it had the longest line), it seemed like the most fun. It was the only game that had a wide appeal to different audiences; it had everyone from little kids to adults playing and having a good time. The only complaint I had from watching was everything seemed about the same color. The graphics themselves were great, but the coloring was so monotone that it got hard to differentiate between some of the backgrounds and some of the characters.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Now before y’all go throwing a hissy fit, I want to reiterate that I did not like this game nor its graphics. If you’ve forgotten my opinion, go refresh yourself here. With that out of the way, the graphics of Wind Waker HD looked effing amazing. Since I had just gotten a refresher from my Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert (post on that is forthcoming) of the original Wind Waker’s graphics a couple days earlier, I could make a comparison without too much trouble. Original Wind Waker’s problem was that the graphics resembled something from Nintendo 64, seeming a step backward. HD, however, was crisp, colorful, and elegant. I feel that this was what the original Wind Waker attempted but really did not accomplish. This is the game in particular that demonstrated how difficult it is to play Wii U. The little kid playing looked confused as hell. I felt sorry for him, because the Nintendo employee tried to explain it and he still couldn’t get it.

In short, Wii U looks promising. For me, it is not worth the high price tag, but I’d consider looking into it when/if the price drops.

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Anti-Bullying @ Comic Con

comic conSo one day shortly after San Diego Comic Con, I was reading CNN (what else is new) and loling at their failure to grasp the concept of cosplay when I found an article on an anti-bullying panel at the convention.

Many prominent sci-fi female voices were involved with the panel and the Girl Scouts was one of the sponsors. I personally think it’s great the women had such a presence at this panel. I know that the guys aren’t immune from being bullied by other people, but nowadays the girls are getting bullied by non-nerds for being nerds and the male nerds who don’t think the girls are actually nerds. We’ve had a plethora of posts on this blog (here’s one and here’s another one), so I’m really not going to go in depth into the issue.

The point is it’s something that needs to be addressed and talked about. The more people who pretend that bullying, both from non-nerds and nerds alike, isn’t happening, the more people are suffering. And unfortunately we have people killing themselves. A high school junior in my town just did so, and from what I’ve learned about her through mutual acquaintances she was just a bullied nerd. All it takes to save a life is the right person saying the right thing at the right time. I don’t know the correct who, what, or when, but if we all sit quietly and say nothing then no one is going to get the help they need. By creating a discussion, we can let people who face bullying know that they shouldn’t be ashamed to be who they are and that the way they are being treated is wrong.

Wow, I didn’t realize how deep I was going to get in that last paragraph. Anyway, if you’re interested in how the actual panel went, take a look at the video below!

Comedy for Everyone

There’s this idea (where it started, who knows) that there are comedies for different groups of people. With Bridesmaids, we had a comedy for women. With everything that is Tyler Perry, we have comedies for African Americans. We nerds dominate the internet with webcomics such as xkcd and web comedies such as The Guild. Are any of these niche comedies funny to peoples outside of their intended audience, or are those comedies simply not funny to other people? And who’s the audience for all those seemingly more generic comedies?

Continue reading

The Downside of Growing Up Nerdy

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… I was a kid.

If you looked at my list of things that make me a nerd (which doesn’t actually exist, but metaphorically speaking), it would include all of Star Wars, all of Star Trek TNG, all of Voyager, and all of (the terrible) Enterprise. In a way, it’s somewhat impressive. However, there is a catch of sorts, and let me tell you what it is.

My dad is into a lot of geeky things; he’s claimed to have seen every episode of The Twilight Zone just as a frame of reference. I guess that’s where I got my geeky tendencies from. So my Dad and I watched Voyager once a week live, Star Wars when it was rereleased in movie theaters in the early 90s, Enterprise live, and TNG reruns. My Dad recorded his favorite episodes (on tape).

This guy? I thought his name was Felix. So when I say I don't remember things, I'm not joking.

This guy? I thought his name was Felix. So when I say I don’t remember things, I’m not joking.

I’m sure that all sounded great to you guys. Growing up with some good sci fi, what could be bad about that? In reality, it’s been something of a mixed blessing. While I can say that I’ve seen everything, I honestly don’t remember a lot of it. I can’t tell you episode names, and I’m lucky if I can come up with the names of the less important characters. So I find it challenging to talk to other people in fandom, where attention to minute details is critical.

The other downside is that I’m raised on certain… beliefs, or prejudices (for lack of a better word). My mom has a story that she doesn’t like cats because her father told her not to and she (nor her siblings) never questioned that. There wasn’t a particular reason given to explain why they shouldn’t like cats; they just didn’t. The same scenario applies to me and Captain Kirk. My dad imposed the idea that Captain Picard was the best and I’ve stuck to that. I honestly don’t even think I’m capable of not thinking that way. I know it sounds silly, but when it was so engrained in my childhood I’d hope you understand that it’s something I probably won’t be able to change. And I guess in the long run being anti-Kirk is a lot better than many sexist/racist/bigoted thoughts that could have been engrained in my skull during childhood. But it still doesn’t let me have my own ideas; maybe I would have liked Kirk, but because the idea that Kirk is awful was thrown at me at such an early age I didn’t have the chance to come to that realization (or disagree with it).

So while growing up on sci fi sounds awesome, it’s not as great as you’d think. I mean, I remember Star Trek is awesome, but when I’m trying to have a conversation with other nerds, I can’t remember anything specific. Because what’s the point in growing up on it and then not being able to remember?

Manga Mondays: It’s Not My Fault That My Friend’s Not Popular!

not popular 3So in case you’ve forgotten, I’ve already bashed It’s Not My Fault I’m Not Popular to death. And then bashed it some more. But for some strange reason, I thought it might be interesting to look at a spin-off to see if the story improved when told from a different perspective.

So there are only six chapters of It’s Not My Fault That My Friend’s Not Popular! which follows Naruse Yuu, Tomoko’s sweet and normal friend, during middle school.

I think setting this manga during middle school was an excellent choice. When It’s Not My Fault I’m Not Popular started, Tomoko was in a desperate frenzy to make friends in high school, which is why a lot of her actions seem extreme. In middle school, there is no such extreme desperation. It’s just Tomoko being awkward.

The addition of another friend, Komi-chan, is also refreshing. While Komi-chan is somewhat awkward like Tomoko, she’s not nearly as extreme as even middle-school Tomoko. She strikes a nice balance, and is a perfectly normal character in a sea of wacky ones. I think in real life I would be friends with Komi-chan, so it’s great to see a character that I can relate to.

The competitions between Komi-chan and Tomoko for Naruse’s friendship are amusing without being over-the-top. In a manga that (I think) is supposed to be a slice-of-life story, having too many ridiculous antics takes away from the charm. Are there bizarre moments in this series? Yes, but they are tempered out because there are more characters and more normalcy in general.

However, if you really want to understand what is going in this series, you have to read the original. I find that sad because I like this spin-off better, and it’s not worth it to read thirty chapters of crap so you can read six (more like five and a half) chapters of okay manga.

In short, while this is an all right series thus far, it’s really not worth reading the original. So save yourself some trouble and skip over It’s Not My Fault That My Friend’s Not Popular!