Web Crush Wednesdays: Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural

Fandom secret: I actually really like a lot of Buzzfeed’s content.

I know it’s the cool thing these days to shit on everything that happens to carry the name “Buzzfeed” on it, and yeah, some of their videos and articles take a full dive into “what the actual fuck”, but if you think there’s not a single interesting thing on there, then I have to believe you’re full of shit. For me, the prime time for watching Buzzfeed videos is the same sort of time period where one may be drawn into watching things from the creepier and weirder side of YouTube–some nebulous time at night where there may be something better to do, but who knows what that is. Thankfully Buzzfeed has a series that covers both of those categories; one that I hope continues to flourish.

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Magical Mondays: Ghosts in Geek Culture

Ghosts are a common feature in many speculative fiction stories, from Harry Potter to Supernatural to Saga and a million things in between. They can be scary, or silly, or solemn, but they tend to have one thing in common: ghosts cling to the mortal plane because of some sort of unfinished business in our realm. Because of this, ghosts are often used in one of two ways in storytelling: either as a horror trope, to pop up and say boo and scare you, or as a way to teach the living characters something about themselves—namely, how to avoid the circumstances that led them to being a ghost. And while there can be something tragic or terrifying about the horror type of ghost, I think that ghosts are more effective as a storytelling trope when they’re used to teach a lesson.

Speaking of ghosts, can anyone explain why this creepy little fricker was so popular?

Speaking of ghosts, can anyone explain why this creepy little fricker was so popular?

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Big Damn Heroines

So The Last of Us. Again. If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s a survival horror based on the concept of a human-infecting cordyceps fungus. It follows a jaded, aging smuggler (Joel) who lost his daughter in the early stages of the apocalypse, as well as a spunky, foul-mouthed teenage girl (Ellie), who is somehow immune to the infection. They fight their way through the ruins of the United States, killing fungus-infected zombies and bandits as they go. The game has incredible character development, revealing both the characters’ backstories and advancing their relationship together, while simultaneously engaging the player in an immersive and occasionally terrifying gaming experience.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Aeons

FFX__Dark_Aeon_Anima_by_BloodyMoogleContinuing on with this series, I am unfortunately not done talking about the religion in Final Fantasy X. I’ve already gone over what Yevon is, but I have not talked about what it entails. Or rather, I haven’t talked about its foundation in detail. And just as a warning, while my other posts have had spoilers in them, this one will have a lot more.

Anyway, if you want to continue reading, Yevon is centered on the aeons, which are essential in order for summoners to defeat Sin. Most simply, aeons are powerful creatures that summoners can summon and control at will, but it is more complicated than that. I’ve already gone over both the portrayal of religion and the dead, which are also essential to understanding what the aeons actually are. A dead person is comprised of pyreflies, which act as a soul, more or less. Sometimes dead people will become angry and turn into monsters, while other times, they’ll manifest as ghosts. And in keeping with the general theme of Final Fantasy X, aeons also come from the dead, though aeons themselves are not dead. More accurately, they’re the manifestation of dreams of the dead.

While some dead people become fiends and others become ghosts, a small few will become fayths. Fayths are people who died willingly and had their souls forever trapped inside stone statues. Every Yevon temple in Spira has at least one statue. When summoners travel to the different temples, they enter something called The Cloister of Trials. Once completing that task, a summoner may enter The Chamber of the Fayth, where he or she can pray to the fayth’s statue for a way to defeat Sin. If the fayth answers the summoner’s prayers, the fayth will then grant that summoner its aeon. Summoners must train by praying at temples and obtaining as many aeons as possible or they will never become strong enough to gain the power of the Final Aeon, which is the only aeon that can defeat Sin.

It is the aeons that are responsible for both destroying Sin and rebirthing it over and over again. Unfortunately, like every other good idea in this game, something has to ruin it. So besides Yevon using machina, what I’m about to talk about is the other incredibly large plot hole that could have very easily been fixed.

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Manga Mondays: Mail

Halloween is only a few days away and especially with this storm coming in on the East Coast, the notorious feeling of spooks and haunts is finally settling in. As such, it’s only appropriate that I review a proper horror manga full of its own demons and horrors. This week, let’s look at Housui Yamazaki’s Mail.

Somewhat similar to Junji Ito’s Museum of Terror, rather than focusing on one large overarching story Mail instead looks at several cases from different people (or undead, as the case may be at times) only threaded together by the persistent, mysterious detective/exorcist, Reiji Akiba. Even then, you couldn’t really say that the manga has a plot besides dispatching the “monster of the week”. There are snippets of story—such as Akiba’s background—thrown throughout the chapters, but as it seems that there are only three volumes of this manga there’s really not enough room for anything substantial. However, I would say that the characters themselves are not vital to this story—this probably about the only time you’ll hear me say this.

Even when we delve into how Akiba used to be blind and how his childhood friend was murdered (and he found her severed head, that’s fun), the reader can infer how the events affected his character, but it’s a low-key way. That is to say, Akiba doesn’t really have much of a personality because Mail isn’t about Akiba, it’s about the ghosts. And damned if it doesn’t give them the glory they deserve.

My spooky meter is a little adjusted to the higher end, but some of these stories I still find unsettling. For example, there’s a story about a woman who stays in a hotel to seemingly draw the mysterious ghost haunting the room she reserves. It takes a twist (I use the term loosely because it basically gives it away on the first page) when it’s discovered that the ghost is a toddler and the woman is his mother who killed him in an attempted suicide-murder. There are, of course, the essential ghosts that follow unsuspecting people home and the ghosts that stalk their prey through cell phones, but to Yamazaki’s credit there are a wonderful variety of stories and he was able to end the series before it had a chance to get hokey or repetitive.

Personally, I find the art style very striking as well as it edges towards the more realistic. Along with this though, the art sometimes reaches the NSFW level, so I would tread lightly if you’re offended by boobs.

So, make sure to enjoy your tricks and treats while keeping tabs on the storm and don’t forget to read a good ghost story or two (or three, or four…)!

Give Up The Ghost

I like ghost shows. There is nothing I like to do more in the winter than to make some popcorn, snuggle under my electric blanket, drink hot cocoa, and watch people run around with night vision cameras yelling “What was that?” and “SOMETHING JUST TOUCHED ME!” Though I myself have never seen a ghost or a demon in real life, I still believe that they could exist. What could be better than the unknown becoming known? At first I was excited; more shows equals more time spent capturing paranormal footage right? Not so much. The shows are often well…silly and not in the “we are in on the joke” silly, more like “very annoying, want to punch you in your stupid face” silly. Arming them with flashlights, cameras, tape recorders, and E-meters (which are supposed to track electrical something or other) they throw these people (who literally make their living from investigating paranormal activities) into an abandoned building and tell them to find a spirit. Of course things hardly ever pan out, half the time they catch “orbs” (that look suspiciously like moths) or their equipment malfunctions. They attribute all of this to ghosts. The other half of the time if they actually feel, hear, or see something that is possibly paranormal the audience suddenly hears them scream bleeped out obscenities and we get a lovely view of their feet running out the door. YOU ARE INVESTIGATING THE PARANORMAL AND HAVE AT LEAST FOUR CAMERAS BETWEEN YOU AND THE CAMERAMEN, VIDEO TAPE IT YOU IDIOTS!

Before, the shows would either involve people who had studied the paranormal for many years and had done extensive background research on the place they were investigating, or the show was reenactments of actual paranormal experiences, it concentrated more on the personal effects of the haunting on the people involved. Best of all, the shows were only usually half an hour, unless it was a special episode. Listen TV executives, I’m glad you are beginning to cater to my generations macabre needs, however if you want to make money, you have to pick people who are actually going to do their job right. I watch these shows to be scared, to be enthralled in the story, to see people put aside their fears and face the darkness with a hunger to learn what lies behind it. If you can’t find them, at least hire someone who has an actual personality. These current people are boring. Oh, and History channel? Go back to talking about old guns and Hitler. You are not the prophecies, paranormal, and conspiracy theories channel. You are the History channel, talk about history. If I wanted to watch a show about what might happen in 2012 I’ll watch the channel where that belongs: SyFy.

The Woman in Black: Good Movie, or Just another Typical Ghost Story?

With the exception of a few movies here and there, I generally avoid motion pictures in the horror genre. Something like Vampires and Lycans is okay, but dead people popping out at me with sinisterly loud music flaring up in the background always results in my screaming and covering my eyes, no matter how stupid the scene may be. One of the main reasons I try to avoid this category is that nowadays directors and writers seem to have misplaced the definition of “scary” with the definition of “gory”. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with the movie my friend and I went to see just a couple nights ago.

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