Pine – Kickstarter Game Based On Personal Illustrations By Tom Booth

Pine is a successfully funded Kickstarter game about a grieving woodcutter who lost his wife. What makes the game unique and even more interesting is that it is based on an internet-famous set of images from illustrator Tom Booth.

For the past 3-4 years he has been creating the story of the Wood Cutter based on his own deeply personal feelings of dealing with the death of a loved one. No one knows the whole story because Tom has said he wanted to “try something different” to tell his story – so here it is. He has chosen to do a kickstarter game. read more

This Is US – Season 1 and 2 Review

It’s not often that I choose to write about (or really even choose to watch) American television. That’s because in my opinion, the writing in American drama is often inferior and the characters not as emotionally engaging as Asian dramas. Season 2 had already started when I finally got around to watching Season 1 of This Is Us, the show that would change my opinion of American Dramas. – Don’t get me wrong. I love me some drama regardless of what country it originates from.. but I distinctively recall for example, when “Fault of Our Stars” came out, how much praise it was being given, as being the saddest movie of all time, ever, by radio and TV critics and movie-goers across our nation. I watched the film and was left feeling, mostly, nothing at all. That’s IT?! I thought to myself as I contemplated the movie for the next few hours. Sure it was “sad” – but these people (who praised the film so heavily) have clearly no idea what a “sad” movie even is. Go watch a Kdrama, and then come back and tell me “Fault of Our Stars” is still the saddest thing you’ve ever watched. When it came to American dramas, they seemed to fall into one of 2 categories, smut filled soap operas that never end (versus the concise, beginning, middle, end, 24 episode formula of most Kdrama), or into a predictable, but enjoyable, feel good romantic comedy chick flick (where a happy ending was almost guaranteed). It’s rare to find a “serious” American drama that can evoke the same empathy and sympathy and devastation and heart ache that most Kdramas can cause the audience to feel. “Fault of Our Stars” (as well as “The Notebook” and other similar films) attempt to create a sad love story, but still I’m often left feeling less emotion than I expected (although admittedly, “The Notebook” did have both myself and my best friend running to the restroom to grab tissues as we started sobbing at the ending).

Anyways, this post is not about Kdrama, nor is it about “Fault of Our Stars” or everything that American TV / Cinema does “wrong” when it comes to writing an emotionally moving film…

This post is about “This is Us”, the drama that would change my opinion of everything that American TV / Cinema does “wrong”. I remember for months seeing previews, and being like oh yeah, I want to watch that, but pushing it off on the back burner as my back log of things to watch, games to play, and things to do IRL grew longer and longer. Over the next several months, “This is Us” was often discussed in the office where I work. This increased my curiosity and desire to sit down and binge watch it.

And from the first episode, I was not disappointed. It grabs you in. It had twists and turns and unconventionality. It took place in Pittsburgh (being an hour north of there (and soon to move within minutes of the city, this made it even more relateable to me). It was not the typical white-wash American sitcom family. Here was a family of mixed races, tackling some serious dark and depressing issues. Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Infertility, Adoption, Weight Loss, and a very dysfunctional family. A family with real problems, problems with their marriage, problems with their careers, problems with their kids, problems with their family members.

It was raw, it was personal, it was unlike anything I had ever seen on American TV.

I binged through the first two seasons over Christmas break.

And the series returns tonight 01/09/18 with new episodes.

I won’t reveal much in this review about the story thus far in the first 2 seasons. I think that part of the success of this drama is how it throws some amazing curve balls at you and completely blindsides the heck out of you, which heightens the emotional impact so much more. In fact, the first episode might be quite confusing at first. The entire series is told through jumping here and there from past and present, including different periods in the past, and different families and perspectives and characters and it gets complicated fast. Everything is connected. It’s one of those shows you can only really appreciate and enjoy by watching from the very first episode, and never skipping a single show. The more you watch, the more everything begins to make sense, and the more invested you become in continuing to watch what happens next.

Anyways I’m obviously a fan of this series. It is with love and respect for the amazing writing (and music score, and acting, and pretty much everything) that I write this review.

Title: This is Us

Network: NBC

Length: 43 Minutes per Episode, Currently 2 Seasons with new episodes airing tonight 01/09/18.

Genre: Drama

Where to Watch: This is Us Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Hulu

Geeky: 3/5 This drama is likely to appeal more to girls than guys, due to the fact that it is not an “easy” show to watch. It’s not the type of show you come home to, put on, and mindlessly just enjoy. It requires critical thinking and piecing together the puzzle pieces from episode to episode as complexity grows each week. There are conflicts, but they are matters of the heart, struggles of human kind, and society as a whole. You will not find action and excitement here; however, Pittsburgh locals, and Steelers fans, or anyone dealing with dysfunctional family problems will relate easily to this series.

Sweetie: 5/5

Overall: 72/80 90% A- “Excellent Drama for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 The concept of the story, the way everything is interconnected and woven together, the excellent writing, acting, music, and execution, the loveable but flawed characters, and how relatable it all is makes the concept and overview of this series easily a 10 out of 10.

Story: 8/10 – The story can be confusing if you jump in mid-season, and it can even be confusing for long time fans. There are many questions left unanswered, and to find those answers, the story skips and hops all over in piece meal fashion. One moment, the big 3 have not even been born, you’re watching their parents in their early 20s, the next moment, the big 3 are about 10 years old, then the next moment they are days old, then the next moment, the big 3 are in their 30s. This would be the only complaint I could give as to the story.

Now for what the story does right, it tells us a story about a middle class northeastern family from Pittsburgh PA. They love the Steelers, they love going out to the bars in downtown Pittsburgh, taking their kids camping in the woods, fishing, hiking, celebrating the holidays Christmas, Halloween, Birthdays, and all, and the realities that come with life in Pittsburgh, PA such as shoveling their cars out from 6 feet of snow, the attitudes regarding racism and the roles of gender etc in the workplace back in the 70s and 80s in Pittsburgh’s prime.

But this isn’t just any other American family. This family is different.  A white family raising a black kid, a black kid searching for his birth parents, a community that judges the family from all angles. A family that lost a child, but gained a child. And a family raising 2 remaining white babies along side the black baby. The saying “Love Makes a Family” has never been more true than it is in this drama.

But even parents with the best intentions and pure love for each other and for their children still make mistakes. Some of those mistakes we can never recover from. Some of those mistakes will cost some members of this family their lives. And other mistakes will cause members of this family to spend the rest of their lives searching for answers.

With each surprising plot twist and turn, we learn more about this unconventional American family. What mistakes did they make, what secrets do they hide, what went wrong? And above all, the love the family has for each other, the love that exists despite all of these devastating mistakes, the love that exists even beyond death. Love, self love, self identity, sacrifice, marriage, careers, raising a family, the struggle is real. We feel their struggle, that’s why we keep watching. We want to see how they overcome the pitfalls of life that so many of us face also in our own lives.

Characters: 9/10 Dysfunctional is the word I would use to describe this family, or in fact every single character within this drama. That’s part of what makes this series work so well. It plays on our sympathies, it makes the characters raw, real and relateable.  Addiction is also a central theme. Whether it’s Jack and Kev’s alcoholism, Randall’s Obsessive Compulsion and Anxiety, or Kate’s weight problems. These characters are flawed. Sometimes those flaws can be presented a bit heavy handedly and repetitively, which is the only flaw I could give to the unique cast of characters.

It’s also interesting how the characters cannot “escape the sins of their fathers”. Just as Jack resented his father, he turns out to be the same in many ways, and Kevin realizes he too is exactly like them. And even though Beca hates her mother, thinks she expects too much and is controlling, Beca turns out to have the same expectations and behaviors towards her own daughter.

In this way we are shown, no one is perfect. Parenting is not easy. It’s easy to judge what our parents do wrong. It’s easy to blame them for messing up our own lives. But in the end, we control how our future looks.

The big 3 are at different stages in their lives. Randall is married with 2 beautiful children and a loving wife. A successful career and big house. Kate is slowly climbing out of her past problems, she finds a new man, which brings new challenges, but she also finds confidence in herself and realizes her dream to pursue her career and goals despite her age and appearance. Kevin is perhaps the most flawed of the big 3. He is unable to handle relationships, unable to feel anything, he has burred his emotions for so long concerning tragic events in his past. He has messed up his career, and now has to start over from nothing. He will try desperately to cling to the past, and still not acknowledge his problems. Those problems will grow when addiction enters the picture, and just when things seem to be going well for Kevin they will all fall apart again. Similarly, Kate in season 2 is going to have a huge upswing of luck, prosperity, and achievement, only to lose it all again.

Life is full of ups and downs. It’s this roller coaster ride that keeps us watching each episode. We begin to care more and more about the Pearsons because of how raw and real and flawed the characters are.

There’s much more to it than I have revealed here. Like I said, the best part is to watch and be shocked by each new rise and fall.

Casting: 9/10 – I think the show is well cast. My only small critique, and coming at it from the angle of my blog being for young teen/young adult women, is I would have liked Kate’s love interest to have been more handsome. I feel like in American film/TV it is really common to see a fat male character with a beautiful wife, but it’s far less common to see a fat female character with a fit husband. It’s almost taboo in American society to see this combination. And as a fat girl myself in real life, dating currently a fit guy, it’s a match I would like to see depicted more on American TV. Stop perpetuating the misconceived notion that a girl is only as good as her weight. Stop perpetuating that a fat girl can only ever be worthy of being with a fat guy. This isn’t true. Slender guys, Muscular guys, all different types of guys, like fat girls too.

Yes, being fat is unhealthy, and seeing Kate’s struggles with her weight, infertility, and struggles with her pregnancy, all hit very close to home for me as well, since I also have fertility issues due to PCOS.

Anyways, you can hate on me, and call me out and say by my criticizing Kate’s love interest simply because he’s bald and fat, that I’m a hypocrite, because I’m saying then a Man is only as good as his weight – and that’s not really true. that’s not my point or what I’m trying to say, but I think many readers may view these comments as such attacks. I think the character that Kate’s husband plays is smart, funny, and genuinely sweet and a great person. Kate is lucky to have him. Kate would STILL be lucky to have him even if Kate was a size zero and he remained overweight. The scene in the coffee shop where he gets to announce their pregnancy is maybe my favorite scene in the entire series. His love and devotion for Kate is demonstrated time and time again. They are possibly “America’s Sweethearts”.

People like him are hard to find in ANY shape size color or whatever. And the actor playing him does fantastic so this isn’t about his ability as an actor either.

But in a show that CONSTANTLY pushes the envelope on touchy sensitive issues such as alcoholism, domestic abuse, drug addiction, homosexuality, racism, discrimination, etc, It seems like a missed opportunity to push another issue, by giving Kate a partner that would be unconventionally acceptable by society’s standards for a “fat girl”.

As a fat girl myself, and now recently dating a fit and active guy, I am well aware of society’s view of what is “acceptable” for a “fat girl” when it comes to dating. 9 times out of 10 when we go out, the waitress assumes it’s separate checks, even if we go there often, even if I’m cuddling, rubbing his back, flirting, or etc, obviously we are together and out on a date. I’m well aware too of the looks and stares we get when we go out. And probably of the whispers and other comments made behind our backs. And this is in part shaped by what we see on TV. Society doesn’t hold those same misconceptions for an overweight man with an attractive female.

We laugh it off, because who are they to judge us, our happiness, our relationship, our compatibility. But still, Hollywood could be doing more to break down these stereotypes and barriers. They could pair a fat girl with a hot husband. They could cast a fat girl in a main role, and NOT make it about her eating addiction and weight loss, they could, but they don’t, and This is Us is no exception to this.

What we see in the media, also shapes our realities. Hollywood should have a responsibility to do more to stop sexism, racism, and stop hate against people on their weight, religion, sexual orientation, or any other “less desirable” (as perceived by society “norms”) traits.

Randall and Kevin would both be considered hot or attractive, and what do they get, hot wives/girlfriends (although Kevin’s relationships are a hot hot mess).

And yes, Kate does have a wonderful happy loving awesome relationship. That’s wonderful, but why pair the only fat chick in the sitcom, with an equally fat guy? Also why make Kate’s who character so obsessed with her weight. Calling attention to how it’s such a huge negative thing. Meanwhile in countless other sitcoms we see fat or ugly men with smoking hot wives. Let’s reverse that stereotype just one time. I want to see a serious tv series like this, with a very overweight actress such as Kate, with a happy, healthy relationship, with a man that society would deem to be “above her station” and a character who is confident, happy, and content with her body size/shape and just owns it. Yes, we all know that being fat is not healthy, it affects your life in numerous negative ways, from fertility issues such as what Kate has, to heart disease, diabetes, and just lack of energy/stamina. We don’t need a TV show to remind us of this (because society reminds us of this every day). Instead what we NEED is a TV show to show us some kindness, some hope, some ray of light, in a world with very few “role models for fat girls”.

I am here to tell you, that even though TV will never show you that “ray of light” it exists. It’s real. There are REAL men, fit, athletic, muscular, handsome, sexy men, who love big girls. Who love and RESPECT big girls, who love you for you, for the person you are inside. Your heart, your mind, your unique wonderful qualities that make you you. As well as loving you for your curvy body. Loving, loyal, devoted to you.

Do you know what my boyfriend told me on our very first date? He told me all of the reasons why he liked me / was interested in getting to meet me / know me better. Because I’m different from other girls, because I’m real and genuine, and loving, and kind hearted. Because I’m myself, I’m not fake, I’m not shallow, I never judge others. I accept and love and support him. But also he genuinely likes and is attracted to big girls. I’ve seen photos of his exes, and they were even bigger than me. So it’s not just him saying that to please me. As unbelievable as it may be, there are fit guys who love big girls. And not only because they are big. But for all of the reasons that make them a wonderful person. Relationships shouldn’t be superficial. (so once again you might be calling me out here with my critique of Kate’s boyfriend in This is Us because he DOES treat Kate like the queen she is no matter how big he or she are.) But so could any man, regardless of his weight. Why only show fat actresses with fat men? When will hollywood realize that a woman’s value is more than her dress size. I have a wonderful relationship with a fit muscular guy and I’m a 200 lb girl. We share some things in common, but we also show each other new and interesting things, and take interest in each other’s interests. We have never spent a weekend apart ever since we first met, almost 6 months ago now.

I still think every time I go out with my boyfriend that I have the best looking guy in the room, or even in the world. And I find it unbelievable. Why? Why am I always so surprised and thankful and feel so shocked? Because of society’s norms, society’s expectations, society’s judgements. And what forms and shapes those judgements is the media. Magazines, movies, TV shows. We grow up looking to those. It’s a subconscious thing. You can deny it all you want and say you’re not superficial, but the truth is, you don’t even realize how it is shaping your judgement and notions.

Fat women often cast as sidekicks, comic relief, never taken seriously, never in a lead role, never in a “fairytale” type romance with a “prince charming”. If anything at all, paired with a man who society would equally judge and find fault with (at least their outer appearance).

I guess my bottom line is this… They could have written the character of Kate’s husband the EXACT same way, kept ALL of the scenes exactly the same, showing his silly side, his love for Kate, his willingness to let go of any pride or the lengths he would go to to publicly display his love for Kate, Kept all of that, and just cast someone better looking in the role – he still would have had the same qualities that make us love their relationship so much. While no longer perpetuating the stereotype of a fat girl not being able to have a happy relationship like this with an average or even handsome guy. Cast her with someone like Kev or Randall and then we’d REALLY have a show that pushes the envelope.

Acting: 10/10 – The show is emotionally engaging because not only of the excellent writing but the equally believable and convincing acting.

Music: 10/10 – I love the ending theme as well as many of the other tracks used throughout this drama. Many fans have asked repeatedly for Jack’s theme to be released on itunes store. As of yet it does not appear to be available for purchase. Take a listen below to Jack’s Theme.

Visuals: 8/10 – The nostalgia of the 70s 80s, and 90s are depicted through the different time skips back through the story. Although the show is a drama with no special effects or big budget visuals, the show does an excellent job of depicting life in western Pennsylvania. I would know since it is also my home.

Overall: 72/80 90% A- “Excellent Drama for Girls”

Magikarp Jump – Free Mobile Virtual Pet Pokemon Game Review for IOS and Android

Overview: 10/10 Magikarp Jump is a cute, free, seemingly innocent Pokemon Game for Mobile IOS and Android devices. The gameplay is very simplistic and reminiscent of Monster Rancher in that you take home a pet to train and raise and enter league battles. Pretty basic stuff, right? But actually it is perhaps one of the darkest Pokemon Games of all time, because for the first time ever, your Pokemon can die! There is no going back into their Pokeballs, and no amount of healing from Nurse Joy can bring a KoiKing back after he has become lunch for a wild flying Pokemon.

Koe no Katachi Anime Review

Koe no Katachi is not just a story of a deaf girl, but also a coming of age story wherein we witness the growth and life changes of everyone surrounding her. Shoko is a deaf student who transfers in to the class. Shoko is the only student with a disability, and none of the staff, students, or teachers are prepared or equipped to deal with her. As a result, Shoko becomes the victim of bullying, with Shoya largely being the ring leader behind her tormenting. Once Shoya's bullying is ousted by his teacher and classmates, Shoya himself becomes the victim of bullying and learns first hand the pain and isolation that he inflicted upon Shoko. Shoya and Shoko both struggle with feelings of depression and suicide as a result of being bullied by their classmates. Will their new unusual friendship be enough to save both of them?

Final Fantasy XV Review

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a review around here with the holidays and all. It’s time to fix that. Having just finished FFXV over the weekend, that seems the best candidate for a review this week. I’ve been a fan of Final Fantasy for a long time, ever since “Mystic Quest” on the SNES. Final Fantasy 6 (3 in America) is still my favorite in the series. I’ve played every Final Fantasy Game since the 16 bit era. And I’m “strange” I know, but I don’t really like FF7, not as much as everyone else seems to be in love with that game. But Final Fantasy in general always holds a special place in my heart. If I had to rank my favorite FF games that I’ve played from best to worst, it would look something like this when using the corresponding Japanese numbers for each title… With the newest game, Final Fantasy XV somewhere solidly in the middle. Although I’ve played 11 and 14, I didn’t include them in the list since they are a different genre (mmorpg)

  • FF6
  • FF8
  • FF4
  • FF10
  • FF13
  • FF15
  • FF9
  • FF5
  • FF7
  • FF12

Honestly, my most favorite thing about the new FF game was Prompto’s Photography skills lol. My twitter and facebook looked like a giant marketing website for the game for the past few weeks. Pretty smart move by SquareEnix, getting the public to help promote their game like that on social media. The characters are quite likeable in the game, and although the story starts slow, it eventually builds with a lot of emotion. The first half of the game features an open world environment where you can travel, explore, and quest freely, but the last several chapters are much more linear, and it’s within the later half of the game that the story becomes much darker. The emotions are felt stronger due to the first half focusing on friendship between the main character and his friends and the light hearted feeling of the early chapters.

The story however, is not without flaws, and that is where I have to deduct points. People are killed off much too early in the game to feel any sense of loss or attachment to them. Furthermore, some characters are mysteriously killed off without ever showing exactly what happened to them. The character development between the 4 “bros” is the highlight of the game – and it is beautiful. On the other hand, supporting characters are introduced only to be almost forgotten in later chapters. For example, I really liked Iris in the first half of the game. In the end it’s eluded that she too has become a daemon hunter, but it never shows her again nor does she ever rejoin the bros. Aranea is another forgotten female as well.

The game is supposed to be receiving numerous updates in the coming weeks and months. Among which include new story sequences, special dlc for each of the bros, gameplay enhancements for the later chapters (chapter 13), and the ability to create your own player character. But I shall base my review solely based on the content that was available when I played through the game.

Title: Final Fantasy XV

Platform: PS4 and Xbone (I played the PS4 version, but they are both the same).

Publisher: SquareEnix

Release Date: November 29, 2016

Genre: RPG

Where to buy: Amazon

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Plastic Memories Anime Review

Title: Plastic Memories

Genre: Slice of Life, Romance, Scifi, Comedy

Release Date: 2015

Studio: Doga Kobo

Length: 13 Episodes

Overall: 32/35 91% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Story: 10/10 Plastic Memories is a 2015 anime series about a futuristic society aided by companion android like creations known as Giftia. The giftia live together with humans, and often as an integral role of their family. More often than not, they serve as children for couples unable to conceive on their own, or taking the place of children who died.

Imagine what you would do to protect your child. Now imagine if you knew that your time with your child was limited. You knew at best you’d have 10, maybe 15 years together. You knew this before agreeing to purchase the android – but you didn’t know how attached you’d become and how human-like they’d be. Giftia also have feelings and emotions – or at least artificial intelligence has advanced so far that they perceive some type of understanding towards human emotion.

But technology still has it’s limits. It always will. Technology does not last forever – and Giftia are no exception. They will break. It’s just a matter of when. And when a Giftia breaks, they can become very dangerous, and they may even attack humans. Because of that – there’s a special task force that is sent out to retrieve Giftia who are nearing the end of their life.

This is no easy job. Imagine what you would do if someone showed up on your door step with intent to effectively kill your child?

These special agents only use force when absolutely necessary. They try to spend several days reasoning with the families and making them understand, that it’s much like when you put down a beloved pet. You don’t want them to suffer. You do it as an act of kindness and out of love.

Once reclaimed, they can be reprogrammed and sent back to their owners – but none of the memories of the past 15 years will exist. They will view you as a stranger. It won’t matter how much you talk about the past, or even if you showed them photos, or videos, their memories are lost forever.

Characters: 10/10 The story of the Giftia is just one component, and not even the main focus – the main focus actually is on the team which must retrieve the Giftia from their owners. To do this they work in pairs. One human, and one Giftia make up one pair. The task force has about 5 or 6 pairs working in the office. The story focuses on their newest recruit, a young man named Tsukasa. He is paired up with Isla, a broken Giftia who is nearing the end of her life span. She is aware that she has very little time left and that she has begun to slow down both in mental and physical capabilities. However her team members hate seeing her so sad, so they decide to put her back out in the field – for a long time she has been “out of action” after failing to prevent an accident that occurred and failing to recapture a rogue Giftia. Being given a second chance, she trains hard every day to not be a burden to her team members, especially Tsukasa. The team is worried about Isla pushing herself too hard, so they make the two of them live together so that Tsukasa can help watch over her mental and physical well being. Initially Isla is very cold and almost inhuman like. She is worried about getting attached to anyone when she knows she will soon pass away and cause pain to herself and everyone who cares about her. She has seen far too many times, the painful goodbyes when she has herself reclaimed a Giftia from the people that loved it (and that the Giftia also loved them). Unable to bear the sadness, Isla would rather isolate herself and just await her gloomy fate. — But that slowly changes with Tsukasa in her life. She finds herself wanting to please him, wanting to make him happy, and most of all, just wanting to be near him.

And the story doesn’t just solely focus on them either. The other team members also have interesting back stories. However, what I thought was even more impressive, is how they can make you cry and feel attached to a very minor character within 1, 2, or 3 episodes, before killing them off. All of the Giftia in this series… I really felt for them and their families. I really found myself crying in nearly every episode. The amount of character development, back story, and emotion put into even the tiniest characters who are only there for an episode or 2, that is some seriously good writing!

Artwork: 5/5 – The artwork is very nice given that it is a 2015 anime, using the latest animation techniques and drawn in the current modern style. Isla is cute, especially if you love Tsunderes or TsunTsuns. I still don’t think she’s as cute as Chii lol but she is still none the less adorable. And the production values are much higher than say Chobits or Time of Eve. The bright colors and flashy animation really make this one stand out.

Voice Acting: 5/5 – I really enjoyed the voice actors in this anime. They had so much raw emotion that was necessary to tell such a sad tale. Even the “extras” who were only in one or two episodes at most, they all had so much emotion. There’s no way to watch this anime without crying lol.

Music: 2/5 – The music is just sorta average in my opinion. It’s been less than a year since I watched this and I can’t really even recall the ending theme (I recall the animation that went with it, but not so much the music.) — On the other hand, the opening theme is very catchy. Background music fit the mood and theme of each episode well as well. It’s average to above average, but not as memorable as many other anime soundtracks out there.

Overall: 32/35 91% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

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Yobi the Five Tailed Fox | Anime Review | Korean Film | Korean Anime | Korean Animation | Korean Animated Film | Korean Movie | South Korea

While not technically an anime, per say, since it is not from Japan, Yobi the Five Tailed Fox is an excellent family film that has a similar style to that of Studio Ghibli. The story of Yobi the Five Tailed Fox tells us a Korean folk tale legend about Kitsune like creatures who could become human if they stole a human’s soul. Because of that belief, that the foxes could steal souls, they became hunted almost to extinction.

Except for Yobi, the “young” (if 100 years old is young) fox who lives in the forest with her farting alien family who are trying to repair their spaceship to return home. One of her family members wanders into a summer camp for humans near the forest one day and Yobi goes to the camp in her human form to try to convince the alien to return back home.

However, once Yobi enters the camp, she encounters a young human boy and begins to fall in love. She’s told by a shadow detective that he can help her to become human and he tricks her into helping him steal a soul.

It’s a beautiful family film. At times the humor is a bit low-brow but it’s meant to appeal to small children. I didn’t care for some of the character designs. Yobi’s hair style is cute as can be, but their faces are more realistic and less “anime” styled for my tastes. The backgrounds are totally gorgeous. Voice acting was excellent as well as the music.

It pays homage to many great anime films from Ghibli and other studies. Including the living bus from Totoro – although in this film it can fly. It also reminded me heavily of Wolf Children, with a fox instead of a wolf falling in love with a human boy and wanting to go to school and be with humans.

So while it’s not terribly original, and its art and animation not quite as good as what we see from the Japanese studios, it’s still a very good family film. I cried at the end, it’s very heart moving and touching.

Final Scores:

Geeky: 

Sweetie: 

Art: 3/5

Story: 7/10

Character Development: 6/10

Voice Acting: 4/5

Music: 5/5

Overall: 33 / 45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

If you like this movie, you might also like: My Summer with Coo, Totoro, Wolf Children, Spice and Wolf, and Kanon.

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    Wolf Girl and Black Prince Anime Review

    Title: Wolf Girl and Black Prince

    Number of Episodes: 12 anime episodes – over 40 manga chapters – the anime ends with manga chapter 21; so you can continue the story by reading on from manga chapter 22.

    Episode Length: Approximately 30 minutes

    Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Drama, Comedy, Slice of Life

    Where to Watch: http://www.crunchyroll.com/wolf-girl-and-black-prince

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    Story: 10/10 Erika is a typical highschool girl, worried about her reputation with her friends in her class. So when her friends all start bragging about their boyfriends, Erika decides that she’s going to make up a fictional boyfriend to impress her friends. Without thinking, she randomly takes a cellphone picture of a cute boy that she passes by on the street. When she shows her friends, they are shocked and don’t believe her, because it is the “prince” of the school; the one guy that all of the girls want to date, the most popular and most unobtainable boy in the school. Not wanting to get caught in her own lie, Erika approaches the “prince” to ask him if he could pretend to go out with her for a short time. He tells her he will be her boyfriend if she will be his dog. He tells her he likes dogs that follow him around and obey his every command. He literally treats her as if she were a dog. He makes her bark, turn circles, fetch, and sit and stay on command. She agrees to be his dog because she so badly wants to keep up appearances with her friends. While pretending to be dating, the two gradually draw closer. Erika almost instantly develops feelings for the prince, however, he does not trust women due to his own relationship with his mother and sister. He is afraid of being hurt and afraid that everyone will leave him if he gets too close. He is never honest about his feelings, and tries to deny that he also has grown rather fond of Erika. He slowly begins to change though throughout the series; his once playboy ways a thing of the past, as he refuses visits from other girls, and becomes increasingly possessive and jealous around Erika. He also at times shows her kindness that he never shows to other girls.

    Recommended Age Group: 12+ The story is cute and completely “clean”, though it does seem a bit degrading for the girl in this story. If you just enjoy it for what it is, it’s a great anime, my favorite in fact from 2015; but if you think about it too deeply you may be somewhat offended by the fact that it “romanticizes” abusive relationships. I’m personally not bothered or offended by this series, but I think impressionable young children (7-10 yrs old) should maybe not watch it for this reason.

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    Characters: 10/10 Erika and Kouya (the prince) are exact opposites, their personalities are usually in conflict throughout the series, with Erika wanting to “win” the heart of Kouya, and Kouya cautiously protecting himself and pushing Erika away. Erika is a sweet and simple girl who is eager to please others (which is what gets her into this mess in the first place) Kouya is more rough around the edges, and has a bad temper and a known track record for being a playboy. Erika is more high energy, while Kouya is more reserved. He gets embarrassed easily and is less open about his feelings. Kouya is the typical Tsundere type of character, one who acts cold, but is actually very kind underneath his outward appearances.

    There are also a number of minor characters who bring the show to life, including a love rival trying to win Erika’s affection (briefly) in the series. I actually liked him better for Erika – Let’s face it, Kouya does not treat her right at all. The love rival is very shy and timid, and that really endeared him to me even more. He was just too cute! There’s also Kouya’s friend who tries to give Erika tips and advice to impress Kouya, but usually ends up making things worse for them. And later on, a new student wants to make Kouya stray, to prove that all men cheat, and make himself feel/look better, but Kouya proves that he is a better person and resists the temptation. A lot of drama and a lot of character tensions in this anime, really keep things moving. I love a good drama.

    Artwork: 8/10

    Music: 8/10

    Voice Acting: 8/10

    Final Score: 44/50 88% Very Good Anime for Girls

    You Might Also Like: Kaichou Wa Maid Sama, Kamisama Hajimemashita, and Blue Spring Ride

    Lufia The Fortress of Doom Review SNES Retro RPG Videogame

    Title: Lufia the Fortress of Doom

    Genre: RPG

    Release Date: December 1993

    Platform: SNES

    Publisher: Taito

    Where to Buy: Amazon has a few used copies in stock from time to time; at time of this review, it’s priced around $68 You can keep an eye on this page on amazon to see when copies become available. http://www.amazon.com/Lufia-Fortress-Doom-Super-Nintendo/dp/B0007Y66N4 You may also have good luck searching on ebay for a used copy of the game.

    Geeky Factor: 

    Sweetie Factor: 

    Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”

    Concept: 8/10 This is the first game in the Lufia series if you look at release date; however, several “prequels” were released that take place prior to the events in this game. The order that you play them in does not matter much since several decades elapse between each point in the storyline; if you have time for only one game, I recommend Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals (Which we’ve recently reviewed in our new Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals Review ) over this original game. The pequel improves on almost every aspect of this title, including storyline, character development, gameplay, and graphics. But the first game is still a great rpg with a touching story full of plot twists and challenging gameplay. The game begins by playing a group of heroes (who are the stars of the prequel) in the final stretch of their journey to seal away ancient evil powers known as the Sinistrals. After some brief gameplay and story, the time skips ahead almost 100 years into the future, and you are playing as the descendant of these heroes. The world has been peaceful and uneventful until now; but now the ancient evil that your ancestors faced has reawakened and you must follow in their footsteps to save the world once again. Lufia’s strength as a whole has always been its rather challenging puzzle solving elements that are presented as you explore various dungeons. There’s also many different side quests and things to explore in each game which give players a break from the main story.

    Story: 8/10 As mentioned above the concept of the game is that you are the direct descendant of heroes who faced great evil almost 100 years ago. You play as a young knight serving your kingdom, and you have a childhood friend who mysteriously turned up in your village 10 years ago with no memories of her past that serves as a love interest for the main character. The game is more about Lufia than your main character who is more just like a sidekick as far as story and character development go. Lufia has a very strange past which slowly emerges as you play the game and really becomes the main focus and catalyst of the storyline later on. The storyline is very touching, and you can really feel the love that has developed between the hero and Lufia. The real game (after the prologue) begins when a nearby village is attacked by someone claiming to be one of the defeated sinistrals. As a knight, it’s your duty to go help the villagers and when you arrive, you come face to face with the Sinistral Gades for yourself. After learning that the Sinistrals have reawakened you begin your journey to help save the world once again. The story does start out rather slow, so I deducted a few points there. It suffers from some bad dialogue at times too, being either bland or cringe worthy at times. However, the plot twists and the love story that slowly emerges, as well as the shocking truth about Lufia’s past make the storyline a very rewarding experience that’s well worth the somewhat slow start.

    Characters: 5/10 Your party consists of 4 characters, the hero, his childhood friend Lufia, Aguro a knight from a neighboring village, and Jerin, a healer who later becomes a love-rival for Lufia. The characters are not as well developed as in Lufia 2. With the only character who’s strongly well developed being Lufia herself. Lufia and the love that you feel for her are very emotionally engaging. However, the other two party members often feel flat and lifeless. The main hero is left somewhat generic to allow the player to better immerse and imagine themselves in the role of the hero. This can sometimes make the main character feel more cold and uncaring than if he also had a well developed backstory and personality. The character dialogue can also be cheesy or fall flat at times which can detract from the emotional impact of the storyline.

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    Gameplay: 8/10 This is a typical “90s RPG” featuring turn based combat, dungeon crawling, (lots of) random enemy encounters, and puzzle solving. You level up and learn new skills and spells, travel from town to town, purchase new equipment, talk to NPCs, and take on side quests as you progress through the main story. There’s nothing terribly innovative here; but the puzzles and monsters can be quite challenging which makes this series very fun for those looking for a challenge. One of the most challenging features is the “Ancient Cave” which has 100 levels and I think it may be procedurely generated if I remember correctly. Each level features better loot, but increasingly difficult monster encounters. This area is completely optional, but most players will want to explore this dungeon to level up their party and acquire some of the best in-game items. This is a linear rpg (as most games where back then) with little in the ways of customization and no replay value or incentive for multiple playthroughs (so I deducted a couple of points there).  If you love traditional retro RPGs, that’s what we have here, so you should be right at home in Lufia Fortress of Doom.

    Music: 10/10 The soundtrack to Lufia is very memorable, maybe one of the best back in the 90s (aside from “big name” games such as final fantasy). The sound effects and ambient sounds also help to immerse the player into the world of Lufia and help set the mood for each point in the story.

    Graphics: 7/10 The graphics are dated by today’s standards of course, but back in its time, Lufia had some of the most vivid and colorful graphics around. One flaw in the graphics may be in the combat system, as you are shown a row of enemies in the middle of your screen, and beneath that, 4 status bars representing your 4 party members, with a small animated sprite in the right hand side of each bar. It seems odd to present the statistical info more prominently than the characters themselves. The game is also often criticized for reusing several graphics and not having enough variety in level or monster design.

    Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”