The 52 Review: Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun

Title: Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun Volume 1
Author: Izumi Tsubaki
Genre: Shoujo Manga

Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun is the first new manga I’ve enjoyed since entering my twenties. I saw the anime first and was hooked by the premise: Chiyo Sakura is a high school student who develops a crush on the stoic and handsome Umetarou Nozaki. When she confesses her feelings to him, he gives her his autograph. After, she finds out that he leads a double life as Sakiko Yumeno, a renowned shoujo manga artist.

Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun offers a fun and interesting insight into the manga industry. Other classmates help with the manga, whether it is through offering their artistic talents or inspiration for the characters.

My favourite character outside the main two has to be Mikoto Mikoshiba, or Mikorin. He’s a charming, bold character who is secretly shy and easily embarrassed. He spends a lot of time collecting figurines and playing dating simulators. I relate to him a lot.

The pages are set up as 4 panel stories, making it an easy read for someone who doesn’t have the time for a complicated story. The art is gorgeous and the chaarqacters all have their charms.

The official translation of volume 1 has only just been released in the UK, but fan translations exist online. At the very least, I implore you to give the anime a try.

Oh wow

I’m really looking forward to the next volume. It’s been years since I’ve been excited by a manga. It’s good to be drawn back in.

I hope you enjoyed this review! If you have any requests or suggestions, don’t be afraid to leave a comment. And if you give this series a try, let me know!

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The 52 Book Challenge: Introduction

Happy 2016 to all of my loyal followers. Instead of posting about how I’ve been here, I’ve instead donated that post to Verbal Remedy in response to their Mental Health Month. So if you’ve been wondering how I am, you can look here.

So to encourage me to blog again, I will be participating in the 52 Book Challenge. We have a fancy new page on our top menu, so I’ll be posting links to reviews and sorting the books by genres. I’m nothing if not organised.

The premise of the challenge is that you read one book a week for the whole year. That’s it. It also makes for a boring post, so I’ve inflicted my own personal rules.

  1. I will post a review of every book I read for the challenge
  2. I will only review one book from a series
  3. I won’t review strings of genres (i.e two crime novels in a row)

Visual books are also fair game to me. I’m going to try to read as many different kinds of genres and authors as I can.

The first book I’ll be reviewing is Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki. I hope you all look forward to it.

If you have any requests or recommendations, do let me know in the comments or get in touch with me via the Contact Me tab.

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another post.

Let me ask you this: are there any books you drift back to to reread? Is there a genre you favour? And will you be joining the challenge?

Let me know your thoughts.

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When I Needed Help

I haven’t written in a while. I know it’s bad when WordPress has a layout change and I am completely flummoxed by it. I can only apologise for my absence.

I haven’t been well. Not in my usual way this time, but on a more personal level.

Since the summer, my anxiety attacks were getting worse. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t sleep well. I was always sick and leaving the house was a nightmare I didn’t want to face anymore. It took one well-timed visit from my auntie Jeanette at a time when I was spiraling and all alone for the truth to be addressed.

I went to the doctors next day and I’ve been on antidepressants for a couple of months now.

I haven’t really told people. I’m doing so now because the hypocrisy of it has finally dawned upon me. For years I have stood by the belief that mental health is as important as physical health. I have cried loudly that there should not be a stigma attached to mental illness and the need for pills.

Then suddenly it was my illness. My pills. Suddenly I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

I am now.

Hopefully this will be me getting back in to writing again. I have new ideas for the new year and some exciting news to follow this week.

I am sorry. And I am back.

In lieu of my usual questions, I ask my followers to reach out to people who are struggling in their lives. Give them the help they need.

And as always, the comments section is open to those who want to talk.

 

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Update from Wonderland: October Edition

Happy Halloween month! This is a small post.

I have my costume prepared and a party to go to; Halloween is going to be incredible this year. I am planning a post for tomorrow or Saturday about the best Halloween movies, but this was more pressing.

October has been busy. My health is not improving any time fast and leaving the house most days feels like a challenge. I’m getting a lot of things done though.

I’ve had an article and three reviews published. If you check out my writer’s site, you’d know that, but I am very proud. I did an article of the witches in 17th century Newcastle that was a lot of fun to research. I also did reviews of Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, Life is Strange and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5.

My pitch was also accepted for a zine called Werewolves Versus. If it all goes to plan, I’ll be published in January with a short story.

Blogging-wise, I have been on the internet. I did two posts over at Verbal Remedy on Suffragette and the Merritt Smith news which I encourage you to check out. I’ve also started blogging over at The Gothic Imagination, a site for postgraduate students and academics who research the Gothic. My first post in on surrealism in La Belle et la Bete (1946).

I’m sorry I have nothing else to tell you. Outside of writing, nothing exciting is happening. Hopefully my next life update, I’ll be telling you how my dissertation went and if I’ve passed my MA.

Have this cute gif as recompense:

Hide

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another post.

Let me ask you this: what are you doing for Halloween? Have your projects come to fruition lately? And what news are you waiting on?

Let me know your thoughts.

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Barbie: Be You (and other good morals)

When I was young, I had a Barbie in a red skirt-jacket ensemble. I called her Alison to differentiate her from her identical sisters. She would take the pink train with moving window scenery to various meetings all away across America; or rather, what my young mind had gathered America was like from watching TV. Alison was a professor of archaeology and she would go the University of Salem, the University of Saved by the Bell, and the University of whatever Mary Kate and Ashley movie I just watched. She gave talks on the importance of dinosaurs, and explained to eager Action Man dolls just why Jurassic Park was the single most accurate movie of all time.

I could tell you hundreds of stories like this. The running soap opera that occurred when me and my cousin played Barbies together, and exactly why was Ken so determined to ruin his marriage with Aimee’s dolls; the time ballerina Barbie, Skipper and June in the striped jumper started a band/babysitting service; the time my Rapunzel doll discovered she had an evil twin because someone got me a doll I already for Christmas and I immediately wanted an epic showdown.

In short, Barbie was a big part of childhood. It was a big part of many of our childhoods.

That’s not to say Barbie isn’t flawed. There have been many mistakes over the years, including racism and cultural appropriation, bad body image encouragement, and downright sexist and ill-thought-out marketing exercises.

It’s why I was so excited to see this new advertising campaign:

Barbie’s power has always been that she can do anything. Yes, she has been a fairy, princess or mermaid in multiple dolls/movies. But she’s also entered career paths that have been male-dominated. She has been President before any real life woman in America. She has been an army medic, an Olympic skater and firefighter; and this was just the 1990s!

There’s a running joke in the phenomenal webseries Life in the Dreamhouse which fits in with this idea. Barbie will declare that they need a professional—for example a vet—to which Skipper would reply: “Weren’t you a vet?”. She has a whole room of her dreamhouse dedicated to her past uniforms, still in their original packaging. It’s a great series, full of charm and nods to Barbie history. It’s aware of its problems, just like the characters are aware they’re dolls. I would recommend people watch it, if only for its snappy writing.

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Barbie encourages play as little girls want to play. If you want to be like Aimee and lead the life of a housewife and mother, there was toys and accessories for that. If you wanted to be like me and have an exciting life as a professor or rockstar, she could do that too.

I like dolls still. I’m more of a collector now, but I see the appeal of them. I still like the Barbie movies, old and new. And watching this new advert—this saccharine and almost too cute advert—I’m glad to see Barbie back doing what she does best.

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Update from Wonderland: September Edition

Dear readers, it’s September again.

september

I got my hospital results back. The mass removed was thyroid cancer. And now I have a choice to make. I can go through the surgery again, an experience which still fills me with dread when I think about. It will mean having my thyroid completely taken out, lest it have spread to the other side already. Without my thyroid I’ll be on a hormone replacement pill.

The alternative is to wait. I will have appointments for the rest of my life, as is apparently common after cancer. I will have scans to see how the other side is doing. Should I start developing another lump, surgery will be a must. There is no guarantee that will ever happen to me though.

For now, I’m waiting and seeing. I don’t want to go through that again. The scars are literally too fresh for me to put myself through it.

But I am in better health now than I have been since the surgery. My dissertation has been handed in and I am awaiting the results of that next month. I haven’t had the best year of it, what with losing my first batch of assignments, my uncle dying and the hospital trips, but with any luck I’ll still pass.

Onwards and upwards though. I start my new degree this week. I’m still waiting on a placement, and it’s looking to be in Functional English not A-Level. For those unaware or new to the blog (hello!), I’ll be starting the PGCE PCET course at the University of Sunderland. Yes, another Sunderland degree. My diehard Newcastle supporter cousin is slowly hating me more and more.

I’m excited for this. I’m also nervous. It is so radically different to what I’m used to, and literature was always my strong point. While language is interesting to me and I loved studying it, it’s not the crux of my degree knowledge. I have confidence, but I also have my worries. So more on teaching life as it develops I suppose.

As a final note, I like the image I found on google. I may attempt to make graphics for these updates so I’m not taking from image searches anymore.

I’m sorry this update was so short and so late. I hope you can understand that it was not a good few months.

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another post.

Let me ask you this: how many of your started a new degree or course this month? Who is still working on their dissertations? And what hardships have you overcome recently.

And as an additional question, how would you feel about me posting more book and film reviews on here?

Let me know your thoughts.

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The Shakespeare Conspiracy

This will be the first year since leaving high school that I am not on a course which wants me to understand Shakespeare. It is a pity, because I do enjoy most of his works. I’ve written about him in the past, but now seemed like a good time to talk about one of my favourite topics: Shakespeare conspiracy theories.

I’m hoping this will help any GCSE or A-Level students studying Shakespeare. I may do more posts like this in the future. If you have a question or request, send me a message via the Contact Me page!

The Authorship Question

There are those who believe that Shakespeare never penned the poems or play attributed to him. These people are called Anti-Stratfordians. The Authorship Question is one which aims to prove whether or not Shakespeare did write these things, and if he didn’t, reveal who did.

J Thomas Looney is amongst the most famous for this in his book The Shakespeare Identity, but many have questioned the authorship. Even recently, the movie Anonymous (as awful as it was) tried to address this question.

Popular true author theories include: the 17th Earl of Oxford, 6th Earl of Derby and Francis Bacon. My personal favourite is the belief that Christopher Marlowe, the playwright responsible for Doctor Faustus, faked his own death and continued writing as William Shakespeare.

There are many reasons why people believe that Shakespeare wasn’t the true author. The main reason is that Shakespeare was a glove-maker’s son. He did not have a university education, but he wrote plays which surpassed those who did. Not only that, but he makes references to things and places which he could not have seen.

The assumption that anyone other than an upper-class man who wrote as well as Shakespeare did is a fraud is a classist argument. Shakespeare spent years around theatres, and one can learn to do things by immersing themselves in to the environment. Great art does not have to come from a classroom. More than that, while Shakespeare references France and Padua, he also thinks France has lions and Padua has a dock. He creatively interprets what he has heard of these places.

Another reason why people think Shakespeare didn’t write the plays is because there are few existing records of his life. There are legal documents, his birth certificates etc. but no written letters. In the absence of biography, many take to his works to gleam information about his personal life. It can lead to contradictory information and it spawned the belief that the man could not exist. But this is not evidence of absence; it is absence of evidence.

A final comment on this theory is that it fundamentally misunderstands the theatre as it existed in Shakespeare’s times. We have his folio and it is easy to mistake it for the set-in-stone words of William Shakespeare. However his plays would have always been changing. Jokes would be added or scenes removed based on audience reaction. The plays were not written for any actor, but a specific actor within a specific acting troupe. The playwright had to be someone who worked with the troupe, who knew what kind of characters would work and who knew the kinds of stories the actors were competent at telling. This is difficult to accomplish when one is a nobleman using a poor man as a mouthpiece.

I think Kat says it best:

Am I That Transparent

To me, it is obvious that Shakespeare penned his own works.

This is not the only debate which occurs when studying Shakespeare. Here are some more popular ones:

Shakespeare was secretly gay

A good one hundred plus of Shakespeare’s sonnets are addressed to the Fair Youth. We do not know who this youth was, but we know Shakespeare thought he was a very pretty boy. So this begs the question: was Shakespeare gay?

The answer is no. He had a wife (more on her later), and he had other female lovers, most noticeably the Dark Lady. Shakespeare was, going off this evidence, not gay.

He was very likely bisexual though.

While his works were not autobiographical, it was common to write poetry to those you were pursuing. One of the more famous sonnets of Shakespeare is Sonnet 52, which has this verse:

So is the time that keeps you as my chest,
Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,
To make some special instant special-blest,
By new unfolding his imprison’d pride.

Shakespeare is talking about his lover’s erection. The sonnet is full of innuendo and euphemism. Some argue that he only admired the man, others claim that it was not autobiographical. It is a raging debate still.

Shakespeare created thousands of new words

Many words we use today—eyeballs and alligator for example—did not exist before Shakespeare’s time. You can find many words like this in Shakespeare’s work.

But Shakespeare did not create them. He popularised him. He is a playwright after all, and his plays needed to be understood. He had to use terms which would be understood by the masses.

For who did revolutionise language, the answer, as always, lies in teenage girls.

The Second Best Bed

In Shakespeare’s Will (the best joke in this post by far), he left to his wife Anne Hathaway “his second best bed”.

So was this a final insult to Anne after years of adultery?

The argument is certainly there. The idea of the second best bed presents to a modern audience the idea that his best bed was the one he shared with his mistress (or a male lover. I’m standing by bisexual Shakespeare). Shakespeare was a renowned philanderer who spent decades away his wife and had many affairs.

But when Shakespeare was writing, there was an interesting practice afoot. The best bed of the house did not serve the master. It was for guests. Instead, the master and his wife would spend their nights in the second best bed. Arguably, the bestowing of the bed is a symbolic gesture: here is the place we were once happy, and I bequeath it on to you. It is sentiment and memory, not material wealth. This is the line of thought taken by Carol Ann Duffy in her poem Anne Hathaway.

There are just some things addressed when studying Shakespeare. Are they all conspiracies? No. But they are interesting. And I felt like talking about Shakespeare tonight.

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another post.

Let me ask you this: which play is your favourite? Do you think Shakespeare wrote his works? And what do you think of the works?

Let me know your thoughts.

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Death and The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone permeated popular culture in a huge way. An anthology of short and often surreal stories of horror or science-fiction, its commentary and scope was broad. Famous episodes include Time Enough at Last, where a man who just wanted time to read and no distractions from his reading. But when he is the last man on earth, his glasses break, leading the infamous ‘There was time now!’ scene, parodied in pop culture ever since. It is this kind of ironic surrealism which cemented The Twilight Zone as an American classic.

Some of my personal favourite episodes deal with the character of Death. In this post, I would like to explore the iterations of Death in The Twilight Zone, and consider why these characters are the way they are.

#MovesLikeTheReaper

In the following episodes, Death is not personified. He is, however, alluded to through imagery and story type, and thus deserve some consideration.

Escape Clause (S01 E06), written by Rod Serling, presents a typically Death-related deal with for immortality. An old man makes a deal that he will live forever, with the stipulation of an escape clause should he change his mind about eternity. It is not Death who offers him this though, but the Devil (played by Thomas Gomez). The idea of Death bartering with mortality dates back to ancient Greek times, when Thanatos (the god of death) was tricked by King Sisyphus and chained up. While Thanatos was chained up no one could die. Thanatos was eventually released though, and Sisyphus was punished to eternally push a boulder up a hill in Hades. That it is the devil explains why the odds are stacked against him though. Because the old man is so bored with his life, he confesses to a murder he did not commit in hopes of feeling the electric chair. Unfortunately, he is sentenced to life in prison instead, and with no end to his life he would spend forever in jail. In the end, the devil claims the soul he knew he would possess.

This is an episode worth mentioning because of director Mitchell Leisen. Leisen is known for his work on a movie called Death Takes a Holiday (1934). It tells the tale of Death, making a deal with a lord to stay in his castle so that he may learn about humanity and why they fear him. It was a well-received movie and is still considered great today for its depiction of a sympathetic and more human Death than what was usually shown. I would recommend anyone watch this movie.

The Grave (S03 E07) uses Death imagery, but the supernatural culprit is a ghost. Written and directed by Montgomery Pittman, the episode focuses on the murder of a man. The murderers visit the grave, and one of them dies. It worries them and they visit at the same time as the sister. The sister Ione, played by Elen Wilard, is seen at the grave site, and a mysterious shadow fluttering behind her as the Grim Reaper’s cloak. The episode ends with her laughter.

Like the last episode, Death does not exist as a character but as a symbolic figure. That figure is The Grim Reaper is first mentioned in 1847, though the figure is a traditionally Germanic and English one dating as far back as the 15th Century. He carries a scythe to harvest souls and take them to the afterlife. This is the most common depiction of Death in Western literature and media, and the one utilised here. He is intimidating, he is otherworldly, and he is a danger to everyone he comes across.

The Twilight Zone does star Death as a character in three of its episodes. There are interesting overarching themes to these very different iterations.

His first appears early on in the series in the second episode of the first season, named One for the Angels. It was written by Rod Serling and directed by Robert Parrish. Death in this episode is played by Murray Hamilton, and he appears as he warns a con-man that he will die at midnight. Death is duped in to agreeing to a stay of death until the man finishes one last job; he then quits the business so that he can never be taken. The man feels he has won, until Death must take a young girl in his place.

The man eventually persuades Death to take him instead of the girl by distracting him. Despite all of this, Death is fair. He sticks by his word, even when the con man does not. He confirms he is going to Heaven. He smiles. He may not be as amiable as the Death characters to follow, but he stays by his word.

The Hitch-Hiker (S01 E16), based on The Hitchhiker by Lucille Fletcher, presents Death as more of a gentle character. A woman has a near-death experience, and she spends the episode avoiding a hitch-hiker (played by Leonard Strong) who seems to be following her. No one else can see him though, leading her to suspect that he coming after her. It is not until she calls her mother in a panic and hears that her only daughter died in a crash that she realises that she has been dead all along. The hitch-hiker then appears in the back seat and asks ‘I believe you’re going… my way?’

Death here is not obtrusive, nor is he insistent. He gives her a chance to accept her fate at her own pace. He allows her to come to terms with what happened. He is kind and he is understanding.

My personal favourite Twilight Zone episode comes in season 3 (E16), called Nothing in the Dark. Written by George Clayton Johnson and directed by Lamont Johnson, it’s about an old woman who is terrified of Death. She saw him in a crowd some unspecified number of years ago, and she has been convinced ever since that he is coming after her. To keep Death at bay, she locks herself away until she is forced by her conscience to come to the aid of a man who was attacked outside her home.

Most noticeable for many about this episode who the character of Death. First, he is played by a young Robert Redford before his career really started to soar. Secondly, Death does not appear as one would expect. He is not serious, old or dower. He is young, attractive and he is surprisingly full of life. He charms the old woman and when she realises who he is, he remains just jovial and kind.

The realisation is a clever one. Death presents himself as a figure of authority, a young police officer. He keeps up the lie and asks her questions about her self-imposed exile. She knows her home will be torn down soon, but she is scared to leave in case Death finds her, never realising that she has let him in. It is only when she points Death out to another person and they cannot see him that she realises Death has no reflection.

It also has this glorious piece of dialogue:

‘You see? No shock. No engulfment. No tearing asunder. What you feared would come like an explosion is like a whisper. What you thought was the end is the beginning’

It’s a brilliant episode. One of the best in all the seasons. When she goes with him, there is nothing to fear. There is only peace.

In the end, Death as a character is never about Death as a character. He is a conductor, and the story belongs to those who are about to die. The narrative is about how people deal with death as a concept, whether it is bargaining, denial or fear. In the end though, death must always be accepted by our protagonists.

Fear of death is exploited through its imagery, but Death himself is never anything to be afraid of. Death can appear as anyone—as shown by his numerous actors—and his morals and roles change depending on the narrative. There is no canonical Death, not even in The Twilight Zone. We can draw comparisons—that Death is always male is common in Western media as the dichotomy to the feminine life is often juxtaposed—but there is only one factor worth noting: Death is never the villain, even if we must admit that death is usually a bad thing. Death is patient, Death is fair, and Death is kind.

The reason why is up for interpretation. I posit that it’s because we all fear death in some way, even if we do not fear dying ourselves. We like to imagine Death will be gentle because should we meet him as these characters do, we would like him to be kind to us. That is my thought.

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another post.

Let me ask you this: do you have a favourite Twilight Zone episode? Is there an interpretation of Death outside of the series that you like? And what do you think Death would be like in this world?

Let me know your thoughts.

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A Day at Intu Metrocentre | NE Blogger Awards Entry

NominateMeOne of my followers alerted me to The North East Blogging Awards recently. It’s a way to promote and connect north-east bloggers. There’s an award show… it looks incredible. It’s a pity I’ve learned about it so late.

They wanted to nominate me for North East Blogger of the Year. It means a lot to me that they wanted to nominate me, but one of the conditions was that I do a post about the Metrocentre.

Honestly, this was an excuse to go shopping. I’ll take it.

The mission was a simple one: my sister needed a dress for a wedding and I needed stationary. Armed with a map and assisted by my cousins and aunt, we ventured to the Metrocentre.

The art of the selfie. I'm not good at it.

The art of the selfie. I’m not good at it.

For my followers who don’t live locally, the Metrocentre is a huge shopping centre in Gateshead. It has over 340 stores and is the biggest shopping and leisure centre in the UK. It’s also where my collection of Disney Traditions ornaments started.

So me, Natalie, our auntie Jeanette and our cousins Joshua and Harry went shopping.

There are a few stores which are essentials for me: The Disney store–I defy you to find anyone who doesn’t love the concentrated dose of the magical kingdom; The Works–I’m a fan of cheap books and pretty paper; Collectables–I like the ornaments and for some reason it gets me excited for Christmas; Waterstones–See The Works. I’m weak; The Entertainer– obviously for the boys and not because I want to see the TMNT action figures or anything; Doc Black–for the accessories. I no longer wear white face powder. But once upon a time…

Pictured: resignation

Pictured: resignation

Natalie is more feminine than me. Her choices are usually clothes-related, but this time we had a mission objective. We went to New Look, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Primark, Next, River Island…

There were more, but we had two little boys with us. They don’t like shopping at the best of times, so I took them with me to The Village.

The Village has always been my favourite part of the Metro Centre. When I was younger and heavily in to my Goth phase–all my friends were emo, I somehow overshot my dark phase–The Village was like the promised land. It was where all the alternative stores were. The Goth shops and the punk stores. Skaters would mingle with the emos and it was a golden time.

Surprisingly, the boys liked it. They perked up and I got some adorable pictures of them:

Harry and Josh

Harry and Josh

Natalie did come away with a dress. I got my notebooks and some cute pictures. It was a good day.

It reminded me of when I was younger. There was once a place called Metroland. It was an in-door amusement park, and back when my dad would see us for the odd weekend he would take us there. I loved it. The hot air balloon ferris wheel, the pirate ship, the rollercoaster… It is surprisingly easy to lose an adult and have a few rides on a rollercoaster before they find you.

I have a lot of great childhood memories of the Metrocentre. It was there I started my first manga collection, much to the chagrin of everyone who knew me (I have to apologise for that. I know I’m not Japanese. I am sorry for all the kawaii and -sans. I know better now). Christmas shopping with the high school in my purple lipstick and cat ear hat. Going with my college friends and discussing Harry Potter headcanons over American-style buffets.

I should go out more.

20150729_151646I’m honoured that someone likes this blog enough to think it deserves an award. Fingers crossed.

So if you want to nominate me in this or any other category, I would be honoured. Email me and let me know if you do! My Twitter handle is AspirationMight, and I would love to know which post you nominated so I can use that to know kind of content my readers like.

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another post.

Let me ask you this: who are your favourite bloggers? Have you ever been to the Metrocentre? And where is your favourite place to shop?

Let me know your thoughts.

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Top 5 Animated Villainesses

It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone loves a bad boy. From our Mr Darcys to our Gastons, villainous or unlikeable men have dominated culture and media. We like our villains and we find charm in the anti-heroes.

Yet the wicked women of media don’t get the same love. They are admired, at least on the Disney front, but evil women aren’t given the same spotlight.

So I’ve compiled a list of villainesses from animated series or franchises who I think are too good to hate. For the sake of ease, I’ve discounted anti-heroes a la Catwoman and Maleficient. These are women we are meant to root against, but somehow don’t.

These are my top 5 animated villainesses.

5. Poison Ivy (from DC’s Batman franchise)

I have Ivy so low only because she bordered too close on the anti-hero line. In some comic series like Birds of Prey, she is the anti-hero. And [Spoiler Alert] she makes a heroic sacrifice in Rocksteady’s latest instalment in the Batman game series, Arkham Knight.

Ivy was first introduced Detective Comics #181 in 1966. Once a brilliant scientist, she is now an eco-terrorist. I always liked that she had a doctorate. She was Dr. Pamela Isley (Or Lillian in her original conception). She could command plants to do her bidding.

Ivy is an interesting character. She is femme fatale and a seducer of men, but she hates them all. She calls humans meatbags and would kill thousands if it meant saving her plants. Her only real soft spot is for wayward women and for children, especially for Harley. She was recently confirmed as LGBT and in a polyamorous relationship with Harley, making one of two confirmed queer characters on this list. She’s housed orphans before, sympathising with childhood trauma.

Me too.

Me too.

As is unfortunately the problem with comic characters though, she is often sexualised in her designs. She sometimes appears more human than plant, sometimes not, however she is nearly always scantily clad and posed erotically. See this Arkham Asylum cutscene for an example.

As a final note on why I like her, there is an alternate timeline of Batman set in Victorian times where Bruce Wayne runs the Asylum. Ivy is there because she is a suffragette. How could I not adore her?

4. Mystique (from Marvel’s X-Men franchise)

Mystique is a staple of X-Men lore. She is the blue-skinned shape shifter who consistently makes top villain lists. She is the other confirmed LGBT character, a bisexual bent on mutant supremacy. She’s the mother of Nightcrawler and the adoptive mother of Rogue.

I like her because she’s a woman with a cause. Her best incarnation is definitely X-Men: Evolution. I like that she’s seductive but it is her intelligence more often than not which helps her evade capture. I also liked that she could look like anything she wanted but loved her default even though it marked her as a target for bigots.

I will always prefer the likes of Magneto and Mystique to Charles Xavier though. More on that some other time.

Mystique constantly makes the top comic villains list, and it’s easy to see why. She’s morally ambiguous, powerful and something of role model to me growing up.

3. Fairy Godmother (from Dreamworks’s Shrek 2)

In the four movies in the Shrek series, only one of them has been a woman. It’s a pity, because she is one of my all-time favourites. Fairy Godmother is the typical image of what a fairy godmother should be. She’s soft-spoken, jovial and glittery. Behind the glitter though she is a mastermind, a blackmailer and a corporate giant.

I like that she is a mother and a doting one. She does everything in her power to make sure that Charming has a happily ever after. She’s powerful, she’s sinister, and she has some of the best lines and scenes in the movie.

But I can sum her up in this musical number:

2. Demona (from Disney’s Gargoyles)

Gargoyles was a Disney show unlike anything else at the time. It ran during the Disney Afternoon in the US, a two-hour block of Disney cartoons played every day after school. It was in competition with shows like Duck Tales and Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers. It was nestled amongst the cute, the bright and the colourful.

In 1994, Gargoyles first aired. It was critically acclaimed for just how different and epic it was. The tone was dark, the stories complex and there was a real passion to just how much went in to it. The story begins in medieval Scotland at the castle. It is here that the Gargoyles live, creatures which are stone by day and mighty protectors by nights. The Captain betray the princess one day, and the Vikings smash the Gargoyles, killing them all bar the two who are scouting and the three in the shadows of the rookery.

Goliath, the protagonist, goes to save the princess, but the mage thinks he has killed the princess. He turns them all to stone, which the clause that they will return to life when the castle rises above the clouds.

Flash forward a few hundred years, and the Gargoyles have reawakened in current day Manhattan. This all happens in the five-part opening of season 1.

One of the central villains of the series is the Gargoyle Demona, who sold out the castle in hopes of them reclaiming their home. It did not work as she had hoped, and thousands of year alone with her guilt corrupted her mind. Once she was Goliath’s lover, his angel of the night and his second-in-command. Now they are sworn enemies, both battling old feelings clashing with new hate.

It is very Shakespearean. Demona would be easy to symapthise with, if she would only accept the blame for what happened. It is because she blames others that the audience knows she is irredeemable. What makes it worse, we do see a younger Demona in a few episodes. This was in full of life and optimism, an idealist not yet jaded by her self-inflicted solitude.

She’s a complex character, more than we usually get from a Disney show. The series went on for three seasons before it continues in the comics. I may do a post about this show one day. There is a lot to talk about.

1. Ursula (from Disney’s The Little Mermaid)

The best of the Disney brood for sure. Ursula has no origin story, at least not one we are privy to. We know she lived in the castle once, but when and why are mysteries. She is not like the other merpeople, since she practices magic is an octowoman and not a fish.

Body language, HA

Body language, HA

Her villain song is incredible. Poor Unfortunate Souls has some of the best lines, and this verse always makes me smile:

The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yes on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle prattle for?
Come on, they’re not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who’s withdrawn
It’s she who holds her tongue who get’s a man

It’s nice to see a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. She is overweight, but she could change that if she wanted to. Her design was based on the famous drag queen Divine, and Pat Carroll does as amazing job bringing that theatricality to her. She’s a fabulous villainess in red lipstick, and I will always have a soft spot for her.

Some honourable mentions: Zira from Disney’s The Lion King 2 (she has a lust for being bad); The Evil Queen from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (the original and the trendsetter); The Changeling Queen from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (I like the drama and the manipulation).

That’s it from me! I’m sorry about my August silence. With my dissertation deadline I was far too busy to blog. But I’m back and I have a lot planned.

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another post.

Let me ask you this: do you prefer villains to heroes? Are there any others you would have on your list? And does Disney just do the best bad guys?

Let me know your thoughts.

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