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Personal opinions and commentary.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Roleplaying Beyond D&D

I love Dungeons & Dragons. Like many young dweebs, I came to D&D after playing fantasy video games for years. It was like magic—compared to video games, the freedom given to me as a player in D&D felt infinite. But after several years of playing weird, unfulfilling D&D campaigns, I started to see the limitations of the game. Because while you technically can do almost anything in Dungeons & Dragons, there are some things that the game wants you to do more than others.

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What The Lost Boys Has to Say About Sex, Fear, and Fantasy

The Lost Boys is a kids’ movie—it’s all about sex. Or let me put that another way—the monsters of kids’ media tend towards a didactic form of moral panic. In American movies of the 80s and 90s, it manifests primarily as a thinly-coded stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS—anti-social violence, infection, disease and gay sex mutually imply each other according to the bizarre and homophobic torsions of the culture industry. That’s especially true for The Lost Boys, a horror-comedy that picks up the Peter Pan mythos and plunks it down in a California of the dilapidated 1980s.


The Secret Side of Pokémon You Never Knew About

If I asked you what an “EV” is in Pokémon, you might assume I was talking about the lovable little fox creature that evolves into a myriad different forms. But if you’re a competitive Pokémon player, you know exactly what those two letters mean—effort values. These values are increased by battling different kinds of Pokémon and give monsters a valuable edge, but the games won’t show them to you in any menu. And they’re just one of the hidden, deeper mechanics in the series that go beyond the well-known rock-paper-scissors of type matchups and factor into the complex world of competitive Pokémon battling.

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How Queer Players Connect in a Game Without Chat

Bushiroad’s BanG Dream has taken the West by storm since it was released in April this year. Based off the BanG Dream franchise that kicked off in Japan in 2015, the mobile game follows the story of five girl bands: Poppin’Party, Afterglow, Roselia, Hello Happy World and Pastel*Palettes. Since its release, the fandom has grown bigger and bigger to the point that it’s now one of the most popular rhythm games on mobile—a crowded market, including titles like Love Live, IDOLM@STER and IDOLiSH7.

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Ten Comedy Specials That Aren’t By White Men (and One That Is)

The comedy world is in the midst of a reckoning. Emboldened by one another, more and more performers are getting the courage to call out abusers in the industry, and audiences are starting to give more attention to acts that don’t fit the classic image of the standup comic—straight, white and male. But in an endless sea of original specials, it can be hard to sift through what’s actually worth watching, especially when everyone looks like a randomly generated white guy.


Kane’s Son: Sexual Violence and Symbolism in Alien and Aliens

When Ridley Scott’s 1979 sleeper hit Alien arrived in theaters, it revolutionized special effects and kicked the wheezing horror genre into high gear. While Alien is without question Scott’s best movie, tightly paced and claustrophobic, Swiss painter H. R. Giger’s legendary creature design is what sets it apart from everything that followed it. Aliens, its 1986 James Cameron-helmed—yes, he used to make good movies—sequel, builds on and exaggerates Giger’s work so effectively you’d be hard-pressed to find modern sci-fi unmarked by its slimy fingerprints.


Fun, Games, and Doctors: Debriefing New York Comic Con

It’s now been a few days since New York Comic Con came to a close, and my body, soul, and mind have mostly recovered. There’s something about these massive conventions that truly kicks your feet out from beneath you while also making you feel delighted about it. They’re a masochistic joyride, filled with swag, exclusives, the endless jostling against strangers all up in your personal bubble, and bursts of ecstasy. And all that’s before your seventh energy drink of the day.

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Why My Favorite RPG Isn’t a Videogame

Whenever I start growing bored of JRPGs, I reread the manga series Magic Knight Rayearth. Created by the legendary manga team CLAMP in 1994, Magic Knight Rayearth is a six volume manga series about three schoolgirls summoned to the magical world of Cephiro. There, they are told they must embark on a quest to save a princess named Emeraude from the clutches of the evil high priest Zagato.


Plastic Love – Nendoroid Lina Inverse

Before we get down to business this week, I thought I would point out this video interview with Max Watanabe, legendary modeler and CEO of Max Factory, a company that produces many of the Nendoroid and figma toys that you’ll see on the average comic shop shelf. There’s a lot of footage of Max and company hard at work, and a bit of insight into how and why people get so into plastic. The whole “toco toco” series is excellent, and I’ll leave it at that before I swerve off topic.

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How eSports Can Live Up to the Dream of Overwatch’s Diverse World

“Huh. I think I’m the only brown person in this room right now.”

I say that phrase to myself a lot. Most of the time—like when I’m at work, or back when I was in school—the thought would sidle up to my train of thought like some sort of bandit, hijacking it for a few seconds and then whispering, “This isn’t for you!” into my ear before kindly derailing the whole thing. When I’m at an event like E3 or Comic Con though, the metaphorical bandit doesn’t even need to hijack my train of thought—it’s already the conductor.


Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Takes You on a Personalized Mind Trip

It’s been a long time since I’ve come into any piece of entertainment completely unspoiled. Even in the case of shows that deliberately keep a low profile, I’ve usually seen something to judge by. The only way for me to come in completely fresh and unawares is to have never heard of the subject before.

In the case of Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, that’s exactly what happened. For funsies, I decided not to look into it at all before I hit Play. And let me just say, boy, that was a choice. Because Birdboy is a heck of a thing to approach with no forewarning. That said, I’m actually glad I did, because it meant I was bowled over with just how dark the movie was willing to go at every new twist and turn.

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How I Learned to Love the “Damsel in Distress”

It took me twenty years to learn to like Anthy Himemiya.

I much preferred Utena—after all, she was the titular character of Revolutionary Girl Utena, a 1996 manga turned into an anime in the following year that follows Utena’s quest to free Anthy from ownership by their school’s Student Council. Utena finds herself fighting a series of increasingly bizarre duels, with Anthy—the “Rose Bride”—being given to each victor. At the end of this tournament, the champion will be granted the power to “revolutionize the world.”


A Photo of a Naked Girl: Online Angst and Agony in Assassination Nation

While teenage best friends Lily (Odessa Young), Bex (Hari Nef), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), and Em (Abra) lounge in Em’s bedroom watching Yasuharu Hasebe’s 1970 exploitation flick Stray Cat Rock and wearing red raincoats in imitation of the film’s protagonists, masked men surround the house. The camera drifts down halls and through empty rooms, looping in silence around the suburban house and up to the eaves to peer in at the distracted girls. Slowly, as first Em and then Sarah is taken hostage, the tension grows. More men slip in through jimmied windows and doors left ajar. One by one, they begin snatching the teens.