i feel like gary is one of the best written characters on the show

Top 5 Underrated Anime to Watch for Halloween

Happy Halloween everybody! I know that I usually would open the askbox or do some kind of event for the holidays, especially my favorite one, but I just didn’t have time this Halloween and think that I have enough requests in the askbox to work on without adding others. So I decided to continue with this new thing I’m doing or anime analysis with a recommendation of the top 5 underrated anime I think you guys should watch this or any other Halloween. I worked hard on this so please enjoy!


5. Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro

Originally posted by benjandan

This is probably my favorite series of all time. Written by the author of Assassination Classroom, Yuusei Matsui, Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro is an occult detective fiction that tells the story of Neuro Nougami, a mystery-eating demon that, due to eating all the mysteries in demon world, comes to the Human World to find the ultimate mystery. With the help of teenager Yako Katsuragi, he founds a detective agency and the two go around solving cases around Japan. It’s not so much a straight-up horror or Halloween-themed show, which is why I have it so low on the list for how much I adore this series; it has very dark comedy and the characters definitely come across a lot of horrible things and characters as they investigate murder after murder. It’s a villain of the week type of show with a few recurring villains, especially when you go farther and read the manga, but you’ll, as messed up as it is, never get bored with the way the antagonists murder their victims. The show is highly stylized in just the way I love and the main characters Neuro and Yako have an amazingly original and fun friendship you loved to watch. The recurring protagonists are dynamic and original (one of them is a sentient braid of hair named Akane), the story arcs are fun, and it expertly plays hopscotch with the line between light-heartedness and fucked upness in an absolutely delicious way that makes it a juxtaposingly dark and fun show with the same weird, wacky, and twisted humor of Assassination Classroom, but about demons you won’t be afraid to watch at night but will definitely get you in the dark and spooky mood. I cannot recommend it enough.

4. Blood: the Last Vampire

Originally posted by shultzmanganime

The Blood Series (Plus, C, etc.) are an anime Halloween classic and the original animated film did not used to be considered underrated at all, in fact, it was a staple, and for good reason! The artwork is beautiful with a stylized realism and amazing shading work that is just stunning to see. And the animation is just as smooth, crisp and realistic to match. The story is actuall pretty compelling and scary too, and pretty straight-forward. In the year 1966, Saya is the last of the pureblood vampires and is a stone-cold badass that spends her days killing the blood-sucking, bat-demons: chiropterans. The story takes place on her mission at a high school near the Yokota Air base where she is to pose as a student and hunt down the hiddern chiropteran. It’s a straight-forward but bloody story with terrifying artwork and just amazing direction, writing, and animation in both the sub and dub that, despite its loss of relevance over the last 16 years, still holds up remarkably well. If you’re looking for something bloody, edgy, and dark that isn’t Hellsing, this is a classic place to start.

3. School Live!

Originally posted by lilium

If Japanese Horror has taught us anything, it’s that it can do a whole lot, by showing very little, and School-Live freaking nails that concept. The series follows the girls of the Megurigaoka School Living Club, specifically the super cheerful and optimistic Yuki Takeya, who experienced delusions of a regular moe-moe school life while the girls live in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. It tricks the audience by setting the show up like a traditional moe club girl anime to be fully immersed in Yuki’s delusions, but tbh, I don’t feel totally guilty spoiling that because it’s pretty easy to predict that there’s something seriously wrong with it about five minutes in and it’s one of those shows you really enjoy a lot more once the secret it out. It’s ridiculously smart in the way it portrays it’s zombies and horror, far more unnerving than The Walking Dead’s gratuitous use of shock-value gore and violence (although I do also love that show), it really just plays double-dutch with how it comforts and yet at the same time alarms you through Yuki’s expertly portrayed delusions and growth, and especially in watching the growth in both the characters and the show openings—it’ll have you on the edge of your seat the whole damn time AND give you a couple best girls to choose from. What better way to spend your Halloween?

2. Highschool of the Dead

Originally posted by zicosontheblock

Now on the opposite side of the zombie spectrum. Highschool of the Dead is a very straightforward zombie invasion story with overly-straightforward ecchi, harem themes to it—understandably so, it was written by a hentai artist after all—about a group of high schoolers trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. It’s the straight up horror of The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later. Now I’m not saying this show is underrated because it’s not well known—it’s on every horror anime list and the manga, although on hiatus, is still a top seller. I’m calling it underrated because I don’t think that people give it nearly enough credit. Yes, the fanservice is ridiculous at times as is the way all the girls are constantly falling for Takumi, but the characters are all really dynamic and interesting, including the main audience-insert character Takumi, who actually, isn’t a totally pathetic, Gary-Stu audience insert. He’s funny, strong, courageous, and handsome with some real emotional baggage, and it’s actually pretty easy to see WHY girls fall for him. Similarly, the girls all have personalities, even if they do fall along the lines of harem tropes, these are pretty strong, independent and interesting women. And don’t even get me started on Kohta. I love that chubby little gun otaku so much I can’t even fucking stand it. Overall, I just think it’s a really solid story with one of the greatest English dubs I’ve ever seen that I think people are way too quick to drop because of its fanservice and if you stopped watching after the third panty shot in the first 10 minutes, go back and power through because you’re really missing out on a great dumb, fun series.

And at number one is…

1. Blood Lad

Originally posted by michi-i

GREAT fucking show and I am shocked that not as many people are as crazy about it as I am. Blood Lad tells the story of Staz Charlie Blood a powerful vampire in the Demon World who is obsessed with humans, anime, and Japanese culture. One day, a human girl, Fuyumi Yanagi, stumbles into the Demon World, which he’s thrilled about! …until she’s eaten alive by a carnivorous plant and turned into a ghost and he then takes on the responsibility of bringing her back to life. Huge Halloween-esque fun as they go about battling werewolfs, Staz’s vampire relatives, and even Frankenstein-themed monsters—seriously, I’m shocked this isn’t on at least one Halloween list I’ve watched. Maybe that’s because even with all these horror themes and references, it’s a really fun show. It’s an action and supernatural black comedy with cute and funny romantic tensions and love triangles, ridiculously fun and likeable characters, and just a fantastically entertaining occult story. I adore this anime and while it won’t have you screaming, it’ll get you pumped for a fun Halloween in the same way the American film Hocus Pocus would. It’s ironic, satirical, and just absolutely wonderful, and is a must watch, for Halloween or otherwise.


So yeah, those are my recommendations! Let me know what animes all of YOU recommend for Halloween or otherwise and I’d be happy to post them. And remember, to celebrate this blog’s first anniversary, I’m accepting fanworks for sports and shounen anime that YOU all produce so send those in if you’ve got them! Thanks for all the support and keep on sinning!

–Admin Ryou

You know, I find it funny when people hate Paul because he’s an asshole. Like, he is MEANT to be an asshole. 

And in my honest opinion, he’s the best rival character we’ve seen to date. 

If you grew up with Indigo League, you’ll know Gary was Ash’s first ever “rival”, but Gary didn’t feel like a rival to me. Gary wasn’t an asshole, Gary just WANTED to look like a dickhead. I don’t think Gary was naturally an ass at all, but he wanted to seem tough and arrogant to outshine Ash. I’m not gonna talk about their rivalry in detail because they’re friends now and Gary has mellowed down a lot ever since he lost in the Indigo League.

But anyway, Paul actually was Ash’s rival. He constantly criticised him, he constantly called him pathetic, he constantly pointed out his flaws and he constantly acted rude towards him. He wasn’t doing that to annoy and tease Ash, like Gary would call him “Ashy-boy” to tease, Paul was picking on him because it’s what he actually believed. And did this bother Ash? Yes. And oh my how it did bother him. Ash’s frustration with Paul’s methods and critics is what made Sinnoh Ash so great; yeah you can say that Dawn’s contest moves (spinning dodge, counter-shield, ice aqua jet, etc) helped Ash but it was PAUL who drove Ash to that edge of absolute anger that we haven’t seen much of in Ash. It was a grain of Ash’s personality that the anime haven’t gone so in-depth with, his prior anger moments were mostly comedic relief such as his arguments with Misty. The only true anger we’ve seen in Ash before was in M3 when Delia was kidnapped, and now we had so much more moments as such. 

The other problem we didn’t really experience with the Ash/Gary rivalry was that it wasn’t consistent enough. I mean, Gary’s appearances in random episodes were mostly comedic, he would come on, take the piss out of Ash and leave. Don’t get me wrong, I loved those moments because I found it hilarious to see Ash’s reactions, but it wasn’t relevant to the plot. 

Paul and Ash’s tense rivalry was a very important plot to the DP saga. We saw Ash mature in this season and we got a very special Pokemon that a lot of us hold dear in our hearts: Infernape.

Infernape is basically the icon of their rivalry and their methods. Paul’s methods were crude but they were quick and effective, Chimchar was a very skilled and strong Pokemon, despite the fact Paul saw him as pathetic. The problem Paul had was his obsession with activating Chim’s Blaze, otherwise I’m sure he easily could’ve been the powerhouse.

Ash’s methods were very ethical and friendly, but they were slower. However, they overall had the most results. Chimchar’s happiness was obviously increased while being with the DP Trio but he also learned how to control Blaze when it was activated, which was an important point in the saga as Paul’s original intentions were actually realised through Ash.

And at the time, a lot of people believed Ash’s only SInnoh starter would be Turtwig, as Dawn had Piplup and Paul had Chimchar, therefore meaning it would be like AG and Ash’s Torterra would be like Sceptile, so when Paul abandoned Chimchar it was a shock to a lot of people.

Now what is very important in their methods is the development in the series.

Originally posted by commanderpigg

Remember their first fight? It ended in a draw, thus meaning they were equal in strength when they started out in Sinnoh. But ever since, Paul DOMINATED Ash in battles, and hard. Especially when he knocked out Ash’s whole team.

And did Ash just go “oh well, shit happens! We’ll train more tomorrow and beat you!!” right after like he usually would? Hell no. Ash was distraught.

This was a dynamic in Pokemon that we haven’t really experienced before. Ash was always optimistic about his losses and saw them as a way to improve on his mistakes, but this time was sulking. Hard. Sure, he got back to his old self seconds after his team joined him, but it doesn’t change the fact that Ash was absolutely devastated after a battle, the one thing that he loves to do most.

Paul was such an important character.

Do you think Ash would’ve been like THIS if Gary beat him in such a crude way? Most likely not. Ash would’ve probably just gotten really defensive and shout something like “WHATEVER LOSER I’LL BEAT YOU NEXT TIME”, because Gary in Kanto was nothing more to Ash than just a massive dickhead. Paul to Ash, however, was a threat. And the fact that Ash lost to him made him believe that he’s not strong enough and maybe Paul’s methods were actually right. Who knows what he was thinking?

But if it weren’t for Paul kicking Ash’s ass so hard, we wouldn’t have gotten that ever so satisfying final battle at the Sinnoh league. I mean, how many of us were expecting Paul to win? Probably a couple. Maybe some people knew Ash was gonna win for the plot, but I thought it could go both ways.

If Paul was a nice rival, we wouldn’t have had such a strategic Ash in the anime. We wouldn’t have had the dynamics, or the tension or even the amazing final battle. We probably would’ve had some last-minute decision like Tobias having fucking legendaries in his team but that’s another point.

The rivalry between the two is the reason why Ash had advanced in the Top 4 in Sinnoh, his best yet, as it shows how much his hatred towards Paul has pushed him to improve. In my whole and honest opinion, if Paul wasn’t a character in this series Ash would’ve been top 8 again or something. Ash needed an asshole to calm down his confidence, Ash needed an asshole to drive him over the edge, Ash needed an asshole to bring down his self-esteem, Ash needed an asshole to help him develop. Ash needed Paul.

This rivalry was so beautifully written and developed that I doubt any future rival would be able to deliver what Ash and Paul have. Their rivalry is one of the main reasons why DP is my favourite series of all time. 

So all of you unicorn-huggers out there who want everyone in Pokemon to be little, positive bunnies who do no wrong and they should all hand-holding friends who write “BFFLXOXO” on their notebooks stop hating on Paul because he was an “asshole” and realise WHY he was an asshole. Realise why he would’ve been a shitty rival if he was also an unicorn-hugger. Assholes exist in the real world, so Pokemon needed a real one for once. If he doesn’t make an appearance in the anime in the future I’ll be extremely disappointed, because he’s a character that needs to be kept relevant.

But don’t forget what Cynthia said, they might meet again in championship tournaments.

Originally posted by clefairyz

7

I saw eight films at my first Sundance Festival: THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, BROOKLYN, IT FOLLOWS, SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE, THE BRONZE, MISSISSIPPI GRIND, RESULTS, and KNOCK KNOCK.

A sexually precocious teenage girl in 1970s California, soundtracked by Heart and Television - there’s no way I was going to dislike this movie. THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL is a messy, uncompromising look at the warts-and-all sexual awakening of 15-year old Minnie Goetz in 1976 San Francisco. Bel Powley is about to blow up following this film’s release, and with good reason: she’s incredibly believable as Goetz, full of needy lust - sexual, chemical, creative, and otherwise - personified. Kristen Wiig (as Minnie’s freewheeling, jealous mother) and Alexander Skarsgard (as her mother’s boyfriend and Minnie’s consistent lover) deliver strong supporting turns, especially Skarsgard who conveys the overwhelming desperation of a hunky dude moving towards middle-age who’s fallen pathetically in love with a fifteen-year old. While animation sequences don’t always quite work (but really, how much can you be bothered by animation that gives a shout-out to Aline Kominsky-Crumb?), this is a major debut for writer-director Marielle Heller, who allows Diary to transcend the usual trappings of the “young girl sleeps with older guy as a part of her sexual awakening” narrative by never judging or punishing Minnie for a second, even when her behavior veers into the dangerous. This will be an important film for teenage girls for years to come.

BROOKLYN was my biggest surprise of the festival, and on its face, seems like something we’ve seen a thousand times before. Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis, an Irish immigrant struggling to survive her first year in Brooklyn after leaving rural Ireland. Director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby (adapting a popular novel I’d never heard of) never let Brooklyn slide into treacle, and instead focus on Eilis’ small victories in America and nagging doubt about leaving her widowed mother and spinster sister back in Ireland. It’s been sometime since I’ve seen a movie I’d call legitimately sweet, something I could show my grandma, but Eilis’ romance with a shy Italian plumber, Tony (Emory Cohen, previously seen in The Place Beyond the Pines as B. Coop’s grown, asshole son) is damn near impossible not to root for. Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent are always a welcome presence, and their small parts here give the film some of its funniest and most touching moments, respectively. Domhnall Gleeson, as one of Eilis’ potential suitors, is perhaps a bit underused here, but that’s my only real gripe with the movie.

IT FOLLOWS may be Cronenberg-y in premise, but the directing feels much closer to Halloween by way of Gia Coppola. Between The Guest and this film, Maika Monroe has established herself as the best new scream queen we’ve had in years. Here she plays Jay, a high schooler who contracts an STD after sleeping with a new boyfriend that causes unrelenting figures - a grandma, a giant, a syphilitic woman - to follow her everywhere she goes, every day. Writer-director Robert David Mitchell figures out how to tease maximum suspense from these followers, who never stop walking towards Jay, intent on raping and murdering her, with simple tricks of filling the frame and precipitating the horror with a deliciously spooky score by Disasterpeace. Mitchell does some really fun stuff in terms of playing with time period - Jay warns a crush of his impending doom on a house phone, but one of her friends reads The Idiot on a tiny handeld device shaped like a seashell. It Follows leaves a lot unexplained, and it mostly works, at least to the extent that I’m still wondering about the film, even if I still have questions about the mechanics of the mythology.

Writer-director Leslye Headland self-described SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE as “When Harry Met Sally for assholes,” so clearly I liked it a lot better than that precursor film. Jake (Jason Sudekis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) meet again in a sex addicts meeting after losing their virginities to each other in college. They strike up an intense friendship after agreeing that sex would ruin their rediscovered bond, and their non-romance throughout the film provides us with one of the most believable, sexually tense onscreen pairings in recent memory. Sudekis is the real surprise here, giving Jake’s horndog ways and total devotion to Lainey an earnestness that’s unexpected. Brie is great as always, and Headland doesn’t shy away from showing the dark side of Lainey’s pathological hook-ups with a married ex-conquest, a mustachioed Adam Scott, in supreme douche mode. The movie could stand to lose ten minutes (which was true of nearly everything I saw at Sundance) and honestly, would’ve worked a little better for me if it chose to end on the bittersweet note the film seemed to have been building to, but it’s as funny and sweet of a rom-com as we’ve had in some time.

Opinion was sharply divided on THE BRONZE, but I found the “Bad Gymnast” riff to be quite funny throughout. Melissa Rauch (who co-wrote and produced with her husband) plays Hope Ann Greggory, a former Olympic bronze medalist who is still glorified in her small Ohio town after a Kerri Strug-esque win at the Olympics. Now though, Hope spends most of her days snorting Claritin (a plot point that’s conveniently neglected after the first act), masturbating to her victory footage, and stomping around Amherst, Ohio in her Olympic sweats like she owns the place, because she sort of still does. Her long-suffering father (Gary Cole) pushes Hope to coach a young gymnastics upstart in town after Hope’s former coach commits suicide, and promises Hope $500,00 to coach the young hopeful to the Olympics. The plotting of the film certainly isn’t revolutionary in terms of its reluctant old dog/perky new dog narrative, but Rauch inhabits Hope Ann with believable venom. Thomas Middleditch (as the twitchy owner of Hope’s former gymnastics studio) and Sebastian Stan (as a delightfully smarmy national gymnastics coach) create a second-act love triangle for Hope that gives us the long-promised payoff of “gymnast sex” teased throughout the film. I’m also pro any Ohio movie (somebody in the production HAD to have grown-up there) even if the film goes on too long and ends too tidily with a montage that Drop Dead Gorgeous did far better.

MISSISSIPPI GRIND was my most frustrating watch of the whole festival. For the first hour, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s look at lovable losers and degenerate gamblers Ryan Reynolds (a smooth operator whose grey around the temples suggests he’s not quite as spry as he seems) and Ben Mendelsohn (greasy and great in cheap shirts, as always) is a fun ride as we watch the two amble down the Mississippi on the way to a card game in New Orleans with a $25,000 buy-in. But as the film moves towards its close (and conveniently remembers, y’know, these guys play high-stakes poker) Boden and Fleck lose the thread of grimy desperation for their leads, and go for a Hollywood ending that totally undermines the thematic intentions of the film’s first half. Robin Weigert, Alfre Woodard (as an Iowa bookie! I wanna see that movie!), and Sienna Miller are essentially reduced to one-scene roles, which is a damn shame. There were several other, better movies that existed within Grind’s runtime, and I’m so disappointed that Boden and Fleck chose to go for the happy ending instead of staying true to their characters’ more likely trajectories.

I don’t even know what to say about RESULTS, which failed to engage me from minute one. I guess on paper, to someone, somewhere, a personal fitness comedy involving a love triangle between Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, and…Kevin Corrigan sounds like a good idea, but director Andrew Bujalski never makes any of them feel like real people with real struggles. Guy Pearce wants to expand his small gym, and newly rich Corrigan gives him the means to do so, if they can stop fighting over Smulders. I’m sorry, but the suspension of disbelief over a Smulders-Corrigan romance is just too ridiculous, or at least it is as Bujalski portrays it. Results isn’t ever all that funny or romantic, needs a narrative engine, and has no discernable thematic takeaway. All three leads do the best they can with the material (but really, why are we trying to make Cobie Smulders a thing?) but this one is DOA. And there’s a totally wasted “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” song queue I’m still mad about!

Shame on me for thinking Eli Roth could produce something compelling, but I guess I was still dealing with a case of John Wick heart-eyes when I decided to see KNOCK KNOCK at a midnight screening. An inexplicable remake of 1977’s Death Game, Knock Knock finds Roth eschewing most of his usual gratuitous gore, but the film is still plenty icky, especially in terms of its incest fixation. Keanu Reeves stars as Evan, a devoted husband and father (snooooore) who answers the door one rainy night to find two beautiful girls (one of whom is Roth’s twenty-three year old wife) in need of a phone and a taxi (double snoooore). You can guess where things go from there, and honestly, until the tables turn on Evan, the film is enjoyable if slight. But once the women expose their true intentions to Evan, Roth never misses an opportunity to capitalize on the squick factor of two young women fucking an older man in his own home, in his own daughter’s bed. I’m sure Roth has convinced himself the film is somehow feminist in its depiction of all men as helpless to resist nubile jailbait, but he sure as hell doesn’t know how to convey that idea with any kind of deeper takeaway on a familiar theme that’s honestly done a lot better in Hard Candy.

Three of the films I saw were directed by women (one as co-director).

Four of the films I saw were written by women (two as co-writers).

Five of the films I saw featured female protagonists.

3

Taken from the Autumn 2015 issue of Dazed:

This spring, an LA teenager’s school project ignited the internet. A charm offensive titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”, the five-minute video deftly unpacked the thorny issue of cultural appropriation with a nuance that few would be able to nail. Raising an eyebrow at culprits like Iggy Azalea and Katy Perry treating black culture as a pick’n’mix stand at the multiplex, the clip, uploaded by 16-year-old Amandla Stenberg, announced a whip-smart new voice that was not to be fucked with.

Three years after she shot to global prominence as Rue in The Hunger Games (2012), the actress is leading a wave of young, hyper-informed trendsetters with a fresh and fearless take on today’s defining issues. Last month, she echoed the sentiments of her school project in a comment on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram. In response to the pouty reality princess’s latest look – cornrows – Stenberg wrote, “when u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism”. Jenner retorted, “go and hang out w Jaden.” (Stenberg attended prom with Jenner’s ex, Jaden Smith.)

Yet Stenberg cuts through the noise. Using social platforms like Tumblr and Twitter, she’s always set her own agenda in terms of what’s important and newsworthy, regardless of what mainstream media is championing. She uses Instagram, but not just for thirst trap selfies or to promote her personal brand. More than anything else, she’s someone who refuses to stay quiet. “I think people discredit teenagers and how wise they can be,” says Stenberg. “Sometimes I meet teenagers who are much wiser than many adults I’ve met, because they haven’t let any insecurities or doubts about themselves get in the way of their thoughts.”

Stenberg refuses to be quoted on Kylie-gate in the wake of the resulting media frenzy. She would prefer to move on – after all, she’s made her point. Meeting her a couple of weeks before the Jenner ‘feud’ makes headlines, the actress wears a houndstooth shirt and pillar box-red lipstick, sitting in her favourite cafe in Culver City, on the west side of Los Angeles. She’s all smiles, despite recovering from an intense bout of flu. The doctor gave her tiger balm, and told her to reduce any stress in her life. Has she been stressed? “Not exactly,” she says. “I don’t think it’s negative pressure; it’s me being excited about moving forward and things evolving and becoming bigger in my career. But balancing school and work can be really stressful.” She says her mum encourages her to take time for herself, and she recently had a ‘sound bath’, a guided meditation in which glass bowls are played at various frequencies.

But the way things are going, there’ll be fewer opportunities for Stenberg to perfect her lotus pose. She’ll be shooting two indie films later this year (she’s not allowed to discuss them yet), and has been linked with the lead role in Looking for Alaska, a 2016-slated adaptation of John Green’s wild young adult novel that’s been likened to a modern-day Catcher in the Rye. When casting for the role began, #WOCforAlaskaYoung started trending on Twitter, with people calling for a non-white lead in the film and pointing out the lack of diversity in teen movies. Green got behind the campaign, and Lorde supported Stenberg’s bid for the role via Twitter.

For Stenberg and her community of friends – Tavi Gevinson, Willow and Jaden Smith, Lorde, Kiernan Shipka – it’s not enough to excel in your chosen line of work, be it acting, singing or publishing. What matters is inspiring others, sharing information and starting a dialogue. Far from the apathetic millennials of media lore, these kids have more in common with the politicised youth of the late 60s. “It’s so inspiring to see someone in the entertainment industry be vocal about critiquing it,” says Rookie founder Tavi Gevinson of Stenberg. “I’m lucky I can talk to her about being a young, independent, powerhouse woman – I think a lot about the time she compared losing your sense of self in this world to being unable to uncross your eyes.”

Ella Yelich-O’Connor, AKA Lorde, recalls being bowled over by Stenberg when they met last year. “It was early on a Saturday, and we ate pancakes with Kiernan (Shipka),” she recalls. “I felt so lucky to be in the presence of such smart, interesting young ladies. Amandla was working on a school project film adaptation of The Yellow Wallpaper, which reminded me of me – I used to do the exact same strange shit at school! She told me while we were discussing work that there weren’t many roles for young black girls in film or television. I expressed dismay, but she said it very steadily, with a clear look in her eye, no sadness or disappointment. I got the impression this wasn’t something that would stop Amandla, and I think I was right.”

It figures that Stenberg is most at home around trailblazers. In May, her (platonic) prom date was Jaden Smith – she wore a septum ring and her hair in show-stopping grey braids, and he wore a long skirt with sneakers, a look she fully approved of. “Guys aren’t allowed to express femininity; they have to always appear masculine and that’s bullshit,” she says. “I love it when guys can be feminine and express their emotions and creativity; it shows strength.” Stenberg met Jaden’s sister, Willow, after they began having dreams about each other. Willow messaged her, saying, “I feel like we are supposed to be friends,” so the two met up and talked about everything they loved for a good hour. “Then we did interpretive dance to Grimes,” says Stenberg, giggling.

Born October 23, 1998, Stenberg was raised on the west side of Los Angeles. Her mum, Karen, is African American, a New York transplant and former entertainment reporter for People magazine who moved to California 21 years ago. She met Stenberg’s Danish father, Tom, at a concert in LA. Karen raised their daughter in the Agape church, and their daughter grew up immersed in spiritual practice, meditating from a young age. Even when it came to getting the part of Rue in The Hunger Games, says Karen, there was a mystical aspect. “She had a dream of Rue, which influenced how she did her hair and dressed at the auditions.”

Aged four, Stenberg did a few catalogue shoots for Disney, followed by commercials for McDonald’s and Kmart. Come 2011, she’d scored her first feature film role in Colombiana (2011), co-written and produced by Luc Besson. When she auditioned for the part of Rue, she was already a diehard fan of The Hunger Games, having read the book four times. The audition was fairly typical – a reading followed by a call-back with the director, Gary Ross. Stenberg’s approach, however, was not. Convinced she had to go the extra mile to get the part, she turned up at Ross’s house covered in mud, with leaves and twigs in her hair, for full lost-in the-wilderness effect. Soon after, she found out she had landed the role.

The release of The Hunger Games in 2012 marked Stenberg’s entry into the Hollywood big leagues, but a stream of online abuse slightly soured the triumphant news of her casting. While her character was clearly described in the books by Suzanne Collins as dark-skinned, apparently this didn’t register with a small – but vocal – minority of bigoted fans. “It was my first interaction with blatant racism,” says Stenberg of the odious tweets she received. “Even though it was painful, it was important to experience it, because it connected me in a very real way to the struggle that millions of people endure every day.”

As well as producing “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”, Stenberg enthusiastically curates a popular and political Tumblr page granting viewers full and easy access to her thoughts, posting screengrabs celebrating the beauty of women of colour and quotes like, “Love between two women is powerful, and that is why you are afraid.”

“Tumblr has totally informed what I’m interested in and what I care about, especially when it comes to social justice,” she reflects. “It’s such a cool platform for learning about black and trans rights.” Stenberg talks about the ‘Art Heaux’ movement, a community of black kids taking selfies and Photoshopping themselves in the name of art. “That is so amazing,” she says. “(It’s) black kids saying, ‘Look how beautiful I am,’ and defying the notion that they’re not allowed to be indie in that way.”

Does Stenberg consider herself indie? She’s not sure. On one hand, she loves Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé with her “entire heart”. On the other, she’s super-excited to go to LA’s upcoming FYF Fest, where she’ll see Frank Ocean, Solange and Death Grips. She shares her voracious interest in the arts with close friend Kiernan Shipka, the 15-year-old actress best known for her role as Sally Draper in Mad Men. “We both appreciate things that are artistic and want to watch more movies, read more books, listen to new artists and learn about new art,” says Shipka, who bonded with Stenberg over their shared passion for Studio Ghibli anime films, Haim and Taylor Swift.

If you search ‘Amandla Stenberg’ on IMDb, the website’s bio informs you that her first name comes from the Zulu word for power. Perhaps it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Later today, she’ll fly to NYC to channel the spirit of Black Panther activist Angela Davis, whose empowering words adorn Stenberg’s face in an image for this shoot. She’ll move there one day, she says, to enrol in film school and direct movies of her own. (As Gevinson says of her: “She is not content to speak only words she’s been given.”) Stenberg mentions that Spike Lee teaches at NYU. “I think I would die, studying with him. As much as I want to be fulfilled creatively as an actress, and get to be in roles that are meaningful and impactful, I hope the same thing for myself as a director, one day.” She smiles, the glint of fire lighting up her eyes. “I want to make things that have an impact on how we look at the world. I know it’s a tall glass to fill, but it’s a glass that really does need to be filled, as an African American woman.” In Stenberg’s charge, the glass isn’t just in safe hands – it’s shatterproof.

8 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation is a fantastic show. If you aren’t watching it, you should be. If you are watching it then good job. And if you’ve finished watching it then go back to season one and start that baby all over again. Seriously, I’m on my fourth re watch now and it only gets funnier and more excellent each time.

I wanted to write an in depth essay about the merits and achievements of Parks and Rec, something meaningful and articulate. Instead, I have decided that the best way of showcasing how great it is, is just to give you the definite list of reasons why you should all be watching Parks and Recreation.


1) Leslie Knope/Amy Poehler

Parks & Rec is centred around a small town local government parks department representative called Leslie Knope. Leslie has enormous amounts of ambition, loves waffles, friends and work (in that order) and seriously enjoys her job. She’s a wonderful friend to all, completely optimistic about everything and an out and proud feminist (“if I had to have a strippers name it would be equality”).

What makes Leslie different to a lot of female characters on television is not that she is driven and succeeds. In fact, she doesn’t even always succeed, for example (spoiler alert) getting voted out of office in season 6. The thing about Leslie is that she takes her failures on the chin and always makes the best out of a bad situation. She is never embarrassed by them and she always motivates herself to do better.

Basically, she is a well rounded woman who has flaws like the rest of us. It is a rarity to see women, especially in comedy, with these character traits. Leslie is strong and independent, but she is also human and relies on the people around her too.


2)  Female Friendships

Speaking of Leslie’s support network, female friendship is something which Parks and Recreation  excels in. From Ann and Leslie’s beautiful friendship to Leslie’s mentoring of April (and April secretly loving it) Parks and Rec really gets the whole sisterhood thing. The women on the show constantly support each other, respect each other and they never argue about boys (with the possible minor exception of Ann and April…damn you Andy). Leslie’s Galentines Day tradition really underscores this incredibly written portrayal of female friendship (Valentines Day for girl-friends = Galentines Day).

Parks also recognises that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but even when Ann and Leslie have a full blow snakejuice fuelled argument - they both realize they are wrong and reconcile together;  their friendship means more than their pride.


3)  Healthy relationships

Another type of relationship which Parks and Recreation wins at is the romantic kind. Throughout the series, most of the main characters get into serious and not-so-serious relationships both with each other and guest characters. Whilst each relationship is incredibly different (can’t really compare Andy & April to Chris & Ann) they are all portrayed as healthy and loving. In season 2, Ron’s ex wife Tammy shows up and they rekindle (if you can use that word) their affair. It quickly becomes apparent that, whilst incredibly funny, their relationship is damaging to Ron and his happiness. The parks department all support Ron in breaking up with Tammy, none more than Leslie and in the end they prevail. Parks constantly shows the importance of friendship in relationships, as well as respect and trust.

Also if you don’t ship Ben and Leslie then what are you doing with your life?


4) Supporting Cast

Never have I watched a show where I love every single member of the supporting cast. I *literally* cannot pick a favourite character. They are all well rounded, funny, interesting people with their own views of the world. They band together like a little family, one that I think we would all love to be a part of. The creators of the show spent so much time developing all of the characters individually, and it’s a unique touch that makes Parks and Rec that much more special.


5) Chris Pratt

Okay, I do not have a favourite but Andy Dwyer/Chris Pratt deserves his own shoutout. Andy is hilarious, simple, caring and loyal. He was only supposed to be in the first season, and after splitting up with Ann - his character was supposed to leave Pawnee forever. Could you imagine? I for one can’t envision an Andy Dwyer-less Parks and Rec and thank goodness neither could Mike Schur and co. Andy has a fantastic heart, and what makes him even greater is that some of his best lines were improvised by Pratt onset.


6) It started life as an Office spin off but is wayyyyyyyyyyy better *

Parks and Recreation started life as an Office (US) spinoff. As much as I like The Office, I am eternally grateful that Parks got it’s own path for television. The thing is, Parks and Rec is so much better than The Office. Instead of downcast characters that spend all day winding each other up and tearing each other down, Parks and Rec is filled with positivity and characters who are always supportive of each other. The humour in Parks comes from the situations that the Parks department find themselves in, not from chastising each other (apart from Jerry/Larry/Gary). Even then, we aren’t laughing at Jerry because we know that he has a beautiful wife and a massive penis (spoiler!)


7) Celebrity Cameos

Celebrity cameos are far and few between but when they happen, they are amazing. It’s not the definitive reason to watch the show but seeing Jon Hamm as the office intern, and watching Leslie meeting Michelle Obama are certainly in my top 10 TV moments ever.


8) You will feel like part of the show

Due to the way in which Parks and Recreation is filmed, mockumentary style with minimal lighting/staging, the characters really get a chance to interact with the camera in their own ways. From Tom Haverford’s surprised grin to Ben Wyatt’s exasperated plea for help, it helps us get a better insight into these characters thoughts and feelings. It also makes us feel like Leslie and the gang are talking TO us rather than around us. It’s beautiful.


The seventh season is currently airing so you still have time to catch seasons 1 - 6 on Netflix before the finale!


DISCLAIMER I do like The Office! You have to admit, it just isn’t Parks is it?

deadline.com
David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson On Reopening ‘The X-Files’ And The Possibility Of More – Awardsline
A full 23 years after making its debut, Chris Carter’s cultural phenomenon The X-Files returned to Fox this year with a limited six-episode series, reuniting David Duchovny and Gillian Anders…
By Joe Utichi

On wanting to do more:

Anderson: David and I have solidified and intensified our friendship and our working relationship since the series ended, so it really is just going back and choosing to work with somebody, and feeling like we are doing something that only the two of us have the experience of. We’re there for each other, and enjoy that in and of itself. It was something I looked forward to with this series, and something I would potentially look forward to doing again. It’s a nice thing to have in one’s life.

Duchovny: I agree with that, and it’s going to sound really pedestrian, and not at all lofty, but when I think back to the beginnings of the show, and what I thought acting was—what I thought I could do as an actor—the gift this show gave me was having to go to work. Having to work as hard as we did, every day, for 14 hours a day, over 10 months, for five years in a row. That was a gift in that I took myself to school, and taught myself how to be an actor. For both Gillian and me, it was really sink or swim at that point, and to be able to do that with great material, and talented people helping us along… it could have gone in another direction, so I’m thankful, I think, just for the hard work that it was in the beginning, and the appreciation it gave me for what I do. It didn’t kill us, anyway.

On their “chemistry”:

Anderson: I feel like the chemistry was there from the very beginning. That was the foundation of it. After so many notes asking us actors to take looks at each other—after doing that I don’t know how many billion times—you start to get the idea that this was what they were playing to. Certainly, they exacerbated that beyond what probably felt comfortable as actors at the end of every scene, but I think that helps you solidify the chemistry.

Duchovny: That word always perplexes me, because Gillian and I never worked on our chemistry. We don’t come in, in the morning, and go, “How’s the chemistry? I really need some coffee with my chemistry this morning.” It’s really a mutual respect and enjoyment of acting with one another. What exists in the writing, as well, is that these two people are true partners and they complete one another intellectually and emotionally. Chris always used to say that Mulder and Scully were one person when they were together… by which, I assume he meant they were Chris Carter. I do think that’s very romantic, when you have a man and a woman treating each other as equals. And not just as equals, but as necessary components of one another. Without the other, they fall as people, as entities, as investigators. It’s highly romantic and yet not sexual, though there’s a lot of tension.

Anderson: They have a clear depth of caring about one another, and that’s what really gets people. They care about one another’s welfare, and so even if they’re at odds in their beliefs, their caring transcends that, through all nine seasons.

Keep reading

RSS15- Rec List

With everything going on, I’ve been a bit behind on Author Appreciation week which is sad since we have so many wonderful writers in this fandom to celebrate. 

However, since it’s the first Wednesday after RSS, I want to share some of my favorite stories from RSS. I want to preface this by saying these are just the stories. There was many an amazing comic, gif set, and art work done by wonderful artists but these are not included in here as this is a fan fic appreciation post. Also, as I have never seen any of Bobby’s various other works, I did not read Anyelle stories. I am hoping someone who else can rec some of those wonderful stories. 

Lastly, there was over 150 fics this year of various lengths, plots and styles. Every author who created one of these fics should be incredibly proud of themselves, just because it is not on my particular list is insignificant. I assure you your giftee loved it, and I enjoyed reading it as well. These below are ones that stuck with me, ones I had to go back and reread or couldn’t stop thinking about or surprised me into laughing, crying or going “WHAT”. Thanks to @rumbellesecretsanta for putting together a wonderful cohesive and complete masterlist that made my staying up until 3 am every night this week possible and for running a great RSS15 this year. 


Without further delay, here are my fic recs for RSS2015 in alphabetical order. 


@0ceanofdarkness…..Shore Leave– An absolute charming romp in space with an entire crew of characters perfectly characterized as a crew on leave on a strange planet. If you love space fics which sound and feel like they could be real, and ensemble pieces with various OuaT characters- I highly recommend this fic. Story contains Swanfire references as well. 

@ashadeofpemberley…..The Christmas Party- I don’t have the proper words to address how much I absolutely adore this one. The wit flows fast and sharp, but in an endearing quirky way. With a deliciously hilarious heavy handed role played by Jefferson, the staff of the high school make sure our two idiots get together- prompting some wickedly funny lines between the both of them. I particularly lost my head at the AiW references and Belle’s dry commentary on her fellow teacher Gary Aston. Loved it, and I am now hoping for a lot more from Pemberley in the future. 

@beauty-in-gold…..The Monster– If you enjoy dark tales, with twists and monsters hiding in the shadows, where good and truth can gleam bright until the darkness falls- this is a well written one shot about one man’s descent into madness. Warnings: this is for the brave of heart and strong of stomach. 

@blessedlunatic…..Midnight at the Local Drugstore- This two parter starts out as a humorous look at our favorite couple’s lives from the seven dwarves who are dealing with the current season of OuaT as well as we are. The second chapter– well the second lets us look at our favorite couple’s private time together. Funny, Sweet and then surprisingly angsty in the best possible way.

@breaktimewritings…..What You Can’t Say on Christmas- If you enjoy a bit of family Rumbelle with Bae helping things along just by being Bae, you should check out this sweet story where a little trip to Glasgow opens some eyes and hearts.

@bytherose…..As the Seasons Change- a very cute insight to Dark Castle rumbelle over the four seasons, brief and well written with an adorable ending. I particularly enjoyed the swim break.

@charlotteashmore13…..The Queen, The Spy & The Dark One– If you are looking for a long one shot, perfectly paced, with characterization straight out of the original Skin Deep, you need not look any further. Charlotte as always delivers an amazing story and a whole quarter of it is smut that somehow borders master/servant and revealing their souls to each other rumbelle. Her writing is fantastic, keeping the tension alive in her stories as well as keeping the reader engaged and amused.

@crankynerdgirl…..The 40 Hour Week- This fic crosses of all the holiday, rom com tropes and yet feels like a real life story in every sense. Belle is real here, from the moment we meet her despairing that she’s in flats to Gold’s initial suave charm descending into irritation and then infatuation. I couldn’t get enough of them and when I had finished the story, I sat back and then went back and reread some of my favorite bits. Neal here is as real a fourteen year old boy as most I know and the brief mentions of Ashley Boyd seem in character for someone we never even meet. Cranky is an absolute master with this story and it’s realistic and heart warming all at once. A must read.

@earthoranyrealm…..A Different Kind of Magic- A lovely fluffy journey that introduces a new side of our lovely Gold, one who used to be a famous magician and uses his old tricks to win over his most important audience, a certain librarian. Bonus points for a rabbit named Chip. 

@endangeredslug…..The Heist- Slug is at the top of her game with this Austen inspired story. Belle is the ‘odd’ duck, Gaston is insufferable, Maurice is the affable but still frustrating absent minded father and Gold is at turns mysterious, confounding and flirtatious. With more Austen tropes then you can shake a stick at and beautiful BatB references, Sluggy makes the Heist sing an old song to a new tune. Plus, any time Belle decides to play thief is fine by me.

@jackingbackpeeta …..Warm to the Bones- Lovely style that shows what happens when a little apple cider is hiding a whole lot more. JBP does a wonderful job in establishing Belle’s inner decisions before she dives headfirst into some seriously hot smut. Recommended for those one shot smut cravings, especially if you enjoy rumbelle a la Dark Castle.

@janiquebeingcreative…..Stay- Janique writes a story about Spinner!Rum and Wet!Nurse Belle- (which full disclosure is typically one of my least favorite story lines but hell, Janique delivers.) The story is masterfully crafted with Rum dealing with physical, mental, and social issues that seem as real as any people today could face. Belle is a light in the darkness, as a single mother who reaches out to help a child in need. I couldn’t stop reading and I found the pacing, plot and characterization a special treat. Highly recommend.

@junoinferno…..Workplace Appropriate- This little fic straddles the fine line between crack fic with it’s meta ABC/OUAT parallels and very hot smut. Personally, I loved the humor and the cursing, segueing into some hot teasing that leaves Belle to take charge of the situation. I recommend taking a look as Juno’s work always delivers and this one doesn’t fail to satisfy.

@kayteaem-fic …..Porcelain Boys and Girls- This little fairy tale is spell binding. The author creates Rum’s two aunts that are very different from canon but it works due to the strong characterization, dialogue and plot. Rum is a small boy who finds escape in a strange mysterious albeit beautiful way. It’s a lovely little story and I recommend it for those who love the original fairy tales.

@nerdrumple…..Cruel- A very intersting vampire-esque tale. I found the writing style engaging and fast paced. Thoroughly enjoyable smut fic for those who enjoy a little monsters in their mash.

@onceupona–ohyouknowtherest–ohyouknowtherest…..Above the Clouds- I stayed up to read this one because not only was it well written, engaging and funny- it made me care about characters. With her natural dialogue and more references to ENG and R2ED thrown in on this adventure in South America, I was hooked. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this fluffy adventure - especially Gold who i absolutely fell in love with when all he was doing was being sick in bushes. Go read it. Just go. It’s fantastic.

@prissyhalliwell…..An Accidental Dragon– In this delightful humorous and delightful romp through the dark castle, we learn of a story we haven’t heard heard before. Namely how when Rumple tries to protect his little maid, he ends up making matters worse. Prissy’s warm story-telling narrative is as strong as ever in this sweet ficlet, and her way to show what characters are thinking even when they can’t speak is endearing. Highly recommended little story for those who love Dark Castle tales. Also, there’s art by @beaverblitzkrieg

@spottytonguedog…..The Spell Caster- Spotty can always weave a Dark Castle tale but this time where Belle has magical powers and even better, a chance to do what no other of Rum’s apprentices ever had the guts to do- perform a spell that needs mutual orgasms. And oh look, weird, there’s just you and me in this dark castle… No, all kidding aside, Spotty delves deep into two people’s quest to find themselves when confronted with desire and new knowledge about themselves that comes to light through their odd dynamics. If Dark Castle Magical Smut is your thing, read this. If well written fic is your thing, read this. If Rumbelle is your thing, read this.

@standbyyourmantis…..The One Night Stand- If you enjoy smut with story, especially real life my family is kind of crazy and I’m sorry but you have to do this with me, kind of stories- you should check out Mantis’s mini novella. It’s a romping good time with shower sex, tent sex, drunk sex- the possibilities are endless. This fun romcom is fun from the get go for both of them and for the reader. And oh look, there’s art also by the wonderful @beaverblitzkreig

@stripeysocksarecool…..A Small Problem- This is an adorable little fic, sweet and simple but I have to say I couldn’t help giggling at the Jefferson storyline. Take a second to go read this adorable little fluff nugget.

@theladyofthedarkcastle…..A Certain Kind of Hell- HEY DO YOU LIKE PUBLIC SEX? Well you do know. Go check out this little Golden Lace romp where Lacey is fun as ever and Gold is happy to oblige.

@theplasticview- The Heart of Avonlea- Oh weird, did I write something too? Mostly included to show off @ beaverblitzkrieg’s fanart of this which is adorable and perfect. 

@thescholarlystrumpet…..In the Shop- Oh yea look another PWP with roleplaying in Storybrooke. As always Strumpet’s smut is hot, spicy and perfectly in character- especially role playing with the help. Don’t miss this hot tamale.

@thestraggletag - A Cursed Affair- Straggle delivers once again with a dark angsty painfully beautiful story as The Dark One tells how he came to be so enchanted by the Spinner’s latest deal. Belle here is a revelation, brave and bold and seeking out danger despite herself. The Dark One becomes a real villian, the best kind, the kind you can’t help but want despite knowing the danger. If you read one fic on this list, read this one.

@toseehowthestoryends…..Hello From the Other Side- I’ll be honest and admit I haven’t watched OuaT in a full season and just keep up with the show on Tumblr but this tale is artfully done in a segmented lovely way, using the song (you know the one it’s on every station) to tie together canon story lines but then with one step forward, the author resolves them and brings a fulfilling and concise next step in the rumbelle story. A great read for those who like canon fix it fics, or just wonderful writing.

@villainsarebetter…..Sharing Trouble- Villain has crafted a sweet high school teacher story between newcomer Belle and old veteran Gold. Recommended for anyone who loves watching those two figure it out in libraries. (Of which I adored in this fic- it seemed like the perfect high school library and I feel gipped by my old one in comparison.)

@winterswanderlust…..Creature– If you like FemDom Belle and a bit wild beast Rum, this little PWP is an excellent one to fulfill your needs. New take on their fairy tale personas which is fresh and still true to them.

@worryinglyinnocent…..Yes, Mistress– If Dark!Belle and FemDom!Belle strike your fancy, you can’t go wrong with Worringly’s beautiful smutty little fairy tale. Between the wickedly hot sex scenes and the tenderly sweet insights of Belle’s mind, this story hums with beauty and mystery. A must for Spinner!Rum fans.