Winter and Snow In Anime

Winter and Snow in Anime
By: Zorez Shahzad

No matter how you put it, we must all accept the fact that Japanese people see this world a little differently. Japanese people give a lot of importance to the smallest of things, and these things also include weather change. Weather change, whether it be a drop of the first dried up leaf in fall, or drop of the first snowflake in winter, is given a lot of significance by the people. In Japan, it is not out of the ordinary to see people make a prediction based on the weather. Snow is viewed differently in different parts of Japan. Some consider it to be the most beautiful blessing, whilst others, not so much. For the most part, however, snow is referred to as “Yuki” in Japan. The word Yuki roughly translates as, “Winter’s beauty”. If you are a fan of Japanese anime, or Japanese dramas/movies, then you might have seen characters (especially female) named Yuki or something similar to Yuki. Winter and snow are seen as such a blessing, that people are naming their children after it.

Today, we will take a closer look at the deeper meaning of snow in anime. I will be breaking down the winter scenes from some amazing anime. Also, before we get started, this post will contain spoilers.

Let us first get started with the anime “5 Centimeters Per Second”. This anime has a very deep message behind its story. 5 Centimeters Per Second shows us the reality of life, about how this reality is most of the time, uncontrollable. It’s a story about the struggle of two lovers, who eventually wind up getting further and further away from each other. This beautiful masterpiece uses the weather quite masterfully in order to convey its story. When the show starts up, we are greeted with beautiful cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms actually represent youth and energy in Japan. The spring season is used to show us how young love is blossoming between the two kids. The two kids are young and naïve and believe that they will be able to stay together forever. The first time we see snow in the show is when Takaki and Akari try meetup with each other one last time before moving away. In this part of the movie, we see heavy snowfall and fast winds. Stormy winds are used to represent hopelessness whilst the snowfall, shows a glimmer of hope. We see how the whole air is filled with hopelessness, but Takaki still manages to get to Akari. In my personal opinion, this part of the movie defines the whole show through just the weather. The stormy winds are telling our protagonist that there will be hardships in life and he can’t avoid them, no matter what. At the same time, the beautiful snow shows a glimmer of hope. If both the protagonists had really tried, they could have ended up together. But eventually, they (especially Akari) start to accept this separation as the reality of their life.

Now, let us consider the example of Naruto, or more precisely, “Naruto Movie 1: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow”. This anime movie also uses snow as a way to convey subliminal messages. First of all, the name of the female main character, Koyuki, tells us a lot about her importance in the movie. The name roughly translates as, “little snow”. As the ninjas are going into a land of heavy snowfall, bad luck also follows them. The show depicts the heavy snow as, being dark, whilst the female main character Kiyuki, the little snow, is seen as a glimmer of hope. At the end of the whole show, we see how all the heavy snow, suddenly just fades away, whilst Koyuki, the little snow, remains. This shows us that things always tend to work out! No matter how dim the ray of hope may be, there is always a good way in which the whole situation can end. In this movie, the ray of hope is very dim, as it is portrayed through the character with the most hopeless personality in the entire movie. But with his spark, Naruto makes everything turn out ok. The depiction of snow here is actually the same as its depiction in 5 Centimeters Per Second. But here, we see how the protagonist never gives up and always chases after that small spark of hope.

Next on our list is Erased. Erased is a brilliant mystery anime focusing on the story of Satoru. In this show, the mysterious vibe is represented through snowfall. This show actually uses the snow to showcase an ominous and dark tone. Whilst Satoru is trying his best to find the killer, the snow is in a way giving him a cover, hiding him from Satoru. This is another example of heavy snow being used to depict darkness. At the same time, however, the snow is also used to represent beauty. No matter how bad the situation got, Satoru never lost hope. The same goes for Kayo. The beautiful moments that Satoru and Kayo shared in the snow really helped them to keep ongoing. This anime shows us that everything can appear as good or bad. Where the heavy snow is ominous, it is also beautiful. Similarly, in life, every situation can be viewed as positive or negative, it is all truly up to the viewers perception. At the end of the whole show, after everything has been fixed, we see snowfall again. This time, the light snowfall actually represents beauty and hope. No matter how hard it gets, there is always a way for things to turn out okay! This show represents this fact throughout its entire run.

At last, we have the brilliant masterpiece “Your Lie in April”. Your Lie in April is an extremely emotional show, which uses the force of nature quite well. In the start, the cherry blossoms are used to show the enthusiastic spirit of Kaori. The spring season is also the season in which Kosei, slowly, starts to get out of his shell. Now, what about the winter season? The winter season and snow are also used quite beautifully in the show. The beginning of the winter season is also the time when Kosei starts to feel sad again. A girl suddenly came in Kosei’s life, changed everything for him, made his like better again, and now, she was on her deathbed. Kosei did not know about the true severity of the whole situation until one day he went to the hospital to give her a visit only to see her in such a bad condition that she had to be taken to the ICU. The snow represents how Kosei’s spirit is being taken away from him yet again. For Kosei, the snow is creating a very dark and ominous tone. On the other hand, Kaori is also scared. She does not want to die. She wants to spend the rest of her life with Kosei, but sadly she can’t. Kaori still tries to lie to herself and find beauty in the snow, which she does. Kosei also manages to find light in the darkness, when he remembers that there are other people counting on him as well. He can’t just give up on everything Kaori taught him, just because she’s leaving him. As Kosei plays the piano, this hope is shown in the form of spring yet again. Your Lie in April really used snow to convey a very gloomy tone.

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MarsCon 2020 Convention Review

MarsCon is a convention that occurred in Williamsburg Doubletree by Hilton Hotel and happened between January 17th to 19th, 2020. 

It was a weekend, fun, party where Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the main focus or theme. When they say a weekend party, they are telling the truth. So many events and attractions were offered that you had to be selective in your choices. 

Whether you were doing cosplay, seeking deals in the market areas, enjoying music, playing games, joining your favorite panels, or even volunteering; this convention had it all for those wanting these things and more!

I wanted the status of volunteer, and decided to help out at MarsCon. The MarsCon mascot was Marso the Martian, and as a mascot, the person really suited the role. 

Boy, the first day was busy for me soon after I ate breakfast at Doubletree. My shift began at 10 am but 9:30 am soon became the time instead of 10. I ventured down to the dealer’s room where I was greeted by Jennifer, who the leader of that area, and sent me right away to assist the other vendors. 

Specifically, I was assigned a couple who had books galore in their booth. I did not mind…by unloading cases of books on a dolley and bring them inside to sort through and organize on tables. If you think that just unloading was a sole job then you were gravely mistaken. After the loading dock, the couple also me to organize books by the author’s last name and man they were at least 26 cases for every letter of the alphabet. I even put a bookshelf together and for all of my efforts, they insisted on me to choose a book. The book was Sympathy for the Devil by Holly Lisle where a woman asks for amnesty from the underworld and she literally gets what she wants with the devil himself seeking her out personally.    

An hour passed in the dealer’s room and at that time the vendors that were there were all set up. I went to the section supervisor and she sent me to go to the Con Suite. Apparently, Con Suite is the area for MarsCon attendees could go and get food throughout the convention. My first task was to blow up the inflatable trays for the salad bar. Funny thing, I was getting nowhere trying to put air in this plug that was similar to a beach ball. I did not succeed until one of the staff showed me a method of putting your teeth on the plug and then blow which made it so much easier. I washed a drink container in the men’s bathroom which was lots of fun and then proceed to dump old ice in coolers. There were a total of two coolers where ice was necessary and one of them had cheese beginning to defrost so the fridge was the immediate place to put them. Also, I helped a third staff member to get food out of the car and bring it into the building. 

After Con Suite, I stumbled across the Art Gallery with aid from the volunteer coordinator, Addie. The art gallery had many grid-like panels for artists to hang and hopefully sell their art pieces. There were wood carvings, paintings, sketches, jewelry, and other creative works all ready for sale to the convention goers to buy in an auction format. My job was to hang signs of the artist who had that space and so for every two panels I put their name. This helped those to distinguish what spaces they had and which spaces belonged to someone else. 

I would get to know two artists one by seeing their art and knowing them that way and one in person directly. Theresa Mather had a booth where I set it up based on her diagram to place her art according to numbers on the sheet. While I was setting up, I kept staring at one of the dragons she had and this one was 50 Shades of Green. Mather’s art has a certain element to it where she puts a joke in the drawings and 50 Shades of Green was one of them. I bought this piece for its constant mentions of books in the background like Bad Fiction, MeloDrama, and alt course the green dragon reading a book. In this section, I soon met the Guest of Honor Charles Urbach who has countless works in books, game covers, and other visual art projects. He combines a very traditional pencil and coloring to the visual art software on the computer to deliver covers from the Magic the Gathering series to Star Wars and many others. I thought it was very cool that he said: “For anyone to be successful in any creative field, they need to be stubborn and keep doing their content regardless of what the world thinks.”  

For the rest of the convention, I did not have any specific volunteer positions but in programming. Basically, programming is where a volunteer goes in a panel and reports on the outcome of the panel. I was responsible for writing the number of attendees, when it started and ended, the panel name, panelists on the panel, did they stay on topic, and most importantly a brief description of went well or other general notes. 

Not only was I enjoying the panels but I was a volunteer at the same time. Addie, the volunteer coordinator, told me to have fun and provide feedback on the panels that interested me on behalf of MarsCon. This opportunity taught me the importance of why panels or workshops are essential for a convention. More importantly, the people who are doing these panels are vendors, convention attendees, and special guests who all broaden a convention’s success like MarsCon. 

The panels that I reviewed are as the following: Win, Lose, or Draw, RavenCon Meeting, The Future of Post-Apocalypse Fiction, Professor Indiana Jones: Tenure Review, a trolling panel (Trolling, Trolling, Trolling), and Flair Bartending Sci-Fi Mocktails. The ones that stood out the most are Win, Lose, or Draw Indiana Jones, and the Flair Bartending panels. Win, Lose, or Draw was hosted by Kevin Fowler and it was actually a game all designed by him. In the game, we had two teams and those teams had to bid a time at 90 seconds or below to draw based on what they saw. A team could get points based guessing the drawing correctly (3 points), steal from the other team (2 points) and penalty points from the other team getting it wrong (1 point). Indiana Jones panel was a panel about the tenure review of Indiana Jones teaching at a college. 

The panel was hosted by Some Nerds who have a Podcast and was a skit routine of a famous fictional archaeologist teaching an archaeology class. It was supposed to be funny in terms of Indiana Jones not having the professional skill set to be a professor like spending the college’s on exotic business trips and showing up with hard to believe stories about his journeys without such artifacts he went there for. Flair Bartending was mocktail demonstrations by Alexis and her son, William. They showed demonstrated mocktails like Shirley Temple, Roy Rogers, and a recent online favorite of Baby Yoda. There were five mocktails in total and was a family-friendly activity with non alcohol mixing of drinks. 

In conclusion, I learned that a convention can have ties to a party theme and generally a good time overall. I personally liked getting an experience that was more volunteer-based where the enjoyment was beyond the original assumption. I met people and formed connections that I could later use. 

Probably, my most favorite part was speaking to Mike Pederson and somehow being part of their convention planning for RavenCon. I went to their RavenCon Meeting and got lots of information about their convention. RavenCon and MarsCon at least this year are rival conventions in the scopes of them both being in the same hotel at Doubletree. I am ready to be put through the wringer according to the other RavenCon staff as Mike’s assistant. I feel that MarsCon 2020 went without a hitch and then some this year. It is definitely worth the shot to go back next year and many more years down the road.   


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Books and the Isekai Anime

*Important Notice: SPOILERS for Ascendance of a Bookworm

Books play a vital role in any respected universe, especially for Anime in the real world. Manga and other Japanese publications for a series usually are the primeral state before Anime. These publications make their influence on the Anime by setting the stage for other adaptations similar to the source material. Today, I am discussing a specific graphic novel by the name of Ascendance of a Bookworm and its refreshing twist in Isekai genre.  

Ascendance of a Bookworm is a series written by Miya Kazuki and illustrated by Yō Shiina. The series is about a female protagonist whose love of books makes her standout a lot. Urano is transported to another world, which is the definition of Isekai, other than her own. In a devastating twist of fate, she is crushed by the books she loves so much by an earthquake, before she was able to become a librarian. Instead, she has to wish for another life to achieve her status of a book overseer. She is transported to a family with little money and has a frail body who goes by the new name of Myne. She has to learn her new world without the use of books and with a mysterious illness. 

This Isekai Anime, challenges this other worldly genre by having a very strong determination, by having a very vexing external struggle, and by having a really good support network.

In Ascendance of a Bookworm, we see Myne with the will to learn and have access to books during medieval times. Myne is seen wandering around and trying to see her new circumstances first hand. She experiences a world where books are rare and are in the hands of the wealthy. Despite these problems, Myne wants to look for books and make her dream of watching over books a reality. Books are too expensive and she has the goal to make them with alternative means of paper production. Myne tries to make books no matter what through trial and error. It briefly mentions ways that paper and books were made through history like the traditional animal skin method already used or clay tablets used during Aztec times. She finds the method where it is best to make books and continues on the road to bookmaking. As she tries to make books, she also has a conflict that it makes that much more difficult to overcome. 

Myne has an external struggle with man versus nature with a chronic illness. The suspected illness causes her to often feel weak and experience fevers quite regularly. She has to overcome the illness to make any progress for books and overall life. The disease is a phenomenon where mana is in a body that can not handle the immense mana in one vessel. This results in the body experiencing  a high fever which can make the person die if they do not the will to fight it and is known as the devouring. The devouring has no cure and is similar to AIDS as treatment is limited and only slows the condition. Just as drugs are used for AIDS, magical items are used for the devouring. 

When it comes to both conditions, having the means to pay for it is the main shortcoming for anyone that are affected by these diseases. Myne can easily succumb to the devouring and let it eat away at her body if she did not have the motivation of books and those around her.

Throughout the Bookworm series, Myne is surrounded by family and an inner circle for support. Myne’s journey for help is years of her family safeguarding and trying to do their best whenever a fever would occur and from occurring. This is constantly shown when she is in bed and the mom (Effa)  would cook meals and place a towel on her head. Gunther, who is the father, cares so much that he gets a bit irritated when he does not have all of Myne’s attention especially Otto. Otto is Gunther’s friend at the guard post at the gate and teaches Myne how to write. She is soon taught and acts as a teacher to the other students under Otto’s guidance. He also works as the messenger of people to go in and out the gate entrance. Under Otto’s guidance, Usano becomes an unofficial apprentice and the cover story is she is in school and learning how to write. She is getting so much support that Lutz becomes the second hand for Myne and her endeavors. Gunther tells Lutz to watch over her and make sure she does not overwhelm herself. This happens to the point where Myne is the innovator while he is the craftsmen for Myne’s innovations. A beneficial relationship is born and they both help one another in ideas and aspirations being invented.

In closing, Ascendance of a Bookworm is an exception to the Isekai Anime genre. Typically, this genre consists of average person from the original world, the character immediately has an advantage of their past experience, and a helpful character guiding the hero before transition to a new universe. Myne is no where near average. She had lots of mana and still has so much to end up with a frail body. The past life for her is books and books but in the beginning she is severely limited without such things until later in the story where past info is a plus. When she transitioned to medieval times, there was no one to assist with a divine background or anything like that. She had to adapt to a new body and suffer the same fate as the old Myne did before she passed away. 

Basically, Ascendance of a Bookworm consists of books and finding an identity that it has earned its ranks in Isekai Anime.

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Anime’s Influence on Spaghetti

Anime’s Influence on Spaghetti

Today, January 4th, 2019, is National Spaghetti Day and people honor it by eating spaghetti day. Spaghetti means twine in Italian and on a side note the innovations of tomato sauce and meatballs are Americans styles to spaghetti.  

Usually, when you hear spaghetti, you instantly think of noodles and sometimes meatballs. Now, spaghetti and animated scenes that people think of are the Lady and The Tramp. These two dogs are enjoying their spaghetti and all of a sudden they are very close to kissing then break the noodles. The plate of that spaghetti looked good enough to eat just like the ones being mentioned today. Here are five examples of spaghetti to celebrate National Spaghetti Day in anime.

Yugioh’s Russian Roulette Spaghetti Dinner 

When is Yugioh is brought up, you think of the cards and the extreme takes of the games. Well, what if I told you that one of the notorious Shadow Games has spaghetti and other foods. In the manga, there is the Russian Roulette Dinner, known as Cuisine of Death Russian Roulette. This dinner is hosted by Mokuba played with Yugi Mutou and Katsuya Jonouchi. The spaghetti is one of the meals that are in a Russian Roulette style dinner. Typically this game is random with 1/6 chance of a bullet but one of the food options has poison instead. Keep in mind this dinner refers to Yugioh Zero anime which is darker than the Duel Monsters anime.  Anyway, Yugioh reluctantly eats the spaghetti and to his surprise no poison. Dark Yugi notices that Mokuba knew which plate was poisoned and he tricks i in the pasta. They talk about the old days and drink red wine from regular glasses. 

Spaghetti bolognese in Marko Porco

Marko Porco is a Studio Ghibli film that features a WWll pilot. If I just said that the film was about a pilot who was cursed and turned into a pig in old Italy, it might sound like a comedy film or a cartoon for kids, but Porco Rosso is about a man’s dream, friendship, and love. We see Porco visiting his old friend to repair his plane, there’s a scene where they eat pasta together. Very simple pasta with tomato sauce, and you can see some reddish food mixed in the pasta. They talk about the old days and drink red wine from regular glasses. Very casual and laid back. The scene reflects a peaceful transition in setting and provides a time to catch up on old times. This meal fits the message of following your dreams and Marko Porco flying in the “Age of the Flying Boat.” 

Hunter-X-Hunter Spaghetti Challenge

Gon and Killua find a mission from Ging, who is Gon’s father, about Greed Island. Greed Island is a game that allows people’s Nen abilities to fight in the game. It is a game where no one had won yet and Ging leaves the game behind for Gon to find Ging. Anyway, they try to prove their worth as contestants and be selected for Greed Island. They arrive at Antokiba and enter a restaurant where the chef presents before food before the tournament. He tells them that if they eat the mountain of spaghetti in 30 minutes or less they do not have to pay. Gon and Killua chow down on the huge helping of spaghetti and take the challenge head-on. They finished the challenge in the allotted time and they receive the Galgaida card. In the end, the card does not harper any advantage to the upcoming tournament on Greed Island. 

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures: Harlot Spaghetti 

The episode to find the Harlot Spaghetti is Part 4 in Let’s Go Eat Some Italian Food (Diamond is Unbreakable Story Arc). Josuke and Okuyasu are walking home when Okuyasu notices an Italian restaurant. It is called Trussardi’s and Tonio Trussardi himself is the owner, chef, and waiter all in one. He has a niche for creating food for his customers based on his observations by diagnosing their health ailments in front of them. His passion for food in the same as Sanji’s from One Piece in making people happy and healthy with food. He states all of Okuyasu ailments and Okuyasu feels offended. He offers many dishes until Harlot spaghetti is offered. Harlot Spaghetti has spaghetti, pitted olives, olive oil, anchovies, garlic, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, mise (parsley, salt, pepper, etc.) and parmesan cheese. 

Furthermore, these spaghetti dishes are not just for show but an appeal to circumstances beyond the meal. Let’s hope a day for honoring spaghetti and Italian cuisine in a nutshell. On National Spaghetti Day, eat some pasta and spend it with friends and family. 

Anywho, Hasta La Pasta, Baby.

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Inukami Anime Review

Have you ever had any second thoughts about whether a character has something more to them or not? 

Inukami has Keita Kawahira where he tries to succeed and faces conflicts head-on. Throughout the show, we see the old cliche of innuendos thrown out and a new twist on the term fanservice. The refreshing quality of the anime is the Ecchi genre being portrayed differently through fanservice aspects. Keita follows his family roots in fighting the supernatural along with a lover’s quarrel at the same time. Figuratively speaking, we can say that Keita represents the elephant in the room where he ever goes. 

Keita Kawahira is the protagonist and has ties to the Inukami user family. Inukamis are dog-like creatures with high spiritual pressures who aid their masters in battle to vanquish evil. The Kawahira family are generations of Inukami tamers to the point where the honor and carrying the blessing of family is sacred. However, Keita takes honor and transforms it into something of a joke at times. He takes the teachings in and treats it as part-time instead of full-time. He constantly distracts himself by pursuing his selfish desires. 

He gets the short end of the stick for because his behavior leaves a lingering stench of habit. He is obsessed with women to the point where Yoko, who is his Inukami, has to be Keita patrol for the sake of other women. Yoko is not like any other Inukami where she acts rash and uncontrollable. Keita formed the contract with Yoko to serve as his Inukami, and he believed in a master and servant relationship. Yoko believes that Inukami and master is something where the Inukami is in control over the master instead. She is constantly abusing Keita over his perverted nature and obsession over women. 

In Yoko’s eyes, Keita needs to only be with her and no one else. This is explained more in detail how they first met one another in the mountain valley where the Kawahira head elderlies. I consider Kieta lucky because Yoko was the sole Inukami to respond to interest to serve under Keita. Other Inukami servants did not express interest in his history in the Kawahira family for disappointments and women’s cravings. There are many times in the show where Yoko treats Keita as a dog instead of a master. This creates irony for Inukamis are dog lifeforms and Keita misbehaves as a dog more than Yoko. If there was one word to describe these two which is chaotic. 

I really like how their relationship grows and blossoms into something meaningful. They are constantly with each other and have a bond that can only be described as complicated. She can be either be proud of Keita for something unexpected or his usual pervy self. Yoko is really harsh to him at times especially when it comes to his punishments if he misbehaved. The punishments can range from hitting with a frying pan, blasting him with fire attacks, and the most extreme of teleporting him out of his clothes and leaving him to roam the streets. He roams the streets so much that he earned the reputation of the Streak Lord and an inner circle of fans who refer themselves as “hiding in the darkness.” 

Overall, I give Inukami a score of 8.5 out of10 stars for funny moments and a good storyline. With any show, it takes time to build up characters and Inukami could be a little slow when it comes to storytelling. As Inukami continues, the plot thickens a bit more for past episodes start to connect with references with other events. The plot takes a different direction when we see Keita take a certain fight more seriously and see his resolve to other fights to come. On one side note, the comedy is mature in terms of context of portraying men’s desires and Keita’s almost daily public flashing routine. My favorite time during Inukami is when Keita proves to people for there is more to him than a pervert. Finally, I recommend this show for anyone looking for a different take on ecchi, its lures of the supernatural and its inviting atmosphere of triumph. 

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StiegCon IV BoardGame Convention Review


The fourth StiegCon was held on the lower level at SpringHill Suites by Marriott Alexandria. It happened this past Saturday 28th of December 2019. The one-day convention went from 9 am to 11 pm and consisted of several tabletop games. A day of fun and games was the highlight of this day.

I was able to meet so many people and get to know them through the atmosphere under games. It was not just the people but the games that were played created more excitement and enjoyment in the strategies and gaming discussions that occurred.  

My main goal for StiegCon IV was to either teach people or play with other people the board game Splendor. Splendor is a points-based victory where gems or tokens are used to purchase development cards and eventually lead them to points. The gem tokens are onyx (black), emerald (green), ruby (red), topaz (blue), diamond (white), and the gold jokers (yellow= any color in the game). These tokens combine with the effect of either taking colors, purchasing cards, or reserving cards. When a player takes a color gem from the bank they can decide whether they want to choose three separate colors from piles or take two of the same color if the pile has at least four tokens in it. Purchasing cards are where you spend the tokens to get development cards with bonuses and sometimes points. 

Bonuses allow a substitute for tokens so with multiple bonuses it costs one less resource to get from the bank. Points in the game are done through buying development cards with a range of one to five or get royal cards given to you at the end of the turn only by being the first player to have that requirement of bonuses. Finally, you can block people or advance your gameplay by reserving development cards with jokers or without jokers. There are only five joker tokens so when there is no more left then you reserve a card without a token that represents all colors.  

I played the game with four people in a combination of two games. The first round was a person named Jesse and had his game Lexicon. Lexicon was a Roleplaying game (RPG) where players design characters, role different dice for how they do actions, and a gamemaster guiding the story. He was really relaxed and enjoyed Splendor. He liked Splendor to the point where we were primarily focused on our moves and not the other player. We also dueled in Yugioh and he won with my Amazoness deck against my flip effects deck. I made the mistake of attacking with 2000 attack monster and he activated two traps to win the duel. One trap was an anti-flip effect and attack all opponents monsters while the other was giving his Amazon Swords Woman 1000 attack boost which was enough to send both of mine monsters to the graveyard and lose the rest of my life points. 

The other three players were all formerly associated with the same inner circle of gaming community local to the area. It was really interesting because one of the players, Charles, was a Splendor enthusiast to the point in designing an expansion of the game. An expansion is a different version with other features that include new rules or an interesting aspect to the game. Anyway, Charles went as far as to design the expansion by playing several games to come with successful readdition of the rules. In the expansion, he increased the number of players to meet the playing style for eight players at once. This game you can purchase and select tokens in the same turn if you have the minimal tokens to buy the cards. Also, noble cards can be bought in a combination of tokens and bonuses to speed up the game. 

There are no reserving cards to block other players or wait for turns to advance your gameplay for you can simply get tokens and purchase in the same turn. Basically, all of the features that made the game slow with four or fewer players are now not existing in his expansion. He thought us strategy about which cards to buy cheap cards with few resources to purchase in two or three turns. Sometimes, you can reserve a card like taking the cheap cards before someone else or preventing your opponent from getting a card they were saving up for. He even taught us the strategy of going for big points right away and the advantage of building an engine to purchase anything you might want with bonuses and even get the advantage of receiving the nobles. I won the game with a combination of building an engine, receiving last-minute nobles, and getting points early on. Splendor is a game of reading your opponent and made moves that you are able to best your game. 

I participated in other games like Qwirkle, Star Trek Flux, and a customized version of Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG. Qwirkle is similar to Scramble in sorting the pieces as dominoes as colored shapes instead of words. A qwirkle is a combination of a pattern of six shapes either the same type of shape of various colors or the same colored shapes of various shapes for six points for the line and a six-point bonus. Star Trek Flux is a card game with action cards, new rules that could replace the basic rules (play all or draw three), keepers, goals, and creepers. Goals are how you win the game with certain keepers in your progression or creepers with keepers (creepers usually prevent you from winning with a goal on the field unless previously stated on the card). The custom Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG was where I participated as Joseph who was a thief and had a false identity. The campaign was set in Medieval France where Wiseman tales of frogmen roam and the plague running rapid in the area. I had terrible luck on the dice rolls in battle, sneaking around, and getting caught each time except for once. 

Furthermore, StiegCon IV was really exciting with different games and most importantly, I formed connections with various people to network with in the future.      

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Anime Zeros to Heroes

By: Melissa Sterckx 

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Not all heroes are born with great abilities. Some of them need a little time to develop and discover their strengths. Strength is not only about physical abilities. The greatest strength comes from the heart and from the mind. A weak mind can never truly control and master the strength of the body. The four amazing characters we are looking at today had to learn this the hard way. They have all made the brilliant transition from weakness to strength.

Yona – Yona Of The Dawn

Raised in a life of luxury, Yona is the princess of the Kouka Kingdom. She is oblivious to the world outside of her own. Completely ignorant of the people to which she would one day rule over. Her greatest weakness was that she only cared about herself. On the eve of her 16th birthday, Yona witnessed the murder of her father, Emporer II. She fled the Hiryuu castle and began the journey to the Wind Tribe for safety. Along the way, Yona came to learn a lot. This is the beginning of her growing strength. She discovered that her father was a really aloof king and that the people were not happy under his rule in appeasing others. Yona seeks the help of the legendary Dragon Warriors and learns how to defend herself in a fight. She discovers what true friendship is and vows to help the people of the Kouka Kingdom, even risking her own life many times in the process. She found incredible strength to put others before herself.

Atsushi NakajimaBungo Stray Dogs

Plagued by an abusive past, Atsushi finds himself as an 18-year-old young man with major self-esteem issues. Life in the orphanage was rough. He was verbally and physically abused by his carers and the other orphans on a regular basis. Atsushi was kicked out of the orphanage at this age. Starving and without shelter or proper clothing, he comes into contact with two police officers who give him a job and lodgings. He eventually discovers that he has the ability to change into a white tiger at night, and while this might seem like his strength, it actually comes in the form of him gaining his own self-worth. As the show moves on, we see Atsushi overcoming the oppression of the orphanage, having more self-confidence, making friends, and being happy. It is this self-confidence that allows him to control all the powers of the tiger and show his real and intense strength.

Madoka KanamePuella Magi Madoka Magica

In a world of different dimensions and timelines, we meet Madoka, a regular 14-year-old schoolgirl who is gentle, shy, and weak. Madoka becomes a magical girl and we watch her powers, as well as her self-esteem, grow throughout the series. However, being a magical girl is not just about pretty dresses and hanging out with her friends. With each passing timeline, Madoka’s strength and powers greatly increases. She decides that she wants to rid the world of all witches throughout the different dimensions. In her quest to do this, she becomes the most powerful of all the magical girls.

Shu Ouma – Guilty Crown

It’s the year 2039 and Japan has lost its independence to an international corporation called the GHQ. Shu Ouma is a 17-year-old high school student who starts out in the series as being socially awkward and self-centred. He joins a resistance group called ‘Funeral Parlour’ in the hopes of helping to liberate Japan from the clutches of GHQ, but he is really only doing it to impress a girl he likes. During a clash between Funeral Parlour and GHQ, Shu comes into contact with the Void Genome and gains the Power of Kings. With this power, he can draw out a void from someone else in the shape of any weapon or tool that he needs. As the series goes on, Shu briefly loses his power only to regain it with it being stronger than ever before.

Not only have these characters gone on to be the strongest versions of themselves, but they have also become the strongest members in their stories. Yes, some of them were given incredible powers, but without believing in themselves and growing their inner strength they would not have taken control of their powers and pushed them to their full potential.

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The Best Chessmaster Characters

By: Melissa Sterckx 

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

They are the ultimate manipulators and you wouldn’t even know that you are doing exactly what they want you to do. Like the greatest of chess players, they can move their unsuspecting pawns at their will. Using their influence and perfect timing of events, they will plan the most beneficial outcome for themselves, paying no mind to who gets hurt in the process. Patience is key, but just what else is needed for someone to gain the prestigious title of Chessmaster? Let’s take a closer look at these brilliant Chessmasters and why they love the games they play.

Ciel Phantomhive – Black Butler

Knowing the background history of this character puts everything into perspective and totally explains why he is the way he is and does the things he does. Earl Ciel Phantomhive is the head of the Phantomhive house and the Queen’s Watchdog. He is hellbent on revenge and making those who ruined his childhood pay for what they did. Ciel summoned a demon during the worst experience of his life while watching his twin brother being murdered. It is this demon, Sebastian Michaelis, who is his butler and carries out many evil acts for his master. Ciel can be cruel and ruthless to get what he wants. But he can also be quite charming if he needs to be. Bribery, deception, and violence are the tools he uses to manipulate the players in his games.

Shiro – No Game No Life

Not only is this 11-year-old genius an actual master in the game of chess, she is also an overall Chessmaster in other ways too. This petite beauty of white skin and blue hair is Shiro from No Game No Life. Abandoned by her parents, Shiro remains very close to her stepbrother, Sora. Shiro is socially awkward and relies a lot on Sora to help her with human interactions and understanding the emotions of others. But it is her keen and natural ability for science and mathematics, along with her masterful analytical skills, that make her the Chessmaster that she is. She uses her intelligence to calculate the situation and makes minor changes in the games to manipulate the outcomes in her favor. 

Light – Death Note

If ever there was the ultimate Chessmaster, it might just be Light from the great series, Death Note. Starting out as a genius and overly confident high school student who is bored with life in general, Light comes across a book in the schoolyard. Whoever’s name is written in the book will die. The unfathomable power to take any human life within seconds without even leaving his seat leads Light to become drunk with this power. He uses it to try and shape the world into his own utopia where he would be a god to his people. While Light feels that he is doing the right thing, the Death Note consumes him and the Chessmaster plays the board and manipulates society without any regard for whoever gets in his way.

Lelouch – Code Geass

Brought up in an aristocratic home and the 17th heir to the throne, Lelouch has a surprising hatred for nobility. A highly intelligent man that is bored with his studies, he receives his Geass ability from C.C, an immortal who is immune to the Geass. Lelouch gains the Geass which gives him the power of absolute obedience. He uses this power to plant commands into the minds of anyone he needs to… This is how this Chessmaster plays his game. He uses this unfair advantage over others to fulfill his political plans. He aims for revolution and hopes to do this through military precision. Lelouch forms The Order of the Black Knight to assist him on his road to power and control.  

While all of the Chessmasters are different, there are a few characteristics that they share. The Chessmaster has to have the perfect combination of all of these traits. They are all goal-orientated and determined, refusing to be moved or persuaded from their objectives. They are all extremely intelligent, being able to calculate a plan and analyze what needs to happen for the desired outcome. They use their keen skills to anticipate the next move and are always ready for their opponent’s strike. But lastly, and probably the most important is a special ability that sets them apart from the rest of the world. Ciel has his butler, Shiro has her superhuman intelligence, Light has the Death Note, and Lelouch has his Geass. 

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Anime IQs of Characters

Anime has constantly shown characters in being superhuman in warfare, abilities, sports, regular life and even in knowledge. An area to focus on is a character’s overwhelmingly wit or astounding IQ level in the anime. These characters that are going to be mentioned are either considered genius-level people or rarely seen IQ numbers over 200 in their respected universes.  The Elric brothers are said to have genius status several times in Fullmetal Alchemist. Edward and Alphonse practice to become expert alchemists and always strive for more knowledge especially a specific stone. Shoot, you can say they are ‘philosophers’ seeking the infamous Philosopher’s Stone in the anime and manga. Momo Yaoyorozu is said to have an interesting quirk based on creativity and calories in food. My Hero Academia’s Momo excels at strategic planning in battle and decisive choices quickly in many stimuli. She has S-rank intelligence making her very distinct to other quirk-related individuals.  Shikamaru Nara is the type of student who did not take the Konohagakure’s Ninja Academy seriously. After several shogi defeats, Asuma, Shikamaru’s sensei in Team 10 in Naruto, noticed that his team member might have more to show than just his test scores. It is revealed in episode 64 of Naruto that this Nara clansman has an IQ score of 200 plus during Asuma’s conversation with Kurenai. Kaito Kuroba takes on his father’s identity of Kaito the Kid. He embraces the role of a successor by the title “Phantom Thief Kid” to steal gemstones and return them after the successful heist.  According to Hakuba’s analysis, Kid’s IQ is 400 and flaunts his intellect in Magic Kaito primarily and brief appearances in Case Closed.  Ami Mizuno is one of the protectors of the Solar System in Sailor Moon as Sailor Mercury. She possesses attributes associated with water and ice to aid her in battle alongside with highly specialized programming skills. Sailor Mercury uses her intelligence of 300 IQ to study her foes through a mini supercomputer to gain the advantage and leads the other Sailor Senshi really well. For an honorable mention, we have Alakazam; “Its brain can outperform a supercomputer. Its intelligence quotient is said to be 5,000.” from Pokedex entry #65 in Pokemon Red/Blue. Intelligence quotient (IQ) is just a measurement of perceived numbers for the brain. It is only accurate on the surface as the complexity of the human brain far exceeds just a number. There are many ways to prove yourself and test your skills in life.

Names for Anime Fandoms

Names often share a unique identity where people can use it to identify the specific noun. The importance of names is very apparent in people but also places, ideas, and other specific things. People feel more connected to something having a name like Fairies, Spiralists, Shinigamiphiles, Evageeks, or T&Bros. In the anime community, these names mentioned sharing the traits of identifying anime fandoms coined by fans. Fairies are the name that Fairy Tail members call themselves in their guild. Fairy Tail Zero answers the question of the fairy part in the name which the founder questioned if fairies had tails or not. Whether fairies have tails or not, does matter to some but the appeal of fairies is very mysterious in the anime. Spiralists refers to the power source in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Spiral power is the energy that humans and other spiral beings use to exist. There is also the movement that opposes the spiral power who are the Anti-Spirals. Shinigamiphiles might be an unusual name for the Bleach fandom but it is widely accepted. The name refers to the Shinigami aspect of Bleach which soulreepers fight against enemies who disrupt the balance of Soul Society. Fun fact, Ichigo is a Substitute Shinigami who eventually helps to fight overpowered antagonists in the anime. Evageeks has a huge following in the Neon Genesis Evangelion community. The term would be the name of the website as an of continuation of the Evangelion Commentary Project. The English side of NGE establishes ‘evageeks’ as endearing and welcoming to dubbed and maybe subbed fandoms. T&Bros is the name for Tiger&Bunny fans who are dedicated to this pair of superheroes. Kotetsu T. “Wild Tiger” Kaburagi and Barnaby “Bunny” Brooks Jr. is the unlikely pair of superheroes brought together by their employers. They have to cooperate with one another regardless if they want to or not in heroics. Names have meanings and are not just words explaining the life around us. Without names, the world would be the same and people would be lost in the meaning of individualism.