Bungo Stray Dogs: Another Story, Vol. 1: Yukito Ayatsuji vs. Natsuhiko Kyougoku: A Promising Beginning!

If you’ve talked to me even a little bit, you’ll know I’m a pretty big fan of the manga/anime series Bungo Stray Dogs, or Bungou Stray Dogs if you want to be a bit more accurate. Up to you. So when National Read Across America Day came around and Mrs. Sibley wanted us to read a new book outside, I chose the Bungo Stray Dogs spinoff manga to read: Bungo Stray Dogs: Another Story, Vol. 1: Yukito Ayatsuji vs. Natsuhiko Kyougoku. I finished the book WAY too quickly, so I was left with about an hour of me sitting in the sun and wishing I had the next volume on hand.

Amazon.com: Bungo Stray Dogs: Another Story, Vol. 1: Yukito Ayatsuji vs. Natsuhiko  Kyougoku (Bungo Stray Dogs: Another Story, 1): 9781975359003: Oyoyoyo,  Harukawa, Sango, Asagiri, Kafka: Books

The story is about an ability user, Yukito Ayatsuji, (featured above) who possesses a very unique and thought-provoking skill. If he solves a crime, the culprit will die in a sudden fatal accident. This led to him being held by Special Division for Unusual Powers, a government organization that helps contain and control dangerous ability users across Japan. They still use his abilities to help solve crimes, but never allow him to narrow down the culprit. The government organization assigned Mizuki Tsujimura, a fellow ability user who works for the Special Division for Unusual Powers, as his assistant. (pictured below) 

Even after an investigation that resulted in yet another death of the perpetrator, the government organization hesitantly brought Detective Ayatsuji on board to a particular case they were having difficulty solving: one that involved a mysterious well that could supposedly turn those who wished on it evil. I’ll stop here to avoid any major spoilers, but I find the concept really interesting!

The first thing that struck me was the art. It was great! There was a new illustrator than the original series, though Sango Harukawa, the illustrator for the original series, still did the character design for this spin-off.  Some of the action scenes were a little hard to follow, but that may just be a problem on my end.

ayatsuji's hips don't lie

While existing in the Bungo Stray Dogs universe, the original cast is barley mentioned or shown in this story. However, I believe this to be a good thing. I like how the author allowed this to be its own story while still cameoing characters dear to our hearts in the book. Ango Sakaguchi, one prominent character in the original series, plays a relevant role in this spin-off, which makes sense given his place in the Special Division for Unusual Powers. The Armed Detective Agency is also shown for a panel, which, of course, features fan-favorite Dazai Osamu.

Enough about all that, though. What did I think about the story overall? 

Thinking Emoji transparent 9 - Clipart World

I really enjoyed it! I thought the concept of Ayatsuji’s ability was super creative and made the reader question the morality of the character. The character dynamic between Ayatsuji and Tsujimura worked really well, and I enjoyed all their interactions. Tsujimura herself is probably my favorite, as she reminds me a lot of myself. Ayatsuji had a blunt attitude that took some getting used to, but he grew on me as a charming character eventually. The story of the mysterious well was also really cool, and the puzzles to find the true nature behind the well were also really neat, if a little overly complicated. I really want to read more of this series!

Will Wood’s Normal Album: What Does it All Mean? Part 1


Poster for The Normal Album
Poster for The Normal Album from Will Wood’s Webstore

Will Wood has taken the place of my favorite music artist this past year, and if you take the time to listen to his most recent work, The Normal Album, you’ll totally understand why someone like me would be so enthralled with his music. I’ve even written a (admittedly pretty bad) blog about the him and his band before, which you can read here for a more in-depth look into why I love his music so much. So, I decided why not try to do a quick analysis on each song included on The (absolutely anything but) Normal Album before Will Wood releases his new upcoming one, In Case I Make It. These songs are so incredible and deserve MUCH more than a high schooler writing this with a deadline around the corner and an average of 4 hours of sleep. These will only be a quick surface-level overview of the themes and tone of each song, so I recommend you check these out for yourself and read more about them!

1. Suburbia Overture: Greetings from Mary Bell Township! / (Vampire) Culture / Love Me, Normally

In classic Will Wood fashion, the title of this track is long and convoluted. The song is split into three parts, each having it’s own title. However, I’ll be talking about the track as a whole here. The song is a commentary on the “ideal” white picket fence and nuclear family and how that, and modern culture as a whole, can be extremely toxic. Will Wood relates the middle-class Suburbia to a war zone as while discussing its malicious and vampiric aspects. Self-expression is exiled in this world of blind conformity, and the underlying misery is painted over with images of family barbecues and white weddings.

My favorite stanza from the song:

“…So give me your half-life crisis
I can tell that you know where paradise is
Where parasites don’t care what your blood type is
Only pheromones and serotonin decide…”

2econd-2ight-2eer (that was fun, goodbye.)

This funky song is definitely one of my favorites from the album. The main theme of the song is breaking free from the conformity the world pushes onto us and living life the “crazy” way you want, even if the world looks upon you with judgment. The song has heavy religious symbolism and discusses breaking free of its grip and the surrounding culture of it. In short, embrace being “a psycho, babe,” and live life without worrying about what boring people think of you. You only get one life, so live it to the fullest without shame.

My favorite stanza from the song:

“…Some days I’m glad that I am a madman and I’d rather be that than
An amicable animal, mild-mannered cannibal
But I’m more level-headed and clever than ever and I’m getting better one forever at a time
And if sick is defined by what’s different, well then pull the plug out and let me die…”

Laplace’s Angel (Hurt People? Hurt People!)

The title of this song is a reference to Laplace’s demon, a scientific proposition of causal determinism, which I’m not nearly smart enough to fully understand, but essentially says that all events in the future are caused by the events of the past. Hurt People? Hurt People! is an obvious reference to the saying of “hurt people hurt people,” suggesting that those who hurt others are deeply damaged themselves. Laplace’s Angel itself is a commentary on “bad people” as a whole and what really makes them “bad.” Are bad people defined by their actions? What about the reasoning of their actions? What about what’s behind the reasoning of their actions? If you were in the exact same shoes as the person you’re judging, what would you do, and would you judge yourself?

My favorite stanza from the song:

“…So if you wash your hands of where you’ve been until you flood the second floor
Neatly fold your skeletons but still can’t shut the closet door
The only ones in need of love are those who don’t receive enough
So evil ones should get a little more…”


Okay, so you’ve probably heard this one before. This song recently blew up on TikTok and sparked tons of conversation about its meaning and even some controversy. Will Wood himself recently came forward to clarify the meaning of the song, so I’ll include his own words from his post on Genius.com.

“To boil it down, the song is about how I respond to my frustration with the limitations of the male gender role, the maladaptive ways I’ve coped with that frustration, and trying to figure out if this experience or any other regarding my gender can or should define me. It reaches the same conclusion that most of my work does – and that is that nothing is real and that if something is hurting us we have the power to cast it off.”

You can read more from his post here.  It does a much better job than I ever could.

This concludes part 1 of my analysis of Will Wood’s The Normal Album. It really is a wild ride to go on, and it’s definitely very high up on my favorite albums of all time list. I really wish I could do this album justice, and if Mr. Wood himself is reading this somehow, thank you SO much for the wonderful work of art! :]


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: A Spoiler-Free Review

Ah, The Ballad of Songbirds of Snakes. This book got me through my hospital stay and refueled my fleeting love for The Hunger Games series. I bought the book right when it released, but only got around to reading it this month. I was a little wary to read a novel where the protagonist was 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow, of all people, but I fairly enjoyed it!

P.S.: If you’re reading this review, I’m going to assume you’re already familiar with the Hunger Games series, so I won’t be explaining the events of the previous books or avoiding spoilers from them. You have been warned!

The book takes place sixty-four years before the events of the first Hunger Games novel, but it still very much so takes place in the future. In this book, we’re reminded just how far ahead Panem is. Even so far into the past, we’re still greeted with wonderful science-fiction elements as we were in the original trilogy and a glimpse of the ruins of what used to be North America. 

In short, the book tells the story of the 10th annual Hunger Games and Coriolanus’s involvement in them. This was the first time mentors were introduced, and they happened to be the graduating class of the Academy, which is essentially high school for the Capitol. We get introduced to how several aspects of the games were introduced, and most were proposed by Coriolanus himself. Even some the songs of the series were written and performed by another main character, Lucy Gray Baird.

Speaking of Lucy Gray, the two have a budding romance, and hearing the thoughts of Coriolanus, it can’t help but make you feel uncomfortable. From the very beginning, you can tell something is off in the wording of his thoughts, and it isn’t until later on when it sets in that something just isn’t right. However, the wholesomeness of young love really does shadow over it in the beginning, and I couldn’t help but wish the best for the two while ignoring the red flags.

Young Coriolanus Snow
Official illustration of 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow.
Lucy Gray Baird
Fan-made Illustration of Lucy Gray Baird by mathilde’s art blog on Tumblr

I definitely wouldn’t be the first person to write that I found Coriolanus’s character FASCINATING. He’s written as the protagonist, and at first you can’t help but root for him. Sure, he starts out with little moments here and there that make you question his character, but it’s just a result of his upbringing, right? That’s the way you think throughout the book, and while I can’t say much here, watching his character devolve was exciting and heartbreaking at the same time. While reading, you forget what President Snow did and how he was in the original trilogy, which makes you forget that this is supposed to be a villain origin story. His character is complex and captivating, and I couldn’t help but hope that somehow everything would end up okay. 

Lucy Gray was by far my favorite character in this story, however. She was the tribute assigned to Coriolanus and instantly captivated both the audience in universe and and out. She was a member of the Covey and resided in District 12- The same district Katniss Everdeen would eventually be a citizen of. She serves as one of the biggest connectors to the culture of the Districts.

Overall, I loved the commentary that came with Snow’s character mentioned above and the lovely writing and imagery in the book. The callbacks to the original trilogy were wonderful bonuses, and the characters were all super engaging and fun to read about. I also ADORED the main antagonist, Dr. Gaul. However, my biggest gripes with the story has to be the pacing. It’s EXTREMELY slow at the beginning, and sometimes it just feels as if events are being thrown in to make the story more entertaining before the Hunger Games. That would have been more okay if the pacing of the story didn’t kick off and go a million miles an hour at the third part. It just felt very underwhelming, but it definitely make you think while reading, which is a great aspect to have in your writing.

I give The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes 3/5 stars.

Heart of the Woods: A Mostly Ghostly Romance

If you’ve talked to me in the past couple weeks, you know I’ve been obsessively talking about and playing one of the latest visual novel releases from Studio Élan, Heart of the Woods. So, what’s a better way of progressing my obsession than reviewing it on my monthly blog assignment?

Heart of the Woods Promotional Image
Heart of the Woods Promotional Image

Heart of the Woods is an LGBTQ+ romance visual novel that tells the story of four young girls meeting in unusual circumstances and fighting against an evil force trying to rip them apart. The main protagonist of this story, Maddie Raines, is the manager of a paranormal web-show hosted by her best friend, Tara Bryck. However, Maddie has bigger plans for her future than running a mildly successful web-show for years about something she doesn’t even believe in for the sake of her best friend.  So, she announces her departure from the show before her last big episode, and Maddie and Tara enter a largely unspoken grudge on the ride to a whole new country. The two instantly strike the player as opposites, and it makes you wonder how they became such close friends in the first place. Maddie is professional, logical, and cold, while Tara, on the other hand, is brash, positive, and energetic.

Maddie and Tara on the way to Eysenfeld
Tara (left) and Maddie (right) on their way to Eysenfeld

The pair arrive in Eysenfeld, a quaint, isolated village in Germany. An eager fan of the show had invited Maddie and Tara out to her small town to investigate paranormal happenings in the woods around Eysenfeld, calling it a “ghost-hunter’s paradise.” This fan, as we’ll soon come to learn, is Morgan Fischer. 

Morgan is, well, different. She’s not interested in antiques, yet runs an antique shop (that no one shops at), claims to own a talking cat, seems to show little to no emotion, and the entire town of Esyenfeld treats her coldly and as if she’s some sort of stain on the town’s reputation. However, she has her quirky charms o her. Tara is quick to dismiss this, but Maddie is wary of her. Maddie instantly regrets coming on the trip. It’s unbearably cold, far away from home, and they’re even staying with who she believes is a lunatic.

If only there was something, or rather someone, who could convince her to stay a little longer…

Abigail reaching out to Maddie.
Abigail reaching out to Maddie.

Fast forward a bit, and you’ll soon meet Abigail, the ghost of a young woman trapped in the heart of the woods, as you may say. Maddie encounters her in the forest of Esyenfeld one day while trying to clear her head, and the pair quickly become close friends. Abigail had not spoken to another person in over one hundred years, so Maddie is wonderful company to her. Even after all that time, she is still mostly herself—meek, kind, and playful. Maddie is unable to hear or touch Abigail, but Abigail can understand her. Maddie finds out her name by bringing a book of baby names and reading them out one by one until the ghost girl confirms: Abigail. Maddie continues to read to her at an abandoned church every day, and the pair grows closer each visit. The two agree to keep Abigail’s existence a secret from everyone.

Abigail pointing out her name in the book.
Abigail pointing out her name in the book.

So, now that you know the basics of the game and its characters, let’s move on to the review!

Overall, I enjoyed Heart of the Woods a lot! Abigail and Maddie’s romance in particular was really intriguing, and not once was I bored with the story or characters. The game description calls it a “take on a fairy tale,” which is absolutely well executed. The whole story is magical, and the forest makes you feel as if you’re stepping into another world. The descriptive writing is phenomenal, and all the characters are fleshed out and feel like real people. (Except for, in my opinion, the main antagonist, but I’ll get to that later.) The music was also EXCEPTIONAL! I listen to the OST all of the time now, and I cried while listening to the ending song by In Love with a Ghost. (A very fitting guest appearance.) It just felt as if the team truly did put their heart and soul into the project, and I would heavily recommend it to everyone. It’s safe to say I’m super excited for my Maddie x Abigail keychain to arrive. 🙂

The group notices a strange faint light in the sky.
The group notices a strange faint light in the sky.

The pacing of the story starts off pretty slow, but I never saw that as a bad thing. However, the pace very quickly speeds up towards the end, and it felt almost as if the game was trying to shove as much into the last chapter it could. The multiple endings were based on one decision towards the end, and it felt quite forced. Maybe it was just me, but I felt very overwhelmed, and I believe it might have flowed a bit better if it was drawn out just a few thousand words more. Another thing I noticed was the varying quality of the voice acting. Some voices felt much more fitting and experienced, while others felt almost mediocre. However, all the voices were fine, in my opinion, and didn’t take away from my playing experience at all.

Now, my major issue with the story was the main antagonist. I can’t reveal who it is at risk of spoiling the game, but you’ll probably be able to guess. The villain was very one-dimensional, and while the reasoning for their power-hungry and violent character is explained through their “moonsickness” and desire for immortality, the game never really gave them any redeeming qualities or humanity at all. It’s possible this was to parallel old fairy tales, but I’m just the type to enjoy complex antagonists. 

Thanks for tuning in, and I hope you check out my next blog, whatever that may be. I hope you had a good read and that I encouraged you to purchase this wonderful piece of art for yourself!

Maddie and Abigail in front of the forest lake.
Maddie and Abigail in front of the forest lake.

Mistki’s “Last Words of a Shooting Star” Analysis

CW: Depression and Suicide

“Last Words of a Shooting Star” is the tenth track on Mitski’s third studio album, Bury Me at Makeout Creek. The song uses the metaphor of a crashing plane to represent the narrator’s battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. The music itself is reminiscent of a plane crash, and it portrays the hopeless feeling and apathy that comes with struggling with mental illness and suicidal tendencies. The title represents how suffering can commonly be missed, and in this case, a plane crash can be mistaken for a shooting star. “Last Words of a Shooting Star” shines through as one of Mitski’s best examples of brilliant songwriting, and is, in my opinion, one of her best works. I chose this song because of its realistic representation of depression and the way it serves to help show those who aren’t inflicted the true nature of the illness.

“All of this turbulence wasn’t forecasted
Apologies from the intercom” 

The first line reinforces the metaphor of the plane crash. The narrator never wished to be born, and she never predicted the pain she would go through in life. The apologies from the intercom represent how the world and society are at least partially aware of the problems it causes, but when they apologize, it’s empty and said too late— the plane is already crashing.

“And I am relieved that I’d left my room tidy
They’ll think of me kindly
When they come for my things”

The next line establishes that she is planning to take her own life. She’s relieved that her room is tidy, so once her family and law enforcement come to gather her belongings, they will see her as a clean person and not a slob or bother to others. She hopes to be remembered well because of this. The narrator is so numb, that’s all she can think about— not the impact her death will have on her loved ones, but rather how she’ll be perceived soon after she’s gone.

“They’ll never know how I’d stared at the dark in that room
With no thoughts
Like a blood-sniffing shark”

The song soon tackles the empty feeling of depression and the reality of living with it. Once she’s gone, people will never know the time she spent withering away in her bed, staring in the dark, and tuning out her mind. The “blood sniffing shark” simile draws a parallel to the myth that sharks will go mad at the smell of blood and how the narrator’s mind is becoming similar: obsessive and desperate for an escape.

“And while my dreams made music in the night
I was going to live”

The song here, instead of having “I was going to live” be an uplifting lyric, portrays through music that it isn’t. The tone goes down, possibly paralleling the song’s “plane crash” metaphor. She’s not excited that she’s decided to live for the time being, but burdened.

“You wouldn’t leave till we loved in the morning
You’d learned from movies how love ought to be
And you’d say you love me and look in my eyes
But I know through mine you were
Looking in yours”

The song also tackles the narrator’s unfulfilling relationship and the negative impact it has on her mental health. She feels as if her relationship is rehearsed and disingenuous. She believes that her lover is treating her kindly just so they’ll feel better about themselves and have a place in society. She can’t feel truly happy in a relationship she doesn’t believe to be real. This could either be an actual representation of what her relationship is like, or a warped version her mental illness had told her was true.

“And did you know the liberty bell is a replica
Silently housed in its original walls? 
And while its dreams played music in the night
It was told to believe”

The narrator then goes on to compare her life and herself to the Liberty Bell, which is well known to be a replica of its original. What it stands for is resilience through hardship, but since it’s been replaced, that message could be considered invalid and a lie. It could also be interpreted that the Liberty Bell was broken by its own “music,” and Mitski has talked at length about her struggle with becoming a musician. People encouraged her dream and told her to believe she’d be big one day, but they never fully meant it, and once she was older, warned against following her aspirations.

“I always wanted to die clean and pretty”

This line helps show the apathy the narrator has for her own life and death. She cares more about the state of her body being found than her actual death, and it is a common fear for those with mental illness to look “ugly” when their body is discovered.

“But I’d be too busy on working days”

The next line could hint at how the narrator is overworked to the point where she is driven to end her life or uses this as an excuse to put off her plans. 

“So I am relieved that the turbulence wasn’t forecasted
I couldn’t have changed anyway”

In a way, the narrator is glad that she wasn’t warned of the pain in life because she believes she would have been miserable and depressed regardless because of her illness. She’d rather it be a surprise when she’s older rather than burdening her child self with that knowledge.

“I am relieved that I’d left my room tidy

This lyric portrays how the narrator ultimately gives into her suicidal thoughts and lets her plane crash. She wishes those she loves goodbye and ends her life. Mitski ends the song on a unsettling note, not only with the ending the lyrics insinuate, but with the droning hum the song fades out with, reminiscent of a plane crash. 

This brings about the question of what we should do if we see a friend or loved one listening to songs of this subject matter. Of course, listening to songs like this doesn’t mean someone is planning to hurt themselves, but if it’s a constant pattern, try and talk to them about it. If you believe someone needs help, reach out a hand. You may never know when someone is struggling. If you relate to these lyrics strongly, I’d recommend talking to a friend about your thoughts, or if you believe it’s necessary, get in contact with a professional. If you’re in crisis, please use the information listed below. You are loved, and things really do get better, even in the bleakest of times.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Crisis Text Line:
Text HOME to 741-741

Until Next Year, Folks.

I’ve avoided writing a sappy end-of-the-year blog for as long as possible, (if at all) but after looking on the board and being reminded that this would be the LAST blog of my junior year, I couldn’t help but get a tad bit emotional.

Even though my blogs really haven’t ever held much substance, I still feel a sense of pride looking at all I’ve written on here. From my blogs giving advice on social anxiety, talking about a minor character in a Disney movie, and gushing about my favorite thingsthey all hold a little special place in my heart.

I may not have written giant pieces of social commentary or provided advice for our upcoming juniors, (I feel a bit bad, but I definitely wouldn’t have been able to provide much in that regard anyway </3) but I had fun! 

I never thought I would have become the person I was here at MSA. I don’t even resemble myself from the beginning of the year, and that goes for both the inside and out. If you were to tell me two years ago I’d cut off my hair, dye it pink, pierce my ears with a safety pin, discover my sexuality, start dressing like a Lalaloospie doll, AND begin to question my gender identity in the span of 5 months, I would have laughed in your face. Once I realized you were being serious, though, I most likely would have just fainted.

Art school changes you, man. I never thought I would feel as accepted as I have here. The students here are the best you will ever meet and be the most accepting bunch you’ll see in the entire state. They gave me faith in the south again and made me feel at home in a state where I never had before. Is that too much? I don’t know; it’s really late.

So, basically, I don’t want to leave. There’s never been a year where I have dreaded the arrival of summer vacation, and, again, if I were to tell my past self this, they would have lost their mind.

I’m already sounding delirious, so I’m going to go ahead and end this for the sanity of you all reading. I’m just really sad to leave but, at the same time, absolutely excited to see what’s in store for me in the year ahead.

What is Vocaloid? Who Even is Hatsune Miku? Well, I’m Glad to Tell You.

If you’ve found yourself browsing the internet, (or have talked to me at all) you’ve most likely come across Vocaloids. They were at the height of their popularity in the late 2000s and early 2010s, although these virtual pop stars still have massive fanbases. So what exactly are Vocaloids, and why are so many people interested in them?

“Vocaloid” is the name of a singing voice synthesizer developed in a joint research project led by Kenmochi Hideki at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. It originally wasn’t even going to become a finished product, but Yamaha picked up the project and released it to the public commercially in 2004, which is, funnily enough, the year I was born! :0

The software works by gathering data from voice providers and places all the recordings from the provider into a voice bank. This allows producers to generate singing and speaking by typing in words and creating melodies! It works similarly to Siri or Cortana on your phone. This means a music artist can create vocals without using a real singer and has more control over their project. Cool, right?

In my opinion, the main appeal of Vocaloid is the unique sounding vocals and the emphasis on community. Anyone can create with Vocaloid, and every song that’s created adds to a growing list of performances by the virtual avatars. Vocaloid concerts even exist! Holograms of these virtual singers can be projected on stage, and music made by dozens of producers will be “sang” by these characters throughout the night. Hatsune Miku, who I will talk about more later on, opened for Lady Gaga and was even scheduled to perform at Coachella! That was before Covid-19 shut the event down, of course. More recently, Ashnikko used Hatsune Miku in her song Daisy 2.0, which blew up on TikTok and other social media platforms. Clearly, Hatsune Miku isn’t a small name in North America anymore.

(A clip from Miku Expo in Toronto!)

The Crypton Future Media Vocaloids even have their own series of rhythm games, Project Diva. These games feature songs created by independent creators and original 3D animated dances for each one with several different Vocaloids from Crypton, including Hatsune Miku, Megurine Luka, Kaito, and Kagamine Rin and Len!

I guess I should clarify now that every Vocaloid voice has an avatar to represent the voice singing. This is also one of the pulling factors when people get into Vocaloid music. The songs are being sung by a colorful and fictional characters that can be placed in so many creative settings! The most recognizable one is, obviously, Hatsune Miku.

Miku’s blue pigtails are one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols in internet culture and pop itself. Miku is inarguably the most popular Vocaloid, and you’ve probably heard her voice before. Remember Nyan Cat? That was Miku. Leekspin/Levan Polka? Also Miku. Hatsune Miku’s constant prevalent status in internet memes (even today) has kept her in the view of western audiences. The most popular songs using her voicebank that you may have heard before are “Rolling Girl” (ローリンガール) by Wowaka, “World is Mine” (ワールドイズマイン) by Ryo, “Love Me! Love Me! Love Me!” (愛して愛して愛して) by Kikuo, and an internet CLASSIC, “Triple Baka” (驫麤~とりぷるばか~) by LamazeP. If you’ve listened to these before, then you already know how versatile Miku’s voice and the themes in music created with her is. (And if you haven’t, feel free to watch the videos linked below. Another cool aspect of Vocaloid is its impressive animated music videos, so if you want the full experience, make sure to watch some!)

CW: “Love Me! Love Me! Love Me!” includes graphic imagery and flashing lights.

Miku also has an English version with lesser known songs using it. Thanks to producers who create original music with Vocaloid, it’s growing more popular in the west and with English-speaking audiences. Some you might have heard are “Miku” by Anamanaguchi, “Propaganda!” by Crusher-P, “Goodbye” by CircusP, and “Entomologists” by Ghost and Pals. Excluding just Miku songs, you’ve probably heard “ECHO” by Crusher-P using Gumi, “Honey I’m Home” by Ghost and Pals using Dex, and “Last of Me” by CircusP using Megurine Luka.

CW: Goodbye contains depictions of depression and attempted suicide. I still wanted to include this one because of how beautiful the AMV is and how big of a staple it is in the English Vocaloid community.

CW: ECHO contains rapid flashing lights.

As you can see, Vocaloid serves as a innovative tool for creators all over the world. If you’re still hesitant about listening because virtual pop stars seem weird or scary to you, that’s perfectly fine! But who knows, you might fall in love with the unique and electric feel of not only the music, but the community as well. We welcome you with open arms. 🙂

Will Wood and the Tapeworms: A Dive into the Bizarre

CW: Mentions of death.

If you’ve talked to me within the last month, I’ve most likely bugged you about my newest obsession. If you’ve read the title, then you can probably guess what, or rather who, it is. 

Will Wood and the Tapeworms, now performing as just “Will Wood” is known for their chaotic performances and eccentric music whose genre can only be described as “yeah, it’s just Will Wood.”

Their unique style has absolutely captivated me,  and I’ve since listened to their ENTIRE discography and even bought their mockumentary on Amazon Prime. My Discord profile picture has only consisted of shots of the lead singer himself for the past week, and I sure have gotten my fair share of ridicule for it. (The wholesome friend kind, of course.) 

Other than the fact I crashed my car while listening to Dr. Sunshine is Dead, the main factor that dragged me into this absolute obsession was the movie vaguely listed on his website. It was $2 on Amazon Prime, so of course, I rented it to see what it was all about. The movie was titled “The Real Will Wood” and, in short, was about a group of documentarians seeking out to answer the question, “who is the real Will Wood?” When I say it was one of the most bizarre experiences in my life, I’m being genuine. It was something I would create, and if you’ve seen any of my editing before, you can understand what I’m saying. I was instantly hooked on the eccentricities of the music and performances and was enamored with Will Wood himself. I had to listen to all of his music. So, I did. (within a week.)

The artist focuses mostly on the inevitability of death, mental illness, gender roles, and other social issues. With three full albums out and a number of EPs, you’ll be able to catch up on all his work in no time. I’m currently watching the documentary on his YouTube channel “What Did I Do?” (which so far fits the style of The Real Will Wood, but is definitely, well, not as bizarre, to say the least) about the making of his newest release, “The Normal Album,” which you can guess is anything but. Will Wood’s humor, along with the rest of the band and crew’s, is definitely not for the faint of heart, as most sentences uttered in either documentary are almost always about death. You’ll pick up on the band’s fascination with death very quickly. It’s pretty much everywhere.

However, Will Wood can sing about grizzly topics in a jazzy and upbeat manner, so jam out to your inevitable demise! Memento Mori, after all.



A Day in the Life of a Literary Student: Lauren Edition!

Oh man, has gotten back into video editing been a doozy. I forgot just how time-consuming it was, but I also forgot how FUN it was! I remember back when I was a kid making little videos and memes on iMovie using the family computer. It was a different and more carefree time back then.

I spent around 20 hours editing this video in total, and man, the final product sure is… something. In short, I definitely still have a lot of work to do in the practice department. Anyway, I was told I could keep this short, so enjoy the video! It was also posted on Rise, so make sure to support the magazine as well! 🙂

The Art of Not Caring

If you’re anything like me, high school (and everything that came before it) was probably filled with an overpowering sense of anxiety and doubt. What your peers and teachers could think of you would swarm in your mind like wasps, and at times, they would sting. It’s a horrible feeling to constantly feel as if you weren’t good enough by being yourself, and it can have disastrous effects on your psyche. As someone who was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder in 8th grade (among other things), I can say improving and learning to accept yourself isn’t easy. At all. Yes, therapy and medication can help, but most of the progress has to come from YOU. I’ve learned that. 

The first step is to challenge your anxious thoughts and try and replace them with positive ones, if possible. Funnily enough, this is still the hardest part for me. Ask yourself, “can I prove if this thought is accurate?” if the answer is no, ask yourself “so why am I assuming the negative?” If your answer isn’t based on the actual situation or is “I don’t know.” Then congrats! You’ve identified an irrational thought! My most common response was usually “You can’t read minds! There’s no way to tell what they’re thinking!” And, well, that’s right. It’s always been what I struggled the most with. But when you’re faced with an unknown like this, choose the positive possibility. It’s a VERY hard practice to get down, but with a bit of practice, you can convince yourself. Instead of “Everyone here thinks I look stupid today. I should have just worn normal clothes,” try “Everyone here is admiring my style and individuality today! I’m the main character!” Now, which one of these thoughts would make you feel better? The one fueled by anxiety, or the one that makes you feel the slightest bit of confidence?

Next, use those positive thoughts to inch your way into the world. As someone who spent 90% of my middle school and early high school years indoors and on my computer, getting used to social situations like dances, big sleepovers, and parties is DEFINITELY too much for a push. Sit with those people you thought were nice and cool at lunch! Invite people to sit with you! Engage with people really around you and not hundreds of miles away. You’ll gain a few friends, and while this may cause new anxious thoughts, it’s well worth it. Soon, you’ll begin to move onto the next and final stage that I like to call-

“The Art of Not Caring.”

(see what i did there?)

This is the phase where you can be unapologetically yourself in every aspect. You can build off of “I can’t know what people think of me, so I’ll assume the positive!” to eventually confront actual negative opinions with “Who cares if a few people *do* think poorly of me because of my quirks? Does their opinion really matter?” That, of course, shouldn’t be focused towards actually harmful parts about yourself, but rather towards self expression and loving yourself. The Art of Not Caring is the goal here, and while I’m still working towards it, I encourage you all to go on this journey along with me. :)))))


If you’re reading this and would also like to branch out of your shell, the Animation Appreication Club (that I so wonderly created, mwah) is hosting a viewing of Promare (2019) in the Phoenix at 7:00 Thursday. It is one of my favorite movies of all time and is an absolute BLAST.  This is your invitation.