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First and foremost, let me say that I hate the Persona game series with a passion. I dislike the art style, the music, the protagonists, the mood/tone, and just about everything in general. This is not because I think the Persona games are bad in any way, shape, or form…I simply have a personal disgust for the games, the story behind which is simply too lengthy to go into right now. Thus, I can tell you that I hemmed and hawwed before finally making myself sit down and watch the first two episodes of Persona 4. I did not, not, NOT want to watch them, but I made myself do it anyways. Because I know that this is a series that is quite popular, and I feel that I cannot always avoid previewing certain series just because I dislike them.

Persona 4

During the two episodes I watched, there was a lot that reinforced my dislike of the series…primarily what I already listed. I don’t like the animation style. I don’t care for the music. The protagonist disgusts me. The bear…thing…is annoying. The animation direction gets on my nerves…it feels like I’m watching the game being played, and I simply do not care for that. And the entire dark and angsty tone of the series gets under my skin. Even so…even so…the storyline ended up catching my interest. Because the truth is that Persona 4 is built upon quite an intriguing premise full of mystery, suspense, and good old psychological horror. And Persona 4 should be given some credit for having some pretty cool battle scenes. They weren’t frequent in these first two episodes, but they kept my attention, dazzling me with fancy lighting, movement, and so on. Thus, in the end, while I’m not so sure I myself will be able to continue watching this show, I can certainly see why other people would really enjoy it.

Final Verdict: Pass

 

 

And now for another show full of mystery, suspense, and psychological horror: Mirai Nikki. I have not followed the manga series, but as a person who likes watching those little yandere girls snap, I had read a little bit about Mirai Nikki due to a certain character in the story. As such, when I heard about the upcoming anime adaptation, I was instantly interested in watching it. I even went and found the first couple of chapters and skimmed them to see if I was really interested in investing time in it, and ended up deciding I was. Thus, I can say that Mirai Nikki is one of this season’s few series that was on my “must watch” list prior to its release.

Mirai Nikki

And, just as I was expecting, Mirai Nikki has got me for the long run. I do have to admit…yandere character is a bit on the extreme side for me…but she still has my favor. Honestly, with how wussy the main protagonist is, it’s nice having the psycho receive equal attention…helps balance out the show a little more. Honestly, considering how much attention she has gotten thus far, it makes me wonder who the main character of the anime adaptation really is. Should certainly be interesting to see what the directors will do with this one. Even without psycho girl, though, Mirai Nikki has a very intriguing story that reminds me a bit of shows like Death Note…another one that I enjoyed immensely, despite how long it took me to get around to watching it. So, in conclusion, I can definitely say that Mirai Nikki will be staying exactly where I put it: my long-term lineup with Chihayafuru. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what other series will be joining them (if any)…

Final Verdict: Pass with Distinction

When the new season’s anime is revealed, the show usually falls into one of three categories: definitely watching, interested in trying, and not watching. And, unfortunately, due to time constraints, most of the anime series that wind up in the “interested in trying” category never get watched, or at least not for a long time.

Both Chihayafuru and Mashiro-Iro Symphony fell into the “interested in trying” category, but the former was much closer to the “definitely watching” category than the latter. I knew that I wanted to try watching Chihayafuru, but it hadn’t caught my attention enough to become a definite contender on my permanent watchlist. And honestly, it was not first in line in my “interested in trying” list either. Until I saw the reviews. On the various anime review sites I follow, one after the other praised Chihayafuru, giving the series high marks. And the more I read about it, the more I wanted to watch it. Thus, I decided to make this series the first contender in the prelims.

Chihayafuru

Two episodes in, and I am already hooked. This is a fun, intriguing series with characters that actually interest me. I absolutely adore the protagonist, and she will probably keep me watching this show to the very end.

Final Verdict: Pass With Distinction

 

 

There is no point in hiding it: I enjoy a good “harem” style anime. Despite the patterns they all tend to follow, I enjoy the characters and stories they present. And often times, the art style is very appealing to me. I do not like all visual novel-based series though. Ones that focus too much on fan service or are not original enough tend to turn me away. As long as I do not feel like poking my eyes out by the end of the episode and remain interested enough in the characters and story, I am usually willing to tolerate these series. And once in a blue moon, I am fortunate enough to run across one that I absolutely adore (i.e. anything by Key, ef ~a tale~, and so on). Thus, it was perfectly natural for Mashiro-Iro Symphony to wind up on my “interested in trying” list.

Mashiro-Iro Symphony

Easy on the eyes, Mashiro-Iro Symphony presents an interesting premise, a lively cast of characters, and a protagonist who has yet to get on my nerves. Like with most harem anime that I try, a couple of yellow (potentially red) flags have popped up: primarily the potential incest and the fanservice. I honestly do not think the potential incest is going to go anywhere, and the fanservice has not been nearly as bad as what I’ve seen in other anime. I could be completely wrong about this, of course, and may change my mind about the show later. But for now, while Mashiro-Iro Symphony will not be a priority for me to finish, it is one that I will probably continue to watch when I can find time for it.

Final Verdict: Pass

Alright…I am going to be trying something a little new (for me) this season. I am actually going to make a point of watching at least the first episode or two of any new anime that interests me. A lot of times I just tend to focus on a few and spend my time watching those, even though there are more series being released that interest me. And, of course, being that time is limited, it often takes me a very long time to ever get around to watching those series I don’t initially try out…usually because by the time I finish the series I started, a new bunch of shows are being released. So…this season…we are going to see how many shows I can “sample.” I already have in mind the few I will probably actually watch until the end, but maybe by putting the shows through “prelims,” I will change my mind or add an anime to my list that I otherwise might not have. If I leave out a show, it is probably because of one of the following reasons:

1. It’s the type of show I would never watch anyways (i.e. hentai, yuri/yaoi, and so on).

2. The show is a sequel to a series I have yet to watch (i.e. Shakugan no Shana III and Fate/Zero).

3. For whatever reason, the show simply does not interest me (i.e. Mobile Suit Gundam AGE and Battle Spirits: Heroes).

4. I run out of time or shows to try.

5. I get bored and just want to watch the shows I’ve decided on.

6. Any other whim that hits me.

So, please understand that I am only doing this because I enjoy it. And so, the instant I stop enjoying it, I will stop the prelims. Thus, I apologize ahead of time if there is a show you were really hoping I would try out and I do not get around to it. Or if I listed one of the shows you really like as one of the ones I definitely would not watch to begin with. I feel that I am entitled to my opinions, though, (as you are entitled to yours) and so plan to stick with mine. If, however, there is a particular show you really, really want me to give a shot, feel free to say so. I won’t promise to fulfill your request, but I will certainly be happy to give it serious thought and consideration.

Planned Prelims: Chihayafuru, Mirai Nikki, Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, Persona 4, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Mashi-Iro Symphony, Tamayura, Kimi to Boku, Phi Brain, Chibi DeviHorizon in the Middle of Nowhere, C3, Guilty Crown, and Un-Go.

Let the prelims begin!!!

Let me tell you a little something about me. I am one of those people possessed by what I will call “wandering thoughts.” And by wandering thoughts, I refer to the tendency to begin with one thought and, via a series of tangents, end with a seemingly unconnected one. I cannot count how many times I have had to retrace my steps, wading through an hour’s worth of thought and discussion, before being able to remember just what the heck I was trying to figure out that got me started on this whole little journey to begin with. This post is the product of one such tangent.

I began by thinking about a post I have been considering writing about an anime series I recently finished, Bakemonogatari. And while I still intend to eventually get around to writing this post, during my brainstorming today, I got pulled way off track. Perhaps due to the nature of Bakemonogatari‘s subject matter, I suddenly began thinking about zombies and our culture’s obsession with these disgusting and horrifying creatures. Another post I will probably try to write at some point. So, as I was trying to figure out just why exactly people are obsessed with zombies, and why they have such an impact upon us, my thoughts diverted yet again, to none other than William Faulkner’s delightful short story, “A Rose for Emily.” And while this is not where my tangential thoughts ended, it is here that the main content of this post (and tons of spoilers) will begin:

For those of you who have yet to read Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” let me just go ahead and say that it’s worth your time to read it. In the meantime, though, let me go ahead and give you the briefest *spoiler-filled* summary possible, straight and dirty: “A Rose for Emily” is about a crazy old bat who, after dying, is discovered to have been sleeping with the skeleton of her thought-to-be-thirty-years-long-gone fiance. Now, of course, there is far more to the story than what I have just given you, but for the purposes of the points I wish to make, that’s all I really need to say about the plot.

Next I must go into a very intriguing interpretation of this story I once heard. One suggesting that “A Rose for Emily” is a symbol of the South’s refusal to let go of the past. Now…before I continue…let me go ahead and say I am not a fan of symbolism. I choose to believe that most of the bull English teachers throw at you about what Faulkner or Hawthorne or Twain wanted their readers “to get” from their writings is just that: bull. Yeah, that’s right. You heard me. Coming straight from the mouth of someone who has studied English for more than six years (including graduate school). Probably 95% of all that symbolism your teachers tried to stuff down your throat was pulled straight from their derrieres. Of course they don’t believe that…but I do. And we all know that my opinion is the only one that really counts. 😛

So…getting back on track…in spite of my hatred for symbolism, especially the kind that is forced into existence outside of the author’s will…this particular interpretation of “A Rose for Emily” that I heard really caught my interest. Somehow I liked the whole image of this old necrophiliac being a symbol of the Deep South’s inability to let go of its pre-Civil War past. Perhaps it’s because, at the time, my innocent self needed a way to reconcile the fact that I had just read a story about a necrophiliac. Accepting the story as being a pure symbol, rather than literal, would certainly have been an easy way to do that. Or maybe I just found it interesting. Who knows.

Anyways…this whole connection between “sleeping with the dead” and “being unable to let go of the past” really stuck with me for a long time. And when it popped into my head earlier, for some reason, I suddenly thought of the ongoing series I have been following from one week to the next: Mawaru Penguindrum. (Which, by the way, I am still head over heels for.) I believe, at the time, it was merely coincidence. If I remember right, I was trying to remember why my previous post on the series had gotten so many views (compared to my other ones), and was trying to figure out a way to write something about Bakemonogatari that would generate as much interest. And it just so happened that, at that moment, I had jumped to thinking about this from my reminiscing about zombies and “A Rose for Emily.” As it turned out, the timing was perfect, for it was then that I was blessed with that extraordinary moment some people like to call the spark (a.k.a. inspiration).

Amidst analyzing my previous post on Mawaru Penguindrum, I suddenly thought to myself rather jokingly in what I imagine to be my mock-snooty intellectual inner voice, “Ha! Speaking of zombies and obsessions with the dead…” Followed, of course, by that oh-so-dramatic pose: hand over chin, lips spread in a smirk, and eyes gazing knowingly into the distance. And just as I was about to move on from that thought, dismissing it as another tangent, I paused and thought to myself: “No seriously. Speaking of zombies and obsession with the dead…you have got to be kidding me.”

Lo and behold! What do we have in Mawaru Penguindrum? Some not-so-gross, but definitely creepy zombies (*coughHimaricough*) and people obsessed with the dead, (*coughRingocough*). Now wait a second, you may say, I’m pretty dadgum sure that Himari was alive and kicking until the last five minutes or so of the latest episode. And I say, why yes, she does appear to be that, now doesn’t she? I mean, it’s not like her skin is rotting off her skeleton, right? And she seems to be able to have intelligent conversations with her peers. But if we look beyond the seemingly-ok surface of Himari’s current existence, an ugly truth rears its head:

Since the first episode, Himari has, for all-intensive purposes, been dead.

And so...she dies.

With the help of a certain penguin hat (and the mysterious persona “who comes from the destination of Fate”) , though, Himari is miraculously returned to life!

I LIVE!!!

As wonderful as it is that Himari has been returned to life, we have been told on multiple occasions that this resurrection is conditional. And for those of you who could not believe this to be the case, you, along with Shouma and Kanba, found out the hard way in Episode 5:

Kanba's epic rescue scene...

 So, to put it all together, what does this all mean? That Himari is only alive thanks to the power given to her via the penguin hat by the mysterious someone possessing her. See where I’m going yet? If not, let me spell it out for you: Zombies are humans living a not-truly-alive existence due to powers given them by someone or something else. In the tradition of Romero, it’s some strange disease. With a more fantastical twist, it’s the result of a necromancer’s spell. In reality, it is, rather than a revival of life, a reduction of one, thanks to being injected by a psychosis-inducing drug. Different from each other though they may be, these many types of zombies are all the same at their core. The circumstances may be different, but they are the same in the end. And going with this most basic of principles, we could say that Himari qualifies as a zombie.

Strange, I don't seem to be myself...

So, if we continue with this thread of thought, we then find ourselves with a very interesting and deeply disturbing situation. Because if, indeed, Himari is existing as what is equivalent to a zombie, then what were already some questionable scenes…

Incest?

…have suddenly become oh-so-much-more disturbing:

Starting to see the connection?

Ok, ok, ok, so let’s move past the necrophilia and zombies and whatnot and move on to the second point I brought up (and began to touch upon with Kanba): obsessions with the dead. For this, I bring in Case Study #1: Ringo.

I'm going to grow up and be my dead sister!

Here we have a young lady whose desire to repair her broken family has combined with and been horribly warped by her loved ones’ (as well as her own) inability to let go of Momoka, her dead older sister. Brought up surrounded by people (specifically, her parents and Momoka’s best friend, Tabuki-sensei) who have been unable to move on from the loss of their loved one, Ringo has been raised in a situation that has left her feeling inadequate. Having heard Momoka-this and Momoka-that her whole life, Ringo has developed a severe inferiority complex, being forced to follow in the footsteps of a sister she can literally never hope to catch up to. And being forced to watch as her family crumbles into shambles (probably largely due to their inability to get past Momoka’s death), Ringo feels that the only way she can possibly save what matters most to her is by becoming the very thing that caused it to fall apart: her sister.

The sacrifices we make for those we love...

And after ten to fifteen years of living with this disturbingly twisted mindset, we wind up with this:

She's starting to look a bit zombie-ish too, don't you think?

Beyond her obsession with becoming Momoka, Ringo is an empty shell that has only recently begun to show signs of life.

Though I could go on and on about all of this, I am getting tired of writing, and so I am going to go ahead into my final example. For in Mawaru Penguindrum, not only do we have the living dead and the dead living, we also have a prime example of a person who is trapped by the past:

Case Study #2: Shouma:

Forced to shoulder the burden of his parents’ decisions, Shouma must live the rest of his life, knowing that his birth triggered a terrible event which resulted in the injury and death of many innocent people. Innocent people including Ringo’s sister, Momoka.

Tied by the past

Though Shouma may not be directly responsible for what happened to Momoka and the many other people hurt by his parents’ involvement in the Sarin gas attacks, he is inextricably tied to this past nonetheless. Now that I think about it, Shouma attempting to help Ringo is actually quite ironic. For the past several episodes, he has been trying to help Ringo break away from the very same past that he is trapped by. Not so different, after all, are they?

Now where have I seen this expression before? Oh wait.

So there you have it. I’m done for the moment, because it’s getting late and I have other things I’m supposed to be doing. So…that’s right…I’m going to leave you hanging. Piece it together for yourselves and give me some feedback if you like. I may or may not come back to this and discuss it some more.

Since I’m nice, though, let me sum up my thoughts for you really quick:

HIMARI=ZOMBIE

KANBA+HIMARI=ZOMBIE ROMANCE (A.K.A. SLEEPING WITH THE DEAD)

RINGO=OBSESSESSED WITH THE DEAD (WANTS TO BE MOMOKA)

SHOUMA+RINGO=TIED TO EACH OTHER THROUGH PAST

Er…and my final point…I guess I’m trying to say that these are some serious underlying themes I’m seeing in Mawaru Penguindrum. Perhaps if Utena was about escaping present social expectations, then Mawaru is about escaping the past that threatens to suffocate us. At the very least, it could certainly explain some of the disturbing feelings I’ve been getting as I’ve watched this show.

Final Picture: Don’t tell me you never thought these “stairs” looked like ribs…

Further evidence to support my theory that Himari is a zombie

Alright, time for my next official review! Whoo! Once again, I cannot guarantee that there will be no spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk!

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Brief Summary: It’s the 19th century, and Yune is a kind, industrious, and absolutely adorable thirteen-year old girl from Japan. With the help of the very generous benefactor, Oscar Claudel, Yune is able to realize one of her greatest dreams: to visit France…specifically, Paris. There, Yune balances her time between serving Oscar and his grandson, Claude, and learning how to get along in this country that is vastly different from her own. From food to social customs to world views, Yune both revels in and struggles with adapting to the very foreign French culture. And similarly, Claude and his fellow Parisians who meet Yune must learn how to accommodate this exotic cutie from Japan. From one day to the next, Yune and Claude are faced with new challenges–some simple, others more complicated and personal–that help them to grow both as individuals and as members of the human race.

A beautiful and touching series, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee stole my heart from episode one and held onto it all the way to the very end. To begin with, I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and so it would be no lie to say that the story’s setting won me over early on. Because that’s absolutely true. Ikoku Meiro does an absolutely incredible job of portraying 19th century France, giving viewers an incredibly intricate, not to mention gorgeous, depiction of Paris. In fact, the artwork throughout all of this show was simply stunning. This is not to say that the character designs were particularly original, but they didn’t need to be. This was meant to be a more realistic depiction of life, and so the more simplistic designs fit right in.

In addition to all of the eye-candy that Ikoku Meiro has to offer, this show also has a lovable cast of characters. Yune, especially, is able to capture the heart with her gentle personality and wide range of hilarious and adorable expressions:

The Many Faces of Yune

Not only Yune, but Oscar and Alice as well were characters that ended up growing near and dear to my heart. And though moody Claude never won the same affection as these other characters, he provided the show with the “something different” it needed, serving as a contrast to Yune and, subsequently, providing viewers with a much better comparison of the Japanese and French cultures.

Story-wise, Ikoku Meiro is nothing extraordinary, but it’s simplicity is also what makes this show what it is. This is not some high-drama, suspense-filled tale that is meant to keep you on the edge of your seat, clawing your hair out as you wait for the next episode. This is very much a picturesque slice of life that’s purpose is to serve as light entertainment that gives a lovely glimpse into a piece of the past. Nothing more and nothing less. Ikoku Meiro is the type of show that puts viewers in the position of “spectator.” In other words, the only depths this show will reveal are those that are immediately necessary to explaining what is happening to the characters right now. As such, you get to learn bits and pieces of the characters’ pasts, but that’s about it. Mysteries are presented but left unsolved, questions provoked but left unanswered, because they are not the focus of the story. It is a show that does what it sets out to do, and it succeeds tremendously.

Just because Ikoku Meiro does an excellent job performing in the role it takes on does not mean that this show will appeal to everyone. In fact, I highly doubt that it would. It may be a period piece, but this is no Emma. And it is a slice of life, but not like what you’d expect to find in shows like Azumanga Daioh and its countless look-alikes. If this show could be compared to any, I would dare to put it on the same shelf with a series like Aria: beautiful, simplistic, and pleasant. So, if you’re the type of person who can’t watch a show like Aria because it’s too boring for you, I would hesitate to recommend Ikoku Meiro to you. If, however, you just want a stress-free and enjoyable piece of entertainment, then Ikoku Meiro is absolutely for you.

If there is anything I did not like about this show is that it seems to occasionally attempt to take a different route…which would not necessarily be a bad thing…before reverting to it’s old, usual self. As I previously stated, Ikoku Meiro presents mysteries and provokes questions and suggests that drama does in fact exist within the characters’ lives, but then it does absolutely nothing with them. We do not learn whether or not Yune gets her mother’s kimono back. We do not learn the whole story of what happened to Claude and Camille, nor do we see if any of it gets resolved. We do not get the whole picture behind what really went on between Claude and his deceased father. Only glimpses are given–just enough to get you interested–and then the show moves right along. Now…if this means that a second season is in store…one that will address some of these details that it brought up and then dropped…that would be absolutely fantastic. And I think it would do a world of good for Ikoku Meiro. However, I also do not think it is necessary. It just goes to show that this series really has a lot of potential to go in many different directions, but is, at the same time, just fine the way it is.

So…overall…this is a wonderful series with which I fell head over heels in love. Watch it on a rainy day when you need something to perk you up, but don’t really want to have to think too hard about it. It will melt your heart and leave you feeling like the world is a beautiful and amazing place to live.

Final Grade: A

As usual, feel free to disagree with me. Just please do avoid the flaming. I love a good intellectual debate, but have no desire to participate in uninformed arguments. So…comment as you please. Or not. Over and out.

Both as a hopeful author and a soon-to-be librarian, part of my job involves staying on top of things when it comes to literary trends. And one thing that I have recently become aware of is the fact that anime fans are a great source of information for spotting when new trends are thinking about beginning. Even more specifically, it is most evident in those fans who like to cosplay.

For example, during the late 90s with the rise of Rowling’s Harry Potter and the revitalization of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the genre of epic fantasy stepped into the spotlight. During this time, if one attended anime conventions, it would have been unusual to not see numerous attendees dressed up as: witches/wizards, elves, fairies, anime characters from epic fantasy series like The Slayers‘ Lina Inverse and Magic Knight Rayearth‘s trio of protagonists, and so on. Now, this is not to say that people did not dress up in fantasy costumes prior to the 90s, nor is it to say that epic fantasy has never been popular before. Neither of these true, and on that same note, they continue to be popular, even if this genre is no longer the hot star that everybody wants to be.

Following epic fantasy, we saw the rise of a genre that has been the recipient of both extreme love and equally extreme hatred: Supernatural Romance. This surge in popularity of the supernatural romance genre was, largely, thanks to Meyer’s infamous Twilight series. And though this genre is finally reaching the end of its popularity run, you can still go into bookstore and see its remnants overflowing on the bookshelves. Everywhere you look in a teen section, you will see books that have a certain “look” to them. They’re shinier, more…artistic. And they all look very similar. I still remember finding it very interesting when I began to see classic novels being rereleased with covers that looked like copies of Twilight. Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet, in particular, are two that come to mind. Much like the first book in the Twilight series, they sported a slick black cover with a flower at the center that drew the eyes. You also saw copycats in title fonts, book sizes, and even textures. And with the sudden popularity of Twilight, you also got to see several series…older series…get a second chance at fame. Many people have discussed how Twilight is extremely similar to the Vampire Diaries series. And, would you believe it, can you guess which series suddenly reappeared on bookshelves and now has its own television shows. You got it. Vampire Diaries. Then, of course, we could not stop with vampire romances. We also had to see forbidden relationships formulate between humans and angels, fairies, werewolves, and pretty much whatever other supernatural being you can think of. And the anime fans? Naturally, we saw countless vampire lookalikes.

As I previously stated, though, supernatural romance is now on its final stretch. The books are still on store shelves, but they are quickly being replaced by novels of two genres that have recently made their debuts: Steampunk and, following closely on its heels, Dystopian. My first introduction to Steampunk (besides H.G. Wells’ classic novels), was the anime series Last Exile, a very cool show that I highly recommend to sci-fi aficionados. This was eventually followed by the American Blockbuster Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, a movie that was born premature and, as a result, never really got off the ground. Sad to say, it didn’t even meet its budget, falling about 20 million dollars short. It was one of those movies that, despite its many positive reviews, came and went, forgotten by all except its few loyal fans. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ve even watched the whole thing…might have to add that to my list of things to do. Anyways…I say that this movie was born premature because it was. It failed because American society was not yet ready for it. It was simply too different…too far out there for people to accept. If the movie had been made and released now (or maybe in another year), I believe it would have found much greater success, especially among younger audience members. Teenagers are chewing up books like Westerfeld’s Leviathan and begging for more. And guess what we are seeing at anime conventions: that’s right, lots and lots of steampunk cosplayers. It’s been slow going for the steampunk genre, and I’m afraid it will never really reach the same level that epic fantasy and supernatural romance achieved, primarily because, following closely in its footsteps is Steampunk’s sister: Dystopian fiction.

I have to say it is really funny seeing a bunch of older males come up to the children’s literature section with an embarrassed look on their face as they try to find Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games without being spotted. A lot of times, they’ll show up and try to pretend they know what they’re doing and will eventually break down and ask only to be disappointed as they find out that the book has, yet again, been checked out. Other times, when they’re too stubborn to ask and I attempt to helpfully approach, they realize they’ve been noticed and, essentially, run away. I’m not entirely sure why this happens. Maybe there’s some social code that guys have to follow where being caught in a children’s and young adult area is unmanly or something. But the point is…I don’t see guys in this section of the library too often…and when I do, 9 out of 10 times, they are looking for one of the books in Collins’ hot trilogy. Which, I got the chance to read! And it is excellent (though a bit dragged out). Definitely worth reading. It’s popular for a good reason. Yes, I’m telling you to go check it out if you have yet to do so. ANYWAYS. Thanks to Collins’ series, guess what kind of books we are now starting to see on bookshelves. That’s right. You got it. Dystopian fiction! Sometimes it’ll have a steampunk twist to it, other times not. But right now, I’m seeing  a lot more metallic book covers sporting images of gears, nuts, bolts, and other similar equipment. Just like we did with Harry Potter and Twilight, there are now TONS of Hunger Games look alikes making their debuts. And I have to admit, they look fantastic. I am totally drooling over some of them and am absolutely desperate to get my hands on them. For example, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and Ally Condie’s Matched series. DeStefano’s Wither and Oliver’s Delirium are also gaining a lot of attention. And has anybody seen that preview for a new upcoming movie that, for a couple of seconds, I thought was the movie adaptation of DeStefano’s novel? I have to say…I am very interested in seeing In Time when it gets released. And not just because Cillian Murphy and his gorgeous blue eyes will be in it.

Alright, so to wrap this up…my question for you…is what do you think will be next? Once The Hunger Games and its fellow dystopian novels start losing steam (which will probably take another two or three years), which genre will be the next to step in the spotlight? Not only that, but is there a pattern developing that could clue us in onto what’s becoming popular and why? I certainly believe there is, but pinpointing exactly what it is…that’s a far more difficult task. You author hopefuls should be especially interested in figuring this little puzzle out. Because if we can, that means you and I have a greater chance of getting our feet in the doors at publishing houses. Predict what the next hot thing will be, write it, and send it in. Of course…even if you can figure it out, timing will be key. And timing will be far more difficult to figure out. If you’re too soon, you’ll find yourself under the rug before you have a chance to nab the spotlight. And too late, well, of course, we know that means somebody else already took it from you. Of course…I’d personally rather be a little late than early. So, as my professors have told me, if you have a dystopian novel floating around in your head, now’s the time to get it out there, ’cause your chances of getting something like that published are much higher right now. Otherwise, you may just have to wind up waiting for the next genre to roll in.

Ok, so let’s get one thing straight about me: I do not like to spend my money. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy buying things, but every dollar–really, every penny–I shell out is almost always an excruciating battle for me. This is not because I have no money, nor is it because I think that the things I wish to own are not worth what I would need to spend in order to acquire them. It is simply this sort of frugal/stubbornness that results in me dragging my feet (for months, if not years) before purchasing the things that I want.

Now…this is not necessarily a bad thing. By being frugal, I am increasing my chances of avoiding financial problems later on in life. At the same time, though, I do believe it is a good thing to enjoy your money once in awhile. After all, you’ve worked hard for the money you’ve earned. And so if you’re able to afford the things you want after taking care of your responsibilities, by all means, treat yourself.

And I do treat myself. My anime/manga collection is sizable enough to prove that my money does sometimes see the light of day after being deposited into my bank. And when it comes to those things that I would regret NOT purchasing, I am much quicker to lay my money down. The thing is, though, those items that I would be so quick to lay my money down for are far and few between. It is much more common for me to have a gigantic list of items that I would eventually like to own, but feel no need to rush out and buy right away.

I would say that, with most things, this attitude is probably a good thing. Where the problem comes in is that, especially in this day and age, and especially in the anime/manga/video game world, one often has to buy something sooner than later because it might not be around for very long. Ten years ago, this would not have been the case. But now with companies bankrupting left and right and the survivors doing their darndest to keep up with all the newest trends so that they can keep their old customers and draw in new ones…there is no guarantee that the DVD set or graphic novel series you want will be around a year or two from now. Sure, you’ll still be able to buy it through websites like Amazon and Ebay, but you might wind up shelling out twice or thrice as much as you would have if you’d just gone ahead and purchased it when the company was selling it.

So anyways…I’m meandering from the original purpose of my post a bit. The item I am currently trying to decide whether to purchase or not is the Sony PS3. There is no doubt in my mind that I want it, and there are plenty of games I know I would enjoy playing on it. So…whether or not I would enjoy my purchase is not at all an issue. What IS an issue is the fact that I’m in graduate school and, as such, have little to no life outside of what my classes and work dictate. Because of this, I am concerned that if I buy this console right now (or a couple of months from now), that it will simply lay there next to my television gathering dust.

Now…let’s say I wait until graduate school is finished…which really isn’t that far away…if all goes well, I’ll be done by the end of this spring. Whoo! And really, this is not such a bad idea…I’d be done with school and have more time to play games. At the same time, though, I might not, since I will probably be spending  a lot of my time looking desperately for a job. And then on top of everything else, I like to spend a lot of what free time I do have with my boyfriend, family, and friends. Plus, I have a lot of other hobbies…reading, writing, watching anime, and the list goes on. I’ve already got so much stuff occupying my time, and am sure that more will show up to take more of my time in the future, that I’m really wondering if I should even let this whole time thing be an issue.

And then of course there’s the fact that if I give Sony a couple more years, they’re probably going to be announcing the PS4. This is the least of my concerns, though, considering I’ve been wanting a PS3 since it first came out and, five years later, am still trying to decide whether or not to break down and buy one. ’cause really…whether the PS4 comes out next year or five years from now on, chances are that IF I even buy one, it’ll take me five years after its release to actually seriously consider doing so.

So what should I do? Do I buy it sooner? Later? Never? The prices have dropped, so that’s another attractive feature. It’s just a matter of deciding whether or not it’s really worth purchasing…oh the dilemma. 😛