Category Archives: Blogs

Best of Food Anime

Part 1

With the holiday season in full swing, one of the highlights is definitely family and friends gathering over copious amounts of food! We here at Black Nerd Squad are all about the food, so we thought it was only appropriate to highlight some of the best food Animes and their most delicious episodes. The spotlight for the first feature in this series goes to an absolute BNS favorite (Shokugeki No Soma) Food Wars!

Food Wars centers around Soma Yukihira wants nothing more in life than to beat his father in head to head cooking competition in their family diner and one day to take it over. Recognizing the potential in his son, Joichiro, decides to send Soma to the prestigious Totsuki Culinary Academy. The competition in this most elite academy is beyond fierce, and the battles heat things up even further in their exciting Iron Chef style battles know as Shokugeki! This article will reflect one of my favorite section of season 1, The Autumn Elections. I’m highlighting this section for few reasons, to list just a few, you truly begin the see the growth and development of the characters, their motivation for wanting to be the best in the academy and last but certainly not least, the food sequences are amazeballs!!!
So please sit down and dig into this deliciousness that is Shogugeki No Soma.

P.s. I hope it doesn’t make you too hungry!

 

Favorite Episode number 20: “The Dragon Lies Down and Ascends the Skies”
This episode, while not being food heavy is one of my favorites because it sets the stage for the first round of the Autumn Election, while also giving some background on our characters. It’s our first introduction of Akira Hayama. Hayama is known for his mastery usage of spices to not only gather the attention of the diner by smell first but to further complete the whole experience of captivating and enthralling the judges. In this episode, you also get a bit of background on the somewhat timid but lovable Megumi Tadokoro. In previous episodes we’ve seen her begin to slowly grow more confident with the help of Soma; she takes that confidence to the next level by butchering an entire hanging monkfish that completely impresses the judges.

Episode 22: “The One of Surpasses Ordinary”

This episode offers up 3 amazing dishes from Hojo Miyoko, Takumi Aldini, and Megumi Tadokoro. Starting with Hojo Miyoko’s Boluo Gali Chaofan which was commented as being like sweet and sour pork but with the addition of fried rice and curry spices. It is a gorgeous golden curry rice molded to look like a pineapple to emphasize the fact that not only does it have fresh sweet juicy pineapple in the dish, it was finished by being baked inside the pineapple. If anime smell-a-vision was a real thing, this is definitely the episode I would have wanted it for.  The golden color of the rice peppered with colors of various vegetables, and chunks of pineapple are nothing short of drool-worthy.

Takumi Aldini’s curry pasta looked absolutely innocent and unassuming until you actually got to the break down the genius ingenuity of that dish. Starting with the pasta; traditional fettuccine seasoned with turmeric, but then stuffed(that’s right STUFFED) with a layer of parmesan cheese. Takumi further emphasizes Asian flavors by the use of tamari soy sauce, fennel, green cardamom, with the addition of peppers, bacon, and mushrooms. I can only imagine just how magical the combination of all those flavors is. This is for sure on Black Nerd Squad’s must make list.

Last and certainly not least is Megumi Tadokoro’s Monkfish hot pot. This is definitely a personal favorite of mine, not only because I love seafood and hot pots, but also it’s just a beautifully human moment for Megumi; she completely came into her own in this episode and I lived. But, back to the food. Let’s be honest, monkfish is hideous. It’s one of those things that when you see your mind automatically thinks “nope, I’m not eating that” but strip away the ugly exterior and you’ve got beautiful thick white meat fish, which many call the “poor man’s lobster”; from a food perspective it’s a great fish to use for a hot pot, but the fact that it’s so personal to Megumi’s backstory made it that must more incredible. Megumi effectively utilized all parts of the fish; using the liver sautéed and slowly dissolved with miso, sake, and spices, she created the curry paste for the base of the dish.  She continued with the home theme by using seasonal vegetables of her small hometown further making this the perfect comfort food dish and completely surprising the judges with its delicious simplicity.

Rock on, Megumi!

Check back with us next time as we delve into more of the tastiest Food Wars episode!

How to Spot Fan Service in Anime

In my journey into the glorious world of anime, I have come across shows that I just could not enjoy. Beyond the sappy high school stories and the excessively mundane slice of life shows, there has always been a corner of the anime spectrum that I could not get behind. They were usually overly sexualized to the point of being uncomfortable to watch.

Ever encountered one of these examples in a show?:

  • Those obligatory bikini shots of the busty heroine.
  • The protagonist is ripping his shirt off for no apparent reason.
  • The schoolgirl in her uniform tripping randomly, landing on all fours exposing her panties.
  • Random characters in sexy maids uniforms
  • Unjustified upskirt shots from all possible angles

Sound familiar? Congratulations, you have witnessed fan service.

Personally, I never knew there was a term for this type of show element. I would always see it as a category on Funimation but never knew what it was. Yaoi I get. Mecha, Supernatural, Reverse Harem, Shonen; I know what those are. So I just passed the category by without checking it out. Sadly, I learned more earlier this year when I ran across a random discussion on Twitter. Just to give a generalized definition of sorts, fan service is elements added to a show to make it more titillating for the audience. It can focus on both men and women. Like the examples provided above, characters are made to be more sexualized and appealing regardless of its effect on the storyline. It may be thrown in randomly just for the fun of it. It could even be the driving force of the entire show. Believe me, you know it when you see it.

Now, I am not saying fan service isn’t appealing to an audience. Who wouldn’t want to see an extremely fit, handsome, shirtless lead male character or a beautiful, busty female character in a skimpy bikini? My issue with fan service, however, is that it can be a distraction. Such a distraction, in fact, that it can be detrimental to the overall storyline. It can even turn off viewers that want to make it through the show me included. The fan service is so heavy in Prison School and Rosario+Vampire that I never tried to watch them again. I made it through 2 episodes of each and I was done.

I almost missed out on some great shows due to fan service. I remember the first time I tried to watch Food Wars and couldn’t make it past the first three episodes. The characters were popping out of their clothes and orgasming over great food. Really? Really?? It took some convincing from my friend to try again. Now, once I tried watching the second time and just accepted this aspect of the show as (somewhat) necessary, I truly enjoy the show.  The fan service is used mainly for emphasis on how outstanding the food dishes are. There are other elements of the fan service throughout the show but they are not quite as bad.

There are also the situations where a show I have started watching has been tainted by my newfound awareness of fan service. Despite the saccharine sentiment of friendship being shoved down your throat every 10 minutes, I watched Fairy Tail. Now, however, when I try to watch it, all I see is the fan service dripping off every other scene. It’s deterred me from watching Fairy Tail as actively as I used to. Well, that and the fact that I got bored with the storylines. But there are shows that I still watch even though the fan service is blatant. Yuri!!! on Ice and One Piece are both shows that I enjoy, but they are notorious for their fan service.

Was the purpose of this article to ruin all future anime for you? Not by any means. It was just to inform about an underlining, recurring theme found in some of the most popular anime. Fan service will always be in play in anime as a means to either attract an audience, maintain an audience’s attention or as a last ditch effort to improve ratings. Do I suggest avoiding any fan service heavy shows? Not at all. You never know what gem of a show you may find among the upskirt shirts shots and jiggly breasts. Just based on the pictures, Kill La Kill looks like it is going to be a large dose of fan service, but I still want to give it a try. I’m in the middle of The Seven Deadly Sins, and each episode has a helping of fan service, but I press on because I like the show.

 

How do you feel about fan service? It is necessary or just a nuisance?

Leave your comments below.

Self Discovery Through Anime, Part 1

 

First, I’d like to start off by saying thank you to all of you of who participated in our #31DaysofAniMay event we did throughout the entire month of May. I personally had a blast and I hope yall did too! During this time, I learned a bit about myself in the process as well. If you were to ask me up front what type of anime I was really into I would most likely have said, Shoujo, action adventure, slice of life, nothing over the top to too overtly extreme as far as the genre of Anime as a whole is concerned; but then I thought to myself “Why”? This simple question had me wondering what it was about these particular types of anime that I’m so drawn to, so I used, this time, to watch more and delve into my own psyche and see what I would learn about me. I started my journey off with Black Prince and Wolf Girl. The first couple of eps of this series bothered me a little, not as much as Diabolik Lovers but still, there is a heavy masochistic tone throughout the entire show. In order for the prince to go along with pretending to be her boyfriend, the female lead agrees to essential be treated like a dog. She’s petted, scolded, commanded to fetch and even in not so dramatic a fashion collared. Underneath all of that is actually a good story with a teenager coming to terms with childhood abandonment issues, learning to trust and open up to people, and yes even love. A smidgen dark but with a really good message okay.

Next up Inu X Boku Secret Service.  This one is a bit harder to describe, long story short version, there are individuals believed to be reincarnations of Gods and Goddess of great power which leads to the success of their family. These individuals have their own secret service to protect them from evil of various states. Our heroine, Ririchiyo, has always been seen as different by everyone around and treated like an outcast because she’s the heir who possess the traits of the family’s non-human ancestors. When she attempts to communicate with others it comes off as arrogant, unbothered, and elitist; when in all actuality because of her isolation she’s socially awkward, shy and unsure of how to act around other people. Ririchiyo is simply an insecure teen girl who wants the normality of teen life. She decides to move into an apartment building with other incarnates such as herself and their bodyguards, including her own Soushi Miketsukami. Being in a new environment, new school, and making new friends, Ririchiyo gains confidence in herself, develops faith in friendships/relationships, and slowly begins to enjoy the normal life she’s been craving. This is one of those obvious messages for me, relax a little, things aren’t always what they appear to be, and don’t be afraid to reach out to be people.

A little later I started watching Broken Blade. Broken Blade is action packed from the opening scene battle that leaves you wondering how did you get here?! In a world where everything works off of magic, what would it be like to be the one person who couldn’t use it and an eminent war is pending? Would you run and seek shelter and safety or would you find a way to rise to the call when your friends who happen to be the king and queen of a nation calls for your help? If you’re Rygart Arrow the answer is simple, you rise to the challenge and figure out how to fight, despite your better instincts to run. Broken Blade is that classic anime of a squad that’s broken down and is now sparring with each other. Piloting machines known as golems to do battle in, Rygart becomes the pilot of an ancient golem known as Delphine that doesn’t rely on magic to pilot. With specialized armor and sheer determination is it enough to defend his home and possibly talk some sense into his best friend Zess who’s fighting on the other side?  This type of anime is all about believing in yourself, topping adversity and not giving up on the people that matter. We all need this type of encouragement in our lives.

This block of anime was all about being human, recognizing that we are fallible, we will falter and stumble but there exist ample compassion and love in the world if we are only strong enough to accept it. Check back with Black Nerd Squad for part two of my self discovery through Anime! Happy Nerding!

The Ballad of Hodor

THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE EPISODE ENTITLED “THE DOOR”

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Okay, so there has been a few devastating moments in Game of Thrones; Bran being pushed out of a tower window, Ned’s death, The Red Wedding just to name a few, but I absolutely was not prepared for “The Door”.  Let me start at the beginning.

From the first time we gathered at Winterfell we all fell in love with Hodor. He was a large loveable oaf who could say nothing more than Hodor. It was never explained how or why that came to be, it was just naturally assumed he had perhaps a mental impairment and that all he could remember was that his name was Hodor. When Winterfell came under attack he was a huge part in saving the lives of Bran and Rickon Stark. As the tracked through the wilderness towards the 3 Eyed Raven, it was discovered that Bran could warg into Hodor and control him like a human golem, this too became a key point in their survival. After each warge though, Hodor would be exceptionally agitated; but who could blame him, would you like it if someone else slipped inside of you and started controlling you? Again, however, our simplistic thinking was off. On Sunday night’s episode, we received answers to questions that have been burning at viewers. How did the Whitewalkers  cames to be? In short the were created by the Tree People to protect the forest against the abuse of man. Somewhere along the lines things went south, way south and the white walker became exceptional violent and murderous. At the same time, we discovered how Hodor sadly became Hodor.

In a previous training session with the 3 Eyed Raven, Bran went back in time to a period when his father Ned was a child, and we learned that Hodor was once a young boy named Wyllis and he was a farm hand at Winterfell. On Sunday, Bran saw the creation of the Whitewalkers and fixated on knowing more about them, as to why they changed from their original intentions. Going against the advice of the 3 Eyed Raven he slipped back into a warg and encountered  the Night’s King aka leader of the white walkers, who reaches out and touches Bran’s arm. A terrified Bran returns to the present where he is told by the 3 Eyed Raven that he’s been marked, and as a result, the Night’s King can now enter the protect weirwood tree putting all of their lives in danger. As Meera and Hodor packed up their belongings, the 3 Eyed Raven tells Bran it’s now time for Bran to take his place. It’s a task that he is aware that Bran is not ready for but has no choice but to prepare him to take over. He takes Bran back to the period in Winterfell when the older Starks were children and Hodor/Wyllis was just a boy. While in this state the Night’s King and his army advance on the compound and waste no time destroying everything to get at the group. As the chaos begins inside the compound the 3 Eyed Raven is steadily trying to pass along the rest of his knowledge to Bran. A panic-stricken Meera is doing everything she can to wake up Bran, begging him to wake up and to use Hodor to save them.  While still in the trance  Bran hears Meera’s pleas to wake up and is told by the 3 Eyed Raven “Listen to your friends” Is it at this moment that Bran comes to realize the danger he and his friends are in and while still in the trance of the past Bran makes eye contact with a young Wyllis; and reacts as though he’s just seeing this other boy for the first time, slips into Wyllis(Hodor). In the present Hodor quickly gathers Bran’s body and places it on the wagon to pull him through the tunnel and out to the other side to safety.  At the very last minute the make it to the tunnel and close the door, where Wyllis throws his body against the door to keep the impending white walkers out, as they scratch and claw at his body Meera is screaming “Hold the door!”. In the past a young Wyllis flails on the ground having a seizure repeating the phrase “Hold the door.” over and over again until it is completely inaudible and sounds like “hodor”. The episode ends with a young Wyllis convulsing on the ground mumbling “hodor” and an adult Wyllis being clawed at by white walkers with the voice of Meera still screaming “Hold the door!” in the background.

As the credits roll, it is unsure as to rather or not adult Wyllis has survived this ordeal. It will be exceptionally devastating to Meera and Bran as Summer the dire wolf was also killed in the attack. The episode also opened so many more questions as it gave us answers. Seeing the events as it just it occurred, it makes us wonder just how powerful Bran’s ability are. It makes us question, for Wyllis was his seizure just a seizure back then or is this a glimpse of some weird unfathomable time loop where Bran is able to go back and affect past events for a possible better future outcome? All that I know is that after that episode I was drained, I was gutted, I was overly emotional, and all I wanted to do is have a long stiff drink, curl up in my bathtub and have a good long cry for Wyllis. I’ve not been this upset since reading the books and actually read the writing of the Red Wedding. They say the sign of a good author is that they legitimately make you ever feel every emotion that they are attempting to convey, and at the end of a good drama you have  a deep love/hate relationship with them. If that is the case George R.R. Martin has landed at the top of my list. Writing this has made me emotional all over again, so in memory of Wyllis I’m going to pour up a drink a Jameson and toast to him. #HisNameIsWyllis #HeHeldTheDoor #RememberWyllis

 

SDCC 2016: Take Public Transport!

So in my earlier post, I have shown you how to avoid being homeless in San Diego during one of the biggest comic-cons in the country. Now that you have a place to stay, the next crucial element will be getting around. Traffic during San Diego Comic-Con is a beast. You have 130,000 nerds, geeks, and cosplayers converging on one place at the same time. It’s chaotic. Not intimidating chaotic but chaotic none the less. There are so many amazing events located around the con so reliable transportation is a must.
Renting A Car is A Blessing and A Curse
Now this would be the obvious option for you. You will have dedicated transportation throughout your trip and the ability to see all the sights of San Diego. Again, we are back to that untamable beast that is traffic. You will be spending a lot of time sitting in traffic during this visit. In addition to horrible traffic, parking is extremely limited. Now, you can take your chances with Ace Parking Lottery sponsored through SDCC. As if the lottery to get badges or a lower (but still) high-cost hotel wasn’t enough, you can now take part in a chance to buy a parking spot in a, hopefully, close location. If luck is not a lady and backhands you out of the lottery, you have to take your chances with overpriced parking garages and lots. See where I am going here?
Public Transport: Your New Best Friend
While planning my trip to SDCC in 2015, I found out all this info about the car rental situation and was immediately discouraged. I knew my primary focus would be the con activities so I didn’t need to rent a car. I did, however, learn more about San Diego’s excellent public transportation system. I am not from a large metropolitan city so I have never known the usefulness of public transport. However, the San Diego MTS is pretty sweet. Their system includes buses, trolleys, and high-speed trains. Both the trolley and buses run to Downtown San Diego with the trolley having a specific “Convention Center” stop. You can even estimate your travel and costs using the MTS app, mTicket (Available in Google Play and the Apple App Store) or Google Maps. All lines of service are seamlessly integrated into the app and you can conveniently find the nearest and latest stops.

Paying for your ride is quite simple. You can either: provide exact change for your ride (for buses only), buy a single ride pass, or buy a single day or multi-day pass on a Compass Card. MTS offers special reduced rates for Comic Con as well. Passes can be purchased at designated stations, ticketing booths, and trolley ticketing vending machines. Since I knew I would need to take both the bus and trolley, I opted to purchase a Compass Card (for $2) and add a 4-day pass. This guaranteed unlimited rides on all buses and trolleys during my stay.

For everything else, Take Uber or Lyft
The only limitation with using the MTS is the run times. If you plan on partying late into the evenings, you will have to find another for your transportation. My personal go-to is always Uber. I keep the app on my phone at all times and set up with my payment options. I used it after standing in the Hall H line until 2:30 am (and yes, I did get my wristband) and safely returned to my vacation rental. Lyft is also a great option that is steadily expanding its markets across the country. The best feature of both services is the ability to contact your driver and track their arrival. No need for exact change or credit cards. Proactively set up your account and save your payment info if your plan on a heavy night of drinking. Believe me, it helps! You can also save your hotel info as a favorite, saving you the trouble of trying to remember it later. Be aware that during holidays and large scale events, their rates can double. 

Here are a few links to some of the services described above including your first free ride with Lyft or Uber on me:

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Website: http://www.sdmts.com/

Lyft: Your First Ride Is Free…On Me!

Uber: Your First Ride Is Free…On Me!

Winter Is Coming

FYI: This article will contain season 5 spoilers as well as some book. If you’ve not completed Season 5, or read the books you may want to turn back now! 

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One of the shows I’m simply obsessed with is Game of Thrones. Its one of those obsessions that have lead me to read every single book in its entirety in a span of 15 days, even the long drawn book 4 which is the book equivalent to watching paint dry, spend too many hours to count on countless tumbler pages and YouTube channels reading and watching fan theories and testing out just how likely they are. With all the books being completed up to last season and having some idea of how the show was going to play out has been amazing. In my opinion HBO has done a gorgeous job of the story lines they’ve chosen to follow and the synchronicity between the show and the books. Going in to season 6 without having a guide is a mixture of feelings for me, most of it is anxiousness. So much Anxiousness!  So a quick recap of the cliffhangers they left us with at the end of of season 5.

Arya: Arya is embarking on a journey to become a Faceless Man; an assassin if you will, sent on a mission to prove herself worthy of the title she’s sent on her first assassination to kill a fraudulent insurance agent. Instead of killing him she sees an old familiar face,  Meryn Trant, and takes the opportunity to kill him, resulting in her becoming blind.<Insert huge panic OMG face here> I adore Arya she is by far my favorite character of all. All of her attributes of fierceness, bravery, angst and a deep seeded need for revenge has shaped her in to remarkable character that you cannot help but cheer on and hope the she survives the carnage that George R.R. Martin is legendary for creating. In the books we know that the blindness is temporary she survives and continues along her Faceless Man pilgrimage; but what consequence will the murder of Trant create? Will Arya have the opportunity to check mark more names of her list?

Jon Snow: I Love Jon Snow! (I’m seriously thinking of having buttons made that express this). Jon Snow is what many consider the last great hope for the Stark Family, Winterfell and The North. However, last time we saw Jon, in both the book and the show, he was being stabbed repeatedly and left lying in a pool of his own blood in the snow. Heartbreaking. Gut wrenching. Tear inducing end scene. I was absolutely gutted in that moment. So many emotions and questions flooded through me. Is this the end? This cannot be the end?! Who’s going save Jon?! Where is Ghost?! OMG I cannot believe this is happening?! Help!!!! Yeah, needless to say all the feels for Jon Snow. He hasn’t had an easy time at all and he’s done everything in his power to do what he think is the best decision for The Night’s Watch, The Wildlings, and the Realm as whole. Will his final scenes of him laying in the snow be all of what’s left of Jon Snow or will he find someway to survive his wounds, triumph, and punish those who sought to end his days?

Sansa: Let me be clear; I am not now, nor have I ever been a fan of Sansa. 100% of the calamity that has happened started with her. Had she only told the truth about Joffrey being a vicious little worm, and kept her mouth shut instead of telling Cersei that they were leaving Kings Landing and going back to Winterfell, Ned might still be alive, Katherine and her children would have more than likely made back home. With all that being said however, the brutality and rape which she suffered this past season, I wish that for no woman, real or fictional. I’ll fully admit I was somewhat okay with the harshness she received from Joffrey because again that’s what she wanted, and as far as I was concerned she made the bed and now she has to lie in it. Ramsey Bolten on the other hand, is a whole different type of beast. Ramsey is the hallmark of what it means to be cruel, cold, unfeeling, and utterly despicable and spiteful. He has raped, beaten, humiliated and brutalized Sansa. So much to the point where she decided that the possibility of dying by jumping from on of the walls of Winterfell with Reek (formally known as Theon Greyjoy) was better than living. Does the pair survive the fall?  What consequences wait for them on the other side?

Bran Stark: Many may have forgotten about Bra. The last we saw him, He, And Hoader had finally made their way to the 3 Eyed Raven, who turns out is even more bizarre than it sounds. The 3 Eyed Raven is also a man who’s vowed to train Bran so that he can fully tap into and control his abilities that he’s discovering. So far these abilities have  manifested as glimpse in to the past, present, and future.  We also know that he has warg abilities, or the skill to possess any animal or human use them. So far we have seen Bran inhabit his direwolf Summer, Jon Snow’s direwolf, Ghost, and of course Hoader. We are all curious to see what other abilities Bran will unlock and of course learn more about the 3 Eyed Raven

Kahleesi Daenerys: Last time we saw our shero, she was being carried away by Drogon the the dragon and dropped off somewhere in the plains surrounded by a group of Dothraki. Now this could be an exceptionally dangerous situation for Daenerys to be in, in Dothraki culture with the Khal dies, typically their wives are removed from the tribe and sent to live off in the Dothraki city.  Tales have been told about Kahleesi, will she be greeted as friend or foe by this new tribe?!

Tyrion: Living in exile Tyrion made his way to Mereen where Daenerys has been ruling, promising to be an ally in the future fight for Kingslanding, he’s agreed to stay in the city while Jorah and Dario go in search of Daenerys; suddenly a familiar face makes an appearance. Varys the Spider is in Meeren and offering his network of spies once again to Tyrion.

Cersie: Last we saw our second favorite one to hate, she had been stripped naked, head shaved and force to walk naked through the streets of Fleabottom up to the Red Keep. During her journey she is tormented by the subjects she loved to rule over. Once at the doors of the keep she is swept up by a giant figure clad in armor. Fans of the show know there is only one possible person who that could be. but he’s dead isn’t he?!

Jamie: Former King Slayer and incest enthusiast Jamie was last seen on a rescue mission of sorts to Dorne to reclaim his daughter/niece Mycella after Tyrion sent her away. Being seen as unwelcome guest Jamie and Bron did their best to sneak in the country, unfortunately they were captured by the Sand Snakes, aka the daughters of the recently deceased Red Viper, Oberyn Martell, who are being led by his paramour and mother of one of the Sand Snakes, Ellaria. Ellaria is poised for revenge for the death of beloved; enraged that  Doran Martell, the ruler of Dorne, will not take action she decided to takes matters in her own hands. Convinced by Doran that Jamie and crew should be freed, we see Ellaria give Mycella a good bye kiss as they board a ship towards Kings Landing. Once in the middle of the sea, we see Mycella with a nosebleed before collasping in Jamie’s arms. We then learn that Ellaria’s kiss was poisonous.

With so much that happened in this final episode the first episode of season 6 will be epic! Will we have answers to all these open questions or will it take an episode or two? Several possible spoilers have been leaked just this week as to the fate of two characters. I won’t comment on them at this time. I would rather wait to those episodes actually air to confirm as to rather or not I need to go in to mourning for one of my favorites. Please feel free to drop your thoughts in the comment section. The new season premiers on April 24th at 9p.m. on HBO. Be sure to check the back here BlackNerdSQquad.com  during the week after the episode for my recap and thoughts on the episode!

 

The Beats vol 1

There will always be a debate about what makes a great anime. Is it the story, the style of animation, or the characters? For me, it will always be the music. Nothing quite brings the emotions or sets the scene the way the choice of music does; whether it’s the background music during an emotion laden confession scene,the hype speech right before battle breaks out and you know members of the squad won’t make it back or that perfect closer that seems to sum up the entire feel of the show, music with out a doubt sets the stage. The music of anime is so important creators often recruit big name pop stars, bands, and solo artist who gladly flock to the opportunity to belt out their song and become apart of the next big thing! This feature is will focus on some of my favorite shows with the best music

1) Show:Cowboy Bebop. Music by: The Seatbelts

In my humble opinion Cowboy Bebop is the undisputed heavy weight champion of anime’s with just one opener and closer. Both “Tank” and “Real Folk Blues” are performed by the funk/jazz ensemble The Seatbelts. From the first note in the opener “Tank” it is a bass saturated explosion of horns that immediately begins to amp the listeners heart rate. It is the perfect rocket fueled opener that sets the pace for the dynamics of Cowboy Bebop.  In closing ” Real Folks Blues” is the perfect bitter sweet closer to the show. After a few episodes you start to learn that crew of the Bebop have some pretty deep scars from their past.  Performed by The Seatbelts featuring Mai Yamane this heavy jazz piece backed by the powerhouse vocal of Yamane is one the most well recognized sections with anime heads.  You feel both the elation and anguish that Spike and the crew of the Bebop experience through flashbacks, fragmented memories and tumultuous present. For your listening pleasure here are “Tank” and” “Real Folks Blues”.

 

2) Show: InuYasha. Music: Various Artist

InuYasha is one of those shows with a revolving list of pop artist that have crooned closers for this series. In a total of 7 seasons a total of 14 artist provided their voices in shaping one of my favorite anime soundtracks (yes I actually own the InuYasha soundtrack, no judgement squad lol).If I were to classify this anime; it would fall under the headers slice of life, action adventure; I think the soundtrack is a great representative of the more modern portions of the show as well as the throwback adventures that take place in Feudal Japan. It’s fun, bubble gum pop which is perfect for Kagome, deep ballads that could easily be symblic of InuYasha and his journey of self acceptances, and dynamic camaraderie songs that not only focuses your attention to the developing relations of InuYasha, Kagome, Miroku, Sango, Shippo, and Kirara. With so many so to choose from here are two of the Squad’s favorites . Two of the biggest artists to lend their voices to InuYasha are Do As Infinity  and. BoA. The first section of lyrics of  D.A.I “Shinjitsu no Uta” (“Song of Truth”) translate to ” The crimson stained sun as illuminated everything now and past. Is what I have imagined within this twilight more than my hands can accomplish?” Such a perfect opening line to illustrate the potential thoughts Kagome has while embarking on her quest to help find the rest of the jewel shards. The lyrics of BoA’s Every Heart speaks to feelings of loneliness, isolation and discovering that you’re not alone and that there are people around you, that you can lean on. I cannot think of a song that more perfectly describes InuYasha. InuYasha has felt alone for so many years after his mother died, felt abandoned and betrayed by Kikyo and slowly beginning to regain his joy in life through Kagome and the others. Check out these two amazing end songs below.

 

 

3) Show: Samurai Champloo. Music: Various Artist

Samurai Champloo is a pioneering anime in anime’s that feature hip hop. With a story as interesting as the soundtrack it self, it focuses on three unlike companions on a quest for the Samurai who smells like sunflowers. Mugen a thief and all around bad ass, Jin a quiet master swordsman and Fuu the waitress and unlikely glue that keeps the group together as well as preventer from the inevitable battle they are itching for. Samurai Champloo features a well orchestrated soundtrack of Asian hip hop. The opening song Battlecry is text book the narrative for this story. Critically acclaimed producer and DJ Nujabes worked closely with the show’s creator Shinichiro Wantanabe to create a soundtrack that was not only tailor made for the show but perfectly compliment the actions scenes and tender moments that pepper the show. The closing song Shiki No Uta by MINMI flawlessly wraps up the show. Sentiments of the companionships coming to an end, and the resolution of the search for the Samurai who smells of sunflowers; this end song summarizes that all good things must come to an end.

 

4) Show: Hanasakeru Seishounen Music: J-Min

Okay so this anime may not be that well known but it is absolutely a quiet obsession of mine. The show focuses on a young heiress, Kajika, who’s father has decided she should meet the man that she is going to marry. The plot twist: he’s set up a game in which Kajika will meet 3 uniquely different men for her to meet. Accompanying Kajika is her long time friend  Lee Leng Huang the young CEO of one of the biggest companys in China;  has agreed to be some what of a bodyguard to her during the game in return he’s been promised by her father stronger business ties between the two companies, but does he have secret feelings for her as well? Eugene Volkan is a lady killer and a heartbreaker. Women flock to them and he enjoys them until he doesn’t and discards them. He’s often viewed and cold, uncaring and manipulative; but is there a secret being hidden in his heart? Does Eugene have the ability to love and be loyal if choosen? Carl Rosenthal is anything but a willing participant in the game. He holds a deep disdain  for the Burnsworth family, Kajika included, and would love nothing more than to see them destroyed, destitute and business ties all over the world severed. Why is he considered a viable option for Kajika with her father being well aware of the deep feelings of disdfain held by him?! Rumaty Di Raginei is a royal heir to the Kingdom of Raginie. Rumaty is spoiled, conceited, self centered and just about every adjective one could think of to say some one is only about themselves; or is he? It becomes obvious that he’s very devoted to his kingdom and the success of it and that he’s willing to do anything to guarantee it, including making a controversial business deal that many in his kingdom disagree with. In the end, does Kajika make the right decision, does she find love and a true sense of happiness or is she forced in to a relationship that she doesn’t want only to benefit her father?  The music for this anime was done by Korean artist J-Min. The opening Change speaks to the hopefulness of finding love and spending forever together. Its fun, poppy and optimistic and perfectly compliments the theme of this show. The closer One speaks to the relationship itself. You’ve finally found the one and all that you want is to be with them, grow with them and see them happy. Again a perfect anime to music match made in Heaven.

 

5) Show: Fairy Tail. Music: Various Artist

I cannot speak enough about how much I Love Fairy Tail! This show has everything, an awesome ensemble of characters, plenty of action and comedy and some pretty deep feels. More importantly it has had some pretty banging openings and closers, I mean the kind of openings and closers that you actually make ringtones of and find yourself randomly humming/singing through out your day. The Fairy Tail soundtrack Goes In! So about the show, in short, in an age where magic, wizards, and alternate universes exist, the battle for power and control of neighboring lands is very much real. Also its not uncommon to get a request from a neighboring land that’s being plagued by demon, foe, or some other type of monster, the Fairy Tail Guild is are the top guys in the land. The alpha group normally headlined by Natsu Dragneel, Lucy Heartfilia, Erza Scaarlet, Gray Fullbuster, Wendy Marvell, Happy, and Carla. They battle to restore order, and keep the peace in Magnolia. This show is all about camaraderie, heart, and the fact that you need a tight squad to make it through the hard days. The soundtrack ranges from fun upbeat poppy tracks, to J-hop and deep ballads; a perfect compliment to the highs and very emotional lows that is Fairy Tail. The opener that I’ve chosen to highlight is  Towa No Kizuna by Daisy x Daisy ft Another Infinity. This song basically sums up what Fairy Tail is all about, realizing that there is an unbelievable strength and power that comes from having friends… correction, not just friends but Family. Not necessarily the family that you’re born in to but the kind of family that you gain from going through hard times, good times, arguments and bitter feelings and coming back together to realize that yeah sometimes they make your life tough but without them, your life would be so much more difficult. Realizing that you get more than just a friend, but insight, understanding, compassion and even passion to just make it through one more day, one more battle. Towa Na Kizuna is the perfect squad song.  For the closer its one of my faves simply because its catchy and up beat and it fuels the shipping of the show by the fandom i.e. NaLu, JErza, GrUvia.

So this concludes  The Beats Vol 1. Check back soon for volume two! Also leave your favorites in the comments We’ll be sure to check them up and maybe you’ll see your name on the mixtape with a shout out for the dope beat!

 

I Ain’t ‘Fraid of No Ghosts!

We are finally getting a chance to the see the new all-female cast of Ghostbusters in action. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the new crew, this reboot shows that these women are not afraid to get down and dirty against New York’s poltegeist population. Fans of the original will appreciate the reappearance of everyone’s favorite green goblin, Slimer. And ladies, don’t worry, you will find plenty of eye candy with Chris Hemsworth, best know for playing Thor in the Marvel movies, as Kevin the receptionist.

Check out the trailer for the new movie set to premiere on July 15th!

 

SDCC 2016: Where Do I Stay?

Now that the living nightmare that is Open Registration has ended, it’s time to make some serious plans for SDCC. More than likely, you were only focused on scoring badges for you and your friend. Success! Now you have to concentrate on all of the others details of your trip: transportation, car rental, a hotel, spending money, meals, etc… But $2000-$3000 later, you are probably going to wish you had done a GoFundMe or, at the very least, a car wash to raise these funds before buying those non-transferable badges. However, finding a place to stay is one of the largest expenses of your upcoming trip to San Diego.

Hotels

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Hotels have already increased the prices for the convention so you will start to see rooms available for $200-$400 per night. And if you are hoping to stay in Downtown San Diego, the location of the San Diego Convention Center, your wallets will definitely be taking a beating. If you are determined to stay in the middle of the action, you have to start your search now. You can either search on your own or try to score a room through the SDCC sale. In fact, the Early Bird hotel special, sponsored by SDCC, offers a discount on hotel rates in specific hotels that are on the free SDCC shuttle route. Be very mindful of this sale because once you book, you cannot get a refund nor can you exchange the room. These hotels are located more in Mission Valley and near the airport. The downtown hotels will be offered in a later Hotel Registration to be conducted in a month or so. Both sales are a lottery system and do not guarantee a room.

Concerning location, hotels in the Gaslamp Quarter area are going to be the most expensive. This area is within walking distance of the Convention Center. Believe me, this definitely comes in handy after spending all day trying to cover 530,000+ square feet of the SDCC. Other areas to consider include the Marna District, Little Italy, and East Village. Hotels in Mission Valley and near the airports will require some form of transportation. Make sure you check the distance between your hotel and the Convention Center before you book. Use Google Maps to locate any nearby bus stops, and trolley stops to ensure easy travel. Just be advised that if you decide to rent a car, parking will be scarce and traffic will be horrendous. 

Vacation Rentals

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The wonderful view from my beachfront vacation rental

When I traveled to SDCC 2015, I was not concerned with being near the other 130,000 other visitors. I wanted a place near the beach and away from the nerdtastic chaos. Instead of looking for a hotel, I opted to locate a vacation rental. This option turned out to be cheaper and more relaxing. My rental, which was right on Mission Beach, was about 20 minutes away from Downtown San Diego. However, I took advantage of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (or MTS) and took a bus from my rental to the Old Town Transit Center and traveled by trolley downtown. It was such a peaceful ride and, while on the bus, I would review my “plan of action” for the day at the Con. I was also a 2-minute walk Belmont Park, a beachfront amusement park. As you can imagine, I had an endless supply of candied apples, hot dogs, and rides every day! Even if your only focus is SDCC and its surrounding activities, you can easily find an affordable vacation rental downtown. 

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The fantastic view from my beachfront vacation rental

Start your search at vacation rental sites like HomeAway.com, vacation rental section of TripAdvisor.com, VRBO.com and Flipkey.com. If you don’t mind renting a room in someone’s house or bunking with a stranger, check out sites like Airbnb.com and Couchsurfing.org. Be sure to read through the fool details of the rental agreements and verify your dates, the pricing and any deposits that might be required. Again, make sure you check into all options for transportation if you decided to stay a safe distance away from the action.  

Latest Trailers

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As you can see, most of us will be broke for the next 3 years. Comic movies have seen an unfathomable rise in popularity over the last 8 years. To help you get prepared for the continued rise of the nerd, check out the latest movie trailers and commercials below:

Batman v Superman – March 25th

 

Captain America: Civil War – May 6th

X-Men: Apocalyse – May 27th