In my 13 years of being a Sonic fan, I have always admired Sonic’s way of being–his speed, his charm, his devilishly good looks, and his even his smile. Yes, I was obsessed with Sonic–and his dark, anti-hero counterpart Shadow–but my obsession wasn’t as clinically serious as that of Mark the Tapir in Sonic Boom‘s latest episode, “The Biggest Fan” (a title reference to a long-forgotten boy band film of the same name, starring Dream Street lead Chris Trousdale).
In this episode, Sonic meets a socially awkward tapir named Mark, a self-proclaimed number one fan whom Sonic allows to be his personal assistant. Mark’s gestures to Sonic were admirable at first–picking out his bandana, grilling his hot dogs, painting a portrait of him holding a chili dog, and advising him on the best strategy to defeat one of his enemies. But he soon takes his friendship with Sonic to a dangerous level by getting into a bicycle accident and imprisoning Sonic at his cabin, where the walls of his room are filled with numerous Sonic memorabilia.
“The Biggest Fan” doesn’t preach about the Sonic fanbase as a whole, but rather about the dark side of fanaticism–creative stupidity and overt criticism. For example, there’s good Sonic fan art, but then there’s fan art that makes your eyes want to bleed into permanent blindness. I drew a few pieces of Sonic fan art, but they weren’t as professional as the ones I saw on deviantART, yet I’m still proud of them. I also saw pieces of Sonic fan art that have been amateurishly drawn on MS Paint, involved female characters being unrealistically pregnant, and–even worse–recolored on screenshots from Sonic X. Overt criticism of the Sonic games has been running rampant in the decade after the release of Sonic ’06. SEGA didn’t make Sonic ’06 terrible on purpose. The development team was downsized in half after Yuji Naka’s departure from Sonic Team, and they were rushed to complete the game in time for the release of both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, placing them under insurmountable stress. Elise’s kiss of life was indicative of that, but big whoop! Sonic and the Secret Rings may have made under the same stress despite that it didn’t come out until three months after the Wii’s release. One bad game shouldn’t have to release a chain of negative criticism for successive games like Sonic Generations and Sonic Lost World. Also, please keep in mind that Sonic Boom is a spin-off franchise, not a part of the main canon despite Boom Sonic appearing alongside Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic in the 25th anniversary banners.
I’ll always love Sonic, but the actions of Mark the Tapir don’t represent me in any way, shape or form.
I didn’t expect Sonic Boom to not be on the air today. I certainly didn’t expect to hear that the show will be on hiatus for a month one week after the premiere of its second season.
Two years ago, I shied away from Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal following their horrendous display of glitches and deafening dialogue on top of a shoddy storyline, but I couldn’t resist watching the TV show on Cartoon Network. I believed that Sonic Boom, along with Adventure Time, Regular Show and Steven Universe, was going to drag Cartoon Network out of its creative hell. Actually, the show would’ve made twice the positive impact on the network’s quality as the other ones mentioned here were not for the 7:30am time slot it was given for Saturday mornings. I used to get of bed that early on the weekends for Sonic X because a decade ago, there weren’t any DVRs to help viewers record programs of their choosing except for TiVO, which I didn’t have at the time. Because 4KidsTV would change the time slot for Sonic X at any time, be it at 8:30am or 10:30am, I got out of bed at 6:30 in the morning to watch the other shows first. Nowadays, kids don’t wake up that early on a Saturday morning anymore because of the high academic and extracurricular demands disrupting their sleep schedules, not to mention their circadian rhythms, making them sleep in until 9:00 or 10:00 on the weekends. Thankfully, their DVRs can record their favorite cartoons if they set it to “Series Recording.”
Then there’s lack of advertising. Cartoon Network promoted Sonic Boom at least a week before it first aired. The second time they advertised the show was in July 2015, when they announced that they would air two weeks worth of new episodes from July 13th to the 24th. They haven’t advertised anything for the current season, which resulted in the 560,000 viewer rating for the season premiere episode “Tommy Thunder: Method Actor.”
I was expecting Sonic Boom to be just as serious as Sonic X, but the humor it took after popular comedy shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory drew me to the show like a honeybee flying to the most beautiful rose in the park. I hope Cartoon Network places Sonic Boom on to later time slot come December. Until then, I’ll find other comedy shows to release the dopamine I need to survive the rest of the semester.
Space Jam was an all-time favorite flick for me and my brother growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Over and over again, we would watch NBA legend Michael Jordan shoot hoops alongside the Looney Tunes in a cosmic basketball game against the Monstars, the ginormous forms of the Nerdlucks, who steal and absorb talents from Jordan’s NBA peers and transform into the likeness of the respective players–Pound, the orange alien leader, tranforms into Charles Barkley; Nawt (red) into Muggsy Bogues; Bang (green) into Patrick Ewing; Blanko (blue) into Shawn Bradley; and Bupkus (purple) into Larry Johnson–to take the Looney Tunes and enslave them in their failing amusement park by order of their greedy boss, Mr. Swackhammer (voiced by the incomparable Danny DeVito). At one point, my brother and I, as well as some of our friends and relatives, may have secretly wished for a sequel simply because of how good Space Jam was, especially since it brilliantly executed the live-action/animation hybrid filming style just like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? before it. Now, nearly 20 years later and entering the second round of this year’s NBA Playoffs, that wish is about to come true. But not in a way we imagined it at first.
As a cinemaniac, I’m happy to hear that production of Space Jam 2 is actually underway. However, as an animaniac, I’m very skeptical about how the animation of the Looney Tunes will turn out in the film given the current trends seen on Cartoon Network. Although reruns of the original Looney Tunes cartoons are still being aired at from 10 to 11am on the weekdays, the animation standards for the recent shows have been driven to the ground. The voice-acting’s great, sure. But the problem lies in character design. Yes, I understand the character designs in the original Looney Tunes have been remodified through the decades ’til the death of the original and sole voice actor Mel Blanc, but the designs of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird et al were just fine in Space Jam and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, as well as some animated series that aired some time after, like Duck Dodgers. I know that in Space Jam, the cartoon characters were CGI-animated to a minimal extent because CGI-animation in the 90s was not as advanced as it is in today’s animated films, but I’m afraid that the designs of the characters, not to mention their personalities, are gonna be as distasteful and unappealing as they are in The Looney Tunes Show and Wabbit.
For the athlete in question. I was expecting a plot involving Bugs and the gang summoning Michael Jordan back to their world to play against another team that’s twice as intimidating as the Monstars with a different motive. But since Jordan has retired from basketball for good, save for owning the Charlotte Hornets, Warner Bros. has LeBron James in his place. I believe they made the right choice to pick James to help out the Looney Tunes this time around. He gave a stellar performance in Trainwreck, so I’ll give him a chance with Space Jam 2. I still have his Miami Heat jersey (#6) hanging in my closet, and I will happily wear it the day the movie is released, whenever that will be.
The only question I have now is, how come LeBron James didn’t tweet anything about Space Jam 2?
Disney, you have proved once again that the storytelling in your animated films can worm their way into an Aspie girl’s heart and mind, especially with your recent story Zootopia.
Zootopia (or Zootropolis for most of Europe) tells the story of Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), a small-town rabbit who dreams of becoming the first rabbit police officer in the big titular city where prey and predator animals of every breed and species live together in peace and harmony. Judy trains very hard to achieve this goal, and thanks to the Mammal Inclusion Initiative, she is awarded her badge and enlisted in the police force. Unfortunately, Judy’s small-minded boss, the cape buffalo Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), assigns her the task of writing up parking tickets as he does not believe that the small rabbit could catch up with the big guys in the missing animals case. During her first time out on the job, Judy encounters con artist fox Nick Wilde (the lovable and incomparable Jason Bateman), and they find themselves on a wild goose chase to crack a missing animals case and, in the process, uncover a conspiracy that could upset the social balance of Zootopia.
Just as Frozen promoted feminism in the most unorthodox way possible, Zootopia promotes, through the allegorical use of the new anthropomorphic animal characters they have created, the acceptance of diversity and the avoidance of prejudice–a topical message that the entire world needs to hear and take to heart right now, especially in the United States. We all need to learn that the minority groups we’ve been taught to fear from early on mean absolutely no harm to anyone and that they deserve just as much human rights as everyone else.
Especially people in the autism community.
Even before the word “autism” was coined by psychiatrists in the early 20th century, people were afraid of us, our neurology, and our way of viewing the world. I mean, just because we autistic people have a little bit of trouble with verbal communication doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice at all. While some of us on the spectrum are verbal, such as myself, there are others who find other ways to get their messages across to people. We may use an iPad, a computer, or even sign language to communicate our wants and needs to others, and that shouldn’t prevent us from getting the jobs of our interests.
Just because we see and think about the world–or some aspects of it–differently, don’t punish us for sharing such views with you. While you may say that a college degree is the key to lifelong success on the financial front, I may say that there are people in this world who are successful even without a college degree, proving that there are others to make achievements that doesn’t have to include college because it’s not for everybody anyway. Should I be punished in any way, shape or form for saying that? No. I will respect your opinion and way of life as long as you respect mine.
Just because we’re exhibit obsessive interests in areas of art, literature, science and technology, don’t punish us for that either. I have a great taste for anime and video games, and would like to write about my experiences in the anime/video game community someday. I also wear shirts that display my favorite anime/video game characters sometimes. Should I be punished in any way, shape or form for exhibiting my inner child and my interests in those art fields by wearing such attire? Absolutely not. If I want to wear a T-shirt with Sonic or Hello Kitty printed on it, don’t tell me that I’m a woman-child for doing so.
And just because we’re introverts doesn’t mean we’re incapable of making friends and maintaining friendships. We may like to spend time by ourselves or with our families, but we still have the desire to spend time with people we played and went to school with. I know I do, and I’m trying my best to be with them every chance I get. [Thanks to Facebook,] I recently made four new friends from my high school, two of whom I went to see Zootopia with last Friday night. They’re all really nice, and I’m happy to be a part of their group.
Zootopia has done a fantastic job advocating for diversity and the inclusion of people from different walks of life, and I applaud them for shining a spotlight on the issue. I hope this movie put Autism Speaks in their place.
And may I just say that Shakira’s new song “Try Everything” is sublime? It’s my new anthem.
P.S. You may have noticed that there were no birds flying or walking around the city of Zootopia. The producers did talk about placing avian species in the movie, but cut them out completely due to time constraints.
Recently on Twitter, two hashtags were trending: #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter and #TenThingsNotToSayToAGamer. The latter hashtag was not as popular as the former because #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter was created by professional writers who have been beleaguered by some of the statements their readers gave them, such as, “You’re still doing that writing thing or are you working now?” “When will your next novel come out?” “Writer’s block doesn’t exist. Get on with it,” and “How’s that novel you’ve been working on?” The last quote came from Stewie in Family Guy, but you get the picture. I will write more about this in the foreseeable future.
Today, I want to emphasize on Twitter’s least popular hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAGamer. As a gamer and anime fan myself, I have heard derogatory statements about gaming and anime life from some people, including my family. Here is a list of ten things you should NEVER say to a gamer…EVER.
1. “Instead of wasting time playing video games, you should be applying for scholarships.”
~ My mom told me this last year, and I got pissed off to the point where I wanted to create a meme featuring some of my gamer friends that reads, “We don’t just play video games, but we also…” and place a word that best describes their other hobbies on their pictures. That meme has yet to come to fruition, and I hope I get to create it sometime.
2. “You look like you’re in elementary school instead of college wearing that (Sonic the Hedgehog, Kingdom Hearts, Black Butler, or My Little Pony) shirt.”
~ This one came from my stepdad towards the end of the Spring Semester, and I have to say straight up that that is complete bupkis. I understand that I have to wear only a suit and tie–actually, a blazer and a skirt–when I enter the corporate world after graduation, but to have a parent penalize me for practicing freedom of expression by wearing a T-shirt displaying the characters from Black Butler to a college campus is a great injustice. I have seen other college students don shirts with Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, etc., designs printed on them, so why should my fashion choices accommodate to what my family wants? Just because I’m wearing a shirt that displays one of my favorite video game/cartoon/anime characters doesn’t stipulate that I’m an immature adult who doesn’t take any real world situation very seriously. I mean, Jesus Christ, I got a blue Classic Sonic top from the junior’s department at Macy’s; a pink Classic Sonic T-shirt from my aunt’s friend in Germany; and a checkered Classic Sonic shirt and Black Butler tank top from freakin’ Hot Topic! Did any of my teachers downgrade me for wearing such attire despite the fact that I pay attention to everything they say in class? No, because that’s discrimination. There may be Video Game Design majors who might also be offended by this. (See: Never Judge a Person By Their Shirt)
3. “Keep playing video games and you won’t be moving out of your parents’ house anytime soon.”
~ Oh, really? It just so happens that video games help gamers succeed in life by endowing them the following life skills: patience and perseverance; forward thinking and strategic planning; leadership and socialization; mental and creative prowess; and sympathy and empathy.
My mom sometimes tells me that I have no patience and that I give up very easily when she gives me certain tasks. Ironically, in Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, because Master Balls are so rare, I’ve had to throw at least twenty- to thirty-something Ultra Balls at every Legendary Pokémon I’ve encountered and attempted to weaken until they’re captured completely. I’ve been working on my first novel for over a year now, and I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be able to finish it. But I know that by being patient I’ll be able to persevere through the creative process as quickly as humanly possible. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a novel certainly wasn’t written in a day either. Great things come with time.
Most gamers, like myself, enjoy video games that stimulate critical thinking and problem solving. When I played Angry Birds in high school, I always told myself and a select few people, “It’s more of a game of strategy,” because you can’t sling shoot every bird at your disposal at the same spot every time. You have to think about the most effective way to knock down the buildings that house the bad little piggies, where to hit them, and what power-ups to use in order to stamp out the pigs (if you’re willing to pay for power-ups at all). Games like Angry Birds stimulate the ability to conjure up plans in real-life situations, such as a two-week vacation itinerary, a career path, or a basketball game plan.
Broader society has always viewed gamers as antisocial man-children who are unable to hold down a job, get married and have kids of their own, and may have to be supported by their parents for the remainder of their lives. This is the most vicious stereotype in the history of the gaming industry because it’s a total lie. Before game developers even thought of massive-multiplayer online (MMO) games, gaming involved a large physical gathering of friends in front of a console and a TV as big and heavy as a walrus. Today, gamers communicate over voice and video chat. Hell, they even do Let’s Play livestreams of video games of their choosing for YouTube or Twitch, inadvertently giving their viewers tips on how to get through certain levels they’re struggling with in the same games they’re playing at the moment. Whether they’re playing MMOs or livestreaming console and handheld games, gamers are actually socializing with their peers. As far as leadership goes, that skill is picked up from clans and guilds in Dungeon Fighter Online and World of Warcraft to resolve interpersonal conflicts and inspire motivation towards goals in their jobs.
Games such as Brain Age and Tetris help you work on mental math, reading speed, and concentration, as well as developing pattern recognition skills. Other games also improve memory, hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, visual acuity, and out-of-the-box thinking. I’ve played similar games on Lumosity, and I should probably get back to that.
Most games I’ve played are narrative–the Kingdom Hearts series and the Sonic the Hedgehog series, to name a few–and they do encourage sympathy and empathy. Anyone remember Sora’s reunion with Riku and Kairi in Kingdom Hearts II? That scene certainly played at my heartstrings, including my cousin’s.
Shame on you for saying that gamers never leave their parents’ houses to go after every opportunity life gives them.
4. “Violent video games can turn you into a vicious killer.”
~ Every time a mass shooting occurs–Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, the 2011 Norway killings, for example–the news media tends to blame violent video games, specifically first-person shooter (FPS) games, for those killings right off the bat. Even though studies have shown a correlation between violent games and violent deeds, correlation is not causation. Those findings are phrased the other way around: violent people have been attracted to violent games to begin with. Maybe people who feel the need to wring someone’s neck or literally knock their brains out turn to Call of Duty as an outlet instead. The only predictor’s to one’s violent tendencies are a hostile home environment and actually being bullied by one of their family members.
5. “Flunked your Algebra exam? You shouldn’t have stayed up playing Halo or whatever the hell you were playing the other night.”
~ If you’re a parent or psychologist, you should never assume that video games are the sole reason why your child or patient got a bad exam grade in one or more of their classes. Gamers are more than capable of balancing schoolwork and play, among other responsibilities. Consider this meme you’ve probably seen:
A high school or college student sits down at their desk to pour over their notes for an upcoming Biology exam. Believing that their teacher/professor is expecting too much from them for the exam, they pick up their loose-leaf notes and toss them in the air as they loudly declare in sing-song, “Fuck this shit!” Five seconds later, they bend down to pick up their notes, saying, “Just kidding, I need to pass [this test].” This proves that gamers are not the most irresponsible students most people deem them to be.
6. “Games are a waste of money. You should spend your time and money on important things.”
~ We understand that we should save our money other things like food, clothes, utilities, music, and trips to places we would love to visit, like Hawaii, England, or even Japan (since 90% of the games we play originate from there). But it’s blatantly unfair to say that video games and gaming consoles themselves are a bad investment. To discontinue our financial support for the gaming industry is to further damage the global economy.
7. “Aren’t you a little too old to be playing video games?”
~ The average gamer is 31 years old, but that doesn’t mean the expiry date for gaming life by law should be 31 years of age. Whether or not the person wants to continue playing video games is entirely up to them, NOBODY ELSE.
8. “Put your controller and hit the gym, you pig!”
~ Not every gamer is suffering from obesity, you know. And we do know that physical fitness is essential to our health, so we eat just as healthy and exercise just as much as the average person.
9. “Do you even have a job yet?”
~ Please refer to the third item on this list.
10. “Female characters in video games are often treated as sex objects.”
~ While that may have been true in the industry’s infancy, the current generation of male gamers don’t necessarily see the female characters, playable or otherwise, as sexual objectifications.
Today, I went to SuperCon at the Miami Beach Convention Center with my brother with the intention of showing him that my anime/cartoon/gaming world is not as childish as he and my stepdad claim it to be. I was afraid that my brother wasn’t going to like at first, but guess what? He enjoyed it! He had just as grand of a time as I did looking around for anime and video game memorabilia and seeing some celebrities.
Speaking of celebrities, I wanted to meet J. Michael Tatum, the voice of Sebastian in Black Butler, and Roger Craig Smith, the 3rd-generation voice actor for Sonic the Hedgehog since Sonic Colors, but it was a disaster on the timing front. First, I was trying to find Tatum’s booth pretty much since I arrived at the convention, but he was nowhere to be found. All I wanted was to ask him when the English dub of Black Butler: Book of Circus will be released because I watched the English sub last summer and FUNimation hasn’t said anything about the English dub being in production. Not even once. Then, I look for Roger Craig Smith so that he could sign his autograph on a Sonic fan art poster I bought earlier only to find out that the line for his booth was full and that he wouldn’t return for another two hours or so. When I came back to Smith’s booth at 3:00pm (I heard he would come back at 3:30), a kid in front of me and my brother said that J. Michael Tatum was two booths down, which elated me. So, I went down there and squealed “I FOUND MY BASSY!”–I was cosplaying Grell Sutcliff, a grim reaper who has a giant crush on Sebastian, so of course I had to get into character. I said it to someone who I thought was another fan of Tatum’s work in Black Butler and other anime (including the recent Free!–Eternal Summer, which I would like to see), but turned out to be a convention employee who said, “The line is closed, but J. Michael Tatum will be back at 5:30.” The problem was, my brother wanted to leave by 4:30, which also turned out to be the ACTUAL time Roger Craig Smith would retreat to his booth. Being denied the opportunity to meet the two voice actors I know in the anime/gaming industry got me a little bit discouraged. However, every gray cloud has a silver lining. That silver lining came in the form of the incomparable Tom Kenny, the voice actor for SpongeBob SquarePants (and Ice King for all you Adventure Time fans out there). Despite that I was wearing a long red wig, Kenny said that I was beautiful in his SpongeBob voice, which flattered me. I asked him if he voiced the Mayor and Professor Utonium in The PowerPuff Girls, and he said while he did voice the Mayor and the narrator (“And so, once again, the day is saved thanks to the PowerPuff Girls!” Remember that line?), Professor Utonium was voiced by Tom Kane. No wonder I confused Kane for Kenny–their last names sound almost the same! Although I got no picture taken with him nor his autograph, meeting the legendary Tom Kenny satisfied me just enough. I was also surprised to discover that Kenny also voiced Spyro the Dragon in the following Spyro games: Ripto’s Rage, Year of the Dragon, and Enter the Dragonfly. I played the second game mentioned when I was 8.
The video game arcade room was very crowded. I came in hearing “For True Story” from Sonic Adventure 2, thinking somebody might be playing the game, but it was actually coming from a cover band…or something else…I couldn’t tell exactly. The gaming stations were so full, even the PS4 and Xbox One consoles that were available had their controllers missing and no games running at all. The only game I was able to play, however, was kinda like Dance Dance Revolution but had a different name. I danced to 3OH3’s “Don’t Trust Me” missing some steps on the dance pad, which had a center button in the shape of a circle. As much as I love Dance Dance Revolution–and other games like it–my red coat hindering my dance moves discouraged me from dancing to another song.
Now, let’s talk about some of the memorabilia I bought, shall we? Although everything from Pokémon to Kingdom Hearts to even Sword Art Online overstimulated my senses, I only got the cheap stuff. The Sonic fan art poster I bought for the Roger Craig Smith autograph that I never received cost me $10. Then I bought two clip-on bottle cap hair bows with Sonic and a Poké Ball on them for $7 a pop–I’m starting to regret that purchase a little bit. Finally, I got an Olaf decal for my mom and a Sonic decal for when I get my own car for $5 a pop.
As for my Grell cosplay, a bunch of people were so in awe of my modeling in it they came up to me and asked for pictures, which I gladly agreed to.
Despite some major setbacks, it was a lovely day for a pop culture convention like SuperCon. All I need to do now is get red wig fixed–it’s frizzy and knotty.