Alternative Fashion: Pastel Goth and why it is, indeed, Goth (if you make it be)

First rant about alternative fashion! Along with writing and anime, I am a huge freak for fashion, mainly alternative fashion – which is basically anything not “mainstream.” I wear anything from lolita, baggy phat pants and cartoon t-shirts, to all types of goth.

(left: OTT sweet lolita, right: goth)

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As a goth, I’ve heard many negative comments towards the newer “pastel goth” style. And as someone who enjoys wearing pastel goth as well as the more classic goth style, I’d like to shed some light on the topic.

First off, if I say “goth,” is this what pops up in your head?

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Though many different styles are recognized within the goth subculture, most of them are characterized by black clothing, chunky boots, silver studs and crosses, and pretty much anything gloomy and spooky.

So when THIS style became a thing and called itself goth….

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It angered many “real goths” because it is too cutesy and pastel to be classified as a darker-than-dark goth style.

Pastel goth still uses a great deal of black, studs, platform shoes, and religious symbolism, but puts a girly twist by adding cute hair bows, pastel clothing, and often hair colored like cotton candy.

The style is sometimes a blend of goth and Japanese fairy kei (think classic Harajuku girls, but more pastel than neon) fashion…

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…Or it can be more of a hipster-grunge look aka “soft grunge” or “pastel grunge” by mixing spooky or obscene t-shirts, pastel shorts, and beanies:

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Since the style gained massive popularity over social media sites, such as tumblr, this style is often criticized as a fad fashion –  something people are wearing because it’s currently trendy, not because they are goth.

I initially had mixed feelings. I liked that it was becoming easier to find Creepers shoes and spooky accessories in stores, but it was also a little frustrating that so many friends of mine were turning “goth,” but had little to no interest in the goth subculture. I wasn’t exactly angry like many other goths, but I was disappointed that I still had very few friends my age that shared my interests.

To briefly explain, the goth subculture revolves around music, fashion, and lifestyle. Music meaning, well…goth rock. Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, along with death rock bands like Christian Death and Alien Sex Fiend, and darkwave bands like Clan of Xymox and Cruxshadows. Most of the pastel goths I’ve met and heard of through “real goth” people ranting listen to anything other than these bands. Lifestyle meaning reading gothic literature (Dracula, Frankenstein, Edgar Allan Poe), going to goth clubs and concerts, and having an overall appreciation for all things spooky – seeing beauty in everything, even stuff most people find scary. The fashion is, as previously described, black with spooky elements.

ANYWAY…I always found it a little silly that the goth subculture – and pretty much all nonconformist subcultures – have very strict guidelines on how to be part of their group, despite the fact that they strive for originality. However, if we are going off those guidelines, there are many people who dress in classic goth, but do not partake in the lifestyle or listen to the music….so why are goths fine with classifying these people as goth, but not pastel goths? It’s ridiculously superficial.

However, if you do claim to be goth (or part of any subculture), know what comes along with the label. If the labeling yourself as a goth is important to you, whether you wear blacks or pastels, at least respect the other two thirds of the subculture. If you aren’t into goth music or lifestyle, enjoy pastel goth fashion, but have a strangely strong desire to be labeled, consider calling yourself “pastel grunge” or “creepy cute.”

So what’s my take?

I find clothing to be the least important part of goth subculture. Though it’s quite silly to so desperately desire a label, if being goth or punk or hipster is really so important to you, it’s what’s on the inside that matters most. What do you love? What do you find beautiful, frustrating, saddening? What you choose to wear won’t change your mindset. I don’t feel any less “goth” when I’m wearing pastel or neon raver outfits. I don’t feel any less “raver” when I’m wearing a frilly lolita dress or all black. Just because I can’t wear black lipstick or armfuls of kandi doesn’t make me less of anything that I am.

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I came to really love pastel goth because it merges two of my favorite things: the spookiness of goth with the cuteness of lolita. I find all things beautiful – that includes black roses, cute little bats, and frilly bows with skulls attached. If cybergoths can wear fluffy legwarmers and perky goths can wear neon pink and black stripes, then pastel goths should be allowed to wear pastel sweaters. Goth is about appreciating the macabre – so if macabre kawaii skeletons suit your fancy, more power to you.

Now excuse me, but I must go curl up in my pastel bat sweater and read some Edgar Allan Poe while listening to Bauhaus. In the meantime, what are your opinions on pastel goth? Super cute or super annoying? Leave it be or banish it from the spooky realms of all things gothy? Post your opinions in the comments!

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Liebster Award Nomination!

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Thank you, WakuWafu, for nominating me for a Liebster Award! Bloggers nominated for this award have a small following, and those who nominate them believe they deserve more readers. My blog is still quite new and I only have a few posts, but it means a lot to me to know that I have readers who really enjoy what I have so far!

As part of the Liebster rules, I must answer a few questions asked by WakuWafu, so without further ado, here are my answers!

1) What made you start a blog?

A: I am a journalist for my University’s newspaper The Daily as well as an aspiring novelist. As a new writer, I have researched many tips on getting my work out in the world to gain publicity before publishing my work, and I read that creating a blog is a great start. It was a bit intimidating at first since I struggle with anything internet-related, but so far I am really enjoying it! I chose to primarily review anime since I watch a lot of anime and it’s a topic that I, and many others, enjoy discussing. I enjoy sharing my opinions and reading others’ because it gives a new perspective on shows that I may already love or dislike.

2) What’s one show you would consider a hidden gem?

A: Haunted Junction. Definitely Haunted Junction. I don’t know how popular it was in its time, but I’m watching it for the first time in 2015 and none of my friends or anyone I know has ever heard of it. Heck, I don’t even know how I’ve heard of it! It’s one of those really silly anime from the 90s, about three high school students who all have some sort of holy powers, and they protect their school’s spirits from evil spirits. Once I finish the series, I will definitely post a review!

3) Who is your favourite character in anime or outside of anime?

A: Junko Enoshima from Dangan Ronpa. She appears to be just another pretty, girly-girl high schooler, but she is so wonderfully evil and psycho! It definitely caught me by surprise!

4) What one superpower would you like to have?

A: I would love to be able to fly. I live in the city and waiting around for late buses can be really annoying. Plus I would love to be able to look down at the incredible view!

5) Do you have a least favourite show?

A: As much as I love anime, there are a lot I actually really dislike! Especially with newer anime, I feel they’ve all become really generic. I’d say as of right now, I’d list Sword Art Online as one of my least favorite, because I actually really, really, reaalllly enjoyed the beginning half of season one. I LOVED the medieval setting, the sword fighting, the romantic build-up between Asuna and Kirito…..but then come the second half of season one, they totally dropped it. I hated the new alfheim fantasy setting – not because I hate fantasy, I LOVE fantasy – but because they totally changed the show! Asuna was not the strong woman she used to be, but was portrayed as a damsel in distress, the incest thing between Kirito and his sister was kinda creepy…I couldn’t even finish the new season because it pretty much turned into a harem anime, which I hate, and hated even more because Asuna and Kirito used to be so in love, and then he pretty much ditched her in season two. I felt like the first 12-14 episodes of the series became completely irrelevant, as far as character-building.

6) What’s the funniest joke you’ve ever come across in anime?

A: I can’t specifically pinpoint a joke, but episode 8 of Azumanga Daioh probably made me laugh harder than any other anime. It’s the New Years dream episode, and a couple of the characters have really strange dreams that are absolutely hilarious yet horrifying at the same time…Let’s just say there is a color-changing cat who can talk.

7) Who is one character you identify yourself with most?

A: Lucy Heartfilia from Fairy Tail. She aspires to become a novelist, has conflicts with her family, and is a strong-minded individual who is not afraid to do whatever it takes to follow her dreams. Her friends mean the world to her, even though they often drive her crazy.

8) When you are feeling sad, what cheers you up most of all?

A: Writing fiction. It takes me away from whatever is making me sad in this world and puts me in a totally different world, where my sadness means nothing more than a creative energy.

9) What is the one thing you would most like to do this year?

A: I would like to finish editing my first novel and get it ready to send to a publisher.

10) Which was your favourite anime of this year/last year?

A: Assuming you mean anime that was released this year, I haven’t really enjoyed much of this year’s (2014’s) anime, sadly….I would have to go with Sailor Moon Crystal. I still prefer the original Sailor Moon anime, but it’s been interesting watching a newer version of one of my favorite shows. I like that it’s closer to the manga and brings up a lot of great discussions with my friends who have read the manga and watched the original anime. While Sailor Moon Crystal isn’t a fantastic anime in my opinion, it’s definitely fun to watch.

BUT if we’re counting RWBY as anime…RWBY wins, hands down. Even though it’s not a Japanese anime, it has a similar feel and art style. Cute girls with big weapons kicking ass always wins in my book >:D It’s like if Sucker Punch was less sexy and turned into an anime.

11) If you could change one thing about anime, what would it be?

A: How commercialized it has become. It really bugs me nowadays how so many anime follow similar character archetypes – cute girls, nerdy boys, always that one angsty girl who *gasps* is actually really nice deep down! Everything has to be cute and comical – which is okay for some shows – but not all. I know not literally every anime does this, but a vast majority do, and it’s pretty redundant. I feel like I can already predict what a show will be like just from looking at the character designs. Mainstream American cartoons are all very different from each other, as far as art, vibe, content, etc. I wish anime could be more diverse.

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And now, here are 11 random facts about me!

1) I am both a pianist and guitarist. I’ve been playing piano for 15 years and guitar for 8 years. Along with writing, music is a passion of mine. My music often inspires my writing, which will in turn inspire my music. It’s like a big creative cycle.

2) I’ve been working on an urban dark fantasy series since I was in middle school. I often edit and revise my work since, as I grow older, I gain more life experiences (not to mention way better grammar and writing skills), so I use those to better the content of my books. I hope to publish them in the near future so I can share my stories with all who are interested.

3) I love cats, but I am allergic to them 😦 But shhhh it’s a secret! My family members all have cats, so I try to hide my rashes and sniffly nose from them when I am at their houses, because I love playing with cats!

4) I am majoring in psychology and sociology at my university. I hope to someday work in criminology or forensics, or possibly as a clinical psychologist.

5) I love to cosplay and often make my own costumes. I hope to post some pictures in the near future on my blog! I have been cosplaying since 2008 and my first cosplay was Haruhi Suzumiya. I am currently working on Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2.

6) My first anime (aside from Pokemon/Sailor Moon/Yugi-Oh!) was Cowboy Bebop. It is still one of my favorite anime!

7) I love anything related to paranormal phenomena. I’ve always been interested in ghosts and spooky things since I was a young child. Needless to say, the Pokemon Tower/Sabrina’s gym arc in Pokemon was my favorite. I love watching horror movies that are about ghosts and demons!

8) I love to wear pastel goth and sweet lolita. A large portion of my paychecks often gets impulsively spent on clothing when I’m not working on a cosplay or have textbooks to buy.

9) I love going to arcades to play retro games, fighting games (especially soulcalibur and tekken), and DDR! I also love playing video games at home. I love the Mario, Kirby, Devil May Cry, soulcalibur, and Final Fantasy games. I’m currently playing Eternal Sonata for the XBox 360.

10) I am terrified of moths. I love butterflies, but I hate moths. They are butterflies possessed by the devil. I am okay with most other bugs – with the exception of bees since I am allergic to them – but moths? No. Just no.

11) I don’t read American comics as much as I do manga, but I really love dark/spooky comics. Lenore, Bear, Little Gloomy, and anything by Jhonen Vasquez are my favorites. I will probably review them all on my blog eventually.

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And now….here are some really cool blogs that I nominate for a Liebster Award!!

The Reviewer’s Corner 

Shay-Shay’s Anime Blog

Anime Reviews

Anime Bee

Just Another Anime Fan

My Otaku Reviews

And to all you nominees who accept my nomination, please make a blog post like the one I just made. Post a picture of the award (just save and upload the one on my blog here), thank me with a link to my blog, answer the 11 questions I’m going to give you, then post 11 random facts about yourself, and then nominate 5-11 bloggers to do the same!

Here are your 11 questions:

1) What inspired you to create a blog?

2) What was your first anime?

3) If you could cosplay any anime character (assume crafting skill and money are not an issue), who would you choose?

4) Aside from reviewing anime, what are some of your hobbies?

5) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

6) Which was the saddest anime you’ve ever watched?

7) The funniest anime?

8) If you could star in any anime, which would you choose?

9) If you could take any anime character out on a date, who would you pick?

10) If you could have any career in the world, what would you want to do?

11) What is a goal you wish to accomplish this year?

If I nominated you and you choose to fill out the questionnaire, let me know! I’d love to read your responses! Thanks again to WakuWafu for nominating me! I had a lot of fun filling out this post!

Anime Review: Parasyte

I’ve been a huge Parasyte fan well before the anime was released. I was a fan before Del Rey rereleased its publication. I used to read Parasyte in MixxZine, Tokyopop’s now-ancient manga magazine, when it was serialized alongside Sailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Ice Blade. Back when manga was translated to read left-to-right, when Migi’s name was changed to Lefty due to the flipped images.

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That was a really long time ago.

When I heard there was going to be a Parasyte anime in late 2014, I was both excited and worried. Parasyte was among my first manga and I was thrilled to see it come to life, but….20 years after the manga finished?

For those who haven’t read or watched Parasyte, it’s basically a sci-fi/horror about alien parasites that take over human bodies, turning them into monsters that devour humans in some sort of graphic manner. Like chomping their heads off. The parasites look human until they strike – then they look something like this:

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Basically, their heads split open in some terrifying way, and there’s lots of blades and teeth involved.

Anyway, the story revolves around a high school boy named Shinichi, whose body gets abducted by a parasite. However, since the parasite fails to reach his brain, it can only survive in his right hand (hence naming it the Japanese word for right – “Migi”). Since Migi is dependent on Shinichi’s survival, it helps Shinichi battle the other parasites to defend themselves and Shinichi’s friends – and really everyone else from being eaten.

The manga was notorious for its horrifying parasites, gore, and dark atmosphere. The (human) characters were drawn realistically, no “kawaii” elements, overall a pretty serious story. Despite being published alongside magical girl manga, Parasyte was intended for an audience of adult males. Neither the art nor plot was made to appeal to the stereotypical mainstream anime fans who preferred magical girls, happy-go-lucky protagonists, and/or epic adventures often filled with action and laughter.

The anime, as I feared, took a different turn from the manga.

The plot is generally the same. Compared to most anime, it follows pretty well. In fact, if I didn’t read the manga, I’d probably really like the anime. The gore and crazy aliens have not been cheated.

But pretty much everything else I liked has.

It’s almost painful how much the animators are trying to appeal to the modern, mainstream audience. The character designs are almost completely different. When I first saw the promo art, I was confused. For a moment, I thought they completely changed the cast.

Shinichi is awkwardly nerdy at the start of the series. He eventually looks a bit more badass later on in the anime, but he was never that awkward or nerdy in the manga. Yes, he doesn’t spike his hair at the very beginning, but he was pretty much just an average guy.

Shinichi in the anime, before and after:

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v.s. in the manga, before and after changing:

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As for Shinichi’s female friends, they’ve become much cuter for the anime.

Murano, his best friend, anime vs manga:

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Colored hair, cuter style.

“Bad girl” Kana, anime vs manga:

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She’s still sassier than Murano, but far less rebellious than she was in the manga. Girlier clothes, tidier hair.

I could rant on about character difference, but I think you get the idea.

What frustrates me is the anime creators felt Parasyte would not be appealing to today’s audience without the archetypal geeky boy surrounded by a sea of cute girls as potential love interests. The female presence is stronger in the anime – there are five chicks on the promo art for the anime. Nothing against girls – hell, I AM a girl. It’s just that this isn’t an accurate representation of the original Parasyte story. The art on the manga covers were of disfigured parasite humans with multiple eyeballs and twisted faces.

The dark vibe is almost completely gone from the anime. It’s not necessarily a bright atmosphere, but the darkness has definitely been lifted. It’s more of a Black Butler or D.Gray-man sort of dark, minus the fantasy elements. Dark, creepy, but you know it’ll be okay.

The creators also tried to modernize the show to an almost awkward level. The characters use iPads to read the news while eating breakfast. iPads. I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve seen an iPad in anime. It’s like the creators are screaming, “Look at how modern we are! Don’t be turned off by how old the manga is because this is a totally hip show!” Dubstep music plays during the battles between parasites – which is actually kind of cool, especially since it makes for a good sci-fi battle vibe – but also a little tacky. It further emphasizes how had they’re trying to be modern and as not-90s as possible.

Maybe I’m just over analyzing the anime. Maybe it really was necessary to modernize the characters and overall vibe of the show. But if that’s the case, isn’t it at least a little sad that we, as anime fans, come off to the creators as so narrow-minded that they have to completely revamp a series to make it marketable? Or that they feel it’s more important to have a show be marketable than to please the already-existing fans?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t watch the Parasyte anime. The action is still awesome, the music kind of cool, and Aya Hirano (voice of Misa Amane, Haruhi Suzumiya, Konata Izumi, Lucy Heartfilia) plays Migi…which is actually really amazing. If you like sci-fi horror, you will probably love Parasyte, but if you read the manga first, you – like me – might be disappointed by the changes. (And if you haven’t read the manga, you should totally read it.)

Have you read and/or watched Parasyte? What did you think? Did the changes bother you? Comment below! I’d love to hear your opinion!

5 Reasons Why Writing Fiction is my Favorite Thing in the World

I love writing fiction. It’s the first thing I remember loving. Since I was three years old, making picture books was my favorite hobby. The picture books soon evolved into stories with a sentence per picture, gradually gaining more words and losing the crayon art, and eventually turned to writing novels. Of course, the content I write about has drastically changed, the love remains.

1. Writing is therapeutic. 

I have a lot of anxieties, an overactive imagination, intrusive thoughts, and terrible insomnia. Writing keeps my mind focused on one topic and helps me forget about all my worries. I generally write at night since that’s one of the few times I’m free from work, school, and other life distractions, and also because my thoughts become the most intrusive when I want to sleep. Most of my writing gets done between midnight-3 a.m. because it helps me relax so I can eventually get a few hours of sleep. Throughout the day, thinking about storyboards and potential plots also helps keep my mind away from troublesome thoughts. Yes, this does lead to a ton of daydreaming and makes me overly involved in my made-up world, but it’s better that than worrying about irrational fears and scenarios.

2. Writing is helpful to others

We’ve all heard this famous piece of advice from published authors: “To be a writer, you must read books.” Naturally, I love to read books when I’m not writing. Along with writing my own books, I find comfort in involving myself in other writers’ stories. The best compliment I ever receive from my readers is when they tell me that my books gave them comfort from their life struggles. Knowing that my stories are not only therapeutic for me, but also my readers, means a lot to me. If I can temporarily comfort a reader by bringing them into my little fantasy world, I have done my job.

3. My characters teach me valuable lessons…or is it just me all along?

One of my favorite things about writing fiction is creating characters. It’s fun to get into their minds and think of how they would act in certain scenarios. Learning to think from other perspectives taught me to respect and understand other people’s thoughts in the real world and to always step back and think in their perspective, especially during debates or arguments.

My characters never fail to impress me. I love when they are able to forgive those who have wronged them, accept their losses, overcome grief, stand up for their beliefs – and inspire me to do the same. The events I write about help me cope with my own life struggles, which is really awesome, but the most awesome part is that I created these characters. Their thoughts are my thoughts. Everything I learn from my characters, I’m really just teaching myself on a subconscious level.

4. Writing boosts confidence

Nothing feels better than finishing a well-written chapter or scene. I love looking over my writing and thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I wrote something so cool!” (Especially since I’m very hard on myself when it comes to writing.) Even if it’s something that I know most of my readers won’t get to see for a while, like a chapter of a new book I’m working on, the self-satisfaction is enough to boost my confidence in my writing and overall make me more confident in myself as a person.

5. Writing makes my readers (and me!) feel all kinds of emotions

As a psychology major, I am fascinated by the range of emotions the human mind can register. I believe all emotions are equally important to experience because they help us understand our thoughts. In my stories, I hope to give my readers a taste of all the major emotions. I want them to laugh, cry, feel angry, scared, and disgusted. A story becomes far more memorable when the reader is able to connect with it on an emotional level. It also means the readers care more about my story and characters if they are able to feel sad when a character dies or angry when the antagonist threatens to hurt them. I care about my characters as if they were my own children – because they technically are in my mind  – and it makes me really happy when I can share my love for them with others.

Now it’s your turn to tell ME why you enjoy writing! Please comment below~

Anime Review: Fairy Tail

For my first anime review, I want to start off with a current show that many people are familiar with: Fairy Tail!

I was extremely hesitant to start watching Fairy Tail. I had seen the squealing fans at anime cons, the massive amounts of merchandise flooding anime stores, and was immediately turned off. Popular anime generally equals generic action-adventure plot with stereotypical characters, cliches, incredibly long fight scenes, and humor deserving no more than a small smile. Anime I loved as a 13 year old, but now? Not so much.

Fairy Tail, however, was worth giving a chance.

The story: Set in a vaguely medieval world, Fairy Tail is a world full of wizards, dragons, celestial spirits, and other magical creatures. The plot revolves around the members of the wizard guild Fairy Tail – specifically Lucy, Natsu, Grey, Erza and (later in the series) Wendy. Together they take on various tasks, often involving battles between rival guilds and evil wizards.

On the surface, Fairy Tail can be very generic. Yes, some of the story arcs were longer than I would have liked (but definitely shorter than those of most popular anime), but something kept me watching: the humor. Fairy Tail is actually funny. The main reason why I watch it is because it’s funny. The characters all have their own quirks: Natsu, while being as cocky as any other male main character in popular anime, suffers from severe motion sickness. The strict and intimidating Erza never fails to surprise with her range of outfits, from battle armor to cute, girly clothes to skimpy costumes. Grey, on the other hand, can’t keep his clothes on period. Wendy is shy and, as demonstrated in her first scene, quite ditzy. Lucy is always panicking over said quirks. Happy is a flying, talking, blue cat (enough said). Happy’s cheeky side comments are enough to keep me watching the show. The guild members are ridiculously destructive and the gags outrageously silly.

I’m not a huge fan of battle scenes, but the characters all have unique powers that entertain me for at least an episode or two. Though the characters don’t show too much physical growth between battles, their personalities are shaped by their experiences. Be it gaining confidence in themselves or resolving problems of their pasts, the real focus of the battles in Fairy Tail are to show character growth, making the characters more human and relatable. The battles aren’t entertaining only due to flashy combat, but because the characters are easy to love and root for. But if character development isn’t enough to motivate you, there is always a bonus one-episode funny story following each battle arc that are actually better than the major plots of the series.

I will admit, I have yet to finish Fairy Tail. My attention span for any series peeks at about 25 episodes. Fairy Tail has over 200. As of today, I am about a quarter through. Though Fairy Tail is enough to entertain me through a lunch break, it is not something I can comfortably binge watch over a weekend. Yes, it is funny and the characters are lovable, I can only handle it in small doses before I temporarily lose interest.

If action-adventure anime suit your fancy, you’re going to adore Fairy Tail. If you’re like me, it will provide enough laughs to keep you occasionally coming back.

Wow! First Blog Post!

Hello, world!

My name is Maria and I’m currently a journalist for the University of Washington’s The Daily. I am also an aspiring novelist and enjoy writing urban dark fantasy and dark comedy. Aside from writing, I spend my free time watching anime, playing video games, reading comics, and making cosplay.

I hope to dedicate this blog to all the things I love. Expect cosplay work-in-progress posts, anime/comic/video game reviews, alternative fashion, and general updates on my journey to publish my novels. I look forward to sharing my experiences and opinions with you!

And so it begins!