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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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~