Streaming versus Theaters

Before COVID and quarantine, movie theaters were always the place to see the best new movies when they came out. Though streaming services were great for watching older movies or TV shows as nostalgia, they weren’t really used as a way to release new content. Now with new restrictions and most movie theaters being closed, streaming services are beginning to release brand new movies and TV shows on their own. 

This completely changes the experience of how a movie is watched. Usually when watching in theater, you get there early to grab drinks and snacks before making your way into the movie to watch previews for movies you might want to see later that year. With streaming services, such as Disney+ releasing their own movies or TV shows, people can watch movies in more relaxed settings. The downside is it seems like a much smaller deal. Plus, there are little to no previews so it becomes harder to find what to watch next.

I’ve also found with streaming services putting out their own content, I’m actually less likely to watch it than I was if it were to come out in theaters. Usually when I go onto a streaming app with the intention to watch something new, I end up clicking on something I’ve either already seen or am in the middle of rather than something entirely new. 

Now of course, streaming platforms releasing new shows and movies and documentaries has been very helpful when I find myself bored with what I’m currently watching but I don’t find the experience matches at all to that of going to a movie theater. Hopefully sometime soon, the two can merge and be released both in movies safely while also being available on multiple streaming services right away rather than limited to just one.

-Danielle B.

Ways to Avoid Procrastination

As the school year ramps up, many of us are still trying to get back into the school ‘zone’- and figure out how to kick bad procrastination habits that may have formed over the last year and a half of quarantine. Below are five ways to avoid procrastinating during the school year!

1. Get Organized

If you don’t have set goals or an idea of what you want to accomplish every day, it’s easy to forget things and procrastinate things until the last minute. Invest in a planner or a calendar to track all your assignments and extracurriculars- it will provide a strong framework to work with.

2. Eliminate Distractions

Procrastination happens mostly when we have easy distractions in front of us. Make sure you have a quiet, set place where you work, and put away your phone and other devices while studying. This will help you get everything you need to do done.

3. Set Goals

Many of us procrastinate when the work ahead of us seems overwhelming. By breaking the work into sizeable chunks and setting a measurable goal for yourself, you can make your work more manageable and eliminate procrastination.

4. Positive Reinforcement

Make sure to keep rewarding yourself for completing your goals or tasks. Even something as simple as “after this assignment, I’ll take a five-minute break” can help reward you and create a positive feedback loop.

5. HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE!

None of the above tips will work unless you hold yourself accountable! It’s easy to find excuses to go on your phone, check texts, or take an extra-long break, but you have to catch yourself before these thoughts take hold. An easy rule to avoid this is- start working or doing your task no more than 5 seconds after the thought pops into your head. Any more than that gives your brain time to come up with excuses.

-Vaidehi B.

TV Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society (TV Series 2021– ) - IMDb

You may have read the series, but the TV show is also thrilling! This show is about the first book in the The Mysterious Benedict Society series. With action, adventure, and excitement as well as lots of mystery, the TV show is exhilarating. Seeing The Mysterious Benedict Society’s show after reading about it can be really awesome. To see the story unfold in front of your eyes and being able to see if your imagination was on point with the characters is really exciting! 

The story is about 4 kids, Reynie, Kate, Constance, and Sticky, who are all orphans and incredible kids. They all find an advertisement about some tests that a man named  Mr. Benedicts has created. The kids go through test after test, and are tested on their logic and knowledge. These tests are much more than just tests though, as they help Mr. Benedict to create a team to go to the L.I.V.E. Academy (The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened) where a man named Mr. Curtain is creating an evil plan to take control of the future in an event called The Emergency. 

I did notice a couple changes between the book and the show, such as S.Q. Pedalian being Mr. Curtain’s adopted son in the show, while the book had him as his servant or companion. The episodes are mainly based off of the book, though. 

The show features Tony Hale, who plays Mr. Curtain and Mr. Benedict, Mystic Inscho as Reynie Muldoon, Marta Timofeeva as Constance Contraire, Seth Carr as George “Sticky” Washington, and Emmy DeOliveira as Kate Wetherall. The show’s first episode was released on June 25th, and the show consists of 8 episodes, which will be coming out every Friday on Disney Plus. 

I suggest this show to anyone who enjoys mystery and action. I have found myself very engaged and I always struggle to wait for the coming Friday in excitement about the next episode! My rating of this show  is a 9 out of 10 so far because I have been really enjoying it! I feel like some of the small details were changed, but overall, it is a very good TV show and I definitely recommend this series to people who really like mystery shows. Enjoy!

-Mert A.

Why Discord is the Best Social Platform

Nearly everybody has heard of or used social platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat. However, a less commonly used platform is Discord. Discord has all the features most social platforms already have, which include a messaging system, ways to attach media files, and the ability to create group DMs. However, it has extra features that are very nice and make Discord heavily underrated.

Discord was created back in 2015 and was meant to be a platform only for gamers. Since then, they have promoted their platform to include other activities and to make their platform more favorable for many people. For example, people can set up what is called a server, to do activities together. A server is a sort of group chat with a lot more features, such as voice channels, the ability to add bots, and different roles. These can promote a better form of communication and control between people. Discord users can join up to 100 servers, so there is a wide variety of servers they can join. These servers include public servers, such as servers for a video game or a server for memes, or private servers, which can include servers with just your friends. The possibilities are nearly endless with servers.

If users really want to step up their game with their servers and really make them complex, yet efficient for the user, they can add in bots. One very popular bot that a lot of servers have is the Mee6 bot. This bot has many customizable features, such as giving users a role when they react to a certain message, or timed messages (a certain message that sends at a certain time of the day).

The possibilities of Discord are nearly endless, and people meet new people nearly everyday on this platform. So if you are getting bored of the normal social media everybody has, consider Discord!

-Jeremy L.

Two Stories

Don’t chase dreams.

These were the words she’d remember, stuck between her riddled thoughts as though a shard of glass were lodged within. She’d press them or shake them, but their message remained the same.

Don’t chase-

Dreams. A fog in time, a cloud for her to fly in as space around her wilted to swim beneath the seas of age. She was an olive branch to her fears, a dove caught amidst the thorns of life.

She was torn.

Worn out, too, as though her skin were made of yarn, unwoven by the kindles of her sorrows. Such fantasies that hid in her soul’s cracks, she thought, could only be imagined by a madman.

She was indeed, mad, as ginger and rash as the freckles on her cheeks.

Once, as rain poured down like chords of a melody which spun from the tumultuous storms above, a spark in her blood awoke. With her in bed, she braided her harvest curls as though they had heard her traitorous ambitions and disapproved. Yet she could not help it, for she was, in her delusion, a dream too.

A shock of alarm struck her as quick as the realization came. For if she were to be the dream, then she needn’t pursue an illusion at all. 

A sudden smile crept to mark her lips, for a resolution had, for certain, come to ease her qualms.

She was the chase. 

─── ∙ ~εïз~ ∙ ───

She lives in her shadow, behind it, sometimes beside it. It does her everything, and that’s alright with her. It often cooks, or cleans the dust off shelves while she watches. She doesn’t impede. 

It goes on like this: it works, she sits. No one bothers her with chores, nor scolds her when she misses a corner, since she can’t. She just stares, content with her boredom.

Her nails grow thinner, brown at their sides. Edges near her eyes and ears wrinkle, though more often than not where she can’t see them. White hairs greet her black ones, and they accept their presence with no dispute. That’s how she’s worked through much of her troubles, anyhow. 

Her shadow continues its tedious labor, but she herself speaks none. Even her memories, alone and dim, have forgotten what it is to dream.

She waits for action to happen. For death to come, maybe, and rid her of misery. She’s naught, done none, never will do any.

Her shadow scrubs the floorboards, pats the beds. Feeds the pets, takes the kids to daycare. Day after night, past bedtime or at late dawn, it works. And she, ever in darkness, sits in her shadow’s wake.

-Emilia D. 

Film Review: The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin, a film adaptation of Herge’s comic series, is an underrated masterpiece. Here’s why!

To start, a brief synopsis of the movie should be given. It begins with Tintin, a young reporter who shops at an outdoor market in Brussels, Belgium. Attended by his dog, Snowy, he buys The Unicorn, a replica of an old ship. As mysterious characters attempt to obtain the model from him, Tintin discovers that it contains clues that lead to a hidden treasure, but before he can act on it, he is taken by the notorious Sakharine. 

Now with a little context, I can move on with my explanation! 

#1: Visuals! Tintin is considered a “Noir Film,” since it applies shadows and dark radiance in order to capture audiences. It allows for the atmosphere to feel mysterious, harsh, and prepared for action. 

#2: Scene transitions! It’s somewhat hard to elaborate upon, but shifts between events of a movie can be quite difficult to smoothen out, but Steven Spielberg (the director of this film) was able to capture these moments easily while remaining true to the spirit of Tintin. If you decide to watch the movie, consider this!

#3: Characters! Tintin is portrayed as an energetic, curious reporter, exactly as depicted in the comic series. However, the added element of obsession that stems from his search to uncover the “secret of the unicorn” makes him more fun to watch. 

In 2019, there was some debate on plans for a sequel, as the original idea was to have two more movies after the release of the first. However, there have been some delays, due to redrafts of the script, the recast of certain actors, and slow production. As a major Herge fan, I hope there’s a chance of a second film in sight …

Before I conclude, I’d like to recommend that you check out Herge’s original comics. They’re a terrific, sweet read, and quick to grasp! Plus, it might also assist in the film’s general enjoyment. Therefore, look for “The Secret of the Unicorn” and “The Crab with the Golden Claws,” as these had the largest impact on the motion picture. 

Side Note: Top 3 Favorite Tintin Comics 

#1: The Castafiore Emerald – it reminds me of Seinfeld; as much as its conclusion might frustrate you, the elements of suspicion, doubt, and wonder hold your attention

#2: Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon – written almost two decades prior to the Apollo 11 mission, Herge’s imagination gives significance to space exploration

#3: The Seven Crystal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun – not only is it filled with action, but it gives insight on old civilizations and customs thought forgotten

Final Result: a firm score of ★★★★★ 

Authors We Love: Junji Itō

American horror typically depicts a psycho lurking around in a motel, zombies brought back from the dead, or clowns eating frightened children. Junji Itō has shaped the way viewers define horror forever, bringing stories to life by drawings made from ink and paper. Unlike American horror, he illustrates supernatural events such as mysterious spirals, blood-sucking vampire bats, and much more.

Born on July 31st, 1963 in Nakatsugawa, Gifu, Japan, Junji Itō developed his love for horror at a young age. His older sisters would read him Kazuo Umezu and Shinichi Koga–famous horror manga authors during the 1960s–in Japanese magazines. Other authors such as Hideshi Hino, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Shinichi Koga, H. P. Lovecraft, and Edogawa Ranpo became major influences to his work as well.

Junji Itō’s career as a manga author began around the 1980s, when he won the Kazuo Umezu Prize after entering a short tale to Gekkan Halloween. The submission later turned into a Japanese horror manga series titled Tomie. Afterwards, he quit his previous job and pursued his hobby of writing and drawing as a full career.

Junji Itō’s works were popular in Japan, yet they only gained popularity in the United States late into his career. In 2019, Itō won an Eisner Award for his manga reinterpretation of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Known as the Academy Awards of the comic industry, Itō became one of few foreigners to receive an Eisner Award. This year, he was once again nominated for an Eisner Award under the category of “The Best Writer/Artist” for his horror comic Jigokusei Remina.

Most of Junji Itō’s creations portray a dark, impulsive universe filled with the worst traits in any human, specifically greed, jealousy, and irrationality. There are recurring themes of grotesque horror, inevitable consequences of one’s own actions, seemingly ordinary characters that gradually submit to compulsion, and settings that break down and collapse into a state which reflects our own society. As a result, all of his mangas portray the beauty and underlying horror in every story. Itō’s most popular manga is arguably Uzumaki, a three-volume novel that depicts the journey of a teenager, Kirie Goshima, who witnesses an ordinary town fall under a curse of spirals. Another famous novel is Smashed, consisting of multiple short stories such as addictive honey that flattens those who drink it, a valley of mirrors, and “earthbound” people. These novels may be the most well-known, but Itō has a variety of underrated books, series, and movies to choose from.

As a lover of horror, I’ve grown to admire Junji Itō’s novels for their distinctive illustrations and plots. They truly allow readers to feel more than just fear. The ties between Itō’s fictional and nonfictional factors truly brings out different emotions because it reflects our own world.

Junji Itō is still alive at the age of 57. Although he may not be publishing any novels in the near future, his history of twisted tales that connect our deepest unknown fears to real life truly proves he’s the master of horror.

-Natasha P.

The works of Junji Ito are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

A couple years ago, I read this book, and, though it was good, I didn’t go on to read the other two books in The Grisha Trilogy. Recently, after reading and thoroughly enjoying Leigh Bardugo’s two-book Six of Crows series (I highly recommend this series!) and learning about the forthcoming Shadow and Bone TV series, I decided to pick up Shadow and Bone again–and I’m glad I did.

As a very brief synopsis, Shadow and Bone takes place in Ravka, a country divided into two pieces by a dangerous wall of darkness. The solution to this divide may lie with Alina Starkov, who finds that she has an ability that may enable her to eradicate the wall of darkness. While this ability makes her a beam of hope for those who wish to be rid of the darkness, it also puts her at risk–her power makes her very valuable, and, if controlled by the wrong person, it could be dangerous.

One thing I love about this book is that it takes place in the same world as Leigh Bardugo’s other books. Even though Shadow and Bone has a different plot from her other series (Six of Crows), I enjoyed delving back into a world I was already familiar with.

In addition, one of my favorite aspects about Shadow and Bone is the characterization. Some characters are incredibly lovable; others are mysterious; some are fascinating or dangerous or a mixture of both. Because of their flaws and their complexity, I found many of the characters believable and well-rounded.

If you are planning on reading Leigh Bardugo’s books (which is amazing!), I would recommend reading The Grisha Trilogy before the Six of Crows series. Although they are not very closely related in plot (as far as I know; I have only read the first book in the trilogy so far), there are some references to The Grisha Trilogy in the Six of Crows series, as well as appearances from characters from the trilogy (if I had known this, I probably would have read the trilogy first).

I’m thoroughly enjoying reading Leigh Bardugo’s books. I highly recommend them to any fantasy lover, and reading Shadow and Bone is the perfect way to begin a journey into Leigh Bardugo’s rich and fascinating world.

-Mia T.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Manga Review: Erased by Kei Sanbe

Many of the popular manga we see nowadays center around action and fantasy. Such famous mangas still have amazing reads and obviously attract readers around the globe for a reason, but they fall short of meaning or depth in their plots. Yes, there’s a lengthy plot, lovable characters, and other factors that appeal to minds of all ages. But do these mangas also talk about the reality of our world? Do they bring heart-throbbing events where the main character can’t gain hope from a 30-minute monologue? I admit, Erased may not be the best book to those looking for a light-hearted novel, but it’s definitely worth reading and allows readers to see both the beauty and cruelty of our real world.

Erased is also referred to as Boku dake ga Inai Machi (僕だけがいない街), which is directly translated as “The Town Where Only I Am Missing.” Written by Kei Sanbe, the series is filled with thriller, mystery, and a bit of science fiction. The story entails of a young man named Satoru. He enables the ability to time-travel before a life-threatening event and prevent it from happening, also known as “Revival.” One night, his mother is murdered by an unknown killer; the pain-staking event sends Satoru eighteen years back into his childhood. After discovering that the murderer is tied to his past, Satoru is now given the opportunity to prevent his mother’s death by discovering who the murderer is, as well as solve the case of three missing children in his home town.

To be honest, there are moments where the plot doesn’t make sense—especially since the author never mentions why Satoru is able to time-travel. Regardless, the plot of the book series remains absolutely phenomenal; the author quickens the plot’s pace when necessary and fills it with extreme twists and events that leaves the audience filled with emotions. The characters themselves are either loved or despised, and every character reaches their fullest potential, regardless of being a hero or villain.

But I digress—what is most enjoyable about this book is its uniqueness and how meaningful the story is. Time-travel itself is quite a cheesy plot factor, but the connection between reality and fantasy is what makes the series interesting. Overall, the plot remains realistic; characters often make mistakes and feel lost, some moments seem hopeless, and a glimpse of light that every reader looks for rarely shines. Sanbe weaves the cruel reality of our world into the plot with regards to child abuse and kidnapping. Yet he still gives signs of faith and hope through time-traveling and fiction, giving Satoru another chance at making things right, and a bittersweet ending. Such factors are simply not found in any typical manga.

Overall, the Erased series is truly underrated. Although it does fit those who prefer the gory over glory, Erased does what any manga rarely does—give hope and faith to the hopelessness of our real world.

– Natisha P.

Erased by Kei Sanbe is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.