My Top Five Fantasy Series

As a lover of all things fantasy ever since I was a child, they have left an impact on my life as I continue to be fascinated by all things mystical. Luckily for me, fantasy has started to dominate the mainstream once again, and as I was watching one of my old favorites, it got me thinking: what are my favorite fantasy series? I talk about science fiction often, but as a huge Zelda fan and lover of The Lord of the Rings, i figured it would be fun to sit down and decide on which shows I love the most with respect to fantasy.

  1. Lost – a J.J. Abrams series with fantastic circumstances and twists at every turn, Lost had me on the edge of my seat waiting for answers as the show went into strange territory. When flight Oceanic 815 crash lands on a mysterious island that turns out to be more dangerous than the crash itself. Following the survivors and trying to uncover the mysteries was a fun Friday activity friends and I did every week as the show aired. Lost receives 5th place due to the less than satisfactory ending, but still a good watch all the same.
  2. Bewitched – the original show that aired in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a remember enjoying this series as a younger kid with my mom and dad. It was a silly serial that I loved to watch for a supernatural fantasy fix, before watching my favorite episode of Star Trek for the 10th time. Classic shows like these remind me of my childhood, and I still love to watch the antics of Samantha and Darrin to this day.
  3. Dead Like Me – A more morbid turn, Dead Like Me stars a girl named Georgia (preferring to be called George) who dies after a toilet seat from a space station hits her. She is recruited to become a grim reaper, and must ferry souls to the afterlife while dealing with her death. This series is hilarious but also heart-wrenching as her parents, and younger sister have to deal with her death, and she can’t interact with them at all. Although it was short lived, I still revisit this series and love to watch it from time to time.
  4. Sabrina the Teenage Witch – This show was a fun, 90’s classic that featured a high school freshman coming to terms with high school life while also dealing with her powers. This show was hilarious, and I remember regularly watching after school. Sabrina is a fun take on the supernatural with a black cat named Salem that I swear was the best character on the show. I still pull up my favorite episodes every once in a while for a laugh.
  5. Supernatural – This probably comes as no surprise, but I am a huge Supernatural fan. Dean and Sam Winchester are a compelling duo who investigate and hunt supernatural beings to maintain order. Coming from a long line of hunters, they must unravel the mystery of their mother’s death while keeping the World safe. Hilarious, heart-wrenching, and bone chilling, I still watch this show and catch new episodes every week.

Fan Comics: Flattery or Copyright Infringement?

As an artist and someone who spends way too much time on the internet, copyright infringement has become a major issue that people are debating the definition of, and how this issue should be dealt with. At what point do we step over the line from fan art to the outright stealing of a beloved franchise? Although there is more at play than I will talk about, I want to state my opinion on the matter as I wait alongside everyone else to see how this is going to play out.

As I began writing this blog, I found out that one of my favorite YouTube channel, Team Four Star, had lost their channel to copyright infringement allegations. This channel features several spoofs and rewriting of anime shows such as Van Helsing and DragonBall Z, as well as Lets Play content and reviews.

This difficult situation happened only a few hours ago, so I am not sure what the fate of their channel will be, but I feel like YouTube is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They are a large company that makes money off of content uploaded by everyday people and the advertising benefits therein. In the last year or so they have been locking down on copyrighted material, and shutting down channels to investigate these matters. I understand that they have investors and must also follow the law, but I believe the franchises that cry infringement are only hurting themselves.

YouTube has become a huge site that hosts all kinds of entertainment, and how to videos and which are based on the idea that we the ordinary everyday people have a voice. It has always been a community that has helped people down on their luck or dreamers to have a career and share what they love to do with others. There are always trolls and people who just desire to make everyone else lives miserable, but they are not the bulk of the masses.

Freedom of Speech I think covers self-expression, but the line starts to blur when people try to make money off of others hard work. I can see how this is a problem, and I had a whole lesson in college about how to sell your fan art without coming under fire for copyright issues. Nintendo is a prime example of a company that will stop at nothing to curb potential copyright infringement, including stomping on those that are endorsing their products. I think it is a waste of free exposure, as trends have proven that what Youtubers play becomes popular and noticed much quicker and gains notoriety above the other titles that exist.

There is a glimmer of hope, however, has I have recently seen with indie developers Scott Caughlin and Toby Fox. These two developers created Five Nights at Freddie’s and Undertale respectively and had allowed and encouraged fans to make tributes and art from their games. Both of these games have risen to popularity and have several comic strips, AMV’s, and spoof series come from them, and they aren’t stopping anytime soon. Let the people enjoy your work, and great things will come to them and you as everyone is allowed to show their love in creative ways.

Anita Blake vs. Bella Swan

Fantasy is a large genre that covers everything from straight old fashion prince charming saves the princess from the dragon to more urban settings that have some stakes in reality. I want to focus on two stories that lean more towards the latter, with two titles that have become popular throughout the years. My goal is to compare and contrast the two heroines and give my opinion as to what makes these two popular even though they are worlds apart.

First, a familiar title that isn’t very old and still in the public consciousness, Twilight. Rooted in modern America with everyday life tropes, this more urban fantasy deals with a young girl named Bella Swan, a teenager who has gotten herself mixed up in the mostly secret world of vampires and werewolves. As the heroine of the books, the story delves into her struggle to unite a family and stop a war while being stuck in a love triangle that ultimately ends with her marrying into the vampire family.

On the other hand, Anita Blake is the main character of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Series. She is a vampire huntress who also lives in an urban fantasy environment, except monsters, are very real and somewhat accepted as their races. Vampire club owners exist in this strange and changing landscape, which make her struggles between killing and loving vampires and other creatures more soap opera than outright fantasy.

The main reason I wanted to look at these two is that I never really got into either one of them, so from an outside view researching the characters and plots I feel I have a more unbiased opinion. As far as the heroines themselves, I have to say I prefer Anita Blake. Anita is shown to be a strong yet uncertain young woman of 25 at the beginning of the series, an already established vampire huntress that has abilities and the firepower to take down a small army. She investigates murders and deals with unusual situations that are considered normal in her world.

By contrast, we meet Bella in high school, a young girl who sees this mysterious boy and instantly falls for him. Through her story, she is caught up in the family squabbles and on whether or not she should be with her vampire beau as he wants to protect her by pushing her away. Although I can understand the appeal, I have enjoyed my fair share of anime set in high school with similar results, Bella isn’t that interesting to me as a standalone character.

To be fair, I am comparing a long established book series currently about to release book 25 with a series that has four books that were written by a first-time author. I want to compare them for the simple reason to show my preference for a third party view who doesn’t have much experience on either side and what I would be interested to read if given the chance.

Just picking up the books and looking at them objectively, I choose Anita. With a strong character from the get go that seems relate-able, Bella doesn’t quite catch my eye. Grisly murders, a love triangle, and lives on the line, the excitement factor alone wins out over Twilight for me.

Undertale: A Game Review

Oh Undertale, where do I even begin with you? I haven’t fan-girled so hard about something in a long time, probably since I first got into Disney as a small child. An indie game that was released in September 2015, Undertale has exploded all over the internet as a title that challenges standard RPG game play and what it means to live with the consequences of your actions.

As a lifelong gamer, I started playing games at a very young age, starting with the original Nintendo all the way up to now on my PC with Steam. I have always been drawn to RPGs, as I have loved the deep stories and the character connections that we can make until you care about what is happening to your band of misfits. Once thing that was always instilled in me as I played titles such as Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger is that monsters are bad, humans are good. You trudge around the overworld map, killing respawning enemies to gain EXP or experience points to progress the game until you eventually confront the big baddie and take him down for a happy ending.

Anyone that has ever played games or seen a movie knows that this is how it often plays out, and I was no different. Undertale takes that ingrained thinking and flips it on its head. The story begins with you, a child who has fallen into the underground. Monsters and humans inhabit the world, but war broke out with the humans eventually winning, sealing and trapping the monsters underground forever with a barrier. You as the fallen child must navigate your way through and find a way home through this underground while encountering enemies and various creatures on your journey. It sounds like a typical RPG, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

You meet a flower that seems very friendly in the first few seconds of the game, but in your first meeting he tricks you and almost kills. You are resuced by a monster named Toriel, who guides you throughout the ruins where you meet several interesting monsters that in any other game would be respawning EXP fodder. Toriel walks you through puzzles and the gameplay mechanics and invites you into her home for pie and to live there with her since you are also trapped and she is lonely. I grew to love this character through our interactions, but knew I needed to progress the story, so I tried to leave.

She became upset and told me to fight her to show I was strong enough to survive. Sensing a fantasy gaffe where the character has me prove I’m strong but ends up helping me along my adventure, I obliged. I stuck with her and I looked on, confused as her sweet face turned to shock, and she told me she was afraid of me and for others I would meet. She died right then and there, and I felt such guilt. This was the first time I had ever felt like this, and I’ll admit I reset right then and there.

This game gives every action you make a consequence, and the gameplay and character interactions completely changes depending on the choices you make. You are rewarded for being merciful, and characters remember what you do to them even after you reset the game. A chilling lesson in morality and responsibility, I couldn’t stop playing it and I find myself telling everyone I know to play this game: it will change how you see characters in your favorite games forever.