Star Wars: Coming Back to ‘The Bad Batch’ Season 2

Screenshot of Echo, Omega, Wrecker, Hunter, and Tech in ‘The Bad Batch’ on Disney+. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm.

Hey! Hallie here!

For those who followed my reviews of season one of ‘The Bad Batch’, you might not be all that surprised that I’m so late to start talking about season two. I didn’t dislike season one, it had plenty of good ideas and I absolutely adore Omega as a character, but I also didn’t like that first season very much. I felt the characters were lacking. So lacking, in fact, that I wasn’t sure I would be back to watch season two despite my love for Omega. But ultimately, the more I heard about this season the more I was convinced to pick it up again. Once again the writing seems to refuse to shy away from the darker and more interesting parts of Star Wars lore, and some of the characters in this season are actually getting the development I wanted in season one. Granted, it still struggles with many of the flaws I saw in that first season, but I do want to talk about what I’ve been liking from this season so far. This is a SPOILER warning and also a warning that I’m not completely caught up on the series. This is more a midway point review and I will likely do another review once the season finale airs.

The Characters: This was my main complaint in season one so let’s talk about how season two compares. First off, Omega is as great as always. Though her character could definitely stagnate now that she’s essentially come into her own, she doesn’t at all. Now we’re focusing on her struggle to keep the family she’s built together as each character grows and changes, meanwhile harboring guilt over her essentially being the cause for the Bad Batch having to go out on their own in the first place. And can I just say, I’m so glad we’re done with the storylines where Omega has to constantly prove herself to the Batch each episode. Now she’s accepted as a fully capable member of the mercenary group, and is even depended on to hold her own in battle. I really like this, both because Omega deserves it and because it makes the other members of the Batch interestingly conflicted. On the one hand, she’s growing up and they have to acknowledge that there are things she can take care of on her own. But on the other, she’s still a kid and they wish they could give her a proper childhood.

Speaking of the Batch, let’s talk about Tech. Tech has been getting SO MUCH this season, and as someone who pretty instantly knew Tech was my favorite member of the Bad Batch, I’m ecstatic. Tech got a few cool moments in season one, but he was mostly just “the smart one” who provided most of the show’s sarcasm. This season he has plenty of cool scenes, now actively taking part in every firefight, and his character development is excellent. We’re seeing him get paired off with Omega a lot, and the comparisons being drawn between himself and Omega are interesting. They’re essentially foils for each other, with Omega being passionate and emotional, and Tech being level-headed and calculating. This has led to plenty of cute moments where the two surprise each other with their supportiveness as well as discuss their differences. There’s even a scene where Tech talks with Omega about how he processes things differently from other people, confirming the statement made by clone voice actor Dee Bradley Baker that Tech is on the autism spectrum. Hell yeah! The other characters still don’t seem to have as much development as I would like, though I do appreciate that Echo taking his leave to join the Rebels was very in character. Still, they’ve been doing more character work this season than I expected and I’m loving it.

The Storylines: One thing ‘The Bad Batch’ has never been bad at is storylines. Some storylines can come across as too silly or over the top, but for the most part, they really dig their heels into developing Star Wars lore and giving it depth. The episode that stood out the most for me in this regard was episode three of the season. This episode doesn’t feature any of our main characters, so it almost comes as a surprise how immediately it hooks the audience. In it we catch up with Crosshair, who still isn’t getting as much time as I would like after all of the dramatic moments in season one’s finale. He’s apparently had to go through an extensive healing process after waiting days on the destroyed remnants of Kamino to be rescued by the Empire. Though we don’t really see signs of the headaches he was suffering from in season one, we know he’s still struggling with his position in the Empire because he hasn’t been sleeping well. And what better way to explore Crosshair’s inner dilemma than by pairing him off with the ultimate clone betrayer, Commander Cody?

I was so conflicted to see Cody return. We haven’t seen any story about him surrounding Order 66, which left his likable personality in Clone Wars feeling like a bit of a lie knowing how quickly he turned on Obi-Wan. Here he’s still on the “good soldiers follow orders” kick, but just like Crosshair, he’s questioning himself. The two fall into the mission given by the Empire easily, especially because they’re mostly fighting against Separatist droids. But when Cody tries to convince their target that they can talk everything out and achieve the peace he feels the Empire wants to achieve, he’s given a rude awakening when Crosshair immediately shoots her instead. By the end of the episode Cody’s defected from the Empire and Crosshair is even more conflicted than he was at the beginning. It’s such a brilliant episode and perfectly pairs together two of the clones fans have most held grudges against. Along with this storyline we’ve seen Captain Rex come back, the return of Gungi, the Wookiee Jedi, and we even got to explore the spiritual connection between Wookiee tribes and the nature on Kashyyk. They really haven’t disappointed me with an episode of the season so far.

The Animation: Star Wars animation has come so insanely far since the first season of ‘Clone Wars’. Everything in this season looks so realistic, from the sand on the desert planets, to the water on ocean planets, to the lighting on character’s faces. I am absolutely amazed by the way the series has managed to keep the stylistic look of the characters, including the blocky structure of their faces and the solid shape of their hair, all while still looking like they could walk out of the screen. The landscape shots in this show are so gorgeous that I’ve actually gasped while watching them. I can’t get over how amazing this looks, and how much improvement there is even compared to the first season of ‘The Bad Batch’, which already looked incredible. It’s getting to the point where I would recommend this show for how gorgeous it looks alone.

And those are my thoughts on what I’ve seen so far! I didn’t have a place to talk about this in any of my categories, so I also want to quickly give a shout out to Hector Elizondo for being an iconic actor and having an amazing voice for voice acting. I love Hector Elizondo, mostly from my days obsessing over ‘Princess Diaries’, and his voice is so recognizable that the minute I heard him at the beginning of the season I nearly started crying. But even with my bias for Elizondo aside, this season has already done some major work at winning me over. I can’t wait to see what else ‘The Bad Batch’ has up its sleeve. While I wait to see where the end of season two puts the crew, for now I’ll be spending all my time catching up on the episodes I missed.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Video Games: Mario Bros. Lore

Screenshot of Princess Peach from the new ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’. Copyright goes to Universal Pictures and Nintendo.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I think everyone is more than aware by now that there’s a brand new ‘Mario Bros.’ movie coming out and a lot of people have a lot of opinions on the casting. I know I do! But even though this may or may not be one of the best ‘Super Mario Bros.’ related things to come out in the way of content, it will certainly give us more plot than we’re used to seeing when it comes to the Nintendo characters. For the most part, Mario games aren’t well known for being big on plot. And they don’t have to be! The games focus a little more on traditional storylines, the obvious draw of the iconic characters, and fun mini games that large groups of people can play. In fact, the mini game approach has gotten them so popular that it’s what Nintendo has been banking off of when it comes to the Mario characters for years now. I’m not sure any Nintendo game is as popular as ‘Mario Kart’. But this lack of general storytelling doesn’t mean that Nintendo has never done any with these characters. And it certainly doesn’t mean that fans haven’t included their own ideas of what a more fleshed out Mario Bros. world would look like. So I’m going to get into some of my favorite canonical additions, some history, and some of my favorite fan additions that have really fleshed out this world for me.

Original Content:

Everyone knows what happens plot wise in most of the original games as well as a lot of the recent games. Princess Peach, the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom, is kidnapped by Bowser, a dinosaur looking creature, and taken to his giant castle filled with fire. For some odd reason, the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom employ the help of a plumber, Mario, who goes on a quest to save the Princess. A very classic damsel-in-distress storyline. Most games have gone after a storyline where Bowser is depicted as being pretty obsessed with the Princess and sometimes even attempts to force her into marrying him on top of the general kidnapping. If you’ve ever seen pictures of Princess Peach in a wedding gown or gotten a wedding Peach as a racer in ‘Mario Kart’, it’s likely a design from when Bowser tried to force her to marry him. It has absolutely nothing to do with her marrying Mario. Besides this, we don’t get much information at all. We don’t know how Mario suddenly comes into the picture as he is not a citizen of the Mushroom Kingdom. We don’t know why Bowser is intent on only Princess Peach. And, most importantly, we never learn what Princess Peach thinks about all of this. I mean, she’s the one getting kidnapped!

Secondary Content:

Besides the main storylines we’ve gotten, there has been an expansion on other characters. It’s called ‘Super Mario Bros.’ for a reason; there’s more than one brother. This allowed for two players to team up to save Princess Peach, but it also gave us the character of Luigi. Not only is Luigi adorable, but he’s unleashed a whole other host of characters as well as story. While Luigi’s games don’t focus on storyline that much either, Luigi frequently is pitted against King Boo in his games. A very scared Luigi reluctantly goes against the King ghost haunting him. But we don’t really know who these ghosts used to be or how Luigi frequently finds himself in company with them when he’s just a small, scared, adorable, man who doesn’t really want to fight anyone. On top of Luigi, we also have Princess Daisy who has a more complicated storyline. Princess Daisy is actually in charge of several Kingdoms, so she’s technically an Empress. Her original game saw her as yet another damsel-in-distress to be saved by Mario, just slightly more tomboyish than Peach. The comics went so far as to include her in evil schemes in order to try and persuade Peach to like someone other than Mario so that she could have Mario to herself. One such scheme was aiding in the creation of Wario and Waluigi. But these comics are not considered canonical and it’s questionable whether they ever were. Despite no plot relevant interactions within any games, Nintendo semi-recently declared that Daisy is the official love interest of Luigi. The only romantic links we’ve seen between them have been hinting in mini-game related Mario games, but despite this it seems that this is a move that’s been coming on for a very long time.

Rosalina:

Rosalina was a popular character introduced in ‘Super Mario Galaxy’ and despite her absence in earlier Mario games, she’s arguably one of the most important characters in this franchise when it comes to plot. The original plot of the game was set to depict a new Princess of the galaxy Mario would be exploring on his way to save Peach. She was set to have a slightly deeper plot than we had seen before, but nothing too fleshed out. This was until Yoshiaki Koizumi wrote a completely fleshed out plot for the character late at night and requested that it be completely added into the game. He acknowledged in later interviews that to him it had felt like writing plot for Mario games was forbidden and deeply wanted to change this standard. Thus, the deep background for Rosalina was born. Though her storyline is optional in the game, you can visit Rosalina several times throughout the game and learn her entire backstory through a virtual storybook. The story is actually quite sad and really makes you feel for the character of Rosalina. At a young age a star creature called a Luma finds her having lost its mother; crying and begging for help. Together they search the galaxy for the mother of the Luma on their own planet and through their travels find even more Lumas who have lost mothers. Rosalina makes the planet habitable for them all, declaring herself the mother of the Lumas. Which is when we find out that Rosalina has also lost her mother and there is no hope of ever finding her again (It is strongly implied that she died shortly before the story began). Though this inclusion was optional, it still proves to be one of the most heartfelt pieces of plot ever written for a Mario game and continues to make the character of Rosalina stand out despite her being a more recent inclusion.

Fan Theories:

To fill in a lot of the gaps from the original games, many fans have tried their hand at inventing plot lines and deeper backstories for the original and iconic characters. This mainly seems to have focused on Princess Peach and Bowser. After all, the two seem to have past history as enemies even before the Mushroom Kingdom asks Mario for help in retrieving their Princess. A lot of people even wonder if perhaps Peach and Bowser had a history that wasn’t always antagonistic. My absolute favorite fan-created plot for the Nintendo games comes from the creators ‘lovebunnycosplay’ and ‘dinograveyard’ who post their Mario Lore videos primarily on both TikTok and Instagram. Their version of the story is actually still going and I’m always on edge to see what they’re going to do next with the characters. There will be SPOILERS for this going forward; I highly highly recommend going through all of their videos! Their version of the story has Princess Peach from a noble family that abused her and was losing money, so they sent her to a ball in the hopes that she might woo King Boo, who is still alive in the story. Instead she ends up wooing his brother, Prince Bowser, and though he is not her first choice, she marries him in order to get herself out of her situation and to give her family the money that they need. She still holds the hope of becoming the Queen, so she has an affair with Boo and we know from early videos that this may or may not lead Bowser to murder his brother, which leaves Princess Peach the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom. But it’s starting to seem like Peach was the one who killed Boo this entire time. Like I said, it’s not finished and it’s so intriguing! I feel so sorry for Bowser; he’s so sweet in their version! The cosplay is also top notch here! I seriously can’t recommend this series enough; I binge watched it like it was a Netflix show.

Obviously there’s a lot of Mario content to explore, but it seems like there’s significantly less when it comes to trying to find plot in the Nintendo games. And while they work perfectly well without plot, I am personally a very plot oriented show watcher and game player. I’m hoping that this new movie will give us some of the plot that these iconic characters deserve, but we’ll see. If all else fails we’ll still have top notch fan theories and fan series to watch! But I do hope that Nintendo sees the increasing want for canonical Mario lore and gives us something more to chew on, especially when it comes to the characters. There’s just so much that they could do!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Studio Ghibli: The 5 Most Comforting Ghibli Movies

Screenshot of Mei, Satsuki, and Totoro from ‘My Neighbor Totoro’. Copyright goes to Studio Ghibli.

Hey! Hallie here!

I have recently been obsessed with cozy entertainment and I think most Studio Ghibli films fall under that category. Other than ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, every Ghibli movie I’ve watched has given off some sort of comforting, whimsical vibe that cheers me up after a bad day. That said, the more I’ve explored cozy content, the more I’ve realized that while any movie can be comforting, some movies hit certain criteria that truly make it feel like you’re being wrapped in a warm blanket. The movies on this list are the Ghibli movies I feel give off this comfort the most. To make it onto this list, I specifically looked at movies that held the whimsy I liked in films as a child, but with low stakes that feel focused on personal growth rather than a situation that could be dire for any of the characters. Let’s get into my personal list of the most comforting Ghibli films!

5. ‘The Cat Returns’. ‘The Cat Returns’, more than any other Ghibli film, feels like a movie I would have watched over and over as a small child. It follows a high schooler named Haru, who goes out of her way to rescue a cat who’s almost hit by a truck. After she saves the cat, he stands up on two legs and speaks to thank her. If that wasn’t weird enough, she’s later faced with a royal procession of cats led by the Cat King who wish to give her gifts. But things quickly turn sinister when the Cat King insists she’s now obligated to marry his son, the cat she saved from the truck. She’s forced to seek help from the Cat Bureau, led by a cat named the Baron, all while she slowly turns into a cat herself. It’s really lighthearted, with villains that are more silly than evil and the stakes lying in the main character trying to stop herself from fully becoming a cat. The film is also short, sitting at only an hour and fifteen minutes, making it perfect for those days where my attention span is causing me stress. And the best part? In the English dub The Baron is voiced by Cary Elwes! While this movie doesn’t have a smaller scale cozy feel, the fantastical land of the Cat Kingdom brings its own comfort, particularly because of the gorgeous animation. It’s hard not to want to join the Baron for tea in the beautiful Cat Bureau base or dance in the Cat King’s ballroom in the towering palace. This one’s highly recommended for those days where you just want something fun without a complicated plot.

4. ‘When Marnie Was There’. This one is somber in tone at first, but I feel this one turns wholesome very fast and manages to keep that warm feeling even while the dramatic mystery of the movie unfolds. This one follows a young girl named Anna who’s sent to live with her aunt and uncle to help her with a mix of asthma and depression. While there she stumbles across an abandoned mansion where she meets a girl named Marnie. Strangely, Marnie appears to live in the mansion that, at night, is suddenly full of people rather than abandoned. But in the morning the mansion appears abandoned again and no one knows who Marnie is. While Anna begins to open up thanks to her friendship with Marnie, she tries to unravel the mystery of who Marnie really is. This one is particularly comforting to me because it deals pretty seriously with mental health. While I wouldn’t say there’s anything triggering for anyone dealing with anxiety or depression, the main character struggles with both of those things in a way that’s relatable. And this movie goes through her healing process as she learns how to open up to new people, depend on her family, and love herself even during her bad days. It’s cathartic, and at times definitely emotional. But for the most part, the way that Anna is supported by the people around her, particularly Marnie, is so comforting. I especially love that the movie really romanticizes the every day experience of getting to know new people with the fantasy backdrop of the strange mystery around Marnie. Definitely watch this one if you want a comforting watch that feels personal.

3. ‘Ponyo’. ‘Ponyo’ is the perfect mix of fantasy and everyday coziness with characters that are way too cute not to love. ‘Ponyo’ follows a fish girl who lives in the ocean. Curious about the surface world, she swims to shore and meets a little boy named Sosuke who gives her the name Ponyo. Sosuke decides to care for her on land and as the two get older, Ponyo begins to turn more and more into a human. But Ponyo’s father feels she’ll be safer in the ocean and his desire to bring her home causes problems for Sosuke’s seaside town. Most of the comfort from this one comes from the innocent love between Ponyo and Sosuke. Both are extremely young children who like each other regardless of flaws and want to spend as much time together as possible. While the movie sets up their relationship to be possibly romantic at some point in the future, it really doesn’t mean their relationship has to be viewed as romantic at all to find it touching. Just the fact they can be so different and care for each other so much is enough. Plus, this movie is full of so many calm, lovely scenes. Including an entire montage where Sosuke and Ponyo sail in a small boat across the town while the town is partially underwater, and a scene where Ponyo first experiences eating a ramen bowl with egg on top. Seriously, those ramen bowls will never not look delicious. Though some parts of the movie are more intense, for the most part this movie is simply about kids moving through everyday life in a port town and all the more dramatic moments occur between family members who care deeply for each other. Plus, the port town in this movie is beautiful and so easy to get lost in.

2. ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’. We’re getting to the two Ghibli movies best known for their comforting feel now. ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ is an excellent example of introducing fantastical elements into a world that’s otherwise just like ours. It follows Kiki, a young witch who must go out to make a way for herself on her thirteenth birthday. With her cat Jiji, she finds a seaside town with enough of a bustling population that she feels she can find success as a local witch. But with no other skills aside from flying, she decides to create a delivery service. She fortunately meets a kind woman named Osono who helps her get her business running, but running a business is harder than she thinks and her lack of self confidence quickly begins to get in her way. This movie is the perfect watch on a day where you just want to feel cozy. The port town is not just pretty, the cottage-like buildings and friendly population make it feel warm and welcoming. This movie also has plenty of baking, which myself and many other people feel adds an extra level of coziness to comfort media. Though admittedly one of the things baked in this movie is a herring pie, it somehow looks kind of appetizing. And Kiki spends lots of time in a bakery surrounded by delicious looking bread because baking is Osono’s profession. There’s also a huge message in this movie about being confident in your abilities and not beating yourself up when you begin to lose inspiration. As an artist, the in depth discussion of artists block, or blank page syndrome, always brings me a lot of relief. This one is definitely the movie that helps me most after a stressful day.

1.’My Neighbor Totoro’. There isn’t any other Ghibli movie that I could put at the top of this list. ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ will always appeal the most to my childhood love of fantasy and my current need to seek out lighthearted comfort. ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ begins with sisters Satsuki and Mei moving out to the countryside with their father. It’s revealed that they’re doing this so their sickly mother can live in a place that’s better for her condition once she gets back from the hospital. The two girls are very high spirited though, quickly deciding to wander around the foresty area that surrounds their new house. One day, Mei finds a mysterious tunnel within the trees and stumbles upon Totoro, a giant, fluffy, forest spirit who quickly joins in with the girls on their adventures. ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ is just adorable. You can’t really beat a movie that stars an irresistibly cute furry creature who freely gives out hugs. And unlike ‘Princess Mononoke’, all of the forest spirits in this one are cute. From small bunny-like fantasy creatures to the giant Catbus, there isn’t one character in this movie I wouldn’t want to be real. There’s also the lead characters to discuss. Mei and Satsuki are such realistic sisters and really comforting in their own ways. Mei, the youngest, is absurdly cute and acts so much like an actual child that she’s amusing to watch. Satsuki is older, and though she still enjoys playing around, there’s a wisdom to her that makes her instantly respectable. Even their father is a wholesome character you can’t help but want to know in real life. And even though the mother in this movie is sickly, there are no sad twists you have to worry about here. This movie is just so wholesome and captures the joy of being a child better than any movie I’ve ever seen.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

International Dramas: Unpopular K-Drama Opinions

Screenshot of Lee Minho in ‘Boys Over Flowers’. Copyright goes to Group 8, KBS, and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I’ve talked a lot about my favorite K-Dramas and my very honest opinions of them, and over time I’ve found that I have a lot of unpopular K-Drama opinions. And I feel as though as time passes, my opinions seem to fall more and more on the unpopular end of the spectrum. Until I started looking up other people’s opinions on these, I don’t think that I quite understood how different some of my opinions on some of these plot points and characters are. I find that a lot of strong opinions come up when it comes to K-Dramas that especially focus on romance, like the ones that I mostly watch. With everything else you’re also adding the fact that there’s usually a love triangle involved and a very charming second lead. But some of these opinions have nothing to do with that; so I’m just going to go into my unpopular opinions from some of my favorite K-Dramas. There will be MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead for quite a few K-Dramas, so be aware of that! Here we go!

Jandi is just as bad of a partner as Junpyo:

I don’t think that it’s an unpopular opinion in ‘Boys Over Flowers’ that Junpyo, in general, is a pretty terrible boyfriend. He has a massive amount of red flags and extremely toxic behaviors including rage issues that he doesn’t really seem to address at any point throughout the drama. Jandi is our heroine of the story, and she definitely has spunk and strength to her that’s admirable. But that in no way makes her a good girlfriend either. While Junpyo might as well be waving a giant red flag with a full marching band playing behind him; Jandi is an extremely bad girlfriend and demonstrates this several times throughout the series. Junpyo at least is committed to Jandi, though I absolutely completely judge him for not taking no for an answer several times throughout the building of their relationship. But even when Jandi is dating her initial crush, Jihoo, she’s constantly thinking about dating Junpyo instead. And when she decides she wants Junpyo instead, she’s suddenly interested in Jihoo again. She kind of pulls each of them along without being willing to let either one go. And she’s quick to pretend she doesn’t know Junpyo in public or decide that she hates him for the day. Both of them are completely awful at relationships and never seem to get all that much better throughout the series. This kind of goes into another popular opinion from the show that I disagree with; which is that Jandi should have ended up with Jihoo. Jihoo deserves so much better than Jandi! I disagree with that opinion purely because I want Jihoo to find someone who never views him as second best.

I like Yiseo with Saeroyi:

When I first watched ‘Itaewon Class’, the romantic ending to the show was considered very controversial. And the more I see this brought up, the more controversial this decision becomes. Throughout the drama Saeroyi is head over heels in love with Sooah, who develops feelings for him as well. But Yiseo is in it for Saeroyi from day one. She gambled with her entire future in order to help him with his business. And despite the fact that she doesn’t trust easily; she puts all of her trust in him. She even puts herself in danger for him on occasion. A lot of people thought that the relationship between the two felt more like a brother/sister dynamic. And I at least agree that there is a point in time where their relationship does feel a little like that. Especially when it’s unrequited. But by the end of the show I feel that their relationship has really progressed beyond that to a relationship where they both trust and take care of each other equally. And Sooah has a selfishness for her feelings towards Saeroyi while Yiseo doesn’t. Their relationship is pure on both sides and built off of years of trust. I think it’s a perfect beginning for the two of them after everything they’ve been through together and I personally find it so adorable!

Yujin Shouldn’t Have Been Forgiven:

This pains me a little to say when talking about ‘Imitation’ because this character is played by Jeong Yunho. Who is my bias in my ult group ATEEZ. I can’t even put into words how much I love that man, how amazing of an actor he is, and how excited I was to see him in a K-Drama! But Yujin (who I do absolutely love and would have chosen over Ryok in a heartbeat), was forgiven far too easily by Hyunji for what he did to her. Yujin calling her, not because he wanted to actually call her but because he wanted her to give him updates on Maha, is a huge breach of trust. And Yujin basically says a very brief sorry and then the two of them are suddenly completely back to normal. Yujin should have done a lot more to get her trust back after essentially using her in this situation. A simple apology shouldn’t have done it. And either way, I wish that Hyunji would have figured out that her crush on Yujin probably wasn’t the most healthy. Just like Yujin found out that his crush on Maha wasn’t healthy. Hyunji got angry at Maha a few times purely because she had a crush on Yujin and viewed Yujin more like a celebrity than a person. I think those two needed a lot more work before they got together in the end; especially Yujin. I also wanted more Yujin time and giving him more of a redemption would have given Yunho more to work with!

Habaek is the worst K-Drama love interest:

I know a lot of people give this crown to Junpyo, but I firmly believe that Habaek from ‘Bride of Habaek’ is the worst K-Drama boyfriend I’ve ever seen. Firstly, we’ve been talking more and more about how the boss/employee dynamic can be really unbalanced even though it is really popular in K-Dramas. I think a god/servant dynamic is even worse. Not only because that’s an absolutely insane dynamic itself, but also because Habaek takes full advantage of it. Including forcing Soah to do his bidding and then becoming extremely possessive of her once they start dating. Which culminates in a scene where he treats her like a housewife in front of the much better second lead (who refers to her as his goddess in comparison to Habaek referring to her as his servant) and barks orders at her the entire time. Habaek also constantly complains about her and, in one scene, lists off all of her perceived flaws to the second lead in the hopes that he’ll decide that she isn’t worth it anymore. He’s the epitome of a toxic boyfriend with an unhealthy power dynamic thrown into the mix. I have no idea why she didn’t end up with the second lead.

Rini and Kyeongjun Shouldn’t Get Back Together:

‘Lovestruck in the City’ is one of my favorite K-Dramas and such a touching story about reconnecting with the one that got away. At least, that’s the story of the main couple. This is a secondary couple that we are introduced to at the beginning as a very stable and loving couple that is currently in a functional long term relationship. Or at least, we think it’s functional. As we see more of the relationship we learn that Kyeongjun has been dancing around issues with Rini for a while now. And every time he tries to bring them up in an effort to communicate with her; she has a major freak out and they end up fighting. But on the other hand, he’s been lying about her to his family members because he’s ashamed of her job and this is one thing he hasn’t even been trying to communicate with her. After all of these issues come to a head at the very end of the drama, the two break up. This caused a lot of backlash as most people were, understandably, uncomfortable with the romance show ending with the long term couple having broken up. Most people asking for a second season were asking for one in the hopes that these two would get back together. But I personally don’t think that these two worked as a couple. Rini is self sufficient but she also refuses to let her boyfriend care for her in any way and dismisses his concerns immediately. And he lies about her because he’s ashamed of her. They feel too fundamentally different for them to work and their goals are wildly different. I think it was nice to show a relatable ending to a relationship amongst all the beautiful beginnings.

Goo Hae Ryung and Yi Rim are perfect together:

After ‘Rookie Historian: Goo Hae Ryung’ blew up, a huge chunk of people thought that Yi Rim was too childish for our heroine and that she should have ended up with Officer Min instead. I completely disagree with that! Yi Rim was such an adorable pure soul and he was the lighthearted foil to the constant drama and seriousness that Goo Hae Ryung had to deal with. Not only that, he absolutely refused to play games with her even when he was told to do so. With all of the lying, backstabbing, and manipulation that Goo Hae Ryung had to deal with within the palace; it was nice to have someone who was so communicative and honest for her to be able to fall back on. The two of them are so adorable together for so many reasons and I never saw Officer Min as a potential love interest for her. He was her mentor; I never sensed anything more romantic there. I think the romance in this one was absolutely perfect!

I know I’ve talked a little about most of these opinions before, but I don’t think I quite noticed how unpopular some of these were. And most of these are about couples that I actually like together or think shouldn’t have gotten together. Which is such a huge part of K-Dramas as a whole in general! I’m constantly looking for new ones to watch, so hopefully I’ll get obsessed with yet another one soon and develop even more unpopular opinions. But I think, for now, this is a pretty good compilation of my most unpopular K-Drama opinions.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Sci-Fi: ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Episode 2 and 3 Review

Screenshot of Sir Patrick Stewart as Picard and Jonathan Frakes as Riker in episode 2 of ‘Star Trek:Picard’ on Paramount+. Copyright goes to CBS Television Studios, Roddenberry Entertainment, and Secret Hideout.

Hey! Hallie here!

Now that I’m taking Fridays all to myself on this blog, I can promise a whole lot more episode reviews. Between ‘Picard’, ‘The Mandalorian‘, and the last few episodes of ‘The Last of Us’, I have plenty of shows to talk about in the next few weeks. For now I’m going to stick with the most recent episodes of ‘Picard’ because things have really started moving. I’m not sure this series has completely sold me yet, but in the very least yesterday’s episode grabbed my attention. At this point I’m beginning to let go of hoping for anything close to perfection and instead settling for perfectly satisfying, which I feel like this season could definitely achieve if it keeps the interesting use of ‘Next Generation’ characters coming. There are plenty of pros and cons to talk about within the last few episodes and all will be spoilery so this is your SPOILER WARNING. Let’s go!

What I Liked:

Riker: There’s something about Jonathan Frakes performance as Riker that makes me instantly like him. He has such a good sense of humor and also such a low tolerance for anyone acting stupid around him that you can’t help but admire him. His incredulousness over Picard continuing to deny that Jack’s his son was so relatable that it was actually hilarious. I especially liked him in episode three. Here is where we got into the really heavy hitting stuff surrounding the loss of his son. We heard he and Deanna lost their son back in season one, but the way it was expanded on here was brilliant. Against Picard dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of figuring out he has a son he didn’t know about, Riker is being constantly reminded of all the regrets he has for not being more present in his son’s life when he was alive. That comes out in two very interesting ways. One is the kind but firm pushing he does to try to get Jack and Picard to communicate. Literally no one in that family is actually attempting to get them to talk, so it leaves Riker to take up the much needed position as the voice of wisdom. Then there’s the way it effects Riker as a captain. I was so thrilled to see Riker take up the captain’s chair and I admittedly almost squealed when Picard suggested Riker call him Number One. But once Riker gets in the chair after reflecting on the death of his son so much, he becomes entirely unwilling to let anyone on the ship die. And, to be perfectly honest, I agree with him. I was completely on his side when he demanded Picard get off the bridge for planning a risky and not at all effective attack on the enemy. But we’ll have to see how this new protective Riker plays a part in the rift forming between himself and Picard.

Worf: I love Worf so much and I was thrilled to see his return in this series. His fight scene in episode two was epic. I loved seeing Worf kick ass after so many years of missing it. I wasn’t sure what was happening when I saw that Ferengi get beheaded, but the unmasking of Worf was the highlight of episode two. I was also very grateful to see him for the purpose of making Raffi’s plot worth watching. Her plot was the weakest part of the season before Worf showed up. The Section 31 reveal as well as the reveal that Worf has been Raffi’s handler was the exact boost the plot needed. I even began to enjoy the back and forth between Worf and Raffi, which is admittedly better when a robotic voice isn’t covering Worf’s deadpan sarcasm. Worf might be my favorite part of the show so far. Michael Dorn looks as amazing as ever in the role. Seriously, has he aged? And the way they’re bringing in plot points from ‘Deep Space Nine’ is really endearing me to the show as a whole. Although, I’m admittedly on board when anyone mentions ‘Deep Space Nine’ ever. Either way, Worf is reminding me why his intimidating presence and surprising humor made him a staple of ‘The Next Generation’. I almost can’t believe we got through two seasons without him.

Seven: I’ve always loved Seven of Nine, but I’m genuinely surprised by how much she’s completely stealing scenes from giant characters like Picard. From disobeying orders from her captain so she can help Picard, to running to repair the ship while being surrounded by dangerous gas, it feels like Seven has the most to lose of all the main characters. She definitely receives the most threats to her career after Captain Shaw takes her off duty and confines her to quarters. But since she has the most to lose, it makes sense that she comes across as the most badass. She sticks to her beliefs and is often the person to save the day even when she’s exasperated with both Shaw and Picard. She’s really making the most of her limited amount of screen time, and if anyone can, it’s Seven.

Changelings: Changelings were always terrifying villains in ‘Deep Space Nine’ because they could literally be anywhere and the main characters would never know. They had to come up with several blood tests to be able to out Changelings, and even then, the blood tests weren’t always full proof. I will never forget the episode where they revealed that Doctor Julian Bashir, one of my favorite characters in ‘Star Trek’ ever, had been replaced by a Changeling for a huge chunk of a season and was actually being held in a prison camp. I am ecstatic to see that the ‘Star Trek’ writers are acknowledging the truly terrifying parts of these characters by bringing them back. We even get to see them with new CGI effects! ‘Picard’ also gets points from me for indirectly name dropping Odo when Worf mentions who warned him about the rogue group of Changelings. I’m pretty sure it’s the closest we’re going to get to a ‘Deep Space Nine’ exclusive character playing a role in the series, but I appreciate it anyways.

What I Disliked:

Picard/Beverly/Jack Storyline: I don’t hate this storyline so far, but I can’t help but feel that it isn’t hitting the emotional beats it should. And that’s for several different reasons. One is the argument between Picard and Beverly. Picard is appalled that Beverly never told him he had a child, and is unsure how to feel about Jack because Jack clearly wants nothing to do with him. But Beverly argues that Picard has such a huge target on his back because of his reputation, that including Picard in his son’s life would have put Jack at risk. She also notes that later in life she told Jack where he could find Picard, but Jack refused to search for him. Which apparently washes her hands of responsibility for Jack’s apathy towards Picard. I get the feeling we’re supposed to see both sides in this argument and that that’s where a lot of the heartbreak is supposed to come from. But Beverly is clearly in the wrong. First off, Star Fleet comes with occupational hazards. Beverly knows that better than anyone given the fact that her husband died on a mission. That is not the fault of the Star Fleet officer, not even Picard whose only sin is apparently that he’s too well known of a Star Fleet officer. Beverly acting like it’s a major fault of Picard’s is really damn weird, and using it as an excuse to keep him from knowing about his child is even worse. Second, Jack’s apathy towards Picard comes mostly from Beverly painting Picard as an absentee father by refusing to let him into their lives. Jack is clearly bitter about having never had a father, and that’s Beverly’s fault. Moving past Beverly’s horrible decision making, Jack’s just not a character I care about at this point. I don’t know if we’re supposed to be delighted by his “roguish” behavior, but he comes across as more of a used car salesman. And the reason for why he has a British accent is just silly. This whole dynamic just isn’t working for me and I hope it gets fixed soon.

Shaw: I am very confused about how I’m supposed to feel about this character. When we were introduced to Shaw he treated Seven horribly, forced her to go by the name she no longer identifies with to make himself more comfortable, and took a long nap in the middle of major events happening on the ship. But in the last few episodes whenever he stood up against Riker and Picard, and even outright offended them, it was because they were putting his crew in danger. At this point he’s even relented in helping Picard and Riker, conducting himself with dignity and showing genuine care for his crew. Soooo, what’s going on here? Is he an ass or isn’t he? Because I feel like this show is giving a different impression of the captain by the episode and I can’t seem to figure out how it all connects.

Vadic: So far, I can’t see what’s interesting about this villain. It’s a typical ‘Star Trek’ villain. Vaguely threatening, a little insane, and occupying a ship that outguns our hero’s ship. There’s nothing about the appearance or performance of this character that’s drawn me in at all. We’ve gotten to the point where I’m already antsy to see Lore or Moriarty because I can at least count on them to liven up the show.

And those are my thoughts on the last two episodes of ‘Picard’! I’m slowly warming to this season, but as you can tell, it hasn’t completely won me over. I think it’s still having a lot of writing troubles and I’m waiting to see ‘The Next Generation’ cast be utilized to their full potential. But there are so many things about this season that I’m excited for as well. I think it has the potential to round off ‘Picard’ in exactly the way a legacy show like this deserves, but I think it needs to pick up the pace before we can get there. In the meantime, I’m at least thrilled that I get to watch more of Worf.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Books: Is ‘Fangirl’ Anti-Fangirl? BLOG ANNOUNCEMENT

Photo of the second edition of the manga of ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell. Copyright goes to VIZ and Rainbow Rowell.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Firstly, I want to address the blog announcement piece of the title so here goes:

BLOG ANNOUNCEMENT: You probably noticed that I posted this a day late. That’s because we’re going to a twice a week schedule in order to organize a little and give us each one day a week just for us! From now on you’ll see Annie posts every Tuesday and Hallie posts every Friday. As you most likely noticed, this schedule starts today! And now for the post!

‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell has become a classic in YA fiction; it is also increasingly controversial with every year that passes. To begin with, Rainbow Rowell as an author has become pretty controversial anyways. If you aren’t familiar with this author, she’s most known for this book and also for her book ‘Eleanor and Park’. ‘Eleanor and Park’ has now been called out on multiple occasions by many readers for being a racist book. While at the time of its release it was praised for having an Asian male lead, people are now widely starting to discuss the fact that this does not negate the clear racism seen in this novel. Not only did Rowell not do much research about Asian culture, resulting in the first name of her main male character being a common surname, but she also had her main character say that she found Park cute “for an Asian guy” in the book and fetishizes him on multiple occasions. The main character also congratulates herself multiple times throughout the book for noticing the potential in Park that most people don’t notice because of his race. These aren’t the only racist statements made in the book and have caused many people to understandably stop reading any books by Rowell. In fact, I wish I had known this before I bought my copy of ‘Fangirl’, because I would not have bought it had I known. But since I did buy this I figure I should at least join the discourse about this specific book. Because this book became popular because its main character is a fangirl in a fandom who writes fan fiction; which is something that is relatable to a lot of us. Unfortunately, many fangirls have come out to say that this book actually isn’t very kind to fangirls or to many other groups for that matter. Though there are certain things that I liked seeing depicted, I also feel that a lot of these fangirls are absolutely correct in their criticisms. So I’m going to go through some of the arguments for and against this fairly controversial book by an extremely controversial author and give my personal opinions. These are only my personal opinions! MAJOR SPOILERS for ‘Fangirl’ coming up! Though I honestly wouldn’t recommend buying anything written by Rowell.

“Rowell thinks she’s more progressive than she is.”:

This is a common argument made about Rowell and about this book in particular. And considering that she wrote ‘Eleanor and Park’ to be more progressive and got rightly accused of being racist instead, I think this seems to ring pretty true for this author. The book depicts the main character, Cath, writing fan fiction about Simon Snow and Baz. They’re essentially this book’s equivalent of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. And while this isn’t problematic by itself, there’s a lot tacked onto this to make this problematic. For example, when Cath is nervous around Levi, specifically with him touching her, he has her read her fan fiction to him in order to calm her down. And while this wasn’t used in a sexual manner, it was still really problematic to have a straight couple read queer fan fiction in order to progress their relationship. I mean, I’m pretty done with media using bare minimum representation to further the personal journeys of people who aren’t in those minority groups. And this was exactly what was going on here. In a really odd scene, Cath asks if it’s weird to be reading her fan fiction in the same dorm as Levi’s gay roommate, which is such an insanely wrong thing to write in. It automatically makes your “representation” veer completely towards fetishization. On top of this, after she asks this Levi responds by saying that it’s ok because his roommate watches ‘Titanic’ in front of him all the time. WHAT? I can’t even begin to say how completely and obliviously stupid that comment was. Rowell seems to think that she’s being supportive of the LGBTQ+ community in this book and she is entirely wrong in that assumption.

“Rowell gets some representation right!”:

This is a comment that I would also agree with, but for different groups. As a twin, she writes a pretty important scene for twins in which she completely condemns the fetishization that faces particularly female twins. When Cath is at a bar with her sister Wren, a couple of drunk frat boys begin referring to the two of them as “the fantasy” that every guy has. Levi immediately steps in by telling the first guy that he wouldn’t be so interested in literal incest if comments like this were aimed at him and his sister. The scene ends with the frat guy getting punched in the face. It was a truly cathartic scene for me to read, especially after some of the situations my sister and I have been through while facing these comments. Rowell also writes some pretty realistic explanations of anxiety that I could personally relate to; such as Cath not worrying so much about the bigger things like going to college classes but instead getting really anxious about the smaller things like having to figure out the dining hall. My anxiety isn’t nearly to the point of Cath’s (I’ll get back to that), but some of the explanations were perfect. I also loved the portrayal of Cath’s Dad who also suffered from mental health problems and Cath’s want to take care of him, which is something that I also found relatable. She made his role in the story functional while still making her point clear. But the representation that she gets right in no way negates the representation that she gets horrendously wrong.

“Fangirls aren’t actually like this and it promotes stereotyping.”:

Also agreed! The way Cath is portrayed as a fangirl is both not enough and also not supported by the narrative. Cath only writes fan fiction and hangs up posters, she barely does anything else within the fandom and is seen as crazy for doing both of the things that she actually does. The stereotype about fans in general forever has been that fans are all anti-social hermits who are viewed as strange by everyone around them. While some of Cath’s anxiety is relatable; her inability to do anything for herself especially in social situations is not. I liked that Cath was able to develop relationships with multiple people throughout this book, but she didn’t ever stand up for herself much or truly find a way to deal with her anxiety. She just remained on edge with every person and in every single situation throughout the book. People with anxiety usually have specific triggers and specific things that make them anxious. The entire world and every single person and situation can’t all be a trigger. Not only that, but most people in the book view Cath as someone to be pitied and protected rather than actually helping her. Reagan is the worst example of this. She’s supposed to be funny, but she tells Cath throughout the book that she’s pitiable because of her anxiety and weird for writing fan fiction. In fact, Cath is told that she’s wrong by several people throughout the book for being the way she is. And that is not something that’s ever resolved at all. Fangirls are not weird. Escapism is a popular way to let yourself fantasize and enjoy life! Anxiety is not pitiable. Plenty of people have it and are functional human beings who learn how to accept and navigate it. This book was horrible for this demonstration of “representation”. And not all fans are socially inept, in fact fans wanting to be social is one of the reasons we have things like conventions. This book is awful when it comes to demonstrating both of these points.

“Well, most people only write fan fiction in High School. What’s wrong?”:

That’s completely wrong. Fan fiction is actually the most accessible form of literature that we currently have. It is widely accessible on the internet and doesn’t cost anything. Fan fiction is a completely viable way to interact with a work. If a work inspires you, it’s natural to want to create art inspired by it. People of all ages engage in this behavior. The book acting like, and frequently telling the audience, that most people leave behind this kind of fan engagement in High School is absolute crap. And what’s odd is that Rowell writes in the back of her book that she still reads fan fiction and thanks fans who continue to write it. But she never corrects any of her characters when they put Cath down in this way. Not only that, but fan fiction writers aren’t stupid. You aren’t going to find a college level writer submitting fan fiction as an assignment because they’re that “obsessed”. That was just plain offensive to fans everywhere. I don’t understand how Rowell can claim that she supports something and then write a book where so many pieces of it scream the opposite of those views she claims to have.

“At least it promotes healthy relationships.”:

Now this I would also agree with. Levi is such a good example of writing consent into a story and having a love interest who is patient with someone who has anxiety linked to intimacy issues. Levi continuously asks Cath to communicate with him about what makes her comfortable and what doesn’t. Reading this absolutely eliminates the arguments of authors who say that it doesn’t feel natural to write consent into their stories. Rowell has it every step of the way and makes it feel romantic. I also liked how she was able to use the typical misunderstanding in the book as a lesson to be more communicative with your partner. This relationship was sweet and extremely caring on both sides. And once again, because I can’t stress this enough, there is SO MUCH consent! I want to see more books portraying relationships like this.

“This book is so good/bad.”:

If this book proves anything to me, it’s that a book can have a whole lot of good and a whole lot of bad in it simultaneously. Because of this author specifically, I am still saying that I wouldn’t recommend you read this book. If you wanted to read some scenes from it, especially some of the romance scenes, I’m sure a ton of people have posted excerpts of it somewhere. But I wouldn’t recommend giving this author your money. While this book isn’t bad to the levels of ‘Eleanor and Park’, that’s probably only because this book has a lot more white people and a lot less representation of any minority groups. And it’s still really bad every time it mentions minority groups. There are times where it feels painful for me to admit that there’s something that this book does that’s good. But I can tell you that it isn’t a good enough read to consider reading it to begin with. I’m probably going to get rid of my copy. But I do think discussing representation in books like this is still important, whether bad or good.

Once again, I encourage you not to pick up anything by Rainbow Rowell. I hope that if this article does anything, it’ll prevent some other person like me from picking up one of her books without researching her first. But I will say that there are things I genuinely did like about this book. Just like there are things that I genuinely like about ‘Harry Potter’. Will I continue to support the author? Absolutely not. And there are still too many people who don’t know about the controversy surrounding Rainbow Rowell. This book is not good enough to get all of the popularity that it does, especially now that more authors are talking about things like anxiety and being writers or being a fangirl. Just look at some of my past book reviews! This book doesn’t have to be the only one anymore and it really shouldn’t be.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Books: ‘Half a Soul’ by Olivia Atwater Review

Cover for ‘Half a Soul’ by Olivia Atwater. Published by Orbit.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’m not usually the sister on this blog who does book reviews, but I am the big ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ fan so I had to check this one out when everyone started comparing this book to one of my favorite movies/books of all time. Because of other comparisons to regency media like ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Bridgerton’, I figured this would be a classic historical romance with some magic thrown in. And it is. But it also manages to be extremely unique with characters that stand completely separate from any of the regency media it’s compared to. Plus, I definitely think ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ fans can find enough similarities with this intelligent lead and swoon-worthy sorcerer to satisfy their love of Howl and Sophie. This review will be spoiler free so don’t feel like you have to avoid this if you’re just looking for a book recommendation! Let’s get into this!

Plot:

Theadora Ettings, or Dora for short, is a nineteen year old girl in Regency England who was nearly abducted by a fae as a child. Though her cousin, the lovely Vanessa, managed to fend off the fae with a pair of scissors, the fae escaped with half of Dora’s soul. Now that both Dora and Vanessa are of marrying age, the two find themselves on a trip to London where Vanessa’s mother hopes to find the perfect match for Vanessa. But there seems to be very little hope for Dora, who finds difficulty expressing her emotions and can’t pick up on social cues well due to her lack of half her soul. But then she meets Elias Wilder, England’s Lord Sorcier, who takes an interest in her condition as well as her amused acceptance of both his sarcasm and poor manners. While Elias attempts to figure out a cure for her condition, Dora begins to wonder whether the other half of her soul is actually needed for her to fall in love.

What I Liked:

Dora: Dora is an amazing protagonist. First and foremost, I want to go into the way Dora only having half a soul is presented. Dora’s condition is an analogy for neurodivergence, with the author taking her own tendencies as well as those from some of her friends as inspiration for the way Dora reacts in many scenes. Dora is excellent neurodivergent representation. The way that she looks to her peers to try to figure out how she should be reacting is extremely relatable as a nerodivergent person who also struggles to express myself. I also really loved the explanation of how she struggles to feel short term emotions, but emotions that build up over time do stick with her. Considering that neurodivergent children were once said to be the result of fae meddling with or replacing them, I really enjoyed the way this was seemingly reclaimed in the book. Especially because, though some characters do try to find a cure for her condition, the book goes out of its way to show that Dora is a completely valid person as she is without half her soul. Even Elias, who is tasked with finding a cure, takes it upon himself to remind Dora that she isn’t less of a person for being the way she is. But looking past all of that, Dora’s fun to follow because she’s such an intelligent character. She can read other people very well, to the point that she’s able to use societal expectations to her advantage. She’s able to read Elias so well that she even helps him process his own emotions at points. Her intelligence also makes her interactions with Elias addictive. His attempts to be rude to her don’t end in offense, but with a witty retort that catches him off guard. The way she calculates each scheme in the book is so fun to read and I always love seeing a protagonist who outsmarts everyone around her.

Elias: A lot of the time love interests who are meant to come across as jerks don’t really work for me. A lot of books or movies don’t really address their bad behavior or acknowledge that it harms other people. Luckily, this book holds Elias accountable. Though it’s cathartic to see Dora shut down his attempts to scare her off at first, the book acknowledges his need to change and details the process. First it explains why he’s so hostile towards the upper class, that being because he’s well acquainted with the lower class and how they’re treated. But that doesn’t justify purposefully tearing down everyone he meets. While the book makes several good points about how Elias is right to be bitter in the way that he is, it also shows that Elias internalizing his bitterness and lashing out at everyone as a result isn’t great for not just everyone else, but also for his own mental health. I liked that the author was able to strike a balance between Elias being correct and Elias needing to find a different way to express his anger. Then there’s the way Elias treats Dora. Because although Elias is initially insulting, he’s still respectful and he takes her thoughts and opinions seriously. After he moves past his attempt to brush her off, he’s even more attentive. He listens to her concerns, values her conversation, and is charmed by the different ways she navigates society. I also love that, as he falls in love with Dora, he emphasizes more and more how unnecessary it is for her to change who she is. He fell in love with her while she didn’t possess her full soul and he doesn’t see a problem with that, but more than that, he doesn’t stand for when she tears herself down because of it. We love a supportive love interest.

Side Characters: The side characters aren’t all likable, but they all have a surprising amount of depth. My favorite is Albert, the son of Lady Carrroway whose social position makes her sons the most desirable bachelors of the season. Except for Albert, who has facial scars and an artificial hand because of injuries he sustained fighting for his country. Despite the honor he brung to his family, most of the people around him treat him with pitying politeness and not much else. Despite that, he’s one of the kindest characters in the entire book. He’s a doctor who spends all his free time going between work houses to cure illnesses and treat wounds, and he’s the first person in London who treats Dora with genuine kindness. Dora becomes close friends with him far faster than she develops any sort of relationship with Elias, and part of the reason why she ends up with Elias is because Arthur tries to set them up. Dora and Arthur’s friendship is so genuine and so wonderful. I also love Vanessa, who has a general love for life that’s enviable. But the book also addresses her flaws, namely her vanity, and makes her confront her self absorbed tendencies. It even gives a good amount of time to Dora’s chaperone Henrietta, who winds up being a bigger badass than I expected when I was first introduced to her. There are so many lovely characters in this book and none feel like they aren’t given enough time.

Class Divide: A huge part of this book covers the way the lower class were treated in Regency England. As I said above, Elias’ attitude towards others is because of the unfairness he sees in the upper class enjoying expensive parties and finery while the lower class suffers. All the main characters visit the work houses to volunteer during the events of the book, and the author doesn’t pull punches when describing the horrible conditions there. Those conditions become a driving force for the main characters to strive for a better society as the book goes on, and there are even several really good conversations about using your anger to fight for societal change. But despite it being a huge part of the book, the book doesn’t come across as preachy. It integrates itself perfectly into the main conflict in the narrative. I don’t see enough regency fiction bringing up the problems faced by the lower class, and I respect this book so much for tackling that issue.

What I Disliked:

Analogy Confusion: My biggest gripe with this book is the way the neurodivergent analogy seemed to fall apart at parts of the story. Though I do understand that Dora having half a soul is tied completely to the idea of children who were neurodivergent being said to have connections to the fae, I still think it’s odd that her neurodivergent qualities are a result of her actually losing part of her soul. It’s not that everyone thinks that there’s something wrong with her when in reality there’s no issue. She genuinely has lost half her soul and, even worse, there’s a possibility that her condition could be fixed. The biggest example of this is a spoiler so don’t read ahead if you don’t want those! SPOILER: At the end of the book it says that later in life Dora decided to actually reclaim the other half of her soul. This is supposed to be an analogy for her death, but it really isn’t clear. Even if it was though, it still makes me uncomfortable after an entire book about how she doesn’t need to change and how it’s important for her to accept herself the way she is.

Auntie Frances Redemption: Auntie Frances is Vanessa’s mother and the main caretaker of Dora, who is orphaned. She’s also literally the worst. She’s the character who makes Dora feel inadequate, to the point that when Dora tears herself down for her condition, she’s almost always repeating something her aunt said to her. She only ever treats Dora with cruelty and she often doesn’t have patience for Vanessa either. She’s shown to only care about marrying off her daughter and she doesn’t care who she steps on in order to do it. There’s really nothing likable about her. But after doing a horrible thing towards the end of the book, the book attempts to garner sympathy for her by having Vanessa mention that she feels bad about it. That’s really not enough to make me sympathize with the character, especially because she doesn’t actually show up to show how sorry she is. It’s a tiny problem, but I honestly don’t think it was necessary to throw in a line towards the end to try to make her seem like she could be a good person. We already have enough evidence throughout the rest of the book to prove she isn’t one.

If you’re a fan of regency romance, especially regency romance with some good banter between the love interests, you’ll love this book. If you’re a fan of pretty wizard boys who can walk the line between flirty and grumpy, I think you’ll love this book. If you’re a fan of intelligent leads who have relatable problems with seeing their own worth, I think you’ll love this book. In other words, I’m recommending this book to people who love ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ as much as I do, but don’t want a direct retelling of either of those stories. It also doesn’t move too fast, which might frustrate some but honestly fits this romance, and the cozy vibe of the book, so well. It’s now one of my favorite comfort reads ever and I hope it’ll bring you the same amount of comfort!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Books: ‘This Time It’s Real’ by Ann Liang

Image of ‘This Time It’s Real’ by Ann Liang. Copyright goes to Penguin Books and Ann Liang.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I’m really into the romance genre of books right now and to be honest, as long as the book is cute and wholesome I usually like it. But this book completely blew me out of the water! I don’t think I’ve absolutely loved a book this much since I started mass reading this genre with ‘XOXO’ by Axie Oh. And while I still think that the plot in that book might have been a little more my speed with the travel escapism; I also think that I didn’t relate to that book as much as I related to this book. When looking at the reviews for this book I saw a lot of people talking about how specifically relatable the main character was, and I don’t think I understood quite what they were talking about until I read the book for myself. The romance was also adorable and completely swoon worthy! It’s really not hard at all to fall for the main male character yourself. With that aside, I’m just going to get into it. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! If you want to read the book ahead of time, go for it! I’ll just warn you that there’s a current massive misprint for this book where it’s missing thirty pages in the middle but prints the next thirty pages twice. I’m going to have to return my copy because of this in the hopes of finding a copy without the misprint. If you’re going to read this as an e-book, you’ll absolutely be fine though! I bought a digital copy to fill in the thirty pages it was missing because I was so engrossed in the book that I couldn’t wait!

Summary: After Eliza is required to write a blog post at her new school that details something personal that happened to her, she makes the decision to instead write a fake romance that she feels more passionate about writing. Unfortunately, the post goes viral, causing everyone from classmates to journals she’s loved for years hoping she’ll write more and asking her about a boyfriend she knows doesn’t exist. Her handsome model/actor classmate, Caz, feels just as out of place at school as she does; and after a chance encounter she asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend in order to help her career and support his new drama. But what if she wants it to be real?

The Real:

Eliza- As someone who has been diagnosed with anxiety, it always feels important to me to find protagonists in media that also struggle with that. Eliza is a writer with anxiety who has abandonment issues. Hello? Is this me? But this is depicted all very realistically and without viewing her as weaker for it. I’ve read a few books, some very recently, where the book depicted their main female character with something relatable that instead was presented as a glaring flaw. Sometimes the main character will even constantly complain about this side of herself throughout the book. This was not the case here. Eliza didn’t have to be fixed, she just had to work through some things. Her anxiety was not depicted as a flaw but rather something she had to navigate. I can’t even describe how important that is! Not only that but Eliza was not waiting on anybody to solve her problems for her. She took her life in her own hands, even if it meant changing the way she thought about things before. I loved her so much and reading her story felt like something personal. It was like reading all of my thoughts and doubts laid bare for everyone to see, but in such a comforting and cathartic way. I loved every moment of it!

Caz- How can you not find Caz swoon worthy? He’s the star of several C-Dramas, a few of them being historical fantasy. I was so on board when Eliza went to visit him on the set of his drama and saw him in the historical robes and long wig. (Unfortunately this was part of the thirty pages that was missing, so I had to read this part on the e-book.) I did see a lot of connections between the character of Caz and one of the stars of ‘The Untamed’; Wang Yibo. From the initial stand-offishness, to the not being able to handle spicy food, to the motorcycle, all the way to the mentions of ‘The Untamed’ sprinkled throughout the book. I actually recently read a book where the male lead was obviously modeled after Simu Liu. I am absolutely not complaining! A lot of the inspiration in my own writing comes from the K-Pop biases that I have, so I actually absolutely love when I can kind of see where an author’s inspiration might have come from. It’s yet another thing that I found really relatable about this book! And what’s not to like about Caz? He’s hilariously sarcastic, extremely sweet to Eliza’s little sister, and such a caring boyfriend. Real or not. My heart broke for him when he was obviously trying to see how Eliza felt about him and she kept shutting him down. I loved him so much!

The Romance- Oh my gosh, this has to be one of my new comfort romances. I touched on it a little before, but one of the things I felt was relatable about Eliza was her abandonment issues when it came to anyone other than her family. Because I absolutely have these too! She doesn’t trust people to stay with her and expects them to leave without really knowing what she did to make them leave. And Caz has trust issues that cause him not asking for help from anyone because he doesn’t trust other people to see him beyond the celebrity image. All of this culminates in a scene where she takes care of him while he has an awful fever and while he’s miserable he asks her not to leave and she tells him not to worry and that she won’t go anywhere, and as she does this she thinks about how she had always wanted someone to say that to her. I started crying so much after this scene because I related to it so much. The twist is that I was on a break at work and had to pull myself together afterwards. I cried multiple times over the course of this book, mostly because of how much I related to it and how observant Caz was when it came to Eliza’s anxiety. This is seriously what I hope to have in a relationship one day. They just cared so much about each other and the book has this excellent message about how you shouldn’t be afraid to inconvenience people you love, because if they love you they’ll be just as happy to be inconvenienced by you as you are when it comes to them. This romance automatically shot this up to comfort read material. I guarantee you, I will be re-reading this book over and over and over and over….

Friends- When Eliza starts feeling like she’s being abandoned by her friend after she moves away, she at first just accepts the reality that she values the relationship more than her friend. But that’s not the reality. That’s the reality she made up in her head. Which is something I’ve caught myself doing multiple times. Caz calls out Eliza for making decisions for people in her brain, which is something I do so often and was a moment I felt like I needed to read. Eliza decides to actually communicate and realizes that she’s not losing her friend and all of this was amazing! I know there are plenty of us out there with this insecurity and it’s nice to have that reminder and to also have the reminder that sometimes being brave enough to communicate what we’re feeling is all we really need. Having the conversation is better than blowing it up in your head.

Family- The relationship between Eliza and her family is so wholesome. I feel like when you have friendship abandonment issues, a lot of people will assume it’s because of your home life. This is definitely not true for me and it was refreshing to see that it wasn’t true for Eliza either. Portraying that she felt safe and secure in her home life and that she felt that it was one of the only constants in her life was a dynamic I relate to and don’t often see. I also loved her protective relationship with her little sister and how it went both ways. The family dynamic here was so wholesome and I loved having that in the background and as the backbone of the story. All of the family moments were so adorable! I loved that they all sat around to watch Caz’s drama.

The Writing- I know that this probably isn’t too difficult to portray coming from an author, but I feel like you don’t often see protagonists that love to write this much. The descriptions she randomly came up with for random things or the way she described writing seemed to put words to a feeling I don’t often try to describe. It actually inspired me to write more and look into the things that I have written! And don’t get me started on the fact that one of the reasons Caz falls for her is because he falls for her writing. That was just…(sigh)…rip my heart out why don’t you?

The Fake:

Loose Threads- There were still so many unanswered questions at the end of the book! This could just be because I loved this book so much and I really didn’t want it to end, but seriously! I wanted to know if there would be backlash from her releasing the true events! I wanted to get more of the relationship between Caz’s co-stars! I just wanted more of every plot and every character!

Misprint- I know I already warned about this in the beginning of the post. I want to say right now that this is NOT the author’s fault! I’ll have to see if the bookstore closest to my house has a bunch of misprints or if I can replace it with a proper copy of the book. I have purchased the e-book version too so that the author will still get my money even if my local bookstore doesn’t have a physical copy that I can replace it with. I really hope it does because the art on the outside of this book is adorable and the book is entirely pastel pink and blue which are my favorite colors! But just make sure that if you go out to buy this book that you throughly flip through it while looking at the page numbers. The best way to see if the copy you just picked up is a misprint is to look for a huge gap in page numbers or if you see page numbers twice. Just beware of this and check your books more thoroughly than I did!

I really hope you pick up this book in some form or find a non-misprint version of this book. This is such an amazing book and I feel like I’ll go back to it several times for quotes and romantic moments or just to read the entire book again! Seriously, read this! It’s both wholesome and completely life changing. Just be prepared to cry if anything that I mentioned before sounds relatable to you!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Video Games: ‘The Last of Us’ Episode 6 Review

Screenshot of Gabriel Luna as Tommy and Pedro Pascal as Joel in episode 6 of HBO Max’s ‘The Last of Us’. Copyright goes to Naughty Dog, Playstation Productions, and Sony Pictures Productions.

Hey! Hallie here!

Every time I think I might put off a review for this series, it winds up giving me an amazing episode that I want to talk about as soon as possible. This episode was no exception. While it isn’t exactly action heavy, it has some of the moments I was most anticipating from the game. Beyond that, it also has some of the best character work I’ve seen from this series so far. It cuts almost seamlessly between scenes exactly from the game and entirely new segments that add much needed depth to the characters. This was one of those episodes where the story, while staying true to the game, deviated from it in a lot of major ways. And as usual, the changes not only fit the narrative, but improved it. This was an excellent episode and I can’t wait to talk about it, so SPOILERS AHEAD! Let’s get to the review!

The Immune:

Joel: The main thing that hooked me in this episode was the changes made to Joel. At this point in the story Joel is much different in the video game than he is in the series. In the game he refuses to talk about Henry and Sam even when Ellie asks to talk through the trauma. In the series he acknowledges that what they both witnessed is much more likely to have a negative impact on a young girl. That selflessness, and his softness towards Ellie as a result, really helps sell Joel as a father and as a sympathetic character. We also have a major change to Joel’s motivations when he runs into Tommy. In the game he’s eager to shove Ellie off on Tommy. He almost immediately reveals to him that Ellie’s immune, and is somewhat manipulative in his attempts to get Tommy to take Ellie to the Fireflies. This is because, after so much tragedy, in the game Joel turns back to apathy. He tries to emotionally disconnect from everything and put it behind him. The series does so much more to make us actually understand where Joel is coming from, and part of that is changing that entire motivation. In the series his closeness to Ellie has brought up memories of his daughter Sarah. He has nightmares of failing to keep Ellie safe, believes he sees Sarah everywhere he looks, and is now suffering from panic attacks. When he first comes across Tommy and his group he’s terrified for Ellie. When they bring out a dog to sniff out whether the two are infected, Joel is visibly frightened, more so than we’ve ever seen him before. Joel only reveals the truth of Ellie’s condition to Tommy after his panic attacks worsen, at which point he breaks down in tears over his fear that he won’t be able to protect Ellie. I felt so much for Joel that I cried with him. These changes made a huge difference for me. I honestly don’t think Joel has ever been more sympathetic of a character thanks to both the writing and Pedro Pascal’s heart-wrenching acting.

Ellie: It’s easy to get used to Ellie being the source of sunshine and happiness in the game. You kind of need it with the general grumpiness of Joel. But because of that, Ellie doesn’t really get to experience many of her own personal lows until later on in the story. I was happy to see that the show decided to give her more emotional exploration. Not only is her trauma related to Henry and Sam more fully explored, but we now have an extra element of Ellie’s character that promises to be interesting. Because the show had Ellie learn of Sam’s infection and attempt to cure him with her blood before he turned, Ellie’s now having doubts. She didn’t succeed at curing one person with her blood and now she’s skeptical that anyone would be able to use her blood to create a cure. All of this is a great way of showing that Ellie has her own problems and concerns. Which transitions seamlessly into the infamous argument between Ellie and Joel. Ellie wants to keep going but she’s tired of losing people. Joel’s so tired of losing people that he doesn’t trust himself to keep going. Ellie accuses Joel of wanting to get rid of her the minute he took the job and reminds him that she’s also suffered with loss. Joel becomes angered when Ellie brings up Sarah and stands firm on his belief that Tommy would be able to better protect Ellie. The argument is even more excellently crafted in the series than it was in the game though the scene is exactly the same. The pure genius in adding more depth to these characters to add even more gravity to these moments is unparalleled in any adaptation I’ve ever seen.

Tommy and Maria: I wouldn’t say either of these characters took any particular spotlight in this episode, but I do think the series did them justice. I think it’s an interesting choice to have Tommy not leave Joel after a blow-up argument, but instead stumble on a place to settle down and decide that he would rather stick around than go back to Joel. On the one hand it’s a bit messed up. While he explains that the town he and Maria are part of avoid the use of radios to keep their location secretive, it’s still hard to fully agree with him leaving Joel to wonder if he was even still alive. On the other hand, they do add on an extra attachment for Tommy. Maria’s pregnant. In the game the fact that Tommy’s married to Maria is the only big reveal. This time Tommy’s grappling with what it means to be a father-to-be, which is something that sets off Joel’s trauma even more as he continues to struggle with Sarah’s death. Other than this, they don’t give us a whole lot of new information on Tommy and Maria. Instead of running this safe haven they seem a bit more like they’re part of a community, which makes the town feel somehow safer than it did in the game. We also learn of Maria’s child, who she lost at the beginning of the outbreak. But these small details only serve as background to the dramatic moments we get between Ellie and Joel, as enjoyable as they are.

The Native Couple: We only got these two for a scene towards the beginning, where Joel and Ellie hold them at gunpoint in order to get some supplies and directions. But damn did they make an impression. This scene was probably the most hilarious scene in the entire series. This old couple were complete badasses who barely even blinked at the guns and had no problem making sure Joel and Ellie could continue their trip. I couldn’t help but laugh at the old woman’s amusement over Joel and Ellie’s attempts to appear intimidating. I don’t know who these characters are, but I love them.

The Infected:

Joel and Ellie’s Relationship: I love how their relationship is developing. That said, we’re already most of the way through this series and I feel like Joel and Ellie are still getting used to each other. In the game it’s an easy fix. Throughout all the hours and hours of gameplay there’s constant Joel and Ellie banter, and even if there wasn’t, you as Joel feel closer to Ellie because she’s your only companion through the scary and more difficult parts of the game. That connection isn’t something you can easily recreate in a series and it has to be done in a completely different way. I don’t think what they’ve done so far has completely failed at recreating that connection, but it certainly isn’t as strong as it was in the game. At least not yet. The argument between Joel and Ellie in this episode for example, while excellent, lacked a little bit of its bite. Specifically at the moment where Joel coldly tells Ellie he isn’t her dad. In the game that feels harsher, because at that point you feel like he already is her dad. In the show, he doesn’t feel like that yet. He’s getting there. But he’s not there yet. It’s a small gripe, but I hope that by the end of the series I feel like their relationship is as close as it was in the game.

And that’s it for now! Next episode is Ellie on her own. We’re going to get her backstory with Riley next, which makes sense given the fact that the DLC that revealed that storyline took place while Ellie was attempting to care for an injured and unconscious Joel. But that means we’re also probably getting David next episode. The David storyline really solidifies how much Joel cares for Ellie, and is unfortunately the most traumatic moment for Ellie in the entire story. I’m both excited and terrified to see how it all plays out. But for now, this episode was amazing and I’m sad we’re most of the way through the series now!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

ATEEZ: Europe and News

Promotional photo of (from left) Jung Wooyoung, Jeong Yunho, Choi Jongho, Choi San, Park Seonghwa, Song Mingi, Kim Hongjoong, and Kang Yeosang. Copyright goes to ATEEZ and KQ Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I often feel that it has been way too long since I’ve talked about my ult group. But this is not really the way I was hoping to come back to them on the blog. Of course, I’m going to be talking about general ATEEZ news, so there will be some really positive stuff here! I’ll throw in some stuff that I just really liked recently! But unfortunately, most of this will probably be me talking about all of the issues that ATEEZ has been having with specifically European fans. I have no idea why the European fans are acting out so much on this most recent tour. It probably has something to do with the mass success of ‘HALAZIA’. But it really shocks me that the fan behavior in Europe is so bad when usually the US is known for poor fan behavior. And I say that as someone who lives in the US. I mean, look at the fiasco that was everyone throwing things at BTS during the Las Vegas PTD concerts. ATEEZ has been having so much trouble lately that even KQ had to put out a statement. So with that said, I’m just going to get into it!

ATEEZ in Europe:

We all have known for a while that ATEEZ would leave for their European leg of the tour; but it did surprise some people when they announced that the European leg of the tour would be pretty disconnected from the dates of their American, Korean, and Japanese dates. We eventually realized that this was a break that they took mostly for their release of ‘HALAZIA’, which blew up even more than probably even they expected. This being a smash hit made them even busier, but recently they did eventually have to leave for their tour. We all know that they’ve always been super busy, but their recent schedules have seemed to be particularly hectic for them. This portion of the tour saw an increased level of excitement from European Atiny, and some fans who seemed to think that the concert would now include new releases like ‘Paradigm’ and ‘HALAZIA’ despite the fact that this is the same concert that they had been touring with before. There was a baffling amount of collective disappointment when these songs did not pop up on the set list. I’m confused as to why some of these fans are acting this way. The boys put so much time and effort into the current set list. This is a set list that they practiced and perfected for months and had to continue to practice in order to account for the breaks between concert dates. It feels pretty ungrateful to be acting this way because these songs aren’t on the set list; especially when no other location got these songs. Even worse, some “fans” have been following ATEEZ around both inside and outside their schedules and yelling at them to perform these songs. Since when did anyone think that demanding songs was supportive or respectful fan behavior?

The worst part of that behavior though, is definitely the following ATEEZ around. Them being on tour does not mean you are free to follow them, ask for pictures, or yell things at them. Has the issues faced and brought up by BTS taught people nothing? Idols are human beings and they deserve to be treated that way. Would you like to be followed around in your regular life? No. So don’t do it to other people. How much you like them should have absolutely no bearing on the matter. Don’t be selfish! On top of this they’ve also been having issues with sasaengs attempting to board their flights or ambushing them at airports. Because if you do any of those things you are not an Atiny or even a “fan”. You are straight up a sasaeng. KQ entertainment recently had to put out a statement that detailed unacceptable fan behavior because of the way that ATEEZ is currently being treated by people in Europe. This list has also stated that if caught doing any of this behavior, you could be banned from all future ATEEZ events. Of course, most of this told fans never to follow ATEEZ or wait for them at airports or attempt to meet them at places during their schedules. All of this should be common sense. The statement also said that ATEEZ has recently been having issues with sasaengs calling their families. That is boundary breaking and extremely horrifying! It shouldn’t have to be said that you should absolutely be ashamed of yourself if you are even trying to seek out the numbers of family members of ATEEZ, never mind making the decision to then call them. Our boys deserve so much better than this poor fan behavior.

UPDATE: I honestly don’t know what to say. I didn’t think that anything so bad that I would have to update this would happen, but apparently “fans” are all here to prove me wrong. Mingi fell and got hurt at a concert in Europe and then asked fans filming to not share the video. And “fans” decided not to listen to his wishes. (DO NOT watch or engage with these videos if you see them posted!) Not only that but many people laughed at Mingi when it happened. This on top of people continuing to demand that ATEEZ perform ‘HALAZIA’ even after Hongjoong politely requested that fans stop asking that and even apologized when he shouldn’t have had to. What is going on in Europe? Idols are people, not content! How can these people call themselves Atiny?

Japanese Comeback:

We’re getting a Japanese comeback! And so soon after the ‘HALAZIA’ single too! They really must be working so hard right now! I don’t want to assume anything, so I’ll just say that I hope that they’re all doing well and are healthy right now! We don’t know much about this comeback yet, but I know that some of their Japanese projects have been some of my favorite of their work. ‘Dreamers’ is one of my ultimate cheer-up songs, so I am absolutely psyched for this! And we’ve started getting some concept photos as well! As of writing this not all of the photos have been released; we pretty much just have the photos for the hyung line so far. All of the photos have focused on a fencing concept, with all of them holding pure black fencing blades and some of them holding white fencing masks with the ATEEZ logo on it. The fencing masks remind me a little of the men in white in a lot of the ATEEZ MVs so part of me wonders if there’s any connection. But not all of ATEEZ’s projects have had connections to the main storyline, but absolutely all of them are amazing! So whether or not this is connected to the main storyline, I know it’ll be great! And this concept is already selling me.

Idol Radio:

Just before they left for the European leg of their tour, Hongjoong and Yunho interviewed each other for an episode of ‘Idol Radio’. Having these two interview each other made for a really wholesome episode of ‘Idol Radio’ and also made it feel so much more personal. It almost felt more like a personal podcast than a full scale show, which just drew me in even more. In this we got some really fun moments where Hongjoong ranked every hairstyle that he’s ever had. I know that this is a common pastime for Atiny, so it was hilariously awesome to see Hongjoong make his own list. My favorite parts of this interview were when they started talking about how close the two of them have become. It’s been interesting to see Yunho and Hongjoong do more and more together publicly. Yunho is is the main member of ATEEZ to join Hongjoong in painting one of his nails black for the Painted Man campaign that helps raise awareness to support women and children who have endured acts of violence in the hopes that it will stop. It was even featured in their most recent vlog. (We stan progressive men!) We’ve also seen them go to museums on tour and just hang out a lot. We all know that they’ve always shared a room while on tour, but in this interview they talked about how they are practically attached at the hip while on tour now. It was an adorable interview and, again, I loved how personal it felt!

Obviously I wanted to put in some positive stuff, because there’s always positive ATEEZ news! But I am extremely angry over the treatment of ATEEZ in Europe. I know that ‘HALAZIA’ gained them some more attention and that should have been purely a happy and celebratory occasion. Instead, some of this attention has gotten them all of the worst parts of fame that BTS have been speaking out against and trying to protect other groups from by talking about it so openly. Apparently, we’ve learned nothing. If you are one of the Atiny who has been defending this fan behavior or participating in this fan behavior, I hope this is your last time going to an ATEEZ concert. Because this is not the way you should be treating the boys, or really any human being. Their safety should be our top priority, just as they’ve demonstrated that our safety is theirs. This is a pretty poor way to show them our gratitude. Let’s keep our boys safe!

See you cross the pond!

Sincerely, Annie