Categories
Culture News

TikTok’s ‘For You’ Podcast Featuring Special Guest Jason Rodelo

TikTok’s For You podcast series starring host Brittany Broski continues with Episode 5, featuring content creator Jason Rodelo. Considered one of the best dancers and comedians on the platform, Rodelo has built a strong following and talks to Broski about his TikTok rise, dancing background, and plans for the future.

The budding TikTok star currently has over 350,000 followers on the app, with 6.5 million likes and counting. As a trained professional, Rodelo will often make several videos in a row to fully break down his choreography to his audience. True to his style, he also rarely misses an opportunity to provide comedic relief, never straying too far away from his humorous roots. The dance/comedy combo has helped take Rodelo’s TikTok career to the next level as the Los Angeles native continues to be one of the most talked-about and re-posted comedians, turning the hashtag ‘Affirmations’ into a global trend on TikTok with his Motivational Warriors series.

Below is a snippet from Broski and Rodelo’s conversation. A new episode of For You will debut every Wednesday at 5:30 pm PST/8:30 pm EST on TikTok LIVE. You can also catch it on all major podcast platforms such as Apple, Spotify, and Google.

Broski: “You have been dancing for a long time. When did that transition to ‘TikTok dance’ come about? When did you download the app and what kind of drew you to it?”

Rodelo: “My relationship with TikTok is so interesting! As a professional dancer, and this is the energy of a lot of dancers in the industry who have been training, taking classes have—when a thing like TikTok came around, a lot of us laughed. It was all of these simple dances and I was like ‘I’m working ten hours a day and doing music videos. I’m out here eating one meal a day!’ I honestly used to dislike the app, but that was me misjudging it. I started seeing it pop off after quarantine began, and that is where the transition happened. The dance world shut down, and all of my opportunities and income stopped. After that, I really started looking at TikTok.”

Broski: “I wanted to ask you about having a platform in general. Are there any issues that you feel pressured to speak about? Are you passionate about anything? Do you see yourself as a creator more or a choreographer?”

Rodelo: “I think I definitely see myself as a creator for sure. I have to pay respects to that because I did create, and people gave me a response, and that response has been doing wonders for myself and my life. I’m also showing different sides of what I have to offer as well. You see comedy—and a little bit of everything. There is one issue though, and I would say it’s a general thing. There is this weird incohesiveness with people and their expectations with this thing called viral. You have to find something deeper within your content in terms of what you really want to put out.”

Categories
Culture Trading Cards

The 14 Most Expensive Yugioh Cards of All Time

Few media franchises have achieved the level of success that Yu-Gi-Oh! has. After launching, it offered a compelling trading card game and an anime series reflecting said game in an imaginative, mythology-inspired world in which cards’ monsters come to life. This one-two-punch immediately hooked young fans and began an entire mythos of Yu-Gi-Oh! series, films, video games, and merchandise, to name a few pillars of the empire. And like Pokemon and similar franchises, there are a few select trading cards that have gained prominence for their value and rarity. While some of the higher-valued ones were only distributed as and award status in tournaments, that’s not always the case.

Here are a few standouts cards and just how much they have sold for.

1. Tournament Black Luster Soldier
$2,000,000 (reportedly)
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Easily the most valuable card on this list, the Black Luster Soldier was an exclusive prize card awarded at the first-ever Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament in 1999. It is printed on stainless steel and is the only one of its kind, thus its coveted rarity makes it essentially priceless. Those who have listed it for sale (with only rumors confirming amounts trading hands) asked for amounts in the millions. Suffice it to say, anyone who lucks into this card has essentially hit the Yu-Gi-Oh! lottery.

2. 2002 Blue Eyes White Dragon 1st Edition PSA 10
$85,100 (10/28/20)
ebay

Arguably the most iconic card associated with the entire Yu-Gi-Oh! The franchise, Blue-Eyes White Dragon is popular not only for its strength in the trading card game — fusing three of them together will produce Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon — but also its powerful appearances in the original anime and manga. The first of these cards were released in Japan in 1999 and the United States soon after, and mint condition first editions are skyrocketing in value. (One father even went viral for selling a few of his to pay for his daughter’s education!)

3. 2004 Shonen Jump Championship Cyber-Stein PSA 10
$30,100 (10/28/20)
eBay

Unlike the many commonplace versions of this card inspired by the monster in Frankenstein, the one worth some significant cash is — you guessed it — another tournament award edition. Awarded at the Shonen Jump Championship, and a few thereafter, there are a little over a hundred of these cards in existence. There are only 21 PSA 10’s of this card out there, so they don’t come up for sale often!

4. 2002 Dark Duel Stories Blue-Eyes White Dragon PSA 10
$20,000 (2/21/21)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yu-Gi-Oh-Dark-Duel-Stories-Blue-Eyes-White-Dragon-DDS-001-PSA-10-/114683943649?hash=item1ab3b21ae1%3Ag%3AmUEAAOSwb41gKNg5&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories promotional cards are a set of Prismatic Secret Rare cards bundled with the North American release of the video game Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories.

The total PSA 10 population on this card is only 131, making this rare gem very difficult to find.

5. 2002 Morphing Jar Tournament Pack 2 PSA 10
$15,000 (2/1/21)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/2002-Yugioh-Morphing-Jar-TP2-001-Tournament-Pack-PSA-10-GEM-MINT-/124549875973?hash=item1cffc04905%3Ag%3AKWoAAOSwGeRgE4MC&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

There is nothing remarkable about the artwork on this card, but it has become one of the most collectible in the game. When Morphing Jar is activated during a match, both players discard their cards and draw five new cards, in what can be a sneaky good play when your back is up against the wall. 

With a PSA 10 population of only 24, it’s no wonder that this tournament pack 2 promo card is so hot and in demand. There are only 92 of them that have ever been graded by PSA, so good luck finding one!

6. 2002 Tournament Pack 1 MECHANICALCHASER PSA 10
$14,999 (2/1/21)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/YUGIOH-TOURNAMENT-TP1-001-MECHANICALCHASER-ULTRA-RARE-PSA-10-GEM-MINT-40757196-/282972211773?hash=item41e2754a3d%3Ag%3Ai8YAAOSwznNa%7E4hE&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

Much like the previously mentioned Morphing Jar, the Mechanicalchaser out of the 2002 Tournament Pack 1 is extremely rare, with only 25 PSA 10’s in existence and only 71 total that have been graded.

7. 2002 Red Eyes B. Dragon 1st Edition LOB PSA 10
$13,600 (2/5/21)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yugioh-Red-Eyes-B-Dragon-NA-1st-Edition-LOB-PSA-10-/203267387659?epid=19030526490&hash=item2f53ae310b%3Ag%3AM0wAAOSwFsdgGkc8&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

Continuing on the trend of ridiculously low PSA populations, there are only 69 of these graded as a PSA 10. This card comes from the first set of the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game released in English.

8. 2003 Magician’s Force 1st Edition Dark Paladin Alternate Art PSA 10
$12,000 (12/27/20)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yugioh-Magician-039-s-Force-1st-Edition-Dark-Paladin-MFC-105-Alternate-Art-PSA-10-/174487773666?hash=item28a04821e2%3Ag%3A9NIAAOSwb7dfj0cF&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

The Dark Paladin is one of the most useful cards in the game. When a Spell Card is activated, you can discard 1 card; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy it. This card must be face-up on the field to activate and to resolve this effect. 

There are only 44 of these cards that have been graded, and only 12 PSA 10’s, making it one of the rarest cards on this list.

9. 2017 Dark Magician Girl Ghost World Championship Promo
$11,000 (1/6/21)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yu-Gi-Oh-PSA-9-MINT-Dark-Magician-Girl-Ghost-rare-World-Championship-2017-Promo-/353343327666?hash=item5244e74db2%3Ag%3ATLEAAOSwi9Vf9O8-&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

Dark Magician Girl first appears as a character in the Battle City arc when Yugi faces the ex-magician Arkana, whom she defeats by drawing power from both Duelists’ Dark Magician cards. 

This card was handed out in an envelope for the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2017 attendants and participants. They were limited to roughly 1000 copies, which makes the card extremely rare. Only 24 of them have been graded by PSA, with just 10 of them receiving PSA 10’s.

10. 2002 Dark Magician Dark Duel Stories Promo PSA 10
$9,999.99 (12/2/20)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yu-Gi-Oh-PSA-9-MINT-Dark-Magician-Girl-Ghost-rare-World-Championship-2017-Promo-/353343327666?hash=item5244e74db2%3Ag%3ATLEAAOSwi9Vf9O8-&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

Dark Magician was created when Mahad fused his ba with “Illusion Magician“, his ka while fighting Thief King Bakura

The Dark Magician fended off the ghosts and battled Diabound. He then continued to serve the Pharaoh in the form of the Dark Magician.

We previously mentioned a Blue Eyes White Dragon from the same promo set at #4 on the list, but this Dark Magician is actually a bit more rare, with only 88 PSA 10’s in population.

11. Shrink Ultra Rare Limited Edition
$9,586.64 (12/10/20)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Shrink-SJC-EN003-Ultra-Rare-Limited-Edition-YuGiOh-/203214743967?hash=item2f508ae99f%3Ag%3AAP8AAOSwyKNfzhdM&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

Shrink was first released at the 2006 Shonen Jump Yu-Gi-Oh! Championships, making first editions of the card very valuable. If you can prove that your Shrink is one of these limited-edition prize cards, you have quite a gem on your hands. I would personally get it graded, rather than sell it raw as this seller did, but the near $10,000 final sale price is quite a haul.

This card was sold raw, but to display the rarity, there are only 3 graded examples of this card on record with PSA, with no PSA 10’s and only 1 PSA 9.

12. 2009 Blue Eyes Shining Dragon Retro Pack 2 PSA 10
$9,000 (2/15/21)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/2009-Yugioh-Retro-Pack-2-Blue-Eyes-Shining-Dragon-RP02-EN096-PSA-10-GEM-MINT-/224347770909?hash=item343c2b501d%3Ag%3AtDkAAOSwnmxgJKl0&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

Packed with all-powerful cards, the Retro Pack series was designed to help Duelists collect hard to get and out of print cards. Pokemon often creates similar sets that are wildly popular amongst collectors.

The total number of PSA graded examples of this card is only 88, with just 27 PSA 10’s in the population.

13. 2009 Stardust Overdrive 1st Majestic Star Dragon Ghost Rare PSA 10
$8,999.90 (1/14/21)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yu-Gi-Oh-Stardust-Overdrive-1st-Majestic-Star-Dragon-SOVR-EN040-Ghost-PSA-10-/402646049197?hash=item5dbf9321ad%3Ag%3AcA8AAOSwjO1gAMRk&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

During either player’s turn, when your opponent activates a card or effect, you can tTribute this card; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy all cards your opponent controls. Once per turn, you can target 1 face-up monster your opponent controls; negate its effects until the end of this turn, and you can activate 1 of its effects as this card’s effect once this turn. 

There are only 65 total PSA graded examples of this card with just 22 of them getting a PSA 10 grade. Most of the cards that we talked about on this list were from the original 2002 sets, but this Ghost Rare card has become increasingly popular and it’s artwork is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the entire game.

14. 2020 United We Stand Blue Secret Rare Promo PSA 10
$7,000 (12/24/20)
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yu-Gi-Oh-United-We-Stand-SBPR-EN001-Blue-Secret-Rare-Promo-GEM-MINT-PSA-10-/224253496792?hash=item34368ccdd8%3Ag%3A27cAAOSw97dfwWA%7E&nma=true&si=zEaNmVJut9oR%252Bxy0VZaN9M3I9sA%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
eBay

This card was awarded as a Prize for the October 2020 Yu-Gi-Oh! Remote Duel at Home Sweepstakes.

To say that this card is rare would be an understatement, with only 5 of them on record with PSA and 3 total PSA 10’s on the planet. With a population that low, and the rising popularity of Yugioh cards amongst collectors, the sky is the limit for this card in future sales.

Categories
Culture Trading Cards

The 10 Most Powerful ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ Characters

Yu-Gi-Oh! first appeared on our television screens in the late 90s and in the nearly two and a half decades since its first iteration, it has gone through nearly a dozen different forms and remains here to this day. Based on that alone, it deserves a hell of a lot of respect that it doesn’t always get amongst its peers in anime. Today, it remains one of the most well-known card game anime of all time.

Of course, you can’t have Duel Monsters without the monsters. Maybe you’re looking to get into Yu-Gi-Oh!, maybe you’re looking to spend some money to expand your deck, or maybe you’re just a fan and love reading about it. Whatever the reason, you’ve found yourself in the right place here today.

Below is our list of the ten most powerful monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh! Of course, power is relative. We’ve gone with a variety of cards that have been overpowered in tournaments, had the biggest impact in the series, and have a high amount of attack points. Let us know what you think and who makes your list.

1. Apoqliphort Towers
DeviantArt

This card is so powerful that it was actually banned from Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments. For it to be played, three Qliphort monsters must be sacrificed. It cannot be special summoned. Apoqliphort Towers is essentially immune to all spell and trap cards, as well as monsters that are a lower level than itself (10). Basically, it offers almost perfect protection.

2. Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy Of The End
DeviantArt

The original overpowered monster in Duel Monsters, you knew this one had to make our list. Not only does Chaos Emperor Dragon allow you to summon one DARK and one LIGHT monster from your graveyard, but if you pay 1,000 life points, you can send all cards on the field and in yours and your opponent’s hand to the graveyard, then do 300 damage for each card that was sent to the graveyard with that effect. It isn’t quite a one-turn kill, but it’s damn close, especially when used with Sangan and Yata-Garasu. Well, before it was banned anyway.

3. Dark Armed Dragon
Yu-Gi-Oh!

Requiring exactly three DARK monsters in your graveyard to be summoned, Dark Armed Dragon was so powerful that officially for tournaments, you were only allowed one in a deck. Once summoned, you could essentially destroy any three monsters on your opponent’s side. This was a meta for a while and was a main factor in a tier 0 deck. Only allowing players to have one at a time balanced it out a little.

4. Don Thousand / Monster C
DeviantArt

If you follow Yu-Gi-Oh! closely, then you know the name of this card and know exactly why it’s on this list. When it comes to attack points, anything in the 4,000 to 5,000 range was considered powerful for a while, and in the anime, 5,000 was pretty much the maximum any singular card could have without a special ability. Don Thousand / Monster C, however, boasts an unimaginable 10,000 attack and defense points, respectively.

5. Exodia, The Forbidden One
DeviantArt

One of the most famous Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters of all time, managing to draw all five pieces of Exodia, The Forbidden One ends the game instantly, so how could it not have made this list? Individually, the pieces are not worth much, but they’re certainly greater than the sum of their parts. You’ll need the heart of the cards for sure because Yugi himself only summoned Exodia once in the entire anime himself.

6. Master Peace, The True Dracoslaying King
DeviantArt

What makes Master Peace, The True Dracoslaying King unique is that it becomes immune to the type of card it was tributed by. So if you tributed a spell card and a trap card for it, it became immune to spell cards and trap cards. If you tributed a trap card a monster card for it, it became immune to trap cards and monster cards. You get the point. This made for an incredibly overpowered card that could often only be beaten with a monster with 3,000 attack points or more if someone got lucky. This resulted in its ban.

7. Obelisk The Tormentor
DeviantArt

Sure, in tournaments, the Egyptian God cards’ flaws start to show a little bit, and they’re hardly used. But their power and importance in the anime truly cannot be overstated. Obelisk is probably objectively the weakest of the three God cards, but it’s still more than deserving of a spot on this list. If the player tributes two other monsters on the field during their battle phase, Obelisk gains unlimited attack power. It can also attack a player directly and take away all of the opponent’s monsters.

8. Slifer The Sky Dragon
DeviantArt

The second most powerful of the Egyptian God cards, Slifer The Sky Dragon is known well because it’s a card Yugi goes to a lot after he wins it. Slifer is powerful because it gains 1,000 attack and defense points for every card the player has in their hands. It also becomes the target of all opponents’ effects despite being immune, takes away 2,000 attack points from monsters in the attack position, and destroys them if they’re at 0 attack points.

9. The Tyrant Neptune
DeviantArt

Don’t be fooled by the 0 attack and 0 defense on The Tyrant Neptune. For a certain amount of time in tournaments, this card was almost broken because of how overpowered it could be. When you used Instant Fusion to bring out Lyrical Luscinia – Independent Nightingale and then tributed it for this card, its special effects mean it would be unaffected by anything with 6,000 attack points and would inflict 5,000 burn damage per turn. That’s what resulted in its ban a few years ago.

10. The Winged Dragon Of Ra
DeviantArt

Considered to be the most powerful of all of the Egyptian God cards, The Winged Dragon Of Ra being summoned makes for some epic moments in the anime. The attack and defense points for it are made up of the total of the three cards you tribute for it. You also have the option of giving up all but one of your life points (so 7,999 out of your 8,000 starting points, for example) and making those all attack points for the monster.

If that were not enough, Ra’s God Phoenix ability allows for the player to pay 1,000 life points for it to attack and destroy all of the opponent’s monsters. Just like the other God cards, this one feels like an instant win.

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 15 Best Spy Movies on Netflix (And A Few TV Shows As Well)

In a secret-filled world, spies can be hiding in every shadow. Whether secret agents are working for governments or acting as solo agents with their own positive or negative agendas, spies have become a backbone in both modern society and cinema. The Cold War in particular, with Americans constantly afraid of Communist agents hiding and operating in the United States, brought the world of espionage to the forefront of people’s minds and has become a go-to topic for filmmakers wanting to explore the world of undercover agents with hidden agendas. 

If your hobbies include spying on your passersby with binoculars or sticking your ear up against a wall to eavesdrop on your roommates, spy movies are right up your alley. I know from personal experience that being a secret agent for the government can be difficult (crap, did I just say that out loud?), and these movies and television shows elucidate different aspects of that tricky world. Read on to discover the 15 best Spy movies (and a few TV series) currently on Netflix!

1. ‘Casino Royale’ (2006)

Of course, the most iconic fictional spy of all time was going to kick off this list of spy films and television shows. In the 2006 remake of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig donned a tuxedo and drank shaken martinis for the first time as James Bond.

In this film, Bond is still closer to the beginning of his storied career, and he is assigned with learning more about the financial exploits of terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). With his newly assigned license to kill, Bond has to learn more about Chiffre’s organization and enter a high-stakes poker game to hopefully thwart their newest attempts to bring in massive amounts of money.

https://www.netflix.com/title/70044604
2. ‘The Coldest Game’ (2019)

Like I mentioned in the intro, The Cold War is where the world of espionage and secret agents first entered the mainstream imagination. The 2019 film The Coldest Game follows Joshua Mansky (Bill Pullman), an American mathematician who is forced to become a spy for the government during one of the Cold War’s most dangerous eras.

Set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the movie follows the alcoholic Mansky as he prepares and competes in a chess tournament in Warsaw while simultaneously trying to discreetly take in as much information about the Soviets as possible.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/81221170#:~:text=2019%7CTV%2DMA%20%7C1h,a%20deadly%20game%20of%20espionage.
3. ‘The Spy’ (2019)

Sacha Baron Cohen is best known for outrageous comedic roles like Borat and Bruno, but in The Spy, a miniseries co-produced by Netflix, Cohen’s dramatic abilities are on full display.

In The Spy, Cohen plays Eli Cohen (no relation), a Mossad agent who was tasked with carrying out important tasks for the Israeli government in the buildup to the Six-Day War between Israel and Syria in 1967. Based on real-life events, the crux of the story follows Cohen as he disguises himself as a man named Kamel Amin Thaabet and integrates himself into Syrian society, eventually gaining the title of Deputy Defense Minister, in the hopes that the knowledge he gains and actions he takes will all benefit Israel in the long run. 

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80178151
4. ‘Inception’ (2010)

Director Christopher Nolan is known for larger-than-life film concepts, and films don’t get much bigger than Inception. The film follows a team of individuals, led by Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), as they embark on a mission inside a businessman’s mind to implant (incept) an idea in his head.

As the squad goes deeper in Robert Fischer’s (Cillian Murphy) subconscious, the settings continually evolve and get more dangerous, forcing the dream team to adapt and constantly tweak their plans to get to the next level unnoticed.

An action-packed film, Inception is emotionally charged and ambiguous as hell, meaning audiences will have to pay attention if they want to pick up on everything Nolan is trying to throw at them.  

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70131314
5. ‘The Departed’ (2005)

Martin Scorsese focuses on a different kind of gangster in The Departed: Corrupt police officers and federal agents. Starring a who’s who of Hollywood A-listers like Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed follows certain individuals who work as moles within the Massachusetts state police as well as the Irish mob in Boston. Without spoiling the numerous twists, I’ll say that this Best Picture Oscar-winning film is incredibly tense and makes the audience question every individual and their true intentions at all times.

Not only does it have a lot of iconic dramatic moments, but The Departed also has some incredible action to keep viewers hooked throughout the two-and-a-half-hour film.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70044689
6. ‘Quantum of Solace’ (2008)

There are literally dozens of James Bond films out there, but Netflix only has Daniel Craig’s first two outings available for U.S. customers. Picking up literally an hour after Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace sees Bond seek revenge for the loss of a loved one. While on the trail of the killer, 007 discovers a shadowy organization called Quantum. It falls to Bond to diffuse Quantum and Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), one of its shadow members, from plotting a coup in Bolivia in order to gain control over its water supply.  Keeping with the gritty spirit of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace is an action-packed, bloody film that shows James Bond going MUCH further in fight scenes than he had in the past as he embarks on a personal rather than fully professional mission. 

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70099117
7. ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ (2011)

After the success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book series and subsequent Swedish film adaptation, David Fincher released an American adaptation of the series first chapter in 2011. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is investigating the mysterious disappearance of a teenage girl 40 years earlier. To help him get to the bottom of things, Blomkvist turns to the complex yet matter-of-fact hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Together, the two of them embark on a dark journey to discover the truth that ends up nearly contradicting everything they first assumed about the situation when they started their mission. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a slick, incredibly well-acted film that will leave audiences both intrigued and entertained from start to finish.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70207663
8. ‘The Angel’ (2018)

The Angel, distributed by Netflix in 2018, tells the story of Ashraf Marwan (Marwan Kenzari), an Egyptian diplomat who was married to Egyptian President Nasser’s daughter and ended up working as a secret agent for the Israeli Mossad. Based on Israeli professor Url Bar-Joseph’s book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, The Angel, explores Marwan’s time working as a spy for Israel and the emotional struggles he went through in an effort to maintain peace between the two countries. Set in the aftermath of the Six-Day War between the two countries in 1967, the film is full of double-crossings, and loose ends that make it clear just how logistically and morally complicated being a spy can be.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80188120
9. ‘The Spy Next Door’ (2010)

Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) is affiliated with the CIA and used to taking down terrorists and saving the day, but now he has a dangerous mission he may not be qualified for: babysitting his neighbor’s kids. The Spy Next Door follows Ho as he deals with the trouble-making kids, but his old job quickly rears its ugly head as he has to reveal his identity to the kids and work with them to take down a group of bad guys threatening the world’s oil supply. Directed by Brian Levant, the director who brought family-friendly films like Beethoven and Jingle All The Way to the big-screen, The Spy Next Door is a silly, action-packed film perfect for everyone in the fam.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70116682
10. ‘The Spy Who Fell to Earth’ (2019)

Directed by Thomas Meadmore, The Spy Who Fell to Earth is a documentary all about Ashraf Marwan (the subject of the previously mentioned The Angel), an Egyptian billionaire who worked as a secret agent for the Israeli government. Based on a book with the same name, the film tracks Marwan’s life, touching on everything from his life in the UK before becoming a full-fledged spy to his mysterious death. Including archival footage of everyone from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to Nikita Khrushchev, a former Premier of the Soviet Union, The Spy Who Fell to Earth is an interesting, time-spanning story that shows the importance and historical context of Marwan’s time as a spy.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80224218#:~:text=Based%20on%20Dr.,Egyptian%20billionaire%20and%20Israeli%20spy.
11. ‘Spycraft’ (2021)

Based on the book Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda, Spycraft is a Netflix original docu-series that takes viewers through different key components of espionage and how they have evolved over the years. Released in late January 2021 to limited fanfare (potentially because the powers at be don’t want individuals to know the truth about American spycraft), the eight-episode series has entries on everything from the power of “sexpionage” to how agencies go about recruiting the individuals to become spies.  

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/81014547
12. ‘A Very Secret Service’ (2015)

The final television series on this list, A Very Secret Service, looks at the world of espionage through a more satirical, comedic lens. A French production, A Very Secret Service, follows André Merlaux (Hugo Becker) after he is called in to be a trainee with the French Secret Services. Set in 1960 during the early days of the Cold War, the French are dealing with calls for independence in their then African colonies, especially Algeria, and a domestic populace growing more liberal every day that makes the government increasingly worried about Communist interference.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80097771
13. ‘Snowden’ (2016)

Few recent American figures are as divisive as Edward Snowden, and that’s exactly why the overtly political director Oliver Stone decided to make Snowden. The film explores Edward Snowden’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) life preceding his time as a subcontractor with the National Security Agency and, most importantly, his decision to leak classified documents that revealed espionage and data tracking operations carried out by the American government on its own citizens to a team of journalists. Even though the movie is based on two Snowden-focused books, Stone met with the real Snowden multiple times in an attempt to better understand him as well as a pick-up on some personality traits he could incorporate into the movie. 

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80064514#:~:text=2016%7CR%20%7C2h%2014m%7C,exposing%20vast%20U.S.%20surveillance%20programs.
14. ‘All The Devil’s Men’ (2018)

Jack Collins (Milo Gibson) is a former Navy SEAL and bounty hunter who is sent off to London to assist the CIA on a critical mission. All the Devil’s Men, written and directed by Matthew Hope, follows Jack as he becomes a part of a small team of operatives tasked with hunting down a former CIA agent intent on buying a nuclear warhead from Russian gangsters. Full of action and double-crossings, All The Devil’s Men will keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they try to put all the pieces together and watch Jack try to save the day and spare the world from a nuclear conflict. 

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80220311
15. ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ (2016)

Based on a true-story, Smoke & Mirrors follows the exploits of Francisco Pasea (Eduard Fernández), a Spanish agent who assisted the government fight a Basque separatist organization before ultimately being framed and exiled by the Spanish government. Years later, Pasea is allowed back in the country to assist Luis Roldán (Carlos Santos), the former Police commissioner, with a massive cash cover-up scheme. Still bitter about his past betrayal, Pasea plots how to take the money for himself in a manner that will hopefully leave him free from blame and flush with cash. Directed by Alberto Rodriguez, Smoke & Mirrors is incredibly entertaining as well as illuminating expose on how corrupt governmental institutions can be.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80121843
Categories
Culture Trading Cards

The 25 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards of All Time

When I was growing up, the kids around me traded Pokémon cards like they were candy. They cared about winning the game and not the potential financial value of the cards years later.

In the past year, the amount of media coverage around eye-popping Pokemon card sales has been off the charts, but many people still don’t understand what makes certain cards more valuable than others. Here, we will talk about factors such as eBay sales data, popularity of characters, card condition and the PSA grades and populations.

Below is a list of the 25 highest Pokémon single card sales of all time… but keep in mind, with new record breaking sales happening almost daily, you never know when a new card will show up or move up and down the chart.

25. 2007 Pokémon Pop Series 5 Gold Star Espeon #16 PSA 10
$22,100.00 (2/14/2021)
eBay

Let’s get this countdown started with Espeon. Note that at over $22k, there are 24 higher sales to learn about. Espeon boasts a population of 54 PSA 10’s and still commands over $22k at auction. Buckle up because here we go! 

24. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Basic No Rarity Symbol Holo Alakazam #65 PSA 10
$22,100.00 (11/20/2020)
eBay

The No Rarity cards are considered 1st Editions when it comes to Japanese cards. Due to this correlation and Alakazam having a PSA 10 population of 4, you can see why this card sold for $22,100.00. With demand continuing to soar, anticipate the next Alakazam PSA 10 to shatter this sale.

23. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Venusaur #15 PSA 10
$22,615.00 (12/28/2020)
eBay

The first member of the Big 3 to hit the list, Venusaur is undervalued currently. Due to timing and a market slowdown, Venusaur is the first of 7 Base 1st Edition cards on this list, yet he should be no lower than 5th. Even with 136 PSA 10 examples, this is one of the top English cards to obtain.

22. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Mewtwo #10 PSA 10
$22,655.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

Possibly the coolest Pokémon ever, and certainly the most powerful, Mewtwo joins the club after this staggering $22,655.00 sale back in November. With a PSA 10 population of 81, finding the English grail Mewtwo will be a tough task. 

21. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Hitmonchan #7 PSA 10
$23.100.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

The 1st Edition Base Holograms will continue to set records moving forward. That said, Hitmonchan has a PSA 10 population of 54, which is the 2nd lowest of all the 1st Edition base holograms. Demand will continue to rise for the 1st Edition holograms, especially Hitmonchan. 

20. 2010 Pokémon Japanese Promo Daisuki Club Holo Masters Scroll #055 PSA 10
$24,418.00 (12/12/2020)
eBay

The newest card on the list comes with by far the most interesting storyline. This Promo card was only obtainable for members of the Daisuki Club, who had to complete a variety of tasks to gain the points necessary to redeem the card. Of the cards redeemed, only 26 are graded PSA 10.

19. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Basic No Rarity Symbol Holo Poliwrath #62 PSA 10
$25,015.00 (12/28/2020)
eBay

The 1996 No Rarity PSA 10’s have become extremely difficult to obtain, with low populations like Poliwrath here having a Pop 3 in PSA 10, for example. Prices will continue to rise due to such a limited supply of pristine original cards. 

18. 2009 Pokémon Japanese Promo Wonder Platinum Trophy Card BGS 9.5
$25,100.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

One of the newer cards on the list, the Promo Wonder Platinum Trophy Card is also one of the hardest to acquire. They were awarded to finalists at the Pokémon National Championships in Tokyo, with an estimation of around 20 being handed to those participants. This 9.5 BGS Trophy Card is a rare grail worthy of its spot on the list. 

17. 2004 Pokémon Gold Star EX Team Rocket Returns Holo Torchic #108 PSA 10
$25,400.00 (12/12/2020)
eBay

This might come as a surprise to some, but the Gold Star Torchic is in high demand, in part due to there only being 16 PSA 10 examples currently. How hard is Torchic to obtain? This is the only public PSA 10 sale in almost 2 years. 

16. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Bandai Carddass Vending Prism Red Charizard #6 PSA 10
$30,100.00 (1/27/2021)
eBay

This is the first Charizard to hit the list. There are 61 Carddass PSA 10 ‘Zards currently, and 303 total graded with PSA. Due to scarcity, this ‘Zard could be higher on the list in a couple months.   

15. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Raichu #14 PSA 10
$34,820.00 (1/19/2021)
eBay

The evolution of Pikachu, Raichu cracks #15 on the list of all time Pokémon Card Sales. The Raichu PSA 10 1st Edition has a population of 87 currently, and with the prices of sealed Pokémon 1st Edition packs and boxes continuing to soar, the sale price of $34,820.00 will likely be a bargain in the near future.  

14. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Chansey #3 PSA 10
$36,877.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

Certain Pokémon cards just didn’t come out pristine when they were produced and Chansey is a perfect example. With 47 PSA 10 examples, Chansey has the lowest PSA 10 pop of the hologram’s in the 1st Edition English Base Set. Coincidentally the Shadowless version of Chansey only has 15 PSA 10’s in the registry.

13. 1999 Pokémon French 1st Edition Dracaufeu #4 PSA 10
$37,300 (1/31/2021)
eBay

Due to surging demand for all Charizards, it makes sense that even the French Charizard would soar in value as well. With a population of 28 PSA 10’s, the $37,300.00 price tag isn’t as steep as you’d expect. Moving forward, low population Charizard’s are as safe a bet as you can make when buying cardboard, regardless of the language.

12. 1995 Pokémon Topsun No Number Blue Back Wartortle PSA 10
$44,999.00 (2/4/2021)
eBay

When it comes to Population 1, prices can soar. At nearly $45,000.00, this is going to be considered a bargain for the buyer, given no more PSA 10’s enter the registry. Cards like this will cause many collectors to go nuts trying to acquire such a rare piece of Pokémon history.

11. 2005 Pokémon EX Deoxys Gold Star Holo Rayquaza #107 PSA 10
$45,100 (12/12/2020)
eBay

The 2005 Gold Star Holo Rayquaza has become quite the grail, with 46 PSA 10’s in the registry, and 156 PSA 9’s, this is going to be a tough card to acquire in mint or better for collectors.

10. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Blastoise #2 PSA 10
$45,100.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

The drop off from Charizard to Blastoise is staggering, but make no mistake, Blastoise is entrenched as the 2nd most valuable 1st Edition card. Scarcity also plays a part with 100 total PSA 10’s in the registry, which is 21 less than Charizard.  

9. 2016 Pokemon Card Game 20th Anniversary 24K Gold Pikachu
$50,000.00 (1/7/2021)
eBay

Pikachu encrusted in 24K Gold. Sometimes going over the top is necessary for anniversaries, especially when it involves Pokémon. To originally obtain this reissued Pikachu, you had to pre-order it for $2,100.00. Quite the return in 5 years.

8. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Base No Rarity Holo Charizard #6 PSA 9
$57,877.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

The 1996 Japanese No rarity ‘Zard has taken off, and rightfully so with a total of 28 PSA 9 grades in their registry. A PSA 10, which there are 6 of, would fetch a mega haul at auction. The price tag should be north of a PSA 10 1st Edition English ‘Zard due to scarcity and the fact that it’s the first Base Charizard Produced.

7. 1998 Kamex Mega Battle Computer Error Trophy Promo PSA 10
$58,023.00 (2/15/2021)
eBay

One of the Rarest Trophy cards, the Computer Error Trophy has a PSA 10 Pop of 6 with 39 total in their registry. The trophy cards were used as prizes at the 1998 Kamex Mega Battle.

6. 2005 Pokémon Japanese Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb Trophy PSA 10
$60,000.01 (12/28/2020)
eBay

In 2005, 162 finalists won this Mew Trophy Card. Of those, 19 have been graded with PSA and 17 are PSA 10’s. Trophy Cards have become one of the most sought after promos, and for good reason. Only a true Pokémon Master could originally obtain it. 

5. 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Holo Kangaskhan #115 PSA 9
$150,000 (10/28/2020)
eBay

With a Population of 11 PSA 10’s, the Kangaskhan Family Trophy Card has Grail written all over it. A PSA 9 Recently fetched $100,100.00 on 12/15/2021. There are a total of 45 graded and the next PSA 10 that goes for auction could shatter the Half Million mark. 

4. 2000 Pokémon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9 PSA 10
$129,000 (11/25/2020)
eBay

With a Population of 42 PSA 10’s, Lugia has become a highly sought after Grail. The drop off from PSA 10 to 9 is astounding, PSA 9’s sell around $8,000.00 

3. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4 PSA 10
$350,000.00 (12/12/2020)
eBay

Even with a Population over 120, the PSA 10 Charizard commands heavy $. Consider this, Michael Jordan’s PSA 10 fleer Rookie is valued over $650,000.00 meanwhile Charizard has almost a third the population while fetching half the price of MJ. You could say ‘Zard is the Jordan of Pokémon.  

2. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4 SGC 10
$369,000 (12/12/2020)
eBay

At number 2 comes this beautiful SGC 10 1st Edition Charizard. The 1st Edition Base ‘Zard is the top English card to own. 

1. 1995 Pokémon Japanese Topsun No Number Blue Back Charizard PSA 10
$480,000 (1/31/2021)
@jeremypadawer

With a PSA 10 Population of one, it’s easy to see why the original Charizard fetched so much money at auction. While this is the top sale currently, it could be shattered before February ends. 

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 18 Best Horror Anime Movies and TV Shows

So much horror cinema made in the United States is firmly rooted in a Western tradition, meaning that Judeo-Christian imagery and morality still dominate the genre — and with every generation, these movies become more and more self-referential. But other cultures have entirely different ideas about the afterlife and what demons lurk in the great beyond. That’s probably why so many horror die-hards are so obsessed with Japanese media.

Ever since The Ring, J-horror has deeply influenced Hollywood, but few American fans do a real deep dive on more obscure offerings. To help guide you through the cursed world of haunted cartoons, we’ve curated this (unranked!) list of the 18 best horror anime TV shows and films. Good luck sleeping after you’ve made it through.

18. ‘Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack!’

Haunting images of giant sharks crawling on land with insect legs protruding violently from their stomachs became a grotesque meme on a handful of imageboards. The strange iconography of Gyo, one of horror legend Junji Ito’s most bizarre masterpieces, seems silly at first, but the film (based on the manga of the same name) is actually deeply unsettling. The mythos behind how the sea creatures became terrestrial is complicated and obscure, but Gyo’s story evolves into something much more gruesome and nauseating before it concludes.

watch on crunchyroll
https://aniplexusa.com/gyo/
17. ‘Perfect Blue’

The late Satoshi Kon, an anime director known for his dreamlike mise-en-scene and intellectual, postmodern twists, was widely celebrated as a visionary before his death. Perfect Blue is often considered his greatest work — and it’s gone on to influence a handful of award-winning Western films like Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. 

Perfect Blue tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a fictional pop singer stalked by an increasingly threatening doppelganger. Are Mima’s nightmares coming true, or has she totally lost her grip on reality? Kon’s lovingly detailed and deeply empathetic animations juxtapose horrendously against scenes of sexual violence that slip between waking life and dreams until the audience can no longer tell what a psychotic delusion is and what’s actually happening — reflecting both the young idol’s nervous breakdown and our schizophrenic media culture.

watch on Prime Video
https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Blue-Junko-Iwao/dp/B07NNP4R4H
16. ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’

Jujutsu Kaisen has garnered an impressive cult following since episodes began airing on Crunchyroll in late 2020. The series has already achieved a perfect balance between horror aesthetics and traditional shonen plotting. Ostensibly about a school for young sorcerers, the ultra-violent art direction and stomach-churning monster design keeps this new show from being yet another by-the-books adventure story about a plucky young fighter battling both literal and figurative demons. It’s got exciting action scenes and real heart, but it’s not for the squeamish.

WATCH ON HBO MAX
https://play.hbomax.com/page/urn:hbo:page:GX8fnVgocBIZDKQEAAABF:type:series
15. ‘Paranoia Agent’

A staple of [adult swim] in the early ’00s, Paranoia Agent is another Satoshi Kon classic which deals with many of the same themes and motifs as the aforementioned Perfect Blue. This 13-episode TV series is a complicated story about the pressures of the animation industry, told from a cartoonist’s perspective driven increasingly mad by her own creation. It’s a self-referential warning about the psychological perils of late capitalism and the flattening of our emotional lives by information technology — expressed through a story about a serial murderer who escaped from a nightmare.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/paranoia-agent/
14. ‘Hellsing’

A steampunk update of the Dracula mythos, Hellsing uses perverted Christian imagery to tell a story equal parts bloody and campy. It’s not the highest quality animation, but the transgressive pleasures of this frequently juvenile show remain endearing, as does its early 00’s goth aesthetic. Spotting Hellsing’s influence on a plethora of contemporary anime (see: Castlevania) isn’t hard to do once you’ve seen the original show.

watch on hulu
https://www.hulu.com/series/hellsing-ae60fec0-4936-49a7-b00f-89de717bce07
13. ‘Devilman: Crybaby’

Artist Go Nagai created the Devilman character in the early 1970s, and he’s been endlessly reinvented ever since. Crybaby is the latest iteration of this iconic anti-hero, and Netflix’s high-budget adaptation is a great entry point for new fans, even if it is a bit abstract. Ultra-fashionable character design compliments the show’s slick techno soundtrack for an extremely stylish and gorgeously animated adventure that vacillates from sublime beauty to Oedipal terror. 

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80174974
12. ‘Promised Neverland’

A serene schoolhouse in the countryside filled with adorable kids belies some truly terrible dark secrets: When the children discover they’re being harvested as meat for demons, they begin to hatch an elaborate escape plan, but their every move is being watched! Emotional drama and psychological fear take center stage in this deceptively cute series with extremely morbid themes. 

watch on hulu
https://www.hulu.com/series/the-promised-neverland-3ef087c6-d967-4495-9730-b5ff54ded8e0
11. ‘Dorohedoro’

A battle between sorcerers and the slums rages in this highly stylized horror/action hybrid series. A citizen of a whimsical skid row one day wakes up with the head of a lizard and no memory of his past, leading him to embark on a grisly quest for both answers and revenge. Each episode gets stranger as more details of the surreal, magical world they inhabit are revealed. Although the show is rendered in CGI, the 3D models are very stylized and extremely expressive in ways reminiscent of more old-school anime.

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80991903
10. ‘Berserk’

Berserk is a traditionally gothic fairytale about an orphaned knight betrayed by his impossibly beautiful commander. The Western medieval setting is fairly traditional, and the story is almost Shakespearean in structure — until the last few episodes when the plot suddenly takes an unexpectedly hellish twist. Maybe it’s the nostalgia speaking, but there’s something really special about late 90’s anime, and Berserk is a classic of that era — rife with overt queer overtones and filled with wistfully melancholy. 

The show’s first run lasted 25 episodes and told only a fraction of the original manga’s story. (The series was rebooted in 2016, but the poorly done CGI animation style in this latest iteration is nearly unwatchable. Stick with the original and seek out the books if you get hooked.)

watch on crunchyroll
https://www.crunchyroll.com/berserk
9. ‘Serial Experiments Lain’

Serial Experiments Lain is a cyberpunk anime from 1998 which uncannily predicted the rise of cyberspace as the defining feature of the new Millenium. Lain is a young student whose interest in hacking slowly takes over her life until she’s no longer able to tell what’s happening online or in reality. Lain’s psychotic break has philosophical ramifications, as she encounters a series of unhinged conspiracy theories on message boards, leading her to an entity that claims to be God — or is she just going insane? The show was way ahead of its time in its predictions about the Internet and its depiction of a mass shooting only a year before Columbine. This is slow burn horror at its best, but the social implications are what is really disturbing.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/serial-experiments-lain/
8. ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’

Fans of Final Fantasy might recognize the baroque and ornate art design of Yoshitaka Amano in Vampire Hunter D, yet another Japanese twist on the mythology of Dracula. In this breathtaking movie from 2000, the eponymous warrior D battles Carmilla, a sapphic demon based on the real-life murderess Elizabeth Bathory. It’s admittedly thin on a storyline, but the hand-animated action sequences and melodramatic imagery are stunning nonetheless.

buy on amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Hunter-Blu-ray-Artist-Provided/dp/B00WHZZAP6/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=%27Vampire+Hunter+D%3A+Bloodlust%27&qid=1614091265&sr=8-1
7. ‘X/1999 AKA X: The Movie’

Manga studio CLAMP is best known for dainty romance stories and cutesy magical girl adventures, but their apocalyptic sci-fi book series X is a frightening depiction of a cosmic battle for humanity. They produced a standalone movie of X in 1996, and while it’s nearly impossible to condense an 18 volume manga into a 1.5-hour film, they did a pretty good job of distilling the graphic novel down to its essence. Secret factions of psychic warriors fight to save or destroy civilization unbeknownst to regular people in this shockingly violent and stunningly delicate doomsday tale.

buy on amazon
https://www.amazon.com/X-Movie-T%C3%B4ru-Furusawa/dp/B00000JL4L
6. ‘The Short Films of Kago Shintaro’

You may have happened upon artist Kago Shintaro’s images while scrolling through the darker sectors of social media: his fetishistic portraits of schoolgirls with their intestines hanging out and sexy paintings of nude women with their brains exposed garnered a kind of viral popularity amongst goths and otaku. Described as “fashionable paranoia,” Shintaro’s satirical humor clashes extreme gore with erotica in fascinating ways. His short films, many of which are available on YouTube, are much more humorous in nature but are often deeply unnerving in a Lynchian way. Shintaro’s fascinations with human viscera remain the most notable motif, but he plays more with the mundane in his animations.

watch on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGVfVsG8lsQ
5. ‘Dororo’

Osamu Tezuka, often considered the Godfather of Manga, is best known for creating lovable cartoons like Astro Boy and emotionally compelling stories like Budha. One of his lesser-known works is Dororo, a brutal Japanese fairytale about a cursed prince born without limbs or skin. Although the original manga was drawn in Tezuka’s signature Disney-influenced aesthetic, the 2019 reboot adapted the novels into a more adult animation style that showcased the monstrous aspects of the source material — it’s a pretty faithful update otherwise. Hyakkimaru must battle the undead to wrest back his body parts from the underworld, but he’s unaware his unholy quest imperils all of Japan. There’s a lot of emotional depth in these 24 episodes, considering how vicious the actual plot is.

watch on prime video
https://www.amazon.com/Dororo/dp/B07MBT8FBF
4. ‘Witch Hunter Robin’

In the near future, witches are a secret criminal scourge hunted by a covert government agency known as the STNJ. Robin Sena is the branch’s newest recruit, hired for pyrokinetic magical abilities. Robin confronts her enemies and herself in this moody and dreamy gothic thriller. It’s not exactly fast-paced, but the story’s unfolding is filled with dark surprises and a fair amount of violence. This series was also part of [adult swim]’s lineup back in the day, meaning older anime fans probably remember encountering it late at night.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/witch-hunter-robin/
3. ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

From the first few episodes of Madoka, it would be ludicrous to describe this short series as horror, but a major twist in the plot about halfway through casts a different light on the show’s opening moments.

What appears at first as a Sailor Moon ripoff — frilly rainbow transformation sequences and all! — quickly turns into something much darker when it’s revealed that (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!) an alien entity disguised as a cute animal companion has actually been parasitically feeding off the magical energies expended by the girls. The extraterrestrial creature is planning on harvesting all of planet Earth as food, forcing the children into a time loop where their ill-fated destiny repeats eternally. This postmodern horror story is filled with experimental animation techniques and a truly devastating existential message: humanity is at the whim of vast and indifferent cosmic forces with a ferocity beyond our comprehension.

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/70302572
2. ‘Seoul Station’

Seoul Station is an animated film coming out of South Korea intended as a prequel to the cult hit Train to Busan. The film made its way around the European indie cinema circuit in 2016 before landing on a few streaming services. Like its source material, Seoul Station traces the frightening rise of a zombie pandemic that threatens to destroy the world. Train to Busan was praised for its not-so-subtle social commentary that depicted the ramifications of the devastating wealth gap in Korea — Seoul Station is a little less obviously political but is thrilling nonetheless.

watch on prime video
https://www.amazon.com/Seoul-Station-English-Subtitled-Joon/dp/B071F9VJ2L
1. ‘Junji Ito Collection’

Although it would be impossible to capture the precise and hideous drawings or intellectually sophisticated plots from horror master Junji Ito’s manga in animated form, this collection of shorts does a pretty amazing job of reducing the major themes and motifs into short, digestible segments. Ito’s stories have little in common with Western horror, so each episode is hauntingly fresh and original compared to the formulaic scares we get on this side of the world. The Tomie OVAs are particularly dismal.

watch on crunchyroll
https://www.crunchyroll.com/junji-ito-collection
Categories
Culture News

Manga vs. Anime: A Brief History of the Two Mediums

Following an explosion in popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, both anime and manga have become a beloved niche hobby in the West amongst pop-culture nerds, avant-gardists, and fashionistas alike. On TV, anime for both kids and adults have become more commonplace; in the high art world, Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara have spun anime’s popular tropes into existentially challenging, postmodern masterpieces. 

That being said, both anime and manga are still pretty specialized interests, so we’re here to walk you through the basics. What defines anime? What’s the difference between manga and comic books? How did they get popular, and what artists are making these works?

What is Manga?

The short answer: Manga is the Japanese analog of comic books and graphic novels in the West. The art form uses illustrated images and text on a page to tell a coherent narrative. The subject matter of manga is so diverse in themes, style, and content that it’s difficult to provide a much more comprehensive answer beyond this simplistic description. Although comic books in the States have been traditionally thought of as media made for kids and teens (this has less so been the case in the 21st century), manga for both children and adults has existed since the medium’s inception, and — like any form of literature — there isn’t really a limit on what can or can’t be included.

There are a handful of popular genres of manga. Shonen manga is usually geared towards teenage boys and often features plucky heroes fighting off oversized enemies while learning new abilities throughout their journey. Shojo manga is usually geared towards teenage girls and frequently features stories about young women finding romance. Seinen and Josei manga are the more adult styles and feature more emotionally complicated storylines and sometimes include graphic depictions of violence and sex (Seinen is usually read by men, women more often read Josei). Kodomomuke is manga geared towards children: like media for kids in the West, these are more simplistic stories featuring bright and colorful characters learning simple life lessons. Manga stories draw from a wide range of genres and subgenres, including sci-fi, romance, adventure, horror, and realism. There’s also a sizable erotica sector of manga that has maintained steady popularity over time.

Japanese manga, in its original (non-adapted) form, is usually read from right to left. There are now manga produced outside of Japan — manga produced in the West is sometimes condescendingly referred to as “Amerimanga.”

Origins of Manga
Getty Images

Narrative visual art in Japan had existed in the 12th and 13th centuries, according to Widewalls. Books of sequential drawings, influenced by the traditional ukiyo-e style, date back to Japan’s Edo period (1603-1867) have been considered early examples of manga’s origins.

Manga, as its own distinct art form, really rose to popularity in the wake of World War II, as Japanese art became more influenced by occidental cultural products under American occupation. Western superhero stories and cartoons from Disney began influencing Japanese artists, who explored new styles that combined more traditional imagery and themes with poppier aesthetics. Magazines and newspapers dedicated to publishing serialized stories began popping up around this time. Artist Osamu Tezuka garnered massive popularity for his stories which explored both spiritual and science-fictional themes in tales told for both adults and children.

What is Anime?

Anime refers to a stylized (and usually Japanese) form of two and three-dimensional illustration and animation. Anime was officially recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Education as an important Japanese form of artistic expression in the year 2000, according to The Anime Art Museum

The term “anime” comes from a shortening of the word “アニメーション” (animēshon), which is itself a loan word from the English “animation.” In the West, the phrase “anime” had for a while been used as a way to distinguish Japanese cartoons from products made in the USA but has more recently been used to more broadly describe a certain style of hyper-expressive animation rather than to denote its country of origin. 

It wouldn’t be entirely correct to say that “anime” and “cartoons” are the same thing: “cartoons” implies a certain thematic and stylistic simplicity, whereas anime ranges vastly in its subject matter and sophistication.

Anime as its own distinct style has some notable features: people are usually not drawn in realistic proportions, characters usually have oversized eyes and exaggerated hairstyles and facial features. Anime stories are often (but not always!) fantastical, romantic, and over-the-top.

Anime is often separated into the same sub-genres as manga, like the aforementioned shojo and shonen genres. Like with manga, there is anime geared towards adults and children that spans aesthetics ranging from horror to sci-fi to action to romance. Like with manga, there is also a robust erotic subindustry.

Origins of Anime
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The first recognized example of anime, titled Katsudō Shashin, is from 1907, according to The Milford Public Library. Around 1917, artists began working with cutouts in experimental animation techniques inspired by American and French cartoons, according to Nippon.com.  These were originally described as “manga-film.” Toei Animation, considered the first anime studio, formed in 1958 with the goal of becoming “the Disney of the East” — Japanese animation up until that point had been prohibitively time-consuming and expensive to make, meaning that it was far less popular than products created in Europe and the Americas. Toei would eventually go on to produce several influential series that would garner massive international popularity in the 1980s and 90s. This included classics like Sailor Moon, Digimon, and Dragon Ball, and One Piece — most of which were based on manga. However, it was Osamu Tezuka’s TV series Astro Boy, which debuted on January 1, 1963, that really catalyzed an anime boom and led to anime becoming recognized as its own distinct and legitimate art form.

Manga vs. Anime

Although the comparison is overly simplistic, the easiest way to explain the difference between anime and manga is to compare it to the difference between comic books and cartoons. Anime is animated, manga is drawn on a page. A lot of anime shows and movies are adaptations of manga in the same way that a lot of movies and TV shows are adaptations of books — although, of course, some anime is entirely original.

These days, anime is frequently funded by Westerners with a specific interest in idiosyncratic Japanese aesthetics; manga is much more what actual Japanese people consume (although both art forms have garnered global audiences in the 21st century). 

Because it’s possible to explore subjects in far more depth in literature than in cinema, manga is often (but not always!) more detailed and emotionally sophisticated than anime.

Popularity Today
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Both anime and manga experienced a major boom in popularity in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Cartoon Network began airing chunks of anime for kids and teens on their “Toonami” programming block starting in 1997, while their late-night [adult swim] showcase premiered programs aimed at young adults. A sub-culture of tape traders, cosplayers, and convention-goers sprang up around these imports. It was through Cartoon Network that an American audience was exposed to both fun action and adventure stories (Cowboy Bebop, Inuyasha) alongside avant-garde masterpieces (Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL, Paranoia Agent). These shows’ popularity led to fans investigating the manga on which many of these programs were based — suddenly, major bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Borders were investing in hearty manga and graphic novel sections.

In both Japan and America, anime and manga in the mid-’90s were thought of as a bit of a shameful habit for socially reclusive nerds. In the 2000s, the recognition of the artistry of anime masters like Satoshi Kon and the Oscar-winning director Hayoa Miyazaki from Western reviewers and highbrow critics alike helped elevate both anime and manga in the eyes of the mainstream. Meanwhile, postmodernist Takashi Murakami helped legitimize anime and manga to the high art and fashion world through his superflat movement. Murakami’s collaborations with Kanye West and the Louis Vuitton label solidified anime and manga as major cultural influences. Nowadays, anime and manga remain popular across socioeconomic classes and subcultures, often appearing alongside superhero media at pop culture conventions like Comic-Con. Hugely popular rappers and streetwear hypebeasts can often be seen sporting anime-influenced clothes or dropping bars about their favorite ninja warriors — Megan Thee Stallion, for example, is famously obsessed with My Hero Academia. The LGBTQ+ community has embraced hyper-colorful anime aesthetics and the nostalgia around the medium’s queer coded characters — many drag queens cite anime as a stylistic influence and anime-themed drag shows have become commonplace.

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Culture News

This Week In TikTok: Going ‘Up’ with Cardi B, DIYs, and More

We’re back with another week of viral TikTok challenges, and this edition is loaded with throwback jams, dance trends and DIYs. While creating dance routines are always a good source of fun, the majority of the top recent trends have been dominated by creators showcasing their choreography skills, making this week a bit refreshing from that standpoint. With the bulk of us still spending most of our time at home, these challenges are fun interesting concepts that you can do by yourself, or with a group of people. So let’s dive in!

1. ‘UP’ – Cardi B

Cardi B has been sparking trends ever since ‘Bodak Yellow,’ and her song ‘UP’ has inspired the latest challenge to take over the platform. The recently released single made history this past week by debuting at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and fans didn’t waste any time creating a new challenge for Cardi’s latest hit. For this one, you can literally do anything you want! Some have created dance routines while others have used the song for makeup challenges. Use your imagination and have fun with it!

2. ‘How To Save A Life’ – The Fray

A major throwback to 2005, many had forgotten about this record—that is until TikTok brought it back. This challenge is for everyone who has been dying to let out their inner ‘weird’ side (and let’s face it—we all have one.)  Get creative with this challenge! One TikToker made a video about her boyfriend’s obsession with his hamster, and another creator recorded herself playing house with her favorite plushies. The options are limitless, but just remember to make it weird!

3. ‘Just Water’- Bryansanon

Even Chance The Rapper had to get in on this challenge! Another dance trend, the theme of this challenge is…water. Bryansanon just might have one of the most catchy TikTok trends of 2021 so far, and all you have to do is pretend like you are drinking a bottle of water as you bust out your dance moves. Simple right? 

4. ‘Born For This’- Foxxi

Ah the memories of 2018! Sometimes certain songs are so upbeat and positive that makes you dig deep  and tap into your talents, and that is exactly the case with the ‘Born For This’ challenge. A ‘DIY,’ TikTok creators are using the song to display their arts and crafts skills, showcase their recipes, and more. So if you have a special talent that you want the TikTok universe to know about, then this trend is right up your alley!

That’s going to do it for this week’s roundup, but as usual we will be back next week with the latest trends and challenges.

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Culture Music

MixedByAli Talks Music and Business Ventures in A Conversation With ONE37pm

MixedByAli is one of the top engineers in the music industry with a loaded resume including work with Kendrick Lamar, the late great Nipsey Hussle, Snoop Dogg, and more. The six-time Grammy nominee and three-time Grammy winner has no intentions of slowing down and caught up with ONE37pm’s Mike Boyd to talk music, entrepreneurship, and more.

Boyd: I wanted to first talk about you working on ‘What It Feels Like’ from Nipsey and Jay-Z. What was that process like for you?

MixedByAli: Just a full circle moment for me honestly with me doing the work on Victory Lap, and even before that, the relationship Nipsey and I had organically outside the music. It felt good to hear his voice again and continue his legacy. It’s an incredible record—Jay killed it! The soundtrack was amazing. Personally, it was a moment for me with Nip leaving untimely, and to be able to sonically get into it, and give this back to the world.

Boyd: Talk to us about the art of engineering and the process because I know you are working on special songs all the time—maybe not as special as ‘What It Feels Like’ but I feel like you are popping up in all the song credits! What’s that like?

MixedByAli: First of all, it’s just a blessing to be able to have that type of reaction. I’ve always been one of those people that have severe ADHD and didn’t know how to stay still. As a kid, I liked to take things apart and put them back together, and as I grew, I liked how I could do that with music. Something that was never there before is recorded through a microphone, and then it’s timeless at that point. The fact that I can add my two cents to it gives me that same feeling. I can break something apart and put it back together.

Boyd: I’ve been in the studio with you and I notice you use all of the studio tools in the room.

MixedByAli: They’re in the room, so why not use them?! All the gear I need to succeed is behind me, so why not get to it and include that in my workflow? That is one of the major reasons why my music has been the way it is—the analog sound that these tools can offer. That instantly is going to sound better than mixing the song through a computer. It’s a part of my process. If I could put an SSL board on my back, I would!

Boyd: I know you have a daughter and she has a consignment boutique—talk to us about instilling business ideas and work ethic within young children.

MixedByAli: It just goes back to me being a kid. I was always interested in business and infatuated with making money. I realized I needed to show that to my own daughter, and now she won’t even need my help in the future. She’s three-years-old, but she’s excited to do some work! The company is called Aria’s Clubhouse, and it’s to help mothers get clothes for their kids during Covid times where they may not have jobs.

Boyd: You mentioned you’re at the Bishop headquarters—I wanted to talk to you about your entrepreneurship. Tell us why you started your company EngineEars and what it means to you.

MixedByAli: The whole reason why I started EngineEars is that I was a diamond in the ruff—nobody wanted to give me that chance when I was coming up. I had to fight and work for everything I had. I always promised myself that I would give back. It started with a simple Instagram, and through that, the community started moving faster. From there I said let’s take it a step further and create something more tangible. 

I started a workshop, and from that we had organic conversations with the audience. We posted those videos, and we had people all over the world saying to come to their countries and do workshops. So we started an engineering world tour. I realized through conversations that we were all having the same problems, so I wanted to create something that would disrupt the business model. EngineEars provides upcoming engineers with the tools to build their business. I want to create a legacy that my family can be proud of through actions and not words.

Be sure to follow MixedByAli for his latest releases and business updates on both his Instagram and Twitter.

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Culture Trading Cards

Pokemon Day Is Coming: What’s Next, aDrive?

February 27th, 2021 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the launch of the Pokémon franchise. With total revenue estimated at nearly $100 billion, Pokémon is the #1 ranked media franchise of all time, higher than other iconic franchises such as Hello Kitty ($86 billion), Mickey Mouse ($74 billion), Star Wars ($70 billion), Mario ($36 billion) and Batman ($28 billion).

After revealing their 25th Anniversary logo at the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, rumors and leaks about what TPC (The Pokémon Company) plans on doing to celebrate their milestone have been all over social media. 

I recently had a chance to sit down with Dan “aDrive” Clap, one of the leading creators of Pokémon content on YouTube and Twitch, to get his insight into what we can expect to see in 2021. Rather than do a typical Q&A, I figured I would just let Dan tell us in his own words why he thinks the Pokémon hysteria has only just begun.

1. Pokemon Day Retail Promos
Pokemon/McDonalds

The Pokemon franchise has been really focused on promoting their brand across a handful of different platforms ahead of “Pokemon Day.” They just announced a new Build-A-Bear, which they have done in the past. They did a Levi’s line and announced partnerships with an Original Stitch. There is a General Mills cereal promotion, and many people are going after those promo cards. Suppose you happen to stroll into a grocery store and see that. Generally speaking, the cards in there will be worth a lot more than the box of cereal. If I walked into my store and saw the cereal promotion, I’d definitely pick one up immediately because I think they are going to fly off the shelves.

They just released the McDonalds Happy Meal promo, which included a pack of Pokemon cards in each meal. It’s hard to say what the value of those cards is really going to be in the future, but the reality of it is that right now, the demand is so high for those things, and they flew off the shelves the second they hit the restaurants. 

2. Pokemon “Shining Fates”
Pokemon

Pokemon is hitting on all cylinders and all different angles and parts of culture from a promotional standpoint. We are actually headed towards the most anticipated set in recent memory, “Shining Fates.” In fact, I don’t even know if there has ever been a set that people are this excited about that has had this much hype overall. It will be coming out right before Pokemon Day. I believe that the official release is on February 19th. That set is going to feature a handful of shiny cards, but the main card that people are going to be looking for is the shiny Charizard V-Max card, which is going to be pretty difficult to get and will be very valuable when people are going to be able to find that card and get it graded. People are going to hunt down that set, and we already see prices going wild. 

3. Pokemon “Battle Styles”
Pokemon

There’s another set coming out in March to really keep this TCG hype alive called “Battle Styles,” and that’s a set that’s really more towards a competitive player, but there’s still some really cool stuff in there. At this point in where the TCG is, collectors are just looking for anything to open. Because the prices are rising so fast on some of the more recent sets, people are turning to whatever the most recent thing is just to be able to open cards. 

To give a little precedent, the set named “Vivid Voltage” was the most recent set that came out was originally selling for $100-120 per box, now 3 months later, they are $280 per box. This is a set that just came out. There are a lot of factors that are pulling this together. It’s the demand; a lot of people are into the TCG; we see a lot of celebrities and social media figures opening cards right now, and that’s driving the demand up. Also, because of the COVID pandemic, the supply has also dwindled because Pokemon isn’t printing as much as they used to print, so there is a little more scarcity when it comes to the quantities of these products. Because of that, people have to buy from resellers, and the prices just continue to climb. However, it’s interesting to note that Pokemon just announced they are increasing their print TCG products to respond to the demand:

I think that these next two months are going to be very interesting to watch from a TCG perspective. I never want to give financial advice to anyone because you just don’t know what’s going to happen with the market, but I think any time a new set comes out if you can get it at a reasonable price, you are probably going to get your return if you are holding on to it as sealed, just because the demand is so high right now. I, for one, prefer to open the product for fun and entertainment, but either way, I’ve learned quickly that getting products as soon as I can is definitely the best bet.

4. Pokemon Unite
Pokemon

Outside of the TCG, there are a bunch of other things that Pokemon has in store for the 25th anniversary. We know there is a mobile game coming called Pokemon Unite, which is a MOBA, kind of like League of Legends, that will be on Nintendo Switch and mobile devices. It will be free-to-play, and it seems as if their monetization strategy will be through skins, so they will have different costumes for these Pokemon that they can wear in the arenas. It is run by Tencent, which is obviously a giant Chinese conglomerate. They have all the backing to make this huge. Whether it will resonate with fans, I don’t know. The reality is that it is a free game with the Pokemon IP on it, so people will download and try it. I know from a content perspective, I am gearing up to be ready to handle “Pokemon Unite” content as soon as Pokemon Day happens either way!

5. Pokemon Snap
Nintendo

We have a release date for Pokemon Snap; it’s April 30th, 2021. That game looks really good, and I think it’s going to capture a lot of long time old school Pokemon fans and give them another title on the Switch to kind of tide them over to what is inevitably going to be the next main series launch this year. There have been some whispers about another Detective Pikachu game after the success in the box office. There was a previous Detective Pikachu game, and it didn’t really do that well, but I think now that the movie did well, there is a lot bigger chance of success to drop a new game on the Switch, or maybe even IOS and Android. We don’t have a ton of information on that; it’s more speculative at this point. 

6. Pokemon SINNOH?
Pokemon

There is a main series game release. There are a lot of people – including myself – that are on the SINNOH train right now. SINNOH is the generation 4 of Pokemon. Diamond, Pearl, and Pokemon Platinum being the first 3. Those came out 15 years ago, so the timing is perfect for them to release the remake of that game and all signs point to that. You are starting to see some of the merchandise come out for later this year. The merch launch usually gets teased and leaked months in advance and a lot of that is pointing towards some of the characters from SINNOH, and when you see all those generation 4 characters, all the signs start to point towards the SINNOH remake, and it is the most likely, logical conclusion in terms of chronological order and how they have done things in the past. They could always throw us a curveball and give us a brand new generation, but I don’t think that is going to happen. I don’t think they have had enough time from their previous generation, which was Sword and Shield, to really create a new generation of Pokemon, but they have done crazier things. 

Ultimately, it’s going to be wild. I think they have some bombshells. Pokemon is notorious for having some really cool secrets and some big drops. We have seen their partnerships so far and a lot of it is coming out to the light, but I won’t be surprised if they drop something big.