Cat Breeds: Tortoise Shell

gabby_is_social_by_anrisa-d51eazrThough most people may think coloring has nothing to do with a cat’s personality, I beg to differ. Every tortoise shell cat I have met has been a bit strange. It also doesn’t help that the coloring is almost exclusively female as well, and female cats tend to be…well, a little strange. Either way, don’t let this stop you from adopting a “tortie” as they are called. They can be the most interesting cats you’ve ever met.

The tortoise shell coloring usually consists of black, brown, and a fawn or gray color. The most favored of this is the split-face coloring like Gabby has on the left. The reason this coloring is so rare in males is that in the genes of an unborn kitten must go through a process called “x-inactivation.” This effectively “turns off” the traits inherited by one x chromosome, and since male mammals only have one x chromosome, they are far less likely to experience this. However, cases of male torties have been documented, but it is very rare.

This coloring is closely related to calico coloring, which is only similar in that it had more than two colors on a cats fur. Sometimes, these cats are called tri-color cats. These cats can have more white in their coats, and sometimes spots of tri-colored patches. 20081109090821Though they tend to be less “strange” than torties, they are just as lovable as the former. I believe this coloring is a bit more popular because of the combination of colors as well.

In folklore, these cats are often thought of as lucky. They are said to bring money and fortune to a home, and the Maneki Neko that is a popular good luck charm in Japan is almost always a calico coloring.  Not to mention, Tama, the station master cat in Japan is also a calico.

No matter the coloring, cats can be great pets. There are hundreds seeking loving homes at your local shelter, and though they may not stay long, there are torties and calicoes that live there. As always, it is better to purchase your next cat companion from a shelter than a breeder!

Want more cat articles? Click here!

Picture source:
1) (c) me http://anrisa.deviantart.com/art/Gabby-is-Social-3046779272) http://askville.amazon.com/male-calico-cats-worth-money/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=26434222

“Rozen Maiden” Series Review

Kawapaper_Rozenmaiden_0000010_2560x1600This series has been a favorite of mine for a few years, but I had never seen anything other than the first anime. I found out later that Crunchyroll carries three of them, but there are four in total. The first is simply “Rozen Maiden,” the second is “Rozen Maiden: Traumend.” These two are basically two seasons, going back to back. The third is called “Rozen Maiden: Ouverture,” which is only two regular-sized episodes and covers the past of Suigintou (mainly why she is so bitter). The final series is actually a bit strange. It comes a few years after the first two, and was not even animated by the same company. However, that doesn’t make it less good. This one is called “Rozen Maiden: Zurückspulen,” but it was also simply referred to the same name as the first anime.

The first two series were wonderful. They cover a young boy named Jun who stays at home and doesn’t go to school. It is not revealed until much later as to why, and this eventually helps him overcome many obstacles. One day when his sister comes home from school, she brings him a package that was on the front porch. It seems pretty normal looking, but when he opens it, it contains a strange doll.

The doll turns out to be a special creation called a Rozen Maiden and can walk, talk, eat, sleep, and enjoy television. As it turns out, another of Jun’s peers has one of these dolls too, and as the rules of their “Alice Game” go, if Jun’s doll can beat the other doll, she can take the other’s “Rosa Mystica,” or more accuratly, her soul.

However, Shinku – Jun’s doll – decides that her opponent – Hinaichigo – would be better served as a member of the house. So Hinaichigo joins Jun instead of giving up her Rosa Mystica. A few days later, yet another doll – Suiseiseki – makes her way to the house through a window and demands help to rescue her twin sister Souseiseki.

Jun’s house expands with the addition of the other twin, and enemies make themselves known. Shinku, a once fierce fighter, now refuses to fight even her greatest rival, the bitter Suigintou. A seventh Rozen Maiden doll appears – named Barasuishou – and Shinku must decide what to do: save her friends, or win the Alice Game. Jun’s power plays a huge role in the outcome, and the mysterious Barasuishou is not all that she seems.

The final series reveals a strange new doll that has trapped Jun in the dream world. In a strange turn of events, he manages to contact another version of himself, much older, but in a world where Rozen Maidens don’t exist. This older Jun at first doesn’t believe what’s going on, but has always harbored a secret love of dollcraft. The younger Jun sends older Jun doll parts to construct a new body for Shinku so that she may escape the current world. And now, the older Jun must face his failures, fight off the mysterious new doll, and find out what he really is after in order to save both his and his younger self’s worlds.

A bit of advice, though, if you watch them in order, it might be better to skip most of the first episode of Zurückspulen. It was rushed, trying to summarize the entire first two series to catch people up, and not even wholly accurate. If you start on episode two, you might not even have missed that much. I give the entire series a 9 out of 10. It’s original with great characters, and can appeal to all ages and genders. It also passes the Bechdel test with flying colors, so it can’t be all that bad!

My rating system: click here!

Picture source: http://otaku–zone.blogspot.com/2010/07/rozen-maiden.html

“Magi” Review

indexDespite the ecchi-like image on the left, this anime is not actually an ecchi at all. Finding this on crunchyroll, I was at first a bit concerned it wouldn’t be that exciting, but it really turned out to be quite good.

The story starts out with Alibaba, a merchant in a desert town. He is under a lot of debt, so he is trying to work it off by working for a local money-grubber who he owes the debt to. Ten years ago, a series of towers called Dungeons appeared on the land by shooting up through the ground. It is said that those that can conquer them will become richer than kings. Alibaba dreams of conquering one in order to make a name for himself as well as pay off the debt.

However, one afternoon, he finds a small boy eating his stock of fruit in his wagon. The boy, named Aladdin, appears to know nothing of ordinary societal rules, and when the money-grubber finds the boy, he swears that Alibaba will work for him forever. But Aladdin, having taken a liking to Alibaba, uses a mysterious power to keep the money-grubber away, and free a slave girl who was treated badly. Alibaba sees the opportunity to have Aladdin assist him in the local dungeon, and they head off.

But as it turns out, there is another man, with the very same slave girl in tow, that wants the riches as well. However, his greed gets the best of him, and the djinn inside the dungeon causes his death. With this, the slave girl is able to escape, and it is revealed that her name is Morgiana and she is of a race on the other side of the world. Alibaba suggests that now that she is free, she should visit her homeland.

With this, the three separate. Aladdin finds himself in the company of a roaming warrior tribe and the other two make their way on their own separate journeys. But there is much more in store for all of them. Aladdin’s reunion with Alibaba reveals that the latter is much more than he seems, not only by personality, but by birth. When the three meet again, the transform an entire country and battle a new powerful nation trying to conquer the world.

The second season starts with the three again separated. Aladdin sets off to a mysterious school for magicians which turns out to be much darker than expected. Alibaba seeks to hone his skills as a fighter, and makes his way to a city of chi users that can help him master his new-found power. Morgiana finally returns to her homeland to learn that her race has somehow separated itself from the very reality of the world and she must decide to see them and risk never returning to Alibaba and Aladdin, or continuing to live with not knowing.

It’s a creative series, and its a nice take on the legends of Aladdin and Alibaba, if you know them. The characters are actually very loosely based on those from the folk tales. If you know the Arabian Nights stories, you’ll see quite a few familiar names, though I’m not sure how accurate their representation is. I do, however, give the series a 7.5 out of 10. Its failure of the Bechdel test does affect this rating a bit, but only a little.

For more information on my rating system, click here.

Picture source: http://randomc.net/2013/01/07/magi-13/

“Frozen” Review

November 1st, 2013 @ 20:51:56

“I was going to get a shovel, but I think this is just fine for now.”

After seeing so many gifs and rants about this on tumblr, I have been wanting to see this movie for quite some time. I knew almost everything there was to know about it, and tumblr being tumblr, I was right about most of it. But I hadn’t actually been able to see it. So the other day, a friend of mine invited me over to watch it, and of course said yes.

The story is based on of Hans Christian Anderson’s book – I believe it’s called The Snow Queen. But that itself is a Scandinavian tale that was passed down through generations. Disney’s adaption is great, though. It starts out with Anna and Elsa as children, and Elsa has special powers. Elsa is able to make it snow and create ice, so this is a great source of entertainment for the two young princesses. However, Elsa looses control of her powers and hits Anna with an icy blast. In order to heal her, Anna must forget her sister has powers. And thus, the two sisters are torn apart, hardly ever seeing each other.

As the two grow older, Anna is excited for her sister’s coronation. The day is coming fast and it is almost time to finally open the castle gates after her parents had isolated them both while growing up. Anna is eager to find love, and of course grabs the first guy that appeals to her. She really has no idea who he is, but he proposes to her, and she doesn’t think its weird because she’s never been outside. This man, Hans, becomes a trusted member of the household in a few minutes when Elsa’s powers explode out of her. She races away, leaving Anna in charge.

But Anna must find her sister and unfreeze the kingdom. She leaves Hans in charge, and he proves a valuable asset to the people, making sure they are all cared for while she is gone. Along the way, Anna meets Kristoff and his trusty steed Sven. Together they must find Elsa and get her to defrost the kingdom before it gets worse. But not everyone is who they seem – enemies become friends, and friends become traitors. Only an act of true love can save the kingdom, and only Elsa can make things better.

This movie had fantastic music. Right away, I knew I wanted the soundtrack, and that was only a few minutes in. The animation is top-notch, as expected from Disney, and the plot is great, because for once it doesn’t focus on romance and finding true love like every other movie out there these days. I give this movie a 9.5 out of 10, and if you haven’t already seen it ten times, at least once is worth it!

For more information on my rating system, click here.

Picture source: http://www.mcmbuzz.com/2014/01/11/billion-dollar-baby-will-frozen-take-disney-in-a-new-direction/

“Tokyo Ravens” Review

Tokyo.Ravens.full.1613763I actually saw this spammed on my tumblr by an anime blog I follow, so naturally, I had to check it out. I’m a big fan of animes that have magic and fantasy in them, so this one was pretty good to say the least. However, it didn’t strike me as something I would want to watch again.

The story opens with Harutora, a young boy as part of a high-ranked magical family called the Tsuchimikados. This family is well-known for the magical might, and the next head of the family is named Natsume, who is attending a school for mages. However, Harutora is only in a branch family, so these two characters are only distantly related (think 3rd or 4th cousins). The haven’t seen each other in years, but whenever Natusume visits, she tries to get Harutora to go to magical school. But he always reminds her that he cannot even use magic. He was never able to.

Harutora goes about his daily business with his friends Touji and Hokuto. These three have been friends for many years, and Hokuto is beginning to develop feelings for Harutora. One day, while at the summer festival, Harutora gets captured by a strange girl who kisses him right in front of Hokuto. She becomes severely jealous, and Harutora doesn’t understand why.

Moments later, the strange girl announces that she will carry out a ritual for summoning the dead back to life. But if she does, it could cause problems in the city. Instead of bringing her brother back to life, she brings back a demon. In a battle just after, Hokuto stands in front of the attacker to save Harutora, and it is revealed that she was only a familiar instead of a human. Harutora mourns her loss and vows to find out who’s she is.

Natsume pays Harutora a visit and in a desperate move for companionship, Harutora asks to become Natsume’s familiar. With this agreement, she gives him the gift of magical sight, allowing him to see spirits and spells he was not able to before. He believes the person that created Hokuto may be going to the mage academy, so he enrolls with the help of Natsume.

But strange things are going on at the academy. Someone is manipulating the spirit energy to release monsters, and the strange girl turns out to be one of the 12 “generals,” which are the 12 most power mages in the world. Very soon, Touji, Natsume, and Harutora are wrapped in a conspiracy about a strange “Raven Coat,” and even Harutora turns out to be more than he ever expected.

I am glad to say this anime has a good ending, though bittersweet. There are quite a few surprises along the way, and Harutora even gains his very own familiar who is as dedicated as she is energetic. I give this anime a 7 out of 10; it’s worth at least a watch, and some night even really like it.

Picture source: http://www.zerochan.net/1613763#full

For more information on my rating system, click here.

“Leafie, a Hen into the Wild” Review

tumblr_m52lhqEfbe1rxyyzgo1_500

“My kokoro goes ducki ducki.”

Also known as the “bishounen duck movie,” this is is a Korean film about how a family can be made of people (or birds) that are different, and it will still be a family. It’s heartwarming, and heart-breaking, which most good movies tend to be, and it’s refreshing, because it shows some of the things that American children’s shows and movies won’t show, even if they are crude.

The movie begins with Leafie, a hen from a factory farm that dreams of leaving her cage. She wants to explore the wider world instead of spending her days eating and laying eggs. Her friend Chirpie is a sparrow that visits her every day at lunch and tries to discourage her from leaving. She thinks it is dangerous and it is better to stay where she is. But Leafie knows there is more to life and if she doesn’t escape, she will die without really living.

In order to be able to leave, Leafie starves herself to the point of fainting, so the farmer thinks she is dead. That evening, the farmer comes in and piles all the dead chickens into a wheel barrow and dumps with in a ditch outside. I’m not sure if this is really how factory farms are, but it is certainly a statement against them. Leafie wakes up just in time to come face to face with the one-eyed weasel. The weasel is hungry, of course, and apparently only likes live prey it can chase, so it goes after her. She manages to escape with the help of a strange duck that calls himself Wanderer.

Now that she is free, Leafie wants to go see “the yard” that she has spotted every day from her cage. She visits the fancy hens in the coop and the rooster that demands to be called “boss.” There are also four ducks that cause trouble for him that share the coop. Leafie wakes them up, much to their dismay, but they kick her out and she sits just outside the coop until morning. However, when the sun rises, she realizes there is more to the world than the farm, and sets off into the world.

Soon, she comes across a pond where an otter greets her. She calls him “Mr. Mayor,” and he keeps the name. Mayor says that Wanderer has instructed him to find her a home. After inspecting her features, he decides the best place for her is a thicket to hide her scent from the weasel and protect herself with the thorns. As it happens, she lives right next to Wanderer and his wife. However, one evening, the weasel finds his home and takes his wife for dinner (and not in the good way!). While the bishounen duck Wanderer is off fighting in revenge, he leaves his egg behind. Leafie, being a hen, can’t stand to see the egg left alone, so she falls asleep sitting on it. In thanks, Wanderer brings her some food every day. He instructs her that when the egg hatches, to bring the baby to the Everglades.

But one evening, while keeping the weasel at bay, Wanderer is fatally struck down. Leafie mourns his loss, but suddenly, the egg hatches, revealing the cutest little duck I’ve ever seen. They travel to the Everglades where the baby, named Greenie, learns how to be a duck from the various other creatures there: he learns to fly from a bat and an owl, and he learns to swim from Mr. Mayor. However, the other children from the everglades are not so kind when it comes to his mother. They make fun of him because his mother is a chicken, and none of the other residents like her because she is different and loud. Greenie lashes out at his mother, telling her he is ashamed of her. He wanders off to the farm where Leafie used to live and gets caught by the farmer. After quick thinking on his mother’s part, Greenie is saved, and he is sorry for the way he acted.

But things are not quite settled yet. A flock of migrating ducks has come by the everglades and Leafie knows this is time to say goodbye. In order to prove himself, Greenie must win a flying race against three talented competitors and become the new Guard Duck of the flock, like his father once was. It won’t be easy, but Leafie is cheering for her son the whole way. Greenie must use all the skills he learned from his allies and friends in the everglades to win the race.

This movie is just great. The animation is stellar, the character designs are colorful, and even though it has a sad ending, it’s a fitting one. I am a huge fan on this movie, but those that watch it, be prepared for heart-break. I give this movie a 9 out of 10!

For more information about my rating system, please click here.

Picture source: http://jitterbugjive.tumblr.com/post/43361679662/ladyzolstice-kayotics-buttstuck-from-what

Pokemon Spotlight: Ariados

Aariados_by_poketix-d31p20ls a fan of spiders, naturally, I was drawn to Ariados. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the pleasure of actually using it in battle, but that doesn’t mean I love it less. It falls into that category of “man I love this design, but how can it fit in my party?” which actually holds quite a few Pokemon (including Nincada, Scolipede, Zygarde, and Deoxys).  It could have better stats, so it sadly falls into the “Rarely Used” category as far as competitive battles go.

Physically, Ariados is much like a regular spider. It’s legs are tipped with small hooked claws that allow it to climb walls and scuttle along small awning and cliffs as well as walk on ceilings. Though it seems unusual, it is not often that Ariados is not spinning thread. Often it will leave a train behind it when traveling.  It can also spin string from its mouth, so this makes it harder for predators to tell which is the front and which is the back.

Rather than search building a nest in a specific spot like most Pokemon, Ariados will wander about at night in search of food. Rather than trap the food right then and there, it actually will attach a piece of its silk to its prey, then track it back to its nest. In this way, it can ambush its prey and anything else that may be nesting nearby. When attacking, it spins webs to throw at its foes to trap them so it can escape.

In battle, though, Ariados is really nothing special. The only thing a trainer can count on it for is a bit of luck. The only useable move set would be Signal Beam, Sludge Bomb, Agility, and Endure. Having low defense stats makes it a pretty easy target for most opponents. If you chose to use Ariados in battle, it is best to start with Agility, followed by Endure to insure at least a bit of advantage. Signal Beam and Sludge will give it a same-type attack bonus and hopefully sweep the opposing team. However, Ariados is not a recommended team member if you plan to battle competitively.

Featured artist: http://poketix.deviantart.com/art/Ariados-184247157 (please go comment on the artist’s work!)

For more Pokémon articles, please click here!

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