A cool new EP! A comic series that isn’t published by Marvel! A manga series I thought I’d never read again! Enjoy.
1. Hayley Kiyoko’s EP, This Side of Paradise (iTunes | Amazon | Google Play)
I haven’t bought an album so quickly in a long time. Hayley Kiyoko’s (of Lemonade Mouth fame and one of the stars of the up and coming 21st century adaptation of Jem and the Holograms) EP, This Side of Paradise is fun and fresh, bringing together a mix of vibrant, infectious beats and some really, really good synth. I came across the first single off the EP, “Girls Like Girls” on Tumblr last week, and fell in love with it. Here’s what Kiyoko says about the song and the meaning behind it:
I wrote the song a little over a year ago and it kind of started in a very lighthearted place. There are so many songs about guys stealing other guys’ girls and all that kind of stuff so I just thought it’d be a really fun song where a girl steals another guy’s girl. I just loved that confident perspective that I feel like isn’t really out there as much. – Hayley Kiyoko (x)
Looooooooove it. The video is also very aesthetically pleasing (with soft, warm color palettes) and feels very Sofia Coppola-y. As of now, it has more than a million views on YouTube – a great success for Kiyoko as it was her first time co-directing a music video. Another great song on the EP (but let’s be honest, everything on it is great) is “This Side of Paradise” – the EP’s namesake. Please do check out her music! You won’t regret it.
HIGHLIGHTS: Already mentioned above, but I am so in love with the Sofia Coppola aesthetic – female centric, soft palettes (those warm tones woooow), even the song (“Girls Like Girls”) seemed like it could be in The Bling Ring or something. I don’t know, man, I love it.
2. Alex + Ada by Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna, published by Image Comics
I was looking for comics to add to my “Comics Wish List” on Amazon two weeks ago and decided I should branch out and read/purchase comics that aren’t published by Marvel. I’ve been interested in Image Comics’ lineup for quite sometime. My roommate, Ivy, introduced me to The Wicked + The Divine (which deserves a post all on its own when I get my own copies of the first two volumes), and I was hooked. I wanted to read more from this publisher, because they are pretty much the Netflix of comic publishers — and I love Netflix. (I will explain this some other time.)
Alex + Ada is set in the future where robots and artificial intelligence are essentially a part of our everyday lives. Alex is your average joe (…but in the future) who is going through the motions of his everyday life after a pretty devastating breakup. For his birthday, his grandmother bequeaths him with the latest in realistic androids, a Tanaka X5. Androids in the future pretty much eat, sleep, and can do the things normal people do, but they have more restrictions due to a massacre that occurred at an AI factory, Nexware, wherein an android killed people. Alex is a bit wary because, a) yeah, there was a massacre and androids are kind of scary when sentient, b) androids are not necessarily good company because they are androids.
I’m not going to spoil too much, but he realizes that she is definitely more than a robot and should make her own decisions, and he ultimately makes a decision that will change his and her life forever.
The art is extremely simple and beautiful, and explores what it really means to be human/real. I finished the entire first volume in less than 20 minutes because I was hooked. I’m definitely going to buy the second volume when my local comic book store puts it on the shelves.
COOL ANECDOTE TIME: Sarah Vaughan, one of the authors of the series, is married to Bryan K. Vaughan, writer of Saga, another fantastic series published by Image. ALSO, special shout out to the staff of my local Comics ‘N’ Stuff – y’all are great.
3. Naruto Gaiden (Read on MangaMint)
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a young girl named Samantha Andico told herself that she wouldn’t get sucked back into Naruto. Well, fast forward many moons later and here she is, reading Naruto again and nitpicking at it even though she hasn’t read the manga or watched the anime since she was 15. She will forever be Naruto trash. The end.
Just kidding. Well, I’m not kidding about the part where I kinda stopped reading Naruto for about six years. I did stop. I used to be extremely obsessed with anime and manga – and hey, that’s not a bad thing at all – but I stepped out of that phase, mainly because it seemed like Naruto wouldn’t end any time soon. I think I stopped reading during the arc after Sasuke forms Team Taka. Damn, that was a long time ago. Well, anyway, I found out that the series ended last fall, so I read the last chapter for nostalgia’s sake and cried like a baby (see my Parks & Rec finale post for more on this), got mad at things, thought of different ways I would have ended the series, and yeah, I basically went through all the motions one would after the end of a series that played a huge role in their life. And then I found out Naruto Gaiden was a thing and freaked out because it was a next generation thing (DAMN IT, KISHIMOTO, DID YOU GO ON FANFICTION.NET AND STEAL IDEAS FROM UNSUSPECTING FANS?) and of course, as I am a complete sucker for next generation stories and because I suck, I started reading it.
Basically, Gaiden focuses a lot on the next generation while still giving us little glimpses of our favorite characters and what they’re up to. Naruto is Hokage (finally), Sasuke is a dad (uh, I don’t even know what Sasuke is doing), Sakura is still a badass ninja and also a mom, everyone is married to each other (see “Highlights” section below), blah, blah, blah. For some reason, Konohagakure has become a lot like our world. They have cell phones. They have computers and tablets. What? I was mostly sucked back into this mess because of Sasuke, Sakura, and their daughter, Salad (a.k.a. Sarada. I just like calling her Salad) and the unnecessary drama Kishimoto has drawn up for the three of them. God, I love drama. Read to find out what happens next! Yeah!
HIGHLIGHTS/WEIRD STUFF: I don’t even know what to put here. Oh, wait: a funny thing happened while I was writing this blurb. After typing Sasuke’s name for the first time in this post (paragraph three, to be exact), the inevitable squiggly red line of doom appeared under his name. I right clicked it and one of the spell check options was “Seasick”. I can never un-see that now. Also, InoSai. What the heck? I also read a very cute short about Akamaru and Kiba from Akamaru’s point of view. It’s gold. He says “F*** cats, I am a dog!” at one point in the one shot. While I do not endorse animals degrading each other, that line was pure gold. Good job, translators! Also, if you’re a fan of the manga, check out Kishimoto Masashi’s “Uzumaki Naruto: Illustration Book” – it was published earlier this year. I don’t think it has been released in the U.S. yet, but I managed to nab a copy at Anime Expo last week!
Also, I started re-reading Naruto again because according to my brother, I missed a lot. Oops.
NEXT TIME: Fandom and the Pursuit of Passion / Anime Expo Day 1 Recap