My dirty little secret: Anime

By Gabriela Santamaria

I like anime. That’s my dirty little secret… and I used to be really embarassed about it but now I’m going to let my freak flag fly free. The truth is that there is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just like watching any other TV show and sometimes even better. The animations are beautiful, the humor is more adventurous than the one in mainstream media and whenever I watch a show I feel like I’m entering a new world. It might seem like a contradiction, the fact that it’s animated should make me feel disconnected or it might seem like the stories are childish and simple, but they’re thrilling, complex and I would dare to say more risk taking than most shows. So I’m gonna go all in, I will publicly share my favorite animes (that I also believe have good female representation) in the hopes that other people will shake their preconceived ideas (that it’s weird or for kids) and take a chance on this format.

Please play this song while reading:

  • Ouran Host Club: This is the funniest show I have EVER seen. It centers around Haruhi, a high school student who wins a scholarship to attend one of the most prestigious schools in Japan. She is very bright, but rather lonely and because her family doesn’t have a lot of money she wears rather odd clothes that make everyone think she is a boy. One day she accidentally stumbles into an empty classroom and breaks a ridiculously expensive vase that turns out was being auctioned by the Host Club. In order to pay her debt, Haruhi must pose as a boy and work as a host. But what is a host you ask? Well it’s an exclusive club were the most popular boys in her high school work accompanying the girls in tea drinking dates.

    Now Ouran Host Club is technically a shoujo which is genre of anime that targets young girls and usually revolves around love. But this anime is so much more than that, for starters it’s self aware so they constantly break the fourth wall to make fun of themselves. It’s a show that doesn’t take itself seriously and that is so rare nowadays. So for being self deprecating, I give Ouran Host Club two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

  • Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood: Oh my. I don’t even know where to start with this one… FMA Brotherhood tells the story of Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers who practice alchemy, the science of being able to break down matter and reconstruct it in any form they choose. After losing their mother at a very young age they try bringing her back using alchemy but fail in a traumatic event where Alphonse loses his body and Edward one arm and a leg. Motivated in regaining their bodies back they become soldiers of the military in their country to research on the subject, but in the mean time they encounter a complot that has been in the making for thousands of years that endangers the life of all of the population. I can’t talk more about the plot without spoiling it, but it’s absolutely perfect. The design is so beautiful and the story is the perfect combination of action and drama. It also has some amazing, brave, smart, kind and strong female characters, my favorite are Izumi Curtis (an alchemist master) and Olivier Mira Armstrong (a Major General with a commanding presence that I wish to achieve one day).

    Major General Armstrong kicking so much ass you can’t even estimate the amount of ass she kicks

  • Vampire Knight: I feel kind of silly recommending this one because it’s a love vampire story and after Twilight I think we all filled our quota of ridiculous romance, but I did enjoy it and for the sake of being honest I will tell you why. Yuki Cross works as a Guardian for Cross Academy, she aids her stepfather (the headmaster) in protecting the day class from the night class (vampires who have promised not to attack humans and learn to coexist with them), things however take a turn for the worst when Zero, her best friend and her adopted brother, turns out to be a vampire but refuses to drink blood and is now dying because of it. With Zero unstable and dangerous, Kaname, the leader of the vampires steps in to protect Yuki who begins to discover her blocked memories from childhood. Needless to say, both Zero and Kaname love her.

    Despite the fact that it sounds pretty Twilight-y I think it’s closer to Dracula: scary, with a mystery to be uncovered and kind of creepy. So if you were into the vampire phenomenon and are willing to give it another chance, Vampire Knight might just be for you.

  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Oh you know, just MY FAVORITE THING EVER. The first thing you need to know about this show is that it’s perfect. The animation is beautiful, the dress and character design is delicate and detailed, the plot is interesting, it has drama, love, magic and action. And despite the fact that it was made over 15 years ago it has one the best female and queer representation I have ever seen in a show. Seriously, over four characters are openly queer.

    CCS tells the story of Sakura, a young girl who discovers an old book in her basement that when opened accidentally releases magical cards into the world. Now Sakura must become master of cards and catch them all to protect the natural order of magic. To do so she has her best friend Tomoyo and her assistant, a plushie-like creature named Kero. The show is able to weave into the plot amazing ideals about friendship, family and bravery. And despite the fact that Sakura can be clumsy and be easily scared she always rises to the occasion, making a her a wonderful heroine to admire.

I hope I persuaded you into watching one of these. Let me know below what “weird” shows do you enjoy?

The Maxi Way

By Camila Abisambra

Ah, the maxi skirt. I greatly associate summer with maxi dresses and boho style. As much as I try to bring boho into my life in the colder months it’s just not the same as in summer. Maybe it’s my own imaginarium of the summer of love and the summer of 69 and the hippie movement I love so much. In fact, I often think that if I could go back in time I’d go to Woodstock. I mean, what a time to be alive! everything seemed possible and peace and love were everything people wanted. It’s the only nostalgia I ever feel for a certain time period because when you think about it for a little longer, it’s clear that there were social and political problems that I would rather not have to experience.

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Caribbean Sun

Photo courtesy of: Juan Felipe Allen

By Camila Abisambra

With summer in full swing the only thing I want to do is ditch everything for some much needed Caribbean sun. My family being from the Caribbean, this place hold a really special place in my heart. The palm trees, the soft breeze and the bright sun that no other summer can replicate make this land paradise. I think what I miss most is the sunset. When everything turns candy color and the afternoon seamlessly blends into the night. It’s a magical moment.

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So My Friends Want To Marry

By Camila Abisambra

This week was a momentous occasion for the United States. With a 5-4 decision they legalized gay marriage. I for one find it beautiful when love wins and people are allowed to live their lives in whatever way they choose. It was incredibly moving to see couple who’d been together for 50 or 60 years getting the chance to legalize their union in a day they probably thought was never coming. In that spirit, I wanted to share this brilliant song by the brilliant ‘To Kill A King’. My favorite part, and this one goes out to the haters: “who are you to categorize happiness as if it’s abundant in this life?”. Well, the battle for love has won and there are many more battles before equality is truly won but for right now my friends get to marry if so they wish.

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Bastille: Tales From The Front Line

By Camila Abisambra

There is something really special about the first notes in a concert. When Dan Smith’s voice fills the space with “things we lost in the flames…” there is a shared moment with everyone in the audience; like magic just happened and we’re the only witnesses in the whole wide world. Then the notes begin, with a flawless and intricate web that Kyle Simmons, Will Farquarson and Chris Wood complete. Ask any Bastille fan, or anyone who’s ever been to a concert before, and they’ll tell you: it’s a magical moment. I’ve been to three Bastille shows now simply because in a world filled with pyrotechnics and larger than life productions, the grip this band has with their audience has nothing to do with the stage, or costumes -which can be really fun as well- but with an incredibly talented band that needs nothing but instruments to grab an audience and never let them go. It’s something I had never experienced before and haven’t experienced since.

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Beyond Sultry and Pop

By Ana Maria Villaveces

Music is the least abstract form of raw emotion. Even though books have moved me to the core of my being and movies have made my body shut down while the credits roll, there is nothing quite like the strings that melody knows how to pull. I’ve never understood if it’s the writer in me that connects to music, but I figure it must be since I tend to spend my time obsessing over lyrics. There’s something about words that fit perfectly to a melody; a certain pull to a song that sounds like a piece of someone’s heart. This is what has makes artists like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Bastille, Meat Loaf, and Billy Joel stand out amongst my “recently played” playlist time and time again… they all sound like they ripped pieces of their soul out and put them all into the songs they recorded. Songs like I’m a Mess, Clean, Laura Palmer, Paradise by the Dashboard Light, and Piano Man are unlike any book that you could ever read. Despite the fact that language is my favorite thing in the world, there’s something about listening to the words tangled up into music and sung in a voice as powerful as everything they are trying to say; it’s somehow more human than the pages I’ve clung to all my life.

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Flower dresses

By Camila Abisambra

If there’s one thing I know in life is there’s nothing quite like a summer dress. I’ve spent half my life wishing I could wear them everyday but growing up in a cold city and then spending such a long time in the winter, my wish had been delayed. But finally, summer is in full swing and my vast array of summer dresses is now in full usage. Since I love a good classic, a flower printed summer dress screams warm weather to me. I think it’s really easy to style them but because I’ve recently sworn off heels and as we all know I have a problem with white sneakers, I decided to dress it down for a fun day with my fam bam running around town.

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