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'But Where Are You REALLY From?': Mixed Race, Otherness and 'Off-Colour' Remarks

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Photo credit: Hiroto Hata (Mili) I learned early on that I wasn't seen in the same way as everyone else. My friends and I had been playing a careless game of Block 123 with a street lamp as our target post when a passing neighbourhood kid pointed at me. 'Eurgh,' she sneered. 'Why are your arms brown? You look dirty.' It wasn't said with malice, exactly; we lived in a small, racially homogeneous village and she was genuinely oblivious  –  both to why my skin looked that way and how her words might make me feel. And, having never been confronted with the brownness of my skin before, I didn't know how to respond. Although it had nettled me, I simply pretended not to care.

First Impressions of Mars by Fuyumi Soryo: A Beloved 90s Shōjo Classic

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⚠️  This review contains spoilers for Volumes 1 to 5 . How it started Fuyumi Soryo's manga career had an unlikely start – as an artsy fashion college student, she earned an honorable mention in a manga competition after entering to raise money for a fashion contest.  Mars , which would become her most popular work, was first serialised in shōjo magazine Bessatsu Friend  from 1995 to 2000 before being published as 15 manga volumes from 1996 to 2000. Despite the shōjo genre's bubblegum trappings, Soryo became known for exploring darker, more psychological themes in her work.  While Mars fell out of print several years ago, it has enjoyed a recent resurgence ; it was adapted into a live-action series and film in Japan in 2016, and ComiXology and Kodansha Comics brought the series back into digital circulation in 2019. You can read it now via a Prime Reading or Kindle Unlimited subscription or buy it on Kindle (Amazon actually did good in this case). What's it about? 'A b

Halloween Storytime: The Goat Lady

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'Wow... this seems much more... remote than you made it sound,' my partner, Ricky, said in a hushed tone as we dragged our luggage over the rutted dirt road. The area still bustled with life despite the late hour; stray dogs, untethered chickens and barefoot children roamed under the patchy streetlights. Colourful motorised tricycles passing by to larger towns guttered past explosively, stirring dust and still-hot air. I hadn't visited my grandparents' home in the tiny settlement (it wasn't large or defined enough to quite classify as a village or a town) in Abuyod, Philippines for almost 10 years, and I'd forgotten how otherworldly the area could feel to an outsider – and, despite my mixed race and the ready warmth of my relatives, I, too, was an outsider of sorts. The haphazard arrangement of modest self-built houses and improvised wooden structures among the vibrant tropical trees contrasted sharply with the uniform brickwork streets and fenced-in gardens we&

Inspiring Adventure Games That Gave Me Wanderlust: Part 2

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With lockdown easing (i.e., becoming rapidly non-existent) here in the UK, the prospect of wider travel is, maybe, hopefully, starting to seem not so dim and distant after all. My Google Maps timeline update for July even cranked up from one visited place to – get this –  two . These are heady times. Meanwhile, in adventure game terms, these past few months have seen me exploring a foreboding ancestral manor in Suffolk, England , the vibrant electronic markets and maid cafés of Akihabara, Japan , and the idyllic mountainside landscape of a fictional  provincial park . I think it's safe to say that, through lockdown and beyond, games like these will continue to fuel my spirit of adventure. Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars , Paris, France 'Paris in the fall, the last months of the year, at the end of the millennium. The city holds many memories for me – of music, of cafés, of love... and of death.'  –  George Stobbart Broken Sword's first entry spans countries inc

Inspiring Adventure Games That Gave Me Wanderlust: Part 1

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I might be unable to venture much further than the sheep-dotted Teesdale hills near my small hometown due to nationwide lockdown, but one can still dream of broader horizons. One of my favourite ways of travelling vicariously is through adventure games. These often emphasise immersion in another place or time, whether real or imagined, and the best examples achieve this through a combination of carefully constructed characters, mood-making music and fully realised settings. Rather than focus on the characters, who act as the natural faces of the games, however, I'd like to direct the spotlight to lesser-recognised characters – the locations themselves. From sleepy small towns in the Japanese countryside to the far-flung Wyoming wilderness, these game locations have inspired my own travel bucket list and creative writing as well as eased my anxiety during times of high stress and uncertainty (like now). The Longest Journey , Venice, Newport (New York's East Village), US