Showing posts from 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It's hard to believe that we are just days from the end of 2015. This year seemed to fly by with disturbing speed; more so than any other for me at least.

Personally, it's been a year of ups and downs. However, let's concentrate on the positives.

1) I got to explore more of Japan this year - from far-flung Okinawa (very different to mainland Japan, for the record) to World Heritage Sites in Kyoto and Nara; and even the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Osaka's Universal Studios Japan.

2) After years of putting it on my Resolutions List, I finally ticked off Open Water scuba certification as an acquired adventuring skill. In turn, I drew on the underwater experience to write this standalone Tomb Raider fic.

3) A huge one: I wrote a novel - well, a novel-length piece of Tomb Raider fan fiction.

4) On that Lara Croft note, 2015 saw the release of a highly acclaimed new Tomb Raider game... that like 50 people have played due to timed Xbox exclusivity. But hey, PC and PS4…

Time to Rise and Shine

As of today in North America (EU release is this Friday, 13 Nov), this highly anticipated action adventure sequel is out as an Xbox One and 360 Exclusive.

It hurts to say it, but as big a Tomb Raider fan as I am, with my life in world-wandering limbo right now, I'm not sure when I'll be in a (hardware-owning) position to play Rise. For the record, PC release is scheduled, at this point, for sometime in early 2016, while PS4 owners should be able to play it just in time for Christmas next year. [info source]

In the past few months, as Rise of the Tomb Raider's release has approached, a crazy amount of promotional material has appeared online - a good chunk of it very spoiler-heavy.

The 30-second "Legend Within" TV commercial (below), however, is perfection as far as I'm concerned. No talking. No clunky exposition. Just action and adventure set to Karen O's wonderfully moody I Shall Rise, written especially for the game. I think the combination of song and…

Mini-review Monday: Fifty Shades of Grey, Avengers: Age of Ultron

It’s a sad day when your mother is more up to date with movie viewing than you are. Such is the price for living in the inaka. Anyway, since I’ve been averaging one cinema visit a year since moving here, I’ve had to do a lot of waiting for DVD release. The following are catch-up mini-reviews for two high profile 2015 releases.

Fifty Shades of Grey
The movie adaptation of EL James’s erotic bestseller was this year’s big Valentine’s Day release. There has been much snickering about the book, but I was honestly prepared to approach the film with an open mind. I would give it a chance; judge it entirely on its own merits. After all, a good chunk of criticism of the novel centred on its writing style. With a movie, we wouldn’t have to endure heroine Anastasia Steele’s cringe-worthy inner monologue. That would be an immediate plus.

And yes, Dakota Johnson’s portrayal of sexually na├»ve Ana in this romantic drama is fine. The character is considerably less irritating on the screen than on the…

Recent game reviews, cosplay and fanfic projects

I know I've been a terrible blogger, with updates intermittent at best. And I know I owe you some catch-up movie reviews at least. I promise these are coming; even if they're likely only in November, once my back-to-teaching schedule stabilises and the first snow falls here - essentially trapping me inside for the next 4-5 months. Bah.

Anyway, to keep you occupied in the meanwhile, here are a few things I have been up to recently in the Pop Culture vein:
Read my opinion of smash hit mobile game Lara Croft GO, over at to-the-point review site Pennyworth
Read my latest Tomb Raider fanfic in full. Alternative Medicine is a four-part tale that bridges the 2013 game and the Dark Horse comic series that followed. If the title doesn't give it away, the story explores the rather unusual coping strategies Lara and Sam employ to handle their paralysing post-traumatic stress. Spoiler: it's a little kinky.

Check out my cosplays, past and present. I've been uploading…

Ten years and counting... Happy Blogiversary to me

So it turns out that two days short of my "one year living in Japan" anniversary is another milestone: the ten year anniversary of this blog. This Sunday, 26 July, Pfangirl Through the Looking Glass will be a decade old.

Granted in recent years I haven't been updating as frequently as I once did. However, I hope I make up for it by providing meaningful content when I do find the time to post.

Thank you to everyone who has visited and read my ramblings over the years. I hope you've enjoyed my writing - and other creative output that has popped up here - and will continue to get something out of the experience.

Now, if you don't mind, it's time to celebrate...

Why, thank you, Lara. I certainly won't say no to a slice.

Source: Irishhips

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Queer Icon (Part 4)

Part 4:
The mystery of Lara Croft’s sexuality

“Now what’s a man gotta do to get that kind of attention from ya?” – Larson Conway (Tomb Raider, 1996)

Despite being an icon for many queer pop culture consumers, Lara Croft’s own sexual orientation remains ambiguous. Outside of the Top Cow comics and live-action films – where Lara is blatantly heterosexual, with a fondness for slightly scruffy bad boys (who keep betraying and hurting her) – the character comes across as primarily asexual. Kurtis Trent is the only male figure who even comes close to being a love interest in the game series.

Lara's apparent sexual disinterest is despite the adventurer appearing very sexually attractive herself; a figure of desire with bee-stung lips, voluptuous breasts, toned stomach and impossibly long, athlete’s legs. Yet Lara is never dominated by sexual yearnings or romantic affections. She is very much in control of herself at all times.

It’s worth noting, however, that over time the character has …

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Queer Icon (Part 3)

Part 3:
Lara and the gay guys

Given how Tomb Raider seemed to be exclusively marketed at the laddish FHM crowd for years – with cleavage shots and cheesecake poses the order of the day – it seems rather ironic that hetero sex symbol Lara Croft ended up emerging as an icon for queer men.

Why was this the case?

As already mentioned in Part 1, Lara has chosen the outsider’s path. Hell, she gets called “outsider” repeatedly in the 2013 game. Not only does she blatantly, and continually, disregard definitions of ladylike behaviour (discussed in Part 2), she proves that heroes don’t have to be the embodiment of heterosexual masculinity – a sentiment that queer men are sure to support as much as queer women. Given that queer men are positioned similarly in terms of society's “what makes a real man” expectations, it's easy for them to admire the adventurer’s shrug-it-off, rebellious attitude. Lara lives her life with style and without apology.

Take this quote from Professor David J. L…

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Queer Icon (Part 2)

Part 2:
Lara and the ladies

So evidently an old euphemism for lesbians was “female adventurer.” Who, in the whole of Popular Culture, is more of a poster child for those two words than Lara Croft? Disregarding her own mysterious sexual orientation (to be covered in Part 4 of this blog post), no wonder she is an icon for queer women.

On a more serious note, it would be easy to dismiss Lara’s appeal to ladies who like ladies as simply a mirror of her appeal to heterosexual men. In other words, it’s purely about sexual attraction. Whichever version of the character is your favourite, Lara is intimidatingly intelligent, gorgeous, and sports a smokin’ hot body.

So queer women just want to get into Lara’s shorts. Right? Uh, no.

Evidently, even if queer women are sexually attracted to Lara Croft, admiration trumps objectification every time. As already mentioned (in Part 1), Lara Croft is held in high esteem by fans for the qualities she embodies as opposed to her many undeniably impressive…

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Queer Icon (Part 1)

There actually aren’t that many fictional heroes with full spectrum appeal – a fan following that spans all genders and sexual orientations. Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft, arguably the most iconic of female video game characters, is one of these rare cases (despite what the laddish marketing of the franchise in the late 90s would have you believe).

Source: Pedro-Croft
Once we may have stated “Women want to be her, and men want to be with her”, but such an explanation is outdated, simplistic and far too heteronormative. It does nothing to explain the diversity of Lara Croft’s fan base, and why it is that so many queer men and women around the globe hold her in high esteem.

Now, of course, some of the reasons for Lara Croft’s popularity are universal. Ultimately, straight or queer, people are people, and certain characteristics appeal to most in society – like strength of purpose, courage, resilience and independence. Pistol-packing rogue archaeologist Lara Croft embodies all of these qual…

Mad Max: Fury Road reviewed

Traditionally, the revival, or reboot, of a classic film franchise decades down the line has never been a success. Even if it does well at the box office, which is likely thanks to the simultaneous pull of nostalgia and curiosity, generally the new film will battle to win over critics. If the movie isn't slammed for failing to capture the spirit of the originals (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), it can easily be dismissed as a soulless and/or pointless retread (Total Recall).

Yeah, I was in the sceptics camp when, thirty years down the line, a fourth Mad Max movie was announced. Although it was admittedly surprising that original writer-director George Miller was spearheading the project, I didn't have much faith that Max's return to the big screen would be anything noteworthy. I was expecting another slick, CGI-saturated sci-fi actioner. An admittedly dusty-looking one, but still. I didn't even view the casting of new leading man, the always commi…

The Early 80s in-betweeners

So, I really identified with the following post that first appeared over at Social Media Week.

The Oregon Trail Generation: Life before and after mainstream techis a short but nostalgia-stoking post about why children born in the late 70s through early 80s are, well, a bit difficult to classify - not quite Generation X but also without many of the characteristics associated with Generation Y.

The piece does end a bit abruptly, but it's still worth a read if you, like me, are part of this in-between generation that saw home PCs really take off during our high school years, thrilled to the sound of dial-up Internet connecting, subscribed to mailing lists, scratched our heads over how to reference websites  and, most importantly, safely got through college just before social media really exploded and broadcast our lives to the world.

P.S. This same generation will also know what the image below is referencing.

Relishing the Rat Queens

With most books – or movies or TV series for that matter – there’s normally an acclimatising period for the pop culture consumer. It takes a little while to come to grips with the universe presented on the page or screen; to feel comfortable immersing yourself in that world.

Then there are those books that feel like slipping into a hot tub the second you open them. No adjustment – no exposition – is necessary. Everything just feels right. The perfect fit, like that pair of jeans you’ve worn threadbare.

Rat Queens is one of those books.

Making its debut under the Image banner in 2013, this fantasy action comic has been marketed as “Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack.” That’s a pretty accurate description. Alternatively, you could consider it a game of Dungeons &Dragons, as played by the cast of Bridesmaids.

Written by rising star Kurtis J Wiebe and initially drawn by Roc Upchurch (up to Issue 8), the series centres on a company of young female adventurers …