Connecting to Marilyn Manson

When I went into junior high school, I cut almost all of my hair off. It had been the first time I have ever cut my hair. I had this long, curly, dark brown hair that I had my cousin cut completely off for me. And then I added purple streaks to it.

I looked like a little boy…

The school I went to had uniforms when I attended it. You could wear black, khaki, or tan pants, and a white, black, or red shirt. So, naturally, I wore all black. I didn’t really look like the other students and immediately felt like I didn’t really belong there.

I remember students asking me if I was a boy or a girl. I also remembered being asked if I was goth more times than I can count, and I wasn’t even sure what that was at the time. That though wasn’t nearly as bad as being told that wearing make-up wouldn’t help anything. You don’t always have to be bluntly told you look like a dike to know what a fellow peer thinks of your appearance. In a math class I had, a boy even asked me my bra size as a joke. I just laughed, embarrassed.

I was also being told that I’d end up flipping burgers for a living repeatedly, by someone I felt should be more on my side. I struggled with grades because I never really wanted to be in school. It wasn’t enjoyable for me. And I guess some people can’t relate to that no matter how common it is. I knew this particular person never believed in me, and I just never figured out how to cope with that. Not at that age anyway.

Teachers didn’t believe in me either. I got caught drawing in class once by one of my English teachers. She bluntly asked me if I honestly thought my art was worth pursuing, and oh yeah, where did I get all that paper. I also had a math teacher lean over my desk in class and whisper in my ear that I shouldn’t be proud of the C I got her class. C’s weren’t that good. This didn’t change in high school either.

To top it off, I lost someone I loved. My grandma felt like the only real person I could talk to. I remember being able to walk next door, go right into my grandparent’s house and being able to talk to her. I would talk about everything, pour my heart out and she would just listen. It was so relieving to have had her there. There is so much about that woman that I am grateful for and will never forget, but she is entirely different topic of her own.

My grandma got sick when I was in this already nightmare of a school. She got diagnosed with cancer, and later during surgery, was cut by the doctor. I thought at the time that it was Cirrhosis of the Liver. She passed away during the Christmas season while I was in eighth grade, and I was not the same after that.

I was changing during that too. I was starting to write dark, depressing, suicidal poems (my mom always encouraged me to write, but that is also a different topic). I would cut myself with safety pins during the lunch periods, or under the desks in class. I was asking for answers for why these things were happening to me, and I was being told that I would never get an explanation; I would not be granted the wish of understanding because I wasn’t really Christian or Catholic. I was a lair and a sinner, and I was going to Hell. I began to really question my thoughts and beliefs, and eventually came to the conclusion that I didn’t believe in God. I figured he had his chance to prove himself to me and failed.

While I was attending junior high school, I let my hair grow out. I continued that going into regular high school. I grew it out until it started hitting the top of my pants, and I dyed it black, red, and purple numerous times in various ways. I also took on the goth and punk style people decided to label me as. I was gifted a trench coat, and wore that on a regular basis. I allowed myself to do what I felt like, but that didn’t change the constant feelings of not belonging or feeling understood. I felt out-casted by peers, rejected by family, and misunderstood by friends.

I had to go through all of that first before I could explain why Marilyn Manson and his music is so important to me.

My freshman year in high school was a difficult year. I had just lost my grandma the Christmas season before, and I was dealing with a lot of rejection and neglect with half of my family, not to mention what was now the normal interactions I had with peers and teachers. It was at this time that I discovered Marilyn Manson. I had heard his remake of Sweet Dreams and was determined to find more of his music. Thankfully someone I knew then happened to have, what I now know is, his Mechanical Animals album. I memorized his name then and bought my first Marilyn Manson CD, The Golden Age Of Grotesque. I was in relief and obsession. I felt like his music had a sound and the words for all the things I was feeling and going through. Later, another friend I had gifted me his book, The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, and that book is still one of the most important books in my life.

The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell gave me the ability to truly connect and relate to the person that Marilyn Manson was. It was the first time I realized I wasn’t alone. That book, along with the music, gave me a shoulder to lean on. Marilyn Manson made me feel OK with myself for the first time. It was finally OK for me to be me. He was misunderstood, rejected, even violated at similar, if not exact, same times as myself, and it gave me a relief I have never felt.

To this day, I still listen to him and read his book. It all helps me remember what I love and encourages me to do what I want to do with my life. I know what my struggles have been and the reasons for them, and I believed that I have the ability to look back at those and see them because of things I’ve read in that book. It has all contributed to the things I have believed and thought, as well things I believe and think now.

Marilyn Manson, as well as many other things I will write about in the future, has helped me gain a deeper understanding, acceptance, and love for myself. I read a quote of his that said, “I never said be me. I said be you, but better.” Misunderstood or not, being my best me is what I strive to be and he encourages me to do so.

©S.T. Dec. 13, 13 (Edits made Feb. 19, 17)

Wanting

Wanting

I want to be seen,
Like the Sun and Moon sees Earth.
To be viewed from all angles,
Exposing the good and bad in me equally,

Hiding nothing.

I want to be felt,
Like the sand feels the ocean when rushed upon.
To have every part of me swept up
And caressed as a complete whole.

Carried away, heart and soul.

I want to be tasted,
Consumed like prey for lions.
To have everything I am stick to your tongue,
So there can absolutely be no doubt

I cannot be lived without.

I want to be heard,
Like screeching winds kicking up tornadoes,
Thunder promising only despair.
To have my screams be heard by all ears,
So it can finally be clear

I am actually here.

©S.T. Aug. 7, 14

My Mom

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My Mom and I during her 58th birthday

I was not an easy child to deal with. I was born angry, that’s what I remember being told many times before. My switch was easy to flip, and my tantrums or bursts of fury were very frequent and appeared out of no where. I picked paint off the walls whenever I was put in time out, I threw and flung furniture across rooms, and I kicked holes in walls and doors. Yet my mom handled every bit of my hell with pure love, acceptance, and understanding.

For example, I remember coming home from elementary school, and unleashing my anger on my family. Mom had tried spanking me before and it either didn’t help or made things worse. She just didn’t understand where my behavior was coming from. One day after coming home from school, she knelt down and gave me a hug. She asked me what was wrong? And I burst. I cried and told her about some kids who were taking my lunch money or food from me. I don’t think my mom spanked me ever again after all this, and instead we did what we now call hug therapy. I think this led Mom to her understanding of what an emotional child I was and how difficult sorting those feelings out was for me.

Mom never saw my siblings (Joe and Jessica), and I as a group of children. She always looked at each of us as who we are as individuals and connected with us each on that level. The rules she gave us were unique to who were. When we talked to her, she listened to what each of us had to say. The bonds she created with all three of us is unique and strong because of how she treated us, talked to us, and interacted with us on each individual level.

As I turned into a teenager, I didn’t get much easier to handle. Yet Mom never faltered in her ability to support and love me. When I wouldn’t listen, talk, calm down or anything she gave me other outlets to get those ugly things out of me. She gave me my writing, she gave me my art; and when I started writing on my bedroom walls, she read what I wrote and embraced the new way I chose to express myself. Anyway I chose to express myself she accepted. No matter how I appeared, Mom always saw me for exactly who I was. She has always loved me for who I am, and whenever I lost sight of myself, she did all that she could to remind me of what kind of person I am.

If it weren’t for the journals she had given me and recognized what writing did for me, I’m not sure I’d still be here. There were even times when she wrote me letters to communicate with me. I still have them, and cherish them immensely.

Mom isn’t just my parent, she’s my best friend. As I got older and older, and has our bond and trust grew stronger and stronger, I opened up more. I can tell her anything, talk to her about everything, and I have no fear of judgment or rejection. I never have. She did exactly what a parent should do for their child, which is make them feel like they’re significant and that they belong. Because of all the ways she accepted me, supported me, and loved me, I do feel those things.

I can’t speak for my siblings, but I would be astonished if they didn’t feel or think of our mom in the same or similar ways as I do. In Joe, Mom recognized his musical ear and helped him gain music as an outlet by getting him a guitar. She never hesitated to let him play his music and when he started creating a band in and a little after high school, she allowed them all to practice at our house. Mom also recognizes internal struggles Jessica has, and does everything she can to support her through them. She may not always know what to do, but she always listens and gives the best advice she can give accordingly. Our mom is our boulder, grounding us whenever we feel like we’re just floating around in space.

I would, and definitely could say more about who my mom is – what kind of person she is – but I think for now I’ve got it covered. My appreciation and love for her goes far beyond anything I could ever write, and I hope I never fail in letting her know it.

©S.T. Jan. 16, 15

Judge – Manga Review

This is actually a review I wrote a while ago.  The date at the very end of the post, next to my signature, is the date I originally wrote this.  I’ve made some edits since then, and I’m excited to be sharing this.  So, without further ado, I hope everyone who comes across this enjoys it.


Before continuing, I’ll quickly explain the breakdown of my review. I’ll be starting off with the basics – how long the series is, how much I bought it for, and what the recommended reading level is (I’m not sure if all manga have these, but I know some of the ones I’ll be writing about do). I’ll briefly explain the plot/story next. I’ll be sure to warn ahead of time if there’s anything I think will be a spoiler for anyone. I’ll also let you guys know what I think of the artwork and style of the manga. At the end, I’ll give my overall thoughts on the series, and based off my number scales, I’ll let you know if this is a series I recommend reading or not. The majority of manga I’ll be reviewing will be completed series, rather than one volume at a time.

The number scale I’m using is a typical one to ten scale on how much of something there is or how much I enjoyed reading things. There’s an example of this in the basics for the manga I’m reviewing today.

Today’s review is of a series called Judge, created by Yoshiki Tonogai. Here we go!

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Volume 1 cover found on Google Images

                                                     

The Basics:

This Manga is six volumes and 32 chapters long. Each volume was bought at my local Barns and Nobel for $12.99, not including tax. This particular manga is rated OT for Older Teens. It does have violence and some gore, along with some harsh language. In my opinion, the violence and language are well placed and don’t take away or distract from the story in anyway. Actually, it’s completely necessary for it to be there, as it’s part of the story. This, by far, is not the goriest story I’ve read or seen. On a scale of one to ten (one being not gross at all and ten being so over the top I could barely handle it), I’d say the level this manga hits is a three.

The Plot/Story:

Two years after causing the death of his brother, Hiro is kidnapped and confined inside an abandoned courthouse. Awaking there with an animal mask on his head, he discovers that there are others who have been kidnapped as well. All of them soon face judgment, as they each are tasked with deciding whose sins are greater. Lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth, pride and greed (all represented by the animal masks each character starts out wearing) are all under judgment of each other. Every 12 hours, the group must vote on someone to sacrifice to make up for the sins they have committed, until there are only four survivors left.

Judge has a decent amount of twists in it. As I read, I found myself wanting to know more and more about how everyone got there, what their histories were, and who was behind the whole set up in the first place. People are definitely not who they seem to be in this manga, and it really did keep me on my toes. Even at the very end, I found myself surprised.

The development and speed of the story is just right. For only being six volumes long, the story is not rushed or cut off short. The pace the story sets suits the eerie mood of the manga. Character development was decent. Trust was either made or broken among the characters during certain events and choices that took place throughout the story, and the consequences of their decision making were well reflected in each person. This made it easy to either side or become suspicious of certain characters.

In the beginning, it did feel like the protagonist was being a bit too hopeful for what the situation called for, as I saw him attempting to be the hero by trying to find ways to get everyone out alive. Despite the others around him having major doubts, he still attempted this. However, overall, I do think that the rationality of the characters and the thought processes they each had made sense for each individual person in the story. The story goes back into each character’s background just enough for the reader to understand what their particular sin could be, and to relate to how they are feeling and thinking.

My one to ten rating for the story, based on how much I enjoyed it and its pace, is an eight. I would definitely pick up this manga again and give it another read. I also have recommended it to friends, and let a couple of them borrow the series so they could read it for themselves. It’s a well written story that will keep you guessing as to what the true purpose of the judgment is.
Now, as I began writing this review, I did learn that Judge is actually a sequel to a series called Doubt. I haven’t read that series yet, so I’m not sure how the two play into each other. However, in the future I will be collecting that series as well and therefore should be doing a review on that. This will probably take some time, but I’ll be sure to let everyone know when I’ve officially began reading Doubt.

Artwork/style:

The first few pages of each volume are actually colored, which I really appreciate. In high school, the majority of manga I collected was always in black and white, so when I first saw colored pages I was surprised and in love. The colors used in those first pages definitely set the tone for what’s about to happen in the rest of the volume.

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Colored page from volume one.  Source:  mangareader.net

In my opinion, the artwork style isn’t anything special. The style in which the characters are drawn is a style I felt I’ve seen before, so because of that, I’d rate the character art as a five out of ten. This didn’t necessarily bother me, as the style of the environment helped better set the mood. As the characters cast their votes for the sacrifice, more of the courthouse becomes unlocked to them (I won’t explain it anymore than that, you guys just have to read it for yourselves), and the more eerie the atmosphere feels. The courthouse in itself felt like a mystery to me, as well as what the characters where doing there.

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Source:  mangareader.net

 

Overall:

I felt like this series was a good read. For those who read or watch this kind of genre (horror, suspense) it may not feel like anything new to you. For those who aren’t so familiar with it, this may be a good first series to pick up to get you started. I do recommend it to others, and as I said before, I would read it again. It’s just the right length, it doesn’t leave any loose ends, and I felt satisfied after I completed it. The major good thing is, I don’t regret investing in this short series.
Ratings:

Violence – 3 out of 10

Plot/story – 8 out of 10

Character art – 5 out of 10


 

Let me know what you all thought in the comments. If there’s any other points you would like me to touch on in future reviews, please let me know. Also, is this a manga you would consider reading? Is there a series you would like me to pick up and read? Any questions or suggestions are completely welcome.

As before (and always), thank you for reading, and I’ll catch you all for the next review!

©S.T. Nov. 6, 16

 

My Brief Anime History

In my Formal Introduction I stated that I discovered anime around eleven or twelve.  There’s a possibility that I was a little younger than that, but I don’t exactly remember.  What I do remember is watching Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z with my brother and sister in elementary school. I believe I was in the fourth grade when I started watching it, or at least that’s as far back as my memory of it goes.

The three of us would wake up at midnight to catch the show on Toonami.  I believe we either set alarms or one of us would wake up first, then stir the others, but regardless we’d all end up in the living room together watching the epicness that would take place in the episode airing.  I also recall doing something similar when we started watching Cowboy Bebop, but I recall seeing that one specifically with my brother.

From there, I continued watching anime with friends or even my step siblings (I didn’t mention that I have step siblings in my introduction, but I do have them).  My love for it grew and grew as I enjoyed anime such as Outlaw Star, Inuyasha, Fruits Basket, Yuyu Hakusho, Full Metal Alchemist, Sailor Moon, and yes, even Pokemon.

I don’t remember exactly what age I started reading manga at, but once I started that, it became my main fix.  Manga at the time was cheaper and easier for me to collect, so I collected as much of it as I could.  The first series I started collecting was Angel Sanctuary by Kaori Yuki.  I fell in love with its story and artwork, some of it still being some of the most beautiful work I’ve seen.  My collection grew as I got my hands on things like Because I’m a Goddess, Princess Ai, D.N. Angel, Loveless, Fairy Cube, Absolute Boyfriend, After School Nightmare, and (more recently) Judge and Corpse Party.  I haven’t finished collected all of these necessarily, but the majority of what I have in my collection is completed, which I’m pretty proud of.

As I got older, my love for the darker side of anime got stronger and stronger.  The first time I saw Tokyo Ghoul I fell in love.  That became a quick favorite of mine, for reasons I may write about later. I also highly enjoyed shows such as Hellsing, Blood C, Shiki, Parasyte, Another, Future Diary, and (currently) Monster.  At this point in my otaku life, I’m enjoying gory and psychological thriller types of anime/manga to be more and more.

Recently, I got the inspiration to write about the different manga and anime series that I’ve seen or read.  Part of this was sparked by watching YouTubers like Akidearest, Misty Chronexia and The Anime Man (links to their channels will be provided at the end).  The other part of this was sparked by the pure fact that I really love the otaku community and want to be more apart of it.  It’s been in my life for a long time, being something I grew up with, and I think it would be a fun topic to share and explore with others.  I’m much too big of a chicken to ever do YouTube confidently (too much ‘stage fright’), but writing is what I do, so here I am.

Anyway, a little while ago, I wrote my first manga review.  I will be proof reading it soon to post here.  Also, just for fun, I’ll be creating a list of things I’ve seen or read, am currently watching or reading, or that I’ve got on hold.  I also recently started attending local conventions and will be sharing my experiences of those soon too.  I’m excited to be continuing my otaku journey on my blog, and hope to make some fun connections with others by doing so.

©S.T. Feb. 8, 17

YouTube Links: