Apex Legends
Fed up with “Fortnite?” Not particularly pleased with “PUBG?” Bored of “Blackout?” If the battle royale genre has been starting to wear out, prepare to fall in love all over again with Respawn Entertainment’s “Apex Legends,” released earlier this year.  A sequel of sorts to the sleeper hit, “Titanfall,” this new take on battle royale pits you and your three-man team of unique heroes in a battle to separate the losers from the legends.  Apex Legends is free to play on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

The Umbrella Academy
“Shameless” meets “X-Men” in Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy.”  Based on Gerard Way’s Eisner Award winning graphic novel, “The Umbrella Academy” is a high quality watch for both die hard Killjoys and newcomers alike. Rather than seeing capes duke it out with a maniacal villain, our protagonists are an emotionally-stunted family, reunited to prevent the apocalypse.  Complete with time travel, ghosts, and a killer violin solo, the unbridaled weirdness tied with the oddly relatable characters will draw you into the most bingeable show of 2019.

Superhero Szn
Everyone loves a night at the cinema, and the summer movie season is fast approaching. First there’s “Captain Marvel,” the Marvel cinematic universe’s first woman-led solo film, out March 8. Then, “SHAZAM!,” DC’s debut of  “Earth's Mightiest Mortal,” hits theaters April 5, and “Detective Pikachu,” featuring Ryan Reynolds as the titular Pokemon, follows on May 10. 

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki
You know what’s never-ending? The love for “Ponyo,” “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and countless other cult favorites animated by Hayao Miyazaki. The man behind the screen has retired, but he still harbors his love for animating. Follow the life of Miyazaki through a free screening of a 2016 documentary about his life, “Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki,” at the Museum of Science. 
Wednesday, May 8, 7-9 pm, Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston.

Anime Boston 2019
Impatiently waiting for more anime? Anime Boston, an annual three-day event hosted at Hynes Convention Center, comes to town this April. Find art, key charms and manga at booths, attend cosplay events, and jump from panel to panel. Feeling in the mood to dance? Buy a $4 ticket to the Imperial Ball— profits benefit the Central New England chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
April 19-21, Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., Boston. Tickets start at $75.

Wake Up the Earth
Surely you probably don’t like waking up in the morning for school, but you should definitely attend the annual Wake Up the Earth festival this May. Learn more about the ground you walk on, eat delicious food from local farmers, engage with local nonprofits, and march through the neighborhoods of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. It’s a great day to make budding friendships with humans (and dogs) in your neighborhood.
Saturday, May 4. Stony Brook Deck, Southwest Corridor Park, 100 Boylston St., Jamaica Plain.

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The sports section on any anime streaming platform is filled to the brim with the same plotline: an average freshman year student lives life ordinarily, is academically average, has ordinary friends, and then BOOM! After breathing ordinary 10 minutes into the plot, suddenly the character is talented in sports, beats top players, and lives their life in glory. 
However, the anime “Tsurune” is different. Adapted from “Tsurune: Kazemai High School's Kyudo Club,” a light novel series written by Kotoko Ayano, “Tsurune” centers  around a 15-year-old boy named Minato Narumiya, who is a well known Kyudo archer when the story begins.  Kyudo is a Japanese martial art of archery, and translates to “the way of the bow.” Learning through his younger years with a close friend and his mentor, who is well-respected in the Kyudo community, the target has been set high for Minato. However, at Minato’s last tournament in middle school, an incident happens that pushes him to quit archery altogether and develop target panic, a condition in which an archer becomes so anxious, they can no longer shoot well.
At the start of high school, he reconciles with childhood friend Ryohei Yamanouchi, who nags at him to join the school’s reopened Kyudo club. However, it is not until Minato sees a peculiar man that he feels inspired to pick up his archer’s bow once again.
What’s the difference between “Tsurune” and any cult favorite anime? Minato, who starts off as a high achiever, suddenly crashes, and the show follows his character development as he tries to regain the skills he lost. While many sports anime follow a story in which the main character has an eye for a sport, and polishes that talent until they become the very best, “Tsurune” does the opposite. I’ve come to appreciate the character development in “Tsurune.”
The visuals of “Tsurune” are what initially piqued my interest. Every shot of an arrow had intricate detail, and it was gentle and pleasing to the eye. Animated by Kyoto Animation, who also animated cult favorites such as “Violet Evergarden” and “Sound! Euphonium,” “Tsurune” has a serene animation style and portrays Kyudo archery as it is: a competition between one and the target, rather than one against another.
“Tsurune” simultaneously explores the light heartedness of high school life and the worries of an adolescent teen struggling with insecurity. I’ll assure you, the series’ 13 episodes are something that you’ll definitely want to add to your watch list, and—while Kyoto Animation hasn’t yet released the bowstring on a season 2—I hope that they’ll let the arrow fly soon.

Directed by Takuya Yamamuru, voiced by Yuto Uemura, Aoi Ichickawa, Ryota Suzuki, Shogo Yano,Kaito Ishikawa, and Shitaro Asanuma. Available to stream on VRV, Crunchyroll, and others. 
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Chemical Reactions: A Reflection on the Impact of My Chemical Romance
photo courtesy Michael Spencer
It’s fall 2001, and soon-to-be rockstar Gerard Way is interning at Cartoon Network when he looks outside to see the destruction caused by the September 11 terrorist attacks.  
Later, Way would recount his memory of this pivotal moment to digital music magazine Spin. “I literally said to myself, 'F**k art,’” he said. “I've gotta get out of the basement. I've gotta see the world. I've gotta make a difference.’”
In the following months, Way, who grew up with a passion for music and had been a part of several bands in his teens, would recruit former bandmate Ray Toro, his younger brother Mikey Way, and Pencey Prep guitarist, Frank Iero. The four would become the saviors of the broken, the beaten, and the damned: My Chemical Romance.  
 After the success of their first album, “I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love” in 2002, My Chem would defeat the all-too-common “one hit wonder” trope by hitting the scene hard with 2004’s “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge,” a conceptual album centered around themes of loss, sorrow, and most importantly, revenge.  Highlights include “Helena,” an ode to Way’s late grandmother, and “I’m Not Okay,” a track Way deemed a “self-help pop song” about being, well, not okay. 
2006 would see the release of MCR’s magnum opus, “The Black Parade.” “Welcome To The Black Parade” is the track that makes the record.  Starting with the somberest G-note you’ll ever hear, as the song goes on, more instruments are added until you're jamming and crying, in your element but also in your feels, and then suddenly you’re screaming “DO OR DIE, YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME” at the top of your lungs on a crowded train and everyone's giving you weird looks, but deep down, you know they feel it too.  
Finally, “Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys” would be MCR’s last full album and consist of tracks such as “Na Na Na” and “Vampire Money,” both of which go harder then my head into my desk as I try to think of an analogy to equal the feeling of blasting “Danger Days” at full volume. 
On Mar. 22 2013, Way, in a letter to legions of Killjoys, said “My Chemical Romance is done. But it can never die. It is alive in me, in the guys, and it is alive inside all of you. I always knew that, and I think you did too. Because it is not a band—it is an idea.”
Justifiably upset, some fans took the news better than others. Even today, Killjoys old and new are clamoring with the rumors of a reunion, which simply is not going to happen.  Fans, music executives, and even Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman have tried to reunite the emo outfit to no avail.
Although My Chem is gone, their legacy continues on.  Despite splitting six years ago, their music continues to touch the hearts of young people all over the world. Even though they’re dead and gone, MCR’s memory will carry on, and so will we. My fellow Killjoys, may death never stop you. So long and goodnight.
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Eunuch. Sodomist. Homo. Gay. Queer. Proud. 
The queer experience has weathered the waves of history, and each word in the queer lexicon tells its own story. These are stories of identity, experience, oppression, celebration and day-to-day life. Wondering what these words mean? When to use them? Why they came about? 
Stay tuned.

Words of Identity
Queerness hasn’t always existed as an identity. It was the marginalization of queers as a group that changed sexuality from something you did to something you were. As fights for gay liberation climaxed around the world, a sense of unity became increasingly important, in language and action. 
Queer: A reclaimed slur repurposed as an umbrella term for anyone who falls outside the gender binary or has a non-heterosexual sexuality. Reclaiming words sends a powerful message: what you hate about us, we are proud of. Can non-queer people use this word? It depends. Best not use it unless asked to. Some identify as and would like to be called “queer,” while others still have it used against them as a slur. If you’re not sure, just ask!
Enby: An abbreviation of non-binary. Enby isn’t always preferred among the non-binary community because it sounds diminutive. Many have suggested more adult-sounding alternatives. Remember that this too is an umbrella term and be wary of gender trinarism—the idea that there are only three genders: man, woman, and “other.” Think about what makes you a man or a woman. It might be more difficult than you think. Nonbinary people sometimes don’t know why they feel nonbinary either — it just feels right. And you know what? That’s okay.
Zie/zir/zirs: This is a neopronoun, a gender-neutral pronoun. Getting used to new pronouns can be difficult. If you mess up someone’s pronoun, no need to make a scene. A quick apology and correction will do. 

Words for Intersectional Experiences
Sometimes we imagine queer people as androgynous-looking white girls in plaid or well-sculpted white boys, but the queer experience includes all that and more. These words focus on the intersections of multiple identities
Two-Spirit: an umbrella term for Native American gender-nonconforming identities intended to foster pan-Native solidarity. Some love it; some dislike how it lumps experiences of diverse cultures together and prefer words specific to their tribe—if these words survive. Perhaps you heard that two-spirits were revered in Native American cultures, and, again, this is true—sometimes. Other times they were persecuted or, sometimes, just treated as normal people.
Transmisogynoir — paralleling transmisogyny, this word describes the experiences of black trans women. 47 percent of black trans women will have been arrested at some point. The average life expectancy for black trans women is 31. While there’s been significant progress, there’s still a long road ahead. 

Words for Issues Within the LGBTQ+ Community.
Like any group, the LGBTQ+ community suffers from a host of internal problems. The queer community has been continually examining what it means to be queer and what our place is in the world. 
Exclusionist: Does oppression make you belong? Exclusionists try to control who can and can’t be queer, and tend to be frowned upon. After all, experiences of oppression vary wildly. Do people who suffer more belong more? But if your identity has no negative connotations, do you get to claim a label within a community formed to protect its members from oppression?
Pinkwashing: Emphasizing LGBTQ+ friendliness to distract from other oppressive, discriminatory or otherwise problematic actions. It can be easy to ignore that being gay-friendly doesn’t negate other problems. But this word’s existence shows that an effort for self-awareness is being made.

Words that Prove We Were Here All Along. 
Adelphopoiesis: literally meaning brother-making in Ancient Greek, adelphopoiesis was a practice in early Christianity that joined two men in inheritance. While it sometimes joined relatives, it often joined men with no familial relation and is considered by many to be an early alternative to marriage for Christian gays.
Boston Marriage: this is exciting, because it references our very own Best City in the World! Boston Marriage refers to two cohabitating, financially independent, “single” women and references Henry James’ novel “The Bostonians,” which depicts a relationship of the kind.
Bahasa Gay: Around the world, queer communities have used codes to protect themselves from persecution and detection. Bahasa Gay is just such a dialect in use in Indonesia.

Ally. Where are you in this story?
Like with many words on this list, there are debates over what it means to be an ally. But it isn’t too difficult to start: just listen and be accepting. You might not understand everything right away. That’s okay. Don’t pretend to. You don’t have to understand to be kind. If someone tells you an identity is important to them, don’t belittle it. Remember: they’re the same person they’ve always been. The world is still a big place. There are always things we might not understand — but that’s what makes the world beautiful.

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From the pages of Action Comics, to the “Up, Up,  and Away” days of radio serials, to screens big and small, there is hardly a person in the entire world who isn’t familiar with the man of steel, Superman. Since his humble beginnings in 1938’s “Action Comics #1,” Superman has flown above his comic book peers to become one of the most recognizable fictional characters of all time. However, despite his undeniable fame, in recent years, Superman has had a falling out with the public consensus primarily due to the poor reception of his most recent film appearances. To quote the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday,“‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ begins and ends with a funeral, which is fitting for a movie that plays like one long dirge.” 
These opinions, though understandable thanks to the lackluster, bizarro portrayals of the beloved character, should not be held against the entirety of 80 years worth of lore. For a more hopeful and likeable interpretation of the last son of Krypton, we must dig deeper into his mythos and take in the hope he has inspired in his 80-year history.
In the critically panned “Man of Steel,” Kal-El is faced with stopping fellow Kryptonian, General Zod. In an effort to end Zod’s assault on Earth, Superman snaps his neck. 
“He’s shown as this bright character. He’s not Batman; he should find another way,” said 8th grader Jack Channing. “He goes from a farmer to a nobody in the middle of nowhere to the guy who can solve any problem.” In an attempt to make the fantastical world of heroes mirror our own, Superman went from a helpful guy who just so happens to be faster than a speeding bullet, to an angst-filled messiah figure who solves problems by murder. 
“He’s just too powerful to be interesting,” senior film student Jacob Carrasquillo said. “How do you challenge the guy whose whole thing is being unbeatable?” Thanks to a faulty public image, Superman has gone from a symbol of American mythology to the butt of a joke.
However, to truly see what the chest mounted ‘S’ can become, look no further than “For The Man Who Has Everything”, a comic book story written by Alan Moore in 1985 and later adapted for the late great, “Justice League Unlimited” in 2004. The JLU story picks up with Batman and Wonder Woman visiting Superman’s Fortress of Solitude only to find him in a catatonic state thanks to Black Mercy, a parasitic plant that enters its victim into a dream state while slowly draining their life force. Superman, or rather Kal-EL, envisions an idealistic life on Krypton had it never been destroyed, where he has a wife, Loana, and son, Van-El.  After frequent tremors caused by Batman’s attempts to remove the plant, Kal is able to realize that his world, his reality, his family, simply cannot exist.  He remembers the responsibility he has to the people of Earth and is forced to share a tear-filled goodbye with his son, promising that he’ll never forget him or the life he might have had.  
A tearjerker of an episode to be sure, but it serves as an excellent example of Superman's love of humanity. Rather than have a happy ride off into the sunset, Kal’s love of humanity drove him to break free and resume his role as the protector of Earth.  Here we see a more interesting story than the paltry, “let's make him fight Batman” narrative of “Dawn of Justice.” While including superhero action in an admittedly awesome fight between Wonder Woman, Batman, and Mongul, JLU digs deeper into what makes Superman more than a man. 
If Superman’s human element has yet to appeal to you, consider the words of JP Comics’ Paul Bryant.
“What makes [Superman] work is he has to be truly decent,” he said. “He’s best when he is the benevolent helping-hand type. He lends himself well to stories that are all-inclusive of his life, a set beginning, middle, end.” 
This sentiment lends itself well to stories such as Grant Morrison’s “All-Star Superman.” In a plot by Lex Luthor, Superman’s cells are overloaded with solar energy and slowly begin to deteriorate, signaling that his life is coming to an end. Realizing his time is short, Superman sets out to perform a series of tasks to either prolong his life, or ready humanity for a world without him. In this story we see his final moments with not only his closest friends but even members of his rogues gallery. “All-Star Superman” is proof that there is more to Superman than superpowered beatdowns. He’s a genuinely caring guy from Kansas, who just wants to make his adopted home a better place with what little time he has left. Again, this story pits Superman against an internal threat, rather than some villain, which allows us to see more character growth rather than the face punching the superhero genre is known for.
To find Superman boring is to admit you have the most superficial awareness of the character. At his best, he is more than your run-of-the-mill crime fighter.  He isn’t your standard “I’ll stop the bad guy, get the girl, and fly off towards the camera” hero anymore. He is a symbol of what we all should aspire to be—because without the cape, without the tights and without the super, he is just a man, and we can all relate to that.
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