Nerd Block Unboxing and Review for May 2015

Okay, so we’re well into the fifth month that I’ve claimed I was going to cancel Nerd Block and then didn’t. The problem is that they keep throwing out themes that sound interesting, and I’m weak! So with that thought in mind, check out the unboxing video for the “Ani-May” Nerd Block:

What did you think? Let’s just say that I’m not terribly disappointed that I stayed on for yet another month. Let’s look at the breakdown:

Mobile Suit Gundam t-shirt: Though I didn’t get this shirt in my size, I’m still pretty impressed with it. It’s a nice, standard design without a bunch of useless flair, and the fact that it’s an older show that I actually used to watch is definitely a plus. My hubby will be the one wearing it, but even so I’m pretty happy with the shirt this month. Giving this item the standard t-shirt value of $15.

“Freiza” Funko Pop: It is terribly unfortunate that they chose to send a Dragonball Z Pop in the anime-themed box, since I already have almost all of them. I can appreciate the fact that it was a good choice for the anime-themed box, but it’s just too bad that they didn’t send something from one of the lines I don’t have. Regardless, I’ll give this item the average value that Funko Pops tend to cost around my neck of the woods, which is approximately $13.

“Cowboy Bebop” Convertible Bandana: Although I’m not really sure how I’m going to use it, I have to admit that this item amuses me a bit, because it’s something different. The fact that it’s Cowboy Bebop helps, because that is definitely one of the greatest anime shows of all time. Maybe I’ll use it to keep my hair back when I’m gardening. 😛 Regardless, based on similar bandana products, this item is worth about $10.

“Neon Genesis Evangeleon” manga #1: Now we’re talking. Although I don’t read manga nearly as much these days, I still appreciate it, and it’s awesome that this is the anime they chose. NGE was one of my favorite ones when I was younger, and yet I don’t have a single one of their manga, so this is a nice book to get for sure. I definitely approve of the choice for this item, and since manga go for about $12 each, it’s a nice value to the box as well.

“My Neighbor Totoro” pins: Yeah yeah, I’ve never seen it. I’m sure there are lots of nerds out there right now screaming internally, because Totoro is supposed to be a classic. Despite my ignorance on these matters, I can appreciate these cute little pins, especially the one with Catbus on it, because I find that ridiculous and funny. Based on similar pins this four-pin set would go for about $6.

“Attack on Titan” drawstring bag: This is another show I haven’t seen, although I’ve heard lots and lots of good things. It’s also an item that I’m not terribly fond of, because I find these vinyl drawstring bags look pretty cheap. That said, it is a bag, and everyone sometimes needs a bag, so I’ll take it. These types of bags retail in at about $10, which – just for the record – I would never pay for one of these.

Total approximate value of box: $66
Total cost to me: $37

So right off the bat, the first thing that I want to point out is that this is the first themed Nerd Block for which every item in the box worked perfectly with the theme. In the previous themed boxes there was at least one item in every one that had absolutely nothing to do with the theme, but for this month’s box every item was definitely anime-themed. That makes me like it automatically, because what’s the point of a theme if you don’t stick to it, right?

The second thing I have to mention, of course, is the fact that the Funko Pop was one that I already have. That sucks – it really does – but it was bound to happen eventually and I can’t really down-rate the box because of it.

The third thingI want to mention is that while I’m not on the up-and-up with Nerd Block’s new desire to put books in all their boxes, I do appreciate the manga that was in this one. For one thing, it’s an excellent story. For another thing, it adheres to the theme, which is something the previous books didn’t really do. So two thumbs up for that one.

In conclusion, it was actually quite a good box. The shirt was a good one, the Funko would have been awesome if I didn’t already have it, the manga was a perfect choice, and the other two little items were cute additions. All in all, I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The overall cost to have a Nerd Block shipped to me is still pretty painful and makes it less worth getting, but it’s nice to see a box that was straight-up good.

The question now, of course – as I mentioend in the video – is whether or not I’m going to continue on for next month. I had planned on cancelling after May’s box anyway, because the cost of it is just not okay with me, but then they threw out that “British Invasion” theme, and I’m torn. What if there’s a super-cool Doctor Who item in there and I miss it because I cancelled? Rawr. This is the problem with these subscription boxes!

So, as I said in the vid, I’m looking to you guys for advice. Do you think I should hold on for another month, or should I finally do what I’ve been saying I was going to do since Christmas and cancel my Nerd Block subscription? There’s only four days left to decide, so vote quick!

A to Z Challenge Day 25: Yuki Miaka (the Girl from Other World)


Oh hell, we’re back to the anime again. Did I forget to mention that I’m a huge nerd, bordering on being a huge loser?

Yes, the fact of the matter is that although I’ve gravitated away from anime as I’ve gotten older, there are still a few shows in particular that I hold high on my list of best things ever, and a show from the mid 90’s called Fushigi Yuugi is one such show.

I’ll admit something right off the bat. Of all the classic anime shows that are out there that are genuinely amazing and could easily be enjoyed by anyone who is willing to put their doubts aside and force themselves to sit down to watch a subtitled cartoon…Fushigi Yuugi is not one of those. It’s not a classic. A lot of people would not be able to enjoy this show, and a lot of people probably wouldn’t even be able to make it past one or two episodes. The fact is that this show requires a certain kind of taste. It’s about a young school girl named Miaka, who is accidentally drawn into another world through an old, magic book. In that world she is claimed to be the Priestess of Suzaku, who must gather her seven Celestial Warriors in order to summon the God, Suzaku, and be granted three wishes. In her travels she falls in love with one of her seven warriors, and eventually finds herself at war with her best friend, who has also been drawn into the book as the Priestess of Seiryuu.

It’s a strange, convoluted kind of story, but personally I loved it, both in anime form and manga form. It’s a romantic tale that takes place in a feudal version of the world, full of great warriors and damsels in distress. Yuki Miaka herself is a bit of a clumsy, sometimes very whiny little twit, but for some reason that’s what makes me like her. She’s silly and headstrong, but she also goes through a lot over the course of the story, and while I’m not a big fan of intricate love stories with such young characters (she’s supposed to be a middle school student), it is truly quite a lovely love story if you can convince yourself to pretend that she’s a little less jail-bait than you might be comfortable with.

The short story is that I know damn well a lot of people reading this would not be able to enjoy this show, but I personally have a deep love for it, so I think that it’s worth giving it a try just to find out, don’t you?

A to Z Challenge Day 18: Ryuk (the Shinigami)


Here’s something you may not know about me: I’m a big manga fan. Growing up I was pretty big into anime, and as I got older I began to be more interested in the original manga series’ than the television shows that were made based on them. I’m not a rabid collector by a long shot, but I have a few full series and am slowly working my way through a few others, and one of the latter is a rather wonderful series called Death Note.

If you’ve never heard of it, the series follows a teenage boy named Light who has come into possession of a “Death Note” notebook which allows him to kill anyone he wants, in any manner he wishes, just so long as he knows the person’s name. He takes it upon himself to use his new-found power to pick off those members of society that he feels deserve to die – murderers, rapists, con-men, criminals of all shapes and sizes – and soon enough finds himself being hunted by the world’s most renowned – if not a little off-center –  detective.

So where does this “Ryuk” character that I’ve named the post for come in? Well the Death Note books are the possessions of creatures called “shinigami”, which translates to “death god”. Basically, shinigami are like grim reapers, whose job it is to take the lives of humans. One shinigami in particular, named Ryuk, becomes bored with the lack of entertainment in the shinigami world and decides to have some fun. He “loses” a Death Note in the human world and then follows around the kid who picks it up to see what happens.

The story in general is just quite brilliant and interesting, and the TV series that was based on it is actually quite good as well, and my favorite part of both is Ryuk. He is one of the strangest creatures of any story that I’ve ever read or watched – a literal death god who loves watching humans and is quite oddly obsessed with apples – and his antics and the way he “mentors” Light add a creepy-yet-goofy feel to the story that make it that much better than it might otherwise have been.

If you’re someone who enjoys the occasional manga or comic, I definitely recommend this series, and if you’re someone who doesn’t feel silly watching cartoons (trust me, this one is NOT for kids!) then I would definitely recommend the TV show as well.


A Dying Breed

I recently read a blog post (I can’t accredit you because I’ve forgotten who it was, so sorry! Let me know if you happen across this so I can link you back!) talking about the inevitable move of books into digital media. The post gave examples of digital progress, like how camera companies died out by refusing to believe that people really wanted cameras in their phones. The author of the post then went on to explain that the big publishing companies are putting themselves at risk by neglecting to embrace the digital revolution. The quote (not verbatim) that really got me was this: “Do people really prefer reading on paper? The answer is no.”

While I obviously can’t speak for everyone, while I was reading this post I found myself practically screaming, “THE ANSWER IS YES!”

I’m not a particularly old-fashioned person. I love gadgets, I embrace technological advances. In most cases I prefer the digital version. I’m a techy. But this aspect of my personality does not extend to include books.

Call me crazy, but I love my bound-paper books. I have a small library in the guest room of my house full of Stephen King novels, manga, the full Harry Potter collection, and a ton of others. I love seeing them all there on their shelves, but more than that I love sinking into a hot bath with one of my books, or curling up in an armchair with a book and a hot chocolate. I love the smell of the paper, I love turning the pages manually, I even love the way the books I’ve had since I was a kid are starting to turn yellow and come apart from their bindings.

I’m not completely ignorant to the idea of e-books. I do have a tiny collection on my iPhone; books that I suddenly had a desire to read but wasn’t near enough to a book store to look for, such as Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. I also have an ebook or two by my fellow bloggers who were having “get-my-book-for-free” days. But if I’m honest, reading these books off my iPhone screen drives me nuts. Some of you might say, “Well that’s because the screen is itty-bitty! Buy a freakin’ Kindle!” But that’s not the problem, I promise you. I’ve downloaded ebooks on my laptop, which has a 17″ screen, and it bothers me just as much. I don’t know if it’s that technological glow that bothers me, or the page ‘swiping’, or the fact that there seems to be so many fewer words per page to make it easier to see. I suppose it could be a culmination of issues. The fact, however, remains that reading a novel from a screen bothers me. Somehow I just can’t get into it. When I’m holding a book I can find myself sinking into the world enclosed within. When I’m holding a little screen with a faintly glowing background staring up at me all I can think about is the damn screen.

I realized that I’m probably a dying breed in this. I understand the appeal of having thousands of books in one handheld device, and I can definitely see the reasoning behind why we should be moving in this direction, but I just can’t get over my personal abhorrence to the whole thing. Give me my books or give me death!


(Well, maybe not death, but you get my meaning. :P)