Category Archives: Fandom

Fandom: Emma Blackery

Hey everyone it’s Kern here. It’s time for another fandom related post. Obviously, these posts are all about the joy of fandom and cover topics that I’m a fan of. I decided upon another musical artist, it’s been a long time since I’ve written about one.

To be honest with you though, Emma Blackery’s musical talent is something I really should have brought up before. I absolutely love her music.

As a disclaimer, nobody solicited my opinion. Nobody offered me any sort of perk for writing about this artist. I have not met this artists personally. I have not seen her live, in concert.

I simply enjoy Emma’s music as found on YouTube and Spotify. That was my only qualifier that I found necessary in order to make the recommendation of Emma’s musical style.

If you would like to hear her content, I would advise that you follow the links to her YouTube channel or the songs I suggest below. She does plenty of other content over there too.

Artist: Emma Blackery – Emma’s Channel

If you know this artist at all, you may be aware that she’s done collaborative work in the past with Dave, from Boyinaband. That’s how I discovered her channel, in the first place. That was a long time ago though.

Emma has a range of vocal skill. Now, I’m no music critic so I won’t attempt to be one. I love it, that’s enough for me. There’s something about her style that’s so simple, yet, lyrically addictive. Her music will get stuck in your head if you listen to it enough.

I’m writing this blog post today because I’m eagerly awaiting Emma’s new single that she made a tweet about. I have to admit, I’m pretty hyped. Since that song isn’t out yet though, let’s discuss music you can already listen to.

I’d say look no further than “Agenda”. Why do I like it? This is snappy, upbeat, and very self-empowering. It’s the sort of song that I enjoy with the volume levels high as I do chores around the house or just in general. I relate to this song a lot. Hugely entertaining, and an all around good time, you can’t go wrong here.

Frankly, when I listen to an artist like Emma, I don’t resonate well with many of her deeper, more thoughtful pieces. Mind you, that’s just me. That isn’t a slight to her as a singer/songwriter. In fact, you may find that you like some of those tracks better.

I don’t dislike them, I just don’t relate as well personally to them. I just don’t have the same sort of life experiences that help me relate to it in the same way. I think that’s the key takeaway there.

If you do like music that tells a deeper story, I’d have to suggest “Don’t Come Home”. It’s a solid song, the vocals are brilliant, and the musical composition is nothing to sneeze at. I wholeheartedly recommend it because it’s just really good… but it is a bit sadder and introspective.

In the end Emma’s happier pieces, or those with an up-beat tone are the ones that draw me in the most. That being said, you should check out her channel and listen to her music for yourself.

One last song that I feel the absolute urge to add to this list, is Icarus. This song still brings me to tears to this day. Now the reason why it hits home for me is a personal journey. In my blog post “The First Brick” I talk about my cousin passing away and my life’s ambitions… what we always said we’d do… this song reminds me so heavily of those ambitions and my continued steps forward to reach them.

So, if you listen to nothing else… listen to that one… Icarus. If you like her musical style, support her, follow her on her platforms and jam out to that new single song “Cry to Your Mother” when it comes out.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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The Simpsons Season 1 Retrospective Review

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. When I think of influential television shows, The Simpsons comes to my mind instantaneously. I wanted to discuss the first season, so that’s what I’m going to do.

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Honestly, I doubt that The Simpsons even needs an introduction at this point. It’s hard not to know of this series. With fifteen separate dubs and nearly thirty subs, The Simpsons stands right up there with some of the most prolific shows of our modern age. When it comes to worldwide appeal in the animation space, this series is something of an enigma.

Plenty of cartoons are, sure enough, but The Simpsons wasn’t exactly intended for children and it sits within an odd middle ground. It isn’t a Japanese anime, it’s not your average American cartoon, either.

Rather I should say that it didn’t used to be an average one. Back in the day, the series wasn’t directed at family friendly viewing. It just wasn’t so egregious that you need to slam the television off the moment a small child walked into the room. It’s no Family Guy or South Park in that way. It just wasn’t intended for children and appeared on a network and time slot that children wouldn’t gravitate towards.

The Simpsons got a start on the Tracy Ullman Show back in 1989, when the Fox Network wanted to appeal to young adults in the late teens and early twenties. My memories don’t actually include that, it’s just hard to be a Simpsons fan and not know that crucial little detail. I was also born in 1989. As you can probably guess my earliest memories of the show happened during my early childhood in the 90’s.

I remember The Simpsons as its own separate series. I grew up with it because my family watched it, thus I did too. I’d suspect many of you out there are the same as me.

In 1990, it began airing regularly as its own separate television show. The first season is about as messy as you can get. It was a new thing back then. Animation of the era, particularly american cartoons were sometimes questionable at best in terms of art style and quality. The Simpsons as a show wasn’t really any different.

Matt Groening, the cartoonist and creator of The Simpsons deserves his own separate blog post, but the key thing to note is that he wanted to put a lampshade on what a real american family was at the time. With his finger on the pulse he managed to do just that.

I don’t think any Simpsons fan would disagree that season one has a strange feel to it. It’s both a classic to television history, just as it is a complete and total mess by today’s standards. As a series in its infancy though, it was very well-liked and highly regarded. The distinctive feel of the early concepts we know and love today were just beginning.

These days if you were to look at the first season without context, it would be like walking into a bizarre world.

Waylon Smithers doesn’t look like this anymore. He’s yellow, like a large majority of The Simpson cast. I think it just goes to show how much the series was still in its infancy.

It’s funny, because when a lot of fans are “purists” about something, they’re usually referencing the earliest seasons. However, when it comes to fan of The Simpsons the idea of a “purist” usually refers to slightly later seasons, when characters began to feel fleshed out and the animation quality became stable.

Generally speaking, you either love or hate The Simpsons in the first season, or you just don’t remember the first season at all. Really though, I just can’t fault anyone for that. This animated series had a lot of bumps and bruises along the way to being the cultural icon as we know it today.

High Concept, Low Execution

The Simpsons was closer to a sitcom rather than it was a children’s cartoon, and that was by design. The colors were chosen to be bright and catch the attention of channel surfers, but despite the brightly colored characters, this was never meant to be for kids.

The characters themselves were generally down to earth when they needed to be, however the animation was experimental and occasionally that resulted in a total mess. While real character focused stories often took center stage, the scenes with a lot of characters on screen at once made for something of an eyesore.

If you look closely at almost every crowd shot within season one, you’re going to find a goofy little thing or two. It’s good for a small chuckle, I’ll give it that. This particular moment of unintentional hilarity comes from the episode Homer’s Odyssey. If you look carefully, you’ll see that it looks like two guys are either joined at the skull or they’ve freakishly snapped their necks.

I’m not sure if the creators intended it that way, or if it was just an accident. Either way, the first season of the Simpsons is absolutely bursting with moments like this. This is honestly one of my favorite ones to point to because it’s just so goofy that I easily remember it.

However, it wasn’t the animation that kept us viewers glued to our seats. The show almost always had something interesting to say. You see the thing is, The Simpsons portrayed a typical American family. At the time shows didn’t like to display families that were dysfunctional at best and absolutely downright awful at worst. The Simpsons refused to shy away from dysfunction. In fact, nine times out of ten, real and direct family dysfunction was the centerpiece.

The usual concentric focus of family related sitcoms get put under a looking glass where temptation and personal character failings demand attention too. While Homer and Marge do have a loving relationship, and arguably a more stable one, the failings of the romance still shows through plainly.

They can discuss marital issues, such as Homer going to a stag party and make notes of objectifying women with an earnest bent. The theme of the episode aside, in Homer’s Night Out the series still maintains the close family bonds that the family struggles to keep close at hand. The party itself is one thing. However the deeper theme is about how this impacts Bart’s view of women and Homer’s ability as a father to correct that.

Every episode is handled with similar attention paid to family drama and muddling their way through life. The same holds true for all the characters, although here in the first season we get more Homer or Bart related stories than anything else. They monopolize half of the episodes to stories centered around at least one of them.

Since the first season is only 13 episodes long, that’s a pretty large monopoly of screen time for these two characters. Although, I have to admit, that was probably a solid decision. These two characters certainly add a larger measure of flair to the family dysfunction.

We shouldn’t overlook the fact that the other family characters still get a large portion of screen time too within these focused stories. There’s a lot to be said about Lisa and Marge getting great early character development because of the stories that were told.

There’s a real sort of emotional focus upon the actions these characters take, and what impact it has on the family unit. We can have moments of Bart and Lisa arguing about who loves their father more, only to then have the joke subverting our expectations.

That’s not to say every episode hits it out of the park, or even manages to flawlessly get its point across. Many times, The Simpsons isn’t able to do that. What it can and does do flawlessly is leave the viewer with a loose ethos of what the series tried to represent. It asks you to either take it or leave it, and it doesn’t particularly care what you do with it.

The show is full of parody and satire culture, along with hot button issues of the era. You didn’t have to like the show back then, you just had to take notice of it. The series wasn’t trying to be a mindless popcorn viewing for the masses. Even though you could do that and enjoy the show just fine as it was, The Simpsons refused to be ignored either.

It gracelessly showcased the often questionable cultural identity of the white American family when “proper” sitcoms of the day hesitated to do strictly that. Homer was not the perfect father figure or husband, Marge while supportive was often short sighted, and the children were merely that; children. Bart was the wayward hell-raiser, and Lisa was the intelligent, if mischievous little artist. Maggie was the baby back then, clearly a very smart one, but she hadn’t come into her own as a character just yet.

There was a lot to unpack if you cared to, and many people did. The series was relatable, and that meant a lot.

Does The Simpsons Season 1 Hold Up?

Yes… surprisingly so, actually.

The Simpsons still continues on today, even though many fans often think the series has been milked for all it can be worth at this point. It lives on anyway. Perhaps it is a bit geriatric these days, lacking the more pin-point accurate depiction of what a microcosm of America should look like. However, you can look back on the first season of The Simpsons and find a relevancy there that hasn’t quite gone away.

Yeah, it looks dated, sure it does. The animation is a bit goofy looking sometimes. The series is over thirty years old, give it a little bit of slack there. It might not be perfect, in fact I’d say the show is very flawed. In a way though, that was the point.

The Simpsons should feel flawed. It should feel off kilter and askew while still feeling entirely relatable, and that’s exactly how season one feels even to this very day. Be it school yard woes and the topic of bullying, or martial problems and the struggles of faithfulness, there’s downright honesty to be found here.

It is satire, meaning it’s never too dark, or too gritty. There’s a humor and a light to be had at the end of the darkest moments. However that darkness pervades a little too. At the end of the day, the series has a lot of heart and soul embedded deep within every episode of this first season.

It can be funny and it can be dumb on occasion. No matter what though, it will always be astoundingly honest with you, the viewer. The Simpsons has a first season that doesn’t quite know what it is, and its beginnings are as humble as they are unsteady… but, well… we wouldn’t have so many seasons of the show, if it hadn’t started someplace.

If the series is a cash cow still to this day, then we only have these early seasons to thank for it, this first one most of all. That start really isn’t half bad even nowadays, either.

It truly is worth the watch. Even if you’ve already seen it, go back to the very start and get yourself a good dose of nostalgia. Enjoying the good old days every now and then really isn’t as much of a sin as we all make it out to be.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Lesson Anime Taught Me – Personal Belief is Half the Battle

Anime is a powerful medium. It can take you to fantastical places. It can teach you valuable lessons, but failing all of that, at least it can give you a momentary escape from the daily grind.

I think that as an anime fan it’s important to examine why we collectively love anime. More than that, though, we should take the time to really appreciate what the medium does for the fan-base.

One of the most important things that anime taught me, is that believing in oneself the largest obstacle anyone might have to overcome. When doubt prevails, it’s easy to lose sight of the goals we have in mind. Ambition is only as powerful as our own personal drive to find success. When we allow our doubts to rule our minds and our actions, we’re put at a disadvantage. At that point, we’ve already lost half the battle to be successful in the first place.

There are plenty of anime that examine this concept. Honestly, you could aimlessly throw a dart upon a board and likely land on a name that uses this ethos as a key plot element. From Dragon Ball to Ranma 1/2, and Sailor Moon to Pokemon, you’d be hard pressed not to find a series that expertly crafts its narrative around this concept.

For this example though, I’m going to turn to My Hero Academia. You could point to classic, much longer lived series like Naruto too, but I find that ultimately, My Hero Academia has a much more truncated story. It’s just an easier anime to consume, and to me it stands out as a pinnacle anime to look at when discussing this particular ideology; personal belief and the struggles therein.

As an aside: if you want to actually read a review of the first season of the show, might I suggest going here to read Sammi C’s review of it.

When you sit down to watch this series, the first thing that the show does is impart the core ethos of the characters, and the way they see the world. It becomes clear quite early on that the main protagonist has plenty of personal doubt to combat within himself. However, it’s also true that plenty of the other characters doubt him too.

It’s the standard hero’s journey formula, nothing new there. However, the key thing about Deku that always stuck out to me, was just how far he was willing to go. In the earliest episodes of season one, Deku proves just how hard he has to work to prove himself.

It might not be realistic for him to become a hero at first, and it might not ever be possible as far as he knows; but being a hero is what he lives for. To him it is as much of a passion as it is a personal calling.

The faith Deku needs to find within himself and those around him isn’t something only held on a surface level. It’s so intrinsic to him as a person, that he’ll go to nearly any length to achieve success. To remove his dream from possibility at all, denies a core part of who is he, and who he aspires to be.

Now, you can say what you want about anime being simply that, anime…

To me there is something so noteworthy about the way he plucks his papers from the water fountain. Those ruined notes were cast aside by those that doubt him, and the feeling of loss portrayed here is little more than human, real in its design and desire to be worth something at all.

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We all go through that. There isn’t a person I can think of who hasn’t doubted some key facet of themselves to the point of nearly giving up. Deku nearly gives up his dream in the first episode.

The conflict he has within himself about whether or not he should give up speaks volumes about who he is as a character. There’s something to be said for the way a very disenfranchised Deku lifts his notebook from the water, angry and hurt. From having been bullied, told to jump and end himself, to having the one thing he cares about the most tossed aside, there’s little more than true humanity in these moments.

Aside from the cruelty that Deku faces, there’s a real firm ideology that Deku has to face down in becoming a hero too. Namely that he knows that in order to be successful at all, it’ll only get more difficult from here.

Watching these sorts of struggles in anime speak to me more heavily than almost any other medium… normally I’m not expecting it. When I first began watching My Hero Academia the same held true. I just wasn’t expecting this sort of content. At least, not in the first episode.

To say it was a punch to the gut would be the understatement of the century. Live action series tend to be darker, grittier, and typically try to speak to a level of realism I’m entirely prepared for. Therefore, it just doesn’t hit me that hard. When that grittiness presents itself, I’m prepared for it. Nine times out of ten, it occasionally feels “preachy” and that helps it to miss the mark too.

My Hero Academia does none of that.

In point of fact, it does the direct opposite. Placing a boy in front of us on the verge of letting go of his dream. From the very start of the series, the world around Deku forces him to question what he can really do. He really has to sit and think about his plans. He has to wonder if there’s anything he can do to achieve what he wants the most.

The luck of the draw isn’t on his side, and maybe it would be wiser to find a new ambition, but Deku lives for his.

It’s important to dream big, have lofty goals, and to aspire to something beyond your current measure. Maybe we won’t always achieve them, but the faith that we can if we try hard enough that matters too. In the end, plenty of people in reality have moved mountains for less.

I’m reminded of a real world example, a baseball player by the name of Jackie Robinson… now I’m no baseball guru, but for those that don’t know this man, you probably should. You see, on April 15th of 1947, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s racially inclined color barrier. He was the first black man to play in major league baseball with white people. That’s huge, because the civil rights movement didn’t begin to gain any firm ground to stand on until 1955… to say he played an integral role in cutting down racial divides just doesn’t do the matter justice.

It’s a great example of the impossible becoming possible in reality. Within our daily lives, Jackie Robinson is a hero to be remembered. Disputing adversity, despite the odds, he became a major league baseball star. He did this in a time when that was just considered entirely out of line and out of place.

However, as I said, my expertise isn’t baseball, and it’s certainly not impressively historic figures like Jackie Robinson. There are people much more qualified to speak of him and what he managed to accomplish than I ever could. I merely bring him up, because the hero’s journey isn’t exclusive to anime… and watching the major league pay tribute to him, as they’ve done for years now, had me thinking on the topic.

We have real world heroes too… heroes that were likely scoffed at and told their dreams meant nothing. Validation matters, aspiration matters, never giving up… that matters… I can’t point to all things Jackie Robinson did to change the course of fate, but I’m sure that all of his acclaim is well earned in the very least.

What I can do is point to Deku, how I relate to him and his struggles. My Hero Academia reminds me so heavily that it is truly worth having a dream to live for and aspire to. Honestly, that is worth far more to each of us than anyone can put a price on.

The end of the first episode of My Hero Academia lends itself to a question, and it’s one that absolutely resonates with the core themes of the show. It all boils down to one thing, can Deku become a hero?

It’s the thing he wants most of all, and the thing that everyone tells him that he just can’t have is just to be a hero. However, his aspirations and convictions begin to touch the souls of many… and Deku eventually attains the thing he needs most in order to reach for his dreams.

At the end of episode one, though, it’s all still just a question. He has to believe he can. Personal belief is half the battle, and arguably, it’s the most important one…

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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The “Bad Writing” of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

To start with, we’ve all heard that excuse time and time again from fandom. In our favorite shows, movies, books and other media, there’s always someone who shouts two simple words into the void; “bad writing!”. They shout this before leaving the matter at that.

I’ve seen messy writing in plenty of pieces of media, I’ve seen poorly executed writing even beyond that. However, bad writing is an outlier in such a drastic way that it actually annoys me to hear this turn of phrase more often than not…

Typically a person says this if they don’t agree with a narrative decision within the media presented to them. There’s plenty of discourse to be had about how something could have been done better, sure enough. No story is flawless, after all.

In point of fact, and I say this very adamantly, I tend to find that the “bad writing” argument crops up more often when a person can’t pin down why they dislike the writing so much. That’s why I’m very unrepentant when I say that the “bad writing” argument is a misnomer for greater prevailing issues.

The issue itself could be many things. Perhaps a personal chord was plucked to make someone feel that way. A story could in fact have “bad” moments of “writing” within the material to upset a person. To someone directly and pointedly offended, “bad writing” might be a solid critique of the way a certain theme was handled… I see that argument a lot in the RWBY fandom. Certain subject matters aren’t always handled with care and concern, so that’s why the critique crops up… but really, in that example, the writing isn’t “bad” per-say, just poorly executed.

There are occasions that it could just be “bad writing” though, truth be told, because there are very rare circumstances when what lies before you is actually little more than a pile of irredeemable drivel. The issue is, that’s an oddity, not a rule… but I have located an oddity recently.

As a gamer, I’ve seen poorly contrived plot elements take a back seat for the sake of bombastic gameplay more times than not. In gaming, this is sometimes a serviceable tactic, but not always… a most recent example comes to mind in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. You can watch our gameplay of that over on our Twitch channel…

What makes writing bad, generally comes down to how core issues present the themes in the game. To another point, I find the characters themselves generally unlikable. I find this to be the main problem in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.

To be pointedly clear though, this really only applies to the beginning and middle of the game. The last hour and a half, two things happen. Firstly, the cut scenes vastly improve. Secondly, the story actually gets VERY, VERY good!

However, the very good part only applies to the latter section of the game, not everything preceding it, and that’s the reason I’m using it as an example today.

In the earliest parts of the game the plot line often comes down to finding a way to cram the word “Chaos” into as much of the dialogue as humanly possible… in some cases, the story itself jumps the shark by doing a fast-forward to skip an event or two that was obviously deemed required by the writing staff.

Let me walk you through why this is “bad writing” directly on its face. Three guys meet, and immediately after introducing themselves, we get a “bro-fist” as they decide to join together. Then, directly after the very questionable act of deciding to become best buddies, we get two throw away paragraphs about what happens after, with no context or plot driven narrative to fall back upon.

That problem is, that jump in content reduces down to explaining the events that took place, without player related input, or even screen splash showing the event. It’s just a black background with white colored words explaining what players should have gotten to experience…

That’s it, just those two plain black images about visiting with the king, who refuses to allow them to take on their intended mission. Instead, they spend weeks together slaying monsters, and that’s it… literally, that’s all you get before the screen fades to black.

Why were they refused? Why do these supposed crystals look like giant cockroach turds? Why are these characters joining forces simply because the crystals can “sense each other” as one of the characters says they can? Why, amid what amounts to be a throw-away paragraph does it seem like a total and complete afterthought?

It feels like either pure laziness, or a decision compounded by some freakish lack of planning, or a budget crisis. Bad design, no cookie for you. Either way, the story goes on from there… a game shouldn’t feel that way, if it could in any way be avoided.

As a player, you return to these characters, who by now know each other, although we the players still know nothing of them. They’re all sitting upon a boat, complaining about how bored they are, and how they want to do the job they came for already, defeating “Chaos”.

We still don’t have a “why” for any of the above that feels reasonable, and you’d be correct to call that “messy writing” by video game standards. You’d be fair to call it lazy in general. In that singular case, where neither gameplay nor firm story-line exists yet, you could go so far as to call it bad writing. You’d even be right to do so… because at this point, we know next to nothing about these characters, or their deeper motivations.

I don’t often care much for the “show, don’t tell” rule in writing. There are times you do have to “tell” an off-screen plot element or two instead of showcasing it… but this use of “telling” is much too flagrant here. It is bad writing, firm and flat out… that’s why I fall to Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin as my foremost example of “bad writing”, because frankly, there was just no excuse.

As I said before though, in gaming, a good story-line typically takes a back seat to bombastic gameplay. To be honest, that game is very bombastic, over the top in the best of times.

According to Kresh, who is playing the game on the stream, it’s also pretty fun on occasion. Perhaps that’s a saving grace, but the story-line and the occasional direct lack of it, does hinder the game too.

I cannot personally comment on how “fun” it is to play. I can only speak upon the theatricality of the combat itself. However, I’ll say this, you’d be hard pressed to call the gameplay itself boring, as even your small, typically encountered leveling fodder have a habit to explode in bright, if ominous colors.

This tends to leave a crystalline residue of their exploded corpses in their wake… and frankly, as I said, it is bombastic. I don’t think you could call it brilliant, or even tangentially metaphorical to the plot-line at all. It has ties to the deeper themes, sure enough… but it doesn’t lend to the world building in a way that feels satisfactory. It just looks cool.

All-in-all if you need a very recent example of bad writing in game design, look no further than Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. Does it entirely ruin the game? No, not exactly. It’s still a serviceable gameplay experience. It’s interesting enough for me to watch, and for Kresh to play… so there is that at least. That said, if you want a solid narrative, this isn’t the Final Fantasy title for you… far from it.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Those who join via Patreon get special perks, such as extra content, quicker updates, early fiction chapters and more.

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To Our Supporters

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Let’s Talk Anime: Apple Seed

Hey guys, it’s Kern here, and I just feel like doing a more laid back, casual post about an animated movie I love; Apple Seed.

Apple Seed is old these days, like 2004 kind of old. However, it is also one of those animated movies near and dear to my heart. I don’t think you can really bring up older CGI movie series without Apple Seed coming to mind. This show has everything you need in a good action movie.

bad-ass chicks, political subterfuge, a banger soundtrack, action packed combat scenes and utopia that seems askew from the start. Everything is neatly packed in a tight little package labeled under the context of “a good time”… at least, that’s what I would call it.

The series has a predictable ethos that is so easily summed up in a single sentence. I just can’t say it better than one of the political figureheads in the movie…

“What a creature is man, that he would choose to cadge himself so willingly? – Prime Minister Athena Areios

Say what you will about the similar feel of plot elements. You’d be right, and there’s no shame in that. The movie itself never feels like it’s so far up its own butt to know exactly what it is; a solid popcorn flick. It doesn’t feel like (or try to be) anything more than that. Still, I have to critique the movie fairly, guilty pleasure or not.

As futuristic as it feels, we’ve seen this basic plot a billion times before, but there-in rests just why I like it. It’s comfortable, and it’s just different enough to toss a couple of new spins on old tropes… at least for the time it came out.

Now, to be bluntly honest, there are times even the action stalls during a combat scene. There are moments that the movie doesn’t reach its full potential. Exposition gets lengthy, at times even cockily so (looking at you, elders of the utopia).

In spite of these glaring faults and predictable plot, I can’t help but feel as though the small moments of downtime time we get between the characters (Deunan and Hitomi particularly) more than makes up for it. Even after all these years, I still like it… I’ll let that speak for itself.

Factoring in the age of the series, and the fact it falls upon tried and true methods of story-telling devices, I think Apple Seed is a solid choice for any anime fan. You’re not going to find anything earth shattering or groundbreaking… that’s not what the movie caters to.

What you will find, is a science fiction classic with elements of mecha and a story that’s just deep enough to pass muster. If that’s your kind of entertainment, find yourself Apple Seed and hunker down for a good popcorn anime. If you do end up liking it, the series also has an earlier OVA, a second movie. I think there’s a manga too…

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets” where stupidity is at it’s finest, and level grinds are par for the course… I’ll see you next time. Meanwhile, enjoy some other great content below.

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Human-Robot

Hello everyone it’s Demented Ferrets resident artist, Ruka. Welcome back to another “Universal Language of Art” post.

ART! The one thing most parents and media tell us to stay far away from “It doesn’t pay the bills!” they say, yet it is involved in 100% of the things we consume day in and day out! So let’s talk about it.

Art comes in many forms, sometimes in the form of photographs, while other times it could be a brush covering a canvas with color, bodies swaying to a tune, among many others, art is a wide range of human activities. At its core, art is fueled by imagination, aimed for the purpose of self-expression.

Human-robot by Rukangle

What is art? Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. When we think of art, most of the time our minds go to the famous works of art like; The Monalisa by DaVinci, The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, The Great Wave of Kanagawa by Hokusai, among many others.

Speaking of artwork, what about games as a medium? That’s art too!

Do you like gameplay, come check out our Twitch channel.

Kernook, Ruka, and Kresh recently played Phasmophobia together. You should check it out.

There are a hundred other works of art in the world, they just have different names. We have the art of literature, performance, music, and many others … in a way what I’m doing right now can be considered an art form. Art can be a form of therapy for many of us, young and old alike. It can be a pass time, a passion, it can unify all of us. Art brings people together, it can lighten up a room, it can even help us learn more about ourselves.

As a society, art has been a form of communication for centuries, the early human language, pictures in a cave wall. The best-known example is the Red Hand Stencil in Maltravieso, a cave in Cáceres, Spain. Believed to be older than 64,000 years old and probably made by a Neanderthal.

Going a bit forward in time, we have the Egyptians and their hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphics are known as the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, they combined logographic, syllabic, and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters. The cursive hieroglyphs were used for religious literature.

Think about this for a minute, they were using drawings as a written form of their language.

It’s fascinating to go back in time and find that just a few strokes here and there trying to mimic the world around us, to be able to communicate with one another, has evolved so much.

To me, art has no clear definition, it is really whatever you make of it. Think about it for a minute, for some stick figures is art, while for others, art has to be complicated and close to perfection and realism. Yet, for many of us, if it brings out an emotional response, it’s what we considered to be something worthwhile.

Let’s take the experience of going to a convention, it shows this in spades. Last year, there was an artist who made hand-carved signs and let me tell you they were eye-catching, 3D, and colorful and it was unique in his technique, something you don’t typically see on the convention floor. If I had a shop, I would have asked for commission and price.

“Ok, that’s easy for you to say because you can draw and take pictures and all the art things required for the site, etc… but not everyone is as lucky, to have that ability.” said someone in the crowd. Well not really, compared to other people I personally think, I suck. Why do I think this? Well because we all do, every artist that you have ever encountered has this mental setting more times than not. It takes us a long time to feel comfortable and see what we are good at, and finding our style is a constant trial and error exercise. For example, “Human-robot” here is a very small piece of my mind. It looks good, it looks clean, it might make sense maybe a bit freaky looking, but for me, it’s one of the best pieces I have and it was made in 2012, and that tells you a lot. We can go around the demented ferret’s site and find recent pieces that look cruder than “Human-robot” and some that look cleaner and up to date.

Why is this? because I’m still learning and evolving. Personally, I have problems with colors, and it will be rare to find a color piece by me, and the ferrets here are the reason I am working out of my comfort zone. When it comes to photography, it’s a moment in time that can be captured as it is. There is color but the world is the artist, I’m just the one who managed to get the moment, but in sketching, drawing, and painting it’s all up to me and it can be overwhelming.

I can talk and give y’all a basic breakdown of all the things an artist “should know” in what makes a good artist but it is all in the technical aspects of it. Things like how many elements are there in the arts? Themes that explore and create art. Patterns in art, shadowing, the color wheel, perspective, etc… just thinking about it, takes me back to the fundamentals of art.

Well, that is it for me today, I hope you enjoy this post on Universal Language of Art. If you guys find yourselves interested or curious about anything I said, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.

If you like this content, please consider supporting us on Patreon, and follow us over on our Twitch channel for gaming-related content, where I make an appearance via chat, well like always, this has been Ruka of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you around! Until then please be sure to check out our other content below.

Writing Fan Fiction – Consider The Characters

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. I’ve written a few posts about “fan fiction” before, basically centered around the impact of fandom and how to combat writers block.

These posts are not for people that want to be best selling authors. If you want to do that, you shouldn’t be writing fan fiction. They’re also not for those looking to make a quick buck, as that’s not the heart and soul of what fan fiction is. .. not to mention, that’s a questionable act besides.

No, these posts are low stress, low expectation, built around discussions based on a hobby that I care for greatly. I know many other people do too. When it comes to fan fiction, I read it, I write it and I love it.

I am such a huge supporter of fan fiction that I even choose to to read it over many best selling books. I made a blog post regarding that already. However, my view stands strong and I’m not likely to change that opinion any time soon. You can check that one out if you care to, I’ve linked it for your convenience.

To be succinct though, my preference comes down to the way the medium is handled. It isn’t perfect, far from it.

Fan fiction often lacks the punchier written format we expect from professionals, and to me that’s the main appeal. It will always be a diamond in the rough. That’s usually a good thing, as it means fans are enjoying thier ability to explore thier own creativity.

With my views of fan fiction laid bare and transparent for all to see, let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of this post. First though, I have an important question for you…

What is the one thing a good story cannot do without?

Well, there’s only one thing really… characters. Well-written, compelling characters are the single strongest asset to the fan fiction medium.

Fan fiction will inevitably be separated from other writing styles simply because the concept has already been laid out in front of you. Whatever your fandom of choice, there are already fans of it. You’ve already been given a set of predetermined parameters in which to work with. When we talk about gaming, anime, movies and television, the characters within the series are by far the bread and butter of any piece of writing.

The reason for this is because established characters we know and love are ones that we want more of. When the main series ends or takes a break, the fandom remains. It’s fun to interpret major set pieces in your own way. The characters are typically the first touch-stone fans use to do that… now clearly they aren’t the only building block of importance, but they are the one I want to look at today.

Aside from a few key examples where settings, and their obligatory set pieces become particularly noteworthy, those things will never tower over the characters themselves in a fan written work. When you boil it all down, the reason why is simple…

A story is about what happens, and the characters are who it happens to...

If characters aren’t compelling, readers just won’t give a rat’s ass what happens to them. Impeccable action sequences and mindfully placed drama doesn’t add anything if we can’t be brought to care about who those things are happening to.

No amount of skillful writing can save a story that has poorly written characters. Thankfully in the world of fan fiction, you aspiring writers out there already have a perfect template. The characters you know and already love. You’ve got the whole tool chest right in front of you. You know how they should look, you how they sound, you know their dialogue and vocal patterns.

The characters in the fandom you’re writing for have already been made. Like a child playing pretend, it’s up to you to decide how you want to play around with your imagination. There’s all kinds of ways you can do this.

You can choose to subvert what you know. I highly suggest this. Add a little flair, amplify key character traits and lessen others to background static to suit your needs in your fan fiction. Do you want to take your favorite action hero and cram him in a coffee shop? You can do that. Actually, funnily enough coffee shop fan fiction tends to be pretty popular too.

What to mix and match your favorite characters across different series, you can do that too! I’ve done that myself using Final Fantasy XI and RWBY. Both series have a lot of the same thematic elements, personal character struggles and compelling undertones to explore. These two series play off of each other particularly well for combat too.

Don’t believe me? Find a mage in a Final Fantasy game that casts “haste”, and then check out Weiss Schnee when she battles with yellow dust during Roman’s fight Atleasian Paladin in the RWBY series.

The clock Weiss makes for Blake really is a neat thing. and the skill as a dust mage plays off logic found in the mages of Final Fantasy games.

Both of these skills do the same thing. Speed up character attacks. These are two universes I absolutely love, and combining aspects of both really appealed to me. Putting aspects of both into the same fan fiction was just par for the course for me.

For my fan fiction, I chose to take Curilla V Mecru from the video game Final Fantasy XI, and place her into the RWBY universe in my fandom related writing.

Why was I compelled to do this? Easy, it’s because Curilla’s homeland of San d’Oria reminds me heavily of the kingdom of Mistral in RWBY.

This mixed with the fact that she shares so many common personality traits with Weiss Schnee and Winter Schnee of RWBY makes me wonder what these characters would be like if they could be friends (and perhaps romantic interests).

I decided to explore that, and fan fiction was my gateway through that journey.

The takeaway; the key of good characterization is to focus upon what interests you the most.

We’re likely to notice the aspects of characters that mean the most to us. Perhaps it’s their fighting style, their personality, or maybe it’s just the way they chose to dress. There are always aspects we, as fans, cling onto. Traits we love and tidbits we’re drawn to. However, it’s not just what we love about the characters that matters. It’s typically a well placed character flaw that seems the most interesting to explore.

Ultimately we won’t be brought to love every single thing about our favorite character. To be sure, if there isn’t a flaw someplace… well, that’s a huge issue and it is bad writing. You can still love a flaw while respecting that it is a flaw, though. When writing, play with those flaws and your readers will thank you.

At the end of the day fan fiction thrives not on the story you craft, but the interesting dynamics of the characters and world you showcase through your own eyes.

This has been Kernook of the Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at it’s finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time. Meanwhile, check out some of our other great content below. Be sure to join us over on Patreon to support more content like this. Also, we have a Twitch channel for gaming, come check us out!

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 2 supporters of our content, in the “Demented Minion” tier and 1 in the “Fluffy Ferret” tier.

($1) Little Ferrets: None
($3) Fandom Ferret: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy and Andrew Wheal.
($10) True Blue Ferret: None.
($25) Premium Ferret: None.
($50) Round Table Ferret/Fluffy Ferret: Josh Sayer

Betty White Passed Away At Age 99

Hey everyone, Kernook here… this image of my ferret just doesn’t reflect my mood recently. I am fairly saddened by entertainment news headlines. I was going to make this post a little earlier but I needed a bit of time to reflect and think.

As you know, in this household we watch sitcoms. One of the ones I grew up with in the early 90’s was Golden Girls. We used to watch the re-runs often, even after the series had long ended. We still do, this is why the news of Betty White’s passing brings such a dreary end to 2021. It’s as sad as it is poetic…

Betty White was known for her philanthropy as well as her robust acting career. Really though, she was a pioneer for the small screen in many different ways. Her acting career alone spanned seven decades… that just blows my mind… but that was Betty White for you. Honestly, I don’t recall a time when I didn’t see her on television, either through re-run programming or new sitcom line-ups.

Betty’s first credited appearance on television was in “A Time to Kill” a 1945 television short. However, you may remember her more aptly as Sue Ann Nivens from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or as Rose Nylund in “The Golden Girls” and the spin-off series “The Golden Palace“. These are the shows I enjoy most fondly.

If I tried to list all of the shows I’ve seen her in, it would never end. Heck, she even played herself in an episode of the Simpsons for a quick appearance. As a kid, that one always stood out to me.

Let’s keep it real, here… Betty White had a firm hand in the television industry any way you slice it. She was among the first women to showcase her skill both in front of the camera and behind it too. Her efforts coined her the honorary mayor of Hollywood in 1955. She’s also known as “the First Lady of television”.

This isn’t hyperbole, it’s true… this is how beloved Betty White is. She acted, produced, directed and even wrote for shows. She was doing most of that back in a time when women were just stepping into that kind of limelight.

There are people far more qualified than me to speak of her extensive career in the television industry. I’m just a simple, lowly fan… but as a fan I must say her legacy will live on in the countless classics found on television. I just wish she could have lived to see her 100th birthday.

Speaking on that, for her 100th birthday, a special movie event was planned. It’s still going to air. Apparently it’s called “Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration” so here’s to hoping it celebrates everything her life was and all the wonderful things she gave to us as fans.

As for me, well… this post is all I can do. This woman was in every conceivable way a spectacular and influential person. Sadly, all I’ve got to go by are my own memories of sitting in front of the television with dinner in my lap and my family at my side. Those memories aren’t something I’ll soon forget. I hold onto them fondly, and now that the final Golden Girl, Betty White, has passed on it truly feels like the end of an era.

That’s the thing that sticks out to me the most, I think. It was nearly poetic how she passed away on New Years Eve, as though to pass the torch to the younger up-coming generations of sitcom stars. Ninety-nine years, and strangely it still seems all too soon.

Rest in peace, Betty… and it’s true, you can rest now. You’ve done so much, for so many. For every animal you rescued, thank you. For your massive contributions to “Guide Dogs for the Blind” and every other cause you worked to support over the years, thank you. For every half an hour on a weeknight that you lit up the television screen, and every memory you gave to families around the world, thank you…

Your fans will hold you in our hearts for years to come. So rest in peace.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 2 supporters of our content, in the “Demented Minion” tier and 1 in the “Fluffy Ferret” tier.

($1) Little Ferrets: None
($3) Fandom Ferret: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy and Andrew Wheal.
($10) True Blue Ferret: None.
($25) Premium Ferret: None.
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Fan Fiction Is Different – Here’s Why

Hey everyone, Kern here… you know, it always bothers me when people critique fan written works the selfsame as they would original works. I decided I’d examine why.

First of all I want to make note that creative writing is in the eye of the beholder. It really comes down to your view, and you may not agree with everything I have to say. That’s fine and dandy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. I’m only attempting to hang a light atop some of the reasons why being too critical of fan written media is on its face the wrong approach to a proper discussion on the subject.

The main difference between an entirely original piece of written media and a fan written piece is that the fandom exists in the first place. Fan written works come from someplace. By strict definition, an original piece of artistic work either inspires or defines some of the parameters of the work being written, hence the name fan fiction.

Orson Wells once famously said that “The enemy of art is the absence of limitationsand I believe this to be true. He didn’t say that in reference to fandom, but rather artistic endeavors in general.

Mind you, this is probably the one greatest truths for fan fiction. By its nature, the media itself is strictly defined by limitations in the first place. You have a set standard in which to choose how to proceed.

The Fan Fiction Writer’s “Toolbox”

A fan fiction writer has a complete tool box to use already at their disposal. We can choose to subvert these understood norms of the series we love, or use them as they are, but irrefutably they do exist already. A few very noteworthy limitations that define fan fiction include the following;

  1. Characters: It comes as no surprise to anyone that most fan fiction uses established characters built and crafted by the original creator. We know what they look like, we know how they act. We can make our own original characters too, sure enough. We can also insert other characters from series we know and love into a separately crafted universe, Either way, we have characters to utilize already and that makes a world of difference. Speaking of worlds though, let’s look at the second thing we gain from the artistic ‘toolbox”.
  2. Settings and Set Pieces: We have these at our disposal too. The books, television shows, movies, and anime that we know and love have these fictional worlds and setting for us to use and play around with. Once again, we can choose to subvert what we know and understand to be true, often we do. Ultimately though, we just don’t have to craft these things completely from scratch for ourselves. They exist, and like everything in the fan fiction writer tool box, we have a clear and distinct starting point from which to craft our story. Even if it comes down to alternate universes, we know exactly what place these characters come from, so we know what might be compelling to change about that.
  3. Proof of Concept: The fact the original work already exists proves that a story can be done with these characters and this world as it’s already designed. Furthermore, being a fan of something means you like that thing, whatever it may be. If there is an active fandom for this thing, then you know other people like it too. For aspiring creative minds, this may be the difference between making an attempt to be creative too, or avoiding the effort all together.
  4. The “Tool Box” Itself: This is the most important thing that harsh critics overlook when discussing fan written media. If the original media itself is flawed to begin with, then you need to allow those same flaws to exist in the fan written work. If there are plot holes and plot bunnies rapidly multiplying in the original piece, then hints of those things will inevitably crop up for the fan written piece. Even those writing fan works attempting to “fix the flaws” will inevitably end up with one or two flaws of their own making. It’s just the nature of the beast. Nothing is perfect, but this holds doubly true for fan made content.
  5. Lack of Services: Fan fiction writers might have a “beta reader” if they’re very lucky, but they don’t have paid editors or peer based quality control. Most fan fictions are posted up on websites and archives. This means that you shouldn’t expect the same sort of quality you’d get out of a best selling novel, or even one you might pick up at a discounted rate off store shelves… at the end of the day, the writer is NOT providing YOU a service, they’re writing for free (note: If you are paying them to write fan fiction for you, that’s a question of legality and morality, but that’s a separate discussion).

With all of that said, it’s almost arrogant and pompous to act with the mindsets that fan written work are the same as an original piece… or expecting that fan fiction authors might follow all of the creative writing rules and standards that we expect from other published media.

The One True Paring Fallacy

When fans of a series gather to form large social groups over a specific type of media, we call this a fandom. In general, fandom tends to be a positive space, but there can be occasions when it isn’t.

That isn’t to say a smash hit might not rise from the ashes and become it’s own unique story separate from fandom. This has happened a few times in the past. Although the likely most well-known example is Fifty Shades of Grey.

The story was originally a Twilight fan fiction, and it proves proved that it is possible to write a fan fiction based story and turn it into something else entirely. That you can, in fact, become a well-known author that way. However, that outcome is so rare that it may as well be labeled a pipe dream.

Ultimately fan fiction is a fun little hobby, and it should be treated and regarded strictly as what it is. That isn’t to say you can’t love it or use it to hone your craft as a wordsmith. Just remember, not all of us plan to be “best selling” authors one day. Some of us just want to enjoy a hobby we love and that’s okay too..

This has been Kern of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are part for the course. I’ll see you next time. Until then check out some other great content below.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 2 supporters of our content, in the “Demented Minion” tier and 1 in the “Fluffy Ferret” tier.

($1) Little Ferrets: None
($3) Fandom Ferret: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy and Andrew Wheal.
($10) True Blue Ferret: None.
($25) Premium Ferret: None.
($50) Round Table Ferret/Fluffy Ferret: Josh Sayer

Anime and Its Translations

Kern’s note: be nice everyone, it’s Ruka’s first post here and first blog post ever. Ruka is also the resident artist here at TDF. These little icons we use are her creations.

Welcome everyone, this is Ruka. Back in the 1990s on the small island of Puerto Rico, there used to be generation of kids who by all social standards were labeled as weird and a bit on the strange side.

The main reason for this was due to their love and enjoyment of the afternoon and Saturday morning “cartoons”, also known as anime. I’m part of that generation of 90’s kids. 

 In the early stages of the 2000s, anime became a big part of pop culture. It has woven itself from our TVs to our toys, clothes, and even in the way we socialize. The anime industry has boomed. Yet, as someone who grew up in the 90s away from the mainland, anime was a much harder thing to find. 

I was but a small child learning of the world, and all I wanted to do was watch cartoons, especially on Saturday mornings. Even if I had no idea, it was anime at the time, I was enjoying shows like Ranma ½, Samurai X (Rurouni Kenshin), and Slam Dunk. During the weekday after-school programming, Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z (DBZ) became a big part of the rotation too.  

But what is so different from all other kids from the mainland you ask? Well, without getting into it so much, as a USA territory, Puerto Rico’s main language is Spanish. And for a good majority of us, we only had local channels, nothing more. Cable was something not many of us could afford. So naturally, the kid’s “cartoon” block was in Spanish.  

Okay, but what does any of this has to do with anime you ask? Well, for an English territory whose main language is Spanish, it means a lot. Showing us something that many don’t get to experience in the mainland; anime with Spanish dubs. Nowadays when it comes to anime, most of us more likely than not will always go for the original, but to this day, I am unable to watch Ranma in any other language including its original form. This also holds true to DBZ and Pokémon, but I can manage their English or original form better. 

Do I believe the Spanish dubs are worth it? Absolutely! Spanish is one of the most spoken languages ranking 4th worldwide and 2nd in Native-speaking countries in the world. Not only that but in the 90s most anime on television were dubbed by locals. That is the main reason that Spanish dubs became as successful as they did. Think about that for a minute…

The locals themselves took matters into their own hands, making the Spanish dubbing a demand. With this, they made sure that other Spanish-speaking countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela had access to them as well. 

Also, one of the biggest achievements this move created was an overall understanding that if the industry could work on dubbing anime into different languages, then it could expand into other nations around the world. In doing so, growing the industry’s reach beyond its original concept. Again, making it accessible for the local television stations in remote areas of the world, as it did for me and many others in the Caribbean. Its movement and progress continues to this day, for as of February 3rd, 2021, Funimation started to add Spanish and Portuguese subs and dubs of their shows in English-speaking territories. This is a big step, especially here in the USA. 

At the end of the day, translations of anime and manga play a big role in the industry and in my childhood memories. Without its accessibility and evolution, I would have never found my way to the world of fandom, never would of meet the people that I call friends, and probably would have never written this at all.  

This has been Ruka of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you around! Until then please be sure to check out our other content below.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 supporters of our content, currently all of them are in the “Demented Minion” tier.

($1) Little Ferrets: None
($3) Fandom Ferret: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.
($10) True Blue Ferret: None.
($25) Premium Ferret: None.
($50) Round Table Ferret: None.