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Staff Picks: 6/1-6/7

What The Daily staff is watching, listening to, and reading in quarantine

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What we're watching

Kyle Bender, Development Editor (@avatar_kyle)

There’s nothing like a good shounen anime. Whether you stick with the classics like “Dragon Ball Z” or roll with the new hits like “Demon Slayer,” watching your protagonists of choice beat the sh*t out of whatever enemy the authors decided to throw in front of them will always be a great way to kill a couple of hours. 

That’s why I decided to give “Soul Eater” a try. I watched it with a friend because — and I’m paraphrasing — she thought there was no way I’m this edgy without having seen the show. In all honesty, she was right. 

While I’m only 15 episodes into the 51 part series, I’ve totally fallen in love with it. The show manages to have characters that are a perfect mix between some of the trashiest and edgiest tropes of anime, while still not going too over-the-top. The show has a great mix of comedy, drama, and incredibly animated fight scenes. 

“Soul Eater” is about a group of human weapons and weapon meisters who attend Death Weapon Meister Academy, a high school created by Death himself in order to prevent the rise of the kishin, evil demon gods. Human weapons are people who have the ability to shift their body into the form of a weapon. One of the main characters, Soul “Eater” Evans, has the ability to turn himself into a scythe. 

Besides preventing the destruction of the world, the human weapons are trying to achieve the status of “Death Scythe” by consuming 99 kishin eggs and one witch’s soul. To do this, human weapons are wielded by weapon meisters. They are skilled fighters who specialize in the type of weapon their partner can transform into. Maka Albarn, whose mother is a master scythe meister and whose father is a death scythe, is Soul’s weapon meister.

I’d highly recommend “Soul Eater” if you want to get a taste of the type of anime that “Naruto” is without having to watch the 41% of the total episodes that are purely filler. 

And also admit it. You thought I was going to talk about “Avatar: The Last Airbender” didn’t you? 

What we’re listening to

Mac Murray, Health and Wellness Editor and Editor-in-Chief for 20-21 (@merqto)

I’ll admit it: I miss the days when “Hamilton” wasn’t cringey. I was a junior in high school when it started gaining traction in a U.S. history class, and it felt like the stars had completely aligned. I still have a soft spot for the soundtrack, but I’m only admitting that because I’m hoping people will skim-read my part of this article; I’m not known for my killer music recs.

If you liked “Hamilton” (it’s OK, I won’t tell anyone) and miss having a musical soundtrack taking up space in your Spotify library, I’m here to help fill your Broadway void. “Six” is England’s answer to “Hamilton” — a glam rock opera from the perspective of the six wives of Henry VII. It’s incredibly fun (and the standard musical theater caveat applies: the execution is far better than anything you could dream of after hearing the premise). 

Other musicals that are always ending up in my daily rotation lately: “Fun Home,” a devastatingly tender, funny, and sad musical following the life of lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel; “Heathers,” which is the movie you know and love (or were disturbed by) from the ‘80s but was made even more fun and disturbing through song; “Beetlejuice,” which is weird and fun and somehow the second musical I’m recommending based on an 80s Winona Ryder movie; and “Les Miserables,” a classic. If you’re looking for something non-campy, “Hadestown” has earned rave reviews and is definitely worth a listen for something more serious. I like it — I just like camp more.

Getting into the world of musicals doesn’t have to be social suicide if you’re strategic about it. The most rewarding part of listening to musicals — belting to a song you know by heart as you’re speeding down I-5 — is still available to us as a source of dopamine in quarantine. The second most rewarding part — dueting Javert and Valjean’s fight scene in “The Confrontation” with a friend — can be accomplished over Zoom, if you’re really bored.

What we’re reading

Josh Kirshenbaum, Managing Editor (@J_Kirshenbaum) 

I remember the first time I saw the name Percy Jackson. My grandmother had gotten me a copy of “The Lightning Thief” for my birthday at a family camp in southern California. I cracked it open the next day as my parents and I started the seven-hour drive back to the Bay Area. That evening, I made them take a detour to the book store before we even got home so I could buy a copy of “The Sea of Monsters.” I was hooked.

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians” was the first book series I fell in love with as it came out. They were the first books where I experienced the joy of getting one, the mad dash of reading over the next few days, the pain at the end realizing it would be another year before I got more, and the subsequent re-readings, over and over, until more came.

So, when Rick Riordan announced that there would be a Disney+ Percy Jackson series coming in the future, it was back to my old, worn-out copies, reliving my favorite series as a teenager.

Now, I’m doing it a little differently, though. My girlfriend is also a huge Percy Jackson fan, and we’ve taken turns the past two weeks reading chapters to each other. It’s forced us to slow down significantly; we just finished the first book and started the second instead of racing through them immediately. 

When I get stressed, I’m the type of person who prefers to go to something I know well and don’t have to think about. For me, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” is the literary version of a movie I’ve seen 100 times. Getting to go through it slowly and deliberately has been a great way to calm down, go back to my childhood, and get excited for something that will hopefully be better than the putrid movies.

Reach Development Editor Kyle Bender, Health and Wellness Editor Mac Murray, and Managing Editor Josh Kirshenbaum at arts@dailyuw.com

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