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Unboxing: April SoKawaii

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I’ve previously mentioned that I wasn’t going to buy any subscription boxes prior to my trip to Japan, and then the subsequent cancellation of the trip led to March “sad-time spending”. I decided during this period that I would buy myself a subscription box, which I felt would either cheer me up, or depress me further as it would remind me of what I was supposed to be experiencing. Just to double down on any potential pitfalls, I also opted for the SoKawaii box, as it had a theme of “Sakura”, and I was due to see the sakura blossoms during my trip.

The first thing that struck me was how cutely the box was packaged. My previous Yumetwins box was just the items in a box, which is totally fine, I didn’t have any packaging expections, but the SoKawaii box was cutely laid out with pink tissue paper and just had a more visual impact when I opened it. It instantly made me happy, and I was excited to unpack and see what I got.

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Item number 1 was this really cute Rilakkuma blanket. I’m not the biggest Rilakkuma fan, but this blanket is super soft. It’s so hard to take a photo of these blankets, I also struggled in my Christmas box, but this is it on my double bed, so it’s quite large! It also fits my colour scheme in my bedroom, albeit it’s a slightly darker shade of pink.

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The next item was a Cardcaptor Sakura keychain. I knew in advance that the box was coming with a CCS item, and to be honest, it almost stopped me from buying it because I’ve never seen CCS before. I went ahead as I have lots of friends who like it, so I figured I could gift the item to one of them, which is exactly what I’ve done (or will do once lockdown is over!). Still, it’s a really cute item, and it’s a shame I can’t appreciate it fully, but I’m sure its new owner will!

IMG_6758Next up was some sakura chocolate. The packaging is so cute, and totally my aesthetic. I’ve yet to try the chocolate, because I haven’t got round to translating the ingredients yet, and I have a lot of allergies and dietary requirements, so I can’t just trust that chocolate will be okay for me to eat and there’s no translation label. I’m also super fussy with food, so I’m not sure whether I’m looking forward to trying this or not! I guess it’s in keeping with my Japan trip, as I was going to force myself to try some new foods just for the experience!

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Item number four was this really cute bowl! It’s the perfect size for me to put little trinkets in, or little sweets and keep on my coffee table for guests.

 

 

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I also got this cute Pokémon figure with Plusle and Minun! It’s a stackable figure, so there are others to collect with different Pokémon on, and then they make up a larger tree. I’m glad I got Plusle and Minun, they’re probably up there with my favourite Pokémon, and there are plenty of worse options I could have got.

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And last but definitely not least, we have my favourite item this month – the sakura Cinnamoroll! He’s just so cute, and so soft! He matches the colour of my bedroom perfectly, so I have him in there hanging off my wardrobe door so I can see him every day, and every time I do he just makes me so happy!

 

 

I’m really happy with my SoKawaii box! It did the job of dulling the void I felt by having to cancel my trip to Japan, and I’m mostly happy with everything that I got (and have found a good home for the one item that I didn’t want to keep). I’d definitely get a SoKawaii box again, in fact I forgot to cancel the subscription, so I am getting a box this month too!

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March purchases

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If you remember, I was due to fly off to Japan on March 27th, a trip which I’ve mentioned in a previous post we had to cancel due to the Covid-19 outbreak. I’m almost over it, kind of, but at point of cancellation in early March, I was undoubtedly in a very bad place, which led me to do a lot of what I’ve called “sad-time spending”. Looking back, I didn’t actually buy as much as I thought I had, so there’s that at least.

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I had put myself on a break from buying subscription boxes, but after not going to Japan, I decided I’d get one. The theme for SoKawaii this month was ‘Sakura’, and as my trip to Japan had been planned for April so we could see the Sakura blossoms, it seemed like the perfect box to get! An unboxing post is coming in the next couple of days, but I’m really happy with everything that came in the box!

 

 

I decided, after months of coveting, that I would finally spring for the vinyl soundtrack of A Silent Voice, arguably one of my favourite anime movies. In my recent move, I’ve been able to set up my record player again, and have my vinyl collection out, so I want to start buying vinyl again. The only trouble is you don’t get k-pop albums on vinyl (at least not that I’ve found anyway, feel free to prove me wrong!), and that’s all I tend to listen to now, so apart from getting some of my favourite western music on vinyl, I’m kind of limited to what I can buy, so having soundtracks of my favourite films seems like a great option! As you can see from the photo, it’s a double vinyl in a really nice blue colour, which I think might make it my first coloured vinyl but I could be totally wrong.

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I totally caved to the hype and decided to get Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I’ve only ever played an Animal Crossing game for maybe an hour at most, but it just looked so cute and wholesome, and everyone was getting really excited about it, so I decided to take the plunge. It came out three weeks ago at time of writing, and I’ve put over 70 hours into it, so I would say that’s a successful gaming purchase. I also bought the Fire Emblem Three Houses DLC, which I’ve yet to play because Animal Crossing has taken over my life. I do plan to write a summary of my time with Animal Crossing so far, so… stay tuned I guess.IMG_6783

 

 

 
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What would a month be without some new manga? I’ve decided I really need to finish some collections instead of just constantly starting new ones, so I bought Ouran High School Host Club volume 8 (and put the rest on my wishlist ready for my birthday in mid-April!). I also got the first volume of given, which I had on preorder after a disastrous purchase at the beginning of the year where I bought the German version, so if anyone’s in the market for that…. I also can’t go a month without buying some BL, so I bought Don’t Be Cruel, which was a double of volumes 1 and 2.

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Finally, I treated myself with some extra money I had earned freelancing to something I had planned to buy in Japan. The Nendoroid of Shigaraki Tomura from Boku No Hero Academia. He’s one of my favourite anime characters, and I now have a little display to him in my living room (pictured below), as well as an ita-bag.

 

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I also bought some boring things like allergy tests, tooth whitening kits and online courses, purely just to keep me occupied as the lockdown gets extended! That wraps up my March purchases, hope you enjoyed!~

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February purchases

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Considering in February I was doing my best to curb my spending for my upcoming Japan trip (more on that later…), I was surprised at how much stuff there was for this post!

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I was very kindly given the light novel of I Want To Eat Your Pancreas for Christmas, but after discussing with a few people, I’ve held off on reading it until I could watch the film. Happily, I haven’t had to wait too long as the film was released on DVD and blu-ray in February, though I’ve still not watched it. I have a feeling the cover is deceptive, as everyone I know who has seen it has told me I’m definitely going to cry, and to make sure I have tissues at the ready.

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Octopath Traveler was one of the reasons I wanted a Nintendo Switch in the first place. I was really drawn in by the art style of the game, and I heard so many great things about it so when I got my Switch for Christmas, I was frantically searching for a decently priced copy. What is up with Nintendo game prices never dropping?! I eventually saw that a mutual on Instagram was selling their copy for a reasonable price, so I snapped it right up! I’ve not got round to playing it yet – RIP backlog – but I’m really happy to own it!

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These Witches Don’t Burn has been on my Amazon wishlist for a while, so as a payday treat I bought it for myself. I can’t even remember what drew me to it but I’m very much a book cover person, and I liked the art style of the images on the cover, so it’s probably that. I’ve not started it yet, so I can’t tell you what it’s about!

 

 

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A month can’t go by without me buying BL, and so I bought volume 2 of Candy Color Paradox. It’s a really enjoyable story, about a journalist who has to work with a photographer he doesn’t like. It’s somewhat predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless!

 

 

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Yet more manga, this time Go For It, Nakamura! This manga is about a high school boy, Nakamura, who is in love with one of his male classmates. It’s really cute, and Nakamura is such a funny character who just can’t seem to get it together to talk to his crush. I really recommend it if you’re looking for something funny!

 

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I played and enjoyed the first Ni No Kuni game when it was out on PS3, but I got stuck at a particular bit and then never went back to it. After falling completely in love with Ni No Kuni 2, I decided to get the remastered PS4 version of the first game, so I can go back and finally finish it!

 

 

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I also bought the final volume of Our Dreams at Dusk, a really lovely LGBTQ+ manga. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but I thoroughly recommed this manga, it’s really beautiful and well-done.

 

 

 

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Rounding off my March purchases with yet more manga, I bought the latest two volumes of Haikyu!! (though I’ve stupidly photographed them so you can barely see one, trust me, it’s there!). Haikyu! is my all-time favourite, so it’s nice to have an uptodate collection!

 

 

 

 

There’s not as much variety in items this month, and it seems like there’s a lot of books and games in comparison to January’s purchases, but I was holding off on buying anime merchandise because I was going to Japan. Unsurprisingly with the COVID-19 situation the way it is, we have very sadly had to cancel our trip. We’re both obviously devastated, but we will get to go another time. I had a little irrational spending spree to make myself feel better, which sort of worked, so March’s post will probably be quite lengthy!

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January purchases

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As part of my blog focus for 2020, I thought it would be fun to show y’all what I waste my money on each month! I’m talking the interesting, fun stuff I buy, not my everyday boring life necessities!

So, here’s a glance at what I bought this month!

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For Christmas, I was bought I Hear The Sunspot: Limit 1. What I hadn’t realised when I put it on my Amazon wishlist was that it was the third volume in the I Hear The Sunspot series, and I hadn’t got the second. Naturally, I then had to buy I Hear The Sunspot: Happiness, and once I had read those two, I had to buy I Hear The Sunspot: Limit 2, obviously. It’s no secret that I’m losing my hearing, and when I bought the very first copy of this manga, I’d just found that out which is probably why I Hear The Sunspot is special to me, with one of the main characters being hearing impaired, and a lot of focus on the hearing impaired and deaf community; it just came at the right time in my life, a time when it seems I myself might be in the same boat in a matter of time. The manga is so lovely, and quite bittersweet at times, and I can’t wait for the next volume to be released.

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At the same time, I also bought The Way of the Househusband vol. 1. I’d heard it was really funny, so I thought I’d give it a go, and I do really like it. It’s about a yakuza-turned-househusband, and the manga follows him as he navigates his new life with his normal wife. It is a really good manga, and it really made me laugh, so I’ll definitely continue to buy it.

Those who know me, and have the misfortune to follow me on Twitter, know one of my absolute favourite characters in anime is Shigaraki from My Hero Academia. My Shigaraki ita-bag is coming along really nicely, so I couldn’t resist buying this Shigaraki omanjuu to eventually put in there. Sticking on theme, I also got this Shigaraki figure, and the level of detail is insane. It’s easily one of the most detailed figures I own.

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I also bought these cute items from a friend who no longer had need of them. We have here a little Ponyo plushie, and a soot sprite, which has a sucker to fix to a window or mirror. There is also a strap of Phichit from Yuri On Ice! (which I can’t find at present due to moving rooms, boo!),who is one of my favourite characters in the series (and one that I’ve cosplayed previously!).

 

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I was very lucky at Christmas, and my parents bought me a Nintendo Switch, so this month I treated myself to Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which was one of the games that made me want to get a Switch in the first place. To say I’m obsessed would be an understatement, any free time I have is funnelled straight into playing. I chose the Blue Lions for my first route, and I already have a few cosplay plans added!

 

Perhaps the most exciting thing I bought in January, or perhaps ever, was my dream holiday. In March, my best friend and I will be going to Japan! Excited doesn’t even begin to cover how I’m feeling, and the fact I don’t even have to wait that long is really putting the icing on the cake. At time of writing (because I’m obviously way behind with this post), it’s a little over 5 weeks until I go!

So, how did you like my first monthly purchases post? Let me know what your favourite thing in my small haul was!

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Unboxing: December YumeTwins

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Towards the end of last year, I had an idea that for 2020 I wanted to start using Culture Shack as more of a lifestyle type blog as well as an outlet for writing reviews. and other articles. This means I’ll be doing more posts showing days out, convention overviews, shopping hauls, and as this post shows, subscription box unboxings.

Of course, when I had this idea in about October last year I still had a job, and the original plan was to get a different subscription box each month, but then I decided in my infinite wisdom to quit my job without having something lined up so… we might have a gap between these types of post! (I do now have another job, so hopefully I can resume soon!).

The box for this month is YumeTwins, which describes itself as a ‘kawaii subscription box from Japan’, promising 5 high quality goods each month. When I signed up back in November, the box I bought was the Christmas themed box and like a fool, I underestimated how long it would take to get here. It arrived today, the 3rd January, so I guess at least I have it for next Christmas?

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When I had bought the box, the site had a pop-up which enabled me to spin a wheel and get a prize. Mine was for a free bag, but there were various things on there, like codes for money off the total. I thought this was a cool touch, it would be interesting to know the odds for each prize, but either way I’m not complaining!

So, what did I get in my box?

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First up, here’s my free bag – a Sumikkogurashi ice-cream drawstring bag! It’s really nice quality, and the perfect size to pop in my handbag. I wasn’t familiar with the characters, but they’re adorable so I’ll definitely be checking them out in future. What I really love about subscription boxes is when it introduces you to characters or brands that you don’t know, so this item has definitely ticked that box!

 

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I also got a super-cute Pompompurin Christmas spoon! The booklet that came with the box tells me that I could either have had Pompompurin or Cinnamoroll, so I got really lucky as Pompompurin is my favourite Sanrio character! It’s only really a Christmas item if you squint (there’s some holly on the handle), so I think I can get away with using it all year round!

 

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To go with my spoon, there’s a plate of Sanrio characters celebrating Christmas – absent friends are shown as decorations throughout the room, or can be seen out of the window, which is a really cute touch! I’m sad I didn’t get to use the plate for my Christmas snacks, but I have it ready to go for next Christmas now!

 

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The last of my Christmas themed items – a Sanrio blanket. This is the softest blanket I’ve ever touched, it’s almost velvetty but in a furry way. I’m sure there’s a specific name for the fabric, but whatever it is, I don’t know it! It’s not huge, about the width of my double bed, and about half as tall.

The box wasn’t all Christmas themed – I also got these Hello Kitty paper straws, and some Gudetama post-its and stickers. It’s great to have some functional items in there too!

My YumeTwins box was a success! I really liked all of the items I received, but it’s a shame I didn’t get the box before Christmas – I guess with international shipping, it can’t be helped.

 

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2019 Best Boys (and Girls)

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Whilst tracking my completed anime this year, I also kept a log of who my best boys (and sometimes girls) were in each series. Y’know… for science.

1. Zack – Angels of Death

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2. Ray – The Promised Neverland

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3. Miku – Quintessential Quintuplets

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4. Greedling – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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5. Levi – Attack on Titan

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6. n/a – One Punch Man

7. Suzui – Kakeguruixx

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8. L’Arc – The Rising of the Shield Hero

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9. Mikorin – Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

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10. Kousei – Your Lie In April

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11. Ryouma – Love Stage

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12. Isshiki Satoshi – Food Wars!

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13. Hiro – Junjou Romantica

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14. Mafuyu – given

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15. B-Cell – Cells at Work

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16. Kyo – Fruits Basket

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17. Rampo-san and Akutagawa – Bungo Stray Dogs

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18. Kyouka – Bungo Stray Dogs

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19. Ayato – Diabolik Lovers AND Diabolik Lovers: More Blood

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Ten Favourite Couples in Pop Culture

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With Valentine’s Day in the past, and love lingering in the air, I’ve been thinking about my favourite couples in popular culture. As a belated Valentine’s Day present from me to you, I’ve even written them down! As ever, I don’t seem to be able to write anything without ruining it, so spoilers ahead!

1. Robin Scherbatsky & Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)

Robin and Barney are possibly one of my favourite couples ever. I feel like I’ve invested so much in their relationship. Tears have most definitely been shed, and I could not be happier for them now they’ve locked each other down.

2. Ferris Bueller & Sloane Peterson (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Real life couples make the best on-screen couples, as is evident from some more entries on this list. Sloane Peterson has it all, and I want to be her. Her and Ferris are the coolest couple in school, and they’re just so darn cute together.

3. Cameron Tucker & Mitchell Pritchett (Modern Family)

Cam and Mitch are probably my two favourite Modern Family characters, and by happy coincidence they’re also together. Hurrah! Part of the reason I love Mitch and Cam is that they prove that gay couples don’t have to be portrayed in a stereotypical manner, and their relationship is just so lovely and natural (and hilarious).

4. Calvin Weir-Fields & Ruby Sparks (Ruby Sparks)

Let’s get this straight. My favourite part of this couple was when Ruby first came onto the scene, when her and Calvin were really happy together just as they were. Before he started changing her and making her jump all over his house. The end of the film brings me hope that they’ll be able to get back to the same level. Aside from the fact Ruby was brought to life by a seemingly magic typewriter, this real-life couple create an on-screen couple who you can really believe in.

5. Sylar & Elle Bishop (Heroes)

Sure, Sylar and Elle’s relationship didn’t go down the traditional route, but which couple doesn’t have problems? Pre-killing, you could really tell they were into each other, and had Sylar been in a better place, I feel they probably could’ve gone the distance. Maybe.

6. Katniss Everdeen & Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Games trilogy)

My favourite type of love story is one where someone’s been secretly in love with someone, then they get together. A nice resolution for everyone. In this instance, all it took was a simple fight to the death (or two, or three) and some memory loss, and Katniss and Peeta became Panem’s number 1 couple.

7. Nick & Norah (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist)

This is a sort of backward love of this couple, because there’s one point where Nick is still mooning after Tris and I just feel like punching him. Him and Norah are perfect together, their personalities really seem to compliment each other and their chemistry is evident.

8. Juno MacGuff & Paulie Bleeker (Juno)

I could never understand why Juno was so mean to Paulie. He just wants to love her. Why won’t she let him? Why do people always leave it too late? Another prime example of how invested I get when Michael Cera is part of an on-screen couple.

9. April Ludgate & Andy Dwyer (Parks & Recreation)

April and Andy are easily the best-suited couple in television. They have so much fun together, and are so easily suited. They’re living proof (sort of, they are fictional characters) that relationships can be fun and work at the same time.

10. Seth Cohen & Summer Roberts (The O.C)

The couple that really shouldn’t work, but do. Proof that opposites attract. Proof that hot losers can bag the hot girl of their dreams. And another real-life (at the time) couple.

To end, I also thought about four pairings which should most definitely happen. Please, just let me have these, okay screenwriters?

1. Carol & Daryl – The Walking Dead
2. Daenerys & Jon – Game of Thrones
3. Annie & Jeff – Community
4. Magneto & Mystique – X-Men: Days of Future Past (or beyond)

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My favourite plot twists

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Last week I treated myself to a marathon session of Gossip Girl, fitting in the final series in two night time sittings. The end of the series left me in shock as it was finally revealed after six seasons in the running.

The reveal got me thinking about my favourite plot twists in popular culture, and I’ve picked my top five as listed below.

Obviously, this article contains spoilers, so be warned.

1. Dan Humphrey is Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl)

Not the obvious choice, but I definitely didn’t see it coming. There was a brief moment where the thought entered my mind I thought it could be possible, but discarded the idea, because “It’s Gossip Girl.” I was definitely left with my mouth wide open when it was revealed that it had been Lonely Boy all along who was the words behind Manhattan’s favourite gossip hound.

2. Scott Shelby is the Origami Killer (Heavy Rain)

Another reveal which came and hit me straight in the face. Heavy Rain enthralled me from the get go, and I enjoyed the narrative style and the playing from the viewpoint of the four main characters. It never occurred to me that the man we were all trying to hunt down was in fact one of the protagonists.

3. Cole Phelps dies (L.A. Noire)

After playing through an entire game as a character, I like to feel that I’ve bonded with them. Sure, I might not approve of all of their life choices (having an affair, Phelps, really?), but nevertheless, we’d been through a lot together. Imagine my surprise when Cole Phelps, out of nowhere, was washed away by a flood in the sewage system. What a way to go. A definite jaw-open, controller gripping moment, and I’m pretty sure a lot of expletives left my mouth in that moment.

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4. We’re all infected (The Walking Dead)

I didn’t find out this gem in the Walking Dead series in the conventional manner. I was a little late to the party on this one, and found out through playing the Telltale Games series rather than through the graphic novels or television show. I was seriously shocked when this bombshell came hurtling my way, and was left worrying about the characters in the television show and the game. It was interesting knowing the information before the television show characters, but boy, was I relieved when they found out. I can’t handle that much knowledge on my own.

5. Eddard Stark is killed (Game of Thrones)

I’m not going to lie to you – I was devastated when the Stark patriarch and all-round hero of Westeros was beheaded in season one of Game of Thrones, and I was devastated again when I read the book. I think it’s just one of those things I’ll never get over, like when Heroes was cancelled. I soon learnt the harsh rules of this game of thrones, and each death gets a little easier.