Autism, General

A quick shout-out to Alex Lowery

Hello everybody, this is George Harvey (aka The Autistic Blogger). I’d like to give a special shout-out to Alex Lowery, a fellow Autism advocate and anime lover. He was nice enough to repost my Are They Autistic? (Haruhi Suzumiya) article on his own blog: Be sure to check out his content and give him support, too. Thanks again, Alex.

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Book Reviews, Reviews

So This is Love: A Twisted Tale (Review)

Hello everybody, this is George Harvey (aka The Autistic Blogger). I’d like to apologise for the slight delay in uploading this post. I’m busy working on a major project for my 6th Anniversary – which, admittedly, was two months ago. I don’t know how long it’ll take me to finish and post. But trust me when I say it’ll be worth the wait. In the meantime here’s a review of something I’ve gotten into reading lately. This post will also be made available on Autistic Blogger Creates (, which I pray I’ll adding more content to soon.


One of the oldest and most efficient tools a writer has is the ‘What If…?’ scenario. When coming up with ideas for a story, we usually ask ourselves how things would turn out if specific circumstances occurred. For example, what if an alien came to Earth and needed a boy’s help to get home? What if dinosaurs came back to life in the modern day? What if Peter Pan eventually did grow up? These questions – along with the directorial skills of Steven Spielberg – lead to such cinematic classics as E.T. (1982), Jurassic Park (1993) and Hook (1991). The same can be applied to novels. And in the mid-2010s, a group of devoted authors took the ‘What If…?’ concept and used it to craft a series of Twisted Tales based on the animated Walt Disney films. Including this one, released in 2015: So This is Love

It’s the tale of Cinderella, who, after a magical evening of attending the royal ball, is locked in her room by her evil stepmother. Unfortunately (unlike the movie), no one comes to her rescue, and she misses her chance to try on the glass slipper. Later on, when Lady Tremaine’s cruelty reaches new highs, Cinderella escapes her home and gets a job in the palace as a seamstress. But with no way of proving she’s the missing princess, she considers forgetting about the prince and looking for a new path to happiness, especially as she now doubts if his love for her was even real. 

One thing I appreciate about this story is it doesn’t waste time rehashing the movie. The first chapter begins with Cinderella arriving at the ball, there are some additional scenes and dialogue between her and the prince, and the new plot starts partway through the second chapter. The author knows her audience is keen to experience her fresh take on the story, so she only focuses on the most pivotal scenes from the film. As for the twist itself, it’s implemented so seamlessly you’d think it was always meant to be part of the narrative. The mice just don’t show up with the key. It’s so simple yet makes all the difference in how the story plays out. The author is passionate about the original movie, but she understands her readers want more than nostalgia. 

It’s not just the plot that’s been twisted, however. As the series is intended for older audiences, it only makes sense to give the story a more mature tone. One way it does that is by adding in many darker elements to reflect the time period. These include war, poverty, executions, and even slave trading. Things don’t get as gruesome as the Brothers Grimm version – although the author does sneak in a clever reference to it: “a girl might cut off her toes simply to fit the glass slipper” (Ch.14, p.168). Another way it reinforces the tone is by removing the comic reliefs. The mice are referenced sporadically throughout the story (e.g. Ch.2, p.19), but it’s clear they don’t play any role here. It’s even possible they don’t talk in this version, and Cinderella only imagined they could. It’s more believable that way and changes our perception of the Disney film. 

Speaking of believability, I give the author credit that she tries to makes sense of everything she’s writing. She even goes so far as patching up minor issues with the original fairytale. One of the most prominent examples is how many characters, including Cinderella herself, question the logic of love-at-first-sight. They think she was just emotionally drawn to the first kind person she’d met in years. Or maybe the prince is just “in love with the idea of her” (Ch.19, p.214). Other potential issues are covered as well, such as the fairy godmother’s magic. She explains how her powers are limited, which is why she could only give Cinderella until midnight at the ball and why she can’t fix her current state of affairs (Ch.5, pp.47-8). 

Perhaps most definitively, though, Cinderella expresses why she’s never left her stepfamily until now (Ch.2, p.22). The reality is most people who experience cruel upbringings tend to fear running away. True, she wouldn’t have to deal with her stepmother’s torment anymore. But then what? She doesn’t know anyone or anything outside her family home; she would have no way of supporting herself or keeping a roof over her head. Plus, this isn’t exactly a time when helping the poor and homeless was considered a priority. She’d most likely either starve to death or be forced to return. So for anyone who claims Cinderella not leaving sooner is a plot-hole, this realistic approach to the story proves, conclusively, that it’s not.

However, this isn’t to say there aren’t any drawbacks to all this realism. For example, I’ve yet to mention the story has a second plot: one that involves a conspiracy to remove the king and prince from power. As such, there’s lots of political speak regarding things like taxes, alliances, and giving support to the commoners. I’ll admit it’s all well-researched on the author’s part. But it does draw on and on to the point of feeling generic – as if they couldn’t think of a better way to pad out the narrative. 

Additionally, the author decided to give the king, prince, fairy godmother, and grand duke proper names. Which is perfectly reasonable, but it also feels unnecessary. Not to mention names like George, Charles and Philip will only make readers think of the British royal family. 

Regardless, the author seems determined to give every character a background. Because, let’s face it, as charming as they were in the movie, you could describe most of their personalities as one-dimensional. Fortunately, the author adds just enough to their characters to make them feel like real people.

Starting with Cinderella, she’s more forward-thinking here. She doesn’t just endure terrible treatment and wait for her dreams to come true; she stands up for herself when the situation calls for it (e.g. Ch.4). Plus, she plans to build a better life for herself when all hope seems lost with the prince (e.g. Ch.10. p.113). Seeing her take these actions, and make the most of her situation, presents her as more of an inspiring protagonist. 

Another fleshed-out character is the fairy godmother. Her backstory reveals she’s the victim of a terrible law that’s put her life in danger (Ch.19, pp.221-3). She was once close friends with Cinderella’s grandmother – and even became her daughter’s godmother – but was forced to run away. It’s mainly due to her absence that Cinderella suffered for many years, and she’s never forgiven herself. Seeing this kind-hearted, whimsical fairy so vulnerable and grief-stricken makes her more human to us. 

As for the prince – who had practically no character in the movie – he’s arguably made the best improvement of all. Unlike the rest of his family, he’s experienced life outside the palace and witnessed first-hand the terrible state his people are in. This knowledge motivates him to be more involved with the council and fix the problems so many have turned a blind eye towards. Admittedly, it sounds cliched. But at least it gives us a reason to respect him. Additionally, the narrative occasionally switches to his perspective, which strengthens his personality by showing us the different relationships with his father, the grand duke and the “mystery maiden” (Ch.10, p.119). In the latter case, we’re shown why Cinderella is so important to him and reassures us he loves the person she is, not the spectacle she was (e.g. Ch.10, p.120). 

Even Lady Tremaine has depth added to her character. In one of the earlier chapters, we hear all about her troubled life before marrying Cinderella’s father. And how some poor choice of words ignited her immediate hatred of the girl (Ch.4, pp.37-41). It doesn’t redeem her character in any way, but it does give us a better understanding of her mindset. She felt a need to be hard on Cinderella for reasons other than lack of blood relation. 

There is, however, one character whose additional depth feels more harmful to them. Without spoiling who it is, this person is given a more villainous role in the story – not unlike King Stefan in Disney’s Maleficent (2014). I can understand the plot needing something extra to keep readers engaged. But considering how good-natured this person was in the film, the idea of them having sinister motives feels too forced. The story does follow the movie’s continuity until Chapter 2, after all.  

Honestly, it would’ve made better sense to create a new character for the villain role. Considering the author introduces new ones to advance the plot. Some of the more notable additions include Louisa and Madame Irmina (Cinderella’s new friend and boss, respectively). But the one who stands out the most is the king’s sister, Duchess Genevieve. Initially, she seems like another obstacle for Cinderella to overcome. She’s notoriously hard to please and generally makes life miserable for her servants (e.g. Ch.8, p.88). But after a while, she warms up to Cinderella and becomes more sympathetic when hearing about her past. She even manages to afford her some privileges (Ch.11). Also, like the prince, her personality is strengthened by her various relationships with other people. Whether it’s being scornful of her brother, hateful towards the grand duke, or having views of her own about her nephew’s “mystery maiden“, she’s a strong-minded woman who never hesitates to challenge somebody in authority. Her presence does take some getting used to, but she’s an integral part of the story and the middle ground between many characters. 

In conclusion, So This is Love reimagines Disney’s Cinderella in a way that’s both respectful of the film and its audience. It may not be the first attempt at retelling the classic, and there might be some inspirations taken from A Twist in Time (2007) and Cinderella (2017). But with the way it treats its readers like adults, giving them a realistic world, with fleshed-out characters and motivations, it’s an engaging read that makes you question if they’ll be a happy ending. If you grew up with the original Disney film and want to fall in love with these characters again, this book is highly recommended – along with the rest of Twisted Tales

That’s all I have to say for this review. So until next time, stay tuned. 

Ref: Elizabeth Lim, So This is Love (Sywell, UK, Autumn Publishing, 2020).

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Anime Reviews, Are They Autistic?, Autism

Are They Autistic? – Haruhi (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) – Part 2

(Continued from Part 1: Are They Autistic? – Haruhi (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) – Part 1 | The Autistic Blogger (

Going back to the first (chronological) episode, Haruhi is frustrated at the school not having any exciting clubs. That’s when Kyon speaks up. He tells her people who aren’t satisfied with what they have usually invented things. For example, planes, cars and trains, were created by people who wanted to fly or get to places faster. What they have today wouldn’t exist if people hadn’t used their talents or imaginations to fulfil their desires. His speech unintentionally gives Haruhi the idea to start a club herself. She’s so enthusiastic that she pulls Kyon from his desk and exclaims about it to him – not realising they’re still in the middle of class. I should mention as well this is the first time we’ve seen Haruhi smiling. Before now, she’s always had a bored, pouty expression on her face, as if frustrated at the world. Like with Maud Pie (Friendship is Magic), you know you’ve done something special if you’ve made Haruhi smile.

After class, Haruhi wants Kyon to help her make her club. She’ll find a room and members while he handles the paperwork. The problem is there are rules to starting an extracurricular group. The club must have at least five members, a supervising teacher, a name, a person in charge, and a purpose for the organisation. Haruhi doesn’t even know what her club will be yet. So Kyon can’t explain to the school board how it’ll benefit the student body. 

To tell the truth, I’ve never been thrilled about documents or paperwork either. I know filling them out is essential. But it’s a lot of information to take in. Plus, my Autism doesn’t make processing it any easier. I’d much rather have someone else handle these tedious parts, so I can focus on what comes afterwards. Maybe that’s Haruhi’s mindset as well.

Despite her lack of forethought, Haruhi does manage to find a room. It belongs to the literary club, but its senior members have all graduated. The only person left is a freshman named Yuki Nagato. And since she can’t maintain the club herself, it’ll soon be disbanded. Nonetheless, Haruhi lets Yuki stay as part of their club since she only wants a place to read. She doesn’t even mind if she will have to leave eventually.

On a side note, I have to mention Yuki’s demeanour. She’s a quiet and unemotional person. At one point, Kyon asks her about the book she’s reading. But she only shows him the front cover and doesn’t say much about whether she likes it. Actually, she barely responds to anything at all. It got me thinking that maybe she was Autistic, too. After all, her habit of quietly reading was what I did all the time in my later years at secondary school. Unfortunately, though, my assumption was false. Yuki isn’t emotionally detached because she’s on the spectrum. It’s because (unlike Haruhi) she isn’t human. She’s a robot. Specifically, an alien robot who’s been sent to observe Haruhi because a higher intergalactic entity believes she’s the key to human evolution – I told you this series gets complicated.

Another member Haruhi finds is Mikuru Asahina, a timid girl who’s dragged to the clubroom against her will. While “walk[ing] every inch of the main building“, Haruhi sometimes encounters Mikuru. She wants her to join because she’s a cutie, has big breasts and is a total moe. Supposedly, all stories with strange things going on have a moe character; “someone with glasses, or in a maid costume, or anything fetishy.” So basically, she wants Mikuru to be the club’s mascot.

Two things Haruhi said resonated with me here. The first is what she mentions doing at break times. When I was younger, I never had anyone to talk to or play with on the playground; I just preferred my own company. I’d spend my free time wandering around, letting my imagination entertain me. We know Haruhi isn’t usually one to sit and talk to people either. So it makes sense she’d do something similar. The second point is her grounds for recruiting Mikuru. It’s alluded to several times in the series, but Haruhi often views her classmates as objects rather than people. That’s why she’s so unfeeling towards them. She doesn’t care who Mikuru is or what she wants. All that matters is what she looks like and how that conforms to a role Haruhi wants fulfilling. She’s trying to make her club the most ideal it can be, based on her interests.

On another side note, Mikuru seemingly joins because she’s pressured into it. However, there’s a second reason. It’s revealed later on she’s a time-traveller who’s also observing Haruhi. And yes, in case you’re wondering, an esper turns up too; he’s a transfer student named Itsuki Koizumi – Haruhi recruits him because he’s mysterious. Ironically enough, when Haruhi reveals the purpose of her club, which she calls the SOS Brigade, one of its objectives is to find aliens, time-travellers and espers. She never works out that these people are right there in her clubroom.

I’ve now covered the entire first (chronological) episode. I could end off right here. But to fully understand Haruhi’s character, I need to discuss a few more episodes. 

First of all, remember what I said about Haruhi being viewed as a model pupil? Well, the keyword in that sentence is “viewed“. Although she’s smart, multi-talented, and does well to represent the Autistic spectrum, she, unfortunately, isn’t a good role model. Why? Because of her personality. You might’ve noticed it already, but Haruhi can be very stubborn at times. She’s the type of person who has to have everything done her way and doesn’t like being told no. If things don’t go according to her plan, something can flare inside her. For Autistic people, like me, sometimes we get overly stressed, angry or depressed. For Haruhi, she can be all of that. Plus, give up on reality and unknowingly use her powers to destroy the world while creating a new one – I’m getting side-tracked again. The point is, once she sets her mind on something, she’ll do anything and everything to make it happen. This attitude not only makes her frustrating at times, but it’s lead to some very unlawful behaviour. A good example is the second (chronological) episode.

Haruhi wants to get a computer for her clubroom, so she goes to the computer club. When the club members protest, she makes it look like their president sexually assaulted Mikuru by taking a forged photograph. She then threatens to show the school board unless they fork over their latest model. She even blackmails them into setting it up while Kyon designs the SOS Brigade’s website. If you think that’s bad, she’s even more of a bully to Mikuru. 

It should be evident that miss Asahina is extremely sensitive. She’s easily reduced to tears and can’t speak up for herself. Despite that, though, Haruhi puts her through all kinds of traumatising experiences. For example, she has her wear many embarrassing outfits; a maid costume, a cheerleading uniform, a bunny girl suit, etc. Haruhi sometimes wears these clothes herself. But she’s insistent on Mikuru dressing this way – even if it means forcibly stripping her! To make matters worse, she takes humiliating pictures of Mikuru and considers posting them online to get her website more views. Oh, and did I mention there’s also an episode where Haruhi drugs her?!

It’s times like these when the series is lucky to have Kyon around. Haruhi doesn’t always listen to him. But he’s able to talk her out of more serious situations. Itsuki believes it’s because they share a bond neither of them cares to admit. I, personally, think there’s some truth to that. Keep in mind, Kyon was the first person Haruhi felt confident speaking to at North High. She might not show it so well (given her Autism), but she does appreciate his company. It’s why she at least considers listening to his suggestions. Kyon also helps with improving her attitude. Although Haruhi never drops her bossy persona entirely, she does gradually start treating others better. One episode highlighting this takes place during the school’s cultural festival.

While handing out fliers, Haruhi notices two girls arguing with the festival operations committee. Their band can’t perform because two of their members had to pull out with tonsillitis and injury. Worse still, this was going to be their last performance together. Since Haruhi has experience being part of the school’s rock club for a while, she offers to fill in as lead singer and guitarist. Amazingly, despite having only an hour to prepare, she gives a near-perfect performance, which leaves everybody stunned – including Kyon. What I love most about this moment, though, is Haruhi isn’t her narcissistic self. She makes it clear she’s only filling in and asks the audience to buy copies of the original songs with the actual music and vocals. She wants to make sure the right people get the recognition. It’s a selfless act on her part, but the episode delves further into her character.

Later on, the band members come to thank Haruhi for saving their festival memories. However, she feels awkward talking to them. So she insists that Kyon stands with her. I like this detail because it shows she still has social problems and needs somebody she trusts to help her. Kyon also realises Haruhi isn’t used to being appreciated by others. 

Later still, it’s revealed Haruhi hated her near-perfect performance because they had to simplify the songs. If she’d had one more day of practice, she feels she could’ve nailed it. So it seems Haruhi is a perfectionist, too – something I know all too well when it comes to writing.

At this point, I’ve covered nearly everything the series has to offer about Haruhi. However, there is one more aspect that defines her having Autism. It’s not one specific episode but a whole collection of them. It’s now time I talk about this anime’s most infamous story arc: The Endless Eight.

Beginning with season two’s second episode: the SOS Brigade is shown enjoying their last two weeks of summer vacation. They go to a public swimming pool, see some fireworks, play a few sports, and do all sorts of fun things together. However, something is off in the next episode. The characters are shown doing the same things again. All that’s different are some minor dialogue changes and one additional scene. Then the next episode is the same. And then the next, and the next, and the next. It turns out this is Haruhi’s doing. She has a subconscious desire for summer never to end. As such, she’s unknowingly used her powers to create an infinite time loop. Kyon and the others can’t escape it, and everyone has their memories reset each time. Also, this problem isn’t resolved in just a few episodes. It takes place over eight of them. Do you know what that means? People had to watch practically the same episode for eight consecutive weeks! 

As you can imagine, no one was happy with this stunt. In fact, the studio had to make a public apology for it. That being said, I think the arc is a brilliant reflection of having Autism. Let me explain.

We all know changes in life can be difficult. It would be so much easier to enjoy only the finer things it offers. Inevitably, though, we have to work our way through some challenging new experiences. These experiences are especially tough on people with Autism. We’re so used to routines and doing things a certain way that it’s how we make sense of the world. If that familiarity suddenly goes away, it can be scary and distressing. Haruhi doesn’t know if she can face another school term. So she keeps willing her summer to continue. It’s moments like this when she once again needs the help of her Brigade. 

Do you know how Kyon ends the time loop? He suggests everyone does their summer homework together. I’m not kidding. He realises Haruhi has never had this experience before. She’s so intelligent she usually finishes it quickly and alone. It’s a chance for her to bond with the SOS Brigade and create a unique summer memory. Haruhi acts like she’s sour about it, but she’s secretly grateful. And after sitting in on the study group, she’s finally satisfied with her summer vacation and has the strength to move on.

So yes, The Endless Eight is a tedious arc. I, honestly, think its message could’ve been delivered in just three or four episodes. However, with everything it emphasises, I have to admire its repetitive nature. Besides, compared to how many times I read and review my writing – there’s no comparison.

With that said, I’m glad to say we’ve finished my analogy. I’m sorry this ended up being longer than expected. It’s the first time I’ve reviewed the main character of a series. In case it’s not obvious, I do believe Haruhi is Autistic. She might not have learning difficulties or frequent social anxieties, but the similarities between her and myself are uncanny. The repetitive behaviour, the eccentricity, the occasional stubbornness, it’s all here. I will admit she’s not the most likeable character ever. Especially when she’s a whiny brat, acts like a bully or does something illegal. But I can’t say she’s hateable – just misguided. As I said, I’ve made many of the same social mistakes she has. Plus, she does have redeeming qualities and tries to be a better person. Sometimes that’s all that matters.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this instalment of Are They Autistic? If you have any ideas for characters you’d like to see reviewed in this series, please let me know in the comments below. Until next time, stay tuned.

Image courtesy of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Anime Review | Nefarious Reviews

Anime Reviews, Are They Autistic?, Autism

Are They Autistic? – Haruhi (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) – Part 1

Hello everybody, this is George Harvey (aka The Autistic Blogger). Welcome to another instalment of Are They Autistic?: the series where I look at characters from various forms of media and analyse whether I think they’re on the spectrum or not.

Today we’re going to be looking at a character from the anime series, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Ha-roo-ey Soo-zoo-me-ya). There were several reasons why I was interested in this series. First of all, it’s referenced numerous times in another anime called Lucky Star; one of the characters sometimes cosplays as Haruhi, and they even share the same voice actress (both in the Japanese and English dub). The second reason is Melancholy has one of the most infamous arcs in all of anime – I’ll talk about that when I get to it. But third, and most importantly, what drew me in was Haruhi herself. On several reviews of the series, it’s theorised that her character may be Autistic. There was evidence supporting these claims, such as her poor social skills and repetitive behaviour. But it got me wondering. Was Haruhi Autistic? Or could her quirks be explained through other means, like with the Bookworm’s in Batman (the 60s series)? It only took me one episode to find my answer.

I should mention now this is a rather complicated series – least of all because the episodes didn’t initially air in chronological order. The first story arc begins simply enough. But then it introduces time travel, aliens and alternate dimensions. Furthermore, there’s a subplot involving Haruhi supposedly having the power to bend reality. I was worried this would make the character harder to analyse – since she might not be a regular human. But luckily, there was a saving grace. It’s made abundantly clear that Haruhi isn’t aware of her godlike powers, which means they don’t influence her mindset or personality. That being said, other aspects do have major ramifications. I don’t want to get too side-tracked by these. So, for now, I won’t talk about anything beyond the first (chronological) episode – unless I need to make a point about something. With that said, let’s indulge in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The first (chronological) episode begins with our main protagonist: Kyon. An average high school boy, he’s never been one to believe in the supernatural: not ghosts, monsters, evil syndicates, nothing like that. He would like to believe in them. But he knows the laws of reality pretty much make them impossible. However, he’s okay with that. He accepts the world for what it is and leads a generally satisfying life. Everything changes on his first day at North High, though. 

As everybody makes their classroom introductions, a girl behind Kyon stands up and says something strange. She tells everyone she’s “not interested in ordinary people.” But if any of them are aliens, time-travellers or espers, she wants to see them. That’s all. Everybody, of course, thinks she’s joking around. But Kyon can tell from her expression that she’s dead serious. This is Haruhi Suzumiya.

Over the next few days, Kyon learns more about his new classmate. Apparently, Haruhi was known for doing some “beyond eccentric” things in junior high; she drew mysterious symbols on the school quad, pushed all the desks out into the hallway, and plastered resurrection talismans all over campus. Furthermore, she wasn’t the least bit ashamed to admit she was responsible.

Straightaway, I could see what those online reviews were talking about; it’s not uncommon for Autistic people to act a little eccentric sometimes. I remember doing some outlandish things myself when I was Haruhi’s age. For example, when playing sports, I’d always celebrate scoring by doing a cross-chop near my groin – like I’d seen wrestlers do on TV. I’d also start freestyle rapping at anyone who tried picking on me, just to throw them off. I didn’t see anything wrong with what I was doing. But that’s because I didn’t consider what it must’ve looked like to others. If they didn’t understand my thought process, then my behaviours would’ve seemed weirdly random. Sometimes you can only judge someone by their actions and not their intentions. What I’m saying is, everybody has their reasons for doing things. It takes more than eccentricity to define someone as Autistic. 

On that note, the series does a fine job balancing out Haruhi’s character. It shows us there’s more to her than just these behaviours. For one thing, she’s extremely popular with the boys because they think she’s pretty. She has been on dates before, but her relationships never last long. Additionally, she’s skilled in almost every sport and tends to get good grades in class. Plus, it’s revealed later in the series that she’s a fast learner, plays various instruments and is a talented singer. So Haruhi isn’t ditsy, lazy or even rebellious. In some ways, you could view her as a model pupil. One of Kyon’s friends puts it best: “she’s a super weirdo, but if she’s standing there quietly, you’d never know.

So far, I wasn’t seeing or hearing anything that confirmed Haruhi was on the spectrum. I just saw a beautiful, talented girl who had some unusual habits and interests. What did sway me, however, was when Kyon described some of her other behaviours.

The first thing he notices is Haruhi has a different hairstyle every day. On Mondays, she wears a hair accessory but doesn’t tie it up. On Tuesdays, she ties it up in one place. On Wednesdays, it’s tied in two areas; on Thursdays, it’s three, and so on. Additionally, the colour of the accessories change as well; Mondays they’re yellow, Tuesdays they’re red, Wednesdays they’re blue, etc.

This habit alone is what convinced me Haruhi was Autistic. I used to do something similar with the socks I wore. Sometimes I’d have black ones with different days of the week printed on them. So I felt obligated to wear them on those days. Even when they didn’t have the days, though, I’d wear pairs based on the colours they had. If they were red, I’d wear them on Mondays. If they had blue, I’d wear them Tuesdays. Yellow was for Wednesday, green was for Thursday, and Friday was whatever colour was leftover. I knew it didn’t matter what socks I wore. But it never felt right wearing red Monday socks on a Friday.

Another strange habit Kyon observes is Haruhi’s lack of decency. For example, when getting changed for PE class, the girls are meant to wait for the boys to leave the room so everyone can dress separately. Haruhi, however, begins stripping off regardless of who’s still in there. In other words, she doesn’t read the room or consider how her actions might make others uncomfortable. As mentioned above, I’ve been guilty of this notion myself.

Haruhi’s third unusual habit is her wavering interests. During the first term of school, she’d signed up for every sports team and extracurricular club that North High had to offer. She excels in every one of them but never remains a member for long. In fact, she changes clubs daily, based on her mood, and never signs up full-time – no matter how much the other members beg her.

I was personally never into clubs myself. But I understand Haruhi’s experience. I took part in gym, football, and karate classes but never had any real passion for them. As for wavering interests, that’s something I know all too well. When you have Autism, it’s hard staying focused on one thing – even if it’s something you enjoy. Your mind inevitably wanders to other things that might be more exciting at the time. For example, while writing this piece, I’m thinking of better ways to spend my free time. I do love writing and try to finish by set deadlines. But sometimes, my heart and mind aren’t into it. Maybe that’s what Haruhi goes through. Perhaps she changes clubs daily because she wants to get fresh excitement out of every day without being tied to one thing. Patience is a virtue, but commitment can feel daunting.

By this point, the episode hadn’t even lasted 10mins. And I was already convinced that Haruhi had Autism. Even so, the series continues solidifying the fact. Not just through Haruhi’s actions, but the main protagonist’s too.

One morning, Kyon notices Haruhi has her hair tied in two places (meaning it’s a Wednesday). When he asks if she does this to “ward off alien invaders or something“, Haruhi isn’t offended by the question. Instead, she opens up about why she changes it. She has this theory that “each day of the week has its own image with a specific colour that only goes with that day.” Hence why she wears yellow hair accessories on Monday, red ones on Tuesday, and so on. Kyon also works out that she ties her hair based on the number she thinks represents that day: Monday being 0, Tuesday being 1, etc. However, he finds it odd that she counts from 0 instead of 1.

What’s important to note is how Kyon approaches talking with Haruhi. Initially, he tried speaking to her during the first week of school. But when he asked if she was serious about aliens and such, she could tell he thought she was weird. So she rudely brushed him off. In this case, though, Kyon shows genuine interest in her mindset and wants to know why she does the things she does. Haruhi realises that, so she feels more comfortable talking to him. The reason I bring this up is it demonstrates the proper way of interacting with Autistic people.

When you have Autism, you tend to have very specific interests. So it can be challenging taking part in conversations. Especially if the subject isn’t something that you’re familiar with. People may try to include you in discussions – which they should – but sometimes that can make matters worse. You feel like you’re being put on the spot. Plus, if you don’t have a good enough response, you might look unsociable, which will make the situation more awkward.

On the other hand, it’s the same if you try starting a conversation. Of course, you can only talk passionately about the things you love. But because they’re so specific, not many people will understand them. If that’s the case, you’ll end up being a conversation of one. That’s why most Autistic people wait for others to include them in discussions. Not because they can’t speak up. But because it’s hard finding the right opening.

Kyon takes all the proper steps with Haruhi. Over several weeks, he’s carefully observed her and picked up on most of her interests. Since she’s not sure if anyone shares these interests, Kyon makes the first move: he brings up aliens in his question to show he’s approachable. It gives Haruhi a chance to express herself, knowing Kyon won’t judge her too heavily. True, her communication skills aren’t the best – she doesn’t even look at Kyon most of the time she’s talking. But it’s still a step in the right direction. If repeated regularly, this strategy can help someone like Haruhi speak with confidence to someone like Kyon. He can then gradually encourage her to talk about subjects outside of her comfort zone. It’s a slow but sure way of improving her social skills.

Kyon’s interactions seem to have immediate effects on Haruhi – if a little drastic. The day after commenting on her hair, she’s suddenly cut it shorter and doesn’t follow her styling patterns anymore. Kyon thinks it’s because she’s feeling self-conscious about him noticing. Despite that, though, she quickly begins a new “ritual“. Every day, before homeroom, she talks to him at their desks. Through these conversations, Kyon learns more about her. Haruhi admits to dumping every guy she’s ever dated because they took themselves too seriously. Plus, none of them was an alien, time-traveller or esper. It’s similar to the clubs she’s attended. There were a few she took an interest in, like those based around mysteries and the supernatural. However, they were all major letdowns. The members were just “mystery novel otakus” or “occult freaks” who were nowhere near professional level. Kyon doesn’t approve of everything Haruhi says, but he decides to agree with her. It’s best to stay in her good graces if he wants to keep her talking.

Kyon’s efforts don’t go unnoticed by his classmates. According to them, he’s the only one who can get Haruhi to talk for so long. With everyone else, she usually stays quiet and doesn’t answer questions. They’re glad he’s helping her open up a bit. Although, it’s not all smooth sailing. 

As time goes by, it becomes apparent that Haruhi only has one goal in life: to lead an interesting existence. Nothing else matters to her, as long as she can stand out from ordinary people. The fifth (chronological) episode explains why.

Haruhi recounts a day when she found out her life was insignificant. Back in the sixth grade, she went to a baseball game with her family. What astounded her was how many people were packed into the stadium: it was around 50,000. Later on, she worked out it was only a tiny fraction of the people in Japan. And an even smaller fraction of the world’s population. She was just one little person in that enormous crowd, which, itself, was nothing but a tiny spec. Following that day, Haruhi’s life became grey and depressing. She’d always believed she’d had an extraordinary life. But knowing how many people there were in the world, she realised that wasn’t true. There were billions of people who lived the same kind of life she did every day. There was nothing special about her at all. After that, everything became boring. Activities with her friends and family no longer had significance. She was just – another person. That’s why she became obsessed with living an extraordinary life. She wants to be that one person in a million who is interesting. She can’t stand and wait for change. She has to make it happen herself. It’s the only way she’ll be satisfied with her existence.

It goes without saying, but this moment was a series highlight for me. Everything Haruhi says is understandable. However, it also reveals a deeper meaning to her eccentricity; she acts this way to be fulfilled. With that in mind, it’s no surprise what she sets out to do in the series.

(Continued in Part 2: Are They Autistic? – Haruhi (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) – Part 2 | The Autistic Blogger (

Image courtesy of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Anime Review | Nefarious Reviews


Next post delayed…until June 1st

Hello everybody, this is George Harvey (aka The Autistic Blogger). I’m writing to let you know there will be a delay with my next post. I know this keeps happening, and I haven’t uploaded anything worthwhile since December. However, my full-time job has become a lot more full-time lately. I don’t even have the spare time to write before or after my shifts anymore. If things don’t improve, I may need to change my posting schedule to once every 2-3 months.

Rest assured, I have made considerable progress with my next post. I’ll try to have it uploaded at some point this month. Then, provided there are no more severe delays, I’ll have something extra special for you on my blog’s 6th anniversary. Content is coming soon. So until then, stay safe and stay tuned.


P.S. If any of you are still wondering, the post I made on April 1st was NOT an April Fool’s joke. My sister and I did star in that Disney Girl comic strip many years ago. I still have the magazines.


Edit: My next instalment of Are They Autistic? will be uploaded on June 1st. It’s incredibly long so I’ve had to break it into two parts. Also, given how long it’s taken me to finish the piece, my 6th Anniversary special will also be delayed. Hopefully, it’ll be worth the wait. But I want to make sure I complete it to the best of my ability. Stay tuned, everyone.

Experiences, General

A Little Story for You

Hello everybody, this is George Harvey (aka The Autistic Blogger). I’m still working on my next Are They Autistic? post. So in the meantime, I’d like to share a little story with you. Did you know I used to be part of a comic strip series? A Disney comic strip series? A Disney comic strip series for a girls’ magazine? No? Well, I was. And for a brief time, my sister and I were somewhat famous. Let me explain.

I don’t remember how it started exactly. One day my mum told my sister and me we were going on a train ride. It’d be a very long journey, and we probably wouldn’t make it back until night-time. She was right. I can’t tell you how many hours we sat on that train – or multiple trains. We must’ve been going up to Manchester or somewhere. If I didn’t have my Game Boy on me, I would’ve been bored out of my wits. Anyway, when we arrived, we were outside a large BBC headquarters building – the BBC were the magazine’s distributor. We passed through long hallways, and I saw various CBBC character stickers. But my sister and I were taken into a plain white boardroom. There were other children there, too, and we all had our pictures taken. But other than that, I don’t remember the audition process. It’s faded from my mind after all these years. What I do remember is a few days later – or maybe a couple of weeks – my sister and I were told we’d been successful. Now we’d be part of the new Disney Girl magazine.

And so it began. Every month or so, a camera crew would come to our house and take pictures. Sometimes we’d go to other places for location shooting. Plus, we’d be joined by other people who were supporting characters. Once the crew had all the photos they needed, they’d print them into the magazine along with speech bubbles. Then, a few weeks later, that magazine would be available to buy at your local newsagents.

I should clarify it was my sister who was the comic strip’s main star. She played a girl called Molly, who was friends with Tinker Bell. A special friend only she could see. Molly would have everyday adventures, like sleepovers, sports days, and doing maths problems, and Tinker Bell would help her in some way. I played Molly’s younger brother, Charlie – although we were twins in real life – and I’d occasionally cause mischief or be the catalyst for the story. Even our mum got to appear as Molly and Charlie’s mother.

Admittedly, it wasn’t like we were celebrities; the magazine wasn’t that well-known. But it did feel thrilling to be part of something almost anyone could buy. There were times I saw people reading it, and I was sorely tempted to say something. Even before the shooting began, I had a friend who said he couldn’t believe he knew somebody who might be famous. It made me feel proud.

The photoshoots continued over the next couple of years. We must have contributed to at least 20 issues of Disney Girl. One day, however, it all unexpectedly came to an end. We picked up the latest issue from our local newsagents. Only to discover we weren’t part of it. The Tinker Bell stories were continuing, but they’d hired a new girl to replace my sister as the best friend. It was a surprise to all of us.

So what exactly happened? To be honest, I don’t know. Maybe it was because our contract had expired. Maybe my sister and I were getting older. Or perhaps they just wanted to give opportunities to other children. Whatever the reason, nobody told us we were being replaced. And just as quickly as our time in the spotlight had come, it was gone. Not that we held any grudges, of course. By this point, my sister and I were on the verge of starting secondary school. So we had other things to focus on. We soon forgot about it and moved ahead with our lives. And look where we are now.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane with me. I’ll be releasing that new instalment of Are They Autistic? very shortly. So until then, stay safe and stay tuned.


P.S. I have a question for you. I uploaded this post on April 1st. So was the story I just told you real, or was it an elaborate April Fool’s joke? I’ll leave you to decide.


Another Quick Update (March 1st)

Hello everybody, this is George Harvey (aka The Autistic Blogger). I apologise for the lack of content on here recently. I’ve been trying to get some other projects done, as I mentioned in my last update. However, even that has been challenging, as I’ve been busy at work these past couple of months. Rest assured, I do have plans for my next few posts. These include another edition of Are They Autistic? – if I can find the series I’m looking for online. I don’t know when I’ll post it, but in the meantime I have some new content uploaded to Autistic Blogger Creates. Please enjoy and stay tuned.

The Art of a Synopsis: The Hero’s Journey – Autistic Blogger Creates (

My First Synopsis (and it’s many drafts): Hulkamania Brother – Autistic Blogger Creates (

‘Hulkamania™ Brother’ (1st Draft) – Autistic Blogger Creates (

‘Hulkamania™ Brother’ (2nd Draft) – Autistic Blogger Creates (

Hulkamania™ Brother (3rd Draft) – Autistic Blogger Creates (

Hulkamania™ Brother (4th Draft) – Autistic Blogger Creates (

General, Updates

New Year Update (2021)

Hello everybody, this is George Harvey (aka The Autistic Blogger). I’m here with an update to let you know how I’ve been and what my writing plans are.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who’s continued supporting me through these challenging times. It’s safe to say 2020 will be a year most people would rather forget. I’ve tried not to mention the pandemic on this site, as I know most people go online for escapism. It’s also why I’ve avoided writing more Into My Autistic Mind posts.

That being said, I’m amazed at how many of you have tuned into my site recently. Over the past twelve months, I’ve had more than 5000 views from 3,700 visitors. That’s an increase of 150% from last year! Additionally, I’ve gained several new followers, and most of my new audience comes from overseas – particularly the United States. I’m grateful to everyone who takes the time to read my posts.

I want to continue working on this blog. However, I also want to focus on some of my other projects. Keep in mind, every article and review I write takes me about a month to finish. And this inevitably takes time away from these projects. You might remember the Autism Book (preview) I posted back in June. I was hoping to rewrite more of it by now. But my limited spare time – and state of mind – hasn’t made that possible. 

Another thing I’ve admittedly neglected is my second blog: Autistic Blogger Creates. When I first launched it, I said I’d post new content every fortnight. But I haven’t been doing that.

In the coming months, I want to focus on getting some of these other projects done. Mainly, adding new content to Autistic Blogger Creates and working on my Autism Book. Hopefully, this shouldn’t delay any posts to this site. But I’ll let you know if things change. Another goal I hope to achieve is to start vlogging. There’s so much I want to talk about in my reviews. But I only have a limited number of words to tell them in. By video blogging, I can go into more detail. Plus, I can develop my creative skills through video editing, and expand my audience by branching out to sites like YouTube. I’ll keep you posted on any progress I make.

Anyway, that’s all I have for this update. Let’s hope that 2021 truly is a healthier and happier new year. Stay tuned and stay safe.

(Image courtesy of: 3 Ways to Sell More Novels in 2021 – IndieReader)

Anime Reviews, Reviews

The Promised Neverland Review

Before you ask: no, this series has nothing to do with Peter Pan or anything J. M. Barrie-related. The closest comparison you can make is both stories heavily feature children, and that’s all. As for how it relates to any bible tales – I’ll talk about that when I get to it. There isn’t too much that ties in.

Every once in a while, there comes along an anime which gets everyone’s attention. Opinions may vary, but there’s no denying the incredible success it has. The manga sells like wildfire, YouTubers react to the whole series, and you even get live-action adaptions made in both Japan and other countries. There have been many mainstream animes like this in recent years: Death NoteAttack on Titan and Sword Art Online, to name a few. But then there was 2019. And everyone agreed the masterpiece of that year was The Promised Neverland. Initially released as a manga in Weekly Shounen Jump, the anime adaption became highly praised within the otaku community. It won two Crunchyroll Awards in 2020 and is widely considered one of the best animes of the 2010s. How did it earn that moniker? Let’s take a look.

Before we start, I should warn you: the first episode contains a major plot-twist. It’s one of the highlights of the series if you don’t know what’s coming. So if you’d rather not be spoiled, I’d recommend at least watching episode 1 before you continue. If you’ve already seen it – or you don’t care that much – I’ll carry on.

In the year 2045, three bright young kids: Emma, Norman and Ray, grow up in the Grace Field Orphanage – alongside 35 other siblings. For the children living there, Grace Field is a paradise. They have warm beds, delicious food, a loving caretaker who acts as their mother. And aside from the occasional schooling, they’re free to roam the big forest and fields and play to their hearts’ content. Putting it simply: their lives couldn’t be happier. However, nothing is as it seems. One night when one of the younger girls is adopted, Emma and Norman realise she left her toy bunny behind. They go to the gate to try and return it. Only to discover the horrifying truth. The outside world is full of demons! Giant, hideous, flesh-eating monsters. Worst still, their orphanage is no orphanage. It’s a farm! Kids who’re adopted get slaughtered and sold as human meat! And it’s their mother, Isabella, who’s selling them off. Desperate not to lose any more family, Emma and Norman join forces with Ray. Now they have to come up with a plan to escape with their siblings before the next shipment.

As you probably guessed, the big plot-twist is the revelation of the demons. What makes it so shocking is how utterly unexpected it is. Nothing ever hints at their existence. The opening credits don’t show them; the promotional trailers don’t reference them; not even the DVD/Blu-Ray case implies anything – unless you notice it says horror next to the rating. Another reason it works so well is how it drastically alters the episode’s tone. Beforehand, everything we see shows the kids living happy, joyous lives. It tricks us into a false sense of security, making us feel as they do. There are some hints that something more is going on – most noticeably the ID numbers on the kids’ necks. But until we see the first victim’s corpse, nothing prepares us for the horrors to come. The fact they kill off Conny – the sweetest most innocent girl – shows us they’re not messing around. The Promised Neverland is a dark fantasy.

Perhaps more impactful than the twist, though, is what it represents: a loss of innocence. These kids have spent their whole lives in a safe, warm environment where nothing can hurt them. They’re ignorant of the outside world, believing it’s a place where they can live out their hopes and dreams – a promised land if you will. However, nothing is ever so simple. As you get older, you realise how dangerously unforgiving life is if you’re not prepared for it. In the case of these children, their fantasies are slaughtered the moment they step outside. It’s even worse for Emma. After witnessing Conny’s death, her child-like spirit is broken. She tries denying what she saw; desperate to believe her siblings aren’t dead and her mom isn’t evil. But as reality sets in, she’s overwhelmed by grief – letting out a horrifying scream. From then on, she has to be the grown-up; forcing herself to smile and be brave for her siblings. Emma can never go back to those blissful days – no matter how much she wants to.

Do you know what’s impressive? Everything I’ve brought up so far only takes place in the first episode. The rest of the series is just as mindblowing. There are cliffhangers, red herrings, moments of pure joy or hopelessness, and a whole abundance of information. The more that’s revealed, the more you want to rewatch the series to pick up on everything it foreshadows. The episodes know how to keep their audience engaged. Especially with their characters.

Firstly there’s Emma, an amply optimistic girl who’s the most physically-skilled of the kids. Before discovering the truth, she was the life and soul at Grace Field; caring for the little ones and playing in a lively manner. She loves her family and can’t bear the thought of anyone dying. Additionally, she’s a fast learner and adapts quickly to situations. She even comes up with ideas to rival her friends’ intellect. What I love most about Emma, though, is her diversity. She’s mature for her age but still has vulnerable moments. She tries to stay positive but will occasionally cry. And although she gets along with most people, she can show aggression or hatred towards them. Emma is a multilayered individual – which is what I admire in a female lead.

You also have Ray, the strategist of the group who tends to think more rationally. Although he has a somewhat distant nature, it’s evident he’s been friends with Emma and Norman for years. He’s on board with helping them escape, but he tends to clash with some of their ideas. Particularly, Emma’s insistence on saving everyone. He knows the more kids who try to run, the harder it’ll be. Plus, they have to consider how they’ll all survive once they’re free. It’s not that he’s selfish. He’s just considerate of his best friends – they mean the world to him. I could elaborate more on Ray’s character, but that would be going into spoiler territory. Instead, I’ll say we never learn his full story until the very end.

Then you have Norman, who’s arguably the smartest of the three. He comes up with most of the escape plans and knows what to do if things go wrong. He even outwits Emma and Ray sometimes. Furthermore, he’s the middle ground between them. He loves his siblings as much as Emma, but he understands Ray’s point about there being too many. Regardless, he often takes Emma’s side. Partly because she’s morally correct, and partly because he has feeling for her. It’s her determination that keeps him going most of the time.

In summary, Emma, Ray and Norman are very close, very intellectual characters. You could argue they seem too smart for 11-year-olds. But it’s established early on why that is. Plus, their loyalty and friendship are what makes them so believable. Together, they’re a formidable threat to their enemy. And who is their enemy? The one they thought cared about them for years – the mother of Grace Field: Isabella.

What makes Isabella so intimidating is she appears so trustworthy. On the surface, she’s a soft-spoken, affectionate young lady, who loves all the Grace Field kids as if they were her own. But behind her warm smile lies something sinister: a cunning, manipulative woman who cares only about profit. Everything she does is to ensure her kids grow up healthy and happy, with rich and developed brains. That way they’ll be tastier for her masters. She may claim to love her children. But when it comes time for shipping, they’re nothing but products.

This kind of emotional detachment brings something to mind. Think about how we run our farms today. We do our best to make sure all animals are treated humanely; giving them free-range, plenty of food and a life without suffering. Yet we still cage and slaughter them. And all because we’re the dominant species and like the taste of their meat. Is this honestly much different from Isabella? Could there be a social commentary here about animal cruelty? I digress.

It doesn’t take Isabella long to realise somebody knows the secret. So she implants new measures to keep things under control. These include hiring an assistant (Sister Krone) and revealing to the kids (indirectly) they have trackers. Her actions cause Emma and the others to rethink their plans and ask questions. What’s the best time to escape? How do they deal with the extra security? Should they tell the other kids what’s happening? Would they believe them? What if one of them is a spy? How do they work out who it is? It becomes like a mental game of chess, with both sides vying to outwit their opponent. On top of that are some of the characters’ more drastic actions. I won’t reveal anything here, but it’s honestly shocking to see just how far they’re willing to go to succeed – even if it’s inhuman.

Now, at this point, you may be wondering about the other Grace Field kids. Unfortunately, they don’t feature very much. Not that we don’t see them all the time. It’s just they don’t have any influence on the main plot. They’re mostly just there to remind us how grand the scale of escape is. There are, however, two notable exceptions.

Partway through the series, Emma and her friends recruit Don and Gilda (two ten-year-olds) into their plans. Don is a headstrong boy, who’s somewhat impulsive. And Gilda is a sensitive girl, who helps with the little ones. What’s significant about their involvement is how it changes the others’ mentality. You see, initially, Emma, Ray and Norman don’t reveal the whole truth to them. Instead, they claim their siblings were sold through human trafficking. They know Don and Gilda have emotional weaknesses. So they stay quiet about the demons. However, the two find out they’ve been lied to – which leads to friction within the group. It’s groundbreaking because it shows how Emma and the others had little faith in their siblings. They need to start seeing them as allies rather than burdens.

Another game-changing character is Sister Krone. Before anything else, I have to address the elephant in the room. There are going to be people who find this character offensive. Why? Because of her design. She’s a dark-skinned, big-lipped woman, who’s always wearing an apron. Plus, she cares for mostly white-skinned children. Does that sound familiar? If not, I’ll tell you: she’s reminiscent of the now-racist mammy stereotype. What makes it worse is how she’s portrayed. Aside from being borderline crazy, she pulls countless disturbing faces, is shown to be monstrously violent – though never towards anyone – and occasionally invites children into her room. She is not the sort of person you’d want working in an orphanage.

Controversy aside, though, Krone brings an essential dynamic to the series: her ego. It’s quickly established she has a tense relationship with Isabella. She hates her belittling and wants to replace her as the mother of Grace Field. Krone will do anything for the position, even if it means allying herself with the kids. Emma and the others don’t trust her, of course. But they know she’s a valuable source of information. At the same time, Krone believes they could provide the evidence she needs to bring Isabella down. All three parties have powerful yet understanding motives. And it’s a testament to this series how well it manages them.

However, The Promised Neverland isn’t just written well. It’s also visually stunning. I don’t usually mention the animation in my reviews. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t give CloverWorks credit. They take every opportunity they can to showcase their abilities. Not everything comes out perfect; there are some lacklustre character designs and meme-worthy faces. However, for the most part, they know how to present things both creatively and symbolically. Let me give you some examples.

First of all, there’s the layout. Usually, everything is presented in the traditional format: 2D characters in a 2D environment. However, once in a while, the background switches to 3D, giving us more depth and scale to the scene. They’re also not afraid to experiment with the camera. Sometimes it swings back and forth, like a pendulum. Other times it rotates 360 degrees. And sometimes it gives us POV shots or follows along with the characters. Each time it’s meant to draw attention to someone’s feelings and build tension.

The camera also works in symbolic ways. Remember what I said about foreshadowing? The earliest example of this is in episode 1. The opening shot shows a young Emma looking through some bars, saying she’s “never been outside” – it’s the first indication she’s actually inside a cage. Another example is episode 6: several shots are made to look like somebody is spying on the kids – which it’s later revealed there is. It’s even debatable if the series has religious symbolism. All the kids wear pure white clothing, except for when they’re adopted – the black outfit they dawn could symbolise death. And when it comes to the actual escape plan, the parallels with the Book of Exodus are uncanny. There’s so much to take from these episodes if you know where to look.

In conclusion, The Promised Neverland is a suspenseful, well-crafted series, that keeps its audience on edge. With its three-dimensional characters, creative animation, and a plot that knows when to give or hold back information, it’s easy to see why it rose to prominence. I don’t say this a lot, but I would honestly recommend this series to anyone who’s old enough to watch it. Even if you’re not a big fan of anime, chances are you’ll be drawn in by the story and characters. How do I know? Because I did a test before writing this review. I showed the first episode to my dad and step-mom – two people who were notorious for disliking anime. And what happened? They were so captivated by what they saw, they insisted on watching the rest of the series with me. If that doesn’t prove how grand The Promised Neverland is, I don’t know what will.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review. Be sure to check out the series for yourself. And I hope you’ll look forward to the second season. Stay tuned.

(Image courtesy of: Hello! Never met a Somali who watches anything other than mainstream anime, are any of you avid Anime fans? : XSomalian (

Are They Autistic?, Autism

Are They Autistic? – The Bookworm (Batman)

Hello everybody, this is George Harvey (aka The Autistic Blogger). Welcome to another instalment of Are They Autistic? – the series where I look at characters from various forms of media and analyse whether I think they’re on the spectrum or not. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never been confirmed to have Autism; as long as they show similar traits, I’ll be talking about them. Please remember these are only my personal opinions. If you think somebody you know has the condition, it’s always best to consult a professional. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this piece.


Today we’ll be analysing a character you’ve probably never heard of before. Even if you’re a die-hard Batman fan, chances are you don’t remember this villain. He only made one notable TV appearance and a handful of cameos across other Batman media. That appearance was in the 1960s Batman series (starring Adam West), and his name was the Bookworm.

Played by Roddy McDowall, what stood out to me about Bookworm was the way his mind functioned. There have been more entertaining villains than him on the show – like my personal favourite: Frank Gorshin’s the Riddler. However, this character struck me as someone abnormally obsessed with his interests. He doesn’t just love books; they’re practically his whole life. They inspire everything he says and does. He can even quote lines from a particular piece and tell you exactly which chapter and passage they’re from – he has that strong of a memory.

In a way, it’s similar to me. When I see or hear something I enjoy, I make a mental note of it. I can then playback the memory of it with almost pinpoint accuracy. My earliest recollection of doing this was during primary school. There was a story I heard so often I could retell it, word for word, without even needing the book. I can’t do it now, but other memories have stuck with me for years – if you’ve read Into My Autistic Mind you know what I mean.

For the longest time, I assumed Bookworm’s obsessive memory was evidence that he was Autistic. However, now I’m not so sure. There are similarities between myself and Bookworm – evilness not being one of them – but does that mean he has Autism? That’s what we’re here to find out. So let’s review his two-parter: “The Bookworm Turns” / “While Gotham City Burns” (1966).


The story begins with the opening of a new bridge in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson (Batman and Robin) are watching the event on TV, when Dick suddenly notices someone in the crowd: a man wearing large, goggle-like spectacles; a brown leather coat, and a hat with a lamp attached – the Bookworm. Soon after, the villain orders his minions to “begin Chapter One“, and Police Commissioner Gordon is seemingly shot dead off the bridge. Horrified, Bruce and Dick immediately jump into action as Batman and Robin. 

Driving to the police station, however, everyone is relieved to discover that Commissioner Gordon is alive. He wasn’t even at the ceremony. Hilariously, one of his officers had fined him for over-parking, and he was late. Or so it seemed. It turns out, not only was there a fake commissioner at the bridge, the parking officer was an imposter too. It was all so Bookworm could lure Batman to the police station and plant a bomb in the Batmobile. Additionally, the commissioner’s parking ticket reads “A.S. Scarlett, Badge #1887” – a reference to “A Study In Scarlett” (the first Sherlock Holmes novel) published in 1887.

In these first few scenes, Bookworm’s obsessions are on full display. Like most Batman villains, his crimes and antics are based around his gimmick; in this case, books. He describes part of his plan as “Plot A“, the bomb he uses is disguised as a book, and even his henchmen have literary-based names: Pressman, Printer’s Devil, Typesetter and Lydia Limpet. However, there’s more to him than his theming – as we soon learn.

Batman is alerted to the bomb in the Batmobile and ejects it before detonation. He and Robin investigate the crime scene, only finding the charred remains of the book and its title: For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Earnest Hemmingway. At this point, Batman reveals another side of their foe’s mentality. 

You see (much like the Riddler) Bookworm leaves clues for Batman and Robin, to see if they can work out his next move. While this might seem foolish, it actually ties into a philosophy several Batman villains have. It’s not enough to defeat the caped crusader. They want to out-wit him too. Batman is one of the most renowned detectives on the planet. So if they come up with a scheme not even he can deduce, it’ll prove once and for all they’re his intellectual superior. Besides that, if he does work it out, it’s still a chance to lure him into a trap. I’ll admit, sometimes I like to show off in this way too. I love giving people conundrums to see if they can work out the answers to things I’ve cleverly learned. It’s a little shameless, but I accept it.

After concluding Bookworm’s plan might be to blow up a bridge – since that’s the plot of For Whom the Bell Tolls – Batman and Robin race off to their next location. We then transition to what might be the most memorable scene of the story for me. It’s here we learn the extent of Bookworm’s knowledge and the price he has to pay for it. 

In the villain’s hideout, Bookworm marvels at his collection of books. He loves the ideas they contain, the wisdom they provide; how each one is perfectly structured to relay a mountain of knowledge from the great minds who wrote them. He’s spent a lifetime memorising their plots and using them as his greatest weapon. Unfortunately, it’s also his greatest curse. When Lydia asks Bookworm why he doesn’t write a best-seller of his own, he suddenly becomes furious. The sad truth is, he can’t come up with anything original. He’s so engrossed in the works of others that he’d just be copying their ideas. That’s why his schemes are plot-based. He couldn’t make a plan of his own if he wanted to. 

Hearing this for the first time, I couldn’t help drawing comparisons with myself. Being an inspiring writer, I know the challenge of coming up with original ideas. Inevitably, you start looking at other people’s work for inspiration. But sometimes you take so much you end up plagiarising. It happened so often when I was asked to write an original story, only to copy characters and plots from elsewhere. It certainly shakes your confidence somewhat, knowing you might only be good at retelling stories.

To quickly summarise the next several scenes. Bookworm manages to calm himself by reading an entire book (The Secret of Success: Self Control) in a matter of seconds. Batman and Robin arrive at their next location, but discover Bookworm has already “blown up” a bridge; he’s projected the enlarged image of one on the side of a building. The Dynamic Duo climb higher to get a better view of their surroundings – meeting Jerry Lewis along the way – before encountering Bookworm’s henchmen. After defeating them in a fight, they receive information from Lydia Limpet. However, Batman is curious about something. Robin is left to guard her, but she tricks him into opening a book filled with knockout gas: The History of the English Language – a book that would put anyone to sleep. Bookworm’s henchmen tie Robin to the clapper of a bell just as it’s about to strike midnight. Fortunately, Batman realises he’s been misled. Along with Police Chief O’Hara, they reach the clock tower (Big Benjamin) and use some elaborate science to save Robin. Our heroes then regroup in the Batcave.

I should point out at this stage that Batman’s original series was more family-friendly than its later interpretations. The lighthearted tone could even be described as “campy” at times. For example, Batman employs a pick-up service for the sole purpose of collecting discarded parachutes – which he uses in Bat-U-turns. When he and Robin climb the side of the building, he reminds his sidekick to keep “both hands on the bat-rope“. And, just before they fight Bookworm’s henchmen, he insists the minions remove their glasses first – he would never hit a man with glasses. 

Speaking of which, I always loved the fight scenes on this show. Not only did they capture the spirit of the comics with their onomatopoeia (words on screen), but something about them felt strangely realistic to me. You could tell they were all choreographed. However, the action felt so spontaneous it was like the actors were improvising as they went. The directors must’ve been very skilled to make everything look seamless.

Anyway, back onto Bookworm, I was surprised to find little else to analyse about him. At least, in regards to him potentially being Autistic. He didn’t have any social or communication problems, and none of his quirks seemed ritualistic, i.e. when your mind is conditioned to make you do something a certain elaborate way. The only exception I could find was in the latter half of the story. Let me explain.

First, Bookworm enters Wayne Manor pretending to be a book salesman. He uses another knockout book (The Congressional Record March 1919) on Alfred Pennyworth and Harriet Cooper – the butler and Dick’s aunt respectively – allowing him to steal a rare text from Bruce’s collection. However, that’s not enough. He then places a giant cookbook (The Delight of Cooking) in the middle of a street, luring in Batman and Robin. It’s here Batman reveals another of Bookworm’s mindsets: his over-plotting. Either the robbery or the enlarged book would’ve gotten their attention. However, Bookworm insists on creating as big a scene as possible – much like he did with the faked assassination and “blown up” bridge.

The reason I bring all this up is that, once again, I feel Bookworm’s actions relate to me in some way. When I write, I often go overboard with what I’m describing. Sometimes I mention things that perhaps don’t need mentioning or I explain them in extensive detail. It’s hard to remember that quantity doesn’t always equal quality. But I’m so used to seeing it from other people that I’m conditioned to think that it is. Bookworm is the same. He believes the stages of his plan should be big and bold because it’s how he’s seen them in his books. It doesn’t matter if there’s a better solution or if they don’t tie into his main plot.

To finish off the story: Bookworm traps Batman and Robin inside the large cookbook, where another deathtrap awaits. He also steals the Batmobile, hoping to use its gadgets for a grand heist. Fortunately, Batman and Robin escape (thanks to some more elaborate science) and apprehend Bookworm and his henchmen. Later on, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are in Commissioner Gordan’s office, with Bruce donating money to the prison library. Bookworm is brought in just before he’s incarcerated and quotes: “They who lose today may win tomorrow.” He believes he’s quoting a poet. However, Bruce points out it’s actually from a book. He even tells Bookworm the part and the chapter. The episode ends with Bookworm wondering if Bruce Wayne is as obnoxious as Batman.

And that’s Bookworm’s two-part story. A typical set of episodes, encompassing everything the series was known for; lighthearted action, campy moral lessons, and a guest villain putting in their best performance. Roddy McDowall did a fine job.

However, I’m sure many of you are still wondering. Do I think Bookworm is Autistic? Well, as much as I’d like to think so, the argument for it isn’t very strong. Keep in mind, these episodes were written in the 60s. It was a different time back then, and Autism was nowhere near as well-known as it is now. It’d be nice to think the writer (Rik Vollaerts) had some knowledge of the condition. However, if he did, it’s not well-presented. There’s no social awkwardness in Bookworm, no learning difficulties or specific quirks. And although there are similarities between myself and him, there could be other explanations for it. For example, Bookworm’s extensive knowledge could be because he has a photographic memory. You also don’t need Autism to be abnormally obsessed with something. I had high hopes for this character when I first saw him. However, given the lack of decisive evidence, I’ve had to conclude that Bookworm isn’t Autistic. Maybe it’s still possible he is, but I can’t say for sure.

That’s all I have for this instalment. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope to bring you more in the future. Before I finish up, though, I have a special request. I’ve been writing this blog for more than five years now, and its viewership has grown immensely throughout 2020. To show my appreciation for this, I want to try something I’ve never done before: take audience requests. At the moment, I have a couple more characters lined up for this series. However, I’d like to hear your ideas too. If there’s a particular character you’ve seen or read about, and you’d like me to review whether they’re on the spectrum or not, leave me a comment about them down below. I’ll do my research and try to bring you an instalment on them in the future. Again, I’m not looking for any characters who’s Autism has already been confirmed. But instead, those you think may have it because of certain traits. I look forward to hearing your recommendations. Until then, stay tuned.

If you like my content be sure to check out my second blog site Autistic Blogger Creates ( and it’s latest posts.

Experimenting with Scriptwriting –

The Nutcracker Panto Script Extract –

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