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Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 110 Review

Attack on Titan manga chapter 110 overflowed with interesting twist and turns this month, that culminated in one of the best chapters this year:

 

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110 opens with a possibly unnecessary flashback to the day of Zeke’s initial attack on Ragako village. We, as the audience, already understood that all this occurred and the only possible justification for the inclusion of this scene is that it introduces the gas weaponry. We will see this is the future and it needed to be established so Isayama incorporated it here. Also, in this scene Pieck distinctly has her eye on Zeke. This is seemingly subtle indication that Pieck was always suspicious of Zeke and never entirely trusted him. Pieck has demonstrated very observant behaviour in the past, she quickly caught onto the plot on Marley and escaped the trap, so she’s clearly incredibly insightful. Additionally, the framing and artwork in that panel is excellent, it truly emphasises the suspicion from Pieck and the arrogance from Zeke. (Who said Isayama can’t draw?) Zeke in his explanation to Levi, has an interesting line, “The power of the titans will be sent to them,” this referring to the transformation from human to a mindless titan. This still implies that someone or something is sending the ‘power of the titans’ to these coordinates, they are sending the mass or the titan body. I always assumed the legends about Ymir were just fictional anecdotal myths not something to be taken literally, so this phrasing was peculiar. Bolstering this point, Isayama doesn’t seem to be fond of religion, so I always doubted the Ymir legend as an explanation for the origin of titans and shifters. Ultimately, I’m unsure who or where ‘power of the titans’ is summoned from, but I don’t think it’s a literal deity called Ymir.

 

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Levi further demonstrates his absolute humanitarian ideology by correcting and reminding Zeke that the name of the village he massacred was ‘Ragako.’ Levi may come across as cold sometimes, but it’s important to remember that a key characteristic of his is absolute sympathy for human beings, even when someone is a complete fuck-up like the soldier that went to retakes his dead friends body and ended up getting another scouts killer in episode 22 of season 1. Even in that situation instead of scolding that soldier, who clearly fucked up, Levi comforted him. That’s where the fundamental disagreement between these two lies, because Zeke views that incident as necessary for the betterment of Eldia, whereas Levi views it as the unnecessary murder of a village. Zeke follows this up bizarrely by commenting that Levi mustn’t be popular with woman; (alright old cancer-ridden man…) which sort of undermines the gravity of the scene. I’ve seen this line, or something like this line, in many anime/manga properties and it has grown into a pet peeve of mine. Additionally, nobody talks like that, that’s not a line ever uttered by a serious human being, its unnatural dialogue, something this series seriously struggles with. The point trying to be communicated by this line was that Levi couldn’t begin to understand Zeke or his motivations in this war. Zeke then stresses that he wants to start the experiments with Eren and warns Levi that if they (paradise), believe that they have time to waste they are sorely mistaken, to which Levi agrees and the scene ends.

 

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We cut to Pyxis’ ongoing interrogation disguised as a conversation with Yelena who admits to meeting with Eren ‘that day.’ She throughout this scene explains her supposed motivations for all her shady actions, but an indication that all this is a fabrication is that we only get her explanation we never get a contextual flashback to her meeting with Eren or her careful manipulation of Flock, which I think we will inevitably get one when actual the truth is revealed. Consequently, Pyxis throughout this portion of the chapter is completely justified in distrusting her recount of events. She mirrors Zeke’s sentiment that paradise doesn’t have time to be messing around and says that Eren understood this sense of urgency and that’s why they were so agreeable upon their meeting. Pyxis inferences that Zeke must have promised something concrete to Eren for them to be so agreeable that tentatively. He then accuses her and Zeke of manipulating Eren, in response to this Yelena has an emotional outburst, aggressively jumping to her feet stating that all she wanted was for Eren to recognise her efforts and respect her. This outburst doesn’t paint Yelena well at all in the eyes of the view, in this situation for which there are only two possibilities; either she’s telling the truth and she’s an insane fanatic who can’t be trusted or she’s just a liar, double agent that can’t be trusted. After the outburst everyone soaks in the awkwardness and Yelena resigns saying that Eren gave her and all the volunteer soldiers hope that Marley could be toppled, just like Zeke once did. She also says Eren did a wonderful thing in Marley, and that her and Pyxis were watching history being written; “I just wish to witness it by their side.” Ultimately, she’s an insane and loyal individual that lusts for glory and purpose, weirdly just like Erwin. Pyxis summarises her story by concluding that she is saying that it was all for curiosity, but it’s clear that he doesn’t buy her story. She says that yes it was, and that Flock acted as the intermediary between her and Eren, claiming that all the goings-on were her fault only. Basically, she breaks it down to all being for the greater good of Eldia and that only she is to be blamed. Pyxis tells her outright that he doesn’t believe her and that she’s a bad liar for not injecting some truth into her story and the scene ends as he asks her again to recount the entire story.

 

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We cut to a conversation between Hange and Onyankopon, who is explaining that he’s disappointed in the Eldian government’s doubt of the volunteer soldiers. He cites everything they have accomplished together as reason for her to not distrust them. Notably in this opening panel Onyankopon is shuffling a deck of cards, possibly indicating symbolically or subconsciously to the audience that he is not to be trusted and that he is the manipulator in this situation. Unlike Yelena his culpability in this mess is unclear, and I’m unsure whether he is trustworthy after many re-reads of the chapter. He states that he refuses to believe that Zeke could be a double agent for Marley. At this point of the conversation the guarding officer of Onyankopon’s house arrest is shown. Notably he is of the Garrison regiment meaning he likely reports back to Pyxis and may be gathering covert information for whatever Pyxis is planning. Also, he looks to be having the time of his life with an apple and an alcoholic beverage in hand each hand, maybe Hange gave them to him so he was distracted as the conversation went on. Onyankopon then criticises Hange dividing the military at an inopportune time and announces his further distaste for all the volunteer’s soldiers being held hostage. All Hange has to say in response is to advise him to just hang in there a little longer while they figure things out. Hange then explain to Onyankopon, who was seemingly unaware of the situation, that Yelena conducted a secret meeting with Eren. He seems shocked upon hearing this and through his body language and expression allows Hange to gleam that Onyankopon believes Yelena may be capable of doing something like that. Hange asks for Onyankopon to tell her everything he knows about Elena…

 

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This panel shows Elena’s brutality and her willingness to do anything for her goal, or Zeke’s goals. As well as indicating that she is Zeke’s second in command or at least more informed than all her other comrades. Additionally, Onyankopon explains that he didn’t know anything about why/how they arranged and pulled-off a secret meeting and that all the other volunteer soldiers just followed her example. They also notice that her behaviour and demeanour towards different groups alters to support the oppressed or less-privileged group in a given situation. Examples are given of her mercilessly mowing down Marlian soldiers who came to learn the truth about they’re operation on the journey to Paradise Island, and her then juxtaposing behaviour, pleading for their human rights once they arrived on the Island, in front of the Paradise officials. Onyankopon concludes that she’s trying to retroactively atone for her sins against each group depending on the circumstance. Hange who now implicitly trusts Onyankopon grabs him and storms off, releasing him from his house arrest while he maintains his confusion. Hange must have had an epiphany of some sort and immediately understood that she needed Onyankopon because then the scene ends.

 

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We cut to Armin weirdly touching up on Annie’s crystallised body, until he’s interrupted and caught read-handed by Hitch. The clear attraction Armin has to Annie in this scene is interesting because it’s questionable if Armin always had these feelings for Annie or maybe that Bertolt’s memories are shaping him more than we initially believed. Either explanation is plausible with the limited information we have, and we have seen that Armin’s view of Bertolt has changed since he ate him, he seems much more sympathetic. If we can divert for a second: Hitch’s post time-skip redesign is fantastic, look at her go! She notifies Armin that touching the crystal is strictly off limits. It seems she has been put in charge of guarding Annie’s crystal contemporaneously. Armin freaks out like an absolute weirdo and I hate him, this was an uncharacteristic outburst comparable to Yelena’s from earlier in the chapter. No one overreacts like that; this outburst is completely unnatural and breaks immersion. Hitch then playfully feeds into this overreaction and explains that she wouldn’t ban Armin from coming to see Annie because then she would have to listen to Hitch inclusively day in and day out. This lets the audience know that Armin is the only one that comes to see Annie in her crystallised form, and the only one to have contact with her besides Hitch. Then to cap off the scene in Annie’s underground holding cell, Hitch delivers the most meta line in Attack on Titan history, “Seriously, why are so popular, even though all you do is sleep.”

 

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We cut to Armin and Hitch walking outside the cell at the Eldian military headquarters. Hitch reads the media headlines to Armin wherein they bash the establishment for imprisoning Eren without explanation. A common motif in this chapter is a demonstration of the institutions and ideas that the scout regiment pioneered coming back to bite them in the ass, our first example of this is the freedom of the press. Hange ushered in a new philosophy of journalism and freedom into the Paradise press, and now using the very freedom she granted them, they are criticising her, and she can’t do anything about it because then she would become the ultimate hypocrite. Hitch says the military should have given the media some sort of satisfying information to quell the rampant speculation and distrust. Armin argues that providing satisfying information may have been impossible. He says (rightfully) that the rumbling ability must be kept top secret and that the Eren situation is so convoluted that it would have been impossible to give a satisfying answer. Armin concludes saying that they must figure out this Eren situation quickly. Urgency is another reoccurring theme throughout this chapter. He plans to do this, as we would later come to find out, by attempting to reason with Eren by talking to him with Mikasa.

 

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Their conversation is interrupted by the overwhelming commotion at the front gate of headquarters, where a protest mob has gathered and are screaming for Eren’s immediate realise. Just as the freedom of the press example was used previously in the chapter, now the patriotism and nationalism the scouts once prided themselves upon, is being bastardised and used against them. This creates for some incredibly compelling television. Hitch is asked to assist with the quelling of the crowd by her fellow military police officers and separates from Armin who immediately and conveniently runs into Mikasa. Hitch demonstrates her maintained aversion to work by complaining about having to do this. This portion of the chapter served as a neat re-introduction to Hitch as a character which was needed, plus to show off her fantastic knew redesign. While Mikasa and Armin are heading inside they notice some suspicious looking recruits roaming in the area who will be important later in the chapter. Mikasa tells are that they haven’t got much time and they need to hurry. (Urgency)

 

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We cut to their meeting with Zackery who is acting as the authority figurehead of the military on Paradise. (Not sure if that was mentioned in previous chapters or if I had just forgotten) Zackery’s favourite chair is shown to be present at the meeting and this is another instance of the incredible coordination between the Attack on Titan manga and anime units. I talked all about this is a previous article, but Isayama has planned the realise schedule of his manga to correlate with the anime unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. An element that would have gone completely unremembered by the manga audience is reintroduced in a recent anime episode and then Isayama brings that element back up and resolves it with the element still fresh in the minds of his manga audience. He used this strategy with Ymir’s backstory and with the reveal of the Beast Titans abilities last year, and now he’s done it with Zackery’s weird sex/torture chair. Perfect execution (pun intended) and timing on his part. Armin thanks Zackery for taking the time to see them, and Zackery apologises that it’s on a day like today. This line is accompanied by a great shot of Zackery overlooking the mob protest assembled outside of headquarter through his window. (See Below.) He notably refers to Mikasa and Armin as heroes of Shinganshina, which is interesting and shows the weight of what was accomplished by the scouts when they defeated Bertolt, Reiner and Zeke, it Mikasa and Armin’s legacy. They comment on Hange’s recent developments with Onyankopon showing the linearity of the chapter. However, Zackery ultimately doesn’t permit the two of them to meet with Eren. He believes that its too risky for them to see him with the current situation, but we know this is all sophistry to disguise that Zackery has already given up on Eren and wants one of his people to inherit the Founding Titan. He does drop the line, “We believe Eren is being controlled by Zeke,” which is highly unlikely due to Erne’s motives and that throughout the chapter Isayama is clearly trying to portray this possibility, but I believe it’s a red-hearing. Mikasa showing her true motivation just asks what will happen to Eren going forward; no one in the room answers her and then she inadvertently changes the subject to the chair. Zackery avoids the question about the chair and exposits that some ‘new recruits’ helped him move it up here. It is implied that he had them do this, so he could use it on Eren, with the intent to break his silence. Armin attempts to argue that Eren may open up to him and Mikasa because of their established history, Zackery ignores him and ends the meeting.

 

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Hard cut to Armin and Mikasa standing outside Zackery’s office with the doors closed. Armin concludes the military higher ups (Zackery, Pyxis, Nile and Hange) have already abandoned Eren and chosen a successor to the Founding and Warhammer Titan. That is if Eren truly has the latter and didn’t inadvertently give it to the Jaw Titan. Mikasa says she’ll go listen in on the conversation between Zackery and some suspicious looking military police officers that’s ongoing to gather information. Armin argues against it and implores her not to break military law. She ignores him and once again explains that she’ll do anything to protect Ere… EXPLOSION! A bomb that was planted in Zackery chair by the new recruits successfully detonates and kills Zackery and the 3 supposed candidates for the inheritance of Eren’s powers. This was a shock to me the first read-through, it was a great twist that I certainly didn’t see coming. It seems all the new recruits for the Scouts regiment have successfully been indoctrinated by Zeke and Eren’s agenda, which means they must have systematic people in place to spread their ideology in the training system. Consequently, Zackery was assassinated and is now dead and there’s a lot of surrounding intrigue.

 

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We cut to the ground floor of the explosion to see the aftermath. Armin, Mikasa and Hitch are all shown alive and are clearly overwhelmed by the entire situation. The image of Zackery half blown off body is brutal and is asking to be censored by the anime. As the trio regroups they notice the fanatical mob outside the gates are roaring in victory. They begin to realise the stupidity and brutality of mob justice; no thought or logic has gone into their parade. Mikasa and Armin finally realise that the tribalism mindset has taken over Paradise. This demonstrates to the audience that if something massive doesn’t change then the cycle of oppression and hatred is going to continue between these ethnic groups.

 

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We cut to a military meeting called in response to the attack with a variety of characters present, including Hange, Onyankopon, Nile, Mikasa and Armin. It’s exposited that explosion was planted in the chair and that a total of four military officials were killed. They state that the motives and the culprit are unknown currently, Hange then points out that Onyankopon was with her all day, and that all other volunteer soldiers were under house arrest, giving them all an alibi. Armin tells the group that Zackery said that new recruits from the scout regiment had moved the chair earlier in the day, placing the blame on them. Nile begins to respond saying that the survey corps must have been infiltrated and are leaking information when he is interrupted by a soldier who lets them know that Eren has escaped. He goes onto explain that Eren used his titan abilities to break out and everyone looks shocked at this, how did they not expect him to break free immediately? Why didn’t Eren break out immediately? This prison business isn’t making too much sense. To end the scene Mikasa asks Armin what the hell is going on…

 

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We cut to a shirtless Eren walking towards a group of his comrades who are seemingly stationed in the middle of nowhere. How did they know where he was going to be? How did he know where they were going to be? Eren comments that there is a lot of new people in the group, including the newly introduced characters from last month’s chapter. Flock who seems to be coordinating all these people explains that they are even more of them and that they have some (as Nile excepted) double agents on the inside. Flock then claims responsibility for blowing up Zackery, something Eren seemingly wasn’t aware of. But nonetheless Eren has no reaction to Zackery’s murder or any of that information. Flock explains that they did it because Zackery wanted someone else to inherit the founding titan, while they believe that Eren must be the one to topple the Marlian Empire. Eren responds to none of this and only says that he will locate Zeke. I believe Isayama’s intentions with this scene were two-fold; to mislead the audience into believing that maybe Eren is currently being controlled by Zeke and to tease a possible Levi vs Eren fight in next month’s chapter. The latter is extremely exciting, if Eren locates Zeke, Levi will be forced to intervene.

 

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We cut to Hange, Onyankopon, Armin and Mikasa riding in the back of a chariot. They all seem to believe they can convince Eren if they are able to talk to him. Plus, Zackery isn’t around anymore to deny them the privilege. Then the camera wonders and we get the most interesting twist in this entire chapter. To close the chapter out Peick is shown to have infiltrated the walls and is gathering information as she is reading the newspapers. This is a clear parallel to what Eren did in Marley and it’ll be incredibly interesting to see what exactly she has planned. Is she alone, or are other shifters or soldiers with her? The closing statement from Isayama ending the chapter is, “Internal conflict, and a visit from a foreign invader.”

 

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Ultimately, this was great chapter of Attack on Titan, we got satisfying progression for a patient month’s wait, and we got a whole lot of intrigue moving forward. If Eren and Zeke team up can they subjugate Levi? I would love to think Levi destroys them both immediately and continues being infallible, but even I doubt him in that situation. Gabbi and Falco were absent from this chapter, what have they been up to? Is Peick planning to attack Paradise in a similar way to how Eren attacked Marley? Once again Isayama has teased Annie’s return to us, will it happen next month? Whose side will she be on when she emerges? Has she had a secret mission the whole time? So many questions and so long to wait, Isayama you’re killing me with these month-long waits, this chapter was great.

 

 

 

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Media Consumption Month #2 (September 2018)

Welcome to the second month of my media consumption diary, were I briefly vent about all the media I’ve consumed in the previous month including, films, video games, tv shows, anime and manga. Look for a heading you’re interested in and have fun…

Attack on Titan Season 3:

Attack on Titan Season 3 has continued with its break-neck speed and has already concluded adapting the Uprising Arc, in only 10 episodes. Overall, it was all fine and dandy, nothing made me mad and the Kenny backstory episode, which is the highlight of the arc, was handled appropriately. I’m entirely satisfied by this adaptation and even further impressed with its continued coordination with the manga (See my article of chapter 109 of Attack on Titan for further details on that aspect). Since I am a manga reader there isn’t much for me to speculate about, but I am interested to see how they stretch the following arc across 15 episodes when I think the material is only enough for 8-10 more episodes. We will have to play patient fellas with Attack on Titan Season 3 and you’ll have to wait until next month for an update.

 

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My Hero Academia Season 3:

My Hero Academia Season 3 has concluded, Season 4 is already confirmed, in case anyone somehow was still questioning that fact. Last time I made one of these I wasn’t too high on the boring exam we were in the middle of, but I can proudly state that by the end of the season the show had entirely won me back, largely because of Episode 24. This episode hit every quota for my personal enjoyment of My Hero Academia. It was nearly entirely focus on the villains and character interactions, my two standout wants from My Hero. The opening segment that focused on a mysterious, yet interestingly introspective man was truly entertaining and when later he was revealed to be Twice, gave that character some much needed depth. It engaged me with a forgettable comic relief character and reintroduced him as a tragic introspective villain. The plot further grew in that episode with the introduction of Overhaul, a new villain with a signature look. Now I’m unfamiliar with the manga for My Hero but I have seen these ‘Peak boys’ around the internet and I like their aesthetic, so I’m interested to see his role in things moving forward. However, I’m currently internally debating if I should wait for Season 4 or just go ahead and read the source material.

 

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Steins; Gate 0:

I saw someone literally decapitated in Steins; Gate 0, and asked myself, ‘what the fuck is going on?’ The narrative surrounding Steins; Gate 0 remains unchanged, I believe this is a show unsuitable for weekly consumption and binge watching it is the only way to properly understand the series. But I’ll continue to watch as it is Dubbed weekly and then once it is all realised I’ll re-watch it all from the beginning and revaluate my opinions. In the meantime, I would like to further empathise my hatred for Kaguri and uneasy feeling about a superhero decapitating someone in a Steins; Gate related show, it was quite disconnecting from the usually grounded nature of the series.

 

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Vinland Saga:

Vinland Saga continues to impress and has maintained my interest through a drastic genre change. There are no more battles in Vinland Saga, if you came into this series excepting an action series, you haven’t been paying attention and its likely this series will lose you at this point. It seems like the message of Vinland Saga is absolute pacifism. Vinland Saga is seemingly about Thorfinn learning what it means to be a true warrior, meaning laying down you weapons.  This is thematically presented to him by his father and by Askeladd in his recent dream/nightmare adventures, that he’s be having every night but not remembering. It is exposited to him that it’s never ok to strike another human being, by his father and Askeladd presents the horrors of Valhalla to Thorfinn and how he’s managing to escape this hell through his recent lack of murder.

 

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To explain to those uninitiated for the first 50 chapters Vinland Saga is a clearly Berserk inspired manga about the horrific nature of medieval society and war. A scene that cannot stop thinking about, that incapsulates the tonal dark nature of these initial 50 chapters is where the band of Vikings Askeladd leads, and Thorfinn is a part of, is staying in a small village and are running roughshod over the area. And in this commotion, there is a moment of reflection from the typically empathy-less Thorfinn for a young girl who is tied up with her clothes ripped off, clearly about to be raped by his Viking comrades. Now it is important to point out that Thorfinn is only comrades with these people out of hatred and the Askeladd despises all of them, so they aren’t horrible people for surrounding themselves with the people in this situation, they both secretly hate them all. But the effectiveness of this scene is in the implication of what’s happening, and the desperation mixed with acceptance in the girl’s eyes. It’s a hauntingly effective scene that demonstrates the brutality of the world of Vinland Saga and now, the series has become about humble farmers, and SOMEHOW it works incredibly. We have collectively transformed the tone from that to a farming show about the horrors and struggle of slavery and directionless life. I stopped after finishing chapter 72 and can’t wait to see how the story further progresses with the new cool characters like Snake, Einar, Arneis and the old master of the farm. Vinland Saga is great!

 

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Devilman:

My continuation with Devilman has been significantly affected by Vinland Saga, whenever I decide to spend time reading a manga I’ve always opted to read Vinland Saga. I’m still extremely early in the Devilman manga, Akira is still yet to become Devilman. The set-up of the series is much more expositional in the manga, Rio is just dumping plot details on the audience and Akira. In Crybaby I remember just being thrust into a night club, sex party and then suddenly we had ourselves a spooky Devilman. I don’t know which alternative method is better but there’s got to be a happy medium that limits the lazy exposition but doesn’t assault the reader with imagery. I hope to further understand Devilman by the time I return to you next month.

 

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Cowboy Bebop:

I’m still slowly forcing my way through Cowboy Bebop, and it’s your fault… I don’t what to continue, I’m over this episodic boring nonsense, but I have to be able to say I’ve watched it to appease you people. I’m watched up to episode 15, and I still don’t care about these characters, Spike is still uninteresting, and I maintain that his backstory and everything in reference to Vicious should have been left in Episode 5, the only good episode of this series so far. Faye is still the hottest anime bitch I’ve ever seen, but I don’t care about her, Jet is the same and Edward is funny. Episodic shows just remind me that I’m wasting my time watching and I don’t like to have my wastefulness reaffirmed by the media I’m consuming. Tune in next month to see if I have turned around on Cowboy Bebop and maybe had a revelation about this series’ supposed brilliance.

 

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Serial Experiment Lain:

I have a very weird way of consuming new media that makes it impossible for me to form an intelligent opinion on anything during my first viewing. I subconsciously must have known it for a while but now I’m consciously aware of my deficiency. It takes something incredibly straightforward for me to evaluate everything on a first viewing and Serial Experiments Lain is definitively not a straightforward show. So, as I was slowly digesting this show, sort of disinterested, I knew that it would immediately become one of my favourite shows after I’d finished it and reflected on it slightly. I don’t know what it is about me that hates nearly everything on the first time; I’m constantly looking around, not paying attention and secretly hating myself because it feels like I’m stationary in a seat wasting my time. However, re-watching anything is much easier and way more enjoyable to me. I didn’t like the Godfather until I quickly re-watched it a few days later; I didn’t like Evangelion until I thought about it over the following few days. It must be me understanding what I’m getting into before watching the re-watch that puts me at ease and allows me to enjoy the experience, maybe it’s about understanding.

 

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Serial Experiments Lain as insane as it is awesome and I’m in love with it. The aesthetic is an instant giveaway that this show is outwardly interesting, Lain’s character design is near perfection, she’s incredibly cute and endearing and when her appearance is slightly manipulated, her character design is also near perfect as a malicious psychopath. The opening is already downloaded on my phone, what a fitting song, I love that it mocks the audience (intentionally or unintentionally). The first line just rubs in that the abstractness of this show is flying immediately over your head, “And you don’t seem to understand”. The shows ability to understand what would become popular internet culture is astounding. The wired takes over people’s lives and integrates itself into the real world, just as the internet has become another layer of our contemporary world. The VR headset prediction was also impressive and it’s incredible that the show introduces the idea of ‘memes,’ creates a ‘meme’ within the world of the show in, “Let’s all love Lain,” and then for that to become a widespread ‘meme’ in our reality is some legit metatextual shit. This show is fantastic, already one of my favourites and I’m currently going back through it in the Sub because this is going to take a while to fully understand and comprehend.

 

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RahXephon:

RahXephon is one hell of a fun ride, but I don’t know how much RahXephon itself contributes to my interest level. My interest in this show is somewhat predicated on the fact that it is basically a retelling of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and I love to identify the similarities and differences between the two shows and see how RahXephon decides to alter the story idiosyncratically. So, in that statement am I praising RahXephon or Neon Genesis Evangelion? I don’t know, but I am enjoying my time with this show nonetheless; the imagery is fun the symbols are being set-up and I’m fascinated by the characters. The winey elements that are prevalent in Shinji but weren’t as evident in our main character in RahXephon, have started to become apparent in recent episodes. I left off on Episode 5, they introduced all the soldiers outside of Tokyo Jupiter, a neat homage to Tokyo 3. The Pink haired girl seems interesting, Misato’s counterpart seems interesting and may or may not be hooking up with that girl fighter pilot that was introduced, and the mysterious Rei girl is interesting. I like how our main character and our Rei interact differently in this show, they actually talk and relate to each other for a scene or two, nearly immediately, whereas Rei and Shinji took episodes to come to an understanding and then Rei just got reset and we had to start all over again. RahXephon is at the top of my list for things I’m interested in continuing in the coming month.

 

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Vision of Escaflowne:

Sadly, because of my overbearing focus on Serial Experiments Lain for most of the month, and my last-minute fling with RahXephon, I haven’t followed up with anymore Escaflowne. Interestingly enough, last month I was most interested in continuing Escaflowne, but because of the appealing short length of Lain and its overall density, Escaflowne was sadly left on the back burner. I still have every intention of continuing my journey with this show and will hopefully have more for you next month.

Revolutionary Girl Utena:

Unfortunately, Revolutionary Girl Utena has fallen into similar trappings as Vision of Escaflowne, and I have come to you a month later with no progression. The difference is I’m entirely unmotivated to continue Utena, I will because I always force myself to do things, but that first debacle of a Dubbed Episode 1 fucked me up. I have at least some faith that the show will increase in quality going forward and that the Sub will pick up the slack of that nightmarish Dubbing job I was exposed to.

B Geta H Kei:

The show is among the greatest pieces of art ever created. It’s so endearing and so sweet but it’s all wrapped in a hilarious sexual outer layer. Yamada is the best female character in amine, she’s clearly written by a writers-room of men projecting their fantasy perfect female personality onto the attractive anime girl, but that’s entirely what their target audience wants so it works perfectly. The conceit of the series is fantastic, a girl with the goal of sleeping with 100 high school boys over her high school career, but by the end wasn’t even gone all the way with a single dude but, has instead fallen for one dude. The only negative here is that Cosuda is a boring audience surrogate who could have been much more interesting or dynamic. But the endearing ending is entirely satisfying to the audience even though she has entirely failed on her initial goal, because in the end it wasn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.

 

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But last time I talked about the sensation of ‘forgotten nostalgia’ and how it related to my experience with this show immensely. This was true for the entire re-watch, up until the end I had an overwhelming nostalgic experience that has definitely clouded my judgement when it comes to this series. I would like to delve deeper into this nostalgic overwhelming experience and this show at a later date and leave you with these thoughts for now… It’s fantastic.

Final Fantasy 2: (PS1)

My struggle with Final Fantasy 2 is finally over with. It was a lengthy journey of constant starts and stops but finally I’ve conquered the JRPG behemoth. It took me 29 recorded hours to beat the main story of Final Fantasy 2, (I wouldn’t dare attempt a 100% run) and likely 40+ actual hours, because in this game dying means your kicked back to menu and all your unsaved progress is gone and not recorded in the timer. I took a massive break throughout this playthrough, I’m talking months between sessions and by the end I was dying for it to be over. I did a very similar thing when I played through Final Fantasy 1 and wonder if this will be a reoccurring theme as I delve into longer JRPG experiences as we progress through this series. I found the infamous levelling system of this game very hit and miss, I think that’s the common consensus. In reality it ended up working similarly enough to a normal levelling system, that it didn’t bother me enough to widely detract from the experience. The villain was much cooler in Final Fantasy 2, taking over hell is pretty cool, then coming back to Earth more powerful to fuck over the people that sent you there, is cooler and that’s what the Emperor does in this game. That being said, I think I will more fondly look back upon my experience with the first Final Fantasy. I don’t regret my time spent with this game but it’s certainly not an experience I would lookback upon with thirst. But the workload never ends and now it’s time to move forward to Final Fantasy 3, exclusively for the Nintendo DS! (YAY)

 

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Final Fantasy 3:

I’ve played literally 5 minutes of Final Fantasy 3. All I can tell you is the art style is already annoying me and I will have more for you next month.

Octopath Traveller:

Last time we spoke I had barely started Octopath Traveller, but now that I have put a few more hours into the game I’m enjoying myself and have become quite engaged in the experience. I mentioned last time that I choose Therion as my first path, but in my opinion, it took far too long, nearly a full hour of gameplay, to enter any combat. The story writing in this game so far is entirely uninteresting, so this long stretch without any gameplay was boring me to death. The same issue interfered with the pacing and my enjoyment later when I had to sit through H’aanit’s storyline. However, I loved the non-linearity of the game; I could have gone north or south after completing chapter 1 of Therion’s story and visited any of the other characters. Both the dry mountain and lush forest area’s I’ve journeyed through so far, have been dynamic and interesting, but I’m thirsting for a proper dungeon. Additionally, Therion levelled up 10 levels from one battle when I effortlessly killed a supposedly high-level enemy, all while I was barely paying attention; that was cool. I will report back in a month with hopefully quite a bit more progression and with a lot more to talk about.

 

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NJPW Destruction Tour:

There wasn’t anything that catered to my specific interests on this tour, the Tomohiro Ishii vs Kenny Omega match was quite predictable, even if I hoped beyond hope that he would win, I and everyone else knew the outcome of this match. Naito vs Suzuki has been done to death at this point, and the final night didn’t get interesting until after the main event was over. I had no stakes in the Okada vs Tanahashi match, my interest level in them is equal, so I watched this match half paying attention and without a horse in the race. But the most important talking point retrospectively from this tour is the big Jay White and Gedo turn on Okada after the Okada vs Tanahashi match. It was a brilliant swerve that I was kicking myself for not seeing coming. New Japan isn’t fucking around when it comes to Jay White, he’s young, has the character and charisma to carry a main event program and so I’m eagerly anticipating the direction they go with him and Gedo moving into Wrestle Kingdom 13 and beyond.

 

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Hell in a Cell 2018:

Boring! I liked absolutely nothing on this show besides the result in the SmackDown Woman’s Championship match. Becky Lynch won the championship just like I told you she would last month, because after all only heels are successful in WWE contemporaneously. Besides that, I have no understanding of why the praise for this show has been so universal. Ronda Rousey sold for Alexa Bliss for 10 minutes for some reason. Fuck the tag title match, I will never care about Dolph Ziggler again, you’ve burnt that bridge WWE, and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are currently uninteresting and directionless. The only wrestler I care about in this match is Drew McIntyre. Why was the main event of this show McIntyre against Reigns? Both Hell in a Cell matches was forgettable and drawn-out bore fests. AJ and Joe had another disappointing match, AJ’s 20th disappointing match of the year, and their feud was unnecessarily propagated by a finish that made both look like morons. And I didn’t even pay attention to the mix tag match, give me a fucking break.

 

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Mae Young Classic 2:

I’m liking the second annual Mae Young Classic a whole lot. I don’t like Rhea Ripley’s new gimmick, she’s a national relative of mine coming from Australia, but her persona feels like she’s playing the bad guy. She can’t quite sell the authenticity of her character and that’s largely the issue with everybody in this tournament, with only one standout exception. Even the other home-country girl Toni Storm is overly goofy and a bit cringy in her interviews, it still seems like she’s playing an unconvincing character she doesn’t quite believe in. But Io Shari is the obvious aforementioned notable exception. She looked like the superstar she absolutely is in her first-round match with Xia Brookside, who also has the makings of a superstar. She demonstrated in this solitary match that she and Sasha deserve to Main Event WrestleMania before Ronda and Charlotte even begin to sniff it. Io Shari is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world and her intensity and charisma were on display in this match. I can’t wait to see her other matches in this tournament. Other names that stood out and impressed me, were Xia Brookside, who I already went over, and Killer Kelly who I’m interested to see develop on the NXT UK brand. I thought she excelled in her first-round match. I’ve spoiled myself on both the Mae Young Classic finals and the inaugural United Kingdom Woman’s championship tournament, and I’m exceedingly happy for my Australian girls and feel deeply sorry the main roster girls that are going to have to compete with the finals of this tournament on the Evolution card, because that final is going to be outstanding.

 

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Pokémon Emerald:

I peered over to my DS Lite and saw the cartridge of a threequarters-completed Pokémon Emerald game and then suddenly I was playing it again. I have long pronounced this game (and gen 3) as my favourite in the Pokémon series, with secretly never having actually completed a playthrough of Pokémon Emerald, only having completed playthroughs of Ruby and Sapphire. So, it was in my ideological best interest to finally finish this game of this save file I started sometime earlier this year. And let me say I’m the greatest Pokémon team creator of all time because this team is fun as fuck. Sceptile, Claydol, Camerupt, Crawdaunt, Exploud and Armaldo is fucking menacing team and every time I open up my party in the menu screen I’m rewarded with a glimpse of a satisfying group of captivating monsters ready to fuck shit up. While I was traversing the back half of this game I was reminded that I’m absolutely correct and these are the standout games in the franchise. The unique ways that water routes are crafted in this game is insane, it justifiably has the best water environments in any Pokémon game. The pulling currents puzzle, the diving puzzles, the waterfall inclusions and the variation in scenery with the rocks in certain areas, these are all elements integrated satisfyingly into this game. This game is the best what else can I say.

 

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Pokémon Colosseum:

I got an itch and found myself for the 5th or 6th time, playing through Pokémon Colosseum, and after I finish it I’m planning on revisiting its sequel: Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, for the 5th or 6th time. I’m continuously drawn back to these games, I get an itch every few months to go back to them; at this point they’re easily the Pokémon games I’ve played through the most time. To be fair they are also the shortest traditional Pokémon adventures and therefore 5 or 6 playthroughs of them isn’t as impressive as it may sound. Very superficial elements can draw me to any piece of media and the two superficial elements I can identify about these particular games, that keep drawing me back are, the battle interface’s aesthetic and having a team of large scale monsters rendered and realised in 3D console glory. I love both these aspects about both these games and it’s the reason I come back to them constantly, I’ll just think of having Aggron and Tyranitar back to back on my side of the battle, while traversing a sleek and smooth battle UI.

 

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Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD Gale of Darkness – the Black Sheep of the Series

The two Nintendo GameCube exclusive Pokémon games, Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, were the first fully 3D Pokémon experiences, predating Pokémon X and Y by nearly 10 years. These games are the black sheep of the franchise for a variety of reasons, there are no wild Pokémon encounters and even when they are implemented in XD they aren’t used traditionally. There are no GYM battles or a Pokémon League pushing you’re journey forward, instead these games are much more story focused. Catching Pokémon is done through stealing them from unsuspecting trainers that have been duped into perpetuating darkness in the region of Orre by the evil syndicate Cipher. These games are all different from main series Pokémon entries for these mechanical reasons, but they have very special different elements that makes these games, more particularly, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, some of my favourites in the storied franchised.

 

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The aesthetic of the Orre region in both games assists the game in creating its own vivid identity. The towns and dungeons in these games are unlike any in the main series games, both in creativeness and grit. Colosseum has a clearly gritty aesthetic, you begin at the Outskirt Stand, a desolate train turned store, then the player journeys to Phenac City and Pyrite Town. These clearly juxtapose each other and provide insight in the variation of environments in Orre. Pyrite is a criminal underbelly and Phenac is a palatial estate, ultimately the irony here is that Pyrite is run by a flawed man with a heart of gold in Duking, while Phenac is run by the evil leader of cypher and final boss of the game, subverting players expectations. These environments extend to the lively and unique underground city known as the ‘Under’ and Agate Town, a retirement village in the forest, full of old-time Pokémon Masters. However, XD takes the evil dungeon idea to a whole new level with the introduction of a literal upside-down industrial polluting pyramid used as a lab, and a volcanic evil liar that serves as a final area. These environments are captivating and are a joy to roam through, and are like nothing seen in other Pokémon games, making these games standout as the black sheep of the series, along with all the mechanical difference discussed earlier.

 

 

 

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Attack on Titan… Underrated? (Manga Spoilers!)

Attack on Titan has achieved astronomical success since it 2013 anime adaptation, so the claim that it is somehow underrated would seem dismissible but, I believe Attack on Titan is not given the recognition for its best elements. Attack on Titan is at its core a mystery series, disguised as a flesh-mech action, political thriller. The mystery elements and the nuance in its execution and the thoroughness of the authors attention to detail isn’t discussed as prevalently as it should be. Hajime Isayama has laid this story out phenomenally, I am constantly caught off guard by the call backs and intricate details that I only notice as a hardcore fan. The real strengths of the show go unrecognised and the not so great parts are overblown and overrate the show, because people are hyped up idiots.

 

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Attack on Titan is widely praised for elements like frequent deaths and heart-stopping action, but what it truly excels at is its set-up, mystery, call-backs and subversion of reveals. For instance: that random girl that Mikasa saves in episode 6 that was animated in 2013 and written even further back than that was reintroduced into the story last month (September 2018). That’s insane and the pay-off for me, someone who pays this series my absolute attention, was enormous, I was rewarded for my nearly obsessive interest in the series and shows that Isayama cares about his audience’s intelligence. There are countless other examples of definitive background characters that are reintroduced and given incredibly important roles. Historia is the most obvious example, a character that was virtually non-existent in Season 1 but is now a focal main character in Season 3. That random girl that Sasha saves from Connie fathers titan (another idiosyncratic recently revealed piece of information) is now a fully-fledge important character contemporarily in the manga. This coordination requires insane forethought and careful planning on Isayama’s part.

 

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Isayama’s ability to reference his most early material and reward his audience’s attention is only personified further with the handling of the reveals. Attack on Titan has no dramatic reveals, intentionally. Instead of bombastic expositional dumps, Isayama (usually) subtly drip-feeds information to his audience and allows them to slowly put it together. By the time Annie is revealed as the Female Titan, the audience likely has already connected the dots, the same for the Armoured and Colossal Titan. The subtle reveal that they were indeed the shifters was communicated through the background, its simple juxtaposition but also fits the thematic elements of Isayama’s leading strategies. Even the reveal in the basement was assumed by most fans before the big reveal; the Beast Titan was making references to baseball calls and Reiner and Berthold had to come from some other community, but these reveals are always satisfying. Isayama isn’t insulting his audience so the ‘grand’ reveals feel like natural extension of the story he’s crafted.

 

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These lesser praised aspects of Attack on Titan are what’s underrated by the wider community, while the less impressive elements are overpraised because people are stupid and don’t delve past the window dressing. Ultimately, I hope to see wider discussion about the truly impressive elements of Isayama’s mystery writing and call-back rather than the anime’s action. That’s why Attack on Titan is underrated.

 

 

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The Godfather’s Unparalleled Atmosphere

In ‘The Godfather’ there is a ubiquitous sense of tension, at any point it feels like things could explode. There are scenes of absolute calmness, but you never quite feel at ease, and there are scenes were Michael explodes yelling in that 1950s raised voice, but you never quite feel intimidated. It’s the opposite you feel most intimidated when Michael is calm and collected and he feels vulnerable when he lights up with anger. This is a thematic parallel to the successes and failures of the family throughout the film depending on the ‘don’ at the time. Sonny is very emotional and quick to anger, and the family fails during his reign, but when Vito is head of the family he remains calm and collected and the family prospers. Michael is a combination of the two personalities of the former heads of the family, and that’s why he succeeds when dealing with the family business and fails when dealing with his family.

 

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Never in another film have I felt the tension and atmosphere like in The Godfather. The schizophrenic nature of the tension and the reality that Michael can bubble over at any point is astoundingly captivating to watch. A perfect example of this is in Part 2 when Michael is first told about his wife’s miscarriage and then in the scene when Kate confronts him and explains to him that she had an abortion. In both these scenes it is a drop of the hat that sets Michael off, possibly justifiably in both cases, but he goes from 0 to 100 quickly. Michael entirely fails as a father and husband in the film, he’s forgotten Vito’s message about true men spending time with their family, and its repeatedly brought up throughout the film. He has absolute victory in business as he escapes sentencing and kills Roth, channelling the calm and collected nature of Vito. However, he has absolute defeat dealing with his actual family. His sister still hates him, his wife and children leave him, and he doesn’t forgive Fredo. Therefore, channelling the idiocy of Sonny.

 

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The Godfather’s unparalleled atmosphere is a key reason for its universality in film legend. The one aspect this film nails and the aspect that will stand the test of time is this atmosphere. No matter when or where this film is consumed in the future, the atmosphere will breakdown any reality a viewer lives in.

 

 

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Thanos is a Generation Defining Villain

Thanos is the standout element of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. He wasn’t the reason the movie made so much money but is the reason for its overwhelmingly positive reception from critics and audiences alike. Thanos as a villain is so effective, not only because the standard MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) villains are terrible, but because he is a nuanced character with good intentions. Thanos doesn’t gloat about his actions and subsequent victory, he doesn’t needlessly rub in his superiority or anger easily, he is lawful evil. He’s doing what he believes is the only way to save the universe from unbalance and ruin. This generation defining performance makes Thanos this generations parallel to Darth Vader.

 

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Thanos will redefine the contemporary villain architype. Everything Marvel does is mirrored by money-hungry studios; just look at the abundance of attempted cinematic universes from DC to the Paramounts shared monster’s universe, that all take direct inspiration from the Marvel formula. Therefore, the fascinating villain from the biggest Marvel movie to date, will surely be reimagined just as Darth Vader has been ever since Star Wars: A New Hope. Every time I watch Infinity War I am further flabbergasted that Thanos and as a result this movie was so masterfully created. Congratulations Marvel for creating a movie comparable to the first Star Wars in terms of impact on culture and even bigger in terms of monetary value, you’ve earnt it.

 

 

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Why is Kissanime a Better Service than All the Legal Anime Streaming Platforms

The obvious answer to the titular question is that Kissanime has literally every anime I’ve ever been interested in watching within its catalogue, and more importantly it’s entirely free. But these elements aren’t the ones I want to highlight here, rather I want to highlight what Kissanime does that should be easy for alternatives like Chrunchyroll and Funimation to implement, but for some reason don’t. These complaints will be reasonable and available to fix for these pre-existing platforms. Obviously, they can’t give free access and have the ultimate anime selection like Kissanime, due to pesky streaming rights. Disclaimer before we delve to deep; fuck the anime industry, in fact fuck every industry in existence, I don’t want to hear your preachy narrative about supporting the industry because you heard some bought and paid for pundit’s talking points. You shouldn’t feel obliged to support any industry ever, but only creators you respect and are willing to compensate for their work. If they can’t supply a way for us to compensate them reasonably the fuck em, sometimes the baby has to go out with the bathwater.

 

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There are two main aspects that Kissanime’s website excels at, far better than the paying alternatives do, the simplistic layout of the site and the ease of use of its various video players. Every anime is easily accessible on Kissanime because the search feature actually works, and the interface is effective. There is a random button, a list of recently realised shows and a most popular list, all immediately available on the home page. Additionally, you can hoover over the title of an anime you’re interested in and a display image pops up as well as a brief description. Then if you click on the anime you are taken directly to the page that has all the episodes listed. This is different to the alternatives because there is no exasperated bullshit. You don’t have to jump through hopes or transverse over-designed interfaces, it just works simply and effectively. YouTube clearly has the best video player in existence but the terrible video player on the legal anime websites make Kissanime’s look like YouTube’s. Funimation’s video player constantly fucks itself and then when you refresh its fucked all over again and you have to sit through further adds. When I had the choice between binging My Hero Academia for free when it was available on both Funimation and Kissanime, I tried desperately to watch it legally, but it kept fucking me repeatedly and it wasn’t worth it, so I had to switch to the superior alternative.

 

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These platforms are unacceptably bad at existing and it’s shameful when a dodgy site run on Russian servers can put forward a more user-friendly experience when compared to you. At least when anime fans had to buy physical media it was all easily available from the disc and I didn’t have to get repeatedly fucked…

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Puck Became a Joke and That’s Fine

Puck never lost his importance to the story of Berserk. Everyone is mad at Miura because he supposedly ruined Puck by giving him the comedic relief hat to wear following Conviction. This viewpoint is flawed for two reasons; Puck was always comedic relief and is still important to the plot, he just isn’t being focused upon or developed contemporarily. I’m sure Miura will develop Puck more in the future. His role has become increasingly comically related as of late, but he still has serious moments and observations from time to time. He was focused upon plenty in the Black Swordsmen and Conviction arcs because he was Guts’ only travelling companion, but in the arcs since them Miura has spent establishing the 30+ other characters that were important to the story. From Farnese to Mule and from Zodd to Silat. Puck became a joke and that’s fine because it’s funny and it’s temporary.

 

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Puck in the Black Swordsmen arc served as our guide to this brand new and equally confusing and dark world. Puck was a newcomer to Guts and the world of Berserk just like us, he was a great parallel to the viewer and served as prime juxtaposition to Guts while he was at his worst. Puck served a seminal narrative reason in those early Berserk chapters and his sympathy for Vargas and disdain for Guts’ unruly behaviour endeared him to us. In the Lost Children chapters Puck further was endeared to the audience and eventually after he and Guts acknowledged each other as mutual, worthy travelling companions, and embraced others like Farnese, Serpico, Isidro and Schierke, those characters took the spotlight. Puck was just along for the ride. So, Miura, to keep Puck around as a relevant character, created the “Chestnut Puck” persona.

 

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But the criticism for Chestnut Puck further doesn’t make sense because Chestnut Puck is (objectively): best Puck. He’s hilarious, his chemistry with Isidro and Ivalera are off the charts and watching them interact gives me the finest of joys in my terrible existence. Additionally, his gimmick of believing the story revolves around him, along with the scenario of him and Magnifico trying to overthrow the Elfhelm system was also hilarious. So, don’t shit talk Chestnut Puck, he’s fucking great and in the future Miura will give him serious moments and make you the happiest boys in all the land. Puck’s a funny boy, leave him alone…

 

 

 

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Black Lagoon is Cooler than Cowboy Bebop

“Cowboy Bebop is fucking boring;” is how I described Cowboy Bebop in my media consumption monthly retrospective for august (that you can find in the header menu). I believe that description maintains its accuracy. Black Lagoon is an easy comparison to Cowboy Bebop, both have crews of four, Jet and Dutch are clear parallels and Edward and Benny fit the same purpose, Rock doesn’t have a parallel and Revy is a combination of what Spike and Faye wish they were. Revy might be the greatest anime character of all time (I didn’t stutter), she definitely wins the award for the greatest Dub performance in anime history, at least. She is a character often slept on because Black Lagoon is often slept on as a fun and exciting action show, when in reality it’s so much more. But that isn’t what we are here to quantify today, I said Black Lagoon is cooler than Cowboy Bebop.

 

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Cowboy Bebop is cowardly, there’s not nearly enough fucks in the show for it to be as cool as Black Lagoon. FYI I’m talking about the Dubs for both these shows because they are all that matter in this case. Black Lagoon’s Dub is better than Cowboy Bebops specifically because of the swearing. There ain’t no pussy shit in Black Lagoon; Revy literally tells a mobster that his breathe smells like he’s being sucking cock, in those exact words! Not only is the dialogue better and cooler in Black Lagoon but the characters are better, and the weight they carry is weighs more. Revy is a better character than anyone in Cowboy Bebop including Spike. I think Spike’s pretty fucking lame, he isn’t as funny as Revy, he isn’t more relatable than Revy, Revy’s more of a bad motherfucker than Spike, and she’s got Faye’s sex appeal to boot. Objectively this is true…

 

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Obviously, some of this script is written in jest, but I stand by the clickbait in the title and am underwhelmed by the overall praise for my favourite anime, Black Lagoon. Ultimately, I hope those of you reading this who haven’t immediately weaponised against me for shitting on Cowboy Bebop, will re-watch Black Lagoon or watch it for the first time if you haven’t seen it before, in the Dub of course, and appreciate the expert dialogue and scripting for a translated artwork. This is the best anime dialogue has ever sounded and is the best it’ll likely ever sound, so please, praise it like it deserves.

 

 

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Gedo Turned on Okada for Jay White, it was Perfect, How Didn’t I See It?

Following a hellacious, as Steve Austin would put it, main event between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada on the final night of the NJPW Destruction tour, Gedo turned on his long-time ally and longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight, in favour of young and hungry Jay White. This was a brilliant angle and I’m currently kicking myself trying to understand how I didn’t see it coming. It seems so obvious in retrospect. After the G1 Gedo and Okada announced that they were separating after a six-year partnership because Okada believed he had out grown the NJPW veteran. As any professional wrestling fan should know whenever a separation happens it’s a tell-tale sign that an angle is brewing. Yet I heard no rumours online about this alignment and subsequent turn and that’s why the angle was so effective this evening.

 

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This hot angle was sorely needed in New Japan, things have been quite stagnant since the conclusion of the G1 and we needed so collective rejuvenation. This angle will be hot on the two massive upcoming shows New Japan has in the pipeline: Fighting Spirit Unleashed in Los Angeles and King of Pro Wrestling. Jay White and Okada is now looking to be the Tokyo Dome match for both men, which is interesting because I was assuming Okada would be defeating Jericho at the show for the Intercontinental Championship. This has major implications because now the more likely top matches are: Omega vs Tanahashi, Naito vs Jericho 2 and Okada vs White. Plus, whatever Evil, Sanada, Suzuki and Sabre Jr are doing on the show as well as the juniors. It looks like we are headed for one hell of a 13th anniversary of Wrestle Kingdom. I haven’t been as engaged as I was in the New Japan product as of late, but with this angle they’ve regained my absolute attention, Fighting Spirit Unleashed looks to be an incredibly enjoyable show and I’m looking forward to it very much…

 

 

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The Black Swordsmen Arc is Critical to the Overall Structure of Early Berserk

The first eight chapters of Berserk featured in Volumes 1-3 have become known as the Black Swordsman arc. This opening arc of the series has come to be undervalued largely by the wider Berserk community. It has largely been ignored by all anime studios in their adaptations and its importance to the structure of Berserk is also commonly undervalued. This is massive mistake on all anime adaptations of Berserk. The Black Swordsman arc is seminal to the overall structure of early Berserk (Black Swordsman and Golden Age) and the arc is designed to be shown entirely and then be followed up by the Golden Age, which should be presented as a prologue.

 

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The Black Swordsman arc is an introduction to the world of Berserk, therein introducing the tone, characters, themes and imagery present in the main timeline of Berserk. This is necessary because it is seminal in that the Golden Age is presented as the tonal outlier of the series. The movies entirely present the Golden Age without the necessary juxtaposition which undermines the intention of the original manga. Everything from the characters to the tone to the overall world is juxtaposed between the Black Swordsman period and the Golden Age. Pippin, Judeau and Corkus have virtually nothing in common with Vargas, Theresia, Puck and The Count, those unfamiliar with Berserk may even initially believe they are from different stories entirely. The worlds are completely contradictory, one has monstrous demonic evils seemingly around every corner and the other is one of traditional medieval fiction, with Kings, Knights and Princesses and no magic or monsters anywhere. This instils in the viewer an unwavering intrigue making them wonder how we go from a normal medieval setting to one of dark fantasy, something terrible must happen?

 

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Thematically there is also an essential justification for the series to be structured with the Black Swordsman arc preceding the flashback to the Golden Age, because a central theme of Berserk surrounds fate. Whether it’s called fate or causality that is what Guts is truly fighting against, this is visually represented from the beginning with the brand on his neck and how he struggles against the will of fate. Additionally, the entire cast of the Golden Age arc is fighting against fate, the audience is positioned in the same way they are. We know that due to the absence of Judeau, Pippin, Corkus and the other members of the Band of the Hawk, that they will likely die before the flashback concludes, but still the audience wills against fate, we don’t want these characters to die but secretly we know it is unavoidable. Technically the audience somewhat wins their fight against fate through the unlikely survival of Casca and Rickert, many likely assumed they would also perish. This highlights Berserk’s most important thematic element hope. Casca and Rickert struggle to survive and in their survival the audience is rewarded with maintaining them in the story. There is hope in the world of Berserk.

 

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Ultimately, the Black Swordsman arc is necessary in any adaptation or read-through of Berserk to truly get the clearest picture. Muira wasn’t dicking around when he wrote these opening eight chapters and it grates on me that they are continuously overlooked and downplayed by would-be adapters and some in the Berserk fandom.

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A lookback at the Pilot for the Sopranos: (Recognition and Differences)

The Sopranos is my favourite and possibly the most important television series of all time. It was the first HBO produced show to truly crack the mainstream and trailblazed for future HBO properties like Game of Thrones and The Wire and altered the television audience’s perception of antiheroes and trailblazed for characters like Walter White. It’s the Neon Genesis Evangelion of western television, it forever altered everything that followed it, there’s the pre-Sopranos and post-Sopranos eras of television. As Evangelion built upon the ubiquitous mech routes of the anime industry and in Japanese Culture, The Sopranos built upon the glorified mobster genre of American Culture. These shows have several dualistic similarities like abstract and frequent use of symbolism and exploration of psychological philosophy, but I would like to focus on the humble beginnings of David Chase’s vision of the Sopranos in this article. My recent re-watch of the Sopranos pilot yielded some interesting observations about the first outing of the to-be franchise.

 

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The pilot has retconning issues, more than I expected. Initially the most compelling and fundamentally shaking contradiction is that Tony is out-rightly stated to already be the boss of the family. Characters remark throughout that Junior is unhappy that he’s taking orders from Tony and how he wants to be the boss of the family. Junior out-rightly stated that Tony may control all of North Jersey, but he doesn’t control his uncle Junior, this all implies that in the pilot Tony is already the boss of the family. Obviously at this point of the show, canonically Jackie Aprille is still acting boss of the family, but he is strikingly absent from this entire episode. Besides this major inconsistency the characterisation of nearly all the characters are unlike their eventuality in the rest of the series. Tony’s accent is different to how it would develop to become later in the series, Silvio is seemingly not a part of the main crew but only used as a strip club owner and isn’t included in sit-downs, always leaving before the real shit is discussed. Other smaller elements are altered like Adrianna only being a waitress at Artie’s restaurant, while Christopher is shown in bed with another woman, however I did think it was neat that Adrianna was present at all. Also, Tony’s Russian side-chick is re-casted in all futured episodes, because she is blonde here but will have black hair for the remainder of her run. Ultimately, the show is more driven by comedy and is a lot more outlandish, like when Tony runs over a dude that owes him money in broad daylight with countless witnesses, whereas the show become more serious nearly immediately.

 

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Additionally, many future plot events are foreshadowed in the opening episode. Christopher’s overwhelming ambition to become, and interest in film making is established in one of the final scenes of the episode. He even drops that his cousin is dating a development girl in Hollywood (D-Girl), which become the entire subplot of an episode in a later season. Tony drops the line about Junior making fun of him for not having the makings of a varsity athlete, which will famously become a reoccurring, hilarious running gag in the future. Most importantly and the foreshadow with the most thematic relevance is Tony’s fascination will the ‘strong and silent type,’ Gary Cooper character. This is a persona that Tony idolises and attempts to be, and is a massive aspect of his characterisation, but I hope to delve into this element much more in future projects, it’s just important to point out its early establishment here. These little details about Christopher, and Tony’s mention of the varsity athlete comment were rewarding to hear on my re-watch and added some depth to those future elements, proving that the team behind the Sopranos was clearly paying attention to their product.

 

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All-in-all the lookback on the Sopranos pilot was an interesting endeavour and I learnt quite a bit about the early strategy with the Sopranos. Comparing this initial episode to any episode from Season 6 interestingly highlights major differences in tone and quality. This episode is entertaining but in comparison to later outings by the show this simply doesn’t compare and stands out as an outlier.

 

 

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Naruto’s Fascinating Hierarchical Structure

Everything in Naruto works on a fascinating hierarchical structure of squads; one sensei and three pupils; two boys and a girl. These squads or teams are always made of three predominant personalities; a hyperactive male ninja (Naruto, Kiba, Kakuro, Jiraiya, Obito etc.), a driven strictly business male ninja (Sasuke, Shino, Gaara, Orochimaru, Kakashi etc.) and a usually useless, annoying female character (Sakura, Ino, Tsunade, Rin etc.). This is the core of Naruto’s structure and its fascinating how many different characters are created through this strategy. Additionally, this allows for a narrative through line between all generations of ninja in the Naruto universe. You can fascinatingly follow the learning tree up the ladder from teacher to pupil to teacher’s son to pupil’s son.

 

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In my opinion the most fascinating aspect of Naruto is whenever a flashback is enabled by Kishimoto. Naruto would be so much more interesting if Naruto was irrelevant and we focused on literally any other era in the history of Naruto’s lore. Naruto and Sasuke suck in comparison to Orochimaru and Jiraiya or Kakashi and Obito. But the fascinating core to every is the linage and how certain squads functioned and interacted with these other established personalities. How did Orochimaru interact with Jiraiya before the split, how did Minato interact with Orochimaru, how did Itachi interact with Jiraiya before the both left the village. All these interesting characters would have all lived in the Hidden Leaf Village before the start of Naruto and it’s so much more interesting than whatever-the-fuck is going on in the contemporaneous Naruto plot. Naruto’s fascinating Hierarchical structure with the squad system is genius and makes Naruto’s kayfabe past so much more interesting and easy to understand.

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Tom Holland is the Worst Spider-Man

Tom Holland’s portrayal of Spider-Man and Peter Parker is what out of touch Disney executives think Californian teenagers act like, it’s embarrassing; and I hate it. But what I hate more is the nearly universal praise I hear for this portrayal. According to some people Tom Holland is the only Spider-Man to properly portray a teenager, which is laughably incorrect. No teenager acts like Tom Holland, I know because I’m still technically a teenager, and the cultural representations of teenagers aren’t that different between Australia (where I am) and in the USA. (Maybe less shootings because we solved that problem…) And no one I have ever meant acts in anyway like Tom Holland does in this movie, no one I have ever meant acts like any of the other portrayals of high school Peter Parker, but they are rightfully universally criticised for it.

 

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Spider-Man Homecoming wasn’t a terrible film. I liked the portrayal of the Vulture, I thought he was a remarkably nuanced villain, especially considering the MCU’s track-record. But Tom Holland’s performance wasn’t an aspect I liked in anyway, it just took me out of the overall experience. He’s not funny, the movie isn’t funny, he’s not annoyingly endearing, he’s just annoying, and everyone praises him for it, it’s embarrassing, and I hate it.

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You Either Get Wrestling or You Don’t…

I hate absolutism, but to completely contradict myself that statement, it seems to me that there are two predominant perspectives about the contemporary opinion on modern wrestling; you either get it or you don’t. You either despise it for its stupidity and can’t get over the main conceit (that it’s fake) and those who see the theatrics and eccentric nature of it all and are drawn in. And if you at any point in your life find yourself drawn in you will always come back to it. You’ll get the curious itch whenever you least expect it and you’ll be back, maybe not forever but for a little while. And the cycle will forever continue, and you will be unable to escape.

 

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I never seen or heard of a person coming around on professional wrestling, if they aren’t interested abstractly, then they never will be interested. You’ll never find that one perfect match to show non-wrestling fans to get them interested in the business, so stop asking that stupid question. I don’t really have anything further to say; you either get professional wrestling or you don’t, and you never will.

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Twitch is a Terrible Platform, How Does Anyone Use It?

Twitch annoys and fundamentally alienates me at every turn. I hate the terrible video player, I hate that every stream I accidentally click on makes me sit through a 30 second ad, I hate that the search and archiving systems are so unrefined, and I hate the idea of live streaming in general. How to people watch live streams, do they have a catalogue what different streams they want to watch each day, or do they just click on random streams until they discover something they like? Most importantly how-to people have the time to do any of this? Twitch just seems like so much work with very little payoff in comparison to its competitors, for my attention.

 

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YouTube has redefined entertainment for young people entirely. I grew up (and kids are growing up now) with an unlimited stream (pun intended) of entirely free content to consume, at all times. Everything is free on YouTube and everything is on YouTube. The video player is near perfection, no other system compares, every other platform video player sucks in comparison to YouTube’s for some reason. They have that system locked down and that’s why YouTube has no competitors, it has an unrivalled install base and a familiarised infrastructure. YouTube is integrated into nearly every hour of my existence, it’s what I spend nearly all my time doing and its completely stream-lined, so why would I even bother with a fumbling mess like Twitch. So now I ask you, how does anyone use this terrible platform?

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Anime’s Problem with Dialogue

Anime commonly really fucking sucks with dialogue, it’s a consistent problem and it’s a key cause to why I usually am forced to read annoying subtitles to watch Japanese cartoons. The usual issues with anime dialogue relate to the dismissal of a fundamental element of mature storytelling, ‘show don’t tell.’ Anime dialogue is usually laced with exposition that would be unacceptable in any self-respecting American drama. Another common element that incorporates the lack of ‘show don’t tell,’ philosophy is the rampant use of internal monologues in anime, having a character just exposit their emotions to so blatantly is considered extremely lazy writing. But expositional dialogue isn’t inherently bad, but it’s the way its delivered in Dubs that create this disconnect with me about anime dialogue.

 

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English Dubs are usually terrible, because the majority of voice acting in English speaking countries are for children cartoons, wherein the over-the-top nature voice acting fits for the younger demographic being targeted. But when these voice actors are tasked with trying to give a believable and serious performance, they are outwardly terrible. The meme about Dubs having the same 7 fuckbois in every single show is patently true, I’m sick of hearing the same untalented over-the-top idiots in every show. Animation is naturally a more expressive medium and therefore it courts audiences that need basic human characteristics and emotions repeatedly explained to them, that’s why the anime community is filled with autists. This may be why the scripting of the shows even in Subs is, so exposition orientated, these feel their audience can’t understand subtly. This definitely contributes to anime’s fundamental issues with dialogue.

 

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However, there is one show that stands out amongst its contemporaries with dialogue, and that’s the Black Lagoon Dub. This show’s Dub is objectively so much better than the Sub, because the script was entirely re-written by the English produces to be appropriate for an older demographic. All the uses of bastard in the original script were replaced with more mature language like, ‘fuck’ and ‘motherfuck,’ and it’s unbelievably fantastic. The dialogue does fall into dumb anime speak every once and a while, but the more melancholic and slower moments of the show are highlighted by the great script writing and more relatable language. Black Lagoon’s Dub is a prime example of what Dubs could be if the English producers got more creative and worked a little harder. Other examples of Dubs that I think are worth watching include, Steins; Gate, but not 0, the Dub is not as good there, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, only because the awkwardness entirely fits Anno’s thematic elements.

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Man, but What If Ishii Won?

Tomohiro Ishii just lost again in his second ever challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Kenny Omega. Against all odds I was hoping beyond hope that somehow New Japan would throughout all consistency and sense and just go with this beautiful man. But it wasn’t his night tonight and I’m starting to wonder if it’ll ever be his time to win the most prestigious championship in Professional Wrestling. Minoru Suzuki has still never won the championship, Shibata never won the championship and all these men as well as Ishii have earned a run with the belt. New Japan is effectively stingy with their main championship, even Naito, consistently the most popular wrestler in New Japan, hasn’t had a lengthy run with the belt, with his only victory over Ishii.

 

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I know I shouldn’t have even begin to believe it was possible for Ishii to win the belt at this time, New Japan is clearly gearing up for Hiroshi Tanahashi’s last stand at Wrestle Kingdom 13 and Omega is the man to go in as champion to oppose him, but, man, what if Ishii won? Literally no one on the planet would be angry; on the 30th Walter Pyramid would reign with ‘You Deserve It’ chants and Omega could just win the belt back at Power Struggle or King of Pro Wrestling. Maybe I just wanted to believe. Besides the outcome the match was pretty great, but that’s to be expected from these two. You now they weren’t happy about not being the headlining feud of this tour, being overshadowed by Okada and Tanahashi on the 23rd. They went out there and burnt the house down, but tonight wasn’t Ishii’s night and now we are all left sitting on our hands, biting our nails hoping beyond hope that Ishii will get what he has earned one day…

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Sporting Events are Peak Media

I recently went to an elimination final between the Brisbane Broncos and St. George Illawarra Dragons as part of the finals series for the NRL. The NRL (Nation Rugby League) is the second largest sport in Australia behind AFL (Australian Football League) and is an offshoot of traditional Rugby that you’re possibly familiar with. It a weird hybrid game that’s only popular in Australia and New Zealand, and it’s easily the greatest sport I’ve ever watched. It’s faster than the boring NFL games, makes more sense than average Rugby Union game and isn’t pussy-shit like any random soccer game. But my recent adventure to the Brisbane Broncos’ home stadium, Suncorp Stadium sitting amongst the only contingent of Dragons fans in the entire state reinvigorated my love for the sport and showed me for the first time the fun a live sporting experience can bring.

 

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I had gone to 10+ NRL games previously, some of them I attended so young with my parents that I don’t even remember them, but this was the first time I loved the experience more than the novelty of going to a game in person. I am primarily a fan of the always fledgling and hopeless Gold Coast Titans. They are the youngest club in the NRL, being founded in 2007, right when I was coming around as a kid and they were the new shiny team, with blue and yellow colours (my favourite) so I jumped on the band-wagon. So, all the recent games that I’ve attended, recently enough for me to remember, have been at the home stadium for the Titans on the Gold Coast, with a very different melancholic atmosphere in comparison with the blood feud ongoing between the Broncos and Dragons. The game had heavy stakes because it was an elimination final between two long-time rival clubs instead of a run-of-the-mill weekly game that the Titans will likely lose.

 

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This game had wait, I was cheering for the underdog team, overwhelmed by the mass of Brisbane Bronco fans surrounding us on all sides; and then the Dragons destroyed the Broncos 48-18. The feeling of validation I got from the victory and the sensation of proving 40 000+ arrogant Bronco fans wrong was exhilarating. It was the biggest ‘I told you so’ moment of my life. This all culminated in one of the highlights of my year, I had so much fun at the game and now I eagerly anticipating the entire finals series coming over the next few weeks. The rush of adrenaline and the ever-present us vs them mentality took over and I had a great time. This experience may have been more rewarding and more instilled into my mind than any other media I consumed this year and has made me ultimately conclude that big time sporting events are peak media.

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Only Heels Survive in Contemporary WWE

WWE has a problem with crafting universally liked babyfaces. This is for a variety of mostly obvious and frustrating reasons, but the most annoying reason is dumb babyface syndrome. Dumb babyface syndrome is applicable whenever a babyface does something obviously stupid because they are the good guy and WWE thinks we are all morons and think like they act. Your favourite wrestlers that are babyfaces will ALWAYS lose because the heels need HEAT, for some indiscernible reason this strategy along with 50/50 booking are ubiquitous in modern WWE. As a result, the only way to be in any way successful in connecting with the contemporary WWE audience of cynical smarks is to be a heel.

 

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If Alexa Bliss was a plucky babyface literally no one would care about her, she’s only relevant because she constantly goes over and retains the Raw Woman’s Championship, because she’s a heel. As a result, she gets constant television time and the audience sees her much more than Sasha Banks, Bayley or Ember Moon because they’re dumb babyfaces that constantly lose. Bobby Roode is a classic example of dumb babyface syndrome and how it can halt any momentum a talent has. Bobby Roode as a heel in NXT was one of the most over acts in the development system’s history, but on the main roster as a dumb babyface he’s dead in the water, constantly losing and having no emotional resonance with the crowd.

 

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Therefore, Becky Lynch fans should rejoice at her recent heel turn, now she’ll constantly be booked smarter than Charlotte or any of the other suffers of dumb babyface syndrome on the SmackDown woman’s roster. She’ll likely go over at Hell in a Cell and go on a lengthy reign where she continues to get more and more over because of her constant victories, until they eventually turn her babyface and kill her momentum because of her overwhelming support from the audience. Look at Seth Rollins, his character currently has no direction and he’s only remotely over because he’s such a good worker. His positive crowd reactions were much more visceral when he was a heel because the audience didn’t cringe every time he made an obviously stupid decision. Ultimately, heels are booked to be crafty and manipulative, while babyfaces are booked to be generic, go-nowhere, dumb heroes and because of that only heels survive in contemporary WWE.

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What Song Deserves to Play as the World Ends?

Anthony Fantano once said something to the effect of Father John Misty’s song; ‘Pure Comedy’ would be the perfect song to play as the world ends. I love this suggestion for two reasons, Pure Comedy is a fantastic and criminally underrated song and is applicable to a world ending scenario, and it’s an incredibly fascinating question. What song would be most appropriate to play as the world comes to its conclusion?

 

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Anthony Fantano is in fact the internet’s busiest music nerd, and his suggestion of Father John Misty (or John Tillman) to play us all collectively out isn’t a half terrible suggestion. While Pure Comedy is a reflective piece on all human life criticising human nature and religion, I believe another one of his songs, ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ may be more appropriate for this highly specific circumstance. The messaging in these two songs are idealistically similar, both recognise the injustices in the world, but have happy endings, resulting in Tillman concluding that humans need meaningful connections to survive. But the reason I would prioritise Honeybear over Pure Comedy is that simply its grander, the instrumental would be more fitting to blast as the world burns.

 

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The Weeb in me has an easy alternative, Komm Susser Tod. For those uninitiated this song literally plays as the world ends in the End of Evangelion, the concluding movie to the internationally popular Neon Genesis Evangelion. It fits perfectly, the lyrics and melody reflect a great depression in the world. The song is slow, capping off at nearly 7 minutes long, and it takes its time reflecting on everything going absolutely wrong for the mournful vocalist. Just give the song a listen and you can practically see the great missiles dropping. Alternatively, another grand epic that encapsulates the doom of the Earth would be the ubiquitous anthem and Queen’s magnum opus Bohemian Rhapsody. The chaotic nature of this song and its schizophrenic atmosphere represents the world fundamentally. Additionally, it’s a far more popular song than any other song I’ve chosen to highlight as a possibility and at least in these circumstances popularity may account for some worth. Bohemian Rhapsody might be a fitting final tune for humanity.

 

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Finally, I would like to highlight a Pink Floyd song, but I couldn’t initially conclude on a single song. Eclipse/Brain Damage would be fitting, Comfortably Numb would ironically put a smile on my face, Welcome to the Machine could be sung from the universes perspective as we join it in oblivion, maybe Echoes or maybe Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Ultimately, the most fitting Pink Floyd outing for the duty of playing the world out would be the 17-minute epic, Dogs. The song is an allegory for global capitalism and would reflect the greed of our race as we breathe our final collective breath. It would be a nihilistic send-off for an ultimately meaningless species, who spent a majority of our time hunting money instead of happiness or some other commodity.

 

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Reaction Channels that are Doing It Right

Reaction channels have been notorious on YouTube and in the YouTube community for a few years now. The main contention against the concept of reaction videos is that they steal content that isn’t there’s and profit from it, and people watch the videos because of the video being reacted to instead of the personality reacting to the content. Reaction videos have been largely dismissed by respectable YouTube viewing audiences and is seen as an immature thing to watch or create, but I would like to humour the counter-argument and present reaction channels that I personally enjoy watching and think are doing it right.

 

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You’ll notice that the three examples I give are all of a certain sub-genre of reaction channels that primarily cover television media. They aren’t usually ripping YouTube videos and adding nothing transformative, they are cutting sections of their genuine live reactions to the chosen show, and then at length, discussing the show afterwards. Patient zero for this genre of online reaction video seems to be Blind Wave, who got big mainly off their Game of Thrones reaction series. In this interesting endeavour Eric (book reader and Game of Thrones veteran) guided Calvin (an absolutely blind, first time viewer) through a watch-through of the highly acclaimed show Game of Thrones. This was an interesting and engaging dynamic that drew big numbers on YouTube and introduced me to their channel. Now they’ve continued this formula of brief reaction followed by long-form discussion into many other area’s and media properties like My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, Death Note, Black Sails, The Walking Dead among others, in a continuously growing catalogue of worth-while reactionary content.

 

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Obviously, imitators of this formula began to sprout out on YouTube everywhere, but among them was one standout who also started with a Game of Thrones watch-through with a very similar dynamic. FilmBuff saw Im and the other guy (I can’t remember his name) go through Game of Thrones; and even if they never finished it due to conflicting scheduling obligations, it’s still worth a watch. But recently Im has proven his contents-worth with his solitary reaction effort with Attack on Titan. He’s slowly catching up and watching him slowly discover and unravel the idiosyncrasies of the series is fun. It’s also enjoyable to see as he continues to develop his ever-evolving catalogue of reactionary content with his analytical breakdowns post reaction.

 

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Finally, the last channel I would like to highlight as succeeding in creating worth-while content through reactions is Semblance of Sanity. These guys recently came to my attention due to their unique Berserk reactions, get on-top of the manga boys. They have some incredibly draw out and interesting conversations surrounding Berserk and seeing them try to analyse the complexity of Berserk’s themes with such an isolated and brief look into Berserk through the 90s anime is captivating. They might just be my favourite reaction channel and they have equally as impressive reactionary content and discussion with series’ like My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan. They’re signature lengthy discussions are what set them apart and it’s what attracts me most to their content, even if they can be over the top at times.

That’s my 2 cents on the reaction video genre on YouTube. Sure, a majority of the channel churning out similar content to these three highlighted examples are trash but, we shouldn’t collectively dismiss all these ‘reaction’ channels. Don’t through the baby out with the bathwater, there’s something of value here. What do you think about reactionary content? Is it all trash, or are their redeemable, worth-while creators out there?

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Attack on Titan’s Misleading Reputation with Character Deaths: (Manga Spoilers)

Sasha recently died in the Attack on Titan manga, and had a moment of reflection… No one ever dies in Attack on Titan! The internet narrative and reputation surrounding this series is that death is a series constant. Attack on Titan is commonly compared to Game of Thrones (Spoilers for Game of Thrones) in terms of quantity of deaths. Let’s run through the major character deaths in Game of Thrones, Ned Stark, Rob Stark, Catlin Stark, Tywin Lannister, Joffrey Lannister, Robert Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Magarey Tyrell among others. All these held significant value to the plot and died shockingly and seemingly out of nowhere. Attack on Titan’s major character deaths include, Sasha Blouse, Erwin Smith, Berthold Hoover, Kenny Ackerman, Hannes and Ymir; that’s it. Every other character death is of a nameless background character or is someone the audience never really cared about and had little impact on the plot. Marco’s death has relevance to the characters in the story, but the audience didn’t remember Marco when Jean found him. (Don’t lie)

 

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This reputation Attack on Titan has is misleading, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Attack on Titan isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a meaningful character death when necessary and Isayama doesn’t go over-board with his itchy trigger-figure. Every character death feels earned and occurs tastefully, unless you’re a useless background character, in that case you brutally chomped on by a hideous titan. The purpose of this write-up is to share my absolute frustration whenever I hear this talking point online. No Attack on Titan doesn’t kill characters like Game of Thrones, stop being an idiot.

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A PCP University Lecture is the Peak of YouTube Content

What do I prefer in YouTube content? It’s how I spend most of my time and there are two categories of videos I believe are my favourite to consume, engaging short (less than 30 minutes) well-edited videos about a single topic or alternatively long-form (longer than 30 minutes) discussions or podcasts that are useful for background noise while doing chores or play video games. The various PCP University Lectures are a thrilling intertwine of both these types of video. They are incredibly long, nearly always over 2 hours in length, but they are also engaging for their entire runtime. The Procrastinators are a group of neat boys including some your favourite YouTube personalities like BestGuyEver, Digibro, Endless Jess and others. On their collaborative channel they have series wherein a particular member of the group gives a university lecture about a certain media property and attempt to explain the usually convoluted aspects of it, to usually blind and unsuspecting onlookers.

The standout examples I’ve watched so far include, BestGuyEver’s duel lectures on Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. Watching the others descend slowly into insanity as they try to understand the Kingdom Hearts lore is so captivating. Similar things could be said about the great Guilty Gear lecture, but my favourite is Digibro’s explanation of the ‘Hottest Goss in the Universe.’ I knew next to nothing about the Dick Masterson and Maddox drama, but after watching Digi’s explanation I’m now fully invested and subscribed to The Dick Show on YouTube. I highly recommend this lecture to anyone even tangentially interested in the Maddox/Dick Masterson drama, you won’t regret it. All these are fundamental presentations of the brilliance of this format.

 

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I’m in love with this format of video and am dying for more similar content, so hurry up boys I’m thirsty. Additionally, at some point I myself would love to cover a topic in this format. I’ve always had this interesting idea to explain Naruto chronologically to someone who knew nothing about it, and think this format is perfect for it. But to do that I’ll have to infiltrate the PCP first…

 

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Griffith Only Did One Thing Wrong…

Griffith’s actions in the Eclipse to a point, were completely forgivable and justifiable. In this instance the ends Griffith went to did justify the means all until the rape. RAPE IS BAD PEOPLE. It’s literally the worst thing that can be done to a human being, worse than murder, worse than theft, worse than anything. Sacrificing the Band of the Hawk is justified by the narrative itself, we spent multiple chapters wherein Ubik explains to Griffith that his life will be horribly mediocre if he refuses the sacrifice and everyone that ever followed him will have died in vain, that’s thousands of people that will forever be on Griffith’s conscious will he wastes away for the rest of his life. Characters that have mercilessly killed other characters the audience cared about have been forgiven in media before; Vegeta was responsible for killing nearly all of the Z Warriors and then just joins them, Magneto is always doing crazy shit and ends up teaming with the X-Men against an eviller and threatening being. Griffith could have been forgiven in a similar way… until he mindlessly raped Casca.

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But the rape of Casca was pointless and gratuitous. Griffith had nothing to gain from raping Casca, he did it simply to torment Guts. For chapters and chapters before the Eclipse, panel after panel conveyed his unhappiness and jealousy of the relationship he can see has developed between Guts and Casca since his capture. Maybe he believes they’d forgotten about him and that’s why it took them a year to come and rescue him, who knows and who cares; Griffith must die. For the crime of sacrificing everyone Guts cared about, for tormenting him by cuck-raping his wife Griffith has earned a death sentence. Griffith did only one thing wrong, rape Casca and for that one thing he must die…

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Pokémon is Infinitely Replayable and its Genius

The Pokémon formula has remained largely unchanged for 20+ years and Nintendo seems resigned to the mantra that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and Pokémon is still making money hand over fist. There are still 3 starters, there are still 6 Pokémon slots in your party and there are still 4 move slots. And there are still 8 GYM’s, Sun and Moon may have tangentially diverged from the GYM formula, but the upcoming Switch titles are returning to the unchanging formula. Complaining about these similar elements in every game in the franchise demonstrates to me that you’ve missed the point of Pokémon, and that’s the creatures themselves. The Pokémon, in Pokémon are the main draw. The designs of the Pokémon are consistently good, (there are some outlier terrible designs and there is a tone of awesome, imposing creatures) and the typing system itself breeds creativity. But the seer amount of Pokémon in each game make the games individually infinitely replayable and it’s a genius formula on Nintendo and Game Freaks part.

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There are a shit-tone of Pokémon, more than 700, and your different Pokémon playthroughs hinge entirely on your choice of party members, therefore Pokémon urges its player-base to return to the games and try again with different combinations of Pokémon. And that’s the genius of Pokémon from both a design and commercial standpoint, infinite replayability and lack of burnout due to each playthroughs uniqueness equals a whole lot of cash. If you choose Charmander on your initial playthrough, players then want the perspective of starting with the different starters and replay the games with Squirtle or Bulbasaur as their leads. New Pokémon games will continue to sell because more Pokémon introduced means more possible combinations and new alterations to the sprawling online meta. Pokémon is infinitely replayable and its genius. If Nintendo and Game Freak can keep churning out these games with new creatures, they will have a well-oiled money-making machine forever.

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Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 109 Proves Attack on Titan’s Superiority

Attack on Titan’s immaculate attention to detail perplexes me, even contemporarily, but it shouldn’t. Isayama has demonstrated time and time again that he doesn’t forget any details, no matter how inconsequential they may seem initially, everything in the story is relevant and he doesn’t forget anything. Chapter 109 demonstrates this attention to detail better than any other single chapter in recent memory. The dumb kid with one line of dialogue from Episode 6 of Season 1 is now a legitimate call-back character, that’s insane! And it shows appreciation for those of us that pay attention to the intricacies of the manga, perhaps more than we should. Another example is the child that Sasha saved in Season 2 is now a real character, with motivations and a personality, it’s unbelievable and Isayama should be properly praised for this outstanding achievement.

But even further than that is how seemingly impossibly perfect coordination between the anime production and Isayama is. Zackery has been a prevalent force in the recent episodes of the anime and therefore Isayama reintroduces this refamiliarized character into the manga storyline. This isn’t the first instance of this, Nile was reintroduced last month when his influence of the anime was increased, and his character was being highlighted. Season 2 was no different, right after the Beast Titan initially appeared in the anime, Isayama finally explained how the whole incident occurred by explaining that the Zeke could control and create certain mindless Titans, in that month manga realise. But the most effective example of this strategy and coordination was with the reveal of Ymir’s backstory. The anime reintroduced us to Ymir and reexplained why we originally cared about her and then in the accompanying manga realise that month we got an explanation of Ymir’s backstory through a note she had passed from Reiner to Historia. If the anime hadn’t refamiliarized the audience with Ymir I doubt the emotional resonance of that scene would have been as effective.

 

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The preplanning and coordination that goes into Attack on Titan is outstanding and whatever critics may say about Isayama’s illustrations and the anime bombastic presentation, credit must be given to the hustle of these fine boys and their dedication to the series. Isayama has given us a reason to comb over all past, present and future seemingly insignificant details for clues about upcoming events and characters. I have the greatest respect for Isayama and his rewarding narrative style and am glad I’m along for the ride.

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Game of Thrones Completely Fell Apart

Game of Thrones Seasons 1,2 and 3 are fantastic television, maybe some of the best to ever be created. The acting, the writing, the world all combine into a refreshing show full of sex, death and subversion, and you could never fully tell what was coming. Season 4 was a noticeable dip in quality, things started getting noticeably dumber, but it was still fun. The best actors (namely Charles Dance) were still around but by the end of the season a variety of the best, most interesting characters were dead. Tragically, Seasons 5,6 and 7 were dumped on our television screens all across the world and we were left to reevaluate our standing in life and ask ourselves why Game of Thrones completely fell apart?

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The most egregious example of the show falling apart is it its contradictions of itself. David and Dan (Game of Thrones Show Runners) seem to have misinterpreted what A Song of Ice and Fire truly is. These books are not about the White Walkers invading Westeros or Jon Snow and Dany coming together in one big allegory to stop climate change, it’s about so much more. In the books the true plot is derived from subtextually altercations and inferred battles between Bittersteel and Bloodravern and who they manipulate everything from the shadows, and hive minds and that things aren’t always as they seem, and linage means nothing or your beliefs about it are completely misguided. An interesting example from the novels that would completely undermine the entire structure of the show is that the Starks supernatural powers seemingly aren’t derived from the Stark bloodline but another assumingly less important Northern house’s bloodline. Preston Jacobs explained this all in one of his latest videos and his videos just highlight the depth and complexity in these books. George slaves over family trees so that generics line up for fictional powers like Dragon riding and Green Seeing. But if you watched the show them you’d be lead to believe that Jon Snow is a God because his mom and dad were prevalent in a widely popular internet fan theory and he’s going to save the world and fix everything.

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Another infuriating reason for the shows demise in quality is that it has become masturbatory fan service garbage. Constantly the show is using the crutch of giving fans what want through what they’ve theorised about on message boards and in YouTube videos when the entire original intrigue of the show, the very element that differentiated this show was its unpredictability and ability to subvert fan expectations in satisfying ways. Now the entire focus of a finale is to portray that Jon Snow is great and important because of his linage; because he’s a Targaryen and a Stark he’s the literal Song of Ice and Fire, and the prince that was promised and so on and so on. When this is antithetical to the entire message of the series! Joffrey and the Mad King are what happen because of linage. The whole point is that the entire medieval societal structure is terrible, and you are affirming it by supporting this by freaking out when your favourite internet theory is proven true. Basically, you’re being a dumb fuck whose missed the entire point, just like the show runners seemingly have.

Ultimately, it’s not entirely David and Dan’s fault that Game of Thrones completely fell apart, George seems to have gone radio silent on them upon realising that he couldn’t keep up with the show content wise. The show at its current pace was going to end before his series ever could and he’s become more tight-lipped about key events. This is only scratching the surface of the issues I have with this show and my love for the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and their impeccable and seemingly impossible complexity. Hopefully you’ll re-join me in the future when I have the opportunity to voice more of my love for the books and hatred for the second half of the show in greater detail.

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YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE TO BE BORED

You have the internet and have absolutely no excuse to be bored, everything is available, and everything is free. There are countless YouTube channels making quality content for you to consume, for the last hundred and fifty years the world has been creating movies for you to enjoy, listen to some fridge contemporary music, listen to podcasts while you endlessly grind away on your favourite game. You have infinite possibilities at the tips of your figures, more power than anyone in human history ever has. Are you feeling meaningless well there are hundreds of niche communities for everything you can imagine, you belong in at least one of them.

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Watch Neon Genesis Evangelion if you haven’t, its necessary for your development as a human. Have you caught up on Berserk recently shits getting real? Oh, you haven’t even started your Berserk journey well then you have 39 volumes of wholly worthwhile manga to catch up on, binge it you’ll be a different person afterwards. Finished Berserk read Vinland Saga. Want to know how Japanese nihilistic media came to be? Go back and read the original Devilman manga or if that turns you off watch Devilman Crybaby for a more contemporary version. ALL THIS CONTENT IS FREE, why haven’t you consumed it yet? YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE TO BE BORED.

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Have you seen the Godfather? How about the Godfather Part 2? These are necessary, must watch cinema and will alter the way you see atmosphere and tone in media. What in particular did you like about those movies, are you intrigue by what cinema can do from here? Or are you more enticed by the mafia elements of the Godfather and interested in exploring those elements further? If you want more integral cinema surf the Quinton Tarantino catalogue of films; start a Reservoir Dogs and make your way to The Hateful Eight, it’ll change the way you think about dialogue in media. But if your more interested in the depiction of the mafia in other media, the natural cinematic progression is to watch Goodfellas, for a more grounded and realistic take. But then you have a long form 70+ hour philosophical drama, the HBO original series to watch is The Sopranos. It’s a sprawling story about a nihilistic, depressive mob boss and his journey to get his life in order, it’ll alter the way you think about long-form storytelling. ALL THIS CONTENT IS FREE, why haven’t you consumed it yet? YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE TO BE BORED.

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This is but a sliver of the possible media for you to consume if you follow the natural progression of the content trail. Ultimately my message here is you have limited sacred time to be conscious and to be thinking, don’t waste it on boredom, you have more options than anyone ever has, don’t waste it. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE TO BE BORED.

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Original Dragon Ball had the Best Opening and Ending Theme Songs

Original Dragon Ball is best Dragon Ball. I think we all understand that (or at least we all should). But a criminally underrated element of the original Dragon Ball is the music, more specifically the Opening and Ending themes. Even more specifically I’m talking about the English versions of the Opening and Ending themes. Mystical Adventure and I’ll Give You Romance are mainstays on my phone always, due to their outwardly bombastic expressions of what Dragon Ball used to represent. What’s almost most impressive about these songs is that they were crafted initially in Japanese, so the instrumentals and visuals for the songs were meant to be compatible with the original Japanese vocals, but these English performances capture the feel of the originals and build off them to create some of the most memorable Dubbed anime openings and endings.

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Mystical Adventure is an opening theme that evokes a sense of adventure, believe it or not. The visuals and vocals both pump me up with equal cheese and excitement. It’s a great tone setter for upcoming episode and is so damn quirky and catchy. I’ll Give You Romance is the driving force behind the creation of this write up. I love this ending so much it might just be my favourite endings of all time. This song is weirdly sombre and sad for a comedic Shonen action series and it works so effectively. This song used to depress me as a child and it was causing me to skip this song every time, but like a fine wine it has grown on me over the years. The visuals depict a melancholic and thoughtful Bulma reflecting on her standing in life on a rainy day. The vocals accompany this by conveying Bulma’s wishes for a connection with someone, which Bulma later will with Vegeta. These lyrics to me are enrichened with the knowledge that Bulma will end up with Vegata. Ultimately, this song is a personal nostalgic lookback on the charm and versatility of original Dragon Ball, the best Dragon Ball.

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Monthly Manga Releases are Poison

Manga is excruciatingly strenuous to draw (newsflash for those of you unaware in the audience) and the life of a full-time manga artist is painstakingly difficult. Stories of Mangaka succumbing to illness and nearly dying due to the harshness of their deadlines, are ubiquitous now. Uniform examples include the minds behind High School of the Dead and Hunter X Hunter, among others, who have been unable to continue due to the strenuous mangaka life. This is due to the demands of publishers because they believe that’s what their readership requires to maintain any interest in their magazines. This output works with the readership for weekly magazines because the output of reduced content (lower average page count), in comparison with their monthly magazine counterparts whose chapters usually contain more pages. But unfortunately, the monthly output of this content is ultimately poisons the enjoyment of the audience.

I understand that Naruto isn’t a Monthly Manga – This is just a depiction of a Mangaka working…

A month is a considerable amount of time, and it’s a long time to wait for the next sliver of content for your favourite manga. Monthly publications like Attack on Titan suffer from this trickle of content that only propagates once a month. I caught up on Attack on Titan in 2014; during this time the manga was covering the people vs people arc (that is conveniently being covered contemporaneously in Season 3 of its anime), and the slow pace of that arc paired with the less action-packed more intelligent storyline proved for some significant backlash. The saying, “I signed up for ‘Attack on Titan’ not ‘Attack on Human’,” was popularised during this time and the arc was largely received poorly.

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But early this year in preparation for the upcoming adaptation I went back to re-read the notoriously tedious arc and concluded that the problem with this arc wasn’t the content itself but the realise schedule of the manga. The content of the arc is on the same level as all the other arcs in the series, but the progression in each chapter is harder to comprehend when there’s a month gap between realises. The wait can cause the readership to forget certain extraneous details to the plot, that are always relevant in Attack on Titan a series notorious for not hand-holding its audience with its weird expositional techniques. Forgetting things isn’t the only problem with the monthly release schedule, people have lives and can lose track of releases and quickly fall behind. With Attack on Titan I have fallen behind or fallen off 2 or 3 times just because of busy months in my life, and sometimes people who lose interest temporarily might never come back. But this comfortable separation wouldn’t be an issue if Attack on Titan realised content quicker.

However, most annoying of this situation is that there is no discernible solution to this systematic issue. Attack on Titan can’t become weekly series, I wouldn’t wish that work load and stress on my worst enemy, but evidently this monthly realise schedule isn’t working either. I truly don’t know what the ideal solution to this issue is. The monthly manga realise schedule is currently an incurable poison within the manga industry.

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Naruto has Unrivalled Moments

Naruto is downplayed by the more ‘sophisticated’ members of the anime community, largely because of it Shonen demeanour and its failings in its penultimate moments. But on reflection Naruto has some unrivalled moments in the medium of Shonen animation. Naruto excels in fight scenes, it’s a Shonen after all, and a Shonen without interesting fight scenes is set out to fail. Several fight scenes standout out famously from Naruto’s long run in Weekly Shonen Jump, the fights between Rock Lee and Gaara, both fights between the primary characters: Naruto and Sasuke among many others all live on in the Shonen zeitgeist. However, I would like to bring your attention to two standout fights both in creativity and choreography that had me in disbelief on initial viewings: Madara’s introduction destroying the allied Shinobi Forces and Kakashi’s penultimate battle with Obito.

Madara’s reckoning on the Ally Shinobi Forces is an introduction to a new character (one that been teased since the beginning of Shippuden) and it’s the best in the series. Madara appears and the tone immediately shifts, by the presentation alone the audience immediately understands that this is a bad motherfucker and shit’s about to go down. The army of Shinobi roar with nervous fortitude and charge at Madara and he just pulverises them entirely with only named characters we are familiar with getting any counter-offence in at all. (there’s a neat moment from Tamari and Gaara shines here as well.) But after carving through hundreds of soldiers, with standout animation and creative Ninjutsu choreography, Madara cements this moment as unrivalled with his comet commanding technique after his awakening the Rinnegan. The massive rock amazes the viewer, we haven’t seen anything at this level yet, and now in his introductory fight Madara is outclassing everything we’ve ever seen. But the true climax of this fight is after the heroes manage to stop the first sky-blocking boulder, and Madara delivers a terrifying line by asking Onoki what he’s going to do about the second one? With a quick cut to the appearance of a second boulder just as gigantic as the first the audience realises they’ve been introduced to one of Naruto’s strongest characters. This is a moment were the audience vicariously freaks the fuck out through the characters in amazement. Additionally, to all the ongoing action, this scene is also laced with intrigue because between attacks and testing his abilities he’s also questioning Kabuto and exposition is tangentially leaked in the subtext of their conversation about the plan of the masked fake Madara that we would come to know as Obito. This is a quintessential way for an overpowered character to make an ever-lasting first impression.

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This Eye Moment is Awesome too…

Whereas Madara’s battle was an introduction to a character, this fight between Kakashi and Obito was the climax of both characters stories. After this Kakashi doesn’t really contribute to anything (until he’s shoehorned in at the last second) and Obito isn’t really Obito anymore. This fight has the weight of a long-term story, intrenched in both characters very foundation, they are intertwined with each other, and that is reflected in the uniqueness of their fight. This fight has two predominant elements; the friendly, flashback childhood duel between the two of them and the battle to the death happening in present time. These two elements distinctly juxtapose each other while also contributing emotional weight to each other. The flashes between the two ongoing battles creates a direct connection between them; moves are being repeated from their previous fight and reflected in the present one. Therefore, the audience is treated to 7 minutes of nothing but owe-inspiring Match Cuts between the battle in the past and the battle in the present. This is highlighted most proficiently by the parallel use of the fireball technique from Obito and the corresponding mud wall technique from Kakashi. This combination of Jutsu occurs in both fights one different scales and is portrayed through both lens. But the moment entrenched into my mind, and the clinical reason for my bewildering love for this fight is when the two fights finally address each other. The battle in the past has concluded and Kakashi has won, Minato gives the order for the two comrades to give the commemorative union sign, but before this can happen and before Obito can do the right thing, the contemporary version of himself pulls the past Obito back from past Kakashi and goes for the kill and contemporary Kakashi appears saving past Kakashi to deal the final blow with the fight ultimately ending with both intertwined Ninja impaling each other with their techniques. All this combined allows for the best fight in the entire Naruto franchise and an unrivalled moment unmatched in the Shonen medium.

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Fundamentally, Naruto has unrivalled moments that shouldn’t be largely downplayed by the anime community because of the series shortcomings in other areas. Maybe overall the bad outweighs the good in Naruto or Vice-Versa but the bad things shouldn’t undermine the legitimately exceptional elements of the series and those elements should be praised for their creativity and execution.

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Media Consumption Month #1 (August 2018)

Welcome to the first monthly edition of Media Consumption, the post where I reflect on all the noteworthy media I consumed the previous month. Originally this series was going to be weekly, but I didn’t consume enough media to write articles every week to make these posts interesting. I welcome you to argue with me about anything or leave constructive criticism in the comments below: (You Don’t have to have an account!)

Attack on Titan Season 3:

Attack on Titan Season 3 has continued to develop, and now pages inscribed into my mind in only black ink are being fully-realised in animation, and it’s a fantastic experience. Attack on Titan is responsible for my current level of anime fandom, it brought me into the fold in 2014 and once I caught up on the manga later that year. At that time the manga was in the middle of this arc and so this adaptation is a great sense of nostalgia personally. Episode 2 stood out for expanding on the Levi chase scene and creating an action spectacle out of it with insanely, impressive animation. The People vs People arc is something I’ve been defending for years and the backlash from anime only watches has been surprisingly largely non-existent, which is reassuring. A heavily criticised element of Season 3 has been the OP, which is admittedly tonally more cognisant of the initial half of Season 3, but still incredibly lame and uninteresting. The ending theme however sounds like the birthchild of Season 2’s Opening and Ending, it is fucking outstanding. The aesthetic is unique and awesome, and the music brilliantly reflects Historia as a focal character. All in all, I’m eagerly anticipating the continuation of Season 3.

Steins; Gate 0:

Steins; Gate 0 is making me internally conflicted. Binge watching the first 12 episodes of the series, to catch-up, was so fun but the week to week wait with these episodes is poison to the shows pacing. It’s hard to re-immerse yourself in this complex story every week. Sometimes I’ve completely forgotten how we ended last week, so I think ultimately to get a proper view on the series I’ll have to re-watch the entire thing once the Dub is finished. But honestly the most annoying aspect of the show in these previous few episodes is the Steins; Gate 0 original character Kagari. She sucks, she terrible, I don’t care about her at all and she seems to be the motivation for the plot progression and recently and her voice actor is terrible. If I hear her scream mommy again I’m going to have a brain aneurysm. This show is currently on a wait and see basis, hopefully the show pulls through with a widely satisfying conclusion.

My Hero Academia Season 3: 

Filler is one thing, but a filler episode that’s just an advertisement for an inconsequential film that I’m going to force myself to watch, is an entirely different scenario. My Hero Academia double-decker fucked us with the latest episode and this filler garbage is pissing me off. I’m already significantly less interested in this arc in comparison to the first arc of this season and this shit isn’t helping. The most interesting arcs in My Hero are either tournaments or villain battles, whenever they focus on becoming a ‘hero,’ it bores me to tears, I don’t give a fuck about Superhero ideals just play with the characters we like. But if my speculation is correct things may get much more interesting when ‘she’ reveals herself in the coming episodes.

Devilman:

I read the first chapter of Devilman on a whim because I wanted to see the character designs and   how they differ from Devilman Crybaby (the only Devilman content I’ve seen). Little did I know the first chapter was about the weird and rushed dinosaur element from the end of Devilman Crybaby; and now I’m completely intrigued so I’ll be reading the original manga for the foreseeable future. It makes complete structural sense for this to be the opening chapter and I can’t comprehend why it was shoehorned into the final episode of the Netflix adaptation. The second chapter introduces the main characters and they are all largely like their 2018 counterparts, but the manga clearly is establishing a much slower pace, that I’m totally in favour of. Devilman Crybaby was an incredibly enjoyable clusterfuck, but at times it was hard to reconcile the character motivations and plot developments from episode to episode with the insane speed the show was running in. This manga however, seems to be explaining things much more clearly and I’m hooked.

Cowboy Bebop:  

I am forcing myself through this show… it’s just so boring! I’ve reached Episode 11, (the weird alien spoof) and I think the disconnect I have with this show comes down to my hatred of episodic media and my disinterest in anything to do with Space. I feel like I’m wasting my time largely while watching this show, there’s nothing we are building to, nothing to look forward to in anticipation, just more inconsequential characters dicking around. It’s a shame because Episode 5 is evidently a masterpiece, I would rather re-watch that 26 times than continue, but we’ve come this far so we can’t give up here, and maybe I’ll understand by the end. It’s certainly not all bad; the cinematography a times is impeccable, Ed is an excellent character and Faye is easily the hottest anime bitch ever, but I’m constantly watching Spike and Jet dicking around being entirely uninteresting. You can check in next month to see if my overall opinion on this show is any different.

Vinland Saga:

Vinland Saga is about to be the Anime of the Year in 2019, I’ve finished the prologue and next year’s anime adaptation is definitely ending here and when it does, I dare someone to try and challenge it. This was a text-book example of how to fantastically build and payoff a climax within a section (arc) of a story. Real progression with the plot and characters, genuine intrigue for how the story develops going forward, and self-contain, effective and memorable characters. I was completely blow away by the way Vinland Saga just surprised me and cemented itself onto my favourites list. That final chapter was so great; Askeland’s ultimate noble sacrifice and redemption that directly feeds into the development of Canute and Thorfinn was gripping. The last page and Thorfinn’s big, “WHAT NOW?” moment was exhilarating, and I get extremely excited when imagining that moment in animation. Everything came together so cohesively, and it felt like none of my time was wasted and all of my time was well spent investing in Vinland Saga… Thank You Mr. Makoto Yukimura.

The Vision of Escaflowne:

Escaflowne is the only of the four new shows that I watched the second episode of, because the first episode made such an impression. The art style is quite unique in this show, the texture on the dragon’s skin and the weirdly, good-looking over-sized noses all differentiate this show from anything I’ve ever seen. I like that both episodes had seemingly our two main characters both taking the role of the fish out of water in each other’s world and allowed us establishing moments of each respectively. It’ll be interesting if we keep switching between Earth and the ancient sci-fi world that’s name escapes me currently. The Dub in this show isn’t distracting and the main girls voice gives me odd nostalgic feelings, but I can’t place what other projects the voice actress has appeared in, that I’m familiar with. I’m interested to see how this plot, above the others, will progress going forward. All the other shows have a direction and a set tone already but this one seems to be the most dynamic and the one I’m most interested to see develop, even if Serial Experiments Lain was my personal favourite of the 4 new shows.

Revolutionary Girl Utena:

For this show choosing the Dub made for an incredibly unpleasant experience. The voice acting wasn’t remarkably terrible, though it wasn’t any good either, but the voice lines were out of sync with the mouths. This is some basic, fundamental shit that I believe would be difficult to fuck up this badly. The plot didn’t exactly interest me; I watched the first episode only and that was 2 weeks ago now and all I recall is she wants to be a prince to those in need because of her backstory and that she beat some prick in top of a floating castle above the school. It wasn’t all bad, I see the potential in the aesthetic and I love weird, unique shit and this definitively qualifies. Ultimately, this was my least favourite out of the 4 new shows I checked out this month, but I’m not dropping it and will likely be watching the sub going forward.

Serial Experiments Lain:

Serial Experiments Lain was fucking awesome. Unfortunately, I have only seen the first episode, but the entire show worked cohesively so effectively, that I was salivating by the end. The imagery and aesthetic are so visually compelling and striking that the scenes of the initial suicide and the distracted father with the multiple computers, are burned into my subconscious. What a fascinating show; from the aesthetic to the chilling music, to the arthouse elements, to just the way the characters deliver dialogue, everything directly speaks to me. I watched this show, as I did all others in the English Dub and this was easily the standout one of the bunch. Even the 13 Episode length excites me, and this is a show I’m deeply interested in continuing next month and watching develop further.

RahXephon:

RahXephon is intriguing. The obvious Evangelion inspirations and obvious, and I love it. It’s also been about two weeks since I watched episode 1 of this show, so I don’t remember everything (and likely will have to re-watch it) but I was intrigued. Seeing all the Evangelion elements slightly altered in a different team’s vision is a unique and fun experience. I identified the NERVE like military organisation, the Rei parallel character is self-evident and that woman that saved him in the abandoned train station is our Misato. This is one I’ll have to re-watch to remember all the little details that will become important later, but I’ll certainly be continuing this next month.

B Gata H Kei:

Whenever I would look back at my limited anime catalogue, one show stands as a flashing outlier. One of these things are not the same, and Yamada’s First Time or B Geta H Kei, was that outlier. It was a show I watched in Grade 8 for obvious reasons, but I remember liking it way too much. I began watching it in the Summer holidays (December where I live) and my family was on a vacation living in this rental house on limited internet and all I can remember thinking about the entire week of vacation was that I wanted to get home and continue watching this show. It’s a lot of what I thought about that entire week, and I couldn’t watch it while I was there because if KissAnime used up a huge amount of the data people would start asking questions and I didn’t want to have to explain what the show was to them. So, it was a constant internal struggle to pull myself away from the Safari tab on my iPad.

So now, a few years removed, I was fascinated to re-watch this show and try to understand my plight with this show, and this show is deceptively fun. The premise of the show is awesome, and I’m shocked at the overwhelming charm of all the characters. This show brings out something I like to call, ‘forgotten nostalgia,’ which is infinitely more powerful than your ordinary, run of the mill, nostalgia. As I gradually recalled elements of this show it transported me to a different time and the feelings of forgotten nostalgia were so strong. I got a similar feeling when I watched some old Looney Tone Cartoons on YouTube recently and remember the little jingles Daffy would sing to himself and how intrench into my very being they were. Re-hearing the Opening Theme and more importantly the Ending Theme after all this time shocked the nostalgia meter. Something I hadn’t thought about in years yet it all felt so near and familiar. Re-watching this show is a remarkable experience and I can’t wait to continue my journey past episode 3 next month.

G1 Climax:

The G1 Climax wrapped up in early August, and what a trip it’s been. 4 weeks of constant 3-hour professional wrestling shows definitely had me at my limit, but it was all undeniably fantastic, even if I was extremely salty about the conclusion. Before we get into specifics I would like to shout-out a retrospective lookback that New Japan has realised on their Japanese YouTube page that summarises the tournament, with some additional unseen footage of interviews with reoccurring and one-time audience members and shots of the behind the scene actions of the wrestlers. Even if you haven’t been following the tournament as closely as I have, it’s a must watch.

The G1 ended weirdly this year. I predicted going into the tournament that the finals would be a Wrestle Kingdom Main Event rematch with Naito finally beating Okada in a big match scenario. Evidently the finals didn’t feature either of them, instead Tanahashi defeated Kota Ibsuhi in the finals. Okada was eliminated due to his time limit draw with Tanahashi on the first night in Budokan, which was incredibly exciting and a nice feel good moment for the long time New Japan audience that adore Tanahashi, and this decision was fine with me because Naito beating Tanahashi again, this time in the finals would have fitted into the Naito storyline quite well. But that wasn’t to be because Naito lost to Zack Sabre Jr and Omega lost to Ibushi, and therefore the B Block ended in a 4-Way tie with each man having 12 points, but because of previous match-ups Ibushi, who had beaten all the other contenders, proceeded to the finals. Now Zack ending on 12 points is amazing to me, Zack is my second favourite wrestler in New Japan, but my most favourite is Naito and I was furious when Zack pinned him. Naito fans have been waiting for his big moment for years and we were denied it at Wrestle Kingdom and so this G1 was his to win. But ZSJ fucked it all up…

So, I went into the final night quite pissed and disinterested, but Shibata showed up and Tanahashi and Ibushi had one hell of a match. The final Tanahashi run was inevitable and I’m fine with it, he obviously deserves it and Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi is a mega-match. That along with the likely Chris Jericho vs Kazuchika Okada for the Intercontinental Championship have me very excited for January 4th. I have no idea what Naito will be doing until January, and Juice Robinson vs Cody is going to yield some phenomenal promos. Ultimately, I’m incredibly thankful that New Japan gives us a month break until the Destruction tour, because I desperately need it.

NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4:

NXT Takeover this go around was underwhelming to me; my favourite match was the NXT Woman’s Championship between Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler and that match withstanding, I didn’t care for anything else on this show. Nothing on this show was bad in terms of match quality or storytelling but nothing stood out to me. The Main Event felt like we were walking old ground, only to have a terrible finish. Adam Cole and Ricochet just didn’t inspire anything in me. The opener was meaningless, there were no stakes because everyone understood exactly how the match was going to play out. Velveteen Dream and EC3 was sloppy and all over the place and the whole show just felt unremarkable. The Kairi Sane match had something these matches lacked; I cared that Kairi won that belt. I’m a Kairi Sane fan and her beating Baszler told a simplistic story that kept me caring. All these other matches felt like the outcomes didn’t matter and they were just on the card to be good wrestling matches; and if there’s something I particularly don’t give a fuck about its good wrestling. With Kairi winning the championship I believe the Main Event for Survivor Series’ accompanying Takeover is evident; Kairi and Io Shari should tear the house down and show everyone what Japanese Woman’s wrestling is.

SummerSlam 2018:

Overall, as blasphemous as a statement like this usually is, I think SummerSlam handily impressed more than NXT Takeover. Nothing was as exciting as Samoa Joe and AJ Styles, nothing got the reaction that Becky Lynch’s turn got, and nothing was as clever as that Main Event. The opener however, was not a highlight of the night, the only person involved in this boring feud that I’m remotely interested in is Drew McIntyre. I have little interest in a babyface Dean Ambrose, I have even less interest in Seth Rollins currently and no amount of rehab will ever have me invested in anything Dolph Ziggler does. To boot this match was boring as fuck. New Day and The Bludgeon Brothers was enjoyable; retrospectively the New Day absolutely should have won the belts here, but hindsight is 20-20 and Eric Rowan couldn’t have picked a worse time to tear his bicep, and Harper should just continue killing dudes in his stead. Braun Stroman squashing Kevin Owens was fucking awesome, and incredibly ballsy for the WWE to do in front of this audience. There seemingly is a payoff coming from this squash with Kevin quitting recently on Raw, so he’ll be fine, and this got Braun to the exact point necessary for later in night. I love short matches that don’t fuck around, and this was a perfect example of one.

The two biggest matches for SmackDown were next and they both were remarkable. Becky Lynch may have been the most over wrestler on the entire show and it was fun to watch. The story in this match was executed with pin-point accuracy; it was necessary for them to get the belt off Carmella, she’s a bigger star coming off this run, they played into the audiences’ fatigue with Charlotte being rammed down their throats and paid off the audiences’ frustrations with Becky being repeatedly being walked over. If you’re a Becky Lynch fan this heel turn should be the best possible outcome for you, because now Becky’s going to be booked strong instead of being positioned as the moronic babyface and will only get over even more. You must be a heel, or AJ Styles, contemporarily to get over in WWE. Speaking of which this was the greatest fuck finish I think I’ve ever seen; AJ Styles and Samoa Joe probably could have had a basic storyline and had a barn-burner of a match but instead this entire feud is being dominated by an unbelievably well written (mostly well performed) storyline. Samoa Joe is the best promo in this company, he and Kevin Owens have a way to give their terribly written dialogue without sounding like absolute geeks; they are great in spite of the material they are given instead of being great because of the material they are given. Joe notably kicked out of the Styles Clash, and this may be an indication of his much-needed victory at Hell in a Cell. If WWE are ever going to go with Joe as a world champion this is the time. The follow up on SmackDown was also great, AJ told him to not do something and then Joe said FUCK YOU, beat him up and did it anyway like he was Stone Cold Steve Austin. There is no reason not to vicariously love Samoa Joe right now.

Daniel Bryan and Miz was fucking awful. It was way too long and after the previous two thrilling segments the crowd didn’t care at all. WWE has butchered Daniel Bryan’s comeback so terribly that Brooklyn couldn’t remember why they ever cared about him. The crowd was left in a bored hazed following that snore fest and hearing Baron Corbin’s music definitely didn’t wake them up. But WWE in another great decision had a surprise appearance from the Demon, and another fantastically refreshing squash match. Finn Balor desperately needed to remind any of us why we cared about him and he did exactly that with this performance, he’s a hot commodity again and I’m excited for what’s next. Shinsuke Nakamura and Jeff Hardy calmed the crowd down again, these boys really couldn’t do anything in this position. Jeff definitely tried by killing himself with that Swanton spot on the apron, but the crowd was largely disinterested and now we can move on to Randy Orton and Jeff which I’m at least vaguely interested in.

To end the night, we got back-to-back viewings of Raw’s Main Events; and again, both matches delivered. Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey did what it set out to do, introduce the Bella’s for our inevitably depressing Evolution Main Event and put Ronda over as a monster. But most interestingly Roman Resigns and Brock Lesnar was a captivating finale to an entertaining night. You’ve got to respect the clever way WWE constructed this Main Event, from the Stroman inclusion to Brock’s continued rampage, to Roman finally pinning Brock Lesnar after 3 years of build. No one booed with disinterest like at WrestleMania, instead 15 thousand people were on the edge of their seats for the entirety and they were all worked into caring about Roman’s 15th big moment. Well done WWE, SummerSlam was pretty cool.

Denzel Curry – Taboo:

This album is unbelievably great. Denzel Curry’s new album Taboo is his best work yet and has permeated my ears ubiquitously over this past month. While I don’t believe any single song from the album compares to Imperial’s best song, This Life, but Taboo is exceedingly more consistent than Imperial or Nostalgic 64. Taboo (the song) is a melancholic, smooth opening that establishes the tone of the project and immediately prepares the listener, then Black Balloons follows and is a different sound than Curry usually puts forth. That obscurity is continued with Cash Maniac which are both smooth, memorable and almost relaxing songs, but this is entirely juxtaposed by the following track, Sumo, which is loud, intensive Denzel at his best. Reference to Chowder, references to Rikishi (which obviously popped me) and references to obscure PS2 platformers all combine into an energetic bridge to the second part of the album.

Super Saiyan Superman continues this energy with a quick track, that’s name itself is enough for successful song, even if it is weird Superman isn’t mentioned at all in the song. (I believe.) Switch it Up and Mad I Got It are the least memorable to me, I still enjoy them when they play but I haven’t yet sought them out specifically, but Siren’s was my favourite song from the album for a time. This is easily the smartest track on the album, there’s some fantastic wordplay from JID (especially the National Anthem section) in what I believe is his best performance to date, and the haunting final soliloquy makes for a smooth track, that’s definitely the most substantive on the album. Clout Cobain is next, and it’s been overplayed by me personally so now it’s not my favourite, but it very well may make a return to my favourites list from the album. The music video almost overshadows the simplistic song in some regards and I find they make a must more palatable combination, whereas the song separately is slightly repetitive.

The Blackest Balloon is another slightly repetitive track that benefits from its short runtime, but the chorus maintains a place in my head at least once a day. Percs is the song I’ve listened to the least on this song, only because I forgot to download it, so I’m too unfamiliar with the track to give an informed opinion on it. Finally, the album closes on Vengeance and Black Metal Terrorist, which both are heavy favourites of mine. They both maintain the high energy Denzel is known for and evolves them in two distinctly different directions. Vengeance is entirely stolen by JPEGmafia’s hilariously brutal feature, with the standout line of the album, “If he dies, he dies, Pussy meet the Sky!” Black Metal Terrorist is the ending of the album and it drills home the entire project with madness and high energy, fast verses. Overall this album is a definitive Album of the Year contender.