My Top 10 Favourite Characters of All Time

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This list serves as a list of my Top 10 Favourite Characters of All Time, wherein I recount my favourite characters throughout fiction, but this video also functions as an experiment I’d like to play out over the coming years here on the channel. Every year in January I would like to remake this list and compare how the placement of certain characters change over time, and as new characters are introduced. With that being said let’s start the list:

  1. Edda (Black Lagoon)

One of my favourite moments in Black Lagoon is the scene at the end of the Greenback Jane arc, were the cowboy from America figures out the Edda is a secret informant for the CIA. This reveal, is the closer of an already great arc for characterisation of Edda gives her additional depth, and this additional depth, gives Edda enough depth and interested to grant her a spot on this list. Edda CIA status then plays perfectly into Rock’s character arc and the progression of the story in Roberta’s Blood Trail. Rock spends an episode trying to uncover the person truly in control of Roanapur and decides that someone important would be paying him a visit very soon, only for Edda to show up ad with a little dramatic irony, the audience realises that she is the one how controls Roanapur. She’s the only character in Roberta’s Blood Trail that keeps her cool and fixes the situation; Revy is pissed because the young maid is living her dream, Rock is pissed at Mr Chang, Roberta is so pissed she loses her mind, Dutch is pissed at Rock, and Balalaika is so incredibly pissed at the world and the way she’s been treated since the war, that she threatens America. Edda is the only reason both the Americans and Roberta leave Roanapur, saving the city from absolute collapse. Another standout scene is when she cucks Roberta in the aeroplane, and we finally see her in full CIA apparel, blue eyes out and everything. Edda is nearly as underrated as the show she inhabits and in the latter half of the series proves her effectiveness as a character.

  1. Askeladd (Vinland Saga)

Askeladd is the standout character of Vinland Saga. Thorfinn, though I do value his ties to the thematic undertones of the series and his unwavering pacifism, is a little too boring contemporarily to have a slot on this list (though he still made the honourable mentions list). Askeladd has that intelligent nihilistic endearment that Thorfinn lacks, he’s cynical and wise and always steps ahead of everyone else, including the audience. Askeladd upon introduction is presented as Thorfinn’s ultimate obstacle, the last step in Thorfinn’s journey of revenge. As the prologue progresses the audience begins to suspect something deeper is going on with Askeladd and it is eventually revealed through the groups pursuit by Thorkell that Askeladd is from Wales and his true goal is to protect his mother’s homeland, and that he intends to achieve this by installing Canute as King. His hatred for his comrades and the Viking way of life, through his backstory about his mother, adds that necessarily depth to rank on this list. The reveal that he hates everything we, as the audience, once believed he entirely represented is a great subversion. Askeladd’s strength as a character is displayed in my favourite scenes of Vinland Saga. The scene where he and Thorfinn find themselves both detached from the group, unknowingly both mutually disgusted by their peers, is one of my favourites. Askeladd and Thorfinn discuss how war has laid waste to the area they are standing on, with Askeladd pointing out the remains of monuments from the Roman Empire that were know irrelevant. This is one of the scenes were Askeladd is giving advice to Thorfinn warning him that he’s better than war and better than revenge but it doesn’t resonate with that Thorfinn, and later in another standout scene when the two clash for the final time, Askeladd finally shows some disappointment in Thorfinn for not understanding what he and his father were trying to instil in him. Luckily, eventually Thorfinn would learn these lessons.

But Askeladd is who placed number 9 on this list not Thorfinn, and I would be remise when talking about Askeladd if we didn’t mention chapter 54. Spoilers for Vinland Saga ahead. (Skip to number 8 if you haven’t seen Vinland Saga and wish to avoid massive spoilers) Askeladd’s final stand is one of the best I have ever seen. He singlehandedly stops the invasion of Wales, kills the King and grants Canute the perfect opportunity and scenario to claim the crown for himself, and sub-textually the impact this has on Thorfinn’s character is even greater than everything I just mentioned. It’s truly griping to watch chapter 54 unfold for the first time, I couldn’t believe everything was resolved so perfectly, every plotline was resolved in this action by Askeladd, when I’m sure many in the audience weren’t expecting this to be the conclusion of the prologue. Thorfinn has everything he thought he wanted taken from him, Canute truly came of age, the wars were over and Askeladd’s story was resolved. Askeladd wasn’t around in the grand scheme of Vinland Saga very much but his impact is undeniable.

  1. Naito Tetsuya (New Japan Pro Wrestling)

If this list was going to be as true to myself as possible, professional wrestling would need some representation and I thought about Stone Cold Steve Austin and I thought about The Rock, but I came down to two options; the woman that inspired me to take this path or the most captivating character in the history of wrestling. Tetsuya Naito was introduced to me by Showbuckle, the man responsible for my investment in New Japan Pro Wrestling entirely. His video “The Fall and Rise of Tetsuya Naito,” was the first taste of New Japan Pro Wrestling ever, sure I’d heard the name Kenny Omega and Okada, but this was my first visual connection to New Japan and afterwards I never looked back. A lot of people’s first New Japan event was Wrestle Kingdom 12, but most tuned in for the return of Chris Jericho, when I was completely drawn in because Naito vs Okada was the main event and it seemed destined for this to be Naito’s biggest victory. Naito’s gimmick is that he doesn’t give a fuck about anything, he’s tranquilo, whenever in a big match he loses his cool he either losses or snaps back into his absolute calmness. Watching the subtle storytelling of Naito using his old moves and losing matches like at Wrestle Kingdom 12, when 30 thousand fans specifically bought tickets to watch him finally get his moment by defeating Kazuckica Okada in the main event of the biggest show of the year, only for Naito to slip back into the Stardust Genius for a second and then lose the match he seemed destined to win, was the pinnacle of Pro Wrestling storytelling. Naito has the most charisma that I’ve seen in a wrestler since Austin and Rock in the early 2000s, and the value of that and the appeal of that cannot be understated.

  1. Annie (Attack on Titan)

Annie is the outlier pick on this list because she isn’t as well developed or even as focused on as the other characters on this list, but she does hold personal value to me. Hell, any isn’t even critically the best character in Attack on Titan, Levi, Kenny, Erwin, Geisha and Kruger are all more effective, but Annie is special to me because she has been my favourite character since I initially watched Attack on Titan. Like a lot of people, Attack on Titan was my gateway anime, sure I’d watched shows like Dragon Ball, Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh previously but Attack on Titan was the first anime I watched consciously. I sympathised with Annie because she seemed so alone at the end of Season 1, her flashback with her father who’s relentlessly apologising for putting her in this position won her over to me. Maybe this was all propped up by my twelve-year-old attraction to her, but nonetheless her character does have some depth and the community universally awaits her return, while Isayama continues to tease us without compassion.

  1. Farnese (Berserk)

Farnese may be the character with the most development in all of Berserk. She has been continuously focused upon in every arc since her introduction in Conviction. In Conviction she’s initially introduced and is inspired by Guts to throw away her fundamentalist religious beliefs and follow him to find a real purpose in life. In the Millennium Flacon arc she wrestles with her feelings of worthlessness as she tries to fill the void in her heart since she removed God from her life. She finds herself sacrificing her freedom to try and prove her self-worth by agreeing to marry Rodrick in return for a boat for the group, only for the group to prove to her that she is valued by coming back to rescue her as everything goes to shit in Virtannis. Contemporarily in Fantasia she is coming into her own as a Witch and coming to terms with her relationship with both Guts and Casca. The most exciting aspect of Farnese may still be in her future as in the coming chapter we will see how her jealousy towards Casca regarding Guts’ affection is forced to the surface. Hopefully she realises that Rodrick is a great catch and she moves forward with him. Farnese has developed so much throughout the story that original Farnese as we were initially introduced to her would kill current Farnese if they meant, that’s outstanding development. From vile, repressed witch hunter to valued comrade and friend, Farnese is a fantastic character to watch grow, and in any normal series would undeniably be best girl.

  1. Casca (Berserk)

Casca is the very best character Berserk has to offer and what’s most impressive is that she was only really active for a single arc. Her character development through her blossoming relationship with Guts endeared her to me more than all of Farnese’s technically proficient development. Casca supportiveness in her and Guts’ sex scene, endeared her fundamentally as a kind and understanding life partner for our main boy Guts. Her acceptance of Guts after he shares his most personal and depressing experiences is heart-warming and their togetherness in that moment makes them a joy to watch together. Not only that but her portrayal as a layered and relatable person through her extremely complex relationship with Guts and Griffith make her stand out amongst the sea of fantastic Berserk characters. But my favourability of Casca was made evident early in 2018 when she finally returned to us. The emotion I felt to finally have a walking, talking Casca back was unparalleled in a story, I had never felt as much emotion towards a character or a story as I did towards Casca and Berserk in that moment. Going through the heartbreak of the Eclipse and the insuring journey was all made worth it by journeys end. Casca is the only character on this list I’ve cried over and that must count for something. Most interestingly is that Casca has a lot of development ahead of her, in the coming chapters we will see where she will lead us and the overall narrative of Berserk, personally I’m hoping to see her go through a ruthless Black Swordsman period…

  1. Revy (Black Lagoon)

There is no anime character more entertaining to watch or more interesting to listen to than Revy from the greatest anime of all time, Black Lagoon. Here we are exclusively talking about the far superior version of Revy in the English Dub of Black Lagoon, her dialogue and the re-written script for this show is the driving force behind her characters success. Revy unlike any other anime character is not only hilarious and fun to watch but has some legitimate depth and subtextual motivation. Her hilarity and the overall fantastic writing of the series is highlighted by her chemistry with Edda as mentioned at the beginning of the list and in her other fun interactions with the mercenary she affectionately refers to as Chinglish and the stoned Irish drive, among others. But a criminally underrated aspect of Revy as a character is her depth, particularly in her relationship with Rock. Their relationship is the driving force behind everything that happens in Black Lagoon. To boil it down to the simplest elements, Rock to Revy represents her hopes for a normal life, were she wasn’t molested and beat as a child and she can have a peaceful life in a city like Tokyo. Initially the reminder that this life is possible irritates Revy and that’s were their drama early in the series comes from. But unknowingly this antagonism towards Rock in the early stages makes him more accustomed to her way of living and his normal side slowly slips away until Roberta’s Blood Trail where it is completely gone, Rock has become just as fucked as Revy. But the true depth with Revy comes from all throughout the series as she struggles to protect Rock from the darkness ignoring that he, himself wants to dive headfirst into it and that he even enjoys it. When this subtle storyline briefly bubbles to the top it produces some of the greatest scenes in the show, including the scene where Balalaika nearly kills Rock, both his transformation is on display here as well as a line from Balalaika where she mentions to Revy that she doesn’t know what she sees in Rock. Another similar scene occurs between Revy and the mini maid in Roberta’s Blood Trail. Revy is just such a great character and easily my favourite in all of Japanese media.

  1. Tywin Lannister (Game of Thrones)

Tywin Lannister is the ultimate hypocrite, but it’s so enthralling to watch his hypocrisy at work. Charles Dance puts on the standout performance in a great cast, when you consider his competition are some of the elite actors like Peter Dinklage, Diana Rigg and Lena Heady, that’s saying a lot. Tywin as a character was lucky enough to have only existed during the highlight period of Game of Throne’s run, he was introduced in season one in an incredibly introductory scene with Jamie and then died in the finale of season 4 with a great death scene with Tyrion. Tywin was killed before the terrible writing of seasons 5,6 and 7 ruined the fundamental aspects of the show. Recounting his greatest moments is a difficult task, any scene wherein he interacts with one of his children is always captivating, it’s interesting to see how his relationship between the three of them differs; he’s more lenient with Jamie, harsher with Tyrion and pettier with Cersei. Tywin’s scenes with Joffrey are legendary and Tywin is the only character with the balls and the power to tell Joffrey to fuck off consistency. His scenes with Arya have an unrivalled tension and atmosphere and watching them subtly insult and endear themselves to each other was a weirdly great dynamic. There’s countless more like his dick measuring contests with Lady Olenna, but the Shakespearian performance from Charles Dance personifies what the patriarch of the Lannister family should have been.

  1. Tony Soprano (The Sopranos)

Tony Soprano is the deepest and most layered character I’ve ever encountered. The Sopranos total runtime, all seasons included, numbers over 70+ hours, and nearly all of that is an exploration of a single enthralling character. To not only carry this enormous amount of TV time but also create the greatest and most influential television show of all time, is a clear testament to the impact and effectiveness of Tony Soprano. Tony is a depressed mob boss with internal struggles and moral quandaries in both his families, and watching him deal with his divorce, deal with coming to turns with the betrayal of one of his closest friends, deal with his sons attempted suicide, deal with having to run for his life are all wholly engrossing. Plus, the exploration of his psychology is equally as fascinating. One of the most prevalent elements of the Sopranos is Tony’s therapy sessions and his elaborate meta dream sequences. These add so much depth to Tony and are how we come to understand his violent tendencies and problems with authority, throughout the series. This is all enhanced by the writing and dialogue in the show, the dialogue is grounded and realistic, we hear Tony grunt and gasp for air as he talks, we her him misspeak and get interrupted. Tony is so engrossing as a character sometimes it’s hard to tell that you’re not watching a walking, talking human being, because of the sheer amount of depth here. If I were to mention my favourite Tony Sopranos scenes we would just list every scene in the entire show, because there isn’t a bad one. The standout scene I think of when thinking about Tony are all unimportant scene to the overall plot but integral to Tony as a character. Like the scene where he tells Jackie Jr that Richie was a rat, I love the way he tells him to sit the fuck down or when he blows up in a Melfei session about Janice and rants about how she not entitled to anything because he has the scares from the years she left him alone with their mother when they were younger. Ultimately, Tony Soprano may be the greatest character in fiction, but he’s outclassed by one character on my favourites list.

  1. Junior Soprano (The Sopranos)

If Tony Soprano isn’t number 1 on this list then who could possibly top his entertainment factor and overall depth, non-other than his uncle Junior Soprano. Junior has depth, he’s not as explored as Tony, he isn’t the lead after all, in fact he’s the old out of touch grandfather antagonist in the first season. While the acting and dialogue for Junior in season one is exceptional, the depth and love for this character that I have I drawn from his antics in the following seasons. Simply: there is no character more fun to watch in fiction, to me, than Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano. His scenes with Bobby are comedic genius, his trial antics and interactions with his lawyer are amazing, his battle with cancer and dementia just add to the overall package here. But the most interesting aspect of Junior’s character is that he is the exception of the mafia rule, he rides off into the sunset, being allowed to grow senile and die peacefully having avoided sickness, jail, death and the demons from his past. All things he’s faced with through the series; Tony was going to kill him at the end of season one, the feds couldn’t get to him, he beat cancer and because of his forgetfulness all the horrible things he did in the past have been forgotten. If Tony did indeed die at the end of the series, which is debatable, then Junior would be the only character to seemingly have a happy ending in the entire show. I urge you to seek out both his funniest and most emotionally impactful scenes and watch or rewatch them. The scenes with Mikey in Season 1 are hilarious particularly the ‘we aren’t making a western here’ scene, but the scene where he sings Core N’ Grato after Jackie Jr’s funeral is impeccable, the crying mobsters and the powerful song create an unforgettable scene. The scene where he is talking to Tony about having plenty he’d like to forget heartbreaking, especially when he doesn’t realise the irony. There’s not only extreme depth with Tony in this show but in nearly all the characters especially Junior Soprano, my favourite character of all time.

 

 

My Top 10 Favourite TV Shows of All Time

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This list serves as a list of my Top 10 Favourite TV Shows of All Time, wherein I recount my favourite tv shows, but this video also functions as an experiment I’d like to play out over the coming years here on the channel. Every year in January I would like to remake this list and compare how the list changes over time. Particularly in this list you will notice the overbearing amount of anime, by this time next year I hope to have watched more classic western television. With that being said let’s start the list:

  1. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones would undeniably be in the Top 3 of this list if there were only 4 seasons of this show, but because of the abject failure of anything following season 4, it’ll have to settle for 10th on this list. Seasons 1 through 3 of Game of Thrones is some of the best television I have ever seen, the performances, story, cinematography, music and surprises were revolutionary, it captured the worlds excitement. But seasons 5 through 7 and likely season 8, have ruined this show, now it contradicts itself thematically and places importance of things like linage that are antithetical to the moral of the story. No characters ever die anymore, and half the episodes are just fan service another aspect the beginning of the show intentionally subverted. But we aren’t here to talk about the failings of Game of Thrones, but to highlight the positive aspects of the series and justify its placement here on the list. Game of Thrones, in the beginning, is all about the art of subversion and therefore the show created something fresh. The brave King who conquered the kingdom and overthrew a lasting dynasty, is sad about his lost girlfriend and drinks himself to death. The honourable stereotypical hero is eaten alive by the realistic political tactics of the capital. The beautiful Queen is paranoid constantly and sleeps with her brother, the prince charming esk knight has his fighting arm mutilated, the disgusting looking Dwarf is the best dude, the grand speeches before medieval battles are undercut by realism. Now this inherit freshness isn’t enough to create a successful tv show, but tie that together with all the other grand elements I mentioned, and you have yourself one hell of a story… until they fucked it all up.

  1. Naruto/Naruto Shippuden

Your eyes are not deceiving you, Naruto/Naruto Shippuden is rank higher than Game of Thrones here on the list. Immediately if you’re made and if you’ve been paying attention you should be yelling about me criticising Game of Thrones for contradicting itself thematically when that is maybe just as true of Naruto. Everyone’s pointed this out at this point, Naruto’s inspirational speech to Neji about linage being meaningless only for it to be revealed that Naruto and Sasuke are from a linage of ninja that were destined to battle throughout time. But in defence of Naruto, at least Naruto addresses this in the narrative. When Neji is killed in the great shinobi war his symbolic bird is impaled by the falling spikes as well. This maybe a brief call back, but at least Kishimoto is addressing the battle the two had in the past instead of ignoring it. At least Naruto addresses its contradictions instead of acting like nothing’s changed.

But once again we seem to be getting side-tracked in the negative, instead of justifying its placement here on the list. Naruto, even more than Pokemon to me, is the fictional world I would choose to live in if given the choice. Naruto has the coolest powers in all of fiction to me. Obviously, the hand signs are a genius inclusion, every kid want to emulate these hand signs because forming them, at least in the show, looks cool as fuck. Not only this but the actual fighting techniques are also amazing, my favourite being Minato’s fly risen jutsu, where he teleports around using the indicators. Not only is the world of Naruto captivating but the on goings are great as well, some of my favourite moments in fiction happen in Naruto. They’re were literal moments on my initial viewing where I couldn’t believe my eyes. The slow reveal of Obito being Tobi was unbelievably handled in the anime, I had already been spoiled when I first watched it but the direction of the 10-minute opening stretch in unreal, the music and visuals give the perfect representation of the rise and fall of this character. Later in the best fight in the series between Obito and Kakashi I couldn’t believe my eyes, the stylised combination of their fight as children and their contemporary fight is brilliant, and as the fight builds to the moment were the two cross over you feel the literal weight of their relationship and how much this fight means to the both of them. Overall Naruto has some outstanding moments in its historic run and shouldn’t be underestimated to the extreme it is by series critics. This show means too much to me for it to not be given representation here.

  1. Baccano!

Baccano is stylised madness and the first of two examples on this list of a standout Dub performance making an already great show even better. The dialogue here is intrinsic to my overall enjoyment and even if you here some of those annoying familiar voices throughout the shows cast, the accents and stylisation here bring the show home. (Play Digibro clip) Baccano is famous for its non-linearity, the story is told across three separate timelines that do interact, even if maybe not directly, this complex method of storytelling is not only difficult to understand but even more difficult to pull off to this effective of an extent. Somehow even though on your first viewing you’re not going to fully understand the overall narrative, you still enjoy yourself and find the show thoroughly entertaining. Baccano also is very rewarding to go back and rewatch, I’ve seen the show four times from start to finish and every time I pick up on another extraneous detail. The atmosphere of authentic 1930s New York is the selling point here, when I’m watching Baccano, I’m watching Baccano it feels holey unique and could not be mistaken for any other show. Baccano is a must watch thrill-ride of complexity and action and that lands it a spot on this list.

  1. Attack on Titan

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Attack on Titan at all. It’s been with me since the beginning, it was my first conscious anime experience and the first manga I decided to follow. I have deep nostalgia for this series and I’m sure that clouds my judgement in some ways but I still with argue the validity of the series’ quality. But the anime is another level of confusion for me, because in some ways it out does the manga and in other ways I much prefer the manga, because of the bombast and over-the-top nature of the anime. But still this anime has some fantastic moments that lend it a spot here on the list. The reveal of the Armoured and Colossal Titans is so well handled in the anime. I get chills whenever I watch that scene, and at this point I have to have seen it at least 20 times, but it never fails to captivate me. Everything about the direction and the music in that moment furthers whatever effectiveness the moment had in the manga. Additionally, some of the action set-pieces are amazing in the anime. Levi’s chase scene from the beginning of season 3 comes to mind as an outstanding piece of animation. The camera work around the 3D manoeuvre gear throughout the series is always of high quality. These outstanding depictions of some of my favourite moments from the Attack on Titan manga earn this adaptation a spot on this list.

  1. Steins; Gate

Steins; Gate at one point in time, I would’ve stood by as unequivocally my favourite tv show of all time, and though my position on the show has wavered as you can see from its positioning here on the list, I still love this show. The characters and the music are the standout elements in this show, Makise Kurisu is one of the most beloved characters in all of anime, or at least she was at a time, and it’s because of the great writing in this show. The different character interactions in this show highlight the powerful writing. Every character talks fluidly, the conversations between them flow, whereas in other anime it feels like two expositional tools blabbing and the visuals are left to show the relations between them. Okabe is a great main character, he’s a socially awkward university student who entertain himself and others through his over-the-top persona and watching him in the slice of life beginning of the series establish relationships with everyone else hold the viewer attention. But when the twist happens in episode 12 and the series takes a turn into darker territory it’s even more fun to watch this over-the-top persona be ripped away piece by piece. This show also shows its strengths in the plot, with an interesting and far more plausible take on time travel and fantastic pacing. Overall Steins; Gate thought I may not love it as much as I once did, remains among my favourites of all time.

  1. Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain is peak experimental media. This show is insane and you’re not going to understand it, and that’s the main conceit, watch the imagery and insanity and try and piece the puzzle together, and rewatches aren’t only encourage but basically mandatory. I’ve only gone through this show two and a half times and I still have no idea what’s going on with the alien. The art and direction are a clear selling points for this show, its breathtaking and inspiring. The artistic flair you’ll likely first notice is the weird pattern in all the shadows, and it’s tantalising. Enjoy trying to figure out what that symbolises over your journey. Now a show like this that’s incredibly experimental and trippy in nature benefits heavily by its short length, if this show were much longer it might be too overbearing. But the concise 13 episodes leans perfectly into the shows watchability. This shows other worthy claim to fame is its phenomenal understanding of what the internet was both like in 1998 and has continued to be to this day. The show understands how internet culture has developed, the super-hacker group, the knights are all very different people living very different lives, showing the grand nature of the internet and how it brings people together. The show understood meme culture and how a stupid, clever saying can become incredibly popular with some audio manipulation. The show was so clever in creating an in-universe meme in the ‘Let’s All Love Lain’ chant that it transcended the universe within the show and has become a meme in real life. This show is a late 1990s commentary on internet culture and somehow because of the cleverness of the writers remains completely relevant today.

  1. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop and I have an interesting relationship. If you check out the backlog of my channel some of my earliest videos are about my initial reactions to Cowboy Bebop as a series and it’s interesting to see me go from liking only certain episodes and hating the episodic nature of the show to loving every second of what I consider now to be a masterpiece. Cowboy Bebop is exceptional in all categories, its tone and atmosphere are unique and flexible, Cowboy Bebop doesn’t feel like anything else even though it homages so much content and it’s different nearly every episode. The character, even though I still don’t particularly care for Spike, are meaningful depictions. Faye is my favourite in the entire show, watching here best scenes is unimaginably tragic, from the shower scene where she remembers everything, to the Call Me scene as she running to her old ruined home, to the Go Me scene, to her final scene where she begs Spike to stay, are all fantastically tragic. Everybody in Cowboy Bebop is a realised person with depth, and it’s all derived from the final quote at the end of the show, everyone is carrying excess baggage. Everyone has a sad story behind them. And the tragedy of that and the beauty in that reality is why Cowboy Bebop stands out as a medium defining series, one deserving of a high placement on this list.

  1. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the most influential anime of all time, for great reason this show is palpable. You vicarial feel this show and the struggle of the characters within it. This show through all the mech elements and anime trappings is an in-depth, psychological character study of predominantly 5 characters, the three-iconic child mech pilots; Shinji, Asuka and Rei as well as Misato and to a lesser extent Ryosuke. These characters and their interactions and relationships with each other are the driving force behind this show, in the movies Shinji’s relationship with these people is the only reason the world doesn’t end. Evangelion thematically is about the struggle to make meaningful human connections and it’s not necessarily a happy one, by the end of the series all the characters are divided up, having failed each other. Misato is distraught over Kagi’s death, Asuka has lost her purpose in life when she realises she isn’t the best pilot, Rei was reset again and has to deal with her repeated existentialism and Ryosuke feels like she been taken advantage of and has ruined her relationship with nerve by leaking information. That leaves Shinji alone and with no connection. But how these characters slowly got to that point and how they come out of their individual depressions is the appeal of the show. As well as all this deep character writing and the shows interesting themes; the show also has stellar direction, but you can find countless of videos on the internet to explain that to you. Overall Neon Genesis Evangelion is another medium defining series, that deserves this ranking.

  1. Black Lagoon

Black Lagoon is my favourite anime of all time, and I will never backdown from this position. While Serial Experiments Lain, Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion have things to say about humanity and the human experience overall, Black Lagoon’s story is much more person. It’s about two people and how they affect each other’s incredibly different lives. Rock and Revy are the driving force behind Black Lagoon, they are together the main character. Their relationship goes through phases and each one of them is equally as interesting. Initially they dislike each other because they are opposites, but through the famous cigarette kiss scene we begin to understand that opposites definitely do attract and then they’re on the same page. But then something interesting happens, Revy notices that Rock is losing himself to the city, Roanapur and the underbelly lifestyle is eating Rock alive and secretly he loves it, but Revy always saw Rock as her lifeline out of this hell-scape, so throughout the arc in Japan and mostly in Roberta’s Blood Trail Revy desperately fights to keep Rock for the darkness and this struggle is the highlight of this show to me. The scene where Yukio impales herself with the sword stands out as the biggest literal exploration of this struggle in the series, Revy pleads with Rock desperately to turn away, but he doesn’t, because secretly he loves the thrill. I could and in the future will go into far more depth regarding the relationship here between the two of these characters, but this isn’t even the best part of Black Lagoon the performances are. The dialogue for this show was completely rewritten for the Dub and it shows, couple that with the excellent performance from Revy VA and this show easily has the best dialogue in anime. Black Lagoon is so unbelievably great and is easily my favourite anime of all time.

  1. The Sopranos

The Sopranos is a sprawling, lasting experience, with a rich cast of character, interesting themes and houses some of the best performances in TV history. The Sopranos like Neon Genesis Evangelion is revolutionary, I highlighted this in a separate video you can find in the description. The anti-hero television craze is derived entirely from The Sopranos and the titular character Tony Soprano. None of these other anti-hero protagonists would exist if Tony wasn’t as captivating as he has. Tony is the deepest character I’ve ever come across. The Sopranos is a long show it’s 6 seasons and spans over 70 hours and Tony is explored as a character you it’s entire runtime. We learn everything about this character throughout the series through his introspective therapy sessions with Dr Melfei and his elaborate dream sequences, that are marvels in cinematography as well as tension. The Sopranos’ strength lay in the heart of its characters, the characters and their interactions through the fantastically written dialogue are what draw the viewer in here, this results in countless impeccable scene throughout the show. To list some of my favourites: when Junior Soprano sings at Jackie Jr’s funeral, to Christopher’s out-of-nowhere death, to Pussy’s death on the boat, to Silvio and Tony’s conversation about heritage, to Meadow’s exposure of Carmella, to Carmella and Tony’s visceral breakup, to Carmella’s philosophical awakening in France, to Richie’s death, to anything with Tony Blundetto, to anything in that unrivalled final episode, this series is too good. The Sopranos is required reading and if you haven’t seen it yet do yourself and the world a favour and get on that. The Sopranos is undoubtedly my favourite television show of all time.

My Top 10 Favourite Films of All Time

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This list serves as a list of my Top 10 Favourite Films of All Time, wherein I recount my favourite movies, but this video also functions as an experiment I’d like to play out over the coming years here on the channel. Every year in January I would like to remake this list and compare how the list changes over time. With that being said let’s start the list:

  1. Goodfellas

Goodfellas is getting hard done by here on this list. I think its positioning on the list and its importance to me would be significantly different if I watched it for a second time; but this video has to come out in January and we only have so much time. There’s an undeniably unique atmosphere to Goodfellas, its unlike anything I’ve personally ever watched, maybe Martin Scorsese’s other films are similar in atmosphere, but since this is the only movie of his I’ve ever seen, to me the look, feel and tone are all entirely unique and fascinating. I have seen a variety of mob related media, including movies that will appear further down the list, and tv shows that will appear in tomorrow’s video, but this is the grittiest representation of the mob life, I’ve ever seen. In both the Sopranos and The Godfather there is a draw, an appeal, to the mob life, Vito makes it all look so respectable and elegant and the Sopranos’ waver in the filth, but the filth of sex and drugs something we all admire, so the draw is still there. But in Goodfellas it all seems hopeless, come films end; all the characters we are even tangentially aware of are either dead or in prison, except for Henry, who hates his mundane new life anyway. There are no happy endings here and we don’t feel good come movies end, but that’s the point. We’re telling the stylised story of a reckless man who wanted something and reached for it, only to fall, not to his death but to a worse fate, a life of unfulfillment and absolute mediocrity. The cinematography and performances bring the movie it prominence. The way the helicopter is portrayed through visual language is fantastic, you feel genuine unease, the famous restaurant tracking shot is undeniably impressive in every category. The performance from Joe Pesci’s is literally career defining, he was type-casted forever because of his performance here as a quick tempered, miserable piece of shit. Everything in this movie is appropriately vile and yet somehow entirely enthralling.

  1. Inglorious Bastards

Inglorious Bastards might not be Quentin Tarantino at his craziest, that would be Death Proof, but Inglorious Bastards shows all his strengths, diametrically. It establishes in the first scene and in the equally tense German pub scene that Tarantino can build tension like no one else, the slow burn of the two Nazi soldiers slowly uncovering that the Americans are undercover or that the farmer is sheltering Jews is brutal, and there made worse by how both end. Tarantino could have kept this strikingly serious tone throughout the entire film, but he doesn’t, the film is the diametric representation of Tarantino’s strengths, it in some ways they even contradict each other. These tension-laced scenes are in the same movie as Hitler being blown away by twenty rounds in a burning cinema. The outlandishness completely juxtaposes the realism of the other scenes, but somehow it all still works. These diametric elements co-and-side to create a masterpiece in tension, humour, drama and catharsis. Performances reign king throughout this film, Tarantino is ubiquitous for his strength in dialogue and when performed at this high of a level the results speak for themselves. Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger and Michael Fassbender may all have my favourite individual performances of them in this movie. Waltz is charmingly evil, Pitt is obliviously stupendous, Fassbender is cunningly swov and Kruger is desperately deceitful. These characters are captivating, big personalities that mesh incredibly well and they’re interactions result in some of my favourite scenes of all time. I don’t fully understand how this movie functions on a technical level, it’s a marvel to me, and enjoying it even more because it confuses me on a fundamental level.

  1. Good Time

The rawness of Good Time is intriguing, the vicarial desperation of a man giving everything for his goal is captivating to watch. In this movie we watch an awful man breakdown over 2 hours trying to break his mentally ill brother out of prison. Now his brother is only in prison because this awful man, Connie, manipulated him into assisting him in a bank robbery. I would like to thank Super Eye Patch Wolf for recommending this movie in one of his videos because otherwise I doubt I would have found it and this film is really worth watching. Throughout my initial viewing of the movie I found myself dreading the, what I perceived as, inevitable sad ending with the brother getting murdered in prison or something else horrible happening to him, when this was clearly not his fault. But when the movie ended I was entirely satisfied by the ending. Everyone that needed to be punished for being a terrible person was punished and everyone that needed help or was wrongfully put in a bad situation were given the help they required. Connie is taken to jail by the end of the movie and Nick is in the mental health facility allowed to be happy. But the real draw of this movie is following Connie as he manipulates all the people he knows in order to try to get his brother his freedom, he manipulates a psycho girlfriend into using her mother credit card to try and pay the bond, he saves the wrong guy at one point and manipulates him into helping him out. He even manipulates a 16-year-old girl into helping him. Watching this clusterfuck of human desperation with a happy ending is incredibly enjoyable and I would recommend this largely unknown film to anybody, and that’s why it deserves a spot on this list.

  1. Avengers: Infinity War

Marvel deserves all the credit in the world for just how successful this movie is, and I’m not strictly talking about how monetarily successful it was, but just overall as a piece of cinema. Marvel made a great movie and they didn’t necessarily have to, to make all that money. They caught lightning in a bottle with the structure of this movie, somehow all your favourite characters are featured here, and they get apt screen time. It brought countless extraneous plot elements from several movies together and then delivered with a fantastic villain, with Thanos. Even Marvel’s unanimously considered weakest element, the villain, defies all expectations. Thanos is the selling point of this movie, to me, I really don’t care about the Marvel cinematic universe or any of the characters or even any of these films, I see them once and a while, and I’m glad I went to see this one, and only for Thanos. Thanos is the Darth Vader of cinemas modern time, a generation defining. He works so well because he is not a mindless evil tyrant, as at least I had assumed going into the movie, being largely blind, he does not take any joy or reverence in his actions throughout the movie. He is a damaged hero who views this as his last chance to save the universe, he believes what he is going to be right. He sacrifices the only being in the universe he still has any affection for, in order to save the universe, he is not a hypocrite, he is willing to sacrifice everything for this goal, and the fact that he achieves it at movies end solidifies my admiration for this character. The embodiment of my fascination with this character, is in the scene where Thanos defeats Tony Stark and before he kills him, he genuinely acknowledges his respect for him and hopes that the remaining people on Earth remember him for the hero he is. The subtly and nuance of the writing of Thanos is the driving force behind this movies placement here on the list.

  1. The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight to me, is the story of a Black man that hates white people and a racist from the south coming together to kill this bitch, and by movies end they realise that they aren’t so different from each other as they die together. The mystery premise of this movie is the initial intrigue of the film, and as the plot unravels I like how the mystery element is subverted and nearly everyone is in on the plan. But as with all Quentin Tarantino movies the dialogue and performances are what carry the film. Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russel and Walton Goggins are the standout performances, the scene where the sheriff exposes the major for his fake Lincoln Letter is amazingly great, the tension and humour are all evident and it also leads great insight into all three of them as characters. From this one interaction we learn that the sheriff is cleverer than we may have initially anticipated, the major is more deceitful than initially anticipated and that the Hangman is more gullible than initially anticipated. These characteristics of them all individually plays very cleverly into the twist, the Hangman unknowingly drinks the poison and the major and the sheriff are forced to come together to survive. This throw-away interaction in the middle of this film is only one reason that this film is so great and why it earns a spot as one of my favourite films of all time.

  1. Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs is so unbelievably great, and it isn’t even my favourite or the highest-ranking Quentin Tarantino movie on this list. At this point I might seem like a broken record but the dialogue and performances are what carry this movie. Mr White and Mr Pink particularly are my favourite performances, I love the cynical nature of Mr Pink, and the fact that he never takes his eyes of the prize, whereas everyone else flusters. Mr White is the most relatable character in this film, he’s the closest to the everyman, he works hard and trusts in his friends, he has the empathy the characters lack and the relationship between him and Mr Orange is portrayed not to dissimilarly to a father and son. Which only makes the conclusion of the film more tragic, Mr White kills associates of his own and gives his life for someone he believes to be his friend only for Mr Orange to reveal himself as the undercover cop. The final scene of Reservoir Dogs is iconic for a reason, it beautifully brings all the tension and dramatic irony together in a single climactic scene where these characters bear their souls to the audience. This was Quentin Tarantino’s debut and since then he’s never looked back, and this first outing was one of his best.

  1. The End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the greatest television series of all time and its climatic cinematic performance is equally as great. What’s most impressive about the End of Evangelion is how short it is, this movie is a clean and concise 1 hour and 30 minutes, I was stunned when I rewatched the film recently to discover this shockingly short run time. Think about all the iconic scenes that you associate with this movie in your mind; Misato’s death, the invasion of Nerve, Ryusiki’s death, Rei’s philosophical awakening and subsequent killing of Gendo, Asuka’s fight against the Eva series, the world ending and Shinji’s psychological awakening and subsequent saving of the world all happens in a succinct and satisfying 90 minutes. Just scene after scene of classic, unforgettable anime drama. The direction and cinematography of this movie may be peak Hideiki Anno. I love the use of flashing images and match cuts Anno uses frequently to overload your brain with rapid fire images, its tantalising to watch. Evangelion has always thematically been about the worth of human connection and this is never further brought to the forefront than in the climax of the movie, Shinji is given the choice to allow everyone to be absorb into a singularity or to reject the end of the world and try one final time to connect to Asuka, and ultimately Shinji proves himself the hero and chooses hope. The final scene might be the most iconic of this seemingly ubiquitous film and is the perfect closer for Anno’s masterpiece, making it even more infuriating that he decided to revisit the series with the terrible and ugly rebuild films…

  1. Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown is Quentin Tarantino’s best work and I will not here otherwise. For the first time in a Quentin Tarantino movie the plot is equally as complex as the characters and dialogue. Jackie Brown is where Tarantino’s characters feel the most authentic. But once again, even with the dynamic plot, in Jackie Brown the performances and dialogue reign supreme, everyone in this film is outstanding. Watching Pam Grier as Jackie Brown portray her absolute exhaustion at life only to outsmart Ordell and the cops and get away with stealing tens of thousands of dollars is extremely satisfying. Ordell’s self-destruction is equally as satisfying to watch all his allies betray him or end up dead. Jackie betrays him, Melonie dies, he kills Lewis and he kills Buemont. Every scene in this movie is infinitely rewatchable for me, Chris Tucker gives the performance of his career here in a great scene acting beside Samuel L Jackson. The scene where Jackie and Ordell argue at the beach house is great and the diegetic audio of the scene is priceless in execution. Lewis and Melonie have fantastic chemistry in this film and watching them annoy each other is weirdly rewarding. This film is just so well-written and is easily to me the best of Quentin Tarantino.

  1. The Godfather

There is an unrivalled atmosphere in the Godfather. You consciously feel like you’re watching a classic of the medium whenever you gaze at its frames. There’s such class and appeal on display here that it gives me a nostalgia and a fondness for a time in which my parents weren’t even born. The Godfather is a two-part narrative about the successfulness of Vito Corleone, the initial Godfather and patriarch of the Corleone family and the failure of his successor and son Michael Corleone. The acting in this film is remarkable, every performance is unique and believable, everyone from Tom to Fredo to Moe Green to Sollozzo to Clemenza to Sonny to Kay, are damn-near perfect in this film. An outstanding cast of characters. The Godfather Part 1 feels like a journey you take with Michael you grow with him on this journey, you carry the weight of his actions and his trauma, and by the end you feel like you’ve been worn out. This movie is long, and you don’t feel any of it, something interesting or iconic is always happening. I love in this film and in the sequel how the monumentality of someone raising their voice is portrayed, the noise sounds unique to the time and is scary as well as captivating. The score of this movie is also undeniably excellent, the main Godfather theme is unparalleled in cinema for excellence. There are countless scenes from this movie I would consider to be my favourites, from Michael and Vito’s final on screen talk, to Vito’s wholesome death, to Michael’s hit on Sollozzo and the police chief, to the explosion with the car, the emotional moment with Tom and Vito after Sonny’s death and of course, the namesake scene of the movie. The Godfather is only outclassed in my heart by one film, it’s sequel.

  1. The Godfather Pt. 2

The Godfather Part 2 narrowly outclasses its predecessor in nearly all areas. You may as well count these films together as one they are so similar, but for me everything’s just a little better in Part 2. This movie serves as the crescendo of Michael Corleone’s descension. He ruthlessness is on full display in this film, even after he wins at the end of the movie all his enemies, no matter how harmless they are after Michael has destroyed them must be killed, from Roth to Fredo, everyone that stands even briefly in Michael’s way are killed by movies end. Everything I said about the first movie applies here to the second movie, the acting and atmosphere here are unmatched. Roth as a villain and the surrounding storyline in Cuba is far more entertaining to me than the conflict in the first movie with Sollozzo and the 5 families. My favourite scenes from this movie also rank higher than those of the first. The iconic Fredo scene is great, Michael embracing Fredo at the funeral is beautiful and his subsequent killing of Fredo is devastating, Michael exploding when Tom tells him Kay had a miscarriage is terrifying and Tom’s final scene with the nearly rat, where he convinces him to kill himself is also impeccable. Everything in this movie to me is great and at this point in time, to me, The Godfather Part 2 is the pinnacle of cinema.

 

 

Berserk: I Want Wings Scene Analysis (Lost Chapter)

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Our scene starts halfway through chapter 82 of Berserk as we take a brief break from the horrors of the Eclipse and join Griffith as he sinks into the abyss. In the physical realm, Griffith is being metamorphosed into Femto, so everything occurring in this scene is metaphorical and happening in Griffith’s mind. Through his internal monologue he describes himself getting further and further form the light, sinking into the darkness, this is a very literal symbolic visual representation of Griffith fall from grace. Griffith is self-aware about his current lack of form and wonders where his body is and what exactly is going on. Progressively throughout this scene his new body will slowly come to form.

He continues to reiterate that he’s sinking, that’s a motif of this scene, Miura wants to portray this sinking feeling in Griffith, that’s why the repetition is necessary. Griffith is then confronted with the horrors of the Eclipse that is likely going on congruently to his transformation. There is an incredible full page spread that depicts the deaths piercing through him, the illustration here makes it pretty blatant that their deaths or sacrifices are physically feeding into his rebirth. He then is honest reflecting on this horror concluding that this is what he wished to happen, all this despair is because of his selfish desire. He goes on to further say that he feels nothing regarding their deaths, which is a sentiment he will later repeat at the Hill of Swords. He then continues to reiterate that he is sinking.

We are introduced to the Idea of Evil as a narrator. He shows Griffith the visualisation of the crystallisation of his last shed tear and explains that his suffering became so immense that his heart has been subsequently frozen. This is also an allegory for the activation of the Behilits, which as we will learn in the coming pages are derived from the Idea of Evil. A human must be broken in order to activate a Behilit, their emotions and empathy for humanity are squashed because of their suffering, therefore their last tear is derived from the last moment before they activate the Behilit. Griffith then notices the thousands of tear-like Behilit’s rising above him heading for the physical world, letting us know that the Idea of Evil is the origin of the Behilit’s. As he continues to sink he begins to see the physical embodiment of the Idea of Evil and once he gets a good enough look at it, he questions if it is literally God. This ends chapter 82 and the conical section of this scene.

Berserk chapter 83, also known to the wider internet as the lost chapter continues our scene while also concluding it. Griffith reiterates, questioning if the entity in front of him is God, the Idea of Evil then welcomes him and specifically refers to him as a human, implying that the Idea of Evil is in no way human or ever was like all being that use the Behilit as a tool to gain their supernatural abilities. Griffith asks again is this is God, and the Idea of Evil responds saying that he is the idea, the idea of evil the desired God. Griffith confused questions if this lump of flesh is really a God, but the Idea of Evil explains that this is only his core and that the vortex around him is the Godly part. The Idea of Evil is notably similar in shape to a heart, and as it is a God of feelings, particularly negative feelings, it fits. The Idea of Evil is the unconscious black heart of humanity.

The Idea of Evil then goes on to explain that the vortex surrounding him is an ocean of feelings intrinsic to all humans deep in their souls, he’s a collective consciousness that brings humanity together in solidarity. It was cultivated by the seemingly mindless despair of the nihilistic nature of the world in Berserk. It explains that these emotions birthed him into existence. Griffith acts as an audience surrogate here and an expositional tool, the Idea of Evil just subtly alluded to being birthed from human emotion, so now Griffith reiterates for the audience by asking if that means humans created God? He also asks if this terrifying hell-scape is humanities deepest desire. The Idea of Evil corroborates this and explains further that this is only one of multiple layers of the whole collective unconscious and that this is the layer of violence, loneliness and negative emotion. The Idea of Evil posits that this is the defining will of human nature, it even has a line on the previous page explaining that this place as horrific as it may seem, seems terribly human. Griffith then corroborates the humanity of this place as he menacingly looks down the camera with an open palm explaining that he can feel it, in an undeniably awesome panel. This panel also shows Griffith body progressing to materialise, he now has a hand and part of a face.

It is notable that when the Idea of Evil explains that this is merely one layer of the collective human unconscious. That means there are likely alternative layers that house different emotions. Therefore, it is equally possible that positive layers of Gods born of positive human emotions. If there is the Idea of Evil their must in turn be an Idea of Good, right? Even in Berserk people experience happiness or the idea of joy. This is only the layer Griffith personally called out for through the Behilit. Maybe in the story in the future we will see a character call out to a different deity of emotions.

Griffith then asks why the Idea of Evil was born and why humanity would give birth to this will called God. It’s interesting that Griffith described the Idea of Evil as a ‘Will called God.’ The Idea of Evil responds explaining that people desired an explanation for all the atrocities in their lives, all the atrocities they were exposed to by the world. Reasons for rain, reasons for sadness, reason for life itself as well as death. What could possibly explain the absurdity of life? The excuse they came up with was God, and so God came to them. The Idea of Evil explains that he controls destiny and the absurdity of life, because that is what he was willed into existence for. Not to end suffering or pain but to explain it. The Idea of Evil is omnipotent but obey the will of the essence of human kind, he cannot create a better reality, even if he desired to, because he is beholden to humanity and the world.

Griffith makes this about himself again by arrogantly asking if the Idea of Evil controls destiny than does that include his destiny, did he arrange for Griffith to suffer and be tortured. Not only does the Idea of Evil corroborate this but explains that all of the events relevant in Griffith’s life were predetermined in the distant past. He further explains that he manipulated lower-level humans into taking certain actions and merged certain bloodlines and created the specific set of circumstances so that Griffith would be born and live the life he did. It is interesting that Griffith’s linage is brought up here since we never see his parents, or anybody related to him in the story. Stonehenge interestingly feature as a fixture in the background of the page where the Idea of Evil explains his manipulation of the world. Stonehenge features throughout Berserk, when the demon baby warns Guts of Casca apparent danger, forcing him out of his Black Swordsmen behaviour and in the most recent chapter as of this videos release, where Griffith and his army are using it as a form of fast travel. It seems to have some symbolic meaning to the narrative, but I can’t entirely decipher it.

Another interesting detail here is the irony that Kentaru Miura literally is the real life equivalent of the Idea of Evil. In the story the Idea of Evil controls destiny, but in a more literal sense Kentaru Miura controls the destiny of the Idea of Evil, so much so that he cut him from canon, so ultimately, the author of the story controls the destiny of the characters. Is this black heart of humanity an allegory for Kentaru Miura himself, is he trying to make some meta-commentary on the nature of stories and characters and how they relate to destiny and the author. In the manga version of the Eclipse Gaston literally leans on the fourth wall when he explains to Guts before his horrific death that he was only a minor character in a grander narrative. If this is in any way true, this scene is almost like Griffith talking to his own author.

 

Griffith now understanding the monumentality of this encounter forgoes his self-importance and asks God what it wants from him. The Idea of Evil simply responds telling him to be as he will. This is something Wyald claimed previously, he said he was ordered only to do as he will. It seems the God Hand, hand this message of doing anything you will down to the mere apostles as well if Wyald somehow got this message, I don’t think he ever meant the Idea of Evil. The Idea of Evil goes onto explain that he dwells deep in Griffiths heart and that he is part of Griffith. Their desires are mutual, whatever Griffith desires will be the desire of the Idea of Evil as well. He explains to Griffith that his actions will reflect the truth want of mankind, it may cause pain or salvation to mankind. He finalises this speech in the full-page spread saying, “Do as you will, chosen one.” The Idea of Evil basically grants Griffith free will in this scene, Griffith ultimately uses this acquired free will to rape Casca in an attempt to humiliate Guts, and if you’ve seen my Hill of Swords scene analysis you’ll understand just how grandly Griffith fucked up in this entire situation.

Now after learning the complexities of the undercurrent of the entire universe, learning the truth about humanities collective consciousness and meeting God himself; Griffith concludes that if so: he wants wings. This viscerally human response after learning the complexities of the universe displays Griffith aforementioned arrogance and its absolutely captivating. The juxtaposition here works so unbelievably well creating both disgust and understanding, something about this request is relatable while simultaneously making you angry. This moment to me is only aptly described as, ‘incredibly Griffith.’ There’s something indescribably palpable about this moment and some of the credit must be given to the art, the progressive materialisation of Griffith throughout the scene is finalised here, Griffith is whole again, and his first line is, “I Want Wings.” The look of determination and assuredness here depicts what Griffith would become in the following chapters perfectly.

After his request the vortex all negative human emotion and feeling surround him and complete his transformation into Femto, including the wings he just asked for. The Idea of Evil closes the scene and the chapter by monologing that Griffith can mould his shape into anything he sees suitable for his desired task, whatever that may be. Our scene ends with a silhouette of the jet-black wings of Femto soring back up the abyss we stated this scene sinking down, to seemingly achieve whatever task he desired.

 

 

Berserk: Hill of Swords Scene Analysis (Manga)

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This is a comprehensive video analysis of the Hill of Swords scene from the Berserk manga written by Kentaru Miura:

Our scene starts with a shot of a gravestone, and more astute readers will figure out what Erica corroborates immediately afterwards, that Godo has died. His gravestone is engraved with blacksmith paraphernalia and the dreaded Holy See insignia. Godo’s life and character is defined by his ambition for his trade, Guts and he had a conversation where he told Guts that he was so enthralled with his work and that the sparks from his forging that one day he woke up an old man. This is a bittersweet realisation for the reader, Godo was an incredible man who took Guts in and clearly had some love for him, resulting in Godo being the closest thing to a father Guts ever had, but he lived a long life and it was his time to die. Erica seems to be holding up pretty well, there’s clearly some sorrow and anguish in her expression when she wishes him an adorable good morning, but he had a peaceful death and nothing that left her traumatised. Erica is one of the purest entities in Berserk and has somehow remained that way, its only in this scene that she is in anyway sad, with both this moment and the one later where she thinks everyone is leaving her behind.

After saying good morning to her father Erica notices Guts, Casca and Puck returning after they’re journey to the Tower of Conviction. There’s a one page spread off a beautiful family portrait of them all with Godo’s gravestone looming in the foreground. The wholesome nature of the scene is fostered by Casca’s genuine excitement to see Erica again. Erica reciprocates and cries as she hugs Casca who hugs her back. Guts laments taking too long to get back. Erica let’s everyone, including the audience, know that it happened soon after Guts left as she holds Casca’s hand and skips back to the hut. This wholesomeness is important to keeping a balanced representation of human nature and the world entirely. If Berserk was only filled with Eclipse level traumatic experiences it would be dishonest in its representation. Things as emotionally traumatic as the Eclipse do occur in our world but incredibly endearing moments happen as well, otherwise we would all just be dead. This duality of the world is depicted not only here, where they have just come from the horrific events at the Tower of Conviction but right after the Eclipse where Guts runs through a naturally beautiful landscape that juxtaposes the nightmare he just went through, it goes from absolute despair to serenity.

Guts apologises but Erica says the Godo was happy that he got to see his surrogate son one last time before his death. Erica gets noticeably sadder throughout her explanation but either consciously or subconsciously changes the subject and tries to be positive by bringing up that Guts successfully got Casca back. However, with knowledge of her reaction towards the end of the chapter she clearly feels there is a void know that her father is gone and wants Casca and Guts to fill it. She asks Guts if he will stay with them now that he’s got Casca back, but Guts is still conflicted. When Erica says ‘let’s all live together’ he immediately thinks of Griffith and of his revenge. Erica continues justifying why everything will be fine now, Casca won’t run away ever again as long as Guts is with her, they can even renovate the cave and make it a proper home. Guts responds with ‘that’s true’ acknowledging that she’s right but not necessarily agreeing that he’s definitely staying but Erica misinterprets and becomes ecstatic. If the subtle allude to Griffith wasn’t registering with the reader Guts and Puck have a conversation about Guts being torn between Griffith and Casca again, torn between vengeance and love. Guts has an internal monologue where he acknowledges the irony that as soon as he got Casca back and believed he understood his purpose, Griffith reappeared before him not as a demon but as he once was. Meanwhile Erica is adorable freaking out.

Now this scene takes place amid Guts’ internal conflict between Casca and Griffith, does he hate Griffith enough for it to tip the scale further than his love for Casca? Ultimately, Guts comes to the right decision in choosing Casca over Griffith. This is made evident by one scene preceding this scene and one after this scene. At the Tower of Conviction Guts consciously choose Casca over Griffith in this iconic panel were his rage is placated by Casca in the background. It’s a wonderfully put together two-page spread that alludes to Guts’ priorities but at this point he hasn’t truly come to term with this decision of Casca over Griffith that he consciously made. But later when all the demonic forces in the world descend on Vritannis and Guts once again see’s Griffith on the horizon he leaves with Casca without a second thought. Casca is Guts’ replacement for his sword. Guts comes to the philosophical self-understanding at the tail end of the Golden Age arc that his sword may be the most important thing in his life and that maybe his purpose in life was to continuously swing his sword, but he repeatedly throws his sword away for Casca. Guts throws his sword down to pick up Casca at Doldrey and that’s the first time he does anything without his sword. He doesn’t even sleep without his sword, except when he sleeps with Casca, both sexually and platonically. On two occasions they slept with each other for warmth and for survival and Guts slept without his sword both times and then later when it became sexual Guts again left his sword behind in favour of Casca. This is repeatedly his subconscious trying to tell him that Casca is more important to him than anything he could achieve with a sword including killing Griffith. This is all something that Guts comes to understand after this scene, but it’s in this scene that this internal conflict is made incredibly physical.

Guts internal monologue continues, and he explains that when he initially saw him he forgot his urge to kill him and this amazement is captured on his face in this panel but then is immediately undermined by the next panel where he exhausts his frustrations at this, he will not allow himself to forgive Griffith. He then reflects on his period as the Black Swordsmen and how he wandered aimlessly chasing Griffiths undefined shadow, but now Griffith exists on the plane as him, where his sword can reach him. Interestingly, we seem to be ignoring the actual first encounter that Guts had with Griffith post-eclipse, in the scene with the Count. In this reflective monologue Guts doesn’t even allude to that meeting. I think Miura is hoping he had all forgotten about that because the only plausible explanation for neither one of them bringing it up in this scene is that he’s acting as if that never happened. But then the immediate mood of the scene is forever changed when Erica subtly starts to allude to Rickert being preoccupied with a guest that was an old war colleague and has long silver hair and was so pretty she couldn’t even tell that he was a man. Griffith is here holy shit.

This is a monumental moment. The monumentality of this moment and my original reaction to this moment in the manga is the driving force behind the creation of this video. If ever I wished I was recording my reaction to any piece or moment of media, this would have been it, I overtly freaked the fuck out. It was impossible for this to be happening especially so soon, this was supposed to happen at the very end of the story, I thought. There’s no way he would dare show himself here and there is no way Miura would deliver on something I wanted to see so bad so soon. The balls it takes to immediately and confidently play your best card so soon is what makes me respect this decision and love this scene so much. He decided not to fuck around and charge ahead with 1000% velocity. The way Miura constructed this page is masterful and creates the most palpable tension possible. The subtle hints that he’s there and the long shots of Rickert with another person in the distance tease it, but the close-up of Guts other eye draws you in and before you even had the chance to digest the hints and teases he’s right there. This caught me and the majority of us collectively off guard with unimaginable precision. This is the best surprise in a story I’ve ever experience, it was the last thing I thought was possible. Chapter 177 ends with a full page backshot of Griffith creating further mystery around him as we watch in awe from behind, astounded.

A key element left out of the discussion surrounding this scene and Griffith’s decision to show up here is his arrogance. Arrogance isn’t a trait I hear attributed to Griffith enough, I truly believe it is one of his most defining characteristics. In this scene he was the gall to not only show up but to actively walk on the symbolic grave of the Band of the Hawk. His unbridled arrogance is most on display, however in the scene wherein he has the opportunity to ask a literal (emotional) God for anything and he asks him for Wings.  But I hope to analyse that scene identically to how I’m analysing this scene next, so I’ll leave the in-depth analysis of Griffith’s arrogance for that later date.

Our scene continues in Chapter 178, after the cliff-hanger of the century, imagine having to wait a month between these chapters, with Rickert exclaiming his excitement that Griffith is alive. A key element of this scene is the dramatic irony with Rickert’s character, no one wants to fill young Rickert in. His emotional reaction to Griffith’s return also serves as a reminder to the readers that may have forgotten that Rickert is still ignorant about the on goings of the Eclipse and in this case, ignorance is definitely bliss. But even if you fully understand that you can’t help but get annoyed at Rickert throughout this scene, which was clearly Miura’s intent here. Rickert comes across as extremely winey and annoying in this scene, especially when he puts himself between Guts and Griffith. Rickert starts listening all the dead members of the Band of the Hawk and explains how he believed Griffith was dead all along and how relieved his that he’s alive. Every panel of Rickert talking is interspliced with panels of Guts rushing to the two with frightening speed and quite murderous intent. Erica, Casca and Puck are all left behind in the hut presumably for safety. These panels of Guts chasing are quite subtle and it’s important that we still haven’t seen Griffith’s face yet, the mystery element remains. Two page spread of Guts arriving and Rickert noticing and then a detailed close-up of Guts face and the reveal of Griffith is held off for the following page, which is another epic two page spread. These pages speak for themselves…

I cannot overstate the monumentality of this moment, but this spare down conveys it. Guts’ rage breaks the staring contest and Rickert kicks into gear and their breakdown in communication is evident. This situation would have been incredibly different if Guts had been transparent with Rickert and explained everything to him from the beginning, we have proof that Rickert would be on Guts side because the next time Rickert see’s Griffith after learning the truth he becomes the internet’s favourite man. They continue to miscommunicate and as they squabble Griffith finally speaks telling Guts that he never changes and that he always swings first and talks later. Fuck You Griffith. Not only is this infuriating to Guts but its infuriating to the viewer, the first thing this motherfucker says after the Eclipse is not an apology or a grand silique about how the ends justify the means but it’s some ad hominem against Guts, what an arrogant prick. Then he precedes to demean Guts’ development and say that he’s exactly the same as when they first meant. Out of the two of these pricks one of them has remained the same since that day and it’s not Guts. This sentiment also implies that Griffith stands just as far over current Guts as he did previous Guts which is equally infuriating. I hate this prick and his dumb smile and Guts agrees and asks him what the hell he came here for.

Griffith responds saying he came here to see Guts and to see if he still feels any connection to Guts and if he could make him forget his dream and fuck everything up a second time. He also throws in a line about the location being fitting because the Band of the Hawk has assembled once more. Another arrogant gesture and he is also neglecting Casca in this statement, because she wasn’t there which is another jab at Guts and quite demeaning to Casca as a character and undervalues her as a leader in the Hawks. Guts gets mad that Griffith would even dare use the name Band of the Hawk, this is a particularly soft spot for him, he repeats this offense when he fights Grunbeld far later in the series. Griffith then declares himself free of his emotional connection to Guts, and I choose to believe him here, because Miura seems to have switched Griffith weakness from Guts to Casca thematically, as will be corroborated later in the scene. Guts is shown getting incredibly mad in an extreme close-up and throws Rickert out the way to charge at Griffith. As he does so he asks him how it is that after everything he did he feels nothing. Griffith responds by simply saying that he will not betray his dream, this results in another rage panel from Guts and Guts swings at Griffith only to be blocked by Zodd.

Nosferatu Zodd is a great character, he’s the demonic exception to the rule. I’d say a majority of the Berserk fanbase likes Zodd and that can’t be said about nearly any other demon. Demons are usually terrible, barbaric creates who rape, devour and mindlessly murder people but Zodd is never shown eating or raping anyone and he fights for the fun of it and seems to have some honour, even if he is extremely Darwinistic in his approach. Zodd is basically a demonic version of Goku, he seeks out strong fighters and wishes to have thrilling death matches with them. Therefore, the audience doesn’t view him as a demon but just a beast. Later in the series when Griffith has accrued his demonic army Zodd is rarely shown among them, at Flora’s estate he kills a particularly annoying apostle who was being a piece of shit and when Sonia gives Mule a tour of the Band of the Hawk camp the demons are segregated and Zodd is not among them socialising but looking over Griffith. This separation is a necessary tool used by Miura if we are to in any way like Zodd, and ultimately this tool may be used to make Zodd an ally come the end of the series, but that last part is just some idle speculation.

Guts is caught off guard by Zodd’s appearance here, it’s a mixture of surprise and fear. Surprise that Zodd, someone who stood solemnly over he and Griffith is now for all intent and purposes his guard dog and fear because the source of all of Guts’ nightmares in his adulthood are standing in front of him. The first encounter with Zodd changed Guts fundamentally as a human being, all his dream sequences have a Zodd allegory if not Zodd himself present. Zodd was a symbol of something that made Guts powerless in his adulthood, Zodd was overwhelmingly more powerful than Guts and that scared Guts, he thought he had grown strong enough for no one ever to physically take advantage of again, but Guts proved him wrong. Now the figure that instilled all fear into Guts as an adult, stands in the way of the figurehead of the other traumatic and fear inducing experience of Guts adulthood. He is now forced to confront all his fears if he wishes to enact his vengeance. He decides here that his hatred for Griffith supersedes his lasting fear relating to Zodd. Additionally, there is fantastic attention to detail narratively here from Miura, he remembered that Rickert only ever saw Zodd in his transformed state, so until Zodd transforms in this scene Rickert is perplexed that some random creature is stepping to Guts in a sword fight. Zodd interestingly refers to Guts as the Black Swordsman which demonstrates Guts’ effectiveness in creating a reputation while he was slaughtering apostles in the Black Swordsman arc. Chapter 178 ends with Puck and Casca both seemingly noticing a presence on the snowy peak. Miura here is teasing their involvement in the coming chapter.

Chapter 179 continues our scene and opens fight poster shot of the upcoming Zodd vs Guts showdown. This fight is another story element that on my initial readthrough caught me completely off guard. Much like the Guts and Griffith conversation, I assumed that we would get a Guts vs Zodd fight in the final chapters of the overall manga. But Miura quadrupled down for this scene and blew off another highly built angle in this epic scene. This entire scene is a masterclass in how to surprise an audience with a major plot element that they weren’t expecting, and still maintaining intrigue by not giving too many answers. This scene is all masterful character work if you think about it, the only plot related development is that the Elvish cave is destroy, and this is just a plot device so Guts is forced to continue his journey and to introduce Elfhelm as a concept and a goal. Rickert’s internal monologue here is used as tension building for the fight as well as an expositional tool to guide the slower members of the audience. Here he explains his amazement to how strong this other swordsman is to be blocking Guts’ strikes. Zodd puts Guts over and explains how much it pleases him that he has significantly progressed since their previous encounter. Then their fight truly begins.

Now the fight between Guts and Zodd here is something I’m not going to focus on or discuss in much detail, basically it boils down to a well-drawn and well-choreographed clash. Zodd puts Guts over again, saying that it is magnificent that a human has attained such discipline. Guts completely ignores him and asks why he is with Griffith, protecting him, and then asks him to move aside because his business is with Griffith. We get a panel of Griffith looking generally disinterested in the ongoing madness, with his eyes such and his expression being completely blank. Then Zodd responds with possibly his best line in the entire series, “Works Lack Elegance, Force Your Way Past.” This line not only is cool as fuck but deeply insightful into Zodd’s character, he believes force to be elegant and believes words lack any elegance, that was a good one Miura. They then continue to fight with Guts’ attempting to force his way through. They have a back and forth of offense and defence, Guts concludes internally that Zodd is nothing compared to the journey he has fought through to get his chance to kill Griffith, he belittles Zodd in the face of Griffith.

Meanwhile we continue to get internal monologue from Rickert as he attempts to put all the pieces together. Who is this mysterious man matching Guts in strength and Why is Guts fighting so desperately to attack Griffith? Guts confirms again that he is stronger than base Zodd when he tactically impales him with one of the surrounding ceremonial swords and Zodd is forced to transform. Internally Rickert has a great, poetic line reflecting that Guts has done unbelievably well ‘braving death’ which is a fantastic use of personification. The chapter ends with Miura stopping his recent neglect of Griffith and giving him a moment of feeling, Griffith describes this as a faint throbbing. He goes on to say that his blood should have been frozen as his contemporaries told him it would have been at the Eclipse. But in his rebirth, he is feeling emotion again, he assumed that his blood had been frozen when he felt nothing towards Guts once seeing him again, but now he is feeling different. He concludes that the feelings he is feeling are derived from the infant infused into his being by the Egg of the New World, he seems unaware that this is Guts’ and Casca’s tainted offspring. The underlying irony here being that its Griffith’s fault he is feeling these feelings because the infant was only tainted because he raped Casca. As we will see demonstrated in the following chapter Griffith is now connected to Casca and puts her safety subconsciously above his dream. He may have successfully escaped the binds of Guts through the Eclipse, but because he was given free will he immediately fucked it up, enacting revenge on Guts by raping Casca to prove this connection to Guts was severed and conclusively, inevitable created a connection to Casca. Guts can no longer distract Griffith from his dream but Casca can! The final page of the chapter shows Guts and Griffith’s faces juxtaposed.

Our scene continues further in Chapter 180 and opens with Zodd continuing to praise Guts for his swordsmanship and the power of his sword itself, which is a nice little nod to Godo and his elite level craftsmanship. Since he spent every waking moment forging its nice for Zodd to corroborate his level of expertise. Guts realises that this is where the real fight starts, he’s fully aware that Zodd still has a transformation. Zodd finishes his monologue with saying that he has not yet tasted enough, he hasn’t had his full of fun and subsequently transforms. This two-page spread of Zodd’s transformation might be in my Top 5 pages from the entire manga, not that I have a Top 5 pages from the manga, but you get the idea. You can feel the momentum from the pages, the verbosity and forward momentum of Zodd here is profound. Now that Zodd has transformed Rickert finally starts piecing together the situation, but he is still perplexed that Zodd is protecting Griffith. They continue to fight with Huts clearly now on the defensive. Guts is forced to dodge constantly as Zodd continuously charges him down hoping to impale him on his solitary remaining horn. One of these dodges results in Zodd destroying the Elvish cave that was the only know safe house for Guts and Casca. Speaking of which Casca makes her appearance wondering up from the hut to the extremely dangerous battlefield.

Guts knowing that it’s impossible for him to fend off Zodd and protect Casca at the same time, lashes out in anger and calls her stupid and to get back, Erica is shown following her up the snowy peak. Casca stops immediately upon seeing Griffith, she’s transfixed from afar as Griffith looks on with a blank face. Now there are multiple explanations for Casca transfixion here, maybe Griffith’s angelic appearance is responsible, she’s drawn to the shiny man on the mountaintop. Another explanation could be that she senses the presence of her child inside of Griffith and has a maternal instinct to protect it. These are equally more justifiable than the explanation I sometimes see that this instance of transfixion is evidence that Casca wasn’t raped and that now that she has her mind back that she wants to go back to Griffith. Zodd remerges from the debris and rains boulders from the sky, Erica and Puck successfully get out of dodge but Casca, whose unaware of her predicament is left unguarded, with Guts to far away to save her. Guts reaches out to pull her out of the way but Zodd smacks him into the other direction. All seems lost for Casca until this prick comes to the rescue. The fact that he would even dare touch her infuriates Guts and the audience, but he saved her when Guts couldn’t, rubbing salt in the limp sized wound. Casca with the shiny object now right in front of her reaches out trying to touch it but her brand explodes causing her immense pain. Guts visualises the audiences rage in the following panel, Casca falls to her knees in front of Griffith.

Surprising it seems that Griffith was not intentionally trying to save Casca and giving us and Guts collectively a massive fuck you, but subconsciously was driven to protect Casca because of the infant. Immediately after saving Casca he tells Zodd to stop and leaves. Now Griffith immediate leaving implies that this emotion he feels towards Casca caught him off guard so much that leaving was necessary. Obviously, he had to think about how to move forward now that Casca has the ability to make him forget about his dream, she now has the ultimate power over him and the irony and justness of that fact gives me great relief. Fuck You Griffith. Zodd does not second guess Griffith’s order, showing us that his loyalty to Griffith and his will trump any fun he wishes to seek out personally. I’m certain that Zodd wanted to continue to fight Guts but Griffith is a member of the God Hand and Zodd is a mere apostle and he is loyal to this structure. Guts who caught off guard by the sudden retreat attempts to ask where they are going, but Griffith interrupts with the answer. Griffith tells him that he told him once that he will get his own kingdom and gives the chilling and infuriating line, “Nothing Has Changed.” This line demonstrates that previously mentioned arrogance and disrespect from Griffith and closes out chapter 180. Fuck you Griffith everything has changed…

Chapter 181 concludes our scene and opens with the line chapter 180 ended with, “Nothing Has Changed,” it’s equally as irritating the second time. Then Griffith continues, ignoring Guts, telling Rickert that if he learns the truth as still wishes to follow Griffith towards his goal, then he has no reason to refuse him. I hope Griffith regrets this now after getting slapped. But Griffith even in this offer shows his arrogance saying that it all makes no difference to him, Rickert is only further confused by this. Guts is not happy that his two biggest targets are running away and starts mindlessly firing crossbow bolts in their general direction, they all miss and Rickert again puts himself between Guts and Griffith. Guts then decides to verbally express his emotions screaming at Griffith as he flies away, asking him how after everything that happened he can say nothing has change. Griffith ends the conversation with “You should have known, this Is the man I am… you of all people.” This implies that Griffith expected some level of understanding from Guts and that his actions are obviously justifiable, which is laughable. This is too date the last conversation these two have ever had. They briefly see each other Vritannis but they are yet to speak to each other since.

After Griffith and Zodd fly into the distance, we cut back to our family with Rickert demanding Guts tell him the entire truth while Erica and Casca hold hands, watching from a distance. Rickert states that he doesn’t care how painful the truth is he just wants to understand. We cut to Griffith who holds his heart thinking back to protecting Casca and then immediately thinking about the infant, heavily implying that it was not his free will that made him protect Casca, but the overwhelming will of the infant infused into his being. Griffith cannot do as he will. I appreciate the subtle storytelling here, no words or exposition is given here by Griffith to explain this to the audience, Miura respects us enough to trust us to put it all together with the information given. When we cut back to Guts and Rickert its implied that Guts has told Rickert everything, additionally Puck was listening and is now fully caught up on Guts’ backstory, even if he says he had somewhat already figured it out. Rickert is driven to his knee by the information, and rightfully so. Puck looks over his shoulder at an adorably innocent staring off into the distance, Puck is internally juxtaposing the two images. She may or may not be looking off in the direction Griffith and Zodd took off in, she is holding her brand after all.

Erica is left melancholically lamenting the destroyed Elvish cave, she may be young, but she isn’t stupid, she understands this means Guts and Casca cannot stay with her and Rickert now. Rickert after collecting his thoughts declares that he wants to go with Guts because he needs to make up for the years he lived a comfortable life in the blacksmith’s hut, while Guts sought revenge by himself. Guts denies Rickert with an incredibly poignant line, “Because You Could Never Really Hate Griffith.” Which is true because Rickert does not have the nightmares and scares of the Eclipse on his body, he isn’t forced to revisit the horrors constantly and isn’t haunted because he literally isn’t branded as a sacrifice. Meanwhile, Erica who overheard Rickert say he was leaving and get upset and runs off. Rickert is pressured into following after her by Puck. Rickert visually prioritises Erica over his revenge against Griffith by running after Erica rather than staying with Guts. This leaves Guts and Puck to talk, and they both concluded that the path of vengeance is impossible with Casca tagging along, and now Guts refuses to leave her behind. Now that the safehouse is destroyed they’re in quite the conundrum.

The final page depicts Chesnutt Puck having a cute, comedic, hard think. He has an epiphany and says there’s a perfect place for Guts and Casca to journey too and that its safer than nearly anywhere in the world and that he can’t believe he hadn’t thought about it sooner, they can go to Puck’s home. This not only creates interest in this mystery location by connecting a character we know to it but also shows show self-awareness in Miura comedically pointing out how convenient to the plot this reveal is, chocking it up to Puck’s forgetfulness. Additionally, the panel of Puck saying, “My Home,” is another one of my favourite panels in the entire series. It’s extremely cute with Pucks massive eyes and wholesome expression but further by the adorable reflection of Casca in Puck’s wing. This panel ends Berserk chapter 181 and ends our scene analysis.

 

 

2018 Match of the Year (Top 10 Matches of 2018) NJPW, NXT & WWE

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2018 was a great year for professional wrestling if you ignore the industry giant. Everything but the WWE was remarkable this year, this was my first year watching New Japan Pro Wrestling, I started on January 4th, 2018 with Wrestle Kingdom because I watched the Showbuckle video on Naito, and ever since I’ve never looked back, I believe I watched every single event this year and that influence is definitely reflected on this list. So now let’s countdown the 10 best Pro Wrestling Matches of 2018 and reveal what my Match of the Year selection is:

  1. Zack Sabre Jr. vs Yano Toru – G1 Climax Day 4

Your favourite match might not be on this list, but Toru Yano is, and deservedly so. Who would have assumed that Yano would have maybe the most interesting and different story throughout the G1? Toru Yano is a notorious comedy character whose G1 matches are usually one to watch because every year he upsets at least one of the major players in his block, usually preventing them from going all the way. He’s beaten Kenny Omega and Minoru Suzuki is past tournaments and this year he even beat eventual block winner and G1 finalist Kota Ibushi. But the story going into the 2018 G1 is that Yano had sworn off cheating and underhanded tactics and was going to win his matches with his previously forgotten wrestling expertise. Kevin Kelly would commonly remind us about a story of Yano beating up a tree or something. In his first tournament match against Ishii he presented this forgotten knowledge and we were all collectively impressed but in his second match here with the pro wrestling master Zack Sabre Jr.

This match is more than anything else, incredibly fun. The Korakuen Hall crowd make this match, their like New Japan’s Full Sail without the pretension and they eat up everything in this match. From Zack Sabre Jr’s innovative use of the count out rule, where he tied Yano up and put a submission on him and making a run for the ring when the count was 18, something I’m sure we all thought of as kids to Yano’s counters to Zack’s pure wrestling. The crowd comes alive every time Yano successfully counters a move and especially when he comes close to winning after throwing Zack into an exposed turnbuckle multiple times. The uniqueness of this match is what granted it a slot on this list when your favourite match didn’t. Come matches end the correct decision was made and Zack Sabre Jr overcame Yano’s advances, getting the two points. But damn me if everyone watching wasn’t impressed with Yano’s standout performance.

  1. Woman’s Money in the Bank – Money in the Bank 2018

The second ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match stands out to me as the greatest main roster outing this year. The Chicago crowd was electric for this match and it’s interesting to go back and watch babyface Becky Lynch getting a massive crowd reaction and losing, with what we know will come later. The commentators mentioned an interesting fact about Ember Moon and that her being in this match makes her the quickest superstar to ever be in a Money in the Bank ladder match in relation to being called up to the main roster. The unpredictability of the match at the time is reflected in the crowd reactions for the different possibilities. Becky Lynch was the clear crowd favourite here, every time she would climb the ladder and especially the spot where she climbed up the side of a ladder that was held up by two girls on the ground, the crowd exploded with excitement. Ember Moon had a spot where it looked like her winning was possible and the crowd reciprocated wanting a fresh face in the title picture. Alternatively, when Charlotte and Sasha Banks looked to be winning the crowd was vocal about their disappointment, freshness was needed in the title picture. However, when Alexa Bliss who was only two months removed from her last title reign won the match the crowd exploded, because everyone likes Alexa Bliss. This match was creative in its spot’s, Sasha nearly killed herself multiple times and especially when Ember Moon cross-bodied her onto a ladder. Great match and for me be the best main roster match of the year.

  1. Aleister Black vs Andrade “Cein” Almas – NXT Takeover New Orleans

The Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match was the best main roster WWE match of the year, but the best NXT match of the year was Aleister Black defeating Andrade ‘Cein’ Almas for the NXT Championship. This match narrowly edges out Andrade’s first Takeover outing against Johnny Gargano, which I believe will be an unpopular decision, but this match was far more enjoyable from start to finish. The Gargano match was great the first time but when I rewatched it, but when I rewatched it for this video its length really effected the overall enjoyment factor of the match. Long matches usually aren’t my favourite, despite the hour and 10-minute match further down on the list, usually the beginning isn’t engaging, and I find myself wanting to do something else, especially on rewatches. But on said rewatch of this match I found myself entirely engaged. Almas is so unbelievably good with move combinations, like his former tag team partner Tetsuya Naito, that watching him move alone is exciting. Black has the best looking striking in professional wrestling and his long build only highlights this. Additionally, the Zelina Vega element on the outside keeps the match fresh when it’s at its slower point, she’s a third performer the audience can watch. Her inclusion in the finish just brings the whole match full circle and the finish caught the fans in New Orleans entirely off guard because they exploded possibly louder than any other Takeover crowd ever when Black hit the kick and got the three-count. This was an excellent showing for all three of the people involved and now with the context that Aleister Black were likely dating at the time of the match, since they recently got married, adds another layer to this match.

If the opening sentence of this entry in the list didn’t register, from here on out we are exclusively talking New Japan Pro Wrestling.

  1. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll – Sakura Genesis 2018

Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll possibly put on the scariest match of 2018 at Sakura Genesis. This match was masterfully brutal, I think we all collectively thought Ospreay was dead after the bump on the apron. Besides the Psycho Sid botch that might be the scariest wrestling footage to watch in slow motion. But this match like our number 1 entry on this list owes its placement somewhat to a botched spot. Ospreay’s head was cut open and the imagery of the scarlet read patch in his hair was breathtaking. If Ospreay hadn’t become a superhero in the final NJPW match of 2018 this would have been my favourite image in New Japan this year. But the rest of the match following the spot continued the brutality with Scurll relentlessly pulverising Ospreay with stomps to the back of the head and moves making him land on his head. The Ryogoku audience also made this match, their sympathy with Ospreay and their surprise at his resilience made the match what it was. These two truly did a great job at convincing us that Ospreay was dead, and for him to them come back and win the match was the feel-good moment we needed to conclude the match. Ultimately, everything planned and unplanned came together brilliantly in this match resulting in one of the best matches of the entire year.

  1. Naito Tetsuya vs Kenny Omega – G1 Climax Day 2

Now this match may not have superseded their five star plus effort in last year’s G1 final, but whenever these two touch something magical happens. Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito are fantastic wrestler, I think we are all aware of that, but whenever they meet they are trying to show each other just how good they are. But Naito brings something to high intensity matches that his top 5 contemporaries lack and that’s personality in the spots, there is no one funner to watch fuck around in a match then Tetsuya Naito. This is made blatantly evident in the beginning of this match where they trade back and forth shots and they attempt to out-trick each other but will also be blatant on a match later down on the list. But the final 10 minutes of this match might be the best 10 minutes of NJPW this year, it was a tossup going in on who would win the match and they heavily played into the drama here, the crowd was clearly more Naito then Omega, but Omega wasn’t an out right heel and the crowd came alive during the final stretch. WWE crowds maybe livelier throughout big matches but the confused screaming from a New Japan crowd when they can tell the next big move might be the last is an unmatched atmosphere and this match capitalised on this factor entirely. Ultimately, Omega came out the victor but not ever I the biggest of big Naito fans could remain disappointed due to the performance I had just witnessed.

  1. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll – Fighting Spirit Unleashed

Marty Scurll may have been the most slept on wrestler in all of 2018, not only did he have repeat match of the year contenders with long-time rival Will Ospreay, landing these two the only repeat match on this list but also with outstanding outings against Okada at All In and the match with Kushida at King of Pro Wrestling, its robbery that he isn’t being mentioned in the wrestler of the year conversation. On an earlier draft of this script the two entries of Ospreay and Scurll were swapped but evidently, I opted to switch the two of the them for one reason, this match doesn’t waste time. Immediately the match starts off hot with Ospreay attempting and successfully catching everyone off guard by his instantaneous attack. It brought the live crowd immediately back into the show after the unnecessary intermission and nearly had me believing he beat Marty in seconds. It was reminiscent of the Shibata and Ishii opening from their classic G1 match. The match never really slowed down they continued to go as hard as possible, doing all their grandeurs spots and eventually had a surprising winner, and a feel-good moment for us Marty Scurll fans. Maybe the only reason this match is ranked better than the Sakura Genesis match is because my guy one, but that doesn’t matter because bias is inherit in these lists. Additionally, I really liked the commentary performance here, Kevin Kelly and Jim Ross’ combination shun most brightly during this match. Kevin Kelly gave the necessarily background and history for uninformed fans and Ross gave the match an unmatchable big fight feel. And all this was crammed into a concise 15-minute package whereas the Sakura Genesis match went double that time.

  1. Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada – Dominion 6.9

Say what you want about the lack of build to this match storyline wise, this match was inevitable, and this was the right time. Dominion a year later and I think everyone understood that Omega was winning this match, but a New Japan without Okada on top is something we hadn’t seen in years, and some of us may have even forgotten is that was possible. But the matches 1 hour and 10-minute length was all building to the moment that everyone anticipated seeing and that was Omega holding up the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This match was grand in scale, the crowd was clearly on Kenny’s side they understood what they were about to see and only added to the festivities, and props to Osaka for the AJ Styles chant after Omega broke out the Styles Clash. Don Callis was another outside factor that only added to my enjoyment of the match, it was a Bobby Heenan watching Ric Flair in the Rumble esk performance from him. His freak-out at the conclusion when Omega one was a vicarious one for many us I’m sure. But the match itself stood out to me on the rewatch. I mentioned previously that long matches usually aren’t my favourite because they are slow and hard to rewatch, but this match told a progressing story for an hour and 10-minutes that had me engaged the entire time, everything built perfectly to the grand Omega victory. This was the climactic moment of over a year and a half of booking and it all paid off excellently for New Japan and the fans through this match.

 

  1. Hiromu Takahashi vs Taiji Ishimori – Best of the Super Juniors Final

This match was the most surprising to me, I was 100% sure that Ishimori was going all the way in the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament. He’d just returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling with a new character and a new look, in a new faction and he had destroyed everyone in his block including the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Will Ospreay, he seemed destined to travel all the way to Dominion and collect his prize and this very well may have been New Japan’s initial plan, but Hiromu Takahashi stood in his way. Now that Hiromu is injured I think everyone has forgotten just how over Hiromu was for the first half of the year, he wasn’t only seconded to Naito in L.I.J but second to Naito is overall popularity. If you go back and watch the Bushi and Hiromu vs Suzuki Gun match the crowd chants Hiromu like he’s their God, and this popularity was only made clearer throughout the Best of the Super Junior’s tournament and that’s why it was imperative that he went over in this match, which thankfully and against all odds, he did. Not only was the match great because the right man won but because it was chaotic. From the infamous hurracarrana down the flight of stairs, to the area length running drop kick to the dualistic spike-rrana’s, this match has everything. Ultimately, Hiromu proved why he has the undying respect from the audience and proved why it was he that deserved to go on to Dominion to dethrone Ospreay, even more than the up-and-coming hot, new prospect Taiji Ishimori. But as we contemporarily look forward to Wrestle Kingdom 13, it seems Ishimori will be getting the last laugh and that IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

  1. Naito Tetsuya vs Tomohiro Ishii – G1 Climax Day 4

There are no two men I enjoy watching wrestle then Tetsuya Naito and Tomohiro Ishii, and in this match, they proved why they deserve this stop on the list. The action is great, and the clash of personalities is even better. Watching these two stubbornly smack each other for 20 minutes is so enjoyable. These two have an intertwined past and in Kayfabe hate each other, Ishii was the only person Naito ever successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against in his short title reign and Ishii has beaten Naito for other championships in the past. The rivalry is there for every match these two have to be an anticipated event. The counters to each other’s moves throughout the match are so inventive and subversive, just everything about this match is everything I want from a professional wrestling match. This match and its inclusion so far up on this list just reflects the inherit bias in these lists, I doubt this is many people’s second favourite match of the year, when the match first happened everyone loved it, but for many this was overshadowed by other matches in the G1, but for me this match remained the uncompromised benchmark for the tournament and I loved it. Plus, in this one Naito actually won.

  1. Juice Robinson vs Jay White – G1 Special

This match was somehow more chaotic than the Best of the Super Juniors final, had a better feel good moment than the Dominion main event and was more fun to watch then Ishii vs Naito. Who would have predicted Jay White and Juice Robinson to have the match of the year, at the beginning of 2018? They have improved experientially over this calendar year to becoming easily to me the best heel and best babyface in wrestling. Jay White has revolutionised Bullet Club and was recently officially made leader and Juice continues to prove through his incredibly speaking ability that he is the best talker in the wrestling business today. All this potential and all this excellence as well as an incredibly timed botch was fully on display in this roller-coaster ride of a wrestling match.

The crowd is another element this match had going for it, the Cow Palace was electric for this match, they were entirely behind Juice and despised Jay White. This build up would pay off in the eventual 3-count wherein the crowd exploded when Juice beat Jay. But the unforeseen and possibly most engaging element in the match was apparently not planned like I had assumed upon seeing how perfectly it seemed to fit in the story of the match. Jay and Juice where throwing each other into the guardrails so hard they were making Suzuki jealous, the guardrails were flying off everywhere literally creating sparks because of the impact, this created some incredible visuals. Eventually Jay White would suplex Juice into the announce desk and sent Jim Ross flying and prompted a run-in from Josh Barnett, that was apparently a shoot. This bump from JR and subsequent run-in from Barnett heightened the already rampant drama of this match and this all culminated in Juice’s victory and subsequent celebration. This match was an experience and easily was my favourite match in professional wrestling this year.

 

Honourable Mentions:

– Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito – Wrestle Kingdom 12

– Chris Jericho vs Kenny Omega – Wrestle Kingdom 12

– Andrade “Cein” Almas vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover Philadelphia

– Adam Cole vs Aleister Black – NXT Takeover Philadelphia

– Men’s Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2018

– Women’s Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2018

– Asuka vs Sasha Banks – Raw, Jan 29, 2018

– Kazuchika Okada vs Sanada – New Beginning in Osaka 2018

– 6 Man Ladder Match – NXT Takeover New Orleans

– Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs Triple H and Stephanie McMahon – WrestleMania 34

– Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr. – Sakura Genesis 2018

– Juice Robison vs Hiroki Goto – Road to Wrestling Dontaku

– Ronda Rousey vs Nia Jax – Money in the Bank 2018

– Young Bucks vs Sanada and Evil – G1 Special

– Kota Ibushi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – G1 Climax Final

– Kairi Sane vs Shayna Baszler – NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4

– Marty Scurll vs Kazuchika Okada – All In

– Guerrillas of Destiny vs The Young Bucks – Fighting Spirit Unleashed

– Kenny Omega vs Kota Ibushi vs Cody – King of Pro Wrestling 2018

– Shayna Baszler vs Kairi Sane – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Tommaso Ciampa vs Velveteen Dream – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Pete Dunne, Ricochet and War Raider vs The Undisputed Era – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Becky Lynch vs Charlotte – WWE Evolution

– Becky Lynch vs Charlotte vs Asuka – TLC 2018

 

 

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Vinland Saga Manga Chapter 156 Review

Video Version: (YouTube)

 

Coming out of this month’s chapter for Vinland Saga, three things are worth discussing here; the revelations through Garm’s backstory, the revelation that Garm believes Thorfinn to be his friend and the tease of the final showdown between Flokki and Thorkell for next month’s chapter and how we are going to move forward following the Baltic Sea War.

Garm for as long as we’ve known him has been insane, and now we can safely say that he’s always been insane. We got our first insight into the upbringing of Garm this chapter and it just reinforced his insanity. What’s frightening is just how loveable it was to watch this deranged child slaughter a village. The author positioned us to have no sympathy for these idiots as it was just an expedition to characterise Garm. When I realised we were getting a flashback pertaining to Garm, I assumed we were gearing up for some tragic tale that would justify Garm’s personality, but that’s not what we got at all, in fact I think the author was subverting that expectation to make fun of the tragic backstory trope. Garm’s just crazy! But I am interested in Garm’s purpose in the narrative now that Thorfinn defeated him. What thematic purpose does he have now? In this arc he served as one half of the ultimate test of Thorfinn’s pacifistic beliefs. He tested Thorfinn’s ability to defuse situations without relying on killing him, Garm is an equivalent fighter to Thorkell there will never be a greater physical test for Thorfinn. And in the end Thorfinn maintained his pacifistic beliefs and overcame, just as he overcame the other half of his ultimate test in controlling his inner-rage and vengeful tendencies when his mentality was tested in the presence of Flokki. Thorfinn has proved in this arc that his pacifism can work in the most extreme of situations. But bringing this all back to Garm, he wasn’t killed off he’s still in the story, so what comes next? Does he possibly join Thorfinn’s group and Garm becomes the next test of Thorfinn, will he attempt to convince Garm to become a pacifist and a true warrior? Maybe he joins up with Thorkell or maybe we never see him again. I’m not sure what the future holds for Garm now, and I’m very interested to see what Yukimura has in store for us.

While we are on the subject, shout out to the art on this page, its breathtaking.

A possible indication of how Garm will develop moving forward is this panel we’re he calls Thorfinn an idiot and explains to him that they’ve always been friends. This is an incredibly interesting comment and a great characterisation moment for Garm. So how does someone become Garm’s friend and what does this mean again moving forward? Maybe he approaches friendship similarly to the way Griffith does, if somebody can match him in skill he considers them a friend, and Thorfinn not only matched him in skill but surpassed him, even if Garm was making excuses after the fight. Interestingly, if we run with this hypothesis than Thorkell would also be considered a friend by Garm and that therefore you lend credence to the possibility of Garm teaming up with Thorkell following this arc, if they both survive. I would be totally down for Garm and Thorkell to team up and get into some trouble together after the Baltic Sea War comes to an end. Maybe he just believes everyone he fights to be his friend, that philosophy seems crazy enough to fit Garm’s character. That would also mean he kills 99% of friends immediately after meeting them. Hopefully this apparent friendship is explored more in the future and we will see if Garm maybe does join up with Thorkell, moving forward.

Thorkell is pissed at Flokki, he’s on a warpath for Flokki’s head and in this coming final confrontation I think it’s certain that one of them must die. Neither one of them has outstanding plot armour at this point, either one of them could die without out rightly effecting the greater narrative with Canute or Thorfinn. It would be interesting to see how Canute would react if Thorkell dies. I speculated earlier that maybe Garm would join up with Thorkell and if they do I’m sure they would have no trouble taking out Flokki and the rest of his men. Maybe Thorkell goes out with a hundred spears in his back fighting until the very end loving war as he does, I’m sure if Thorkell could choose a way to go out it would be similar to this scenario. If I had to wager on one of them dying over the other I would choose Flokki to die, it’s been a long time coming, don’t forget he was responsible for Thors’ death. Overall, this was a fine chapter and I can’t wait for the next one…

 

 

 

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Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 112 Review

Video Version: (YouTube)

 

Let’s not fuck around here: Eren definitely hates Mikasa! There are very few instances throughout the series of them interacting on an emotional level. In emotional scenes they share Eren is usually talking to Armin about the outside world or their grander goals and Mikasa’s just sitting there on the side with nothing to add because she isn’t interesting enough. There other interactions are all Mikasa babying Eren and Eren rightfully getting pissed off, remember that time she attempted that and he literally headbutted her. Now we as an audience may have collectively let out a nervous laugh but this wasn’t a scene played for comedy, he just headbutted her out of frustration. In the one scene everyone points to at the end of Season 2 he literally turns away from her clear inclination to kiss him. Eren has never shown favourability platonically or romantically to Mikasa, she’s just annoyed him and that’s why his words ring so true in this chapter. It turns out that the whole time the hair wasn’t the only similarity between Rei Ayanami and Mikasa they both had inherit servitude to the men they admire most, but in the end, Rei had the balls to kill Gendo, and Mikasa again rolls over for Eren this chapter by stopping Armin from attacking him.  Clearly, I have inherent bias here, I hate Mikasa, she’s always been boring and annoying, and I also have always hated Armin, so this scene was a vicarious thrill ride for me. Additionally, this is my favourite and the most interesting version of Eren we have seen in the story and moving forward I can’t wait to see how he develops.

Meanwhile, Gabbi has continued to be the most interesting and well-written character in this series. Don’t forget and don’t underestimate the importance of Gabbi’s presence at this meeting. She has now witnessed what she will become if she continues down this path, if she continues to be manipulated and repress the truth she will end up like the monster she sees in front of her. Eren represents to Gabbi, everything she ever believed about the devils on Paradise island. Everything she once hated was sitting in front of her and she did nothing, because she’s beginning to grow. The Gabbi of five or six chapters ago would have mindlessly jumped at Eren attempting to kill him, but in this chapter she clearly internally conflicted. The supposed devils on Paradise just saved her life and in the conversation with Armin and Mikasa before Eren barged in out of nowhere, they reinforced this by stating they had no intentions or want to kill anyone. Additionally, in that conversation she prioritised Falco’s life over her own and ask them to kill her and only imprison Falco, that’s something I don’t think she would have done previously. Gabbi has been showed the duality of the people of Paradise Island. She seen the good in the scouts and Sasha’s father who forgave her and the bad in Kia and Eren who wish to seek further vengeance on her and on Marley. And for anyone who has missed the tell-tale signs that Gabbi is a parallel to a younger Eren, Armin even mentions that her attitude reminds him of someone right as Eren wonders in frame. Eventually, when Gabbi saves everyone, I’ll remember all of you that doubted her.

From what I’ve garnered from this chapter and the few previous chapters is that the Yeager Brothers are being used as a narrative device to ultimately unify the world, or at the very least Eldia and Marley, against them. They together are the ultimate evil and danger at the moment, they have the potential to flatten the entire globe and through Gabbi I believe the two sides with unite to defeat the common threat. Which is interestingly similar to the beginning of the series when humanity within the walls united against the titans as a common enemy. But in this chapter both Yeager Brothers dropped some insightful information. Eren explained the power of the Ackerman clan in a massive exposition dump and Zeke got things rolling with his patterned scream. Eren explained that the Ackerman’s can’t think for themselves and are reliant on special hosts that influence their behaviour, he even not so nicely refers to them as slaves. This explanation seems to fit all the Ackerman’s we have grown to know throughout the series; Mikasa to Eren, Kenny to Uri and Levi to Erwin. Levi seemingly proves his continued dependence on Erwin in this chapter when he talks about his regret to have not yet killed Zeke as he had promised to Erwin before his death. He also has a similar moment of reflection like Erwin did right before his death, all the dead scout members looking back. Many are calling a death flag on Levi now and especially after Zeke rained titans from the sky, its looking like Levi might be in some trouble. This is upsetting because Levi is one of the characters in Attack on Titan that I care about and I hope he continues to be infallible and destroys these 30 titans like it’s nothing, but Zeke has undoubtedly gotten away now because of this performance.

A massive element I think everyone is ignoring right now is Peick, she’s still on Paradise Island and she hasn’t made her move yet. If she hears the scream and the subsequent transformations I’m sure she will jump in on the action and it will be interesting to see what she does and who she helps. Additionally, has Falco transformed into a mindless titan? Or does Zeke’s scream have to be heard by those who have been marked? Maybe Falco wasn’t marked to begin with and will be fine. No matter what I doubt Falco is gone from the story, even if he is transformed into a titan I guarantee that he will eat a shifter to transform back; his character arc is not complete yet and the narrative demands his survival. I don’t know if he’ll eat a local titan shifter or if they’ll capture him, so he can eat one later. All in all, this marks five or six great chapters in a row and I can’t wait for chapter 113 so we can learn the fate of Levi and hopefully witness Peick’s plan whatever it could be.

 

 

 

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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:

 

Peick reading the papers.PNG

 

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.

 

Levi and Zeke agree.PNG

 

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.

 

Eren and Yelena fake meeting.PNG

 

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…

 

As far as i know.PNG

 

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.

 

Hange and O take off.PNG

 

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.”

 

Hitch and Armin.PNG

 

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.

 

Hitch and Armin Talk.PNG

 

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.

 

 

 

Featured

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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Featured

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.