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.

 

 

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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

 

 

Featured

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…