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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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.

 

 

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Vinland Saga Manga Chapter 156 Review

Video Version: (YouTube)

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 112 Review

Video Version: (YouTube)

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 110 Review

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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Media Consumption Month #2 (September 2018)

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

Attack on Titan Season 3:

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

 

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My Hero Academia Season 3:

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

 

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Steins; Gate 0:

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

 

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Vinland Saga:

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

 

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

 

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Devilman:

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

 

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Cowboy Bebop:

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

 

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Serial Experiment Lain:

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

 

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

 

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RahXephon:

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

 

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Vision of Escaflowne:

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

Revolutionary Girl Utena:

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

B Geta H Kei:

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

 

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

Final Fantasy 2: (PS1)

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

 

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Final Fantasy 3:

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

Octopath Traveller:

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

 

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NJPW Destruction Tour:

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

 

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Hell in a Cell 2018:

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

 

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Mae Young Classic 2:

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

 

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Pokémon Emerald:

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

 

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Pokémon Colosseum:

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

 

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