Puck never lost his importance to the story of Berserk. Everyone is mad at Miura because he supposedly ruined Puck by giving him the comedic relief hat to wear following Conviction. This viewpoint is flawed for two reasons; Puck was always comedic relief and is still important to the plot, he just isn’t being focused upon or developed contemporarily. I’m sure Miura will develop Puck more in the future. His role has become increasingly comically related as of late, but he still has serious moments and observations from time to time. He was focused upon plenty in the Black Swordsmen and Conviction arcs because he was Guts’ only travelling companion, but in the arcs since them Miura has spent establishing the 30+ other characters that were important to the story. From Farnese to Mule and from Zodd to Silat. Puck became a joke and that’s fine because it’s funny and it’s temporary.
Puck in the Black Swordsmen arc served as our guide to this brand new and equally confusing and dark world. Puck was a newcomer to Guts and the world of Berserk just like us, he was a great parallel to the viewer and served as prime juxtaposition to Guts while he was at his worst. Puck served a seminal narrative reason in those early Berserk chapters and his sympathy for Vargas and disdain for Guts’ unruly behaviour endeared him to us. In the Lost Children chapters Puck further was endeared to the audience and eventually after he and Guts acknowledged each other as mutual, worthy travelling companions, and embraced others like Farnese, Serpico, Isidro and Schierke, those characters took the spotlight. Puck was just along for the ride. So, Miura, to keep Puck around as a relevant character, created the “Chestnut Puck” persona.
But the criticism for Chestnut Puck further doesn’t make sense because Chestnut Puck is (objectively): best Puck. He’s hilarious, his chemistry with Isidro and Ivalera are off the charts and watching them interact gives me the finest of joys in my terrible existence. Additionally, his gimmick of believing the story revolves around him, along with the scenario of him and Magnifico trying to overthrow the Elfhelm system was also hilarious. So, don’t shit talk Chestnut Puck, he’s fucking great and in the future Miura will give him serious moments and make you the happiest boys in all the land. Puck’s a funny boy, leave him alone…
“Cowboy Bebop is fucking boring;” is how I described Cowboy Bebop in my media consumption monthly retrospective for august (that you can find in the header menu). I believe that description maintains its accuracy. Black Lagoon is an easy comparison to Cowboy Bebop, both have crews of four, Jet and Dutch are clear parallels and Edward and Benny fit the same purpose, Rock doesn’t have a parallel and Revy is a combination of what Spike and Faye wish they were. Revy might be the greatest anime character of all time (I didn’t stutter), she definitely wins the award for the greatest Dub performance in anime history, at least. She is a character often slept on because Black Lagoon is often slept on as a fun and exciting action show, when in reality it’s so much more. But that isn’t what we are here to quantify today, I said Black Lagoon is cooler than Cowboy Bebop.
Cowboy Bebop is cowardly, there’s not nearly enough fucks in the show for it to be as cool as Black Lagoon. FYI I’m talking about the Dubs for both these shows because they are all that matter in this case. Black Lagoon’s Dub is better than Cowboy Bebops specifically because of the swearing. There ain’t no pussy shit in Black Lagoon; Revy literally tells a mobster that his breathe smells like he’s being sucking cock, in those exact words! Not only is the dialogue better and cooler in Black Lagoon but the characters are better, and the weight they carry is weighs more. Revy is a better character than anyone in Cowboy Bebop including Spike. I think Spike’s pretty fucking lame, he isn’t as funny as Revy, he isn’t more relatable than Revy, Revy’s more of a bad motherfucker than Spike, and she’s got Faye’s sex appeal to boot. Objectively this is true…
Obviously, some of this script is written in jest, but I stand by the clickbait in the title and am underwhelmed by the overall praise for my favourite anime, Black Lagoon. Ultimately, I hope those of you reading this who haven’t immediately weaponised against me for shitting on Cowboy Bebop, will re-watch Black Lagoon or watch it for the first time if you haven’t seen it before, in the Dub of course, and appreciate the expert dialogue and scripting for a translated artwork. This is the best anime dialogue has ever sounded and is the best it’ll likely ever sound, so please, praise it like it deserves.
Following a hellacious, as Steve Austin would put it, main event between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada on the final night of the NJPW Destruction tour, Gedo turned on his long-time ally and longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight, in favour of young and hungry Jay White. This was a brilliant angle and I’m currently kicking myself trying to understand how I didn’t see it coming. It seems so obvious in retrospect. After the G1 Gedo and Okada announced that they were separating after a six-year partnership because Okada believed he had out grown the NJPW veteran. As any professional wrestling fan should know whenever a separation happens it’s a tell-tale sign that an angle is brewing. Yet I heard no rumours online about this alignment and subsequent turn and that’s why the angle was so effective this evening.
This hot angle was sorely needed in New Japan, things have been quite stagnant since the conclusion of the G1 and we needed so collective rejuvenation. This angle will be hot on the two massive upcoming shows New Japan has in the pipeline: Fighting Spirit Unleashed in Los Angeles and King of Pro Wrestling. Jay White and Okada is now looking to be the Tokyo Dome match for both men, which is interesting because I was assuming Okada would be defeating Jericho at the show for the Intercontinental Championship. This has major implications because now the more likely top matches are: Omega vs Tanahashi, Naito vs Jericho 2 and Okada vs White. Plus, whatever Evil, Sanada, Suzuki and Sabre Jr are doing on the show as well as the juniors. It looks like we are headed for one hell of a 13th anniversary of Wrestle Kingdom. I haven’t been as engaged as I was in the New Japan product as of late, but with this angle they’ve regained my absolute attention, Fighting Spirit Unleashed looks to be an incredibly enjoyable show and I’m looking forward to it very much…
The first eight chapters of Berserk featured in Volumes 1-3 have become known as the Black Swordsman arc. This opening arc of the series has come to be undervalued largely by the wider Berserk community. It has largely been ignored by all anime studios in their adaptations and its importance to the structure of Berserk is also commonly undervalued. This is massive mistake on all anime adaptations of Berserk. The Black Swordsman arc is seminal to the overall structure of early Berserk (Black Swordsman and Golden Age) and the arc is designed to be shown entirely and then be followed up by the Golden Age, which should be presented as a prologue.
The Black Swordsman arc is an introduction to the world of Berserk, therein introducing the tone, characters, themes and imagery present in the main timeline of Berserk. This is necessary because it is seminal in that the Golden Age is presented as the tonal outlier of the series. The movies entirely present the Golden Age without the necessary juxtaposition which undermines the intention of the original manga. Everything from the characters to the tone to the overall world is juxtaposed between the Black Swordsman period and the Golden Age. Pippin, Judeau and Corkus have virtually nothing in common with Vargas, Theresia, Puck and The Count, those unfamiliar with Berserk may even initially believe they are from different stories entirely. The worlds are completely contradictory, one has monstrous demonic evils seemingly around every corner and the other is one of traditional medieval fiction, with Kings, Knights and Princesses and no magic or monsters anywhere. This instils in the viewer an unwavering intrigue making them wonder how we go from a normal medieval setting to one of dark fantasy, something terrible must happen?
Thematically there is also an essential justification for the series to be structured with the Black Swordsman arc preceding the flashback to the Golden Age, because a central theme of Berserk surrounds fate. Whether it’s called fate or causality that is what Guts is truly fighting against, this is visually represented from the beginning with the brand on his neck and how he struggles against the will of fate. Additionally, the entire cast of the Golden Age arc is fighting against fate, the audience is positioned in the same way they are. We know that due to the absence of Judeau, Pippin, Corkus and the other members of the Band of the Hawk, that they will likely die before the flashback concludes, but still the audience wills against fate, we don’t want these characters to die but secretly we know it is unavoidable. Technically the audience somewhat wins their fight against fate through the unlikely survival of Casca and Rickert, many likely assumed they would also perish. This highlights Berserk’s most important thematic element hope. Casca and Rickert struggle to survive and in their survival the audience is rewarded with maintaining them in the story. There is hope in the world of Berserk.
Ultimately, the Black Swordsman arc is necessary in any adaptation or read-through of Berserk to truly get the clearest picture. Muira wasn’t dicking around when he wrote these opening eight chapters and it grates on me that they are continuously overlooked and downplayed by would-be adapters and some in the Berserk fandom.
The Sopranos is my favourite and possibly the most important television series of all time. It was the first HBO produced show to truly crack the mainstream and trailblazed for future HBO properties like Game of Thrones and The Wire and altered the television audience’s perception of antiheroes and trailblazed for characters like Walter White. It’s the Neon Genesis Evangelion of western television, it forever altered everything that followed it, there’s the pre-Sopranos and post-Sopranos eras of television. As Evangelion built upon the ubiquitous mech routes of the anime industry and in Japanese Culture, The Sopranos built upon the glorified mobster genre of American Culture. These shows have several dualistic similarities like abstract and frequent use of symbolism and exploration of psychological philosophy, but I would like to focus on the humble beginnings of David Chase’s vision of the Sopranos in this article. My recent re-watch of the Sopranos pilot yielded some interesting observations about the first outing of the to-be franchise.
The pilot has retconning issues, more than I expected. Initially the most compelling and fundamentally shaking contradiction is that Tony is out-rightly stated to already be the boss of the family. Characters remark throughout that Junior is unhappy that he’s taking orders from Tony and how he wants to be the boss of the family. Junior out-rightly stated that Tony may control all of North Jersey, but he doesn’t control his uncle Junior, this all implies that in the pilot Tony is already the boss of the family. Obviously at this point of the show, canonically Jackie Aprille is still acting boss of the family, but he is strikingly absent from this entire episode. Besides this major inconsistency the characterisation of nearly all the characters are unlike their eventuality in the rest of the series. Tony’s accent is different to how it would develop to become later in the series, Silvio is seemingly not a part of the main crew but only used as a strip club owner and isn’t included in sit-downs, always leaving before the real shit is discussed. Other smaller elements are altered like Adrianna only being a waitress at Artie’s restaurant, while Christopher is shown in bed with another woman, however I did think it was neat that Adrianna was present at all. Also, Tony’s Russian side-chick is re-casted in all futured episodes, because she is blonde here but will have black hair for the remainder of her run. Ultimately, the show is more driven by comedy and is a lot more outlandish, like when Tony runs over a dude that owes him money in broad daylight with countless witnesses, whereas the show become more serious nearly immediately.
Additionally, many future plot events are foreshadowed in the opening episode. Christopher’s overwhelming ambition to become, and interest in film making is established in one of the final scenes of the episode. He even drops that his cousin is dating a development girl in Hollywood (D-Girl), which become the entire subplot of an episode in a later season. Tony drops the line about Junior making fun of him for not having the makings of a varsity athlete, which will famously become a reoccurring, hilarious running gag in the future. Most importantly and the foreshadow with the most thematic relevance is Tony’s fascination will the ‘strong and silent type,’ Gary Cooper character. This is a persona that Tony idolises and attempts to be, and is a massive aspect of his characterisation, but I hope to delve into this element much more in future projects, it’s just important to point out its early establishment here. These little details about Christopher, and Tony’s mention of the varsity athlete comment were rewarding to hear on my re-watch and added some depth to those future elements, proving that the team behind the Sopranos was clearly paying attention to their product.
All-in-all the lookback on the Sopranos pilot was an interesting endeavour and I learnt quite a bit about the early strategy with the Sopranos. Comparing this initial episode to any episode from Season 6 interestingly highlights major differences in tone and quality. This episode is entertaining but in comparison to later outings by the show this simply doesn’t compare and stands out as an outlier.
Everything in Naruto works on a fascinating hierarchical structure of squads; one sensei and three pupils; two boys and a girl. These squads or teams are always made of three predominant personalities; a hyperactive male ninja (Naruto, Kiba, Kakuro, Jiraiya, Obito etc.), a driven strictly business male ninja (Sasuke, Shino, Gaara, Orochimaru, Kakashi etc.) and a usually useless, annoying female character (Sakura, Ino, Tsunade, Rin etc.). This is the core of Naruto’s structure and its fascinating how many different characters are created through this strategy. Additionally, this allows for a narrative through line between all generations of ninja in the Naruto universe. You can fascinatingly follow the learning tree up the ladder from teacher to pupil to teacher’s son to pupil’s son.
In my opinion the most fascinating aspect of Naruto is whenever a flashback is enabled by Kishimoto. Naruto would be so much more interesting if Naruto was irrelevant and we focused on literally any other era in the history of Naruto’s lore. Naruto and Sasuke suck in comparison to Orochimaru and Jiraiya or Kakashi and Obito. But the fascinating core to every is the linage and how certain squads functioned and interacted with these other established personalities. How did Orochimaru interact with Jiraiya before the split, how did Minato interact with Orochimaru, how did Itachi interact with Jiraiya before the both left the village. All these interesting characters would have all lived in the Hidden Leaf Village before the start of Naruto and it’s so much more interesting than whatever-the-fuck is going on in the contemporaneous Naruto plot. Naruto’s fascinating Hierarchical structure with the squad system is genius and makes Naruto’s kayfabe past so much more interesting and easy to understand.
Tom Holland’s portrayal of Spider-Man and Peter Parker is what out of touch Disney executives think Californian teenagers act like, it’s embarrassing; and I hate it. But what I hate more is the nearly universal praise I hear for this portrayal. According to some people Tom Holland is the only Spider-Man to properly portray a teenager, which is laughably incorrect. No teenager acts like Tom Holland, I know because I’m still technically a teenager, and the cultural representations of teenagers aren’t that different between Australia (where I am) and in the USA. (Maybe less shootings because we solved that problem…) And no one I have ever meant acts in anyway like Tom Holland does in this movie, no one I have ever meant acts like any of the other portrayals of high school Peter Parker, but they are rightfully universally criticised for it.
Spider-Man Homecoming wasn’t a terrible film. I liked the portrayal of the Vulture, I thought he was a remarkably nuanced villain, especially considering the MCU’s track-record. But Tom Holland’s performance wasn’t an aspect I liked in anyway, it just took me out of the overall experience. He’s not funny, the movie isn’t funny, he’s not annoyingly endearing, he’s just annoying, and everyone praises him for it, it’s embarrassing, and I hate it.