Top 10 Most Impactful Games of My Childhood [REDUX]


A little over three years ago, I made a list of the top ten most impactful games of my childhood. Looking back on it now, some of the game I originally chose are outdated, and upon further consideration aren’t as impactful to me as some others. This re-proposal aims to more accurately cement the games that made my childhood amazing, with an updated touch (because let’s face it, the old list looks bland).

To save some time (and avoid reaffirming what’s already been established by the old list), a lot of recurring games will have the same notes attached as before, aside from perhaps some minor edits.

Continue reading “Top 10 Most Impactful Games of My Childhood [REDUX]”

Day Twenty-Four: Hardcore Henry (MotM 2017)

hardcore henry 1

Seeing the trailer for Hardcore Henry, I scoffed. “The first feature-length film to be exclusively first person,” the ads praised. Such a thing being heralded for that? Way to implicate expectations based on a single gimmick. Does it have a good story? Characters? An eye for detail or something that can grab the viewer without boring them? I gave myself every excuse not to see the film, and when positive reviews piled up, still I ignored them. I had made up my mind and deemed it unworthy of my attention. It had a certain stigma about it that I didn’t care for.

Today, upon the suggestion of my brother, who watched and enjoyed the film, I saw Hardcore Henry. I gave it a shot. It not only floored my expectations but made me appreciate the amount of effort to make the gimmick feel innovative and believable. Indeed, I have completely eaten my words and have jumped onto the Hardcore Henry fan train. Though, it does have some issues.

hardcore henry 2

This is another one of those “That’s the point!” films, where things are the way they are to better accomplish an intended goal. For this film, it’s the idea of style over substance, through means of making the audience feel as though they’ve plopped right into a late ’90s-early millenium arcade shooter. Time Crisis is among the most famous examples of these, with Hardcore Henry taking everything and more to establish itself as a film that can carry the weight on its lead’s cyborg shoulders. Because of this heavy comparison, the film also embodies the flaws that carry over from video game to cinematic picture.

It is horribly simplistic, and if not for the heavy amount of blood and gore, fairly cheesy. Flashy deaths, flurries of explosions and weaponry and supernatural phenomena. One would assume they were in a modern version of Dynasty Warriors mixed with Mortal Kombat. The amount Henry gets away with can’t be counted on every finger and toe, and that includes erratic behavior and death itself. Enemies are doused like sprinklers in a hurricane. There exists a scene near the end where Henry single-handedly kills roughly fifty cybernetically-enhanced people, all of whom at one point had him surrounded. The chances of his survival at that point is laughable, not to mention against a lead antagonist that can use telekinesis.

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Story, or its iteration of it, isn’t anything truly revolutionary, either. Again, basic good vs. evil with not many twists along the way, save the end. A lot is left unexplained and what is explained leaves much to be desired, though rest assured the film ends somewhat abruptly. Its first half has a long stretch of endless goose chases and fight sequences that are all somewhat disorienting. One has to wait for the meat at the end of the bone, though whether one isn’t already satisfied by the texture of the bone getting there is debatable.

What makes Hardcore Henry so fun to watch is through means of witty writing of character and insanely chaotic action scenes. Hobo with a Shotgun tried to incorporate some of this within itself, however it only used the bare minimum and it ended up being more gory than stylistic. The action sequences in Hardcore Henry are more akin to John Wick, with a lot of scenes revolving around fast, precise weapon fire, should Henry be packing. If not, his abilities give his physical attacks a powerful force. Combined with the first-person view, it all combines to create an image of being within the action, instead of watching it.

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When mentioning characters, there’s really only one character who stands out, which is Jimmy. Jimmy is a scientist responsible for certain things within spoiler territory, and upon first glance seems to be immortal. His random change of character with every passing scene makes for a hilarious mindfuck of absurd proportions, perhaps hinting at the uselessness of NPCs. He manages to go through some development as the film goes on, though minimal, based on his interaction with Henry and the reality of his situation. More than that, however, is the charm of his constant change of attire and personality. It’s really stupid and I love it.

While this is not technically a “good bad movie,” there’s a silliness to Hardcore Henry that transcends itself onto the final product. At one point in the film, I heard the “Wilhelm scream.” That is not a sound effect that should be in a serious film. With all that was stated earlier, one shouldn’t walk in expecting something that will wrap the viewer in dramatic ecstasy. It’s easy to ignore the flaws present when it’s doing everything it can to give you the full cinematic experience. It’s uproariously entertaining, with just enough emphasis on character and plot to let the audience care about the obnoxiously heavy onslaught of metal and fire.

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It’s recommendable based on entertainment value alone, just don’t expect something spectacularly impactful. The shaky camera could cause concern for those who have issue with headaches and such, as certain parts are pretty out of focus. For those who aren’t bothered by it, Hardcore Henry is an exhilarating experience best suited for those who don’t expect the world from it. I may be biased because I really enjoyed arcade games like Time Crisis, but that’s that, and this is this.

Final Score: 7/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

Thoughts on New Game! (Spoilers?)


It’s easy to get the misconception that New Game! is a mindless, moe-blob of cute girls and their cute character quirks in a setting more associated with the male demographic for the sake of escapism. I certainly thought so, which played a part in my not picking it up when it aired last year. As the dust settled, the overall rating on MyAnimeList gave me a little optimism that the series would be worth my time. Sure enough, New Game! isn’t all that I had assumed it would be by my initial impressions; in fact, it’s a lot more. A lot more good, though not completely escaping the moe atmosphere that made me hesitate watching it in the first place.

Indeed, New Game! is very cutesy at its core. The characters have a lot of embarrassing and/or exaggerated personality traits that are exploited for the sake of appeasing moe enthusiasts. This includes an entirely female cast who are young and attractive, differentiated by their (surprisingly creative) designs and ways of expressing themselves. Unrealistically shy? Check. Unrealistically peppy and spirited? Check. Unrealistically childish with the squeakiest voice in existence? Check my god damn ears. Though not entirely one-dimensional, a lot of the humor and interactions between characters directly involve exploiting one’s single characteristic. Sometimes it can be charming, while other times it feels too intentional to be effective. To its credit, the anime could’ve been far more obvious with its desire to make the cast so enticing to the crowd, but instead it chooses to prioritize one other central theme that makes it more than just slice-of-life fluff: achieving a long-standing goal.


In this respect, it feels almost like Shirobako. The understanding that a project as large as making a playable game takes time, dedication, and sacrifice is poignant in both titles. And while Shirobako plays with this concept masterfully by showing the characters struggle through all the setbacks, New Game! almost gingerly sets it out on display, then yanks it back when it feels the point has been established. Especially early on, this concept is paced well enough to set a course for some longstanding development for the main character via the first real project of her dream career. Unfortunately, this impression gets lost along the trail of silly situations and glossy animations—though not entirely.

A bait and switch is not on the radar, for those concerned. New Game! will not tempt you with the prospect of a serious tone and throw it aside the moment you get comfortable. It does a decent job of peppering the more dramatic elements throughout, though it still gets noticeably less time than the goofy antics. As it goes on, one might make a game out of what kind of situation could arise with each passing scene. Sometimes it appears comical, others appear substantial, and sometimes, very rarely, there’s a mix of in-between. The silly, occasionally sexy quirks of scenes almost do well to establish characters as people rather than characters. Only thing is, of course, they’re all naked in a tub, so one may not be entirely paying close attention.


There is a small bit of fan service present in this anime, aside from the obvious “The game industry has plenty of young, super sexy women who love working on and playing games!” mindset. I was disappointed to see how prevalent random shots of girls’ rears and/or chest areas appear without warning. A couple bath scenes, I can tolerate. New Game! has more than a few bath scenes, random angles of sensitive areas, a subtle sexual harasser of a director (also female, so it’s funny instead of creepy), and a character who often sleeps over in the office in her underwear. It’s one of the more “liberating” shows I’ve seen in a while, but nowhere near the extreme of something like High School DxD.

For a slice-of-life show, the artistic direction is incredibly detailed. While this isn’t the typical slice-of-life setting, it still exudes a lot of what makes the genre so persistently popular. Nothing short of “eye candy” can accurately describe the sparkly nature of New Game!. The characters are diversely-coated in different assortments of colors and still manage to look trite to the reality of their setting. The main character has light purple hair and eyes. A lovely balance takes place of both cutesy and realistic integrity behind the choice in design for each character. Not only this, but animation is typically very smooth and expressive. Still, that doesn’t stop the anime from taking shortcuts such as non-moving background characters. In a rare twist, sound also played some part in the quality, as the characters (aside from one) had very enjoyable voices and did an outstanding job of flexing their vocal muscles to acclimate to every situation.


Are they people or are they characters? This is an integral question concerned with one’s genuine enjoyment of the show. With as serious and non-serious as New Game! can be, the characters have an important job of making the show all the more immersive and endearing. For the most part, I think they do this job well, as while they aren’t entirely developed, they have enough motivation between them to give them some spunk. Clearly some characters are more there for comic reliefs than others, with the ratio between genuine and “genuine” characters being about 50-50. The female lead is probably the most realistic of the bunch, if not for her superior and idol, though this also makes her the least entertaining on her own, as she behaves the most vanilla of all characters. Almost like a male lead. The surrounding cast gets the most points for group work, as the chemistry between characters is probably the most enjoyable part of New Game!. There are one-dimensional characters, and then there are one-dimensional characters who work well with others of a similar role. Slice-of-life’s are famous for this set-up of character interaction, and this anime is little exception. An extravagant mix of kooky and occasionally endearing conversation, the characters develop one another along with themselves as time goes by.

A lot of benefit could’ve been had with a little more focus. While slightly spoiler-ish, I really don’t like that they managed to finish the game by series’ end. It doesn’t help that the beginning of the series had the game about 50% complete already, but while I understand from the perspective of the main character there isn’t much going on outside of her focus, it feels as though the game consists of very few steps, with plenty more thrown under the table for convenience sake. It feels rushed at the least, lazy to the more cynical-minded. One might not appreciate this anime for being as quick-footed as it is with trying to emphasize the power of human emotions influencing one’s work. One could also argue that the anime isn’t all that serious and they’re being too harsh. Whatever the case, New Game! is anything but slow.


The way I see it, there’s a lot to like here, with a few serious issues that keep it from being timeless. Character interaction and overall charm of the art design and atmosphere make New Game! a very easy show to watch, though not entirely memorable. It lacks that human touch that, despite its best efforts, falls short of the mark compared to other series that do it far better. Even so, slice-of-life enthusiasts will likely gobble up this light attempt at human growth in the form of moe fodder. Even the more jaded viewers may have some fun with this, I’m no exception. It at least attempts to be more than just another face in the crowd, and for that alone, I can respect it. Good job, New Game!.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Impressions of a Thorny Cynic: Tools for Helping Your Blog Blossom


Before stating anything, this isn’t a be all, end all post of proven, 100% accurate ways to help increase the traffic or “success” of one’s blog, but rather a list of things I’ve seen work firsthand with other bloggers. I’m still a relatively small blogger myself, but my length of experience (over three years) gives some backbone to a few of my suggestions. This also isn’t a proven way to go from one to one-thousand followers in the course of a day. Blogging is normally a very slow, slightly gratuitous process of building up the foundation of what you want to be, not an instant ticket to internet stardom. Like most things, it requires a dedication to your craft and… well, now I’m getting ahead of myself.

In any case, as the days go by and my age grows to increasingly larger numbers, I find myself clamoring to find that comfortable process of growth from my blog that I didn’t care for in my younger days. I didn’t really take this blog seriously until the end of 2015, when I started to post things more than four or five times a month. I added a number of key changes, such as my blog’s current layout, pictures/expressiveness in posts, variety in topics, and I became more active in the community around the mid-way point of 2016 rather than secluding myself to my minuscule corner of the web. Overall, I think it’s worked well for me. What say you?



With the context nuzzled warmly in place, allow me to strike straight at the point of this post, detailed explanations and all.

Step 1: Content, Content, Content!


To show any upcoming audience that you’re dedicated to your craft, your library has to be plentiful, if not consistent. It establishes a trust between that follower and your blog that you aren’t going to suddenly take off and leave them without content, the sole reason (if not out of obligation) they decided to hit that “Follow” button. I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself enamored by a person’s post, only to find out it’s one of the only things they’ve done in the past couple of months. Inactivity is a killer for those trying to stick out from the shrouded woods of blogging.

Another important upside to writing a lot of content is that it greatly improves the chances of someone finding your blog via search sites and/or WordPress recommendations. Say you write a post about a topic that’s only slightly well-known, something that hasn’t been touched by most major news sites of that genre. Chances are, those search sites are going to list your post among the top results. Multiply this by a hundred and you have yourself dead-center for additional traffic. Write as much as you possibly can about as many things as you can, whether within a single spectrum or multiple ones. Snazzy titles help, too.

I’ve started a trend of writing at least one post every two days, and ever since I started writing more regularly (two to three posts per week), traffic has skyrocketed compared to my olden days of “post every whenever I feel like it.” Hopefully for those just starting out their dedication to write doesn’t dissolve within the first month or two, as a good start is critical when it comes to growing as a presence. It took me years to establish myself; don’t let it wait. Post now, post often.

Step #2: Write Quality Content


I’ll admit, there is some risk in the wording of this step. Notice the italicization on “Quality,” something that can be highly subjective to any individual person. What one considers a garbage post others will consider great. There’s a lot of variables to what makes a post evoke true quality, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ll go with a safe interpretation.

Quality posts are:

  • Well-written.
  • Establishing some sort of point.
  • Free from multiple grammar errors.
  • Able to maintain a reader’s attention through a “hook” or organized structure.
  • Expressive (to a degree).
  • Providing room for reader feedback and/or interpretation.

I’ll also admit that this step is probably the least important (as backwards as that seems) of the steps I’ll provide. Some can get away from having content below the standards of an average person by compensating with, say, a likable personality or enticing lures found in their posts. Again, quality is in the eye of the beholder, but for my own tastes, I enjoy articles that are detailed, provide examples to back up their words, and have a balance between professional and personal wording. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but I feel people are looking for a place they can trust or feel comfortable with following. Try to take your blogging seriously, unless you run a parody account in which case be as contrarian and whimsical as you possibly can.

Step #3: Don’t Be a Giant Asshole


There’s a little more to this than what’s bluntly obvious. Of course, most people are going to be turned off by a ranting, ego-maniacal bigot who sees their opinion as absolute fact. What’s more to this, however, is the manner in which people write their posts. Over the years, I’ve found an interesting correlation between people with many followers and people trying to reach their level: those in the former are a lot more positive with their content.

As an aspiring critic (and a cynical one at that), this finding is a tad unnerving. The job of a critic is to inform the masses whether or not a particular thing is good or bad, with a lot more emphasis on good than bad, if history is any indication. Scores for video games are typically overinflated past the typical critic’s rating system for, say, movies. What’s a 5 for a movie is likely a 7 for a video game. But why is that? Some might argue because it’s safe, because it’s less controversial. The tired internet saying goes: “Anything below an 8 is bad.” This goes for more than those already within the business, but those trying to get into it, too. From what I can tell, those who are more inclined to praise everything is more beloved than those who are more inclined to bash everything. Positivity wins in the end.

My advice in this case would be to balance your content to include both positive and negative material, but if we’re being realistic, positivity is more likely to garner attention than “Eh. It was okay,” or “It sucked.” Always like everything. Never include something that may offend others. Be as vanilla as possible. While also standing out. Wait, wh—

Step #4: Interact with the Blogging Community!


This is probably the most important step, as being a gloomy gump in the corner of a party is not going to get you many friends. What better way to get people to discover your blog than to extend your hand and provide them the same kindness you’d like from them? Leave them a like. Give ’em a comment. Perhaps even follow them. They’ll most likely be nice enough to give your content a look-see.

Don’t know how to start? Rudimentary, my dear Watson! WordPress has a handy tool that searches for recommendations based on what you’ve liked in the past, who your follows follow, and what your follows have liked in the past. If not that, there are some dedicated bloggers out there dedicated to taking it a step further and inviting people to join in on fun little meet-and-greets to give others more publicity. From an aniblogger standpoint, Arria Cross has a monthly Blog Carnival she hosts to bring the aniblogging community together. It was through here that I was able to meet and become involved with a large number of people’s blogs, and I greatly appreciate her emphasis on camaraderie.

Being involved with others has always been an integral process in growing as a blog (and maybe as a person). With more people to view your posts, the more they can share it, so that the shared ones can share it, too. Whether by like, comment, follow, or otherwise, being a part of a community can bring a vast treasure trove of opportunities. Perhaps more than that is the feeling of belonging and togetherness that a community can provide as well. Reclusive as I am, I’m glad I can say that I went out there and talked to people, and continue to do so on a daily basis. Both for me, for them, and for my blog.

Step #5: Write About Trending Topics


This is both an opportune and risky measure, as while you may get noticed due to the trending of the topic, many other more established sources will likely take priority in search engines or otherwise. Still, better to take the risk of garnering some more views with the only downside being attracting crickets.

I’ve managed to find magic in a bottle on a few occasions, but very sporadically. My posts on AM2R and Pokémon Uranium boosted the average views/visitors on my blog to nearly triple what they were before posting them. Good timing and little exposure, I suppose. They still get a few views every couple days or so, but they’re far past what drive the view count on my blog now. It’s still nice to know that searching “AM2R review” in Google will bring up my post on the first page (at least it does for my browser).

It doesn’t happen often, but getting a jump on what’s new, trending, and garnering views is a good way to create clickbait to take advantage of the opportunity to put yourself out there. Fun fact: back when Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem kneeling was still incredibly prevalent in the media, I considered writing a post about it. Lack of motivation and other priorities prevented me from doing so, but I always wonder what would have come from putting my voice out there when the issue was at its peak. It may have resulted in nothing. It may have resulted in something. There’s no way to know now, but I somewhat regret not taking the gamble. It’s okay to take risks sometimes, and reaching for the stars can yield results at the most unexpected of times.

Step #6: Expand Your Platform


WordPress is great. I think everyone can agree to that. Sucking up is also pretty great. Rambling aside, much like the effort of putting yourself out there in the blogging community, it’s also important to expand your reach to other more prevalent social media sites. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Tumblr, Deviantart; anywhere you can possibly develop your reputation within the field that you want to pursue would be great. Of course, sites like Deviantart and Tumblr would be more focused on artistic pursuits, while Twitter and Facebook provide a place to advertise and interact with possible readers. Make yourself presentable, approachable, and confident.

I use Twitter a lot to organize my thoughts and link my posts whenever possible. While they don’t always make much of a difference, with time and energy, it may pay off for me, and it could for you. Any kind of different passages to your blog should be opened. And if people call you a sell-out for it, well, they probably don’t have the same enthusiasm for growth. It’s just the way things are done to gain attention. There’s nothing wrong with that.

With more places where your voice can be heard, the likelier it is that you’ll gain from it. When you have multiple flags placed in multiple places, people will begin to familiarize themselves with your presence, such as “The guy who comments on anime Youtubers a lot” or “That girl who posts critiques on Pokémon art on Deviantart.” Anything that can give an impression can help, no matter how trivial it may seem. It’s more important to leave your mark than to never leave a trace. Being a ninja will not help with your blog.

Step #7: Be Yourself!


Nobody likes fake people. Well, except maybe other fake people. This step is rather self-explanatory, but don’t let the responsibilities and nuances of blogging turn you into a thoughtless machine of advertising and numbers. Express yourself in the way that you’d like to; add a flair of personality to your voice that’s your own. Or copy someone else’s and improve upon it. That sounds kinda mean, but it happens normally.

With that, this concludes my observations on how a blogger can properly groom their blog for the future and beyond. Again, this isn’t 100% fool-proof, but rather some things I’ve seen correlated over the years with myself and others. If you read this in its entirety, try it, and fail, don’t blame me for not warning you. Just know that I did everything I could to help you out. No, no; you don’t have to thank me. It’s a thankless job. I have my own pride as an opinionated young adult and I don’t need the extra boost to my already massive ego. Knowing that I was able to inspire is all I need to remind myself that I’m the best.

Thank you for reading. Have a nice day. Happy blogging.

The BFG Review


Disney is a company responsible for bringing an emphasis of magic and wonderment to a gargantuan number of people since their inception. Their movies have a tendency to charm moviegoers of all ages with their signature brand of high-quality animation and innocent whimsy. If there’s one thing Disney movies always had going for them, it’s the spirit of the journey, the adventure into the unknown, which would inevitably change the characters within. As years have gone by, they’ve stuck with this structure through thick and thin—though mostly thin, as their films are still regarded as high quality in most facets. However, time is a heavy judgment, and while this emphasis of wonderment is fine on its own, some would come to expect time to encourage Disney to evolve this concept in more unique ways. With a director such as Steven Spielberg, there was encouragement that The BFG would be little more than “standard” Disney fluff. Of course, one can’t expect the director to change the course of where the movie wishes to travel.

Adapted from Roald Dahl’s book of the same name (sans the acronym), The BFG begins with a little girl in an orphanage, dilly-dallying in the dead of night. She gets the sudden urge to do exactly what she’s told not to do (Kids, am I right?) and looks out the window of her bedroom, only to come across a giant, looming shadow in the distance. In a flash, the figure swoops in and takes the girl from her “home” and travels far into the distance, an environment unknown to most humankind. With hardly a thought to be had, she’s taken into the giant’s lair, danger staring her down with its ugly mug. However, this giant seems to have no interest in eating her, and even goes as far as preventing her from facing further danger. Who exactly is this, ahem, big, friendly giant?


As for my own experience, I have never read the original novel, and have very vague memories of the animated 1989 film. Going into this film was technically nostalgic, as a few particular scenes from the ’89 film rung familiar while watching this version. I wonder how much of this was really written by Roald Dahl, and how much was decided to be cut. There were some rumblings from critics about making the story not as dark, which only saddens me, as the film could’ve used some more grim situations. Even so, the film has some indication of rehashes and shortcuts, leaving a lot to be desired with trying to fill in each and every hole that’s been left behind.

The BFG is among the more nonsensical plots of Disney’s line-up. Not for the inclusion of giants and tangible dreams, but in the sense that the movie plays by its own rules and expect the viewer to mindlessly go with it. This is emphasized by the number of gobbledygook present within the giant’s speech and the charm of the unknown world, but there’s a lot of things that are supposedly very important that are immensely far-fetched. Critical plot points and resolutions happen by some kooky circumstance and don’t have that impact that one would expect with a decent sense of immersion. Some of this is from a lack of said realism, while also due to another major flaw within The BFG.

Films are typically forgiven for their lack of responsibility as a story so long as they give the viewer a definitive aura of entertainment. The BFG is a long, steady line from beginning to end. Never shifting, never moving. Not a single turn, obstruction, bump. Everything feels so by-the-numbers that it may as well be a different movie with a different skin. Things happen without any cause, and it affects the focus of the viewer. Or perhaps more accurately, the critical viewer. I don’t doubt that an average viewer would immediately eat this film up, seeing as it has every sprinkle of Disney’s fairy dust littered over every crack, but the cracks are large and foreboding to those not willing to ignore them. The film is, with all due respect, boring. It can’t seem to find any sort of hold within its core to really grasp the viewer’s attention other than the tired “Imaginary world for the ordinary hero” trope. There is no splendor—hardly any imagination to go along with it.


What is does have in its favor (debatably the only thing) is Disney studios’ signature animation, which is nearly flawless. The hollow feeling is at least glossy and complexly stylized. The giant, along with all the other giants, are amazingly realistic, as if they aren’t CGI whatsoever. Their land, while fairly barren, has a nice feeling of a grassy plainlands. The garbage and familiar items discarded within is a nice touch, implying that humankind was present to some extent over the last few millennia. The darkness and eerie scenes don’t leave much of an impression, but it’s not for a lack of trying. Even the fart jokes look impressive (Though they really, really shouldn’t be here). Unfortunately, the overall animation doesn’t do much for the quality of the film aside from its own establishment. I suppose this is a good film for aesthetics.

One of the integral elements of the original story was the friendship between the little girl, Sophie, and the BFG. This film has some elements of this attached to it, however there is some cause for concern. Sophie is a child, so her instincts are arguably ill-fitted to the situation, as is evidenced by her tendency to bicker with drunken men in the streets and moving around in dangerous situations when she should probably just sit still. She has an astute spirit that is suited for the frail and timid BFG, who is the subject of bullying by the other giants. However, a lot of their development as friends happens by circumstance rather than intentionally. One could argue that the time spent together is enough to warrant some trust in one another, though I wonder whether or not this is due to the “F” in BFG and the age of the little girl. Whether or not this all really matters is debatable. I don’t believe chemistry between these two characters is present within The BFG. If anything, they’re together for the sake of being together.


One other thing that is worth noting is the missed opportunities that take place within the runtime. Sophie lives in an orphanage, she has no parents, and complains that the caretakers are too strict. She even asks if the BFG had any parents (to which he replies, “No,” which makes zero sense). Why is the subject of a family and a place of belonging never brought up? These two examples are shadows of what could’ve been another point to drive the development of these two together. To characterize their relationship as a father and daughter figure, rather than just friends. I expected this to become important at some time, only to view the end credits without it ever being mentioned again. Why not give it a shot? It would do something for this lax attempt at bonding.

Disney is still at the top of their game for what seems like three-hundred years. Even if I disagree, critics seem to embellish the company with heaps of praise for whatever they seem to put out. Not only that, but they’re typically good moneymakers as well. Unfortunately for The BFG, it was one of Disney’s rare flops at the box office, making a putrid (by Disney standards) 18.7 million dollars in its first weekend. Perhaps its a sign that not everything Disney touches is a moving masterpiece, and after seeing it myself, I almost don’t blame people for not going to see it, unaware as they were. It leaves a lot to be questioned about what Disney expects from its movie-making. A classic case of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Whether or not this has any effect on people’s expectations would result in a BFA: a big, friendly argument.

Final Score: 3.5/10

I’ve Been Nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award


Thank you to Yurichan for nominating me for this award. If you’re ever in the mood for some anime/manga-themed artwork, her blog is chock-full of them, and has quite the talent for it, too. I likely would’ve put up this post earlier today, but by the time she nominated me, I was working on something and was super tired while doing it. A man’s got to know his limitations.

– Display Award
– Thank the person who gave you this award (and include a link to her/his blog).
– Share 7 things about yourself
– Nominate 10 bloggers

I’ve always wondered, why seven? It seems like an odd number of things to share about yourself. In any case…

  1. I’m in the process of losing weight. I’ve dropped from roughly 245 lbs. to 219 lbs in the last couple of months.
  2. I started this blog out of peer pressure. Not that those who influenced me were begging me to make one, but I felt inclined to start one due to their neat, clean, pretty blog spaces.
  3. My favorite Youtubers span from SomeCallMeJohnny to Vinesauce to Dunkey.
  4. My profile icon, the thick-framed glasses-wearing bunny with a bushy beard, is not that far off from my actual appearance. Except maybe the hat.
  5. My favorite colors are red and black. I’m neither an anarchist or OC.
  6. I don’t usually plan my blog posts beforehand. Usually I default to anime/manga or video games I finish playing, but if I’m not close to finishing anything by the time about two days have passed, I usually think up something random to write about.
  7. I am one of five children, the oldest at twenty-three.

Now comes the time to nominate ten bloggers. But instead of nominating ten bloggers, I’m only going to nominate three, as I don’t think I even follow ten bloggers and I only feel like nominating these three for now.

  1. Karandi – I really can’t fathom how she does, but Karandi writes up to three blog posts about anime a day. It’s uncomfortable for me just writing once every day. It’s apparent the care she puts into her posts and the enthusiasm she exudes when she’s being serious. I applaud her just for writing so much in general, but she’s a decent critic and worth checking out for anyone interested in anime.
  2. Krystallina – I became a fan of Krystal’s writing during Arria Cross’s first Blog Carnival back some months ago when I read her entry for it. It’s rare when I come across a blog that after one post, I become curious to know more about their opinion and explore the blog further. Her main focus is manga, but she will also review the occasional video game/anime. As of now, she’s running through One Piece both in anime and manga form, so if you’re into that, give her a look. Even if you’re not and want some info on (typically Shoujo) manga, her blog is a gem.
  3. Cauthan – I’ll be honest, when I discovered this guy’s blog, it was like looking into the reflection of a calm and clear pool. The way he writes, the uniformity with his posts, his no-nonsense titles—almost like he was my disciple in aniblogging, or vice-versa. He’s also, dare I say, frank with his ratings. He’s not the bubblegum candy queen throwing out 9’s and 10’s to everything he sees. His standards are of an unquestionably fair level, and the effort he puts into making his opinion as clear as possible is one to be admired. Just look at some of our conversations on his Recommendations Lists. How can you not love him for that? He reviews primarily anime, so his blog is one to go to with a critic’s mindset. It’s a very easy recommendation for me to make.

Again, thank you to Yurichan for the nomination and I hope I managed to make this post clean enough to be readable. Have a good day, everyone!

RWBY Volume Three Review


I almost feel bad for saying so, but it seems that the death of RWBY‘s original creator, Monty Oum, had shifted the tone of RWBY in the same direction. I went into the third volume expecting a darker tone all throughout, but was surprised when I was greeted with a pretty goofy, albeit competitively serious, debut episode. The promise of gloomy days was still present in my mind, but with the way things started off, I wondered how exactly the transition would take place.

There is something inherently different this time around. The writing is still off-putting, humor-wise, but there seems to be bigger things in play here. Something about the tone, the atmosphere of how the volume begins gives off this feeling of trepidation. Perhaps it was aided by my knowledge of a certain big spoiler that happens at the end, but in actuality, it had little to do with it. Even with the goofy writing, the third volume starts out with a battle in a school-sanctioned tournament. To start off with a battle, even with the context of being for sport, does more than opening with, say, loads of exposition or a food fight. One can tell right away that the gloves are off and RWBY is ready to provide a narrative that compares to the scale of its own potential.

Before getting into that, let’s talk about the first couple episodes and how much they blow. The first five episodes of RWBY‘s third volume follow a trend that makes the series all but engrossing. Using the tournament as a convenient excuse, the first five episodes have at least one battle sequence to them, including battles against characters who have never appeared in the series before and likely never will again, assuming they don’t get a lot of lines. This makes the battles feel dull and flash for the sake of flash, without any reason to care. We know who wins, why not turn off the brain and look at the pretty lights being shown in front of you? When those aren’t shown, the viewer is subject to the show’s humor—particularly in the first two episodes or so—which has gone from bad to horrible. I never cared for the humor in the first two volumes, but it seems the team’s sense of humor hasn’t changed a bit since the series’s debut. There was one joke I found amusing. There were about thirty others that made me twitch. It’s safe to say the first five episodes of the series serve little to the overall enjoyment I had with the series, as they seemed to want to cling to the calm nature and vaguely ominous roots that were established in volumes prior. It wasn’t until episode six where things started to, for lack of a better phrase, get going.


Once the halfway point was met, the quality of each episode gradually improved as it went along. I was surprised with how enamored I became with the developing plot, the serious tone of the show. This was what I had wanted since the end of volume one, something to really grip with the size of scope the series wanted to paint with its mountain of exposition. It showed signs before, but never got to the point where anything bad was ever accomplished, ever really felt grim, out of control. Volume Three is the first time where the evil forces have taken a grasp upon the world and taken extreme measures to ensure their plan goes accordingly. It feels detailed, well thought out. The foreshadowing leading up to the large climax present is gradual, but effective, even if the execution can be a little corny. The storytelling is on par (and executed similarly) with Volume Two, but here the viewer is treated with some resolution to the events that occur, rather than sweep it under the rug for everyone to forget in time.

Also similar to Volume Two, Volume Three has a tendency to let plot override the importance of other aspects, such as character. I’ve already mentioned above how a number of characters that have never appeared before make their debut appearance, only to provide nothing in the sense of development. The already established characters tend to take a back seat to react to the plot that is being unveiled as the episodes pass. As much as I loathe the humor, it gives the characters personality and life that they lack in more serious situations. As the mood gets to be more dramatic, so do the characters, leaving them to bask in their righteous justice and nothing more. In terms of development, I’d be hard pressed to point out any individual character who receives a good amount of development in this volume. Crow, definitely, but he’s a new character and needs it regardless. Perhaps Ozpin gets a little in terms of revealing the level of power he commands, or maybe Pyrrha because of the stress she goes through. But is that really worthy of further development? Or simply more reacting to what the plot throws at them?


The typical teams consisting of Ruby, Yang, Blake, and Weiss, and Jaune, Pyrrha, Ren, and Nora are front and center for the most part. They’re the characters that get the most attention, but some receive a little more than others. Once again, to react to the things happening to them rather than give them any sense of purpose or goal. Do they showcase their trademark quirks? Yes and no. When the situation calls for it, Weiss acts noble and uppity. Ruby is awkward and cheery. Blake is, as one puts it, “emo.” Yang is… notably calm for the most part. The only character to maintain their quirks—and improve upon them—is Nora, who is still insane for the sake of being insane. By volume’s end, I never feel these characters are showcased “correctly,” in a way that gives their personalities the spotlight while also reflecting them with their actions, set by the standards of previous volumes. Props to the development of Crow, but the rest of the cast feel as though the development team thought they’d had enough time on the frontlines.

Animation has, fortunately, improved enough to make even the most trivial of actions look smooth, though not consistently. The action scenes (later on) are very well choreographed and visually dazzling, provoking the sense of epicness I’m sure they intended. There are times when characters move robotically for the sake of “humor,” but comes off as lazy when the actions are held too long. This doesn’t happen very often as the humor tends to wear thin physically in the first few episodes. It creeps up sometimes, with a strange twitch here and there, though the animation holds steady for the most part. A subjective complaint is the use of fight scenes in every episode without any real meaning. This makes the rather stylish fight scenes feel dull and spiritless. It doesn’t evoke any emotion, aside from those clamoring for the fight scenes only. It feels like a waste to continue to waste time on fights that don’t amount to anything and waste the time to make later fight scenes all the more creative. For example, did we really have to watch Neptune and Sun do a little jig with some mindless harpies for half an episode? Neptune and Sun contribute very little to the volume at all, so why bother? Does anyone even like these characters?


A little note about voice acting, as this is still considered an “amateur” project, but I thought the cast did a really nice job throughout. Ruby’s voice actor has really improved since she started, and everyone else among the cast accurately placed the emotional depth of every situation into their voices. I was a little taken aback by how fierce some of them sounded. The tracks to accompanying scenes were a little gratuitous, calling for a number of “epic-sounding” symphonies to heighten the mood. I felt it suited better with low, ominous beats that played when the antagonists were hinting at their schemes. Otherwise, I didn’t much notice it throughout.

It is, with everything considered, the best RWBY has ever been, but only marginally. The ending is explosively satisfying (if not a little cheesy), the events that transpire within the narrative have genuine meaning and the results are damning, and the tone is suited well for the circumstances. However, whatever charm the characters had in the first volume has gone missing since then, as the emphasis of character is no longer important. Combine that with a starting line polluted with messy humor, pointless character introductions/interactions, and a feeling of dragging one’s head against the floor, RWBY‘s third volume is an uneven, unpolished track that would hesitate anyone. Fret not; Volume Three is an example of finishing with a bang, and it’s a beautiful bang, despite all the shortcomings of setting up the spectacle.

Final Score: 6/10

Maximum Ride (Movie) Review


I’ll admit, the premise of this movie, the trailer, the posters; all of it makes it out to look like young adult fodder of the blandest degree. It hopes to stay the course of the rising popularity in young adult novel adaptations such as Divergent and The Hunger Games. I would not even consider watching this movie had it not been for one thing: I read the novel this movie was based on, and enjoyed it enough to buy most of its sequels. Now, in cases like this, I try to analyze the movie as if I had never read the book, trying to surprise myself of the things I already subconsciously know will happen as if I’m seeing them for the first time. Even with all of this and more, I can confidently say that you don’t need to have read the source material to be disappointed in Maximum Ride.

I knew it would be bad right from the start. When one of your executive producers is Jenna Marbles of all people, you know you’re in for a mess. What I was curious to know was how bad the movie would be. I had seen various user reviews from sites like IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes with mixed opinions, and I’ve learned in my years as an aspiring critic that when a movie has mixed user reviews, it’s usually pretty bad. What drove me to watch this film, aside from an urge to appease my nostalgic-loving self, was to gauge that level of quality this movie has. Not only is it bad, it spectacularly recreates the art of sheer mediocrity.

This is not a movie on the level of so bad, it’s good. I don’t have the luxury to run into things with that heavenly quality everyday. I was able to get a few guffaws of laughter out of some serious scenes, due in part to some lackluster special effects and bad pacing, but the entire movie, spanning about eighty minutes, is an uninspired, aimless journey from beginning to end. The logic is flawed, the characters are devoid of any personality, devoid of any point, and devoid of any spark that lead the viewers to care about their plight whatsoever. It’s as if the producers of this movie read the book and were inspired to make the book into a movie, only to realize that making a movie was tough, so they took the bare minimum of the story’s most dramatic moments and threw them together to satisfy their goal.


There is no finesse, no detail to the events that are happening throughout this movie that those unfamiliar with the book won’t know what’s even going on. These scenes are set like flags, racing to get from one to the next as quickly as possible without any sense of slowing down. Very rarely does the movie think to incorporate some sense of explanation, instead trying to invoke an air of mystery the novel had to remain faithful. Only thing is, the novel has a character who thought more than she spoke, whereas the character on-screen talks just as little and never thinks at all. If a newcomer to the series could properly explain everything that happened from beginning to end accurately, I would be in complete shock.

That’s just one aspect, however. An accumulation of everything is enough to warrant a “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” sign, but the movie is so characteristically weak in every regard that it feels more akin to a fan-made Youtube movie. The plot is absurdly all over the place, poorly paced, and leaves no impact by the credits sequence. What may be the only thing worse is the characters and their actors. The acting by every individual is on-par with C-list actors, but a few stand out for being particularly atrocious. Particularly Allie Marie Evans, who plays Max, and Luke Gregory Johnson, who plays adult Ari, perform at a level that is slightly above laughable.

Johnson’s character is what is referred to as an “Eraser,” a wolf-human hybrid (which apparently just means he has long hair) with animal-like instincts and mannerisms. This gives him every reason to snarl and growl for no reason whatsoever, almost to signify an emphasis on dog jokes, but this is no comedy. I can’t count the times he’s simply snarled and looked “menacing” in whatever scene he’s in. Evans is what I’d call a poor man’s Kristen Stewart. Stewart is constantly mocked for her straight face style of acting, with her monotonous droning painting her acting as stiff and robotic. Evans is much of the same, except even worse. Every bit of screentime she shares with another has her looking bored or bossy, or perhaps even lost. I counted perhaps once or twice where she broke the typical tone of her voice or showed any sort of emotion in her face. It is a low blow to an already deep pit of acting skill the move provides.


What most people point out is the shaky special effects of Maximum Ride, but this might be the most understandable flaw the movie has. It’s considerably low-budget, so how a studio could afford to animate these winged scenes as well as they did is impressive. They’re still bad, absolutely, but they aren’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. If anything, the special effects are hardly used when you think about it. They’re sometimes bland, sometimes visually-appealing, sometimes downright hilarious, but never good.

There are obviously some subjective qualms about this movie that may simmer in the minds of the fans of the books. Key details such as character appearances, character dialogues, interaction, and various plot points are either altered or removed altogether. Fans of the original book would either ravish in whatever adaptation of their precious story they can get or spit in the face of the disgrace they’ve received. The movie is what could be considered a “good” adaptation based on how directly they followed the book, but they followed it too blindly, without ever considering the consequences of not altering anything from book form to the big screen.

A waste of time, putting it bluntly. The movie gives the indication of a movie long awaited by many, but it seems that through either wasted effort or no effort at all, Maximum Ride is lost potential (assuming it had any) without a clue of what it really wants to do. Poor directing, poor acting, poor pacing, poor writing, poor development. Poor, poor, poor Maximum Ride, a movie of a book I used to love.

Final Score: 1/10

Gregor and the Marks of Secret Review


Much like with Prophecy of BaneMarks of Secret is a book that felt like a step-down in my mind, serving primarily as the set-up to bigger and better things in the final book. I never found myself so taken with reading the fourth book during my childhood years, primarily because it felt more like a set-up and not its own individual story. Years go by and I begin to read them not just for fun, but for objective critique, and by the time I had gotten to the halfway point of Marks of Secret, it became clear that this is the best book in the Underland Chronicles thus far.

What stands out immediately with this entry in the series is that it diverges from the formula that the three books prior had in setting up the scenario of the “quest.” There is no “prophecy” to uphold, no hurdles to jump through to even get Gregor down to the Underland. Due to the events of Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor has every reason to frequent the Underland, and even admits early on that the place isn’t so bad outside of the perils of fighting off rats. The time it normally takes to establish the homelife, the current situation, and just getting Gregor to go on a quest is nearly cut in half thanks to Gregor’s willingness to actually step forward. That’s not to say the “quest” in this book starts immediately, as the first fifty or so pages are dedicated to not just to keeping up with Gregor and his family, but keeping up with Luxa and her own family. There is a greater focus on Underland characters’ home life, which is a welcome addition in order to give them a little perspective and development as the pages go by. The quest that takes place in this book happens by circumstance and is heightened by the emphasis of the unknown.

This style of intro, along with the outro, are the things that differ from other books. However, the bulk of the meat in-between remains the same flavor. The quest goes along the same style of event here, event there; bad thing happens that slows the pace, then an inevitable climax gives way to a shocking revelation. If you’ve read the three previous books, Marks of Secret will not throw any curveballs at you in terms of story structure. It fiddles along the beaten path and continues to scorch the Earth with its eruption of formulaic lava.

Speaking of characters, they still have every excuse to bring as many along on the quest as possible, including a bunch of children who are otherwise useless to everyone and everything. Boots is still a baby, therefore not useful at all and only serves as being a baby. Characters from the previous book return, along with recurring characters that get a chance to show how useful to questing they really are (Howard). Then there are new characters such as Thalia and Cartesian who are there. For all the good Marks of Secret does with character growth and interaction, new characters are quite similar to shadows in this book. They’re there, but never contribute or do anything major. They could even be written out of the book and no one would bat (ha) an eye. Fortunately, what’s lost in potential with new characters is made up with growth from the established characters, such as Gregor, Luxa, Howard, or Ripred. Luxa in particular is a major focus within this book, primarily due to her allegiance to the mice (different from rats) colony. She alone drives the plot forward due to her dedication to protect those close to her, bringing out a side to her that was subdued in previous books. It is with this change in spirit—or perhaps the experiences developing over time—that leads to Gregor looking at her in a more rosy light.

Something that was very lightly touched upon in previous books that becomes a focal point for Marks of Secret is the inclusion of romance. There are characters that are affectionate to one another in loving ways in previous entries, but this book brings that romantic aspect front and center, parading the mind of a confused twelve-year-old boy. Gregor’s growing desire for Luxa (and an implied vice-versa) is incorporated rather shakily, beginning with the cover of Gregor and Luxa going on a “date” prior to the quest beginning. This idea shapes the mindset of the two involved to think upon what could be possible for the two, but perhaps only because it entered their minds seriously for the first time. I’m not huge on this type of romantic development, to have something suddenly shake the foundation of a relationship based upon a suggestion, or the idea of what could be possible. Luxa and Gregor have had an off-and-on relationship up to this point, sharing feelings with one another and otherwise supporting each other, though any indication of a romantic attraction would be a reach. It’s as if the idea of a date spurned up the pre-teen anxiety within the two to see each other more affectionately than before. Like flipping a switch.

While it began abruptly, what follows is up for interpretation. I can’t decide whether the development of Gregor and Luxa’s relationship is more angsty or child-like. One page they’re laughing and playing with each other, the next they’re arguing about politics, only to be laughing and playing with each other again in the next twenty pages. It’s a rollercoaster ride of conflicting emotions and poignant passion, which I can understand from the situation and the fact they’re both twelve. Wouldn’t it be better suited for these two to, I don’t know, not be bipolar? It feels almost like forced drama. The way Luxa is spurned with every disagreement from Gregor implies that she feels attacked whenever he’s not on her side. The way Gregor is so keen on doing so to spite her is childish enough. They’re both children. Thing is, when the novel paints these characters relatively mature all throughout the course of the series, only to have the aspect of romance drive them into an emotionally-fueled corner, it gives the impression that it was thought up on a whim. Despite this, and all that was said above in terms of romance, I enjoyed the development with giddy guilt.

The best thing Marks of Secret does, better than any book before it, is the prospect of genuine suspense. Not only that, but using it in a way that feels like its importance grows with every clue found. At first, it becomes one person’s problem. Then another, and another, until eventually the state of the Underland becomes the clam before the storm. The build-up within is beautifully paced and spectacularly jingled in the face of the reader. Not only does it endanger all inhabitants of the Underland, but it begins through the connection one (Luxa) has with an established comrade(s). The weight of importance is apparent for those who have developed a meaningful attachment to Luxa, specifically, or have kept up with the “lore,” so to speak, of the Underland’s hierarchy. What strengthens this is the inclusion of little bits and pieces of information being provided at a steady rate (though admittedly, some are more coincidental than others). A looming danger, larger than anyone could have imagined, is being planned behind the scenes.

Of all the characters who receive a good amount of attention in this novel, one character whose importance shines considerably is the Bane, the focal point of the second novel. Even mentioning him is slightly spoiling the second novel, for which I apologize, but his inclusion should be noted. I don’t think the way he’s presented—weak, mentally unstable—is good enough indication to see him as a genuine threat later on. In the span of a couple weeks, he grows from whiny and psychopathic to menacing and persuasive. Rats have a quicker rate of growth than humans do, which has been established, but a couple weeks producing that much of a change is questionable writing. His role in the novel is important, but the incorporation of that, aside from the main plan being developed, feels a little too good to be true.

Character banter, aside from Luxa and Gregor’s more dramatic monologues, is back and more charming than ever. Even without Ripred for a majority of the novel’s walls, the inclusion of Howard and a few returning guests gives life to an otherwise grim situation. Howard in particular really shines as a standalone character, giving reason for people to praise his status as a character. His interaction with Luxa, Gregor, Nike, and even Boots relinquishes a witty, caring personality and caretaker mentality that the questers needed without knowing they needed it. Luxa and Hazard have good interaction, along with Gregor and, well, everyone else. Even Temp, the quiet, off to the side character who has appeared on every quest in the entire series so far, has a few humorous lines with other characters. It’s amazing how much effort was put into making these characters feel close to one another, and it works spectacularly.

What has been one of the more fluctuating concerns for Collins’ works is her use of description. Marks of Secret is in-between good and bad with her description, with some scenes getting a lot of vivid description, while others resort along the lines of “They flew for hours.” Key scenes in particular, such as the climax or key events, are described with a lot of sensory description. It gives a lot of life into the scenes that otherwise could have been left to interpretation, dulling the impact they could’ve had. This book in particular is actually quite gory. Lots of death and blood and horrifying ways of dying are described in such detail that one would think Collins’ watched the Final Destination series as inspiration. These books are directed at young teenagers, but even young teenagers would find this a little over their limit. The use of darkness is still a handy tool for copping out on descriptive detail, but a good portion of the book takes place in lighter areas, giving more attention to filling the page with Gregor’s vision rather than actions. I would say it’s so-so.

Upon my third reading of these books, Marks of Secret is the first of the series to give me that sense of “I can’t put this book down!” I enjoyed the three books prior enough to look forward to continuing them, but this is the first that made me hesitate stopping at the page I predetermined to be the stopping point. I would go on longer than I anticipated, waiting for an appropriate time to stop and finding none. There’s a special vibe of enticement to the end of most chapters in Marks of Secret; so much so that even knowing all that was going to happen later on, I didn’t want to wait to fulfill my own prophecies. I felt for the characters and their plights, and I felt that sense of loneliness that Gregor had to bear knowing he would forever be different from the friends he made in a world foreign to him. It was the first time I had felt that sense of emotional empathy from my third reading of the books so far. And if Marks of Secret can manage to do that after three readings to someone who doesn’t crack a smile at even the most sentimental of media, it must be doing something right.

Thoughts on K-On!!


Note the number of exclamation points in the title of this post. These are my thoughts on the second season of the show. If you’d like to know my thoughts on the first season, I have some notes scribbled down on MyAnimeList. (Please excuse my aloof 2014 writing.)

It’s amazing to me sometimes as to how long it takes me to watch a sequel to a particular anime when it’s readily available. I watched the original K-On! in 2014, and am just now finished with its second season. I finished Natsu no Arashi! in 2014, too, and have yet to see its sequel season. I’m not sure what it is, but when a sequel season isn’t being shown as an airing anime, I tend to just forget about it. Sometimes I don’t really mind, while others like K-On!! are bereaved of the emotional value their debut season had on me when finally getting around to their closing season. At first, this showed with my waning intrigue in the series, but every so often the series would show me a flash of substance that kept me focused on continuing through, ending with a satisfyingly benign bang.

It is an anime that stands by its genre: a slice of life flick through and through. The plot is episodic and involves plotlines such as “The club sells an old guitar,” or “Mugi and Ricchan hang out alone for the first time ever!” There is nothing about this series that those looking for deeper meaning will find very engrossing, though that’s not to say that K-On!! is simplistic in its story progression. Plenty of times the anime will focus on various fantasies or mannerisms of characters that serve to foreshadow or highlight a deeper meaning to the ambitions of the characters, albeit very subtly. There’s a bit of a focus on Azusa near the middle of the series in which she tries to cope with being younger than the rest of the club and how she hopes to combat the thought that she’ll soon be the only member of the club in time. There’s a lot of “Yolo-ing” in this anime—the act of living life to the fullest in the time life is most worth living. High school is said to be the best time of most teenagers’ lives, and that is in full effect in K-On!!.


It is these characters and their emphasis on having as much fun as possible that makes K-On!! stand out compared to others of its genre. Their interactions with one another span from politely generous to slapstick comedy duo. The dynamic between the closeness of various characters—such as Mio and Ricchan, and Yui and Azusa—is shown in a variety of different lights, rather than focusing on a one-dimensional shtick that plays out throughout, inevitably becoming repetitive. What I feel the second season does better than the first is shining the light on pairing different characters together. One of my favorite episodes was when Ricchan and Mugi spent the day together and came up with a plan to get one of the club members to hit Mugi, as she feels it is a sign of closeness. This kind of thing was rare in the first season, while the second season is more willing to experiment with working the dynamics of one couple and combining it with others more naturally shown alone. Mugi has always been a character less focused on throughout the series, so to see her not only interact with the main source of comic relief in Ricchan, but to seek Ricchan’s advice on how to further her closeness to the group is all the more heartwarming.  It’s this focus on the closeness of the group that makes the ending all the more impactful.

One of the key issues I had with the first season was Sawa-chan, the club adviser to the Light Music Club. Her entire point was to seek praise from everyone and dress up the characters in the most moe of outfits and be generally annoying. I didn’t care for her whatsoever. However, the second season does a much better job of showing her in a more mature and realistic tone, though this may be her feigning professionalism as the new homeroom teacher for the girls’ class. The series does give her a little more focus through old classmates of hers and the emphasis she has on the club and how much she cares for the girls, which only adds to a previously stale character. I feel she still isn’t entirely well-rounded, but she’s far better than she was in the first season.

K-On!! has twice as many episodes in its second season than its first season, going from a one-cour to a two-cour series. A two-cour slice of life series seems daunting for those not fond of the genre and I can empathize with those people, as K-On!! isn’t always the most entertaining watch. Some episodes I thought were cute, thought were sweet, thought were insightful and worth watching. Then there were episodes where it was hard to pay attention to the trivial monotony of normal life playing out in front of me. The characters not falling suit to a thick coat of comedy pays dividends for the realism of the show and the emphasis on normal life, but it also makes it susceptible to being boring. The range with which I found the anime boring was probably a third of every four episodes or so, but others may be more willing to disregard the show for its feeble attempts at trying to stimulate the audience.


Most of the segments of K-On!! I found less than thrilling to view were scenes/episodes focusing more on characters outside the main group of girls, such as Azusa, Yui’s sister, or otherwise. Nodoka has charm based on her seriousness, but doesn’t have much else going for her other than being “Yui’s childhood friend.” Yui’s sister has very little time to showcase any personality other than Yui’s caretaker (despite being the younger sister). Everyone else is essentially just there. I liked the absence of the main group on occasion to stimulate the separation anxiety Azusa develops throughout the series, but when they’re not in the picture, the show becomes far easier to ignore than otherwise. The main group and their hijinks are what carries the show, especially when the first season spent so much time exploring them and no one else.

There was a time when watching anime where I didn’t care at all about sound. I’m still not too fond of exploring the audio intricacies of every title ever, but K-On!! has a higher degree of focus on music, which promotes me to listen to the quality of their sound. Even with two cours, the band doesn’t really perform (or practice) very often. The most I recall throughout is when they perform at their school festival or when Sawa took the stage to sing with her old band. I don’t recall much from Sawa’s performance, but I thought After School Tea Time’s songs were catchy enough. I felt it may have sounded a little too professional for a high school band, but it had a nice rhythm to it and I don’t see that as too much of a problem. Otherwise, I have no comment about the performances of the seiyuus or anything like that. Usually, that’s a good thing.


For 2010, K-On!!‘s visuals are pretty minimalist in nature. They aren’t nearly as sparkly or glowing as other titles from KyoAni’s library, such as Haruhi or Chuunibyou. The faces of the characters are pretty flat and colored in similar colors. I would’ve pegged the series as being animated in 2006-2007, but it’s a lot more recent than the style appears. However, it may be just that: style. It doesn’t particularly look flashy, but the focus of the show isn’t to be flashy, just to be realistically ordinary. Ordinarily plain would be a better title for the design of K-On!! and its characters, seeing as most characters’ faces look very, very similar to one another. Only difference being eye and hair color/style. The characters are easily distinguishable despite this (probably because they have little indicators like large eyebrows or a headband in their hair). The animation (especially during performances) can be choppy every so often. It’s not so smooth all the time, but does a good enough job to get the job done right. There was a particular episode where the girls are running a marathon and a particular scene showed the group of girls from the side running forward with background characters running past them. The way this scene is animated is… off. It feels like there were some shortcuts taken in making it happen. I think this may be the most noticeable example of odd animation, but I’d have to remember all of the series to be sure.

I hear a lot about the popularity of K-On!! around the anime community, dubbing the series one of the best slice of life titles in the last ten years or so. I would be inclined to agree, as the anime has a lot of heart to it despite its shortcomings. It did enough to give an insightful slice of high school life portraying characters that aren’t entirely great on their own, but wonderful altogether. The closeness of the group and their misadventures in everyday life are charming to view whenever the anime gives them time to bounce off each other. It won’t be satisfying to everyone, especially those who don’t care for the genre, but a lot of good can be found from a series like K-On!!; so much so that 39 episodes and a movie still wouldn’t feel like enough to get the full potential of these silly, moe blob characters.