mother! “Review”

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Indeed, your eyes do not deceive you. There are quotations around the word “Review” in the title. That is because this will not be quite like the traditional style of review, but also not quite my own version of putting down my thoughts. Instead, I will treat this post as a hybrid creation, something that can both pass off as an official review and personal diary. And for those aware, I did also do this with my “review” of La La Land.

So then, what do you call a film you consider good, yet cannot help but not enjoy?

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mother! is symbolic to its very core. Everything that is shown onscreen is an allegory to some bigger picture that the audience is pressed to figure out. Now, a number of theories creeped into my head with every scene, with issues such as female empowerment, idol worship, abusive relationships, rape culture, patriarchal dominance, and the toxicity of humankind giving weight to the things being shown to me. Little did I know, there is an answer to this film, a key to understanding the puzzle of mother!. After learning of it, I’m left with only regret. Something of this magnitude, so delicately precise and foreboding in its imagery and atmosphere, to all come into one simple answer.

This isn’t a fault of the film itself, but rather the intentions behind it. I believe ambiguity could’ve served to make this film all the more interesting, without the need to pin it all down on a single aspect which generalizes the film’s potential. This also isn’t a disagreement with mother!’s ultimate message, as I feel it makes (enough) sense to have the scenes collide the way they do. Strange as it sounds, I can’t find myself enjoying the film after knowing the answer; I found the film a lot more inviting when I hadn’t a clue.

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It ended up being more fantastical than what it appears, especially in the beginning. I found out a lot about myself when all the theories I concocted for myself, things that shroud themselves in today’s society by the screeching mouths of dozens, ended up being of a practical sense. I considered nothing of the fantastic, of how or why the bizarre things occurring could be happening. Assuming it would all explain itself in the end, the final minutes only strengthened my previous theories. It seems I do not enjoy giving up without a fight.

Should this review seem obnoxiously vague, that’s because it is intentionally. Much like mother! itself. Critiquing the film is more akin to the Chinese finger trap, where one can only pull and struggle with the solution when, in reality, the answer lies through unexpected perspectives. An open mind is critical when viewing, as the film certainly doesn’t pull any punches (or kicks or insults). It’s no surprise to me that mother! is such a polarizing experience for many. In the end, how one feels about it may very well say more about the person than the film. This sounds like common knowledge, but I think there’s more to it than that. Either you enjoy a cryptically chaotic experience or you prefer the simple strategies of good vs. evil. In this case, there’s very little in-between.

Final Score: 7/10

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

Entry #13: Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (SoA 2017)

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(Recommended by a pretty humble guy, completing his recommendation trifecta.)

Will make this entry quick. Want to get a move on.

I would encourage anyone interested in my semi-quick thoughts on the first season to check here, as this post will deal primarily with the second season, the one I hadn’t seen coming into this. I will note that upon rewatch, my impressions of the first season were more positive than before, but only slightly.

The second season is a MASSIVE OVERLOAD OF FUCKERY. While it deals with a lot of the same conflicts and characters as the first season, R2 has a tendency to not only alter one’s expectations, but completely overloads them with mindfucks and retcons. It’s too abrupt, too glossy for its own good. To some extent, it’s hard to watch because it’s so horribly overdramatic, but one must admit that it’s by no means unentertaining.

There was a nice potency to the emotional value in R2 that, while somewhat better handled in the first season, was spectacularly used to create one of the most intriguing and twisted endings I’ve seen in all of anime. People whom I would have never expected to die are ripped from the world cruelly and coldly. If only the series did that more often. With the first season going more for intellectual set-up and strategy, the second season kind of just throws logic into the afterlife and employs all sorts of different strange scenarios, some I feel could ultimately have been avoided.

To some extent, it becomes a soap opera. One that is not handled in the best manner and cannot seem to find that same balance as once before. Its ambition is admirable, but their effort is wasted on trying to make it all seem true and real. And the manifestation of everything into a single line of thinking for the ending to indulge in is just insulting. It made for a bitter taste. Certainly not as good as it could be, but better than most that would rather go for clichés.

Personal Score: B-

Critical Score: C+

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

Entry #6: Steins;Gate (SoA 2017)

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(Recommended, once again, by a pretty humble guy.)

Fun fact: before completing this today, I had watched one episode of this series in the past. It had been left sitting, alone and afraid, in my “on-hold” category for, no joke, nearly five years. I was intrigued by it, especially it’s #4 overall rating on MyAnimeList in terms of average user score, but I could never find myself properly motivated to delve into something with such mountainous expectations. I’d like to thank Mr. Humble Guy again for giving me an excuse to pick it back up after all of these years.

After completing it, I only have this to ask: why is this series rated so high? I mean it. I am scratching my head wondering why, specifically, this series has an average rating of 9/10 on most anime databases and is heralded by many as a modern masterpiece. Is it the time travel aspect? The kooky characters? The presentation of never being able to escape fate? Is it because it somewhat resembles Doctor Who???

By no means is Steins;Gate a bad anime. Before throwing every insult at me for shaming such a flawless series as this, let me present my overall, general feelings immediately by saying I think the anime is… good. It is good. Not great, but good. By traditional anime standards (I am very cynical), it’s leagues better than the standard high school rom-com, but #4 ever? The Magnum Opus, the Mona Lisa, the Statue of David, of anime? I… I can’t lie and say it even compares. The series is good—perfectly, solidly good.

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A part of my feelings towards the show is the result of how little emotional attachment I had for it. I see a lot of members put Kurisu and Okabe among their favorite anime characters. This only further confuses me. The characters of Steins;Gate are likable and definitely solid within the performance of their one-shot personalities. I question, however, their development and the relationship they have with one another, specifically Okabe and Kurisu, seeing as the concept of time as a play thing resets the progression certain characters could have with one another, yet goes forth as if everything somehow retains itself because magic. Characters are rather important in a series that relies so much on drama and a heavy-narrative foundation, so if they are not examined and executed perfectly, one likely won’t be along for the emotional ride (I’m likely within a small minority).

Another thing of note I almost never see when people discuss this anime is its roots as a visual novel. And its anime adaptation doesn’t really transition all that well. One can simply feel the way they position the characters in the second-half, one by one without any interruption with one another, as they are “saved” by Okabe. More than repetitive, it comes off as formulaic, something that contradicts the first-half’s somewhat varied approach at telling a story and creating a quirky family bond between the many characters that tag along the “mad scientist’s” eccentric exploits. While I understand the context of Okabe’s feelings within the second-half, as he tries his hardest to prevent tragedy upon his loved ones due to fate’s cruel hand, he loses a lot of the charm he originally had as a character as he becomes more in line with “Standard Male OC #4,502.” It feels as though the anime flipped a switch that was marked “Serious Mode,” with characters being toys for the plot to do whatever with and suffocating their more charming characteristics.

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A lot of this seems completely out of context, but I think this is a series best served with as little detail as possible. Still, it’s difficult to properly rely what I found wrong with the series without ruining everything, seeing as it is so wordy. I guess the best way I could properly wrap it up is with a neat little bullet point chart.

  • Second-half undermines the first-half’s attempt at making the characters’ personalities seem natural, and slowly transitions into making said characters chess pieces for a grand scheme of dramatic overindulgence.
  • Pacing is generally acceptable, but comes to a screeching halt around the halfway point, then crawls its way through every minute until the final episode.
  • Okabe and Kurisu’s relationship has the illusion of being deep and profound, but the reality is that they only experienced one another for a short time and a lot of that was introductory stages and technical experimentation. Very few scenes of (realistic) progression of a romantic attachment.
  • Okabe goes from mad scientist with visions of grandeur to Male Lead in an Anime.
  • Many side characters don’t get developed in a way that presents them as people who matter. Daru is a pervert otaku. Mayuri is a bubbly airhead. Etc.
  • Many attempts at defying fate barely seem as though they’re trying. Get a bunker or something. C’mon.

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With this avalanche of negative aspects, don’t let this muddy the waters for an otherwise very intriguing and entertaining experience. Steins;Gate is not among the greatest anime I’ve ever seen, but it is definitely worth a watch if one hasn’t seen it already. There could definitely have been more to the characters, but the story was pretty compact and air-sealed in terms of (non-nitpicky) plot holes. Consistently entertaining, splendid art and animation, and a nice change of pace with a sci-fi setting that actually makes sense. There’s no guarantee this series will become one’s all time favorite (or maybe it will), but I can absolutely recommend it as an overall pleasant viewing experience.

Personal Score: B-

Critical Score: B-

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

Perfect Blue Review

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If one is stepping foot into the world of anime for the first time, a name that may come up often amongst connoisseurs of anime films specifically is Satoshi Kon. While Kon doesn’t have a large collection of films under his belt, what he was able to produce before his untimely death of cancer in 2010 speaks volumes to people within the anime community and industry. Known for his distinct style of disorienting storytelling, his films are typically consumed with pleasure by fans of psychological or methodical thrillers.

Watching anime for a number of years, I’ve never experienced one of Kon’s films, nor have I been one to dabble in anime films in general. With my recent trek into the March of the Movies, I felt a desire to finally give Kon’s work a shot, knowing a fellow anime consumer is practically in love with his entire library. I was aware beforehand of the kind of reputation Kon had, though I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I finally decided on his directorial debut: Perfect Blue.

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Among the first distinctions of Perfect Blue that struck deeply was how un-anime-like it felt in general. Characters were animated realistically, complete with noses, proportional eyes, and lips. Its setting allowed for an immediate hook for those looking for something more mature, with adult characters trying to find work within the entertainment industry. While the concept of “pop idols” are entirely of an anime (or Japanese) stigma, there’s very little that the film requires other than the bare minimum, allowing for short, controlled reactions and behavior from the cast. With hardly a thing jutting out to manipulate high-energy humor or drama, it requires the audience to pay careful attention to every movement, as it vows not to be taken lightly.

Due to this feeling of somberness, one can almost be bored by the first thirty minutes or so of Perfect Blue. One aspect of the film that can be simplified is its very gradual speed, choosing to let every possible introduction take place. Who the characters are, what they do. How the situation came to what it did. Where the characters’ priorities lie. Why all of this is important. It’s somewhat of a chore to try and take in every prerequisite that is shown before “the good part” begins. By that time, however, many may likely forget they were ever bored in the first place.

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Once things begin to unwind, the real fun of Perfect Blue reveals itself. What’s even more admirable is the amount of foreshadowing leading up to that point—things that don’t even seem like foreshadowing. The symbolic nature of the build-up gives meaning to the characters involved and genuine disturbances within their positions. Mima, an aspiring actress after a semi-successful circuit of being a pop idol, must face constant self-scrutiny for the decisions she makes to further her career as an actress. For someone transitioning from something as sweet as a “pop idol” to a far more vile environment as acting, her gradual mental breakdown, while not heavily noted at the start, is an assuring detail to her character and morality. She, herself, along with those around her, act as the catalyst of these barrages of self-doubt and regret, eventually spiraling into a place where she (nor the audience) can truly comprehend what is real.

This climactic breakdown is the pinnacle of psychological thrillers, something that would make fans of anime such as Neon Genesis Evangelion take notice. Even if one were to be indifferent to the characters or their struggles, the last twenty minutes of the film is a triumphant spectacle of Kon’s brand of directing. Allowing each little trinket of knowledge became something of an indisputable necessity, all leading up to an eruption of unwinding realities and scenes. A very strong ending almost single-handedly makes Perfect Blue recommendable, if not for the well-prepared journey to that point.

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Though realistic in its presentation, animation isn’t quite the same spectacle as the story. Some shaky movement here and there isn’t entirely distracting, just the fact that it could’ve been altered more, particularly within the last twenty minutes, to further cement the feeling of dementia. There also exists a sort of graininess about Perfect Blue that makes it far less than a perfect blue. A sign of the times, one could say, though one could also say that it’s simply an indicator of the film’s realistic setting and tone. Despite the sudden vibrancy of the fantastical imagery of Mima’s idol half, there’s a sort of “dull” manner to the animation that could turn off viewers.

Another issue arises in that while the plot is intriguing and eventually becomes captivating, characters are not as wonderful. They do what they must for their role within its structure, leaving them to fester within the realism of their situation—distilling their core personalities. One could describe Mima outside of the mental fragility and one wouldn’t be entirely sure if it’s Mima. Characters simply react to what’s in front of them, picking and choosing their moments of propensity. That isn’t to say the characters are dull, rather none of them really stand out in a positive way based on who they are or what they cherish. Some become interesting based on what they eventually mean to the plot, though not of their own accord. Not everyone will take issue with this, but those who do will leave the experience without any strong emotional attachment.

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At the end of the day, one’s pleasure surrounding Perfect Blue may very well come from whether or not they prefer its dominant genre. Execution is key here, with everything coming into focus just so they can direct to a horrifying conclusion. Kon’s mastery of this is on full display in his first project as director, though one could likely expect more out of his mind than what was shown here. Perhaps it should be noted that the film is an appetizer to the mind of Satoshi Kon, something that can be appreciated as time goes on.

Final Score: 7.5/10

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

Early Impressions: Little Witch Academia (TV)

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Three episodes in, Little Witch Academia is enjoyably bland.

One of the things I most look forward to when I decide to watch a work by Trigger is the bountiful amount of energy it typically puts into its animation and characters. Kill la Kill is a fantastic example of this, and Kiznaiver toned it down a tad but still gave off enough within its first two episodes to make me optimistic (until it burned itself to the ground). In this case, the series is a more fleshed-out retelling of a Special/Movie that Trigger had released some years prior. As of now, the series is a lot more like Kiznaiver than Kill la Kill, in that the energy is contained by individual scenes and characters rather than continuously all throughout.

What is the most disappointing aspect of Little Witch Academia, however, is the measure of predictability based on its storytelling. Now, I have never seen one Harry Potter movie or read any Harry Potter book, but I feel the anime takes a lot of inspiration from it, to the point where certain situations are almost homages to it. And again, I don’t know a lot about Harry Potter in general, but I do know the books are directed towards kids, so the writing is likely to reflect that demographic. What I mean by this is that characters are going to be incredibly one-dimensional, the narrative is going to appear whimsically up-beat at first, then turn dark as the plot moves along, and the execution of short-term conflicts will showcase the untapped potential of the seemingly inept main character. Oh, look, I just described the anime based on its first three episodes.

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It’s a more controlled approach by Trigger this time around, so much so that I feel any studio aside from Trigger could’ve animated this and I wouldn’t be able to tell. Still, this is more of a subjective criticism than anything, as I’ve become expectant of the studio to be wild and bouncy with their animation skills. The way the story has progressed, it certainly has that Disney-esque vibe to it, something in recent years I’ve come to hold in disdain. That’s for another time, though.

Energy within Little Witch Academia comes in the form of the female lead: Akko. Her naive enthusiasm for magic and the antics she involves herself in because of it is the only remains of Trigger’s hand within. She’s played off like a combination of Ryuuko and Mako from Kill la Kill, with the straightforward confidence of Ryuuko and uncanny enthusiasm of Mako. However, her role within the story makes her likable only from her charisma, as her part as “inept dream-pursuer” has been done to death in many other mediums. Her friends (and rivals) are little better. Lotte is the booknerd nervous type. That’s it. Sucy is the ill-moraled occultist freak. That’s it. Diana is the rival character who’s good at everything and constantly shows up Akko by simply doing what’s natural to her. That’s it. Props to Diana, however, as the anime has shown some semblances of her being overwhelmed by the expectations placed upon her. Again, typical, but it’s something. I predict that a lot of these characters will eventually get solo episodes dedicated to expanding their characters, but for now, they’re just along for the ride.

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The overall appeal of Little Witch Academia’s design makes a full return for those enamored by its movie counterpart. Though as mentioned before, the approach is a lot more controlled. There are individual moments that stand out from the rest, but are pretty scarcely scattered throughout each episode. Trigger’s distinct style of character design is still present, which I’ve enjoyed tremendously, but that’s all to really look forward to. Something of a random note, but I feel the anime goes out of its way to reference its own studios works. A random bout of fan service for fans of the studio’s other works. In the third episode, Akko will zoom through a family’s home as someone is flipping through channels on their TV. Before it cuts to the next scene, the screen will show MOTHERFUCKIN’ INFERNO COP! The way it gets to this point, however, is questionable, as it doesn’t make much logical sense in hindsight. I’m getting off-track. It has its moments of animated enthusiasm, but not quite enough to keep me consistently bedazzled.

Its predictability will probably bore me for a while. Seeing as it’s a two-cour series, it has all the time in the world to throw some curveballs at us. And while its narrative and characters do little (or nothing) to differentiate themselves from past stories, the clichés present aren’t a complete downfall to the show’s simple charm. I would say it’s the best show I’m currently watching this season, but only because it has the pieces in place to remain consistently entertaining, at the cost of being entirely impactful. If you’re a fan of Harry Potter or Disney, give Little Witch Academia a shot. If you’re a fan of Trigger, be wary.

My Day In Gaming – January 19th, 2017

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Here’s something a little different.

In this post—and any post like it, should I continue with it—I will detail the accounts of my gaming in any individual day, whether it be progress reports, general thoughts, or the primary intention behind the creation of this post: sharing humorous stories. I feel a lot goes unsaid with video games, especially when talking of it online. There are a lot of strange moments to be had when gaming, whether it be due to a game’s glitchiness or a perfect “Right place at the right time” sequence that produces a hilarious outcome. I felt, in-between the constant focus of reviewing and critiquing almost everything I decide to write on, that I could relax myself a bit, invite people to join me around the campfire, and share some of my personal stories with a pastime I’ve had since long before the internet’s boom in accessibility. I realize not everyone will understand some of the things I have to say, so I’ll do my best to make every situation clear and have the context be resolute.

For the rest of this post, I will be organizing said stories and impressions based on the game I was playing at the time.

Metroid Prime

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I wrote a post about this game a couple days ago for those wanting some more juicy description as to why I adore the game so much, but early this morning, I beat the game for the fourth(?) time within my lifetime. I find it fascinating how I always seem to drift back to this game whenever I feel in the mood to play something fun and impressionable. Doubly so knowing of my own quest to cement a certain game as my all-time favorite, something I’ve been trying to discover for years now. With my most recent playthrough, Metroid Prime is in a comfortable spot, seeing as other contenders such as Custom Robo and Paper Mario: TTYD proved to be less than stellar after recent replays. Still, games such as Soul Calibur IIVigilante 8: 2nd OffenseSuper Mario Sunshine, and Glover need to be tested before I crown any one game winner.

I will comment on some ironic twist of fate, as while Metroid Prime‘s opening sequence is little short of brilliant, its ending area and boss fight are incredibly lackluster. The final area, the Impact Crater, is only five rooms long, not including the Missile Recharge Station. Only one room among these five rooms will last more than a minute to get through, either. While the beginning had a slow, but gradual build-up of suspense and intrigue, the Impact Crater has one of the most irritating enemies in the game in the form of Fission Metroids, Metroids capable of splitting into two and are only susceptible to certain beam weapons (And Power Bombs, thankfully). They inhabit one huge, empty room with little to take in. It feels more like a placeholder area for game testing than anything, with not a lot of narrative intrigue or need to use many accessories.

And the final boss? Should one know what they’re doing, the final boss is a pushover. Sure, knowing the game makes most bosses easy, but there are a few, such as Meta Ridley or the Omega Pirate, while easy to analyze their weak spot, make that weak spot hard to access. The final boss shoves it front and center, and its second form (because no Japanese game can go without another form) is essentially a waiting game. It doesn’t have that epic feel that the designers were going for, and is a far-cry to what the game could’ve accomplished with some finer tweaking. Still, this doesn’t soil so much as it does dull the experience near the end, as the game is still a very solid experience regardless.

Animal Crossing

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On the complete opposite spectrum of Metroid PrimeAnimal Crossing gives me that escape whenever I’m not in the mood to play something that requires a level of efficiency and attention to gameplay. A fun little slice-of-life-esque game about living life and updating a town only a villager knows how.

I’ve been playing Animal Crossing for about fifteen years now, dating back to when I first got the game around 2002. That isn’t to say I’ve had the same file since 2002, but I recently started up another town to relive the memories of my younger days. As a kid, I liked to dub myself the “Fish Master,” as I always loved to fish, no matter what. I would fish in my spare time and fish quite often, selling them to Tom Nook for about 1,000,000 bells (The game’s currency) at a time. No matter how much I fished, unfortunately, there was always one fish that alluded me: the Stringfish! A rare fish that never seemed to want to show itself to me. Even worse, my brother caught one! I was the Fish Master and he caught the one fish I was missing! Years would pass, and I never caught that accursed fish. All these years and I could never find it. Not even once.

Today, I booted up the game and time traveled backwards because I forgot to turn on the lighthouse the night prior (Optional sidequest). After turning it on, I made my way up the town’s acres, walking along the river in case anything of interest caught my eye. Something did, as a large shadow loomed in the middle of the river around Acre D-4. “I swear to God, if this is a tire,” I said to myself as I got my fishing rod out and cast the lure right in front of the shadow’s face. It went for it immediately, hooking onto the lure on the first nibble. I managed to reel it in, with the time signifying that it wasn’t a tire. Once the reeling process was complete, the fish turned out to be…

A Stringfish.

I laughed, laughed to the depths of my soul, for I had finally caught the one fish that had alluded me for so many years, that I had meticulously hunted until my will had broken into two. It was a momentous occasion and an ironic one, with the sound of my laughter filling the quiet basement around me, my brother (the one who had caught it) laughing with me. I time traveled for the sole purpose of turning on the lighthouse, and here I was avenging my younger self for the time wasted searching for it. Mirthful and satisfied, I continued to walk up the acres. With just one square north, wouldn’t you know, another large shadow! “This one looks pretty big, too,” I said aloud. I cast my rod, getting it just out of sight of the shadow. I reeled in and cast again, this time getting it close enough to fetch the shadow’s attention. This one was a little more hesitant, taking three or four bites before sinking the lure. I managed to successfully catch the fish, and with the time spent reeling signifying again that it wasn’t a tire, the fishing Gods smiled down at me warmly. As if making up for the time I had spent years before, while also giggling mischievously at the absurd odds of what was to come, the fish turned out to be…

Another Stringfish.

Tales of Zestiria

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Whoa, dude! Isn’t this a currently-airing anime? It is! And I just so happened to get my hands on a copy of the game it was based on for the PS4! I wasn’t even aware it had an anime, either. Must’ve been why I looked at the title and thought, “Damn, why this look so f-a-m-i-l-i-a-r?” Helping to buy a PS4 for the family just last Christmas, I needed something to add to the collection, so that I wasn’t just using the console as a paperweight. Tales of Zestiria, it is!

It kinda blows. I mean, technically, there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with the game on its own, but there are a lot of little nitpicks here and there that make the game hard to even sit through. First of all, the dialogue is incredibly cheesy. Some of the most cliché and predictable sentences come out of every character’s mouth. Secondly, the facial structure of the characters hardly move, so a lot of the dialogue with added feeling, such as anticipation, fear, irritation, or loneliness are met with a stone-faced, ever-blinking character model. It looks horribly unnatural. Thirdly, and I may have gone into some detail with this before, but I really can’t stand most English voice actors for Japanese-based games/anime. It sounds unnatural to me, for English actors to voice lines that may not be intended to be voiced in the way they perceive it. Not to mention, I feel the voice acting in the game overall is mediocre. Whether it be the case of overemphasizing or underemphasizing, each line or three are delivered with a sense of forced bravado or aloofness that supposedly suits the character, I guess? I also don’t find the combat all that entertaining. You’re essentially hammering a single button with directional combinations, then guarding when the sequence is through. (Or just keep hammering it down. Whatever works!)

Of course, I’m only an hour into the game, so as the game goes along, perhaps the combat and story will improve to some extent. As the saying goes, unfortunately, the beginning is only a precursor to more of the same. I won’t keep my hopes up, but I’m expecting to have some guilty fun out of it, whether it be being immersed in the story or making fun of it.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

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You didn’t think I’d just stop with the first game, did you? Heavens, no. I plan to play each game and find out where they fare when compared to my favorite games ever, as they do have some nostalgic value to them, as well. However, Metroid Prime 2 is a game I never actually finished in its entirety, only getting as far as the second main area or so before quitting to watch my brother finish the rest. Funny story: I get too involved with watching others play the same game to finish the game myself, as I feel if I play the game too soon after watching someone else play it, I won’t enjoy it as much. I ended up waiting about ten years after he completed it to continue.

This is a story, however, as I’m not too far into this game, either. I was playing the game at a brisk pace, somewhat struggling to remember what exactly to do in each room. I had gotten to a room within the opening area where I first discovered a creature called a Green Kralee. As I always do, I scanned the creature first to read up on its data and weakpoints before destroying it. I had gotten about one sentence into scrolling through the text when, within the blink of an eye, the TV screen went black. The TV didn’t randomly shut off. The power didn’t go out. I never clicked any button to reset the game. The TV remotes were untouched upon the room’s coffee table. The screen just went blank for seemingly no reason.

With two of my brothers in attendance, I slowly looked over at one of them, dumbfounded, as he looked back at me with a nervous smile. Just as he was about to say something, the TV lit up again. On the screen was the Wii’s Youtube browser, showing the front page trending videos. The one that stuck out to me was Trump’s Inauguration Concert. (Why do Presidents need concerts at their Inauguration, anyway?) All three of us immediately start laughing, as the level of “WTF?!” was off the charts. Here I was, enjoying a nice game of “Blow different alien species up,” and the Wii has the gall to take me to Youtube to watch Trump’s Inauguration! It seems his reign will include taking over electronic devices to watch his progress at every turn! Thankfully, my brother picked up the TV remote and set it back to the default source, which immediately brought me back to the data on the Kralee. As if nothing had happened. It was a delightful intermission that reeked of outside sources fucking with my hardware. Though, one of my brothers stated that it may have been his phone taking voice commands for no reason.

That’s all I have this time. Thanks as always for reading and I hope you enjoyed the tales I had to tell today.

Thoughts on T-Rex na Kanojo

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Allow me to shed some light on some curiosities one might have discovering this manga for the first time:

  • Yes, the manga really is about anthropomorphic dinosaurs living among normal human beings.
  • Despite being tagged as “ecchi” by a few sites and databases, this is only done because the female lead is topless for the first few chapters. This manga is by no means sexually exuberant.
  • Despite the English translation of the title, the two leads are not actually dating, but have a relationship defined by trust and tsundere-levels of affection.
  • No, there is no mention as to how normal humans and dino-hybrids are supposed to become “intimate.”
    • “But wouldn’t it be like normal?” Perhaps, but if that were the case, why would society allow the dino-hybrids (which are primarily female) to run around without any pants on?
      • “Because they don’t make pants that fit dinosaurs?” True, but it’s shown within the manga that society has adapted to the dino-hybrid existence and even sells specific items catered to their interests.
        • “What are we even talking about anymore?” Whether female dinosaurs have vaginas or not.

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T-Rex na Kanojo is a cutesy, trite little manga about the relationship of a human male in college and and t-rex hybrid female who’s dumb, but innocent. One could likely tell from the premise alone, but the manga is not one offering an engaging, immersive tale of emotional growth and/or overcoming adversity. Slice-of-life is in the driver’s seat, and dino-fetishists (I guess) are calling shotgun. And backseat. And roof.

So how exactly are dinosaurs alive and well in this day and age, and why are they half-human? Fear not, your questions will be answered as soon as the first chapter, when the male lead’s colleague explains that dinosaurs managed to survive throughout time by adapting to human culture via evolutionary tactics. And that’s all the explanation the reader is given, as the rest of the story is dedicated to the slow progression of closeness between the two leads. Not only is the explanation incredibly vague, but it’s frank and regarded as an afterthought. Filling in the biggest blank so that the mangaka can continue forth without worrying about something as silly as contextual explanations. This isn’t necessarily an issue (they at least tried), but it sort of closes the window on anything more this manga could have been. Could you imagine the things that could be done should they have made a sort of species-ism point prevalent? Aside from the “aughhh dinosaurs scary aughhhhh,” which is played off for laughs. Alas, T-Rex na Kanojo is but a straightforward story of “ooohs” and “ahhhs.”

Simple or not, the manga has a few things that make it enjoyable (and easy) to read. The type of comedy is somewhat different from what people expect out of a standard manga comedy. Defiance of expectations is the major focus, with a lot of irony taking center stage. Personally, I feel the humor is a tad too heavy-handed in its execution to be consistently funny, though it has the enthusiasm present to make it memorable at the least. Jokes tend to become a tad overused by the series’ end, especially ones that rely on setting up a joke in one panel, then revealing the punchline (and straight man reaction) afterwards. Still, its quality is a step above most… that being completely unfunny.

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Those that make the cast of T-Rex Kanojo are a vivid representation of whatever the mangaka wants them to be and nothing more. The female lead is an all-brawn, no-brain tsundere who’s stubborn and simple-minded. The male lead is obsessed with his “girlfriend,” while also showcasing some depth with his past as a delinquent and “I know more than I seem” demeanor. This automatically makes him more interesting than 92% of all other male leads. The female lead’s sister is a bright-eyed hustler, the male lead’s former underling is obsessed with the female lead’s sister, and the female lead’s co-worker and eventual friend is bad with expressing emotions but is actually super nice and caring. Very rarely does the manga ask these characters to change what they know best, and why should it? They work well with what they have and the consistency makes the more personal moments all the more endearing. If only there were more of those that didn’t lead into a punchline.

Accentuating cuteness is imperative for an artist, who must do their absolute best to make characters as moe-able as possible. How can you make dinosaurs cute? Well, first of all, don’t make them look anything like a dinosaur from the stomach up. Except razor fangs. Those are pretty moe. Oh, and little horns on the head! Those are pretty moe, too. Of course, they have to make them a little more dinosaur-like, or else they won’t truly be dinosaurs! Alright, alright; below the waist, they are complete dinosaurs. Long, powerful legs. Ferocious tail. Hell, give ’em dinosaur arms, too. Why not? As long as the torso is intact and their faces are ferociously moe, the manga’s golden. But does it work? Absolutely. I was charmed with the details present and the amount of comedic firepower surroundings the dinosaurs’ features. In color and shaded, it looks a tad off, but black-and-white sketches give the characters a lot of life and character.

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Romantics beware! T-Rex Kanojo is far more focused on the comedic aspects of life than the romantic ones. While present, a lot of the enveloping romance is overrode by the obliviousness of the female lead and the mangaka’s dedication to the comedy. Expecting romantic developments? Sorry, it was a leap-up to a joke. Want some romance between side-characters? Sorry, most are unrequited. At least you have a wide variety of dinosaurs to look at! Like Tyrannosaurus, Pterodactyl, Ankylosaurus… and… yeah! Why even try and blend dinosaurs with humans, anyway? How do they even mate?

With only twenty-seven chapters spanning eight to ten pages on average, T-Rex Kanojo won’t take a reader more than an hour or two to read through. Whether or not that time is spent wisely is dependent of your expectations. Should one go into it expecting a nice, atmospheric romance of young lovers from two different sides of life, they will be immensely disappointed. Should one go into it expecting a borderline nonsensical, carefree comedy with baited bits of romance for emphasis, one will have the time of their life. Could the manga have been longer? Absolutely. I found myself a little disappointed at the relative quickness. However, with as little as it offered within that span, one can’t help but find the experience somewhat pointless. Like a quick blast of an average firework, it’s all bang and no impact.

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