You guys, I really wanted Sing to be good. Like, really badly. Despite seeing ratings that were somewhere in the “meh” area, I remained hopeful—movies mostly about singing (in a non-musical format) aren’t for everyone, after all. Yet as the credits began to roll I found myself echoing a sentiment used by our very own Ace earlier this week: Sing sure was a movie. It wasn’t a travesty or entirely unenjoyable, but I left with the feeling that maybe the writers at Illumination Entertainment simply didn’t know what they wanted to do with the plot and were too attached to showing different animals singing and dancing to pare the story down into something more coherent.
I adore Welcome to Night Vale and love Alice Isn’t Dead, and… well, I was really disinterested in the first episode of Within the Wires, and never listened past that. However, the moment I heard the name of Night Vale Presents‘s latest podcast, The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air, I was intrigued. So one day on my way to work I downloaded the podcast and proceeded to give it a listen. While itis as wondrous, strange, and enchanting as many of the Night Vale Presents podcasts are, I felt like it was really lacking comparatively. The biggest issue was sadly something that Night Vale Presents has otherwise really been knownfor—diversity.
Spoilers for The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air after the jump.
Rin:All right, listen. It’s not that I was trying to avoid watching Yuri!!! On Ice, it’s just that I had things to do. And stuff. However, as an early Christmas present to myself—and at the behest of the increasingly sappy, romantic, gay gifs I was seeing on my Tumblr dash—I finally sat down and watched all ten of the currently aired episodes. Let me tell you: it’s going to be damned hard to write a review that’s not just me screaming in delight for however many paragraphs. Luckily enough, I have Lady Saika here with me to keep me in line. Maybe.
Saika: I don’t know that I’ll be much help there. I binged the first several episodes of the series a few weeks ago, and after the pure and sweet and precious tenth episode (which just aired this week), we knew we couldn’t wait any longer to write about this wonderful series. And we’ll do our best to keep the shrill, excited shrieking to a minimum. Probably.
Rin: No promises. I’ll tell you right now, this article is going to conclude just as it’s starting right now—with a sincere plea to sit down and watch this show. You will absolutely not regret it.
It happened: I finally heard those familiar notes of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” floating around, so that must mean that the winter holiday season has finally started. Amidst the constant reminders of such-and-such shopping days until Christmas, I would be remiss if I didn’t do a little shilling myself. To be fair, though, this shilling is a long time coming.
One of the largest breakout hits of the year was Stardew Valley, a love letter to farming sims everywhere developed by one person, ConcernedApe, over the course of four years.Stardew Valley offers its players a true choice to approach the game however they want, and while there is a very loose main plot, you don’t really have to follow it if you don’t want to. If you want to spend your time chilling in the mines, you can do that. If you want to actually use your farm for farming things, you can do that, too. You can also choose to pursue a significant other in a way that isn’t limited by the typical heteronormativity of most dating mechanics. There are lots of ways in which Stardew Valley really shines in the farm sim genre, and one of the ways I wasn’t expecting was how it approaches the idea of community as aided by the valley’s supernatural inhabitants.
The Junimos (small Jell-O-like creatures) in Stardew Valley silently stand back and watch the town, gently guiding the player character through the main plot of restoring the town’s community center should the player choose to help them. Thinking about it a little, these cute creatures reminded me of the Harvest Sprites from the Harvest Moon series. While much more proactive and full of personality, these creatures, too, set the player on the path to saving the land, waking up the Harvest Goddess, or whatever else the plot needs you to do. Yet their main goals and how they intertwine with the mortals they watch over—especially through the player character who can actually talk to them—differ in ways that raises the question: does nature itself nurture and shape a community, or does a community shape the nature around them?
It’s a strange and wonderful thing to be diving back into the world of Harry Potter, a franchise that so many people around my age literally grew up with. There was certainly a lot of pressure on the new film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to transport us back to a world we all knew and loved, and I’m happy to say that while it certainly differed a lot from the series of films starring Harry and the gang, it was generally delightful. It made a lot of good storytelling choices, introduced a lot of great characters, and really invoked a sense of wonder, which is what every Harry Potter story ought to do. There were a few small hiccups in execution: specifically, some elements of the magical world seemed incongruous with the rest of the stories. Even with that considered, however, nothing significantly detracted from the overall experience, and I came out of the theater excited to learn more about Newt, Tina, and the American wizarding community.
2016 may be a shitshow, but at the last moment, anime seems to be conducting a noble effort to make the end of the year a bit sweeter. Freshman on the sports anime scene, Yuri!!! On Ice, appears to have skipped the typical queerbaiting of its predecessors and jumped right to a heartwarming portrayal of a healthy relationship between two bisexual men (fingers crossed this won’t get fucked up as it approaches its final episodes); unable to keep himself from his passion, Hayao Miyazaki has stated he’ll return from retirement for just one more feature length animated film with Studio Ghibli; and both Spirited Away and Sailor Moon R: The Movie are getting theatrical releases, Spirited Away in early December and Sailor Moon in January. As I’ve traveled back home for the holiday season, I’m about 90% sure that none of the theaters in my little town are going to be showing either of the two animated films. Like that would stop me, though.
Out of the Sailor Moon filmography, I remember watching Sailor Moon R—subtitled Promise of the Rose in the North American release—back in the wee days of my youth, and as such it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when I say that it’s hands down my favorite of the three. Aside from the rose motif, little me adored the flower-based baddies and the romantic triangle that had a satisfying conclusion. Older me sat here not even a day ago reminiscing about the film wondering, “did this movie even have a love triangle?” I’m not doubting the shoujo genre or glossing over its flaws, but I watched the dub of the movie, and if there’s one thing I remember about the early dub of Sailor Moon, it’s that anything pertaining to not being straight typically had a shoddily woven rug thrown over it in hopes that the kiddies wouldn’t notice. And the potential love conflict between Darien, Serena, and the antagonist Fiore would have had almost inescapable implications of homosexual love between Darien and Fiore. Yet, upon watching the film again and keeping an eye out for this, I found that Fiore’s feelings probably weren’t intentionally glossed over. Furthermore, while the American dub may actually be gayer than the original Japanese, the ambiguity isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case.
Note: since I’m mainly speaking of the dub, I will be using the names from said original dub.
Given the current state of the nation, I think it’s fair to admit that a lot of us are reeling and suffering from the recent election results. While I absolutely respect and encourage those who are able to go out and protest in any way they can, sometimes we all need a little diversion from the shittiness that’s been thrust upon us. While for me this usually manifests in playing Harvest Moon or fiddling with the slew of dollmakers on Rinmaru, I just so happened to come upon another great game for when you really want to disconnect from the real world for a bit. If you’re a fan of internet dress-up games too, then you’ll adore Style Savvy: Fashion Forward.