Sonic Mania: A Nostalgic Return to Form

(screencapped from Sonic Mania)

2017 has been a hell of a year for video games. One could argue it has been the best year in quite a while! We’ve seemingly had at least one Game of the Year contender every month, with no sign of that stopping as we approach the end of the year. We’ve had new franchises crop up such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, older franchises getting rejuvenated such as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the continuous drip of indie games such as Night in the Woods and the upcoming Cuphead. Quite honestly, many avid game players are overwhelmed with options in a good way. Nostalgia trips haven’t been left out either. As I said, Zelda has come back into play and pixel based indie games are as popular as ever. The perfect crossover here, for me, was the release of Sonic Mania.

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Kotoura-san Offers Friendship and Healing, But At What Cost

You’d think that by now I’d realize that Facebook is dangerous. No, I wasn’t drawn into a debate with relatives who don’t seem to understand that being an awful, ignorant person on all facets should not be a viable political platform. I was drawn, instead, to watching an anime. Usually those ripped video clips stuck between two white bars that say something to the effect of “When you break up with a girl in anime😂😂” don’t grab me, but this video did. Here, let me show you. (Content warning for child abuse and bullying.)

These are the first nine minutes of the 2013 anime Kotoura-san, and immediately after watching this I knew I had to look up the summary to see if it was worth investing any more time in. I had no interest in watching a series devoted to the further torturing of its protagonist; however, the summary wasted no time in saying that this series was a romantic comedy (what?) that focused on the titular Kotoura-san making friends and healing from her childhood trauma. What followed was, yes, that in generous helpings. But Kotoura-san was also filled with, in equal parts, a bunch of uncomfortable sexual harassment and an unsatisfying narrative resolution to parental negligence which only served to undermine the actual good things going on.

Spoilers below the cut. All the previous warnings still apply, with an additional one for incest. Continue reading

The Garden of Words: A Masterpiece, But Did It Have to Be a Love Story?

garden of words

(via Nopybot)

The Garden of Words came out in 2013, and for four straight years my Tumblr dash has been scattered with gifs celebrating the beautiful scenery and animation in the film. But apart from how pretty it was, I didn’t actually know anything about the plot of this iconic movie, so when I saw it on AnimeLab, I decided to dive in and investigate. Sure enough, it’s an absolutely gorgeous film that should 100% be celebrated as an achievement in animation, atmosphere, and visual storytelling about the way human lives connect. It was kind of spoiled for me by an unexpected case of compulsory heterosexuality, but hey, you can’t have everything…

Spoilers for the whole movie beyond!

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Wonder Woman Is Wonderfully Feminist

(image via screenrant)

This weekend, I rushed to the theater to see Wonder Woman. I was filled with both hope and fear. I knew that if Wonder Woman did poorly that we might never see a female led superhero movie again, and I knew that so far DC Comics’s movies have left a lot to be desired, but I was hearing good things about the film so I walked in hoping for the best. And praise Hera, I have never been more pleased or satisfied with a superhero film.

Spoilers for the Wonder Woman movie below.

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The Bittersweet Taste of Orange

If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say? “It will get better”? “Don’t stress too much about fitting in”? “Yes, what you’re feeling is love, and that’s okay”? “The future is awful and sad and I want you to work tirelessly to make sure you don’t end up a regret-stricken wreck like me”? Orange takes this last approach, and the result is a series that I have a barrel full of mixed feelings about.

Spoilers and content warning for suicide ahead.

On the first day of the new school year, protagonist Naho finds a strange letter addressed to her, which was apparently sent from herself, ten years in the future. Naho is confused and dubious that such a thing can be real, but then the events the letter describes start coming true: the letter tells her that a new student, a boy named Kakeru, will be joining their class that day, and he’ll sit next to Naho. Naho’s friends will attempt to be welcoming and invite the new kid to hang out once school is over, but, the letter warns, they should absolutely not do that. Not that day, at least.

Naho soon realizes that the letters are full of specific advice from her future self, chiefly about things that Future Naho regrets and wants to change. These mostly concern Kakeru, since, as Naho is shocked to find out, ten years in the future Kakeru is no longer alive. In Future Naho’s world, Kakeru died—in an accident later discovered to be suicide—when he was seventeen, and she’s sending these letters back in time to try and stop that from happening.

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: A Cute, Fun, Trashy Domestic Comedy… with Dragons!

dragonmaid 6

(via Nerdyshow)

“Slice of life with a sprinkling of the supernatural” has long been my favorite genre, though it’s harder to find than you might think. Most often fantasy authors choose to take things in an epic direction, flinging their protagonists out of their ordinary day-to-day existence into some sort of magic adventure, giving them high stakes to deal with. Granted, that’s generally what makes for an engaging fantasy story, but sometimes you’re looking for something that’s more relaxed and grounded in recognizable daily struggles. Sometimes you just want to see an all-powerful otherworldly monster do her grocery shopping without having to worry about a big scary epic background plot, you know?

If this is the case, you might want to take a gander at Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. It’s cute, funny, follows the beats of a slice-of-life show to a T while managing to feel fresh, and while fantastical elements are interwoven inescapably into the plot, the main focus is not so much on magic but on interpersonal relationships and exploring the everyday domestic delights of a found family. Its sense of humor is sometimes incredibly skeezy (read: sexual harassment of minors played for laughs) and it may or may not be as gay as we all wanted (though it comes pretty damned close) but overall it’s quite a sweet and pleasant viewing experience. And there are dragons!

Spoilers (and content warning for said sexual harassment of minors) under the cut.

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Alice Isn’t Dead: “The Last Free Place” Season Premiere Review

(image via nightvalepresents)

The first episode of Alice Isn’t Dead Season 2 is here, and it’s just as interesting as I hoped it would be. It seems like some of my assumptions about who was playing Alice was wrong, but that just gives us more questions than answers. The episode also does an excellent job at exploring the psychological effect of police brutality on people of color.

Spoilers for Alice Isn’t Dead’s “The Last Free Place” below.

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