Did Video Games Prepare me for Anime?

The most influential game on my life was Pokemon Sapphire. It was one of my first games for the Gameboy Advance, and I was just 8 years old when it released.

If I had not fallen in love with Pokemon at such a young age, I would be a very different person today. After all, becoming a huge Pokemon fan meant that I would also become fans with other Pokemon fans, and when I remained a Pokemon fan through middle school (when Pokemon was totally “uncool”) my bonds with my nerd friends became stronger. So I tended to like other nerdy things and was eventually introduced to anime.

But by that point I had been playing Pokemon for years, and I had also been playing the Mega Man Battle Network games. Both series use anime-styled character designs.

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So by the time I was introduced to anime proper, I had already built up tons of positive connections with the anime art style. A lot of people have negative associations with anime that can keep them from giving it a chance, but I had a positive association that definitely set me up to enjoy it from the start.

Did you have a positive or negative association with anime before you started watching it? Did anybody else get introduced to the anime art style through video games like Pokemon or Mega Man?

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The Best Way to Watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

For the uninitiated, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a 2006 anime light novel adaptation that took the anime community by storm. It was hugely popular, and spawned tons of conversation and memes, just like popular anime do today.

For the record, I wasn’t around for that part. I only watched and fell in love with Haruhi earlier this year.

But it was an incredibly popular and influential show – it’s even often credited for being the reason that we have so many light novel adaptations today.

Sadly, it has some incredibly complicated watch order shenanigans.

You see, when the show was released in 2006, they adapted the first few novels, but the strongest emotional arc comes only the first novel. The rest of the novels they adapted were more filler and fun stories.

So with a brilliant stroke of genius, Kyoto Animation created the first season of the show to be broadcast achronologically. The main six episodes that told the story arc “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” were split up so that the sixth episode of the arc, the one with the climax, would be broadcast as the 13th episode.

The show was paced around this decision, and led to a fun sense of mystery throughout the proceedings. Characters popped up before we were properly introduced, and some of the show’s supernatural concepts were referenced before the audience fully knew what was going on. It was a great time, and watching the show in its original broadcast order is definitely the best way to experience the first season.

But things were complicated by the release of season two.

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When Kyoto Animation went to release the second season, they ran into trouble because some of the stories that they were adapting happened before some of the events of season one. This fact, combined with the achronological broadcast order of the first season meant that in order for them to broadcast season two and for it to make sense, it needed to be contextualized by season one.

So as they went to release season two, they broadcast alongside the entirety of season one in chronological order. The new episodes were simply slotted in wherever they fit into the plot.

While this works okay, it ruins the pacing and takes out lot of the mystery that made season one a lot of fun.

Right now, a lot of Haruhi fans will recommend you either watch the show start to finish in chronological order, or that you watch season one in its broadcast order then watch seasons one and two together in chronological order. That means that you’d watch a lot of the episodes twice, which isn’t bad for rewatches but it’s not ideal when you want to watch one after another.

But fear not, for I have a solution! There is another watch order that combines the pros of both other watch orders into one single order. I’m going to list it below, but please note that I did not come up with this. Here’s the link to the original reddit comment.

I’m using episode titles because it’s much easier to find the next episode you need to watch using them, rather than episode numbers.

  1. The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina
  2. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya I
  3. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya II
  4. The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya
  5. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya III
  6. Remote Island Syndrome I
  7. Mysterique Sign
  8. Remote Island Syndrome II
  9. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya IV
  10. The Days of Sagittarius
  11. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya V
  12. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI
  13. Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody
  14. Endless Eight (I recommend watching three Endless Eight episodes. I, VIII, and whatever middle episode you want – it’s really not worth watching all eight unless you really really want to)
  15. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya I
  16. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya II
  17. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya III
  18. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya IV
  19. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya V
  20. Live Alive
  21. Someday in the Rain
  22. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (the movie)

disappearance

This order gives you the better pacing and mystery from the broadcast order of season one, while allowing season one to flow easily into season two and negate the need for rewatching any episodes.

Like I said in the order, I don’t think Endless Eight is worth the full time investment unless you really want to experience it. It can be fun to look for the changes in animation and voice acting in each episode, but watching the same story unfold eight episodes in a row gets a little boring.

A lot of people say that it helps you understand Yuki’s action in the movie, but I think three episodes accomplishes the same effect without burning too much of your time – with the added benefit of not having any of the three episodes play out exactly the same.

Please watch Haruhi, it’s really an amazing show that deserves to be remembered in a good light and watched by more new anime fans who (like myself) got into the medium long after it aired originally.

 

 

Itasha Blends Nerd and Car Culture

Among my various nerdy hobbies, I have one that’s more normal for a young dude – cars!

I’ve always had a general interest in cars but really started to get into them around the time I was 15. I started learning to drive and discovered Top Gear UK at the same time, so I began to love driving and learn more about car manufacturers, driving dynamics, and car culture all at once.

While I’m not a huge fan of the “ricer” culture that surrounds a lot Japanese cars in the United States, I am a big fan of Mazda. My mom’s car when I was growing up was a Mazda 5.

Mazda5
The Mazda 5 was small, despite its minivan status.

That was the car that I drove the most until I got my own car. And you know what? The Mazda 5, in true Mazda fashion, could be fun to drive. Even though it was technically a minivan (albeit a small one), it felt light and nimble, and had both responsive steering and a responsive throttle. We even nicknamed the car “Zippy” for its driving characteristics.

Although my first car wasn’t a Mazda, I eventually saved enough cash to buy myself a 2001 Mazda Miata, a real sports car. After watching an anime where some girl was referred to as Miyata-chan, my friends and I have taken to calling my car “Miata-chan.”

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Miata-chan with her winter wheels and tires on.

So how does my love of cars relate to anime? Well, I absolutely love the style of car design called itasha, in which people wrap their cars with images of anime characters.

Below are some examples of great designs that were posted to reddit’s r/itasha board. The captions contain the URLs for the original post if you want to see more about the cars.

Itasha is just so cool because it is the blending of two hobbies: cars, and anime. If you see someone with an itasha wrap, it’s a safe bet that they are big fans of both. It exists at an intersection of nerd culture and car culture.

I really want to make it out to a meet up where I can see some more of these cars in person – but it seems that they can be hard to come by in Chicagoland.

I’d also really love to get my own car in an itasha wrap – but until I have a different daily driver and enough cash to get it done, I will sadly have to avoid it.

My Favorite Anime

So today I’m going to look at my five favorite shows, in no particular order. I don’t necessarily think that all of these shows are flawless or literally the best, but they’ve all had some sort of impact or just appealed to me in some special way.

Symphogear MAL

Senki Zesshou Symphogear

If it wasn’t clear from the last post I wrote, I absolutely adore Symphogear. This is actually really interesting to me because usually clever or intelligent writing is very important to how much I enjoy a show.

While Symphogear’s writing isn’t at all bad, it isn’t exactly subtle or clever either. But damn, this show just works. It’s lovable characters, excellent action scenes, and downright epic soundtrack leaves me watching with a big stupid grin on my face and I can’t help but cheer along with it.

Code Geass MAL

Code Geass

Code Geass was my first anime, so it does hold a special place in my heart – but with an overall MyAnimeList popularity of sixth place and ranking of 30th, it’s clear that this show stands out to many as one of the greats.

The most interesting thing to me with this show is the political intrigue. On the surface plot of “rebel group overthrows evil government” is simple, Code Geass explores the geopolitics of the world it created, which of course creates lots of drama as there are so many different actors all working for different goals. I don’t know of any other anime that spent so much time on political intrigue.

TMOHS MAL

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

This show is difficult to explain to those who aren’t familiar with it. As its wacky scenarios run through several genres, from high school slice-of-life to sci-fi to murder mystery. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that the main cast are lots of fun. It doesn’t matter what they end up doing, because you will enjoy seeing them do it.

Another reason I love this show is because Kyon is probably the most I’ve ever related to a fictional character. While he tends to dislike being dragged from his daily routine, he ultimately ends up enjoying whatever nonsense Haruhi gets him involved with.

But being a Haruhi fan is suffering. Season 3 when?

Toradora MAL

Toradora!

Toradora! is a stunning example of a romcom. Its 25 episode run delivers enjoyable drama, reliable laughs, and moments that both warm and break your heart.

You can pretty much tell from the premise, the title, and the artwork that this is a show with a happy ending in which the main couple gets together. This is hugely refreshing for anime, which rarely see any sort of resolution for most romantic plots.

It also has a great message about falling in love with somebody because you’ve come to completely know and understand who they are – rather than “falling in love” with the idealized version of somebody who you are not yet close to.

Even if you’re not a fan of romance, this show is well worth a watch.

Madoka MAL

Madoka Magica

There are a lot of things I love about Madoka Magica. It’s my all-time favorite. I love its music, the characters, the animation. I love the way it explores its themes and the emotional punches it throws and lands with great accuracy.

I also love its purity in its purpose. It has everything it needs to accomplish everything it wants to do. No filler, no excess. Some people may view that as a negative, in that it means its characters don’t get as much time on screen, and that we don’t get to see its characters in a wider variety of moments. But I think it’s a virtue.

***

So those are my favorite shows. What do they say about me and my taste in anime? I don’t know!

Symphogear is just so much Fun

Senki Zesshou Symphogear is the show that I’ve had the most fun with. It doesn’t have the greatest plots and isn’t exactly intelligently written, but it is an absolute joy to behold.

It has tons of lovable characters, great animation, lots of silly over-the-top moments, and it’s topped off with a truly epic soundtrack. It’s also the hypest fucking show ever.

eodGHSx
The Symphogear viewing experience.

The most interesting thing about Symphogear is how the soundtrack is key to the everything. You see, the premise of the show (which I feel is best summarized by TV Tropes) is: “Senki Zesshou Symphogear is a sci-fi series about Magical Girl Warriors who use Power Armor fueled by The Power of Rock to battle Eldritch Abominations.”

Their armor is literally activated with a song, it plays music and they sing while they fight. The music is very important to the show – so it has to be good for everything to work. And it is! While it’s all technically J-Pop, each girl has a different theme to their music. The main, Hibiki Tachibana has a celtic theme, Tsubasa Kazaneri has an oriental feel, and Chris Yukine has a heavy metal vibe. And each song’s lyrics reveal something about their character and the new songs they get each season are used to symbolize or explain what kind of mindset they’re in.

For an example of the awesomeness of the music, this is Tsubasa’s first song, which is used throughout season one and in an especially epic scene in Symphogear G, the second season.

Again, the music is the reason this show works so well. While the show would probably be fun no matter what – human beings in general are very susceptible to the effects of music, whether it’s a conscious or subconscious reaction. It can literally change our moods, and we quickly associate certain songs with certain events. So repeated use of certain songs will heighten our enjoyment or excitement because hey, they used that song before and it was awesome then, so it’ll be even more awesome now!

Everytime Hibiki sings her activation song I get really pumped because I know something awesome is about to unfold. Something like this:

And here’s a brief video with sound if you want to see what Hibiki in action is really like.

To hammer home how crazy awesome some of the things that can happen in this show are – Symphogear GX (the third season) opens with the show’s most famous scene in which Hibiki suplexes a space shuttle.

And yeah, you read that right – third season. It’s rare enough for an anime to get a sequel these days, and even rarer for anything other than long-running incredibly popular shonen series to get more than that. But Symphogear is so popular in Japan that as of writing, there are four complete seasons with a fifth one on the way!

Sadly, it’s not so popular in the west. Its fourth season wasn’t picked up by any official streaming services leaving all of its western fans to turn to fansubs to continue following the show.

Again, the show doesn’t have the best writing with some mini-arcs that don’t work so well and some strange asspulls, but its got characters you’ll fall in love with, top-notch action scenes, and incredible music. You will be smiling, laughing, and cheering along with the show as it gives you the time of your life.

 

Madoka Magica and the Value of a Human Life

Madoka Magica is one of the few shows that I could consider to be “perfect.” It accomplishes everything it sets out to do in the time it has. It does everything it needs to do to work and nothing more. It delivers an emotionally gripping tale with beautiful animation and a powerful ending in just 12 episodes with no filler. It even manages to explore several different themes within that time, including the nature of wishes and hope versus despair. It also explores human suffering and asks the age-old question – do the ends justify the means? In the end, it argues for the triumph of humanitarianism over utilitarianism.

First we’ll have some quick definitions, and for simplicity’s sake we’ll run with what Wikipedia says about them.

  • Utilitarianism – “An ethical theory which states that the best action is the one that maximizes utility. ‘Utility’ is defined in various ways, usually in terms of the well-being of sentient entities.”
  • Humanitarianism – “Humanitarianism is an informal ideology of practice; it is the doctrine that people’s duty is to promote human welfare. Humanitarianism is based on a view that all human beings deserve respect and dignity and should be treated as such … The informal ideology can be summed up by a quote from Albert Schweitzer: ‘Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose.'”

While both ideologies usually have a similar goal – maximizing the happiness of people, they don’t value human life in the same way. If killing a child would ensure peace and prosperity for everyone for the next 100 years, the utilitarian would do it and feel justified. The humanitarian would not because they believe a human life is too valuable to lose for any purpose.

These ideologies are represented by two different characters in Madoka Magica. Kyubey is a utilitarian, Madoka Kaname is a humanitarian. But before we dig into those characters, we’re going to take a quick stop to examine how the Magical Girl system in Madoka Magica works.

All Magical Girls

In Madoka Magica, the entire universe is slowly dying thanks to entropy. Essentially, since the universe has been losing energy ever since the Big Bang – eventually there will be no free energy with which to create new stars, planets, and importantly, new life.

(Note: this is something that could actually happen.)

Kyubey is an incubator, a member of an alien race that has set out to fight entropy by bringing new energy into the system. While in real life it’s impossible according of the laws of thermodynamics to create energy, this is an anime and is therefore not subject to the silly whims of reality.

So what is the energy source that Kyubey is harnessing to add energy to the universe? Emotional energy! To be specific: the suffering of adolescent girls.

It works like this: Kyubey offers to make a “contract” with a girl, the deal is that she has to become a magical girl and fight witches and in return she gets one wish. If the contract is accepted, a soul gem is created.

Magical girls get their wish, and go to fight beings called witches. As they fight, their soul gems become tainted and must be purified with grief seeds that are dropped when witches are killed.

But to become a magical girl is to face certain death and despair at a young age. It is inevitable that whatever hope they had when they made their wish will be broken down into despair as they fight. Eventually, when they lose all hope their soul gems become grief seeds, and they become witches.

It is at this moment that all of that sweet sweet energy becomes available to Kyubey.

madoka magica

So this sounds like a pretty bad deal for the Magical Girls. And sure enough, they are not privy to all of this information when they make their wishes. It’s not that Kyubey lies to them, in fact, he never outright lies. It’s just that he only tells part of the truth. He also always asks and receives their consent before making a contract.

And while it seems like a really bad deal for the Magical Girls themselves, Kyubey thinks it’s a great deal for everybody. As he says in episode 9, there are tons of civilizations in the universe all using up energy. Even humanity itself will eventually reach for the stars and find them – meaning even mankind benefits in the long run. The suffering of a small handful of the 7 billion humans is worth it if it means the entire universe can continue thriving.

This is utterly utilitarian thinking. The Incubators found the way to maximize utility, energy creation, for the least amount of spent resources, the suffering of a few young girls. Kyubey doesn’t believe this to be immoral because utilitarianism judges the ethics of an act based on its outcome. The survival of the universe is admittedly an overwhelmingly positive outcome.

But at the same time, Sayaka loses all faith in the world and is left believing that there is literally nothing worth living or fighting for. Kyoko sacrifices her own life to kill the witch that was once Sayaka. Mami is beheaded at the moment she felt most happy. These are the stories of just three Magical Girls. We know that there are countless more.

There is a real human toll for this outcome – and while utilitarians might argue that it’s justified, a certain humanitarian does not.

madoka magica

Sayaka, Mami, Kyoko, Homura. These are Madoka’s friends. And she sees them fight for their lives, have their hope crushed, face despair that blots out everything else in their lives, and in some cases, die.

She feels that human toll, not just because she’s their friend, but because she is the kind of person that genuinely cares about all other living things.

In episode 9, as Kyubey is explaining his motives he asks Madoka, she responds by saying “how can you say it was okay for Mami to die and Sayaka to suffer  just because of some crazy reason like that? That isn’t right, it’s too cruel!”

And as their conversation continues, Kyubey asks “with a current population of 6.9 billion that is increasing by a rate of 10 per every 4 seconds, why should you care about the loss of such a tiny handful?” to which she responds “if that’s how you think, then you really are our enemy.”

To Madoka, a single human life has immeasurable value. Every single human life is irreplaceable. It doesn’t matter that 10 new humans are being born every 4 seconds because each one is unique. No newborn baby could just replace a dead loved one.

To Madoka, the humanitarian, sacrificing a human life is an irredeemable act.

madoka magica
a truly benevolent goddess

 

The show successfully sets up these two competing ideologies, and it ultimately decides in favor of Madoka when she goes to make her wish.

Her wish rewrites parts of the universe, and removes witches from existence. In this new universe, when a magical girl would become a witch, Madoka brings her hope, purifies her soul gem, and takes her away.

While magical girls and Incubators still exist, Incubators find it useful to be more honest and they establish a much more mutually beneficial relationship. No deception, less pain.

It may not be a perfectly humanitarian solution since magical girls are still required to fight wraiths (not witches) and will be taken from the world at a young age. However, Madoka’s ideals improve the system and bring hope to the hopeless. Magical girls aren’t treated like resources to be discarded, they’re treated like the people they are.

Because Madoka’s right – you cannot measure the value of a human life. Every human life is irreplaceable.

Think about it next time you walk down a busy street. Every person that you pass is another human being. It might sound weird to read but we often don’t consider it. Every single person has their own unique hopes and dreams, they all have their own friends and families – lost lives that are just as complex as your own.

While we don’t feel it for people we don’t know, the death of any person leaves dozens of lives changed forever. Nobody could replace your departed family members, nobody could replace your best friend, nobody could replace you in the lives of those who love you.

So let’s thank Madoka for fighting for the value of a human life in her world, and let’s not forget the value of a human life in ours.

 

 

Code Geass R3 – Wait, What?

code geass r3

So I’m seriously late on this topic. Like almost a year late. But hey, this sporadically-updated blog is only a few weeks old, so give me a break! I want to talk about Code Geass today, so I’m going to talk about Code Geass today.

Unmarked spoilers for Code Geass are in this post. Not that it matters anymore since one of the best endings of anything ever is now worthless thanks to this upcoming season.

Oops, there’s my opinion on the subject gone in the second paragraph!

code geass r3

Code Geass was the show that got me into anime. Back when I was in middle school, some of my friends shared some music videos with cool looking anime visuals with me. This was probably around 2008 to 2009. Tweenage me thought: Giant robots fighting each other? Cool looking characters? Blood and violence? What is this?

Turned out it was Code Geass, an “anime.” I found some illegal streams and started watching it on and off. Though I had enjoyed cartoons in the past, they were always so “childish” because obviously, they were aimed at kids. This was my first experience with animation that was both aimed towards an older audience and not just comedy (like Family Guy or the Simpsons).

Needless to say, seeing Code Geass for the first time was a fairly important part of my life. I’ve since rewatched it 3 or 4 times, and it still stands up as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. And it definitely had one of the best endings of any show ever.

Most importantly, it was conclusive. So many anime have been made that are manga or light novel adaptations and don’t adapt the complete story. Instead, they adapt the first section and end on a cliffhanger to encourage the viewers to buy the source material to continue getting the story.

Like a certain game I love, this is not oki doki.

But Code Geass was an anime original so it didn’t have source material to hamper it. So every major plot thread and character arc was wrapped up. The goal that so many characters had been fighting so hard and so long for was reached. Yes, it was bittersweet. Either Lelouch was dead or he would live out the rest of his days as a hermit, but the debate about whether or not he was alive was a debate that raged for years because there was no way to know for sure.

This was fun! It kept you thinking about the show, and made it easy and fun to talk about with your friends.

But now we know that Lelouch lived. It’s confirmed. We couldn’t have “Lelouch of the Resurrection” without him. And you can’t have a show without a conflict, so we have to assume that the peaceful world they created turned out to be not so peaceful.

So yeah, one of the best endings of anything of all time is now worthless.

code geass r3
What’s the point of a heroic sacrifice without a sacrifice?

I’m not saying that Code Geass R3 won’t be any good. It very possibly could be! Maybe these fears of mine are unfounded and R3 will have an equally good ending. But I won’t keep my hopes up. I’d rather get a good surprise than a bad one.

Of course, if Code Geass R3 really turns out to be that bad I’ll just do what I do with Madoka Magica and its sequel and pretend that it never happened.

 

Why I Love Doki Doki Literature Club

doki doki literature club

Doki Doki Literature Club, a visual novel, has had tens of thousands of downloads since it was released just a few weeks ago. It has an “overwhelmingly positive” response rating on Steam, and has been covered by several mainstream video game news outlets.

This is odd for visual novels, which usually don’t receive any sort of mainstream attention in the west.

But Doki Doki Literature Club is special. It’s really good. And it’s also really difficult to explain why it’s so damn good without spoiling the game.

This a game best experienced completely blind. And there will be major spoilers in my discussion of it here. So if you haven’t played it yet and haven’t been spoiled, just go play it. Trust me, it’s really really good. Seriously. It’s free, so go to its website and download it. I’ll see you in a couple of hours. And oh, the game isn’t over until you see the credits – no matter what it makes you think. Have fun~

doki doki literature club

Doki Doki Literature Club is a wild ride. The game starts out seemingly as a standard romantic visual novel. At the behest of your adorkable childhood friend Sayori, you join your school’s literature club, which is filled with a bunch of cute girls. Each day, you “write a poem” (which just involves picking words) to try to impress the girl you like the most. You read their poems, which gives you insight into their personalities and philosophies about writing, and cute interactions with great art follow.

doki doki literature club
I’m on Team Natsuki, in case you were wondering.

But as the weekend approaches the game begins to take a darker turn, you notice your normally energetic best friend Sayori start to act oddly. And when you visit her on Sunday, she admits to you that she’s been living with major depression her entire life. Her energetic personality was just a mask to keep people from worrying about herself.

doki doki literature club

This is where the game really got me. Sure, I enjoyed the earlier parts of the game. But Sayori’s confession about depression absolutely struck me. Some of my best friends in the world, especially back in high school, gave me nearly the exact same speech. To see such a realistic portrayal of depression in a video game was incredibly unexpected. To be put in a situation in a game that so closely mimicked some of the hardest moments of my own life was an intense experience.

Because mental illness sucks. It can be so hard to treat and overcome and cope with. And no matter how much you want to help your hurting friend, sometimes there’s nothing that you can do about it. And you can’t do anything about it in Doki Doki Literature Club. When you go to school on Monday morning, Sayori isn’t there. Worried, you run back to her home only to find her hanging in her room.

This is where the game shows its true colors, you’re kicked back to the main menu and your only real option is to start a “new game.” Everything is the same as it was when you started the game for the first time, but Sayori’s absence begins to make the game very glitchy.

doki doki literature club
sayori.chr is missing

I won’t dwell on anything post Act 2, because while I enjoyed the rest of the game, it’s the build up to and the event of Sayori’s suicide that made me love this game.

While I thankfully never experienced the loss of such a close friend to suicide, I’ve had multiple friends struggle with depression. And it’s heartbreaking to see the people you love suffer with no way to help them. This game nailed that feeling. Which is sad, so why did I enjoy being put through it? Because for a game to have this kind of effect on a person it has to be incredibly well written.

All of the characters have very fleshed out personalities. The fact that they all have their own philosophies about writing essentially mandates that they’re deep enough to be relatable. Whether you like Monika’s abstract writing, Yuri’s use of vivid imagery, Sayori’s free form, or Natsuki’s simplistic but style, you will relate to one of them.

And then it makes them suffer. It’s the same trick the best action/adventure movies use – likable characters in tense situations. If you care about what’s happening to them then you’re hooked for the ride. You want to see them emerge on the other side, triumphant.

Except… happy endings aren’t guaranteed. Not in Doki Doki Literature Club and certainly not in real life.

But if you spend time trying to be a positive influence on those around you, maybe things don’t have to turn out so bad?

doki doki literature club
Even in the “good” ending she remembers what she did to herself in Act 1

This game will stick with me for a while.

 

Princess Principal is a Victorian Steampunk Spy-Filled Thrill Ride

princess principal

Victorian. Steampunk. Spy Thriller.

Normally any one of those words describing a show would get me really excited but putting all three of them together? You better believe I was hyped about summer 2017’s Princess Principal. It helps that it has a totally hype OP.

But it gets even better! The show was created by Studio 3hz, which was the studio behind 2016’s Flip Flappers – an original anime that I just thought was bee’s knees.

It was also completely bonkers.

And Princess Principal is an original anime too! It had no manga or light novel that it had to bind itself to, meaning it’s free to do whatever it wants, animate the coolest scenes imaginable, and would likely have a decent conclusion of some sort. No half-baked “read the manga” ending here.

AND it had music composed by Yuki Kajiura! Who is one of the most famous anime composers out there, behind the OSTs of Sword Art Online and Madoka Magica. And she delivered the goods here – with some awesome orchestral stuff reminiscent of the latter, but with some even awesome-er new-er sounding stuff. This track was a standout – it transitions from a mysterious choral sound to a jazzy drum and sax-filled track.

Basically it had all of the ingredients to make a show that I would potentially love.

The last thing it would need is at least halfway decent reddit writing – which it did. Hooray!

Without wishing to spoil too much – the show is set in alternate-history Europe. Essentially, about 10 years prior to the start of the show, a bunch of people from the Kingdom of Albion (aka not-England) got really angry with the way they were being treated so they held an uprising and created the Commonwealth of Albion. A massive wall was built through the center of London, separating the two powers who are in an uncomfortable peace and totally hate each other.

The show centers on a group of Commonwealth spies on the Kingdom side of the wall and it follows their exciting lives. Though it’s mostly episodic in nature, and while the characters certainly grow, there isn’t a very strong over-arching plot.

But that’s okay! Shows don’t have to contain one big arc. Many people enjoy that (myself included), but the stories that Princess Principal tells are fun, the characters lovable, the emotional beats hit you, and the action and the music combine to make something truly spectacular.

Oh yeah, I mentioned awesome action scenes earlier, right? The show totally delivers on those.

So yeah. It’s a Victorian Steampunk Spy Thriller. It’s Princess Principal. And it’s awesome. I highly recommend you give it a watch.

I leave you now, with it’s super-fun, super-cute, ED.

Anime’s Appeal

appeal

As a card-carrying nerd, I have several hobbies. From Dungeons and Dragons, to video games and board games, to hiking (for those rare occasions I decide to venture outside). But one thing that has a special appeal to me is anime.

There’s a few big reasons for this. First of all, I enjoy watching TV (animated or otherwise) both as a way to wind down for the day, or if I’m up early enough, to get started. I’m an incredibly busy college student. I usually spend 12-14 hours of my day in “go mode,” where I have to be alert, attentive, always thinking. When it comes to my last bit of free time for the evening after a long day of doing stuff, it’s really nice to be able to sit down, shut down, and just enjoy something fun with little-to-no effort required on my end. Even if I want to sit down to play a video game, I have to keep my brain engaged.

Secondly, anime can tell a huge variety of stories. Whether you like action, romance, comedy, mystery, thrillers, or horror, there’s going to be something for you out there. And because it’s animated, it can get away with some crazy premises that either wouldn’t work, or would be prohibitively expensive to create for live-action television.

appeal
Remember, the average size of a galaxy is about 100,000 light years wide.

Just a few examples of incredible set pieces come in the form of giant robots so large that they throw entire galaxies at each other when fighting each other in 2007’s Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and a chase on the outside of a steampunk airship in 2017’s Princess Principal.

Anime can also have some absolutely incredible music from the world’s best soundtrack composers. Yuki Kajiura has become well known for her work on shows including 2012’s Sword Art Online and 2011’s Madoka Magica.

And it does action incredibly well, from classic superheroes vs. villains like in the ongoing My Hero Academia.

To a lone girl vs. a supernatural horror like in the final showdown of  Madoka Magica.

Anime’s stunning visuals don’t just have to come from crazy fight scenes though. Your Name., which made a theatrical release in the United States last year, was made up of shot after shot of breathtaking views.

The fact that a film like Your Name. was released in the United States at all says that the appeal of anime is growing. There’s a lot to like about the medium. I certainly love it, and I think there’s something  for just about everyone if they find the right show for them.