CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of a scene involving sexual abuse is included. It’s been clearly marked, in case you wish to skip it.
Sword Art Online continues to be an enigma. Its issues are varying and pronounced, but I can’t help but have a soft spot for it. Sword Art Online, for all its faults, is achingly sincere. It wants to be a good story, and despite its blunders I admire the spirit to keep trying to be better. Sword Art Online: Alicization is the beginning of its most ambitious story arc yet. It remains flawed, but it’s a fairly compelling effort.
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NOTE: This is a rewrite of something I did many years ago.
Barakamon is an easily endearing show. It’s a series brimming with warmth and passion, one that even people who don’t watch anime could easily get drawn into. It’s easy to gush over stories like these as a creator of any kind. One that connects with how many of us feel, brimming with self-doubt and constantly trying to get in touch with why we do what we do. Barakamon doesn’t always nail the full extent of these ideas, but it’s an immensely charming work that makes some wonderful statements.
NOTE: This was something I wrote last October, so it’s slightly out of date. But because it was more or less finished I thought I would post it.
A year after my WWE Evolution piece, the long-term shape of the ‘Women’s Evolution’ has become clear. The departure of Ronda Rousey and the rise of rival company All Elite Wrestling has led us down an interesting path, and it’s had its share of ups and downs. All things considered, it’s safe to say that women’s wrestling has established itself not only as legitimate but necessary. The days of “divas” and butterfly belts are long gone. But there’s still room to grow, and the path for that change unfortunately isn’t clear.
I don’t think there’s anything I can say about the Kyoto Animation tragedy that hasn’t been said. It was a senseless act of cruelty that’s going to be felt in the anime industry forever. 34 animators gone in a heartbeat. It’s a crushing loss of human life, a crushing loss for the families and friends and fans of these people, and a crushing loss for the entire animation industry. Tragedies of this scale tend to create a lot of morbid and soul-crushing discourse, but this has mostly been different. From the niche corners of Twitter to the global mainstream news people have unified in giving recognition to the work that they’ve done. In dark times people have acknowledged the lasting legacy of Kyoto Animation: a legacy of love.
I don’t know if this is as much of a thing anymore, but back in the day there were a lot of people who really couldn’t stand Neon Genesis Evangelion’s religious imagery. People would call it pretentious, say director Hideaki Anno was a hack who was trying too hard to be deep, all around try to discredit it as a thing to be made fun of. Considering Evangelion is on its way to Netflix I figured it was a good time to talk about that subject.
EDIT: There’s some specific details with the animation and rendering of Sword and Shield that weren’t clarified or just weren’t known at the time of writing. My point still stands that creative labour on this scale requires hard work and difficult decisions, and if you think it doesn’t then… I don’t know what to tell you except that you’re wrong. Go play a video game you actually enjoy lol.
If you’ve been following the E3 coverage of Pokémon Sword and Shield you might have heard some disappointing news: The national dex has disappeared. Basically, we won’t be able to use any Pokémon not available in the new games’ regional dex because Game Freak wasn’t able to program all of them. That sucks, and if you’re bummed out like I am that’s pretty fair. But let’s make one thing clear: Game Freak aren’t lazy. The reason this happened isn’t because Masuda and co. couldn’t be bothered to press the magic Give The Fans What They Want button. It’s also not because they’re not capable or they hate you or whatever. Game development, like any other creative field, is complicated and difficult. It takes a lot of time and energy, and sometimes decisions have to be made.
We’re living in a pretty messy time. Through the alienation of the modern world we can’t help but question the limits of our good-natured selves. The Paddington films see this and suggest something extremely simple but bold: If we’re kind and polite, the world will be right. There’s plenty of stories that tell people to be good to others, but few capture the amazing power of kindness like the Paddington films do.
CONTENT WARNING: THIS PIECE TALKS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AND SEXUALITY. BE MINDFUL IN CASE YOU’RE NOT COMFORTABLE APPROACHING THESE TOPICS. ALSO I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND READING THIS IF YOU CAN, IT HAS A REALLY GOOD QUALITY OFFICIAL RELEASE YOU CAN GET HERE.
Nagata Kabi’s My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness got me. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to put my journey to self-compassion into words, then suddenly this manga did it better than I ever could. This silly messy adult manga about a lesbian woman going to an escort agency was one of the most touching things I’ve ever experienced. Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that. But Nagata Kabi is honest and vulnerable in a way that I wish I could be, and that’s what makes her tale so moving.
THIS ANALYSIS CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOTH UNDERTALE AND DELTARUNE. GO PLAY THOSE GAMES IF YOU HAVEN’T. OR DON’T. BUT PLEASE DO THEY’RE REALLY GOOD.
Undertale is probably my favourite game ever. Look, I don’t claim to be a Hardcore Gamer™ who’s played every good game in existence. Still, Undertale struck at what I think is the most meaningful quality of games: the ability to be curious. It’s fun to be curious about all the STUFF in Undertale. But at some point you ask yourself the same thing that Asriel asks: “Don’t you have anything better to do”? We want to find all the content in video games, we want to solve all the mysteries, we want to milk them until we have nothing left to obsess over. Undertale puts a lampshade on this instinct of gaming, and for that I think it’s brilliant.
Three years after the ridiculous success of Undertale Toby Fox is back at it with Deltarune Chapter1. Deltarune also has plenty of little things to be curious about, but let’s be honest. Deltarune isn’t about having the most things, and it doesn’t have to be.
Back in January I did a post about the first ever women’s royal rumble match. I was worried that the push for better women’s wrestling was only about profit but I was mostly positive. Women actually getting to wrestle is a good thing. And now we have WWE Evolution, the company’s first ever pay per view dedicated to women’s wrestling. So has the state of women’s wrestling improved?