It’s been a good year for platformers. Consistently I’ve been filled with that kinetic joy that only smartly composed platforming can give, that immediate gratification from clearing every little jump and obstacle that builds to a rich rewarding experience. And yet here’s Sonic Forces, which just happens to exist. It breezes past you, not being bluntly agitating like many of its 3D predecessors but not containing any committed attempt at an ambitious hook either. After the clever and effervescent and genuinely cool Sonic Mania earlier this year it’s fair to say I wasn’t the only one hoping that Sonic Team could deliver something special, but thankfully I didn’t set my expectations on that. Sonic Forces is a modern Sonic game. Not one of the best, not one of the worst, just one that exists and takes you through its motions.
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Here’s a post I did in early 2015 for my MLP Season 4 retrospective that never got published because why not. I’ve avoided editing because I wanted to keep it authentic to my old writing so it might be iffy, but I still think it’s good stuff. Enjoy!
Pinkie Apple Pie is the second episode in Season 4 to do something completely and utterly world-shaking, except unlike Daring Don’t it understands the weight of its own development and draws the line. Though it is suggested Pinkie is an extremely distant relative to Applejack, it’s never confirmed nor denied by the end of the episode, meaning it avoids both severely tampering with the series canon and existing simply as a narrative device to get a Pinkie Pie and Applejack episode.
Content Warning: Discussions of slurs, as well as discussions of erasure and violence against trans people. Be aware if you find these topics confronting in any way.
Okay, let’s get some things out of the way. I love anime, and I love it for its trashiness. And I think it’s totally cool and okay to like crossdressing characters in anime. But I have… an issue with the word “trap”. The word “trap” has been floating around online for over a decade now, particularly in western anime communities, but it’s especially picked up steam in recent years. It’s often used to refer to crossdressers and transgender people both in media and in real life. And heck, I know trans people who refer to THEMSELVES as “traps”. But even with the intent to reclaim the word it doesn’t sit right with me at all, so let’s talk about it.
NOTE: THERE ISN’T A NEW MY LITTLE PONY SERIES. THIS WAS A HYPOTHETICAL PIECE I WROTE FOR EQUESTRIA DAILY. BUT I THOUGHT IT MADE SOME NICE POINTS ABOUT THE ACTUAL STATE OF THE SERIES IN 2017 AND WAS WORTH MAKING PUBLIC.
Hasbro has announced in an investor call a spin off show of My Little Pony focused around a bat pony named Sweet Velvet and her friends. While set in same world, Velvet’s adventures take place outside the kingdom of Equestria. Hasbro hopes to target boys and girls equally with the show and impending toyline. Only this picture of Sweet Velvet was shared at the time of the call.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was special to me. Still is. For six years it’s been one of my post shameful admissions and yet I see no real reason to be ashamed. I like things gosh darn it. I like sincere things that fill me with joy, I like things that are funny and exciting and genuine and touching, I like things that inspire a little goodness in me. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic gave that to me at a time when I needed it most, and no matter where it goes it’ll always be special to me for that.
Sadly My Little Pony: The Movie is a little late to the party (insert hackneyed Pinkie Pie joke here). The once booming curiosity of its adult fandom has dwindled in numbers comapred to the default market of incredibly young and impressionable girls, with the presence of young boys and adults and equally enthused parents at my local premiere only being a footnote. And yet My Little Pony: The Movie still manages to ooze with happiness and love. It takes Lauren Faust’s original adventure-driven concept and elevates it to a scale that I only ever dreamed was possible, leaving me more enthused about My Little Pony than I’ve been in a long time.
I used to be an avid defender of sorts for slice of life anime. Now I’m less enamored by most of them but they’re still an easy watch. If Kyoto Animation’s works stand as the peak of the genre then Doga Kobo would be the middle point, generally not hitting the craft or subtlety of a K-ON! but usually being competent at fun character animation and comedic timing. To that end the first season of New Game! is well up to par, a standard slice of life wrapped in a mellow workplace story with a few good laughs and some surprising sincerity.
‘Political correctness’ is an ugly term to a lot of people. To them it represents a threat our ability to speak honestly about challenging things, a silencing of dialogues that can help us become stronger and learn new things, a fear driven act of censorship even. Especially when it comes to comedy, people see it as a threat to creativity itself. But let me offer another idea: political correctness has the power to make comedy not only more creative but actually funnier.
And you know who agrees with me? Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg. No kidding, you can read his exact words right here. You know who also agrees with me? Mr. Peanutbutter himself Paul F. Tompkins. So how does a dark gritty comedy like Bojack Horseman manage to be surrounded by such sensitive people? The short answer is that ‘political correctness’ isn’t about not saying things. It’s about questioning how and why you’re saying them. And Bojack Horseman is a stellar show when it comes to self-questioning.
Rick & Morty has been all the buzz lately. And that’s great because it truly deserves it, it’s an intricate and funny and moving series. Its third season has been its most profound yet, giving genuine introspection into the character of Rick Sanchez and how toxic and destructive a human being he truly is. But that’s not what my social media feeds have been interested in. They’ve been talking about the fandom, the would-be real life Ricks who find themselves in almost every online community spewing indulgent nihilistic hatred on everything they touch.
Some friends have even expressed being turned off the series by this, which just really sucks. On one hand I can’t blame them but on the other it’s really just not fair. It’s not fair that people find themselves unwilling to have new media experiences because of hostile fan culture, and it’s not fair on the creators of earnest good works that they need to be accountable for crappy people. So what should you do if something you want to get into has a rubbish fanbase?
Sonic Adventure 2 is a pretty good game. The original Sonic Adventure was overflowing with ideas and constantly vying to be on the cutting edge of its era, but it spread itself thin and ended up being seen as an awkward product of its time. By contrast Sonic Adventure 2 is a noticeably tighter game, with a more singular and solid focus that brings everything into a more complete experience. It’s a similarly bumpy ride to the original, but it manages to hit a lot more highs along the way.
At the very beginning of Revolutionary Girl Utena we’re given a fable-like tale of a girl whose parents have died. She meets a prince in a fateful encounter, and that prince empowers her with the will to keep pushing forward. And so she decides from then on that her dream is to become a prince herself. That girl in question is Utena Tenjou. “Is that really such a good idea?”, says the narrator. After all we surely understand that princes are men and princesses are women. But that doesn’t really mean a whole lot to Utena. Utena is willing to dream, and even if she doesn’t yet fully understand the weight of her own convictions they’re still a defiant gesture — defiant of all our entrenched social norms. Utena’s one hope of making her dream a reality is to bring revolution to the world. It’s a tall order for a 14 year old but she’s giving it a shot. Her dreams will be challenged, they’ll be crushed, they’ll be rebuilt, and they’ll be re-evaluated. This is Utena’s quest for revolution.