Smash’s Final Character: Smash Ultimate Patch 13.0

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I know, I know, don’t worry about it.

Smash’s presumed final, although not confirmed, patch for Super Smash Brother Ultimate is here, and with it has come a lot of excitement. New character, new changes, a new stage, and lots of talk among the community as usually. With that being said, lets get into it.

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The Final DLC

This is it, the last character, the one that so many people requested in Nintendo’s fan poll almost six years. Sora from Kingdom Hearts is finally in smash. I have a few friends who were hesitant to be happy about Sora, not because they disliked the character for any reason, but rather because the smash community has seen a number of people who are just ok with sending death threats to people, and while the existence does sour my enjoyment a bit, it still pales in comparison to the joy I feel now that he is finally here.

After my finishing the original Persona 5 was followed by the reveal of Joker only a few months later, I did not think anyone else could reach that level of hype. That is, except for one. When I tell you that I could barely contain myself while watching the final reveal during my nine in the morning political philosophy lecture, I am not kidding. Seeing Sora fly out of Kingdom Hearts into that dark and desolate void was truly a dream come true.

As far as how he actually plays, well…Sora is a real mixed bag. On the one hand, going from playing mostly Joker, a character with a significantly faster than average fall speed, great mobility both in the air and on the ground, and an insane punish game to now the floatiest character in the game has been a significant change. On the other, though, Sora himself seems like a better than average fighter with a lot of unique tools and mix-up potential. Not only does he have multiple two hit kill confirms off of his aerials, his neutral is significantly better than expected, with nair serving as a solid out of shield option and his first hit jab and up tilt being excellent anti-air tools.

The hardest part about the character thus far has been his disadvantage. Being so floaty, along with having a relatively slow double-jump makes getting out of disadvantage fairly difficult against competent players. similarly, while Sora arguably has the best edge-guarding of any character in the game, by contrast, his ability to get off ledge is severely limited, and requires really good mix-ups on the part of the person playing him. Despite all of that, however, I have decided to pursue maining him for the moment, as I want to see how much I can develop my skill with arguably now my favorite character in all of smash.

Balance Changes

I’m only going to talk briefly about the balance changes in 13.0, so for anyone who wants to see the whole list of changes and their implications, please watch the video Beefy Smash Doods made, or just look at the original patch notes here.

TL;DR, the main aim of this patch, like many previous ones, was to buff characters who are generally considered to be fairly bad by the competitive community and even casual players. Among those who received major changes are Dr. Mario, Incineroar, Jigglypuff, King K. Rool, Isabelle, Zelda, Lucario, and Little Mac. Judging based on the criteria of most significant changes relative to their character, Jigglypuff and Mac walked away with the most influential buffs. Jigglypuff now has access to a handful of new confirms and high damage combos, and Little Mac became significantly better and what he does best: pressuring opponents on the ground.

While none of these changes are likely the make the characters that much more viable in the competitive scene, except maybe in the case of Jigglypuff, they did seem to accomplish the goal of giving them a higher quality of life and making certain interactions slightly better off for the respective fighters. Overall, outside of my general dislike of what I would consider to be a lot of “Wi-Fi characters,” I do think these buffs were warranted and not particularly egregious.

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The Meta of Smash Ultimate

Based on previous patterns from Smash for Wii U, this is likely to be the last or second to last patch for the game. This means that Ultimate‘s competitive meta will likely solidify in the coming months. Whether or not the addition of such an iconic and fan-loved character will spark an unprecedented wave of new interest in the game has yet to be seen. However, even through a global pandemic in which offline tournaments, the heart of smash community, were shut down completely, the game has retained competitive interest. This has been even more true now that offline locals and majors have begun resurfacing.

The reality, however, is that COVID-19 is far from over, with resurgences of the disease and offspring of new variants helping to maintain its spread. This means that smash could be forced to move online once again at a moments notice. For Smash Ultimate, this means players would be forced to resort to using the game’s notoriously awful online system as their only means of play. Most are aware of this problem, which is why many top players, such as New England’s Light barely played during Quarantine, and others have moved on from the game entirely.

Still, even with a shrink in the community, there has been plenty of development among individual characters. Steve, who many notoriously though was going to be among the worst in the game, is now considered high tier at a minimum among many. This is due to significant developments in the character’s combo and camping game, with many realizing the vast potential Steve has with his ability to build blocks while in the air. Min Min, another terror of online play, seen a similar rise in respectability, with players like ESAM and Pink Fresh performing relatively well at recent offline events.

Sora’s meta is still being explored, but early signs show a lot of promise. As mentioned previously, he has a few easy to perform kill confirms, great edge-guarding capability, and even a recently discovered loop with both his fair and nair, which allows him to combo opponents for massive amounts of damage. Currently, many are of the opinion that the character only rises to mid-tier status, but opinions among top players who have experimented with Sora are quickly changing. This includes PGR rank one player MKLeo, who believes the character to be incredibly strong.

Conclusion

Overall, this has been an incredibly successful patch, both personally and competitively. While I honestly have no idea what the future of smash is at this point, with Masahiro Sakurai saying that he will be stepping down from working on the game, I am excited to see any future content, as well as continue to watch and participate in the growth of the competitive scene.


I hope you all enjoyed this analysis of Smash’s recent patch. I try to only talk about competitive gaming occasionally, since these posts tend to perform relatively poorly. However, for those that are interested in this kind of content, please let me know, since I do enjoy writing it. Otherwise, thanks for reading.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Anime and the Environment

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You ever just think about how are existence on this planet is becoming increasingly fragile and that human activity is largely contributing to our own demise? Yeah, me too. The amount of immediate world issues that are important tend to overshadow environmental policy, even during a time when these issues are too crucial to ignore. Luckily, the lineage of great anime directors seem to understand their importance. In my column for this week, I touch on Anime’s environmental messages. Enjoy!


If the quarantine regarding COVID-19 has revealed anything, it is that human impact on the environment is still at an all-time high. The empty roads, the parks littered with trash and gas stations are all a reminder that humans have, for the better but mostly for the worse, altered the planet to suit our needs, causing pollution and the rise of man-made climate change. 

While its oftentimes quirky and abundantly random nature may make it an odd choice for messages about the environment, directors like Hayao Miyazaki and Makoto Shinkai have already used anime as a way to warn people about the importance of environmental awareness.

Miyazaki’s work on this topic goes back to his earliest films working as a director. In “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” Nausicaa attempts to learn the secrets of an ancient forest that has been attempting to communicate with her. However, she has to do so before the kingdom of Tolmekia succeeds in wiping it out for good. The film subtly represents the idea that humans are not above nature, but rather a part of it.

A similar concept appears in Ghibli and Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke,” where a young prince named Ashitaka must find a cure for a disease given to him by a demon. After journeying to a place called Irontown, he finds out that the mining and crafting of iron products have polluted the nearby area and made the spirits of the surrounding forest angry. Again the film shows a conflict between humans who wish to alter the environment for selfish gain and nature itself. 

Rising star and director of the 2016 hit film “Your Name” has also contributed to environmental consciousness. His latest film “Weathering with You” features a story about a girl named Hina who gains the power to control the weather. However, after using her powers in order to make money, she is forced to join the sky with the weather spirits, although not before being rescued by Hodoka, a boy who recently moved to Tokyo. 

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As a result of not paying the price for her powers, Tokyo becomes cursed with constant rain, leaving much of the city underwater. These depictions of a new dystopian world reflect the director’s concern for climate change, not just as a threat to nature but as a threat to human existence. 

However, these depictions of human impact on the environment in anime are not surprising given the cultural context of Japan. Ever since Japan’s emergence as a world leader on environmental policy in the late 1980s, its government has continued to emphasize reducing citizen impact on the environment.

Much of this has been done by introducing recycling in major metropolitan areas, such as Tokyo, as well as across the country. Japan has also asked private businesses to consider the environmental impact of their day-to-day operations. They have even gone as far as to introduce a number of voluntary programs and campaigns encouraging citizens to participate.

While it is true that younger people are increasingly skeptical of the government’s efforts, many in Japan are of the opinion that environmental regulations should be stronger, not weaker. 

It seems common knowledge at this point, but the media people consume can affect their positions on political issues. Even though environmental issues can seem far removed from people’s everyday lives, they are an ever-looming presence that is inescapable. Both Miyazaki’s and Shinkai’s films are not only great entertainment but emphasize one of the defining issues of this generation.   


How do you all feel about these issues? Are you fans of Ghibli and Shinkai? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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The Observation Deck: My Hero Academia Season Five

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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You thought it was someone who posts consistently? It was actually me, DIO!

Anyway, outdated references aside, hope you all have been well while I’m away. At least, as well as anyone can be doing right now. Regardless, I finally got the chance to catch up on some anime over the weekend and it was, first and foremost, at very much needed relaxer for myself. College is hard, especially when the productivity sirens are constantly blaring in your head despite having zero energy to actually accomplish anything. What I have managed to accomplish is finishing season five of “My Hero Academia,” and I want to talk about it.

What is Peace?

One of my favorite video essays on YouTube is actually about “My Hero Academia,” and given how the last season has played out, with its refocus on the League of Villains and Meta Liberation Army, it feels worthwhile to talk about. Pause and Select’s “Boku no Hero Academia and Peace” discusses how All Might, serving as the symbol of peace, not only upholds society on a day to day level, but himself serves as a goal, or what he describes as a metanarrative, around which people build there worldviews. This metanarrative of peace, rather than any particular ideology, serves as the object of Shigaraki’s, as well as many other villain’s, hatred.

It becomes that much more obvious then, as he explains, that peace could be a stand in for a number of things: justice, preservation, etc. The important thing is that their is a metanarrative to stand for or against, rather than what that metanarrative is exactly. What struck me as most interesting while re-watching it is that contrast, that villains are defined not by an ideology per se, but by their opposition to peace. This has become even more true after the last arc, where Shigaraki has not only powered up his quirk, but has undergone a sort of transformation.

This transformation, which occurred during his fight with Re-Destro, had him realize that his vision for society was non-existent, and that he does not need a future because the present is all that matters. What really matters for Shigaraki, symbolized by his evolving quirk, is destruction. This arc not only had some deep ideological implications for the villains, but also characterized them in a way that was both incredibly dramatic and deeply humanizing. Twice’s backstory, in particular, was a testament to the idea that the villains in this series are often a product of environment rather than a representative of some inherent evil.

Meta Liberation

Speaking of not being inherently evil, the meta liberation army was another important part of the season’s narrative. A group that is initially presented as “just another villain group” turns out to be a rather unique allegory for the real world.

The series spends a fair amount of time discussing the era in which having a “quirk,” was not only not normal, but actively despised by the majority. This lead to many people with quirks being attacked by those without. A man named Destro eventually rose up to help those with quirks be allowed to freely use them. The movement ultimately became violent, and was squashed by the government at the time, but many still held onto their beliefs.

It is interesting how this group is cast in the villain role and, again, I think they are treated to some dynamic characterization. Still, despite being fairly sympathetic in their quest to give equality to those with quirks, they are still ultimately thwarted by the League of Villains, who forces them to come together under one umbrella. The final fight between Shigaraki and Re-Destro was somehow fairly slow paced but also incredibly exciting, as the devolution of Shigaraki’s character lent the fight to a build-up of anticipation and stakes.

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Oh Wait, This is About High School Kids

It would not be “My Hero” without the band of dorks that 15-year-old cosplayers love to dress up as (no disrespect though, just really funny that there are so many).

Seeing as how most of the cast was not the major focus of the season, it makes sense they would not get as much screen time. Even so, the initial team matches are a great way to show off the character’s skill development between the previous season and now. Shinsou was a a great highlight in this regard, as his appearance in season two left a lot to be desired. But, his participation in the hero matches and evolution as a hero under Aizawa’s teaching was a great addition to the season.

There is also a lot to be said of Deku, Bakugou, and especially Shouto’s development during the season as well. Finding out that Deku had access to the quirks of all his successors, the first one being “Black Whip” was hype., to say the least. The explosion of that power during the initial team battles felt like a serious awakening in him, with Deku realizing that beating Shigaraki and One for All would mean unlocking all of these powers and controlling them successfully.

The story of Shouto’ s relationship with his father has always been a rather complex one. This has become even more evident over the last season, as Endeavor now feels regret for his actions, but is also unable to connect with Shouto, or the rest of his family, in a serious way. While Shouto seems to be approaching a place of forgiveness, Natsu is not. On top of that, it is hard to imagine that his wife will want anything to do with Endeavor given how he treated her in the past. The initial comparisons of Shouto’s character to Zuko of “Avatar,” while done jokingly, seem fairly apt given his development.

Solid Animation, as Usual

The problem with talking about the animation of “My Hero Academia” is that there is not that much I can say that has not already been said by me or others. While it is not bad, it is also not particularly exciting in any way. The main exception of this is, of course, the beautiful moments of Sakuga that the series is well known for. Though there were not as many in this season as in previous ones, some shout outs do have to have to go out to Iida and Shouto during their match, and to the already discussed Shigaraki and Re-Destro fight.

Conclusion

Though I do not know if it reaches the same heights that season two did for me, season five was certainly a welcome change of pace that introduced a number of new storylines while also developing some previously established ones in a big way. With “My Hero” being the big series that it is, it would be easy for a studio like Bones to cut corners, but luckily they have continued to put their effort into this series and it shows. Those who are at all a fan of the series should continue on to season five.


How do you all feel about “My Hero Academia?” Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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United In Stormwind Set Discussion

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Well, its been long enough, I think.

I was originally going to post this after a couple of weeks, but ended up getting distracted and ultimately just fell behind in what I wanted to write about. Although, given how “United in Stormwind” panned out as a set, including its overall affect on the pace of the game, I am kind of glad that I waited, because oh boy is there a lot to talk about. With that being said, let us jump right in.

Combo Decks

I think it is fair to say that a pretty big chunk of the community, even before this set, were not the biggest fans of combo, myself included. With how bad hearthstone’s balance can get, combo decks of the past often felt completely degenerate and unfun to play against because they had basically every tool to succeed. The last significant combo archetype to rear its head before this most recent set was “OTK Demon Hunter,” a deck that, while admittedly fairly difficult to pilot well, as I demonstrated in my video hear, became one of the best decks of the format.

However, “United in Stormwind” turned the dial up to eleven, so to speak, as it introduced multiple new combo archetypes, including the now nerfed “D6 Quest Warlock,” “Quest Mage,” various versions of “Garrote Rogue,” and two different variants of “Quest Demon Hunter.” These decks not only have greater efficiency that the previous versions of “OTK Demon Hunter,” but also have the tools required to compete for and control the board. The pace of the meta shifted so rapidly that control decks, which were highly represented in tournament, have become little more than a tech against specific archetypes. The prevalence of these spell heavy combo decks has also forced other decks to make room for cards like “Cult Neophyte,” and to a lesser extent “Robes of Protection,” as a way of slowing them down by a couple turns.

Still, I don’t want to give off the impression that I hate combo decks universally. On the contrary, a meta which is fully based around control archetypes can get stale to play and is certainly not as interesting to watch. While the pace of the game is significantly faster, it also means that early game decisions matter a lot more, and players will get rewarded for matchup familiarity and playing around key turns from there opponent. Suffice it to say, there are good and bad things about the new suite of combo.

Were the Nerfs Enough?

This might end up being non-point, because, as of writing this post there has been a new patch announced with various changes, but it does still seem like some changes need to be made.

While the absolute monsters that were “D6” and “Quest Mage” with two mana Enchanter’s Flow are now things of the past, the pace shift in the meta is worth reiterating. An average game involving one or more combo decks usually lasts until around turn seven or eight, depending how fast it sets up. “Garrote Rogue” has been known to set up on average around that time, and the current iterations of “Handlock” which also plays the quest can have a board of threats down as early as turn six. Going from relatively more tempo focused meta which usually went 10 turns plus to the current meta has certainly caused a bit of whiplash.

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How much more heavily the game should be changed is up for the debate. Clearly the dev teams seems to agree that there is a problem, as according to the tweet making a total of 14 changes. It feels pretty obvious to anyone whose been playing the game at higher ranks that Warlock, in particular, is indeed a problem. “Garrote Rogue” as well has emerged as a strong contender, but considering the relative difficulty of the deck, including the fact that even pro players mess up the combo pretty often, it feels unlikely to be affected.

One card that many have despised since its release is Mindrender Illucia. This is because the cards swaps you and your opponents decks and hands. Most recently, the card has been used in “Aggro Shadow Priest” as a way of protecting your tempo swing from potential removal. Even though the card was nerfed early on from two mana, many have a problem with the design itself, saying it should be banned or removed from the game. I will not pretend like I have a particularly strong opinion on it, but I will say that the few times I have been Illucia’ed have made me feel pretty helpless.

The Design

While the competitive gamer in me can’t help but care about the current meta, the card game nerd in me also has to admit that the concept for the set was absolutely brilliant. My knowledge of World of Warcraft is fairly limited, considering I have only ever watched a few videos about the game, but there is a lot to appreciate about this set in terms of its design.

First, the return of a few mechanics. Obviously quest is the one most people got excited about initially, no surprise there. However, seeing new cards for the handbuff archetypes of Hunter and Paladin was fairly refreshing. In regards to hunter specifically, seeing the Elwin Boar along with the reference to south park in Sword of a Thousand Truths was pretty funny, if nothing else. While the quest does make it feel overbearing at times, mage getting some new tools for the spell mage deck is a fun inclusion.

On top of that, It feels like people rarely take the time to appreciate the card art in particular sets. It takes a lot of work to have as thematically cohesive an art design across 100 plus cards for one booster set, nevermind as often as the artists seem to do. “United in Stormwind” as a set focused on the city of Stormwind and the various characters associated with it. There is are a lot of royal designs, including a lot of knights and mages. However, the card art also makes it feel cohesive while giving the cards of each class a unique flair.

Conclusion

While I cannot say that “United in Stormwind” is my favorite set competitively, and in a lot of ways has made me significantly less interested in playing constructed, I would be remiss to not highlight the amazing work the art and design team did in creating it.


Do you play “Hearthstone” at all? How do you feel about “United in Stormwind?” Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Top 5 Least Favorite Anime (As of September 2021)

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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yeah, yeah, I get it, I’m lazy

*insert joke about not being able to stick to a schedule here*

Listen, school is hard, okay? 😦

In all seriousness though, it has been hard to keep the energy to both read hundreds of pages a week in class material while also keeping up with reading and writing in the blog sphere, it just is. But, hopefully I can get back into some routine, even if its just a couple posts a week as opposed to three or four. For today though, since I did my favorite anime of all time, I thought I would cover the flipside of things. The reason it is five and not also 10 like the other post is because, in all honest, I have not watched that many series which I would consider my least favorite. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, some of these might come as a surprise, and others not so much.

Just to reiterate, as well, these are my least favorite, and not the shows I think are the worst, although for some those do overlap. With that being said, lets get started.

5. My Mental Choices Are Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy

Its not so much that this show is bad as it is embarrassingly and uninteresting. The entire gimmick of being forced to make strange choices and then being forced to deal with their consequences is entertaining up to a point, but even though the series is only 10 episodes long, it gets old by about halfway through. Add on top of that the lack of anything notable as far as characters, animation, or music goes, and you’ve got a recipe for something pretty unlikable. I wouldn’t say its aggressively unlikeable, which is why its only at number five, but still pretty bad.

4. Rosaria + Vampire

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I could honestly just copy and paste the last paragraph here and replace the decision making gimmick with the monster school and call it a day. Rosario + Vampire falls into that category things I watched as a teenager when I was slightly horny, and while it never god so bad as to be awful, it also never really achieved anything across two seasons. There was the occasionally funny gag, and Mizore was fairly entertaining every time she appeared on screen, but really I am reaching at this point. If I would not sit through 10 episodes again, I certainly would not sit through 24.

3. Seven Deadly Sins

If the first two shows on this list could be described as meh, then this is where I get to the point of actively disliking series. “Seven Deadly Sins” not only fails to stand out as a unique entry in the Shonen genre, but also fails in *checks notes* not having the main character grope an underage girl every episode…yeah. Meliodas as a main character is just all around obnoxious and not really interesting to have on screen. On top of that, the “cool” moments he has are few and far between. There is a reason that this show ended up as one of the worst on my Shonen tier list.

2. Beastars

Those who have been reading me at all recently have probably seen me complain about this series at least, probably more. What’s even crazier to me is how much praise is coming to “Beastars” even from casual fans. Like, the furry anime nerds I could understand getting a kick out of this, but the less context one has about anime as a whole the worse the series becomes. I will not go over too many of my complaints here again, but those who are reading this and have been on the fence about whether to watch it: take this as a warning.

1. Pupa

When I first started conceptualizing this list internally, I thought “surely there cannot be anything I like less than ‘Beastars,’ right?” Then, I remembered that “Pupa” exists. This 2014 horror anime, along with being my least favorite series, also has the distinction of having one of the lowest scores on MyAnimeList at a whapping 3.35 as of the writing of this post. it is not normally the case that I defer to MyAnimeList when it comes to anime opinions, but in this case the nail has been hit right on the head. I feel like I might use the phrase “aggressively awful” a bit to much, but it is most certainly warranted here. Also probably the worst thing Studio Deen has ever produced, and that is saying a lot.


What are some of your least favorite anime? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Quadeca, “From Me to You,” and the Internet

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I do not often talk about music on this blog because I rarely have opinions strong enough to justify writing a whole article about them. However, this is without a doubt of of my favorite projects of the last year, which is strange because I definitely would not consider Quadeca to be one of my favorite artists. Still there is a lot to talk about when it comes to “From Me to You,” which is why I thought it was worth taking another post to explore. In particular, I want to take a bit of time to talk about the storyline of the album and some of the implications of its subject matter.

The story of course starts with the track “Sisyphus,” named after a Greek god who was cursed to push a boulder up a mountain only to have it fall over and over again. The track mainly concerns itself with Quadeca’s internal monologue, with the story of Sisyphus being used as a metaphor for his relationship with his own success and self-growth. Try as he might, the fear of getting to the top of that mountain, only to fall back down and have it start all over is a scary prospect.

While Quadeca, or at least the character that he plays in the album, is not the only one in this story. There is, of course, another, indicated in the chorus: “You’ve got a mountain of your own,” and throughout the rest of the album. So, who exactly is this “you?” Well, at first glance it might feel reasonable to answer that question with some variant of romantic partner, and to an extent, that is right. In the song “Shades of Us” he does mention that “[he] just wants love,” but also says that its “outside my reach, always inside my aim.” This would rather imply that he is currently single, so at best this might be addressing some future relationship.

Instead, the “you” here feels a lot more literal, as though he is addressing the audience directly. Quadeca appears to be telling both the story of his experience with internet fame, as well as reflecting on the creation of the album itself, both of which have come with their ups and downs.

This becomes much more apparent on the song “Smiling at the Ground,” in which he raps about a crazy fan who would rather see him break up with a potential girlfriend as opposed to being genuinely happy, as well as the music labels which resent him for staying independent. These things are so stressful that he “searches his fake name” only to be relieved when neither of them appear together with it. The following track “Can’t You See” also speaks to this idea as well, where Quadeca equates this Sisyphean journey to being “lost in the fog,” and that it is both “hard to stay, hard to stay gone,” again repeating the idea that his situation is very much damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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While it is fair to say that most artists and/or people who create things, especially on the internet, hope for some level of success, it does not necessarily mean they want all of that attention at once, or even really at all. The process of virality, in which a person can become famous overnight, is an area that feels like it has been overlooked in cultural discussion. Having thousands or even hundreds of thousands of new eyes on you, as well as a mountain of new expectations can be incredibly nerve wracking. Even now that Quadeca has an established fanbase who probably will not abandon him, the fear alone can make an album that was supposed to come out in 2020 take a whole extra year.

Another major theme of the album is the idea of balancing work and the rest of one’s life. This theme comes to a head much later in the album on the three tracks “Burnin Bridges/Long Day,” “Work!” and “People Pleaser.” Each of these tracks aims to address a different aspect of Quadeca’s relationship with his work and how it has affected his other relationships.

“Burnin Bridges/Long Day” sees him playing the part of “the villain,” but also directly states how he’s “burning all [his] fuckin bridges til there’s nothin left,” and that he “trusts no one but myself, the only one that hasn’t fuckin left.” In other words, from his perspective, Quadeca is taking people out of his life who never really cared for him anyway. While this is a pretty common sentiment across rap as a genre, it feels even more important here given how the internal monologue established in earlier songs has made it clear just how much he doubts himself.

“Work,” in contrast, sees Quadeca satirizing the unhealthy relationship with work that many have come to understand as grind culture, or the idea that one should always be focused monetary or social gains, even at the expense of interpersonal relationships. Though it may not seem like it, the exaggerated lyrics as well as the fax machine noise which slowly ingrains and distorts itself into the beat make it fairly obvious. Some of the best lines, in this regard, are when he talks about “only loving you from like 3:15 to 5 PM,” as well as having “like twenty-five Red Bulls still tryna find them wings, like a blind Rick Ross.”

It becomes even more apparent when beat comes to a halt, and Quadeca talks about how “[his] mind got carpal tunnel” and that “[he] wants it all to double, even the stress, even the mess, even the largest struggle.” In this final verse, he point out how those who have bought into this grind mentality put themselves through all of this work, in part at least, so that they can where it as a badge of honor around others. The song “People Pleaser” serves almost as a prequel, describing how Quadeca’s innate need for validation from others got him into the cycle he is in, with the ever increasing quantities of money he manages to acquire never being enough for this “you.” The line “feelin’ like its eight-bit, lookin like its IMAX” also helps to reinforce the idea that, while his life on the outside looks great, self-doubt is still very much central to his problems.

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All of this comes to a pinnacle, almost literally, on the song “Summit Pt. 1” in which the major themes get reinforced. Despite how much progress has been made, both in Quadeca as a person and on the album itself, he still does not believe he has made it particularly far, evidenced by the refrain “And I’ve been lookin’ at the summit. They say we’re halfway there, I think we’re halfway from it.” Still, it would be unfair to say that he has made no progress at all, as it he also says that “me and my boulder grew a bond,” implying that, despite still not being confident, he has managed to get something of a handle on these mental burdens.

Additionally, the question of who exactly “you” is becomes an issue again, because although earlier in the album Quadeca implied a lack of romantic relationship, the song “Its All a Game” does seem to present a major romantic interest. Still, interpreting the “you” as still talking directly to the audience makes a lot of sense. When he says “I swallowed it, thank god that it was you that shared the key” in reference to the previous interlude, Quadeca seems to be saying that if there was anyone who he was going to share his most vulnerable self too, he would rather it be an audience that has expectations of him rather than random strangers.

The journey is still not going to end, both as an artist and as a person, until he meets his. In a way, acknowledging that “we’re halfway from it” is saying that not just he, but everyone has yet to reach their full potential, and although everyone might have a mountain to climb and a bolder to climb with it, seeing what is at the top might just be worth it.


There is a lot more about this album that I can and probably will talk about, from the incredibly constructing bars and ryhme schemes, as well as the amazing production. Still, if I did try and talk about it all in one post this would probably end up being a 20 minute read, and as someone with an incredibly small attention span myself, I do not want to do that to other people. So, have you heard “From Me to You?” What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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AMVs are Really Cool

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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It is time yet again for another column post. This one is from all the way back in the beginning of 2020, as most will probably be able to tell from the intro. At the beginning of COVID, I thought it would interesting to put out an explainer for AMVs and the community that surrounds them, so I did just that. I hope you all enjoy.


Welcome back, tourists. As many reading this are probably aware, escaping news of the ever-looming threat that is COVID-19 has become rather impossible, even for anime fans like myself. The deadly virus has already halted a number of upcoming anime productions, including one for the highly anticipated second season of “Re:Zero.” Funimation has also announced that it will be temporarily halting the simul-dubs of its upcoming seasonal shows in order to allow production members to work from home. 

Many are people already feeling the effects of extended boredom from the recommended social distancing, but that does not mean they have to stay bored. After all, the anime community is much more than the shows people enjoy. 

One of the more underrated but no less fascinating parts of the community are AMVs. For those uninitiated, AMV is an acronym that stands for anime music video, and it is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. People edit together clips from different anime, set it to music and create some pretty magical results. 

While their large presence on sites like YouTube might suggest that AMVs are a fairly recent phenomenon, their origin actually goes back as early as the 1980s. Originally, anime fans would use VCR editing decks to take individual scenes out and edit them together. Now, however, the process has become a lot more streamlined thanks to the advent of online video sharing sites and editing software. 

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There are a lot of things that make AMVs cool, both directly and indirectly. For starters, good AMVs take advantage of all of the wonders of modern editing. Their purposefully used transitions and well-placed masking of certain scenes and characters make them incredibly addictive to watch. A good example of this is an AMV from 2014 titled “Hope of Morning,” named after the song that accompanies it. 

AMVs are also really good storytelling formats. The ability of AMV creators to manipulate footage so precisely combined with access to tons of different music allows for a variety of different results. Creators can either recontextualize different anime in relation to music or create entirely new stories depending on the level of editing. 

On top of that, AMVs are also great for finding new music and anime to watch. Despite anime’s reputation as a singularly focused medium, the reality is that there are tons of choices. This means that there are also tons of different AMVs to explore, and many of the creators in the community will leave the name of the song and anime used in the description of the video. 

AMVs are a wonderfully unique and incredibly fun part of the anime community. For those on the outside looking in, there are definitely a lot of unexpected influences. Still, while I would be lying if I said that every AMV is equally as exciting, there are still plenty of great ones worth watching. 

We are all bored at this point, and there is no point in trying to deny it. Rather than worrying about “being productive” or whatever that means in modern society, try taking some time to relax. This is a community that is worth being a part of.


How do you all feel about AMVs? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to also check out my column from last week which was an overview of the Winter 2021 season.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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A New Semester Begins

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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I have mentioned a few times over the last few weeks. However, since I know everyone is also busy around this time of year, and since I would like to have a bit of a buffer window for content, I figured would do a bit of an update on my current situation.

Back to School

By the time this gets released, I will have already started back college. I can’t really say whether or not that is a good or bad thing at this point, but one thing I can say is that I will be a lot busier than I have been. As always, that means I cannot guarantee that the same schedule I have been using will be maintained. Luckily, though, my motivation has been a lot higher, both to watch shows and to write, and since my responsibilities will not be as split between extracurriculars, it should be less of a problem.

Also, for those curious, here are a few of the series I plan on covering over the next couple of months:

Anime

  • Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean
  • Evangelion: Rebuild Movies
  • Aquatope of the White Sand
  • Sonny Boy
  • Honey and Clover (I completely forgot about this one)

Video Games

  • Hearthstone
  • Smash Ultimate
  • Robotics;Notes

So, yeah, look forward to that.

New Series?!

Yes! Maybe?

I have not been the greatest when it comes to delivering on things, but assuming I can find some good material, which I already have a bit of, this should end up being pretty fun, if nothing else. I do not want to give away to much for those who are not already in the loop, but let’s just say there will be a lot of laughs to go around.

Streaming

Unfortunately, or fortunately I guess depending on your perspective, if and when school does end up getting busy, streaming is probably going to be one of the first things I cut back on. Do not get me wrong, I still very much enjoy playing games, and I still want to add more of an anime themed element to my streams. However, it is not my number one priority at the moment. I will still be doing it when I have time, but not all the time.


So yeah, that’s my life right now. What do you guys have going on? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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My Top 10 Favorite Anime (As of August 2021)

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Well, It certainly has been a while since I made this list, about three years to be exact. Sometimes it can feel a bit pointless to try and nail down favorites because tastes are constantly changing, but I have watched a few series lately that I feel strongly about, and thus I thought it would be fun time to remake this list and share it with all of you. With that being said, let us get started.


10. Terror in Resonance

Honestly, I thought out of all the shows on my previous list, “Terror in Resonance” would have not made it on still, and yet, through hours of internal debate, it still managed to find a spot. I would say that its one thing in particular that keeps me thinking about it, but that would lie. From the gorgeous animation produced by then up and coming studio MAPPA to the gorgeous Icelandic vocal filled soundtrack, this show has so much. As time has gone on, my sympathies for the series’ political messages have also gone up significantly. While “Terror in Resonance” might have just barely made the list, do not take that to mean I think it is bad, because that is far from the truth.

9. Fire Force

Speaking of shows that I did not think would be on this list. Although, what can I say, it grew on me. “Fire Force” may have some serious problems when it comes to its female characters, which I will definitely continue to talk about, but it also just has a really cool premise that it executes on fairly well. Couple that with the fact that the series was created by the original author of “Soul Eater,” and thus has some fairly similar character designs, and yeah I am on board. It may have taken me a bit more time to fully get into it, but it has certainly earned its place on this list.

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8. Robotics;Notes

Oh, look, its the anime that got me somewhat interested in mecha. Not sure how Scott will feel about that, but it is true. Without “Robotics;Notes,” “Gurren Lagann” probably would have ended up as the extent of my mecha experience. However, this show is also just good on its own merits. The character-driven, sci-fi mystery plotline has twists and turns at virtually every stage of its progression, as well as boasting one of the most interesting fictionally diseases in the form of Cat and Mouse Syndrome. I have wanted to revisit this series for a while now, and since I now own the “Robotics;Notes” visual novel, I may just do so…

(This is totally a hint that you should follow me on twitch ;))

7. No Game No Life

Look, I get it, the show is a bit problematic in its depiction of Sora and Shiro’s relationship. Ngl, kinda cringe. However, for those who are willing to look past this, there is a lot to like about “No Game No Life.” Not only did Madhouse do a great job animating the entire series, from the games to conversations between characters, the color palate for this show looks gorgeous, though I am incredibly biased because purple. On top of that, there are some intriguing ideas when it comes to the series’ message and philosophy. For those who are fans of Isekai stories and have somehow not come across “No Game No Life,” this is a much watch.

6. A Place Further Than the Universe

Oh boy. I can count of two hands the number of series that have made me cry, and “A Place Further Than the Universe” happens to be one of them. What is even crazier is that, it does not use any incredibly sappy set up to try and pull at your heart strings immediately. Rather, it just tells the story of a girl who really wants to follow in her mother’s foot steps, and three others who are along for the ride. They share the adventure of a lifetime going to Antarctica and…well, not to spoil too much, but it is certainly an experience.

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5. Log Horizon

Alright, so I have a confession to make. I have yet to watch the third seasons for both of the next two series. I know, I know, it feels a bit weird to still have them on here without having technically watched all of them. In my defense though, the first two season of “Log Horizon” are just good enough on their own. Drama, politics, worldbuilding: “Log Horizon” has it all, and then some. It may not be the best looking show ever, but when its got one of the best hype anthems ever written by Man on a Mission fronting every episode, it does not have to be. I said before that Isekai fans should have “No Game No Life” on their to watch list, and that goes more-so for this series.

4. Oregairu

Truth be told, the only reason I did not end up watching the third season for “Oregairu” is because me and my friend got a little too intoxicated while we were re-watching the first two and, well, let us just say it got messy. Regardless, like with “Log Horizon,” “Oregairu” could be carried by its first two seasons. I am still a little bit salty about the change in art style after season one, but honestly, given how good the show is, that is a minor complaint. There really is not too much else to say for this one other than it is a fantastic slice of life comedy that is certainly worth anyone’s time.

3. Golden Time

What can be said about “Golden Time” that is not already buried in my 1000 word video script on the series (I meant to put out the video a long ass time ago I just kept forgetting to record and edit.) Romance in anime has felt one note for a pretty long time, outside of some recent exceptions like “Horimiya.” However, the romance in “Golden Time” is dynamic and feels real. While it may have a fantastical element as it core premise, it is believable because all of its characters, including the main character, develop relationships that mean something. In show’s best moments, there is a deep sense of investment in the lives of the people on screen, and to think, it all started with a dude getting slapped with a rose bouquet.

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2. Princess Jellyfish

The hardest part about making this list was not writing these blurbs, but rather deciding who would get second and third between the last two entries. In fact, it probably took me at least an hour going back and forth in my head to make a decision. While “Golden Time” is without a doubt great, I only really felt its impact all at once, at the end, when I could barely contain my tears. “Princess Jellyfish,” on the other hand, was different. It hit in waves, as if at the end I was not able to fully process what I had even just watched. After sitting with the series for a few days, I can be assured in the assessment that “Princess Jellyfish” is a remarkable series.

1. March Comes in Like a Lion


As remarkable as “Princess Jellyfish,” It was unlikely that the series that helped me in one of the darkest periods of my life was ever going to get dethroned. “March Comes in Like a Lion” lacks in no category, and while the subject matter may seem a bit inaccessible, shogi is simply a means to a storytelling-end. Rei, and later on Hina, are two of the most complex characters in all of anime, and their arcs are some of the best storytelling I have ever seen. Couple that with studio shaft’s unique, occasionally minimalist art style and you get a series frankly deserves a lot more recognition than it currently gets.


What are some of your favorite series? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Winter 2021 Anime Season Overview

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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It seems like the response to the columns so far has been mostly positive, so here is another. This one is from a little earlier this year, in which I looked at the Winter season and its stacked list of sequels and new series, including…ugh, “Wonder Egg Priority.” Anyway, hope you enjoy this short bit of nostalgia for earlier this year.


Welcome back, tourists

Well…yeah, we’re here I guess. I don’t think most people expected the world to get much better just cause a cinderella crystal ball dropped when the clock struck midnight, but there is always that tiny feeling of hope. Anyway, back to anime.

With every change in the trees comes a change in TV, and man did the Winter 2021 season deliver in spades. The combination of a bunch of setbacks and delays for certain series culminated in one of the most exciting seasons of the last few years. There are lots of important sequels and some impressive newcomers to the scene, so let’s talk about it. 

When I say this season is stacked, I really mean it. Just of the most popular series, “Attack on Titan” is back for its fourth and final season, reaching the climax of its most recent arc. “The Promised Neverland” has returned for its second season, as the kids of a strange orphanage continue their dangerous journey.

On top of that, there are sequels for a few popular Isekai shows, including “Reincarnated as a Slime,” “Re:Zero,” and one of my personal favorites “Log Horizon.” Some fairly popular slice-of-life shows also got new seasons as well, including “Yuru Camp” and “Non-Non Biyori” getting their second and third seasons, respectively. 

On top of the high number of anticipated sequels, the Winter 2021 slate also brought with it some great new series. The first worth talking about is one that many have been anticipating since its announcement late last year. “Horimiya” is a romance show that focuses on two unlikely friends who quickly develop feelings for each other they are both too scared to admit.

The series centers on the idea that people usually have different personalities in different social situations. So far, at least, the show has not done a whole lot beyond that, but its pacing and the depth of its characters implies a much better story to come. 

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Whereas many people were excited for “Horimiya’s” adaptation, pretty much no one saw “Wonder Egg Priority” coming. This makes a bit of sense, though, as the original creator and scriptwriter, Saki Takahashi, has no other credited anime productions under his belt, and has only worked on a handful of relatively short manga before this. 

It may have come out of nowhere, but “Wonder Egg Priority” likely will not leave anyone’s memory for quite a while. It focuses on young girls who have gained the ability to enter a dream-like world where the task is to “break open eggs” and save the girls that come out of them from their trauma and abusers.

The subject matter by its self would make the show memorable, as it touches on everything from bullying, suicide, and sexual assault. However, it is that, combined with its colorful presentation, intricate and yet somehow earworm-y soundtrack, and nuanced characters that makes it so amazing. Not to mention the series is not even halfway done, and already appears to be an easy contender for anime of the year. 

One other show worth a brief mention is “EX-ARM,” a sci-fi series about a young high school student who hates machines, but who seemingly finds himself in the middle of robotic warfare. The newest Crunchyroll original, if the internet is to be believed, is one of if not the worst anime ever made. For people who find themselves fans of hate-watching, this might just be a good watch, though I cannot formally confirm or deny that. 

This definitely feels like one of the better seasons to come out in a while. Sequels, exciting originals, and garbage for people who enjoy garbage, I guess? Seems like there is something for everyone. 


How do you feel about the Winter 2021 season? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to also check out my column from last week where I discuss the cost of anime as a hobby.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Exploring Anime and Entertainment