Tag Archives: Gaming

Secondary Findings January 2023

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


Well, it is still the first month of the year, and what better way to start off the year than by sharing some of my more recent favorite things with you, the lovely readers? Also, a slight change in format: for the sake of general organization, I am going to start dividing everything by medium (i.e. movies, tv shows, books, etc) so people can find things a bit easier.

For those who are reading for the first time, Secondary Findings is a series where I talk briefly about all the stuff that is either not anime or manga related or that would not be talked about otherwise. It is a fun way to share a little more about me while hopefully putting people on to some cool media that I enjoy.


First up, here is some of the music I have been enjoying:

Hypochondriac by Brakence

If there was ever an album worth being annoying about, it is this one. I did a favorite album of 2022 list over on my other site, and this…this came in first by a pretty comfortable margin. Elements of emo and math rock, hyperpop, hip-hop, EDM, and pop, basically all of my favorite genres, come together to make one of the most memorable and infectious listening experiences to date. Absolutely slaps.

I Didn’t Mean to Haunt You by Quadeca

Though I certainly was not as big on this album as some others, it does represent a pretty big artistic shift in Quadeca’s career. It is not always the easiest to listen to, but as an experience it is probably one of the most interesting things one could listen to from last year. Of course, concept albums work much better when listened to all the way through. However, more specifically, check out the songs “tell me a joke” and “fractions of infinity” featuring the Sunday Service Choir. It really is some magical stuff.


Now for the games.

Coffee Talk

Even after just a couple hours of gameplay, the charm of this game shines through tremendously. Although, “gameplay” is maybe not the right word for what is otherwise just a visual story where you occasionally mix together ingredients and try your best to do latte art.

Still, it is an imaginative world where the political implications of a fantasy-esc alternate universe with fairies, orcs, vampires, werewolves, and others are filtered through the door of an otherwise ordinary late-night coffee shop run by none other than yourself. It is a great game, especially for people like me who find themselves up late at night with nothing better to do. Might not be worth the almost 15-dollar price tag for some, but I still recommend it wholeheartedly.

Persona 5 Royal

*insert 200-hour-long JRPG joke here*

I started Persona 5 Royal back in 2020, and somehow never found the time to finish it during the global pandemic…huh, funny how that works. However, since graduating college left me with a lot more time on my hands, I figure why not give it another shot?

The game is really solid mechanically and narratively, with Royal more or less improving on just about every aspect of the original. There are more side characters as well as more things to do with your days in between dungeons. However, Persona 5 has always been a franchise more focused on aesthetics, at least for me, and it does that very well. The soundtrack of this game alone is reason enough to at least check it out. Obviously, finding the time to complete a game this long can be tough for people with busy schedules, but for those who are looking for a fun time sink and somehow have not heard about this game, well, here ya go.


Here are some videos/channels I think are worth watching.


I basically spent a good two hours just binging videos from this channel and man was it a good time. SugarPunch focuses primarily on fighting games and their most famous series breaks down the use of various fighting styles in said games, including their history and implementation across various titles.

However, my personal favorite video is linked above and goes into the history of queer representation in fighting games, which to my pleasant surprise is quite abundant. The video is a little bit outdated in regards to the section on Guilty Gear since Bridget was confirmed in canon to be a trans woman upon her release in Strive, but otherwise, it is a great video. Overall, a really fun channel, even for people who are not the biggest fans of the genre.

Smosh Pit

Anyone who was on the internet, specifically YouTube, in the late 2000s and early 2010s probably stumbled across a Smosh video, even if it was by accident. The whole thing has become a lot more… corporate, with one of the original creators Anthony Padilla leaving a few years ago. However, if one good thing has come out of the brand since then, it would be Smosh Pit, specifically their version of a “try not to laugh” series using prop comedy. Something about the regulars they have along with the assortment of guests makes it where the video can go from relatively dry and clean humor to entirely unhinged in a matter of one skit.


I’ve never done a blog section in this series, for some reason, so I figured it might be time to change that.

I drink and watch anime – Irina

Part of the reason might be that I am really bad about keeping up with my fellow bloggers. However, if there is one person who I do read pretty consistently, on the part of her putting out genuinely interesting content, it is Irina. I have mentioned her a few time on the site back when it was going by different names, and her perspective on a lot of series and issues within the medium of anime have stayed incredibly thoughtful and reflective.

She recently wrote a piece about the “adorable glutton” trope that pops up in a lot of cute girls doing cute things type series, and it genuinely made me stop and think for a bit about just how much issues of implicit bias towards heavier people go unchecked in media. So yeah, do yourself a favor and go read some more stuff from her. When she’s not being incredibly thought-provoking, which is rare, she’s also recommending anime series-based drinking games and various alcoholic beverages to do them with.

The Afictionado – Alex Henderson

This is another blog that I have been reading for a while, but have yet to properly shout out for just how awesome it is. Given her Doctoral work focusing on young adult literature, Henderson’s writing, even about more casual and very odd anime, takes a decidedly more academic tone and approach, something I try and ultimately fail and replicating.

However, Henderson also has an impressive body of work outside of the blogosphere and academia. One of my favorite articles, as it relates to anime, is one she wrote about Spy x Family and its relationship with queer families. Queer representation is something I try to talk about as much as I can, and I have learned a lot just from reading her articles, so please do yourself another favor and go check out her work as well.

And that, my friends, is pretty much all of what I have been consuming outside of anime and manga recently. Normally these end up being quarterly posts since I do end up reviewing most of the stuff I consume in any given week or month.

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

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

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


Feeding the Flames: Anime Music, Turn-Based RPGs, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


Well, as usual, I am behind schedule on the series I was planning on covering this month. So, in order to supplement this, it is time once again for some hot takes.

Length is Not Important in Making Good Art

I thought about this a lot after finishing Goodbye, Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto. He completed a well-rounded story in just about 200 pages and arguably wrote not only one of the best manga of the year but potentially a contender for best manga of the decade.

If it sounds like I am calling out shounen here, well it is because I am…kind of. Obviously, this applies to all long-running series, but Shounen stories tend to disproportionately fit into the category. However, the probably here is not the length itself, but rather that the longer a series goes on, the more prone it is to losing focus of its main plot.

The most important thing when writing a story is not its length. Rather, it is making sure that each part of said story is purposeful, and engages with its other parts in a way that makes sense.

Turn-Based RPGs Aren’t Inherently Boring

As much as I consider myself a fan of more action-oriented RPGs like Final Fantasy 13 and the very small amount of the Tales series that I have been able to play, something about the turn-based style of gameplay has always held its charm for me.

While I can certainly understand why people would feel strongly about their repetitive nature, part of that come from a lot of games that either focuses heavily on grinding, have little variance in gameplay, or both. Games like 2012’s Bravely Default prove that even small variations in the traditional formula can make for engaging gameplay that requires more attention than simply mashing through menus.

Still, I am not gonna sit here and pretend like most games that stick with the turn-based formula are innovating in that way.


The Tokyo Ghoul Anime Wasn’t That Bad

There are very few anime that I would say are wholly inferior to their source material. One of those is The Promised Neverland, which…yeah. The other, though, is Tokyo Ghoul. So much of the second season just feels scuffed as hell compared to what we got in the manga.

However, to say that its first season is on the same level feels a bit ludicrous. The adaptation of its story, even if some minor details were left out, was solid, and the animation from Studio Pierrot was above average. It was by no means perfect, but certainly not bad enough to complain endlessly about.

Hiroyuki Sawano

That is the take because my boy Sawano is on fire. On a more serious note, I do think Sawano has, at least at this point, cemented himself as one of the better music producers of anime history. It can certainly feel one-note at times, but at his best, his production is so hard-hitting that it frankly does not matter.

If I were to name some of my favorite music producers, it would likely be Sawano and Yoko Kano. I realize that these are not especially controversial picks, and this series is called Feeding the Flames, but hey, what can I say, quality is quality.

Good Anime Endings are More Memorable than Good Anime Openings

There are a lot of good anime openings, both in turns of animation but also in terms of music. However, the same cannot be said for anime endings, which often feel hand-picked to sound as boring and forgettable as possible. It does make sense, though, as first impressions are often much more important when it comes to sticking to a consistent audience. This is why, despite not thinking much about them, I could very easily name some of my favorite ending themes (more specifically, my favorite anime ending at the moment is Style Helix by Myth&Roid from Re: Zero, while my second favorite is Hibana by The Sixth Lie from Golden Kamuy).

What are some of your hot takes? Let me know down 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

As always, special thanks go to Jenn for the support on Patreon.

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


Feeding the Flames: Wonder Egg Priority, Hearthstone, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


It has been a while since I did a post like this, but Dewbond’s similarly focused series Don’t @ Me made me realize just how much fun giving random, semi-related hot takes about things can be. After all, what is the point of the internet if not to get people arguing in the comments section?

With that being said, let us get started.

One Piece isn’t worth it

We are starting off strong in this one, and yeah, sorry not sorry. Maybe this is easy for me to say because I am not on the other side of it, but a series that takes 50 episodes minimum to get anywhere close to interesting, let alone getting through now 1000 episodes. While I can understand and even appreciate people’s passion for the series, I just have no reason to invest that much time into a show while barely enjoying it.

Wonder Egg Priority is almost certainly getting nominated for Anime of the Year

For as much of a disappointment as this series was, and much to many people’s, including my own, dismay, Wonder Egg Priority will likely see at least one nomination at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards for next year. Now, this does not mean that anime awards are always a perfect measure of quality, but the series does appeal enough to reviewer types like myself and probably a lot of the people who will act as judges to land at least a nomination. This will almost certainly be the case even despite the series lackluster ending.


Sora has the best Smash reveal trailer in all of smash

Listen, I know I’m milking this one for all its worth, but just let me have this, ok?! Obviously, full bias here, as Kingdom Hearts is a cherished memory of mine, but even so, Sora’s reveal for Smash is the most hype trailer for a couple of reasons. First, The main plotline serves as a callback to the World of Light story, in which the characters are captured by darkness. This mirrors perfectly the story of Kingdom Hearts, in which Sora must use the power of light to defeat the darkness. On top of that, the trailer has some top-tier animation along with some amazing meme potential without feeling entirely like a joke. Iconic is an understatement.

Fractured in Alterac Valley will be a good set, actually

This one will be for all two of my readers who are also Hearthstone players, but the upcoming set “Fractured in Alterac Valley” looks to be an exciting set, even without the addition of new hero cards. The cards seem significantly more measured in their impact even while looking incredibly powerful. In particular, the callback to burgle Rogue, while not super convincing from a power level perspective, does seem to be lining up as a fun archetype. Big Mage, even more, seems to be a legitimate threat as far the meta is concerned. Despite the popularity of standard format going down a significant amount, there is still plenty of fun to be had.

Have a hot take of your own? Just want to argue? Leave a comment down 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

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


Secondary Findings: The Mitchells vs The Machines, Kingdom Hearts, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


So, a while ago I started doing posts based on Super EyePatch Wolf’s series “My Favorite Things,” and while I do enjoy doing something similar on this blog, I never actually gave the series a proper title to differentiate it. Since it has been a hot minute since doing one of those posts, I figured now to be a good a time as any. Thus, welcome to the (re)launch of my new series on this blog: Secondary Findings, where we talk about all the things I thought were cool recently that otherwise would not fit as its own post/video.

(As a side note, I never actually intended for the blog to have the astronomy theme that is clearly been developing subconsciously, but it feels oddly fitting.)

Anyway, on with the post!

The Mitchells vs The Machines

The state of children’s media in 2021 is…not something I have enough knowledge to competently discuss. However, it would be a lie to say that all of it is factory-produced, lifeless shells akin to Cocomelon. Though, this movie is clearly aiming for an audience a bit older than that. The Mitchells vs The Machines is a project that I was not expecting to be as entertained by as I was, and was genuinely sad when the credits rolled.

There is so much about this movie worth liking. From its unique animation and character designs courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation to the well-written story and characters that form the base of its title. The movie also is not afraid to cover heavier topics. College-age Katie Mitchell plans on going to film school, but her dad is less than understanding. So, in order to better connect with her daughter, Rick Mitchell decides to take Katie and the rest of his family on a road trip to her new home. All the while, the world is being taken over by the operating system PAL.

I will say, in trying to cover things like the prevalence of technology in people’s lives, being creative in a family that does not accept it, giving up passions in order to start a family, the pacing does suffer a little bit. Additionally, while it never seemed to be the focal point of the movie, Katie’s gay identity feels a bit brushed over as a point of her character. Still, this movie was so much fun that I would not be surprised to find myself going back to it again fairly soon.

Sora in Smash!

Ok, this is cheating a little bit since I did technically do a full write up of Smash Ultimate’s potential last patch. However, the feeling of amazement has not yet been lost on me. Trying to speculate just how much legal effort it took on Nintendo’s part to make this happening is probably in vein, but my simple guess would be “a lot.” Still, everyone’s favorite spiky haired, key blade wielding, anime protagonist is now playable (and most likely going to be my main for competitive play). His skins feel like they were made with purpose, even if Disney’s ownership of certain IPs made the range of selection rather limited, and his overall move set makes him feel purposeful, with nearly every move having a strong role to play in his kit.

While I have little reason to return to his original games at this point outside of a passing fluster of nostalgia, his inclusion is bound to make many of those who grew up with the Kingdom Hearts universe happy. More still, it will be exciting to see just how far he can be pushed from a competitive standpoint.


Hanasaku Iroha

If it was not clear already from the haphazard times between when I first talk about show to when, or really if, I finish them, I am bad at sticking to one show for an extended length of time. That being said, Hanasaku Iroha is a show that I am most definitely interested in finishing…at some point. Again, I am not going to put a date on it cause that feels sort of pointless, but there is a lot to like about the series.

Ohana has a sort of out there, individualistic spirit that feels rarely represented in a narrative space so focused on characters. Having grown up with an unreliable mom, she is forced to deal with life mostly on her own. Because of this, her philosophy of only relying on herself comes up against her hardline grandmother and the staff of the Inn where she is now forced to work. In spite of this, the first few episodes see the beginning of change, a readjustment to her new environment and the blooming of ability to rely on others for the first time in, basically, forever.

If this were an Initial Results post, I would say just go watch it. But…na, jk still go watch it. Great series thus far.

Franny Choi’s Soft Science

*remembers I have a second blog that I have not been posting on at all for months*


Existence is a weird thing, huh? and no, I am not just saying that as a way to ridicule myself further. While I have been contemplating doing reviews over on Solidly Liquid for a while now, that has yet to materialize, so it seemed appropriate to talk about one of my favorite collections in recent memory: Franny Choi’s Soft Science.

There is a lot going on in this collection, but the primary tension seems to be the contrast between how the narrator wants to be seen versus how those identities often appear in reality. It brings up femininity, Asian identity, and how those things are experienced both internally and externally. The running metaphor used throughout Soft Science compares the speaker to a machine, acting and thinking as a stereotype despite the emotionally complex reality of what they go through in every-day life.

Since this is ostensibly an anime focused blog it would be a mistake not to mention one of my favorite pieces in the collection “Chi” based around the main character of Chobits. Visually, it has a very unique presentation, being divided into four sections each with their own unique structure, commenting on the various aspects of Chi’s character and how that relates to the speaker. There are also a ton other nerdy sci-fi references that I know at least a portion of those who read this blog will likely appreciate.

What things have you all been enjoying recently? 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

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


Smash’s Final Character: Smash Ultimate Patch 13.0

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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.


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.


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.


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

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


United In Stormwind Set Discussion

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


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.


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.


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

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


First Impressions: Griftlands

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I mentioned in my first impressions of “Arcanium: Rise of Akhan” that Slay the Spire is a game that I have spent a lot of time with, more than 100 hours. The only other game I have put that much time into outside of “Smash” and “Hearthstone,” the one’s I play competitively, is “Final Fantasy 13.” Actually, wait, that is a lie. I forgot how long it took me to beat the original “Persona 5.” I might just be really bad at video games…

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that often times when I get obsessed with a game I end up putting an ungodly amount of time into it. It is not always a great personality trait to have, but ya know, its there. I say all of this because “Griftlands” is a lot of fun, and while I could also see myself putting a lot of time into “Arcanium” because the card game roguelike subgenre is just one that I enjoy a lot, there are some things that set it apart.

For starters, “Arcanium” being the visual mess that it is makes it a lot harder to concentrate on the particular tasks at hand. “Griftlands” circumvents this problem in a couple of ways. First, it just straight up has less happening on screen while arguable being more mechanically involved, even in just the normal story mode. This helps focus the player on important stats and deck mechanics. Second, the size of the display at the top feels just big enough to make sure the player knows they are there while also not being distracting. Lastly, the game also hides its big chunks of text and story within character dialogue by allowing one to hover over it and get a brief explanation.

Speaking of, something else that Griftlands also does that its peers within the genre do not is incorporate a significant story element. Each of the characters, Sal, Rook and Smith, each have a dedicated story mode which tell about their place in this bounty hunter filled world, and utilize mechanics related to that story. A good example of this is Rook’s lucky coin. Not only is the coin instantly recognizable, but also plays into how the character functions. Using a mechanic called gamble, Rook flips a coin and gains additional effects based on the flip. There are even certain cards whose effects revolve around rigging a certain outcome of the coin toss.


One concern that was brought to my attention by others who have played the game a bit more is replay value. Generally, the core appeal of roguelikes is their diversity of experience, and thus being able to play the game in many different ways, making the replay value significantly higher. However, because the game is a bit more story focused, it may lack that same value due to having to slog through the story bits. While I can understand where that concern comes from, my minimal experience with the game thus far leads me away from making strong conclusions about this aspect. It might be worth noting that the game does have a total of three modes for each character: the initial story mode and two others

The art in the game is also incredibly nice to look at. As far as the characters go, it feels like the designers went the extra mile to make sure that even minor characters of an alien race were distinct enough to be recognizable outside of specific contexts. On top of that, the main characters also seem to have a well developed backstory and are each interesting enough to carry a few 3-4 hour runs at least.

So, yeah. There is a lot more that I probably could say about “Griftlands,” even with just seven to eight hours played, but overall it is just a solid game. Anyone who is remotely interested in this type of gameplay should definitely peep it, especially considering its only about 20 dollars after tax on steam right now.

How do you all feel about “Griftlands?” 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

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

First Impressions: Arcanium

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I have been on a huge card game kick recently. I have been laser focused in on competitive “Hearthstone” recently, and when I am not playing that, I am theory crafting decks in “Yu-Gi-Oh.” I also spent a lot of time on “Slay the Spire” last year, a rogue like card which focused on deck building and making your hero stronger through upgrades and items. Fast Forward a couple weeks and I see Jon of Jon Spencer’s Reviews playing a new but oddly similar game, “Arcanium.”

Given where my fixations have been for the last couple weeks, it felt like a no brainer to try it out. So, I went on steam, bought it for around 17 dollars, and gave it a spin last night on my stream. So, was it worth? Does it live up to some of its predecessors?

Well, its hard to say anything definitive after just a few hours of gameplay, but the game does have some very obvious strengths and weaknesses. First, “Arcanium,” in a lot of ways, does feel a bit more challenging than other roguelikes. The managing of three different heroes and decks both in combat and out makes it a significantly more involved experience. There were times when I would have to pause the music I had on just so I could concentrate on what I was doing.

This also brings up another related point, which is that with triple the characters comes triple the mechanics. In a game like “Slay the Spire,” managing your damage output and intake is limited to one body. However, in a game like “Arcanium,” understanding who your primary damage dealer, tank, and healer is becomes an essential part of playing the game well.


The deckbuilding in general in this game is a lot of fun. Given that each character has a max of 12 card slots, it becomes a lot easier to focus in on making characters do particular things. This again helps to better layout a character’s role and identity within the run.

However, there are still a couple of things wrong with the game. While I was able to figure out a lot on my own because of my history with the genre, it does feel weird that the game has no tutorial. Given how niche the genre already is, it feels like one of those things that is kind of weird to forget. I suppose one could argue that the lack of a tutorial gives the game a bit more of a challenge straight up, but still feels like a poor decision.

Even if the game did have a tutorial, though, I honestly am not sure how much it would help. This is because a lot of things in the game feel unnecessarily hard to understand. Part of this has to do with the smaller text the game uses, which is likely their given how much is actually happening on screen. This disorganization felt a like a turn off while first playing through the game, though it does become a minor inconvenience after a while.

Overall, while their are some minor flaws which prevent the game from being a masterpiece, I can definitely see myself spending quite a few hours in the game. Given its relatively low price point, I would say any fan of both card games and roguelikes would definitely be happy to have this in their collection.

Have you folks played “Arcanium?” How did you feel about it? 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

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

May 2021 Jon’s Creator Showcase #TheJCS

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

and an extra special welcome to everyone who helped make this month’s #TheJCS a success. I was initially a bit worried that, because I had never hosted before that regular submitters to the event might not know thus we would have a depressed turnout. However, this does not appear to be the case, as the event this month still had a wide variety of unique and interesting submissions.

If you are popping in for the first time and are unaware what exactly #TheJCS is, I would encourage you to read the announcement post I did earlier this month, which has an in depth explanation. However, in summary, Jon’s Creator Showcase, or #TheJCS as it is more commonly referred to, is an even in which people submit blog posts, YouTube Videos, Podcasts, etc and aims to celebrate the creative endeavors of those who submit.

So, without further adu, here are this months submitted posts.

Anime: A Variation on the Faust Theme – Fred Heiser/Au Natural

Given how much anime there is in existence now, and how much comes out even on a seasonal basis, it can be pretty easy to forget that which is a bit passed our time. In this post, Fred Heiser of Au Natural looks at the anime film “Belladonna of Sadness,” which came in 1973 and was directed by Eiichi Yamamoto. As Heiser explains in his post, this was not exactly a film for a general audience, ending up a commercial flop. However, hidden behind that deceiving fact is a film that will, quite frankly, have you tripping balls. “Belladonna of Sadness” tells a Faustian tale about a young woman who tries to marry a young farm hand. However, the local lord isn’t to happy about this. Lets just say this movie has love, sex, revenge, devils, and some…strange animation. Heiser’s post does a much better job giving the Juicy dets, so go check it out.

Log Horizon: Three Meals and a Nap – Scott/Mechanical Anime Reviews

Despite having not yet seen season three, I consider “Log Horizon” to be one of my favorite series of all time. The adventuring, the world building, the politics: all of it comes together in a way that is engaging on multiple levels. Princess Raynesia is a character I honestly have never thought too highly of. However, Scott’s post provides a great argument for why she is not only more relatable to the general audience, but arguably goes through more of a struggle over the course of the series. Go watch “Log Horizon” and go read this post as well.


Top 20 Best Vampire Anime of All Time – YumDeku/MyAnimeGo

I’ll admit that the vampire subgenre is not one I have payed to much attention to when it comes to anime, or any medium for that matter. However, YumDeku has compiled an interesting list to say the least. The rankings themselves are not something I feel comfortable commenting on too heavily, again, because I have yet to see most of these shows. However, As someone who has seen both “Blood+” and “Hellsing,” I appreciate their inclusion on this list. If vampires in anime are something that takes your interest, definitely give this a read.

Rating All the #AniTwitWatches Anime – Aria(MagicConan)/The Animanga Spellbook

If you are not familiar, #Anitwitwatches is another even hosted by the wonderful Jon Spencer, who is the original creator of this event, in which people follow a chosen anime on a weekly basis and post their thoughts on twitter dot com. The event has been going on for quite a while, and thus their are a lot of anime that the #Anitwitwatches group has covered. At least as far as the shows I have also seen, it seems as though Aria does a great job of critiquing the shows’ various strengths and weaknesses. For those who have yet to participate in #Anitwitwatches, definitely consider checking it out, and give Aria’s post a read as well.

Houkago Tea Time’s Real Life Visit to London, England: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of K-On! The Movie – Infinite Zenith/The Infinite Zenith

It is a well known fact that many backgrounds in anime are based on real life places found around Japan. However, as Infinite Zenith explains in this post, that dedication to accuracy extends even to productions set outside of Japan. In the K-On movie, the light music club girls take a sporadic graduation trip to London. Using the historical accuracy of Google Maps and the Oculus Quest, Zenith takes a journey down memory lane, exploring the real life set pieces that became the inspiration for the girls’ English adventure. Posts like these are always interesting to me because, while the backgrounds may not be “original,” it does show a dedication to accuracy that is really inspiring. Putting this together was probably not all that easy, even with the available technology, so please go show this post some love.

Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel III. Spring Song Anime Film Review – Yu Alexis/Yu Alexis

If there is a franchise that I am arguably most excited to continue explore during this year, it is the “Fate/” series, without question. “Fate/Zero” was a time and a half, and Unlimited Blade Works genuinely had my heart racing at some points. As Yu Alexis points out in her post, a lot of this is thanks to UFOtable, who has done absolute wonders for the franchise as a whole. One of the only “Fate/” related media I have yet to see, however, are the Sakura focused trilogy series. Now, do not get me wrong, I was always planning on seeing them once the third film had been released. However, Yu Alexis’ post has made me want to speed that process along, as it feels like they really get at the heart of what makes the movie good. A fantastic review, to be sure.

Wonder Egg Priority: Scrambled Ambition – Dewbond/Shallow Dives in Anime

As my own review of the series can attest, “Wonder Egg Priority” is a complicated show, to say the least. On the one hand, its tackling of these darker themes of anxiety, depression, and suicide in younger girls is incredibly admirable. Even after the show’s finale, I still think it is one of the selling points of the series. However, as Dewbond rightly points out, ideas are only ever going to get a series so far. A good show has to stand on the merit of its execution, and unfortunately “Wonder Egg Priority’s” legs here are shaking at best. Dewbond does a fantastic job of pointing out how, despite 10 or so episodes of relatively good storytelling, a good portion of that good will is thrown out in the final two episodes, where it seems the writers just forgot how much time they actually had, and did their best to throw together an ending that would (maybe) make sense? It is unfortunate to see this much potential be wasted, but the reality is that the series ended up falling flat on its face.

Wonder Egg Priority (Anime) Review – Snow/Well, Are They?

I used to be of the mind set that the ending was really important. While endings are important, and though “Wonder Egg Priority certainly collapsed quite a bit in its ending, It is worth pointing out how much good their was in its execution in other areas. The animation was good in almost every aspect, from character design to sakuga, and, even if they were not necessarily handled in the best way possible, the personal conflicts each of the girls go through is fairly well done. Is the show perfect? Far from it, but Snow does a great job pointing out the series’ better aspects. Definitely give her review a read.

Fruits Basket – The Final Episode 4 Review – The Heart Of Darkness – Crow/Crow’s World of Anime

It feels weird to say, but I honestly have not kept up with the new “Fruits Basket” since before the pandemic, which is weird because I was genuinely excited for this remake. Unfortunately, it is now on a long list of series that have been circumstantially backlogged until further notice. However, Crow’s write up of episode four is extremely detailed. Not only do they do an excellent job of summarizing the episodes events, but reading about the show’s final season has me all the more excited for when I do finally continue the series.

Goodbye, Osamu Kobayashi – Jessi Silver/Season 1 Episode 1

There have been many tragic passing’s in the last few years, both in the anime industry and out of it. From the death of basketball star Kobe Briant and beloved actor Chadwick Boseman, to the death of Isao Takahata, a founder and director at Studio Ghibli. However, someone I was not aware of was director Osamu Kobayashi. Kobayashi not only helmed some notable series such as “Paradise Kiss” and “Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad,” but had his hand in many other projects, including most recently before his passing “Dorororo.” Learning about a standout figure after their passing always feels a bit bittersweet. However, I can tell that this was both a lovely tribute and an extremely personal post.

Who’s the New Higurashi For? – Jon Spencer/Jon Spencer Reviews

Founder of the #TheJCS is back with a brand new video, breaking down the first season of the newest iteration in the “Higurashi” franchise, “Higurashi: Gou.” However, given the story that has told already with the original series and the follow-up “Kai,” Jon asks a serious question: who is “Gou” even meant for? As someone who saw the original Higurashi and most of “Kai,” I was a bit confused when I learned the newest series was not a direct remake. While updated visuals and music are certainly nice for a series like this (I’m still thinking about Rena’s eyes in the third episode, man that was creepy), I ultimately have to agree that the show just ends up pleasing nobody.


“Love me cancerously… She moves through moonbeams slowly. She knows just how to hold me.” — CMV/AMV Saturday (04/10/21) – Shoujo/Shoujo Thoughts: Otaku Ramblings

Cosplay is not one of those areas that I do not feel all too familiar with. However, I think even for those who are not familiar with it, it is pretty easy to tell when its being done incredibly well. Shoujo’s post shows off professional cosplay partners Svattii and Mishkali, and their Cosplay Music Video (CMV) “Love Me Death Note.” I am really glad that Shoujo decided to submit this because this is a genre of video I was not aware even existed. Well, at least now I know how I can spend my evenings other than watching random gameplay videos.

Anime Corner: Talentless Nana Review – Chris Joynson/Never Argue with a Fish

Good thing I never do, haha!…ok, yeah I’ll see myself out. While I am generally pretty aware of most of the series that come out in any given season, this one flew completely under my radar. Like, so far under that I was surprised to read it came out within the last year. Anyway, their are a lot of ways to do a good first episode, surprise twists are always a strong option (I am still thinking about the first episode of Invincible from earlier this year). While the plot description initially bored me, Joynson’s review felt fairly convincing, enough so that I will probably give this series a shot in the near future. Well done.


“The Wonderland” is another project that completely slipped under the radar for me, probably because my anime movie ecosystem for the last few years has mainly been a mix of Ghibli, Hosoda, and Shinkai. Still, that feels a lot more like my fault than anything else. Emiko, on the other hand, has ear on the pulse, as far as some of the more low-key projects go. Reading her thoughts is interesting, as it seems like this film has its share of strong and weak points worth considering. Given its aim at younger audiences, it might still end up a bit boring, but it also might end up being fun regardless.

NANA – Anime Playlist – Derek Lyons/Apprentice Mages Lounge

While this is not a universally law, and there are certainly series who break this rule, it feels like anime that focus on music as part of their core story tend to have better soundtracks. A good example of this is the recent show “Carole and Tuesday.” Like, maybe it had a couple of misses, but in general it was just banger after banger. I imagine I will probably have a similar opinion of “NANA” once I actually get around to watching it. Luckily, Derek Lyons put together an excellent sampler of the series’ musical selection and…yeah, its just really good. In general, the series seems to have a solid variety of Japanese rock. For those who, like me, are not super familiar with the series and want a sense of what the show is like music wise, definitely give this post a look.

The Way of the Househusband Netflix Anime – Final Thoughts – Rose/Wretched and Divine

I think its fair to say that most people had a less than excited reaction to finding out that “The Way of the Househusband” would not be a full anime, but rather an “animated comic” or whatever precursor they decided to use as a shorthand for not being fully animated. However, as Rose points out, there is still plenty of enjoyment to be had with the Netflix adaptation. The comedy still mostly lands, and worse case scenario you have only spent about 2-3 hours watching the series.

Edward and Alphonse Elric: How to Create Believable Brothers in Fiction – Jonah Hunt/Jonah’s Daily Rants

Jonah Hunt is absolutely right when he says that depicting brotherly relations in writing is hard. I will even take it a step further and say that portraying relationships in general without coming across as stiff and off-putting is extremely difficult. However, as his article quite excellently dissects, Fullmetal Alchemist knows how to explore the depth of Edward and Alphonse’s relationship. The fact that they are connected by a shared trauma makes it much more logical that they spend an extended amount of time together looking for a way to get their bodies back. Overall, this is a great analysis and worthy of a read.

Autism in Video Games – Megan/Nerd Rambles

In a world where entertainment. as well as media more broadly speaking, is becoming more and more influential in the daily lives of everyday people, it would seem to make sense that media should reflect the diversity that exists among people, no? Well, as Megan points out one group who seems to be lacking in representation, at least as far as video games go, is people on the Autism spectrum. Representation is a topic I care a lot about, and, if I am being completely honest, her post opened me up to a blindside I did not know I had. Its true: video games feel lacking in explicit representation for people on the spectrum, and that should change.

IN MY VIEW: ANIME AND GAMING MEDIA – Iniksbane/In Search of Number 9

I was honestly expecting to have a few more disagreements with the arguments being made. However, while I could nitpick about exactly how much responsibility a writer has compared to their editor in any given situation, It feels pretty hard to disagree with Iniksbane’s take here. As the competition for attention and retention gets fiercer and more data driven, companies will inevitably start dipping their toes in other waters. While gaming outlets writing about anime is not that new, It does not help their case for quality when every few months another inflammatory article gets written that gets a lot of basic things wrong. This well thought out and understanding piece is definitely worth a read.

Discussion: Does Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe deserve a second chance? – Matt/Matt-in-the-Hat

While I have been interested and involved in the FGC for some time now, Mortal Kombat and the DC aligned fighting games were not an area that I took a strong liking too. However, that is not to say a revived crossover between the two would not be interesting. Matt not only goes over the long and varied history of Midway Games, the original studio behind the “Mortal Kombat” series, but uses the studio’s history to assess whether or not a reboot of the original crossover game “Morkat Kombat vs DC Universe” is possible. Given DC’s darker direction in the last couple years, it certainly would not feel out of place. Additionally, given the popularity of those franchises, a competitive game involving the two would likely draw a lot of eyes and potential for big deals. Overall, it feels like a reboot would be a win-win for everyone.

DOOM Slayer Promo (DOOM Eternal) | The Cyber Den – Jake Parr/Jake the Voice

I imagine that getting to interview someone whose work you appreciate is a big deal. While “DOOM was never much of a big deal for me, and still really is not, It is a massively important series to a lot of people. I also cannot say I have heard to many interview promos, but this sounds truly epic, in every sense of the word. Matthew Waterson’s voice as the “DOOM” guy is incredibly awesome to listen to, and does a great job of selling the identity of “DOOM” as a franchise. The full interview is also out on Jake’s Channel, so if you want to go listen to that as well, than feel free.


Transistor – Basscape/The Almighty Backlog

If you want to read a reviewer who just knows what they are talking about when it comes to games, give Basscape’s blog “The Almighty Backlog” a read. This review of “Transistor” from game studio Supergiant is not only incredibly educational and interesting, but feels articulate in a way that makes me feel like I have so much more to learn about games and even how to write reviews. Needless to say I have been convinced on giving “Transistor” a try at some point, but please do drop this man a follow. Absolutely deserved.

FNaF: Security Breach Fan Theory: Gregory Is Vanny’s Adopted Son – Matt Doyle/Matt Doyle Media

The last time I made a serious attempt to keep up with “Five Nights at Freddy’s” lore was in like early 2019. However, that does not mean I do not find the series to be interesting, quite the opposite actually. What started as just an indie horror game made by an almost failed Christian game designer has turned into an entire universe, with people of all different backgrounds coming together to try and figure out what the hell is even going on. Even despite how much information I am missing, reading fan theories like Matt’s is incredibly fun. For those actual “FNAF” fans who are curious, give this post a read.

Indietail – Ape Out – MagiWasTaken/Indiecator

You ever just wanna go absolutely ape? no, but like literally? Well, luckily for you, there is a solution. Gaming blogger MagiWasTaken has an excellent review of “Ape Out,” a top-down, beat-em-up which focuses on the player controlling a gorilla and attempting to take out a number of guards in order to escape. he also do an excellent job of identifying how the soundtrack interacts with the game as a whole. Never thought I would read “ape” and “free form jazz” in an indie game review, but now anyone who gives this review a read can say they have, so go check it out.

BL Metamorphosis: A Blossoming Relationship || Manga First Impressions – Takuto/Takuto’s Anime Cafe

I’ll be the first to admit that BL is not exactly my preferred genre. This is probably incredibly shocking coming from a Cishetero dude, I know. However, “BL Metamorphosis” is a series I could see myself genuinely enjoying. Stories about people of vastly different age groups and backgrounds enjoying something together unashamedly are ones that do not feel like they get told all too often. Whether someone is 15 or 50, 45 or 75, there should not be shame in picking up a new hobby, or enjoying something that would not necessarily be targeted at them. So yeah, Takuto does a great job at selling the story of this series and I for one can certainly see myself picking up “BL Metamorphosis” in the near future.


The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent (Manga) Vol 1-2 Review – Al/ Al’s Manga Blog

A female main character in an isekai who is not defined solely or even primarily by her physical attractiveness? I am interested already. I have been seeing a lot more promotion for this series as of late, and given how Al describes it, I can certainly understand why. This is the type Isekai that honestly feels pretty targeted at me, one because ya boy likes his romantic storylines, and two because these more daunting questions of hidden identities create a lot of potential for big twists down the line. From what I can tell the art is also pretty solid too, which is always a bonus. Overall, this is just a great write-up of the series and definitely will get added to my to read list.

I Hear the Sunspot: Limit Manga Volumes 1-3 Series Review – Ziebruh/Bloom Reviews

There is always a lot to say about series that center the experiences of social minorities and their experiences. Sometimes it can be done well, and other times no so much. However, Ziebruh does a great job at explaining not only the success in “I Hear the Sunspot’s” telling of this kind of story, but also how it is good outside of that framework. While it is always important for reviewers to talk about the underlying sentiments and themes of a work, it is equally important to talk about the story’s actually quality. This is a review that balances both incredibly well.

Anime Discussion: Relating to Fruits basket on a Personal Level – Art of Anime

It is always depressing, but also eye-opening to watch a slice of life/drama story and think about the very real experiences that probably, at least in part, influenced those stories. It is even moreso to read other people’s direct accounts of how true that actually is. As somone who grew up in a relatively privileged position on the economic and social scale, I have to remind myself fairly often that my lived experiences are not other peoples, and many have struggled to even get where they are today. Needless to say that Art of Anime does an amazing job talking about their lived experiences and contextualizing them against a series that should feel more fiction than fact, but making that out to be not the case. Please give this a read and send them a virtual hug while you are at it.

My Guide to Level 30! – Sailor Otome/The Pretty Blerd Guardian

Being an adult is hard. You suddenly are forced to worry about things that were previously insignificant details on your journey through childhood. It becomes even harder when forced to deal with people judging your interests, multiplied by factors of identity that you have no control over. The nerd experience is different for people depending on how they were born, and aging only adds to that disparity. Sailor Otome’s post is one that combines these experiences in a self-reflecting essay which is genuinely heartwarming and encouraging to read. Anyone who is feeling bad about being a nerd as an adult should read this post.

My History with Slimes – Nabe-chan/Geek Nabe

One of the most, if not the most repetitive enemy archetype JRPGs are slimes. They take a variety of forms, whether they be giant monsters or just little blops jumping on the ground. This is a really interesting post because It feels as though most people tend to have a connection with specific archetypes, whether they be characters, monsters, settings. Everyone just has that one aesthetic that really resonates with them, and it was interesting to read about Nabe’s relationship with slimes, especially considering the recent boom in popularity for video game themed isekai.

Just wanna say thank you to everyone who submitted this month and helped make my first ever Jon’s Creator Showcase a success. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any “March Comes in Like a Lion” posts this time around. I guess I just need to shill a bit harder, hehe. Not sure when I will be hosting again in the future, but I do know that Scott of Mechanical Anime Reviews will be hosting next month’s Showcase. Also, if you did not get a chance to see last month’s, go check out the April 2021 #TheJCS hosted by Crimson of A Nerdy Fujo Cries.

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

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

Hearthstone “Forged in the Barrens” Set Thoughts and Predictions

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Hearthstone’s year of the Gryphon is already moving pretty fast, and its first expansion is set to release at the end of this month. There were many changes in the last year for Hearthstone, with the introduction of a new class and a few new game modes as well, with an additional format in “Classic” scheduled to arrive, along with the newest set “Forged in the Barrens.”

There also just happened to be an entire core set rework that I never really touched on, but since my schedule is busier than ever and my focus is at an all time low I never really got to talk about it, so I’ll give my quick thoughts now. In summary, I think the core set rework and standard change is a really good idea. There were definitely a lot of older cards that just were not good and probably are not getting played ever again. Additionally, the idea of a rotating core set makes prospects of playing standard over an extended period of time much more interesting. This is because, along with new expansions, the base level cards that everyone has access to will change, making the game feel much more fresh over time.

With that being said, here are my thoughts on “Forged in the Barrens.”


Spell Schools/Tags

This is also more of a game wide change as opposed to a set specific one, but it does affect the upcoming sets as well, so it is still worth talking about. Tribes in most cards games, be it “Hearthstone,” “Yugioh,” “Magic,” etc are used both to increase the power of specific archetypes and also to control which archetypes have access to specific effects. The ladder two in particular are fairly comfortable with the idea of spell tags and using them to control the power of a card.

“Hearthstone” is a game that has gone through a lot of changes even its relatively short lifespan, changes which have created a lot of decks that players would consider gimmicky or unfun to play against, such as “Malygos” combo decks. Having certain effects like spell damage only interact with certain kinds of spells significantly lowers the ability for singular cards to create entire archetypes in the future. In this way, the inclusion of spell tribes not only feels unnoteworthy, but in a lot of ways necessary for the health of the game.


There have been a lot of new keywords added to “Hearthstone,” particularly in the last few years of the game, but not all keywords are created equal. Some, like “Discover” have added a lot more randomness and overall focus on value generation to the game than in its earlier days. Others, like “Overkill” and “Corrupt” have had a lot less of an impact on the meta, outside of just adding some ok cards to the standard pool.

While it is still really early to make a definitive judgement on anything thus far, “Frenzy” feels like it will end up somewhere in the middle. For those unaware, Frenzy effects activate the first time a minion would survive damage, which makes it almost like an enrage effect of old. A fair amount of the minions with the keyword have relatively high health totals to help trigger these effects, but that might not be enough.

Even with the core set rotation, and with the addition of a lot the new cards in “Forged in the Barrens,” most classes still have access to a fair bit of high damage and hard removal. However, there will still be plenty of times when no such removal exists or it just is not drawn, meaning “Frenzy” might just have a better chance. Also, the inclusion of the “Rush” keyword on many of the newer cards means it might be a be a bit more viable than other proactive keywords such as “Overkill.” Still, only time and statistics will be able to speak to the new mechanic’s effectiveness.


Diamond Cards?

Alternate arts and cosmetic changes have always been a topic of discussion in the “Hearthstone” community, and in the last year or so Blizzard has delivered a lot more in this realm. The updated rewards system in the form of the battle pass brought with it a whole host of rewards, including new hero portraits and a new version of the coin. The year of the Gryphon is expanding on this idea, and introducing a limited number of diamond cards that will be accessible through the paid version of the battle pass.

The battle pass was another controversy that I did not cover, partly because of time but mostly because other people did it a lot better than I could. It definitely sucked at first, put the continued adjustments to experience requirements and improvements on received experience from play has made it feel significantly more rewarding than its advent iteration. Where was I? Oh yeah, diamond cards.

Since it is purely a cosmetic addition and only limited to a certain number of cards, I do not particularly mind its inclusion. Die hard fans of the game who are looking to have a 100 percent complete collection are probably going to be a bit mad that they have to spend even more money, but, at the end, of the day it is a really cool looking addition that does not take anything away from gameplay for money.

No More Infinite Value!

The mechanical theme of “Barrens” contrasts significantly with the previous year. Much of the card design in the Year of the Dragon focuses on getting value off of value in continuous chains. This created a lot of polarized opinions, with a certain part of the player base being ok with it and many saying it creates an unhealthy degree of randomness in a game that is already largely defined by it.

However, the game’s newest set seems to be returning to designs of old, which focus complimenting specific game plans rather than being on card engines. Personally, I think this will leave the game in a much healthier state than it was before. If the priest mirror match can teach us anything, its that a meta defined by balancing infinite value with consistent tempo is one that is destined to become boring after a while.

Are you looking forward to “Forged in the Barrens?” What do you think of the recent changes? Let me know in the comments below.

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