Tag Archives: Jack Scheibelein

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

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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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.

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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

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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More Anime Soundtracks to Put in Your Playlist

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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It is Friday, which means another column to share from my time at my college’s newspaper. This time, I thought it would be fun to return to the topic of good anime soundtracks, and so here are a few more that should absolutely be on a playlist of yours if they are not already. While a certain show that I have talked about in the past is also on this list, I stand by the argument that it has a great soundtrack, so yeah. With that being said, let us begin.


Welcome back, tourists.

With increasing access to pretty much every kind of music through the internet and various music streaming services, it feels as though there is a soundtrack for pretty much every point in people’s lives. Now, instead of borrowing CDs, people are sharing playlists on Spotify and YouTube. 

I have said it before, and I am here to say it again. Anime has a number of amazing soundtracks with plenty of “banger” tracks, as the kids say, as well as slower, more reflective moments. Today, I want to share more of those worthwhile soundtracks. Content warning for some of the descriptions below.

“Wonder Egg Priority” – Music by De De Mouse

Those who follow seasonal anime might already be familiar with this new addition to the magical girl genre that recently took the community by storm. “Wonder Egg Priority” follows a group of girls who are transported to a dream world in order to rescue their friends who have died of suicide. The strange and dark nature of the show’s story and animation flows into the series’ soundtrack, courtesy of De De Mouse

The 42-year-old music producer pulled no punches on this project, taking his signature electronic music style and turning it up to 11. From the first episode to the latest, there is a sort of Kinetic energy that permeates the entire work. For the best example of this, check out episodes three and four. While it might be confusing, it will definitely also be exciting.

“Bleach” – Music by Shiro Sagisu

“Bleach” is an anime with a long and complicated history in terms of its quality. However, one element of the show that always felt underappreciated was its soundtrack. There are, of course, many openings that are worth talking about, especially its first one “Asterisk” by Orange Range. However, composer Shiro Sagisu knows how to capture the show’s unique flare. 

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The show’s long run time also came with it a much larger than usually soundtrack, and while there are, of course, the occasionally more generic-sounding songs, some, like “Ichigo’s Theme” help to carve out the show’s identity and give it that extra bit of hype that every good shounen anime needs. 

“Your Name” – Music by RADWIMPS

Maybe it is unfair to compare tv anime soundtracks with movies, but it would be an absolute tragedy to not recommend at least one movie from Makoto Shinkai, as his films are pretty much all about the experience. After all, it would not be a Shinkai film with the backing of RADWIMPS.

The J-Rock group has been around since the turn of the millennium but got international acclaim after their work on “Your Name,” and for good reason. Their unique brand of J-rock is both energetic and musically progressive, building on itself constantly until it reaches a fantastic peak. The film would have been much worse off were it not for this group, and it is definitely good car ride material.

It can be hard to find good music given just how much is available, but for those who are up for trying something new, there are plenty of anime soundtracks worth exploring. 


What other soundtracks did I miss? 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!

Special thanks to patron Jenn Coulter for continuing to support us this month.

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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Romance Anime, “Golden Time,” and Amazing Drama

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Hey everyone, so quick backstory on this post. I watched the anime series Golden Time earlier this year and I liked it… a lot. I liked it so much in fact that it ended up on my favorites list that I posted back in August. It also inspired me to make a video which, not uncommonly around here, I never actually ended up doing. So, since I ran out of time for today and could not think of anything else, here is the script for that video. Enjoy!


Hot take: most romance anime are not particularly good.

Yeah, I said it. What are you gonna do about it? In all seriousness though, I hope that at this point in the progression of anime as an art form that we can at least recognize the abundance of mediocre romance in anime. You know the ones I’m talking about: the generic Japanese high school main characters have never interacted with a member of the opposite sex will they won’t they until they maybe hold hands at the end of season two if they even get that far bs that feels like it dominated for most of the 2000s and 2010s. 

Thankfully, it seems as though that is slowly beginning to change. While I did not necessarily enjoy it as much as others, I can at least appreciate what a show like Gamers! was trying to do, playing off the traditional popular girl loser main character dynamic and flipping it on its head. Shows like Horimiya have shown that romance anime can come to satisfying conclusions, while also displaying a fair amount of emotional and character development among the whole cast. Granted, Tsuresure Children was doing this back in 2017 to a slightly worse effect, but still good to see regardless. 

Now, this is not to say that this push and pull dynamic can’t work in certain shows. Oftentimes, such as with a series like Kimi no Todoke, this revolves around the idea that the main characters are afraid of what the other one is thinking, which is definitely relatable. In fact, I would say most romances of this persuasion invoke this notion of relatability. However, that by itself is not a payoff or a mark of good storytelling, but merely a part of it. 

This brings me to Golden Time, a 2013 romance and drama produced by J.C. Staff. The story centers around a college-age amnesiac who remembers nothing about his identity due to having been knocked off a bridge. Tada Banri, thus, decides to move to Tokyo and attend law school in order to start his life over. From there, he meets Yana, and the rich girl who’s obsessed with him, Koko. The group begins to grow close while Banri slowly but surely regains his identity.

Funnily enough, I actually ended up hearing about this series at first from an old episode of the Podtaku podcast, which featured some familiar faces of the anime YouTube community, namely Gigguk. He was incredibly enthusiastic about the series at the time, and for whatever reason, his high praise of the show stuck in my mind. Never have I been more thankful for my oddly specific long-term memory, because while I went into Golden Time with relatively few expectations, it delivered a storytelling experience that I can only describe as emotionally cathartic and incredibly well executed.

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A lot of what Golden Time does right comes in the form of the character’s relationships as well as its use of Tada Banri’s Amnesia as a plot device. For starters, it helps that these characters feel like real people. Like I said before, relatability only matters in so much as it allows the viewer to form a connection with the series and the characters. However, forming a direct relationship between viewer and audience is not the only way to do this. 

Instead, the series ops to let the characters’ relationships progress naturally. The fact that Banri and Koko start dating in the first place is a product of both Banri’s longing to build a new identity due to his amnesia, as well as Yana’s refusal to date her. Similarly, Yana’s budding relationship with Linda follows logically from being rejected by Chinami and then hanging out with her in a purely platonic context. None of the relationships that emerge throughout the series feel forced, which allows for more of a genuine experience.

Of course, all of these relationships are centered around Banri, whose journey through college and battle with his amnesia is the focus of the series. Banri, while definitely having the character design of a generic anime protagonist, certainly does not act it. Even as a literal shell of a human being, his progression throughout this 24 episode series is a combination of heartbreaking and victorious that feels like the best roller coaster I have ever ridden. Through the highs and lows of his journey, he remains a moving presence on screen, and the looming worry about the potential consequences of his returning memory makes it all the more engaging.

A theme that emerges early on in the series is one of identity, specifically dealing with the loss of one’s identity and the prospects of beginning life anew. Now, for Banri this is fairly obvious, as his amnesia has forced him to pack up and start fresh in an unfamiliar place. However, the same can also be said of Koko, who built her identity around a version of Mitsuo that only existed in her head. Thus, when he rejected her in the clearest language he could, her identity also falls apart and has to be rebuilt. 

Banri’s amnesia and this theme of identity become foundational for the series and drive a lot of the heavier moments that happen later on. During Golden Time’s latter half, Banri realizes that the re-emergence of his lost memories could also spell the disappearance of his current ones. This becomes more obvious when he begins to have episodes of remembrance, and the previous Tada, Banri reemerges. It is during this time he realizes just how fragile the current version of himself really is.

However, that fragility is not just his own. Just as much as she had built her previous identity around Mitsuo, Koko has similarly become inseparable from Banri. Thus, when it becomes apparent that the boyfriend she knows might not be around for much longer, she breaks up with him in order to save herself the pain of watching their identities collapse simultaneously. 

So much of what makes good drama and romance are the stakes. After all, romance itself can only be so interesting. What matters is what is happening around that romance. For Golden Time, those stakes are the relationships themselves. Banri doesn’t want to lose his entire identity again, and neither does Koko. To live a normal life in the face of the almost supernatural: that is the dream of these two star-crossed lovers. Sure, it turns out ok in the end, but it didn’t have to, and that fear of loss is powerful…


How do you all feel about Golden Time, and about romance anime in general? 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 Best of Us, The Worst of Us, The Lot of Us: Rikka

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

(As a quick aside, this post was significantly better written beforehand, however, my WordPress decided to forget half of the post after I went to sleep one night and so I had to rewrite a significant portion much differently. Regardless, I hope you enjoy).

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Chuunibyou is an oddball series animated by Kyoto Animation. It focuses on the life of Yuuta and his wish to start high school over as a new person. This is because Yuuta spent his middle school days with a “disease” known as Chuunibyou, a condition which invokes in its victims the horrible fate of *checks notes* …writing and acting out a horrible OC while looking like a complete dork. Needless to say, the actual stakes of this series are fairly low. However, while that may be true in an absolute sense, the series does a fairly good job of absorbing us into the world of these “delusions.”

At the center of these delusions, and the show’s secondary main character, is Rikka, a girl who is still afflicted with Chuunibyou, and who ends up slowly dragging Yuuta back into this world. So, “what is this world?” you might ask. Well, it is complicated, but it most often manifests itself as a series of JRPG, action-adventure, and fantasy tropes which the characters have collectively agreed to be a part of. Well, mostly agreed to be a part of, as Yuuta’s hesitancy to embrace his character of “Dark Flame Master,” which left him without any real friends in middle school, becomes a major sticking point throughout the series.

The show does seem primarily concerned, though, with Rikka, and Touka’s, her sister, concern that this Chuunibyou will leave her without the ability to function as a real member of society. From Rikka’s perspective, it is this world of fantasy and delusion that serves as an escape and purpose. Each battle with Touka, imagined as the evil “priestess,” or Nibutani, who Rikka believes to be a false incarnation of her former character “Morisummer,” brings with it a sense of living genuinely.

I said before that the stakes of this series are fairly low, and that is very much the case. While Touka definitely worries for Rikka’s health, she never goes as far as to take her to a doctor or therapist, at least within the confines of the story told. It is possible to imagine her resisting that suggestion strongly, but still. In contrast with that, the death of their father and a subsequent forgotten run-in with the “Dark Flame Master” himself seem to be the catalyzing factors in Rikka’s strong sense of Chuunibyou. This, again, begs the question: what exactly is at stake for Rikka?

At first, it seems to be her father’s memory. When observing Yuuta’s character, Rikka came to believe that her father was trapped in the “horizon” of this Chuunibyou world and that by training and getting stronger she could eventually find and rescue him. While the end of season one, and the resolution of Rikka’s feelings surrounding her father’s death, it becomes Yuuta, and their burgeoning romantic relationship, that keeps her involved in the world of delusion.

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After she reconciles her feelings and beliefs about her father at the end of season one, her primary driver becomes Yuuta, and with the introduction of a little bit of competition for his affection in the form of Satone, her Chuunibyou becomes firmly grounded in their relationship. Her mystical battles become ones of love, rather than a fight to preserve her father’s memory.

Chuunibyou’s existence as a real-world concept is attributed to Japanese comedian and commentator Hikaru Ijuin when he used it in 1999. In that context, he was referring to middle schoolers with wide imaginations and very little shame. However, after psychologists began investigating the condition as potentially real, Ijuin became worried and retracted his statement. As I mentioned above, Chuunibyou has very few actual stakes in its narrative, at least as far as most people would use the term. So, if it is not a real condition, and her problems involving the loss of her father are gone, then what does that mean for Rikka?

While this series is technically one of my favorites from Kyo-Ani, on the whole, not many people rate the show particularly high. I cannot speak for everyone that has watched the series all the way through. Still, I do think it is worth applying a couple different lenses to her character.

When I talked about the series back in 2019, I threw out the idea that the Chuunibyou could be a metaphor for neurodivergent people. After all, Ijuin retracted his statement in 2009, and the first light novel for the series did not come out until 2011. Though the specific cultural connotations of the word are lost on me, it is clear that the term Chuunibyou developed a context outside of the comedian’s initial comments. After all, Rikka’s journey involves fighting against both her sister, at times Yuuta, and others who tell her that she eventually has to become “normal” despite the fact that remains a serious challenge. The metaphor is not totally one to one, however, since Chuunibyou is considered a temporary condition, whereas things like ASD and ADHD are usually with people for life.

Even outside of that more narrow interpretation, however, the influence of magic and fantasy-style games and anime can be evidence of a general appreciation for nerdy subcultures. These groups, almost by definition, exist outside mainstream tastes. As a result, many people in these groups can feel isolated. Finding comfort with people who are also in those groups becomes one of the few avenues for expressing themselves against a conformist society. The backdrop of Japan here also plays a surprisingly relevant role, as cultural homogeneity in Japan is even greater than in places like Western Europe or the U.S.

Ultimately, regardless of the interpretation one might use, Rikka’s character is about breaking hegemony. She exists in a world that is unsympathetic to her as a person, and as much as Yuuta might be embarrassed by her at times, he cannot help but feel grateful to her. Her steadfast sense of self in the face of an uncaring environment is admirable, to say the least.


How do you feel about Chuunibyou and the character of Rikka? Are there other characters I should take a deep dive into? 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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Secondary Findings: The Mitchells vs The Machines, Kingdom Hearts, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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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.

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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*

*screams*

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

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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Dealing with Mental Burnout

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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As I get back into the swing of posting articles again, I decided it would be easier to also continue to post some of my old columns. Today’s column is one I wrote about a couple years ago and is still incredibly applicable to my life currently since I often find it hard to keep with my hobbies while also doing school. This is an article about burnout, both on how to avoid it and how to deal with it if it’s already happened. With that being said, here it is.


Most people have experienced burnout of some kind at some point in their life. It seems that the most common form of this is with a favorite food or drink. After consuming it a lot within a short time frame, the taste buds start to get bored of it, and eventually, it loses that special something that made it so good in the first place. 

This also happens a lot with people’s hobbies. Given that hobbies are something people choose to do in their free time, it makes sense that they would want to spend a lot of time doing it. However, it can also reach a point where doing it too much leads us to falling out of favor with that hobby. For me, this has happened a couple of times with anime.

I would get into a routine of spending nearly all my time either watching anime, looking for new anime to watch, or talking about anime with people online, and while I did have a ton of fun, it got unhealthy. Eventually, I would just get tired of it, and watch nothing for a few months at least. 

As of writing this article, this has happened about three times now. The first was near the end of freshman year, where I had spent most of my summer break bingeing different series, never really giving myself any time to recover. The second was during my junior year, where the stress of taking four AP classes and joining multiple clubs had my head rolling constantly.

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The third was more recently. I had been watching so much anime, and then I started thinking about why I was even doing so to begin with, to the point where I even questioned my passion for it. All of this is to say that, no matter what hobby a person has, they can always get burnt out. With that being said, here are a few helpful tips to avoid doing so. 

First, it is important that a hobby not be the only thing a person does. While it might not immediately make sense to limit doing something a person likes, if it becomes their sole reason for living, then it can become unhealthy. Mixing in other hobbies into a person’s free time, or hanging out with friends one meets from that hobby can be great ways to avoid this.

Second, it is also important that a person not attach success or failure in that hobby to their self-worth. As someone who has played a lot of “Super Smash Bros” and competed against others in weekly tournaments, it can be pretty easy to get discouraged and feel bad when one does poorly. It helps to take those negative thoughts and turn them into goals if that’s applicable. If not, just take a break, whether that be a day or week, and then come back. 

Burnout is something that almost everyone experiences, even in their own hobbies. We all get sick of doing stuff, especially when we do it too much. However, there are ways to avoid it, and by taking the proper steps now, it becomes much less likely later on. 


What are your experiences with burnout, and how have you dealt with them? 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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Anime and the Environment

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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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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