Tag Archives: Jack Scheibelein

Initial Results: Elden Ring

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By now, I am sure most of the people reading this are aware of the newest hit game out of FromSoftware: Elden Ring. It is an open-world style RPG in the mold of the Dark Souls franchise in which you play a “tarnished,” someone who has supposedly been corrupted by the world, but who wishes to get the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord. The game has been getting rave reviews from virtually every outlet, and so it only made sense to talk about it, at least a little. As such, here are my thoughts roughly 9 hours into the game.

One thing I have to give the game right off the bat is its artwork. FromSoftware has always had a knack for making visually enticing fantasy worlds, from the gorgeous backgrounds to the character designs which feel distinct to the Dark Souls franchise. Elden Ring has so far taken this and turned it up to eleven, as there are not only better designs but more unique enemy types and backgrounds to take in.

The gameplay itself has not changed much between the Various IPs from the studio. Elden Ring still plays very much like a typical Dark Souls game, with the addition of a new aesthetic and some other various elements that help give it the fantasy feel that it is going for, such as a new crafting system and magic possibilities. Combat-wise, it definitely feels like the game has changed its approach to difficulty. Not to say that it is necessarily harder or easier, but it does appear that the devs took the time to make individual enemies and bosses significantly less predictable in their attack patterns.

It feels weird to comment on the story so early on into the game, so I will keep this section short. What I will say is that Elden Ring, despite its more open-world nature, does feel initially much more focused in the story it is trying to tell. A lot of that is probably thanks to the collaboration with George R. R. Martin, which gives me hope that the series might maintain this level of consistency throughout.

One thing I along with many others have noticed is that the game feels like it was not fully ready to be released. I say that because there are a lot of moments where the game will just drop frames. It is not so bad as to be unplayable, but it is often enough that it feels distracting. Additionally, as someone who bought the game on steam and is playing with a PS4 controller, there are times when the game will just randomly disconnect after a loading screen. I know I could just use a mouse and keyboard, but if a game is going to give me a controller option it would be nice if it functioned.

Overall, Elden Ring has been a fun experience thus far. Aside from mostly being a noob when it comes to the sub-genre, the gameplay is addicting and leaves me wanting to come back. There are a few things that I am hoping will be addressed with a patch in the near future, but even without it, the game definitely deserves much of the praise it has been getting.


How do you all feel about Elden Ring? 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!

As always, special shoutout to Jenn for their continued 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!

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The February 2022 Jon’s Creator Showcase #TheJCS

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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and welcome back everyone to the second-ever edition of the Jon Spencer Showcase hosted by Animated Observations.

As always, a quick explanation for those uninitiated. The Jon Spencer Showcase, abbreviated as TheJCS, is an event organized by members of the Jon Spencer community as a way of sharing each other’s creative endeavors. This can be anything from blog posts to videos, artwork, and really anything that one has worked on from the previous month. So, for this JCS, we’re looking at projects from January of 2022. If you would like to be a part of the community, you can do so using the discord link here.

Per usual, posts will be organized by general subject matter (i.e, anime, video games, etc.) for ease of browsing. With that being said, here are your community posts for this month!

Anime Fans & Children’s Media – A Look at Muteking the Dancing Hero – Jon Spencer/ Jon Spencer Reviews

In this fairly in-depth post, Jon from Jon Spencer Reviews talks about a subject that does not usually come up among more casual audiences: children’s anime. Specifically, he takes a look at why studying children’s media can be important, along with a show that is apparently a lot weirder than it sounds, that being Muteking the Dancing Hero. My personal experience with children’s anime is limited to a few shows that I have a bit of nostalgia for, such as Bakugan, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc. However, Jon’s post highlights a series that is both experimental and formulaic, but ultimately still does a lot right.

Masterpiece Anime Showcase: Tamayura ~More Aggressive~, A Thank You For the Past Year and Welcoming the Brand New Year – Infinitezenith/The Infinite Zenith

This impressively thorough piece details author infinitezenith’s relationship with a series that I had never heard of, Tamayura More Aggressive. Additionally, they give a detailed account of how the series affected them personally and how it also “helped [them] to take a step back and count [their] blessings at a time when my future seemed uncertain. It is a bit of a lengthier piece, but it is genuinely nice to read about how anime helps people through personal struggle, so for those that are into stuff like that, I highly recommend you check it out.

Jobless Reincarnation’s Rudeus Greyrat: The Long Hard Road. – Dewbond/Shallow Dives in Anime

Jobless Reincarnation was met with a lot of criticism upon its completion late last year, specifically for its main character Rudy. In this post, blogger Dewbond seeks to address that criticism by offering up an argument for why the series was not only a welcome departure from the isekai formula but also a unique approach to the isekai protagonist that has become the norm. Not everyone will necessarily agree with their conclusion, but it is a thought-provoking read nonetheless.

Fan Service: Is it Really Necessary? – Lynn/The Otaku Author

Fan service can often be a touchy subject in the anime community, and often invites a lot of conversation for merely existing. People can enjoy or not enjoy fan service, but Lynn is here to argue that regardless of that personal preference, fan service does have a reason to exist. This is another piece that is obviously not going to draw agreement from everyone but is a worthwhile perspective regardless.

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Top 10 Most-watched Donghua of 2021 in China – Yu Alexis/Yu Alexis

The space of increasingly popular Chinese Donghua is one that has alluded me for a long time. I would also be willing to bet the same is true for many of the people reading this. However, Yu Alexis is here to discuss the most popular of these series from 2021 and why they are doing so well. After looking into some of these series, I am genuinely curious about getting into Donghua, but before any of you do I highly suggest checking out their full list.

My Dress-Up Darling Episode 4 Review – Best In Show

Episode 4 of My Dress-Up Darling is right around the point where the show genuinely comes into its own. What in its initial couple of episodes felt a little shallow and painfully unfunny suddenly brought out the best in its two leads. Crow, of course, talks about this much better than I ever could and in a way that really highlights the episode’s strengths. Definitely a worthwhile read.

After Rain Comes Sunshine – Lita/Lita Kino’s Anime Corner

I do hope that in the year 2022 the anime community can still appreciate a good AMV every once in a while, yeah? Well, Lita is here to deliver. Using the 2018 anime After the Rain along with the song by Nickelback of the same title, she retells the story of the anime in the context of the song. It focuses on the difficult nature of the main characters’ relationship and how it may look weird from the outside, but that it should not influence their support for each other in a non-romantic context. Overall a great post and one that deserves some attention.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood Review – Tequila/Core Reviews

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has long been a cultural phenomenon, with people around the world enjoying anime and manga alike. However, Tequila has brought it back to the beginning, reviewing the show’s first season Phantom Blood. She discusses elements of the series like the relationship between Jonathan and Dio, and the series’ overall unpredictability. Overall, a great review, and one that I recommend.

Review – Fruits Basket – 1st Season 2019 – Courtney/The Anime Tourist

Fruits Basket is a series that for many in the anime community has some very fond memories associated with it. Well, Courtney is here to talk about the 2019 remake which, for the most part, was received fairly well. Does this also include The Anime Tourist? Well, you’ll have to read to find out, but regardless it is a great review. I highly recommend giving her review a read.

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How Anime Episode Reviews Capture The Moment and Promote Conversation – Karandi James/100 Word Anime

Recently, the conversation of how people enjoy anime has arguably become just as important as what anime they are enjoying. In their submission, Karandi takes the time to talk about episode reviews and why they are important to the community. The debate rests on the bigger divide which has occurred recently between companies like Netflix who traditionally release their series in batches and traditional anime release schedules which are usually weekly. Regardless of your opinion, it is an interesting discussion to have and definitely a worthwhile read.

Spoiler-Free Review: Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of the Starless Night – Matt/Matt-in-the-Hat

I’ll be totally honest: I have not watched anything Sword Art Online-related since I finished the first series back in 2014. However, its universe has expanded significantly since its debut in 2012. multiple seasons, spinoffs, and even movies, including the one Matt discusses in this review. While I will not give away his entire opinion, he does seem to think fans of the series will not be disappointed.

30 Best Cooking Anime Shows to Make You Drool! – YumDeku/MyAnimeGo

For better or for worse, it feels like a lot of people’s image of food-centric anime looks like Food Wars. This is not to say it is a bad show, but there are a lot of great series that inhabit this anime sub-genre. Luckily, Yum Deku is here to show everyone exactly that, as he goes through a laundry list of great series on the subject including one of my personal favorites Sweetness and Lightning. Given its length, I am sure those reading will also find something they enjoy.

Nora’s Weekly Anime Digest – Winter 2022, Week 3 – Nora/It’s Your Fault That I’m Not Popular!

It is crazy to think that the winter season of 2022 is already coming to a close relatively soon. However, It is always fun to take a look back to the beginning of a season. After all, some perceptions can change rapidly from episode to episode. This is why it was especially fun to read Nora’s thoughts on the winter season when there were only 2-3 episodes out. Anyone who is feeling that end-of-season nostalgia should check out this post.

Akebi’s Sailor uniform is okay (bit weird) – Roki B/Solitary Cubbyhole

Continuing our theme of the winter season, this post looks at a show that I think had a pretty collective response from the anime community of “foot fetish? foot fetish.” Still, as Roki points out, there are other things to appreciate such as the dynamic between the main character and her sister, while also giving off the typical “cute girl” vibe. I still recommend reading the entire post, as it is short and gets to the heart of the show very quickly.

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Anime Reviews: To Do or Not To Do? – Lyn/Tabibito’s Anistory and Beyond

I think it might be fair to say that most of us in the ani-blogging community, at least to some extent, take for granted the fact that we have an audience, to begin with. After all, not everyone approaches reviews in the same way, as is evidenced by Lyn’s post here. Sure, lots of us appreciate reviews and the perspective they bring, but not everyone reads them, nor is everyone necessarily a person who writes them. She provides a genuinely interesting perspective on criticism which I think is well worth anyone’s time.

Sabikui Bisco – Official English Sub – Scorpz/Scorpzgca

Writer Scorpz talks briefly about another Winter premier: Sabikui Bisco. It is a series set in post-apocalyptic Japan which was supposedly caused by mushroom spores. Bisco, wanted as a criminal for spreading these spores, is, in reality, using them to help return the earth to its previous state. Scorpz provides some key information as well as showcases the show’s trailer, so if this is a series that sounds interesting, definitely give it a look.

Anime Corner: Lupin the 3rd: The First Review – Chris Joynson/Never Argue with a Fish

Lupin the 3rd is a series with a lot of history behind it, and I do mean a lot, as its original manga was released in 1967. However, the series has continually been updated and redone in a variety of fashions, including in its latest film. Here, Chris Joynson of Never Argue with a Fish breaks down the film and gives his final opinion on the matter. Lupin is not a series I traditionally keep up with, but it was nice to read his thoughts regardless.

Celeste – Ellie/The Almighty Backlog

Make no mistake about it, Celeste is an indie video game darling. It has received nothing but praise since its release back in 2018 and has been released on virtually every console. Yet, for as much as the game seems to be loved, Ellie has a different take. While she certainly gives the game its due diligence, she also discusses the nature of games that are made challenging on purpose, and how not everyone plays games for a challenge, a conversation that has only gotten more widespread in the last few years. It is a substantive review, regardless, and highly worth the read.

Top 10 Cosy Comfort Characters For When You’re Feeling Under the Weather – Oona Tempest/Sweet and Spicy Otome Game Reviews

Hey, all you *check notes* “plague-infested couch gremlins…” Are you looking for some comfort characters? Well, then this is the right place. Otome enthusiast Oona Tempest has some great recommendations. At least, I think so? I have never actually played an otome game before, but I can definitely see how some of these characters would come off as fairly attractive. Regardless, give it a read.

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Ziggurat 2 – A Review – Static/Overage Gaming

In a gaming landscape that spans triple AAA developers to single-digit indie studio teams, it is actually pretty easy to find hidden gems. I get the feeling that Ziggurat 2 might be one such game. Writer Static talks about the sequel to the original Ziggurat, a game that focuses on rebuilding its namesake, a prison that houses magical creatures. They go pretty in-depth while focusing on and scoring the categories of graphics, sound, gameplay, and how much fun the game is. Idk, it has me pretty convinced, and I think those reading might be as well.

Moonrise [Game Review] – Matt Doyle/Matt Doyle Media

Want a werewolf story with visual novel mechanics, replayability, and good gender/sex representation? Well now you’re just being a little specific, huh? Still, Matt seems to have a good game for that. In this post, They talk about the game Moonrise, a romance werewolf story where choices matter and there are plenty of love interests to choose from. Those who enjoy this genre of game will probably get a kick out of it, but I highly recommend reading the whole post for a full breakdown.

8 Recommended Romance Webtoons – Nabe-Chan/Geeknabe

Oh, golly gee do I love me a good romance. It is a genre that has a pretty big market across both anime and, in particular, manga, webtoons, etc, and yet, there are probably plenty of those reading who are looking for more romance stories. Well, you’re in luck. This article from Nabe recommends some romance webtoons that she thinks many of those reading will enjoy. In particular, I found her description of Under the Oak Tree by Kim Soo-ji to be fairly enticing. Hopefully, there is also something on this list for all of you as well.

Manga Recommendations for Otome Game Lovers – Naja B./Blerdy Otome

Hopefully, after reading this JCS you’ll be set with recommendations for a while. Here, Naja gives some recommendations for those who also happen to be fans of otome games. There are a lot of great series on this list, but the one that stands out for me is definitely Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku. While I have yet to read the manga proper, its anime adaptation was a lot of fun, so imagine there to be plenty in the manga as well. Before reading that though, definitely check out the rest of Naja’s post.

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My Top 10 Most Anticipated Manga of 2022 – Alyssa/Al’s Manga Blog

Rather than regular recommendations, Alyssa talks about her most anticipated manga of the coming year, with the focus being on physical releases to North America. There is a lot to like on this list, as it has a lot of titles which I have heard a good amount of buzz over. I myself am looking forward to The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes by Mei Hachimoku, although given how interesting it looks, I may end up reading the light novel instead. Regardless, she has some great taste and I highly recommend checking out this article.

First Manga Haul of 2022 – Takuto/Takuto’s Anime Cafe

It is always fun seeing what people are watching and reading, and what better way to do that than with a giant haul video? I have not seen a ton of these pop up on my YouTube page, partially because I am not as tuned into to mangaTube, but also because it seems that supply chain shortages are making them harder to do. Still, Takuto gets a lot of interesting stuff in this one. In particular, a series I am looking forward to checking out is A School Frozen in Time, which gives me a lot of Sunny Boy vibes (despite the fact that I have yet to finish it). Definitely give this video a watch.

Review – Love Story of Hoshino Zoo – Millia/The Tender Fujo

Sometimes, when a person is feeling down and they are not really sure what to do, all they really need is a story about anthropomorphic animals. In this post, Millia writes about a BL manga centered around a squirrel at the zoo. Well, to be more accurate it is about the animals at the zoo, which artist Kurihara can talk to. Definitely seems like a fun enough read, and I highly recommend reading Millia’s post.

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The Apothecary Diaries Review – Elizabeth Howie/Religiously Nerdy

Craving a mystery about a palace worker and her dreams of escaping her boring day job? It looks like this may be the series for you. Elizabeth Howie of Religiously nerdy writes about The Apothecary Diaries, a series that, on the surface, looks pretty normal. However, I also get the feeling that there is a lot more going on, especially with the main character MaoMao. I suppose I will just have to read and find out, and while I am doing that, read this post to find out more about the series.

Blu-ray Review – Red Angel – ManInBlack/MIB’s Instant Headache

War films are very often not about the wars themselves, but rather the tolls they take on the individuals involved. Red Angel, as ManInBlack discusses in this piece, is one such film. An enthralling drama about the horrific experiences of a nurse during the second Sino-Japanese War, it reveals the tragedy of “the effects of war on those whose role is crucial yet always seen as peripheral.” This review does a great job at breaking down the film into its baser elements while also understanding how they come together to be even greater.

Plurality: In Defense of Endogenic System – Leth/Yuki/Lethargic Ramblings

Life…is hard. Controversial statement I am sure, but it is true. However, I cannot imagine what it must be like living with two separate selves. In this post, Leth and Yuki talk about his and her experiences with Plurality and why those whose additional selves who were not born out of trauma, known as Endogenic Systems are valid. It is a subject in which I am nonetheless fairly ignorant, but the two of them do a great job at explaining regardless. Highly suggested reading for those who are interested in the topic.

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After So Long, Some New Music – Scott/Scott’s Muse

I am ashamed to say that I did not know that the mecha man himself also happens to do music?! Maybe it should not be that much of a surprise considering how talented and awesome he is. Regardless, Scott shares a bit of new music he has recorded, covering both jazz and classical music on the trumpet. All of it is genuinely very good and entertaining to listen to, so take five minutes and give it a listen.

Immersive Reading: How to Get the Most Out of Your Reading Experience – Megan/Nerd Rambles

I think it is fair to say that most of the people reading this are also fans of reading, otherwise, why are you reading a blog? However, when it comes to sitting down with a good book, is it possible people are doing it wrong? Ok, maybe not wrong, but as Megan argues, immersive reading can be a great way to enhance one’s experience with a piece of literature. It is something that I feel gets made fun of in a lot of sitcoms, mainly at the expense of middle-aged women characters, but there are definitely a lot of positives, so give this a read.


Thank you all for reading. I know this is coming out a bit later than usual, so I would like to apologize once again, and also say thank you for all of the wonderful submissions. The next Jon’s Creator Showcase will be hosted by none other than Art of Anime. For those who missed out this time, or those who want to participate again this month, feel free to submit here.

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!

Thanks as always to our amazing patron Jenn for the support!

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: The Legend of Vox Machina

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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So, I have a confession to make: I do not care for watching D&D games. Given how short my attention span already is, the prospect of spending three or more hours watching someone else’s games feels tedious. I could maybe make an exception if the people playing were enjoyable personalities who I already liked, but that is about it.

That being said, the series under review today, The Legend of Vox Machina, is one that feels unique in its conception. That is because the series was actually funded on Kickstarter, and is based on the first campaign of Critical Role, a continual D&D campaign done by a number of high profile voice actors including Matthew Mercer, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, and a few others. The show is currently on its third campaign, although Vox Machina only covers content from the first.

The story falls in line with the campaign itself, following a band of adventurers who are widely considered the worst in the land, as evidenced by their drunken behavior and their seemingly massive debt. The group catches a break when the king of Exandria tasks them with finding and defeating a mysterious beast which has been ravaging the kingdom’s countryside. From there, the adventure continually escalates into larger and larger proportions

D&D and Fantasy Storytelling

D&D is a game that, by its very nature, invites a lot of creativity. Now, I am sure many of the people reading this who have played have also had bad experiences. This could have been because of a bad DM who only wanted to play in a very specific way or because the campaign itself was disorganized or boring. It happens. Still, for every bad D&D story there is also probably a great one, where the universe felt real even as everyone was sitting around a table looking at each other irl.

The level of detail that emerged from a campaign like this speaks not only to Matthew Mercer’s talent as a campaign writer but also to the work of the other voice actors who managed to write such profoundly fun characters. Nothing about The Legend of Vox Machina would comes even remotely close to working if it were not for such a likeable cast and gorgeous fantasy setting.

Of course, the show does also maintain a lot of the freeflowing quirks that come from the dailogue of said campaigns. What I mean is that a lot of the series humor can be boiled down a lot of cursing and sex, often randomly inserted into conversations without much of a purpose other than to serve as a random punchline. Given that I am perpetually 12 years old in regards to my bar for comedic quality, this does not bother me as much, but it might not jive with others.

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Vocal Performances

Of course, the series also would not work as well if these characters were be handled by less capable actors. Luckily, though, that is not at all the case, as every member of the main cast does an incredible job at selling the authenticity of their in game personas. Additionally, the way the actors play off each other in the series feels less like a properly scripted show and more like stuff that got pulled directly from the campaign, though I cannot say that for sure given my lack of knowledge regarding Critical Role.

Everyone on the show had absolutely phenomenal performances, but some of my standouts include Ashley Johnson as Pike and Taliesin Jaffe as Percy. Pike definitely feels like the character to grab a beer with, although engaging in that kind of “sin,” funnily enough, does become a major plot point which felt fairly compelling despite how stale some of those plotlines in normal campaigns can often feel.

Percy’s character takes up a pretty significant chunk of the first season, and without spoiling too much, goes through a lot of development. Which, honestly, is great because Jaffe manages to strike a perfect balance of giving his character a distinct vocal presence without making him sound obnoxious. It is a little dissapointing knowing that Percy will be less of a focus in the next season.

While I would not say there is a bad vocal performance among the cast, the one that felt the least memorable was surpringly that of the main villain Sylas Briarwood, played by Matthew Mercer himself. Though his character was interesting, and vocally Mercer did well, it still felt the least unique of the main characters.

To Animate a Campaign

Honestly, the biggest question mark for me going into The Legend of Vox Machina was the animation. After all, the series managing to meet its goal on Kickstarter did not necessarily guarantee anything of quality. They did manage to get enough eyes on the project that Amazon Studios came in to help produce it, which was comforting given their already proven track record on shows like Invincible.

and yeah, the animation is absolutely incredible. All of the characters looked visually disntinct, except for some shared similarities in the designs of Vex and Vax (though this makes sense given their sibling relationship). The backgrounds, while not particularly inspired in a lot of cases, felt unique to the world, particularly in the latter half in the town of Whitestone. The big tree in the center of the city felt fairly distinct, albeit a little reminiscent of some earlier dragon quest games.

As far as action goes, this is probably some of the best animated action I have seen in quite a while. There is a unique fluidity in the movement and fighting styles of each character which feels inspired from shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. This makes sense, though, considering that Titmouse, another studio that worked on the series, was also responsible for large portions of The Last Airbender.

Conclusion

It could have been the case, very easily so, that this show turned out to be complete garbage which made fans who donated towards its sucess feel robbed. After all, in an age where a lot of people are making “content” it can be hard obtain a level of trust about a project’s quality. I am happy to say that we instead live in this timeline, one in which everyone involved is clearly passionate and focused on making in a good show, which is why it is one of my favorite animated series in recent memory.

91/100


Have you seen The Legend of Vox Machina? How do 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

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, thanks to our lovely patron Jenn for being amazing!

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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Rating My Old Reviews: Huh?

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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For those who are not aware, Animated Observations recently received a rating system courtesy of yours truly. The reasons for this are multifaceted, but the primary one is that It allows me to summarize my overall feelings about an anime/manga/video game without taking away anything from the review itself. However, since this system was only implemented a couple of months ago, a lot of my older reviews are without a proper rating. So, I figured it would be fun to go back and give some of said reviews a numerical score.

Princess Jellyfish

Hard to believe that the show which has validated my recent revelations surrounding my gender Identity was something I only watched in the last six months or so. On top of that, it is easily one of my favorite series of all time, and so giving it a score is both satisfying and scary. This is because, while it is satisfying to recognize and promote what I consider to be a great piece of art, it also feels strange to give it something as permanent as a number. The possibility of its score changing in the future certainly exists, but for now, I can only give it the highest possible praise.

94/100

Beastars (Seasons One and Two)

Some of my hatred of this series in the past has come off a bit hyperbolic, mainly because of me, but in all honesty, I can only summon up so much hatred for it. Yeah, the plot is an absolute mess, the characters are painfully underdeveloped and the pacing feels like when getting stuck in an elevator multiple times while almost falling down every time it buckles. Yet, a really solid soundtrack filled with some of the smoothest jazz instrumentals I think I have ever heard along with Studio Orange’s amazing 3D animation work saves it some slack.

40/100

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The Flowers of Evil

I only just realized while looking back at my posts that I never gave Aku no Hana a final full review, but it has been a hot minute since I have talked about the series, so I figured it would be worth doing so again. While definitely not a manga I would think about returning to all that often, it is one that I feel like most people should read if they have the ability to. It has some important commentary on a lot of current issues: mental health, the boundaries in relationships, where people derive happiness from, etc. While it can in a lot of scenarios come across as unnecessarily provocative and frankly degenerate, the message is far more important.

75/100


How do you all feel about this type of post? I am working on finishing a few other things at the moment, so normal reviews/content will hopefully be back soon. But, if you would like to see me go over series that I have done in the past, let me know.

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 our patron Jenn for being amazing as always

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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Feeding the Flames Pt. 3: Even More Spicy Hot Takes

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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The internet certainly is a place, or rather a space? It does feel a little weird to try and quantify it in terms of geographical space when for all practical purposes the internet is more or less infinite. Yet, increasingly it feels as though there is less and less space for people’s terrible opinions. Well, unfortunately you all are getting mine today, as it is time for another installation of feeding the flames.

Mamoru Hosoda makes better films than Makoto Shinkai

I had been thinking about this one for a while, and prior to the release of Belle I was still somewhat in the camp of both of them being relatively equal. However, while I still have plenty of criticism of the film itself, Belle did make me realize that Hosoda is just a better storyteller, straight up. While the more style over substance approach Shinkai has since popularized works sometimes, riding on it for a significant portion of his career leaves a lot to be desired.

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Marin from My Dress-Up Darling is a good character, actually

The early episodes of My Dress-Up Darling seemed to promise a fun albeit uncompelling slice of life/romance. After all, its entire second episode was dedicated to an unfunny bit where Gojo was nervous about taking her measurement. Yet, as the series has continued over the season, Marin has become significantly more 3-Dimensional in terms of her development and is otherwise turning out to be incredibly likable. Assuming this blurb does not jinx the series into a terrible ending, it feels like Marin will only continue to get better as a character.

The Tokyo Ghoul manga is better

This is probably only a hot take amongst the hardcore anime fans, but yeah, it is true. As much as I enjoyed both seasons of the original Tokyo Ghoul, it would be hard to argue that it’s handling of the manga’s original story was worthwhile. Whereas the manga took the time to tie together threads which gave some of the side characters and villains the characterization they needed to be compelling, the anime forgoes this development in favor of a more rushed and sloppy ending.

Fanservice is only good in context

People have been arguing about the merits and demerits of fanservice basically as long as the anime community. However, fanservice as a concept is not just good or bad. What counts as good fanservice depends entirely on what is happening in the story. the fanservice in Fire Force, for example, is not bad because it is fanservice but rather because it often takes a very serious tone and immediately interrupts it.


Got some hot takes yourself? Feel free to share 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!

As always, thank you to Jenn for continuing to support the blog!

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: Hades, All of Us Are Dead, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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As much as I love talking about all of the things I review for this blog, there is also a lot of stuff that I watch, play casually that does not get its own dedicated post. This is either because I have yet to finish it or because it does not fit in with the normal stuff I talk about. So, we are back with another edition of Secondary Findings, a series where I do just that.

Hades

This game probably will end up getting a full review on this blog at some point. However, with the little free time I have already, it has been hard to dedicate the proper hours to actually finish it. On top of that, Hades is the type of game where exploring it in depth could mean going through multiple runs, as it has become the poster child for indie rogue-likes.

It is not hard to see why, though. Between the relatively straightforward gameplay, unique build paths for different styles, and the incredible fluidity with which to make combos. That is not even getting into the super-inspired character designs which re-imagine the greek gods and goddesses in a way that gives them a lot of charm. While I cannot speak to anything beyond a few hours of gameplay, it is fairly obvious why Hades has such a strong fanbase.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer

Though the series has yet to get its recently announced anime adaptation, its 15 minutes of Twitter fame was enough to ensnare my interest, and so I decided to give its first volume a read. To my surprise, the hype felt mostly deserved.

Even with its incredibly convoluted plot about saving the world from a wizard and a giant hammer with the help of a girl who also wants to destroy the world, this shounen comedy has thus far been a delight. Its funnier moments are indeed funny, but in the moments where the series calms down and starts to do a bit of introspection, these moments of malice slowly creep in and reveal some things that really drive a lot of interest.

It is hard to say what exactly will happen from here, but Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is definitely a manga that I am going to pursue further. if those moments of darkness are any indication of what is to come, there will certainly be something worthwhile on the other side.

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Hyperpop

I generally try to avoid talking about music on this blog unless it is in the context of an anime or video game soundtrack since that is fairly outside my wheelhouse. Though, of course, I have made exceptions for albums and artists who have had a significant impact on my thinking, with the most recent example being From Me to You by Quadeca.

However, since this is a more casual series focused on the stuff I enjoy, it would be weird not to talk about this strange musical subgenre that has taken up a not-insignificant portion of my music diet. Anyone who has been paying attention to internet culture has probably at least heard the name 100 gecs, who are the most recent act to popularize hyperpop.

However, the subgenre goes has been developing a lot over the past couple of years, often with the artists themselves having a love-hate relationship with the label. Personally, what I love about it is the way it combines elements of EDM reminiscent of the early 2010s, as well as modern pop and hip-hop trends.

The song linked above serves as a good example of what a lot of modern hyperpop has leaned into. I have heard it described more than once as “a musical genre for people with ADHD,” and while I am not sure if I actually have ADHD, it does help scratch a certain brain itch when listening to it.

All of Us are Dead

All of Us are Dead is a Korean zombie horror series that was released on Netflix in a manner similar to the now hit series Squid Game. It focuses on a Korean high school where a new illness has broken out which rapidly transforms the students into zombies, and now they must survive while being quarantined inside the school.

This is another property I have yet to fully dive into, having only watched one episode as of writing. It does take a while to build to its crescendo, with the first episode clocking in at just above an hour in total runtime. Yet, even with that long run time, it still manages to set up a lot of unique storylines without feeling bogged down by the number of characters.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not the series can actually stick the landing, but considering the last semi-competent zombie story I consumed was roughly seasons 3-4 of The Walking Dead, I am excited to see where this goes.


What all have you been enjoying recently? 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 as always to our amazing Patreon supporter Jenn!

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: Wotakoi

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Listen, I know romance has basically become a weekly ritual on the blog at this point, but I promise we will start covering some other stuff soon, just stick with me. After all, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so why not celebrate by covering some more? Today I’ll be talking about a series that, while I initially lacked much interest in during its 2018 run, decided to watch because of a certain individual on the bird site (they know who they are lol). So, let us talk about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku.

After getting ousted as a massive otaku and subsequently breaking up with her boyfriend, Narumi Momose is effectively forced to transfer jobs. However, upon getting to her new company, she reunites with her childhood friend Hirotaka Nifuji and the two start hanging out like time stopped moving. Hirotaka eventually asks Momose out, and so the two of them, along with their other closet otaku friends Hanako Koyanagi and Taro Kabakura, must navigate their hobbies in secret.

Adulting is Hard, huh?

A large part of Wotakoi’s comedy comes from the intersection between the boring drudgery of the Japanese salary person and their life outside of work. In that way, the show is pretty similar to Aggretsuko. However, rather than being a satirical piece about the normalization of some pretty atrocious behavior and abuses of power, Wotakoi opts to take a much more straightforward, mostly non-serious romantic comedy route in its story.

In its own case, the series focuses on the main characters’ otaku tendencies, with each of them having their own unique interests within the otaku space. Narumi likes writing Doujinshi, as well as reading manga and watching anime. Her partner in crime Hirotaka is a solo gamer, spending most of his time on what appears to be a Monster Hunter-like game. Hanako is a cosplayer who focuses on male characters, and Taro is pretty much just your average manga reader who likes Yuri.

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What I like most about the premise of Wotakoi is really just the admittance that, well, being an otaku is weird. Though it may be true that gaming and anime are pretty mainstream at this point, it does not stop those in professional environments from laying judgment. Coworkers, bosses: they are just that. Being ridiculed for weird hobbies is still pretty common.

I have said before that anime relying on relatability to drive narratives is a problem, and indeed, it still is. However, given how likable the series is overall, it can slide.

Nothing Lasts Forver, or Does It?

While the existence of the childhood best friend trope kind of confused me in the past, I can understand it a lot more now. It is comforting, at least, the idea of falling in love with someone who knows a lot about you, maybe even more than yourself. In that regard, Narumi and Hirotaka’s dynamic is both entertaining and heartwarming.

The two of them do not always know what to do or say. Sometimes they will avoid each other out of embarrassment, or they simply will not ask each other for help. It feels like a stretch to call this a feature of every relationship, but for two people who are reuniting after probably a decade, their relationship makes sense.

Hirotaka’s character, in particular, is fairly interesting in this regard. It is obvious they show decided to introduce him as aloof and unintentional. However, as Wotakoi goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that their separation never really changed how Hirotaka felt for his childhood friend. The person who was there for him always is the one he wants to be with, and that is pretty nice 🙂

A-1 Just Pictures

Considering the best thing A-1 Pictures has made outside of Wotakoi in the last half-decade is probably Kaguya-Sama, it feels weird that they have bothered to focus on anything else. After all, their track record for popular shows is Fairytail, Sword Ass Online, and Seven Deadly Frames (not my joke but I screamed when I heard it). So…yeah, maybe they should keep it a bit more lowkey.

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As far as actually animation goes, this is also admittedly nothing special. The animation can largely be described as just fine, although there are plenty of scenes where the character movements feel a lot more expressive than in your typical rom-com series. My favorite parts are probably the gaming ones where the crew gets together to play an MMO, as the movements and character designs for those scenes I can only describe as incredibly cute.

Musically there were not a ton of stand-out pieces. Again, it all kind of felt just fine. The exception to this critique is the opening and, to a lesser extent, the ending, both of which had me bopping my head along.

Conclusion

Wotakoi was a definite surprise for me. It was not a series I was expecting to get much out of but ended up being incredibly entertaining, even if I would put some other series in its lane a bit ahead. For those that have the time and are looking for a solid romantic comedy with an otaku spin, this is the series for you.

75/100


How do you all feel about Wotakoi? 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 shoutout as always to our lovely patron Jenn for being incredibly awesome

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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Not Keeping My Promises…

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Well, unfortunately, I do not have anyone else to blame but myself here, so yeah…

For those wondering what this post is about, at the beginning of this year I set some goals for myself in a post that was about wrapping up 2021. One of those goals was to put out at least one video on my YouTube Channel for every month of the year. I figured it would be at least a few months in before managing to fail that, but I am very good about outdoing my own expectations.

So, in order to keep me motivated to write and create things, I thought “why not give myself a punishment?” then after thinking about it for a little longer, it became “why not let everyone else come up with a punishment for me?” Since it is primarily the people who consume what I make that I am accountable to, it only makes sense to invite some democracy into the process of torturing myself.

Thus, I’m leaving this up to my readers: Give me an anime/manga/movie/tv series/etc that you hate, some truly awful garbage, and I will commit to finishing it all the way through and writing about it when I am done.

I mentioned in my more recent update how my new rating system will likely have a more positive bend to it considering I don’t usually seek out bad media, but maybe we can test those limits a bit, yeah?

For this, I’ll take the 2 most liked comments under this article, as well as under the tweet linked below. Feel free to submit under both to double your chances of increasing my suffering.

Well, happy submitting!


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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Announcing the Jon’s Creator Showcase for February 2022, Hosted by Animated Observations

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Welcome back, everyone! Though it was put on pause in January, the Jon’s Creator Showcase (#TheJCS) is officially back in action for February. A personal favorite community event of myself and many others, this event is all about celebrating each other’s work!

For those who are new, or who just have not participated in a while, Jon’s Creator Showcase is an event usually hosted by the many after which it is named, Jon Spencer, or members of his community. However, you do not have to be a member in order to participate. It simply involves taking a creative project you worked on in the previous month and submitting it. This can be anything from a blog post to a YouTube video or even art you’ve drawn. At the end of the month, all of the submissions get featured in one giant post made by yours truly.

In order to submit, all one has to do is tweet out the submission or reply with it to the tweet below and use the hashtag #TheJCS. Those who do not have Twitter are more than welcome to submit via email to theaniwriter@gmail.com

Submissions will be open for the entire month of February. This is to ensure that everyone gets a chance to submit and showcase their creative works. This means that the final post will probably be posted sometime at the beginning of March.

Any questions can be directed to me via the Twitter page linked above or the email mentioned previously. If you are not a member of the Jon Spencer discord and would like to join, please use this link. We talk anime, manga, video games, and plenty of other stuff.

Thank you to everyone in advance, as I look forward to seeing everyone’s work from January!


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!

Thanks again to our Patron Jenn for being awesome!

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: Aggretsuko Season Four

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A part of me feels weird that I am even writing this review in the first place. After all, season three of Aggretsuko ended in a really good place, demonstrating the presumptuousness of others during times of personal trauma. Retsuko screams into Haida’s face while doing some karaoke, and ideally, he gets the message, right?

Unfortunately, no. As much as I was, at least initially, pleasantly surprised about a fourth season of what has since become one of my comfort series, the reality of its quality is much different. I often try to stay away from others’ opinions of a show before actually watching, but Hiding in Public’s excellent breakdown of Aggretsuko’s fourth season just so happened to pop up in my YouTube recommended, and they pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Now, honestly, I could just leave it at that because of how well-structured that video is, but that feels kind of lazy. So, I will do my best to break down what works about the season and what does not.

Remembering the Point of Aggretsuko

From its initial debut back in 2018 up to the best points in season four, Aggretsuko has always been a hilarious satire of Japanese work culture. There is the asshole boss who barely hides his disdain for those below him in Ton, the workplace gossiper who seemingly knows everything about everyone in Kabae, and the one who seems like they honestly might kill someone in Anai.

Limited personal experience aside, I have heard enough stories from others with similar office jobs to validate these experiences, and ya know what? They are genuinely funny because they come from a real place. As I talked about back in 2019, the series deals with some sad realities of Japanese work culture, especially for women, even more so younger women. Given how extreme these situations can be, satirization comes across as justified.

Additionally, what makes Retusko’s character so compelling is not just the aforementioned sad realities, but that she is treated like a real…red panda? person rather than a helpless victim. What comes across as more disturbing in a lot of these instances is not so much the behavior itself, although it is absolutely terrible, but rather the normalization of that behavior. All of this is to say that Aggretsuko‘s best moments come from its comedy, not

The Drama

Oh, golly gee Batman, where to start with this…

The more dramatic moments in Aggretsuko have always been a bit weird because while they are never particularly bad, few stand out as particularly good either. The best I think happens during seasons one and two when the topic of marriage becomes a serious one for Retsuko, as pressure from her parents combined with her fling with Tadano has her questioning what she wants to do with her life.

Though they do become more prominent and take up more screen time as the seasons go on, at the very least, it creates a new dynamic in the relationship between Retsuko and her co-workers. The Drama in season four, however, is a bit different.

The season starts out simple enough, with the new CEO of the company taking a much more active role and asking Ton to fire some people. Of course, his hatred for everyone there is only overtaken by his respect for the people who do honest work and tells the CEO exactly that. A solid comedic bit with room for light-heartedness.

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However, as the season reaches its halfway point and it seems that romance between Haida and Retsuko is finally attainable, Aggretsuko, well, just throws it all away. Doing a total 180 with virtually no warning, everyone seemingly turns into a different character, and the latter half becomes a soap opera level drama about Haida and the CEO teaming up to *checks notes*

…forge the company’s sales numbers before the final quarter as a way of increasing profits? Oh, and did I mention Haida becomes accounting director and Ton gets fired leading to Ton and the other accounting department members collaborating on a scheme to take Haida and the CEO down?

Literally, nothing about the fourth season’s second half makes any bit of sense. I was honestly more concerned that Netflix had just forgotten to put up some of the episodes, but no, this is apparently the creative direction they had, so…yeah.

Some Good Character Moments with Ton and Kabae

Even though it was pretty bad, I do not want people to walk away from this review thinking there was zero positive reception on my end. In fact, there are definitely hints of a few good ideas, most notably the arcs of Ton and Kabae

Directo Ton has always been a sort of villain character for the series, making Retsuko and others’ lives living hell. Still, the dude is only human. He has a family he needs to provide for, and it is not like being a middle manager necessarily means he is swimming in money. No, what works about his character in season four is how willing the show is to humanize him as someone who wants to do right by the people he cares for.

The same can be said for Kabae, whose story about “voluntarily” being ousted by higher-ups and making the decision to stay at home for her kid is both heartwarming but also tragic, again speaking to the realities faced by women in the workplace that Aggretsuko as a series is so well versed in.

These two are highlights of the entire season. Both of them are humanized in a way that plays towards their personalities. Sadly, though, both of their moments get cut fairly short. If this season had chosen to focus on them as opposed to whatever the hell those last 5 episodes were then it might have ended up being a fair bit better.

Conclusion

I wish I could say that the bad outways the good here, but that just is not the case. Season four ended up taking a really solid formula for relatable comedy and heart-warming moments and apparently forgetting it entirely. This will probably end up being one of the bigger disappointments for me this year.

44/100


How did you feel about Aggretsuko’s latest season? 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!

As always, big shoutout to our patron Jenn, the support is greatly appreciated.

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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