There’s a certain expectation surrounding movies based on video game properties, as companies all too often try to maximize profits without actually caring for the source material. When it was announced that Ryan Reynolds would be headlining Free Guy, a film with its own identity on top of numerous video game inspirations and elements, many were skeptical despite the charm he brings to projects. I was skeptical too, but I am happy to report that this movie is an exception to this concern.
I am sure that the majority of us in this day and age were brought up with Saturdays watching episodic cartoons, enjoying the silly antics of classic “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Scooby Doo”. For those with more relaxed parents, perhaps there was even a dash of something like “Family Guy”mixed in. Good or bad, these memories stuck with us and will always be looked back on fondly as a result. However, the cartoon age is changing.
Imagine coming back from vacation and seeing your fiancé now married to your best friend. That is in a way what happened to Michaela Stone, one of the main characters in Manifest.
Manifest is the story of flight 828, a commercial flight going from Jamaica to New York. Once it lands, the flight team and the passengers are informed that six years have passed for the rest of the world and everyone on the flight was presumed dead.
*content warning: article does contain mild spoilers, and not safe for work (NSFW) content.
Photo (above) is a flyer for “Love, Death & Robots”. Photo retrieved from IMDb.com on Aug. 16, 2021.
The Netflix series, “Love, Death & Robots”, volume one aired in 2019, and volume two aired earlier this year. This series is a collection of animated short clips, each with a unique story. The stories include shapeshifters, vampires, cats, monsters and even the ocean.
The genres span across science-fiction, horror, dark-comedy, fantasy, and multidimensional. Some fans were upset that volume two was noticeably shorter than volume one, but if you are like me, I watched both volumes in a day and a half, and already rewatched episodes multiple times. So does it even matter?
I am sure any fan of cult classic TV shows is familiar with Twin Peaks, the TV debut of David Lynch.
David Lynch was already well known for his surrealist approach to filmmaking, especially with his flagship film “Eraserhead”(1977). So seeing Lynch take a stab at a prime time TV show was a bit strange for people familiar with his work.
The show is supposed to be a parody of the prime time soap operas that were popular at the time, but with that signature Lynchian twist. “Twin Peaks”follows Special Agent Dale Cooper as he enters the small Washington town of Twin Peaks to investigate the mysterious murder of the primaddona Laura Palmer.
As Cooper and the police force of Twin Peaks begin to uncover the mystery behind Laura’s death, it is clear that something dark is happening behind the scenes. But despite its rather dreary premise, the show still keeps an air of comedy about it with Cooper’s endless positivity and love of coffee mixed with the strange and endearing characters that populate the town.
Earlier this week, we discussed in one of my classes how in fiction, anything that is outside the realm of known science, specifically in early comic books, is called magic.
This got me thinking about an anime I watched where magic is crafted through science in the future. This anime is called Mahouka Koukou no Rettōsei or, in English, “The Irregular at Magic High School.” The show is an adaptation of a novel series of the same name by Tsutomu Satou. This may be a rougher anime for those who are newer to the Japanese animation genre, but I found the show very entertaining if for nothing else than the mechanics of the magic.
To summarize the show a bit, it follows the stories of Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, siblings from the powerful Shiba family of magicians. The show starts with their acceptance and beginning as freshmen in First Magic high school, one of the nine magic academies across the nation of Japan.
In 1985, the original MacGyver introduced the problem-solving genius of Angus MacGyver. Now I didn’t watch this show, but I caught glimpses of reruns and heard the references and whispers of titular characters. I, personally, can’t watch old television, just personal opinion, but I was/am still fascinated by the idea of a character that workshops on the fly to solve overly dramatic problems. So, I can’t say how it compares to the original show, but I can say that of what I’ve seen so far, the 2016 MacGyver remake has been pleasantly over the top and buddy cop.
MacGyver (2016) is another one of those NCIS, CSI, LAW & ORDER, “we’ve got a case, let’s solve it,” government special forces show about a discreet government organization called “The Phoenix Foundation.” Phoenix is a special forces organization that is so secret even other government organizations don’t know they exist. They work to solve threats and hazards to America that either can’t be handled by other organizations, illegal investigations, or investigations into other government organizations. Each member of the team has their specific skill. I can’t list every character due to spoilers, but I can list the core members of Phoenix.
The first week of January marked the release of this year’s first season of anime. I was way deep in Dungeons and Dragons and missed it, but spent my week playing catch up. There were a handful of shows that fit into the genres I am interested in, and I watched what had been released of those already.
One in particular kept catching my attention and it was not until I watched the first episode that I realized I recognized it. I read a good amount of manga, but oftentimes they are unfinished or dropped, so the shorter form ones fall out of my brain pretty quick. Kemono Jihen, Monster Incidents, was a manga I had read and either finished or dropped for whatever reason but remembered greatly enjoying it.
Originally a manga by Shou Aimoto, Kemono Jihen was taken and adapted by studio Ajia-do. At the moment it only has 4 episodes out but could have up to 13 or 25 depending on how much content there is to adapt to animation. Spoiler warning for at least the first episode and maybe bleeding into the other few.
Kemono Jihen tells the story of a small supernatural detective agency lead by Kohachi Inugami, a tricky Tanuki, which is a Japanese racoon, essentially, considered supernatural in many myths and folklore. Inugami heads to a farming town to investigate rapidly, and strangely, decaying animal carcasses. In this town he meets Dorotabo, a young boy ostracized and left to work the fields while the other children go play. Spoilery things happen and it is revealed that Dorotabo, actually named Kabane, is a half-demon who was left by his parents with his aunt.
Inugami, because of spoilery things, decides to take Kabane with him back to town, to Tokyo. The setting of this story is in a kind of suspended time period with a very traditional outskirts but a somewhat futuristic Tokyo. It is jarring but interesting and passes by without any big mess, so it is fine to just let it slide.
In Tokyo, Kabane is invited by Inugami to join his agency and help protect the balance between Kemono, supernatural monsters or beast, and humanity. The agency is simply titled “The Kemono Office” and Inugami explains that his customers usually come to him. In this agency, Kabane meets two other children just a bit older than him.
One is Shiki, another half-demon similar to Kabane. He is a big abrasive and rough and does not start very welcoming towards Kabane but warms up to him after a short while. Shiki is half spider demon and is able to produce a silk thread that nothing can break free from. The other is Akira. Though quite delicate and feminine in personality and appearance, Akira is a boy. Akira, like Shiki, is 15. Akira is a snow kemono and can create ice and snow when he focuses really hard on it. Another child is introduced really soon in the show, a kitsune girl who is sent by a more powerful kitsune woman to steal an object of Kabane. A short comical interaction between the girl, Kon, and Inugami smooths things over and she becomes an ally of the agency. Kon has transformative and fiery powers from her foxlike-demon powers.
Kabane himself possesses extraordinary strength and regenerative powers. That combined with no sense of pain and a history that has eliminated his fear makes him an absurd powerhouse for combat. He is monotone and aloof, keeping to himself unless spoken to and only gets upset about very specific triggers.
The show is action and supernatural but has comedic events as well. It also features a cast of children in a found family type scenario at the agency, giving a wholesome flare to some of the interactions. If this sounds like a show you are interested in, you can find it at Funimation.com/shows/kemono-jihen/ or if you have access to the Japanese Netflix.
To get back into this semester, instead of talking about anime, I wanna talk about what I spent my whole break watching. Over 500 hours of a series of people playing dungeons and dragons. I know the idea of watching people sit at a table and play pretend about a world of dragons, elves, beasts, and other fantasy creatures is very niche and unique, but I want to talk about it for those who may be interested in that kind of thing. I will only be talking about the second campaign today since it is a little more palatable to people who don’t know the game as well, and is higher in production quality than the first campaign.
Critical Role is a company name for a group of “nerdy ass voice actors that sit around and play dungeons and dragons,” as voice actor Mathew Mercer explains every week. The second campaign follows the adventures of the Mighty Nein, a group of colorful adventures who meet in the town of trostenwald. Now as far as the plot, I can’t say much due to the vast amount of spoilers and character development, but I can talk about the main cast of characters and a little about how their adventure goes (and is going).
For this last week, I wanted to skip out on the Anime and save some good ones for the spring, so instead, I am going to talk about a show I binged Sunday night. A Million Little Things is a drama on ABC that explores the facets of adulthood friendship after the suicide of a close friend. It tackles issues like suicide, depression, relationship troubles, passion for work, and self-sacrifice. And while this show did make my eyes water and my heart hurt at times, it was also very inspiring and comedic due to how the characters handle their issues.
The show currently has two seasons out, with the third season airing its first episode on Nov. 19. The show is available to stream on Hulu and on ABC’s own website abc.com/a-million-little-things.
I think something this show does well without even getting to the plot is how it tackles diversity. It has representation that is not forced or used to progress the plot; it just is the characters. However, the show does not throw these facts by the wayside either. One example is Rome, a black man struggling with clinical depression, being at odds with his family because, in his culture, they just do not talk about that stuff. The character explains in a handful of scenes that in his house, being sad is just part of life and you get over it.
With the spooky season having made its pass this semester, I wanted to turn to a more comical show for this week. “Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!” or “God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!” (typically, just called KonoSuba) is a parody show that takes a number of anime cliches, such as reviving in a fantasy world, and twisted them into a comical situation.
At the start of the show the main character, Kazuma Satou, dies after having a heart attack thinking he is going to be hit by a truck, which turned out to be a scooter. From there, he is offered a chance to reincarnate as the hero of a fantasy world and was allowed to bring one thing with him. He asks to bring the goddess (Aqua) speaking with him, assuming her to be all-powerful and a cheat to the end, but once they arrive, he learns how horribly weak she is. From there, Kazuma collects more people into his party and tries to save towns and the world from threats in his new life.
To wrap up the Halloween anime, I want to talk about “Owari No Seraph,” which means “Seraph of the End” in English. This show is a post-apocalypse anime about vampires, humans, demons, angels, and the wars and dependencies between the four of them.
In this work, a disease broke out that wiped out everyone above the age of 13, and the vampires offered humans protection from the virus and the monsters of the outside world the “Horsemen of John.” Over time, the humans have become unhappy with this arrangement, and wish to break free from vampire rule.
In comes a group of kids of the Hyakuya Orphanage, spearheaded by the main character Hyakuya Yuichiro and Hyakuya Mikaela (called Yu and Mika for short). These children decide they no longer want to be cattle for the vampires and Yu and Mika attempt to escape. They make it a fair bit, only to learn that Ferid Bathory, a vampire progenitor, was waiting for them to think they made it to confront and slaughter them. The only two survivors are Yu, who runs away and makes it to the outside world, and Mika, who sacrifices himself and is assumed dead until it is revealed that another vampire, named Krul Tepes, turned him and saved his life.
“Kimetsu no Yaiba,” also called “Demon Slayer” or “Blade of Demon Destruction” took the anime community by storm in 2019. Produced by studio Ufotable, Kimetsu no Yaiba is an exciting action-fantasy with man-eating demons in human form. The show features stunning 2D and 3D animation and visual effects, a beautiful soundtrack, sympathetic villains, and interesting, fleshed out characters.
“Demon Slayer” begins with Kamado Tanjiro, a teenage boy who takes care of his mother and younger siblings after the passing of his father. One day, he travels into town to sell charcoal for his family and has to stop for the night at the request of a friendly mountain dweller. When he returns home the next morning, he finds that his family had been slaughtered by demons that night before. Soon, he finds his sister, alive by a hair’s breadth, and carries her down the mountain in search of help.
After a discussion during my Horror and Haunting Class, I decided I really wanted to focus on vampires this week in light of the pending Halloween season. I figured I would go with my favorite vampire anime, The Monogatari Series. Now, most of the shows I have talked about so far have been, in my opinion, shows that are very easy for people new to Anime to join, but the Monogatari Series may not be as easy.
The series, produced by Shaft, follows the high schooler Koyomi Araragi, but I cannot say the show starts at the beginning. The anime was released out of chronological order, similar to the light novels it is based on. The first season ever released was “Bakemonogatari,” which begins at the meeting between Araragi and his girlfriend, Senjougahara Hitagi, but this is not the start of Araragi’s story.