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Real Neat Blog Award

Recently Megan of A Geeky Gal nominated my blog for a Real Neat Blog Award and to that I want to say thank you.

The Mask

It’s nice to know my ramblings about games are neat enough for a mention and not just me whinging to myself. I mean, they are me rambling or whinging but as long as it’s neat too that’s a good start. Megan set me and a bunch of other bloggers a difficult but fun scenario to theoretically survive. It’s a bit of a doozy and I’ll get to that but first, I want to give a mention to Megan and her great blog. A Geeky Gal is one of those blogs that I read a lot of on my commutes. The posts are just the right size and to the point which makes them perfect for a short ride to work. Specifically the anime related posts which I highly recommend if you’re like me and you like to watch anime but aren’t clued in to what’s good or not and tend to only know of the big name shows like Attack on Titan or One Punch Man. She recently did a 30 day anime challenge which was a fun read and I highly recommend you try that out if you haven’t. In fact here’s a Link for day one of that. So, thank you again Megan and let’s begin your scenario.

Really Neat Blog

The Rules:

  1. Display the Award Logo.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
  3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you.
  4. Nominate 7-10 bloggers.
  5. Ask them seven questions.

The great and wise Megan has thrown me into a very interesting scenario:

Setting the scene: you’ve just woken up in the hospital. You don’t remember who you are or why you are there. The hospital is completely empty… You dress and head outside into the unknown. You must make some life or death decisions now.

Along with this, A Geeky Gal has provided 7 questions for me to answer and hopefully guarantee my survival. The first one is:

1. You need a partner for the apparent apocalypse that has taken place during your coma. Which video game character do you choose?

My answer is Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. Not only is she just a great person to be around but as she as spent most of her life locked away, an apocalyptic world would still be full of wonder to her. I want that level of optimism in my life as no doubt I would be a moody bore pining for my PS4 or Netflix. To Elizabeth everything is new and exciting and I want someone to imbue me what that same energy, if I am going to survive I need to be raring to go and hopeful. Now on to a more practical side of Elizabeth, as I said she’s spent most of her life in a library. With the would reduced to a more basic state, that wealth of information in her noggin is bound to come in handy. With my knowledge of how the world was and Elizabeth’s knowledge of the base fundamentals of the world, I think our chances of basic survival are strong. Then there is her reality manipulation powers! With her powers I could bypass A Geeky Gal’s entire scenario by exiting to a new reality. But that’s no fun so we won’t do that. Nevertheless, Elizabeth has a knack for finding useful items either from her current reality or an arm’s length away in another. An invaluable skill  for the apocalypse if I’ve ever seen one.

Bioshock Elizabeth

2. Great monsters are now roaming the lands you used to call home… what fearsome video game creatures do you see on the horizon?

Honestly with this one I was torn. Giant beasts similar to Deathclaw’s in Fallout would absolutely terrify me but I’ve always thought in games, books or films that even though post apocalyptic monsters are scary, it’s other people that truly are the monsters. That’s why I’ve gone with a more Mad Max approach and chosen the No More Heroes rogues gallery of disturbing and psychotic assassins. These freaks lived their uncivilised lives in a civilised world previously and they were dangerous enough then. They killed for the thrill and to be number one in some weird assassins league that didn’t even seem to have an end goal. I don’t even think there was a prize besides a title! Imagine the lengths they would go to in a world with limited resources. I think this would be their paradise. No rules of society or even the rules of the United Assassins Association to determine who could fight who. It would just be a free for all with murder being their main desire and survival being just a necessity so that they could keep murdering. You wouldn’t want to run into one of these weirdo’s in a dark alleyway.

 

 

3. You must pick a weapon to defend yourself with. What video game weapon do you choose?

I’ve actually had this answer in my head for a long time. The book, The Zombie Survival Guide mentions this and from one type of end of the world crisis to another, the crowbar is the weapon for me. First off, it’s intended use of prying open things. With lots of building’s to loot and resources to gather, the crowbar is the best way to get the job done (besides the key obviously) effectively and quietly. It doesn’t require ammo or petrol to function and requires minimal maintenance. It also functions as a blunt and a piercing weapon. Sure it means you have to get up close to whatever still exists in this world or a No More Heroes assassin, but I would rather trust a classic bonk on the head to a potential rusty gun jamming or a blade being too dull. And the best aspect of a crowbar? I get to pretend to be Gordan Freeman, scientist extraordinaire!

Half Life Crowbar

4. You and your partner are seeking shelter for the night after a long day of fighting. What video game house/apartment/place do you bunker down in for the night?

This was the toughest of the questions for me. I originally thought of DK’s cabin in Donkey Kong Country simply because it comes with a stash of end of the world bananas! Then I remembered that they usually get stolen and also bananas don’t last very long before they go super mushy like baby food. It’s the end of the world so beggar’s can’t be choosers but still….yuck. More on that food issue later though. For my final answer I’ve gone with Sigismund Dijkstra’s Bathhouse from The Witcher 3. Whether the bathhouse is functioning or not, this place still works as a sanctuary that I would consider keeping as mine and Elizabeth’s base. If the water is still running or at least there, that is ideal for us adventurers to have a soak and relaxation after trudging the mostly barren land. The body can only withstand so much before it needs to be soothed otherwise it becomes stiff and rigged, which is terrible in a fight for survival. It would be a great place for a drink of water, to fill up containers and to clean our tools, clothes and gear. If the bathhouse wasn’t functioning as its name implies, it’s still a secure place with big wide rooms which make it ideal to spot any intruders. There is also a secret tunnel which connects to the sewer system for safer traversal in or out.  A handy place for the night and possibly longer.

Witcher 3 Bathhouse

5. You’re getting awfully hungry battling those scary creatures. What video game food is in your pack?

Cans and cans of pickles from Deadly Premonition. Known as The Pickles. Not the tastiest of food but super useful for the current situation. Being in cans, the food is protected from outside damage and also has an extended life compared to those pesky free range pickles. The can itself could also be useful afterwards as either a container or potentially the metal could be used as a weapon of sorts. The brine is also a super useful bonus. Brine is essentially salt and water. It’s used to preserve food for longer periods of time. If me and Elizabeth kill an animal for survival or an assassin for their meat. Again, I’m going to stress this is a hypothetical situation! Would I eat a person? That’s another question for another day and depending on what marinade I had with me. But if me and Elizabeth had too much meat to consume, it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Meat would be hard to come by and a valuable source of nutrients. Brine to the rescue! After cans and cans of pickles our backpacks would be sloshing around with gallons of the salty stuff. Find a way to encase the meat and brine together and voila, longer lasting food. Might taste a bit of pickles but nutrients is nutrients. I believe that brine would function as a good source of drinkable water. Obviously you shouldn’t drink brine in its briny state but if you can separate the salt and the water then you’re good to go. Elizabeth, with her wealth of knowledge should be able to manage that. She’s essentially my Bear Grylls in this scenario and the longer she can keep us from drinking our urine the better.

Can of pickles

6. You and your partner run across more survivors who ask to join your party, but one of them is a little shady. Which video game character is the wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Again, going with the No More Heroes angle, Travis Touchdown. Travis is one of my all time favourite video game characters but would I trust him on my team? HELL NO! The guy is out for himself. Yes, he has a weird morale code when it comes to who he trusts or who he has sympathy for but it is that very word, weird. I wouldn’t be able to process if I was on his good side or not and I believe he would cut me down the second I got in the way of his plans. In the No More Heroes world he wanted to be the top of the United Assassins Association simply because he wanted to be. In this post apocalyptic world, the league is essentially just survival of the fittest. He would still want to be number one of that and I would be a contender in his head. Not only that but you don’t trust a guy who buys a functioning beam katana off an eBay equivalent! You just don’t. Not only that but he worships wrestling, to the point that most of his fighting moves are wrestling moves. Have you watched wrestling before? The amount of turns and story plot twists are out of this world. In Travis’s delusional head, I think he would act in a similar manner just because he once saw it on TV. I can’t trust a guy like that. Also, he hides behind his shades, I don’t trust a man whose eyes I can’t look into. As much as I would love to have him on my team, he’s too much of a wildcard.

Travis_Touchdown-750x395

7. You hear of a place that’s been untouched by the apocalypse. What video game world do you hope it is?

This is short and sweet and pretty self explanatory. Super Mario Odyssey’s Luncheon Kingdom! It’s a kingdom of food. In a survival scenario it’s essentially the dream. Technically in the Mario universe it is a planet but it’s called a kingdom and so I believe it is accessible in my scenario’s reality. It would be the scenario’s version of El Dorado. There isn’t much opposition there either besides Goomba’s and if you pet them on the head they go squish so I’m not worried. My only hope is me and Elizabeth find it before those freaky assassins or before Travis ruins my day.

Mario Luncheon Kingdom

That was a great time! I really enjoyed those questions and I had a lot of back and forth on most of them. Now for my questions and scenario. Apologies for the lengthy questions but I wanted to set the scene a bit too much:

Scenario: You wake up to find yourself strapped to a cold metal table. You glance around and notice a lot of fancy technology but a bunch of stuff that bears a striking resemblance to video game consoles.  You see a bunch of moving things in the corner of your eye. They turn to look at you as you quickly look away from them. You spy a window and quickly realise that you are flying through space. Then it dawns on you, you’re aboard an alien spaceship.

  1. From the darkness you hear the things conversing with each other. It sounds eerily similar to a made up language you’ve heard in a video game. What games language do they sound like?
  2. One of the moving things starts shuffling towards you, as it gets closer you start to make out its shape. You can’t believe it but it’s a being that you know from video games. What is it, from which series and why does that particular being terrify you?
  3. The being realises that it has startled you. It clicks a button and begins talking to you in English. It explains that a translator has been activated and that it can still sense your duress. It says it wishes to play a song for you, a song of your choosing from video games to help calm you down. Which video game song do you pick?
  4. After you calmed down, the being clicks a button and you are released from the table. The being explains that it has been watching Earth for a long time and their race has a fascination with Earth’s video games. They wish to join Earth in its gaming culture and the being explains that they love local competitive video games. The being requests that the two of you play a friendly match together. It requests that you pick any game that has existed on any gaming system (PC included) but that the game must include alien races, as the beings find the exclusion to be upsetting to them. It doesn’t need to their species but something beyond Earth. The being suggests that if you win the game, it will show you around the ship. Realising that this may be your best chance to escape, what game do you pick that you feel confident in winning?
  5. After you win the match, the being praises you to all its fellow crew. They rejoice and hail you as Earth’s champion. The alien then requests you follow it around the ship. As you walk through the long corridors, you come across a wall of familiar weapons. On the wall is dozens upon dozens of weapons from video games. But, the weapons are half and half. The being explains that something went wrong and all the weapons were split in half and then merged with a random weapon. They all worked though and the beings liked the results so they kept them. Amongst the weapons you spot a weapon ideal for your current situation. You lunge for the weapon and proceed to go through with the act of escaping. What weapon fusion have you chosen and why? (For the sake of the following questions, it can’t be a weapon that would get you off the ship.)
  6. After your altercation with the being, you make a dash in the opposite direction from where you woke. As you run you hear a blaring noise and realise that the alarm has been sounded. You enter a new room and before you you see an escape pod. You go to enter the shuttle but quickly realise that you best prepare yourself first. At the back of the room and spy a row of containers, each with a spacesuit. The beings have created fully functioning spacesuits from video games. Each one with the abilities of their video game counterparts and fully stocked with oxygen. How convenient, you think! Which spacesuit do you take and why?
  7. After suiting up, you enter the pod. Before you is a mouse, keyboard and a display screen. The screen prompts you to press the Esc button to launch the shuttle. So you do just that. The escape pod breaks away from the ship and hurtles through space. The screen prompts you to type in your destination. EARTH you type. ‘Insufficient fuel’ the screen unfortunately tells you. The display then prompts a list of choices for you in the vicinity. It details a bunch of prototype worlds that the beings had set up. Each world has been created to resemble a video game world and has Earth’s atmosphere implemented on it. On the list you spy a place that you recognise from your games and you decide that that *Blank* Planet  is ideal for you. What planet is it and why?

My Nominees:

Nerfd

A Dame’s Gotta Game

Extra Life Reviews

HannieBee Games

Hundstrasse

shoot the rookie

Why We Play Games

Black Disc Gaming

Livid Lightning

Best of luck to the nominees, thank you again to A Geeky Gal and thank you for reading my Real Neat Blog post.

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1 vs 100: 10 Years Later and the Void Remains

Who remembers this game?! I’m a sucker for trivia or pub quizzes and so this was right up my alley, even as an idiotic teen back in 2009. For those that missed this gem and I can’t blame you for not hearing about it, it was a live quiz show on the Xbox 360 with real life presenters. The prizes were Microsoft Points and the chance to win an Xbox Live Arcade game. You may have seen the 1 vs 100 TV show and this was basically that except the players were all sat on their backsides at home. My kind of game! Players were represented by their Xbox avatars, back when Microsoft were really pushing them, hoping to get on that sweet sweet Mii train.

1 vs 100 Question]

Players are split into 3 groups: The One, The Mob and The Crowd. The Crowd is essentially just an audience but how well you play as an audience member can affect whether you get into The Mob on the next round. The Mob is composed of 100 players and they are The One’s rival. The One is Neo, led by Morpheus. That’s a joke, a bad one, but still a joke. Side note, Neo is an anagram of One. Took me to the 3rd film to realise that. I was a clever boy evidently and 1 vs 100 was clearly my forte. Anyway, The One is the contestant at the centre. They have the biggest potential win and must compete against the 100. Questions will appear on screen and all players will choose an answer from the 3 choices. If you get it right, you get a score and the score is higher the quicker you choose your answer. If The One gets it right, they advance to the next question. Whoever in The Mob gets it wrong, is eliminated from the current round. The more members of The Mob are eliminated, the more Microsoft Points The One can earn. As the game progresses, The One will get several chances to take his current winnings and bail or gamble it to compete against the remaining Mob members. If The One out quizzes his opponents and is the sole victor, he/she gets 10,000 Microsoft Points. If they are eliminated though, they get nothing. At the end of the round, the 3 top scoring players of The Crowd get whatever Xbox Live Arcade game is up for grabs, the remaining Mob members get the game too and if there are 40 Mob members or less, each Mob member will receive some Microsoft Points. How many Microsoft Points they get depends on how many Mob members were remaining. The One also has 3 ways to get help. There is ‘Trust The Mob’, ‘Trust The Crowd’ and ‘Trust The Top 10’. These are pretty self-explanatory but they basically mean that you choose the answer the respective group chooses.

1 vs 100 Trust

And that is 1 vs 100! If you play well and quick you get upgraded into The Mob. If you’re in The Mob you can win some points or a game. And I believe you just have to play well to get a chance at being The One. What I loved about 1 vs 100 is the questions were the right level of difficulty. It knew its audience and chose more pop culture and general knowledge questions with a few brain thinkers now and then. Microsoft could have been really stingy and make the questions super difficult to avoid giving away points but they seemed to embrace what they were aiming for. Me and my friends loved this game! We would be on mics sharing answers and freaking out whenever one of us got into The Mob. I got in it once! But nerves got the better of me and I didn’t make it to the top 50. It was sad in a way that I was spending my late teen years playing 1 vs 100 on a Friday night but we had a great laugh. Apparently a lot of people did as according to the Internet, the highest attendance was over 114,000 people at one point. That’s over 1/10 of a million people playing a quiz show. That’s insane when you think about it, a quiz game! It’s not Call of Duty or watching a World Cup final figures but for what is pub quiz, I find that to be huge.

But 10 years on and 1 vs 100 on the Xbox 360 no longer runs. The game only had 2 seasons and the 1st one was a Beta test. It was functional but needed some technical fixes. Season 2 was fantastic but wasn’t good enough to net a 3rd season. This may be due to time zones or advertising revenue not enough to offset the technical cost as well as the Microsoft Points being handed out. I think this idea could work today though. Scale it back to time zones specific versions and reduce prize pool if necessary but the technology is here now. It doesn’t have to be 1 vs 100 but I think a revival would work well. With Twitch as well, this could very easily be implemented or even produced by Twitch. Pick a famous streamer each week, let them be the host, use the viewership as contestants and give out prizes. It’d get Twitch more viewers and give streamers a spotlight to attract new fans. If you’ve played the Jackbox games, you know that there is an audience participation feature that works really well. Something similar to that would bode well for this idea. Yes, we are in the age of technology and everyone can get the answers at their fingertips but the quickest Google search fingers will never beat a mind that knows the answers. Base rewards on accuracy and speed and you’re good to go.

1 vs 100 was very unique at the time and I still think it hasn’t been surpassed in terms of what it achieved. Sure Fortnite has these big events that change each season but it’s still a game at the end of the day. This was a game show converted into a live game and it worked for the most part! Some technical flaws here and there but the overall experience was addictive and stupidly fun. It seemed like a major leap in community gaming at the time and a merging of two mediums but since then that idea has kind of rescinded. I would have loved to have seen more ideas like this or an evolution of 1 vs 100 over the years. This is a prime idea that needs picking back up again. Maybe it exists and I’ve missed it, if so please feel free to let me know in the comments. And if you played this or have some love for this forgotten pioneer then do tell your thoughts. Maybe you got to be The One! You’re a legend in my eyes if you ever got that chance. Anyway, thanks for reading and take it easy.

 

Three Great In-Universe Sing-Songs (Films/Anime)

Songs are a very powerful medium. Depending on the composition, a state of mind or emotion can be bestowed upon the listener within the first few seconds of an intro. Lyric-less music used in games, films and TV shows can imbue a scene with the right emotional oomph and elevate a good scene to a captivating experience. Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman are names that carry weight to them. At times these names have been in the opening credits of a film and for good reason! Their work has enchanted audiences for decades now and their involvement in a project is met with excitement among the film scene, similar to that of a main actor being cast. But today I don’t want to talk about the score of a film or show but an in-universe piece. This is different to songs in films such as Disney, which are usually characters thoughts and emotions expressed through rhyme or a musical which again is usually the same thing. An in-universe song is a component of the world established in its fictional setting. If I were to belt out YMCA, that is an in-universe song as opposed to me delighting the world with a tale of how I stubbed my toe and how the pain is currently killing me. And so here are a few ditties that have delighted me over the years and my thoughts on them.

For the Dancing and the Dreaming – How to Train Your Dragon 2

This one is a very guilty pleasure of mine and quite personal to me. I’m half Scottish and my Dad’s side are very Scottish sounding. Growing up in England and currently living in Wales, a good couple of hours away from any of my family, hearing a Scottish melody or voice just gives me a comforting feeling. I don’t have a Scottish accent and so in England whenever I heard a Scottish accent it was generally around my family. Now I live a fair distance away, I hear it less, as I see them less. I’ve been finding myself coming back to this song a lot over the past few months but that doesn’t detract from this song. This short performance not only mends a fractured relationship, but gives a whole new dimension of Stoic, the…..well stoic viking. A strong, sturdy man who is more in tune with his strength than he is with his feelings. These next few minutes reveal a lot about the man whilst also establishing a bond that we never saw in the previous film. To give some context, mild spoilers following: Stoic and his son have recently discovered that their wife/mum is alive after being previously thought to have been eaten by a dragon.  Valka was taken away but gained the role of protector of a colony of dragons. She didn’t return to her husband as he believed that all dragons should be killed. This is Stoic trying to mend a damaged past. 

First of…. Stoic sings! Can you believe that?! A boulder of a man in his build and his fortitude. But he had a son, I suppose whenever I pictured Hiccup’s mum I always thought of Stoic but with less beard. Not someone as compassionate as Valka and more Hiccup-like. The song itself though is a beautiful Gaelic-esque rendition of a love song. Whistling at the beginning or end of a song is like number one on a cheat sheet into my heart. I’m a sucker for the pursing of lips followed by a good exhale, I must admit.  And I have to give major credit to Gerard Butler for his performance as Stoic here. Amazing job! You can tell how tentative and unsure Stoic is at the start of the song. He wants to mend the damage and bridge the gap between them but he’s an emotionally clumsy man. But he remembers a part of him that won her over decades ago. His sigh he gives is such a monumental moment in this song. That sigh is as close to his heart breaking as it could possibly get. But then Valka swoops in and raises him back to the strong willed man that he is. And then the song just takes off! As Stoic and Valka jump in to sing their role, the music is accompanied by more instruments and an increased tempo until both singers combine in unison to finish this delightfully romantic confession.  They start as fractured partners, move onto being duelling lyricists and then finish as a reunited tour de force. Those three minutes, I feel, do a better job at mending their relationship, than any dialogue could do that same time frame and makes it fun to watch and listen to in the process. My favourite scene of How to Train your Dragon 2 and probably the entire series (I haven’t seen 3 yet).

Blunt the Knives – The Hobbit

I’d be hard pressed not to include this on the list. I’ll admit that I’m not a big Hobbit trilogy fan. I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy but The Hobbit films just didn’t do it for me, as I’m sure a lot will agree on that. I didn’t care for the 3rd film much, I thought Smaug was excellent and the only real part of 2 that I enjoyed. And I enjoyed the first half of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This scene exemplifies what I would have wanted out of the trilogy. When Legolas among other characters started taking more screen time, the hobbit’s themselves just took a back seat in their own films. Lindsey Ellis does a great three part look at why The Hobbit trilogy stumbled in its execution, which I highly recommend checking out on Youtube. This scene never fails to make me smile but it also irks me that the potential was there for a great trilogy and we get a fantastic glimpse of it in this scene.

Although we only get a minor look at each individual characters traits here, with Balin’s calm smirk as he watches his younger dwarves enjoying themselves and Bombur’s ‘cleaning’ of the plates, being my favourites. But what this does give us a great look at, is the camaraderie among the dwarves. As individual’s, that they not be the most talented but when they combine their skills, strengths and trust, they excel as a unit. It also gives us a great look into their lifestyle. Similar to how in Snow White, the dwarves sing Heigh Ho during their work to boost moral but also to form a working rhythm among the team, The Hobbit’s dwarves do the same. In fact, their talent at clearing the table and doing the dishes, shows that they have had many a meal around the table together and performed this very same routine probably daily in their previous situations. Their bond as a unit, is unrivalled in the Hobbit/LOTR established film universe and should have been at the forefront of the trilogy. Granted I haven’t read the books, but I imagine this behaviour was a key component of the book and ne’er a sight of Legolas CGI-ing on falling debris. Great song, great scene but a wasted potential unfortunately.

Bink’s Sake – One Piece

Oh, One Piece! How I binged you so, back when I had lots of free time. I stopped watching One Piece many years ago around the episode 450 mark. It currently is at *Googles the latest episode* 899?! OK, well that works out well then. Basically I was half way through One Piece. And while I remember a lot of the arcs and big moments, Brook’s introduction and past will forever remain one of my main memories of the anime. A musically talented skeleton with an afro. In most things that wouldn’t work but One Piece’s world is one where that kind of bonkers can exist. I have to give some context for this song as I do think the song benefits from knowing the driving force and character of Brook.

So Brook was one of the Rumbar Pirates. I group of musician’s who would sail the seas playing music as they went and would play for anyone who wanted to listen. They were pirates but that was more of a vehicle for which to spread their music with people across the world. Now, in One Piece, there are things called Devil Fruit which is fruit that grant you an ability when you eat it but also make it so that you can’t swim, you just sink. In most universes, that wouldn’t be a huge deal but this is One Piece we’re talking about. It’s 90% pirate shenanigans. Brook ate a fruit that with return his spirit to his body upon death. A kind of, second chance. Brook’s ship was attacked by pirates who used poisoned blades. The enemies boarded the ship, cut everyone and then sailed away. I think their intention was to return when every one was dead. Again, not watched in years and this is from memory. As the Rumbar crew were dying they decided to play their favourite song, one last time. Brook is playing on piano, he didn’t know the fruit would revive him. As they play, they all start falling, one by one. It’s a very emotional scene. Unfortunately for Brook, when they were attacked, they were in a thick fog that covered a huge area. When Brook’s spirit tried to return to his body, he couldn’t find the ship. His spirit searched for years until he happened to find it. By that point, his body had decayed away to just bones. Brook entered his bony remains and was revived as a skeleton.  Don’t question it too much. This following version of the song is the English dub which I didn’t originally watch but I think it does a good job of translating the song. At this point in the story, Brook has been welcomed in to the main cast of characters as a part of their family. He starts playing this tune and we are treated to a sing song with his new friends, as well as flashbacks to his old adventures, the Rumbar pirates befriending a baby whale and the demise of the Rumbar Pirates. You will hear thudding sounds towards the end of the song, around the 3 minute mark, which is his old crew falling over as the poison takes hold of them. A truly heart wrenching scene but also heart warming as we know Brook has finally found a new family.

I think that’ll do it for today. If you have any suggestions of in-universe songs I should listen to then please leave a comment and I’ll give them a go. Thanks for reading and as some of you may notice, it’s been about 3 months since my last post. Had a lot going on and my time is more limited these days but I will make more of an effort and will actually start talking about games at some point. Until then though, take it easy!

Anime Time! 3 Anime Shows I Watched Recently (Mini Reviews)

Something a bit different to my usual today. Lately I’ve been looking into new jobs and education prospects. I’m doing a lot of it, trying to figure out what work I want to do in life and just trying to better myself in general. It’s taking a lot of my time and between that, work and average daily tasks, I’m not in the mood to game. Nothing intensive anyway. Bit of Smash Bros here and there but lately in my down time I just want to watch rather than play. Anime has been my big filler there and so today I want to talk about 3 anime shows I’ve watched over the past few months. Rather than talking about gaming, something that I’ve been neglecting. I won’t be getting into major spoilers but basic story beats and plot elements will be spoken about.

Mob Psycho 100 Seasons 1+2

Mob Psycho 100

I decided to try this after starting One Punch Man season 2 and finding it’s animation very lacking compared to the past season. I knew Mob Psycho 100 was by the same writer and captured the similar feel of One Punch Man, a blend of comedy, action and a story. What I wasn’t expecting, was for Mob Psycho 100 to not only surpass One Punch Man, in my view, but for it to earn a spot in my top 5 anime shows. I was floored by how good this show is. Not just in terms of animation, which at times is stunning, but in the characters themselves. I’m not ashamed to say that there were times where I was getting glassy eyed when certain characters interacted with or supported the main character. This show had the capacity to have me laughing my bum off one minute and then feeling an immense sense of union and comradery the next. Before I continue to swoon over this show in more depth, I should explain the plot.

Shigeo or Mob as he is known to some friends, is a human with psychic abilities. He seems unique in this world at first but as time progresses in the show, the more and more esper’s start revealing themselves and ghosts start cropping up. In his day to day life he’s been told by family that he needs to limit his psychic usage so that he can be like everyone else. From a young age he seeks the help of a local esper named Reigen who runs his own psychic consultation business. Reigen actually has no psychic abilities whatsoever but is a confident conman, skilled at taking desperate people’s money in exchange for ridding them of their spectral problems as a self proclaimed psychic master. This is where Mob comes in handy and a place for him to use his psychic talents, who believes in Reigen’s abilities and dutifully follows his orders as his business apprentice. That is the core concept of this show. Most episodes are the duo’s business call outs but there are big overarching story line’s that take the show in a more serious and intense direction. The big appeal of this show, for me anyway, is Mob himself. Due to subduing his psychic abilities, it has allowed Shigeo to blend in with regular school life but has also helped to dull his emotions in the process, as he is unable to use his natural talents. This process has turned him into a bit of a loner and one that is unable to feel like a regular student. Because of this, Mob has difficulty with making friends and living a regular day to life.

Over the 2 seasons Mob’s life changes as new people enter his life, some friends and some enemies. What I love about this show is how Mob develops as a character when surrounded by these people in his life. It really is something amazing and his development is one of the most natural that I’ve seen in any media source. For a character that initially lacks a plethora of emotions, the show has huge emotional weight at times. This is aided by the supporting cast of characters who I honestly can’t find a weak link with. Each character adds something new to the show and the plot elements they bring never failed to amuse or enrapture me. Reigen especially deserves a mention. My favourite character of the show and the one who gave me the most belly laughs. I’m a sucker for scam artists in funny shows or films and Reigen is one of the absolute scammiest of scam artists. Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls is one of my favourite animated characters of all time and if you like Grunkle Stan, you’ll love Reigen. He’s the embodiment of a man in a world he doesn’t understand but his sheer attitude towards it is all he requires. His assortment of ‘special’ moves will always get a laugh out of me too. Also, the show has 2 of the best OP’s I’ve ever seen. Not important to this review but I highly recommend checking out the first one on Youtube.

Reigen

I fully recommend this show especially if you enjoy humour in your anime. I fully recommend it even if you don’t! The way it looks and the action deserve huge praise. I’ve never seen anything that made telekinetic battles look this good and intense. As mentioned, this is very similar to season one of One Punch Man and deserves more attention than what Mob Psycho 100 currently gets, more so than One Punch Man in my view. Super Recommend!

My Love Story!!

My Love Story

After Mob Psycho 100 I wanted to continue the comedy element into another show and My Love Story!! has been on my radar for a while now. I’m not a big romance anime/series person but My Love Story!! nicely balances the cutesy aspect with the tonal shifts and sharp edits that bring the chuckles to My Love Story!! I also felt a strong connection to the main character within the first episode and so maybe the emotional aspects hit harder for me than an average person but this series made me feel a wide spectrum of feelings whilst watching it.

Funny and endearing, My Love Story!! tells the story of Takeo a hulking beast of a student. A man of big stature, big features and an even bigger heart. Takeo wouldn’t be described as handsome but his stoic-ness and kind demeanour shine for those that are willing to give this, at first, scary looking mountain a chance. Takeo is a gentle giant and even though his close friends love and respect him, he’s never had a girlfriend, though he has fallen hard many times. Suna, is Takeo’s best friend and in an average anime, he would be the main protaganist. Smart, handsome and somewhat mysterious, Suna was always the attention of girls around Takeo and usually those that Takeo had developed feelings for. One day, Takeo spots a girl on his train being groped by a creep. As chivalrous as always, Takeo rushes to her rescue and upon seeing the girl’s face, instantly falls in love with her. Rinko, the girl he saved, also develops feelings for her saviour but as this is an anime love story, it’s not a simple affair. Rinko is incredibly shy and Takeo has complex’s due to his previous unrequited feelings. Thankfully this whole charade doesn’t outstay its welcome and even though there are more miscommunication mishaps throughout the season, I never found them to be infuriating. Takeo has every right to doubt that someone as amazing as Rinko would have feelings for him. Not because he’s a bad person, but because of the damage and insecurities his past feelings have wrought him. I resonated with that characteristic and perhaps that’s why this show got me as much as it did. I had self esteem issues in the past and when obvious signals or even flat out propositions were thrown my way I would have a hard time believing them or would just flat out dismiss them. I didn’t regard myself highly and so I couldn’t see how others could either. Hindsight is 20/20 and I’ve come to appreciate the qualities that I have to offer but Takeo really reminded me of how I was. Not in terms of sheer strength or courageousness but in his internal struggle and his ability to over analyse situations or to be oblivious to what’s practically spelled out. His naivety is his charm but a detriment to his happiness. But that’s what makes him a likeable character to watch.

Not only that but the supporting cast are great too, though the show mainly focuses on the 3 main characters. Which is a great thing as it gives Takeo and Rinko’s relationship substance. We see how they develop and how they each imbue one another with aspects of themselves. Rinko is lovely, shy and a kind person; Takeo is a lovable brute with a heart of gold and Suna is the perfect straight man for Takeo to bounce off of. There is great story elements to this trio’s interactions but what I really love is the humour between them. Takeo and Rinko’s internal thoughts and freak outs in their new relationship really put a smile on my face. If you’re someone who second guesses a lot or are just socially awkward in general, you’ll relate to these two. And then there is Suna who works best being Takeo’s support. Takeo is unrefined and clumsy when it comes to feelings and relationships. His constant harassing of Suna for advice is both comical and touching to see. Two very different people but it’s easy to see why they’re best friends and why there friendship has lasted so long. The show does a good job of switching up story beats or changing the focus of the episodes to one of the three main characters. Romantic tropes don’t play for too long and the series has a good balance of serious episodes with humour to flat out comedy episodes or character development arcs.

Takeo

At only 24 episodes, My Love Story!! tells the beginning of a relationship, a sweet tale between two individuals who deserve someone who thinks the world of them. This is a pleasant show to watch and it does a great job of making you feel happy inside. It’s a charming watch and one that has some of the best quick cut gags and intensely comical face shots that I’ve seen for a long time. As this came out in 2015 and only one season was produced, there isn’t much finality to the show. The last episode could be seen as a regular arc ending and so I was a bit disappointed that a second season wasn’t made but that can’t be helped really. An enjoyable watch but just be aware that you see the start of a blossoming relationship but you won’t see the end. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the journey is very enjoyable but be prepared to feel a small void in your heart when the last episode ends. Highly Recommend.

The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland

This anime got a lot of attention at the start of the year and I always thought about checking it out. I knew it involved kids in an orphanage and that there was a mystery element to it but that’s all I knew really. The term, psychological thriller/horror was also chucked around and this seemed right up my alley. I love when a basic concept or real life situation is twisted in a unique way. The Promised Neverland definitely has that going for it and isn’t shy about the horror element.

For those that haven’t heard of the premise, I’m torn on describing this series. I think a big part of the impact I felt when watching the first episode was the reveal of the main plot. It’s something that I feel should be seen rather than read or heard. BUT! What’s the point of this paragraph if I don’t explain it? The basic version: the story centres on 3 orphans in an orphanage as they uncover the mystery surrounding their orphanage and their lives. If you are intrigued by this synopsis then I recommend reading no further on in this mini review of The Promised Neverland. The main mystery is revealed in the first episode and so I’m going to talk a bit more in depth about basic plot points of the first few episodes as it’s hard to explain this show without more detail. Last chance to avoid basic spoilers, skip ahead to next paragraph if you want to remain in the dark about this show. SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST FEW EPISODES NOW: As I mentioned, the plot revolves around 3 orphans. These orphans find out that their orphanage is a produce farm essentially, for weird monsters. Their caretaker who they refer to as Mother is in contact with the monsters and essentially rears the children for slaughter. There is mention of other farms and it is revealed that the smarter a child is, the better their quality is. What follows is the children trying to escape their fate and their effort to uncover the secrets of the world outside their knowledge. Before we get into non-spoiler territory, Sister Krone scares the hell out of me! That smile of hers *shudders*.

neverland1

The series is a really cool concept and for the most part I enjoyed it. My main gripe I had was not with the mystery or the revelations, but with the 3 main characters themselves. They are said to be 11 years old and the smartest children at the orphanage. Maybe because I was dumb as an 11 year old and so I find it hard to believe but their deductions and observations seem too unrealistic for three 11 year olds. That being said, I was never an A* pupil and I’ve never been in their situation. That kind of scenario would have the brain firing on all cylinders but I still have trouble with their intelligence. It’s weird given the surrounding story that that is the aspect I find hard to believe but they are three mini Sherlock Holmes apparently. But, they were raised in a different situation to me and so I can’t be correlating their mindset to mine but that is a minor gripe of mine. That being said, I do think this is a promising start. What I do love about this series is the way it builds dread. With intense camera angles, close up’s of characters in crisis and the occasional first person view, The Promised Neverland does a great job of building terror in this seemingly normal orphanage. It’s one of the best anime series I’ve seen, to really make me feel uneasy or concerned for characters. Not a series for the weak of heart. If you don’t mind a bit of unease in your life then I recommend trying The Promised Neverland! At only 12 episodes it’s worth a watch if you’re interested in the concept. Solid Recommend.

And that’s that! I haven’t been writing much as I mentioned due to lack of gaming and time but hopefully I’ll get back on track soon. In the meantime let me know your opinions on these anime series and if you know of any anime similar to them then please let me know. I’m in the mood for more great anime series/films as I’m currently re-watching all of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and I’m getting close to the current airing part so I’m in need of new things to watch! Recommendations are always welcome. Thanks for reading and take it easy.