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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Teen Wolf S6E4+E5: Face to Faceless & Pressure Test.



Teen Wolf
Series 6
Episode 4+Episode 5
Face to Faceless & Pressure Test.



Well, the show is certainly making this easy on me. Getting an eight-hundred word review out of two whole episodes, aired back to back, should be ridiculously easy, even given Teen Wolf's tendency to be heavy on ominous hand-waving and light on anything of actual substance.

In the aftermath of the death of two young werewolves, Scott meets with Gerard and Tamora, hoping to come to a peace agreement -- only for it to become clear that Tamora is uninterested in peace, and for the meeting to go sharply sideways when the faceless fear creature appears in the tunnels, driving Tamora's hunters mad with panic. Meanwhile, Liam is cornered by the now radicalised lacrosse team, who publicly beat him in an effort to make him shift. Afterwards, two werewolves, accused of the murder of several of Tamora's hunters, take shelter in the Sheriff's station, only for it to be swiftly blockaded by Tamora and her hunters. As the clock ticks down to Tamora storming the station and a traitor amidst the sheriff's deputies causes trouble, the fear creature appears, driving two deputies to take their own lives. Elsewhere, Deaton, Cody, and Mason discover the identity of the fear creature: An Anukite, a double-faced shapeshifter that drives people mad with horror.

So, my views on these episodes are largely positive, but we're going to have to address the elephant in the room: Having several heroic white law enforcement officials being threatened by a villainous, gun-toting black woman.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Game of Thrones S7E6: Beyond the Wall


Game of Thrones
Series 7, Episode 6
Beyond the Wall



Jon is such a gigantic failure. As a military leader. As a hero. As a king. As a person. He has failed at nearly every endeavour he has applied himself to, and someone else has always had to bail him out and pay the price for it -- and now, and now, his utter incompetence has finally had a lasting impact. Just not on him. God knows, this show can never let any negative consequence stick to Jon.

Ugh.

Let's get on with it.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

What We're Watching 19/8/17


What We're Watching
19/8/17


The Defenders.

I wasn't actually aware that The Defenders was out until someone told me yesterday. Since then, I've had just enough time to watch the first two episodes, and so far, my verdict is that it's a bit too messy to really be enjoyable.

Because episode one and episode two are mostly set-up, meaning that we have four distinct plot threads with four distinct characters plus their supporting casts, with lighting and colour cues used to distinguish between them, and with the majority of the interaction coming from incidental meetings between supporting cast members.

Even when our four main cast members do start to meet up with each other in episode two, it sometimes feels oddly forced and jarring: While Matt meeting Jessica was pretty well done, I think, Luke's encounter with Danny feels like a bizarre confluence of coincidences that didn't really amount to anything.

Still, apparently Sigourney Weaver is going to call someone a 'baka' at some point, so I have that to look forward to.


Re:Creators.

Re:Creators has now entered its final arc, with all the Creations fighting against Altair -- well, almost all. Several people from Altair's side have now defected to the good guys (including Blitz, after what might actually have been the most emotionally charged scene of the show), but she still has Charon on her side, at least.

(Charon, who may or may not be brainwashed, or who may just have been evil all along, and Selestia hadn't reached that point in her canon yet. He certainly has an evil looking mech, a purple, black and red Dark Vogelchevaliar.)

The show still has a ways to go, being only on episode eighteen, so it seems likely that something will interrupt and stop this battle, instead of it being an uninterrupted six or seven episode long fight.

Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones has had an odd seventh series. While it got off to a good start, it's now becoming readily apparent that Benioff and Weiss have no idea how to juggle all of the plot threads set up, and are rushing their way towards the end.

(Presumably they really want to get started on that godawful slavery show.)

Because the truth is, you could have easily gotten two ten episode series out of the war between Cersei and Daenerys, with Jon trying to stay neutral and prepare for the White Walker invasion, before reluctantly siding with Daenerys -- leaving one seven to ten episode series for dealing with the White Walkers.

Instead, the storylines are clumsily mashed together, which is how we've ended up with a few episodes about the war between the queens, and then that entire storyline being abruptly derailed to have more stuff about the White Walkers. Disappointing.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice


Hellblade:
Senua's Sacrifice



Was ... Was everyone except me aware of this game? I swear, I'd never even heard of it before it was already out and getting reviewed, and even then, I only actually heard about it because of the controversy over Jim Sterling's initial low review score for it. Were it not for that, this game would have completely gone over my head, possibly for months.

Which would have been a shame. A perfect game, Hellblade is not -- it's nowhere even in the vague ballpark of perfect -- but a meticulously researched, artistically driven game that clearly had a lot of passion and care put into it by developer Ninja Theory it is, and it's one of the most devastatingly realistic portrayals of psychosis in fiction, and certainly the most realistic in video games. It was only able to achieve that feat because Ninja Theory consulted heavily with neuroscientists, the Wellcome Trust, and people who suffer from schizophrenia.

It's also worth mentioning that this game was worked on by just twenty people, a comparatively tiny amount for a triple-A game.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Dark Shadows (2012) (Review by Reecey.)


Dark Shadows (2012)
(Review by Reecey.)



Let’s start with this basic fact about the film Dark Shadows: Everything that happens in this film is Barnabas’ fault.

Everything and absolutely.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E7: Where Freedom Lies


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 7
Where Freedom Lies.



So, in last week's review, I said that we were now set-up for a battle between Mordred (Saber of Red) and Chiron (Archer of Black), which despite being a totally random match-up, is at least a potentially compelling one, given that they're the two most sympathetic Servants in the cast by quite a wide margin. Similarly, I said we were set-up for a battle with Sisigou on one side, and Fiore and Caules on the other, which is -- less compelling, but never mind.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Teen Wolf S5E13: After Images



Teen Wolf
Series 5, Episode 13
After Images



As we head into the thirteenth episode of Teen Wolf, we all have a very tense, suspenseful question on our minds: Will anything actually happen in this episode?

Well, the answer is yes! Or sort of. I'm beating an old drum here, but Teen Wolf has a terrible problem with not being able to decide between episodic and serialised storytelling, and that's a problem because while each form of story has to achieve a similar goal with its episodes -- telling a discrete arc that builds to a climax -- the methods they use to do so are very different.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Game of Thrones S7E5: Eastwatch



Game of Thrones
Series 7, Episode 5
Eastwatch.



We are now officially in the second half of this series, and man, it has flown by -- and yet, oddly, it almost feels like not a lot has happened, even though this series has, objectively speaking, been jam-packed, with several engagements between Daenerys' and Cersei's forces, Jon going to Dragonstone to negotiate with Daenerys, Sam learning some vital information, and Bran and Arya both returning to Winterfell.

Fans who aren't suffering from anterograde amnesia will remember that last week saw Daenerys and the Dothraki kicking Jaime's behind up and down the Reach in what was probably the biggest battle of the series so far; Sansa being understandably upset that one of her siblings is an assassin and the other one hasn't even the most basic decorum; and Cersei meandering around with Mark Gatiss, one of the two showrunners of Sherlock, and promising him cash.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Telltale Games' Batman: The Enemy Within E1: The Enigma


Telltale Games' Batman: The Enemy Within
Episode 1
The Enigma.



It's no secret that Telltale Games' first Batman-related outing failed to impress me: Not only was it aggressively more of the same (if you've played one Telltale series, you really have played them all), but its story was horribly mishandled and had a terrible tendency towards trampling over canon -- and not in a cool, transformative way, but in a 'rakish, ex-prizefighter Penguin' sort of way.

Well, the bad news is that I'm already predisposed towards not liking this series, either, largely because it was released alongside the reveal that another Tales from the Borderlands isn't on the cards right now. Still, let's do our best to put that aside and, with eyes unclouded by hate, take a good look at Telltale's second Batman series.

Friday, 11 August 2017

What We're Watching 11/8/17


What We're Watching
11/8/17


Jikan no Shihaisha.

Jikan no Shihaisha has just hit the end of its first arc -- an arc which rather bafflingly functions like an accelerated version of every shounen battle anime ever made -- but still insists on being frustratingly vague about things. Is Aisrehdar good or evil? Who knows. Is Mina really Victo's wife? Who knows. What are the Horologues? Who knows.

I don't even think the writers know.

Still, we're embarking on a new arc, now, as Victo, Kiri, Mina, and Blaze are all heading off to try to regain Victo's lost time. I admit, the little family unit the show has made -- with Kiri as the youngest child, Blaze as his older brother, Victo as the father, and Mina as Schrodinger's Mother -- is pretty cute, so I'll forgive it a lot of its sins.

Which are many, incidentally. So very many.

A family unit.


The Mist.

With just two episodes to go, this series has finally revealed the plot twist we all saw coming from, like, episode two: That Adrien, professional demisexual dude (and that's -- that's actually basically the sum total of his personality), was Alex's rapist all along. The show laughably presents this as if it's a shocking twist, and to be entirely fair to it, it was trying really hard to make it shocking, primarily by not foreshadowing it at all, ever, until the five minute expository sequence where we're told.

I suppose that, also, is an achievement of sorts: To not foreshadow a plot twist at all, and yet have it be entirely obvious to everyone watching.

In other highlights, we have Nathalie, previously the only interesting character in the show, losing all semblance of depth; Eve locking Jay in a cupboard; and Shelley showing some delightful hints of turning into a compelling character, seconds before she's clubbed to death. Good going, show! It's what Stephen King would have wanted, if he was alive today, which he is, so good for him.

Good for him.


Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi.

Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi has, some five episodes in, finally revealed the backstory of that waifish green-eyed girl who follows Hell Girl around, even though none of us care about said girl's backstory, none of us care about girl, and actually her backstory is more confusing than anything, since she seems to suddenly and unexplainedly manifest crazy fire manipulation powers four minutes from the end.

It's odd, because the green-eyed girl (she has a name, I just never learned it or any of the character's names) is clearly an attempt to inject a plot into a show that doesn't really need or suit a plot, since it's main mode is a series of smaller stories about the people who use Hell Girl to get revenge, rather than necessarily being about Hell Girl, her team, or any of the supernatural shenanigans surrounding them.

Still, we get that backstory, and said backstory is 'sometimes people are murder-y.' Honestly didn't need to spend a whole episode on that.

I will never learn any of these character's names. You hear me? Never.


Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Darkside Detective [Reecey]


The Darkside Detective.

(Review by Reecey.)


I like American style detectives.

You know the kind, shabbily dressed, trench coat, crappy office, bad jokes, looks like they’ll talk about a dame being obviously trouble from the moment that she walked in …

One day, the law allowing women to marry fictional robot men will be passed.

... the whole Noir shebang. Maybe it’s because I watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit a lot as a child, or maybe I’m a reincarnated pair of legs with a cigarette holder, but whatever it is, it just speaks to me.

So when I see a game that has a shabby trench coat wearing detective called McQueen in it who is fighting supernatural crime on Steam, it’s a match made in heaven.

I was not disappointed, I can promise you that.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Teen Wolf S7E12: Raw Talent


Teen Wolf
Series 7, Episode 12
Raw Talent.



The early episodes of a new series (half-series?) of Teen Wolf are always awkward to review, on account of how basically nothing ever happens in them. Honestly, I'd challenge anyone to point out where this episode actually moves the plot along, because to my eyes it seems to be forty minutes of people pottering around being foreboding at things. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E6: Knight of Rebellion.


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 6
Knight of Rebellion.



We're kicking off the second act of this utterly ridiculous, terrible show this week, and we're doing it the only way Fate/Apocrypha knows how -- by jumping the shark. Again. Several times over. Because why wouldn't it? Why would it even bother at a pretense of quality.

With orders from Shirou and the rest of the Red Faction, Sisigou and Mordred (Saber of Red) head to Sighisoara, chasing down rumours of a serial killer that has murdered every magi to enter the town, and who has been stealing and eating hearts, with Sisigou guessing that the serial killer is a Servant. Meanwhile, Fiore and Chiron (Archer of Black) are also dispatched to investigate, with Caules setting out after them. Elsewhere, Avicebron (Caster of Black), Vlad (Lancer of Black), and Darnic plot to use Gordes -- now useless to them after the death of Siegfried -- as the core of Avicebron's Noble Phantasm, while Shirou's Servant, Semiramis (Assassin of Red), completes hers: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Game of Thrones S7E4: The Spoils of War


Game of Thrones
Series 7, Episode 4
The Spoils of War.



So, we've now officially reached the halfway point of the series. Well, ish -- by my reckoning, we've watched about two-hundred-and-fifteen minutes, and there should be about two-hundred-and-seven more to go. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Voltron: Legendary Defender S3


Voltron: Legendary Defender
Series 3.



Fandom's proclivity towards confusing what they want, what they think, and what they know is a curious thing. Prior to watching this series, I encountered a storm of seeming-spoilers online, as people rambled about a plot twist late in the series -- only to discover when I actually watched it that that plot twist hadn't even happened, it was just a fan theory that people had seen and taken as hard fact.

A peril of the post-facts world, I guess, and although it leaves me in the odd position where I'm reviewing yesterday's canon rather than today's reworked, re-filtered canon, it does at least mean I wasn't spoiled, so that's nice.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Editorial: 4 Really Good Visual Novel Openings


Editorial: 4 Really Good Visual Novel Openings.


Today was nominally going to be a Castlevania review, but as focusing today is basically impossible, I'm here to instead offer you some really good visual novel openings, because I've spent today watching visual novel openings and because this blog's remit is open enough for me to just do whatever.

Go figure.


Dandelion - Wishes Brought To You.



Dandelion - Wishes Brought To You is a game about a bunch of cats and rabbits that are transmogrified into a gang of attractive young men, and also there's a wizard, and some kind of deal where they vanish after a certain amount of time? It's been a while.

What it's definitely not is a dramatic enough story to warrant this slick, fast-paced opening, which includes its very own Standard Anime Villain Shot, of all things, and seems intent on convincing you that this is a story that is heavy on intrigue, action, and drama. Also, photographs. Also, small furry animals.

This is a pattern that's going to be showing up a lot in this editorial, and I think the only conclusion we can come to is that the otome market is just not playing around when it comes to openings.


Collar x Malice.



I've never played Collar x Malice (which is only on the PS Vita, which I don't have, and not yet available in English anyway), but apparently it's about detectives, and some mysterious incident, and people in animal masks, and all those other things that scream 'intriguing psychological drama' despite the fact that it's probably not an intriguing psychological drama.

The opening certainly makes it look like a psychological crime drama, though, with a heavy tilt towards surreality, mystery, and people angrily pointing guns at each other, overlaid onto a song that wouldn't sound out of place on a Psycho-Pass soundtrack, and shot through with plenty of imagery involving flowers, coins, cats, and so on, and so forth.


Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel.



The only opening on this list that doesn't come from an otome game, this is coincidentally also the worst opening on this list -- although that probably has more to do with it being a Type-Moon property and with Type-Moon being just terrible.

Still, it's a decently dramatic opening, with lots of people looking ominously at the camera and/or charging big energy attacks, and it even has some genuinely pretty good visual moments -- such as the very beginning, which depicts shadowy people loping through a drowned Tokyo -- to create a sense of intrigue.

Unfortunately, it's a Type-Moon game, and so terrible. Just so we're all clear on that.


Yuukyou no Tierblade - Lost Chronicle - .



Full disclosure: I have very little idea what this game is about.

It's post-apocalyptic, apparently, and sort of fantasy-y, and there are giant robots involved, and the main character is from before the apocalypse, and there's a bunch of dudes with different giant robots, and they're all doing stuff.

You know, the usual stuff.

The opening is gorgeous, though, promising soft, gentle, pretty fantasy shenanigans, and would have single-handedly convinced me to play it if this game had ever been released in the West and if it wasn't on the Playstation Vita, a handheld console that neither I nor anyone else I know even owns.

Still. Super pretty.


Thursday, 3 August 2017

What We're Watching 3/8/17


What We're Watching
3/8/17


My Hero Academia.

So, I've finally caught up on My Hero Academia, and I have to say, I've really enjoyed it so far -- but I admit I enjoyed the first series more than the second.

It's not that the second series was bad, it's just that it had a stretch of episodes (specifically, the ones covering the one-on-one battles in the School Festival) that just sort of dragged, with the show trying to pack in a lot of one-on-one battles (I think we had Midoriya vs Shinso, Iida vs Hatsume, Bakugou vs Uraraka, Midoriya vs Todoroki, and Bakugou vs Todoroki getting a heavy focus, and a good dozen more briefer battles) that never really felt that distinct from each other or that interesting.

The show picked up pretty sharp-like with the internship arc, an arc focusing squarely on Midoriya and Iida, with a kind of mini-villain detached from the main plot in the form of hero-murdering ninja Stain, and that was exciting enough that I ended up mainlining that entire arc all in one go.

I'm actually kind of disappointed that I have to wait a week between episodes now.


Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones is nearly at its halfway point for this series, and it's actually been really good so far: Cersei, now queen, has been set up as a significant threat to the ambitions of both Daenerys and Jon; the White Walkers are nearly at the Wall; and we have strife in the North with various fraught family reunions, including Bran having apparently forgotten that it's rude to casually remind your sister of her violent rape.

Good going, Bran. You know everything now, except basic common sense, apparently.

In just a few days, the show will hit its halfway point proper, and it seems determined to do so with a bang -- and by 'bang,' I mostly mean 'dragons causing problems for Cersei.'

Speaking of, man, I thought Dragonstone was near Storm's End, but it's apparently literally right next to Kings Landing. That's convenient, I suppose, if not also rather dangerous.


Teen Wolf.

Teen Wolf has started again, and it's just as incoherent and poorly thought out as it was when we left it -- although this time it appears to have a villain more terrifying than 'some men with horses.' What that villain is isn't clear, but it seems to be some kind of spider-related fear creature.

(We know deities exist in some form in this universe, so you may as well bring in a god and go out with a bang, Teen Wolf.)

The series is slated for nine more episodes, but a reboot has already been announced and is presumably well into production at this point, so one way or another, it seems unlikely that this show is going to be off our screens for very long.

And Now, A Word From Reecey


And Now, A Word From Reecey.


Sorry, there won’t be a proper post from me today, I’ve had something of a hectic week and a stressful day.

I will, however, offer you a list of the things I plan to review over the next month as penance.

For your consideration:

The Darkside Detective 10/8/17

Dark Shadows 17/8/17

Old Magic 24/8/17

Old Harry’s Game Series Three
31/8/17

Starting a schedule seems like a good plan, and this is a good first step in achieving this. Who knows? Maybe I can eventually contribute -gasp- multiple times a week.

I’m looking at you, Sundays.

So, again my apologies, and I look forward to sharing these reviews with you!

Have a nice day!


Editor's note: Stay tuned today, though, because we'll have a What We're Watching up before long.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E5: Will of Heaven


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 5
Will of Heaven



We're now officially one fifth of the way through this accursed hellshow. Hooray. It also marks the end of this story's first act, with a major change in status quo, at least one reveal as to what on earth is even going on, and the two factions set to clash in Sighisoara, which is an actual city -- one that we even mentioned before when we were talking about how traveling in this series makes no sense.

All of that makes the episode sound much more exciting than it is, so let me be completely clear and up-front: This episode is boring. Like the entirety of this series thus far, it's just twenty minutes of nothing. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Teen Wolf S6E11: Said The Spider To The Fly


Teen Wolf
Series 6, Episode 11
Said The Spider To The Fly.



What an unwieldy title.

Anyway, hello, everyone. Teen Wolf has returned for its final stretch of ten episodes, and since we've been reviewing it as an ongoing almost since the creation of this blog (way back since series four, I think?) it seemed only right that we return to covering it for the duration of its swan song, however much of an unforgivable mess that swan song will be.

And oh, man, it will be a mess. Hamstrung by the same problems that faced the first chunk of series six (having Dylan O'Brien, one of its main stars, busy with other commitments, having several of its other more interesting cast members having peaced out, and struggling to combine the serialised storytelling it really needs with the episodic storytelling the showrunners clearly want), the second act of series six also has to deliver both a satisfying conclusion to the story and plenty of fanservice (of the wholesome 'having old characters return' type, with Derek, Stiles, Jackson, and Ethan all confirmed to be returning -- although not Kira, unfortunately). Interestingly, MTV has already announced that they intend to reboot the series very soon, so I guess that's a thing.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Game of Thrones S7E3: The Queen's Justice


Game of Thrones
Series 7, Episode 3
The Queen's Justice.



Just like how last week's episode was made up predominantly of scenes of people sitting around tables talking about strategy, this week's episode consists almost exclusively of long character scenes where two (sometimes three) people stand in place and talk (or don't, as was the case in the scene between Ellaria and Cersei). That's pretty difficult to pull off, especially as most of these scenes are considerable in length -- without action to rely on, or even the dazzle of cool scenery, you have to rest everything both on your dialogue writing and the performances of your actors. If your actors can't sell the tension, and you can't get the audience invested in the scene in seconds, then all you've done is recreate the Star Wars prequels.

Luckily, this episode features some solid writing and some superb performances all around, with the best performances of the episode easily coming from Lena Headey as Cersei, Indira Varma as Ellaria (who actually doesn't have any lines), Dame Diana Rigg as Olenna, and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

No Review Today


Quick note to say that there won't be a review today. We'll be back Monday.

Friday, 28 July 2017

What We're Watching 28/07/17


What We're Watching
28/07/17


Game of Thrones.

So, hey, new series of Game of Thrones. Once again, I'm doing it as an ongoing, and so far (with all of about two episodes out) I'm really having fun with it. After a great many series where the plot was stuck in a holding pattern, it's now zooming ahead at lightning speed, even if 'lightning speed' does sometimes mean 'many scenes of people sitting and talking around tables.'

For the first time in a while, too, I genuinely don't know what's going to happen, and that's actually quite exciting -- knowing that there are big things coming, including big changes to the status quo, but not knowing what those big things will be, or even who will be alive at the end of series seven (let alone who will be alive at the end of series eight).

About the only thing I do know is that the series will probably try to wrap up the war for the Iron Throne by the end of this series, leaving the next and final series open to be entirely about defeating the White Walkers.


My Hero Academia.

So, I decided to watch this weeks ago, and then just didn't. But I got around to it the day before yesterday, and marathoned the first thirteen episodes over a span of about three days. Given how short my attention span is, that says a lot of good things about its quality.

(I was told that the first three episodes weren't very good, and while the pace definitely picks up from episode four onwards, I did actually really enjoy those first three episodes, although I think episode three is by far the weakest episode of the series that I've seen so far.)

It reminds me somewhat of Tiger and Bunny and somewhat of One-Punch Man in its aesthetics and sensibilities, and especially in its take on superheroes; and it reminds me a little of Bleach and a little of Fullmetal Alchemist in its structure; and it even reminds me a touch of Kekkai Sensen -- but for all that it's clearly taken inspiration from a huge range of sources, it's also very distinctively its own thing.

Expect a review of it next week some time.


The Mist.

So, here's the thing I've realised about The Mist: It has no idea what it wants to be.

This is most manifest in its approach to the titular Mist and why it's dangerous: In the span of six episodes, we've seen creepy insects killing people, a smoke monster, people hallucinating, the mist causing spontaneous bleeding, the mist causing people to turn into insects, some monster that ripped off a woman's jaw, and the mist making physical manifestations of people from its victims' pasts.

The show just can't decide what it is that it wants this creepy mist to do, so it's just throwing everything it can at it.

Similarly, the show can't seem to decide anything else, and it keeps setting up plotlines that end up oddly and unintentionally ambiguous. For example, early episodes draw parallels between Eve and her daughter, implying that the salacious rumours about Eve are the narrow-minded townspeople trying to punish her for being a rape victim -- until later episodes go 'Heeeey, actually, no, she's unfaithful and terrible and all those rumours were true.' The show's local eyeliner wearing demisexual dude flip-flops between arch-manipulator and fragile morality pet, while Alex's relationship with Eve can either be extremely good or terrible depending on what episode you happen to catch them in.

It's just so all over the place. I saw someone describe The Mist as boring once, and it's definitely not boring, because waiting to see how everyone's entire personalities and driving motivations will abruptly change is a rollercoaster all on its own.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Guest Editorial: Shining Knight and Arthurian Knights in the Modern Day [Guest Editorial by Reecey]


Guest Editorial: Shining Knight and Arthurian Knights
In The Modern Day.

(Guest editorial by Reecey.)


Okay, so my sleep pattern has been the worst lately. Seriously, somehow I seem to have fallen into a forty eight hour sleep cycle and as a result I just do not have time to review something.

So you’re getting an editorial instead.

An editorial about King Arthur! Again!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Editorial: Best Trailers of SDCC 2017 (or the ones we liked the most, anyway)


Editorial: Best Trailers of SDCC 2017
(or the ones we liked the most, anyway).



Justice League.



I absolutely shouldn't be excited for Justice League. Snyder is a provably bad director and it will definitely be a total mess.

But, man, I really am. I'm happy to see more Wonder Woman, and the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg all look like a lot of fun. I'm even happy to see Affleck's Batman back, since he's definitely not the worst Batman we've ever had (Christian Bale's Batman takes that title). Steppenwolf is a pretty obscure villain, but I like seeing films give obscure villains a bigger profile.

Most of all, though, it just looks like fun. I'm not expecting it to be a particularly deep film, but I am expecting it to be an enjoyable romp, which is really all I need from a superhero film.


Once Upon A Time.



Oh, man. This is going to be a mess.

The new series of Once Upon A Time -- focusing on a grown up Henry as the main character, but confirmed to at least include Regina, Gold, and Hook (although Jennifer Morrison, and by extension Emma, seems to have left for greener pastures) -- is apparently offering a new curse, a new tone, many new characters, and the reveal that there is an infinite number of parallel fairytale universes, each with their own fairytale casts.

Because that's definitely what this show needs: Infinitely recursive versions of all of its characters, taking an already tangled and overly convoluted show and elevating it to Type-Moon levels of bizarro world complexity.

Time will tell if this series will be fun to watch, but obviously it's not going to be good -- it will, at the very most, be entertainingly terrible.


The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow.

These three (sans Arrow, which just wasn't very good, and Black Lightning, which was really just a trailer for the entire rest of the Arrowverse) are getting lumped together as one item, not just because they're all part of the same strand of shows, but also because they're all very similar.

Each one seems to be drawing footage mostly from their first few episodes, and determinedly not giving much away about the plots of their respective series, instead focusing on the character fallout from the bombshells at the end of their previous series -- Barry joining the Speed Force, Mon-El leaving (please don't let him return), and the Legends breaking time (which doesn't seem to be affecting any other series).

The emphasis in each one is different: Supergirl is focusing primarily on Kara's pain, The Flash on getting Barry back (with it left unclear if they do in that first episode or if Wally's going to don the suit), while Legends is basically all hijinks, but they're all fun to watch, and they all set us up pretty well for when those shows return in October.


Star Trek: Discovery.



Words cannot describe how excited I am for Star Trek: Discovery, and the new trailer at SDCC, which gives us some pretty hefty plot details involving Klingons, a mysterious alien inside a sarcophagus, and Harcourt Fenton Mudd (seemingly), has only made me more excited.

In many ways, the aesthetic and tone of the series seem to be a pretty drastic departure from the norm for Star Trek, but I'm pretty okay with that, to be honest, especially as it looks like it should be amazing, with a great cast, a great plot, and some really stunning production values.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E4: Price of Life, Redemption of Death


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 4
Price of Life, Redemption of Death.



Hello, naughty children, it's time to discuss stakes, and how they create conflict in a story. Specifically, it's time to discuss how Fate/Apocrypha has no stakes, even four episodes -- nearly a fifth -- in.

Usually, a piece of fiction establishes stakes by endearing the audience to a character or several and then either threatening their status quo, or giving them a difficult to achieve goal (or both). Different things achieve this in different ways: A horror might single out just a small number of people in its cast as audience surrogates, but then create stakes through tricks of atmosphere to make the audience themselves feel under threat ('I hope the characters are successful because I'll see something unpleasant if they aren't,'); a series like Game of Thrones endears us to a small group of characters -- the Starks and Daenerys -- and then uses them to expand its roster of characters the audience is invested in, allowing it to spread the action over a greater number of viewpoints while maintaining stakes; a more focused show like Doctor Who will typically focus the stakes on what the companion has to lose or gain in each individual episode.

Fate/Apocrypha hits a crucial moment in this fourth episode as it has its first death, when Siegfried, the Saber of Black, sacrifices himself to save someone else. A character dying tests how invested your audience is in the stakes of your story, because in order to get the most out of a character death, and truly yank on your audience's heartstrings, you need them to be invested in the character dying, the characters close to the dying character, and the stakes of the story and how they'll be affected by that character death.

Fate/Apocrypha fails on all three counts.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Game of Thrones S7E2: Stormborn


Game of Thrones
Series 7, Episode 2
Stormborn.



This episode could probably just as easily have been called 'people discuss forming and/or not forming alliances,' because honestly, alliances and people pondering them really are the bread and butter of this episode. People considering alliances, people struggling with alliances they have, people breaking alliances, pirate attacks, people forming informal alliances, and people encountering alliances and failing to form alliances with those alliances.

In another series, that probably wouldn't work that well, but Game of Thrones has its particular structure and way of pacing: Politicking (interspersed with small fights) leading up to big battles leading to a changed status quo leading to more politicking and so on and so forth, and the fun of watching comes in large part from seeing who teams up with who and how different agendas and failings within specific alliances cause those team-ups to start breaking down. Its slowest series have often been its slowest because they've lacked those elements.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

No Post Today.


Hey, guys, just a quick note to say there'll be neither a post today nor a Let's Play part.

I don't know quite when we'll be back, but I'm going to aim for Monday for blog posts at the absolute latest, and tomorrow for Let's Plays.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E3: The First Steps of Fate


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 3
The First Steps of Fate.



Joy of joys, stuff actually happens in this episode! A moderate amount of stuff, at the very least, which is more than can be said for the first two episodes. Having been almost ready to start considering dropping this series altogether, actually having action and plot progression and conflict was a welcome relief.

Picking up some time after the second episode, this episode sees the Black Faction thrown into crisis when one of Avicebron's homunculi uses magic to escape his tank, being taken in by Astolfo and Chiron, who realise the homunculi only has three years to live at the very most. Meanwhile, Jeanne, the Ruler servant tasked with overseeing the war, arrives in Trifas, only to immediately be attacked by Lancer of Red, acting on Shirou's orders, resulting in a battle between Lancer of Red and Siegfried, the Saber of Black. Meanwhile, the Black Faction Masters discuss with their Servants what it is they want to wish for.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Game of Thrones S7E1: Dragonstone


Game of Thrones
Series 7, Episode 1
Dragonstone.



So, after a longer wait than usual (for a shorter than usual series, weighing in at seven episodes compared to the usual ten, although the last two will apparently be longer than normal to partly make up for this), Game of Thrones, still far and away one of the most popular shows on television, has returned.

When the last series ended, we were looking at four monarchs due to clash against each other: Cersei, now queen after Tommen's suicide, ruling from King's Landing; Daenerys on her way to Westeros with Tyrion and Varys at her side, Tyrell and Dornish support, and an army of Dothraki; Jon as King in the North, ruling out of Westeros; and the Night King leading the White Walkers and the dead to assault or otherwise cross the wall. This episode is, unsurprisingly, mostly clash-free, being focused more on setting up the world state and setting the stakes for episodes to follow, but it does so with aplomb.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

What We're Watching 15/7/17


What We're Watching
15/7/17



Jikan no Shihaisha.

I picked up Jikan no Shihaisha on a whim a few days after its first episode aired, and was astounded to see exactly how much its first episode was, in essence, Fullmetal Alchemist's first episode, except with 'time' instead of 'alchemy.' It was almost uncanny how much the two were alike: Two brothers arrive in a strange town and encounter a young woman who lives there and is unhappy with her lot in life in large part due to the death of a loved one. While defeating the evil that resides in the town, the two brothers reveal that they were also driven to make the same mistakes as the young woman at one point, resulting in a loss of identity for the younger of the two.

It's the exact same story. What is it about this season of anime and poor imitations of much better shows?

So, I'd settled in for however-many episodes of Fullmetal Timechemist when the second episode came along and, surprisingly gratifyingly, managed to mix up the formula somewhat, shifting the focus onto the idea that the brothers' dead mother(/wife, since one of the brothers is actually the family's father who's been de-ageing slowly and losing his memories) may actually be alive, and introducing a mysterious new character into the mix.

The animation isn't getting any better, though, and Victo is still wearing his coat like an idiot. So there is that.


The Mist.

Well, after the kind of long break that can only be had by foolishly releasing your first three episodes on the same day and then waiting weeks for the fourth, The Mist, an adaptation of the Stephen King book of the same name, has returned.

I can't figure out if I enjoy The Mist, which does sometimes manage to be genuinely scary and atmospheric, or if I hate it, because every single plot twist is telegraphed so largely that people on the International Space Station can see them. I know that everyone in the church is going to die or be converted to Mrs. Raven's weird moth cult; I know the demisexual dude raped his friend and then blamed the football guy; I know that the shady military group who've never been directly seen yet inadvertently caused the mist in the process of trying to study it.

The Mist is only going to be eight episodes long, and honestly I think any more and it would outstay its welcome, which is why I'm going to be so annoyed when this series ends on a cliffhanger to rope us in for a slightly longer second series.


Dark Matter.

Dark Matter is currently going from strength to strength, with the seventh episode of its third series being another surprisingly strong outing from a space opera that was always a lot of fun but has also always slid back and forth along the quality scale.

We're now halfway through the third series, or thereabouts, and while there are plenty of balls up in the air -- Ryo Ishida and Zairon; Ferrous Corp and the corporate war; Three's dead-and-now-AIed wife who he possibly may have killed; and the Android's strange vision of the future, part of which has already come to pass -- the series is dealing with its many plot threads with surprising confidence, leaving me hopeful that, at the very least, we're going to be seeing conclusions to two or three of those four storylines this series.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Dive!! and Free!: Comparing Two Watery Sports Anime.


Dive!! and Free!
Comparing Two Watery Sports Anime.


Usually, today would be reserved for my review of the second episode of Dive!!, that new diving anime that's airing currently, and in a way, it still is, but we're taking a bit of a different tack this time by comparing Dive!! to another overly moist sports anime that's preoccupied with exclamation marks: Free!, the wildly popular 2013 anime by Kyoto Animation.

Since Dive!! is only on its second episode, we are exclusively comparing their opening two episodes: Anything from episode three onwards is absolutely not fair game, and either way, this is really about how each waterlogged anime tries to draw viewers in and keep their interest.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Help! (1965) [Guest review by Reecey.]


Help! (1965)
(Guest review by Reecey.)


Okay, so a short while back, I reviewed Hard Day’s Night, and if there is one thing you should have taken out of that review (aside from John Lennon being the forefather of all trolls) it’s that it’s a very surreal film.

That was in 1964, this is 1965, one year later, and it’s time for the second film, Help!.

This is the Beatles film that I’ve never seen before.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Editorial: 5 Things We Hope To See in RWBY Vol. 5


Editorial: 5 Things We Hope To See in
RWBY Vol. 5.



So, we have a release date for the next volume of RWBY, putting it at around the middle of October, and, much like I did in the run-up to Volume 4, I think it's high time I did a list of some things I'd like to see in the upcoming volume.

On a related note, it's also recently been announced that Rooster Teeth will be creating Gen:Lock, an original giant mecha drama, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Anyway, on with the list.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus


Final Fantasy XV
Episode Gladiolus



While this is the second Final Fantasy XV DLC we've reviewed, it was the first to be released, having been released all the way back in March to a decidedly lukewarm reaction -- certainly less of a positive reaction than Episode Prompto, which makes sense, since Gladio is both a less likable character and the star of a less interesting (both from a story and a gameplay perspective) DLC.

Set during the span of time when Gladio was absent from the party, Episode Gladiolus follows Gladio and Cor as they head into the Tempering Grounds, a set of ruins inhabited by Gilgamesh, Blademaster and Shield of the ancient Founder-King, which only one person -- Cor himself -- has ever left alive. Working their way down into the ruins, Gladio must face numerous trials and, eventually, Gilgamesh himself, to prove himself worthy of being Noctis' shield, and to obtain Gilgamesh's power.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E2: The Appearance of the Saints


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 2
The Appearance of the Saints.



So, first thing's first, we got an opening this week! It was, truth be told, more odd than anything else. The music seems to be trying to go for a sinister, vaguely gothic, horror-tinged thing that is entirely at odds with the rest of the series so far, which is pretty much straight up action fantasy. It also lends basically all the visuals an air of absurdity -- oh, no, look at those people walking slowly down some well-lit stairs as the music tells you how creepy it is; oh, no, that woman is putting on tights, how horrifying.

It's not a strong opening at all, and that bodes somewhat poorly for the rest of the series. Two episodes in, and I'm already sort of wondering if picking this up as an ongoing was a good idea, but it was either this or Katsugeki! Touken Ranbu.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Fission Mailure Let's Plays.


Fission Mailure Let's Plays.


I'm exhausted and possibly sunburned, so instead of an Episode Gladiolus review, let's have some exciting self-promotion of what we're doing on the Fission Mailure channel!



On track to be my longest Let's Play series yet, Trails of Cold Steel is what would happen if Tales of Zestiria and Valkyria Chronicles had a child, and that child was raised by the Persona franchise. 

A turn-based JRPG set at a military academy in a fantasy, early 20th century empire with elements of Germany and Japan, Trails of Cold Steel (part of the larger Legend of Heroes franchise) follows Rean Schwarzer in the dual pursuits of wacky school life shenanigans and thwarting a group of terrorists, led by the mysterious C.

I've been enjoying this Let's Play a lot -- despite acquiring a particularly tenacious stalker who has been in a sustained state of outrage for the last three months because I criticised his waifu -- and as I near the end of it, I'm looking forward to its sequel, and (eventually) the third game in the series, due to come out later this year in Japan and who-even-knows-when everywhere else.



I had a whale of a time Let's Playing Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, so I was looking forward to the Steam release of the midquel, Danganronpa Another Episode, a survival horror shooter of sorts where you have to shoot down robotic bears with a word-gun.

If that sounds completely stupid, that's probably because it is, although the game still manages to build up an impressive amount of tension nevertheless, hiding your relatively fast moving foes around corners and in alcoves and relying on your panic as they sprint at you to do most of the work of adding challenge to the game. Shot through it, though, is a heavy string of comedy and absurdity, both in the fact that you're fighting plush bears and just in the total ridiculousness of the entire premise.

At the moment, this is my newest series, with only three parts done, and it looks scheduled to run for around twenty-five to thirty -- which is a pretty decent length, really.



Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is an odd duck of a game, which is why it's on a sort of hiatus right now where I'll get around to playing more of it whenever I have the time to do so. A very low budget visual novel/strategy game put together by a tiny studio and a not much bigger pool of contractors, it tries to emulate an 80s or 90s anime, with a somewhat kitschy, rather low-effort storyline about a ragtag band of students fighting ghosts with salt, iron pipes, and other such things.

It's fun in very small doses, and arguably its biggest problem and its biggest selling point is its unique dialogue system: You select a mood (friendly, loving, inquisitive, angry, sympathetic) and then a body part (eyes, tongue, hand, ears, and nose), with the result being some kind of odd randomised mix where you might end up, say, giving someone a sympathetic look (for eyes and sympathetic), or you could just as easily end up observing something about their appearance, and so on, and so forth.

Since getting characters to join your party requires picking the right combinations, and since the game gives very little indicator of when you're getting people on side, you'll end up missing a lot of party characters. On the bright side, you can do what I did, and play as a human labrador, sniffing and licking everything you see.

Friday, 7 July 2017

What We're Watching 7/7/17


What We're Watching
7/7/17.


Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu.

An offshoot of Kantai Collection and an increasingly growing Japanese subculture of female history aficionados, Touken Ranbu is an otome game about traveling through time to protect history using an array of personified famous swords, all of whom take the form of attractive young men. It's currently spawned two anime adaptations, a slice-of-life dealio called Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru and this, a more action-oriented story about protecting the timeline from 'historical revisionists.'

The first episode was, it's fair to say, not brilliant. It's got Ufotable's distinctive style, including the always slightly awkward blend of traditional animation and CGI, and that's popular enough that a lot of people probably watched specifically for that -- but if they did, the episode itself probably put them off watching any more, because the story is a whole lot of nothing.

The plot could be boiled down to 'two sword guys arrive in town, there's a fire, historical revisionists attack with skeleton monsters, more sword guys arrive to help,' but it's strung out over twenty minutes with endless, endless exposition that mostly involves going over the same relatively simple concepts again and again.

I'll probably three-episode-rule this and watch at least the next two episodes, but I do so begrudgingly.


Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works: The Abridged Series.

Another one from Project Mouthwash, whose work I really do kind of adore.

In this case, though, my only exposure to Fate has been one episode of Fate/Apocrypha, so my entire approach to this abridged series is different -- because I'm not going to get any series in-jokes, but also because this will be my first exposure to the story of Fate/stay night.

So, a little after watching the most recent episode, I went and checked out one particular scene from it in the actual episode, and was surprised to find that it didn't really measure up. The Abridged version of that scene was better by a not insignificant margin.

So, yeah, go check that out.



Castlevania.

I have zero familiarity with Castlevania, the now thirty-one year old franchise of vampire themed action adventure games, so this animated mini-series, weighing in at four episodes long and available on Netflix, will be my very first proper exposure to it.

I've watched two episodes so far and I have admittedly mixed feelings. The first episode, following Dracula as we find out his motivation for destroying Walluchia, was surprisingly good, with some actually really striking moments that upped the horror stakes considerably. It was a strong enough opening episode that I immediately went and watched the second episode, at which point I was disappointed.

The second episode is ponderously slow, and does little to build up any kind of atmosphere or provoke any kind of emotional reaction from its audience. It shifts the focus to Trevor Belmont, seemingly the main character for the rest of the series, but doesn't really have him do anything, instead spending more time establishing a reason for him to go to the city of Gresit, and then a reason for him to go into the catacombs.

Here's an idea: Start with him going into the catacombs! Establish why he's there as you go, especially as his motivation is simple enough that it can be explained pretty easily.


Re:Creators.

Okay, after a solid six episodes of not really being good enough to make me stop wishing I could just watch the in-universe shows, Re:Creators has managed to pull in my interest somewhat, with a relatively meaty and surprisingly well-handled storyline about Sota having driven someone to suicide, the plot ratcheting up a few notches in terms of stakes and pacing, and even some decent character moments.

It continued at a pretty solid clip to episode twelve and the end of the first arc, with a recap episode coming after, so it remains to be seen if episode fourteen (and the remaining nine episodes of the story) can keep up the level of quality it's set in the last five or six episodes, but I do hope so.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Dive!! E1: DIVE TO BLUE


Dive!!
Episode 1
DIVE TO BLUE.


You know, when talking about this anime, I've called it a Free! knock-off that doesn't understand what made Free! compelling for audiences, but it turns out that the four novels it's based on actually came out nearly a decade before the light novel that Free! is adapted from. It's entirely possible that Free! is a knock off of Dive!!, even -- but it's unclear how much Dive!! is like its novels, since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are a major plot element.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E1: Apocrypha: The Great Holy Grail War


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 1
Apocrypha: The Great Holy Grail War.



Full disclosure: I've never watched a Fate series before. While I flirted with watching Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, I actually never got more than a single episode into either, and to date my biggest engagement with the franchise has been watching some of Project Mouthwash's Abridged version. Thus, while I'm familiar with the broad strokes of the series -- magicians summoning historical figures to fight in battles over a Holy Grail -- I come to this ongoing as almost a complete stranger, which makes me decidedly not the target audience.

But an ability to draw in new fans is important for any series, so I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, especially since, if this series impresses me, I might well end up branching out to the other parts of the franchise.

So, Fate/Apocrypha: Does it manage to create a strong and good impression with its first episode?

Monday, 3 July 2017

Doctor Who S36E12: The Doctor Falls


Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 12
The Doctor Falls.



As we reach the end of this series of Doctor Who, I can't say that my views on this series have been especially favourable. While these last two episodes have been good (with even this finale managing to be a fairly solid episode, if one that leans a little too heavily on regeneration fakeouts and the like), the ten episodes before them were all somewhat lacking -- some less so (like the Monk trilogy, Empress of Mars, and The Eaters of Light) and some more so (like Oxygen, Thin Ice, and Smile), but with none of them managing to be either terrible or especially brilliant.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

What We're Watching 1/7/17


What We're Watching
1/7/17



Killjoys.

A new series of Killjoys, my favourite currently airing space opera (from the grandiose field of three shows, one of which I cannot abide, so that may not necessarily mean much), has just started, so I'm pretty excited about that.

With the last series having split up the main gang, with John heading off to do his own thing while Dutch and D'avin investigate the Hullen conspiracy in the Quad, in advance of Aneela arriving to take it over.

But all other things being equal, this wasn't a brilliant first episode -- John's new partner was immediately replaced with someone entirely different, clearly shoehorned in because Clara's actor wasn't available; Dutch and D'avin's storyline was oddly difficult to keep up with but basically boiled down to 'surprise, there are still a load of Hullen in the Quad!'; and the whole thing just felt like it lacked much in the way of impact.

Still, the series has nine more episodes to pick up the slack, and I'm certainly not going to stop watching.


The Mist.

The Mist, an adaptation of the Stephen King novella of the same name, is clearly trying to set itself up as the go-to horror series for 2017, and it's sort of working out? I guess?

The basic concept is that a town has been engulfed in a thick mist that both makes people hallucinate and is occupied by both monsters and crazy, murderous animals that all collectively now have a thing for gruesomely killing people. With half of a family stuck in a shopping centre and half of it stuck in a church, the two families must try to reunite while surviving the deadly mist, and the conspiracy behind it.

When it's effective, it's very effective, with some brilliant scare moments. When it's not effective, it's also mind-numbingly boring, mistaking 'tension' for 'long, lingering still shots where people talk about nothing in a vaguely ominous way.'

Only three episodes are out right now -- and there's another two weeks before we get a fourth -- but it's off to a somewhat promising start, at least.


Re:Creators.

Re:Creators comes highly recommended, so I finally got around to giving its first episode a watch, and I can definitely see why people are enjoying it so much. It has a moderately interesting premise (even if Vogelchevalier does seem like a show I'd rather watch than the show about it), some great fight scenes, and Hiroyuki Sawano doing his Hiroyuki Sawano thing, so there's that.

Whether the series can actually find any depth or build that moderately interesting premise into an interesting plot remains to be seen (well, by me, at least), but I'll definitely be watching at least a few more episodes and seeing what I think.