Mental Health Minute…Anime Edition

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Sometimes you are not alright. Sometimes you struggle.

We all do.

Some more than others.

Some people face everyday as a struggle.

I hope you find that thing that helps you hold on.

For some that is music, or books, or anime….people have things that inspire them to keep moving. I hope you find yours.

Just remember: Even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, things will get better. And even if you can’t see it, you are not alone.

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Do you like Sci-fi? Do you like metal?

Then I have something for you!

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Seventh Wonder: Tiara.

Seventh Wonder’s 5th studio album released in October of last year and is well worth a listen. It is a great progressive metal/ hard rock album with incredible performances. Seventh Wonder is a progressive metal band from Sweden. Their singer, Tommy Karevik, also sings for the metal band Kamelot.

It is a concept album. It follows the story of humanity suddenly facing judgement by an alien race who has watched us throughout history (the Everones). The Everones have decided that humanity has squandered their gift of life and are destructive and indulgent, so therefor must be destroyed. Humanity’s fate lies with Tiara, a young girl prized for her honesty, and she is sent to plead humanity’s case to the Everones.

While there may be holes in the story, do remember it is not a full on book.

The musicianship and vocal performances are outstanding and well worth your time.

Give it a listen and see for yourself.

 

 

What’s in a song..

Oh so many nerds love our music…anime fans love their OPs and EDs. Yuri on Ice was a gift of music…I think on some level that is one aspect of that show that made it so memorable.

I, loving music and loving anime, admittedly have a few anime related songs mixed into my playlists of heavy metal, electronic, and 80s music.

The “Theme of King J.J.” came on the other day in all it’s cheesy glory while I was driving home one day.

I was sing along….don’t judge…you do it too…

I got to thinking.

The “Theme of King J.J.” is like an 80s hair band ballad…it’s stadium rock…it’s got the same kind of soul those songs have: unashamed, cheesy, egoistic, posturing. But you love it anyways.

 Here’s to King JJ!
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Kaiju Monsters! Oh My!

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 Opinions I read on MAL were quite mixed on this show. People seemed to love it or hate it. I fall in the “love it” camp….or just like it a lot…it was good!

Much of the confusion I read seemed to be centered around comparing it to other mecha shows…the problem with this is…it’s not a mecha show. It’s based off of the tokusatsu genre.

From Tokupedia:
“Tokusatsu (特撮) is a Japanese word that literally means “special effects.” It is primarily used to refer to live-action Japanese film and television dramas that make use of special effects.

The term “tokusatsu” is a contraction of the Japanese phrase “tokushu satsuei” (特殊撮影), meaning “special photography”. In production, the special effects director is given the title of “tokushu gijutsu” (特殊技術), Japanese for “special techniques” or “tokusatsu kantoku” (特撮監督), which is Japanese for “special effects director”, the title usually used by English language productions.

Tokusatsu entertainment is often science fiction, fantasy, or horror, but movies and TV shows in other genres can sometimes be classified as tokusatsu as well. The most popular types of tokusatsu are kaiju monster movies (the Godzilla and Gamera film series), superhero TV serials (the Kamen Rider and Metal Heroes series), and mecha dramas (Giant Robo). Some tokusatsu television programs combine several of these subgenres (the Ultraman and Super Sentaiseries).”

Now this obviously wasn’t a live action, but still was, in it’s nature, a tribute to this genre. Sure, there were nods to the mecha genre (Neon Genesis High School), but it was a Tokusatsu at it’s core. It had Kaiju and superheroes to fight them.

I can’t say that I am particularly versed in that genre at all, so I can’t speak to it in depth. I went into the show blind. I am basically looking to be entertained. This can be surface…it can be deep…I am not fussy. I will take a deep story or mindless entertainment. As long as I am entertained, I am happy.

I was pleasantly surprised with SSSS Gridman. I liked the animation, soundtrack, and story. The characters were good, with the supporting characters being more memorable than the main protagonist.

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 There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with Yuta, but I found Sho and Rikka more memorable and interesting….perhaps because they had to make sense of their relationships more than Yuta did.

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 And then there’s Akane…a very good villain. Way too much power in a teenage brain trying to find itself. She was a delight.

I watched the dub of this and it was great. I recommend it highly. I often watch sub, but thoroughly enjoyed this dub.

Beyond the monsters and heroes there is the underpinning of trying to find friendship and a sense of belonging. I really like this aspect of the show. While one can cynically dismiss that as trite or cheesy, I like it and think the world needs more of that. A sense that we can find connection in others when we are lonely and lost ourselves.

Attention Parents: Nothing is too bad….or that memorable as really bad. Fantasy violence is about it. Akane is a bit psycho.

I liked the show. It is on Crunchyroll and the dub is on Funimation.

Until Next Time: Happy Viewing!

 

Goblins Revisited

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 I don’t have a lot to say beyond my first review. Goblin Slayer is what it is: a fantasy in the D&D style.

What I found funny was later finding out that is exactly what the Manga author had in mind. A manga based off a character for a D&D style role-playing game (if not D&D itself) that just likes killing goblins and nothing else. It actually works as a premise and makes it an enjoyable watch, as long as you don’t expect anything especially deeper than that.

The attention at the beginning of the season with the brutal first episode was actually brilliant marketing. It got people’s attention. While the rest of the series wasn’t quite that bad, there still were several points that were fan service-y or brutal and violent. The first episode served to set the tone, beyond a doubt, of what you needed to know in the show…. Goblins are bad..really bad. The Goblin Slayer, while not a sympathetic hero exactly, is good because he really wants to kill the bad goblins and does an excellent job at it. That first episode serves that purpose well.

The rest of the show was like a D&D campaign. Getting a party together and going on adventures. The supporting cast is nameless mostly, going just by their designation or description. And this is fine…you don’t really need names if you can accept what you are watching is a campaign unfolding.

All in all, I found it enjoyable. It was a fun adventure more than anything with some humanizing moments for the Goblin Slayer mixed in. I have to admit that I am sympathetic not because I am a role player, but because I was when I was a kid. I was playing D&D in the late 1970s when it first emerged and lived in Wisconsin where Gary Gygax lived.

It still is a show parents should use caution with when it comes to younger teens or tweens, because some of the content, but that’s up to you.

Give it a watch if you like adventure shows with monsters getting killed. It’s enjoyable enough of a story and a fun watch with good animation.

Until Next Time: Happy Viewing!

 

Cosplay for fun and profit

Halloween has come and past. For many people that is an opportunity to dress up as a favorite ghoul, superhero, tv personality, etc.

For those with interests in sci-fi and anime and are convention attendees, it’s another opportunity (among many) to dress up as a favorite character. So, I did.

Work had a Halloween costume contest. Prizes were involved. I asked my boss: “Does this mean I can come to work dressed up as a magical girl?” His response was an emphatic “YES!”

So, of course, I did. I wore my “Man-doka” cosplay that I have worn to conventions this past year.

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 I will tell you…doing receiving in this outfit is no easy task…the heels are a killer after a couple of hours.

A bunch of my co-workers and friends already know about this cosplay I do, but to see it in person was a blast for many of them. Co-workers who I am not friends with on social media, and didn’t know I dressed up like this for cons, were taken aback and quite amused. It made a lot of people happy.

After a week or so, I found out that I did win the contest. That was awesome. Beyond the contest it got me thinking about cosplay and why I do it (to the limited degree I do), and the benefits of cosplay.

When I started going to cons, I was a newbie. I went for a day, then two days, then the whole weekend. Then I looked at cosplay and thought to myself: “why not?” It was another way to connect and immerse myself in an experience. At first, I did a few that were more “normal” for me to do. Older males, etc.
After a time I got to thinking, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of my favorite shows…Maybe I should cosplay something from that.

The idea amused me…for a couple of reasons. I make a horrible looking magical girl and it would embarrass my boys being the primary ones. I played around with the idea, pitched it to a couple of friends, and finally bit the bullet. My first magical girl cosplay was Mami Tomoe, I called my version “Manny Tomoe” and I spoke in a gravelly faux East coast (USA) accent. It was a lot of fun. After that, I did Madoka Kaname, or “Man-doka” where I walked around talking like a version of The Tick. Loud, confident, and superhero-ish.

Do I feel loud, confident, and superhero-ish? Absolutely not. I have to psych myself up to dress like this. It’s takes me summoning a combination of courage and an attitude of not giving a fuck. And then off I go. I’m happy I do it. If for no other reason than this:

It makes (some) people happy. People smile. Get excited. Want to take a picture. It brightens someones day just a little. A lot of people outside the con-going community might not understand this. For some people, Halloween is the only socially acceptable time to dress up in a costume, and that’s too bad. I think sometimes, as adults, we forget the power of play. Of simple ridiculous fun.

I’m not a good cosplayer. There are many who are absolutely awesome. They make amazing outfits. They are artists. I have a great respect for that. There are people who just want to dress up to represent their favorite shows, video game, movie, character, etc. This is also awesome. It connects and bonds you to others who share your interests. There are people like myself who like a show, and just like making people smile a little. And all of us are out there to forget about life for a little while.

That’s why I like to dress up on days beyond Halloween. That’s why I love the cosplayers, each doing their own unique thing. And that is why I will keep doing it. Beyond work prizes, I made some people smile and brightened their day in a small and silly way.

 

Until Next time: Happy Viewing!

 

A Word About Goblins

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Goblin Slayer

  I decided to write a brief post that will mostly be a “duh” to many anime viewers.

I am three episodes in. I don’t really have a deep opinion on the show…it’s kind of what it is: A lot of Goblin slaying.

I had heard some buzz around it before the season started, but knew nothing about it really. When the first episode came out I asked my 14 year old if he wanted to watch it.

We sat down and gave it a look. My son’s reaction by the end of the episode: “Well, that just happened! Damn…I was not expecting all of that!”

Neither was I. I wasn’t upset or anything. I just was not expecting what went down.

After I got that the content of the show was going to be on the explicit side of the spectrum, I watched some more. Is it a good show? I don’t know. Kind of a standard adventurer, Lord of the Rings-esque, DnD like sort of fantasy. I will see where it goes. I neither love, nor hate the show at this point.

However to my main purpose: parents….this isn’t an innocent show. It’s not SAO. It’s a sometimes brutal and fan-service-y show.

Attention Parents: There is gore, brutal killings, rape, some nudity, and fan service in this show. Keep this in mind when your kids ask about this one.

I will probably keep watching it to see where it goes.

Until Next Time: Happy Viewing!

 

Dinosaurs with Lasers

Sometimes you come across a thing so random, you wonder why it exists.

This is how I feel about the German power metal band Victorius and their EP: “Dinosaur Warfare.

It’s a power metal album dedicated to the story of laser shooting dinosaurs, protecting the earth from alien invasion….

This makes me happy.

Stupidly happy.

Just to know that these guys had the commitment to make this album makes the world a slightly better place.

Give it a listen: it’s pretty well done power metal!

 

If you don’t like it, don’t watch. These guys know their stuff and their stuff is power metal about laser wielding dinosaurs.

These guys give zero fucks about popular trends in music.

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And that’s pretty awesome if you ask me.

Until next time: Happy viewing!

Evolution needs to occur.

Hey Readers,

Once again…it’s been a while. But, I have had a desire to make my blog more active than gathering the virtual dust that it has been this last 2 years.

However, life happens. People get busy. Children grow older. Excuses are made. Etc.

I was thinking…I don’t need to blog in the same way as I once did. It was after my younger son said to me: “you don’t really need to clear all of these shows in order for me to watch them, do you?”

I thought about it…I don’t really. He’s in high school now, his older brother started college this year…I’ve seen what he browses online *shudder*. As kids grow, their need for independence and guidance changes. They will see different things of which no parent has no idea. Does this mean I shouldn’t be concerned? No. It means I should just approach their media consumption differently.

In regards to the blog: does that mean I should stop doing reviews to let people know about potential content that they may, or may not, want their children seeing? Yes…no…I don’t know. I guess I will just approach my blog different.

To keep it interesting (or relevant), to me, it must evolve. Become something that is relevant to where I am at now, as a dad, and as a nerdy consumer of anime, sci fi, fantasy, and music.

That’s where I’m at: thanks for reading. And as always: Happy viewing! (unless you’re watching Handmaid’s Tale…ain’t nothing happy about that show).

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Everyone Needs a Darling

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Darling in the Franxx

The Jian, also known as “the bird that shares wings,” only possesses one wing. Unless a male and female pair lean on each other and act as one, they’re incapable of flight. They’re imperfect, incomplete creatures.

But, for some reason, their way of life, struck me as profoundly beautiful. It was beautiful, I felt.”- Hiro

Darling in Franxx was a favorite of mine this year, but it didn’t start that way exactly. I had heard about this collaboration between A-1 (now Cloverworks) and Trigger several months before the release and was excited to see what this would yield.

I won’t go into me writing a synopsis of the show, so here’s a link to Wikipedia:

Darling in Franxx

At first, I liked the concept, the art, the basic feel of the show. However, after the first six or so episodes, I was feeling very unsure where the series was going to go. I felt like the store kind of floundered a bit.

Where it turned around for me was after that. When they start to explore the dynamic between the main group of kids the show follows. I know this runs contrary to many other people’s feeling on the show, but that’s where it kicked in for me.

The reason it set in for me I guess, was the themes of belonging and connectedness that underlie the show. From Zero-Two’s attempt to connect to Hiro and the group, the brief marriage, to the group’s sense of self sufficiency and belonging. They were normal needs that young teens were left to negotiate in the absence of real adult guidance.

As the show progresses you find out more about Zero-Two and Hiro’s past and more about the battle that they are fighting with the Klaxosaurs. The pacing steps up and becomes better than the slower muddled pace (for me) than the beginning. Some episodes being handled really well with the sense of excitement and suspense. My younger son and I got really into speculating what was going to happen next.

The ending was a little protracted, but I definitely like it. Especially the final scene.

 

 

Would I recommend this show? Yes. I liked it. The story, while a little oddly paced at times, is enjoyable (and another variation on the Red and Blue Oni story) and has some nice emotional moments.

The animation is good and you can see the influence from both studios at times.

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The cross is very Studio Trigger!

The OP was great. Enough said.

 

Attention Parents: There is some mild violence, mostly of a cartoon nature. There are themes of adolescent sexuality (I mean… the whole Franxx piloting system is sexualized).

Despite some of the criticism out there for the show, I liked it and was a favorite of mine this year if for nothing else, but because I like the romantic notion of everyone having their “darling”.