2015 Scatterthoughts

So 2015 has fly by, and it went by nothing like I expected. Besides losing some motivation during this year to post due to a terrible job, and a negative state of mind concerning film criticism. I didn’t emphasize creating content as much as I would have liked this year. At some point in the year I placed more focus in reviewing anime than I did attempting to balance it with movie reviews. In all honesty a good chunk of it had to do with burning myself out. I found it more engaging to go more in depth in a anime review than a plain old movie review. Granted I could apply the same amount of desired depth in a movie review, but when efforts are ignored it’s kinda of hard to convince myself to keep going. Letterboxd is a good indication of this as not only do some of my other friends have greater success than I do, but the fact some have gotten worse in reviewing, yet gaining a larger readership in a single review than I would in an entire month is demotivational.

There was a bright spot in my general negative viewpoint of film criticism this year. Some of the people that felt passionate on attacking me for calling Gravity a decent film simply seemed like they grew out of their passions of films. No longer do I feel the same drive from them to continue viewing movies like once before. I would hypothesis that is from the lack of openness those viewers have, and they aren’t willing to take any risk for any film. This kind of mentality is something I never wanted to be a part off. While there movies that I say to friends offline I would never see in my life I always keep an open mind. Seriously, it would be stupid of me not to write about the rich material from The Asylum films, and the slew of B movies available from around the world. Why limit myself to a specific quality of film. It would be like me saying I’m a sports fan, but only following around three of them. It’s a misleading label that generally plagues all kinds of fandom from films, video-games, and anime.

I’m hoping next year I get back into the mood of posting more frequently. New readers might not be able to tell it, but there was once a time where I used to post five movie reviews on weekdays. Now it feels like weeks before I actually post anything. That’s fine with me since I like improve myself, and never attempt to think that I peaked at some point. However, I’ll (and you) will have to wait to see how I perform as a writer next year. So far I don’t like my chances given my goal is to post at least 200 pieces of content (not counting updates, or rewriting old movie reviews of mine) in 2016. Most of it I’m hoping will be on movie reviews since compare to writing review on anime series since not a whole lot of films go pass three hours, or even match the length of a single, 12 episode season series.

Anime reviews will also be another aspect I’ll tackle, though the success rate of them depends to be honest. On myanimelist, the most successful review I posted was a negative review for Aldnoah.Zero first season which is currently the only review I posted that has triple digits in total votes. I’m proud of that review to be honest since I went above, and beyond to express my hatred for the series. It wasn’t all just an opinion as I provided evidence with what the anime gave me, and used that to negatively write about it. I’ll go over some things that impacted me this year. I would say it’s a collection of highlights, but I was inactive for a very long time so there’s not much to it.

Video-games

This year was the first time in years I went back into gaming. There wasn’t enough games on the PS4 that I wanted that justified me to buy an expensive console. So I did the next logical thing, and decided to seek out games on my backlog, and complete them. I finished more video-games this year than any other year I’ve been playing video-games. For starter, I finished the entire Kingdom Hearts 1.5, and most of 2.5 HD collection this year. I went through the playable entries on the HD collection which was allot of fun. In terms of writing the original Kingdom Heart was the best. It was simplistic sure, but the themes were explored, and the story was written in a self-contained way. Most importantly it made sense since it wouldn’t be until the sequels the lore got convoluted, and complicated. Unfortunately for me, while in the process of playing Kingdom Hearts 2 HD I went months without playing it since I went to Kansas to help my family out. I got a job at a bacon factory which was terrible, but my family needed my help, and at that moment I didn’t care how long I would be offline. When I did return to beat the rest of the Kingdom Hearts Collection I got confused by the storyline. It became more convoluted, and complicated to follow as the series developed.

This year also holds the record of me completing the most games I disliked in a single year. I played Watch Dogs since I wanted a third person shooter at the time. Unlike allot of gamers I wasn’t hype for the game when it was first announced. I liked the concept of being able to play as a hacker, but this was Ubisoft, and when it comes to their writing they generally suck at telling stories. Upon starting up Watch Dogs I knew I was in for a rough ride. For starter, there was no possible way to blind fire, even behind cover. This made the game design to be harder than it actually needed to be. This problem was amplified when in certain missions you have to chase a target in a car, but can’t shoot your guns while driving. I found this particularly laughable since the game allows me to slow down time, and the character I use is hacker, but apparently can’t shoot while driving. One defense against my criticism was it was trying to be realistic. Yeah, that why there is an ability where you can slow down time, and boss fights that care multiple shots to kill. That also why my character can multiple gunshots so long he stays behind cover to recover his health bar. Realism…sure.

Another thing I hated about Watch Dogs besides the gameplay was the writing. The protagonist had a story that was simply about revenge that was predictable. There were hacker terms like “Script Kiddie” that the average person wouldn’t know that aren’t explained in the story. The game was also badly design as I bought all costumes, and weapons before even completing five missions in the game, and before even getting close to finishing the third act. Characters were boring as well. I couldn’t even bother to remember their names. One was a hipster hacker, while another was a emo-punk girl hacker for the protagonist to creep on. It sucked pretty much.

Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope was another game I finished this year, and it was also much to my dislike. Unlike Watch Dogs, I actually enjoyed the gameplay of Star Ocean 4. However, allot of the game mechanics I didn’t bother using like a crafting system since I didn’t need it. It didn’t encourage me to use it either so I found no use to create weapons. Another thing I didn’t like were the characters. Besides the awful voice acting from some of the voice actors the cast was annoying. I ended up creating a team of characters I found most tolerable. That’s no joke unfortunately as the cast comprised of the childhood best friend, the young naive adventurer who seeks justice, a loli cat, an Angel who was ditzy, a Robot with a design of a action figure, an emo elf looking character who called himself the grim reaper, a widow who dresses for the way she does for the sake of fanservice, an annoying kid who repeats a catchphrase, and other “engaging” characters. The story….oh don’t even get me started. It became so convoluted to the point that a planet transformed into a dragon, a spaceship commander sacrifice himself to create a black hole to destroy the dragon, go to the center of that still standing planet, travel to the core, and destroy it by defeating a last minute villain who for inexplicable reasons was like the motherboard of the species despite the species operating competently without him.

There were also other games like Fuse that me, and my little brother suffer through together. It was a soulless third person shooter that really was a chore to get through. Our biggest issues being a cheap plane boss fight that could kill the player in a single hit. It doesn’t help matter when the plane also has a shield so if you get hit with the one-shot-kill attack you’re dead. Spec Ops: The Line I like for the story, but the gameplay was generic third person shooter action. I did like it in the end, but it wasn’t anything special in the genre. Other games I liked that played, and completed this year were The Evil Within, Tales of Xillia 2, and Rune Factory 3. There was also Lost Dimension that I ended up liking, but consider it average at best since allot of the ideas it has aren’t fully realized.

Out of all the games that came out this year that I played there was only Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker that I beat. Granted I do have my copy of Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree Woe and the Blight Below, and Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom for Christmas that I’ve yet to open, or play since I got no PS4 at the moment. As usual, I love me some SMT goodness, and Devil Survivor 2 delivered. The gameplay went mostly untouched, but what made it worth the purchase was there was around 100 hours of content in a single game playthrough of two story modes. Yes, I got that much content from beating the game two separate story mode once, and given the fact the game has multiple endings, and different events depending on your choices I haven’t stopped playing this game. My only issue with the game would be that it doesn’t do anything to take advantage of the poorly named New 3DS hardware to its advantage, but that’s more of a nitpick.

This was also a year where I just kept on piling to my backlog. So I have a dozen DS games I haven’t completed with virtually all being RPGS. So I have myself possibly over 300 hours of gaming I need to get to completing at some point. I still have one more game in the Metal Gear HD collection to get to, Final Fantasy 10-2 to beat, around 4 PS3 games I haven’t beat, and finally around six digital games on my PS3 I’ve yet to beat. So yeah, I went a bit overboard with my purchases during my enjoyment of gaming, though to be fair the most expensive game I bought cost me 50 dollars, and that was for the handheld port of Xenoblade Chronicles for the New 3DS. Aside from that, and three other 40 dollars most of the games I got were rather cheap. Still, given with what was announce for the PS4 PSN Store from Rogue Galaxy, and Dark Cloud that I’ve been wanting to try. As well as the dozens of games I want next year I got my work cut out for me in balancing between work, my reviewing commitment, social life, and personal enjoyment time.

Astoria, and Sukima Switch

Music is the most subjective out of any medium, including art. With Art there’s a clear distinction of which drawings are better drawn, or better express an idea. Art is still subjective, but not to the same extent as music. Like any medium there’s also a distinction between good, and bad music, but it’s not quite as easy to see as with other mediums. If a song catchy, I’ll listen to it. If I’m not in the mood to listen to Arcade Fire discussing problems with modern society you bet I’ll blast some Jesse Mccartney any day. Certain genre of music you can simply listen too at any given moment over others. For me, there’s only a couple of artists, songs, or albums that I feel like I can listen to in any situation whether it be something to listen too, or something that’ll make me think.

Another thing I should mention is I don’t listen to the radio. Whenever I do I don’t find anything I like playing on the radio. The only time I do listen to the radio is whenever who’s driving has it whatever station is on playing. So most of what I end up listening too I end up finding by accident. One of these accident was with the band Marianas Trench. My first exposure to the Canadian band Marianas Trench was when red head indie artist Annie Rose Robinson did a cover of Marianas Trench song Fallout. Now how I knew about an obscure artist like Annie Rose Robinson is a whole other tangent that involves the website ReverbNation which also leads to the time I got a lyric video removed from YouTube because the artist stole it. However, since YouTube updated whenever it did my private messages with that artist were deleted, and at the time didn’t know how to screen capture anything.

Either way, after listening to Annie Rose Robinson cover of Marianas Trench Fallout I looked up the original. At first, I wasn’t really into it. A couple weeks later when back to listen to Marianas Trench Fallout, and liked it more than I did the first time. I listened to it again, and decided to listen to Marianas Trench other music, and fell in love with them. I listen to Masterpiece Theater, and Ever After religiously, and I still do years later I’ve grown older. For me, the album’s Masterpiece Theaters, and Ever After are a great mix of easy listening, and thoughtful music. A Marianas Trench song can be catchy as well as very thoughtful on how it speaks about its subject. This year also marked the release of the band’s fourth album titled Astoria. Since it’s release I have yet to stop listening to it. I do listen to other music, but Astoria whenever I do I could do so for an hour on a single track. All the songs are rather good, but I have clear personal favorites on the album. The opening song, Astoria, always gets me pumped up whenever I listen to it.

Then there’s the self titled album from the Japanese band Sukima Switch which unexpectedly ended up being the second album I listened to the most. If you haven’t listened to it I highly recommended since it has the ability to put you in a good mood with its upbeat tracks, and joyful vocals. If you seen Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood than you probably heard the third opening track titled Golden Time Lover performed by the band. They mostly make jazz music so if you’re into that kind of genre check out their stuff.

Most Annoying Movie, and Anime I Haven’t Seen Yet

This year marked the release of Star Wars Episode 7, and One Punch Man. In all honesty I could care less about One Punch Man, but since it’s made by Madhouse I would have given it a shot eventually. Same thing with Star Wars Episode 7 which I wasn’t anticipating at all. When I saw the first teaser trailer I seriously wondered for a long time what was my favorite Sci-Fi anything in any form of media. I couldn’t think of anything from the top of my head immediately. At least with superheroes I could immediately name Spider Man 2 (my favorite superhero, and Marvel film), Iron Man, and Kick-Ass on the top of my head. For Sci-Fi I do like Star Wars, and Star Trek, but neither I would consider to be my favorite. I then thought about the first two Terminator movies, but I always them more in line with the action genre since it plays more on those traits than what I would associate with Sci-Fi. Like this passage, I went on a tangent about this until I landed on James Cameron’s Aliens being my favorite Sci-Fi film of all time.

The closer the day got to the release of One Punch Man, and Star Wars Episode 7 the more irritating it became. This also followed me offline since virtually even I know has seen Star Wars. No matter how many times I would talk to them the topic went back to Star Wars. I was fortunate enough not to have many friends who see anime, but men these issues were amplified online. Star Wars Episode 7, and One Punch Man were heavily discussed on the sites I went to. I go onto Facebook to see a feed of my friends voicing their excitement for it. I go onto Rotten Tomatoes to see if anything changed, and see something about Star Wars on there. I go onto YouTube to see if anyone I subscribed to posted anything, and once again I see Star Wars related content on there. So no matter where I went I couldn’t escape Star Wars. Now if it was only the fans being hype for the film I wouldn’t have gotten irritated by it. I have my moment of fanboyism whenever a new Shin Megami Tensei game is announced. Sadly I can’t voice my excitement much for that series since I’ve yet to meet anyone else who also tries the Shin Megami Tensei game series.

What eventually got to me was the backlash of those people who got irritated by the fanbase, but took it a step further by spoiling the movie. Now seeing Star Wars isn’t top on my list, and I too got annoyed by it, but calm down. It’ll blow over. However, the people who don’t understand this won’t let it go so they spread the word wherever it’s possible. It got bad enough a man threaten to shoot his friend if he spoiled Star Wars.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3370806/Man-jailed-student-threatened-Star-Wars-spoiler.html

So you could imagine me not wanting to go on Letterboxd even just to post my reviews because of spoilers being everywhere. On myanimelist it’s another story entirely. When I go to the forum there will usually be one forum dedicated to discussing One Punch Man. Unlike most users on the site I actually bother checking the review feed on MAL to check out the great reviewer. If I consider it really good I usually a comment complementing the reviewer, even if the viewpoint on said anime is different. One Punch Man is currently a flood of reviews that don’t seem to stop coming in days after it ends. I see it becoming like Sword Art Online where regardless of how many wrote about it there will be one user who reviews it every day, if not everyday than a week. One Punch Man is currently like that, though what’s bother me is the general of lack of good reviews it inspires. There’s only a handful of positive, and negative review for the series, but plentiful of badly written ones regardless of position. Some users I see taking advantage of the climate, and using the opportunity to make a name for themselves in the MAL reviewer community. So far I’ve seen it failed for the ones trying establish themselves.

As for now, I got no label, nor am I actually known that well known in the reviewing community on MAL. I would be sad, but at the same time I don’t want to be known for a single label like “The guy who wrote that long, negative Aldnoah.Zero review”. If that’s the most I could amount to when writing about anime than I failed. Don’t even get me started on the possible discussions I’ll have with friends if I actually do see it. It will drive me insane. I already have a YouTube feed of anime channels that talk about it, even making multiple discussion videoes on it. Hell, it even managed to get into TheGamingPilgrimage Podcast (great Youtube gaming channel, and podcast you should check out)  that I follow. What makes matter worse is I have a little brother who reads One Punch Man. Before the anime came out I had fun making fun of One Punch Man by replacing the lyrics to the Dead Wonderland opening theme, and making it about One Punch Man. I did it on the spot which me, and my little brother found funny. However, when it comes to the quality of anime we differentiate greatly. For example, from the moment the first episode ended I knew Steins;Gate would end up being average, and living up to its acclaim. My little brother on the other hand thought otherwise leading to many arguments. The closer we got to the end more he started to agree with me. So as you could tell, he’s not quite as experience in analyzation as I am.

What we like also differs at time. For instance, I did not like the anime Oreimo because the arguments, and the positions it presented them in were really weak. My little brother like the series because he could relate to it since he had a friend like the heroine of the story. Then there was also the One Punch Man incident where I saw the first episode, and the impression it left on me was a 5. It was an average first episode, and if it was meant to be a satire of the superhero genre than IT PLAYED THE ENTIRE DREAM SEQUENCE WITH A STRAIGHT FACE! WHAT COMMENTARY f@#KEN WAS THERE IN IT! What resulted from that dream sequence pretty much was a good action sequence never happened. For some reason my little brother got mad when I called it average. Seriously, the only time I absolutely hated anything that was popular that I reviewed was the movie Frozen because it was a bad movie. All the other times I either write that said movie is decent, or average someone gets angry at me, and leading to a long discussion where the oppose just assumes they win because they got the last say in the argument.

Wrap It Up:

So as you notice some of those segments end abruptly. I’ll leave you with a quick list of things I liked from this year, and probably expand on it once I see more from this year. For now, these are my favorites for the year.

Favorite Anime: 1. Mobile Suit Gundam: Origin   2. Parasyte: The Maxim

Favorite Movie: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation    Best Movie: Creed (as of now)

Favorite Album: Astoria (by Marianas Trench), and Sukima Switch (by Sukima Switch)

Favorite Game: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker

My final message will be happy New Year, and happy holidays. See yalls next year!

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