John Wick is back and bringing his best for Chapter 3

John Wick is back and bringing his best for Chapter 3

Keanu Reeves’ 2014 action vehicle John Wick was lightning in a bottle.

Where Reeves was previously known in the genre as a trench coat wearing techno-superhero, the late 2010s has changed his action pedigree to that of a retired super assassin skilled in glorious gun-fu.

That film exhibited wonderful cartoony violence in a way that enthralled audiences. It was a self-contained story with a hint of mysterious flavor that could have easily stood on its own.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) was less contained. But even if its script clearly acted as the middle man for another sequel, the film was magnificent in its world-building. It elaborated on the mysterious underbelly of the first movie in a way that created intrigue rather than spoiling the fun.

And it somehow kept up a high caliber of action at the same time.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) masterfully blends and elevates the action-packed precedent of the first movie and the world-building of the second to continue an experience warranting the fourth chapter it aims to establish.

Chapter 3 follows Reeves’ titular character as he aims to reverse his excommunication from the worldwide “High Table” assassin society after killing one of its leading members in a safe haven at the end of the second film.

Like Chapter 2, this movie immediately drops its audience into a story that services its past while introducing new elements.

Wick travels to Casablanca and recruits Sofia (Halle Berry) to pay off a debt she owes. Meanwhile veteran characters Winston (Ian McShane), Charon (Lance Reddick) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) face political repercussions at the hands of a clinical and captivating Adjudicator for the High Table (Asia Kate Dillon).

Facing the consequences for one’s actions is the name of the game, as Chapter 3 establishes multiple times while audiences are introduced to more of the assassin underworld through locales like a training academy and a currency manufacturer in the ramparts of a medieval castle.

The movie embellishes John Wick’s brilliant universe, where gory street level duels are bathed in neon lights despite being planned by codified and cordial socialites in almost baroque meeting places.

The growing universe is enthralling for series veterans, yet I would argue Chapter 3 utilizes it’s exposition in a way that gives newcomers a fun experience unraveling how Reeves got himself into trouble. Like The Hangover, but with trained assassins.

Some of the fine details would be lost, but John Wick supplements its world-building with creative action to make the experience worthwhile.

The hyper-violence of this film is a spectacle. Within the first 20 minutes, Reeves beats a man to death with a copy of Dante’s Inferno and kills motorcycle-riding goons while galloping through New York traffic on a horse.

Yet that hyper-violence is perfectly balanced by enough realism to give confrontations weight and suspense. Wick is constantly battered, retains his scars and takes multiple pauses in the middle of firefights to reload. Every body and bullet casing hits the floor with satisfying clunks.

Not all of the action perfectly hits its mark. One at the midpoint in particular feels a little aimless as endless opponents come out of nowhere.

Though even less stellar scenes have high points, such as that rather aimless fight using Sofia’s dogs to great effect. Never before have I encountered uncomfortable mauling scenes with lovably good boys.

Cinematography and color in Chapter 3 also go a long way to make action more impressive.

For example, a later firefight is dulled by losing most hand-to-hand choreography in the face of near-invincible enemies. But the scene’s nauseating green palate emphasizes how uncomfortable the once-friendly setting is for Wick.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum arguably succeeds best in that it plays well to the strengths its predecessors while keeping things fresh.

Though a few of the action scenes aren’t as stellar as others, long-time fans of Mr. Wick’s exploits will not be disappointed. Especially if they love the assassin-filled world Chapter 2 began to reveal.

And even if I wouldn’t recommend it, Chapter 3 seems like it could work as a standalone flick. It certainly did for my Grandpa.

I’m very much looking forward to the Chapter 4 this movie’s namesake sets up.

Even if it won’t have the same mind-blowing realization for me that Reeves’ great, cocky foil Zero is played by Mark Dacascos: The Chairman from Iron Chef America.


Featured Image courtesy of Movie Poster HD

Analyzing animation and Pokémon

Analyzing animation and Pokémon

After dealing with the mental gymnastics of drama retroactively changing content appreciation, it’s nice to find some new YouTube personalities to enjoy.

You may think replaying Sacred Stones would sate my appetite for entertainment, but the game’s weakest point is its soundtrack. I pointed that out in my essay, and it proved to be true.

So I looked for things to listen to while playing, and my newest obsession has been a series on Pokémon typings from Lockstin & Gnoggin.

There’s actually a somewhat interesting history behind my discovery of this series.

The channel’s “Every Pokémon Type Explained” has been recommended to me by the platform a number of times. Each episode was recognizable from a uniform thumbnail with black borders around images of different Pokémon with clickbait-y text suggesting they should NOT be that typing.

It always seemed over-the-top for my tastes, so I never watched any part of the series.

Cue life lesson about not judging a book by its cover.

As fate would have it, I intersected with the channel again through a collaboration they did with the animation channel TerminalMontage.

TerminalMontage is another fairly recent addition to my watch list, but became a favorite thanks to his “something about” series where the plots of video games are just torn apart with a goofy cartoon style and memes.

I’m particularly a fan of any Star Fox-related video, as he leans hard into the Super Smash Bros. Melee meta Fox who jolts around with the sounds of a GameCube controller clicking in the background.

Makes me laugh literally every time.

Brilliant stuff if you’re into fast, purposefully random comedy.

His recent animation depicting a Fortnite-style battle royale featuring Legendary Pokémon really caught my attention.

Like his prior Pokémon battle royale video, it was full of interesting deep cuts that made me want to know more about the thought process behind putting the project together.

So this time I paid attention when they recommended watching Lockstin’s breakdown of the Legendary Pokémon battle royale. Because he helped plan the videos.

I enjoyed his style of commentary and seemingly well-calcified knowledge of Pokémon lore. Thus, I finally bit the bullet and started watching the typing videos I’d put off.

In essence each video takes one of the 18 types (minus two as of my writing this) and tries to divide each Pokémon of that type into categories of real-life equivalence. And yes, he does actually indicate which ones might not belong. Clickbait justified.

For instance the rock-type video divides monsters into living rocks or beings that adorn rocks, and further breaks down what kind of real mineral each Pokémon represents.

Meanwhile the ghost-type video (in lieu of real-world science) breaks down every monster into what mythological legend or ghost story they represent.

It’s a really interesting and analytical series about what many probably consider an innocuous franchise. I appreciate the depth and flashy style of editing that shows a lot of care on the production’s back-end.

As a result, that’s my recommendation for the day. I’m always a fan of pointing out great content where I find it… And I really don’t have that much else to talk about tonight.

But stay tuned.

Tomorrow I will complete my video game/YouTube/movie media trifecta with a review of a little movie I’m going to see called John Wick: Chapter 3.

And boy I’m excited!

Wrapping up Gaming

Wrapping up Gaming

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. You heard it here first.

I’m officially done with Gaming…

In American Culture.

You know, that class I was taking for fun with my friend Mimi this last semester? Despite it neither fitting into my Comm major nor my Psych minor.

As you may recall from this great post, that class had the last few assignments I was working on. An essay and a Let’s Play video based on Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.

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Up to 8 views as of this post!

This evening I found out that I got a 94 percent on both assignments, which landed me at a 102.22 percent in the class overall.

It looks like the professor added extra points to one assignment, and I don’t feel the need to address him in case that turns out to be an accident and we knock my grade down.

Gaming in American Culture was the last holdout for grades, so now I have the full scale of how my last semester shook out:

  • Comm 495T (Internship class) — 100 percent
  • Communications Law — 97.1 percent
  • Cognitive Psychology — 96.35 percent

My Honors classes don’t have grades associated with them… But I turned in my Project materials and give a presentation, which should constitute 100 percent.

Given all of the accolades I received along the way, not a bad way to end things.

Certainly good enough to feel confident in joining the Alumni Association:

Thus, my academic journey is over… Until I inevitably come back for a teaching degree or something.

Plus I’ll have to go back to campus for Alumni Association swag.

And I need to pick up my physical Honors Project once it’s printed.

But that’s all in the uncertain future. For now I can kick back and relax, even for a few days as I side-eye pieces of writing for Gladeo and looming job applications.

Actual gaming has been a huge part of my decompressing formula, because you’d be insane to think that my joke was an indication of actually quitting this sweet addiction.

In that regard, Gaming in American Culture gave me one last gift: An excuse to play through my favorite Fire Emblem game once more.

I didn’t stop playing Sacred Stones when I finished that paper. I’ve been carrying my 3DS around again to get through it.

As luck would have it, I happened to finish my current Eirika’s route run the same night as I found out my class grades. Hence the Featured Image and this picture of my favorite couple’s flavor text:

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Though I may have jumped the gun in pairing them together again so quickly.

I’m not going to say I regret the decision, because they’re my precious babies and I’ve always been the kind of person to fall in love with a pairing and ship them every time.

But Sacred Stones apparently has a mechanic where you can view previous support conversations from the main menu — something I believed only came in later entries.

Once I realized that, I decided I should go for new character pairings and appease the Completionist side of my brain since I’ve been stuck at the same level for years.

Even in this one run I found at least one new ship I adore in Lute and Kyle!

Definitely a great thing, but also deeply troubling.

After all, now I know there are new pairings that I may love… which is more incentive to try new support paths.

And I just so happened to save a separate file for Ephraim’s route.

So between work and Minecraft with my friends, I might just be diving into this Fire Emblem rabbit hole again immediately.

Let’s just hope I don’t burn myself out before Three Houses.

No love for these bridal heroes

No love for these bridal heroes

Good afternoon, world! Been a while.

I took the last few days off because I was spending extra time with my grandparents and…

That.

After one whole day doing absolutely nothing post-Graduation, it’s about time I jump back into the saddle for my daily writing exercises!

What better catalyst for that writing resurgence than a new banner in Fire Emblem Heroes?

… In hindsight basically anything else. Because it figures this is a banner I could give no fewer shits about.

Personal obligations to consistency ahoy!


Bridal Belongings


When I say this is a post written almost purely out of obligation, I’m not kidding. Maybe it’s in contrast to my excited reactions for Berkut and Alm, but I can’t remember the last time a banner was this much of a dud for me.

When I first watched the video, I had no idea who I was looking at. Usually I’ll have heard of a character if they’re popular, but not this time around.

Sigrun and Tanith are from the Radiant games, interestingly paired with Sanaki’s appearance last year.

Meanwhile Pent and (Tempest Trial reward) Louise are from The Blazing Blade.

Both convenient gaps in my Fire Emblem knowledge.

Unfortunately, none of them have anything to their unit skills that stand out enough to make me care.

Thus, Fjorm is the only character I’m interested in because I know her and she has some interesting skills. She’s a flying healer who negates dancing and gives allies a grounded version of flier formation. That’s kind of cool!

It’s just too bad she’s the only one I care about, because that means I’m probably going to save my orbs for whatever Mythic Hero is rumored to be coming.

At least she’s the main focus of the Paralogue story. So we’ve got that going for us?


Paralogue 34 — Bridal Belonging

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It’s just too bad Fjorm’s starring role is undercut by vague generalities meant to push an unrequited love subplot that Intelligent Systems doesn’t even fully commit to.

Our story begins with the Order of Heroes taking Fjorm to the Bridal festival. She’s admiring all the dresses when one bride-to-be turns out to be:

A way cuter version of herself.

Damnit Heroes, stop making me want to summon for this one character on a dud banner. I need to save my orbs.

Alfonse suggests this Fjorm may from the future rather than just an alternate Fjorm. An idea that sets an entirely new precedent? I don’t think having future versions of your timeline’s self has ever been established before.

And I’d rather not think about the Back to the Future shenanigans that might ensure if the character is summoned under those circumstances.

We follow Bride Fjorm as she gets advice about love from the new units, suggesting she’s worthy if she unconditionally loves a person or would give everything to protect them.

She says there is a person she would do that for, and based on prior experiences I can surmise she’s talking about the player character.

But this Paralogue does everything it can to cut her off.

I guess it does that because once the final battle is over, Sharena offers to be Fjorm’s wingman after she refuses to tell Alfonse who she would “theoretically” love.

As prior experience suggests, Sharena also has a thing for the player character. Which means we’ve got a real drama-bomb building under the surface.

Because this wouldn’t be an anime gatcha game without all of the waifus being in love with you for no other reason than to incentivize spending money on your preferred smooch.


So that’s that. My cynical, bored take on 2019 brides in Fire Emblem Heroes.

I’m coming from the bias of ignorance, so if these characters are worth caring about let me know! I’d like to play through their games eventually, after all.

But for now, this is all I’ve got.

If nothing else it’s good to be back in the writing mood!

I’ll have more time to come up with things to write now that we’re in Summer Initiative take 2, but other than an official write-up on Graduation once I have my Grad photos I have no idea what I’ll be writing about.

It’s going to be a real grab bag. Look forward to that!

My new Let’s Play channel

My new Let’s Play channel

What’s up, gamers. T1meslayer here with a channel update for all y’all.

A few months ago I launched a series of toy unboxing videos with my sister that has gone on to achieve great acclaim. That first video has almost 100 views, and that not-LEGO Mimikyu was a star in my class’ Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Our YouTube community has reached amazing heights, and I couldn’t be more proud of you all for helping me get to the coveted 1 subscriber milestone.

That’s why I’ve decided to launch a new project.

I’ll be going toe-to-toe with industry greats like the Game Grumps and Markiplier through my brand new gameplay channel: T1meslayer plays.

As you know I’m a huge Nintendo fanatic, so that’s going to be my primary focus. In fact, we’re starting off with one of my favorite titles on the GameBoy Advance. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (2004).

To help stand out from my competitors, I’m taking a new approach to YouTube gaming that I like to call “non-chronological let’s plays.”

We’ve all seen the first levels of certain games played a dozen times as new channels start to play, only to collapse under the weight of mediocrity before they get to the end.

I’m going to solve that problem by starting with Episode 5 and then jumping around.

So if you’re up to going on this journey with me, you can see the first episode of my series here:

Thanks so much for sticking by me during this turbulent time as I get ready to graduate. Like, comment and subscribe to see what’s coming next!



Alright. Obviously I don’t have a gaming channel.

Sorry to disappoint those of you who might be interested in watching that cringe-fest.

This let’s play video is actually one of the final assignments for my Gaming in American Culture class. We had to essentially parody the YouTube video game scene to try and convey some ideas we’re focusing on in our papers.

My paper is all about Sacred Stones, so my let’s play is an episode of what would be my Sacred Stones playthrough.

It was a nightmare actually putting this together (as one might expect when trying to pull an 18-minute video off of their iPhones to edit on a 10-year-old laptop), but I actually really like how it came out?

Like sure, I’m terrible on camera. And technology was so difficult that I skipped blog writing yesterday. But I cut out dead air and added an editorial commentary track to inject some humor, I think it’s a nice piece.

Nice enough to share publicly, at least.

Yet sharing the video is bittersweet. This is literally my penultimate college assignment. All I have left is the final paper for this same class.

Today was my last day of college ever — and it also happened to be my Gaming in American Culture.

Learned about some interesting things from these presentations. In sports especially, like the existence of pickleball and the beer mile.

The latter of which makes me happy that I don’t drink.

“Bittersweet” is really the best way I can describe my feelings. I’m happy to move onto the next stage in my life, especially since I can share the celebration with my family — particularly my grandparents from Florida, who both flew in together for the first time since my Bar Mitzvah.

Almost 10 years ago. Yikes.

But at the same time I have genuinely enjoyed my time in Academia, and the idea of finding a real job still terrifies me.

You don’t have to worry yourself with that part of my psyche, however. For the next couple days I’ll probably be posting all sorts of positive things on social media to try and convince you all that my life is nothing but wonderful.

Because that’s really what social media is all about, isn’t it?

In the meantime, enjoy my cringe-y let’s play.

Please.

I’m proud of it.

Graduation hardware

Graduation hardware

It’s honestly not an exaggeration to say that I might pass out at graduation this Sunday from some heat-related illness due to all of the things I’ll be carrying.

That sounds like I’m looking for an excuse to brag, but I swear I’m not.

The Department of Communications commencement is going to be held out on the Cal State Fullerton baseball stadium, which means it’ll be three-ish hours in the sun. On top of my cap and gown I’ll have the college’s stole and my Comm Awards winnings; the Honors stole; and now a Kappa Tau Alpha tassel, medal and pin.

Dr. Rizzo said she’ll be able to pick me out of the crowd with a magnet, and I don’t doubt her on that.

Induction into the Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society for Mass Communications happened this morning, giving me those trinkets you see in my Featured Image.

However, while that seems like a subject I’d have a lot to say about… I kind of don’t?

It was a lovely luncheon that Dr. Andi Stein and other members of the Comm Department put on, where I joined 25 people being inducted on account of their “excellence in academic work.”

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It’s a sweet little resume filler, and I got to say hi to a few faculty members while I was there. Plus, there was food:

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The enchiladas weren’t special, but they were free!

So who am I to complain?

Unfortunately, the luncheon was kind of downplayed because I had to leave within the first fifteen minutes.

It’s not that I wanted to just dine-and-dash, but my Cognitive Psychology final happened to be scheduled at noon on the same day where I had a fancy event at 11:30 a.m.

As soon as that final ended, I had to cross campus to finish the arc I established yesterday by picking up parking passes for graduation.

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Everyone understood my need to scram, but I still felt bad about it. When there are only 24 other inductees it’s not easy to slip out unnoticed.

It all worked out by the end, however. I got the tassel and my psych final wasn’t horrible (I self-calculated getting an 80 percent at the lowest), which means I’ve officially completed my psychology minor requirements.

Though that doesn’t mean I’m done with school just yet.

My online final for Comm Law — the class I’m worried about — should be opening soon.

Once that’s out of the way, I’ll dive headstrong into my Gaming in American Culture paper.

So there are still a few steps, but I’m that much closer to getting my degree.

Unless of course I die of heat stroke at the ceremony, in which case I suppose this will all have been for naught.

But you all know I can’t die at the ceremony. If I did, there would be nobody to write a cringe-filled blog post about what an amazing time I had celebrating my academic achievement to bury deep-rooted fears about transitioning into the professional world.

We can’t have that.

That time of year again

That time of year again

Hope everyone enjoyed their Mother’s Day!

We Rochlin children celebrated by getting my Mom breakfast donuts (as requested), went out for lunch and then had fancy home-cooked pasta for dinner. A very food-focused affair.

Spending the morning and afternoon with her (as well as the night with my friends losing hours to Minecraft) left me with no time to write a blog post. Though it was all a nice stress relief…

Because as you can see from my baggy-eyed Featured Image, finals and graduation anxiety are undoubtedly taking their toll.

When I wasn’t with Mom yesterday, I was working on my last few college assignments. Ever.

For instance, the Final cheatsheet for Comm Law:

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It’s technically not a requirement, but the cheatsheet for my midterm was extremely helpful. So making this one seemed sensible.

… Especially considering I get extra credit for the selfie.

Comm Law Final Cheatsheet
Eating the pain away.

Taken at lunch, with a cameo by Mom’s arm. Because taking a break in the middle of eating to do homework is the perfect encapsulation of my life.

Comm Law is arguably the biggest stressor, as it turns out that is going to be a cumulative exam. Even though it’s online and we have cheatsheets, it will undoubtedly be a nightmare.

More than Cognitive Psychology, anyway. I should theoretically be studying for that now, but the first two exams were so easy that I don’t feel compelled to kill myself here.

If anything, the more stressful parts of tomorrow are around that exam. Like the Kappa Tau Alpha Communications Honors Society induction ceremony around noon.

Which I’ll have to leave early to take my Psych exam.

That event will get me the last pieces of hardware for my graduation attire, which means I’ll have to finally have to figure out who should do my professional Grad photos.

Because that’s a thing everyone does.

However, I’m currently more concerned about parking for graduation. As I found out, the tickets I secured for my family  do not cover their parking at the event. I needed to get a separate parking pass for that — and that deadline was at the end of April.

Had to make some calls while I was waiting to hand off that sweet Gladeo computer so it could go to a better home. Editing videos, as it was meant to be.

Throw in my semester textbook return, getting a legal document notarized (like a real adult) and going to the gym, and you’ve got my scatterbrained mentality for the day.

At least once Psych and Comm Law are out of the way, life should slow down.

As far as my assignments go, I’ll still need to put together my Honors Project — which I’m working as I write:

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Then I need to finish my Gaming in American Culture paper. An endeavor made slightly more difficult by surrounding circumstances, but I’ll get to it eventually.

Oh, and let’s not forget that my Dad’s birthday is coming up.

So that’s the whirlwind I’m currently cycling through. I keep trying to remind myself that once I’m through this week I won’t have to worry about college ever again…

But frankly that seems to freak me out more.

Instead I’ve been trying to drown out the incessant thoughts with more Games Done Quick speedruns.

Because seeing someone beat a game like Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door in under four hours is enough to really melt the stress away.

Detective Pikachu made my heart swell

Detective Pikachu made my heart swell

Move over, Endgame.

You might have ended a decade of MCU movies, but Detective Pikachu played to my 20-years of investment in the subjectively best video game series of all time.

My development as a person and writer was kick-started by Mom teaching me to read with the text in Pokémon Crystal. I’ve been waiting for this movie ever since.

So, the objective side of my cinephilia can critique a few key issues. But that doesn’t take away from Rob Letterman giving me the breathing Pokémon society — focusing on more than just prodigal, battling children — that I’ve always wanted.

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Image courtesy of IMDb

Detective Pikachu follows accountant Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) as he confronts the death of his mother and resulting alienation of his father after the man goes missing in a utopian city designed for Pokémon to coincide with humans.

He does so with the help of a talking Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds — clearly channeling Deadpool while still grounded in this source material) and aspiring investigative reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton).

To be blunt, Detective Pikachu is bloated with clichés.

It mimics film noir and buddy cop tropes, such as a boy who needs to learn to love again and his amnesiac animal partner. There are also multiple plot points throughout the movie’s two-hour run you’ve seen before:

  • The shady, experimenting corporation.
  • The blossoming love between main (human) characters.
  • The incidents with a substance that causes loss of control (ala Zootopia).

Besides a surprise twist in the third act, the overall situations are well-worn. Yet the actors keep them from feeling stale.

Reynolds made me love the overplayed series mascot I usually scoff at. He’s snarky, heartfelt and delivers some solid (seemingly improvised) jokes.

Minor spoiler: At one point, he sings a depressed rendition of the original anime theme song, and it’s worth the price of admission alone.

Reynolds and Smith sell the buddy cop bit, and I liked Smith and Newton’s chemistry as well — especially since their burgeoning romance ended without a dramatic kiss.

Smith carried the movie handily, surprisingly so given my lukewarm reception to Fallen Kingdom. I really enjoyed his character arc and relationship with Pikachu that shined during a heart-to-heart mid-way through the film.

That scene in particular also has a gorgeous shot where Smith’s stoic face during a sad story is betrayed by a tear that makes the neon city lights outline his cheek.

Detective Pikachu had surprisingly pretty cinematography in my opinion, outside of some shots that relied too heavily on shaky dissolves and off-center angles for my taste.

On top of that, I never once felt like the CGI Pokémon were out of place. They always seemed believably real in the living people’s arms.

Granted I might be predisposed to believing in real-life Pokémon because of my history and encyclopedic knowledge with the series. But my sister (who saw the movie with me) is less of a hardcore fan and didn’t report any concerns.

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We had a blast going together!

Ironically, I felt like the Pokémon CGI was masterful in-part because a lot of the practical effects were… Real bad? Most of the actors looked like they were slipping around on wires during action scenes.

But for me, that was barely a concern in light of the respect Detective Pikachu shows fans of the series in its overt and subtle references.

Alongside the anime’s theme song, most of the music throughout the film sounded like it could have come from the Sinnoh or Unova region games.

There are dozens of the 800+ Pokémon appearing as live models (both the recognizable Pikachu and less conventional Treeckos or Purrloins) and set-pieces (some favorites being the Latios and Latias stickers in Tom’s room, and a store named after Whismur).

Their appearances are true to established lore as well, with Charizard weakened as someone stomps on its tail flame and Slaking almost exclusively loafing around.

Mewtwo‘s powers are a less traditional example that sticks out, but even that strange treatment plays into an unexpected plot point that I enjoyed. Plus, they nailed the legendary Pokémon’s origin with an interesting new angle.

People who are not a fan of the games or anime may be somewhat lost. It immediately drops audiences in and lets most references quickly fly by. Yet enough is explained for the public to follow its plot, and the movie is funny regardless of pre-existing knowledge.

You might get more out of some jokes if you know Mr. Mime, for instance, but even if you don’t his scenes have some great slapstick with effective sound effects.

Frankly, I’m not sure what else I can say.

I’m obviously biased, but the movie is just as obviously tailored toward fans like me. From that perspective, I wholeheartedly recommend Detective Pikachu from my three-year-old heart and from the highly knowledgeable dork I am today.

But the movie also has enough family-friendly elements and appeal for non-super-fans. Some of the effects aren’t perfect, and the overall package leans on clichés, but the cast and world-building do more than enough to make up for it.

I had a blast seeing this movie with my sister. It’s a master class in video game adaptations — One that’s very much needed in the face of Sonic the Hedgehog and Angry Birds 2.

Go see it, so we can get more live action Pokémon movies. And cards to go with them:

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You won’t see a TCG fan like me complaining.

Heroes be damned

Heroes be damned

I’m going to keep this intro brief because the banner is pretty exciting.

Just so you know, this is the first time I’m going to try culling my word count by pivoting away from self-generated skill sets to showing off the official video.

It’ll be a little less fun for me personally, but it should make things more efficient.

Let me know what you think!


Darkness Within


Let’s talk about Berkut.

Legendary Alm was amazing, as I reiterated in his banner’s post. Though he screwed me out of 300 orbs, praise was well-deserved.

But my hype for Alm was nothing compared to seeing fallen Berkut for the first time.

Intelligent Systems put extra time into him. His idle sprite looks unhinged with a tilted head and calloused laugh. The witch of his sacrificed Rinea lingers in both his artwork and attack animations. On top of that, the insanity of his lust for power is evident all over the character dialogue.

Clearly the developers know Berkut is a fan-favorite, because he got love far beyond any unit I’ve seen.

He’s also my favorite part of this fallen banner, which is great considering he was my free summon:

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Figures Berkut would peg me as an ally after Alm’s rejection.

However, just because Berkut is the stand-out doesn’t mean he’s the only unit available.

Last year’s fallen heroes banner had Celica, Harden and Grima, with “betrayal” Takumi as a Grand Hero Battle.

This year, alongside Berkut is Tiki, an incredibly powerful colorless armor dragon; Mareeta, a rare Thracia representative; and Corrin, who…

Frankly doesn’t compare. Maybe if she was red? But as things are, I’m not impressed.

However we have possessed Delthea coming, and if she’s amazing I might update my main infantry team.

It’s cool that Echoes has been getting its due, and thankfully Berkut gave me enough savings to focus on Tiki with the free summon tickets from Forging Bonds.

An event with strange continuity issues. Fjorm arrives in a forest of the damned and meets these four heroes, surprised by how different they are… Despite this being Mareeta’s first appearance.

The scenario is wonky, but I can forgive it. Because their individual stories are less dry than the main story chapter.


Book III, Chapter 7 — A Home Unknown

 

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We begin in the midst of the Order of Heroes’ trip through Hel.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the landscape begins to resemble Alfonse and Sharena’s homeland of Askr — just emptier and more unnerving.

Before we can get too deep into that plot point, Intelligent Systems sidetracks us into a brief conversation between Veronica and Loki.

 

It sounds like they will soon be headed for Hel, as Veronica wishes to kill the queen of the dead, which by extent will kill all of the other dead that she cannot kill.

Because plot.

The Order’s trip is a mostly uneventful romp through tortured heroes until Eir has a sudden conversation with Líf: First King of Askr.

 

He gives us plot seeds by asking Eir not to remember things that seem to pain her.

Basic development, but my main problem with the moment is its setting. Where and when are they having this conversation?

If it’s in the Order’s camp, how did the dead guy get in unnoticed?

This conversation happens at the end of map 4, and map 5 has Anna remarking on his sudden battlefield appearance.

So what’s the deal?

Unfortunately, no answers are provided. Once the battle with Líf ends, he retreats and Sharena is distracted by flowers.

 

This is also a blatant set-up for something, though I’m not exactly sure what.

It’s likely either the reveal that Líf’s dead wife loved those flowers too, or that this is some alternate universe’s dead Sharena. Pick a cliché, any cliché!

Then, without any more fanfare, the chapter ends.

Nothing particularly eventful happened, and almost everything that did happen was set-up for future storytelling.

Feh Plot Meme


As cynical as I might be about the weak story chapter, that doesn’t take away from how much I genuinely enjoy the banner’s units.

I’m really excited to see what other possessed/fallen characters they pull out next:

Zombie Scarlet? Demon Lyon? Anankos Gunter? Apparently, fallen Julia was a thing too.

Any of those amazing units… Would have probably been better than Corrin. Banking on her three seconds of losing control at the beginning of Fates is kind of lame.

But that’s just my opinion, so let me know what you guys think about these fallen heroes in the comments!

Art vs. The Artist

Art vs. The Artist

A few weeks ago, I quoted the YouTuber ProJared in my Gaming in American Culture essay.

The crux of my research has been the effects of Japanese Role-Playing Games on the West. In his Final Fantasy Mystic Quest video, ProJared argues that Japanese developers questioned the competence of the outside world, which led to fewer localizations.

It was a valuable insight for my piece, and I was proud to include his video alongside The Geek Critique in my research material.

YouTube has been a huge part of my life, and I try to promote creators. They don’t have near the notoriety of television and movie stars, yet there is great content worth sharing.

After The Completionist, ProJared has been my favorite part of the “NormalBoots crew” for some time. I enjoyed his style, as well as his opinions on video and tabletop games.

I even recently talked about him pulling me back to the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

It’s a parasocial interaction at heart. I wouldn’t say I idolized him or any other YouTuber in an unhealthy way, but the respect and support I show toward those pseudo-celebrities help inspire me to create, and keep the often dreary day-to-day bearable.

This is all to say that I started from an inherently biased position in this conversation.

If you’ve been on Twitter, you already know about how ProJared’s life imploded in a matter of hours. It’s been the #1 trending topic for almost a full day.

If you’re reading this in the future, you can catch up with this Kotaku article.

In spite of how public the issue has become thanks to the people involved, it’s a very private affair that I honestly have no right involving myself with.

The only place I can speak from is that of a former fan whose respect for an online figure has evaporated in an unexpected instant.

A philosophical concern has been weighing heavy on me since late last night:

How much joy are you able to retain from a figure you used to respect — and followed for years — in the time before their skeletons were out of the closet?

This issues with parasocial interactions aren’t new. Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson are two relatively recent examples of celebrities whose actions have begged the question, “how much we should separate the artist from their art?”

But YouTubers are more prominent for me, and tend to be “famous” in smaller communities that they interact with more to create relationships.

I’ve grappled with the recent downfalls of a few people I followed actively.

Just a month before ProJared, TheKingNappy (a Pokémon YouTuber of some acclaim) also received accusations that dampened my enthusiastic support and led to his disappearance from the Internet.

In each of those cases, I’m plenty willing to move on and continue supporting other wonderful creators. But that doesn’t mean their removal is painless.

My immediate reaction to each scandal was almost exactly the same:

  • “What will happen to Nappy’s current Soul Link with ShadyPenguinn?”

Followed by…

  • “There goes the rest of Jared’s Super Metroid/Link to the Past randomizer.”

The thoughts of a spurred fan seem uncalled for, even selfish considering the people who have been genuinely hurt in real life.

And I by no means hope to disparage the victims in these stories because “they took my favorite YouTubers away.”

Yet I believe the reason these thoughts spring to mind are important.

I have given years to some of these personalities, and their current endeavors thrive because of the respect and trust they’ve engendered in this parasocial interaction.

ProJared’s videos have meant enough to me that I thought to quote him in an academic capacity. Plus, he’s also one of the main reasons I started playing Monster Hunter.

TheKingNappy, in a similar vein, introduced me to a community that has foster further love for my favorite series of video games. He’s why I’ve played Pokémon Conquest and the GameBoy TCG title.

All of the times I’ve enjoyed their work and respected their opinions are still there. But now, they seem tainted — it’s hard to come to terms with that.

How much can I still appreciate the time invested in retrospect?

How much can one separate the art from the artist in light of new, changed opinions?

I don’t have an answer to this question. But I think it’s worth posing, because my mindset has honestly contributed to the stressful situation of my last semester at college.

If anyone out there has any insight into this dilemma, I’d love to field some ideas.