Anime Review: Attack on Titan (or Shinkgeki no Kyojin), Season 2

Details: Season two aired in 2017. Twelve episodes this season.

“Eren.”

The first season of Attack on Titans was one of the most popular, successful anime’s in recent memory. Season two succeeds in continuing the hype, the horror, and the violent gratification that started in season one. No spoilers as usual.

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Comic Book Review: Reborn (2016)

Details: Six issue series. Published by Image Comics. Written by Mark Millar and drawn by Greg Capullo.

Greg Capullo and Mark Millar are comic book legends who have drawn and written some of my favorite comic book stories. With that said, Reborn is a short story that is okay, but not great.

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Comic Book Review: Doctor Strange (2015) Issues 1 through 20

Details: Published by Marvel Comics. Mostly written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Chris Bachalo.

I’ve never been a big fan of Doctor Strange. I’ve enjoyed watching him interact with other characters in the Marvel Universe, like when he was in the Illuminati or when he was god Doom’s sheriff. That changed with this series. They invoked one of my comic book weaknesses; they got Bachalo to do art.

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Anime Review: Konosuba

Details: Released in 2016. Two seasons with ten episodes each. Each episode is about twenty-three minutes long.

I feel like ever since Sword Art Online came out, the genre of an anime that takes place in a Massive Multiplayer Online Game setting has exploded. There are so many of these types of anime out there nowadays. Konosuba is another one of these, though it’s almost never serious and mostly hilarious.

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TV Show Review: Supernatural, Season 12

Details: Aired on the CW. Twenty-three episodes this season with each episode at around an hour-long, commercials included.

While not the longest running show ever, Supernatural has been on T.V. a long time. We’ve now entered the twelfth season and I think the formula of this show is well established. I like the sameness and knowing the plot beats I can expect to see, except in slightly different forms. I like this show the way it is and I do not want it to change.

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Video Game Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Game of the Year Edition

Details: Originally released in 2015. Purchased through http://www.gog.com and their game client. Purchased for about $25. Played on the PC. The Game of the Year Edition comes with all subsequently released downloadable content, including the two expansions, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Spent about a hundred and ten hours in the base game, around thirty hours in the Hearts of Stone expansion, and about forty hours in the Blood and Wine expansion. Total time spent in the game: about one hundred and eighty hours.

No spoilers, as usual. 

Now that I’ve played this game, I can understand why this game is so beloved. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt does not reinvent the wheel. It does not push some new kind of game. It is an open world, action role-playing game in a time with many, many similar games like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Assassin’s Creed, The Legend of Zelda, and the Batman Arkham series. What Witcher 3 does do is that it pushes the genre of open world games forward, improving on almost every aspect of the genre and producing a game that can be considered essential if you are a video game lover.

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Book Review: The Name of the Wind

Details: A novel written by Patrick Rothfuss. Published in 2007. A New York Times Bestseller. 662 pages long.

A while back, a friend lent me two books to read. The first was The Way of Kings by Brian Sanderson. It was a long, but enjoyable read. The second was The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Prior to these two books, the last fictional books I read were the Harry Potter books. What I’m trying to say is that people make judgment on things based on comparison with the things they know. Accordingly, while I will try to give my thoughts on this book, those thoughts will unavoidably compare The Name of the Wind with The Way of Kings and the Harry Potter series.

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Book Review: The Way of Kings

Details: Fiction written by Brandon Sanderson. 1258 pages.

I don’t enjoy reading for fun. Not fiction at least. To me, reading is meant for instruction; textbooks, instruction manuals, news articles, that sort of thing. In the case of this book, a friend strongly recommended I read this book… and also gave me a copy. So, since I had really no excuse not to read this, I decided to give it a try. This is my first foray into the fantasy genre, and seeing that this book is a New York Times bestseller. The last fiction book I read was Harry Potter, which I enjoyed.

This book takes place in a fantasy world with magic, knights, kings, other races, and everything you’d might expect from a fantasy book. Think Game of Thrones and you’ll be on the right track. I do feel like this book is less brutal than Game of Thrones, but, after some research, The Way of Kings is only the first book in what is likely a series of ten books that explore this fictional world.

The story centers around a few characters and is told from the first person perspective, switching perspectives between chapters. The primary characters I’ve found are Kaladin (a slave and former soldier), Dalinar (a highprince and ruler of a kingdom), Shallan (a girl from a lesser noble house who is seeking out a heretic), and Szeth (an assassin with unique powers). I won’t go further into the characters or plot for fear of spoilers. Stuff happens. Some of it is surprising.

What I’ve realized about the fantasy genre is that on of the primary goals of the book is the creation of this fantasy world. Accordingly, I found a lot of the text kind of wordy and extraneous. This is probably because I don’t normally read fiction novels and these very lengthy descriptions of… everything are likely the norm in fictional literary works. Or maybe not. Either way, expect a lot of in-depth descriptions that mostly add color to the world, even if I found them a bit much.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but my first foray into fantasy novels will likely be my last. It’s just to time consuming. I recognize that part of the appeal is to immerse yourself into this world and it’s characters and lengthy text do a great job to facilitate that. I couldn’t help but feel like I was wasting time every time I sat down with this fiction. While books of this length and subject matter may not be to my liking, if you like reading fiction, especially books like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, then I thoroughly recommend this book.

Score: 6.5/10

Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Details: Over two hours long. Stars Felicity Jones and Diego Luna.

The first thought I had after watching this movie was… why did they make this movie? I know it’s obviously for money. Disney paid a billion dollars for the Star Wars franchise so they have to milk that cow, but I don’t think this movie needed to be made. It didn’t tell a story I needed to hear.

The premise is this: Jyn Urso is found by the rebel alliance and sent on a mission to find her father who has information on the empire’s new super weapon. In the overall Star Wars timeline, this takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope.

I felt like this movie should have been a book or a comic book, not a full fledged movie. It’s just a side story that doesn’t push the overall Star Wars narrative in any direction. I feel like nothing was accomplished here.

I can see that they were trying to achieve a grittier, more realistic, more personal story. Unfortunately, there are so many characters we barely get to know anyone. I think in genres like science fiction of fantasy, character development is the crux of these types of stories. Character development was severely lacking here and I didn’t feel anything when bad things happened to the characters.

The actors give fine performances. The weakness of this film was just the story. The whole film felt like one big wink wink, nudge nudge towards existing Star Wars fans with constant references to the other movies. This movie is fan service. Unless you are a hardcore Star Wars fan, I probably wouldn’t recommend this movie.

Score: 5/10

Video Game Review: Dragon Age: Inquisition (Game of the Year Edition, PC)

Score: 8.2/10. 

I recently played this game, a long time after it was originally released. Visually, the game still holds up. I love the art style and the design of the characters. They look slightly cartoon-y, but still realistic. Face animations during dialogue are also great. Skin is textured real good. The design of the world is also full of details and great to look at.

Gameplay is your standard massive multiplayer online RPG style, which is that you run around, number keys apply to different spells, and mouse 1 does your normal attack. It’s somewhat fun. They should’ve adopted final fantasy-esque ultimate or something, to break up the monotony of battle.

Another element of gameplay that’s worth a mention is the War Council. It’s basically a click on a quest, then wait in real time for it to complete on it’s own, then get bounty type of thing. Kind of pointless and unnecessary in my opinion.

An element of the gameplay that was not pointless and I wish there was more of was the Sit In Judgment. In these optional parts of the game you get to judge a character you fought against and captured prior. It’s fun and adds a little more to the story.

Music is fantastic. Classic orchestral stuff you expect for the fantasy genre.

And in regards to the strongest part of an role playing game — the story — Inquisition has a great story with a number of very big decisions. You still generally walk down a preordained path set by the game developers, but there are sufficient options to make it feel like your decisions matter.  Dialogue is the real shining point of Inquisition.

Noteworthy story elements that I am a fan of are the romances, humorous moments (Iron Bull), character development, and someone trying to assault the castle with a goat.

The DLC’s were better than I thought. With the exception of Trespasser, they are generally unnecessary and you don’t miss out on much if you skip them. I did find them fun regardless.

Finally, a common complaint I read online was about how many of the side quests were fetch quests and this lowered the quality of the game. These complaints arose during the release of the Witcher 3 and quests which were more meaningful in the opinion of many. Personally, I don’t hate that this game was loaded with so many fetch quests. Yes it is kind of tedious and turns the game into a kind of checklist rather than an immersive narrative experience. However, I’d much rather they keep this content rather than throw it out. It’s an issue of boring content versus no content, and I will also side with having content even if it’s not as exciting as the main story. Additionally, I enjoy collecting stuff so it was fine for me.

Score: 8.2/10 Spent over one hundred hours in the game. Great game. Great visuals despite its age.