BoJack Horseman Season Five Review: A Depressing Cycle of Abuse.

5 stars
In my review for BoJack Horseman season four, I sang praises for its uplifting ending, which left me tearing up.
However, I did state that I thought this happiness would not last in season five.
After watching this season, I can say that I was right but I never expected the show to get this dark.
Season five of BoJack Horseman explores some of the darkest aspects of Hollywood as not only BoJack but every single character goes through a cycle of self abuse.
The main sufferer of this abuse is, of course, BoJack himself who goes through a slow downward spiral due to a drug addiction, guilt over what he has done, and the stress of his new show.
These three things all combine to cause BoJack’s mental state to deteriorate until he explodes in episode 11, “The Show Stopper” with what has to be the darkest scene in all of BoJack Horseman.

episode-11-showstopper.jpg
BoJack’s downward spiral all culminates in a scene with his co-star and new girlfriend Gina (Stephanie Beatriz), which has to be the darkest and most shocking moment in the show’s history.

As I stated, sadly BoJack is not the only character to go down a trail of self abuse.
Both Princess Carolyn and Mr Peanutbutter go through this and the way it ties into their endings is quite striking.
Both of these characters get endings to their season’s arc that, in any other show, would be considered a happy ending.
However, based off what I know about these characters, all I see them is continuing in their cycles of self abuse.
Thankfully, there are some rays of light this season, with Todd and Diane.
Todd is funnier than he has ever been, with his storylines often leaving me in fits of laughter.
As for Diane, she does not really do anything all that funny, however, she is a great source for pointing out everything that is wrong with the other character’s self abuse.
In a piece of meta-commentary, she even criticizes the show itself for making viewers look up to BoJack and normalize his destructive behavior.
She was the only character to point out all to his hypocrisy in brilliant writing, however, after seeing some theories about season six, I am very concerned about what will happen to her next season.
Along with all of this, season five has some of the best episodes of the entire series.
The final two episodes are, again, some of the most hard hitting episodes of BoJack Horseman but my personal favourite would have to be “Free Churro” an episode which consists solely of BoJack giving a eulogy for his dead mother.
I know it sounds boring but it is surprisingly emotional and managed to add another scene in a long list of them that have made me tear up.

My mother is dead and everything is worse now.png
“My mother is dead and everything is worse now.” A powerful line that drives home the impact of this episode.

This was another amazing season of BoJack Horseman.
My one critique is that we do not get enough of Hollyhock this season but, ultimately, this does not damage the season at all because of how powerful it is.
Season five went to some very dark places that I hope the characters can come back from… however, I do not know if they can.

Creed 2: Hard Hitting Sequel.

4 stars
The Rocky series is known to have had its ups and downs over the years.
I cannot really attest to this since I had only watched the first film before watching Creed in preparation for watching and reviewing the sequel.
However, even though I cannot claim to be a huge fan of this franchise, I can state that when these films get it right they are often amazing.

creed.jpg
I have only seen two films in the Rocky franchise but both are classic examples of great film making. 

The first Rocky is a very inspiring film and the recent sequel Creed also gives off this vibe, even if I did find it a bit too similar to the original.
Coming into Creed 2, I was not sure what to expect from this film.
I wondered if it would manage to capture the magic of the other two Rocky films I had seen, or if it would be one of those terrible sequels I have heard so much about.
Thankfully, the film was not the latter because, under the guidance of director Steven Caple Jr., Creed 2 is a very hard hitting film both figuratively and literally.
Personally, I think the story of this film is better than the first Creed with the titular Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) planning to fight Viktor Drago (Florian Muteanu), the son of the man who killed his father in the ring.
Watching Adonis’ journey and the emotional and physical struggles he had to go through in this film made me relate to him a lot more than I did previously.
One thing that really surprised me about Creed 2 was how relatable the antagonists Viktor and Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) were.
I actually found myself relating a lot to their struggles just as much as Adonis’ and their arcs were just as satisfying as his.

CREED II
I was very surprised by how good a job the film did at making me sympathize with both Ivan and Viktor. Ordinarily they would have just been stereotypical bad guys so this is a welcome change. 

On the whole, I would say almost every character has grown exceptionally from the first Creed.
The one exception to this is the man himself Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) but he is still very relatable and Stallone gives another great performance as his most memorable character.
While, Creed 2 does have a great story it does not quite live up to the first Creed‘s technical mastery.
There were no shots that really wowed me like in the first film but this did not take away from the enjoyment.
Many other people in the theater I was in seemed to enjoy this film too because they were literally cheering during the final match between Adonis and Viktor.
Overall, Creed 2 is another crowd pleaser in the Rocky franchise with a great story, characters and acting.
This is also surprising for me because (and this is a secret) I do not even like boxing!

 

Attack on Titan Volume 24 Review: The Devolution of Reiner.

Chapter 95: Liar.

4 stars
Hajime Isayama’s goal for the Marley Arc so far seems to be to bring Reiner to his lowest possible point.
This started in the previous chapter, and the first one of Volume 24, “Liar,” is the continuation of this, with it going even deeper into Reiner’s backstory.
We see the rejection he experienced from his Marleyan father, which lead him to dedicate his remaining resolve to his mission and become a hero.
It does not even matter to him when Marcel reveals he badmouthed Porco so he would not become a Titan to protect him and this is the only reason Reiner became a warrior.
This once again breaks down my prior perceptions of Reiner as always being a natural born leader, with his inner thoughts at this revelation distracting him long enough for Ymir to sneak up on him, leading to Marcel sacrificing himself.
If anything, Marcel seemed to fit my original ideas about Reiner more than the man himself.
This further development of an important character and a long dead one was great and gave me a better understanding of both characters.
The flashback also delivers some Titan action, showing the Warriors training to attack Paradis with a display of all their abilities.
Among these, we get our first (and probably last) look at Marcel’s Jaw Titan, which looks very similar to his brother’s.
This seems to confirm that either their family has a special connection to this Titan or it has been enhanced, unlike with Ymir.
The rest of the chapter also delivers a few interesting reveals.
Most importantly we get the name drop of the final Titan Shifter and the family that possesses it.
This being the Warhammer Titan under the procession of the Tyber family.
According to the Warriors they are a family of Eldians who have being living the high life as honorary Marleyans but are now stepping in due to the severity of the situation.
I am interested to see what this latest Titan will be like and just how it will play into the story.
There are also a few lighter moments to go along with this as, right before this scene, Porco stumbles upon Pieck crawling on the floor because it feels “more natural” for her after spending so much time in her Titan.
This was a genuinely funny moment, made even more so by a later panel of Pieck lying on the couch like a cat.
She is definitely one of my favourites characters introduced in this arc.
Chapter 95 was an interesting one that built on Reiner’s character development and made me interested for what was to come.

Chapter 96: The Door of Hope.

4 stars
Attack on Titan 
came full circle this chapter with the flashback revealing what really happened when Reiner, Annie and Bertholdt breached the walls and in its aftermath.
This goes to show how fantastic of a writer Hajime Isayama is because of how he has changed perceptions of these characters as the manga has gone on.
When Reiner, Annie and Bertholdt were revealed as the Titans who breached the walls it made them instantly unlikable for causing so much death and destruction.
However, as the series has gone, Isayama has slowly shown us more and more of their perspective, until now we are getting the full story.
This allows us to not only understand Reiner but Annie and Bertholdt as well, and to make these characters, who we initially thought of as evil, sympathetic is a real achievement.
The three all had moments that made me sympathize with them in this chapter.
From Reiner trying to be Marcel so he can achieve his mission, to Annie crying out that she is only doing this so she can go home, to Bertholdt hilariously trying to compliment Annie and failing spectacularly.
All of these moments served to make these characters more sympathetic and relatable, something I could not imagine being done 50 chapter earlier.
Another thing I enjoyed about “The Door of Hope” was how it served to explain so much about the three’s actions inside the walls, which until now was a complete mystery.
For example, the story Bertholdt tells when he first meets Eren and Armin, about how Titans destroyed their village, is actually taken from a man who told them his story before hanging himself.
Any other writer would have just had Bertholdt make up this story but Isayama is smart enough to actually think up of explanations to things that did not need to have them yet are all the better for it.
However, while I did like a lot of the connections Isayama made to earlier points in the story, his writing did still suffer in some areas.
This was most apparent with the cliffhanger where Reiner is being yelled at by Keith Sadies on the first day of training.
This is a continuity issue because Sadies did not yell at Reiner because the look in his eyes showed he had already been hardened.
So to see Sadies yell at him in a clear breaking of continuity was a bit jarring.
Still, this was just a small moment and the rest of the chapter is great.
I especially liked the scene where the three Warriors broke the wall because it gave us their perspective as opposed to our heroes.
It brought the story full circle, right back to where it all began.

Chapter 97: From One Hand to Another.

4 and a half stars
I said in my review of Chapter 95 that Isayama’s goal with the Marley Arc was to bring Reiner down to his lowest point.
Well, Chapter 97, “From One Hand to Another” was the culmination of all this because Reiner is more broken than he has ever been this chapter.
The continuous flashback panels of Reiner’s struggles ending with the haunting image of him with a gun in his mouth, seconds away from pulling the trigger, is something that I will remember for a while.
Reiner has gone through so much amazing growth in the Marley Arc that, in just seven chapters, he has become one of my favourite characters.
He is a character that perfectly represents the impact that war and trauma can have on a person’s life, especially when it happens at such a young age.
Thankfully, Reiner’s story is not over because, in a chance of fate, Falco unknowingly manages to distract Reiner long enough to stop him from pulling the trigger.
Reiner then decides not to kill himself while he still has those kids to protect, which may hopefully lead to him finding some peace.
But, this is Attack on Titan so Reiner is probably going to suffer some more.
This seems to be confirmed with the surprise return of Eren in this chapter, who is posing as and injured war vet to infiltrate Marley.
He talks with Falco and I realised it was him pretty early into their conversation but it was still a nice reveal.
Then there was Eren’s new look with him having long hair and a faint mustache, which I enjoyed because it actually makes him look a lot like Grisha.
I am also hopeful we will get to see the other main characters and what they have been up to in the four year time skip soon because Eren has Falco deliver a letter for him.
The attempted suicide of Reiner and Eren’s return are not the only interesting things about the chapter though.
We were officially introduced to the Tyber family this chapter, including its head, Willy Tyber, who looks to be an interesting character.
Willy is revealed to actually be the secret ruler of the country, which is intriguing because he and his family are Eldians and they are ruling a country that is oppressing their own race.
The reasoning behind this will hopefully be revealed soon.
We also got a very interesting moment at the beginning of the chapter where Annie was revealed to have briefly fought Kenny during her time in the 104th Cadet Corps.
This does not really have an impact on anything but it is still interesting seeing the ways Isayama can bring long dead characters back into the story.
Overall, “From One Hand to Another” was my favourite chapter of this volume with its numerous reveals and heartbreaking scene with Reiner.

Chapter 98: Good to See.

4 and a half stars
What a way to end Volume 24 .
Chapter 98, “Good to See” is full of emotional scenes and what I believe to be numerous hints at future reveals.
What stands above all these features though is the amazing cliffhanger that has me eager to read the next volume.
After Eren was revealed to be in Marley in the previous chapter, he begins to initiate his plan, culminating in him manipulating Falco to arrange a surprise meeting between him and Reiner.
The final panels of this chapter were just fantastic because they perfectly expressed what both characters were feeling upon being reunited.
For Reiner it was shock and horror but for Eren it seemed to oddly be some degree of happiness based off his statement, “good to see you made it back home.”
The reason for Eren’s supposed happiness will hopefully be revealed in the next chapter.
Either way, this was a great way to end the volume and the scenes leading up to this moment were likewise fantastic.
Watching Eren slowly manipulate Falco was interesting, especially when it lead to him meeting his grandfather for the first time.
This was a very heartfelt scene where Eren’s grandfather reminisced on the loss of his son and daughter before suffering a mental breakdown and having to be dragged away by doctors.
However, the scene goes from heartfelt to sinister when, in the scene’s final moments, Eren picks up a baseball he told Falco was from his family and tosses it into the air.
On the surface this moment may seem insignificant but, based off things that came earlier in the chapter and the series, I believe this to be very important.
This is because at the beginning of the chapter Zeke played baseball with Colt and during the Shiganshina Arc Zeke made a reference to it when he wiped out most of the scouts.
Also, there is the fact that Eren tells Falco the baseball came from his family, which all seem to hint at Eren and Zeke having meet in secret.
If this is the case, I wonder what their meeting could have been about since both appear to be on opposite sides?
Personally, I would really like to see a scene where the two talk because we have not seen a full conversation about their family connection between the two yet.
Another hint at upcoming storylines appears to be the new character who was introduced, an Asian woman said to be from the land of Hizuru.
Given how Mikasa was the only Asian character in the story up to this point, I think there could be a possible connection, with her mother possibly coming from this land.
The woman also does seem to be on the side of the Eldians, given that she protects Udo from punishment when he accidentally spills wine on her kimono.
I also enjoyed the political commentary used with Willy in this chapter when he explains the burden of ruling his country to be like turning a wheel.
This felt very Game of Thrones inspired, which would make sense because I have heard Isayama has taken some inspiration from it.
“Good to See” was an overall great way to end Volume 24 with numerous possible hints at future reveals and a few emotional moments.
The cliffhanger alone has me excited for the next volume and was the perfect conclusion to Reiner’s arc this volume.
 

The Walking Dead Issue 186, The Power Keg Review: Well, that Escalated Quickly.

4 stars
Coming into Issue 186, “The Powder Keg,” I knew something bad was going to happen.
There had been so much build up towards something happening in previous issues that if nothing had happened it would have been a serious let down.
Thankfully, the big event that had been built up for so long occurred in this issue with Michonne betraying Rick to Pamela and then Rick being forced to shoot Dwight after he pulls a gun on the new Governor.
I had my suspicions that a character would die this issue but I never suspected it would be Dwight.
I thought he would be the one to instigate a revolution against the Commonwealth’s leadership but it seems his death will be playing that role.
However, the big shock of the chapter was not Dwight’s death but Michonne’s betrayal.
Sure, her daughter does live in the Commonwealth but I thought she would have more faith in Rick to control Dwight rather than having to sell him out to Pamela.
This was obviously a terrible idea as well because Michonne’s actions may have unintentionally set off the titular “powder keg” that will set the Commonwealth ablaze.
This is because Rick seems to have fully accepted Dwight’s ideology and now believes he chose the wrong side in the upcoming war by the end of the issue.
Still, I do not think this will turn into a war because we have already had two of them in quick succession so something new has to happen.
I wonder what that could be though?
Whatever the case, this sequence of events was very shocking and finally made me get on Dwight’s side, even if he did die.
In earlier issues I actually hated what Dwight was doing, thinking it was dangerous but now I see his reasoning behind it.
Because of the trauma he experienced at those who held onto power like Negan, Dwight judges Pamela to be no better than them and a detriment to freedom and society.
It was also easy to see why he felt this way about Pamela, due to the issue showing how she leaves dangerous Walkers around to shoot at so she can act like she is the one keeping everyone safe.
This explanation made me relate a lot to Dwight’s actions and made it all the sadder when Rick had to shoot him in a moment that was reminiscent of Dwight’s first appearance, when he murdered Abraham.
Dwight was introduced with an out of nowhere death and he departed with an out of nowhere death.
It was very fitting.
The rest of the issue is pretty decent with a touching scene between Eugene and Stephanie and a funny scene between Carl, Sophia, and the new kid Joshua.
However, there were still a few weak moments.
The first interaction between Rick and Michonne had Rick slowly coming around to Dwight’s idea, even though he had been completely against it earlier so it felt out of place.
Then there was the scene between Magna, Heath and Vincent where it was revealed Magna had been left in charge of the community even though she is a fairly new addition, compared to Heath and Vincent.
This also felt out of place.
Still, these moments were nothing major just small gripes I had.
The rest of the issue is great and seems to finally set the power keg off with the shocking death of Dwight and the even more shocking betrayal of Michonne.

The Walking Dead Season Nine, Episode Six to Mid Season Finale Discussion.

In my last The Walking Dead discussion post I talked about the departures of Maggie and Rick and how I felt they would impact the show.
I said that despite their departures the show’s future looked bright and, based on the final three episodes of this half of the season, I think I can stand by that statement.
Even though viewership is still declining, I think The Walking Dead is returning to its glory days and it will only get better as it goes on.
The show has already made improvements on its comic book counterpart, something that has not happened since season five.
This improvement can be seen in the episode after Rick’s Departure, “Who Are You Now?” where we get the official introduction of Magna (Nadia Hilker) and her group after they appeared at the end of the previous episodes.
I already think these characters are a massive improvement on their comic versions.
Magna is a lot more fleshed out and given more backstory, with it being revealed she was in prison.
Her group of Yumiko (Eleanor Matsura), Luke (Dan Fogler), Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Kelly (Angel Theory) are also made much more interesting because they are given more characteristics and a lot more to do.

Magna 3
The portrayal of Magna, Yumiko, Kelly, Connie and Luke is already better than what we have been given so far in the comics.

I also liked how this episode and the other ones place a divide between the communities.
Everything was all hunky-dory after all out war in the comics so to see such open hostilities between the communities is very interesting, especially because we do not know what caused this divide.
We do know it has something to do with the X’s carved into Daryl and Michonne’s back but not much else.
This adds a layer of mystery to the story, which I am really enjoying.
However, the seventh episode of the season “Stradivarius” is definitely the weakest of the season because, while it does continue the character growth of Magna and her group, it only slightly pushes the story forward.
It is certainly not a bad episode though, and the season not having one bad episode out of eight is definitely something the last few seasons cannot attest to.
The mid-season finale, “Evolution”, is one of the best episodes of the season, possibly only falling behind Rick’s goodbye episode “What Comes After.”
It features the moment I have been waiting for even since it happened in the comics… the reveal of the Whisperers and it does not disappoint.
The final moments of this episode felt like a horror movie and brought incredible levels of tension.
This unfortunately led to the death of Jesus.
I had heard rumors of his death before watching the episode but I was still disappointed to see him go because, just like his actor Tom Payne said, he had been badly underused up to this point.
That said, what an epic way for him to go out.
It was a masterful sequence that shocked me, even though I knew it was coming, and showed the true horror of the Whisperers.
Just as Jesus finishes killing some Walkers in an amazing use of slow motion he walks towards safety but two more stand in his way.
He takes out the first one when suddenly the second one ducks and stabs him from behind whispering in his air, “you are where you do not belong” as thunder crashes around them.

Jesus
Even though it is sad to see Jesus go he got one hell of a send off.

This was an amazing way to reveal the Whisperers because it shows how deadly they are with many unable to tell if they are Walkers or Whisperers in disguise.
We then got the intense cliffhanger of the group realizing the supposed talking Walkers are actually people wearing their skin and then hearing multiple Whisperers as they surround them before cutting to black.
And, with that, the first half of season nine comes to a close.
I have been saying for a while now that season nine was the make it or break it season for me, where the show would either recover from its dark descent or rise above it.
Thankfully, I am now certain that the show has moved past the dark times of seasons seven and eight.
Angela Kang has done an amazing job with this season and if it continues like this, it may be one of my favourite seasons of The Walking Dead.
One thing is for certain though, I cannot wait to see how the rest of the Whisperer arc plays out in the next half of the season, where we will get the much awaited arrivals of Lydia, Alpha and Beta.

Attack on Titan Volume 23 Review: Provides a Time Jump and the Worst Death of the Series.

Chapter 91: The Other Side of the Ocean.

3 and a half stars
Volume 23 takes Attack on Titan in a brand new direction, kicking off with chapter 91, which picks up four years after the battle of Shiganshina.
I had been spoiled that there would be this time skip but even I was surprised by it because I thought the story would pick up with Eren and the others but it does not.
Instead, the story focuses on Reiner, Zeke and a bunch of brand new characters who are on the opposing side to our protagonists.
From what I have read so far, this seems like an interesting way to explore the other side’s perspective but, depending on how long our main characters stay out of the story, this could be a problem.
Still, it seems to be off to a good start because this chapter delivers some already intriguing characters.
One who quickly caught my attention was Gabi, Reiner’s cousin, who actually reminds me a lot of Eren from the first few chapters of the manga.
She wants to defeat all of those against them without knowing the bigger picture just like Eren and I think it will be interesting to see how she could potentially grow from this.
Chapter 91 also provides other interesting characters like Falco, Colt and Magath.
We also get name drops for two of the Titans we have seen before the Cart Titan and Jaw Titan.
The Cart Titan is the one who helped Zeke during the Shiganshina arc and the Jaw Titan is actually Ymir’s one, although controlled by a different user now, which we will get to later.
We get a look at the new Jaw Titan in this chapter and, I have to say, it has a very cool design.
I am a little confused though as to why it looks completely different from when Ymir had the power.
Is it because they gave the controller a new power like Eren got in the Uprising Arc?
Whatever the case, I still like the design choice.
However, what I did not like about this chapter was the exposition.
Hajime Isayama is usually great at delivering it but in this chapter the way he explains the four year time skip feels very unnatural and more like the characters were filling in the reader, rather than each other.
Still, this is a promising start and I am interested in these new characters we have been given.

Chapter 92: Marley’s Soldiers.

3 and a half stars
The second chapter of Volume 23, “Marley’s Soldiers” is primarily an action one and, as a result, there is not that much to talk about.
It is still an entertaining chapter though that will look great when season four gets animated, whenever that will be.
We got a better look at the Jaw Titan in action and the Cart Titan arrived as well with operated machine guns on its back.
I like this idea a lot because it shows just how far technology has come in the time skip.
Another thing that showed this was how Reiner is so easily defeated by human weaponry when he jumps in front of Zeke to shield him from battleship fire.
All of this new technology on display shows why the Marleyans are so eager to get the Founding Titan back, because this technology is quickly surpassing them and they need the Founding Titan to stop this.
Along with the action in this chapter, we also get a small amount of character development for Reiner and a first hint at a major reveal.
Reiner flashing back to his time behind the walls and then stating that “walls disgust me” shows just how much his time on Paradis affected him.
Then the best moment of the chapter came when Zeke turns a whole bunch of comatose people into Titans just by screaming.
This explains why all those Titans suddenly appeared at the beginning of the Shiganshina arc.
Overall, Chapter 92 was another good one that added small bits of character growth and a hint at a huge reveal to go along with the exciting action.

Chapter 93: Midnight Train.

3 stars
Even though I will admit Chapter 93, “Midnight Train” is a good chapter, when I was reading it I was absolutely infuriated.
The reason for this was because we got the death of Ymir in this chapter and it is the worst death of the entire series by a wide margin.
It is revealed that when Ymir went with Reiner and Bertholdt she was eaten by the brother of the Shifter she ate, Porco Galliard, who became the new Jaw Titan.
Personally, I think killing Ymir at this point was a huge mistake.
There are still things we do not know about her, like what the language she read at Utgard Castle was.
Also, Ymir is probably the character most connected to the first Titan Shifter, Ymir Fritz, because she pretended to be her reincarnation.
This gave her a lot of potential to reveal some game changing stuff and now that potential is gone.
This is not why I was angered though.
The real reason for this is because she dies off screen.
All we get is Galliard saying he inherited her power and a still image of Ymir chained up, about to be eaten by him.
That is it.
Isayama is amazing at giving even the most minor of characters amazing deaths but he did not even bother with Ymir and, as a fan of her character, this felt like a huge slap in the face.
The rest of the chapter is admittedly good, with numerous interesting reveals like the one where it is revealed it is Zeke’s royal blood that allows him to control the Titans he transforms.
We also got to officially meet Galliard and the controller of the Cart Titan, Pieck, for the first time.
Then there is Reiner, whose PTSD is treated brilliantly and it all concludes with a fantastic ending where Reiner aims to protect Gabi by urging Falco to inherit the Armoured Titan.
This was all great stuff and redeemed the chapter.
However, even though this was good, the main takeaway of this this chapter for me is still the absolutely terrible death Ymir was given.
I hope they fix this in the anime by giving her an actual death scene.

Chapter 94: The Boy Inside the Walls.

4 stars
Attack on Titan 
finally started to give us the backstory of Reiner Braun in this chapter and I was honestly surprised by it.
Seeing Reiner at the beginning of the manga I thought he was always a qualified leader. However, after seeing his backstory, this is clearly not the case.
In this chapter Reiner is actually revealed to have initially been the weakest of the Warriors, with various other recruits, like Galliard, calling him useless.
Seeing this hopeless side to Reiner was great because it adds further complexities to him and, just like with Gabi in Chapter 91, reminds me a lot of Eren.
Both had big goals as children, Eren wanting to explore the outside world and Reiner wanting to save it, but they did not know the full story.
This is perfectly shown with the amazing end to the chapter, which sees Reiner training to be a warrior who will attack the walls before transitioning to a bored Eren inside the walls wondering when something interesting will happen.
It is stuff like this that makes me eager to see Eren and Reiner reunite, hopefully sometime soon.
In this flashback we also got a look at Bertholdt and Annie again, which is good for some nostalgia as Bertholdt died in the Shiganshina arc and Annie is… well, who knows?
Along with this, we finally got to see the infamous “home town” Reiner and Bertholdt kept mentioning, which is an internment zone for Eldians reminiscent of Jewish internment camps in World War Two.
It is here we see to the fullest extent how successfully the Marleyans have brainwashed the Eldians into believing those on Paradis are devils.
It was very disheartening to see these people brainwashed into believing they are right to be persecuted.
This is shown not only through how everyone at Reiner’s dinner table talk about those on Paradis but also with how Reiner talks about them.
It was honestly kind of funny but also sad to see Reiner warping innocent things he saw on Paradis, like Sasha stealing a potato, into something monstrous.
“The Boy Behind the Walls” was a great way to end the volume and makes me hope we get more of Reiner’s backstory soon.

Red Dead Redemption 2: The Prequel that is Named Like a Sequel.

4 and a half stars
Rockstar Games have done it again with Red Dead Redemption 2, the prequel that is named like a sequel.
Picking up many years before the events of the first game, Red Dead Redemption 2 follows the fall of the Van der Linde gang through the eyes of new protagonist Arthur Morgan, voiced by Roger Clark, in a 60 hour plus story.
After spending around three weeks playing this game, I can honestly say this is one of the best games Rockstar has ever made.
The animation quality on this game is top notch and I spent so much time just staring at the incredible landscapes the game could produce.
On top of this, Red Dead Redemption 2  is, without a doubt, the most realistic game ever made with various activities like skinning an animal happening in real time and players having to maintain their guns.
Some have argued that this hinders the experience but I found that these realistic attributes did not do this for me because it did bring me into the world more.

Red Dead 2 landscape.jpg
Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most beautiful games out there and enabling he cinematic camera really shows this off.

However, what did hinder the experience for me was the controls and camera, which could sometimes get a bit aggravating.
During one of the big in-game fists fights the camera got stuck in an area and I could not see what was happening for about 30 seconds.
On top of this, it is extremely easy to become wanted in this game and, unlike other Rockstar games, being hunted down comes across as a nuisance.
I also did encounter a few glitches here and there but, thankfully, nothing game breaking.
Still, these moments of lackluster gameplay were few and far between as most of the gameplay was full of gripping action set pieces, beautiful landscapes, and the most realistic moments in gaming.
This is all complimented by the brilliant story, which follows the tale of redemption for Arthur Morgan (if you play honorably this is).
Arthur is easily one of my favourite protagonists in gaming, with layers and complexities that are explored all the way to the end.

Arthur Morgan
Arthur Morgan is an extremely relatable protagonist, especially if you choose to send him down the path of redemption, which provides a very fitting end to his story, in my opinion.

Arthur is not the only amazing character though, as many members of the gang are explored upon and given development.
What I especially loved was that almost none of these characters were the walking talking stereotypes that have become typical in Rockstar Games.
These types of characters are very difficult to relate to but Rockstar have rightly decided to avoid them this time by making each character have relatable moments.
Watching Dutch Van der Linde’s (Benjamin Byron Davis) fall from grace and John Marston’s (Rob Wiethoff) journey to get to the point he is at the beginning of the first Red Dead Redemption was a true delight.
Unfortunately, the 60 hour story does cause it to drag in some places.
For example, the chapter that takes place in Guarma feels very out of place with the rest of the game.
Sure, it does add to Dutch’s development but this could easily have been done elsewhere.
But, even though it does drag in places, the story of Red Dead Redemption 2 was nothing short of enthralling with an emotional conclusion to Arthur’s story.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is an amazing game that may have a few gameplay and story problems but its otherwise fantastic attributes more than make up for this.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – A Convoluted Mess.

two-and-a-half-stars
Harry Potter 
is one of the most beloved book and movie series of all time so any continuation of it would naturally be compared to the older series.
While the first film in this new series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was nothing spectacular, I still thought it was a good place to start and would get better as it went on.
Sadly, this was not the case because I found the latest installment in the Wizarding World, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gindelwald directed by David Yates, to be a frustrating mess.
The reason for this frustration was because I could see so many elements of a good film here but it just got dragged down by how convoluted the plot got with its way too large roster of characters and how messily this plot was handled.
The characters are easily some of the most egregious parts of the film for me because it felt like so many of them could have and should have been cut.
Characters like Nagini (Claudia Kim), Nicolas Flamel (Brontis Jodorowsky), and Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam), either offered nothing to the plot or made the story unnecessarily complicated.

Nagini.jpg
I will admit that when she first appeared I did find Nagini’s backstory interesting, but after this point she does nothing and becomes ultimately pointless.

Kama was a perfect example of this because his only purpose in the movie was to deliver one of the worst cases of expositional dialogue I had ever seen with it being extremely convoluted and offering nothing in the grand scheme of the story.
What is worse is that these unnecessary additions take away from the main characters’ development.
For example, Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander is treated very poorly.
He is given a brother and maybe a former love interest in this film but neither seem to contribute to his arc in a meaningful way.
This arc, from Newt not wanting to fight Grindelwald, to him choosing to do so, was ruined by his lack of development given by this messy plot.
On top of this, I have no idea why Jude Law’s Dumbledore tasked him with fighting Grindelwald in the first place.
If anything, Newt is a wizarding zoologist and that does not seem like the right job requirements to take on a dark lord.

Newt.jpg
Newt is a likeable character and Redmayne plays him well but he just does not fit as the hero taking on an evil wizard hellbent on world domination. 

This is all such a shame because there were moments of brilliance in the film. The opening few minutes and final action sequence are very enjoyable, the final twist is a great one, and a couple of characters do have meaningful arcs.
None of these characters are poorly acted either, with Johnny Depp giving the best performance of the film as the charismatically evil Grindelwald.
It is just that the writing for this film has too much going on and is so convoluted that it drags all of it down.
This is quite a shock, since the film was written by J.K Rowling, the original writer of the Harry Potter series.
If The Crimes of Grindelwald does get a sequel, hopefully this time it will give the story more breathing room.

BoJack Horseman Season Four: Grab the Tissues for This One.

5 stars
Wow, what a roller coaster of emotions this season was.
BoJack Horseman has always been a show that has tackled adult themes like the impact of stardom and depression but season four presents these themes in ways it never has before.
Picking up from the depressing, yet somewhat hopeful, cliffhanger from the previous season, BoJack Horseman season four features many obstacles for its numerous characters.
Princess Carolyn is trying to get pregnant, Mr Peanutbutter is running for Governor leaving Diane to deal with the mess, BoJack finds out he has a daughter and tries to help her find her mother, and Todd is… well, Todd.
To be honest Todd does not go through much this season development wise, even though he has an episode focused on him, but he is still incredibly entertaining.
Along with this, all the other characters have such meaningful journeys in this season that made me connect with them in ways I never had before.

BoJack and his mother.jpg
Season four added layers to so many characters, even minor ones like BoJack’s mother Beatrice (Wendie Malick). 

Princess Carolyn attempting to get pregnant and how this evolved over the season revealed an amazing amount of layers to her.
Mr Peanutbutter and Diane’s struggles highlighted both the highs and lows of their relationship.
Finally there was BoJack’s storyline with his recently discovered daughter, which was by far the most impactful.
Not only was their relationship beautifully done but it also shined a light on BoJack’s family history and the cycle of abuse that has been going on from the days of his grandparents.
This resulted in BoJack’s mother Beatrice also being expanded upon, with the season explaining why she was such a cruel mother to BoJack.
This made her sympathetic, even though she is still a terrible person.
As for BoJack’s daughter Hollyhock Manheim-Mannheim-Gurrero-Robin… OK, I am not even going to attempt to say that.
Anyway, as for Hollyhock, she is another fantastic addition to the cast who I hope sticks around.

BoJack and Hollyhawk.jpg
Seeing BoJack try to forger a relationship with his daughter Hollyhock was very moving and the had me tearing up by the end of the final episode.

The whole storyline with BoJack and his family provided some of the best episodes of the entire series.
Episode two, “The Old Sugarman Place”, brilliantly blended flashbacks into the present story and delivered an emotional ending.
Episode six, “Stupid Piece of Sh*t”, had probably the best representation of depression the show has had.
Episode eleven, “Time’s Arrow”, delivered a mind blowing twist that had me shook.
Then there was the last episode of the season, “What Time is Right Now”, which you had better bring tissues too.
The last scene of that episode is probably my favourite in all of BoJack Horseman, delivering a beautiful ending to an already powerful season that left me in tears of joy.
Oh yeah, and the comedy was spot on too, I guess.
What can I say though?
It is very rare for a show like BoJack Horseman‘s emotional moments to be so fantastic that they completely outshine the comedy but this is what happened.
Season four of BoJack Horseman is the best season of the show so far and if you have not watched the series yet you NEED to.
My one concern is that the hopeful note the season ends on will probably result in more depressing stuff in the next.

 

Attack on Titan Volume 22 Review: Possibly Marks the end of Season Three.

Chapter 87: Borderline.

5 stars
“Borderline” came right after my favourite chapter of Attack on Titan, “That Day” so it had some huge shoes to fill if it wanted to compete with it.
The chapter sure did come close though, with more mind blowing reveals that I cannot wait to see animated.
Picking up from the previous chapter where Grisha and Dina were turned in by Zeke to the Marleyan Authorities, the two are taken to Paradis to be turned into Titans where we get some huge twists.
It turns out that many of the Eldia Restorationists are actually Titans we have seen before in the series.
The majority of them are the ones who attacked Eren during the battle of Trost where he was eaten.
Most shocking of all, Dina is revealed to be the Smiling Titan who ate Eren’s mother.
While, this was a huge shock to read, at the time I did wonder what purposed this served to the story other than it being a random twist but the true point is revealed later in the volume.
Accompanying this shocking twist was a fantastic panel, which showed half of Grisha and Eren’s face as they both reacted to Dina becoming the Smiling Titan in the past and present.
After this, The final twist of the volume reveals Kruger to be the Owl, which I had my suspicions about, and he kills the cruel Marleyan soldier Gross before turning into a Titan and going on a rampage.
The death of Gross is in my opinion one of the most satisfying moments of the entire series.
This is surprising, considering he was only around for two chapters but when you take into account what he did it explains this satisfaction.
I know a lot of people say there are no evil characters in Attack on Titan but Gross is the exception to this.
Evil is the only word to describe a person who feeds a little girl to dogs and feels no guilt about it whatsoever.
However, Gross’ reasoning for this did lead to another interesting revelation.
Gross reveals that only Eldians can turn into Titans and describes this as their “true form.”
On top of all these reveals the chapter also provides emotional growth for Grisha when he thinks about what a terrible father he was to Zeke and how he made the same mistakes as his father by pushing his views on him.
“Borderline” was another fantastic chapter for Attack on Titan in a long line of them.

Chapter 88: The Attack Titan.

4 and a half stars
Just when I thought there could not be anymore explosive reveals after the previous two chapters multitude of them, Chapter 88 “The Attack Titan” delivered even more.
First it is revealed that Kruger’s first name is Eren, with our Eren actually being named after him, and then it is revealed that all Titan Shifters die 13 years after they get their powers from what is known as Ymir’s Curse.
The second reveal is by far the most impactful because it sets time limits for all of its characters with Titan Shifting abilities.
Eren, for example, only has eight years to live while Armin, who recently took the Colossal Titan power, has 13.
This adds a new layer of tension to all of the Titan Shifter characters because this means, unless Isayama delivers a twist where the curse can be prevented, all of them will die by the end of the series.
However, even though this does add tension, it raises a pretty significant plot hole.
In “Bystander” Keith Sadies said that Grisha arrived 20 years ago.
However, going by the rules of Ymir’s Curse this is cannot be right.
Grisha came inside the walls after inheriting Eren Kruger’s Titan so he would have lived behind the walls for 13 years before passing on his power to Eren and five years have passed in the current story since then.
This would mean Grisha must have lived there for 18 years so there are two years unaccounted for.
This is a plot hole but, then again, it could be set-up for a plot twist by Isayama.
You never know with him.
There were also a few extra reveals to prevent any plot holes, like when Eren states that if a Titan Shifter dies of Ymir’s Curse then their power immediately goes to a random Eldian baby.
Apart from all the reveals, the other great feature this chapter had was all the great character development, from Mikasa’s reaction to Ymir’s Curse, to Eren Kruger’s backstory.
It is revealed he had to watch his family burn alive, which motivated him to spy on Marley from the inside, forcing him to commit many atrocious crimes towards innocent people to keep the act going.
From what we have seen of him, Kruger is a very interesting character and it is a shame we will probably not see more of him because he is eaten by Grisha off screen.
Kruger also presents some very interesting information about Ymir Fritz, which may be of importance, including mentioning a theory that she got her powers from “the source of all organic material”, whatever that means.
He also states what is already one of my favourite quotes from the series, ““anyone can become a god or a devil. All it takes is for someone to claim that to be the truth.”
The chapter ends with the name of the Titan Grisha inherits and then later passes down to Eren being revealed as the Attack Titan.
I cannot be sure but I am pretty certain this is a reference to the title of the series Attack on Titan, which is a nice addition.
Overall, “The Attack Titan” was another great chapter that filled in the backstory and added real stakes, even if it also introduced a plot hole.

Chapter 89: Meeting.

4 stars
This chapter was an interesting one when it comes to chronology because it was here that Ymir(the second one, not the one who created the Titans)’s backstory was finally revealed in the manga.
Her backstory was actually revealed earlier in season two of the anime in the episode “Children”, which is one of my favourite episodes.
However, in comparison, the way the manga reveals Ymir’s backstory is nowhere near as impactful as it is in the anime.
Sure, it does make more sense for it to be revealed in a letter to Historia rather than her own inner reflection but in the manga this backstory feels more like a way for Isayama to tie up loose ends rather than to add to Ymir’s character development.
The artwork during this sequence was still solid though, especially when Ymir woke up, but it did not have the sense of empowerment and character growth that it did in the anime.
In short, the backstory reveal in the manga is not bad and I still liked it but the anime greatly improved on it.
The letter itself was still very emotional with Ymir saying goodbye to Historia and declaring her love for her.
What I did find disappointing about the letter though was that Ymir confirms she will be dead by the time Historia reads this.
If Ymir really does die it will feel like a missed opportunity to me because I have always felt like she is the series’ most underused character (next to Annie who I barely care about anymore).
If she does die, I hope it is in a meaningful way that ties up her arc nicely.
On the other hand, one thing I enjoyed about this moment was Historia’s reaction to Ymir’s letter.
In a single panel, barely noticeable, we see a tear slowly go down Historia’s cheek, which she tries to cover up when her friends arrive, showing just so close she is to falling apart at the news of Ymir’s potential death.
The rest of “Meeting” was also great, especially with the meeting where everyone discussed what they had learned from Eren’s basement.
Eren realizing he could use the Founding Titan’s briefly because he came into contact with Dina, who had royal blood, was a great reveal.
Before this I was concerned that Dina being the Smiling Titan was just for shock value so I am glad Isayama made this play a role in the story.
It also led to the funny scene where Eren tries to underplay his reaction to this as because of puberty, which was a bit of a recurring joke.
However, what is not funny is the implications this has for Historia because she is also of royal blood.
This seems to set up Eren eating Historia in the future to use the Founding Titan’s abilities, which would be devastating.
However, Eren seems dedicated to protecting Historia so hopefully he will manage to do so.
Then there is the final moments of the chapter, which is without a doubt the biggest WTF moment of the series and is either a really good thing or a really bad thing.
In a flashback, Kruger talks to Grisha about Mikasa and Armin who had not been born yet.
This appears to be heavily implying that Titan Shifters can see into the future as well as the past, which, depending on how it plays into the story, could be a fantastic twist or a jump the shark moment.
I am hoping for the first one.

Chapter 90: To the Other Side of the Wall.

5 stars
After 90 chapters of build-up the ocean was finally reached by Eren, Armin and the others.
This looks to be where the second-half of season three will end, due to the multiple cases of foreshadowing towards the ocean.
Personally, I think this will be a brilliant way to end the season based on the reveal of it in this chapter.
The ocean has always been a symbol of hope for Eren and Mikasa, and especially Armin but, as Eren expertly points out at the end of the chapter, this hope is false because on the other side of the ocean everyone wants them dead.
This results in the final few powerful panels where Eren wonders if they will finally be free after they defeat their enemies and a sea shell is shown in Armin’s hand symbolizing this small hope.
It is a beautiful scene that I cannot wait to see in the anime.
The rest of the chapter is just as solid, presenting this same feeling of hope and dread throughout.
As those inside the walls celebrate retaking Wall Maria and discovering the truth of what is out there, multiple things point to this celebration being short lived.
Floch questions why Armin was chosen to take on the Colossal Titan instead of Erwin, Eren experiences a memory from Grisha of Fay’s mutilated body, and, when kissing Historia’ hand in a ceremony, he experiences the moment right before his father killed her family.
All of this hints towards the cruelty of the world they live in, despite the celebrations and signs of hope that are present.
The constant clashing of the themes of hope and cruelty in this chapter all point towards the greater themes of the story so far and make for another fantastic chapter, especially with the ocean reveal.