My Hero Academia, Season Four, Episode One Review: The first episode is here!… And it’s filler.

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My Hero Academia season four is finally here but off to a less than stellar start.
That is not to say that the first episode “The Scoop on U.A Class 1-A” is bad but it is a filler episode that is mainly used as a recap.
Now, for viewers who do not keep up with the story of My Hero Academia and need to be reminded of what has happened, episodes like this are necessary.
However, for those of us who keep up with the story and remember what happened at the end of season three, like me, recap episodes like “The Scoop on U.A Class 1-A” can be a bit annoying.
While there is a some enjoyment in the story of reporter Tokuda Taneo looking for All Might’s successor, it is clear that he will probably never reappear in the story again and, even if he does, it will likely not be in any meaningful way.
Although, I will say the filler of  “The Scoop on U.A Class 1-A” is at least entertaining because of the humor.
I burst out into laughter twice when watching this episode, with the anime original jokes really hitting a home run.
These comedic moments, along with more set up for Deku eventually taking All Might’s place as the new Symbol of Peace, were enough to keep me engaged in this mostly filler episode.
As for the new intro and outro, I thought they were both very good.
The intro, “Polaris,” is a great song with a lot of very good visuals, my favourite of which being when we see Deku and Eri falling from the sky trying to reach one another.
There is also a lot of symbolism for what is going to happen later in the Overhaul Arc, which I enjoyed.
One aspect that I did not like about the new intro, though, is its lack of emphasis on Mirio, Kirishima, and even the main villain of this arc, Overhaul.
These characters only appeared in group or fighting shots, and very briefly, so you would not guess from looking at the opening that they have a big role in this storyline.
Aside from that, though, “Polaris” is an enjoyable opening.
The same can also be said for the outro, “Koukai no Uta,” which is a really good song with great visuals and symbolism.
More than anything, the outro highlights the importance of Eri in this arc, with her being a character I am looking forward to seeing very much because she will be the center of many emotional scenes.
Overall, though, the first episode of My Hero Academia‘s fourth season, “The Scoop on U.A Class 1-A” is a decent filler episode.
There is enjoyment to be had but if you don’t watch it and just skip to the next episode you will not miss anything.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie Review. The Fitting Conclusion we didn’t Know we Needed.

4 stars
Breaking Bad 
is one of the greatest television series of all time.
The story of chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) deciding to break bad by selling Meth, after he receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, is a thrilling one of crime, betrayal, and amazing moments.
It also has an incredibly well done ending.
Unfortunately, when it comes to many other great TV shows, they fizzle out during the final seasons, resulting in many less than stellar finales.
This is, thankfully, not the case with the Breaking Bad finale, which tied up all of its loose ends perfectly.
Such can be seen with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), who rode off into the night, towards an ambiguous but optimistic future.

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Jesse driving off laughing and crying hysterically is the last we saw of him until El Camino.

No follow up was required.
And then the Netflix movie was announced.
Honestly, when I first heard of El Camino and how it would finish Jesse’s story, I was concerned.
Even though it is directed by Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad‘s creator, to me, Jesse’s story had already been told and I was worried that adding anything could ruin the stellar ending he had.
But, a few days ago, I watched El Camino and found it to be a great follow up to that ending.
It also preserved the ambiguous but fitting conclusion for Jesse, which I really appreciated.
El Camino follows Jesse after being freed from Jack’s white supremacist gang in a final, sacrificial act from Walter, leading to him trying to find the money he needs to start a new life.

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Aaron Paul is great as Jessie, struggling through trial after trial to hopefully get somewhere better.

From there, Jesse experiences interference after hectic interference with him being helped and stalled by familiar characters from the series.
It was good to see these characters again, like Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), Badger (Matt Jones), and Ed the disappearer, whose actor Robert Forster tragically died from cancer recently.
However, while it was great to see old characters return, some of them look very different to how they did in the show, which can be quite distracting.
This is especially the case for the shilling sociopathic Todd Alquist, whose actor Jesse Plemons does not match how he looked in the series.

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As you can see Todd looks quite different from how he appeared in “Felina” the final episode of Breaking Bad.

Despite this distracting detail, though, Plemons scenes with Aaron Paul are some of the best in the film.
There is also a mini action scene toward the end that I found quite surprising because of the direction it took, making it highly entertaining.
This said, not everyone will find El Camino to be so enjoyable, like I did, because of its slow pace.
Still, for fans of Breaking Bad it is a must watch.
El Camino wraps up the story of Jessie Pinkman in a fitting way that does not ruin the original series’ ending, giving us the conclusion for Jessie we did not know we needed.

 

Ranking The Walking Dead Telltale Seasons.

With Telltale’s The Walking Dead releasing a Definitive Series, I thought it best to buy it and play the seasons I had never got around to.
And, boy, was it an emotional ride.
I forgot how great the writing was for this game series (for the most part), and that made me decide I had to rank each season from the weakest to the best.
So, let’s get into it, starting with what I think is the weakest season.

4. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier.

A New Frontier

A New Frontier is definitely the black sheep of all the Telltale’s The Walking Dead seasons.
It just does not live up to the quality of the other three.
Picking up years after Season Two, the third season follows playable character Javier Garcia in his efforts to save his family in the apocalypse.
After meeting Clementine, he learns of the titular New Frontier, a bad community who raid other communities for supplies.
Working with Clem and other survivors, Javier moves to take down the leadership of the dangerous The New Frontier to protect his family.
Now, although this plot does sound interesting, there is sadly not that much to it.
In fact, I found there was very little that stood out about A New Frontier. 
It was not bad, just very forgettable.
Almost none of the new characters are interesting, Clementine is relegated to a side character, the choices are way too easy, there is a few instances of bad writing, and the animation just looks really off.
This is most apparent in Clementine’s flashback scenes where characters like Kenny and Jane look atrocious.
Speaking of them, though, this is where my most hated part of A New Frontier comes in, which is the way it picks up from the great ending of season two.
Literally all of your choices in that ending are made completely pointless in the first episode.
If you saved Kenny or Jane both will die horribly written deaths in a flashback scene and Clementine will always end up in the same place before meeting Javi.
Now, with all my negatives out of the way, I will get into the few positives I have.
I like Javi as the playable character, comic book character Jesus was a nice addition, Conrad is a great example of a determinant character, and the resolution between Javi and David is well written if you make the right choices.
And those are pretty much the only positive things I have to say about A New Frontier.
Everything else about it is either bad or forgettable.
Thankfully, the other seasons are on a completely different level to season three.

3. The Walking Dead: Season Two.

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It was very hard to choose between season two and the one that came in at number two.
Both are great seasons but, at the end of the day, what put season two in the third spot is its fourth episode, “Amid the Ruins.”
This is one of the worst episodes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead because of how aimless the plot feels and how absolutely no choice you make makes any difference.
If it had not been for this episode, though, season two would have easily taken the second spot because the other episodes are fantastic.
The first episode is a decent set-up episode with some great moments, but episodes two, three and five are amazing.
Episode two, “A House Divided” has a lot of intense moments but also some heartwarming ones with the return of fan favourite character Kenny.
Episode three, “In Harm’s Way” has a feeling of dread throughout as Clementine and her group attempt to escape the maniacal Carver.
And, finally, episode five “No Going Back” has one of the hardest decisions in the entire series, which results in a great ending.
This is all helped by a switch to playing as Clementine in this season, which really gives you the feeling of being a little girl in the apocalypse, even if it is a bit weird that said girl is the one making all the tough choices.
Overall, season two is an amazing season with some of the best episodes of the series.
If it had not been for the awful episode four it would have been higher on the list.

2. The Walking Dead: The Final Season.

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After the highly problematic A New Frontier, many people were concerned that season four would be just as poorly done.
Thankfully, the final season is actually amazing, being the second best season of the game series.
The story is basically a reversal of season one, with Clementine looking after the young A.J just like Lee looked after her.
Playing as Clementine, you have to guide A.J through the apocalyptic world, teaching him how to survive and who to become.
A.J is also a great character which makes their bond all the more touching.
Along with him, the other characters introduced in this season are also well done, particularly Louis and Violet who are both possible love interests for Clementine and have great chemistry with her.
The episodes are all fantastic this season, with the best episode definitely being the third, “Broken Toys,” which is one of the best in the entire series.
Then there is the final episode “Take Us Back,” which, while still not as amazing as the penultimate “Broken Toys,” is very emotional and resolves Clementine’s story perfectly.
This season even incorporates gameplay that adds a lot to the experience, even if it is nothing special compared to other games.
Honestly, the only big problem I have with the season does not even have to do with the game itself.
That problem is the horrendous treatment of the Telltale Games employees who were let go with no warning after the company shutdown mid-way through the final season.
Thankfully, Skybound was able to finish the season but that does not change that fact that so many people lost their jobs without a moment’s notice.
This shameful event will remain a blotch on an otherwise fantastic season that ended the series and Clementine’s story right.

1. The Walking Dead: Season One.

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As many of you probably expected, I consider season one to be the best Telltale Games Walking Dead season.
I remember when this game first got big and everyone was talking about it.
I played it and found it to be an emotional experience, but I honestly did not expect to be that invested when playing it for the Definitive Series because I knew what would happen.
You know what, though?
I still found season one to be incredibly heartfelt and sometimes tear inducing.
Playing as Lee trying to defend Clementine in a world of the undead is just as engaging as it was all those years ago when I first played it.
This is supported by the great bond between the two, and the excellent story, characters, and choices.
Probably the only bad thing I can say about season one is that it has not aged well gameplay wise.
When I was playing the second episode, I encountered a glitch that has been there for years, with no effort to fix, and it really drew me out of the moment.
Aside from this, and a few other glitches, though, season one of The Walking Dead is a masterpiece of a game.
There are so many amazing episodes, like the intense “Starved for Help,” and emotionally devastating “No Time Left,” which still makes me cry by the end.
Watching Clementine and Lee’s bond grow throughout this game and influencing that relationship with the choices will always be a joy.
It is for this and many other reasons that I consider season one to be the best season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead.

Joker Review: Amazing Film, Annoying Controversy.

5 stars
When I first heard that there would be a Joker origin film, I was pretty concerned.
The Joker is usually depicted as a character with an unclear and self described “multiple choice” backstory, so I felt it would be weird to give him a clear one.
And then I saw the trailers, which absolutely floored me.
Everything about the movie looked great in those trailers, from Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, to the story, to the cinematography.
However, I still went into the film with a touch of hesitation because I have seen plenty of movies with amazing trailer that turned out to not be very good (I am looking at you Godzilla: King of the Monsters).
But, you know what?
The trailers were accurate.
Joker is an absolutely incredible movie and Phoenix and director Todd Phillips deserve all the praise for it.
The film tells the story of Arthur Fleck, an impoverished man who lives with his mentally unwell mother (Frances Conroy), and has a disorder that causes him to laugh uncontrollably when he is nervous.

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Arthur’s laughing disorder was a stroke of genius, with it being painfully evident how much is hurts him both socially and physically.

As Arthur get beaten down by society again and again, he begins to hit back in increasingly violent ways, eventually leading to him becoming the infamous Joker.
First of all, I have to praise Phoenix for his amazing performance here.
He definitely deserves to get nominated for an Oscar, at the very least.
I was equal parts terrified of him and sympathetic towards him throughout the course of the film.

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Phoenix’s portrayal of the Joker is right up there with Heath Ledger and Mark Hamill in levels of greatness.

And, (I shouldn’t have to say this but I have to) no, Arthur being sympathetic does not glorify the violence he commits.
There is so much controversy surrounding Joker that I feel it has hit the height of absurdity.
At no time does it feel like the film is condoning Arthur’s horrific and evil actions, rather it portrays them in a tragic light with his slow descent into madness.
Arthur may think his life is a comedy by the film’s end but it is definitely a tragedy in my eyes, with the film commenting on the role society, as a whole, has to play in what he becomes.
The film does not encourage violent people to strike out against society, rather it shows society the consequences of not getting help for these people, serving as a cautionary tale.
And, with that, my rant about the ridiculous controversy is over and I can get on with the rest of the review.
Along with Phoenix’s performance, there are many other brilliant things about the film.
The story takes many interesting twists and turns, with other actors Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz doing great jobs.
Along with this, the film is supported by the amazing cinematography and soundtrack, which are both also Oscar as well.

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The way the cinematography frames Arthur as he slowly begins to transform into the Joker across the film is brilliantly handled.

Hildur Guðnadóttir, who also composed the Chernobyl miniseries soundtrack, wrote the soundtrack for Joker and it is absolutely flawless.
It was not something I was expecting to be so entranced by going in so it was a very pleasant surprise.
If I had to give any criticisms to the film it would be the ending, specifically the final scene.
I distinctly remember sitting in the theater, being absolutely enthralled by the second to last scene and thinking, “if it ends here then this movie will be a masterpiece.”
However, the movie does not end there because there is an additional scene that, at first, I did not really appreciate.
After looking up some info about the ending, though, I do see what Phillips was trying to convey with it.
I still think the movie should have ended with that second to last scene because it really helped to emphasize the tragedy of Arthur Fleck.
That said, though, I cannot say that the final scene was bad or that it did not work within the context of the film, so I won’t be deducting any points from it.
Overall, Joker is my favourite film of the year so far.
It is dark, twisted, and deeply uncomfortable, but in all the right ways.

Attack on Titan Chapter 122, From You, 2000 Years Ago Review: The Tragedy of Ymir Fritz.

5 stars
I was excited coming into Attack on Titan chapter 122, but nothing could have prepared me for how amazing it is.
Hajime Isayama has done it again, delivering another mind blowing chapter that is already among my favourite chapters in the entire manga.
Right from the beginning, I knew we were in for something big as it started off with a flashback to when Historia was first told about Ymir Fritz by her sister, Frieda.
Then there is the title, “From You, 2000 Years Ago”, which is very similar to the title of the first chapter in the manga “To You, in 2000 Years” showing just how well Isayama planned this story out.
This was a great way to start a mostly flashback chapter that went on to detail the short and tragic life of Ymir, and semi-explained the origin of the Titans.
I feel like I have said this before but it needs repeating, I love the way Isayama subverts out expectations.
Back when we first learned of Ymir in Grisha’s flashback chapters, we all assumed she was a powerful leader who created Eldia, whether her intentions were bad like Marley claimed or not.
However, now we know that Ymir was nothing more than a slave, brainwashed into serving a cruel king who would go on to rape her and have their children eat her body after she died protecting him.
Ymir’s life is incredibly sad, with it getting so much worse after she became the first Titan, even though she had so much power.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about how Ymir became the Founding Titan in the first place.
After she set some pigs free, King Fritz lets her go free as well only to send a hunting party after her for sport.
An injured Ymir then comes across a massive tree, which looks like the energy tree in the Titan realm.
She attempts to hide in a crack in the tree but falls into a hole of water and nearly drowns.
But then, it happens.
A weird spinal column looking object rises towards her sinking body and touches her, transforming her into a gigantic, and the very first, Titan Shifter.
Now, what exactly this thing that gives Ymir her power is we cannot be completely sure.
Best guess is that it is “the source of all organic material” as Eren Kruger put it but, beyond that, we don’t know.
I don’t really expect Isayama to expand any more on this but, personally, I think this may be for the best.
I don’t think any full explanation of what started the Titans could be satisfying so it is probably better he keep it vague.
One thing I am sure of, though, is that the origin of the Titans is heavily based off Norse mythology, which has been a constant source of inspiration for Attack on Titan.
This influence is clear with the nine realms that represent the nine Titans and the nine survivors at Shiganshina, along with Ymir being representative of the Ymir from the mythology.
Now, there is the massive tree Ymir gets her powers in and is also seen in the Path Dimension, which is based off the world tree Yggdrasil.
It is because of this tree that Ymir becomes the first Titan, a gigantic monster with a skull-like face and ribs sticking out.
King Fritz then uses her to conquer other nations like Marley and kick start the Eldian Empire’s rise to power.
For a long time, I have considered the only truly evil character in Attack on Titan to be Gross, the man who fed Grisha’s little sister to the dogs.
Well, he just got joined by King Fritz, a truly despicable human being who sadly does not get his comeuppance.
Instead, he apparently dies peacefully, urging his three daughters Maria, Rose and Shina, who have inherited Ymir’s power, to continue this inheritance with their own children, eventually resulting in the nine Titan Shifters.
Before this, though, came the horrifying inheritance of Ymir’s abilities by her daughters.
Just like how the season two outro spoiled it, Maria, Rose and Shina were forced to eat their own mother’s dead body to gain the Titan powers in a sickening image.
I think it is safe to say that, in just one chapter, Isayama has made Ymir the most tragic character in all of Attack on Titan. 
Enslaved from a young age, accidentally gaining a massive power, forced to marry a cruel ruler and have his children, only to die and for him to feed her body to their children, and still work as a slave from the Path Dimension, building Titans over what must feel like millions of years for her.
This immense and tragic fate she is given is illustrated by the panel of her building the millions of Colossal Titan for the walls with just a bucket of sand.
From here, the scene changes to the present, with Eren having caught Ymir in an embrace, telling her she is a human being not a slave and is free to choose what she wants.
This is contrasted by Zeke screaming at her to follow his orders because he has royal blood.
And then, for the first time, we get a look at Ymir’s eyes… and she cries.
The panel of this moment was beautifully drawn, showing just how far Isayama has come since his early days when his artwork was honestly less than stellar.
Ymir crying was a truly heartbreaking moment, which then turns to shock and horror as she makes her choice, and chooses Eren.
Out of the Path Dimension, a spinal cord reattaches Eren’s head to his body and, as he transforms, he triggers the event that has been built up for so many chapters.
The Rumbling.
I completely lost it in this moment, shouting out in both excitement and terror at what was happening.
As the millions of Colossal Titans awaken and break through the walls to do what Eren commands, the chapter ends with the ominous statement, “It can’t be stopped anymore!”
The endgame for Attack on Titan is truly here; the Rumbling is happening and the final chapters of the manga will most likely deal with the consequences.
I loved Chapter 122.
It is an amazing chapter with not just a tragic backstory for Ymir and probably the best cliffhanger in Attack on Titan‘s history, but also a lot of great visual symbolism from Isayama.
First there are the characters’ eyes in the flashback.
They are unseen, represented only by darkness.
This is mainly apparent with King Fritz and this makes for a striking comparison when we see Zeke at the end of the chapter because his eyes are drawn exactly the same in some panels.
From this, we can see that Isayama is linking the two with Zeke planning on using Ymir like Fritz used her, which is ultimately why she chooses Eren.
Then there are the visual similarities between Ymir and the Ymir of the present and Historia.
When Ymir Fritz is turned in at the beginning of the chapter for freeing the pigs everyone points the finger at her, throwing her under the bus just like the other Ymir was thrown under the bus by those she trusted.
More interesting, though, is the parallels between Ymir and Historia.
When Ymir is pregnant, we get an image of her sitting in a chair holding her stomach.
This is eerily reminiscent of the final panel in Chapter 107 when Historia’s pregnancy was revealed.
Then when you consider that,as far as we know, Historia’s pregnancy is being forced on her, like Ymir, the similarities become more prominent.
I think this only adds fuel to the fire that is the theory that Historia will give birth to the reincarnation of Ymir Fritz at the end of the story and name her after the Ymir she knew.
No matter what happens, though, I cannot wait to see how the story will end.
I already consider “From You, 2000 Years Ago” to be one of Attack on Titan‘s best chapters.
If the final arc goes on like this, then it might just have a chance of beating the Return to Shiganshina Arc as my favourite one of the entire series.

Top 10 My Hero Academia Characters

Having caught up with the My Hero Academia manga by Kohei Horikoshi, and with season four of the anime right around the corner, I thought it fitting to list off my top ten favourite characters in the series.
Ranking these characters was very difficult because My Hero Academia has an incredibly large cast of heroes and villains.
Characters like Endeavor, Dabi, Toga, Twice, Iida, Uraraka, Tsuyu, and Overhaul were all considered for this list but, at the end of the day, they just missed out.
So, now let’s get into the list.
Spoilers ahead.

10. Chizome Akaguro AKA Hero Killer Stain.

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Despite his brief time on screen, Stain is one of the most important villains in My Hero Academia’s story.
He is the first antagonist we meet with an ideology, and one that inspires numerous other villains like Dabi, Toga and Spinner to rise against the heroes.
With his extreme conviction, it is easy to see why he inspired so many to become villains.
His disdain for the corrupt hero society led him to kill any hero he thought of as unworthy of the title, using All Might as a basis for the standard.
His quirk, Bloodcurdle, allows him to paralyze anyone whose blood he consumes, making him a very lethal opponent with his swords.
This results in a great fight between him, Deku, Todoroki and Iida in which he is defeated and imprisoned.
As stated, though, even though he is locked up, he still influences the world of My Hero Academia by inspiring many villains.
Along with the impact he has on the story because of his ideology, another thing that makes Stain a compelling villain is his morality.
If he encounters someone he views as a legitimate hero he will spare them, which is shown when he saves Deku from a Nomu.
This makes Stain one of the most interesting villains in the series, with his complex ideology and morality.
I hope he will appear in the story again at some point.

9. Eri

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Protect. This. Innocent. Child. At. All. Costs.
Seriously, Eri is one of the most adorable children in fiction, in my opinion, and every time she shows up it puts a smile on my face.
Eri is essentially going to be the centerpiece of My Hero Academia’s fourth season because she will have important roles and meaning in both the Overhaul and Cultural Festival arcs, making her the emotional core of the season.
And, boy, will she bring the emotion when that season arrives.
The reason for this is that Eri has an incredibly hard life before meeting Deku, basically being killed and resurrected time and time again by Overhaul to experiment on her dangerous quirk.
After being rescued by Deku and Mirio, she gets the chance to experience true happiness for the first time, resulting in a few happy cry moments for me.
I distinctly remember crying when she smiled during Deku’s performance at the Culture Festival because of how heart warming it was.
Along with this, Eri often brings quite a bit of adorableness to the series but also sadness, often at the same time.
A clear example of this is in one of the more recent chapters where she got Christmas, Halloween, and Easter mixed up.
This was adorable because of how cute is was for her to mix them all up, but sad because it reminded us of how much of a cruel, sheltered life she had before.
Eri is a character who brings a lot of emotion to the story of My Hero Academia and I cannot wait to finally see her in season four of the anime.

8. Mirio Togata AKA Lemillion.

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Mirio is a very odd looking character to say the least.
He stands out visually from all the others because of his unique eyes, which are different from any other character and often make him look quite cartoonish.
There is nothing cartoonish about Mirio’s personality, though, because he is one of the most interesting character of the series.
I swear, the only reason he is not higher on the list is because of his limited screen time, only really being important to the Overhaul and Cultural Festival Arc.
That said, the role he does play in those arcs, especially the Overhaul arc, is enough to put him on this list so that should tell you how good his story is in them.
Appearing at the end of season three, Mirio immediately establishes himself as a great hero with a lot of skill, turning a quirk that many thought to be useless into an enhanced technique.
However, his confidence in his abilities is impacted greatly upon leaving Eri in the hands of Overhaul.
Upon learning of what she is going through, Mirio vows to save her.
He succeeds in this but it comes at the cost of his quirk, being shot with a quirk removing bullet.
Despite this extreme setback, and inspired by the words of his dying mentor, Sir Nighteye, Mirio resolves to still be a hero.
He has often been seen looking after Eri in the aftermath of this but has not appeared in the manga for a while.
I hope to see him play a major role again some time soon.

7.  Eijirou Kirishima AKA Red Riot.

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Honestly, Kirishima was not a character I took that much notice of in season one.
He had a pretty cool quirk but, other than that, he was just a regular side character.
I grew to like him quite a bit more in season two through his antics in the Sports Festival and then came to love his character when he showed his duty to his friends in the Hideout Raid arc.
It was his storyline in the Overhaul arc, though, that put him at this point on the list (and, with so many characters popping onto this list because of the Overhaul arc, that should tell you how good it is).
It is in this arc that we get to see Kirishima’s backstory and how he failed to anything when a villain was threatening some of his fellow students.
Rather, it was his future classmate Mina Ashido who stepped in to be the hero and, realizing what he need to do, Kirishima began to move forward in his strive for heroism and manliness.
This ties significantly into his storyline during the Overhaul Arc where he fights alongside the hero Fat Gum and develops his new unbreakable technique, using it to defend the hero during their battle with Overhaul’s men.
This takes quite a toll on him but thankfully thankfully recovers, and even gets the villain they were fighting’s respect.
Kirishima is a great hero in the making and a loyal friend to characters like Mina (who I ship him with), and Bakugo.

6. Toshinori Yagi AKA All Might

All Might

The number one hero, All Might stands as the pillar of justice with his role as the symbol of peace.
Serving as the main character Deku’s mentor, we first see All Might as a confident figure who always wears a smile.
However, this perception is quickly shattered when Deku inadvertently uncovers his secret; that his true form is a much weaker, starved looking body who can only be a hero for a shortening span of time.
But, upon recognizing Deku’s potential as a hero, All Might resolves to have him inherit his quirk One For All and become the next symbol of peace.
This kick starts the entire story of My Hero Academia with All Might serving as a guiding force for, not just Deku, but other characters like Bakugo as well.
With plenty of inspiring and awesome moments in combat, All Might also manages to be pretty funny at times with his constant “I am here!” jokes.
When All Might gets serious, though, the story takes a turn for the dramatic, especially in his final fight with his arch enemy, All For One, which is one of the best fights of the series.
With All Might’s true form exposed, and now being unable to transform again, he has to retire, but still remains a trusted and inspirational mentor for the other characters.
Unfortunately, since All Might’s retirement in the Hideout Raid Arc he has not had as much screen time as he did before.
He is still prominent but to a far lesser degree, which put him lower on the list.
Still, All Might is a great character and I am interested to see where his story goes in his journey to help Deku become the next number one hero.

5. Shota Aizawa AKA Eraserhead.

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Upon first meeting Class 1-A’s homeroom teacher, Shota Aizawa, he looks to be a minor antagonistic force with his threats to expel students.
However, this is quickly proven to be false during the USJ arc where he puts his life on the line, battling multiple villains to protect his students.
Through this, it quickly becomes apparent that Aizawa is stern with good reason, hoping to push his students into becoming the best heroes they can be.
From here, he emerges as one of the most prominent pro heroes in the series, although one that likes to understate his presence.
He is extremely good in a fight, due to his useful quirk of being able to shut down someone else’s just by looking at them.
Along with this, Aizawa can be diplomatic as can be seen when he stood up for Bakugo against the media when he was kidnapped by the League of Villans.
Because of Aizawa’s skills, he also proved to be a great help in the Overhaul Arc where he joined Deku and Mirio to save Eri, which lead to him looking after her because he is the only one that can shut off her quirk when it becomes dangerous.
With Aizawa now looking after Eri, this has resulted in a few cute scenes between the two, like how he recently corrected her when she mistook Christmas for Halloween.
Aizawa meeting up with other characters also results in some of the best interactions of the series, like with Ms Joke in the Licensing Exam arc (again, I ship).
Overall, Aizawa is a great character and it will be fun to see him in the Overhaul arc in season four.

4. Tenko Shimura AKA Tomura Shigaraki.

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After the first battle with Shigaraki in season one, he is described as a “man child” and this is particularly true due to his almost bratty nature during the fight.
But, how could a “man child” be one of My Hero Academia‘s best characters?
Well, this is because I think Shigaraki’s character arc is a lot similar to Eren Jeager’s from Attack on Titan. 
Both start out as fairly generic, naive characters but this is so they can grow from this point and mature into the multifaceted characters they are now.
The big difference between the two is that Shigaraki’s arc directly mirrors his opponent Deku’s.
While Deku is slowly moving towards becoming the new symbol of peace, Shigaraki is slowly moving towards becoming the new symbol of terror, as All For One put it.
This is epitomized by Shigaraki’s confrontation with Deku at the end of season two, where Deku unintentionally helps him find purpose and reasoning behind his desire to destroy.
From here Shigaraki continues to grow until the recent My Villain Academia arc and it is here that Shigraki becomes one of the manga’s best characters.
The reveal of his tragic backstory, in how he wanted to be a hero when he was a kid only to be corrupted by his quirk and the actions of All For One, is both sad and frightening.
This mixture of emotions is fully apparent in the chapter where Shigaraki kills his father, giving him his most nightmarish look so far, and at such a young age.
Now, Shigaraki looks to be almost unstoppable with the new army he gained from defeating Re-Destro in this arc.
I have no idea how Deku will go about beating him but if one thing is for sure it is that the two will meet again as the symbol of peace and the symbol of terror.
And, on that day, only one will emerge victorious.

3. Katsuki Bakugo.

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After finishing season one of My Hero Academia, I was very surprised to learn that Bakugo is a lot of people’s favourite character.
I could not understand this because in that first season he is a massive bully, causing him to be completely unlikable.
Then, he finally began to grow at the end of season two and I started to get what people were talking about.
Bakugo is a character who realizes his faults and attempts to grow from them.
Now, while this did warm me up to his character a little more, I still did not consider him one of my favourites.
What changed this was season three.
Bakugo has by far the best development in this season, proving his desire to become a hero after he fights back when he is kidnapped by the League of Villains.
His best moment in season three, though, is definitely his second fight with Deku.
It is here that we learn the guilt that is weighing on Bakugo because he believes he is the reason All Might was forced to retire.
This moment shocked me when I first watched it because I had no idea Bakugo was going through this self punishment, and it is in this moment that Bakugo finally becomes Deku’s rival as opposed to his bully.
He has continued to grow in the manga, and now actively helps Deku in his pursuit of becoming a hero, albeit aggressively.
Bakugo is a very flawed character but he himself realise this and is making an effort to be better, even if I don’t think he will ever let go of his extreme anger management issues.
After watching him go through this character growth, I can see why he is considered a favourite character by many, and I can now say he is one of my favourites as well.

2. Shoto Todoroki.

Shoto Todoroki

Much like Kirishima, Todoroki was a character that did not do that much in season one.
Sure, he did make an impression through being the one with the strongest quirk in Class 1-A but as a character he did not stand out very well.
This changed in season two where he became my favourite character during the Sports Festival Arc because of his backstory and growth.
Todoroki comes from an abusive household, as his father forcefully married his wife to produce children with powerful quirks.
When Todorki was born, he was quickly subjected to intense physical training.
Not only this but because of the abusive situation she was trapped in, Todoroki’s mother suffered a mental breakdown and poured boiling water on her son’s face, scarring him for life.
At the time of the Sports Festival, Todoroki is trying to prove he can be the strongest without using his father’s fire power, only his mother’s ice.
This results in an enthralling character study in his battle with Deku who challenges Todoroki’s perceptions and makes him accept both sides of his power.
It is for this and many other reasons that I consider Todoroki’s fight with Deku to be the best of the anime so far.
From here, Todoroki has continued to grow, still struggling with the effect his father has on him.
In the manga their relationship has become even more interesting as Endeavour attempts to change like Bakugo, accepting responsibility and attempting to make amends for what he did to his family.
Because of this, I am honestly interested to see not just where Todoroki will go but his entire family as well.
Todoroki is a great character with amazing development (who may or may not be inspired by Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender).

1. Izuku Midorya – AKA Deku.

Deku

I sympathized with Deku right from the beginning of My Hero Academia. 
A quirkless boy, living in a life where no one believes in him, Izuku Midorya is a character who strives to be the best hero he can, wanting to help people no matter the cost.
This admirable quality is inspired by his hero All Might who he encounters by chance in the first episode.
Upon seeing Deku’s heroism, All Might recognizes his potential and decides to make him his successor as the new symbol of peace by giving him his quirk, One For All.
Izuku’s story then unfolds, with him joining U.A High and finding a way to work around any situation that threatens him.
He even adopts Bakugo’s mocking nickname for him, Deku, as his hero name and a sign of strength (although this is first motivated by his crush Uraraka liking the name).
As the series has gone on, we have got many powerful moments from Deku as he strives to become a hero, from him helping Todoroki, to saving Kota and Eri, to learning he will get all the quirks from the previous One For All users.
All of these moments are great but they were not enough to put him above Todorki as my favourite character in My Hero Academia. 
What did do that was the role Deku played in the Gentle arc.
This arc is not many people’s favourite but I loved what it did for Deku as a character.
The fight Deku is having here is not life or death.
If he fails to defeat Gentle and La Brava then no one will die.
However, if they ruin the Cultural Festival then Eri’s chance of smiling will be ruined.
This will teach her that the world is unfair and cruel just like when she was a captive of Overhaul.
So, essentially, Deku is fighting his hardest all to save a little girl’s smile and show her for the first time that there is good in the world and that is incredibly powerful.
It was this act that made Deku my favourite character of My Hero Academia.
He is strong, resilient, and the true definition of a hero, even if he does not have the full qualifications yet.

It Chapter 2 Review: Highly Flawed but a lot of Fun.

3 and a half stars
When I started my blog two years ago, the first review I ever did was Andy Muschietti’s 2017 adaption of Stephen King’s It.
With Stephen King being one of my favourite authors, and It being one of my favourite novels, I was highly anticipating that first film.
I ended up loving It, giving the film a four and half star rating out of five.

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I loved the first It film as a fan of Stephen King’s novel.

So, I was naturally, highly anticipating the sequel, It: Chapter 2, which I just saw this morning.
And what did I think of it?
Well, my feelings are mixed.
I would say that I enjoyed the film, with it being a lot of fun at times, however, it is highly flawed.
I will start with the positives fist and the biggest praise I can give this move is that the acting is phenomenal, with all of the Losers club being perfectly cast.
It: Chapter 2 picks up 27 years after the first film with Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calling the other members of the Losers’ Club, including Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), and Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), back to the town of Derry, Maine after the monstrous entity known as It resurfaces.
Bill Skarsgård does an amazing job playing the monstrous clown Pennywise, It’s favourite form, and this is most apparent in a scene where he lures a little girl in, showing how deviously manipulative It can be.
But it is with the Losers’ Club that the acting department really shines, with Bill Hader turning in the best performance as Richie.

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Bill Hader is by far the best actor in It: Chapter 2.

As well as being greatly performed, Richie also has a fantastic arc and provides a lot of the film’s laughs alongside Eddie.
There is even a cameo from Stephen King in the film, which is very well done.
Then there are the scares, a few of which got me but many did not.
This is okay, though, because, even though I was not as scared as when watching the first film, a lot of these scenes were very exciting.
It: Chapter 2 even managed to surprise me at times with one small storyline surrounding Bill trying to save one of It’s victims going in a direction I did not expect at all.
Sadly, this is where my praise for the film ends because it does have a lot of flaws that hold it back.
The biggest of these is easily the film’s runtime.
Coming in at 169 minutes, It: Chapter 2 is just too long.
The second act, especially, drags on for what feels like forever with so many formulaic scenes.
What is worse, it felt like these scenes should have been condensed in favor of other ones.
For example, Henry Bowers’ role is lessened to the point that I wondered why he was even in this movie.

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I feel like more time should have been devoted to Henry Bowers instead of other scenes in the film’s repetitive middle act.

Then there is the humor.
I know I praised the comedy earlier but there is just too much of it.
It is incredibly jarring to see the characters experience a horrific moment in one scene and then be making “your mum” jokes in the next.
This culminates in an especially bizarre moment when “Angel of the Morning” plays in what is supposed to be a scary scene.
Plus, there is a pretty problematic idea that is brought up about Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) at the end of the film that I feel should have been left on the cutting room floor.
I get what they were going for with that scene but it definitely can be read in a way that sends a very bad message.
Not that anything will come of that message, but it is problematic nonetheless.
Overall, though, these issues did not ruin the film for me.
I still enjoyed It: Chapter 2 quite a bit.
The acting is fantastic, especially from Bill Hader, a lot of the jokes are hilarious, and many of the scenes are exciting and take unexpected turns.
There are just quite a few issues you need to prepare yourself for going in, the biggest being the runtime.
Still, I would recommend the film, especially to fans of King’s original novel.

Hinamatsuri Review: A Yukuza and a Telekinetic Girl Walk into a Bar.

4 stars
Tell me if you have heard this one; a Yukuza and a telekinetic girl walk into a bar and order a drink from an underage bartender.
If you have heard this, well, then you have probably already seen Hinamastusri and know how good it is and don’t need me to tell you that.
For those of you who have not watched it, though, first allow me to give you a little background on my experience.
At the Anime Club of the University I go to, we start each semester off by selecting three out of five animes to watch weekly.
At the beginning of this semester, one of those anime was Hinamatsuri. 
Despite finding the first episode to be quite funny, I did not end up voting for it.
Thankfully, however, many other people did so it ended up being one of the anime we watched.
And, after completing the series this week, I can say that I really regret not voting for it because Hinamatsuri is an absolutely hilarious anime, with great characters and a lot of heart.
Based off the manga by Masao Ōtake,  and directed by Kei Oikawa, the story follows a surprisingly normal Yukuza, named Yoshifumi Nitta (Yoshiki Nakajima), whose life is flipped upside when a telekinetic girl with a craving for Ikura, named Hina (Takako Tanaka), crashes into both his apartment and his head.
Forced to look after Hina, Nitta and many of the characters around him are thrown into hilarious situation after hilarious situation.

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The increasingly absurd events Nitta and Hina find themselves caught up in or, more likely, creating always get a good laugh.

Each episode of Hinamatsuri had at least one moment where the entire Anime Club burst out into fits of laughter.
Along with being funny, the anime also has a lot of heart through the growth and development of its characters.
One of the clearest examples of this is Anzu (Rie Murakawa), another telekenetic girl who starts off as brash and abrasive but, through her struggles, comes to understand the meaning of hard work and caring for others.
Another one of my favourite characters is Hitomi (Kaede Hono), a girl who, for the life of her, cannot say no to anyone.
She takes job after job and, while this does result in many hysterical moments, it also makes you feel incredibly sorry for her as you keep wishing she would grow a backbone and look out for herself for once.

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As well as being sympathetic, Hitomi is also incredibly funny with her common horrified expression.

However, for every sad moment, there is a moment of gut wrenching laughter to be had.
This is most apparent with the growing bond between Nitta and Hina, with their contrasting personalities often clashing in hilarious fashion.
As for criticisms, there is one side character named Mao (Ari Ozawa) whose story does not seem to go anywhere but she is obviously being built up for season two.
Speaking of which, I really hope Hinamatsuri gets a second season because I would be right there watching it.
Hinamatsuri is both a hysterical and heart warming anime, and I recommend you check it out.

 

The Last of Us Part 2: State of Play Trailer and Release Date Discussion.

The wait is finally over for The Last of Us Part 2 news.
There were so many leaks and rumors over the past few years, both true and untrue, that I was just dying for more details on the upcoming sequel to my favourite video game of all time.
Well, this morning we got the details and then some with the latest State of Play, which included a trailer for the game, along with the much anticipated release date.
It is official; the rumors about February were correct because The Last of Us Part 2 will be released on February 21st 2020.
And now begins the slow, agonizing wait for the game to come out.
Not that I think that February is too far away, it really isn’t, but whenever you badly want something the days just seem longer until it comes out.
In any case, the trailer gave us all lots of juicy details to analyse before the game is released.
The biggest of these is that we finally got a look at Joel, alive no less!
He appears right at the end of the trailer and the graphics for him are fantastic.
He has had quite an update from the previous game to the point that I actually think he looks like an older Troy Baker.

Joel better shot
Joel looks incredibly different from how he looked in the first game with the updated graphics.

Along with the appearance of Joel we also get the basic plot of the game, with Ellie (Ashley Johnson) going to get revenge after a personal loss.
While the person Ellie loses is not shown, all signs point to Dina (Shannon Woodward).
Their relationship is just too happy at the beginning of the trailer for it to end well.
With Ellie losing Dina in a snow storm and then stumbling across a cabin where she walks in on something bad, only to be attacked and forced to watch as someone is shot, Dina seems like the most probable person to die.
Unless, of course, this is Naughty Dog wanting us to think it is Dina who dies and they actually kill someone else.
However, the only character I can think of whose death would be enough to get Ellie to go on a journey of revenge is Joel.
This would mean that Ellie is hallucinating him at the end of the trailer but I have never really liked this theory so I hope this is not the case.
Another thing that has me concerned is the people Ellie is after, the Seraphites.
In other trailers we have seen that their method of killing people is to hang them and then disembowel them, and this could make the deaths of Joel or Dina especially horrifying.
Granted, we do hear a gunshot so whoever is killed could die quickly but, again, that could be a part of the trailer intentionally used to mislead.
Also, part of me thinks that it is possible Naughty Dog would do something so dark.
No matter who dies, though, the moment from where Ellie first walks into the cabin to where she is sitting looking broken, with her bare back covered in bruises, is chilling, and sent goosebumps going up my skin.

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The scene with Ellie in the cabin looks to be the most harrowing moment of the game.

From here, Ellie is shown to begin her revenge quest with Tommy (Jeffrey Pierce) advising her against it, only for her not to listen.
She almost seems suicidal as she expresses that she doesn’t care how many people the Seraphites have or how well armed they are.
Ellie appears to be solely focused on getting her revenge, not matter what happens to her, and this is translated well through the brutal combat.
I praised the gameplay in the last trailer for how cinematic it all looked and the new trailer continues this.
Ellie pulls an arrow out of her shoulder after getting shot, and even snatches an ax out of an enemy’s hands before killing him with it.
We also get a look at new Clickers and Bloaters, both of which look especially terrifying.
Speaking of the infected, we get a few shots of Ellie going through a spore infested area when she is still with Dina, and she is wearing a gas mask.
This makes me think Ellie is hiding her immunity from everyone else and this could backfire quite a bit if she loses that mask and someone notices.
Back to the gameplay, we also get a quick look at Ellie fighting a dog, which appears to be owned by the Seraphites because it does not look wild and has a collar.
I could honestly talk about how great the gameplay looks forever but I will finish by stating how fantastic the graphics are.
They are downright stunning with both the environment and character animations being awe inspiring.

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The graphics for The Last of Us Part 2 are absolutely stunning with great landscapes.

The opening moments of the trailer give off a real Red Dead Redemption 2 vibe with the snow effects.
All in all, the latest trailer for The Last of Us Part 2 has got me even more hyped up for the game, if that is even possible considering how hyped I already was.
It looks to contain an emotional story, immersive and brutal gameplay, and beautiful animation.
Now we just have to wait a few months for what looks like the next masterpiece from Naughty Dog.

The Garden of Words Review: Makoto Shinkai’s Most Beautiful Film.

4 stars
Aside from Your Name, the Mokoto Shinkai film I have heard the most praise for is The Garden of Words.
And, with me quickly becoming a Shinkai fan after loving both Your Name and his most recent film, Weathering With You, I knew I had to check it out.
Now, when I started watching, I was surprised at the short runtime the film, which is only 46 minutes, but my concern about this quickly faded with the first few shots of the film.
It was at this moment when my jaw hit the literal floor.
I know that I, and many others, have said way too much that the animation of Shinkai’s films are jaw dropping but, honestly, that statement is entirely warranted when it comes to The Garden of Words.
I would go as for to say that this film is not just Shinkai’s most beautifully animated film but one of the most beautifully animated films I have ever seen.
It is so amazing that I actually mistook a shot of a branch hanging over the water to be real initially.

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Does this look real to you? Because it did for me for a couple seconds.

But enough gushing about the animation; what about the story?
Well, it could have been very easy for The Garden of Words to stumble with this.
The anime follows a 15-year-old student named Takao Akizuki (Wataru Sekine) who meets a 27-year-old teacher named Yukari Yukino (Kana Hanazawa) at a lakeside garden in the rain.
The two begin to meet in the same place whenever it rains and Takao soon begins to develop feelings for Yukari.
This could easily have made the film weird for me.
If you read my review of Violet Evergarden, you know the only problem I had was that the relationship between the titular character and her love interest, Gilbert was pretty problematic due to the fact that Violet is only 14, and Gilbert is 29.
I could have easily had the same problem with The Garden of Words, considering that Takao is both a year older than Violet and also that Yukari is a teacher at his school.
Thankfully, though, I did not find the depiction of Takao’s feelings for Yukari to be problematic because Shinkai depicted them as that, problematic.
The problems of the connection the two have is perfectly portrayed by Yukari’s sad past, which should leave those watching who support a romance between the two knowing that if that did happen it would make trouble for both of them.
As a result, The Garden of Words depicts a somewhat tragic romance story that fully realizes and plays into its complicated nature.

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The growing bond between Takao and Yukari is sweet, endearing, and (thankfully) complicated.

Coming back to the short runtime of the film, I think it would be interesting to see what the anime would be like if it had been longer.
It works fine as it is but I feel like I could have related to the characters and their struggles more if Shinkai had extended the runtime a bit more and given us more scenes between the two.
Still, The Garden of Words is another great Shinkai film, and one with such a focus on feet that it made me feel like I watching a Tarantino movie… only, you know, without the bloody violence.
And, while I do not find it as enjoyable or moving as Your Name or Weathering With You, its animation is absolutely spectacular.
If you like to analyse the standards of animation you need to watch The Garden of Words because (even though this has been said to death by this point) your jaw will hit the floor.