The Wind Rises Review: An Inspirational Dream.

5 stars
Hayao Miyazaki intended to finish his directing career with his 2013 animated film The Wind Rises.
Now, while Miyazaki is actually returning to direct another film soon, this would have been a great way for him to finish because The Wind Rises is easily one of my favourite of his movies, alongside Princess Mononoke.
The film tells a fictionalized version of the life of Jiro Horikoshi (Hideaki Anno), a plane designer during the second world war.
However, despite Jiro being a wartime plane designer, the film does not focus on this.
Instead, Miyazaki chooses to focus on Jiro’s life, his passions, his dreams, and his relationship with the love of his life Naoko (Miori Takimoto).

jiro and naoko
The way the film focuses on Jiro’s life, especially his relationship with Naoko is really well done.

This could have easily ended badly, with the film sweeping what Jiro’s planes were used for during the war under the rug.
Thankfully, this is not the route Miyazaki took as the planes’ use in war is fully acknowledged, yet Jiro’s success in making his “beautiful dream” into a reality is also portrayed as a departure from this.
It is also in these dreams that we see Jiro interacting with his hero and inspiration, Giovanni Battista Caproni (Nomura Mansai).
The bond Jiro has with his mentor, even if this bond is only his head, is very touching, with Caproni delivering many inspirational lines.

The Wind Rises
Jiro’s bond with his dream version of Caproni leads to many touching and meaningful quotes.

Just as touching is Jiro’s relationship with Naoko and the struggles they experience with her illness.
This creates a moving ending that is tear inducing and leaves you sad yet satisfied.
Other great aspects about The Wind Rises include its animation, sound design, and score.
Being a Studio Ghibli film, the animation is once again stellar but it is the sound design and score that really drew my attention upon watching it.
A lot of the sound effects are actually created vocally, with people making the sound for planes and other features.
This could have easily come off as silly but it somehow works completely.

plane
The decision to have people make the sounds of the planes was a stroke of genius on Miyazaki’s part.

And then there is the score by Joe Hisashi which, along with his score from Princess Mononoke, may be my favourite score in any Studio Ghibli film.
The Wind Rises is a fantastic film and one of Hayaok Miyazaki’s best.
I am truly glad he is returning to direct his new film How Do You Live?
The Wind Rises is an emotionally compelling film with a great story, animation, soun design score, and some inspirational quotes like, “The wind is rising. We must try to live.”

The Last of Us Part Two Review: Fantastic Gameplay Ruined by an Atrocious Story.

2 and a half stars
When I reviewed my favourite video game of all time, The Last of Us, I said that, whether I loved, hated, or had mixed feelings about the sequel, I would always find myself returning to the original game because of how incredible it is.
While that is still true, whenever I do replay the game I will have to pretend that The Last of Us Part 2 never happened.
Seriously, what the hell happened with this game?
The graphics and gameplay are amazing, as expected, but the story is absolutely god awful, literally spitting in the face of Joel (Troy Baker) and Ellie’s (Ashley Johnson) relationship.
Before I get into the onslaught of terrible things about this game’s story, I’ll mention the great stuff first.
As I said, graphics and gameplay are near perfect.
There were numerous times where I was hating the story and was thankfully distracted by beautiful scenery or an amazing action sequence.
Crafting was well handled once more and I liked the more personal touch to enemies that made them feel like real people when I fought them.
The new kinds of infected are great to fight, especially the one that was teased but not revealed in the State of Play presentation.
Other amazing set pieces sees you fighting through a burning village and a car chase, both of which are thrilling.

gameplay
I can at least say that the gameplay of The Last of Us Part 2 is good.

Along with this, Gustavao Santaolalla’s score is amazing, again as expected.
As for the story, there are a couple things I like about it.
Some of the new characters like Dina (Shannon Woodward), Jesse (Stephen Chang), Yara (Victoria Grace) and Lev (Ian Alexander) are likeable.
Not to the extent that the characters from the first game are but they are enjoyable for the most part.
Also, some of the scenes during Ellie’s initial revenge quest are very compelling.
Then there are the flashbacks to Ellie and Joel’s time in Jackson, which are the best parts of the game by far.
However, the rest of the story is absolutely horrible.
Written by Neil Druckmann and Haley Gross, the story sees Joel and Ellie living in the town of Jackson.
After an act of extreme violence, Ellie leave for Seattle to seek her revenge, as the writers try to create a message about the cycle of violence.
Sadly, this is a message that falls flat over on its face.
The ending to this game makes no sense whatsoever and completely derails any notion of vengeance being a bad idea, which is what the story was trying to say.

ellie should have killed abby
The Last of Us Part 2 does a terrible job at trying to tell a story about revenge.

The build up to this ending is just as bad, with the inciting incident that causes Ellie to seek vengeance being driven by poor character decisions and feels like it was done for shock value.
A large part of why The Last of Us Part 2’s story is so bad though comes down to one, individual word.
Abby.
Played by Laura Bailey, she is the mystery woman from the trailer that introduced the Seraphites and she is, in my opinion, the worst video game character of all time.
She is completely unlikable in every sense of the word.
Naughty Dog tries to make you sympathize with her but every attempt fails spectacularly.
The story follows both her and Ellie’s struggles with revenge and the damage it causes but Abby never shows any remorse or regret for her actions, unlike Ellie.
She came across as a complete psychopath who I had no reason to care for, yet the writers try so hard to make you do so, which fails entirely.

fuck abby
I honestly cannot remember the last time I hated a character as much as I hate Abby. 

Given that she is the most important character in the game next to Ellie, this is a huge problem and that problem culminates in a boss fight before the third act of the game that left me feeling insulted.
Not to mention that the game’s trailers misled and lied to us on multiple occasions.
The Last of Us Part 2’s story is just atrocious.
The game spits in the face of Ellie and Joel’s bond, the characters’ decisions make no sense, the inciting incident is not justified, Abby is an unbelievably terrible character, and the ending completely undoes any message they were trying to create.
The graphics and gameplay may have been amazing, and some story elements may have been good, but the majority of the story is so bad to the point that I never want to play this game again.
I returned it yesterday and I urge any fan of The Last of Us to never play it.

Toy Story 4 Review: Four Installments in, Still Going Strong (Reposted).

4 and a half stars
I can honestly not think of a single film series where there have been four fantastic installments in a row, except Toy Story.
Before seeing the most recent of them, I, like many, was concerned about where the story would go.
Toy Story 3 felt like a perfect sendoff for the franchise so I was concerned that they were just doing another one for a cash grab.
I was wrong, however, because Toy Story 4 is another heart warming installment in the series with great character growth, animation and laughs.

animation toy story.jpg
Toy Story 4 delivers a strong story with the best animation out of all the films by a wide margin.

Directed by Josh Cooley, the film follows Woody (Tom Hanks) who is still dealing with the departure of Andy in the previous film pretty heavily.
When his new kid, Bonnie, literally makes a toy out of a spork, which she names Forky (Tony Hale), Woody makes it his mission to protect him to ensure her happiness.
However, this becomes difficult when Forky is separated from them on a family trip and, upon looking for him, Woody is reunited with the long lost Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who has certainly changed a lot since Woody, and the audience, saw her.

Bo Peep
Woody and Bo Peep’s relationship is at the center of the story, being a key part to Woody’s character arc.

The two then work together to rescue Forky and bring him back to Bonnie, before she and her family leave them behind.
Accompanying this story is, once again, the animation and comedy, which are all spot on.
Animation continues to get better and better every year, and it looks especially stunning in Toy Story 4.
Along with this, the comedy is also fantastic with new characters Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), and Duke Caboom (Keeanu Reeves) being particular highlights.

Ducky and Bunny.jpg
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are hilarious as Ducky and Bunny, especially during the plush rush scene, which is more than the trailers make it out to be.

It is with the character development of Woody, though, that the film truly shines, with Woody having what is probably his best arc out of any of the films.
Many of the new characters have great arcs as well, including the film’s villain (if you can even call her that) Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks).
However, this also ties into the one issue I have with the film.
This being that, even though Woody, Bo, and other characters’ arcs are fantastic, characters like Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and many more of Woody’s friends feel a bit underdeveloped and underused.
Otherwise, Toy Story 4 is another great installment in the franchise, and it will be interesting to see if it continues or if this is the final one for real this time.

 

The Last of Us Remastered Review: My Favorite Video Game of All Time.

5 stars
Naughty Dog is one of, if not my absolute, favourite video game studios.
The first game I played on the PlayStation 3 was Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and I have kept up with that brilliant series as it has continued over the years.
But, I think we can all agree that Naughty Dog’s undisputed masterpiece is their 2013 game The Last of Us, created by Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, which was remastered for the PlayStation 4.
The tale of Joel and Ellie travelling across a post-apocalyptic America is the height of video game storytelling, with many emotional and heart bounding scenes.
There were numerous times I cried during my first play through, even in the first 20 minutes, which is something no video game has ever done for me.
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson both give enthralling performances as the two lead characters, with the game following their growing father-daughter bond in both its positive and negative consequences for the two.
This culminates in an ending that is so morally ambiguous that it makes the simple line of “Okay” crushing.

okay
The ending of The Last of Us leaves you conflicted but that’s what’s so great about it.

It is not just Joel and Ellie though because almost every other character is exceptionally written.
From Joel’s partner in crime Tess (Annie Wersching), to his estranged brother Tommy (Jeffrey Pierce), to the paranoid Bill (W. Earl Brown), to brothers Henry (Brandon Scott) and Sam (Nadji Jeter), and many more, the characters of The Last of Us are some of the best in video game history, with Joel and Ellie right at the top.
The story accompanying these characters is also enthralling, which shows how amazing the writing is because the story could have easily become very cliched.
There are so many zombie games out there, many with save the world plot lines, so it would have been easy for The Last of Us’ story to fall into this cycle of mediocrity.
However, with the game focusing on the fantastic growing relationship of its two leads, and having a new type of zombie never seen before, the game jumps over the mediocrity scale by a wide margin and leaving it completely in the dust.
Having the source of the infection be the very real Cordecyeps Fungus was a stroke of genius and it makes for some incredibly scary enemies to fight.
Speaking of, the gameplay in The Last of Us is also amazing and accompanies the brutal story well with its likewise brutal conflict.
Fighting Clickers, Runners, Stalkers, and Bloaters throughout is a constant nerve wracking experience.

clickers
The Clickers are one of the most terrifying renditions of zombies ever put to screen, be it a movie or video game.

This culminates in a flooded basement segment some time into the game that is absolutely terrifying the first time you play it.
But it is not just the infected that you have to worry about because people are even more dangerous and, whether you go in using stealth or go guns blazing, it is almost always an intense experience trying to take them out.
Although, it is probably best not to go in all guns blazing on Grounded Mode because, if you try to do that, you will die… a lot.
Seriously, Grounded is an incredibly difficult mode to beat the game on.
I must have died around 100 times in the final, brutal combat sequence of the game.
What makes the combat of The Last of Us so satisfying though is its intensity.
You can just feel every punch that Joel dishes out.
Also, when you play as Ellie during the winter segment, which is my favourite level of the game, she is realistically much weaker than Joel, making gameplay a lot harder, as you have to think of new ways to get around or kill enemies.

ellie and joel baby girl
The Winter segment is gripping, with its emotional conclusion being a turning point in Joel and Ellie’s relationship, and the point where their personalities flip.

Helping the intensity of the combat is the reward of it you feel from scavenging and then crafting from various materials, creating Molotov cocktails, nail bombs, smoke bombs, and med kits to help you throughout the game.
The supplies needed to make these things are also fairly spread around throughout, adjusting the quantity based on the level of difficulty you are playing at.
Upgrading your weapons is also fairly handled, based on how much you scavenge as well.
Materials to build weapons is not the only thing you can find scavenging though, because there are also various notes and pieces of information that create side stories about people trying to survive in the outbreak.
One of these stories is about Ish, who I didn’t find much about on my first play through but on subsequent ones, where I made sure to scavenge, he became a very fleshed out character, even though we don’t meet him in person.
Accompanying this fantastic level of story telling and gameplay is the incredible soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolla, who deserves just as much praise as Druckmann, Straley, and the rest of the creators for adding to the game.

walk in the woods1
Santaolla does an incredible job with the music for the game and I cannot wait to hear his soundtrack for the sequel.

All of this combines to make The Last of Us an emotionally intense experience that is, without a doubt, my favourite video game of all time.
Accompanying this masterpiece in the Remastered addition is the DLC, Left Behind, which mostly details the last happy moments shared between Ellie and her best friend Riley.
Just like the main game, Left Behind is fantastic and a worthy addition to the story.
So, as you can expect, I am incredibly excited for the sequel, which will be released tomorrow.
Unfortunately, a lot of story details were leaked about the game and I accidentally stumbled across one of these spoilers the other day.
I don’t know if what I saw is true or not but, even if it is, I won’t allow it to taint my experience of the game.
And whether I end up loving, hating, or even having mixed feelings about the sequel, The Last of Us will remain an incredible experience for me that I will constantly find myself replaying for many years to come.

Ponyo Review: Miyazaki’s The Little Mermaid.

3 and a half stars
Have you ever wondered how Disney films would be if they were turned into anime?
Well, wonder no longer because Hayao Miyazaki’s 2008 film, Ponyo, is basically an anime version of The Little Mermaid.
Okay, in all honesty that’s probably simplifying things a little to much because, despite reminding me of The Little Mermaid, with its similar plot, the two films are very different.
Miyazaki’s film follows the titular Ponyo (Yuria Nara), a goldfish that is the daughter of a sea wizard (George Tokoro) and a sea goddess (Yūki Amami), who runs away from her overbearing father, only to be rescued by a five-year-old boy, Sōsuke (Hiroki Doi).
Upon being taken away by her father, Ponyo decides she wants to stay with Sōsuke so uses magic to transform herself into a human and goes to live with him.
And this is where The Little Mermaid similarities end, as Ponyo then follows the effect her decision has on Sōsuke’s seaside town, although not enough in my opinion.
This is one of my problems with Ponyo as it makes a point to depict what happens because of her going to live with Sōsuke but kind of ignores the consequences.
If this had happened in real life it would have been disastrous but the characters all act like it is just an everyday occurrence.

pony becomes human real
How nobody ended up dying in a tsunami Ponyo causes is a mystery to me.

It was also not made very clear why some of the apparently world ending stuff was about to happen because of Ponyo’s decision.
Also, everyone in the film seems oddly accepting of her once being a fish.
I know this film is primarily directed towards children but these plot holes and inconsistencies really bothered me while watching it.
Still, these issues did not ruin the film because Ponyo is still a lot of fun.
The animation and music are great, as with all of Myazaki’s films and the characters are all likeable.

grouchy toki
There are a lot of fun side characters in Ponyo like the elderly Toki (Kazuko Yoshiyuki).

Ponyo is also really funny as well, with a few of the jokes that came towards the end leaving me in stitches.
I also liked the bond between Ponyo and Sōsuke, which was really sweet.
Overall, I would say Ponyo is the weakest Miyazaki film that I have seen so far.
However, this says a lot about the quality of his films, considering I still consider his weakest to be a good film.

Attack on Titan Chapter 129: Retrospective Review. From Isayama, Two Months Ago.

4 and a half stars
After two, agonizing months of delay because of Covid-19, Chapter 129 of Attack on Titan, “Retrospective” has finally been released.
Thankfully, it was more than worth the wait.
In my opinion, “Retrospective” is the best chapter since Chapter 123, “Island Devils”, delivering intense action, a new Titan form, and emotional deaths.
Let’s start with those deaths first; Theo Magath and Keith Shadis.
After temporarily defeating the Yeagerists and helping the alliance escape on the ship with the plane, Magath goes to take out a Marleyan ship to stop the Yeagerists from following them.
It is here that he is saved by Shadis, who earlier blew up a train with enemy reinforcements to save the alliance, and was the mysterious man seen in the window in Chapter 126, as predicted.
The two enter the ship, planning to blow it up to stop the Yeagerists, exchanging names before they sacrifice themselves.
These two deaths are very emotional and incredibly fitting for both characters.
Shadis spent his entire life being a bystander, yet in his last days he took a stand, saving both his recruits’ lives and the alliance’s.
He went out a hero and the world may never know it.
As for Magath, his realization that he would have been happy if had just let the warriors have normal lives is tragic.
Not only this, but his death came as a huge surprise to me.
I was honestly expecting Magath to make it to the end because I thought he would be the one to vouch for the Eldians to the rest of the world if they stopped Eren.
But, nope, that is not what Hajime Isayama is going for here.
This makes me excited because it probably means Isayama isn’t going down the predictable route of just having the alliance defeat Eren and suddenly be accepted by the rest of the world.
Isayama has some trick up his sleeve and I cannot wait to see what it is.
As for the rest of the chapter, it was likewise great.
The action was incredibly intense, with Reiner and Annie taking a beating from the Thunder Spears, the scouts going ballistic on the Yeagerists, and Falco finally transforming into the Jaw Titan and, boy, does he look awesome.
The Jaw Titan has a track record of really great designs; first Porco looked fantastic and now Falco.
It is also kind of funny because Falco’s Titan resembles a Griffin and he has often been linked with birds, like during his introduction in Chapter 91.
I also liked how Isayama stayed consistent with how Titan Shifters don’t have a lot of control when they first control as, like Eren did, Falco attacks his allies after the Yeagerists are fought back.
Thankfully, Magath was there to cut him out or Pieck probably would have been done for.
However, this is where my few criticisms of the chapter come in.
The part where Magath cuts Falco out of his Titan felt like it was missing a few panels and therefore came across as bit jumpy in structure.
Another criticism I have, although this one could easily turn out not be a criticism, is Gabi shooting Floch.
He is shot by her when he goes to destroy the ship with his Thunder Spear, however, if he is dead here then it is a really terrible way for him to go out.
Floch had absolutely no build up with Gabi, so him being killed by her does not fit into his character arc at all.
Sure, his last lines being that he would save Eldia is very fitting but who kills him is not.
This said, I really doubt Floch is dead because Gabi hit him in the shoulder and he fell in the ocean, and if Isayama was really going to kill Floch he would probably have him get shot in the head.
Although, this does make me scared that Floch is going to sneak onto the ship and kill one of the alliance, probably Jean, Hange or Connie.
Until we know for sure if Floch is dead or not though, I will not be holding his potential death against the chapter.
If Floch is dead then it significantly lowers my opinion of  “Retrospective” but if he isn’t then I think Gabi shooting him is fine.
If anything, I am interested in how Isayama will end the final chapter for this volume.
He could do something with Floch, Kyomi, Eren, the possibilities are endless here.
In a recent interview, Isayama said he projects the story only have about 5% left before it is completed and this lines up nicely with my prediction that it will end at Chapter 138.
However Isayama ends the story though, if Chapter 129 is any indicator, I’m sure he can do it right.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Review: Pants or no Pants?

4 stars
Made before the creation of Studio Ghibli, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s first films, and foreshadows many of the themes that would appear in his future ones.
The story takes place on a post-apocalyptic earth where humanity is in a state of constant war, either with the giant bug-like Ohm from the Sea of Decay, or with each other.
Nausicaä (Sumi Shimamoto) is a princess living in the Valley of the Wind who hopes for peace, communicating with the Sea of Decay and the Ohm in search of a solution.
However, her attempts for peace are quickly shattered by an invading army that gets her peaceful valley embroiled in the wars that plague the landscape.
From here, the story kicks off with Nausicaä trying to put an end to the fighting, interacting with numerous characters on all sides of the conflict, revealing the films themes about the horrors of war and environmentalism.
These would later become staple themes for Miyazaki.
Nausicaä herself is a pretty great protagonist with some especially enjoyable moments towards the end of the film.
My favourite character though would have to be Lord Yupa (Goro Naya), a wise and respected warrior and adventurer who, although serving a minor role, steals every scene he is in.

Yupa
Lord Yupa is a cool character and I wish he had got more screen time. 

As for the animation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, it is great for 1984, laying a template for what Studio Ghibli would go to create.
The film does have a couple of issues though, mainly with the Giant Warrior and the Tolmeikan.
The Giant Warrior is hyped up for quite a bit of the film and, while it does serve a role thematically, its presence at the end is incredibly minor, despite all of its buildup.
As for the Tolmeikan, their actions during the credits scene left me pretty confused, especially in how some of the crimes they commit in the film is never really addressed again.
Also, the film makes a point of introducing an animal companion for Nausicaä but it has no point other than being cute.
And then there is Nausicaä’s character design, oh boy.
I remember my jaw dropping in the first twenty minutes of the film when the wind blew her skirt up to reveal her bare bottom for all the world to see!
Thankfully, after doing some research, it does appear that Nausicaä is actually wearing pants.
They are just the exact same color as her skin and have a butt impression, so, whenever we get a low angle shot of her, it appears she is wearing nothing under her skirt when she actually is.
However, I had no idea about this when watching the film so there were numerous times when her skirt flew up that left me feeling pretty uncomfortable.

butt pants
See? Her pants look exactly like her skin!

Why they didn’t change the coloring of her pants is baffling to me because, even knowing this, it ruins some scenes because of what it looks like.
Despite these issues though, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is still a very well done anime film that laid the groundwork for the fantastic films Miyazaki would make in the future.

 

Attack on Titan The Final Season Trailer Reaction: Excited yet Concerned.

And so it begins.
After months of rumors and speculation, we finally have a new poster and trailer for Attack on Titan‘s final season.
Speaking of the poster first, I will say that it is absolutely incredible.
It parallels season one’s poster perfectly and is definitely one I can see hanging up on my wall.
As for the new trailer, it finally reveals that Wit Studio is passing on the anime adaptation to Mappa Studio to finish.
And, of course, with the studio change comes a different animation style.
Admittedly, I was initially unsure how I felt about it but, after watching the trailer multiple times, I kind of dig it.
It’s clear they were trying to emulate the manga’s style and they definitely succeeded, for the most part.
Another cool thing about the animation is how much of it is not static.
I was afraid there would be quite a few still images based off how much movement is in certain shots but this issue was virtually nonexistent, at least from what the trailer shows us.
Along with this, I was shocked about what the animation showed as well, and this is one of my few criticisms of the trailer because it did spoil some very recent events in the manga.
Still, I’m sure that without the context many anime only viewers will have no idea what they are looking, so I’m sure it’ll be fine.
What is more concerning is the limited role of prior seasons’ Director, Tetsurō Araki, and composer, Hiroyuki Sawano.
While both do apparently have a part in making it, new director Yūichirō Hayashi and new composer, Kohta Yamamoto, look to be taking the reigns for the final season.
Granted, I don’t know too much about either of these people, and they could do a fantastic job but Araki and Sawano did such an amazing job with their directing and music in the first three seasons that I am concerned about their lessened roles.
I can say though that the music, animation and direction for the trailer is stellar so, hopefully, this is a sign that Mappa will be able to do the manga justice.
It has also been confirmed that what was shown in this trailer was animated solely for the trailer, which I am honestly both relieved and slightly nervous about.
On the one hand, there are images from all way up to Chapter 122 and there is no way they could have animated that already if there were more than 20 episodes.
Seeing this scared me into believing we might just end up with another Tokyo Ghoul: Re situation but knowing it was animated for the trailer makes me feel a lot better.
Another thing this gives them time to fix is some character designs that look a little off, like Porco and Levi’s, and an added fourteenth finger pointing at Ymir, which ruins the symbolism this scene had in the manga.
However, on the other hand, a lot of this animation was fantastic and a part of me is concerned we might not get the same excellent quality when the season finally airs.
Although, this fear has no evidence behind it, it is just my paranoia getting the better of me, so, hopefully, it will turn out fine.
This trailer also gives us a first look at many of the new characters like Falco, Gabi, Pieck, Colt, Udo, Zofia, and Willy, who all look amazing in the new animation style.
We also got to hear the voice actors for Falco, Gabi and Willy, who all sound great.
The opening shot of the trailer with Falco looking up at the bird and telling it that it needs to fly away sent chills down my spine.
Another fantastic moment was the final shot of the trailer, which looks to be Eren and Reiner fighting in Shiganshina during Chapter 117.
However, their outfits are from the Marley Arc here so this is likely another shot made just for the trailer.
Yet, it is such an amazing shot that I hope they actually create something like it for the adaptation of that chapter.
One shot I was not a fan of though was the shadowed version of Reiner’s suicide attempt.
Sadly, it looks like they will be censoring this scene, lessening its impact.
But, for every iffy moment in the trailer, there is a great moment that makes up for it, like the teases to Chapter 100, which I just cannot wait to see animated because, if adapted right, it will be one of the series’ best episodes.
I also cannot wait to see the entirety of Volume 30 adapted because, in my opinion, Chapters 119-122 are the best writing Hajime Isayama has ever given us.
I wonder if the season will be split up into two cores, like Season Three, or if they will do it all in one go and pull a Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood by having the anime end at the same time as the manga.
Either way, I believe the final season needs to be 25 episodes or more if it is going to adequately adapt the remaining story.
Let’s hope Studio Mappa can live up to Wit Studio and Hajime Isayama’s legacy.

Top 11 Telltale’s The Walking Dead Episodes.

I recently revisited the Definitive Edition of Telltale’s The Walking Dead and was once again amazed by the quality of its episode.
Given this, I decided to rank my top 10 favourite episodes.
However, no matter how hard I tried, I found it impossible to cram it into ten because there was always one episode that fell outside that I just had to mention.
Therefore, I decided to make this a Top 11 list instead of Top 10.
And the one episode that made this list a Top 11 is,

11. Done Running – Season 4, Episode 1.

Done Running.jpg

“Done Running” was a real breath of fresh air after the forgettable third season.
It put the final season on the right track again, delivering on an interesting story and a relatable cast of characters that were fun to interact with.
Picking up with Clementine and A.J, who has now grown into a miniature force to be reckoned with, the two are in an accident, which leads to them being found by the former students of Ericson’s Boarding School for Troubled Youth.
What follows is great setup for the rest of the season, with you getting to know almost all the troubled kids and get a sense of their personalities.
It is great character building and all leads up to the epic ending where Clementine learns how the school’s leader Marlon let two of his own people be taken away to save his own skin.
A skin that certainly didn’t last long because, in the shocking cliffhanger, A.J takes Clementine’s advice a little more seriously than she intended and puts a bullet in his head after he surrenders.
A shocking ending for a great setup episode, and the season would only get better from here.

10. Around Every Corner – Season 1, Episode 4.

Around Every Corner

Another great episode, “Around Every Corner” has strong moments throughout.
The opening Walker attack, the zombie child, Molly’s introduction, Ben’s fate and, of course, Lee getting bitten.
The build up to this final moment and the ending, with characters potentially choosing to come with you or not based on your choices, felt like an earned payoff to all the time you spent interacting and bonding with them.
Along with this, there are plenty of other choices that had impact.
For example, you can get Molly killed if your aim is awful, and choose to drop Ben to his death and save him.
Speaking of deaths, one that you cannot change is Chuck’s, as he kills himself when he is cornered by Walkers after saving Clementine’s life.
It was a tragic death for a small time yet great character.
Another nice addition is the Crawford storyline, which shows just how desperate people can become once the apocalypse hits, as it can lead them to commit atrocities.
And, while Lee and the others have to deal with all of this craziness, the mysterious stranger in contact with Clementine stalks you.
Overall,  “Around Every Corner” is a solid episode that builds into the perfect “No Time Left”

9. Take Us Back – Season 4, Episode 4.

Take Us Back

The final episode of the final season, I and many other fans were incredibly nervous coming into “Take Us Back.”
We wanted to know what the fate of Clementine, A.J and all the kids at the school would be, hoping they would make it, and that their story’s would conclude in a satisfying way.
And it did… for the most part.
I’ll get my few negatives that hold the episode back out of the way first.
For one, I didn’t like the roles Lily and James played in the episode, depending on which one of them survived the previous one.
James’ character is basically ruined in this episode when he tries to take A.J away.
Also, I wish there was more variety with Clementine’s ending and not just one set down fate for her.
That said, her fate is a great way to end Clementine’s story.
The bait and switch of her fake out death was fantastic and led to a lot of cheers.
Many of the decisions were also incredibly hard to make and the one about whether or not to trust A.J does leave a big impact on who survives.
Minnie is a terrifying villain in this final episode, reminding me of a horror movie slasher.
It is the emotional ending above all else though that makes “Take Us Back” worth it.
“Thank you for playing” indeed.

8. Long Road Ahead – Season 1, Episode 3.

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“Long Road Ahead,” or as I like to call it “Another One Bites The Dust,” is an episode full of deaths and departures.
I’m sure we all screamed when Carley/Doug was shot out of nowhere, and I’m doubly sure that no tears were shed when their murderer Lily left, either through escaping us or us kicking her out, depending on our choice.
Then there was the deaths of both Duck and Katjaa, which was just a gut punch of a scene.
Once Duck was bitten, he was a dead kid walking, but Katjaa committing suicide was something I’m sure none of us expected.
The effect this would have on Kenny going forward in the story was great for his character.
With all of this death, Chuck then encouraged Lee to teach Clementine how to defend herself, which he does, showing her how to use a gun and keep her hair short, which would help her survival greatly later on.
As for Chuck, he is first introduced in this episode and, while he did not stick around long, he is still an important character for encouraging Lee to make sure Clem could protect herself if he ever died.
Then there is Christa and Omid who are both welcome additions to the cast as well.
“Long Road Ahead” is an episode of gains and losses.
We lost some truly fantastic characters and gained a few new ones, in an episode that was hell of an emotional roller coaster.

7. A House Divided – Season 2, Episode 2.

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Speaking of emotion, how about that unexpected Kenny reunion in “A House Divided”?
Of all the characters I expected to return in this episode after the “I thought you were dead” trailer, Kenny was certainly low on my probability guess.
Not that I was complaining though as he continued to be one of the series’ best characters.
Along with the emotional Kenny reunion, there are a lot of other great things about “A House Divided,” like the introduction of the series’ greatest villain Carver.
His interrogation scene with Clementine is so intense no matter how you play it.
The final confrontation with him at the end of the episode, with the possibly of Alvin being killed by him based on what you choose, is even more intense.
The episode also gives you the time to get to know the new characters of the group Clementine met in the first episode, along with Kenny’s group.
Although, Nick continues to be an idiot by stupidly shooting a man trying to help us.
However, it did lead to a great payoff with Walter who can either save Nick or let him die based on what you tell him.
So, with some great choice variety, a fantastic villain, and an emotional reunion with Kenny, “A House Divided” is the first great episode of season two.

6. No Going Back – Season 2, Episode 5.

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The second best finale of The Walking Dead Telltale series, “No Going Back” also has one of the best choices as well.
By that, I of course mean the final ones, where you have to choose to either let Kenny kill Jane or shoot him, and then whether or not to stay with the survivor.
These choices were some of the hardest I had to make and I cried a lot at the Kenny ones.
Although, I will say that I wish it had been Luke we had to choose to save rather than Jane because he is a much better character and had more conflict with Kenny but, alas, he dies rather stupidly earlier in the episode.
Luke’s death is not the only bad part about this episode sadly, as no one dies in the fight with the Russians, which was the cliffhanger of the previous episode.
The group are also robbed by Bonnie, Mike, and literal worst character Arvo, who has the nerve to shoot Clementine when they’re robbing a group that has a baby.
Honestly, the first portion of this episode does have a lot of problems but the endings more than make up for them.
It was an intense way to end season two and, at the time, I couldn’t wait to see how season three would follow them up.
Too bad season three insultingly threw these endings in the trash but, in my opinion, that does not damage how great these endings are.
They literally saved the episode and made it good enough to put at number six on my list.

5. Suffer the Children – Season 4, Episode 2.

Suffer the Children

After the great setup episode that was “Done Running,” “Suffer the Children” continued in making the final season even better, starting off with the moral questions surrounding A.J’s execution of Marlon.
How you chose to react to the murder clearly shapes A.J, and we get a realistic look at how him and the other survivors at the school react to the situation.
After inevitably being kicked out, Clem and A.J then run into Lily, whose arrival was unfortunately spoiled by the episode trailer.
It was a cool idea to bring Lily back and she serves her role well both in this episode and the following one, which we will get to later.
Clem’s reunion with Lily also leads to her meeting new character James, who is a former Whisperer in a fantastic reference to the comics.
Upon returning to the school, we get more amazing interactions with the characters, including the choice of Clementine romancing either Louis or Violet, both of whom make great love interests for her.
This all builds into the final battle of the episode with Lily and her Delta forces, which is a blast to play through.
The final choice between saving either Louis or Violet is a little too easy though because why wouldn’t you save Clem’s love interest?
Overall though, “Suffer the Children” is a fantastic episode with a lot of great character development and action that would build into one of the best episodes of the series, “Broken Toys.”

4.  In Harms Way – Season 2, Episode 3.

In Harm's Way

After the great “A House Divided,” “In Harm’s Way” continued in making Carver the best villain of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. 
Having kidnapped Clementine’s group, he proves how much of a psychopath he is by killing Reggie, beating Alvin to within an inch of his life (if he’s still alive at this point), and bashing Kenny’s eye in.
Carver alone is one of the big reasons why “In Harm’s Way” is such a fantastic episode.
His threatening presence is constant, even when he is not on screen, and everyone is rightly afraid of him.
It is his interactions with Clementine though that probably make him the most interesting as he notices their similarities.
His ending in this episode is also great, with Kenny bashing in his face with a crowbar, which you can choose to have Clementine watch.
I just wish he had stuck around to episode four because his presence really could have fixed that awful episode.
Carver is not the only fantastic character this episode though as others are given the chance to shine like Alvin, who goes out in epic style.
In any case, the rest of “In Harm’s Way” is amazing as well, especially the ending, which sees the group attempting to escape through a heard of Walkers, only for Carlos to be shot and killed, causing Sarah to run off, and Sarita to be bitten.
The only downside to this episode is the choices, as they don’t really have that much of an impact.
Despite this, “In Harm’s Way” is easily season two’s best episodes.

3. Starved for Help – Season 1, Episode 2.

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The first ever episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, “A New Day,” was a great start to the series, and almost made it on the list, but its followup episode, “Starved for Help,” is in a league of its own.
Picking up three months after the first episode, “Starved For Help” kicks off with an intense sequence that sees Lee and his group rescue new character Ben and his friends.
Only problem is that you have to either cut off one his friends’ legs to free him from a bear trap or leave him to die.
Either way, both of Ben’s friends die, with one of them turning, revealing to the group that they are all infected and will turn into a Walker when they die, unless the brain is destroyed.
From here, the tension only gets higher as you meet the St. John family who invite Lee’s group over for a nice friendly dinner with Marks legs as the main dish.
Yep, they’re cannibals, and the build up to this reveal is magnificent.
Finding Mark with his legs hacked off is easily one of the most horrifying moments of the entire series and the following events are just as iconic.
Having to choose to either kill Larry after he has a heart attack or try to help, only for Kenny to kill him, and taking down the St. John brothers are all intense scenes.
What’s make it even more horrifying is that many of these events are foreshadowed by what Marks says at the beginning of the episode.
Along with this, “Starved for Help” also has a lot of hard choices, like who to give food to and whether we should take food from the car or not at the end.
And, while the car choice does not lead to a different experience based on what you choose, the impact that this moment had on the rest of the season would be huge.
Intense, horrifying, and even having a couple of light hearted moments, “Starved for Help” is one of season one’s best episodes.

2. Broken Toys – Season 4, Episode 3.

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Without a doubt in my mind, the best episode of season four, “Broken Toys” is a fantastic penultimate episode that was a great way to return to the series after Telltale Games’ shutdown.
Thank god Skybound was able to deliver this episode because it is not only the best in season four but my second favourite episode of the entire series.
After the raid on Ericson’s, Clementine prepares to launch a rescue mission to get her friends back from Lily and the Delta.
What follows is an episode with a lot of stellar moments from Abel’s interrogation, to James having you walk with the Walkers and, of course, the intense third act, which sees Clementine raid the Delta’s boat.
This was an amazing ending that had plenty of shocking moments packed into a half hour segment.
Minnie’s betrayal was surprising and made her easily one of the most hateable characters of the season.
Then there is the final battle with Lily, which is one of the most intense fights of the series, resulting in the deaths of either her or James.
Speaking of James, his role in this episode is perfect and I came to appreciate him a lot.
Too bad he was ruined in the final episode if he survived.
Other stand out characters are Violet and Louis whose relationship with Clementine continues to grow, depending on which one you had Clem romance.
Although, this does tie into the one criticism I had that keeps “Broken Toys” from taking the top spot.
This criticism is that if you didn’t save Violet in the previous episode then she will turn on you and her reasons for doing so seem contrived to me.
But, this said, if you save Violet instead of Louis it leads to the horrifying moment when you learn Louis had his tongue cut out, which is very well done.
Along with the horror, there are also heartfelt moments though, like Clementine’s final meeting with Lee, which was all kind of tear inducing.
My second favourite episode in all of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, “Broken Toys” is an intense ride with a lot of shocking and emotional moments.

1. No Time Left – Season 1, Episode 5.

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There was not a dry eye in the house of many players upon first finishing the final episode of the first season, “No Time Left.”
The greatest episode of the entire series, “No Time Left” centers on Lee’s final, desperate struggle to rescue Clementine and prepare her for a world without him, having been bitten in the previous episode.
This culminates in his death at the end, with the player having to choose to either have Clementine shoot him or leave him to turn.
Either way, Lee’s final words to Clementine are heartbreaking and always leaves me with tears at my eyes.
It is the most emotional moment of the entire series and one of the most emotional in all of gaming.
Along with Lee’s traumatic death, there are many other emotional moments, like Kenny’s fake out death, which is perfectly handled, no matter how it turns out.
Either Kenny appears to go out saving Christa, saving the soon to be life of a child after he lost his own, or he appears to go out by mercy killing Ben, forgiving him, in a sense, for his family’s death.
And then there’s the stranger.
The group taking the food from the car seemed insignificant on the first play through of “Starved For Help” but “No Time Left” proved that perception wrong because the owner of the car is the one who kidnapped Clementine.
Revealing the tragic loss of his own family because of the group’s actions, the Stranger judges Lee and, by extension, the player for every bad choice they made.
There is a piece of optional dialogue Lee can give here about his wife and how he caused her a lot of pain through his actions and this has always stuck with me.
Lee’s fight to reach Clementine and the Stranger and his final fight with the kidnapper are both great moments, especially in how it results in Lee and Clementine learning that Walker blood can help hide you from the Walkers.
It also leads to Clementine seeing her parents as Walkers, which is a real gut punch.
It is Lee’s emotional goodbye though that is the centerpiece of this episode.
His death turns season one of The Walking Dead into a tragic story about one man who made a bad choice sacrificing himself to save a little girl, redeeming himself.
“No Time Left” is Telltale’s The Walking Dead’s best episode that always leaves me in tears by the end.

Westworld Season Three Review: A Fall From Grace.

3 stars
Created by Jonathon Nolan and Lisa Joy, Westworld is a series that I have been invested in right from the beginning.
As soon as it started airing I was hooked.
I loved season one and, even though season two gets a lot of criticism, I personally think it is just as good as the first with some of the show’s best episodes.
And now we have season three, which was… okay?
I put a question mark there because I am genuinely unsure of how to feel about this season.
It certainly wasn’t bad but, unlike the other two seasons, there were very little standout moments that had me on the edge of my seat.
Season three honestly feels like an entirely different show and that is not exactly a good thing.
The story picks up with the setting changing from the titular Westworld park to the outside world, where Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) is beginning her plans to take over all of humanity with a Host Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thomspon) at her side.
Enter Aaron Paul’s character, Caleb Nichols, who is recruited by Dolores to help with her revolution.

Caleb
Aaron Paul does a good job as new character Caleb.

However, at the same time, the mysterious Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel) revives Maeve (Thandie Newton) with the intention of using her to take down Dolores… oh, and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and William (Ed Harris) are in this season too but they really don’t matter.
I’ll start by saying that I liked the roles Dolores, Charlotte, Caleb and Maeve had in this season.
While their stories aren’t anything spectacular they are still enjoyable, with Caleb being a welcome addition to the cast.
There are also a few surprise returns from minor characters that are well used.
But then there are Bernard and William who, as I said, don’t really matter.
They honestly felt like afterthoughts this season, which is such a shame because they are among the series’ best characters.
I especially don’t like how William’s story appeared to end.

William
They did William dirty with his screen time this season.

Thankfully, there is one great scene with Bernard in the final episode, although I wish this scene had more build up to it happening.
Then there is the action, which seems to fluctuate in quality across the season.
For example, there are some fights that are very good in the final few episodes.
However, there is a fight with Ashely Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) in the second episode that was just atrocious in quality.
One thing I can definitely praise the season for though is Ramin Djawadi’s score because it is amazing, as always.
Along with this, the CGI is also well done.
The season is surprisingly short too, with only eight episodes compared to the original two seasons’ ten each.
I actually got to the final episode not realizing it was the finale so I was pretty surprised when I learnt that it was over.

final episoe
The finale does leave some characters’ fates in question though so here’s to hoping we get satisfying answers in season 4.

All in all though, season three is still pretty good overall.
But, with its story having almost no epic moments, some characters being mishandled, and a few action sequences being laughable, it does fall miles short of the first two seasons.