Attack on Titan Chapter 131, Rumbling, Review: Attack on Titan’s Third Impact.

5 stars
Last month, Hajime Isayama delivered an Attack on Titan chapter that had the potential to be in my top ten best.
This month, he did it again with Chapter 131, “Rumbling”, which easily goes down as the manga’s darkest chapter by an extremely wide margin.
The majority of “Rumbling” consists of the consequences of Eren’s genocide, resulting in many brutal deaths.
Without a doubt, the most horrific of these deaths are those of Ramzi and his brother Halil.
Ramzi is the boy from Chapter 123, who partied with the Survey Corps when they first came to Marley, and “Rumbling” opens with him showing Halil where he hides the money he has pickpocketed to help their family survive.
Here, we get a tragic showcase of how cruel their lives are, as Ramzi not only reveals that many of their people die during the winter because of the lack of shelter, but is also shown to have had his right hand cut off for stealing.
Not all is lost in Ramzi’s mind though, because he has hope that the money he steals will be enough to get his family out of poverty and give them all a happy life.
A sadly naive dream to be sure but one that is incredibly sympathetic, made all the worse by the arrival of the Rumbling.
With this genocide, both Ramzi’s family, life and dreams are crushed under the massive feet of the Colossal Titans.
Watching Ramzi and Halil desperately run for their lives, only for Halil to turn back for the money, and then be crushed by debris was absolutely horrifying.
This is made even worse to read when it is shown Ramzi survived the falling debris, only to see that his brother’s head has been smashed in and that he is still clutching the money that held all of their hopes.
We then get to see Ramzi slowly being crushed under the foot of a Wall Titan in agonizing detail that is difficult to stomach, let alone read.
Just as horrifying is the panels of the many other innocent people who are murdered in Eren’s genocide.
In one particular heart breaking panel, we see multiple reactions from different people.
Some bang on a door trying to escape their deaths, one breaks off to try and flee in another direction, a mother holds her child close, and a man holding his bags looks up towards their oncoming deaths and just seems to accept his fate.
What makes this situation even more tragic is Eren’s perspective.
It is interlaced with Ramzi’s point of view, and reveals that the hidden memory shard of him from Eren’s memory was not from after Eren left to hide in Marley but rather before.
After leaving the meeting where the person calling for Eldian rights damned the people of Paradis, Eren walked the streets, contemplating his future actions, when he came across Ramzi being attacked.
After some hesitation, wondering why he should save him if he’s going to kill him later, Eren gives in to his conscience and rescues the boy before tearfully telling him he is sorry for what he will do in the future, even if Ramzi does not understand.
This heartbreaking moment makes for a chilling contrast to Eren’s perspective while he is committing the Rumbling.
Here, he admits that when he found out people were outside the walls he was disappointed.
This reveals some selfish motivations behind the Rumbling that make Eren a much darker character than first thought.
Even creepier is the double page spread where Eren is in child form and cries out happily that, “this is freedom.”
This panel is easily one of the best in the entire manga because of how chilling it is.
What makes it darker is that if someone saw this image without context they would think it was wholesome moment and not the horrifying panel that it is.
The following images of more people succumbing to Eren’s genocide in between this horrific panel is gut wrenching.
This all combines to make the Rumbling feel like the Third Impact from The End of Evangelion. 
There’s even a moment that seems to be directly inspired by that film because, when Ramzi is being crushed, he sees Ymir, just like all the people who died during the Third Impact saw Rei.
What this means is anyone’s guess but it sure will be interesting to find out.
However, although most of this chapter is horror and despair, there is actually a surprisingly wholesome moment, made even more surprising that it is a ship scene.
But not Eremika or Erehisu, no, this time it is Aruani, Armin and Annie.
Isayama pretty much confirmed that Armin has a crush on Annie and highly implied that Annie returned some of those feelings.
It was a happy moment that brought some levity to an otherwise horrifying chapter.
Armin also admitting that, like Annie, he is a monster too was great for his character, and the moment where a child Eren talks to him in Paths makes me think he is going to have a big role to play soon, which I am excited for.
However, I am also scared as well because Armin and Annie seeming to have a romantic connection now spells out massive death flags for Annie.
Well, at least I’m sure she won’t die until the final confrontation with Eren.
Speaking of, the last panel of the chapter shows Eren, who is seemingly sleeping in his monstrous Titan form.
Only thing is that his head appears to be attached to his body by his exposed spine.
Such a grizzly sight makes me wonder if Eren can even heal from this once he finishes.
Either way though, it will be interesting to see how Attack on Titan finally ends, especially with Eren’s genocide now in full swing.
“Rumbling” is another top ten Attack on Titan chapter with grizzly images that are horrifying but ones that we needed to see to understand the consequences of Eren’s actions.

The Promised Neverland Manga Review: Basically Tokyo Ghoul Quality vs Tokyo Ghoul: Re Quality.

4 stars
I recently rewatched the first season of The Promised Neverland and was amazed by it.
I had honestly forgot how incredible of an anime it was.
So, knowing that the second season had been delayed to 2021 because of Covid-19, I decided to read the manga in its entirety.
After reading it, the best way I can describe it is Tokyo Ghoul quality vs Tokyo Ghoul: Re quality.
Essentially, the first half of the manga is fantastic, just like Tokyo Ghoul, while the second half is still good but it does have a lot of problems, just like Tokyo Ghoul: Re, creating an experience that is, overall, still a lot of fun to read.
Written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu, The Promised Neverland follows children Emma, Norman and Ray who learn that the orphanage they live on is in reality a farm made to provide food for demons.
They, and the other children, then plan to escape and embark into the world of demons, a world that contains many friends and many foes.
As I said, the first half of The Promised Neverland is absolutely fantastic, with many great twists and characters to cheer for.
As if the characters from the first season like Emma, Norman, Ray, Isabella and Phil weren’t already amazing enough, the manga offers many more interesting characters like Mujika, Yuugo and Lucas.
Yugo and Lucas in particular are great additions to the cast and probably tied for my favourite characters in the entire story.

yuggo
Yugo is an amazing character and the conclusion to him and Lucas’ arc are fantastic, even if I do wish this conclusion had come later on in the story.

As for the old characters, they are just as great, with Emma standing out as a fantastic protagonist, especially in the Goldy Pond Arc.
Speaking of, Gondy Pond is definitely my favourite arc of the manga with it providing a lot of awesome fights, tension and character development.
The villain of that arc, Leuvis, is also just as intimidating as Isabella and Sister Krone were in the first season.
Unfortunately, this continued fantastic quality does not last as the story begins to have more and more flaws as it enters its second half.
One of these big flaws is character immunity.
It became quite clear towards the final stages of the story which characters were safe and which were not.
For a series that started off with the “anyone can die” mentality, it sure pulled a lot of punches by the end in regards to character deaths.

goldy pond
Although my favourite storyline is the Goldy Pond Arc, I can admit that this is the arc where it became clear that almost every character had plot armour.

Another problem is those characters themselves or, more specifically, the amount of them.
There are so many characters that a lot of them don’t get the screen time they deserved.
Norman, Isabella and Phil are missing from huge chunks of the story and Ray becomes kind of a stagnant character.
The worst example of wasted character potential though definitely goes to Ayshe.
She is introduced in the last few arcs of The Promised Neverland and is given a fantastic backstory and motivation that looks set to put her on a revenge path that will cause her to conflict with some of our main characters.
However, after this backstory is revealed, she never does anything.
All of that fantastic build up the reveal of her past had turned out to be for nothing and made wonder why she was introduced in the first place.

ayshe
Ayshe could have been a fantastic character if her backstory had actually been expanded upon.

There was also a complete deus ex machina towards the end that was very off putting.
As for the ending of the story, a lot of people have problems with it and, while I think those are valid, I still liked the ending and it did get me tearing up.
Which reminds me, I cried quite a few times when reading this manga.
Whenever the story ignored characters absurd plot armor and finally killed someone it almost always got a tear out of me.
So, I can definitely say that the good far outweighs the bad.
While the second half does have a lot of problems, The Promised Neverland is still a great manga that delivers a lot of emotional moments.

Pom Poko Review: Studio Ghibli’s Weirdest Film?

3 and a half stars
Imagine that you’re on Netflix and then an ad for a Studio Ghibli movie pops up.
You’re intrigued so you watch and see a police officer comforting a crying woman… only for her face to disappear.
As the police officer runs away from the faceless woman, she begins to follow him on a bike until he fires his gun into the air in terror, frightening the woman and turning her into… a raccoon?
Well, after seeing this bizarre ad, I knew I had to watch Isao Takahata’s 1993 film Pom Poko. 
Now that I have watched it, I can definitely say that it is Studio Ghibli’s weirdest film by a wide margin.
Pom Poko follows a group of shape shifting raccoons voiced by Makoto Nonomura, Shigeru Izumiya, Nijiko Kiyokawa, Kosan Yanagiya and many others.
These raccoons are trying to stop their homes being destroyed by invading humans at any cost, including eco-terrorism, putting on a parade to scare the humans, and inflating their testicles to attack… wait, what?

balls attack
I expected some strange things going into Pom Poko but not attack by testicle inflation.

Seriously though, if you think the testicles technique is the weirdest thing this movie can come up with your mistaken.
Pom Poko has so many outlandish concepts and throughout the film I honestly wasn’t sure if I was liking what was happening or not.
I did go from disliking the raccoons to actually sympathizing with them by the end though, but I wasn’t incredibly attached to any of them.
One thing I can say that I really enjoyed was the creativity with the raccoons shape shifting abilities, which is on full display during the parade scene.
You can see that the writers and animators just let their imaginations go wild during here and it’s really enjoyable.

parade
The parade scene is the best scene in the movie because of how creative it is.

Like most Studio Ghibli films, it also contains an environmentalist message that is well handled, especially with one act the raccoons take at the end.
Although, I will say that there are some plot points that don’t really go anywhere and the movie does feel a bit too long.
All of that said, Pom Poko is still an enjoyable film, despite its low points, with scene after scene of weird concepts.
It is definitely worth seeing for that weirdness factor alone.

 

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection Review: A Mixed Bag Just Like the Show.

3 stars
I have mixed feelings about Code Geass. 
On the one hand it has instances of brilliant writing, on the other hand it has instances of pretty terrible writing.
That said, it does have an incredible ending that makes a follow up extremely difficult to pull off.
In order to solve this problem, director Gorō Taniguchi decided to set this story in an alternate universe with a few minor changes to the original story… with mixed results as expected.

lelouch meboy
The film has as many positives as it does negatives, just like the original anime.

Lelouch of the Re;surrection is set one year after Lelouch’s sacrifice during the Zero Requiem.
A revived Lelouch (Japanese Jun Fukuyama, English Johnny Yong Bosh) is under the care of C.C (Yukana and Kate Higgins) when his sister Nunnally (Kaori Nazuka and Rebecca Forstadt) and good friend Suzaku (Takahiro Sakura and Yuri Lowenthal) are kidnapped by the enemy nation of Zilkhistan.
Now C.C and the Black Knights must find a way to bring Lelouch back to his former self so he can rescue the two and defeat Zilkhistan.
The film is well voice acted, animated and scored, with some great action sequences throughout.
Along with this, the writing is occasionally great just like how it is occasionally great in the show.
Lelouch and C.C are definitely the highlights, with their relationship having a fantastic arc that ended the film well.

CC
The way Lelouch of the Re;surrection ends with Lelouch and C.C’s relationship is genuinely touching.

It was a lot of fun to see the man of miracles at work again, defeating his enemies using his brilliant tactics.
In particular, one prison sequence where Lelouch got to show off his skills is a terrifically fun sequence.
And then there’s the villains of the film who, while they are not really interesting characters, do have an interesting motivation.
Their actions show the consequences of the Zero Requiem in a way that was believable and understandable.
Although, this does undermine the authenticity of the original ending somewhat.
Unfortunately, the issues of Lelouch of the Re;surrection don’t end there.
For starters, the changes to this story with the alternate universe don’t really have a point.
Take Shirley (Fumiko Orikasa and Amy Kincaid) for example.
She is brought back to life and the reason for this was so that she could sneak Lelouch’s body to C.C but this doesn’t really make any sense considering Shirley didn’t know C.C beforehand and she doesn’t have the skills to smuggle Lelouch’s body out.

Shirley
It felt like Shirley was kept alive just because the writer wanted her to be rather than there being a legitimate reason.

Not only this but a lot of the characters seem to forget Lelouch’s actions in the parts of the original story that are still canon.
Cornelia, weirdly enough, seems to be not as angry about Lelouch, you know, using his Geass on her sister Euphemia and then killing her.
Also, Oghi does something in this film that comes out of nowhere and feels really out of character.
And then there’s the problems with the original series that is carried over, chief among these being fan service.
Now, there is nothing wrong with fan service but does it have to come during these big emotional moments.
I can’t get invested in a scene where C.C encourages Lelouch during a dire moment if the shot spends so much time focusing on her private parts.
It makes these scenes comical rather than emotional.
Still, despite these problems, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection is a good film.
It does have occasional moments of brilliance, even if they are bogged down by problems, both old ones from the original show and new ones entirely.

 

Bodyguard Review: An Adrenaline Shot of a Show.

5 stars
I’m not sure I have any nails left to bite through after finally watching Bodyguard. 
In all seriousness, this political thriller, created and written by Jed Mercurio, and directed by Thomas Vincent and John Strickland, is the epitome of anxiety inducing.
The show follows traumatized war veteran, now police sergeant, David Budd (Richard Madden) who is assigned to protect the controversial Secretary of State, Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes).
However, after Budd joins Montague’s detail, acts of terrorism against the both of them begin to occur, raising suspicions of not just a government conspiracy but also suspicions against Budd himself.
Bodyguard is an intense experience from start to finish with terrific performances, especially from Madden who you quickly come to sympathize with as Budd.

madden
Madden plays Budd perfectly, portraying both the calm and collected soldier and the traumatized war veteran.

It is not just him though because everyone in the cast does an amazing job and, given how good the show is at making you care about its characters, it makes the scenes where they are in danger all the more suspenseful.
Speaking of these scenes, Bodyguard has some of the most heart attack creating moments I have seen in a good long while.
The first scene of the very first episode lets you know what you’re in for with an absolutely gripping opening.
This is followed by shocking moments topped by even more shocking moments as the episodes go on.

sniper
Just when you think this show has surprised you as much as it can, it presents another jaw dropping moment.

What makes it even better is how usually unexpected these scenes are.
For example, I knew coming into the show that there would be an intense scene with a sniper because everyone was talking about it when it aired.
I remember watching the show, wondering if it would happen at a particular point and then thinking, no, it couldn’t happen now.
Well, guess who was wrong?
I must have jumped a foot in the air when that scene started and I was gripping the arm rest of my chair in the absolutely terrifying minutes that followed.
And then there’s the final episode, which, instead of having a suspenseful scene that went on for a few minutes, stretched it out for most of the episode’s duration in some truly sweat inducing minutes.

shocking
Episode six had me almost tearing my hair out because of how intense it was.

In the end, the show wraps up most of its mysteries well, with plenty of foreshadowing to pick up on throughout the series.
Bodyguard is a series that will make you shake with worry and I think the best way to describe it would be like an adrenaline shot.

Tales From Earthsea Review: Studio Ghibli’s Weakest Film?

two-star-rating
After watching Goro Miyazaki’s Tales From Earthsea, I went online to try and find out what had happened during this movie.
What I found was that many considered this film to be the weakest of all the Studio Ghibli films, which honestly does not surprise me.
Based off the book series by Ursula K. Le Guin, Tales From Earthsea is a slow, confusing film that left me with multiple questions but not in a good way.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, the film follows disgraced prince Arren (Junichi Okada) who encounters a wizard named Sparrowhawk (Bunta Sugawara), who reminded me a lot of Lord Yupa from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. 
The film then aimlessly follows these two characters, both of which have little to no agency.

sparrowhawk and arren
Arren has no goal for the majority of the film. Shadowhawk does but this just results in him wandering around until he conveniently finds where he is supposed to go.

This lack of agency eventually results in them taking refuge with Sparrowhawk’s old friend Tenar (Jun Fubuki) and the girl in her care Therru (Aoi Teshima).
Oh, and there’s an evil wizard who wants eternal life that is thrown in there for good measure (Yūko Tanaka).
In all seriousness, I spent an incredibly large portion of the film wondering what the plot of Tales From Earthsea was.
As I said, the characters have little to no agency..
They just spend the majority of the film on a farm talking before the plot suddenly propels them into a confusing finale that left me baffled.
There’s this weird things about characters have two names and an even weirder dragon scene that isn’t explained.
I had absolutely no idea what was going on during the ending.

Therra something
The third act of this film is confusing, raising way more questions than it answers.

Not only this but some of the characters’ actions make no sense or are not explained.
Probably the worst case of this is our hero Arren.
A terrible act he commits at the beginning of the film is not explained well and it leads to some weird spiritual thing happening within him that feels entirely lacking in substance.
Also, why was Arren a prince anyway?
That had no significance whatsoever.

arren
Arren is without a doubt in my mind the weakest Studio Ghibli protagonist I have seen so far.

I’m not going to act like the film is completely terrible though.
Even though a lot of the animation is average, there are a couple of stunning shots here and there.
I also found myself liking Shadowhawk’s character, with one great scene where he uses his magic being very funny.
Overall though, Tales From Earthsea is a confusing film with mostly uncompelling characters and an aimless plot that left me scratching my head.
I have to agree with the majority of people in saying that this is Studio Ghibli’s weakest film.

 

Attack on Titan Chapter 130, Dawn for Humanity Review: The Devil Brings the Apocalypse.

5 stars
You know, it’s funny how I keep predicting how the story of Attack on Titan will go only for the next chapter to immediately prove me wrong.
In my predictions post for Chapter 130, “Dawn for Humanity”, I predicted that Historia would not be shown again until the end of the story.
So, imagine my complete surprise and happiness when I saw a spoiler that she would appear in a flashback this chapter.
As soon as I saw that spoiler, I immediately went offline so I wouldn’t accidentally get spoiled again and could experience the chapter for myself.
And boy was it an experience.
“Dawn for Humanity” is definitely in my top 10 favourite chapters of the entire manga, which is surprising considering how short it is.
This shortness is due to the final scene of the chapter that is full of constant glorious, yet horrifying double spread panels of the Rumbling arriving and laying waste to Marley.
My jaw was on the floor throughout this entire scene, with these panels being the best artwork Hajime Isayama has ever delivered.
He certainly has come a long way from his wonky artwork at the start of the manga.
Seriously, these panels just made the Rumbling so much more horrifying, with the Colossal Titans swimming under the best ships in the world’s navy and blowing them apart with steam.
Following this, is the terrifying shot of the Titan’s silhouettes as they emerge from the ocean.
Then, as the Marleyan soldiers flee, Isayama finally gifts us with the visual we have been waiting seven chapters for, a full view of Eren’s gigantic Titan.
And it. Is. Horrifying.
My first thought when I saw Eren like this was that he looked like the devil, which may have more significance later on.
The shot of his monstrous face with a soldier yelling that it’s the Attack Titan is chilling and I cannot wait for it to be animated.
I can already imagine this epic reveal with the cry of, “Shingeki No Kyojin!” when this is adapted.
Although, I do feel sorry for the poor souls who have to animate this moment because it is going to be incredibly time consuming and difficult.
Fingers crossed that Studio Mappa can pull it off.
Another interesting feature is the strings that seem to be holding up part of Eren’s Titan form from the spine.
This makes him look kind of like a marionette, which raises questions about Isayama symbolically portraying Eren as not free.
In any case, I have absolutely no clue how the alliance can even hope to stop Eren at this point.
He is the literal devil and commands millions of Colossal Titans.
He’s practically unbeatable.
Also, there’s no longer any hope of there being a Code Geass ending, not that I wanted one.
The Rumbling has reached Marley and Eren’s genocide has begun.
There is no coming back from this.
Speaking of the alliance though, we get a brief scene of them this chapter, which has some fantastic character development for Annie.
The horrified look on her face when she realizes they can’t save Liberio, and that her father is most likely dead, is striking because it is the most emotion she has ever shown.
Her tearful confession that she doesn’t want to kill the 104th or Eren anymore is just as tragic and her deciding to leave the alliance because of these things makes me wonder what Isayama has planned for her in the future.
From here, we go into Eren’s flashbacks, before the reveal of the Rumbling, and they are filled with tonnes of interesting information.
The most important of these is obviously the Historia flashback because of its implications.
The scene between her and Eren is frustratingly vague but intentionally so.
Historia is revealed to be against Eren’s decision to destroy the world but seems to reach some kind of deal with him by deciding to have a child.
A representation of Historia’s childhood story book where Christa made a deal with the devil perhaps?
Whether this is the case or not, Historia asking Eren what he would think about her having a child practically screams to me that Eren is the father of her baby.
Not only this but when Zeke confirms that Mikasa most likely loves Eren, it is revealed that Eren is thinking of Historia in this moment.
However, despite this seeming to show Eren has a stronger connection to Historia and is most likely the father of her child, there is still evidence for the Eren and Mikasa ship.
As I said, Zeke suspects that Mikasa is in love with Eren, confirming that what Eren said about Mikasa only following him because of her Ackermann instincts is a steaming pile of Titan poop.
This most likely means that everything he told Mikasa and Armin in Chapter 112 was a lie meant to protect them by distancing themselves from him.
So, Mikasa being revealed to possibly be in love with Eren for real does raise the possibility of their ship potential.
Sure, Eren does say he doesn’t have time for anything like that because he only has four years left to live but this is back when he lied to Zeke practically every sentence so we should take what he says here with a pinch of salt.
Therefore, even though I am in favor of Eren being the father of Historia’s child because of its thematic weight, especially if the child turns out to be the reincarnation of Ymir Fritz, I can admit that there are some hints to Mikasa ending up with Eren too.
I think we can all agree though that, if any ship turns out to be canon, the last thing we want is another Tokyo Ghoul situation where people whose ship didn’t become canon send death threats to the author.
No matter what happens, lets be respectful guys.
Back to the chapter, other highlights of Eren’s flashbacks include a memory shard of the fez kid being assaulted, revealing that there will be a future flashback between Eren and him, and a flashback of Floch listening in to Eren’s conversation with Yelena.
This leads to Eren tasking Floch with pretending to support Yelena and Zeke so they can start the Rumbling and destroy the world.
What is particularly interesting about this moment is Floch’s reaction to Eren’s plan.
He looks shocked and maybe even a little horrified.
I would love to know what was going through Floch’s head at this moment.
If he does turn out to be alive then I hope we get a POV moment from him where he reflects on how he got to the cruel point he is now.
However, it is with this Floch flashback that I have to take issue because Eren describes the people he intends to kill as “animals.”
This not only makes him pretty unsympathetic but also makes no sense because he confirms he knows there are innocent people to Historia in the very next scene.
And speaking of that scene, there is another problem with the dialogue because Eren says that the Military Police plan to feed Zeke to Historia now that he is on Paradis.
Yet, going by the timeline, this conversation takes place months before Zeke arrived on the island.
All of that said though, I cannot fault the chapter for these dialogue problems because they are not Hajime Isayama’s problem but the translators’.
Not only do they make a mistake with translating in relation to the timeline but also with the “animals” line because, looking into it, I found that it wasn’t quite an accurate translation and that they most likely went overboard with it.
I hope they can do a better job with the translations next chapter.
Overall though, “Dawn for Humanity” was a phenomenal Attack on Titan chapter.
It delivered some great character development for Annie, finally brought back Historia, and gifted us with one of the most gloriously horrifying moments of the entire manga.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas Review: Expectedly Tragic Yet Unexpectedly Tragic.

4 and a half stars
Admit it, when you first heard the title I Want to Eat Your Pancreas you instantly thought this would be some kind of weird fetish anime.
If you did think that, I don’t blame you because that’s what I thought it would be as well, and I questioned why the anime club I belonged to would watch such a thing.
Well, in 108 minutes the film turned the title of I Want To Eat Your Pancreas from cringe inducing to one laced with tragedy but not the kind of tragedy you expect.
Directed by Shin’ichirō Ushijima and based off the novel by Yoru Sumino, the film follows a high school loner (Mahiro Takasugi) who learns that a girl from his class Sakura (Lynn) is suffering from an illness that will eventually kill her.
Initially wanting nothing to do with her, Sakura quickly worms her way into his life, befriending him and slowly teaching him about the beauty in life.

friendship
Sakura practically drags our main character kicking and screaming into friendship.

The bond between these two is genuinely sweet, yet filled with dread because you know any chance of romance between the two can only end in an expected tragedy.
Yet, somehow, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas succeeds in making the tragedy unexpected as well, delivering a shocking twist that literally had me screaming “WHAT!?” when I first saw it.
This twist was a stroke of tragic genius on the writer’s part, delivering a gut punch that left me and many others viewing the film reeling, causing quite a few of us to tear up.

sakura
Prepare to cry when watching the film.

With solid animation and music, this all combines to create an emotional experience that I was not expecting going in.
Watch I Want to Eat Your Pancreas. 
You expect one tragedy but end up with another one entirely.

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.