Gakkou Gurashi: moe and tension

Foreshadowing? Metaphor? Both?

Doing a full-on analysis of something like this is tricky, since I can’t expect someone who hasn’t seen it to read this without having something spoiled for them, so before I delve into what Gakkou Gurashi does well, here’s a spoiler-free recommendation to watch at least the first episode.

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Thoughts On John Wick 2

John Wick: Chapter 2 is the kind of action movie I want to see thrive and re-ignite a wave of more competently made action movies. It has a strong opening, a great understanding of camera composition and focus, and a tight grip on choreographed action sequences. I’m not kidding when I say this movie is very close to being non-stop action. Not only are the fight scenes clear and easy-to-follow on account of the action geography being executed phenomenally, but they’re really creative too. Hand-to-hand combat involves holds, flips, and targeting vital areas as quickly as possible. Gunfights vary between what is essentially video game shootouts to gun martial arts, or “gun-fu”. And knife fights are still as unnerving to watch as ever.

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Thoughts on LEGO Batman

Despite my burnout from Suicide Squad, I was actually looking forward to seeing LEGO Batman, since I liked The LEGO Movie. I was hoping it would redeem WB’s previous attempts at comic book movies. Boy, was I naive. Unfortunately, LEGO Batman has become the final nail in the coffin between me and WB’s adaptations of the DC Universe.

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Tired of Disingenuous Assertions

Mass Effect, after hundreds of hours of extensive playthroughs, is without a doubt one of my favourite games of all time. Although, it’s not without it’s flaws, and plot-holes, of which there are plenty, it’s one of the most gripping games I’ve ever played. And I’ve played a ton of games. A fully-realized sci-fi game akin to the likes of Knights of the Old Republic. Mass Effect somehow manages to hit the sweet spot of inventing a universe with a rich and complex lore and presenting it in a way that doesn’t require the player to memorize any of the game’s codex entries or sit through hours of exposition and info-dumps.

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10-Scales & Reviews

I’ve always been baffled by review scores, since the bulk of them are barely defined (if at all), and make little to no sense even then. For instance, a game given a 9/10 purely for graphical fidelity and beautiful aesthetics, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be a game, not a pretty picture in an art gallery. And then there are reviewers who will undermine their in-depth review with a score at the end that conflicts with the subjective interpretation of everyone watching / reading their review. Not that it’s their fault that a lot of people only care about the meaningless number, but there’s plenty of reviewers who will hardly say anything or mostly say negative things and give it an 8/10.

It’s so jarring listening / reading someone’s review where they barely mention any positives about something only to give it a high score anyway. Why? Is it out of fear that people will vehemently disagree and verbally attack you? Who cares? It’s YOUR review. Don’t surrender your own opinion in exchange for approval. I understand that the popularity of something indicates how likely the response of your coinciding / differing opinion will be positive or negative, depending whether you were convincing or agreeable enough. If you were harsh on something widely praised, then there’s a good chance you’ll receive negative backlash even if you made a lot of valid points. But I still don’t feel that’s a justifiable excuse to yield your point of view. This is not an attack on reviewers and how people score things, nor is it a condescending judgment towards people who submit to popular belief. I just feel that we should try and be as clear as possible in our efforts to communicate how we look at things – being upfront about what we like and don’t like, with examples of things we see as better or worse.

Numbers are something you have to assign meaning and convey to others if you want people to understand what your scores really mean. Most people tend not to do this, and have only a vague idea of what they believe certain scores mean. And unfortunately, a large consensus of people get up in arms at the thought of giving things any less than 7/10, unless it’s unanimously agreed to be one of the worst things ever, and even then people will be merciful and give it a 2/10 or a 3/10. Though, this tends to mainly happen with what’s popular more than anything else. So, if you feel strongly negative about something lesser-known or obscure work, then there’s a significantly less of a chance you’ll aggravate a ton of people with your review. But the flip side of that is, if it’s something you hate and don’t want to get popular, best keeping your criticisms to yourself. It’s fine if that’s how you really feel about it, if you can see some redeeming features that raise it up for you, but why be lenient if all you see is faults? And on the other side of the spectrum, why be harsh if all you see is strong points?

If something’s great in your eyes, vocalize what it does that’s so great and why it makes you feel certain feelings. Be adamant about your opinion, and don’t compromise on it. That doesn’t mean don’t be open-minded to other’s opinions on it, just don’t restrict yourself if you have strong feelings or opinions on even one or two aspects you feel a show does extremely well. Examine your own preferences and penchants until you have a firm idea of what you truly want to see and experience – be honest with yourself. The reviews I tend to like the most, even if I disagree with them, are the ones that come across as sincere. When the person is speaking from both their head and heart, and being forthright do I get a sense that this is truly how they feel about this work. I love hearing and seeing other people’s perspectives, especially when it gives me a deeper insight into both how they see the show, and offer me another way of looking at the show.

Explore your appreciations and criticisms – be specific. For instance, if you love the character designs of a show so much, even if you feel it’s not that good of a show, then write about why you love the character designs and what makes them so appealing to you. Similarly, if you feel strongly about the music, writing, direction, animation, and so on, regardless of whether you liked the entire thing or not, don’t hesitate to talk about those things in as much detail as you can. If you truly value even one aspect of something and nothing else, then there’s no need to discuss anything else. Just discuss that. Like the concept of a show, but feel let down by its execution? Discuss. Elaborate on how you would like to see this concept done better. Amazed by the clever writing and tight structure of a show? Discuss. Examine the inner-workings and highlight what you consider the peak moments / best examples of this, and why it’s so impressive.

I tend to agree with Digibro most of the time when it comes to feelings and opinions on anime, and I don’t have the capacity in me to create my own 10-scale for anime, so I just go by his, as we have very similar tastes and approaches to anime. Additionally, his 10-scale appeals to me on a multitude of levels, mostly that it’s a well-thought and solid way of viewing shows, as opposed to others who find it hard to give anything lower than a 6/10. Above all, I find it useful when considering reviews, since our general thoughts on anime seem to line-up the majority of the time. It only makes all the more sense for me to use it. Also, I don’t review or have a rating for everything I’ve watched, nor do I plan to re-watch anything I don’t already consider great, unless someone manages to convince me otherwise to give a show a second chance. The purpose of this is to help rank and distinguish the good from the bad, the better from the good, and the best from the rest.

The 10-scale can be read something like this:

  • 10/10: An all-time favorite that I hope to revisit for years to come. Most likely appeals to me on a conceptual level.
  • 9/10: Still one of my favorites, but not quite as dense with things to love, or has moments that I might not have loved.
  • 8/10: Very cool shows that I enjoyed from start to finish, but didn’t quite appeal to me on the raw personal level. Still stuff I’m likely to revisit.
  • 7/10: Shows that I overall enjoyed and could see watching again, but wouldn’t go out of my way to do so. Probably had some things that bothered me, but nothing to make me hate it.
  • 6/10: Doesn’t really appeal to me, or was filled with problems, but overall I still was glad I watched it. I’d probably never rewatch these of my own accord.
  • 5/10: Didn’t appeal to me enough to feel like it was worth my time. These shows aren’t offensively bad, but if I could tell my past self not to watch them, I would.
  • 4/10: Actively boring shows. Maybe had enough moments that I liked to keep them from being the worst thing ever, but overall I just regret watching them. At this point, it becomes extremely rare for me to finish anything that I dislike this much, meaning that most of the scores from here down will be on movies or shorts.
  • 3/10: Trashy, boring shows. The kind of stuff that might have one appealing attribute, be it artwork or a certain character, but overall it’s not enough to salvage it.
  • 2/10: At this point, I’m passing out watching the show. It’s either unwatchably bland, or outright bad, and nothing is strong enough to save it.
  • 1/10: A special place reserved for shows that aren’t just awful, but also offensive. If I feel disgusted with a show by the time I’m done with it, this is where it goes. Also home to shorts that I felt had nothing in them at all.

~ Ace