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[2019] Why Can’t I Marry Petra?! (and, Queer Romance in Video Games)

(Header image sticker can be bought here)

So I’m sitting there, minding my own business, starting Fire Emblem: Three Houses about three months later than everyone else because I had to promise someone else I wouldn’t start until finishing a long-procrastinated-on novel manuscript. Game’s pretty good so far, way too few battles for my liking, but I’m still really enjoying the characters and the potential of all the systems. The story’s kinda dumb and I’m mad that I’m a blank slate self-insert character, but hey, it’s still Fire Emblem.

Then I see her.

Petra.

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[2011-2015] The Death of Ultimate Marvel

Probably one of the most clear, visually striking ways to show the difference between the 2000s and 2010s is to juxtapose the Ultimate Marvel comic line between its beginning and its ending:

I’m sorry, I’m not going to give a plot summary for this one

What started out as a fresh re-imagining of Marvel’s continuity-mired, aging superhero world in the 21st century became itself a continuity-mired mess, one that, once the Marvel Studios movies themselves became a fresh re-imagining of Marvel in the 21st century, became so obsolete that the entire universe was destroyed in a crossover event.

What happened, though?

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[2015] A Terrorist Attack in My Hometown

On July 16th, 2015, a terrorist attack happened less than five miles from me.

I was sitting at home, doing whatever. Who even knows. Then the news came in that a deranged man shot up an military recruitment building in Chattanooga. Then he got in his car, drove to a Navy Reserve center, and shot it up as well.

5 people died, and two were injured. The man wasn’t ISIS, but he had been influenced by jihadi propaganda on the internet, as well as mental health and drug abuse problems. Right here, where I lived, where I never even considered the possibility of something like this happening, some depraved being went on a rampage committed a mass shooting.

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[2011] The Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program

Y’all remember that time Nintendo really fucked up bad? I’m talking when the Nintendo 3DS first came out in the spring of 2011. There were no launch games worth talking about, no game to sell the system to gamers, to casual audiences, or even to kids. The 3D gimmick was really neat, but no game truly showed it off in any notable way, much less anything that made it essential for gameplay. As the follow-up to the best-selling handheld gaming system of all-time, Nintendo really ruined things.

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[2014] Fantastic Visual Storytelling: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a good movie that worked as a nice prequel to a classic film franchise while also standing alone as a sci-fi monkey drama.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a great movie that kicked everything up a notch and went into far greater emotional depths while being a true blockbuster experience as well. However, it worked so well partially because of how standalone it was from its predecessor. The human cast does not return, and our cast from the original have character arcs independent of those they had in the original movie.

This opening scene, then, acts as a bridge between those movies, but also as its own standalone art piece of a pandemic growing and human society collapsing. The peaceful globe-spinning graphics mixed with the increased panic of the archival footage makes for an unnerving intro that firmly sets the tone for the rest of the film.

Sequels do these sorts of “recap the previous movie” intros all the time, but rarely do they succeed on an artistic level all their own. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is special.

[2018] Rhapsody for My Dead End-of-the-Decade Plan

There was a brief time where, due to confusing and failed life plans as a result of my tenuous position as an alternate for the JET Program, I was a NEET from July to November 2018. And because of that, for three months, I was getting no income, but I was also living rent-free with my parents and infinite free time… My dreams of being a Full-Time Writer came true. If I was going to be a NEET, I was going to be a NEET who accomplished great things…!!!

Then I got called to fulfill a position in the JET Program after all at the end of October and that all disappeared immediately. But I had set all of these lofty goals for myself… I really was gonna make this writing thing work… But, yeah, I definitely chose to actually make money doing a job I like instead of risking getting buried in accumulating debt.

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[2017] Fantastic Visual Storytelling: Night is Short, Walk On Girl

Listen, I’m not about to attempt to explain this movie to you because you won’t believe me even if I did. I’ll just say that Night is Short, Walk on Girl is a bonkers film, probably Masaaki Yuasa’s best work yet, and absolutely one of the most visually excellent films of the 2010s. Cinematic maximalism.

Also, can we just stop and reflect on just how prolific Masaaki Yuasa has been in the past ten years? He started off with a bang with The Tatami Galaxy in 2010, then two more series, Ping Pong in 2014 and Devilman Crybaby in 2018, plus the brand-new Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! that started just this January. Then he has released THREE theatrical films–Night is Short plus Lu Over the Wall and Ride Your Wave (which premieres in the U.S. next month in a one-night event; go see it!). Add in all the other weird stuff he’s been going and you have one of the most productive men in the realm of animation. And all of it is great, somehow. Let’s hope he keeps this up in the 20s!

[2010s] Best of the Decade: Music (Honorable Mentions)

This is a sequel to my previous article on my favorite albums of the 2010s. I had so much to write about that that list went on way longer than I wanted, and I was STILL unable to list all of my favorites. There’s a lot of amazing music out there!

So I wanted to make this second list just to feature everything else I wanted to feature, though without any writeups this time. Same rules apply last time, so no repeat artists/groups, and no soundtracks (sorry again Michael).

So here we go:

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[2013-2018] The Auralnauts Jedi Party Saga

2013 was the beginning of a renaissance for the Star Wars fandom. With the waning days of the post-Episode III Expanded Universe and the recent sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, things were about to change dramatically for the franchise and its massive fanbase. But in 2013, things were still simmering.

And with that simmering came the Auralnauts Jedi Party Saga…

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