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Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: Anime/Manga Journal
« Last post by Ranadiel on Today at 07:21:35 AM »
Yep, it's basically a series made for a new generation of readers. My youngest writer entered the scene a couple of years ago, and he's pretty fond of the manga. Meanwhile, all my older writers including myself have absolutely zero patience for Black Clover, because to us it's yet another remix of the tried and true Shonen Jump recipe. We just want to watch series about cyborg grampas and dictionary makers, and yell at kids to get of our lawn.

That said, the writers in my generation also have a shonen series or two they grew up with that's special to them. I have a soft spot for Bleach and Inu Yasha, and I know someone who's really happy right now, because his old favourite is suddenly getting a brand new anime adaptation next season.

Speaking of shonen, I got the first volume of Astra Lost in Space to review and that turned out to be a surprisingly fun read. It starts out with a wellknown premise: kids get stranded in some deserted place and try to get home. But in space. Lots of things about their situation are suspicious, and they need to get along to survive, but one of them might be a mole. There are plenty of clichés (heroine is a ditz, hero yells a lot), but the author makes it work by either turning them upside down (main guy does have actual survival skills and leadership abilities) or having characters outgrow their archetype by means of character development. It's nothing groundbreaking (and the answers to the mysteries could make or break the story), but it's a good start and I want to stick with it to see where it goes. It's 6 or 7 volumes, I think? Once I'm done with them, I could probably hand them over to my younger cousin who's just gotten into reading comics in English.
While Bleach and Inu Yasha both have problems, most of those problems come up later in the series (such as Kubo being unable to manage a large cast effectively), whereas Black Clover's biggest problem for me was that the main character was pretty much unlikable from the word go.

On the topic of Astra, I got Vol. 1 as well. I have heard good things about it and I enjoyed it as well. I don't know how many volumes it is in total, but it was recently announced that the series is wrapping up, so it will be a short series overall.
General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« Last post by Tomara on Today at 06:00:07 AM »
At least you dont get asked if you want to pre-order Madden or Live at the beginning and end of every Gamestop transaction. I'm black in case you couldn't tell.
"Nah fam just gimme my JRPG's and Im out" Are you sure you dont want Live?

I'm glad the whole pushing pre-orders thing is not policy in the chains we have over here. Who thought that was a bright idea anyway a good percentage of your customer base consists of socially awkward people who just want the exchange to end in as few words as possible? Of they started pushing pre-orders on me, I'd just be like 'Nope, nevermind, I'll just order online. Have a nice day!'

Actually, I'm like that in most stores. Two summers ago, I'd spotted a cute tunic on sale and tried it on. I wasn't wearing skinny jeans at the time though, so it wasn't looking entirely right when I stepped outside to take a look in the mirror. Sales girl kept trying to push me to take my pants of, but I really didn't want to because one of my legs was bandaged up and I figured no one, including myself, would be happy to see that. Besides, the tunic was too short to be worn without leggings anyway. So I changed back into my own clothes and left.

Speaking of stores, you know what else bothers me? Toy stores stocking mostly 16+ and 18+ rated games. Makes it really hard for parents to find something suitable for their kids when they own a system that's not made by Nintendo. I know a comic book store that dealt with a similar situation by simply making a spotlight for recommended books for younger readers. They house all their English language editions (which is a lot, because most American and Japanese comics are never translated into Dutch) in the basement, and the guy in charge of that section always gets nervous when children and young teens (and their parents) enter that part of the store, because a lot of the stuff there simply isn't suitable for, say, 12 year olds. Being able to atleast point them in the direction of a central set of shelves with good comics for that demographic is a relief.

If there's one thing that lets me know not to take someone's opinion on the movie seriously, it's if they claim the prequels were in any way better. They completely dwarf the sequel trilogy in terms of annoying flaws and just plain failure at basic storytelling and character conception.
General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« Last post by Electricb7 on Today at 01:11:47 AM »
At least you dont get asked if you want to pre-order Madden or Live at the beginning and end of every Gamestop transaction. I'm black in case you couldn't tell.
"Nah fam just gimme my JRPG's and Im out" Are you sure you dont want Live?
Single-Player RPGs / Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Last post by Electricb7 on Yesterday at 11:31:41 PM »
Literally the worst waypoint/map system in any video game I have ever played.
it's really not even that godawful. The only thing that grates on me is how the waypoints give inaccurate directions at times. Still have the map itself to show you where to be, and....though the secret areas are really secret at times.

The way points being inaccurate is the worst part. I had to look on youtube more than a few times just to see what the hell I was doing wrong. But it all starts with the blank no icons map. I shouldn't have to open menus to see one with more details. Its buried for no reason.
I went back and watched the Phantom Menace to get the taste of Episode 8 out of my mouth.

Won't be watching Episode 9.
Brush and Quill / Re: Book Thread Continued
« Last post by Dincrest on Yesterday at 08:43:11 PM »
Well, you're going to have to, because LOTR made me "WTF?!?!" again in a not-good way. 

After the masterpiece Treebeard chapter, I'm now in the middle of the next chapter: The White Rider.  Early on in that chapter, Aragorn
Spoiler: show
manages to figure out exactly what happened to Merry and Pippin simply by perusing a leaf.  Look, I know Aragorn is a ranger and the most skilled tracker in the history of tracking, but I'm not buying this.  The level of clairvoyance Aragorn displays here is beyond even Gandalf's capabilities and last I checked Aragorn is no wizard and there's nothing in his lineage, as far as I can see, that would indicate he is any sort of magical being with wizard-level clairvoyance. 
The Soundroom / Re: Favorite Albums of 2017
« Last post by Ramza on Yesterday at 07:12:53 PM »
copy/paste from my own facebook feed...

*The actual time period here is Dec16-Nov17, so anything that comes out next month I will consider in 2018. I think this is similar to how many awards shows do it.
**This list does not include any kind of soundtrack (film/TV/game), or fully instrumental albums. (if it did, it'd just be NieR for all slots)
***List is ranked from 10 to 1, with 1 being my favorite of the year.

Please consider making your own list, or at the very least, responding and telling me how wrong I am!

10. "Divide" (Ed Sheeran) -- This is the obligatory 'add the album to your list to keep mom happy' item. (haha Cathy Gann!!). But honestly, Sheeran is a great musician, and he seems like a decent human. The new album has lots of good tracks on it. My personal favorite is "Castle On The Hill." It's nostalgia-fuel to create nostalgia-gold in your brain.

9. "DAMN." (Kendrick Lamar) -- I'll probably catch heat for this from some friends, but I thought this album was significantly less impressive than Butterfly. Honestly, I'd take the 2016 "Untitled Unmastered" over this, if only for the fantabulous "Untitled #3." Some songs feel ... over-produced. Heck, just look at the credits on wikipedia. Too many cooks spoiled the soup? (… ) ... anyway, the big winner for me was the song and music video for "DNA." The lyrics are powerful, and the whole concept/conceit of the video is great. Plus, Don Cheadle. Also worthwhile to me are LOVE. and XXX. (U2, ferreal?)

8. "Hopeless Fountain Kingdom" (Halsey) -- I'll be honest. I wanted to rank this higher. But then, I also wanted what would have been "Badlands Pt.2" ... and that's not the album she was ready to make. There's a lot to love on HFK, but the recurring theme seems to be about failed relationships. And that can become tired territory, especially in the top40 radio scene that Halsey managed to break into (and honestly, bless her for having that opportunity!). The big radio hit "Bad At Love" sells the message best, but at least half the songs tell the same sad story. Another of those songs is "Eyes Closed," which happens to be my personal favorite off this album.

7. "Reputation" (Taylor Swift) -- Somewhere between herself and other creatives who contributed to this album, this is the closest thing to a truly thematic or "concept" album TayTay has dropped to date. And I really like it. In some ways, it's a kind of thematic cousin to Gaga's "Fame." This is an album about the projected versions we carry of ourselves and others, and how those projections do and do not overlap with the real ... if there IS an objective "real." For a mainstream pop artist to engage with the central themes of postmodern humanism so well, and in such a catchy way, is a valuable thing all its own. There's also a great blend of soft songs and intense pieces. For me, though, the best song remains the first single that dropped, "Look What You Made Me Do." Sure, the chorus is garbage (fun, syncopated garbage!). But the album's theme is most explicitly expressed in the lyrics and in the video... especially in the Taylors-chat at the end. Oh, and these lyrics!!! "Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time!"

6. "Something To Tell You" (HAIM) -- Sophomore slump? I DON'T THINK SO! This sister-trio brings back all of the best elements of '80s pop and tosses aside the garbage. The whole album is produced in a way that says "shiny-and-new!" But it's not gross, saccharine, or over-produced. These three girls may not have the depth of lyrical content that some of the other artists on this list are packing, but that's okay... the *soul* of the songs are what hooks you as a listener. I don't usually appeal to the ephemeral in trying to sell someone on quality of music, but it's all I got. Yes, some songs are heavy on repetition (debut single "Want You Back" is especially guilty). But even that is awesome ... and its video, done as a single take in the early hours (4am, maybe?) walking the empty streets of LA (probably still cordoned off) ... incredible choreography. But for even more choreography, check out their latest video (linked below), for "Little of Your Love." Lead (?) vocalist Danielle is wearing a Stevie Nicks t-shirt, so, bonus points!

5. "Everything Now" (Arcade Fire) -- Many critics and long-time fans have been badmouthing this album since its July 2017 release. And I just don't understand it. The most cogent argument I read for why the album "fails" is that in trying to push a message about hyper-consumerism and how vapid the world becomes in such an environment, the message and messengers are caught in their own trap. I think, however, such an argument takes a myopic view of the *annoying* tracks (like "Infinite Content" or alternate versions of "Everything Now"). Maybe they're not there to be enjoyed. I skip the the "Infinite Content" tracks when I listen to the album now ... but maybe that's the point? Being overwhelmed by the production of "content," first-world problem though it may be, is INDEED a problem. Gamers need only look at their Steam backlog (thanks, sales and bundles). The fact that I'm curating a top 10 albums for the year reminds us that thousands of new songs are published on the internet *daily* -- we cannot possibly hope to listen to all the recorded music in a single lifetime. This, too, is annoying! And for some, it can lead to despair. This is why I so very much value the album's twin-songs "Creature Comforts" and "Good God Damn." If you want to understand how and why I call these songs 'sisters,' listen for yourself: -- CC -- GGD

4. "Planetarium" (Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister) -- Sufjan and a crew of familiar names (especially McAlister, what an amazing percussionist!!) did a concept album on our lovely solar system. It's crazy good. So easy to get lost in this one. You really owe it to yourself to listen to the whole album in one sitting. But I'll give you a sneak peek (for your ears?)... the outro, the messenger, the closest planet to the sun, "Mercury." ~~~ "...and I'm ____"

3. "Pulses" (The Fast Feeling) -- Somehow, this one flew under the radar for Five Iron Frenzy fans. Which is a shame. But it's not too late! Go get this album. It's sick. What we have here is an electro-rock quartet starring Leanor ("Jeff the Girl") Ortega Till on lead vocals, drums by Andy V., lots of instruments and backup vox and composition by Scott Kerr, and one Matt Langston (not an FIF member, but still awesome) on keys and guitar. Pulses has 10 tracks on it, and they're all solid gold. This was the first album I heard in 2017 that I thought "this is top 10 material," and it held a solid spot as music flooded the market all through the year. Everyone needs to hear this. Below, check out track 6, "Sunnydale" (the song title is a reference to the hometown in Buffy, but I was informed that the song title was the working title in its instrumental form, and they never changed it ... title and Buffy reference do not have any bearing on the lyrics).

2. "The Upper Hand" (AllttA) -- So Mr. J. Medeiros and 20syl teamed up and dropped this album back in February. Since then, they've also released 9 songs sequentially over the past few months in their "Facing the Giants" series. But ferreal, if you didn't pick up "The Upper Hand" yet, and you even *remotely* enjoy hip-hop music, you need to check this out. Medeiros has always been an amazing lyricist -- he intuitively writes lines that he seems to know how he'll deliver on the track ahead of time, so he can vary the rhythm, meter, stressed syllables, everything. And Syl? That man makes some of the best music out there, especially in the Euro-scene IMO. For something smooth, check out "That Good Ship."

1. "Native Invader" (Tori Amos) -- Is my bias showing? Look, this isn't Tori's best album. I don't know if she'll ever top Under the Pink, Scarlet's Walk, or even Boys for Pele (my personal top 3 in her discography). Nonetheless, Native Invader is a masterpiece. Originally intended as a man vs. nature album, Tori experienced two other major events during the songwriting process: 1) her mother's stroke, putting her in a non-verbal state and now requiring a high level of care; 2) Trump elected president. These things may, prima facie, muddy the waters of the original theme. Upon further listens, I found the themes beginning to harmonize, to call and respond to one another. Favorite songs here are "Cloud Riders," "Up the Creek," "Bang," "Climb," "Mary's Eyes," and the bonus track "Russia."
Single-Player RPGs / Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Last post by Agent D. on Yesterday at 07:12:51 PM »
Literally the worst waypoint/map system in any video game I have ever played.
it's really not even that godawful. The only thing that grates on me is how the waypoints give inaccurate directions at times. Still have the map itself to show you where to be, and....though the secret areas are really secret at times.
Single-Player RPGs / Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Last post by Aeolus on Yesterday at 06:48:03 PM »
@Aeolus Don't stop doing merc mission.  Points carry over to the next level even if you haven't beaten the quest yet and you need 20k for rank 5 eventually.  Takes a while.

I was wondering if I had asked this question earlier or not. Fortunately, I finally powered through the Rank 3 Quest quickly enough once I had some time to actually spend on the game (and not continue to be hooked on Tiger! Tiger!). Two levels are a hell of a drug in this game (it also helped that I targeted the Axe Guy first since the Lance Guy is more Counter Happy).

Also, I should recommend to everyone playing to buy the Deed for the Fabric Store in Merc Village ASAP as it provides an extra 5% boost to Running Speed. There's a ton of ground to cover in Chapter 5's territory and not very many Landmarks to quick travel to, so every little bit helps.
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