All posts by raistlin0903

Apostle, American/UK movie (2018)

It’s October and that means all around it’s the season to be creepy. Erm, wait that isn’t how that song goes? Oh well, I guess I always get some things mixed up, so my apologies. Now in case you are wondering exactly what I am talking about here, it is of course nearly Halloween. Unless you haven’t really been paying attention lately on wordpress, a lot of bloggers are having fun writing posts that in some form or another that are related to this event. Well, as you know (or don’t know in case you have just started following me, in that case let me enlighten you), I have always held a soft spot for horror films. In fact it’s one of my favorite movie genres so to speak. So why haven’t I had a single horror movie post out this month? I seriously haven’t got a clue. I could either do two things right now: I could spent my time looking for the answer to that question, or I could finally write one. I chose to do the latter. So people buckle up, put on your favorite Halloween costume, grab some popcorn and let’s see if this film is worth checking out.

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I told you before: Stop looking at me! 

For a change we have a horrormovie that isn’t situated in modern times but we travel back in time to the year 1905. Thomas Richardson is on desperate mission to save his sister who has been kidnapped by a mysterious religious cult. She has been taken to a remote island, far from civilisation, and the people that have taken her are demanding a ransom for her release. Thomas arrives on the island pretending to be a believer in the self proclaimed prophet that is the leader of the cult, a man named Malcolm Howe. Malcolm is a former prisoner that escaped with two other convicts. He claims to speak for “The Goddess“ that supposedly inhabits the island and through her powers provides food for the cult. Lately though his people are dying of starvation, which is why he has resorted to kidnapping. Thomas slowly begins to infiltrate the cult and befriends a young teenager called Jeremy. While trying to find out the whereabouts of his sister he begins to encounter more and more terrifying things that are happening on the island. The true horror though, has yet to be revealed…..

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Yep, this would make a great Halloween costume.

Apostle was directed by Gareth Evans. Now for people who are familiar with martial arts movies, you might recall he directed the Raid and the Raid 2. Both of these were absolutely amazing and a true highlight when it comes to the world of action movies. It’s all the more interesting that this is an entirely different film he has sunk his teeth in. I honestly have to admit that I genuinely enjoyed this film. It’s fun to see a movie again that is not set in the present but in the past, and at times it reminded me of The Witch. But the only comparison I can make to that film is the atmosphere. Right from the very first scene you can feel this foreboding sense of doom come over you. It’s probably the remote location of a Welsh island that really contributes to this. The cinematograpy for this film is terrific, and some of the camera angles that were featured in this movie only made the movie even more creepy. As I said though, this is the only comparison I have to the Witch, because this movie could not be more different.

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A little shaving never hurt anyone….

For one thing it’s incredibly gory at times. Just like in The Raid, we get some very bloody scenes shown, especially when the film goes into it’s second half. Some of these were truly unsettling. I’m not one to be very squeamish when it comes down to this, so it didn’t disturb me in the least. (Yes I guess that can be unsettling too when I think about it lol). It also features some heavy underlying religious themes, something that might put some people off. The film’s story is pretty good, and has some nice twists and turns. It gradually reveals it’s secrets, and there were a few moments in the middle of the film, where one might call it maybe a bit slow. I think if the movie would have been somewhat shorter, I might have added a point to the overall final score. But it never became boring in the least, and that is also due to the fact that the movie had some very good performances. Cult leader Malcolm was played by veteran actor Michael Sheen. He plays a truly troubled man, that even while he was downright creepy still managed to create sympathy for his character. Now there is a contradiction if you ever saw one.

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This is what a cinema looked like in 1905. 

Dan Stevens played the role of Thomas and he pretty much carries the movie on his shoulders. He creates an instant liking to his character, because he is very human. Being a former missionary that has lost hist faith and now has an addiction, Thomas certainly has his flaws. But that only makes you relate to him more. I always like it when someone isn’t one of those perfect heroes, but a real flesh and blood person. Next to these two actors, there are a lot of other high caliber performances in the film as well. So if you are a fan of good acting, this is another reason to go and see this movie. Apostle has turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I knew next to nothing about this one, but this really is a very tense, well made, and at times truly thrilling and horrifying movie. The film is now available on Netflix and it’s the perfect month to go and check this one out. If you dare that is…..

I give Apostle a 8 out of 10 score.

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Special Features Presents: My top 10 Solo Boardgames (part 2)

Hello everyone! As you might have noticed the past week my blog has been a little bit more quiet than the previous three weeks. In fact it’s gone deadly silent. I even did not comment as much as I normally do, for which I apologise. This pretty much means only one thing really: my vacation is over and I’m back at work. The first week has been especially bad and very busy, also considering the fact that I had to work on saturday. But enough complaining about that, it’s now sunday, and I finally have time to write again. So I thought it would be a good idea to complete the request made by Arthifis (You all still know him right? Great guy, and he started writing a book as well: that is so awesome!). Anyways in case you missed the first part, he requested I make a list of some of my favorite solo boardgames. Here in part two I’m going into my personal top five. Not only are these games great to play alone, they really are some of my alltime favorite games period.

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Just one more thing: again I would like to point out my favorite Youtube Boardgame Channel: The Vitruvian Gamer. This week he has also started a new feature on his channel as well, where in small 7-10 minute segments he talks about boardgames, the channel, and life in general. It really is a great place to visit. A few of the games listed below have been featured on his channel, and as I pointed out in part 1, he really is a great host as well. Always kind, and with very insigthful and fun to watch videos it’s a great way to spent some time on Youtube. And hey, you might even end up discovering a new game that you would like to try out as well, so how cool is that. Below is one of his videos for a game that I will talk about later on in this post. Okay, enough talking, let’s get cracking!

5: Ascension

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Ascension is a deckbuilding cardgame. Yes, that sounds like a really difficult term, but it truly isn’t. A player starts out with a relatively weak basic hand of cards. During the course of the game, you can buy new cards with the weaker ones and add them to your deck of existing cards. In this way you can make your deck more powerful. Ascension takes place in a fantasy world, and when you play the game solo you are basically fighting against an unseen opponent. By defeating monsters, and aquiring new cards you have to try and gain more points then your foe before the game ends. The fun thing about Ascension is that is a really simple game to learn (about 5 minutes), and there are now a lot of expansions as well. But, each set released stands on it’s own. In other words you can combine all the sets, or just play with one set. This offers a lot of choices, while at the same time it won’t overwhelm new players which is nice too.

4: Xenoshyft: Dreadmire

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This is another deckbuilding game, so it uses the same mechanics as above. But, this one comes with a neat twist. Set in a science fiction universe, and a quite horrible one at that, Xenoshyft Dreadmire allows you to play as the commander of a base from the Nortec Corporation. This company mines planets for a new and powerful energy source. However this energy source has a dangerous side effect as it turns the native animals into horrible monsters. During the course of nine rounds, that become ever more difficult, you have to defend the base from these creatures. This game is tough as nails, and very hard to win. But despite that fact it’s enormously fun to play. The artwork alone should be enough to sell you on buying it. If you like a good challenge this is the one to look into! More info on this game be found in my review.

3. Elder Sign

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Elder Sign is one of the best games that I have ever played. It’s a fusion between a dice and a cardgame and it’s an absolute joy to play. You take on the role of an investigator, that tries to stop an ancient evil from awakening and plunging the world into darkness. The base game takes place in an old museum, where you are desperately trying to find the so called elder signs. Depending on which Ancient One you are trying to defeat, you have to discover a set amount of these tokens, before time runs out. Using dice, you explore rooms in the museum, where you try to overcome traps, monsters, and other unspeakable horrors. By investigating rooms, you can find new weapons, spells, clues and other stuff to make you more powerful, as well as the elder signs themselves. As the game has an enormous amount of cards, and the set up is different each time, the game has tremendous replay value. With a lot of expansions having been released for it as well, you will not get bored by this game anytime soon.

2. Legendary (Encounters)

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Legendary and Legendary Encounters are all deckbuilders (yes again), but are also a blast to play. Legendary is probably best known for it’s Marvel sets. With a huge amount of available cards for these now, you put together your own superhero team in order to fight against one of the villains from the Marvel Universe. Ever wanted to have a team up between Wolverine and Iron Man? Well now you can achieve this. But Legendary has more to offer. In Legendary Encounters you can play through some of your favorite science fiction movies and television series. There are now sets for Aliens, Predator, Firefly and an upcoming one for The X-files. What differs these sets from their Legendary counterparts is that you actually play through scenarios from the movies and shows themselves, which is a lot of fun especially if you are a fan of these. Variety is the keyword here, as the normal Legendary has also games for cult movie Big Trouble in Little China as well as the television series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

1. Eldritch Horror

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So why is this game my number one? Well, the simple answer would be just read my Eldritch Horror review. But that would be cheating. This game is pretty much the bigger cousin of Elder Sign. Travelling around the entire world, you have to discover enough clues to find out what kind of ancient evil is trying to take over the world. You explore cities, ancient ruins, tombs and all kinds of other places. Narrative cards explain what exactly happens to you when you enter a certain place. And this is what makes the game so much fun to play. It sometimes feels like you are starring in your own adventure/horror movie. Every game is different, and has both strategy elements to it, as well as luck in the form of dice rolls. It’s by no means an easy game to win, and it takes a bit of time to set up. But other than that it’s always been the game that I have really enjoyed the most playing solo.

So, there we have it. Now this list is by no means complete, and there are games still lurking around in my collection that I haven’t even played yet. So maybe, there are other games that are even better than these. I certainly have a number of other suggestions too, that didn’t make the cut. So if you want even more options do take a look around at the boardgame section of my blog. As always thank you for reading!

 

Seasonal Anime: A first impression post!

Has the Raist finally gone mad? Is this really a first impression post on seasonal anime that is appearing on this blog? Does this mean that Raistlin0903 is turning in an anime blog? Let me put your minds at ease by saying that the answer to two of these questions is no. So which of these questions has another answer? Well, I have not gone mad, as I was already quite mad to start with. Right, so with all that out of the way why do a post like this? My blog has been and always shall be a multitopic blog. I have way too many hobbies, and I like talking about all of them here, so that’s not going to change. The reason I started watching seasonal anime at the beginning of this year is that I have really enjoyed the interaction with everyone talking about what happened in a new episode on a weekly basis. It was like we all sat down together in a big room, with our favorite snacks and drinks and watched an episode at the same time. Now I am sorry to say that I am not going to be writing weekly episode reviews on the new shows.

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Imagine that this is showing up in your local neighbourhood.

For one thing it would take up too much time that I don’t have. For another it would mean this blog really would be focussing too much on anime, and I have a lot of readers that also like to read about other things such as movies, Korean dramas and boardgames. But I thought it would be nice to write a post about the new shows that I have started watching since this weekend and let you know my thoughts on them. So this really is a first for my blog, but I hope you will like it nonetheless. Usually I try to keep up with about 4-5 shows. I already struggle with that amount, let alone any more. So that’s why I am now watching a total of six new shows. Erm…right. I’m as surprised as you are. No idea if I can stick with all of these, but I am going to try as so far all of them have been a blast. Well, let’s get cracking and reveal them!

Zombieland Saga

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Genre: Comedy, Horror   

Most of you know that I am not a huge fan of comedy. But sometimes there are exceptions and this anime is one of them. This show is completely insane, and that’s probably why I am enjoying it so much. Highschool girl Sakura Minamoto is tragically killed when she gets run over by a car. But her story doesn’t end there. Ten years later she finds herself resurrected as a zombie and together with a bunch of other girls that have also turned into the living dead, they have to save the so called Saga Prefecture…..as an idol group! Now if this plot doesn’t sound totally crazy wait till you see the show itself. I had tears in my eyes from laughing when these girls went up on stage, headbanging to death metal and it’s probably one of the craziest scenes I have ever seen in an anime. I have no idea where this show will go or if it will continue to be this much fun, but so far I am really enjoying it.

First Impression Score: 8 out of 10

Goblin Slayer

 

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Genre: Fantasy

As much as I love the fantasy genre, weirdly enough I have hardly seen any fantasy anime shows. Yeah, I know right, that is strange. So, with Goblin Slayer I hope to change that. A young and very inexperienced priestess, joins an adventuring party on a quest to fight a bunch of nasty goblins. But soon all hell breaks loose, and she finds herself in big trouble. Just when all hope seems lost a mysterious stranger who introduces himself as Goblin Slayer enters the field. This show felt like I was playing Dungeons and Dragons again. I was pretty surprised by the brutality on display here though. Blood flew everywhere, but it was especially the violence against some of the women here (there was even a rape scene) that kind of threw me off. That said though, I still thought this was a solid first episode and I especially like the look of what I assume to be the hero of this anime, Goblin Slayer. So, I’m going to see where this will go.

First Impression Score: 7 out of 10

SSSS. Gridman

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Genre: Science Fiction, Mecha

I already described this one on twitter as the anime version of Pacific Rim and I think that description is fairly accurate. Yūta Hibiki is a highschool boy who has lost his memory. On an old computersystem someone that introduces himself as Hyper Agent Gridman appears and tells the boy he has a mission to fullfill. Apperently he is the only one who can see Gridman too. When a huge monster appears in his city, Yūta has to step up to the call. This first episode was very enjoyable. I loved the fight sequence between the monster and the huge robot, and it kind of gave me this old school anime vibe. Can’t say much more about this one yet though. I do hope it won’t turn into one of those “monster of the week” type of shows which would be kind of a shame. Other than that I kind of enjoyed this for what it was, and look forward to next week’s episode.

First Impression Score: 8 out of 10

Rascal does not dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

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Genre: Romance, Highschool, Supernatural

This is a show I would probably have passed over had I not read about it over on Karandi’s blog. Because really, that title is just crazy. Surprisingly enough, this is the show that has left the biggest impression on me. Highschool boy Sakuta Azusagawa sees a mysterious girl in the school library wearing a bunny suit. If that wasn’t strange enough already he is the only one who can see her. The girl called Mai Sakurajima is a teenage actress who is on hiatus, and is now suffering from what they call “ Adolescence Syndrome”. More and more people are unable to see the girl, and this of course leads to all kinds of problems. How do you order food for instance when no one is able to see you? To say I loved this first episode is an understatement. The entire show just had a certain vibe to it, and I loved the dialogue between the two leads. Add to this the mystery element, as well as some pretty relatable themes and this for me has turned into my favorite show so far.

First Impression Score: 9 out of 10

Sword Art Online: Alicization

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Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Yes people Sword Art Online is back for it’s third season which of course will probably start up all the discussions again on how many people are going to hate on this. I don’t care and I’m proud to say it too: I freaking LOVE this show. The first episode of this new season was 47 minutes long and it was a very strong start of this new arc in my opinion. Kirito and Asuna, as well as a bunch of other fan favorite characters all make a welcome return, with an episode that felt a lot like we were back in the first season of this wonderful anime. Some great action sequences (Yay, we had dragons), a new and mysterious world, and a lot of questions is pretty much what I experienced while watching this opening episode. I do have to say that in all honesty there was a lot of information thrown at us, and some of it still hasn’t really registered with me. But I’m pretty sure with a whopping 50 episode count, there will be enough time to explain all this. Either way, I really had a good time watching it and can’t wait to see how the new season will progress.

First Impression Score: 8 out of 10

Last Impression

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I’m mad!!! Where is show number six!!!!!!

So, observant readers will probably notice that I mentioned I would be watching six shows. But I have only written about five of them. Where is number six? Well, it’s not a new show and it is only a continuation of last season. I’m of course talking about an anime that needs no introduction (and if it does, where have you been all this time): Attack on Titan. The third season so far, while having a totally different vibe than the previous two, has been a total joy to watch. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will stay that way, because right now, it’s slowly turning into my favorite season so far.Well this post is long enough now, so it’s time to put an end to this. I hope you like the choices that I have made (and feel free to let me know in the comments), and I look forward to discussing all these new shows in the upcoming weeks with you. I hope everyone will have a lot of fun watching this season. Thanks for reading and see you on the next post!

Venom, American movie (2018)

I think it’s a safe bet to say that even if you don’t like comic books, everyone has probably heard of the name Spiderman. One of the most popular comic book characters ever created, he has been webslinging his way throughout hundreds of comics as far back as 1962. Every superhero of course also needs some foes to fight, and Spiderman is definitely not an exception to that rule. Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Vulture are just a few of the names that our friendly neighbourhood spider has had to face over the years. However, there will always be an enemy that is just a little bit more memorable than all of the others combined. And for Spiderman that foe was introduced way back in 1988: Venom. This horrific looking character became an instant fan favorite, and fans were overjoyed to hear that he would be making an appearance in the Spiderman 3 movie from 2007 starring Tobey Maguire. Sadly the movie wasn’t very good and Venom himself was woefully underused. Okay, enough with the history lessons. This year Venom has finally gotten his own movie, weirdly enough with his nemesis Spiderman being absent. So can a movie like this work like that? Well, the short answer is: yes, it most certainly can.

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Sometimes you just need to have a civilised talk to work things out.

Eddie Brock is an investigative journalist that seems to have it made. He is soon to marry the love of his life Anne Weying, and he has a job that seems to be going very well for him. As is usally the case when things go well, it’s all about to come crashing down on him. The Life Foundation, a bio-engineering corporation that Anne works for, has been conducting experiments with something they have found in outer space. It’s CEO, a man named Carlton Drake seems to be a very benovelent man, but this is all a front. Eddie has become very suspicious of him especially when he is approached by one of the employees of the company, Dora Skirth. She tells Eddie about the experiments that have been going on and helps him enter the building one evening to find proof. However, while investigating, the hapless journalist inadvertently becomes infected by a parasitic lifeform. Not just any lifeform though, but one that gives him powers that have never before been seen on Earth. It has yet to be determined if the entity that calls itself Venom is a friend or a foe though. Meanwhile Carlton Drake will stop at nothing to get his lifeform back, no matter who will die in the process….

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This is exactly the reason why you should always wait for your turn at the counter.

I’m seriously beginning to hate the critics these days. This movie has been torn to shreds by pretty much every single one of them and I have to wonder if some of them have even seen the movie. I said it quite recently in a review for Skyscraper I think that in general the critics have made it a sport to trash films that only offer fun. The problem is though that when people start to read those “reviews” their mindset is already influenced and some might even avoid going to the film altogether. Which would be a real shame as Venom is simply put a really fun film.While it’s certainly not perfect, it doesn’t deserve all the bashing that is currently directed at it by the so called experts. Eddie Brock is played by one of my favorite actors from the current era, Tom Hardy. He is a man who can pretty much handle every role they throw at him. In this film, he plays a character that is a bit of a loser for lack of a better word, but still comes out on top by becoming a (anti-) hero. I wouldn’t say it’s his best performance if I’m honest, but still he looks like he had a lot of fun in playing the role.

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Honestly he really is a nice guy once you get to know him.

But besides playing the role of Eddie, he also performs the voice of the alien symbiote Venom. The scenes where he is having discussions with himself and his alien alter ego provided some of the funniest moments in this movie. I love it when Venom just wants to go all out and eat people, but Brock tries to reason with this monster. It was surprising to me that this film contained a lot of (dark) humor. I honestly did not expect to find that in this movie, but it really worked. The rest of the actors in this film just simply don’t have very memorable parts. Michelle Williams who is always an accomplished actress plays the love interest of Eddie. But her role was to small for her to be able to really shine. The relatively unknown actor Riz Ahmed was cast as the villain Carlton Drake but I honestly didn’t find his role very impressive. It was too flat to really have that evil edge so to speak. Then again that also could have something to do with the script which wasn’t one of the strongest ones I have seen in these type of films.

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Talk to the hand…..

However the action and CGI sequences more than made up for this. When you first see the full Venom suit make an appearance it is really an extraordinary sight. It serves as a welcome reminder to see how much computer generated special effects have really progressed. The film was a bit slow in the first half hour or so, but then kicks into full gear, and I really found myself entertained for most of it’s runtime. Another complaint I have heard a number of times is that this movie didn’t get an R-rating. Granted Venom’s character certainly is violent, and the film had most of that violence shown off screen, but that didn’t mean that the movie was any worse because of that. So in the end Venom is another example of how the critics again rather unfairly treated this film as total garbage. It’s not the best superhero movie ever made, nor is it perfect, but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable film that’s well worth seeing in the theatres. In other words, don’t always believe everything people write (including this post). Just go and see it with an open mind, and form your own opinion on it. You might be very surprised…

I give Venom a 8 out of 10 score.

Why I still Love Anime-Tagpost

Hello everyone, it’s time for another tag post and a fun one at that! The title is pretty self explanatory if you ask me, but as always there are some rules that explain this one in more detail so let’s first get into those:

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Some day, someone has to invent a tag post without any rules

The rules:

  • Write a post about why you love anime. It could be your favourite thing about it or one of your favourite things about it, it doesn’t matter which, but just pick one!
  • You can get as personal or as impersonal as you like. You might want to write about how anime helped you through a tough time or something that it has taught you or you might want to write about just how much fun you’ve had watching it over the years. Your choice.
  • Nominate three bloggers to do the same.
  • Link back to this post. I would love to see what you’ve written and I may compile a list of my favourite entries further down the line.

See, pretty straightforward huh? First off I want to thank the amazing Kimchisama who tagged me for this one. She has always been very supportive to me and my blog, but let’s not forget that her own blog is truly wonderful and well worth checking out for the many heartwarming posts that she has written.

Secondly thanks are also in order for the creator of this post Ty-chama. According to Kimchisama she is new to the world of ani-blogging but well worth checking out. So, don’t forget to visit her blog as well and see the original post that started this, as well as her other content.

The Beginning

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Ahhhh…nostalgia!

To dive into the reason why I still love anime I have to go back to when my love for anime first started. And that was way back in the 80’s, a time when cartoons such as Transformers and He-man were dominating the airwaves. As a young child I loved these (and honestly I still do) but one day I came across a series called Robotech. It’s an American version of three totally unrelated animeshows, that were combined into one series with a new storyline. The heart of it though is still anime. When I first saw it I hated it. I was about nine, and could not really understand what was going on. The style of it was totally not what I was used to from all the other cartoons that I was watching at the time. That all changed when an alien armada of 4 million battle ready warships surrounded the Earth and pretty much all but destroyed it. To give you an idea here is a clip of that moment, so check that out first:

Okay seen it? Despite this being a truly horrific scene (the part where the soldier was talking to the young child just before impact, will always stick with me), it was also one that totally changed my view of everything that I had previously thought I knew about cartoons. My young mind was blown away (pun intended) and needless to say after that I became a fan of the series. Now almost 35 years I am still a fan of Robotech, and will always be thankful for what it did, namely introduce me to an artform that I did know even existed had it not been for this show.

The present

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Yep, if I can find an excuse to put in a picture of Violet Evergarden I do it.

So, I am now 42 years old, and I am still in love with anime and even more than I did in the past. So why is that? (And yes I do know that is the question that I have to answer with this tag). Living in Holland anime was never very big here in the first place. The only anime that we used to get where very violent, shocking and almost pornographic animemovies suchs as Wicked City, and Urotsukidoji Legend of the Overfiend. And that gave anime a very bad reputation in my country in the early days. Luckily times have changed and with streaming services such as Crunchyroll and many series available to buy on dvd there is now more anime that I have access to than ever before. But my love for anime was truly rekindled when I started blogging. I came across a blog called 100WordAnime run by the wonderful Karandi. I had not really been watching anime for quite a few years (I know, shocking right?) but here was this blog that talked about series that I had not even heard of, ever.

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Finally will be getting back to this gem of an anime in the upcoming days.

And so it is that for the past two or so years I have seen more anime than at any other time in my life. And it has done something for me as well. I have always been a very shy person (yeah I know, I hide it well) but because of anime I have really gained some very good friends here in this wonderful community. Even though we might all never meet in real life (though my invite to next year’s Animecon is still open), I am still thankful every day for the friendships that I have made here. It has also given me more confidence in real life, which I assure you is a big thing for me. Another thing that I love about anime is the way it is able to create worlds and emotions that are sometimes impossible to create in live action shows and movies. A more recent example for this was Violet Evergarden a true gem of an anime series, and where I think I used more boxes of tissues from drying my eyes than ever before in my life. Anime is more than simple animation. More often than not it are true works of art, that allow me to escape from everyday life for a few hours. So in other words: these reason are why I still love anime, and I will continue to do so, until the day I die.

Nominations

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Yay, it’s time for nominations!!

As with all nominations, you are under no obligation to write a post for this one. We are all very busy, so really there is no rush or pressure for this at all. Anyways without further ado here are the three people that I nominate for this tag:

Karandi

Ayano

Scott

Thank you all for reading! Have fun watching more anime, and for those who have yet to experience their first anime: try it, you might end up liking it!

 

 

The Three, a novel by Sarah Lotz (2015)

We all have our own kinds of things that we fear. It might sometimes even be completely unfounded or irrational. Something that no matter how many people tell you to get over it, your mind still refuses to accept. For me it is the fear of flying. And it’s even more crazy when I tell you that I have never so much as set foot on a plane. I don’t even know why I have this particular phobia. Maybe it’s just the fact that when I am in a plane and it falls from the sky I pretty much end up dead. (Well, at least that’s usually the case). And yes I know it’s supposedly the safest way to travel and all that other stuff they keep telling me, but well my mind just doesn’t seem to listen. Still, I want to get over it. There are some places I really want to visit in my life, one in particular, and I won’t get there if I still refuse to go on a plane. So, next year’s goal is pretty much set. Now to work on getting there in the first place. What doesn’t help with this though is reading a book about planes falling from the sky. Yes…plural. Oh well, at least the novel was very good so there is that.

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Pamela May Donald, despite her husband’s plea not to go, decides to visit her daughter in Japan who she hasn’t seen in quite a while. Once the plane that is supposed to take her to her daughter is in the air, she is beginning to have some doubts about whether or not she is really doing the right thing by going. These doubts turn into horror, when the plane begins to rock and shake and crashes to the ground. But apparently three other passenger jets have also plumetted from the sky at almost the same time, just on different places across the world. This day of horror will go down in history as Black Thursday. It doesn’t just end with the planecrashes though. Three children have survived and don’t seem to be hurt in any way. Another survivor is Pamela, although she is minutes away from dying. With the time left to her she is still able to record a voice message. After her death the message is found and played back. It’s a warning….and a dire one at that. One that will have severe consequences and will change the world forever.

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This is actually the second time that I have read this novel. The first time was quite a while back. So why read it a second time? Well, because I finally want to get started on the sequel for this and I wanted to refresh my memory. Now let me start of by saying that this is not a normal novel. In fact it’s a very unique one. Except for the opening and closing chapters, this novel is a book within a book. Confused? Yeah I thought you might be, so let me explain. This book contains a novel written by a fictional character called Elspeth Martins. Now Elspeth has within her book collected interviews, newspaper articles, skype conversations, even text messages from all the events that occurred right after Black Thursday. For example we get to hear from rescue workers that arrived just after the crashes, but the most important interviews are the ones with the family members of the three children that survived. Because as might be expected there is something very strange going on.

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I loved the way this book was written. It is very unique, and it makes for a very interesting read. The family members that I just previously mentioned get the custody over these children. And through these interviews we get to hear how their lives as well as the lives of the children progress. But even more compelling is what is happening in the rest of the world. Some people think the end of the world is nigh, and that these three young survivors are the horsemen of the apocalypse. Others think that aliens have landed. The way this book deals with that is very realistically. You have various fanatical people that are trying to gain control and are causing more and more people to flock to their cause. Through radio broadcasts, and interviews with some of the people that are in the inner circle of these groups we get a good sense of the paronia that is slowly taking control of the world. It becomes ever more creepy, and one of the most intersting things is the fact that you are constantly trying to guess what is real, and what is not.

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I also realise that the style of this book won’t be for everyone. It’s not a traditional novel, and in that way you don’t really get to form a bond with the characters in this book in the way that you normally would. But what you do get to experience is how some of them turn from normal ordinary people into complete and utter madness. And that was one of the most chilling aspects that this novel offers. For me it was a truly compelling read and one that I liked even better now, than the first time that I read it. Sarah truly has a seriously cool style of writing that is very hard to put down. There were a few moments where the book slowed down a bit, but for the most part it was a real pageturner and one I highly recommend checking out if you want to read something that is different from the normal books that you read. I really enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to finally get started on the sequel: Day Four.

I give The Three a 9 out of 10 score.

Hold the Dark, American Movie (2018)

I love this time of year. The days are getting shorter again, which means the sun is beginning to set earlier and it becomes darker more quickly in the evening. Yes, I know many of you are probably disagreeing with me at this point, but I love it. It’s perfect for watching horror movies, or just cozying up in bed with a good book. One would almost think that I am a vampire or something, however as far as I know that is not the case. But at certain points in the world the sun is hardly seen at all during winter time. Now that might be taking things a little bit too far I guess. Alaska for instance has some places where the darkness settles in after barely three to five hours of sunlight. Now just imagine that if you will. I think a lot of people might simply go nuts as it takes some getting used to. That said though, those barren winter landscapes makes for some amazing imagery. It also serves as a perfect backdrop for some great movies as we have seen for instance in The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Last week a new movie came out over on Netflix which also utilises this cold and harsh environment. Is it a good film though? Well, let me talk you through it.

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Hi honey, sorry I’m stuck in traffic. I will be late again….

Hold the Dark takes places in the year 2004 in a very small village called Keelut deep in the Alaskan wilderness. Something truly dreadful has been happening there lately. Three small children have disappeared and are presumably dead, as their captors seemed to have been a pack of wolves. Medora Slone, the mother of the last child that has gone missing, calls in the help of a retired naturalist called Russell Core. This man who is an expert in wolves heeds the call of the grieving mother and soon arrives in the village. Meanwhile Medora’s husband, Vernon, is serving a tour in Iraq and is having his own share of troubles. He is as yet unaware of his son’s disappearence and his wife has so far not been able to share the horrible news with him. Russell has set off in search of the boy and to track down the wolves that are responsible for his capture. However not all is at seems. Darker and more sinister secrets are about to be revealed, and Russel finds himself in the middle of something that he simply did not expect to find…

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Trick or treat came early this year.

Did you ever watch a movie and when it ended you did not quite know how you felt about it? This was one of those films. Well, at least for me it was. I’m not saying this was a bad film, because really it wasn’t. But it’s also a movie that I felt could have been more, although I can’t quite put a finger on it what that more might just be. But let’s first get into the positives. One of the main selling points of this movie is once again the majestic and very cold landscape. It’s all shot beautifully, and adds to the sense of dread that this film is trying to achieve, and at which it also partially succeeds. You can’t help but feel very uneasy during most of the run time of this two hour movie. Hauntingly bleak visuals combined with a melancholic score certainly seem to capture the effect of what this movie was aiming for. The pacing of the film though was uneven. It was at times a rather slow film, and setting the tone for a creepy atmosphere can only get you so far.

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Awwwwwwwwwwww.

The performances in this film though were also definitely worth seeing. Jeffrey Wright who played the role of the aging Russel managed to create a very sympathetic character. It’s nice to see someone who really isn’t this macho superhero, but a more subdued and normal guy, who gets caught in something that is way above his head. I always like the underdog types, and Russel could definitely be classified as such. The role of Vernon was fulfilled by Alexander Skarsgård, and he made that role into a very chilling and sinister man. It’s definitely clear that the war in Iraq hasn’t left him without a few mental scars, as Vernon was an emotionless and very, very dangerous individual. It was a terrific part, and Skarsgård played it to perfection. Lastly James Badge Dale, who had a relatively minor role as a police officer also left a lasting impression. Even though he isn’t a very well known actor, he really rises above himself with an impressive performance.

Jeffrey Wright in the new film Hold the Dark. Photo credit: Netflix
I don’t know but shouldn’t those goggles be on your face?

Hold the Dark is a bit of a strange movie which is also pretty hard to classify. The story certainly has a number of shocking twists, and for lack of a better term WTF moments. But at the same time it also has trouble in finding out where exactly it wants to go. Is it a thriller? Is it an action film? Or even a drama? It’s pretty hard to say to be honest. Some of the scenes, especially in the beginning of the film just dragged on for too long. And I feel that if the film would have had a bit of a shorter runtime it might have been a better movie. That said though, there is still enough in this dark film (pun intended) for me to recommend it to you. The story is very interesting and has some pretty gruesome moments. Add to this some great actors, a tense and foreboding atmosphere and the beautiful landscape and it’s a movie that I feel is still worth your time. If you are not a fan of slow movies though, you might want to skip this.

I give Hold the Dark a 7 out of 10 score.

 

Megane Day 2018

So today it’s Megane Day! Yes, I know right, you are probably all very excited about this especially since you all know what this is about. You don’t? Wow, that’s a total shocker. Don’t worry though, I was as much in the dark about this day as probably most of you are. I found about this day through Mel’s awesome blog (yes this is also a shameless plug to follow her blog as it’s totally cool not to mention the fact that she is totally amazing herself as well). But now that you have pushed that follow button, what exactly is Megane Day? A Megane is a character wearing glasses. And in Japan the 1st October is a national day that is called Megane Day (which for the record is not an official holiday). So that’s pretty straightforward huh? Now Mel came up with this great idea to also celebrate it here over on WordPress which is what this post is all about. Now as I am still a bit of an anime novice (notice that I am not saying noob anymore) I tried hard to come up with a megane character. And not surprisingly as I haven’t seen as much anime as some of the experts around here, I had to think about this for a bit.

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Maximilian Jenius as seen in Macross.

But, then it hit me. When I was nine years old I saw an animation series called Robotech. While it technically isn’t anime it was formed out of three separate Japanese animes, and then put through the blender to form a new animation series for Western audiences. One of those shows was called Macross, and it is a series that went on to spawn numerous sequels. Macross tells the story of an alien ship crashlanding on Earth during a time where global war was laying waste to the planet. But with the threat of an alien invasion imminent humanity pulled together and started to salvage the ship as well as adapting the technology found inside. One of the most awesome things they managed to create were the transformable fighter jetplanes called Valkyries. And of course those things needed pilots. Maximilian Jenius (or Max Sterling as he is known in Robotech) was one of those pilots, and he is my chosen character for Megane Day.

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Max and Milia on their wedding day.

Don’t let his appearance fool you. When we first meet him, Max is very shy and humble and tells his commanding officer that he will probably need a lot of help out in the fight. But when the aliens attack, and Maximilian gets to show off his skills, everyone is completely baffled by his performance. He becomes the ace of the series, and manages to save a lot of lives in the process. But what he will be most remembered for is falling in love with the beautiful but deadly alien Milia Fallyna. Now one has to understand that the aliens that attack the Earth to reclaim their lost ship are a race of warriors that have never experienced emotions. Milia was on a mission to kill him since he had bested her in aerial combat multiple times. But, in the end his compassion and courage managed to make her fall for him as well, and they ended up getting married. So I guess in the end it all comes down to one thing: First impressions can be very wrong indeed! Happy Megane Day!

Cells At Work, Anime tv series (2018)

I seriously hate being sick. My vacation this year started off with a very annoying flu bug which resulted in me wasting a lot of precious time feeling miserable in bed and trying to get rid of it. Well, not just me, I guess the real job is being done by that little army that’s inside me that tries to fight off those pesky germs. I have to admit though that it has been doing a bit of a lousy job this year, as I have been sick quite a lot. But then again I have always been pretty susceptible to flu. If someone so much as sneezes near me, I might already catch it. The thing is though, that it seems the older we get, the more terrible we can feel from something as simple as a flu. Or maybe that is just me, I don’t know. You are probably wondering where I am going with all of this, if you haven’t already zoned out in the first place. (Which I won’t hold against you I promise). Well, the thing is, in case you don’t know this already, but anime has a knack for coming up with some pretty unique stories at times. Usually these translate into high concept science fiction or fantasy series, but this season’s Cells At Work takes a completely different approach.

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I bet you never knew that this is what your body looks from the inside huh?

I usually go into a lengthy segment where I begin describing the plot of whatever it is I am about to review at this point, but in this case I won’t be doing that. Or I think a better phrase is: I can’t do that. Simply because I can sum up the plot of this anime series in pretty much one sentence. Cells at work takes a look inside the human body, at the cells that erm work there, whilst they are trying to fight off all kinds of things that get’s thrown at them. Yep, there really is nothing more to it than that. The first time I heard of this I think I had the same reaction that you might have right now in case you are not familiar with this anime: this sounds soooo boring. Well, that’s where you are wrong. Cells at work is a unique animeseries, that is guaranteed to make you smile. Having just finished the final episode for it this morning I immediately went to work on writing my review for this. While it’s not a series without flaws, it’s certainly one that has so many good things going for it, that only a very cynical or heartless person can’t find enjoyment in this.

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Red Bloodcell delivering the goods!

Let’s start with the world building this series does first. As mentioned it takes a look inside the human body, but not in the way you would think. Veins, organs, and all the other stuff that makes you tick are represented as a living, breathing cityscape. And it all looks so incredibly clever. Many times I found myself wondering at the ingenuity of all the ideas that were put into this little gem. It became even more fun when certain diseases or injuries occured. Yeah I know how that sounds, but bare with me. There was an episode for instance where the body found itself suffering from a heatstroke. The landscape changed to a scorching desert, with the sweat glands looking like water reservoirs that were drained. Things like these and many more like them, are just some of the many events that made me smile every time when I watched an episode. The series doesn’t shy away from going into dark places either, showing not only small diseases and minor injuries, but at one point it even adressed cancer. I really had not expected the series to go there, but it did, and it was done in a very tasteful way as well. It truly showed the horrible effects of that terrible disease without getting too dark.

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Yep, White Bloodcell does like to get messy sometimes!

But world building aside, it’s the characters that are the real shining stars in this anime. The main focus lies on a white and red blood cell, two characters that couldn’t be more different from each other. Red Blood Cell is a young girl that at the beginning of the series is always getting lost in trying to deliver oxygen to different places. She is insecure,  but at the same time still courageous as well and just someone who you can’t help but fall in love with right from the start. It’s nice to see her grow during the course of the series, and especially in the final two episodes she really steps up to the blood, erm plate. White Blood Cell however, is the completely opposite. Represented as a young male, he is the courageous hero that fights off all the germs and other horrible things that attack the body. And he often gets very bloody while doing that. But, at the same time he really has a heart and a soft spot for Red Blood Cell, which he always ends up having to rescue. There are many other characters who we meet during the course of the series, but it would go too far to mention them all.

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You do know that I had to at least add one picture of a platelet right?

However, it would be a horrible omission on my part if I were not to at least adress the platelets. If there is ever going to be an awards ceremony for cutest characters in a anime series, they would win it no question about it. They were absolutely loveable (and did I mention they were cute?) and maybe the best thing the series had to offer. You really wanted pretty much every episode to have at least one moment that we could spent with them. Well, now that we had all the positives there is something that this show does that if this had been any other series, might have let you drop the show before it ended. And that’s become repetitive. Basically nearly every episode dealt with the cells fighting off a new threat to the body. It’s the strength of this anime, that it didn’t become boring, but it was one of the things that I wished could have been handled in a different way. However, it has to be said, I just can’t find myself writing negatively about this series. It really was an incredibly fun anime, with a unique premise executed in a wonderful way. The next time I’m sick or injured I hope the cells will do their work again. So I guess the message is: treat your body well, and live healthy. Your cells will thank you for it!

I give Cells At Work a 8 out of 10 score.

 

Final Score, UK movie (2018)

“So, did you see the soccer game last night?” I can’t remember the number of times I have heard that line said in the place where I work. I have never understood the appeal of running around on a big green field chasing a ball. (But then again, I hate sports altogether, so I am probably not the best person to talk about this). It becomes even more “fun” for me when grown men and women go into these lengthy discussions about what their favorite teams did right or wrong in a particular match and they become all emotional about it as well. “That referee should let his eyes get checked out” or “ Jeez, that goal so and so made was so incredible”. Uggh, fun times indeed. Well, people probably think the same about me when I get emotional about a great movie or anime that I saw, so yeah it’s probably best that I just stop talking about how much I hate soccer and get to the real point of all this. Namely a review of this fun new action flick starring Dave “ Guardians of the Galaxy” Bautista. And yep, you might have guessed it from both the title and this little intro, it has something to do with soccer. But not in the way you might think though.

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My name is Bond, James Bond. Erm…no I guess it isn’t.

Michael Knox is a former soldier who still tries to come to terms with the loss of his brother in Afghanistan. He cares very much for his young niece, a rebellious teenager called Danni who has had her own struggles with accepting the death of her father. Michael decides to take her to a big soccer match in order for the both of them to spend some time together. Which would have been a very good idea, were it not for the fact that a bunch of Russian terrorists have targeted the match. An enormous amount of explosives are set to go off in the stadium, unless their demands are met. Michael soon finds himself right in the middle of this, and matters are not really helped when his niece disappears on him. With the aid of a nervous venue staffer called Faisal, the ex-soldier begins the search for his niece. But time is running out for Michael, as the clock ticks down to the end of the match and possibly the end of all the lives in the stadium….

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I love the fashion sense that these girls have.

Do you remember the 80’s action flicks? Where we had good old Stallone and Schwarzenegger lead the charge in over the top, totally not credible but oh so much fun action flicks? This one pretty much almost feels like it was made in that era. It has a B-movie vibe, but one that at least for me did not fail to really conjure up some stupid grins on my face during a couple of great action sequences. Yes it’s a cheesy movie and sometimes has some horrible lines in it too. One that especially made me cringe was when Michael was fighting with the lead terrorist in trying to obtain the trigger to the explosives. A police officer was shouting to him to not let him trigger the detonator. No, really? That’s so helpful indeed! Sorry, for my sarcasm but trust me when I say that I really did enjoy this movie a lot. It doesn’t try to pretend to be anything else but an action film and pretty much has all the cliches in it that we have seen before. Yes, it’s yet another Die Hard clone, but even so, it’s a very enjoyable one.

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He hates soccer so much that he decided to turn the match into a dirtbike event!

Dave Bautista carries this movie starring as the reluctant hero Michael. What he lacks in acting skills, he makes up for in charm. You can’t help but form a bond with this guy and you want nothing more than seeing him administer his own form of justice on the lowlife thugs. Speaking of them, they are just your basic stereotype villains. Ray Stevenson plays the role of the main terrorist, and does a good enough job in portraying a pretty loathsome individual. It’s interesting to see that it seems we are almost getting back to the time of the cold war. So many movies have Americans pitted against Russians  that it almost seems to me that World War III is imminent again. Let’s hope not, but it is a sign of the times we seem to be living in. One would almost forget that Pierce Brosnan is in this films as well. The former Bond actor, has a relatively minor role, but a very important one. And it seems that he had fun playing it too, not withholding the terrible Russian accent he has. (One often has to wonder why they bother with doing those accents in the first place).

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Don’t tell me: I’m late for dinner?

The script not surprisingly isn’t a highly original one. It borrows heavily from another similar action movie that you might recall, called Sudden Death starring the “ Muscles from Brussels”. But I wasn’t really bothered by that in the least. As a lover of action films, I just had a great time with this movie. My taste in films is very diverse, but sometimes I just need something simple and fun to reset my brain. This film pretty much served that purpose. Some nice fistfights, chase scenes and shoot-outs combined with a likeable lead, made this into an entertaining ride from start to finish. It would almost get me to like soccer. Well, no I didn’t believe that last one either. Anyways, this certainly won’t be a movie for everyone, but if you like simple but fun action movies, I highly recommend checking this one out. It won’t blow your mind, but it will in all likelyhood give you a great night off after a long hard day’s work. So, let’s see now, what’s my final score?

I give Final Score a 8 out of 10 score.