Special Features presents: Farewell……

Yes, that is a very dramatic title isn’t it? Farewell…. Am I saying goodbye to you all? Is this finally the end of Raistlin0903? Nope…it is not. This is going to be a little bit of a different post than you are used to seeing on my blog. It’s meant to hopefully become a bit of a discussion piece about a topic that I think is very interesting. Unless you are not really following the world of television series, I think it’s been very hard to miss that on sunday something very dramatic is going to happen on The Walking Dead. After nine seasons the show’s main star Andrew Lincoln, who played one of the most memorable characters in television history, is going to exit the show. Now let me be clear: I love The Walking Dead. It’s still my number one alltime favorite tv-series. Granted the show isn’t as good as it used to be anymore, but despite that fact I am still looking forward to new episodes every time. A big part of that reason is Andrew Lincoln, or more specifically the character he portrays: Rick Grimes. Over the course of more than a 100 episodes we have seen the world of the zombie apocalypse through Rick’s eyes.

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Rick is definitely in trouble..then again they might just want to say hi to him!

And now on sunday that is going to end. We don’t yet know exactly how Rick is going to be exiting the show, but many think that it’s not going to be pretty. A lot of fans also have been announcing that after Rick’s departure, they will stop watching the show. Forever. Which pretty much gave me the idea for this blogpost. I was thinking today about how the world of television has changed. In the old days, it was very rare for important characters to leave a show, much less die on it. Good always thriumphed over evil, and while there could still be tension in a series, we were never worried too much. Because really, our heroes can’t die right? The first show that really made me change that point of view was 24. The show starring Kiefer Sutherland as special agent Jack Bauer, just did things that I had never seen before up until that point. A good example, and obvious spoiler warning, was the end of the first season: Jack’s wife which he had tried to protect during the entire season ended up getting killed. It was a gut wrenching ending to a roller coaster of a show.

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Jack is always such a nice guy….really….

 

After that, 24’s following seasons continued in this fashion. Important characters just kept getting killed in sometimes very unexpected ways, and in that way that feeling of safety you had from the older television shows was suddenly gone. These days, some of the big names in television especially Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead excel at unsettling viewers in horrific ways. It certainly makes for some compelling television, I won’t deny that. However some characters are just so important to a show, that it will never be the same without them. To again take 24 as an example, after nine seasons Kiefer Sutherland was done with the show. Fox tried to revive the series by doing a kind of reboot with a new character. Needless to say, that attempt failed. While certainly not bad, 24: Legacy just wasn’t as good without the iconic character of Jack Bauer in the lead.

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24 without me?! Over my dead body, damn it!!

Which brings me to the point of this post (Wait…there actually was a point to this post? ). With more and more series killing off characters left and right, is this actually a trend that is a good development? In the case of The Walking Dead, it’s Andrew who has decided to leave the show in order to spent more time with his family. But the show will continue without him. At least that’s what the creators want anyway. Is it actually going to work though? If I look at myself, I will stick with the show regardless. Having invested nine years of my life to it, I would not all of a sudden drop it. Besides, I do want to see how it’s eventually going to end. But even though I’m going to give it a fair chance, it just won’t be the same without Rick. Some characters are just so good, and have such a big impact, that when they aren’t around anymore, it feels like something completely different. Sometimes on very rare occasions that works out, but more often than not, a show fizzles, and then slowly dies out.

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Yes, I am leaving!! And there is nothing you can do to stop me!!

So that brings me to you guys. If an important character in a tv-series leaves a show, is that a reason for you to stop watching it? Or don’t you care about it either way? Are there any examples where you thought a television show didn’t change when a main character left? Or became better because of that character leaving? Yes, a lot of questions, and you don’t have to answer them all, or any at all. But, I would definitely be interested in hearing your opinions. Let me know in the comments! As for me, like most Walking Dead fans the upcoming sunday is probably going to be hard (living in Holland I will see it no sooner than on tuesday). So, that brings me back to the beginning of this post, and it’s title: Farewell…. Farewell Rick, thanks for all the great moments, you will be missed…

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Let’s hope Rick just rides off into the…erm…well can’t really call this a sunset….

 

 

 

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Day Four, a novel by Sarah Lotz (2015)

We all have a bucket list, or at least things that we want to do at some point in our lives. I don’t even think I have a really huge one, but one of the things on it shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. It’s making a cruise on a big ocean liner. I don’t even care about the destination to be honest. But just the experience of being on a huge and beautiful cruise ship crossing the ocean and gazing at the beauty of the sea, that alone would make it worth it for me. So why haven’t I already done this? Good question. I could go into all kinds of lame excuses but the fact of the matter is I totally could have done this a million times over already. Maybe it’s lazyness, maybe it’s simply me not taking a step in trying to do something really different with my life for a change. Whatever the reason, I still plan on doing it. It’s pretty ironic though that Day Four, the sequel to The Three a book that I recenly read and highly enjoyed, once again makes me wonder if making such a trip is a good idea. First she did it with planes, now she sets her sights on a cruise ship. I see a pattern emerging here….

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The Beautiful Dreamer is huge cruiseship that has hundreds of passengers aboard, that are enjoying a trip across the ocean. For three days things have been going well and everyone seems to take pleasure in the many things the ship has to offer. Also aboard is acclaimed psychic medium Celine del Ray, who is able to commune with the dead and is able to bring closure to the family members of the deceased. Or so she claims. Madeline who is the assistant of Celine has her own knowledge of the things her boss can do. But ofcourse being her assistant and all she is not going to ruin things. However on day four of the cruise, disaster strikes. The electricity fails, stranding the ship with nowhere to go, and no way to call for help. If that wasn’t bad enough already, a mysterious ilness seems to have taken hold aboard the ocean liner, with more and more people falling victim to it. But then things become even worse when a body of a young woman is found who has apparently been murdered. Increasingly frightening events are happening aboard the ship, and fear and tension take hold of the passengers and crew. Madeline is beginning to get more and more convinced that someone, or something doesn’t want the ship to reach land…..ever again….

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Day Four takes place after the events of the first book. But I do have to say that if you did not read that one, you could still enjoy this book as it stands pretty much on it’s own. There is the occasional reference to a name from The Three, but other than that you don’t really require any knowledge of the first book. For those who of you who read my review for the first novel you might recal that it was written in a very unique way. Using interviews, news paper clippings and skype conversations it spun it’s tale and showed very effectively what happens when fear and paranoia take hold of the world. Day Four is a more traditional book. Although near the end of the novel, the author again uses the same trick she used in the first one to uncover the final truth such as it is. We experience this novel switching between multiple characters. Each chapter spents time with one of them as they try to stay alive during the nightmare events that are unfolding before their eyes. We have a pretty diverse number of characters, ranging from a pair of elderly women that have plans to commit suicide, to the assistant of the medium, crewmembers, and even the killer who is aboard.

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Each of them had their own little background story, some working better than others, but overall it was a nice diverse cast. I do have to admit that I would have liked a little bit more depth to some of them, which would have helped me form more of an attachment to a few of the characters. But just like in the first book it’s creating the oppressive atmosphere that Sarah Lotz excells in. As can be expected in situations such as these, tempers are beginning to run high. It starts of rather innocently with people just complaining about the fact that they are going to be late in catching a flight or not having enough towels in their cabins. As soon as it is beginning to become clear that rescue isn’t coming, and food is running short as well, people are slowly reverting to animal behaviour. Just like in the first novel, it’s again not exactly clear what is going on. Is it a supernatural force, aliens, something even more sinister? Whatever the case might be Lotz again manages to write a very engaging novel, that really is one of those books that is engaging your brain in trying to figure out the puzzle.

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Is the book as good as The Three though? I would have to say no. But that’s mainly due in part to the fact that the style of the original novel was very unique and something that I had not really seen before. Here we have for the most part a traditional novel, that while still very good, isn’t really unique. I also had a bit of a problem with the ending. It was pretty abrupt, and although I do like open endings that leave you speculating what just happened, I would have liked a little bit more closure to the final events. Overall though this was still a great read that I highly enjoyed. There are some elements in the book that fall into the horror category, but it never gets gory in any way. This is more of mystery/supernatural story, and a great book to just curl up into bed with, while a storm is brewing outside. I definitely recommend this novel, and if you liked The Three, chances are that this one will be to your liking as well.

I give Day Four a 8 out of 10 score.

 

Angels of Death, anime tv series (2018)

Let me just start off this post by saying that I really suck at dropping shows. When I start with something, whether it’s anime or a regular tv show, I have a really hard time just not finishing it. No matter how bad it gets. I always have that nagging voice in my head whenever something is starting to turn ugly that keeps saying “ But what if it turns really good later on?”. It’s crazy isn’t it? I’m sure I’m not the only one that does this either. So why do we put ourselves through this kind of torture? (Aside from maybe having some very masochistic tendencies?) I have had plenty of times where I finished a show and found myself wondering why I wasted so many hours of my life on a piece of crap. And I honestly still don’t have a real answer either. If you have a cure in some way for this sickness let me know alright? Well, of course there is a reason for me bringing this up right now, as the anime I am about to review is one of those type of shows. Angels of Death was dropped by a lot of people after the first few episodes. I stuck with it though and I was not alone as a few others did as well, most notably the wonderful Irina.

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Yes Rachel: Everybody hates you.

Irina wrote some terrific weekly posts on it (but then again everything she writes is terrific so if you are not yet following her yet, a fact I doubt very much, please do so now), and we had fun in exchanging thoughts on a weekly basis. Moreover we also were pretty much on the same page for most of the time. Now, I am writing this post on saturday, and her post for the final episode will come out tomorrow. As such I have yet to discover what her thoughts on the show’s finale will be. But I digress. Is Angels of Death really such a bad anime? Let’s first talk about what this show is about, before I will be answering that one question. In Angels of Death a young girl called Rachel wakes up in an unfamiliar building having no memories of who she really is. While exploring the building she runs into the scythe wielding psychopath known as Zack. He is covered from head to toe in bandages and he immediately tries to kill her. Eventually though a really strange bond begins to form between the two of them. And it becomes even stranger because of a promise that is made between the killer and the girl. But the building holds many secrets, and many strange and terrifying occupants. Will the two of them be able to escape this nightmare…..

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He seems like such a nice guy doesn’t he? Newsflash: he really isn’t.

The first episode of Angels of Death was good. I would not say great, but it really set up an anime that had some great potential. A creepy atmosphere, a few fun and over the top characters, and some nice tension. Though there were a few cringeworthy bits like some cheesy voice-acting overall it promised us an entertaining B-type horror anime. Now understand that I sometimes love watching “So bad it’s good horror movies/animes”. I enjoyed King’s Game for instance, and well most of you know how awful that one sometimes was. Angels of Death though, sadly did not fall into that category. After the first episode, the second one turned the show into something totally different. It went into a real weird comedy act, that just felt completely out of place, especially when compared to the way the show started. But it did not stay that way (luckily: else I really might have dropped it), but it also didn’t become much better. There were some episodes that showed a hint of what might have been. At the halfway point I genuinely thought that the show was about to redeem itself. There were even some real attempts at character development (gasp) and the story became more interesting too.

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Stuck in an elevator….

Now that we are talking about the characters let’s just take a little sidestep and explore the two leads. First up it’s Rachel. Young girl, blonde, doesn’t smile a lot and talks in a really monotone voice. (If you are beginning to feel like my writing is turning a bit into the sarcastic territory, you would be right). She was just a very uninteresting lead, and over the course of the show I just could not find any symphathy for her, like at all. Even when we got to learn a little bit more about her background and what exactly made her tick, I found that I could not care less about her. Strangely enough it was Zack that eventually kept me returning each week to watch this. At first I really thought he was quite the annoying guy, with a grating voice that would give Asta from Black Clover a run for his money. (Yeah, you are right…no one can beat Asta in the annoying voice department). But he grew on me, and eventually I really liked him, a lot. There was just something cool about him. He provided the best moments in the show in my opinion, and without him this anime would really have been a total loss.

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Sorry Rachel, I’m immune to your innocent girl act. I still don’t like you.

Which is not to say that it wasn’t. Angels of Death is based on a videogame, and at times it felt like we were watching that. Progress from Room A to Room B, find a key, move on…repeat. While this is sounding a bit harsh, and the show certainly did have some good episodes later on, overall it’s an anime that was just too uneven to recommend it to you. I kept hoping for a final episode that might have, in some way, at least redeemed the show but even that was simply not to be. The ending was as lackluster as most of this anime was, and after spending 16 weeks with this, I’m honestly feeling a bit relieved that it’s over now. There are two things that I will miss: Zack, and Irina’s posts for this one. Other than that though, this is an anime that will slowly fade from my memory and I won’t regret that in any way. So have I now learned my lesson and will I start dropping shows like flies? Erm…probably not. I’m even considering returning to Black Clover. Okay…maybe not…

I give Angels of Death a 5 out of 10 score.

Joy Ride, American movie (2001)

Who among you have ever pulled a prank on someone? Come on….don’t be shy now and speak up. I think it’s pretty much rather safe to say that we all have at some point, right? Whether it’s as a kid ringing the doorbell at a house and then quickly running away, or it’s as an adult thinking up something more elaborate. We all sometimes like to play a joke on someone. Sometimes when I have a lazy day, I like to go to YouTube and watch some truly crazy prank videos of people trying to scare the living daylights out of others. Some of them are really stupid, but there are also some that are amazingly brilliant. It’s always nice to see the response that people have to these pranks. A lot of people just laugh at the jokes, but there are also a few that really turn angry. For me those are the funniest ones to watch, but you also have to wonder at what point a joke isn’t really funny anymore. I draw the line at jokes that intentionally hurt people. I mean fun and games are all good, but if it ends up truly hurting someone, that for me isn’t a joke. But what if a prank gets turned around completely…and turns into something deadly? Funny (see what I did there) you should mention that….

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You are in my parking space!!

Lewis Thomas is a university student who is on his summer break and is preparing to drive home on a cross country road trip. But before he heads home he has to make a stop to pick up his friend and crush Vena who has just ended her relationship. And of course this is a perfect time for Lewis to maybe make his move. However when he calls his mum announcing his plans he learns that his older brother Fuller has been arrested yet again. Not being happy about it, but having very little choice in the matter, Lewis bails Fuller out and he comes along for the ride. While at a gas station Fuller decides to install an old CB radio on the car of his brother. On the road the two of them listen in to truckers conversing with each other and eventually the two of them decide to do some talking as well. Fuller has always been a prankster and he wants his brother to impersonate a sultry woman on the radio waves. Lewis goes along and introducing himself as Candy Cane he seduces a truck driver called Rusty Nail that totally falls for it. However, the joke will soon be on them as Rusty Nail turns out to be a complete psychopath. Lewis and Fuller will soon be in for the ride of their lives….literally….

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That moment where you think you are dreaming, but it ends up being real.

Halloween is almost upon us, and while I would not call this movie a horror movie, it’s certainly one that comes close to that genre. Joy Ride is erm a fun ride (okay enough with the puns  already) that doesn’t takes itself to seriously but is still a joy to watch (okay…seriously quit now!). It’s always strange to see Paul Walker in a film knowing that he sadly isn’t alive anymore. He is definitely an actor that really went way before his time. In this film he plays the role of Lewis and as always he pulls it off with his natural charm. His character is just your typical highschool student, that you may have seen in countless other films. Still, it’s hard not to like him, as he is just someone that has been unwillingly put into a very dangerous situation and tries to make things right. Steve Zahn is the actor that was cast in the role of the older brother, and his character was the complete opposite of Paul’s. Fuller is a total prankster, and certainly serves as the comic relief in this film. Zahn simply excells in roles such as these, and this one was no exception.

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Breaker, breaker…ten four….out and over…or was it over and out??

The love interest, Vena, was played by actress Leelee Sobieski. Once hailed to be a very promising young actress she pretty much disappeared from the big screen. Which is a real shame as not only was she very pretty, she was also someone who could really act. Which she proves in this film. While she hasn’t a huge part in this movie, I still liked her role a lot. But it’s not the acting that you want to watch this movie for, it’s the thrills, and for the most part the film definitely succeeds in that. I like the way the tension is cranked up in this movie beginning almost as a bit of a comedy, and then, with every passing minute it becomes darker. For people who might be squeamish when it comes to blood, you will happy to know that this movie doesn’t contain any scenes like that. This is a pure thriller with some heartpounding and nailbiting scenes, especially in the later parts of the film. About halfway through the movie it does have a few moments where the tension slows down, and while I would not necessarily call this a bad thing, it occasionally slowed down a bit too much.

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I wonder what the punchline of this joke was. All three of them seem to struggle with it.

The truck driver who is voiced by an uncredited Ted Levine, is never seen fully which of course only makes it more enjoyable. For me at least. It’s the unseen terror that usually is just way more effective and that’s certainly achieved with this film. All in all there is very little not to like about this film. I do have to give you a small warning though. Joy Ride was followed by two sequels that went straight to video. If you were maybe thinking of giving them a watch after this one, just know that they are totally different movies. Instead of thrills, they rely more on blood and gore, and are simply a pale shadow of this one. The original though is just a great thriller, with some very decent performances, a whiff of humor thrown into the mix, and enough thrills to make your heart pump faster. It’s the perfect film to watch on Halloween, when you like your horror/thriller movies without blood. Just go along with the ride…..

I give Joy Ride a 8 out of 10 score.

The Worst/Best Anime you (might) not have seen yet: Volume 1

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I last posted so I guess you are wondering if this blog is still breathing. The short answer is: yes, it most certainly is. The longer answer is that this is exactly the reason why I don’t have a fixed schedule as I wouldn’t be able to stick with it. Things have been very busy again since I have returned to work, and as such there are days that I am just too tired to really write something. I have also had a little bit less time on my hands than normal to watch and read stuff. Since this blog mainly concerns itself with reviews, that means it’s hard to write a post without doing that. All in all it’s been a bit tough to keep up with everything. Yeah I know, it all seems like a lame excuse right?

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It really does bro…

But enough complaining as today I am happy and excited to bring you the first post for a new feature on my blog. The title I guess is pretty self explanatory:  The Worst/Best Anime you (might) not have seen yet. What it comes down to is that I am going to be scrolling through the Crunchyroll line-up each month (for those not familiair with it, it’s basically Netflix for anime) and pick a title at random. I am going to be focussing on animes that I haven’t really seen on any other blogs and people might not be very familiar with (and that is including myself). But of course that means it could be a really good one, or a really bad one. To kick things off….I have a really good one for you all!

Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

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Year of release: 2009

Number of episodes: 26

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

The gorgeous image that you see above is the one that instantly grabbed my attention while I was scrolling through the available shows. I mean, just look at it. There is just so much expression in that one picture that it really got me curious and it’s also what gave me the idea to start this feature. Because really, this show is an absolute must watch! Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom tells the story of a Japanese tourist who finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. He is a witness to a murder committed by the invincible and mysterious assassin called Phantom who works for a very powerful crime syndicate called Inferno. He manages to escape at first, but is soon captured and subsequently brainwashed. When he wakes up he has no memories of his former life, and is now the new puppet of Inferno. Under the name Zwei, he is trained by Phantom, who turns out to be a young woman called Einz. The former tourist soon becomes a powerful assassin himself, and enters a web of crime, deceit and betrayals. Is Zwei forever doomed to remain in this life, or will he regain his freedom….

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You would not tell by looking at her, but she can kill you in a heartbeat.

I have so many things that I want to talk about for this show, that it’s almost impossible to fit them all in one post. Unless I turn this into a small novel, but I don’t think that anyone is likely to read that (and I am not that great a writer either so there is that). But I am going to do my best to convince you to put this anime at the top of your to watch list. You want a tense and gripping story, that has incredible twists and turns throughout it’s run? You got it. You want characters that grow and have actual depth to them? You got that too. This anime really has such a mature feel to it. I know that might sound strange, because of course we all know that anime is meant for a mature audience. But this series just takes it up another level. It feels like you are at times watching this great mafia saga that unfolds before your very eyes. Crime, heroic bloodshed, sexual tension, and an incredible sound track propel the story forward and you sometimes forget that you are watching an anime series. Most of the time is spent in America, which is also quite the unique setting and one that you don’t see often in animes.

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Some people take the word kinky just a little bit too far….

But it’s the characters that really make this anime such an incredible watch. One of the most striking aspects of this show is the enormous amount of girlpower it contains. There are so many great female characters in this one, that it’s hard to pick a favorite. We have the tough as nails Einz, the lead assassin aka Phantom, and a woman that you simply don’t mess with. She reminded me a lot of The Major from Ghost in the Shell. Later on in the series a young girl is introduced called Cal who forms a special bond with Zwei. I loved the fact that Zwei became this kind of surrogate father to her, and she really is adorable….well, at first anyway. But my favorite female character would have to be Claudia mcCunnen. She was a very strong woman in the Inferno syndicate that was incredibly cunning, always plotting and scheming, and having this sexual power over men. Her only weakness was her crush on Zwei, a fact that she would probably deny herself.

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My favorite character, miss Claudia mcCunnen, and no…not for the obvious reason.

But the real heart of this story is of course Zwei, and the incredibly complex relationship he has with Einz. While Einz hardly has any emotions at first, Zwei still has some aspects of his humanity intact. As the anime takes place over the course of several years, we actually see the characters undergo many changes. Including the bond between the two assassins. It’s a fascinating yourney to behold, and one that doesn’t become boring for a second. There are so many other great characters but it would take many more paragraphs to describe them, so I will leave you to discover the others for yourself. After all the praise I should mention that the finale of the series, while wrapping up most of the storylines does leave you with an open ending. It’s not terrible, but it could have been done a little better. This is a very minor issue however to what is otherwise an absolutely  amazing anime and one that I just simply can’t recommend more to you. I will leave you with the OP to this anime, a song that is so very beautiful and captures the spirit of this anime incredibly well. Let me know what you all thought of this new feature in the comments, and of course if you might have seen the show! Thanks for reading!

I give Phantom-Requiem for the Phantom a 9 out of 10 score.

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.

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!

 

 

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Wonderful Cinema

Short reviews on high quality films. No spoilers.

Ryuji Tatsuya's Anime Corner

A gateway to the anime world

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