Top 20 Favorite Anime

A long time ago, I did a post where I discussed my top 15 favorite anime series.  However, now that it’s been a few years, and I have become more familiar with more series, and have rewatched some of the ones on my list previously, my opinions have changed somewhat.  So now I am going to put out the definitive list.  Here are the top 20 favorite anime that I have.

20. Psycho Pass (Season 1)
You know something that I have never seen anime tackle before?  A crime-procedural.  Especially one where you are in a dystopian city that has a legal system that is both cruel and uncompromising.  That is the world of this series.  At least in the first season.  For whatever reason, the second season just totally died.  A crime-procedural in a series where the law is carried out by a soulless computer that judges your punishment based on how much of a threat you are due to the data that it takes in.  And its judgement is the last.  Characters who are fun, morally-gray material, and a genre that I have never seen done before in this medium.  While the second season died so bad, it’s good that at least we have this one.

19. Rahxephon
After the success of Evangelion and what a cultural icon it became, there were a TON of imitators out there.  Most of them never even went past the line of derivative, with people seeing them for the schlock that they are.  However, then you get series like this one.  Which took the formula for Eva and actually went further with it.  In fact, I would say that it perfected it.  A show about aliens who look like us, machines that are golems made of stone, and a focus on music and the power of sound, this was a very grim series that I would argue was better than the series it was riffing on, in more ways than one.  Were it not for the ending which is kind of dull, this show would be able to easily stack up to the more famous predecessor.  But quality animation, a fantastic score, and really good voice acting makes this series shine.

18. Darker Than Black (Season 1)
Another series where the second season just royally fucked the quality, this series was about darkness all around.  In a world where some nameless calamity has stuck the Earth and imprisoned it under a cloud that has stars symbolizing people with special powers, our tale follows a clandestine group who does dirty work for a shady organization who is exploiting those individuals.  Action that keeps you pumped, dark subject matter, and a kind of grotesque nature keeps you guessing.  This series is cold, but for at least the first season you can see where it’s coming from.

17. Digimon Tamers
Given how this franchise had been so light-hearted by comparison, this series in the franchise took a decidedly darker turn.  For a marketing vehicle, this iteration of the franchise was meta, had complicated characters who you like, and took some incredibly dark turns that as a child I was in love with, and as an adult I still can sit down and watch and feel very moved by.  How a show this dark was able to get onto a children’s cartoon block is beyond me, but I am glad that it is, because there is nothing like it.  Whether it is just for the nostalgia, or to just enjoy a children’s show that wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of what is acceptable, it still holds up to this day.

16. Samurai Champloo
What do you get when you take the creator of one of the greatest anime ever made, add in hip-hop, and enough meta to make Deadpool proud?  You get this series, of course.  A stylistic, badass and overall too fun series about a bunch of travelers, I love this show so much.  It’s not complicated.  This is entirely style over substance.  But that style is just so damn cool!  The creator of Cowboy Bebop comes back to tell a story about three travelers in the Edo Period of Japan, trying to find a Samurai who “smells of sunflowers.”  From the awesome sword-fights to the fantastic voice-work in English, nothing about this series doesn’t stick with me.  Sure, there are some episodes which just die, but overall it is still a ton of fun to watch.  Steve Blum steals the show as Mugen, but the rest are still so cool.  If you can handle some history-twisting, this series is for you.

15. Gundam Wing
I am dying to know when FUNimation is going to re-release this series, now that they have  the Bandai licenses.  Here’s hoping they don’t do a shitty redub of it.  The voicework in this series is classic.  Telling the story of five youths who head down to Earth to get revenge for the murder of a leader of the Colonies, along with strike back at the clandestine Organization of the Zodiac, Gundam Wing is all about big robots and big battles.  But more than that, it looks at ideas about war, the nature of good and evil, and how the changing tides of history can leave people behind.  This series is classic, and while the animation hasn’t aged as well as you’d think, it still is pretty awesome.  I’ll admit that my nostalgia goggles are on pretty tight for this.  It is the first series that I watched as a kid that got me into anime.  But I still love it, and in my opinion it holds up to this day as a gateway series into anime.  Seriously, though, FUNimation, don’t do a redub of this.  It can only suck.

14. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
When I watch this series, the whole time I think about what life was like growing up.  But more than that, this series does something that so few stories about growing up does – feels real.  When I see the grungy basements that the band is playing it, I feel like I am there.  I feel like I could watch these shows and hear these instruments.  It tells the story of a young man who is lost growing up, and just so happens to run into the lead guitarist of a band.  From there begins a story of growing up, music, and the hardships that come from knowing that youth is temporary.  Were it not for a totally forced plot later about a mobster which had no reason to be in there, this series would have been nigh-perfect.  But I still feel each string of the instruments when I watch it to this day.

13. Baccano
What do you get when you combine a total lack of chronological order, supernatural powers, and the backdrop of early 1900’s gang warfare?  You get a show that is so damn fun to watch!  This series is a marvel.  It’s a marvel how such an unapologetically violent series can exist but be so fun to watch.  This series is brutal.  You have dismemberment, a gleeful enjoyment of murder, and characters who are pretty much all terrible people but you love all the same due to how deliciously evil they all are.  It tells the story of a train massacre, along with a drug war that goes on because of a substance that grants people immortal life.  Between the phenomenal acting in the dub, and the cool style that it has, this series isn’t about the narrative.  It’s about the crazy ride aboard a train that you can’t look away from for one second.

12. Outlaw Star
Some series are substance over style.  Others are style over substance.  Outlaw Star, on the other hand, is nothing but style and not a lick of substance to be found anywhere.  But dear god is it cool!  Gene Starwind finds himself going from a do any dirty job business owner to a starship captain outlaw who has a mysterious vessel and a mysterious woman who can pilot it in his care.  What this show lacks if any form of substantive elements it makes up in some of the most fun that a series has ever had with its premise.  This is science fiction escapism at its best.  This show knows exactly what it is and doesn’t shy away from it.  Hell, it embraces what it is, and does nothing but have fun with that every step of the way.  If you like all the trimmings of a space adventure story (no joke, they don’t miss a single beat), you need to watch this anime.

11. Vision of Escaflowne
First off, let me say, FUNimation – shame on you for making a redub version of this series.  If you hadn’t have included the original version in the blu-ray, I would be hunting you down.  The redubbed version is just bad, no matter how you scratch it.  A series that also retreads ground that we have seen before, but damn if it isn’t all the execution.  The story of Escaflowne is as predictable as it gets.  You have a girl taken to a mysterious world, who ends up becoming involved in a greater plot that involves fantasy elements in a world with animal people and fighting robots.  Original as my pizza pops idea, but as I said, all in the execution.  This series is incredible to watch!  From the gorgeous visuals, to the fantastic voice-work, it has it all.  Not to mention the soundtrack, which is so damn beautiful.  You know exactly where it will go from beginning to end, but each step of getting there is worth it.  Just wish the ending to the series wasn’t as flat as it is.  I guess they meant for it to go further, but ran out of budget.  Oh well.

10. FLCL
This series is one that I saw when I was much younger, but when I rediscovered it as an adult, it grew on me so much.  The best coming-of-age anime that I have ever seen, this short series tells the story of a young man who is dissatisfied with life, but has his boring days broken when a woman on a vespa with a guitar smashes him over the head and nothing in his life is the same.  While this series does play with elements of eldritch horror and mecha anime, at its core it is about our young hero and his issues with growing up.  He is a lonely kid, and I see so much of my own struggles growing up in him.  Plus, it looks at the problems associated with sex, love, and emotional honesty in a way that feels mature.  The guy who made it studied under the creator of Evangelion, but I would argue that this series does complex emotions better, simply because they capture what it’s like to be a kid better.  If you saw this when you were younger, check it out again and see what you think.

9. Death Note
One of the most widely-known anime series, Death Note tells the story of a man’s rise to power.  Light Yagami is a bored high school genius, who one day happens to come across a notebook dropped from a death god called the Death Note.  He then goes from a soon to be lawyer to little Hitler and he fights to remake the world in his image.  This series has zero subtlety.  None.  But dear god is it fun!  The game of cat-and-mouse between Light and L is too much fun to watch.  Too bad that the entire conflict just dies after that point, up until the very end of the series.  Looking back on it now, I don’t have the same love for this series that I do for others on the list, but it is still an incredible show that has one of the best dramatic arcs to follow.  At least for the first 25 episodes.

8. Wolf’s Rain
This series is probably the most thematically dense of any of the anime on this list.  This is a cold and cryptic series that fuses religious allegory with bitter tragedy.  It tells the story of a young pack of wolves, on their journey to find Paradise, all while the world is slowly descending into chaos and the end of everything is near.  Between the truly incredible visuals, the voice acting that is at the top of its class, and one of the most gripping tragedies ever told, this series will make you cry, think, and question all at the same time.  It isn’t for everyone, as the material is dense and there is virtually no exposition to let you know what is going on.  However, if narrative rich in symbolism and with a lore that you have to pay attention to in order to figure out is your game, then check it out.

7. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
I find it so weird that the most true to the original story version of this series is done in an anime set 3,000 years in the future.  That is just so strange to me.  It follows a young man named Albert, who comes into the acquaintance of a mysterious Count.  What follows is a tangled web of lies, manipulation, and a revenge story that will keep you hooked.  But not only that, it also has a style that is all its own.  This series animation is strange, to say the least.  But that strangeness is what sets it apart.  The style in it fits so perfectly.  This series is almost impossible to analyze, because it is nearly perfect.  Were it not for how bad the last two episodes are, I would almost call it a perfect anime.  Some flaws, but too much fun.  Not to mention having a villain who is just so awesome.

6. Stein’s Gate
When time travel, fate, and the changing of reality collide, you get Stein’s Gate.  Telling the story of a young man and his band of misfits who stumble upon the ability to change time, a young man learns the true price of changing reality, and what it takes to set things right.  So much of what I love about this series centers around the main character.  A lot of people see it as a gripping thriller about time travel, and that is true, but that isn’t what keeps me loving this series the way that I do.  Every single one of these characters all feel like people I could know and love, but as I said, it’s not what keeps me coming back.  The real reason that I love this series the way I do is the character of Okarine.  His anti-social nature and awkwardness in the face of life and the hardships he comes across resonate so much with me.  His fight to be a good friend all while battling his own awkwardness feel so true to me.  Not to mention the fact that he lives in his own head, desperately trying to make sense of it all.  It’s a cold story, but seeing how far he will go to save his best friend hits me right in the heart.

5. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
A lot of people have made comparisons between this series and Death Note, and while I do see those, I believe that this is the better series.  Why?  All because of the main character.  The story goes that Lelouch is a disaffected youth living in the occupied nation of Japan.  He has no thoughts about life and is looking to strike back at the Holy Britannian Empire who he blames for ruining his life and crippling his sister.  As fate would have it, he gets his shot when a mysterious woman gives him the power of Geass.  Now it’s a battle of wits to destroy the people he hates, and manipulate the world on his ultimate chess board, that grows bigger and bigger with every battle.  Light is an interesting character, but his corruption is ridiculously immediate.  Lelouch, on the other hand, is one we can watch grow and slowly become turned by his own power.  To the point that he has to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to bring about total peace.

4. Mushi Shi
Anyone who knows me knows that my first love is animation.  I love to watch animation that has quality and a look all its own.  It’s why I love the film Bambi to this day, even if it is cutesy to a sickening degree.  The animation is a step above.  To that end, this series is much the same.  Telling the tales of the wandering Mushi Master Ginko, this series is just so peaceful.  It’s kind of like a lullaby.  I can watch this series anytime that I need to just feel better about my day, and it works wonders.  But dear Groj, the animation!  This series is a visual marvel.  Each episode seems to play around with a different style, and man do I love it for that.

3. Fullmetal Alchemist (Original)
I honestly don’t think much of Brotherhood, so I’ll head that off.  But the original series is a brilliant character study into the Elric Brothers, and their tragic tale of trying to get their bodies back.  This series is nearly a flawless tragedy.  Telling the story of two brothers and how their quest to get their own lives back destroys the lives of countless people around them.  This series is a near-perfect character study.  Edward and his brother are so likeable, which makes the fact that they are doing irreparable harm to the lives of everyone around them that much worse.  This series is also almost perfect, save for the ending.  I am one of the few people who calls bullshit on that ending.  How does sacrificing memory for Al’s life even make sense.  This series would have been a perfect tragedy if it ended with Al giving his life, and Edward realizing that in the end, he has to accept that some things cannot come back, and he has to move forward with his life.  But it is still a transcendent anime that is another perfect gateway series.

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender
How America was able to create an anime this good is beyond me.  This series did something that few anime have done before – transcended the gap between kids show and adult.  This series is incredible.  There isn’t a single bad episode.  There isn’t a single wasted character.  There isn’t a single frame that doesn’t fit in one way or another.  When you learn the insane amount of research that went into this little masterpiece, then you realize that anime can be more than just a niche market.  The story of Aang and his journey to learn the four elements and save the world combines incredible animation, lovable characters, and so much fantastic story-telling in all the best ways.  I honestly can say that this series is perfect.  Right down to the ending, it gets everything right.  For those wondering what I think of its sequel series, then it can be boiled down to this – Season 1 and 3 are amazing, while 2 and 4 go from terrible to boring.

And my favorite anime is…

1. Cowboy Bebop
Everyone and their brother has said about how awesome this series is.  Most people will call me a sheep for loving it the way that I do.  But so be it.  This series is perfect.  From the very beginning where you see Spike going to what is likely his doom in order to escape his life in the mob, the end of the first episode that sets up the tragic nature of the series.  Taking elements from tons of genres and blending them all together, this series cannot be defined by any one genre.  The story of the Bebop and its crew of misfits goes from pensive look at tragic characters, to beautiful elements of action set-piece, all of which are set to the best music that anime has ever or will ever have.  This series is astounding.  People sing its praises, but you know what, it’s earned that.  No series has ever done it like this, and I doubt another series ever will.

So, what are your favorite anime?  Let me know down in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m just in a dream that I can’t wake up from.” – Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Traumatizing Things in Fiction as a Child

I haven’t done a top 10 list in ages, and because I am so original, I want to piggy-back off this concept one of my favorite YouTubers put out – traumatizing things in fiction as a child.  As a kid, I had a love-hate relationship with fear.  I loved getting afraid of things, just so I could become more enamored with them.  Today I have a relationship with fear that it’s just being wasted.  Gory horror films do nothing for me.  Deep psychological thrillers, or horror films that actually take the time to build atmosphere (there are so few) are my jam.  As a kid, the stuff that scared me tended to grab my attention.  But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t fuck me up all the same.  Here is a list of the top ten things in fiction that REALLY messed with me, growing up, in a scary way.  Won’t be including any visual aids for this.  Sorry if that’s a deal-breaker.  I just have some of these attached to memories I’d like to forget.

10. Turning into lizard creatures
Star Trek Voyager
In one episode, Lt. Paris had discovered that it was possible to go to warp 10.  He wanted to test this, and he just so happened to take Capt. Janeway along for the ride.  What followed was them turning into these weird lizard creatures. But it wasn’t what you’d expect from Star Trek.  They weren’t some big bulky thing that you can clearly tell is a costume or prop.  They turn into these small creatures that look real.  It was so unsettling to me as a child.  For whatever reason, it just scared me out of my wits that I would turn into one of those things one day.

9. Pig head girl
Goosebumps
This one just fucked with my head.  An episode of Goosebumps featured this city that people could warp into.  It was a two-part episode where you had one of the main characters being turned into a pig because of her greed.  That image just fucked with me so hard.  Looking back on it now it’s ridiculous.  But at the time it just fucked me up so hard.

8. Back monster scene
Phantasm II
As a kid I had this bad habit of going over to my uncle’s house.  He is hardcore religious, and had a pool.  But he also had another thing that he did – watch movies that were SO not appropriate for children.  And as a kid who liked to do things I wasn’t supposed to, I would sneak over sometimes and watch them.  One such film was Phantasm II.  In it, we have a scene with a woman who is covered by a black cloak.  They pull it off her face, and see that her mouth is taped shut.  What else is under that cloak?  They pull back more to reveal that there is a monster inside of her back, eating her.  That scene stuck with me so hard.  Scared the living shit out of me.  But I couldn’t tell my parents about it because I would have gotten in trouble.  The things I dealt with in silence.

7. The covers
Scary Stories (series)
Remember what I said about things that scared me enticing me to know more?  Well, this was one such instance.  I am so fucking pissed that they redid the covers for the new editions of the stories.  The reasoning?  Because they are too scary for kids.  Bullshit!  That is fucking stupid, and people who think that way are stupider.  Yeah, they are scary, but sometimes things that scare kids also intrigue them.  We like a little fear.  I read all of those books because of the covers.  And the neat fact is that the stories themselves were usually about sources of fear who are just misunderstood.  I hate this idea that we have to make the world less difficult for children.  Yeah, because kids can’t handle some scary imagery.  Give me a fucking break.

6. The Witch
Hansel and Gretel
I honestly don’t know which version of this story I saw as a kid, but I remember that there was one version with this character who just fucked up my head so hard.  Something about her screaming at these two children who she had chained up in a cage just messed with my head so fucking hard.  I wish I could remember which version I saw.  This story has been done to death.  Another relic from a time gone by – when we could scare the shit out of children and it was okay, so long as the story has a happy ending.  Don Bluth became a household name in the 80’s because of that philosophy, and he is absolutely right.

5. The threat of nuclear annihilation
I honestly don’t remember what specifically it was that got me scared of this.  Maybe it was a movie, or the news, but I remember that the idea of a nuclear weapon attacking my house scared the piss out of me.  To the point that I slept in my parents bedroom for ages.  We had these mattresses that you could move around, and I was sleeping on one in the corner of their room for a long time.  Now that we could be facing down World War III with North Korea, and the fact that my home state is in their launch radius, that thought has come back to me.  Only this time I think I’d grab some marshmallows and enjoy the roast.

4. The Oompa Loompas
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
I’m talking about the original, not that weird Tim Burton shit.  In this film, the only thing I found truly frightening as a kid growing up with those orange-faced bastards.  They are fucking creepy!  Their creepy faces and their creepy green hair and their creepy songs.  I hated them so much.  To this day I’m not a huge fan.  If I will say what the remakes did better, it is the different songs.  One good spot on a terrible movie.  That’s something, right?

3. Slappy the Puppet
Goosebumps
Oh my Groj, this fucking puppet.  One of the times that something didn’t entice me through fear and just freaked me the fuck out was this puppet.  Everything from its creepy face to its creepy voice, the thing was just so scary!  The guy they got for this puppet was just amazing.  To this day, that creepy face makes my skin crawl.  I’m well-aware how fake it all is, but it’s all in the performance.  The guy they got for that was just too good.

2. Chernabog
Fantasia
The quintessential example of fear compelling me to fascination.  As I am sure many who read my site know, Fantasia is not only my favorite Disney film, but my second favorite film of all time.  And nowhere was that quality better exemplified than in the final number.  In it, we see a powerful demon by the name of Chernabog summoning forth all of the damned for what must be one hell of a party.  That creature mesmerized me.  I loved everything about it.  It had size, presence, and a creepy smile that just played into how scared and captivated I was at the same time.  This character has become a staple of what I love about that film.  Just made me want to go to the party that much more.

And the thing that freaked me out the most in fiction as a kid…

1. Expanding feet
Full House
A disclaimer – I didn’t like this show growing up.  It was stupid, but I was young enough to be stuck watching it when the rest of the family was.  And one scene that really fucked with my head growing up was when the youngest child in the family had this scary dream about her feet expanding really huge, and seeing it.  That shit fucked me up!  For weeks I had bad dreams about that concept, and to this day I feel a little weird when I see it.  Old trauma, maybe?  In any case, in a series devoid of any real tension or darkness, that one element has stuck with me.  Hell, it’s the only thing I can actually remember about the series, outside of the Nostalgia Critic’s review of it.

So, what stuff from fiction fucked up your life as a kid?  Let me know in the Comments

Until next time, a quote,

“Like I said before, I think kids like being scared because it pulls them much more into the action. If they didn’t like being scared, they wouldn’t go out for Halloween, or watch High School Musical” – Nostalgia Critic

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2017

While 2016 was a bit of a slow year, 2017 is looking to be trying some new stuff.  This is a year full of IPs, sequels to games that weren’t super successful, and games that haven’t been confirmed for 2017, but I am reasonably confident will be coming out this coming year.  Call it gut instinct.  Wish I could put The Last of Us: Part 2 or Death Stranding on this list, but I know for a fact that they aren’t coming out this year.  Some of these are games that were pushed back from last year, and some of them are games that nobody saw coming.  I am excited to see what happens this year, so let’s not waste any time.

What Remains of Edith Finch10. What Remains of Edith Finch
Yes, we’re about to have your moment where you groan – I am a fan of Indie games.  That’s right, I like games that are typically not liked by the normal gaming scene.  The company who made this game, Giant Sparrow, made one of my Indie games – The Unfinished Swan.  A game about a fairytale telling a tragic story about a boy who loses his mother.  This game is keeping a similar storybook style, but this time telling the story of Edith Finch, who is returning to her family home to unravel the mystery of why the family always dies in their enormous house.  Gameplay segments have shown flying a kite, playing as a baby in a bathtub, and even a cat climbing a tree.  This game will have a dark edge, and I can’t wait to see more.

Yooka-Laylee9. Yooka-Laylee
After a year with things being pretty quiet, we finally got to see some gameplay that isn’t alpha stuff.  This little Kickstarter-funded passion project by the dejected devs who worked on Banjo Kazooie just looks better and better.  Like an homage to past games, they even have the cute little language that they used in the original games.  I am so excited to see what stages they come up with.  If it’s anything like that casino in the newest trailer, then this game will be a call-back to the best that the medium has to offer.

Kingdom Hearts 2.88. Kingdom Hearts 2.8: The Final Chapter Prologue
The final piece of the plot before the final game is revealed, this game brings forth the remastered version of Dream Drop Distance, which I have been DYING to play.  We also get a very cool intro to the gameplay style of Kingdom Hearts III with a segment where you play as Aqua, traveling the Realm of Darkness.  Of course, there is also a third segment that is literally nothing but cutscenes.  That will undoubtedly bug me, but it’s all going to be worth it for the first two.  The newest trailer has my mouth watering at the worlds you will explore with Aqua.  If that’s the kind of visuals that we can expect in the newest game, you cannot begin to understand how excited I am.  We desperately need a new trailer for the final game, along with an intro into some of the worlds.

persona-57. Persona 5
A game that was supposed to come out in 2016, it got pushed back.  Unlike some people, I am all for that.  I am glad when they have games pushed back, in order to get everything right.  New gameplay has shown that this game is all about using spirit creatures as proxies to fight.  Reminds me Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch in that regard.  Fine by me.  The game has a colorful style, beautiful character design, a world that looks fun to explore, and on top of that, combat that looks active and vibrant.  There has been a woeful gap in truly stand-out JRPGs in the last couple years, and I want that to change.  Hopefully this game will be leading the charge!

styx-shards-of-darkness6. Styx: Shards of Darkness
You know what I miss?  Stealth games?  You know I also miss? Stealth games with a protagonist who is fun, unlike all the gruff heroes who can do the stealth thing, but got no problem killing everyone when that doesn’t work.  When I played Styx: Master of Shadows, I thought two things.  First, this game’s loading screens are bugging the fuck out of me.  For a game that is all about trial and error, having to sit through those loading screens was more than a little frustrating.  Second, finally, a stealth game that is true to the name!  So many people were bitching that you couldn’t fight.  Well yeah!  You play as a little goblin-man!  He’s half the size of everyone else.  Of course he is kind of fucked if he gets busted.  But it wasn’t just that.  Styx was a fun character.  He was foul-mouthed, vulgar, and actually enjoyed being a thief.  Plus, the world had such interesting lore.  The original game wasn’t perfect, but with the stealth genre dead, I am so glad that we have a series coming up to bring it back to its roots.  Can’t wait to see what happens next.

nioh5. Nioh
What do you get when you combine the difficulty of Dark Souls with the weapons and aesthetic of the Samurai and monsters that take from Japanese mythology?  You get one badass-looking game!  Everything about this game screams that it will fit right in in the pantheon of games loved for their brutal combat and their rich lore.  I will say that the fact that the protagonist looks so much like Geralt is a little weird, but I am willing to give it a chance.  This is a game that seems to be flying under the radar with people, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe because of the people who say that it’s a Dark Souls knock-off?  They don’t know what they’re talking about.  However, the proof will be when we get to see the game for ourselves.

uncharted-the-lost-legacy4: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
After the end of Uncharted 3, part of me was kind of wondering what Chloe was up to.  You see in the newest game that she invites Nate out on a treasure hunt, but he says “no way.”  In what is probably the most gorgeous reveal I have ever seen, we see our girl is back in form.  This time, she has teamed up from the rather affable mercenary from the last game.  Sure, we wanted to kick Nadine’s ass, but she wasn’t all bad.  Just a merc trying to get by.  Now that her whole endeavor has fallen apart, she’s out to get rich quick.  The two girls are now out to find their own fortune.  Is this a DLC or a full-blown game?  Not sure, but either way, I am excited to see what Naughty Dog is going to tide us over with until The Last of Us: Part 2.

Horizon Zero Dawn3. Horizon: Zero Dawn
It got delayed quite a bit, but you know what, if the goal is to make the game as complete as possible, I am all there!  Originally debuted a couple years ago, we finally have a release date for it.  Won’t have to wait long.  I am all about this game.  A post-apocalyptic game about a redheaded huntress who is stalking the wastelands for parts by the mechanical beasts who roam the world.  There is a story behind all of this madness, and it’s clear from the trailers that this girl is out on a mission to go figure out that story and get the truth behind her ancestry.  With the same girl who did the voice of Chloe Price in Life is Strange, I am so excited to see what happens with the narrative of this game.  The gameplay has been pretty flushed out, so now I want to know where the story goes.  Traveling around, scavenging parts from robots is fun and all, but I want to get to know this world, and the people in it.  We’ve seen that conversation options are a thing, a la Mass Effect, but I’m not complaining.  There is also the fact that there are ancient machines with untold dark powers and dark purpose.  What does it all mean?  Where did the people go?  So many questions, few answers.  Can’t wait.

god-of-war2. God of War
This game was just announced, and I have no reason to expect that it will be released this year, but call it a hunch.  Something about the reveal and how far they are into it gave me the impression that the game isn’t that far down the rabbit hole.  A soft reboot of the God of War franchise, this game is a continuation of the story.  I am dying to know what happened to Kratos after the end of the third game.  How did he get into a land of Norse mythology?  Who is this kid who is clearly not his biological son, but whom he is treating with all the love and compassion that a Spartan would his son?  They make it sound like he had been fighting in this land for some time.  Why?  What purpose guides Kratos?  He says that the boy and him are going to be fighting together against the Gods.  What new gods has our favorite god-killer gone and pissed off this time?  Lots of questions, few answers.  As I said, no confirmation, but a gut instinct that the game is coming out this year.

And the game I am most excited for this year is…

detroit-become-human1. Detroit: Become Human
Another game that I have no confirmation that it will be coming out this year, but call it a decent hunch.  Announced two years ago, we first got to see the breath-taking spectacle of the world of this game.  Centered in the city of Detroit, it seems to follow the stories of a series of androids living in a world where they are treated as second-class citizens.  The first trailer showed an android who has learned how to hide what she is.  The newest one shows an android created specifically to be used in hostage negotiations.  At first, his mission is an outright failure, but the trailer shows that you can go about it other ways.  By taking in clues, you can tailor your negotiation to best deal with the deranged android.  It also shows that there are plenty of ways to save the little girl’s life.  The very best way shows that even when you do everything right and she is saved, the police still kill the android.  He calls you a traitor.  The last game by Quantic Dream was my second-favorite game of 2013.  I have nothing but high hopes for this one.  Let’s see what it’s got.

What about you?  What games are you most excited for?  Let me know in the comments

Until next time, a quote,

“It’s up to you how this story ends.” – Connor, Detroit: Become Human

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Final Fantasy Summons

Having just gotten done with Final Fantasy XV, I am thinking about the summons in that game.  A pity that I can’t summon them on command, but they are cool all the same.  It got me to thinking about the whole concept of summons in this series.  It has been known for having some cool-as-fuck ones, some weird ones, and a fat Chocobo.  No joke, that is a real summon.  It falls from the sky and lands on the enemy.  That’s just weird.  Let’s get down to it.

titan10. Titan
I hadn’t played a game with this guy in it until XV, but man did he make an impression.  In every game that he has been in, Titan is a gigantic monstrosity that rips the land apart in order to do massive damage to his enemies.  While not the most flashy summon, it is pretty cool.  The fight against him in XV was fucking awesome.  I wish that I had a more interesting reason as to why he gets on the list, but a giant who can rip the land to pieces is all he needs to be.

knights-of-the-round9. Knights of the Round
The most difficult summon to get in VII, instead of getting to have one ally come into battle with you, you get 13.  After winning all the chocobo races and breeding a complete rainbow of chocobos, It is the ultimate weapon, able to defeat almost any enemy.  Each of them are knights who serve under King Arthur, who is the last to strike with the blade Excalibur.  XIV brought them back, only as enemies this time at the end of the Heavensward expansion.  I am hoping that they will be able to be used as an ally again in future games.  Assuming there are any.

alexander8. Alexander
Probably the most unique of the summons, Alexander is a giant fortress.  That’s right, you get the beat the shit out of your enemy with a living, mobile weapon.  In VIII, it encloses the enemy and them blows them to bits.  In XIII, the fortress first sends down a giant walking golem, but you can call down the rest of it, a series of interlocking walls that use lasers to carve up all enemies.  Such a pity that such a cool summon was in such a mediocre entry into the franchise.  I think my favorite version is in XIV, where it is everything the giant mechanized fortress is supposed to be.

ramuh7. Ramuh
The god of thunder, I hadn’t gotten much experience with this old man until XV.  In every game he has been in, his look hasn’t really changed.  Taking on the appearance of a bearded old man, he brings down the wrath of thunder.  Was hoping to see him in X, but he was replaced by Ixion, who is cool in his own right.  In XV, you have to activate all of his stones.  Once you do, he can only be used once, but that one time is epic as fuck.  When assaulting an imperial base, you call down his Judgment Bolt to destroy the magitech generator.  Watching that happen is just fantastic.  Worth every second.  Sucks that that is the only time you can use him.  Would have given anything to have more time with the guy.

leviathan6. Leviathan
My first run-in with this summon was in IV, when you have to fight the guy.  A being who controls the sea, he wasn’t a summon you could use for the first few games.  Then I got to have control of him in VII, where you can call down the ocean to drown your enemies.  But, of course, the most fantastic version of the character is in XV.  Lunafreya wants to make a deal with it to give its blessing to Noctis.  The ancient beast does NOT like this arrangement, and instead attacks Noctis and the Imperial fleet who comes in to kill it.  The battle that follows pretty much levels the city, but it is spectacular.  Leviathan controls the water to make dragons that lash out at you.  A fantastic battle, in the lesser half of the game.

shiva5. Shiva
Don’t let the delicate femininity of this summon fool you, Shiva is no slouch.  The absolute power of winter, she uses it to freeze and obliterate her enemies.  My favorite version of the character is in X, where you get her at a very pivotal part of the story.  It’s right after you get to the temple in Lake Macalania, and you find out the truth about Seymour being a monster.  He calls forth a monster who we’ll get to talk about pretty soon here, and you now have Shiva to call to your aid.  In XIII, she is in the form of twin sisters, who can combine their bodies to form a motorcycle.  A pity that the game she is in there is so mediocre.  That concept has a ton of potential.  In XV, you see her as Lady Lunafreya’s attendant, secretly hiding who she really is.  But just when everything is at its worst, she reveals who she is, and comes to join Noctis in battle.  As sexy as she is deadly, her Diamond Dust will freeze your bones and rip you up.

ifrit4. Ifrit
Probably the most well-known of the summons in this franchise, the beast of fire is modeled after a fire spirit called Djinn.  It has demonic horns in every iteration, and the chief attack it uses is Hellfire.  My favorite iteration of the character is also in X.  He is the second summon you get.  Yuna calls him forth, being launched up in the air and landing on his waiting shoulder.  In XV, he is the only cool part of the shitty-ass climax to the game.  It seems that he isn’t keen on keeping humanity alive, so he makes a deal with the villain to kill everyone.  In this game, he is much more of a man, using a flaming sword and his flaming powers to destroy Noctis and his allies.  Whatever form he is in, fire is your friend.

anima3. Anima
Exclusive to X, this summon is both badass and scary as fuck, when you think about it.  For starters, her back-story is depressing as fuck.  Originally Seymour’s mother, she wanted to give her son a way to fight Sin, so she turned herself into a fayth in order to stay with him.  But it clearly had some horrific side-effects.  You have to collect all of the hidden treasures in each temple.  Then you unlock her.  When you summon her into battle, a giant chain comes from the sky, reaching into the ground,  You are literally dragging her out of Hell to fight for you.  Her main attack is called Pain.  She charges energy into her eye, blasting it out at enemies, causing either massive damage or instant death.  It is aptly named, since it makes her eye bleed in pain.  But that is nothing.  Her overdrive sucks the enemy into Hell, where her true form pummels the shit out of them, causing massive damage.  A depressing and nightmarish summon, and probably the most powerful in the game.

yojimbo2. Yojimbo
Another summon unique to X, he is also the most unique of the game because of what is required to get him to fight.  You find him in the hidden temple in the Calm Lands.  He is the summon that killed the first summoner that Lulu was with.  Getting this summon lays some of her problems to rest.  A very subdued swordsman, in order to make him fight, he must be paid.  And how much you give him will affect what kind of attack he does.  Give him a couple hundred gil and he will either have his dog assist him, or he will throw knives at the enemies.  A few thousand gil and he will use his blade to attack either one or all of the enemies, virtually guaranteeing instant death.  However, if you pay him over 10,000 gil, when his overdrive gauge is full, and he will call forth the Zanmato blade from the dark abyss that Anima lives in.  This blade is so powerful that it will cause instant and immediate death to whatever enemy he attacks with it.  You actually see lesser enemies get cut in half, with blood spurting out.  This is one samurai that you do NOT want to fuck with.

Some of you may see the #1 pick coming from a mile away.

bahamut1. Bahamut
This summon is not only very powerful, but it is arguably the most iconic if the franchise.  A Final Fantasy game isn’t complete unless we get to see this dragon.  My favorite iteration of the summon is, as you may have guessed, in X.  It’s my favorite Final Fantasy game, so sue me.  But that doesn’t mean he isn’t badass in the others.  In some iterations, he is a being with two wings, four wings, or six.  Then there was the retardedness in XII where he is a giant airship.  Yeah, that was dumb.  The iteration of the character in XIII was kind of dumb too, but that’s par for the course with that game.  As I said, my favorite version is in X.  He is one of two summons with Break Damage Limit as part of his repertoire.  Because of this, his regular attacks are deadly all by themselves.  However, when he charges up the Mega Flare, it is understood that anything he is shooting at won’t be alive.  I will say that I don’t hate the version in XV.  He is a giant humanoid in dragon armor, who can call a massive storm of swords from the heavens.  Only available at the fight with Ifrit, he does make an impression.  The greatest dragon in the entire franchise, he is my favorite summon.

So, what are your favorite summons?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Will you fight with us?” – Yuna, Final Fantasy X

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Promotional Songs in Video Games

You know what I love – music in video games.  Especially when it’s really good.  When it’s not, it sucks.  But there are so many truly amazing songs that transcend how I think about a game or that set the tone perfectly.  Or, in some piece’s case, set’s the tone just fantastically.  However music is used, it can make or break the experience.  Which is why I love it when there is a song that is either used specifically for a game, or in some cases written for a game to advertise it.  Here is my list about my favorite pieces of usage of a song as promotional material for video games.  Sometimes they advertised it perfectly.  Other times it wasn’t the best, but it still set the tone for the hype train.  With one of them, I am hoping that it isn’t setting me up for disappointment.  That would suck.  Let’s get to it.

fallout-310. I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire, by
Fallout 3
Whatever your opinion of the Fallout series, it cannot be denied that they have some truly fantastic marketing.  The way this song was used in the teaser trailer got people excited.  The juxtaposition between the song playing out and the destruction you see as the camera pans out is just awesome.  Finally, you get to see the destroyed capital in all its glory, with a member of the Brotherhood of Steel standing there, looking menacing as fuck.  I am not the biggest fan of these games, but I don’t deny that I get sucked in with the music.  I’m a sucker for old-timey stuff.

Bioshock Infinite9. Everybody Wants to Rule the World, by Tears for Fears
Bioshock Infinite
There are a couple reasons why I like the usage of the song in this game.  The first is in-game.  You hear the original version in the game when Elizabeth opens a door to Paris.  That part is cool and all, but I also love the version I linked above.  It’s a pretty awesome cover of the song.  There have been some absolutely stellar versions of the song in the last few years.  Lorde’s version is pretty good too, and so is this one.  It’s one of many songs that show that music from other worlds made it to Columbia and the people there translated it into a style that was acceptable to them.  You hear this version on the radio in Columbia at one point.  All of the covers in that game are awesome.

Bioshock 28. Dream, by the Pied Pipers
Bioshock 2
This version of the song only made it into the trailer, but hot damn!  This song is almost flawlessly used to set the tone for the ominous display of psychic powers that the girl who is implied to be an adult Little Sister uses.  She stands there, by the ocean, holding a homemade doll of a Big Daddy and recreates Rapture with the sand.  The implication is that she can’t stop thinking about that place, and secretly yearns to go back.  Perhaps some part of her life as a Little Sister remains, twisted up in dreams.  Part of me wonders if that trailer and the game we got were originally meant to be two different things.  Like maybe the original game was going to be about a Little Sister who goes back to Rapture and sees what’s happened.  Or maybe there was some darker plot involving the Little Sisters that even growing up and leaving Rapture couldn’t stop.  I don’t know, but I want to.

Batman Arkham City7. Short Change Hero, by The Heavy
Batman: Arkham City
A piece of music only used in a trailer, it is a surprisingly good trailer.  The lyrics “this ain’t no place for no hero” fits so perfectly for that game, because Arkham City is a sesspool, overrun with decay, violence and carnage.  Then you have the Bat, who is introduced with Hugo Strange saying that he creates the animals that he fights against.  It’s a contention that I happen to agree with, but that’s neither here nor there.  Shots of Batman trying to survive in the city, and a few of the villains that will be plaguing him.  The catchy tune plays out, and then there is a truly fantastic reveal for the Joker.  I loved this trailer when I first saw it, and I still love it now.

fallout-new-vegas6. Jingle Jangle Jingle, by Kay Kiser
Fallout: New Vegas
Once-again, a near-perfect usage of music to set the tone for the game.  In the trailer that it is featured in, we see one of those music bots flying around, just doing its job.  Then some wasteland asshole shoots it.  The robot tries to recover and go back to doing its job, and the asshole shoots it again.  This leads in to some clips showing off the world and all the carnage that you will be partaking in inside the city of New Vegas, ending with you seeing someone dressed like Frank Sinatra walking away from the whole damn city blowing up.  The trailer ends with that poor robot still trying to do its job, and the tagline, “enjoy your stay.”  Perfectly done.

assassins-creed-revelations5. Iron, by Woodkid
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Whatever your thoughts on the quality of this game (I am not a fan.  The changing of Altair’s voice is so noticeable and not for the best.  Not to mention the world is small and boring), the truth is that it was marketed so damn well.  This song is awesome!  It hits all the right notes.  It starts out contemplative.  In the trailer you have Ezio in a prison, waiting for death.  The hidden blade is broken beneath him.  It doesn’t look good.  Then we change gears, heading toward the ancient home of the Assassins.  When he arrives, he sees that it has been taken over by Templars.  Now he must fight their overwhelming numbers.  For a while, he seems to be doing well.  But then tragedy strikes, as he sees Altair’s ghost, which leads to his defeat.  We cut back to him about to be hung by the Templars at the same overhang that Altair jumped off of, years ago.  But just when all is lost, we see Ezio attack, back in the fight.  Awesome.

mirrors-edge4. Still Alive, by Lisa Miskovsky
Mirror’s Edge
Here is a piece of music that was written for the game itself.  That is what I have really been building to.  Promotional music done well is cool and all, but this sort of stuff just gets my attention much more.  Premiered in the initial trailer for the game, it got your eyes glued to the first-person parkour of the game that is the reason that it became such a cult hit.  Too bad it was followed up by such a mediocre sequel.  Makes one wonder if DICE can do anything right.  But that’s neither here nor there.  This song is hopeful.  With the visuals of Faith being on the edge, you feel the tension and how a song like this can go with it.  This girl is taking insane risks and putting her life in danger.  But she is still alive.  A fitting title, an awesome song, an underrated game with a mediocre sequel.

Metal Gear Solid V3. Sins of the Father, by Donna Burke
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Another song written for the game it is in.  This piece tells the story of the fallen hero, Big Boss.  He is the final result of the sins of the government that he fought for.  Forced to kill the woman who was a maternal influence and also his lover, Snake has fallen to the point that now he is a devil, living in his Outer Heaven.  The in-game usage of the song is with Skull Face where he talks his pretentious talk about his history and how his culture was destroyed, with their language being taken away from them as the final result.  And sure, the song does play on that a bit, talking about language and death, but I think it’s more to do with the fact that Snake has fallen to the point that he came out of Hell to become a monster who would have to work secretly to destroy Cipher and his former comrade, Zero.  This song is catchy as fuck, but not as catchy as one we’ll see further up on the list.

Final Fantasy XV2. Stand by Me, by Florence + The Machine
Final Fantasy XV
Probably the greatest cover that will ever be made, this version of the classic song sets the tone of this game so perfectly.  This game isn’t just about Noctis reclaiming his throne.  Sure, that’s the basic premise, but this game is also about another part.  In one trailer, you start with the epic part of the trailer, and it transitions into this.  Why?  Easy – because this game is also the story of Noctis and his friends.  Their companionship is at the center of the trailer I linked above.  That is awesome.  A fantasy game that features bros on a road trip, with their friendship at the center of the story makes me so excited.  The 29th can’t come soon enough.  But this song gives me chills each time I hear it.

and the best song promoting a video game is…

metal-gear-solid-31. Snake Eater, by Cynthia Harrell
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
This is one of the greatest songs ever made.  When this game was designed by Hideo Kojima, the whole idea was to riff on James Bond movies, but to subvert the tropes in this movies.  The beginning of this game opens with this theme song doing just that.  It is done in the same jazzy style of the openings to old Bond movies, but it is subverting how those work.  In the average Bond movie, you have some gorgeous woman being all sexy while the music plays.  Here, the only thing you see naked is a snake, slithering around.  That naked snake becomes a metaphor for the entire game, and how it isn’t about the idea of a spy or anything like that.  It’s the idea of Snake, naked and defenseless.  There are many scenes that emasculate Snake, like how Boss kicks his ass every time she sees him, or how the main love interest is never given what she wants and in the end double-crosses Snake.  This is the best theme to any game, and the best piece of music written for a game too.  I love it so much.

What songs in games do you love?  Let me know in the Comments

Until next time, a quote,

“I gave up my body and my child for my country.  There is nothing inside me now.  Nothing at all.” – Boss, Metal Gears Solid 3: Snake Eater

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Cowboy Bebop Episodes

For those of you who have seen my favorite anime series list, I thought that I would do a post on my favorite anime of all time – Cowboy Bebop.  This show is awesome.  It has incredible animation, the voice-work is the best there is, and the main character of the series is one who I have taken a lot of cues from in my worldview.  I love this show more than you can ever know, and so I thought that I would do a list of my favorite episodes of the series.  If you haven’t seen this show, you really must.  It’s been re-released by FUNimation, so pick it up!  Let’s get to this.

10. Session One: Asteroid Blues
Starting right off with the very beginning of the series, I put this episode on here for a reason.  Most people think that the series has five plot-based episodes, but I would argue that it has six.  This is one of them.  This series begins a plot point that is wrapped up by the end of the series – the typical life of Spike and Jet.  At the very beginning, we see the two of them having their daily routine and living a boring life.  Once everything ends, the episode has the two of them engaging in their usual routine again.  The idea behind this is that the two of them don’t get too engaged in life to let things affect them too much.  Sure, they just saw a tragic story of love and death play out, but that’s life.  So they keep moving forward.  The idea is that they don’t let life affect them or get too attached to anything.  Keeping things simple.  If only things could have stayed that way, eh?

9. Session Eleven: Toys in the Attic
If you are going to do a straight-up homage to Alien, this is the way to do it.  Every second of this episode is perfect.  We get this creepy monster attacking the crew, while they all have their own philosophical moments.  The tiny digressions for each character say a lot about them.  Faye has a moment telling everyone to be greedy.  Jet has a moment telling everyone about his views on karma.  Ed is crazy, so she has this insane piece TERRIBLE advice.  Meanwhile, Spike has a casual thought on something that, to most people, would be kind of a non-issue.  That says a lot about him and his view on the world.  It’s a direct send-up, but I wouldn’t have asked for anything else.

8. Session Ten: Ganymede Elegy
The episodes focusing on Jet are often very unpleasant.  Aside form that one episode that shall not be named (you all know what it is), his episodes seem to shine a very cold spotlight on him.  In this episode, he’s headed home for the first time in years.  You find out that he is a stubborn man, tied to his convictions.  This dedication has left him very lonely, because he’s not in the right time and place for his way of seeing the world.  His loyalty is often used against him (know the feel), and he has a hard time moving forward.  But this episode at least gives him some resolution, and he does get to have a moment where he realizes that he can move on from the past.  Or at least try to.  We’ll see further up the list that that doesn’t always work out.

7. Session Four: Gateway Shuffle
This episode is so much fun!  You have Spike and Jet getting a meal while grabbing a bounty head, only for a much larger plot to unfold involving eco-terrorists.  I love the performances in this episode.  We get the cold and commanding Mary McLynn as the head of the terrorists, and Faye is back.  All of the talent in this episode makes for some awesome conversations.  Like something that would happen with real people.  But, to be honest, the reason that this is on here is because of the last five minutes.  The epic gateway scene is just awesome!  The music is perfect.  The action is so cool to watch.  The suspense is palpable.  And the way it just keeps building and building makes everything that much better.  Earns it the place here all on its own.

6. Session Eighteen: Speak Like a Child
For a series that has so many episodes that are thematic and intense, there’s something about an episode that is ridiculous, silly, and feel-good just works.  This episode is all about a betamax cassette tape and Jet and Spike’s mission to get a beta player to watch it.  However, at the very end, we get to see that there are a couple twist endings that shine a harsh light on one of the most unexpected characters – Faye.  We learn a lot about her, and this series is not much for pulling punches at her expense.  It’s like the series wants to show that her way of living does more damage to herself in the long run.  Mission accomplished.

5. Session Sixteen: Black Dog Serenade
The second of the primarily Jet-focused episodes, we get to see the cruel reality that he is facing – that he is stuck to the past and not making much of a future for himself.  The plot of this episode is really paint by numbers.  Jet gets asked to come back to the force for one last mission.  You all can get the play-by-play from there, right?  You don’t need me?  This is a mean-spirited episode at Jet’s expense, but while the plot is not especially interesting, it is all in the execution.  Everything about this episode, from the pacing to the animation and fight sequences, is perfect.  How it all ends makes some statements too.  The first character who has to face their past, and as is typical for this series, it is hard and cold.

4. Session Twenty-Four: Hard Luck Women
I would technically call this episode the beginning of the end of the series.  The Bebop is diverted to Earth, with Faye taking Ed and going off to find out the truth about herself.  What follows is a tragic and cold look at Faye addressing her past.  Or at least trying to.  She doesn’t have much success.  What she finds is that there is no home waiting for her.  All that’s left is rubble.  Symbolism, am I right?  Meanwhile, Ed finds her father, and has to make a choice about what she does.  What I love about this episode is right at the end.  The way the song “Call Me, Call Me” is used when we have three of the Bebop crew leaving.  We then get to see Spike and Jet, alone again.  They try to go back to their routine, eating dinner, but you can see that it’s not working.  The two had gotten attached to their little family, and now there’s nothing left.  They’re alone again.  It’s arguably the most tragic ending of any of the episodes, and I love this episode for that reason.

3. Sessions Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six: The Real Folk Blues
See how this episode goes with the first one?  It’s in the title.  The last of the episodes with everyone’s past catching up to them.  This time, we see Spike settling up with how he’s chosen to live.  For so long, he hasn’t gotten attached or chosen to care about anything.  Now, we see our hero is being forced to deal with it.  His past has come back to roost, in the worst way possible.  While it looks like he should just walk away, he can’t do that.  A lot of people say that it’s because he can’t let go, but I have a different interpretation.  And it has to do with the previous listing.  Him and Jet had come to care about their little family.  They couldn’t go back to how things were before.  Spike could have run with Jet, and left it all behind.  There was no reason to keep fighting.  However, now Spike was on the verge of caring about his life again.  In the final confrontation with Faye, he lays out how things have been, but now that Julia is dead, there’s nothing left to stop him from caring.  So he’s gong to go settle things up with Vicious.  The idea is that if he survives this fight, he’s actually going to move forward.  This is his final part of his former life that he has to erase.  Too bad it doesn’t end on a better note.

2. Session Twenty: Pierrot le Fou
Everything about this episode is flawless.  There is nothing that doesn’t work.  And I love every minute of it!  What to talk about first.  I suppose I could bring up the GLORIOUS animation!  Never has an anime looked this good.  Nor will it ever look this perfect again afterwards.  Or the awesome action, perhaps?  The fights between the titular character and Spike are so much fun.  It’s violent, visceral, and leaves you at the edge of your seat to see how it turns out.  Perhaps I could bring up how this episode has a subtle use of silence?  This is the quietest episode in the entire series.  I know, strange, considering all the explosions.  But there is so little dialogue, and what is said is cryptic in a way that only this show can be.  This episode is so good that, if you removed it from the universe of Cowboy Bebop, it could work well as a stand-alone episode.  For that reason alone, it has earned this place here.

And my favorite episode of Cowboy Bebop is….

1. Session Five: Ballad of Fallen Angels
Another perfectly-constructed episode.  It’s the first of what most people say is the plot-based episodes.  We get to find out that Spike had ties with the mob, and they aren’t gone.  You never truly leave the mob, after all.  So when a bounty head comes up that is connected to Spike’s past, he goes off to deal with it.  What follows is a cold look at his worldview (which I very much share) and how he sees life as nothing but a dream that he can’t wake up from.  The animation is is flawless.  The greatest that has ever been produced.  The final battle is the best I have seen in anything.  Then there’s the incredible scene that follows after Spike gets pushed out the window.  I love it so.  If you haven’t seen this series, I can’t recommend it enough for that episode alone.

What are your favorite episodes?  Annoyed that you didn’t see Mushroom Samba on here?  Well, if the list had been a couple entries longer.  Let me know your favorites in the Comments

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m just watching a bad dream that I never wake up from.” – Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Cartoon Series From My Childhood

I was clued on to this idea for a top 10 list from someone who commented on my top 15 anime series list.  He said that I should do a list for my non-anime cartoon series.  Got me to thinking.  Now, a few things to know going into this.  First, I grew up in a lower-middle class family.  We didn’t have cable, growing up.  So my knowledge of cartoons is rather limited.  Second, I haven’t kept up in a long time.  Cartoons as I understood them died out a long time ago anyway.  For the days when I would wake up on a Saturday morning and watch Digimon (which will not be on this list.  It’s anime.  I made a list for that) or any number of cool shows.  It kills me how great kid’s TV died not long after the 90’s.  Right along with rock.  But that’s a whole other deal.  Here is the list of cartoons that I grew up with,

Fillmore!10. Fillmore!
What do you get when you get the same animation team behind Recess and have them do a show about  middle school safety officers that is basically taking the police procedural series and making it about school crimes?  You get one of the coolest shows I used to watch.  This series came out late in my youth.  I was the perfect age for it, as I was in middle school when it came out.  A pity that it wasn’t cool like this.  Oh well.  I have a theory about Ingrid Third and her personality that I wrote about in another post.  Perhaps some of you will know which one I’m talking about.

Animaniacs9. Animaniacs
Some of you may be wondering why it’s so low on this list, because no one can argue that this wasn’t a series of quality.  Unfortunately, it’s because I don’t remember this series as much as I do others.  I remember that it was awesome, and I loved it, but the memory is more than a little faded.  The by-product of a head injury.  Still, this series was fantastic.  Some of the greatest writing you’ll ever see, with jokes that are mature and still hold up.  It was amazing how hardcore this series could go with its euphemisms and innuendos.  For the days when the makers of kid’s programming had balls.  Though, maybe some of that’s coming back.  After all, Legend of Korra did have someone’s head explode.  Perhaps there’s hope.

Kim Possible8. Kim Possible
How many of you are judging me?  I can tell.  For all the SJWs who talk about how there are no good female characters, I am amazed that this series has gotten overlooked.  We have a badass heroine who has a bumbling sidekick who is still loyal, persistent, and their friendship is believable.  What’s more, their inevitable romance is believable.  This show was just fun to watch.  Again, I was in middle school when this came out, so it also caught me at the right time.  It’s a fun spy action series, with a chick as a protagonist.  Like teenage Tomb Raider.  Given the midriff bearing outfits Kim wore, that works for me.  You all have that one show that you aren’t proud of, so whatever for judging me.

Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog7. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
When I saw the Nostalgia Critic’s video about this show, I’m not gonna lie – it felt nostalgic.  I feel no shame in admitting – I loved this bonkers mess.  This series was insane.  Batshit crazy.  And I loved every minute of it!  Growing up, I was a huge Sonic fan.  The first console I ever had was a Sega Genesis, and the first game I had on it was Sonic 2.  My oldest friend and I were so dedicated to that game that we made a diagram about how the final boss’s attacks worked so we could beat him.  When we finally did, the two of us felt so damn accomplished!  It was awesome!  So this show was just at the right time for me.  Was it nuts?  Oh yeah.  Was me liking it a sign of perhaps how crazy I am?  Potentially.  But I still loved this bananas show, and some part of me always will.

Superman The Animated Series6. Superman: The Animated Series
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like Superman.  He’s so cheap!  The guy is basically invincible.  However, this show came out on the coattails of another series that you are going to see MUCH higher on this list, and I was still into it.  Maybe it was the fact that I have always loved Lex Luthor was a villain.  Maybe it was the awesome animation.  Maybe it was the baddies, who are still awesome, even if the other series had better ones.  Whatever it is, the reality is that I really liked this series.  That nostalgia has faded over the years, as I grew up and grew my opinion on this character.  However, this is still a show I grew up with.  Take that for what you will.

Garfield and Friends5. Garfield and Friends
We are getting into the series that not only did I love as a kid, but I still love.  As a kid, I read the Garfield comics to death!  I still do, but now on my phone.  Garfield was a character that always seemed to get me.  He was an asshole, but always got his way.  He was mean, but caring when he needed to be.  He treated Jon like shit, yet was still compassionate to him and rewarded his owner’s dedication to him.  Then you have this series, and they got the perfect person to voice him – the late Lorenzo Music.  Rest in peace, old buddy.  He brought my favorite comic character to life in a show that didn’t have the greatest animation, but had so much heart that it just worked.  I own all the animated specials, and I may put the whole series on a Christmas/Birthday list in the future.  It’s a classic, and every time I see it, it makes me feel like a kid again.

Pinky and the Brain4. Pinky and the Brain
This show is such a classic!  Everything about this series is perfect.  Absolutely everything.  There is nothing about this show that I am not in love with.  You have the titular characters, who have the perfect relationship as roomies who have to deal with one-another.  You have the flawless animation.  There’s the hilarious antics that never fail to bring a smile to my face.  My favorite part of episodes of Animaniacs was these sketches, so when they got their own show, I was in love.  Brain and I would get along so well.  At least as a kid.  Now I’m kind of a cold-blooded cynic/misanthrope.  Anyone who doesn’t like this series is a total piece of shit.  Fact.

Freakazoid3. Freakazoid
Why did this animation studio go under?  Oh, right, as it says in the hilarious title, if we don’t watch, they’ll be unemployed.  Such a bummer.  The greatest spoof on superheroes of all time.  The Tick was funny, but I’m sorry, this is infinitely better.  It’s the WB version of Deadpool.  The Fourth Wall did not exist to this guy.  Every episode was drowning in hilarity.  I loved the character, his villains, and the especially the cop who had to put up with their bullshit.  How such an amazing show like this could go under is beyond me.  Kids must have gotten very dumb or something.

Recess2. Recess
This series is the quintessential linchpin of my childhood.  Not only was every episode perfect, but it had the greatest protagonist of all time – TJ Detweiler.  That kid was my idol, growing up.  But I would be remiss without talking about how awesome every single character in this entire series was.  I love them all.  Even the villains.  The reason I love them is because they are all three-dimensional.  The Ashleys are more than just a bunch of prissy bitches.  Principal Prickley isn’t just a jerk authority figure.  He’s doing the best he can to run a school, and genuinely does have affection for the kids.  Throughout the entire series, you grow to care about these characters, and when it ends, it’s all so bittersweet.

And my favorite series that I grew up with is…

Batman The Animated Series1. Batman: The Animated Series
You all knew this was coming.  I loved this show.  I own this show in its entirety.  This series is flawless.  Every episode is awesome.  Not one falls flat.  There are the cool characters, the fantastic plots.  It stars my favorite anti-hero.  There is Mark Hamill’s INCREDIBLE performance as the Joker.  This series will go down in history as one of the greatest ever made.  The animation, the voice acting, I could praise it forever.  I loved the dark and brooding nature.  Every time I hear that theme song, to this day, I feel so good inside.  Wish I hadn’t left those DVDs out at the parents.  Will have to grab those, next time I go out there.

What are your favorite cartoons that you grew up with? Let me know down in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“The Joker’s plans make sense to him and him alone.” – Batman, Batman: The Animated Series

Peace out,

Maverick