Top 10 Fictional Dads

With Father’s Day tomorrow, I thought that I would do a tribute to the fictional dads that I really liked.  Whether they are the biological fathers, or father figures, they are loyal parents and often go to incredible lengths to protect their children.  Sometimes they are diligent, doting parents, other times they are aloof but prove their loyalty in other ways.  I’m not limiting this to any one genre of fiction, because my favorite fictional parents come from all sorts.  Let me know the fictional parents who you admired most in the comments.

10. Sojiro Sakura
Persona 5
When you first meet Sojiro, he’s a stern and almost cold character.  He doesn’t like you and makes no secret of the fact that he sees having to watch over you as a burden.  However, as the plot unfolds you realize that there is a caring man, who has a secret.  He has been caring for the daughter of a dear friend who passed away a long time ago.  The girl is a shut-in and he desperately has been trying to be a good dad while also respecting her very strict boundaries.  But once she is able to come out from that shell, their bond becomes just that much more apparent, since he can finally be a doting father figure to a child who has had a very hard life.  Stern, yet compassionate.  A Japanese father to a fault.

9. Peter (last name unknown)
Animorphs
The father of one of the main characters, Marco, he is one of the most interesting literary parents.  His wife died a long time ago, and he has been looking to move forward with his life ever since.  This has caused more than a little strain between him and his son.  What I like most about the character is the fact that they show him to be human.  Very much so.  He’s lonely, and wants to be able to move forward from losing his wife.  Now, granted there is more to what’s going on with his wife, which makes Marco even more unhappy about how his father is trying to move on, but Peter doesn’t know that and so his son is trying not to hold it against him.  When you finally see the two of them bonding, it feels genuine.  Not the most dynamic character, but a human one all the same.

8. Lieutenant Colonel Griswald
Recess
A military man through and through, and father to Gus Griswald, the Lieutenant is probably the most stern character on this list.  He talks to his son as if he is one of the men under his command, and does have high expectations of him.  However, there are numerous times in the episode where you see him genuinely care for him and even go out of his way to help him in whatever way he can.  The fact that his son wants to follow in his footsteps as a soldier constantly makes him proud, along with the fact that he is loyal to his friends.  Again, not the most dynamic character but having known a few Army brats growing up, this makes me think of them.  One of them had a really shitty dad, but another had one who reminded me of the Lt. Colonel.

7. Hank Hill
King of the Hill
Hank is the quintessential typical American dad.  He’s conservative as all get-out, has no understanding of his son or the world he lives in, and constantly sees the youth culture as strange and disconcerting.  But despite all that, he is still a strong family man.  Not only does he constantly try to be a good husband, but he tries to be a good father too.  There are a lot of moments where he looks after Bobby despite not understanding the first thing about him and the world he lives in.  At the end of the day, him and the family can bicker and argue, but they’ll still have a grilled steak, so long as the grill uses propane.

6. Jack Foreman
Prey
A stay-at-home father who is trying to get used to the dynamic he is living in, all while battling his sense of uselessness and his growing sense of ownership over the home and the relationship with the children as his wife is growing more and more distant.  Jack is a fantastic father.  Not only does he make sure the house runs smoothly, he goes out of his way to try and be understanding of his wife’s situation with her increasingly demanding job.  However, when he gets involved in his former employer’s situation in the desert, and things are looking their worst, the first thought he has is to protect the children that he left behind.  The book ends with him taking radical steps in order to protect them, but he’ll do whatever it takes.  So loyal that he fights against forces so radically overpowering in order to keep what he has waiting for him safe.  Naturally he’s from my favorite book.

5. Bryan Mills
Taken (the first one, not the shitty sequels)
This character is probably the most loyal father ever.  A former CIA badass who ends up retiring so he can try and reconnect with his daughter.  However, when she is kidnapped by Algerian sex-slavers, he will stop at nothing to secure her freedom.  He’ll attack cops, shoot the wife of a former ally, even torture a man by electrocuting him until the power shuts off just to make a point.  Bryan is a no-nonsense, do not fuck with me dad, and has years of “specific set of skills” to prove it.

4. Victor Sullivan
Uncharted (series)
Sully has no children of his own.  However, as you learn in Uncharted 3, one day he happened upon a little punk in Spain who he took under his wing.  That punk just happened to be Nathan Drake.  What came from that was a relationship of two career criminals who just happened to rob the artifacts of ancient empires in order to sell them and live the good life.  Sully is crass, suave, a complete man-whore with all the talent to be cool as fuck while doing it.  He also has no problem using a gun. The scene where he tells Nate that he always saw him as the son he never had was pretty touching.  No matter how he may not have been the best father figure, he is Sully, and that’s all he’ll ever need.

3. Ethan Mars
Heavy Rain
Bryan Mills would kick whoever’s ass to keep his daughter safe, but Ethan Mars is a bit on the different spectrum.  After a moment of losing track of his first son led to him being tragically killed in a car wreck, Ethan and his wife are separated and he is a little overly protective of his younger child.  So when the Origami Killer steals him, Ethan is now in a position where he will do whatever it takes in order to keep him safe.  Even if that means complying with the increasingly-twisted demands of the killer, like to cut off one of his own fingers.  It’s horrifying, but when you see him weather it in order to get his child back, it makes you want to fight even harder to make sure it happens.

2. Maes Hughes
Fullmetal Alchemist
Probably the most doting father on this list, Hughes attachment to his little girl is more than a little insane.  And he makes sure that every single person around him is forced to suffer through it at all hours.  However, underneath that there is an incredibly intelligent investigator who is not only looking to keep his family safe, but also his best friend Roy Mustang.  When he happens upon a truth so horrible that it threatens to destroy everything, he rushes out without hesitation to confirm it.  But in the end, that determination to dig up the truth is what gets the better of him.  The enemy becomes the one thing that he can’t raise a weapon to – his wife.  A good man, a loving father, and a tragic end.  He is pretty awesome like that.

And my favorite fictional dad is…

1. Joel
The Last of Us
While the relationship he had with his daughter Sara is a profoundly beautiful and tragic relationship, we don’t get much chance to know them.  It’s his relationship with his companion Ellie, who becomes his surrogate daughter, that is the one I want to talk about.  Joel is a survivor.  After Sara is tragically killed, he has 20 years for his heart to harden to ice.  But when this teenage girl comes into his life, and goes out of her way to try and bond with him and reach him on a personal level, he finds that ice melting away.  Eventually, he grows to see her as his own child, and will stop at nothing to keep her safe.  To the point that when he finds out the only way to get Ellie’s immunity into a form where it can be made a vaccine would kill her, he sells the ENTIRE human race up the river to save her life.  A cold, calculating, kind of monstrous person, Joel finds his humanity again in that little girl.  When you hear him telling her unconscious body the things he said to Sara and he ran with he, it makes the situation that much harder.

Who are all of your favorite fictional fathers?  And to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day

Until next time, a quote,

“Yeah, you keep telling yourself that bullshit.” – Joel

Peace out,

Maverick

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SIONR: An Animorphs Movie? Ugh…

Let me tell you all about my history with films being made out of books I love – almost every single one of them has sucked.  Badly.  Whether they be films where they missed the point, or ones where they throw what made the books so good in the first place right out the freakin’ window, every time I hear that a book or book series that I loved or love is being made into a movie, I am immediately skeptical.  Admit it – you all are too.  Now, I have learned today that another book series that I love is having a film made.  As you can imagine, I am beyond skeptical.  Let me give you a little background on a bunch of crap and maybe you’ll understand why.

First, let’s talk about how Hollywood has butt-fucked books I love.  I remember when I saw the preview for The Golden Compass.  A book that was, quite-directly, making light of corruption in the Catholic church.  That book wasn’t even mildly subtle about it.  But that was fine with me.  The years when I read that were when I my lack of belief in God was taking shape.  I had never really believed before then.  This book was helping me understand why.  They decided to turn it into a movie, and what did I think?  I think that it was the most dull and uninspired fantasy story that I have ever seen.  They took out all the religious elements, and it was basically just a boring story about some nebulous evil and some heroic character.  The religious element is what made the story work!

Then there are the adaptations that just fall so short.  Like my thoughts on the Harry Potter films.  I genuinely don’t like them.  Why?  Two major things.  First – they ruined one of my favorite characters!  In the books, Luna Lovegood is an almost-mystic character.  The one who sees clarity when it is needed.  She is also loyal, and as I have said in another post, almost-certainly gay (don’t bring up that crap with the book that came out where it is in their future.  Way I see it, that book doesn’t exist.  Rowling has been trying to red-con her lore for years now).  It’s what made her so interesting, to me.  But the films, she’s just a quirky nerd who gets picks on for…I don’t know.  Reasons.  Second – the films all ruin the big reveals of each book.  The best part of each book is the climax, when you find out what it was all for.  That moment when all the build-up has a payoff and you are stuck feeling so psyched about what is going to happen.  In the films, all those scenes were so rushed!  The worst one was the third film.  The reveal of Sirius Black is one of the greatest scenes in the entire series, and that film passed over it so fast that it might as well have not happened at all.

However, the book adaptation that took the biggest dump on something I truly love was the film version of World War Z.  I fucking hate that movie with such bitter passion.  It took all the brilliant social commentary and awesome perspectives of the book and basically tossed that out, with the whole movie just being Brad Pitt being a stereotypical super-dad cliche.  I hate that movie so much, but I’ve already talked in long detail about how much I hate it.  Thank the Spirits that Max Brooks made sure that people knew that this had nothing to do with his book.  The only thing that his book and that movie have in common was the title.

So yeah, Hollywood ruins a lot of the books that I love.  Now, they are taking a crack at another franchise that I am absolutely in love with – Animorphs.  This was my favorite book series, growing up.  It was so far ahead of its time in looking at some incredibly dark themes about war, innocence, death, the cost of living, and what it means to be human, and it was a book for pre-teens and early teens.  That is fucking amazing.  If it weren’t for the fact that the series has an ending so bad that I choose to believe that it never happened, it would be one of the greatest series ever told.

It tells the story of five young people, who, by sheer chance, end up in a construction site together.  They are there when an alien ship crashes, and they find out that the sole occupant, Elfangor, is dying.  He implores them to take a special weapon called the Morphing Cube, and to use it to help defend their world from an alien force that is invading called the Yeerks.  These are creatures that exist as slug, can invade a person’s brain through the ear canal and then take over your mind,  essentially making you a slave.  They are slowly taking over the planet, and these five youth, along with later on an alien friend named Aximili Esgarrouth Isthill (just Ax, for short) are all the stands between them and dominating the entire planet.

The series was dark as all get-out.  Each book is from a different character’s perspective, and each one looks at their own life and how they deal with certain elements.  Whether it be their leader, Jake, and him having to lead a guerrilla war and live a normal life (with his brother Tom being a high-ranking Yeerk Controller), Tobias adjusting to living his life as nothlit (a person who gets stuck in morph), Ax trying to find a place among people who find him alien and a world that he finds alien as well, or Marco and living with a single dad, knowing that his mother is alive and a Controller who is leading to invasion of Earth.  Every character has their own sides.  There is also my favorite – Rachel.  She goes from an adrenaline junkie to being addicted to the violence by the end of the series.  Part of why I hate the end of the series so much is that it was done deliberately to gloss over that part of the story.

Another thing – these books were violent as fuck!  They were gory, grotesque, and didn’t shy away from what was happening.  Actual people died because of what these kids were doing.  They were aware of it too.  Having five youth bearing the weight of countless lives being lost in their effort to save all of humanity.  Man is that not something that I can see translating easily to film.  And that’s the long and short of my problem with this film.  They won’t want to look at the harsh stuff.  This is modern Hollywood, remember.  These people hate stuff that makes people uncomfortable like Donald Trump hates a hard question that he can’t turn into a joke.  Will this film (or films) be able to make this into what it was meant to be – a story telling a rather depressing story about six youths who are trying in what seems like a hopeless battle at first?  Or will they water it down as fuck, in order to sell it to people?  My money is on the latter.  There is too much history for me to think otherwise.

So, here we have Hollywood taking something else I grew up with and loved, and ruining it.  It’s almost a guarantee, and I am so disappointed.  Oh well, I guess…

Until next time, a quote,

“For a long time, I have regarded Rachel as representing one end of the continuum of human behavior.  What all humans would become if the war went on long enough.  That perception has guided many of my decisions.  An entire human race of Rachels – angry, merciless, aggressive, armed with Yeerk and Andalite technology.  It was a terrifying specter.
But perhaps…perhaps I had been wrong.  Perhaps the real menace lay at the other end of the continuum – represented by Cassie.  Humans who were kinder, softer, well-meaning.
And ironically – infinitely more dangerous.”  -Ax, Animorphs

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Daenerys Targaryen

There are not words to describe how much I hate this character.  I genuinely don’t get why there is so much love for her.  Maybe it’s because her character is super-good and super-nice.  She’s a total Mary Sue.  She has no flaws, and is freeing slaves.  She’s the archetypal Wonder Woman, minus the super-powers.  Except being able to be burned and not die, I suppose.  That is a power.  But yeah, this character just bugs me.  My ex and I have a name for her type of character – Cassie.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, let’s go into the graveyard of book series that pretty much everyone has forgotten about and dig us up an old one.  A book series from the…90’s!  Dun-dun-DUN!  I know, this might be hard for some of my audience.  But it’s true.  This was my favorite book series, growing up.  Despite the ridiculous title, this book series was a hell of a lot smarter than anyone gave it credit for.  It talked about some pretty hard shit. For something that I loved so much, with awesome characters who I came to care about, it had an ending so terrible that I choose to believe that it never happened.  I am still waiting for the end book.  I will always be waiting.  The book series was called “Animorphs.” For those who are from my era, this was just an awe-filled moment.  How many of you waited for each Scholastic book listing, for the new books in the series?  How many got the listing of new book at Waldenbooks and looked to see if this one was on it?  It was magical.  For a series I loved so much, how it ended was just criminal.  K.A. Applegate clearly was burned out with the franchise and wanted it over.  She did the worst ending of all, so she could get it over with. Too bad that the series she tried to start afterwards sucked so bad.  Perhaps karmic justice?  Who knows.

Among those who remember what this series was about, you probably remember all of the characters.  I do.  I know what each and every one of them was like.  My favorites were Ax, Tobias and Rachel.  Though Jake comes pretty close.  Him and Marco.  Marco got better as the series got longer.  Though, Jake is probably the most profound.  There was one character that I always hated.  Always.  I hated her so much that it drove me nuts!  Cassie.  She was the worst.  The absolute worst.  Now, this is where we go into the fact that I am fucked up as a person, but let’s talk about why I don’t like Cassie.

Her character is supposed to be the moral center of the group.  The person who sees things from a humanist side.  Since they are in a war with an alien race bent on conquering all of humanity, there is an argument to be made that Cassie is the one having to shoulder the most moral responsibility.  Granted, I don’t believe that for a moment.  In truth, Jake is the one who shoulders the most.  It is clear, by the end of the series, how much psychological damage being the leader of their guerrilla war has been on him.  Especially when they have to make choices that end up getting thousands of people killed.  Often horrible.

Cassie was whiny.  She was preachy.  She was such a goody-goody.  Like Katara, in Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Also my least favorite character.  I think it’s because those two female characters are very maternal.  The same instincts that have VERY strong empathy tend to be in maternal characters.  Sokka describes Katara as being like a mother to him.  And Cassie is the mother of her group.  She constantly has to nag and harp on every little moral quandary.  It is war, honey!  Sometimes, hard choices have to be made!  If you can’t handle the tough stuff, get out of the game!

That’s where I find myself with Daenerys.  She is SO preachy!  I swear, does that bimbo see Westeros from up on her high horse?  She thinks that she’s such hot shit.  I am actually liking how we get to see her being brought down a peg in this season.  FINALLY, we don’t have to hear about how she’s “mother of dragons.”  The thing that drove me most nuts was in season two, where she says that she has magical powers.  What magic?!  You can walk into flame and not die?!  That’s not impressive, lady!  You can still die if someone runs you through with their sword.  I really do hope that, at some point, we get to see her take some damage.  See some of her own blood and realize that she’s not a god.  She’s a person.

The worst thing about how full of herself she is is the fact that she has NO real experience ruling a nation!  She wants to rule the Seven Kingdoms, but she is not even an adult.  Well, by the show’s timeline, she is now.  I am operating under the assumption that a couple of years have passed since the start of the series.  No way all this plot has only taken a few months.  It has also been kind of nice to see her realize that she doesn’t have a fucking clue when it comes to leading.  She owns a kingdom, and it’s falling apart around her.  Her army is being slowly cut down, and you can see that she’s scared.  Now that Ser Barristan (spoiler alert!) is dead, all of her council that knows how to rule a country is gone.  That’s what makes the fact that Tyrion is going to become her Hand (I’d put a hefty wager it’s around the end of the season) that much more poignant.  I hope he gives her some TOUGH love, to show her that she doesn’t have a fucking clue.  This season has brought her down a couple pegs.  We need to see more.  Then, I might start to like her.  When she actually has to play the game.

I can already see the Twitter and Tumblr feminists being against me on this.  She is their perfect character.  A Mary Sue, can do no wrong, super-strong, and has dragons.  This season is giving her a lot more humanity.  The scene where Drogon comes back, sniffs her, then leaves is powerful.  You can see the look in her eyes about how hurt she is.  Even her family doesn’t want her around.  Her other dragons seem to be coming over to her side, but it was still intense.  Especially since it was after a riot that nearly got her in hot water.

I genuinely don’t like her character, but part of me is coming around, since they’ve actually shown some chinks in her armor.  I guess we’ll see where this goes.

Until next time, a quote,

“Let’s assume that everything goes exactly as you plan.  She goes to Westeros, becomes ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and beyond.  Hurrah!  What happens then?”  -Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Series with Disappointing Endings

Okay, I fully realize how hard it is to really come up with a good story and especially a good series, and find a good way to end it.  I am not going to go on about the series that the endings were a little weak, but acceptable, like The Wire.  That show had a clever allusion in it’s ending that even though we don’t know what will happen to all the main characters, the idea was that everything just goes on, and you have to accept that.  That’s clever.  I’m also not going to get on series that have bittersweet endings, like Cowboy Bebop, because I like those.  I really have no problem with an ending that leaves a little bit of a sadder tone.  This post is about the ending that just showed no respect for what story they were telling, and the fans who enjoyed it.  That said, I hope you enjoy.  I had enjoyed these series, until the end…

10. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Now, I want to clarify that I get why the ending of this show was so bad.  The creators of the series ran out of money, so they cobbled together what they had and tried to create a pseudo-psychological ending that would somehow bring it all to a close.  And it failed, badly.  Not only was it the most boring ending that I have gotten to see, but it also was totally worthless.  Honestly, in this instance, they should have just cut their losses and ended the show where it was, because again, I would have understood.  This was just boring, and a waste of time.  Now there was a movie made later with what they had wanted the series to be, but I would have preferred the series not end, and for the film to then end it for me.  Still, it is low on the list because I get why it happened, I just don’t care for what they did with it.

9. Fullmetal Alchemist
Now, this series ending isn’t bad because of no closure, or even no character development.  It actually almost got everything right.  Edward came to peace with who he was, and who he had become.  Alphonse was ready to give up his life in order to finally do the right thing.  Winry was ready to love Edward.  Colonel Mustang got his revenge and finally stood up for what he believes in.  The Elrics’ father had filled in the rest of the story about the Homogulus and how they were created.  Everything was coming together just perfectly.  I was even actually very impressed when Al sacrificed his life to get Edward back and give him his body back.  I really would have been totally accepting of that ending.  It’s bittersweet, but that was kind of the point of the entire series – that the boys had lost something, but gained something as well.  Instead, they did something that just bugs me with the ending – leave it on a dismal note, deliberately setting up a film sequel.  I hate that so much.  You know, why did Edward end up in our world, anyway?  If they had had him sacrificing his limbs and Al’s memory, but staying in that world, I would have been okay.  Instead, it was just shoe-horning an ending to make room for a film.  Fail…

8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This series was an example of something that REALLY gets under my skin – no closure.  There was no closure whatsoever.  Not only that, it didn’t feel like it was over.  Maybe that was Joss Whedon’s idea, showing that the fight never truly ends, but this was the series finale.  We wanted to feel like it was done.  You never find out what happens to any of the characters (save Spike, but that was in the other and much less good show, Angel), you don’t get any new perspective.  It just is like – whelp, that’s over with.  What?!  No, we cared about some of these characters (emphasis on SOME), where do they go after this?  In the end of House M.D., they showed brief clips of what happened to them, and that was fine.  Why couldn’t this show do the same?  A lot of people will claim the follow-up comics did that, or that we could fill in our own plot, but that is just justifying after the fact, and totally worthless.

7. Mass Effect
Angry Joe did a great video about all the problems that were wrong with this ending, which I’ll link to here, but I thought I would add my two-cents.  Like Angry Joe, I hate endings where a new character is introduced at the last second, and I hate endings that also disregared everything that the fans loved about the series.  People invested a lot of time into this series, and what we got for our money was just a complete cop-out in every sense of the word.  Fans of the series were burned by this ending.  Of course, there are some who think that it was okay, but honestly, when the developers told us that there were going to be all sorts of other endings, admit it, you felt like we deserved more for what they gave us.  Three endings, almost all the same.  Complete bulllshit.

6. The Sopranos
The end of this series has kind of become a running gag that will forever be a shame upon HBO.  Remember what I said about no closure, this series embodies that in the worst way possible.  It literally ends with a cut to black, right in mid-sentence.  You find out nothing about the characters, nothing about the family, and nothing about the people who were involved.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn’t give us much at the end, but it at least gave us an ending.  What the hell did this series do?  Just decided – okay, I’m done!  That’s another thing that REALLY gets under my skin – when you can tell that an author or creator was tired of the series and wanted it to be over, which was clearly the case with this ending.  What a joke.

5. Heroes
Talk about a series that went from A+ to F- in a second.  This series had a lot of potential, but quickly lost it.  The second season was a bore.  The third had a brief pick-up in effort and respect, but then the fourth ended with something else that totally annoys me – having a HUGE development right at the end and knowing that it will never be addressed.  Claire reveals her super-healing ability, effectively making public the existence of super-heroes.  That is something that could have had an entire show based around it, but instead, it just ends, with the makers of the show knowing that it will never be talked about again.  Ending like that just piss me off, and thankfully are a very rare thing.  Still, a pity that this series snuffed out so fast.  It had a lot of potential.

4. Star Wars
Now, let me make one thing clear – I am not talking about the films in numerical order.  Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi is a piece of cinematic mastery.  I am talking about them in production order.  This is actually about all three prequel movies.  These movies sucked, absolutely sucked.  Episode I: The Phantom Menace was pure garbage which completely forgot the previous and far-better trilogy.  The following two films were not only boring, but lacked all of the integrity of the other films.  The acting was beyond awful, the plot was boring, but the worst part is that it COMPLETELY forgot all of the canon established in the original films.  Obi-Wan wasn’t being trained by Yoda in the prequels.  He didn’t meet Anakin as a grown-up pilot in the prequels.  Huge posts have been made burning the reputation of these pieces of garbage to the ground, but they have most certainly earned a place on this list because the final ending was the more overdone and over-dramatic piece of cinema that I have ever seen.  Avoid at all costs!

3. Star Trek Voyager
Of all the series’s on this list that offered NO closure whatsoever, this one is the absolute worst.  We grew up with these characters.  We watched them struggle and fight and many die so that they could get home.  And what happens next?  Nothing.  It just stops.  You never find out what happened to anybody.  Why not?!  Why couldn’t we see Captain Janeway get promoted to Admiral, as you find out she was in the final Next Generation movie?  We wanted to see that, along with Lieutenant Kim getting to command his own ship, or see whatever becomes of Chakotay.  How about Seven of Nine?  Does she end up under the Federation’s microscope?  Does she become a Starfleet officer herself?  Doe she get an outfit that isn’t so ridiculous? (honestly, she looked better in uniform!  Did you see the episode where they had her in a normal Federation uniform?!) There were a million and one questions we wanted to know about what happens to these characters, and not one of them is answered.  It was like the people who made the show forgot why we watched it – to see them get home.  And part of seeing them get home is seeing where the go from there.  Instead, it just shows the ship getting back to Earth, then done.  Bullshit!

2. His Dark Materials
It’s ironic that The Amber Spyglass is one of my favorite books, yet I hate the ending so much.  It made me cry when I read it the first time.  Everything in this series was going right.  Will and Lyra were finally able to admit their love for each other.  They were going to be together.  Miss Coulter and Lord Asriel were dead, and the organization behind them was destroyed.  That was so perfect, and what did we get?  We get the two characters getting torn apart, with no chance of being able to see one-another again, and honestly, that’s all one needs to know!  That is all the bullshit right there.  No, book, you don’t tear apart the main characters and then shoe-in a reason for it.  It is heart-breaking for a kid’s book, and totally out of place, given how well everything was coming together at the end.

But as much as I have problems with all of those endings, as much as I can get annoyed, they are as nothing compared to my #1 pick.  Every time I see this it pisses me off.

1. Animorphs
Remember all the reasons I had for why endings piss me off?  This is an amalgamation of ALL of them.  For a children’s series, this was an amazing one.  The themes were incredibly mature, yet easy for a young audience to grasp.  The characters we all knew and we could understand their struggle.  Right up until the very last book, the conflict was amazing and the character depth was at a fever pitch.  Then the last book came, and spit in the face of everything that the series had done.
The first problem is that it was OBVIOUS that K.A. Applegate was tired of the series.  This book was so rushed that you could see she was just trying to get it out and be done with it.  When you make a series, you have an obligation to the people who have been loyal fans, to not just slack off and give them bullshit in the last act.  And that is exactly what this was.
The second problem is that this was written deliberately to avoid having to talk about one of the key conflicts which we all wanted to see how it would resolve – Rachel.  Rachel was arguably the most dynamic character, going from an adrenaline junkie to almost a sociopath, with a need to kill Yeerks and a definite enjoyment from it, to the detriment of almost all of her inter-personal relationships.  Even her own mother is scared by what she was becoming.  Everybody was eager to see how that situation would resolve itself by the end.  But what did we get?  They just killed her off.  And to make it worse, they then decided to rub our noses in it with The Ellimist Chronicles.  Fuck you!
The third problem is that for the surviving characters, there was no real closure.  You get bits and pieces of a closure, but never anything concrete.  It just kind of happens, and you have to accept it.  Sure, it did address some of the big issues, like Jake’s inner turmoil, and Tobias losing his humanity completely and just becoming a bird, but you NEVER see what happens to Ax.  Sure, you hear it being told to them, but we wanted to see it!  Cassie and Marco are glossed over.  The entire end feels like something that was just rushed out of the gate.
But the final problem, and the worst, is that it has a HUGE development that is never addressed right at the end.  Ax is in danger, and the group flies off to face some kind of unknown super-monster.  Okay.  But that’s it.  They are just flying off to go and fight.  What?!  What the fuck is that?!  We wanted to see an end, god-dammit!  I hate this book.  I hate it so fucking much, yet it is what I have to stomach.  I choose to think that the series had no ending, it’s that bad.  I’ll take the Evangelion route and just accept a complete lack of an ending over this crap.  Worthless piece of shit…

If you are going to make something, you have an obligation to see it through.  I guess that these creators didn’t get the memo, especially K.A. Applegate.

Until next time a quote,

“And were an epitaph to be my story I’d have a short one ready for my own. I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”  -Robert Frost

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Animorphs Tribute

I thought that today, I would pay homage to a series that I hear little to nothing about these days.  I think it was incredibly well-written, and even though it was written for a young audience, the themes that it dealt with, along with the characters that were developed was something that a very mature audience could come to respect greatly.  It was even pretty hardcore in a lot of ways, from dark dialogue, to some very dark battle sequences that would be a little much for kids, were it not for all the gory details being ambiguous enough for the younger to not get, and the older crowd to enjoy.  This series is called Animorphs.

This series was written by K.A. Applegate.  It tells the tales of six young people as they make their way through a war that none of them chose, but all of them are fighting because they know that they are the only ones who can.  Their names are Jake, Marco, Cassie, Rachel, Tobias, and Ax (Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill is his full name)  They are fighting a war against an alien race known as the Yeerks.

The Yeerks are a parasitic species who gets into the body through the ear, takes over the brain, and has complete control over their host.  They have been going from world to world, taking over any species that they believe can be useful.  To date, the only race to stand against them are the Andalites.  It was an Andalite who began the Yeerks rise to power, and ever since what they call “Seerow’s Kindness,” began a war with countless creatures dead and countless others enslaved.  It is widely perceived at the beginning of the series that the Andalites are slowly losing the war, as the Yeerks are continually able to add to their numbers, while more Andalites die.

The war has come to Earth, but instead of being open about it, the original leader of the invasion on Earth realized that humanity would become a bloodthirsty species if total war was done, and that we would probably destroy our own world to deny the enemy another world to have.  So they are slowly creeping their way into our society, taking over people, and trying to find a leg up to take over our planet.

Enter Elfangor, who was a War-Prince of the Andalites.  He was regarded as a hero, but when he meets the five human children at a construction yard, he decides to break the Law of Seerow’s Kindness to give the morphing cube to them.

This is a piece of Andalite technology that allows a person, or any other sentient life form, to morph any creature that they please, as long as they have touched the creature’s skin and “acquired” it.  You can become any animal you have acquired, but there are some definite term limits.  The morphing process takes time, so this is not something that one should do in a pinch.  Also, one can only stay in morph safely for two hours.  After that, they are trapped in morph, forever, completely unable to change back.  One of the Animorphs, Tobias, figures this out very quickly when he gets trapped in morph as a red-tailed hawk.

But despite the term limits, this is still a very incredible power to have, and it allows the kids to begin their fight to stop this alien race.  At first, all of them figure that they will only have to fight until the Andalite fleet arrives, as Elfangor told them they were coming.  But after a while, the Animorphs (a term Marco coined meaning “animal morphers”) realize that they stand alone.  However, for there being only five (six when Ax joins them), they are able to do some great things.

However, while the plot is very interesting, it is the growth of the characters that is definitely the best aspect.  Let’s start by examining Jake, the leader.  He is given that title from his best friend Marco, who recognizes the leadership qualities that he has.  It was a good prediction, since he is, in fact, a very able leader.  He guides his small force through situations that one would think a young boy, roughly 13 to 15 years old, wouldn’t be able to navigate them through.  Over the course of the series, you come to understand that he had to mature very quickly to take on this role, because he had to keep an eye on each of his subordinates.  One of the most hardcore bits of dialogue was in The Solution, where Jake was talking to Rachel, relating that he worries about her, more than any of the others.

    “Okay, fine, Rachel. You want to do this, fine. I think you’re the  bravest member of the group. I think in a bad fight I’d rather have you with me than anyone else. But yeah, Rachel, I think there’s something  pretty dark down inside you. I think you’re the only one of us who would be disappointed if all this ended tomorrow. Cassie hates all this, Marco  has personal reasons for being in this war, Ax just wants to go home and  fight Yeerks with his own people, Tobias . . . who knows what Tobias  wants anymore? But you, Rachel, you love it. It’s what makes you so brave. It’s what makes you so dangerous to the Yeerks.”

That brings us to one of probably the most psychologically interesting characters in the series – Rachel.  She starts out as a very blonde gynmast, who has kind of an “act first, think later” attitudes.  However, over the course of the series, she quickly realizes that her love of actions is more than just being an adrenaline junkie.  She starts to have a love for carnage and killing that genuinely worries most everybody.  By the end of the series, her love of killing has almost completely consumed her, to the point that even she wonders what will happen when the war is done.  One of the biggest contrasts in the series is between her and the character who starts as her best friend, but by the end, that relationship is frayed beyond repair, Cassie.

Cassie represents the moral center of the group.  Her reasons to be in this war are to protect the people that she cares about.   While Marco, Ax and often Jake look at things from a completely strategic point of view, she looks at things almost exclusively from a moral perspective, at points even wanting to quit the group in order to keep her morality intact.  She is one of the first to worry about the thirst for blood that Rachel has.  By the end, she seems almost afraid of her. Over time, she starts to consistently butt-heads with Marco, who tries to examine things from a logical perspective.

Marco tries to be the comedic side of the group, but his jokes often fall flat.  Unlike all of the others, who have a grand reason to be in the war, his reason is rather simple – to get his mother back.  He finds out that she is the host for Visser One, the leader of the Yeerk efforts on Earth.  Aside from his annoying quirks, and his word-games with Rachel and the others, he is actually a very useful member of the group.  He takes a completely logical approach to battle.  He is also very knowledgeable on several strategy topics, which comes in handy in several places.  But his reasoning to do whatever it takes to achieve a good end has him on the opposite sides of Cassie and Tobias.

Tobias is kind of the mystic of the group.  He really has no reason to keep fighting.  He seems to just do so much like Cassie, to protect the people that he cares about.  His character is another fascinating delve into the human psyche, as he is trapped as a hawk through almost all of the series, save the very beginning.  His losing of his humanity, and his gaining of a new perspective on life is interesting to follow.  Yet, despite the fact that he looks at things like a bird, he keeps a very strict moral compass, and generally tends to stand with Cassie on almost every major issue.  One point of interest about him is that he is actually Ax’s nephew.

Aximili, or just Ax, is the alien perspective on this series, looking at humanity from the outside.  It is a clever way to point out our faults and failings.  While the others are trying to protect the human species from enslavement, in the beginning, Ax simply wishes to get home.  He fights so that he can get back to his people, and keep the war effort going with them.  Over time, however, he comes to have genuine respect for humanity, and a wish to preserve life for everybody.  This leads to him having some very complicated loyalty debates with himself.  Probably one of my favorites was in The Sacrifice, when he is thinking about where he stands, and how far they have come.

    But I had been thrust into the midst of this raging war on Earth.
I had seen more battles, death, and destruction than many seasoned soldiers in our Andalite fleet.
I felt my throat tighten and constrict. My hearts ached with a pain I could not describe. I wondered if I were dying.
I felt not sadness. I felt pity. For myself. For us all. We were children no longer. And we never would be again.

It was an incredibly tragic moment in this book.  It is part of the reason that I think that this series deserves a lot more respect than it gets.  It tackled some incredibly difficult topics.  There is the loss of innocence, the cost of war on the human soul, what morality truly means, where the difference between madness of morality is.  There were some truly wonderful topics that I wish could be seen more in the conventional media.

What’s more, I have a lot of respect how this book series was able to take a young audience seriously, and not just think that kids are stupid and can be fed anything.  But, where this series succeeded on so many levels, I have to unfortunately say what I think lost it all the respect it had gained – the ending of the series.  It was another book series that had so many great elements, up until the very end, when it just stopped, and it was vividly clear that the author just wanted it to be over.  I can understand that after 54 books, it can get a little tiring, but there is an obligation that an author has to their audience to deliver on their promise to be a great author to them.  With this series, it just stopped, one of the Animorphs died in a completely anti-climactic way, and the cliffhanger at the end did nothing to advance any plot, and really went knowhere.

I love this series.  I love every single aspect of it, up until the last book, which I vividly hate. If you have kids, give them this series, and let them enjoy it as much as they can.  It is an amazing book series, and I think that everybody should be given the chance to see this piece of fictional amazement the way I do.

Until next time, an excerpt,

    I was angry. So angry the blade on my tail was quivering.
<Because my brother, Elfangor, gave the cube to you. To you and your friends. He compromised everything he stood for by giving it to you. He betrayed the laws of his own people. He placed his trust in five humans. I am trying to understand why you would betray him in return. Why you would betray your friends. And why you would betray your people.>
They were harsh words. But I had a right to say those harsh words. Because it was my brother, my people, and my planet’s technology that had been abused.
According to Cassie, she had sacrificed them all on no more than an instinct. An impulse. I had to think there was a better reason. If not, then I could not help but believe that the high command had every right to annihilate this planet. And I would tell them so tonight.

Peace out,

Maverick