A Little Perspective From Tom Church

Posts tagged ‘cool’

Top Five Reasons You Should Watch Attack on Titan

Hey guys! Guess where Erin and I are now? You guessed it: college. And it has been quite a time for us both–since we’re both separate we’re keeping in touch as best we can, and with schoolwork in between we’re making do. We plan to see each other soon, and I dunno about you guys but I’m pretty good when it comes to sending Erin all things, all the time. God bless the internet.

Admittedly, I get a little bit down from time to time though, because I miss Erin and my friends and my family, and I’m sure that’s normal. And one of my methods of self-recuperation (besides talking to Erin of course) is to watch videos.

They’re sometimes funny, sometimes weird, but mostly they’re just distracting! And boy, do I like distracting. Long day of school? Watch some Netflix. Sick to your stomach? Watch this guy read you stuff. Feeling like a li’l shit?

Watch Attack on Titan.

You know why? Because the main character is the angstiest li’l shit I think I’ve ever seen. And you won’t feel like half the li’l shit you felt like after watching him yell this.

“Does he have character development?” you ask. “Is he a likable character?” “Does he grow on you?” “Is he romantically involved?”

Sort of. To all of those. He is sort of everything.

And sort of freaking batshit crazy.

Here ya go: the top five reasons you should watch Attack on Titan.

5) It’s Unique

“But lots of shows are unique!” you whine. “Every show is unique!” Well this one takes the cake. This show is not even your typical action-anime show, it’s pretty much in a realm of its own as far as I can tell. Between my brother and I, action-anime shows have been watched in my household, and none were like this.

Is it one of the bloodiest I’ve ever seen? Yes. Around 18,600 people believe that Attack on Titan (aka SNK which stands for Shingeki no Kyojin–the show’s Japanese name) uses blood like other anime shows use cherry blossoms, which is a nearly unbearable amount. But is it thrilling? Absolutely. Are you engaged and on the edge of your seat the entire time you watch? Pretty much. Do people die lots of devastating deaths? Let’s just say it’s not normal to go an entire episode without watching someone get killed.

That’s the other thing: characters that are introduced and characterized are literally shown being killed before your very eyes, and it’s hard deciding if you’re more physically appalled or emotionally detached now that they’re gone. But, points for originality. Right? Wouldn’t want the good guys to just kick ass all the time. That wouldn’t be fun. It’d be pointless.

Humanity gets whooped all the time in this show.

4) The Fans

Take this reason with a grain of salt: there is no show on the planet where all the fans are completely sane. Not even Jeopardy. And admittedly, I will often find tumblr posts about Attack on Titan that do not appeal to me at all, involving alternate universes and stranger-than-strange fan fiction, etc. I’m sure anyone with a computer knows what I’m talking about. There are always going to be the oddball fans.

But with that disclaimer, I must say that the *funny* Attack on Titan stuff is absolutely hilarious. Some people are creative and some people have lots of time on their hands–and some people have both of those things. And they spend it making beautiful, AoT art.

ImageImageImage

This is the tip of the iceberg. And while you may think “huh, creative” or smile a little, ya gotta realize–watching the show opens up an entire world of jokes that I don’t want to spoil for you. NO SPOILERS. I promise.

Oh, and here is a site devoted to drawing one-minute depictions of the main character, Eren Jaeger.

3) The Characters

Action-anime shows (especially ones with this much blood) tend to have characters that place emphasis on being badass. That’s cool, I understand. But Attack on Titan is a strange offshoot–it is full of cowards.

There are funny cowards. There are funny idiots. There are heroic idiots. A lot of these people die. But when it comes to the way in which the characters combat the titans, it’s honestly incredibly realistic in the sense that they aren’t all hack-and-slash and awesome; the people are genuinely scared. Even the people in charge are scared. There are multiple points in the show where you’re thinking “are people going to rebel? Will people leave the fight to save their own skins?” I won’t tell you the outcome, but the people who are truly talented and badass warriors are few and far between.

I won’t tell you what kinds of backstory is offered on main characters and what their personalities are in general, but I can assure you that at least I am satisfied with what kinds of cool decisions they make and how they move the show along.

2) It’s Artistically Original

The show itself is really interesting. If you compare it to other styles of animation, it just kinda has its own feel. The characters feel more outlined and defined, the colors are kind of dark most times for effect, and the expressions on their faces are versatile, but never typical. Some shows animate their characters in a non-realistic way sometimes to illustrate (in a usually funny way) the way that they’re feeling, but AoT never has to do that. It really helps bring you into the world of the characters a little bit more.

Also interesting is the realistic take on a by-gone age. The show takes place in a strange and undefinable era that can only be described by me as “the Middle Ages with a higher degree of technology”. The people eat bread in mess halls and wear tunics. There are cannons, but apparently guns do not exist. And yet they are able to travel via Maneuver Gear, which is basically like hip-mounted cables that act much like Spiderman’s webshots. They cling to nearby buildings and allow gravity and other factors to build up a certain momentum for the user to travel swiftly about their environment. It’s certainly a really cool concept. Also, they’ve got swords.

Pretty original, right?

Oh, and the titans are freaking horrifying.

1) The Premise

Alright, so you’ve gotten this far through my post and you’re probably like “why in the hell have you only given me vague hints as to the premise of this show?” The reason is because it’s the best part. It’s just a really, really cool idea. Honestly whoever conceptualized this show is a creative genius, because in my opinion, few shows come close to the level of awe that this show inspires merely by thinking about it.

It’s a show about a human population that exists within massive walls. A century or more ago, mankind was nearly eradicated by giant humanoid monsters, but they all mysteriously vanished, and mankind was left to repopulate some, and even prepare for the next unpredictable wave. The show begins right when the titans return, and wreak havoc upon the citizens within the outermost portion of wall. Within the wall are more walls, so that external towns kind of act as barriers and buffers against attacks on the interior.

Mankind knows almost nothing about how the titans; their anatomy (they have no genitalia and I’m pretty sure they’ve never seen a baby titan), their weaknesses, and their level of intelligence are all strange mysteries. But the main character Eren, after witnessing something particularly unforgettable, vows to learn to combat the titans, and to kill them all for the sake of humanity.

Sounds neat right? Well there have been more than a handful of twists along the way, and this show is definitely more than it seems on the surface. Add that level of depth, and you’ve got a show you probably can’t stop watching.

Enjoy.

Image

-Thom
aestheism, not atheism.

Advertisements

Pokemon Gameplay In A Nutshell

I am always completely thrilled with the Pokemon games–whenever a new one is released I get all hot and bothered. Sometimes I’m prevented from playing them due to lack of money and appropriate handheld device, and that is saddening, but the fact is that I’ve never lost faith in Pokemon after all these years. There are groups of people that will tell other people that “Generations 1-3 are better than 4 and 5” or “Generation 1 was the best, the rest are bullshit.” Those people are [censored]. They are [, generally speaking, people who are well-accustomed to said generations, who have not played through Generations 4 and 5 and have not gotten to know and admire the new and unique Pokemon these games have to offer. I myself prefer Generations 1-3, but I will never be found completely shunning the newer additions to the series due to silly reasons like ‘the newer Pokemon are shittily designed.’ The same arguments can be made about Generations 1-3, I promise.]

 

The fact is that Pokemon’s dynamics are ever-changing. And people who fail to keep up with them are too easily deterred. Some would rather dismiss the new games because they are too foreign, and that’s just a shame.

 

The Pokemon games have progressed exceedingly well. The basis of the game was incredible to begin with, though: a wide range of Pokemon to be caught, raised by gaining experience in battles with other Pokemon, evolved and basically refined into kickass, unbeatable monsters. I mean, they gave you 151 to begin with, and on top of that no Pokemon is the same as any other Pokemon even if they’re the same species. Statistics vary, even moreso in later generations because the Pokemon gained ‘natures’ which influenced their stat gains as they leveled up.

 

Also very impressive is the game’s use of TMs, which are short for technical machines. These are game-changers because they allow Pokemon to learn moves that they would not normally learn; certain Pokemon can learn certain TMs. For example, Squirtle the water-type can learn Water Pulse, which is a powerful advantage in battle, especially at lower levels. But there’s no way a Charmander (fire-type) would be able to learn it. Just like a Squirtle can’t learn Flamethrower. It makes a lot of sense, mostly.

 

Pokemon gyms with gym leaders have always been awesome. The gym leaders are the boss battles of the game–trainers can be relatively challenging, but they’re mostly used to effectively level up your team of six Pokemon. Gym leaders are harsh and are normally very challenging, especially when you’ve got a team that’s poorly suited to go up against a leader. If you go up against an electric gym with only water- and flying-type Pokemon (which are both weak against electric), you’re completely screwed unless you’re a great, great deal higher in level than their Pokemon are.

 

Speaking of battling, a great addition to the game was rebattling. The earlier games were very flawed because once you beat a trainer, they could never be battled again. Their money dried up, their Pokemon would never be used against yours again. They simply stood there, only talking to you when you talked to them. It stayed this way in Gen I, but in Gen II there was a ‘phone’ addition to the player’s gear that allowed trainers to call the main character when they were ready to battle again. It was tedious to run and find these trainers, and it was also hard keeping track, but it was something. In Ruby and Sapphire the phones were subtracted, and the trainers were catalogued in a Pokenav application that showed a little red square next to the trainers who were ready to battle again–but this was very infrequent and a little frustrating when you needed to go and level-grind.

 

Fire Red and Leaf Green employed the Vs. Seeker which gave the player the power to ask nearby trainers for battles whenever they wanted. This was the most useful of all rebattling methods. I was impressed.
With the introduction of more Pokemon comes way, way more battling methods and team combinations. Many newcomers build a one-sided power-team that is basically a couple, if not one, strong Pokemon that do/does all the battling. The rest are HM slaves, or Pokemon that are in the party that have one purpose: to learn moves that enable the main character to go new places. These are moves like Hidden Machine 03, Surf, which allows the player to swim with their Pokemon across the water; or HM02 Fly, which allows them to fly on their Pokemon to towns they’ve visited before. These teams can honestly turn out very well–I beat Sapphire many times using only a starter Pokemon for battling. They end up leveling well beyond what the other trainers’ Pokemon are because they’re getting all the experience from battling, experience that should be shared among the whole team. I’ve fought the Elite Four (final battles against four very powerful trainers and a fifth–the champ) using a level 70 Swampert that killed all of the level 40s and 50s. It was great.

 

Since I’ve been playing so long, I like strategizing a bit more. I like trying to keep my whole party of six at the same level, so that I can have a team that balances out. This means that whatever Pokemon I’m up against, I’ve got at least one Pokemon who can kick its stupid sorry ass. If I have a Venusaur (grass) and I go up against my rival’s Charizard (fire), I’m screwed. But if I can swap Venusaur out with, say, a Golduck (water), I can destroy the Charizard. If he then throws out an Exeggutor (grass) that can easily kill my water-type Golduck, I throw out an Arcanine (fire) that takes care of his grass-type, etc. It’s actually very easy to figure out what kinds of Pokemon you’ll need to achieve a team like this, and there are many possibilities.

 

I’ve just started over my Heartgold version and I’m pretty psyched; I’m gonna have a really kickass team.

 

-Thom
aestheism, not atheism.

Beowulf And Skyrim Parallels

A lot of people play The Elder Scrolls now that Skyrim’s been released. It is a fantastic series, probably best described as the Lord Of The Rings of video games because of its depth and intrinsic lore. It has such an original and compelling fantasy basis that even Call of Duty and other FPS dorks choose to play it sometimes, and that’s saying something. In a sense, playing these games is like reading a book, without actually reading it.

And that feeling comes partially from the fact that these games emulate popular and classical fiction. It’s true that these kinds of things are referenced often; The Hobbit by Tolkien has the same premise as Beowulf because both lead up to the slaying of a dragon. In the 70’s and 80’s, metal bands thought it was totally hardcore to reference dark literature like The Necronomicon and other Lovecraftian creations because it meant that… well, I don’t even think they really know what it meant. Honestly I don’t like bands like that.

But The Elder Scrolls series is relevant to a broader population, arguably, because it’s not every guy these days that likes hardcore death-post sex technotica metalblast dreamvibe sassafras massacre hellscream valkyrie music. But there are a lot of gamers who play Skyrim.

Just google “Elder Scrolls References” and see what you find, honestly. There are millions. They’re often denoted as “easter eggs” and are arranged in order of which book or legend they’re referencing. There are references to LOTR, King Arthur, the Headless Horseman, etc.

But I recently read Beowulf because I found it at a book store for one dollar. I was very thoroughly astounded at how many references I found without even really trying very hard. Skyrim is chock full of them. In fact, it’s safe to say that the entire virtual realm of Skyrim is based off Scandinavia. I’ll remind you that there is a Nordic race in the game, which is basically human, but with special perks and abilities. They are not necessarily better than any of the other eight races, but they have a 50% resistance to frost and cold, and also a battle-cry that makes enemies flee for thirty seconds. It’s kind of fitting, honestly.

As I read and annotated Beowulf, I noted the use of titles: earls, mainly, and thanes as well. Earls are the English translation of the Scandinavian term jarl, which is used extensively in Skyrim. Thane is a term to describe someone of moderate nobility, in between the class of normal citizen and distinguished jarl. You become thane of several cities if you play the game properly and thoroughly.

Also, the main antagonists of Beowulf are mirrored, more or less, in The Elder Scrolls series, starting with Morrowind, or game 3 of 5. The Uderfrykte is a strange troll that you encounter in Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, and which you may kill all three times–it doesn’t seem to affect its appearance in later games at all. The Uderfrykte it seen as Grendel because of a nearby dead man’s journal, which describes his encounters with the Uderfrykte. It also speaks of a Uderfrykte Matron monster which you may find and kill–this is a mirror image of Grendel’s mother.

Also, the final antagonistic creature that Beowulf faces down is the dragon. Dragons are the major and highly difficult enemies found in Skyrim, the “boss battles” that sometimes come randomly. It is apparent that the dragons have been saved as creatures up until this game because the realm of Skyrim is obviously Nordic. It is almost as if the character plays in the time period of which Beowulf is set in, except with certain add-ons like magic and strange creatures, etc.

The presence of mead in Skyrim is prevalent, however its use is kind of absurd. If you drink too much of it, you gain little and lose a lot, because it decreases your strength and ultimately makes you kind of shitty for a while. Mead is kind of useless; I’ve never known anyone to trust in its effects while playing, and I’m assuming the only reason it’s really found is because the culture of the Scandinavians included it so heavily both in life and literature. The great mead-hall Heorot in Beowulf is proof of that.

In the story, Beowulf goes to fight for the king of the Danes, Hrothgar. This is used in Skyrim as the name of not a person, but a place; perhaps the place was named after the person, who supposedly really lived and may or may not exist in The Elder Scrolls. In Skyrim you climb a mountain to reach High Hrothgar, which is an enormous building meant for prayer and ritual. It is inhabited by old wise men. Honestly I don’t get the reference, really, but it’s kind of cool to see the name crop up again. Hrothgar was a sad guy in Beowulf because Grendel was killing all of his men. Eventually he sat alone in his mead-hall because no one visited him anymore, and it stayed that way for twelve years. Beowulf really helped him out by slaying the monsters for him.

My last reference, for this is kind of long and I could go for much longer, is one that I am proud for having found: at the beginning of Beowulf, it talks about the death of Scyld Scefing, or in English “Shield Sheafing,” who was the first of the line of Danish people. It says that he walked the “whale-road” to his death. This is seen in Skyrim as the road you walk on your way to kill dragon boss Alduin, for you walk a road up to the Hall of Valor (representative of Valhalla, or a sort of Norse heaven) that is lined with the rib cages of massive whales.

That’s it for me. If you are interested in any more references, be my guest and look them all up. There are some very good dialogue and physical references to some very relatable works of art and myth to be found in these game.

-Thom
aestheism, not atheism.

 

%d bloggers like this: