By now you know that I like so many shows with a fantasy and modern element to them. Ragnarok was a new one that showed up on Netflix that falls into that genre, so I knew I needed to check it out. Plus the show …
Netflix has put out a lot of big shows over the years, things like Stranger Things for several years now have been grabbing the headlines, that was until The Witcher came out and for a hot second that was a show that people were talking about a lot. I, however, didn’t succumb to the immediate watching hype, just because I had too many other shows to watch really, not for lack of interest, but I finally got around to watching The Witcher.
The Witcher is the story of three different characters, you have Yennefer the witch who can harness chaos to perform amazing acts of magic. You have Ciri the princess who has her own powers. And you have Geralt of Rivia, The Witcher. The show is about how they got to where they are in the present and how their stories intertwine. This is done through vignettes. For Geralt, it is about how he has to take responsibility and how while Witcher’s are monster hunters, he wants to be more than that. For Yennefer, it’s about what she’ll do for power and if it was worth it. And Ciri, it’s about staying alive.
I’m not going to go more into what the plot is, because, firstly, it’s a lot of vignettes that are working around the main points for the main characters and how it brings them all together. I’m also not going to do it, because it’s not a cohesive story. That’s one of my biggest knocks against the show is that for basically every character but Ciri, the vignettes jump all over the place and because of that you don’t get much payoff for the story. And even the vignettes are inconsistent. Some of them are told extremely well with a deft touch, and some of them beat you over the head with foreshadowing very obvious things. And even with the characters, Geralt’s stories are generally pretty good and they do come together with a solid payoff. Geralt is also tied to Ciri, and while her story wanders a little bit, there is more of a point to it. Yennefer, on the other hand, has her story wander a lot, and they try and make her a pretty sympathetic character, but really fail at it in my opinion.
The acting in the show is inconsistent as well. Henry Cavill is very enjoyable as Geralt. And there are other portrayals that work well, I think that Ciri is solid. But again, Yennefer’s acting, Anya Chalotra, is just lacking for me. And I put that more on the story than Anya’s actual skill as an actor, but she is given a story that is extremely unfocused and just ends up not having enough to work with in it. For me, a lot of acting issues can probably come down to the writing, but it was a shame because Cavill really does do a good job as Geralt and he makes the show watchable, otherwise, I don’t think anyone else would have been able to carry it.
The same for the world building in the show, it’s just inconsistent. The world itself is extremely interesting, the monsters who show up and things like that are different and really cool. But, you get bits and pieces of the world and how it works given to you generally not in the right order and not at the right speed. I don’t want an information dump, which they don’t do, but they mainly just pull things out of thin air with little to not explanation in the middle of episodes. It’s something, like the acting and the writing, that I hope they can clean up in season two. It goes too much between trying to have some Game of Thrones feel to it and epic monster hunting and back again without explaining why or how things are working.
And really, the same again for the effects in the show. Some of the things looked really cool. I know that the dragons weren’t the favorite for a lot of people, but I liked the design used there. But the opening scene is horrible. It’s such a bad use of green screen, Geralt feels like he’s on a sound stage maybe with the monster there, but there’s nothing else that he can interact with. The trees in the shot are horrible and static and just look so obviously fake. I think that it does get better and maybe a little more consistent throughout the show, or at least after that first scene, but it’s the first thing people see and it looks so bad.
Overall, this is a show that I generally did enjoy. I thought that once it get going, about episode four, it was interesting, because they created a more cohesive story for Geralt. But then they’d keep through Yennefer’s story in as well and that would mess things up for me. From what I’ve heard, this first season was based off of a series of short stories, and it feels like that, but that’s not a good thing, it doesn’t feel like a good episodic show, it feels, too often, like the worst part of episodic shows. There’s also the timeline piece. They are extremely subtle about it, and that’s something that they needed to be more obvious about, and then there were things that they could have and should have been subtle about because it would have been a good payoff. I’ll watch the next season when it comes out, but I’d say, if it’s just kind of interesting, probably skip it.
Did you enjoy The Witcher? Is it on the list of shows to watch for you if you haven’t seen it? Should I play any of the games/pen and paper RPG?
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One thing that I haven’t minded about working from home is that I’m able to throw on TV shows in the background, I have already written stuff up on The Order and Haven, but I’ve also managed to checkout some anime. Expect some reviews coming out of that, and the first one I want to talk about is Gun Gale Online. So I’m not talking about season 2 of Sword Art Online which introduces Gun Gale Online, the game, but instead looking at the spin off show. Now, I’m a big fan of Sword Art Online, both seasons, and I think that it touches on some interesting things, the question is, does Gun Gale Online live up to those standards or does it fall short?
So in Sword Art Online, we get introduced to Battle of Bullets, a player versus player and eventually a free for all last man standing tournament. Now, we have an eccentric millionaire/billionaire who has decided that they want to spend their money to create a team version of that, and that’s where we hop in. Karen, her real world name, hasn’t ever felt like she’s fit in, mainly because she’s so tall. A friend of hers tells her that in online gaming she can be anyone she wants to be and so she starts trying out various VR games, and all of them make her tall, except eventually when she hits GGO. There, she’s a really fast little character with a machine gun. She meets a mysterious character, Pitohui, in game name. She seems pretty easy going, all about shooting things and always up for the next thing, but there’s something off about her. Karen and Pitohui are going to enter this tournament but Pitohui has a conflict and gets another one of her friends, simply known as M to team up with Karen.
That’s the basics of the story without getting into spoiler level details. I feel like this show is lacking a bunch in plot. Now, I’m a tall person, and I standout in crowds depending on where I am, and I can understand for some people why it would be a big deal, but also as driving factor for Karen’s character motivations and actions, it’s a little bit weak. Compare this to season 2 of SAO, the main character in GGO there is someone who is trying to overcome a fear of guns after having to kill someone in self defense as a child and going to PTSD whenever she interacts with a gun or an image of a gun in real life. And she’s found that in GGO it feels different and hoping it’ll help her overcome some of that trauma. That, compared to being tall. Now, not to dismiss the bullying and everything that can go on with that in real life, but for the stakes of the show, it feels lacking.
The other things is the character of Pitohui. She’s this awesome fighter who has a bit of an eccentric personality. Who she is in real life is supposed to be a mystery, it isn’t. And her motivations are again a bit weird. This is going to have some spoilers coming up here, so you’ve been warned, I won’t give away home she is outside of the game though. Her biggest motivation is that she’s trying to find danger and excitement in a game. All because she was supposed to have gone into SAO when it launched but hadn’t been able to, and once she realized it was a death game, she wanted to even more so. There are obviously people who do things because of the adrenaline rush that are dangerous, but her idea is to find a game that’ll give her the same feeling, and because of Death Gun from SAO season 2, she’s decided on GGO. I think that this could have been done more interesting, make it a more subtle part of her character that slowly unfolds over time, but you get it quite quickly, that tied together with the other “twist” doesn’t work all that well.
Finally, I think that the story as a whole is lacking. The characters aren’t as interesting and the plot feels like it’s been vastly simplified. The motivations are weaker, the character development is slower, and the stakes feel so much lower throughout, even with Pitohui’s death wish. I think with SAO they were able to delve more into the psychology of people and what makes them tick as well as some simpler plot lines, and in GGO they want to do that, but everything is done on more of a simpler laid out level than it was in SAO. With that, they are also trying to be clever about stuff and just not managing to pull it off. M, this really mysterious character, turns out to be kind of a bust in real life and a cliche when he’s finally brought in that way. They try and have a number of twists or more shocking moments, but overall it’s too telegraphed and nothing really feels surprising about it. It also tries to pack the story with more action than SAO did, and that was part of the charm of SAO, you got to see a few boss fights or a few fights that really mattered, but not all of them, here we have multiple episodes that stretch over the tournaments and they try and do some plot in them, but it’s mainly action.
So, you can see that I’m down on this. I wouldn’t say that it’s horrible, it’s just lacking. They had a lot of things they could have done with the story, character developments that they could have had, but instead it’s more your typical anime where it doesn’t handle anything with finesse, it’s just simplified down. Would I recommend checking it out, not really, again, it’s just lacking. Will you be upset that you watched it, probably not, it does have a few moments, but it doesn’t feel like there’s all that much going on, so good background noise type of anime, in my opinion.
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It might be kind of the wrong time to talk about this, we’re in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, however, I think with that, for some, comes more time to delve into more story, including that of the Apocalypse/Post-Apocalyptic in nature. This is one …