There’s a lot to talk about this week. Not only was there a bunch of news and rumors that have come out, during the Super Bowl we got a new Black Widow teaser spot. But bigger than that, we got a teaser for not one,…
This is towards the end of Christmas ideas, because I know if you’re using of them, you need to plan for the shipping time. And I’m running out of different things to do these lists on. Today’s is like yesterdays where it’s more of a general thing, not something more specific like a type of board games or RPG’s. I’m going to just briefly mention it now, a lot of the epic board games and the RPG stuff I talked about would work well on this list, and for that reason, it won’t be on this list.
Vintage Copies of Books – So, books will show up multiple times on the list in different ways, but I think that there are different types of books you can pick up for that fantasy fan. And one of the cooler ones is vintage books. Getting an older copy of Lord of the Rings, even if it has a little bit of wear and tear on it is going to be awesome for a fan of Lord of the Rings, because the vintage covers and just the feel of the books is different. Or, it could be any other vintage sort of fantasy book, but there’s just something about having that almost collectors type book, that fantasy book lovers will really like.
Box Sets of Books – Here’s the other book thing. Box sets of books are also that other book lovers collectible thing. Again, box sets are the pieces that you can put on the shelf and show off. It also means that you can give them something they might not buy, for example, if they were picking up the Harry Potter books as they went along and they were published, they could have a mismatched set, but most book lovers will spend their own money on more books, not making a consistent collection, so you could give them that as a box set, so it is consistent, and it’s something that they’ll likely love.
Fantasy Themed Artwork – Now, this is a bit iffy to put on here, simply because, while Superhero artwork you can know has a recognizable superhero on it, fantasy artwork is all over the map. So, I would lean towards artwork that is based on something. So, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter are good examples here. There’s going to be artwork that has been done depicting both of those stories, and if someone is a fan of that story, they’ll appreciate the artwork more so. That said, maybe the person has some obscure story that they like and there isn’t artwork on it, I’d be hesitant to suggest picking up large artwork, but postcard size stuff that is work appropriate and they can put up in a cubicle, that would work. Just don’t go with anything too large that they might not like because it’s just not their style.
Fantasy Themed Magnets – Fairly specific with this one, but I’ve found that a lot of people have pretty boring magnets, if they have many magnets on their fridge. Or they might again be using them at work in a cubicle. This is where you can go with the more generic fantasy, because, again, it’s smaller. And especially going with a cute art style or maybe a chibi art style, those work for a nerdy person’s fridge. If the person has a beer fridge or a wine fridge you can put magnets on, getting the hobbits drinking pints in chibi form would be great, in my opinion, for something like that. Or maybe, the person doesn’t want chibi but loves Dungeons and Dragons fantasy, get them dragon magnets. This also has the advantage of being something if you get a magnet that you can use as a stocking stuffer.
Lego – Yup, there are plenty of fantasy Lego sets out there, some generic, and then Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Sorry for you Game of Thrones fans, no Lego sets. This is another display type thing, or if they are younger kids, something that can be played with. But in our house, we have a Hobbit Lego on one shelf and a Hogwarts up on top of another shelf. So, you can go small or big with this, but Lego is a bit on the spendier side of things with the larger sets. It is a lot of fun to put together, and if someone has time off over the holidays, it gives them something fun to do through their time off.
Video Games – Woo, another generic category, but there are a lot of fantasy games out there. You can go retro if they have an older system or a Retron system and get them things like the original Zelda or Final Fantasy. Or, there are middle aged games (not games in the middle ages) like the original Dragon Age that have been ported over to the newer systems, but if someone still have an XBox 360, you could find it for that. There are so many fantasy games out there, figure out if the person you are giving the gift to like the more sword and sorcery style games, more story driven games, fighting, whatever it might be, and you’ll probably be able to find something unique for them. And if they are already a video gamer and have a lot of them, you can look towards more of the indie titles and there are a lot of interesting fantasy games out there.
Classic Fantasy Movies/TV Shows – When I say classic, I more so mean old ones. Find the fantasy movies or TV shows that people might not remember from back in the day. I’m sure there are plenty of good lists out there, or you could find the B-Movie classics in the genre as well. Definitely a lot of them you can check out, and if they are more of a classic one, the cheesy nature of them works better versus a modern cheesy story. Now, you still end up with some of them being too cheesy or dated poorly in other ways, so do a bit of research, but you can probably find bluray or DVD collections of them that would have a good variety as well.
This list is a bit more generic, so I apologize because it’ll make you do more work tracking stuff down. But fantasy is a bit broader than the board game topics and even broader than superheroes, because, while there are indie superheroes out there, most people think Marvel and DC. I tried to suggest some ideas that are a bit more specific for Lord of the Rings fans or Harry Potter fans, but there’s so much in the fantasy realm that it’s hard to cover some of the broader stuff. For that reason, if the person loves reading, books is always a great option, next time you see their book shelf, look at it and find what books might work there.
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I’m back again to talk about the next episode, Episode 2 is called: This is a Cockroach! As a quick recap, this is the story about a socially awkward girl who feels like she’s different than everyone else and can’t have fun, but then she…
Whhhhhat, there’s a board game Anime out there! And not only that, it uses actual board games in it. So, I could just write a review of the series, but it’s board games and I want to talk about the anime in a little bit…
Time to talk about the newest Netflix show, this time the anthology series, Love, Death, + Robots. It’s an interesting experiment in show making an anthology series, but not just an anthology series, but a completely animated one.
Let’s start out by talking about what an anthology series is, since the term might not be familiar to everyone. When you think of a television show, you generally think of something that has the same characters throughout the whole season or series, and possibly there will be a plot going through the whole season. An anthology series is just short stories with completely different characters, completely different plots and settings, and in this case, completely different animation styles. They do, however, tend to be around a similar subject matter, in this case, love, death, and robots.
So how does it work to watch a show?
I think that it’s an interesting idea for a series. There are some of the episodes that are extremely well done, there are some that are just okay, and there are some that a pretty poor. However, in all of them, the animation is very strong, even in the more basic animations, and they tend to match the animation style very well to the story for the episode. Some of the stories have hyper realistic animation, while others have a more stylized feel or a sillier feel. And that’s the case with the subject matter, some of the episodes are silly, some of them are just lighter feeling, while some others try and be extremely heavy.
For me, that’s the issue with some of the episodes. They try and act like they are deep and clever, and while they might have very good animation, they tend to actually be pretty flat and heavy handed story telling. Overall, I would say that the anthology suffers a fair amount from that, there are just enough scattered throughout that you feel like it’s trying to beat you over the head with an idea, that isn’t particularly well presented, in hopes that it will be considered smart. This is often a weakness in the short film/short episode format though, because you don’t get a chance to develop characters, and you’re trying to condense an idea into a short period of time. And that’s something that short films really lean into.
But with the storytelling, there are a number of the episodes where I want to see more of what is going on. There are some worlds that are created which are very interesting and you feel like there is a lot more to the world to be explored. This is a positive and a negative, because you know you aren’t likely to get more ever, but you definitely want to have more, and those stories feel the strongest. I guess the best way to describe it is that the those episodes felt like they had a living world around them versus just this one static slice of the world that was cut out to make the point they are going for.
I do want to add in a disclaimer that while this is an animated series, it is not a kids series. It’s not even the Simpsons, it’s much more adult than that, and there is a lot of sex, nudity, language, violence, and gore throughout the show. So be careful when you watch it and who you watch it with, because, it does use a pretty heavy hand on some heavy subjects.
So what do I think of the show?
It’s a hit or miss show for me. There are some worlds that I definitely want to explore more and stories that captured me, there are other parts that are too heavy handed. I can recommend it for appreciating the various animation styles as some of the animation is amazing, and all of it works with the stories being told. But there are a number of the stories that are just too much and feel a bit like a waste of time to watch, because you get the point they are beating you over the head with at the very beginning, and after that it’s just the stuff in the disclaimer.
I’ve been writing a lot of articles focused on products, games, shows, and things like that, and this one will mention a number of them, but I wanted to write an article more about a concept that popped into my head last night. It has been something that I’ve noticed while Kristen and I are watching shows or movies or if we are reading the same books. I often figure out the twist, solve the mystery, make the connection before she does. That got me thinking — how does that affect my enjoyment of a story, and do I enjoy it less because I’ve figured out the twist?
To answer that question immediately — no, I don’t think I enjoy it less. There’s a sense of excitement about figuring out a twist in a story before it happens, to connecting two things that seemly loosely connected but then really matter. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a show that is built on these loose connections, and connecting those dots before the characters do is fun, because the show does a good job of keeping these things somewhat hidden from the viewer. So, making those connections is fun, and it doesn’t take away from the story.
However, I do think it can for some people. When I’m watching something like Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency or Dark, I’m not what I would consider actively looking for these clues. The shows are built around twists, turns, and mysteries, so as I think about the show, I naturally think about those things. And if you’ve read some of my board game reviews, you know that I enjoy puzzle-y type games, and that I love trying to figure out what clue to give in Hanabi or what cards to play in Gloomhaven to get a perfect score or beat the dungeon. I just naturally think about these patterns.
On the other hand, I know people who actively are searching to make these connections. Their enjoyment is often fulfilled, like mine is, by figuring out these connections, but figuring them out too early or not figuring them out at all can ruin their enjoyment of a story. The hunt is what is enjoyable to them, and once that has passed, it isn’t enjoyable anymore, and conversely, if they can’t figure it out, they don’t enjoy it as much because they felt like the story tricked them or didn’t give them enough to figure out the secret, and they could feel like they are slow because of that.
Finally, there is the type of person who isn’t wired for figuring these clues out, and I think that this can be split into a couple of ways as well — those who don’t care, and those who simply enjoy the story. When Kristen and I watch Dirk Gently, it isn’t as if Kristen is getting less enjoyment out of the show because she doesn’t figure it out ahead of time. She enjoys it as much as I do; I’m just bouncing up and down on the couch because I’m pretty sure I figured something out, and she’s shaking her head and laughing at my antics. That is how it should be — being able to enjoy the story as a story, even if you aren’t picking out all the twists and mysteries as soon as the other people you’re watching it with are.
However, there’s an opposite side of this as well, where someone might feel like they are missing out because they can’t figure the story out as quickly as other people. This shouldn’t be the case, because stories are worth enjoying on their own even if you don’t pick up on the secret before it’s revealed. A fine line can be drawn as to how someone can “help” in this situation, as there are some chance that a person could make it worse. If you are figuring out what is going on before someone else, it can come across as patronizing if you try and say that it is just okay that someone else didn’t figure it out. A better route would be to, when talking about the story, focus on the story itself and what it meant to you, not when you figured out the twists and turns, so that everyone can enjoy the story.
As I started out this post, this was an interesting concept to me. There isn’t a right way to engage with a story as long as you are enjoying it. Remember — even if you figured out the twist in the first scene, don’t spoil it for the rest of us, and let everyone enjoy the story in their own way. To quote what the RPG Academy says (they’re talking about RPGs and how to play them, but I think it’s very appropriate here, too) – “If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right.”