This one I was holding off on because it’s a harder list for me. Some of the issue is that I’ve been trying to watch a little less TV, and when I do watch TV, it tends to be fairly mindless. I could probably do…
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 meets a new student at her school who pulls her into adventures which ends up with them finding their student council president working at a board game store and they start to learn about board games.
In episode #2, they are back in school and excited to try out a new game that their student council president has brought with her. But they notice that another student is staring at them. So Aya, the new student, invites him to join in playing the game of Cockroach Poker. She doesn’t realize that he’s interested in her and that’s why he was watching them, and she’s not that great at bluffing, which is needed for cockroach poker. Then, in the end, Aya reads it all wrong and thinks that he’s interested in Midori, the student council president, which confuses him even more.
Let’s talk a bit about the episode before I talk more about the game and some thoughts on that. I think that the anime still hasn’t hit it’s pace. It’s very much a slice of life anime, but it’s kind of a background slice of anime. It isn’t one that leans too heavily into the humor that you can get from a lot of slice of life anime, so you don’t have to fully follow to catch all of the jokes. This is definitely a weakness of the anime, because you can miss some of what is going on in the show, because it isn’t attention grabbing enough.
On the other hand, I think that it is doing a good job of showing off what I love about board games. It branches out and brings people who might not be together into a single group. To me, that’s one of the things that I love about board games. And I think it does a good job of showing how board games can help you process with real life things or, in the case of this episode, how real life things can influence how you play a board game, because the guy was trying really hard not to beat Aya or cause her to lose anyways, and how playing with someone you like can affect how you play a game.
Let’s talk some about Cockroach Poker. It’s a gross sounding game, and you have bugs that you are playing and lying about. Or you might be trying to tell the truth. But on a person’s turn, they are playing a bug card face down and then telling another player that it is either the bug that it is, or lying about it and saying it’s another bug. The person then either guesses that you are lying or not, or if they don’t know, they pass, look at the card and then present it to another player, either saying the same bug or a different one. But if you are caught lying or called out for telling the truth, you get the card in front of you, but if you are telling the truth and the person thought you were lying or vice-a-versa, they get the card. You are trying to not be the first person to get four of a single bug, or one of all eight bugs. This game actually seems pretty interesting to me in terms of a bluffing game. It’s a simple enough one and easy to teach. That said, I feel like bluffing games have a limited appeal, because while most people can understand the concept of bluffing, if you aren’t good at bluffing, it makes a game like this harder to play. I’m okay at bluffing, generally better after two drinks, but I don’t think this game would be everyone’s cup of tea.
Overall, I’m still thinking this anime has more that it can offer. I do really enjoy that it’s teaching about board games and bringing them into the public eye more. Now, it is anime, so it is fairly niche, but overall, I’m sure that it’ll introduce more people to the variety of games that are out there and they have done a good job of having simple but different games than people would know. I’m hoping that it can build into more of an anime with a bit of a story instead of being so separate, I know that’s not what all slice of life anime does, but I think this would benefit from it, because it isn’t quite funny enough just to have completely stand alone episodes.
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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…
I’m going to try and keep this post as spoiler free as possible. The things I’ll talk about will generally all be available in the trailer or in the first episode. Though, be warned, I will make some comparisons that might give you a bit more of an idea of the s how.
The Rain is a Netflix Original (aka released in the US). The show is a horror/suspense show that leans more on the suspense side of things than it does horror. The show is based in Denmark, so it also has that different feel to the suspense than you get in a lot of shows from the US.
There is something wrong with the rain, it’s killing everyone. Simone, a teenager, and her younger brother are rushed by her father to a bunker hidden out in the forest with their mother. There, they should be safe, but something happens so that both her parents leave her, and she and her brother have to spend time in the bunker. Six years later, with resources running out, they are forced out of the bunker to face the world as it is now.
That’s a brief synopsis of the show. In a lot of ways, it’s a post apocalyptic survivors show. How much humanity have people held onto and how much are they willing to work together. Those are the questions that The Rain tries to answer. But along with that, since we’ve seen that with the Walking Dead, is why is the rain like it is. What’s the mystery surrounding Apollon the company that Simone and Rasmus’s (her younger brother) father worked for and that built the bunkers.
The suspense in the show works really well. You do wonder what is going on, and you wonder who is going to make it throughout the show as you feel uneasy about any of the characters chances of survival. You also get to question the motives of everyone in the show.
I’d compare this to two different shows with how it handles everything. The first is Helix, a show on the SyFy network from a while back. That show was definitely more horror focused, but there was some mystery and suspense around it as they slowly unfolded what was going on. The Rain does something that I feel is similar, but has a tighter more people focused approach to the show. I could toss The Walking Dead into a comparison, but I haven’t seen much of the show, just read the comics, but Dark, another Netflix Original, has a similar atmospheric presence to the show. The pacing of the show tends not to be all that hectic, and the cinematography, while not as good as Dark, and the scoring, again not quite as good as Dark, does a great job of setting the scene and feel for the world.
This does get to the biggest thing that I really love about the show. The pacing of The Rain, and Dark, is so different from your standard American show. While The Rain does wrap up story more so at the end of each episode, there doesn’t feel like the rush that you get from the American shows. You can really sink into the show and just experience it as compared to basically any other show. I think some would say that Game of Thrones does that as well, because it isn’t action focused, but Game of Thrones spreads itself way to thin character wise, and loses a good chunk of the humanity that you get from The Rain. They do it so much with the scoring which tends to be haunting, not grand, which is another thing that feels different than American television shows.
It’s tricky to explain how that experience makes you feel, and for me that was one of the driving forces that made the show really good. The writing on the show is solid, but nothing earth shattering. They do a good job of creating moments for each character. Kristen can attest so the fact that it might not be the most original writing as I’ve been able to predict several things in the show a ways ahead of where they happened at. I don’t consider that a major downside to the show as that tended to be episode focus, and one of them was done to great effect still and amazingly well written.
Another good thing about the show is that the acting is strong. There are no names that you’ll have heard of, but the acting is very good. The writing for the characters is really well done which helps a lot as well. Again, I think some of the characters can venture into stereotypes, but they have enough depth to the character that you can see beyond that. It’s also really interesting to stop and think about the motivations for the characters because you can really break it down and see why the characters might be the bit of a stereotype that they are, for better or worse, basically always worse.
Overall, this is a really well done show. It isn’t without a few little hiccups, but they are over fast, with the exception of one episode that had some very interesting moments in it, but was the most cliched of all the episodes. This could be a tough show for some people to watch because there are some highly emotionally intense moments in the show. There aren’t always a ton of them, but when they do show up it’s very tough to watch. Still, I will recommend this show, because sometimes watching something tough and watching people process through that is very interesting.
Have you watched The Rain? What are your thoughts on it, do you like shows that build up so much through the atmosphere?
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I’ve had some time to binge some TV shows, after Dark, I decided to go back to an anime, I’d watched Kill la Kill previously, and I went with Gurren Lagann. I didn’t know much about it going in, besides the fact that it was one that showed up on Netflix as an anime and was one that I’d heard about elsewhere.
Gurren Lagann is a pretty typical mecha anime. Something horrible has happened to the world and there are monsters of some sort who are trying to take it over or kill all humans or something along those lines. It’s only those who can control these mech armor suits that have a chance at saving humanity and defeating the big bad guy. This covers a wide swath of anime, including the one that I’m watching now, Code Geass.
More specifically for Gurren Lagann, the world and humanity have been forced to live underground because it’s too dangerous to live above ground, though not everyone knows why. There are underground villages, and in one of these villages we find a digger, who drills through the ground looking for things and expanding the village, whose name is Simon. Simon is an excellent digger and one day he finds the head of a mech. The same day, the roof/earth crust collapses in on their village and while people survive a giant mech crashes through. Followed by a girl who is trying to destroy it. Simon, the girl, Yoko, and Simon’s Bro, Kamina end up in the mech head that Simon had found and are able to destroy the mech that has fallen into their village. This is Kamina and Simon’s chance to get to the surface and they take it. Up there they find a world where humans aren’t allowed to live and the Spiral King is using beastmen in mechs to kill any humans who come to the surface, and the show continues from there as Simon, Yoko, and Kamina take on mechs as they try and reach the Spiral King.
My initial thoughts are are that is a pretty typical anime. There’s a fair amount of fan service, and the plot is pretty simple at the start of it. I will say that it grows into more of a plot and does an odd anime thing where half way through the show pivots hard. The more that I think about how it pivots, the more I think it does a decent job with it. Gurren Lagann doesn’t end up having a ton of depth, but does touch on a few interesting topics to think about. I won’t go into them as it will give away how some of the story ends up going. It reminds me of how it changes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is another anime I should watch again.
Gurren Lagann is also an anime that I feel like leans into it’s tropes as well. The fan service, the mechs, everything is done in a pretty typical anime manner. Even the bravado of Kamina is very typical. For that reason I can’t recommend it all that highly, though for a standard anime, it doesn’t seem to miss that many beats with what it does. The pivot in the middle is probably the point where it is the most rough as everything just pivots a little bit too hard and overall it isn’t the easiest to follow. As compared to Kill la Kill, Gurren Lagann isn’t as self aware about the tropes that it is leaning into. I don’t think that is a bad thing, as it does make it more accessible to newer anime watchers, I feel like it’s just okay because of that. However, as compared to Kill la Kill again, it isn’t nearly as over the top. Kill la Kill is an anime that I wouldn’t recommend to a newer anime watcher because it is so over the top and leans into tropes in a way that will be confusing or will be harder to read and understand what they getting at and how they are subverting things and playing against tropes as well as into them at the same time.
Overall, Gurren Lagann is just an okay anime. It isn’t long as if you want to watching something that is pretty traditional mecha anime, you won’t go wrong watching Gurren Lagann. If you’re a more seasoned anime watcher and know more of the tropes and standards for mecha anime, I’d definitely recommend Neon Genesis Evangelion over it as a more classic anime and a better done anime.
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