Review – Disenchanted

As The Simpsons draws to a much needed close and after the moderate success of Futurama’s reboot, in many ways I’m glad to see Matt Groening try something different, although in a handful of ways I’m trepidatious.

As The Simpsons draws to a much needed close and after the moderate success of Futurama’s reboot, in many ways I’m glad to see Matt Groening try something different, although in a handful of ways I’m trepidatious. On the one hand we’re applying the beloved comedy that took cartoons in the west to prime time television for decades, to a genre that I have always had a weakness for. On the other hand, that comedy has been getting a little tired after three decades of dominating television.

Nevertheless, I sat and watched Disenchantment. At just a handful of episodes, the whole thing took me less than a day, and gave me a respite from the constant – and I mean constant – marathon of Critical Role I’m currently on. And it also took me by surprise, because I genuinely laughed. I shouldn’t be surprised that a Groening creation makes me laugh, and yet I can’t remember the time I had to double back to watch something because I laughed out loud through some dialogue.

Continue reading “Review – Disenchanted”

Dungeon Situational – Non-Combat Challenges

Most commonly Dungeons & Dragons tends to be sequences of role-play, exploration, broken up by combat situations and the occasional shopping trip. There’s variety in the proportions of course, but there are some very rare opportunities for the DM to call for initiative where an actual fight is unlikely because there are more important things to worry about.

I’ll be using rules and skills for D&D 5th edition (5th edition is best edition, all hail 5th edition) but will be left loose enough for you to modify the rules for different systems and editions to suit your campaign. Continue reading “Dungeon Situational – Non-Combat Challenges”

Anime Review – Mononoke

Mononoke is NOT Princess Mononoke, before you begin to question why I’m talking about the classic Studio Ghibli film on Halloween week. Instead I’m talking about a TV series that came out far later (2007), an anime series which spanned 12 episodes and was about a medicine man who peddled his wares. Don’t worry, this series is damn spooky but is it spooky, or is it just another cough?

Mononoke is NOT Princess Mononoke, before you begin to question why I’m talking about the classic Studio Ghibli film on Halloween week. Instead I’m talking about a TV series that came out far later (2007), an anime series which spanned 12 episodes and was about a medicine man who peddled his wares. Don’t worry, this series is damn spooky but is it spooky, or is it just another cough? At least we have a medicine man to help us through this one.

Story

2015-10-26-212837_1920x1080_scrot

As far as I can tell, the story of Mononoke is seemingly about a class system and a medicine seller who seeks out Mononoke, or Yokai (demons/monsters to those not in tune to Japanese folklore) to destroy them. In the episodes I saw, which appeared to be two self-contained episodes with a beginning, a middle and an end, the medicine seller was helping to get rid of a Mononoke that was haunting a pregnant lady.

The lady called Shino took shelter in an inn from heavy rains. She pleaded, demanded that she was given a room so she could hide from killers and raise her baby. Although the inn are reluctant because they are already at maximum capacity, they begrudgingly let her stay in that room. It turns out the inn used to be a brothel that the innkeeper ran… And this is where the horror sets in. In order to keep the women working at the brothel, she got them to, you might have guessed it – Abort – any unborn children… And so, needless to say, the yokai that Shino is visited by is in fact a baby.

This isn’t a jump scare, or a gore, or anything like that. This is a psychological horror, with some unsettling themes and scenes.

Audio

The audio is great, the opening music is really interesting, with the right blend of fun and intrigue. As is typical of anime, it’s an incredibly unfitting song for the series that’s about to unfold in front of you (Weirdly, the last theme that I felt was truly fitting of it, was Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo‘s theme!)

Most importantly, the voice actors in this are great. They make you feel uneasy when they need to and there’s plenty of emotion in what they say.

Gallery

Overall

I’ve only seen the first two episodes of this series so far but it’s worth a look at, especially if you’re looking for something that is a little visually unsettling. It’s not exactly the best, nor the worst in terms of its presentation and the animation is truly lacking for me (especially for a series that came out in 2007). What it does have though is an incredible sense of style. It’s very unique and therefore it made for a highly entertaining (albeit odd) viewing session. The animation style, to me, feels lax, but I’m unaware of the techniques they employed to make it… However, this is clearly an experimental piece.

So if animation is what you’re there for, you may or may not be slightly disappointed, depending what you’re looking for. If you’re there for a deep story, it’s… Certainly got a lot going on so that should keep you entertained, but it appears stories are going to be separated out throughout the 12 episodes. The voice acting is great and the overall theme is quite interesting. I’d recommend having a look at the very least! Have you seen Mononoke? What do you think about the heavily stylised art? Let us know what you thought or are thinking about it in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

Anime Review – Ushio and Tora

Ushio and Tora is an anime about a boy who accidentally lets loose a bunch of demons unto the world after encountering one himself for the first time. Read on to find out more!

Once more, thanks to Crunchyroll, I’m keeping as up to date with anime as I possibly can be. Perhaps soon I’ll get around to watching the incredibly popular Attack on Titan properly? Regardless, last week, I finished watching You and Me 2, which left me very happy. In it’s place, the streaming service offered me Ushio and Tora, an anime that seems to be entirely different to You and Me 2, so not sure where the algorithm from. Regardless, I decided that since it offered it to me, I may as well make the most of the service and watch the anime.

Following Japanese folklore of demons (or yokai) quite closely, Ushio and Tora is an anime about a boy who accidentally lets loose a bunch of demons unto the world after encountering one himself for the first time. Ushio and Tora has been released in the past, all the way back in 1992 in fact. This anime that I’m reviewing now is a new version, a whole series which is set to span 39 episodes. The manga started all the way back in 1990, so what does this new anime series have to offer us?

2015-07-20-001022_1920x1080_scrot

Story

Ushio Aotsuki, the son of a temple priest, is set to look after the temple whilst his father goes on holiday. Ushio is told plenty of stories of demons and an ancient spear that is keeping them at bay. Whilst this all seems like superstitious mumbo jumbo to anyone in the modern age, it turns out that his father might not be telling lies at all. As it transpires, there is a trapdoor leading to a basement within the temple and so Ushio decides to investigate.

Within the chambers of the basement, there is a demon called Tora, who has been trapped for over 500 years. He is speared to the wall and threatens that if he is unleashed, he’ll wreak havoc upon the world, like he used to. Ushio decides that’s not such a good idea so leaves him there… But now that the trapdoor has been opened, all sorts of yokai are taking over the temple grounds. Calling upon Tora, Ushio frees Tora… But to what consequence?

Visuals

The art style of Ushio and Tora is very distinctive. Rather than take my word for it, why not check through the gallery I’ve put together?

Audio

I love the voices in this show. It seems that the voice actor Tasuku Hatanaka was a fantastic pick for Ushio who I pick up to be a little bit brash and a little cocky and arrogant. He seems to have boundless energy and the voice actor really lets this seep through in his performances. Couple this with the voice actor for Tora, Rikiya Koyama, who was also the father from Shokugeki No Soma. The talent pool in the voice actors and actresses in this show is fantastic.

The quality of the music in this is brilliant too. It’s all very subtle and atmospheric for the situations. From violins during sad moments and full fledged guitar work for action scenes, the audio changes masterfully as the story develops.

Overall

I don’t think this is an anime for everyone, but I certainly had a lot of fun watching it! I will be watching all of this as it unfolds.

I think you need to be looking for something funny, but at the same time be a fan of all that is action packed in anime. With this in mind, I’d sort of call this a Shounen Comedy. If you don’t like a bit of boyish action in your anime, this probably won’t be the one for you. From a samurai who somehow makes Ushios hair so much longer, to the action of the yokai fights, this is bound to be one that young boys (and indeed girls) will adore.

What are your thoughts on this? Did you ever get to watch the original stand alone episodes from the 90s? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

Top 10 Mythological Creatures

A mythological creature here is defined as something you would see within myths, that wasn’t a unique myth. An example of a unique myths includes Anubis, the god of embalming and the dead. With that definition out of the way, it’s time to begin – but before we do, we have a pre-top 10 honourable omission to get out there…

For the first time in a few months, Joel and I decided to bring back our Top 10’s. So we didn’t want to come back and do things in our usual way. No, we wanted to out-do ourselves by going for a topic that was just so big, it had to be larger than life. We thought long and hard about what to do on the return to Top 10’s and this is what we came up with, our Top 10 Mythological Creatures.

Before we start this post, let us get one thing out of the way with. A mythological creature here is defined as something you would see within myths, that wasn’t a unique myth. An example of a unique myths includes Anubis, the god of embalming and the dead. With that definition out of the way, it’s time to begin – but before we do, we have a pre-top 10 honourable omission to get out there…

Continue reading “Top 10 Mythological Creatures”