Firstly, I want to apologize for the lack of updates. I had a multitude of technical and life issues come up which caused me to go AWOL for a while. Updates should hopefully be regular now.

BUT WHILST MY INTERNET WAS BEING HOT GARBAGE, I HAVE DONE THE UNTHINKABLE. I FINISHED AN ANIME SERIES.

Yes, it has been done. I completed The Devil is a Part-Timer on Netflix. I would have done it on Crunchyroll, but their new rules dictate that Canada cannot watch unless they have premium. Thankfully, Netflix’s pitiful anime selection contains quite a few gems, and I was in the mood for a comedy. I watched it with my girlfriend, and I was taken back to 12-year-old Nolan’s anime obsession.

I became a weeaboo.

Chiho from The Devil Is A Part-Timer

I have completed my first anime series in five years. What took me so long to complete one? Well, it was likely a poor attention span. I had no stigma against anime, in fact, I play a lot of JRPG’s including the Persona series, which is basically an anime in video game form. It isn’t just anime, I very rarely complete or watch a TV series unless I am pressured into it by somebody. Something about the time commitment it requires repels me. That sounds bizarre, because I spent this whole semester break playing Nier:Automata, which took hours at a time, but sitting down to watch something was always incredibly difficult for me. I feel gross if I binge something for too long, like I need to do something productive or go outside. Video games do not really instill that feeling because I usually end up writing about them and absorbing the experience they provide. But anime and TV shows are something that I feel less confident in writing about, since I am mostly a novice when it comes to them. I can’t really compliment an anime for “good animation”, because animation taste can vary between people.

But I know that I truly do enjoy anime. I am currently in the middle of watching SNAFU, and it is wildly entertaining.  It reminds me of the fun after school activities I participated in in high school. I know, a personal bias. Shoot me.

So with this grandiose announcement that I have become a weeaboo, here is my terrible review of The Devil is A Part-Timer:

The story of characters in a fantasy world coming to the modern world is nothing new. This has been a story trope that plagued a lot of 80s movies. So I was pleased to see that there wasn’t too much time for these characters getting acclimated to the world. I knew this show was a comedy in advance, so I’m happy that the first episode wasn’t spent entirely with Satan and Alciel going “WUT IS THIS WURLD XD????”

What makes this show so endearing is its characters and humour. They are the meat and potatoes of this anime, as the story is fairly irrelevant. In fact, the story’s seriousness is often played for laughs. There is a big juxtaposition between the fantasy land of Ente Isla and Earth. Ente Isla has super serious religious corruption, war, plague, and famine. Japan just has a plummeting birth rate.

But Satan realizes to live and conquer earth, he must get a part-time job. Through this premise, hijinx ensues. Satan becomes engrained in the mundanities. but also the joy of modern japanese life. It has a lot of really good jokes, and that signature japanese humour. I would highly recommend it!

END OF TERRIBLE ANIME REVIEW.

So, once again, I hope I can make videos and posts more frequently now that I have overcome a cavalcade of technical issues. Thanks for being so patient guys!

Finals are coming up for me and I decide to watch a 13 episode show on Netflix in 2 days. Needless to say, I probably could have had a better use of my time, but I was rather impressed by 13 Reasons Why. I feel that media that embraces the high school setting can make use of very strong, relatable storytelling. I also feel that high school settings can be done incredibly poorly, and they often are, relying on stereotypes, cliche storylines, and inconsequential plots. But 13 Reasons Why is a story with stakes, with drama, and with actual consequences. Dumb people do horrible things, and they have an effect on others. But, with that incredibly vague and pretentious opening out of the way, here are Thirteen Reasons to watch 13 Reasons Why:

1.) Believable Dialogue

I used to think adults never understood how teenager talked. And guess what? They talk just like regular adults. And 13 Reasons Why understands that. Every character handles the situation of suicide and responsibility differently, and it is commendable. Nobody has cheesy lines, there are no hashtags, or “LOL XD LOOK AT HAOW DED OUR GENERATION IS XD” garbage. These people handle the death of another girl with tact and grace. It certainly isn’t Life is Strange dialogue:

2.) Moral Gray

There are horrible characters who pushed Hannah to suicide, but 13 Reason’s Why doesn’t paint them as cackling, maniacal people. Their actions were dumb mistakes made in the lustre and narcissistic tendencies of high school. They did horrible things to a girl who was kind and welcoming, because they believed it would give them power, they were jealous, or that they had an image to uphold. It is also paramount that we learn of these people’s family live’s an expectations. It does not at all justify what they do to Hannah to make her kill herself, but it provides the audience with some understanding. We can hate somebody but empathize with them as well.

3.) Clay’s a Cutie

4.) Good Acting

The acting on these inexperienced newcomers is stellar. I truly believed that they were the characters they were playing and they weren’t just actors pretending. I feel their anonymity worked as a strength. Because these people are relatively unknown, we have a greater opportunity to assume that they are the character’s presented in the show. For example, although La La Land was a good movie, I always knew the leads were Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. I never saw them as Mia and Sebastian. But I see this actor as Clay Jensen, and I see Hannah’s actress as Hannah. They are those characters, and that is a sign of great acting.

5.) The Most Nolan Soundtrack

When “Love Will Tear Us Apart” started to play at the beginning, I got so excited. Then the soundtrack kept pumping out stellar song after stellar song. The music presented here plays into the raw emotion of adolescence, and it is always tinged with slightly depressing music. There is no Smash Mouth, for example, but there is Joy Division, The Smiths, and Sonic Youth; bands that are known for their share of depressing music. Plus, I just love most of the songs in the show.

6.) No holding back from brutality

There are incredibly hard scenes to watch in this show. Arguments, Suicide, Rape, It’s all there. But it isn’t thoughtless and edgy. It is present for a purpose. This terrifying imagery is here to evoke disgust and outrage in us. It isn’t here to sell the show on shock value like Spartacus and Season 5 Game of Thrones (come at me). It exists to show how terrible this all is, and that a high school setting should not be romanticized. Terrible things like abuse and rape happen to teenagers, and we cannot pretend it does not exist. Doing so nullifies its impact and perpetuates it.

7.) Realistic image of high school

It could have been so easy for these teens to be stereo-typically vapid. They could be soulless and just spew hashtags and internet memes. But they didn’t, because this is a high school recovering from two students deaths in two months. All of the little details are there. The teachers that are trying to be empathetic, but completely failing to help any students emotionally, students being concerned with their own lives and not doing much to help others, and high school’s obsession with personal success over companionship. These are the qualities that make up a depressing high school setting, and being able to break this mold leads to a happier environment for students.

8.) Evokes sense of greatest high school movies

My favourite high school movie is still Perks of Being A Wallflower. I feel that movie captures loneliness and mental illness so perfectly, while showing that there are methods to improve and make tumultuous adolescence more bearable. 13 Reasons Why evokes a similar feeling by choosing to focus on struggles and conflict, rather than the rosy optimism seen in High School Musical. There is legitimate drama, there are hardships, and there are those romantic times spent with the person you love. These happen in that critical age range from 15-17, and they are all present and valuable in 13 Reasons Why.

9.) Very serious, believable tone

I was surprised to see how few jokes there are in this show. I figured there would be some comic relief, but this is almost entirely intense. Everything has a massive gravity to it, but it isn’t melodramatic whatsoever. It treats the subject matter with respect and dignity, as it should. Suicide is an incredibly tough subject to handle, especially when trying to portray characters who are not good people.

10.) Hannah’s a cutie

11.) The leads chemistry is amazing

Clay and Hannah are adorable. It makes you just wish that they would be together. That they would find a happy ending for each other. They are quirky, but they respect each other. Although Clay struggles to emotionally connect with Hannah, he does care about her immensely. She loves him too, as he was the only one her treated her with love and care, and who bothered to show some semblance of connection. Clay did not use Hannah for his own goals, or treated her like property, but rather, like a human being. Which just makes the situation all the more of a tragedy.

12.) Perfectly represents ostracization in High school

High School can be brutal. High School can also ostracize people for many reasons. Friends can randomly freeze you out and never talk to you again. Sometimes friendships end through conflict. But there will be a point for many high schoolers, where they feel completely lonely. They either feel this in a group, or on their own. They feel that they can’t make a connection to anybody. 13 Reasons Why takes this idea and runs with it. Everybody struggles to communicate emotionally and spiritually to anybody.

13.) Shows the obsession with self-image perfectly

Hannah gets screwed over because of people’s narcissism. It is the culture they were bred in, and the high school environment that perpetuates it. What they did to Hannah was their fault, but it was also not their fault. These characters were raised in an American Neoliberal high school system which emphasizes individualism and condemns showing weakness. Higher grades, higher numbers are everything. Humanity has no worth. And that is the tragedy of 13 Reasons Why. Everybody could have helped Hannah, but nobody truly cared.

I apologize because this article will likely lack coherency, but I am in love with Nier Automata. It is everything I wanted it to be and more. I wanted a game that evokes that same comforting feeling when I play a PS2 JRPG. I wanted a good Platinum Game with stylish, character-action combat. I wanted all of those things, but I was never able to scratch that itch.

Until now.

Nier Automata has reminded me why I love video games. It is a game that is good for art’s sake. It does not have any shady industry practices linked to it, no season pass garbage, not even a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign. No, I love what Nier Automata represents: it shows that making a great, quality game can sell itself. This game had very little marketing, aside from a presentation at E3 2015. But that presentation was likely a courtesy, as Square Enix had the Nier franchise, but they had not done anything with it for five years.

Plus there was all the coverage on the main character’s butt:

No, I am not making this up. There was a big controversy over the main character, 2B’s butt, being too present. But you might look at this and go “oh, well she has a skirt on so at least she is covering it somewhat.” To which I say, if you play Nier Automata, her butt will follow you everywhere. If you run, the camera will align so you get a shot of her butt. If you climb a latter, the camera inches so slightly so you can see up her skirt. Does this sound somewhat skimpy and low-brow? Maybe it is, but I jut see it as ridiculous, and that is what Nier Automata really is. It is a ridiculous game with a really good story and really good gameplay.

Furthermore, Nier Automata repels all of modern mainstream gaming’s issues and delivers an incredibly solid experience instead. There is no online multiplayer shoehorned in at the expense of the main game, there is no edgy M-rated advertising campaign that attempts to make the series grimdark. Nier Automata has its own identity and that is incredibly admirable. In a gaming market that is terrified of change and the strange, it is great to see a game like Nier Automata ship 1 million copies. Furthermore, 1 million copies of a game is a profit and a major success for the company. It shows that just throwing money at a game, giving it the prettiest graphics, the nicest advertising, and charging people extra for DLC does not always work. In fact, these shady business practices often sully a person’s outlook on a game. If you analyze the most revered video game’s of this generation, they were mostly absolved from these shady business practices. Overwatch, Witcher 3, Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, Breath of the Wild, and Nier Automata kept their DLC and Season Passes as a bonus, not as necessary to the main course. These are quality games that people talk about and remember. These are games that strum up discussion about what they represent. These are games that were not killed by the toxic video game industry.

They key ingredient these incredibly special games have, is passion. They have passionate developers and teams who made the best product that they could. Nier Automata is a beautiful game with a small budget, but it still sold well. Bloodborne has a lovingly crafted world, Witcher 3 has oodles of great content, Overwatch is a crack substitute, Breath of the Wild is one of the best games ever, and Uncharted 4 revolutionized facial technology. These games were all made by a passionate team who understood how games work, and how their quality can do a lot of selling.

But Nier Automata is an anomaly because these other games had mass appeal or previously installed fanbases. The original Nier, according to VGChartz, only sold 900k copies in its entire lifespan, and Nier Automata has already surpassed that in a month. The Nier fan base is fiercely loyal to an excellent, but flawed, game, and using that small passion, Square Enix was able to make a success out of this game. It honestly feels like Nier Automata is a weird, experimental indie game given millions of dollars.

But what I enjoy the most, and these are the most innocuous things, are the music and the voice acting. All of the voice actors are from JRPG’s that I love. 2B is Mitsuru from Persona 3, 9S is Yosuke from Persona 4. It’s drenched in my favourite tropes and storytelling methods. And the choirs and bombastic chants in the Soundtrack are my Achilles heel. I don’t care if a soundtrack is bad if there is a choir, it hooks me in. I have the hardest bias towards unnecessarily epic songs. These songs follow you everywhere in Nier and I love every second of it. If I am not fully engrossed in a game, I usually listen t a podcast or some other music while I play, but I want to give Nier Automata my full attention.

Anyways, buy this beautiful, japanese anomaly of a game. You will not regret it one bit.