The new trailer for Dc’s Batman: The Killing Joke, arrived this week. The movie marks the return of iconic voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker. Bruce TImm is back in the fold as well. For those that are unaware, DC and Warner Bros. has been consistently releasing animated films based on their comic properties since 2007. Even further back to 1993 if you count the Batman movies based on the Animated Series( Which I do) In many cases, these films have been of a much higher quality than most the live action fare out there. No one should dismiss them as good movies simply because they are cartoons. These stories often reference the source material, and characters are often portrayed as they should be. Team-up’s of Superman & Batman have already been done with much more success than the curent Hollywood version. Almost every major character has been covered at one point or another.

It’s time to rank every single DC animated movie from worst to best before The Killing Joke is released. ( Batman vs Robin & Justice League vs Teen Titans will not be included on this list.)

29. Batman: Son Of Batman

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The weakest movie of the bunch in my humble opinion. It basically introduces the idea that Bruce Wanye has a son that he was not aware of. Turns out that the little guy was being raised by Talia Al Ghul( His mother) and Ra’s Al ghul. It’s fairly by the numbers as a superhero movie goes. The voice acting is substandard, and the dialogue uninspired. The action scenes are decent and yet it’s boring. Big points off for the climatic Deathstroke vs Robin fight scene. Made no sense. Don’t start with this one.

28. Superman: Brainiac Attacks

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Easily the worst of the Superman animated movies and not much better than Son Of Batman. I was expecting this to be quite good because of it’s connection to the excellent Superman: The Animated Series, but it wasn’t. Far from it. They altered Bruce Timm’s unique art and added a tinge of computer graphics, which wasn’t a good look (animated CGI often doesn’t age well). The result is a less refined version of the Beware The Batman art style. The story is by the numbers. It’s as the title suggests… Brainiac attacks, Superman fights him. Add the most drawn out and boring fight scenes of all time and trying to sit through this one becomes a huge endeavor. The only reason it ranks slightly higher than Son Of Batman is because this movie included the original voice cast from Superman: T.A.S.( Tim Daly & Dana Delany) There is also a nice scene between Clark and Lois that I appreciated.

27. Batman Gotham Knight

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Quite an ambitious feat for Bruce Timm and co. I’ll give them that. It was the first movie to feature Batman in the Anime art style. It features a series of short films rather than a full length story. The credits include people like David Goyer, Greg Rucka, and Brian Azzarello. Kevin Conroy also returns to voice Batman. The animation is great for the most part. I took issue with some interpretations of Batman but they did a good job nonetheless. The problem is that some of stories aren’t very good and the ones that are good are simply, good and not great. It is a worthwhile watching experience, and one that may get better after a second viewing but it felt too middle of the road to be anything more substantial.

26. J.L.A.: Throne OF Atlantis

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I’m a big fan of the story this movie was based on. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis crafted a truly awesome crossover with Aquaman and Justice League. This movie? Not so much. It’s by no means bad, but it isn’t very memorable. You might glance at the time once or twice which is never a good sign. The animation is very strong and the action scenes are competent, but nothing really pops. It’s worth watching more for the fact that Aquaman is the ” star” of the movie. It’s good to see him get respectable treatment. It’s entertaining enough to recommend but it may be more for die hard fans rather than the general public.

25. Batman: Bad Blood

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One of the more recent outings proved to be surprisingly enjoyable. After a few dull releases, I wasn’t very jazzed for this one. At least I can say that while watching this I wasn’t really bored at any time. It’s notable for being the first time that the new 52’s version of Batwoman and Batwing appear on screen. It’s focus is more on the Bat-family rather than the Dark Knight himself, which was a nice change of pace for these movies. The action sequences were very good. On a technical standpoint, some of the best the animated universe has had. It also helped that the plot was pretty much original, so I didn’t really know what was coming. Don’t expect greatness and you’ll walk away entertained and content.

24. Batman: Assault On Arkham

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Once again, a pleasant surprise that I didn’t expect to be that good. Turned out to be quite different and an excellent precursor to 2016’s Suicide Squad. It may drag at times but it’s nothing to be too concerned about. It really does a good job focusing more on the villains without overshadowing Batman. We know enough about Batman that feeding us little tidbits is enough and in the end, becomes highly effective. It’s fun to see these what make these characters tick. Harley Quinn being in the movie is an added treat that is not wasted here but Deadshot is the real star of the movie. Get acquainted with this movie before or after watching Suicide Squad.

23. Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman

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A decent effort from the last installment coming out of the Batman: T.A.S. universe. It’s aesthetic is based more on the look and feel of season 4 . Most of the voice staples are there, and they do a commendable job. The plot tries it’s best to juggle the mystery of who the Batwoman actually is as the title suggests. It doesn’t quite reach the mark in establishing a truly great mystery but it tries it’s best. Having new characters and heroes does help elevate the story and bring something fresh to the table. I’ve always been a huge fan of the original animation style so, while this isn’t as good as that, it’s still miles ahead better than a lot of other stuff out there. The real highlight is the bonus animated short that is included on the DVD. It’s a silent film written by Paul Dini and Alan Burnett. It’s simple but it really captures the spirit of Batman T.A.S.

22. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

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A fun team up movie based on Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner’s Superman/Batman story arc. Both the comics and the movie retcon Supergirl’s origin. There are some nice scenes of Supergirl and Superman interacting for the first time and even talking in Kryptonian, which I had never seen before. Both Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly return to voice Batman and Superman and they even manged to nab Susan Eisenberg back to play Wonder Woman. ( Wonder Woman voice actor in Justice League Unlimited) .The movie does it’s best to emulate Michael Turner’s unique art style from the comics. It’s little details like that where you really see the care they put into each release. Darkseid also makes an appearance that is quite memorable. Ultimately, the comic is better but check out the movie regardless.

21. Superman: Unbound

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Based on Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s fantastic Superman: Brainiac storyline. The movie doesn’t reach the heights of the comic but it does satisfy as an entertaining tale. The action scenes here are far superior to Branic’s last outing in an animated adventure, which is a relief. Supergirl provides a nice cushion of support for the Man Of Steel as well. Actor, John Noble provides some excellent voice acting for the villain Brainiac. He feels as imposing as he should be. Lois Lane is utilized quite a bit and her character is as fiery as ever which leads to several enjoyable moments, one in particular that may be the funniest moment of any of the animated movies released.

20. J.L.A: Doom

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A throwback of sorts, to the original Justice League animated series. It features all the original voice actors of the show with the exception of Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern( Hal Jordan). The story is based off of Mark Waid and Howard Porter’s, Tower Of Babel storyline, from their lengthy run on JLA. It’s a unique story that shows how dangerous Batman can be and if he has a place in the league to begin with. It turns out that Batman has secret contingency plans to take out every member of the Justice League if he needs to. The bigger problem really starts when the villainous Vandal Savage gets his hands on the plans and carries them out. It’s a cool tale about trust vs safety. Friendship vs duty. It loses steam in the second half but it’s well worth the watch.

19. Batman: Subzero

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Bruce Timm and Co. manged to release a better Batman movie featuring Mr. Freeze than Hollywood did thanks to the abysmal Batman & Robin. Ironically, both movies were released in the same year. Batman: Subzero manages to tell a complex tale of Mr. Freeze trying to save his wife Nora, no matter what the cost. He requires a donor with a rare blood type who ends up being Batgirl. It has some wonderful touching moments and it really doesn’t dumb down the material either. The voice acting is great and the animation looks better than any set in Batman & Robin. The pacing may be off at times but it’s going for more than just fisticuffs here.

18. Superman: Doomsday

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The first release of the DC animated movie line makes an impact right away. The creative brass in charge decided to go with the epic, Death & Return Of Superman story from the early 90’s. The movie does it’s own thing to an extent. It provides much more story instead of focusing on  a drawn out final confrontation with Doomsday. So much so, that I wish the actual battle between Superman and Doomsday was longer. Lex Luthor is the real antagonist in this version, so you might say that the title is deceiving. Yes and no. You can tell that when they made this movie they were going for a slightly different audience. Perhaps a more mature one. The violence and blood are slightly amped up and the themes feel a bit headier. It’s a solid first release to lineup of successful movies.

17. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

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Another tale based on Jeph Loeb’s run on Superman/Batman. It featured a myriad of cameos from various parts of the DC universe. A true fanboy’s dream. It also turned out to be the first reunion that actors, Kevin Conroy & Tim Daly had. Both actors had previously co-starred in a fantastic 3 part episode of Superman: The Animated Series. The plot here is simplistic enough but it’s just so much fun. The movie begins by letting us know that Lex Luthor is now the current the President of the United States. That intro alone should be hooky enough to grab your attention.  Superman and Batman are eventually framed by President Luthor for a crime they did not commit and are then forced to  become fugitives on the run. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor spares no expense to have the heroes behind bars or dead. The dynamic on hand between Batman and Superman is what makes these two characters work so well together.The script understands what makes both characters so similar and different. It’s a great to see them go at it alone together. It’s so fitting that Batman is the only one who believes Superman and is on his side. Check it out and have fun.

16. J.L.A: War

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The New 52’s flagship story was also the first to be adapted to the small screen. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee set off to make a rebooted Justice League story that’s eerily similar to Marvel’s big screen Avengers movie, although DC’s version was completed and released months before the Avengers hit the screens. Justice League: War manages to catch most of the spirit of the comics story and yet not quite match the quality. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is still a ton of fun. A lot of Marvel-like banter is on full display here. It respects itself but it doesn’t take itself too seriously either. That can seem like a foreign thing for some, considering DC’s dark and serious cinematic tone of late.  If you found Batman vs Superman too dark, this movie will turn out to be a welcome change for you. Is it perfect? No, but it is fun.

15. All Star Superman

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All Star Superman is one of the most beloved Superman stories to hit comic shelves in the last 15 years, meaning expectations were high for the animated movie adaptation. Add the fact that Grant Morrison wrote it and you’ll understand how difficult it was to do it justice completely. As a movie, general fans may become confused and weirded out by this installment. It’s out there. Sometimes, WAY out there, so it’s not for everyone. It is, however, that delightful weirdness that makes it all the more compelling to watch if you can get what the story is really trying to say. This is basically one writer’s love letter to a character he loves, and you definitely feel that in the movie. Believe it or not, the movie actually tries to simplify things more than the comic does. Nevertheless, it’s very well acted and written. The visuals are fantastic. The intro scene alone is noteworthy for this. It’s got all the elements of what can make a good Superman story without ever turning into conventional one.

Stay tuned for part 2!!

 

 

 

The good Doctor himself, Doctor Who has been through innumerable casting changes. Since the sci-fi series has been on the air since 1963, we’ve seen a revolving door of actors take the role of the Time Lord. While the development of a new Doctor is always one of the most followed casting announcements, there is another bit of casting news which helps rival this announcement. Namely, the incarnation of the Doctor’s newest companion. That is exactly what happened earlier this week during the halftime show of the FA Cup semi-final match.

Ever since Jenna Coleman officially announced she was leaving Doctor Who back in September of last year, fans and Whovians have been waiting on tenterhooks to see who would be stepping into the TARDIS as our beloved Time Lord’s new faithful companion. And now, we finally know!  The BBC has announced that Pearl Mackie (Doctors) will be joining Peter Capaldi as his newest companion.  While we don’t know much about the companion’s history and character development, we do know that Mackie’s character’s name is Bill.

And here’s the official press release from BBC America as well as some sound bites from Pearl:

BBC AMERICA today announced Pearl Mackie will join the Doctor Who cast as The Doctor’s new companion. Pearl was exclusively revealed to audiences on BBC One during half time the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday 23rd August.

Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer adds: “A new face in the TARDIS, a new voyage about to begin: welcome aboard the amazing Pearl Mackie! This is where the story really starts.”

Charlotte Moore, Acting Director of Television said: “It’s so exciting to be revealing the much anticipated new companion to the nation in such spectacular style. Pearl brings a wonderful energy and lights up the screen. She will captivate Doctor Who fans old and new across the globe.”

Brian Minchin, Executive Producer adds: “We’re utterly thrilled to have the hugely talented Pearl join Doctor Who and I can’t wait to begin her new adventures in time and space!”

 Doctor Who is a BBC Cymru Wales produced drama and will return later this year with a Christmas Special. The new series will start on BBC One in 2017.

Although we don’t know much about actress Pearl Mackie or her character Bill, the excited newcomer did get to express her joy in joining the Doctor Who family in an official statement. Additionally, she very briefly described the character Bill, giving us a sneak peek as to what to expect from the newest of the Doctor’s companions.

On joining the cast in her first major television role, Pearl said: “I’m incredibly excited to be joining the Doctor Who family. It’s such an extraordinary British institution, I couldn’t be prouder to call the TARDIS my home!

Peter Capaldi is such a brilliant actor, and his Doctor is such a wacky and wonderful character, I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for him and Bill throughout time and space. Reading the script at the audition I thought Bill was wicked. Fantastically written, cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable with a bit of geekiness thrown in – I can’t wait to bring her to life, and to see how she develops through the series.

I always loved stage combat at drama school so I can’t wait to get on set and kick some evil monsters into the next dimension!

Shooting the trailer was absolutely mental, there were pyro technics and smoke and I met my first Dalek! I’m not sure it will ever become ‘the norm’ seeing crazy monsters on set, but I cannot wait to meet some more! The weirder the better, bring it on!”

Pearl Mackie will be replacing actress Jenna Coleman’s tenure as Clara Oswald, the Doctor’s most recent companion. Rumors of Jenna Coleman’s departure had been circulating for months leading up to the official announcement. Coleman’s tenure as the companion spanned from 2012 to 2015. While this may only be a few years in terms of traditional television, it is one of the longest stints of any of the Doctor’s companions thus far- spanning 36 episodes. Additionally, she did assist both the eleventh and twelfth incarnations of the Doctor.

Season 3 Episode 17: The Team

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has so many twists and double-crosses this week that you’d almost swear it was a Shonda Rhimes show. I’m hyperventilating. Did that really just happen?! If this episode is any indication of the caliber of the finale, were in for a ride of epic proportions. Ok, let’s get to this weeks review and apologies for presenting this one out of sequence – it was just too important to pass up, but I promise I’ll catch up on the outstanding episodes ASAP.

With Coulson and the S.H.I.E.L.D. command team trapped aboard Zephyr One as it was hijacked by Giyera and piloted to a HYDRA base, Daisy and Lincoln are left to rescue them. Using a quinjet, they fly around the world to pick up the members of Daisy’s “Secret Warriors Initiative,” which sounds pretty cool and impressive until you realize that it actually only consists of two other people: Joey (the guy who can manipulate metal) and Elena (the speedster who can spring back and forth faster than the eye can see). Elena has (conveniently) been practicing her English enough to carry a conversation now. Joey seems reluctant to get involved and put himself in danger, especially when Daisy makes them all HALO jump out of the jet – something neither he nor Elena has ever done before.

Starting a new chapter in your life is always difficult, and joining a team of Inhumans has to be hella difficult. Good thing Yo-Yo and Joey have each other. They commiserate in rapid-fire Spanish, just before taking the plunge out of the jet. Two newbies, becoming friends is very heartwarming; the conversations in Spanish make them that much better. Especially since not one other “agent” there understands the language. It becomes their thing and anchors them to each other.

Meanwhile, on the ground, Giyera leaves the plane and reports to Ward. A HYDRA team storms the plane to flush out the S.H.I.E.L.D.ies, who hold them off with a gunfight and then lock themselves into a storage room. (How the hell big is this plane?) May was injured in the last episode and is in pretty bad shape, but Simmons is able to stabilize her. Fitz works on MacGyvering a chlorine gas weapon using supplies in the room.

The warriors arrive and split up. Lincoln finds Malick (all of a sudden Lincoln seems like a pretty epic fighter to be honest!), Daisy finds the plane, Yoyo finds the team, and Melty Man… does… something? That really could have been clearer. Anyways, the team leaves on the plane with Malick, only to find that the Inhuman I call Secrets In Their Eyes is hiding on the plane. He eye freezes Lincoln but Melty stabs him with a pipe. This is his first “kill” and he’s rightfully NOT a happy camper about it. As it takes off and leaves the HYDRA base, Ward isn’t too concerned. He tells Giyera, “Now we have one on the inside.” That sounds ominous. Is he talking about Malick, or does he have a mole in S.H.I.E.L.D. now or is Eye guy not really dead?

Completely ignoring the conflict of interest, Coulson interrogates Malick, the man responsible for having Rosalind killed. Protocol is different from organization to organization, but this can’t be okay no matter what. Coulson is still so damn bitter about Rosalind. This may sound cold-hearted, but can we get past this? It’s been some time, they didn’t date very long, he got his revenge on Ward; let’s stop bringing up the dead lady! Anywho, Malick tells Coulson about the death of his daughter – remember that time that Hive killed Malick’s daugher by creepy alien tongue kissing her? – Malick reveals how Hive works and he says that he made a terrible mistake in bringing the Inhuman parasite (whose official name is Alveus, which supposedly translates as “Hive”) to Earth. He explains that Ward/Alveus/Hive murdered his daughter and says, “It is a god, just not ours.” Malick warns Coulson that the Inhumans will all worship Hive, who has the ability to control the mind of any Inhuman. He also suggests that some of Coulson’s own people may have already turned. Coulson isn’t sure if Malick is just playing him, but the seeds of doubt quickly grow in his mind. He asks Mack to quietly lock down the base and instructs Fitz and Simmons to work on making a test to see if anyone is under Hive’s spell.

Daisy immediately suspects that something is up and that Coulson is hiding something from her. She doesn’t like being left out of the loop. Elena also gets very agitated about being stuck in the base, and Joey disappears for a while. Mack watches all of them (plus Lincoln) on surveillance but doesn’t feel very good about it. Meanwhile, Fitz-Simmons discover the infection in Secrets In Their Eyes and cause the power to go out so the doors will lock for good. They find Malick’s door open with him dead inside laying next to a bomb which goes off and destroys all of the evidence.

At this point, nobody trusts anybody. Coulson and Mack try to round up the Inhumans, but Daisy is adamant that they’re being railroaded. She barricades the four of them into a room, where they even argue amongst themselves, each accusing the others of being traitors. They all take turns accusing each other of being infected and killing Malick, until Daisy tells them they need to stick together. She leads them out via a secret elevator, straight into a containment room, with Coulson waiting. Damn, Daisy, you turncoat. Coulson announces who the infected person is: Lincoln; they found the orb in his locker and they know he’s stolen before. Not only that, he’s been infected since the mission at Transia, and Daisy buys it. Lincoln denies it all and loses his temper on his team, leaving Daisy to take him down. Why would Coulson think he’d been turned at Transia? It’s not like whoever was infected would admit to seeing Hive; but wait, Lincoln did. The wonkiness of the events leading up to it certainly make clear the purpose of the last few episodes. If you thought that Daisy and Lincoln’s relationship was a bit ham-fisted, you’re not wrong, as it was clearly rushed in order to make this misdirection more shocking and emotionally resonant. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t quite spark the way the writers had hoped, and as such the reveal was a little predictable.

FitzSimmons try to figure out how to help Secret Warriors, but have no real way of doing that outside the lab. So basically, they’re hanging out and mackin’ on each other. They’re worried about Hive, but Fitz says they’ll take care of him. Stuck in that dirty room, they finally have their moment, so they commence to kissing. About bloody time (pardon my french … only been 3 seasons of waiting for them to hook up!)

Coulson breaks the news to Daisy that he’s benching the Secret Warriors, because they can’t be near Hive; they’ll have to stay in quarantine. Daisy is understandably disappointed, but tells him they’ll be stronger next time. No fight at all, Daisy? She escapes quarantine to go see Lincoln. Everyone knows she designed the security protocols, why wouldn’t they alter them if she’s locked up, too? Lincoln maintains he didn’t betray the team. Not to worry, boo, Daisy is there to let him out so they can runaway together. Lincoln doesn’t want to leave because he’ll be proven innocent. Then it hits him: Daisy is the infected. She’s sick, no she’s happier than she’s ever been. She describes the infection as a bond. Lord, she sounds like one of Jasmine’s followers on BtVS. Yep, she killed Malick. Lincoln is equal parts disbelief and bitterness as he realizes she his past against him. Damn, she’s like a combination of Jasmine plus Raven from The 100. She can’t convince him to go, so she leaves, taking the orb and a fair number of crystals with her. It’s not enough she’s a lying liar who lies, on her way out, she disables the locking mechanism so no one can escape and destroys the base.

The last 10 minutes of the episode is the big reveal, as usual, with a pretty big change at the end that should be interesting to see where the final episode of the season goes. There’s still the eventual tie-in with Captain America: Civil War too to deal with.

I’m sad to see Powers Boothe exit the series. Malick was a great character and brought a lot of much-needed menace to the villain side of the equation. (I still don’t care for Brett Dalton as the new Big Bad.) That disappointment aside, this is a pretty terrific episode with lots of suspenseful twists and turns. Daisy being under Hive’s control means that, in a sense, Ward will finally get her as he always wanted. That dynamic should be interesting to watch play out. The episode is one of the better for the season, here’s hoping it keeps it up.

Sex and Violence – Supernatural s4e14

In the fourteenth episode of the fourth season of Supernatural, a kind of sub-par episode turns into a massive Nope-fest. Intrigued? Adam Benson comes home late from work, to be met by his wife Vicki, making his dinner and teasing him about being late. Adam responds angrily. Vicki then tells him she has accepted an invitation to a friend’s birthday on Saturday. Adam is again angry, and this time he picks up a meat tenderizer and kills her.

Disguised as FBI agents, Sam and Dean visit Adam, who is deeply remorseful and eventually confesses he was deeply in love with a stripper called Jasmine. Adam knows nothing about Jasmine other than that she worked at a club called the Honey Wagon.

This is definitely uncomfortable to watch, too, though I don’t know if that was intentional. From the cold open, we’re presented with images that are not at all recognizable as supernatural. Men beat and kill their wives all the time, and until we find out about the siren and the “drug” that compels them, there’s nothing here to suggest that what we’re seeing is anything other than violence born of misogyny. It’s a case of unfortunate implications, which is one reason why it took me so long for this episode to truly grab me. I know I’m a dude, but even I could see the male gaze all over this thing in terms of how it was filmed, where it was set, and how the use of the strippers went meant largely to act as this vague antagonistic force without ever getting any characterization at all. So yeah. Up until the big reveal about Nick Munroe (and what he compels the Winchesters to do), I was kind of bored by this episode?

Sam visits Dr. Cara Roberts, a doctor who conducted the autopsy on the victims, and took blood samples from the accused. She tells Sam that the men had high levels of oxytocin in their blood, a hormone associated with being in love. Dean and Sam visit the Honey Wagon, where each of the men had fallen for a different stripper. Information from Bobby indicates that they may be dealing with a siren, a creature known from Greek mythology, who disguises itself as the perfect mate to lure men. At the club Lenny Bristol is enamored with a stripper called Belle. They return to his home, where Lenny cares for his invalid mother. After making love, Belle tells Lenny they can be together forever if he kills his mother, which he does.

Dean and Nick watch Cara arrive at a club. Dean describes, as Sam did with Cara, a version of the poisoning theory, that maybe it is something in the Siren’s saliva, as he and Nick share a hip flask. Nick reveals it is indeed in the saliva, and that he has just poisoned Dean as they shared a drink. Nick is the Siren – and he tells Dean that he can’t trust Sam and needs to get him out of the way so he can be the perfect brother that Dean wants.

So, when Nick reveals himself as the siren (HOW DID I NOT SEE THIS OH MY GOD NICK FIT THE PROFILE SO PERFECTLY), he pits Dean and Sam against one another in a fight over himself. Now, there’s a sneaky little queer subtext to a man making other men fight one another to the death for him that’s kind of a neat re-telling of the Siren myth. But it’s an unaddressed subtext. Actually, it was also kind of confusing why the Siren acted as he did? I got the sense that he fed on devotion and euphoria, but it wasn’t outright stated, or I just missed it. ANYWAY. I suppose it’s not important because FIGHTING. SO. MUCH. FIGHTING. Dean gets the better of Sam and is about to swing at him with a fire axe, when Bobby appears and stabs him with a dagger. He then uses the dagger with Dean’s infected blood on it to stab the Siren. It dies, and we see its true hideous form revealed. The spell is broken. The next day Bobby bids farewell to the boys, and they both uneasily apologize for their harsh words, claiming they had no lasting effect.

While the physical fight was certainly a trip to watch, I was COMPLETELY MESSED UP by what these two said to each other. THEY CAN’T TAKE IT BACK. And I can already see that they’re both going to repeat the same thing to one another in the future: that they didn’t mean it, that the siren made them say that, but… is that really the truth? Because I’m pretty certain that what both these guys say to each other isn’t far from how they really feel. We know Dean’s suspicious of Sam and Ruby! BUT I DID NOT KNOW THAT SAM FEELS LIKE DEAN ISN’T A GOOD ENOUGH HUNTER TO TRACK DOWN LILITH, OR THAT HE BELIEVES DEAN IS HOLDING HIM BACK. I don’t want that to be true, but???? It probably is????

In hindsight, though, there is a lot here that’s completely re-contextualized by the ending. The biggest thing, obviously, is Dr. Roberts’ flirting with Sam. So, this is actually the first time in a while that Sam doesn’t have sex with a supernatural creature??? Also, Dr. Roberts is ALIVE AT THE END OF THE EPISODE. I DID NOT EXPECT THIS. Maybe the show is deliberately toying with our expectations on this one, but still, it was a shocker. That meant that her pursuit of Sam was genuine and not under dubious consent! HEY, THAT’S WONDERFUL.

What was most intriguing about this episode to me was how Nick Munroe used his power to bring out the unspoken tension between Sam and Dean, which comes to a head here in the WORST POSSIBLE WAY. So much of Dean’s characterization involves his reluctance to ever speak honestly about his emotional well-being. Despite that he has made strides towards being more honest with Sam, they both have unresolved issues surrounding their trust with one another. Though, let’s be real, most of that comes from Dean, who continues to mistrust Sam because SAM IS TERRIBLE AT HIDING SECRETS. He’s so clearly doing something else.

Who’s seen the newest trailer for Final Fantasy XV?

“Get hype” is what I’d like to say but if I were to summarize the premise so far—four guys “bro-ad” (bro + road) trip it up to have the lead character, Noctis, reclaim his rightful throne.

Yeah. Not intrigued in any way.

There is a certain allure when it comes to an all male cast and it does reflect Japanese culture to an extent. After all, there IS a market for all-male ensembles, whether yaoi driven or not…

But the absence of a permanent female character, not to mention the fact that Noctis is the only character the player can control… I don’t know, for me, these are all, as Liz Lemon would say:

FF XV Liz Lemon

The trailer does offer one saving dealmaker—Florence + The Machine’s “Stand By Me”.

I have such a soft spot for video game theme songs. Their inclusion always leads me to wonder, “Why was this song included to represent the game? What are the themes that we can infer from the story? Does the song reflect the game’s voice well?” In asking these questions, if the theme song is great enough, I make it a point to give the game in question a shot.

Looking back at the previous titles in the franchise, I am reminded of how theme songs can really alter how one might perceive the game.

SPOILER ALERT: THE FOLLOWING WILL CONTAIN SEVERAL FINAL FANTASY SPOILERS. SPECIFIC GAME SPOILERS WILL APPEAR ONLY UNDER THE CORRESPONDING HEADING, BUT READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

VIII- Eyes on Me (Faye Wong)

The theme song that started it all.

I suppose one could argue that VII’s One Winged Angel was the franchise’s first theme song but it wasn’t marketed as such. VII also had the un/fortunate distinction of being the bridge between the SNES Final Fantasies and the PSX’s so naturally, the RPG theme song trend was just in the process of catching fire.

VIII is the installment most associated with a love theme but I feel like, for an effective love story to occur, plenty of obstacles have to be in place that would divert the relationship’s trajectory.

For VIII’s leads, Squall and Rinoa, the path was as straight as the guy I was hitting on last night. Am I projecting? Absolutely, but the point still stands.

Faye Wong’s Eyes on Me was particularly interesting because the song did not reflect the ho-hum relationship between Squall and Rinoa, but rather it reflected Julia Heartilly’s feelings toward the games’ secondary protagonist, Laguna Loire.

Julia never consummated whatever it was she had with Laguna and the two proceeded with their diverged paths with feelings more bitter than sweet. This is VIII’s TRUE love story—more interesting and more relatable than the Rinoall that was shoved down our throats.

Eyes on Me, in effect, allowed me to appreciate a different side to an otherwise mediocre and plot-convoluted game.

 

IX- Melodies of Life (Emiko Shiratori)

I. Love. THIS SONG!

The melody is quite basic but the words carry with it life’s fragility. That even though those whom we love are gone, we find ways to honour their memory, unafraid that one day, we too shall join them along all the others that have come before.

In the game, Garnet has known the song since infancy, ignorant of its origins. It is only when the party hears Eiko singing the tune that we come to know its cultural significance to the near-extinct Madain Sari Summoners. In that instant, Garnet—who’s struggled to craft her identity—and Eiko—who puts on a tough façade to conceal her solitude—come full circle with their inner demons. Garnet discovers purpose; Eiko discovers she is no longer alone.

And the ladies move forward to honour the Summoners that met a genocidal end, saving the world together from the villainous bra-wearing Kuja.

 

X- Suteki Da Ne (RIKKI/Susan Calloway)

Looking at the lyrics, I would say this song reflects the dynamic between Yuna and Tidus, not to mention it also gives hints to the spatial distance between them by the game’s conclusion.

One caveat: I’ve never bothered to give Final Fantasy X a chance beyond the early hours. I have copies of the game for sure (both the original PS2 AND the rereleased HD international version) but I haven’t committed to the experience.

 

Maybe Suteki Da Ne just sucks. Maybe FFX just sucks. Maybe both.

Quick, someone convince me otherwise.

 

X2- Real Emotion (Koda Kumi/Jade Villalon)

My experience with X-2 quite was quite distinct. I remember being very excited at the prospect of having an all-female party in an FF game.

So I watched the opening scene where our heroines infiltrate an arena (yep sounds intriguing so far)…

… just so Yuna (an impostress) can perform a J-pop song to a roaring crowd, complete with synchronized choreography?

*blink blink*

“What can I do for you,” Yuna asks in Real Emotion.

My response? “You can shut right up”. So I turned off the PS2 and never touched Final Fantasy X-2 ever again.

 

XII- Kiss Me Goodbye (Angela Aki)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sADTVKs1ng

This song takes me back. My opinion, hands down, the best theme song Final Fantasy’s produced yet and consequently, the best game in the post-VII era.

The political backstory that did not revolve around the lead, the stage set in Ivalice—the same world found in Final Fantasy Tactics, and a rambunctious cast made XII stand out.

Although, let’s be honest. I would’ve liked the cast to look more diverse and not straight out of a WWII Aryan propaganda.

Still, Kiss Me Goodbye was the cherry on top of a wonderful experience and it not only conveyed Princess Ashe’s feelings toward her late betrothed, but it perfectly summed up how Vaan and co. went their separate ways in the epilogue.

Angela Aki, however, made this song so much more relatable beyond the game itself. Listen to the powerful lyrics found both in the English and Japanese versions.

 

XIII- My Hands (Leona Lewis)

As much as I loved My Hands—having been a fan of Leona Lewis since her X-Factor UK days—the song simply does not mesh well with the game’s message. Sure, it can probably be related to Vanille and Fang’s pseudo-sacrifice but neither one really developed a deep relationship with the other characters to merit a song about them. Another possibility concerns Sazh, Snow, and Lightning’s feelings toward their crystallized loved ones, but we know they reanimate by the time the song plays.

The message is clear—the song’s subject has lost a loved one and is reminiscing their time together, all the while showing substantial progress in adjusting with their life.

The game on the other hand, in its purest form, deals with the drama of being “branded by fate”. Do you accept it… or fight it, knowing that it will happen regardless?

So you see… A disconnect.

[I’m not going to bother commenting on Kimi Ga Iru Kara, the Japanese theme for the game.]

 

XIII-2- New World (Charice)

Staring the stars, feeling the winds every time

I cannot stop thinking of you

Since you’ve been gone away from here.

I kid you not. These are the opening lyrics to XIII-2’s theme.

To be fair, one can easily see why this song was chosen, with the new world borne in Final Fantasy XIII’s wake. But with lyrics as shown above combined with the terrible reviews, I left the game in my brother’s bookshelf, hopeful that it won’t be I who shall be tainted by its lingering putridity.

What is it with these dash-2 installments that just suck?

 

Hoping to Stand By Final Fantasy

Notably absent are the theme songs for the online Final Fantasies. I hold my hands up; never bothered with either of those.

But a conventional plot is essential to decipher a theme song’s meaning as well as the reasons for its inclusion.

Whether XV will have an enticing storyline or not remains to be seen. For now, as much as I see one red flag after another with the overall XV experience, Florence + the Machine’s involvement is enough to have me “stand by” behind it, so to speak.

And I think that’s a testament to the power of theme songs… at least for me.

I just hope Florence Welch’s rendition of Stand By Me wasn’t included to simply recycle the components in the same-titled 1986 film.

Four bros? Coming of age? An adventurous trip?

Hello-hi?!?!

While this series of books is numbered differently based on where you look, I think if you were to read it in the correct sequence you should follow the path below.

  1. THE SLAVER WARS: ALIEN CONTACT BY RAYMOND L. WEIL 
  2. MOON WRECK: THE SLAVER WARS (BOOK 2)
  3. MOON WRECK: FLEET ACADEMY (THE SLAVER WARS 3)

On quite a few lists books 2 & 3 are labeled as the Moon Wreck series, making this one (First Strike) book 2 instead of Book 4 which gets confusing.  Stick with my numbering however and the story works better! 🙂

This story starts out with two Hocklyn Slave Empire warships jumping in space very close to the Human Federation of Worlds home systems and finding a human mining colony. A Federation ship discovers them and realizes the Hocklyns are ahead of schedule in finding them. The Hocklyn thought they had exterminated these humans hundreds of years ago. The discovery causes alarm back in the human Federation.Author Raymond L. Weil takes his readers several hundred years into the future with First Strike. In the previous book in the Slaver Wars series, Jeremy Strong and his band of friends find the Hocklyns and launch a new era in human paranoia. Yes, there are other alien races out there, and they want to kill us all. It wasn’t pleasant news. Jeremy and his friends decided to go into cryosleep, joining legendary Admiral Hedon

Author Raymond L. Weil takes his readers several hundred years into the future with First Strike. In the previous book in the Slaver Wars series, Jeremy Strong and his band of friends find the Hocklyns and launch a new era in human paranoia. Yes, there are other alien races out there, and they want to kill us all. It wasn’t pleasant news. Jeremy and his friends decided to go into cryosleep, joining legendary Admiral Hedon Streth. They’ll be awakened when needed. First Strike is that time.

First Strike is somewhat self-explanatory as this time the Humans are taking the war to the Hocklyns.  As the cryosleep chambers holding the remaining original survivors start to fail, and the dreaded enemy continue to close in on the Earth, the only option is to actually take the fight to the Hocklyns.  Not only will this help give Earth the time it needs to continue building its defenses, it will also allow the fleet an opportunity to see how their new weapons compare against those of the Hocklyn Slave Empire.

While books 2 & 3 were somewhat smaller in scope focusing more on the individual vs. the whole underlying story, this one is almost the exact opposite.  It takes us back to space and back to big space battles too!  Lots and lots of space battles!! 🙂  Weil ramps up the pace for this book and keeps it high. He doesn’t have any problems killing off his characters. Death and destruction permeate the battles. The humans take the fight to the nasty reptilian Hocklyns, who want to annihilate the entire human race. There’s no negotiating. The admiral shoots first and lets higher powers sort it out. It’s a black and white cautionary tale. And it’s quite entertaining.

The book is of course not just one battle after another. The humans get a few new allies. A mysterious race is briefly introduces which I assume will play some role further on. We get to know some of the Hocklyns more in-depth and some of them are more than likely to continue to play a major role in future books. Then there is the mysterious relation between the AIs and the humans. Why do the AIs seem to fear the humans and how is it that they seem to even know about humans already before the Hocklyns attacked them the first time?

This book can really be said to be the starting point of the real action of the series. The first book was really mostly explaining the background of the entire set of previous and future books, both the Slaver Wars and The Moon Wreck series. As I mentioned before there are plenty of space battles in this book. The humans are indeed giving the both Hocklyns and the AIs the finger big time. That being said, it is just the opening salvo of a long war.

 

 

This review will be focusing on from episodes 7 to 13. What a journey. It seems so fleeting considering we were waiting, what seemed like an interminable time for season 2 to arrive, but luckily the reward isn’t any less sweet.

Fans, both casual and hardcore should be pleased with this season as a whole. Let’s dive in a little deeper.

elie

The Pros:

The Storytelling is quite strong. It’s engaging throughout and the pace tires not to let up at any point. Not to say that there aren’t quieter moments. There are, and they only help to enhance the characters and make us care about them.

The supporting cast really stood out this season. Their motivations were more clear by the end of this season. Even Karen Page! The shows creative team seems to be pulling a lot from the comics but they also add their own spin on things, which makes it it’s own thing. As an avid comic fan, it’s nice to be familiar with the source material and see it come to life but it’s also nice to not know EXACTLY what’s going to happen.

The action sequences continue to be strong throughout the rest of the show. It really amps up by the last 3 episodes. It’s almost too much. More on that later. There was a particularly awesome fight and stunt scene involving Daredevil & ninja’s at a hospital that is really something. The camera work is pretty instrumental in making these fight scenes dynamic and memorable. Perhaps not as ” artsy” looking as the first season but a joy to look at regardless.

A big plus was the addition of the new characters. Both Punisher & Elektra were welcome additions to the show. To be honest,  they added a lot more depth to the support roles than Karen and Foggy. They were just more interesting to watch but they never overshadowed Matt/Daredevil. This still remains his show. He was definitely the start here. Charlie Cox has done a fantastic job of giving the man without fear life on the screen. He is the Daredevil we deserve AND the one we need.

Daredevil-Season-2-Red-Costume

Big marks also go to both guest stars that show up on the second half of the show. ( SPOILERS) Stick & Wilson Fisk. Stick at odds with Matt is always entertaining. Now throw Elektra into the mix and you get a much more interesting dynamic.

Wilson Fisk wasn’t in it for very long but his episodes were my favorite of the second half. There was a particularly awesome scene between Matt and Fisk at the city jail. A true masterclass in acting from both men.

One of the biggest successes of this season has to be The Punisher. For years, fans have been longing to see an accurate representation of the anti-hero on screen and finally, they have it. Actor, Jon Bernthal is the definitive Punisher, He’s so fitting that for the part, you almost forget there were 3 other actors who attempted to play Punisher. The writers do play a huge role in this. For once, they write Punisher/ Frank Castle as human and not just a killing machine. Yes, he is a very screwed up human, but a human nonetheless. You get to see the layers that this character is capable of having when put in the right creative hands.

 

The Cons:

I do think that this season would have benefited with less episodes and perhaps, less plot threads. At times, the show was pulling you in so many directions it was hard to keep up. As much as I loved Elektra and Punisher, having them both in the show may have rushed things a bit. I’m not griping much because the end result was still of a very high quality.

While the action was fantastic for the most part, it may have been overdone in a few episodes. I remember watching it with someone and having them remark tiredly, ” again?” when Dardevil was duking it out with some ninjas. To be fair, it is hard to top the fight scene in episode 3.

Having a more centralized villain might have helped keep things together as well. I mean, there was plenty of good baddies this season but not ONE central person pulling the strings. I wouldn’t say that this is a real con but take it as you will.

Conclusion:

A solid sophomore season to the best live action superhero ever done. Is it better than the first? Yes and no. I feel that it’s more entertaining than the first but that the first season felt more focused story wise. But much like season 1 ,there’s something for everyone here. Fans and non fans should be able to enjoy the show and quickly become addicted, and maybe even fall in love with the characters in Daredevil. I know I am.

 

 

 

 

Agent Carter S2 E03 – Better Angels

A bit behind in my Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D posts so I hope you’ll forgive me.  Let’s try and catch up over the next little while – shall we?

Episode 3 of the 2nd season of Agent Carter started to get quite a bit more serious in comparison to the previous episodes.  With the “death” of D. Wilkes’ in the previous episode, we were left to wonder about the potential budding romance between Peggy and Wilkes – well we start to get some of those answers here.  When Peggy and Sousa investigate Wilkes’ home, they find items that implicate him as a Russian spy.  As this show takes place during the time of the McCarthy trials – well probably before them if we want to be historically accurate! – the threat of Russia is very valid.  In addition, it’s another good tie-in to our season 1 storyline and Dottie & the Black Widow institute!  While the rest of the detectives believe the evidence implicating Wilkes, Peggy and Sousa don’t so Peggy gets Howard involved.

Howard is on the set of his latest film and while it’s based on a comic book (quite funny that, all things considered!) his offer to Peggy of a role, is quickly turned down.  Once Peggy manages to get him onside with her investigation, he quickly helps her identify the mysterious pin that we initially saw from episode 1 that Dottie was trying to steal from the bank.  Telling Peggy that it’s for an exclusive men’s only venue called the Arena Club they concoct a plan to break in so that Peggy can get a good look around.  Howard and an entourage of his beauties proceed to “storm” the club and while they are roundly welcomed by the male patrons, they are eventually forced out.  However Peg has managed to get in also and looking around, Peggy discovers that this group has a lot of control when it comes to manipulating things, particularly in the government.

agentBThompson however has arrived in LA also and he’s not too happy about this mission.  When he finds out about it, he berates Sousa (for allowing Peggy to go rogue) and Peggy for being such a difficult agent to handle.  While a lot of this might be Thompson’s natural aggressiveness when it comes to Peggy, he’s actually under the thumb of Vernon Masters – the head of the FBI who’s working for the leaders of the Arena Club!

However – all is not as it seems!  Peggy notices that objects have started floating around her and initially thinks it’s because she’s been contaminated by zero matter.  The truth however is significantly more complicated (and interesting!).  Peggy gets Howard to help her find a solution to her contamination, but they quickly realize that she’s not actually contaminated at all!  Wilkes is somehow still alive – just in an alternate dimension/universe – but Stark creates a “magic” potion that he’s able to spray on him & manages to make him visible again.  Initially unable to talk, Stark proceeds to spray it in his mouth also (which I thought was a bit silly to be honest) so that his vocal chords too are reintegrated and then *boom* he can speak again!  I think the fact that air from the lungs are required to pass over the vocal chords and hundreds of other bodily functions that are missed are somewhat convenient.  It would have made more sense if he could just talk when he was brought back without the whole spray into the mouth thing.  Anyways, moving on!

agentCThis discovery launches a whole new project: make Wilkes a physical being again as while the team can see him, they can’t yet touch or otherwise interact with him.  One thing they do learn however is that he was not alone at the explosion.  Whitney Frost was there too and while she seems unaffected by what happened, after Peggy confronts her, she seems even more imbalanced than before.  “Persuading” her husband that Peggy must die, they hire a hitman to take her out and while it must be said, he’s probably the most successful of all of Peggy’s assailants, he too fails to kill her with the fortunate assistance of Jarvis.  While that might be the end of Whitney’s issues, in reality she’s been affected even more strongly and strangely than Wilkes’ has.

Continuing on from the theme we saw explored in a small manner in the previous episode, Whitney’s manager approaches her and tells her that she was going to be replaced because she was “too old” but he managed to stop it from happening.  When he tries to get a bit grabby as thanks for his assistance, zero matter shoots out of Whitney’s hands engulfing him and in some way decomposes him before sucking him back into her. We also learned this episode that Whitney is actually the mastermind who created Isodyne. I wasn’t sure about Whitney last episode, but now I’m thinking she’s a worthy villain for Peggy.

Final Thoughts:
First off, Peggy continues to kick ass in this show. There are moments where she goes undercover and acts like a girly girl and you can tell she hates it. It’s fun to see her change so quickly from that to the awesome strong character she is and deal with the problems surrounding her. Hayley Atwell gives a fantastic performance and embraces every aspect of Peggy. This season is really captivating so far. I love the diverse characters and that everything is linked in an intelligent way. I also love the commentary on sexism and racism throughout each episode. This show does a pretty good job of combining social commentary, humor, action and an engaging storyline in a fairly neat package.

 

 

 

Among Us Hide – Season 3 Episode 6

Right missed a couple of these over the past little while so let’s try to get caught up as quick as we can shall we?  If you recall from the previous episode (Devils you Know & not 4,722 as while that was an excellent episode, it doesn’t (yet) do anything for the underlying story), May and Bobbi had managed to track down Strucker and while they weren’t in time to stop his beating, May managed to hear that Andrew might not be dead after all.  In fact, Andrew it  turns out is the Inhuman – Lash that Daisy has been searching for.  Turned out, he was the one who set the building ablaze. The worse part is Skye (Chloe Bennet) is right. The inhuman, Lash, they are hunting can indeed transform into human. To blend into the crowd, the beast becomes Garner.  May is in disbelief with the shocking revelation about her ex-husband.

I like giving credit where credit is due, and I can safely say that as someone who has been a fan and viewer since season 1, tonight’s game-changing reveal was on par with the great “Ward is Hydra” turn of 2014. I didn’t see it coming, and maybe I’m alone in that. But when a show can blindside me completely with a narrative that is interesting and unsuspecting, I have to give it props.

agents-of-shield-02Before we get to those big moments, though, let’s start with something important: Andrew Garner is alive. Not only that, he’s alive enough to talk and give May and Coulson the rundown on what happened when Werner von Strucker tried to kill him. He tells them about the men who followed him, who Coulson correctly calls out as being HYDRA. Turns out that Coulson had his own S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tailing Garner, which is how he got lucky: The agents gave him time to find cover, but just barely. (The way this scene was shot, with May watching the medics work on her husband, was incredibly reminiscent of Black Widow, Cap, and Maria Hill watching a dying Nick Fury in Winter Solider…at least for me.)

May’s still pissed at Hunter for putting Garner’s life in danger, and her anger’s not unwarranted. Unsurprisingly, Coulson pulls Hunter off the assignment while May puts herself on, because now she’s going after Ward, hell or high water. At least there’s one positive thing that comes out of Garner’s near-death experience: May’s back. I mean, really back. She’s got the Hunter “out for blood” thing going and takes it to the next level by “recruiting” Bobbi to help her in the way only S.H.I.E.L.D. agents can: by forcing her into a sparring session. Bobbi and Melinda make an amazing team, because they’re both total badasses, but watching Melinda mentor Bobbi and encourage her to see her pain and suffering as “experience” that makes her stronger is pure gold. And that’s an example of good therapy, that makes you more capable instead of making you doubt yourself—as Bobbi proves at the end, when she uses her “experience” to take down Ward’s right-hand man. As much as I enjoyed Scientist Bobbi Morse, I cannot express how happy I am to see my favorite character back in the field, kicking butt, and being an active part of the team again. (And those fight scenes in this week’s episode just proved that. Give me an entire episode of Bobbi and May undercover, please.)

It makes sense that Lash was someone with inside knowledge, and this may even explain why Andrew was so opposed to letting Inhumans go out into the field—since he’s apparently got a lot of issues with his own kind and sees it as a vital mission to hunt them all down and perforate them.

Typical post-apocalyptic drama will feature a group of survivers (sometimes unlikely ones) who must brave the new reality in a feeble attempt to survive against all odds. This group of misfits will carry the plot forward, with each one of them possessing a unique trait that will make us, the viewers, either sympathise or feel extreme hatred towards the person(s) in question.

 

Mangaka Kozaki Yuusuke decided to give the whole genre a face-lift by replacing the usual human protagonists with humanoid pastries. Donyatsu – a donut shaped cat – wakes up all alone in desolate Tokyo. Frightened, and hungry, the timid pastry feline makes his way through the formerly bustling streets of the metropolis in a desperate attempt to find any sign of life. The more time Donyatsu spends on the empty streets the more evident it becomes that something in not quite right, even for a post-apocalypse.

All the humans are gone, along with the animals. Luckily enough Donyatsu does not have to bear his own company for long as he quickly comes across the tech-savvy Baumcougar (a swiss-roll) and the bagel-shaped Begaru. Leading them to his upper-floor fortress, Baumcougar is just as clueless of the fate of the humans or what has transpired on planet earth.

As the manga progresses Donyatsu and his companions run across some more humanoid-pastry critters; all lost, and suffering from sort of an amnesia.

While it is impossible to say what took place in the world, or why pastries now have awareness, you’ve got to give the Donyatsu team some credit for trying to rebuild civilization.

 Donyatsu is not short on gags, puns, the ocassional bathroom humor, it also manages to slightly freak you out from time to time, making you wonder just what is it that happened exactly in this new, but not very brave world. The manga itself is probably not a masterpiece, but rather a unique and zany experience that provides a welcome change of pace, esepcially when comapred to its more serious in subject matter contemporaries.