What I’ve Been Watching/Reading – July 2017

I feel that I owe an apology to all of you, though you’ll probably find it unnecessary and over-dramatic. You can skip it if you want.

Over the course of the month of June, when I first started this blog, I wrote a total of 10 posts—11 if you count one that I deleted for being too gay and retarded, even for me. Not exactly the James Patterson of WordPress (which I wouldn’t exactly consider a compliment anyway), but still, not too shabby. That said, what in the actual fuck happened this July? In the past four weeks, I’ve only published four posts—two of which were written impulsively in very short spans of time. Of course, I have plenty of excuses—lack of motivation, summer homework, a week-long vacation in Florida without access to a computer, and let’s not forget the abundance of films, books, and YouTube videos overstuffing my backlog. My Top 10 Waifus list was likely a culprit in this as well. At almost 8000 words, it was an exhausting task—hell, just choosing who my waifus were was a challenge, since there are so many great choices to consider (hence the Honorable Mentions section, which could have been much, much larger than it ended up being). Still, as burnt out as I was, the effort I put in was more than worth it. That list is by far the most viewed post on this blog (due in great part, I imagine, to the oh-so-wonderful clickbait of the angelic goddess that is Nia Teppelin) and probably my proudest achievement on this site (not saying much, I realize). Ironically, I noted in the Afterword of the list that I intended on becoming more and more prolific over the next couple of months. Looks like I made a promise I couldn’t keep. And let’s be real, one post, no matter how long doesn’t justify slacking off for most of an entire month, especially when it’s the middle of the summer and I’m a 17-year-old with no job, few responsibilities, and as inactive a social life a teenager can have without being friendless. In all honestly, it’s probably just the sin of sloth, which thrives during summer break, that caused this little writer’s drought. With school coming up shortly, I can’t really make any promises about becoming more hard-working and prolific in the near future, but I’ll at least try and do the best I can. This monthly update series is about the closest thing I have to a sense of consistency on the this blog, so I suppose I might as well start there.

With that overly-long apology out of my mind and out of the way, let’s take a look back at What I’ve Been Watching in July of 2017.

 

*NEW SECTION* Notable YouTube Videos – Looking back on the previous entries in this monthly series, I don’t know why I haven’t started doing this already. I spend a downright unhealthy amount of time on YouTube, so it only makes sense that I should include it in this series in one way or another. Of course, I can’t talk about everything I watch on YouTube—if I did that, we’d be here for days. Instead, I’ll be limiting it to a select few videos that I’ve been itching to talk about. Hopefully this new innovation works out—if it does, it will unquestionably become a staple of these posts.

  • “In Defense of the Elevator Scene from Evangelion” by Super Eyepatch Wolf – Super Eyepatch Wolf has rapidly become one of my favorite anime analysts on YouTube. He can take even the simplest of topics and make something utterly fascinating out of them, and his most recent video—“In Defense of the Elevator Scene from Evangelion”—is a perfect example of this. First off, did this scene really need defending? Unfortunately, yeah. NGE is my second favorite anime of all time, but there are huge number of people who don’t exactly share that sentiment—I suppose we’re all entitled to our own tastes, but I’ve always thought  most of these people are simply misunderstanding the series. Needless to say, watching this video was not only entertaining and informative—as all of SEWs analyses are—but also incredibly satisfying as a die-hard Eva fan. Whether you love or hate NGE, you owe it to yourself to give this video a watch.
  • “Verlisify (Official Music Video)” by shofu – I didn’t even know who Verlisify was until a couple of days ago, but that doesn’t stop this music video from being pure heat in more ways than one.  Not only is this one of the sickest and most hilarious roasts I’ve ever witnessed, but it’s also a fire-ass rap song in general. I’ve probably listened to it a few dozen times in just the past couple of days—hell, I’m listening to it as I write this. Few things are satisfying as seeing someone like Verlisify, who’s essentially a tumor to the Pokemon community, getting his ass put into place in such a creative way. Huge thanks to Etika from the Etika World Network for giving this song a shout-out in one of his most recent streams—if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t have known about this masterpiece. I guess including it on the list is cheating since I saw it in early August, but I simply can’t wait another month just to talk about it. If you do decide to go listen to Verlisify (which you should), I also recommend watching the actual music video at least once—it’s incredibly well-made and adds a lot to the experience.

 

Films

  • Blood Simple (1984) – After watching No Country for Old Men and re-visiting The Big Lebowski last month, I knew I needed to see more of the Coen Brothers’ filmography. And what better place to start than indie classic that started it all? Blood Simple is one of the best examples of modern film noir ever made. It’s dark, gritty, suspenseful, and entertaining from start to finish. Much like Mean Streets and Reservoir Dogs, you know you’re seeing the work of a genius—or geniuses in this case—through a less experienced and lower budget lens. But instead of becoming a flaw, these limitations only seem to make the films better, creating a certain charm that is seldom replicated in larger productions. Throughout the film there is an ever-increasing feeling of doom—although Blood Simple is filled with unexpected twists and turns, everything that happens somehow feels inevitable. It’s one hell of a satisfying experience. If you love the Coens’ later work, you owe it to yourself to see where it all started
  • Carrie (1976) – Last month, I read the entirety of Stephen King’s Carrie in just two days. Afterwards, I was eager to watch Brian De Palma’s 1976 film version, which has been hailed as one of the greatest Stephen King adaptations ever created. The King himself even called it an improvement on his debut novel. After seeing the film myself, I can safely say that I share those sentiments. Carrie is a near-perfect adaptation, replacing King’s vivid writing style and elements that only work in the medium of writing with De Palma’s fantastic directing and stylish cinematic flourishes, not to mention a brilliant cast. Sissy Spacek plays the role of Carrie White almost perfectly, and the same can be said of Piper Laurie as her psychotic fundamentalist mother, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance. Before they worked together with De Palma on the excellent Blow Out, Nancy Allen and John Travolta were a whole different kind of dynamic duo as Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan. The more empathetic couple of the novel and film, Sue Snell and Tommy Ross, are played by Amy Irving and William Katt. To top it all off, there’s even a brief appearance by Sydney Lassick, the man who’d so wonderfully played the hyper-sensitive Charlie Cheswick in Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest the previous year. I don’t really have anything to say about Carrie‘s story, since I already talked about the novel last month, and nearly everything I loved about the book is also present within the film. Carrie is commonly regarded as one of Brian De Palma’s very best works, and it’s easy to see why.
  • The Departed (2006) – Two months ago, I watched a belove cops-n-robbers film called Heat. Although I didn’t dislike the film, Michael Mann’s directing style and writing failed to appeal to my personal tastes, and I was ultimately disappointed as a result. Martin Scorsese’s essentially takes the same subject—exploring the dynamic between cops and criminals and blurring the line between the two—but executes it in an entirely different manner, a manner that pushed all the right buttons for me. I suppose it’s no surprise—after all, Scorsese is probably my second favorite director of all time, and The Departed is a testament to his prowess as a filmmaker. More so than almost any other director, he has a way of capturing the attitude and aesthetic of each and every time period and location his films are set in, creating some of the most immersive cinematic experiences imaginable. In the case of The Departed, Scorsese takes a break from the Italian-American New York gangsters his past films are known for and delves into the world of Boston, Massachusetts—home of the Irish. It follows not only the perspective of  gangsters but of the police as well. Moreover, The Departed is a film about fakers. Billy Costigan is an undercover cop who gains the trust of Frank Costello, Boston’s deadliest crime boss. His total opposite is Colin Sullivan, a career criminal who grew up under Costello’s wing and has managed to infiltrate the police department inconspicuously. On the surface, you’d never think either of them weren’t what they claim to be—Billy is violent and unstable, while Colin excels in his police work and even starts a serious relationship with a psychiatrist named Madolyn. There is always the sense that each character is being drawn further and further into the worlds they’re meant to be fighting against, throwing their identities into chaos and nearly destroying the line between cop and criminal. And speaking of people pretending to be other people, talk about one hell of a cast. Leonardo DeCaprio and Matt Damon give some of their all-time greatest performances as Billy and Colin respectively. Then there’s Jack Nicholson as in one of the best roles of his later career, making Frank Costello equal parts humorous and menacing. And let’s not forget Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, and Mark Wahlberg, who all fit their roles excellently and then some. Needless to say, this is one hell of film. If a dark, gritty crime drama is what you’re craving, The Departed will more than satisfy.
  • Despicable Me 3 (2017) – Let’s get this out of the way: I actually really enjoyed the first two Despicable Me movies. Make fun all you like, but I found them to be some of the better 3D-animated films of the past decade, even if they fall a little short when compared to the likes of Disney and Pixar. That said, I was a bit disappointed when I heard that the third film didn’t quite live up to the quality of the first two. I do think, however, that knowing this ahead of time allowed me go into the film without too many expectations, and let me to see exactly what it did right and what it did wrong. The characters of Gru, Lucy, and the three girls are all still a delight. They’re essentially the series’ backbone. The Minions are still a complete waste of time, but they’re used sparsely enough here to be at least tolerable. One of my favorite of parts of Despicable Me 3 in particular was its villain, Balthazar Brat, played by South Park’s Trey Parker of all people. He’s basically one massive caricature of 80’s pop culture, and he was a blast to watch whenever he was on-screen. Unfortunately, he really wasn’t on-screen for that long. And that’s where Despicable Me 3’s real issues start to show. Instead of actually focusing on the conflict between Gru and Brat or further fleshing out Gru’s relationship with Lucy and the girls, the film introduces us to Dru, Gru’s long-lost twin brother and the most unnecesary character ever conceived or created in the history of mankind. Dru is literally just an annoying, useless version of Gru who adds nothing to the film and distracts from the parts of it that are actually interesting. Why, Universal? First the Minions movie and now this? You have an animated IP with tons of potential behind it and this is what you do with it? Why am I not surprised? But yeah, in case it wasn’t clear, the amount of time this film devotes to such a pointless side character rubbed me the wrong way.  Moreover, it leads to a broader problem with the film: it’s lack of focus. In Despicable Me 2, all of the subplots were interconnected with the main plot—in Despicable Me 3, everything feels disconnected and unimportant, taking focus away from the main plot to such an extent that it loses all of its weight. Despicable Me 3 is an okay movie. It has parts that I really liked and parts that I really didn’t. I still think the Despicable Me 1 & 2 are some of the best family-friendly films of recent years. I just wish that the third film had done a better job of living up to the series’ standards. I think I’ve talked about Despicable Me 3 for a bit too long already, so let’s move on to some less disappointing films.
  • The Dirty Harry Series – In case you missed it, I wrote a post a couple weeks ago discussing all of the Dirty Harry films in detail (click here if you want to check that out). I won’t regurgitate any of that here, but I will say this: this is one hell of a film series. Clint Eastwood just keeps giving me more and more reasons to watch his filmography—we’ll be seeing more of him in future iterations of What I’ve Been Watching/Reading, you can be certain of that.
  • Django Unchained (2013) – It’s no secret that Quentin Tarantino is my favorite director of all time. I realize that’s he become something of a typical choice in that category, but there’s good reason as to why so many people love his work. The fact that it took me so long to finally watch Django Unchained is baffling even to myself, but it was well worth the wait. It’s probably one of Tarantino’s weaker films, but in all honesty, that really isn’t saying much—his most recent film, The Hateful Eight, is easily the weakest he’s ever made but still managed to be one my favorite films of 2015. Transformed from a freed slave to badass bounty hunter on his journey to rescue his wife from the clutches of the ruthless Calvin Candy, Django is one of the most compelling heroes Tarantino has put to screen, and is played excellently by Jamie Foxx. Leonardo DeCaprio makes one hell of a villain as the aforementioned Candy. But the real show-stealer once again is Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz. While not as spellbinding a performance as Colonel Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds, Waltz is an absolute joy every second he’s on screen. Tarantino himself makes a brief appearance as a grizzled Mining Company employee. While he’s not exactly an award-winning actor, his cameo appearances are always a delight. Django Unchained tackles an incredibly serious topic—that of slavery—and shows it with unflinching gruesomeness while still managing to create humor and satire out of it, similarly to what he did in Inglorious Basterds in regards to the cruelty of the Nazi regime. Tarantino has yet to ever truly disappoint me—I love each and every one of his films for one reason or another. He’ll likely continue to be my favorite director for a long time.
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)  – Stanley Kubrick’s films have always been deceptively funny. Full Metal Jacket‘s boot camp episode gave us some of the most creative and hilariously offensive insults of all time, Jack Nicholson’s psychotic performance of Jack Torrance in The Shining borders the line between comedic and terrifying, and A Clockwork Orange is essentially a dark comedy. But no film better displays Kubrick’s rich sense of humor than his satiric masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love the Bomb. At once hilariously ridiculous and terrifyingly believable, Dr. Strangelove shows the U.S government’s futile attempts to stop a nuclear holocaust after Air Force General Jack D. Ripper goes completely insane. Roger Ebert called the film Kubrick’s second greatest masterpiece after 2001: A Space Odyssey, and while I’m not sure I agree with him, it’s easy to see where he’s coming from. Dr. Strangelove is filled with some of the best comedic performances ever put to screen. There’s Peter Seller’s triple-performance of U.S President Merkin Muffley, who argues with the leader of the Soviet Union as if they were an old married couple, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, who’s efforts to stop General Ripper are constantly rendered useless, and the titular Dr. Strangelove, a wheelchair-bound ex-Nazi scientist with a hilarious case of alien arm syndrome and some questionable ideas for survival in the post-apocalyptic world. Then there’s George C. Scott’s delightfully over-the-top performance of General Buck Turgidson, Slim Pickens essentially playing himself as Major T.J “King” Kong, and Sterling Hayden as the aforementioned General Ripper, whose communist paranoia puts Joseph McCarthy to shame. What makes all of these performances and the entirety of Dr. Strangelove one of the best satirical comedies ever made is its use of “serious comedy”. The characters in the film try to take themselves seriously, only to end up making fools out of themselves—in almost all cases, this approach is comedy is a hell of a lot funnier than if the characters were actually attempting to be funnt. Moreover, it takes as serious a topic as you can get—worldwide nuclear annihilation—and treats it like a complete joke. And it’s a damn funny joke, too. If you have any interest in Stanley Kubrick’s filmography, or are simply interested in seeing what is perhaps the greatest Cold War satire ever made, Dr. Strangelove is essential viewing.
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) – Ferris Bueller can do anything he wants. It’s that sense of freedom that makes Ferris Bueller’s Day Off‘s so appealing. It’s more than just a great high-school comedy—it’s a film that speaks to the human desire to simply let loose and live every once in a while. The premise is simple: It’s almost graduation time for Ferris Bueller, so he decides to take one last day off to show his miserable best-friend Cameron a good time. Thus begins a rollicking comedic adventure through the streets of Chicago. Then again, most of you probably need little introduction to this film. It’s carved it’s way into recent cinematic history, and it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. It’s one of those movies that anyone can enjoy and relate to in one way or another. Ferris is the kind of person most of us would like to be, while Cameron is what most of us actually are. Ferris’ girlfriend Sloan is somewhere in-between, I suppose. Maybe it’s because I’m a senior in high school now myself, but there’s something that about these three and their little adventure that really struck a chord with me. I ought to give it a re-watch before graduation. Anyways, I could talk all day about everything else Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has to offer, from its sharp comedic writing to its excellent casting, but you’ve probably already seen the film yourself—and if you haven’t, I encourage you do so as soon as you can. It’s a fun time for everyone.
  • Fight Club (1999) – It’s easy to see why Fight Club has become one of the most celebrated cult classics of all time. It’s a film that quite literally packs a punch, with top notch performances from Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, impeccable directing by David Fincher, a countless amount of brilliant scenes and memorable lines, and a fascinatingly unique story. Thematically, it takes a hard look at hyper-masculinity and consumerist feminization, ultimately concluding that both can be equally harmful and destructive. I’d already been spoiled on the massive mind-fuck plot twist toward the end of the film, yet it lost almost none of its raw power and shock value because of how good the film is at building up to it. Maybe it was because I’d only gotten a few hours of sleep the previous night and had opted for drinking an unhealthy amount of coffee instead, or maybe it was because I’d been listening to way too much Linkin Park (this was the same day I impulsively wrote that post about Chester Bennington’s suicide—I think at some point I actually became my autisitc 12-year-old self at some point, thought that’s hardly important), but either way, my viewing experience of Fight Club really did feel like an insomniac fever dream—one that I was in no hurry to wake up from. It would take another viewing, preferably one where I didn’t feel like I was simultaneously getting Ludovico Technique’d and being turned into a Star-Child at the same time, to decide whether Fight Club deserves to be called one of my favorite films of all time. But I’ll be damned if it wasn’t one hell of a good time. Well, I’ve already broken the first two rules of the fight club, so let’s hurry up and get to the next film.
  • Raising Arizona (1987) – They say a good story “knows what it wants to be”. Raising Arizona has absolutely no god idea what the hell it wants to be—or, at the very least, what it wants to be is completely lost on me. The never seems to exist on any single level of reality at one time, creating one of the most jarring  viewing experiences I’ve ever sat through. The fact that it’s filled with exaggerated and downright incomprehensible Southern accents didn’t exactly help. I won’t call Raising Arizona a terrible film, or even a bad one at that rate. There were a few scenes here and there that were genuinely entertaining, and if nothing else, it’s certainly unique. But what the hell was the point? What were the Coens trying to do here? Is there some kind of underlying message here—something about the difficulties of raising a family, maybe? I’m not asking a rhetorical question here—if someone could point me in the direction of an analysis of this film, I’d be more than happy to give it a watch/read. There’s clearly something people see in it that I don’t. It has a staggering 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and is even listed among masterpieces like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Dog Day AfternoonRaging Bull, and the aforementioned Dr. Strangelove on director Spike Lee’s Essential Film List, meaning that he considers it a must-watch for anyone who wants to make films. Maybe I’ll change my mind and realize that Raising Arizona is great film in the near or distant future—our tastes and opinions are constantly evolving, after all. The Coen Brothers are filmmakers who always aim high, even if they don’t always hit the mark. If you want to see them do an absurdist comedy done right, I’d recommend The Big Lebowski in a heartbeat over Raising Arizona, but maybe that’s just me. Miller’s Crossing and the universally-acclaimed Fargo are next on my to-watch list of their films, so expect to hear all about those next month.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – When you see Leonardo DeCaprio getting his dick sucked while driving a Ferrari and then snorting cocaine out of another woman’s asshole within the first ten minutes of a film, you know in you’re in for an interesting ride. The Wolf of Wall Street is F.Scott Fitzgerald’s worst nightmare come true. It makes the excess shown in one of Scorsese’s previous films, Casino, look modest in comparison. It constantly rides the line between seductive and repulsive, tempting and disgusting. It is pretty much everything wrong with the American Dream. And it’s one of the absolute greatest films of the decade. What an extraordinary filmmaker Martin Scorsese is, to not only be able to look at some of the most amoral and despicable characters imaginable and finding something deeply likable and funny about them, but also to convey that dark and bizarre sense of warmth and humor on the screen so flawlessly. GoodFellas is one of the best examples of this, making the audience feel like “one of the guys” in the company of criminals and pretty much becoming a black comedy at many points, in much the same way as Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t considered a comedy, but it had me in stitches by the time it was over, and for as loathsome as its characters, you can’t help but enjoy being in their presence—they have so much fun being scumbags that you almost admire them for it at first. Like with GoodFellas and many of his other films, though, Scorsese makes it clear that this kind of lifestyle comes at a steep price. I think it’s important that films like The Wolf of Wall Street exist. Whether we like to admit it or not, the depravity shown in the film is part of who we are, and doesn’t it make everything better when we take a step back and laugh at ourselves a little bit for it? After half a century, Scorsese hasn’t lost his touch even a little. He constantly evolves as a filmmaker—he only gets better and better at his craft. I eagerly look forward to whatever he has planned for the future.
  • Notable Rewatches: The Matrix (1999) and Gattaca (1997) – Back in the 8th grade, I picked up a cheap DVD set from Best Buy containing the entire Matrix series. I’d wanted to watch the original film ever since I saw a parody of its climactic shootout scene in a YouTube Let’s Play of the N64 game Conker’s Bad Fur Day. I know that sounds like an incredibly retarded reason to buy a movie, but I’ve always been a huge autist about these kinds of things, and it goes to show that YouTube has basically shaped who I am as a person over the years. Anyway, I watched The Matrix on my computer soon after the purchase, and it blew the ever-loving fuck out of my 13-year-old mind. The intrigue of the story and world, the stylish visuals and action scenes, and special effects that still hold up to this day—I knew that I’d witnessed a true sci-fi masterpiece. And then I tried watching the sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, and I couldn’t even make it through the first hour. It didn’t even have anything to do with the needlessly weird and confusing elements it adds to the Matrix mythology—I just thought it was unbearably boring. I was disappointed that the series fell apart so quickly, but it didn’t change my opinion of the original film. Why oh why, then, did it take me four years to finally give it a re-watch? As someone who watches and re-watches films frequently, I honestly couldn’t give you a good answer, but I’m glad I finally decided to purchase a blu-ray copy this month. After re-watching The Matrix, my opinion of it has only improved. It’s a perfect combination between pulpy, stylish action and smart writing and directing. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laruence Fishburne form one of cinema’s most memorable trios as Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus respectively. The shootout I mentioned earlier, in combination with the subway duel between Neo and Agent Smith, formed one of the greatest climaxes ever put to screen. The Wachowskis, who wrote and directed the film, reportedly took influence from anime like Akira and Ghost in the Shell, which were themselves influenced by western films like Blade Runner. I always find these kind of webs of influence between Western and Eastern culture fascinating. But regardless of its predecessors, The Matrix truly carved a unique identity for itself in the world of science-fiction, making it stand out among its contemporaries. Another sci-fi film that instantly became one of my favorites was Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca. In a similar fashion to The Matrix, I saw it for the first time in the 8th grade and inexplicably waited four years to finally purchase it on blu-ray and re-watch it. I actually saw it in school of all things, as part of a genetics unit in my science class. It’s the only film I’ve ever seen in a classroom setting that I consider one of my favorites. I thoroughly despised everything about middle school and personally believe that think high school is better in every conceivable way, but the fact that I even know about this film’s existence justifies all of the shit I  had to put up with. Gattaca is undoubtedly one of my favorite movies of all time, maybe even one of my top 10. It takes one simply sci-fi element—genetic engineering—and creates an entire new world out of it, desnsely packed with interesting ideas. It’s also a masterfully-crafted thriller and a compelling story of the power of the human spirit. It’s bold, smart, visually captivating, and emotionally profound. Niccol truly had a unique vision—one that has been flawlessly translated to the screen. I can’t reccomend Gattaca enough.

 

Anime

  • March Comes in Like a Lion  I really slept on anime this month—I didn’t even finish a single series. But, having reached the halfway point of March Comes in Like a Lion (known as Sangatsu no Lion in Japanese), I finally have an excuse to gush about it. Studio SHAFT is a treasure trove when it comes to great visuals. Every shot of this show feels distinct and meaningful, all wrapped up in an absolutely gorgeous art style. Kiriyama Rei might have a difficult time conveying his emotions, but the show he’s in certainly doesn’t. The emotional turmoil and struggle Rei endures throughout the series form the meat and potatoes of March Comes in Like a Lion, creating a character who’s impossible not to become invested in and want to see succeed. But of course, you need more than meat and potatoes to cook a delicious anime stew. Besides Rei, Sangatsu also contains a fantastic supporting cast full of likable and relatable characters, from the trio of sisters who make every moment they’re on screen a delight—Akari, Hinata, and Momo—to the chubby, lovable goofball that is Nikaidou. I realize that seeing ‘shogi’ in the description of a 22-episode anime would make most viewers pull out faster than a dad after being on Maury, but the show manages to make even shogi seem genuinely interesting (even if you only ever have the vaguest idea of what the hell is going on during the matches). Moreover, Sangatsu is a human drama first and foremost, and it’s an excellent one at that. To those looking for heavy-hitting emotional storytelling and compelling characters, March Comes in Like a Lion is an absolute must-watch, and one of the best anime of 2016.

 

Manga

  • My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness – I bought this on complete impulse after watching a video about it on Digibro After Dark. After reading it in just two sittings, I’m glad to say it was an impulse that paid off. An autobiographical tragic comedy by Kabi Nagata, My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness is both a great quick-read and a thought-provoking introspection of a person struggling to find her place in life. Nagata’s simplistic yet expressive drawings made the book a treat for the eyes as well. Something that I realized when reading this, is how small  my problems are when compared to other people’s. That probably sounds strange coming from me, the self-proclaimed god of autism and perpetual example of poor lifestyle choices, but I’m 100% serious about this. I may have poor social skills, nonexistent athleticism and coordination, terrible work ethic, and the attention span of a baby chimpanzee with ADD, but I’m still able to get up every morning, eat two to three meals a day, get homework and chores done, maintain relationships with friends, and so on. For some people, even these simple things can be a constant struggle, a soul-crushing nightmare that they can’t wake up from. Maybe it’s just because the author and main character ends up becoming a mangaka herself, but the book really reminded of me of why I’ve always been drawn to art forms like video games, books, films, anime, YouTube videos, and so on and so forth in the first place, whether I realized it or not. Even if a piece of media can’t change your view on the world or move you on a deep, emotional level, the least—and perhaps most important—thing it can do is lighten up your day, to distract you from the bad and give you at least a few moments of good. I don’t know if I can ever become some kind of bestselling, Great American author or even turn writing into anything more than a hobby, but if I can use the ability to string a few words together to make even one person’s day just a little bit better, whether it’s through a blog post or a short story or maybe even a novel, I think I’ll be more than satisfied with just that.

 

Comic Books

  • Superman: Braniac – Included in the paperback volume of Superman: Last Son, Superman: Braniac was a refreshing take on some of the most classic aspects of the Superman mythos. Although it’s plot is fairly simplisitc, the book is dense with gorgeous artwork by Gary Frank and fantastic characterizations of some of DC Comic’s most recognizable characters. Geoff Johns understands what makes Superman a great character at a fundamental level, both as a hero who always does the right thing, and as an individual with the flaws and longings that make us human.

 

Novels

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – With school starting in just a couple days for me, books that I read for English class will become pretty common for this series. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist was my summer homework for this year, and while I haven’t been a fan of every novel I’ve read for school, but certain ones such as 1984, The Crucible, The Great Gatsby, The Things They Carried, and perhaps most of all One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest were some the best books I’ve read in recent years. The Alchemist, while not quite as good as those books, was a thankfully short and enjoyable read. I happened to be traveling while reading it (I finished most of it on the plane ride to Florida), so the sense of adventure throughout the novel really resonated with me. Most of all, the book’s themes of self-discovery and fulfilling one’s personal destiny makes it a wise pick to start off senior year, a time which can be critical for discovering one’s personal life goals and how to achieve them. I guess I have to give some credit to the school curriculum for that. The Alchemist isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s worthwhile read. It’s a book that shines in its simplicity and manages to be dense with wisdom in spite of its brevity.
  • The Dark Tower Book I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King – Out of all the dozens of books Stephen King has written in the past 40+ years, it’s the massive Dark Tower series that he considers his magnum opus. After reading The Shining and Salem’s Lot last year, I was hooked on King’s work, so I got the entire box set for Christmas. It might seem like a risk to by an entire series before reading a single word of the first book, but I was fairly confident I would enjoy them. And besides, it’s a real nice set—though it would be a bit nicer if it didn’t have “A Major Motion Picture Starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey” plastered all over it, considering how big of a flop the film turned out to be. Anyways, you’re probably wondering why it took me until July to read the first book of a series I got for Christmas. Honestly, I just had other things to read and decided to get them over with first. Plus, I was a bit daunted by The Dark Tower‘s 4000+ pages and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to read anything else during my lengthy trek the series—looking back on it, that idea was complete B.S, since I’m more than used to reading multiple books at the same time, but I digress. The general consensus among Dark Tower fans is that the first book—The Gunslinger—is easily the weakest in the series, and that it took the second book, The Drawing of The Three, for the series to really find its footing. After powering through half of the aforementioned Drawing of the Three in just a few days, I can safely say that this is true—The Dark Tower is already on its way to becoming one of my favorite series of all time. That said, The Gunslinger is probably the weakest Stephen King novel I’ve read so far. It’s still a solid book, don’t get me wrong. Figuring out how to begin a series so massive, ambitious, and truly unique as The Dark Tower seems like it would be nearly impossible, and for what it’s worth, The Gunslinger manages to do just that. It does a great job of getting the reader intrigued in the bizarre world King has envisioned—not so much with how much we learn about it, but how much we don’t. It also does a good job of introducing the series’ central hero: Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. I also like what King did with the ending—not only does it take place a mere seven hours before the beginning of The Drawing of the Three, but it takes a interesting turn by substituting a typical final showdown for a world-building revelation of cosmic proportions. So what didn’t I like about the book. I think what threw me off about it was, strangely enough, the writing. The Gunslinger doesn’t read like a Stephen King novel—hell, it doesn’t even read like a Dark Tower novel. It somehow feels more amateurish than Carrie, his debut novel, despite being written an entire decade later. In all honesty, it isn’t too huge of a deal, since The Gunslinger is also the shortest book in the series at just over 220 pages. As I said, I’m already halfway through The Drawing of the Three and I’m absolutely enamored with it. I eagerly look forward to sharing my progress with this series over the next year or two. Until then, I encourage you to start reading the books yourself, especially if you’re already a fan of Stephen King’s work.

YoungThicc69’s Top 10 Waifus (2017)

I started this blog with the intention of making it anime-and-manga-centric, with a few posts about movies and comics here and there. But so far, it’s mostly been film analysis. My bad. It’s time to shake things up a bit. That’s right, clods, we’re sinking straight down to rock bottom; the following is a list is dedicated to all those special ladies who dominate my google drive storage space. These are YoungThicc69’s Top Ten Waifus (as of 2017).

Before the rampant meat-beating begins, however, let’s set a few rules: since your boy is loyal af, I’m only allowing one character per series/franchise. I’ll leave the runner-ups from certain series in the ‘honorable mentions’ section. This list is in no particular order, since I would never be able to decide on permanent rankings for my dearly beloved waifus—I love them all equally…more or less. And if you think this list is exclusive to anime and manga, think again. No 2-D character is off-limits. And one more thing: if any one of you motherfuckers start whining in the comments section that none of your waifus made the cut, I will eviscerate you without a second thought. Personal taste, yo.

Warning: this list is NSFW due to sexually explicit descriptions, suggestive pictures of the waifus in question, and generally perverted content throughout. In order to explain why I love these girls as much as I do, sexual attraction is an unavoidable topic. This list will make you think I’m a creepy, delusional piece of weeb scum and cause you extreme discomfort. You may even feel your suicidal thoughts intensify. All of this is intentional. I’d also like to remind you that I’ve beaten my meat to each and every one of these girls a countless number of a times. With that image fresh in your mind, let’s begin.

Asuka Langely Soryuu ~ Neon Genesis Evangelion

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Evangelion waifus are in a category all their own. Not only are they some of the most attractive and well-designed females in all of anime, but they’re also deeply flawed and multi-layered characters, with implications that go beyond your typical waifus. Endless Jess describes the complex appeal of these goddesses in his Wonderful Waifus: Evangelion video better than I ever could. From the moment I decided to make this list I knew I would to make one of the toughest choices that every otaku must make in his lifetime: Asuka, Rei, or Misato? The arguments that result from this decision have raged across the anime fandom for over two decades now. But deep down, I knew that Asuka was the one for me. She’s grabbed me in a way that few fictional characters can, and hasn’t let go ever since.

It’s hard for me to put into words why Asuka appeals to me as much as she does. I don’t relate to her nearly as much as I relate to Shinji, but her character arc is so well-written and so brilliantly crafted that my empathetic hard-on for her throbs just  as much for her as it does for him. The revelation of her backstory in episode 21 and the psychological probing of the angel  Arael which triggers it is not only of the most heartbreaking sequences in all of anime, but it’s also the setup for an even greater scene in The End of Evangelion. Those who’ve already seen it (which should be all of you, since it’s literally the greatest movie ever made) probably know what I’m talking about.  Emotionally destroyed and reduced to a coma-like state, Asuka is in no shape to defend NERV headquarters from the ongoing invasion by SEELE. She is backed into a corner, uselessly curled up into the fetal position inside Eva Unit-02, and must choose whether to remain trapped inside her head and accept death, or to rekindle her will to fight and survive. She begins to whisper five little words, over and over and over again: “I don’t want to die”. What follows is an explosive awakening inside Asuka, as she realizes that her dead mother has been watching over her all along, and one of the greatest action sequences ever animated begins. Everything about this scene is damn-near perfect, and it perfectly encapsulates what makes Asuka a great character both because of and in spite of her flaws.

And let’s not beat around the bush—Asuka is insanely hot. Even if you somehow dislike Asuka as a character, you can’t deny that she looks like a fucking goddess. I have more pictures of her stashed away on my computer than any other character, and I’m not even the slightest bit ashamed.

And when I call Asuka hot, I don’t just mean hot in terms of physical appearance. Her personality is hotter than boiling magma, explosive and magnetic. From the moment she appears on the screen, Asuka is impossible not to love. Her mere presence completely changes the tone of the show from episode 8 onwards.

Many accuse Asuka of being an asshole and blame her for the creation of the tsundere archetype. To those people I say…you’re not entirely wrong. But that’s the point. Yes, Asuka is, for lack of a better word, an asshole. She’s can be a downright bully at times—quite often, in fact. But unlike the countless number of shallow imitations which have tried and failed to capture her appeal, all of Asuka’s behavior is rooted in the nature of her character. She’s not the archetype that mouth-breathing twats on the internet make her out to be. I’ve never once gotten agitated or even slightly annoyed with Asuka—even the worst sides of her personality are used to fantastic dramatic or comedic effect, and always speak from a deeply hurt part of her heart. Behind that bombastic personality, Asuka is just a scared little girl desperately looking for validation and love.

And that’s the special thing about Asuka—about all of the Eva waifus—you aren’t only attracted to them for the shallow, uppermost layers of physical appearance and outward personality. You feel a certain weight to your affection for them, as if they were real people. You want to help ease the pain they carry in their hearts, to bring them the happiness and validation that they so desperately long for, and maybe even hope that they can do the same for you. And even if you can’t fill the holes in their heart, they still have plenty of other holes for you to fill. Now that’s what I call character depth.

I’m so fucked up.

 

Haruhi Suzumiya ~ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

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Many of the people who recommend The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya were around during the series’ explosive popularity. Back in the day, this show was a huge deal. It meant something to a lot of people and made a huge impact on the anime community and the anime industry as a whole. I was worried that I might not be able to enjoy the show as much as fans did back in 2006. But after finally watching the show last year, I can safely say that my worries were misplaced—at the end of the day, a great show is a great show, regardless of context. And Haruhi is one hell of a good show. I even got a kick out of the notorious Endless Eight arc (though it’s not something I plan on re-watching anytime soon, believe me) and ended giving the second season an 8 out 10 (an endless 8 out of 10, you might say (please kill me)) while giving the first season and movie a 9 out of 10. One of the primary reasons I loved the series so much was its characters, especially the main character and narrator Kyon and the titular Haruhi Suzumiya herself. I’d like to write a post sometime about what makes these two and the rest of the cast such great characters. But for now, let’s just talk about Haruhi.

Digibro knows what’s up. Haruhi is one of the hottest characters ever put to screen. I won’t really go into too much depth about the character design itself, however. I think it speaks for itself anyhow—I mean, just look at her, for God’s sake. She’s super cute and has a great body to boot, but I think it’s the way Haruhi carries herself and the intense energy she exudes that really elevate her to the next level of sex-appeal. Whenever she looks hot, there’s a sense that she knows it and wants you to know it. It’s that level of self-confidence (or at the very least a lack of self-consciousness) that makes her magnetically sexy. And let’s be honest, no one can rock a bunny suit quite the way Haruhi can. Hell, she looks great in everything she wears.

Out of all the characters on this list, Haruhi is the girl who would the most fun to date, rivaled only by one other girl I’ll talk about later. She might not make the best girlfriend overall, but every moment spent with her would be a blast, every day an exciting new adventure. She has little interest in living a “normal” life and always strives for the extraordinary, the exciting, the unknown. She wants to be seen as special and unique, regardless of the negative social consequences that could result—something that many (including myself) wish they could they do with as much resolve and spunk as Haruhi. You could label her as childish, arrogant or even autistic, but the series helps  you understand her perspective so proficiently that it really doesn’t matter. She’s a character who bursts with energy and life, and she dominates every moment she’s on the screen.

It’s kind of strange that I find these aspects of Haruhi as admirable and attractive as I do, since she’s completely different from me. Sure, the things I do in my free time aren’t exactly what society deems “normal”, and Haruhi would probably find me more interesting than most people if we could ever meet, but I’m utterly lacking in her excessive energy, her bombastic personality, and her unwavering drive to fulfill her desires. Though I act like an insane, autistic retard online and with my close friends, I find quieter hobbies and spending time alone is what suits me best. I suppose the old “opposites attract” phrase may ring true here, but I feel it’s a bit more complicated than that. Maybe it’s because I want to be just a little bit more like her, or maybe it’s because I think she could add that extra bit of excitement that my life needs every once in a while. Or maybe it’s just because I want to fuck her. I suppose it’s all three at once. Whatever it is, I’m hooked. I forgot to mention that Haruhi is also literally God, so that’s definitely a plus.

 

 

Mafuyu Orifushi ~ Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo

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Oh yeah, I’m going there. For those of you who don’t know, Mafuyu is a hentai character, making her distinct from every other entry on this list. Because of the pornographic source material, I can’t deny that Mafuyu is on this list because of her aesthetics and sexuality. What I can deny is that this somehow makes her a shallow or unjustified pick.

Let’s get the simplest thing out of the way: Mafuyu is one of the sexiest and cutest characters in all of hentai—in all of anime, for that matter. Everything about her aesthetic is pure eye-candy for me. She rocks the gothic lolita look like no other character can—hell, the black-and-white-striped stockings on their own are a major turn-on. Normally I wouldn’t think of blonde twintails as something I find attractive, but Mafuyu makes it work and then some. Don’t even get me started on her body. I’ll admit that I’m a bit picky when it comes to being a lolicon—only some lolis come off as anything more than cute—but Mafuyu pushes all the right buttons for me. I’ll probably say this about other girls on this list, but it’s like Mafuyu was designed specifically for me—the emphasis on her feet and legs, the seductive up-close shots of her lips, the way she likes to get a bit kinky but never quite crosses the line—I could go on all day about her. She’s the reason Kanojo x Kanojo x  Kanojo is one of my go-to hentai, and all three of her sex scenes are personal favorites of mine.

Am I really about to argue that Mafuyu is a well-written character? As far as hentai characters go, absolutely. Now before you crucify me in the comments section, at least give me a chance to explain myself. Yes, Mafuyu is literally a character created to be fucked by the protagonist and masturbated to by the audience, and sex is inseparable from nearly every aspect of her personality and design. But so what? Sexuality is important to all people, in real life and in fiction. It’s certainly not unique to hentai characters, I can tell you that much. It’s the way that Mafuyu explores her blooming adolescent sexuality that makes her a legitimately interesting character. She’s sexually curious and always seeking something new out of sex (For example, giving a foot-job and seeing male sexual pleasure in action for the first time in episode 1, trying fellatio and losing her virginity in episode 2, or giving a successful boob-job in episode 3 despite her small breasts). She never wants to be outclassed by her more sexually mature and well-endowed sisters in spite of her young age. On the opposite end of her sexual curiosity, there’s a stubbornness to Mafuyu’s personality that prevents her from getting the as much out of sex as she can. While Akina and Natsumi love to be fucked to high heaven, Mafuyu always tries to be in control and hates to be seen as submissive or needy. This is obvious from the one-sidedness of the footjob scene in episode 1 and the use of bondage to prevent Haruomi from intervening in episode 2. In reality, Mafuyu likes to be dominated as much as she likes to dominate. I think this is true of most people in real life,  including myself. Sometimes we like being on the giving end and other times we like being on the receiving end (of course I’m only talking about fantasy in my case—if I had a real girlfriend who was down to fucking I probably wouldn’t be writing this post). But Mafuyu simply won’t give in to the latter desire. When Haruomi breaks free of the bondage in episode 2 to give Mafuyu one hell of a good deflowering, she can only pretend she didn’t love every second of it. In episode 3, her character arc comes to a conclusion in the show’s greatest sex scene, the bathroom scene. Mafuyu gets Haruomi to take a bath with her, sexual motivations clearly in mind. First comes the boob-job I mentioned earlier. This is the first time we actually see Mafuyu express her sexual frustrations, saying that she’ll never be able to beat Akina and Natsumi because of her small breasts. Haruomi helps her out by showing her a different method, demonstrating that cooperation is more important in sex than who’s on top and who’s on bottom. When the boob-job is over, Haruomi catches Mafuyu off-guard by grabbing hold of her and fingering her until she has an orgasm. This is the first and only time in the series we see one-sided sex with Mafuyu on the receiving end. After that’s finished, you can tell that the preliminary bullshit is done; these two are ready to fuck like wild animals in heat. Mafuyu makes one last pathetic attempt to appear dominant, but after Haruomi teases her one last time she finally gives in and says “please put it in”. She finally lets herself be honest with her desires, and what results is one hell of a good time.

I think DaLadyBugMan of The Bugblog puts it best in his A Love Letter to Mafuyu post: “I don’t know whether you’re actually a well-written character, or if I’m just obsessed enough that I can extrapolate every little detail”. While I doubt I’m anywhere near as obsessed with Mafuyu as he is, that 700-word paragraph I just wrote is a testament to this statement. And I suppose that’s what waifu culture is all about—a fascination with even the smallest of details. Hell, that’s what all love is like to some extent. I guess what I’m trying to do here is to defend the otaku tradition of having waifus, for as stupid as it might seem to anyone outside the anime community. Keep on loving those animated bombshells that fill up the hidden folders on your computer, and I’ll keep on doing the same for Mafuyu and every other girl on this list.

Weird how some the most meaningful shit I’ve written on this list came out of a porn character…I should probably kill myself now.

Mamimi Samejima ~ FLCL

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Much like Evangelion, FLCL has three top-tier waifus to choose from: Haruko, Mamimi, and Ninamori. To be honest, Haruko was never really a contender for me—she’s hot, don’t get me wrong, but she simply doesn’t appeal to me nearly as much as Mamimi and Ninamori. And while I still consider Ninamori one of my top waifus, I had to go with my girl Mamimi.

Mamimi is one hot mess of a character, often quite literally. She’s a homeless, depressed, chain-smoking pyromaniac who constantly ditches school, is bullied by her classmates, takes out her sexual frustrations on a 6th-grader, and is very likely mentally unstable to a critical degree. Despite all of this, she still manages to be a really fun and lively character. She’s also the only character on this list who’s the exact same age as me, 17. And I don’t just mean her age within the show, either—FLCL came out the year I was born, too. Coincidence? Yeah, probably. But still, it’s almost like it was meant to be.

Much like the beloved females of Evangelion, it is Mamimi’s deep-rooted flaws which make her distinct as a waifu. While I’ve never been homeless, smoked cigarettes, committed arson, or had a crumbling romantic relationship before, I can still empathize with Mamimi on a personal level. It’s her sense of longing and unfulfilled desires, all of her futile attempts to fill the hole in heart, that really hit me hard. The thing about Mamimi (and this can be said about my girl Ninamori as well) is that, despite her wacky anime antics, she’s still meant to be a real girl, a human being like you and me. And like real people (especially girls if you’re as socially retarded as me), she can often be difficult to fully understand. For all of the things I understand about Mamimi, there’s still quite a bit that’s a mystery to me, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing—that sense of mystery has an allure of its own. It’s a testament to FLCL‘s insanely high re-watch value. The whole show is densely-packed and can be extremely cryptic and confusing, but you unravel it more and more over time. You don’t need to fully understand the show right away, and you can always find new things to love about it, much like Mamimi herself.

And let’s be honest. There’s can be no denying that Mamimi is hot as hell. It’s like she was designed specifically to cater to me—the pouty lips, the dreamy eyes, the unkempt medium-length dark-red hair (oddly specific I realize), the smoking, even the way her legs and feet are revealed throughout the series and shown off in promotional art. She gets me going like few other characters can. I realize I say this about all of the girls on this list, but that’s what makes them my waifus, after all. I suppose I should address a slight hypocrisy on my part: I’m not really into girls who smoke in real life. Due to several of my real-life relatives, I know very well how harmful and—quite frankly—gross smoking can be. Yet fiction has a way of making it look incredibly cool and even sexy, and Mamimi is the ultimate example of this for me. Even as I this I keep getting distracted looking at pictures of her in another tab and I can actually feel my heartbeat getting faster. All I want is to fill the hole in Mamimi’s heart and then fill the holes on the lower half of her body. I know I already made the same joke when I was talking about Asuka but I’m unoriginal and am progressing further along the autistic spectrum more and more every second I spend making this list so I literally don’t even give a fuck anymore. Please kill me.

Mamimi is the perfect combination of empathetic and mysterious, as much of a hot beauty as she is a hot mess, and as jovial and fun as she is depressingly down-to-earth and deeply flawed. She’s one of favorite female anime characters and one of the best parts of one of my favorite anime series.

 

Nia Teppelin Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

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Gurren Lagann really hits all the right notes fsor me. Not only is it my favorite anime, but it also has my favorite male anime character, Simon, and one of my favorite female anime characters, Nia. There was never any doubt in my mind that Nia would be on this list. As much as I love Yoko and would have liked to include her on this list, she just isn’t any match for Nia.

Nia is quite possibly the most adorable little sweetheart in all of anime. “Cute” on its own is a gross understatement foe describing her. It doesn’t matter if it’s her initial look with the royal clothing and the long hair, or her updated look with the short hair and more tomboyish Team Dai-Gurren outfit—Nia’s design, along with her sweet and bubbly personality, outclasses every other anime character in terms of pure cuteness. Even her post-timeskip design manages to capture much of that same cuteness while turning her into a gorgeous adult woman, something I will probably appreciate even more when I’m older. For now, though, it’s pre-timeskip Nia that really grabs me. Besides being the cutest character ever put to screen, she’s also one of the sexiest in my eyes. For those of you who share the same tastes as me, one look at Nia should be thorough explanation. You probably get the idea by this point in the list—for all of the different traits that make me love each of these girls so much, it always comes back to how much I want to fuck them.

But of course, there’s much more to Nia than how much I want to fuck her—and I really want to fuck her, let me be clear. In spite of her appearance and personality, Nia is a tragic character if there ever was one. Time and time again she’s told that her existence is meaningless. She starts off as a doll, a dispensable, replaceable plaything to quench Lordgenome’s boredom, and later becomes a doll yet again, an insignificant tool of the Anti-Spiral. Yet she never lets it get to her. Her unwavering faith in the human spirit, in Team Dai-Gurren, and above all else in Simon, gives her an infinite wellspring of hope and optimism. She defies the very nature of her existence and carves a path to her own destiny. Her relationship with Simon is one of my favorites in all of anime for a very simple yet powerful reason: He gives her life meaning, and she gives his life meaning. Instead of a meek little boy living in Kamina’s shadow and a used-up doll thrown away to die, they become Simon the Digger and Nia motherfucking Teppelin. It’s human symbiosis and love at its most potent and pure. It’s because of that love that Team Dai-Gurren is able to track down the Anti-Spiral homeworld and defeat them, rescuing Nia in the process. People often make the shallow misjudgment that Nia is somehow a weak character who only exists to coddle Simon and act as a captive for him to go and rescue. These people are fucking idiots and should kill themselves for not being able to comprehend Gurren Lagann‘s genius writing. I’d like to see one of them get probed by an all-powerful Lovecrafitan alien species, only to tell said species to go eat its own ass. Just saying.

“If people’s faith in you is what gives you your power, then I believe in you with every fiber of my being!” What an amazing quote from an amazing character. All I could ever ask for in life is someone (preferably a cute girl) who believes in me the way Nia believes in Simon. I would have been finished with this blog post way earlier if that were the case. Ah, well, I don’t mind just having the fictional version for now.

 

Ogiue Chika Genshiken

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[This will include major spoilers for the Genshiken manga, which I highly recommend reading if you haven’t already.]

It might be somewhat misleading to say Ogiue Chika is my favorite female anime character of all time, since her character arc only really comes to fruition in the manga version of Genshiken. Regardless, Ogiue is the character on this list who I love the most as a character, even if she isn’t necessarily my top waifu (though if I had to rank this list, she’d be pretty close to the top). Besides being small and adorable, her development over the course of the story is something that I can really empathize and relate with, and it’s what convinced me that Genshiken was not only a masterpiece, but currently my favorite manga series of all time.

Ogiue is a character who grapples with extreme self-hatred, a result of a past incident involving a yaoi dojinshi and a boy named Makita. She is unable to accept who she is and constantly lashes out at other people as a result. She’s an otaku who hates otaku and an immensely talented artist who’s too afraid of the potential consequences of her art to get it out there. But through her friendship the other members of the Genshiken and the feeling of acceptance and belonging that comes with it, she is able to gradually overcome her inner turmoil. Moreover, it is her blossoming romance with Sasahara that breaks her out of her artistic prison, and the first half of the series concludes with Ogiue starting her career as a professional mangaka. Because of all of this, she is able to become a happier person. This character arc hit me like a freight train, and prompted me to read the second and third omnibus volumes of Genshiken in half a week. As someone whose hobbies and lifestyle aren’t exactly considered “normal” by society’s standards, and as someone who’s wanted to be a professional author since he was still wetting the bed but has been crippled by the fear of invalidation and failure, there are few characters I can relate to on a deeply personal level as much as Ogiue.

And let’s forget that Ogiue is adorable as fuck and has the perfect ‘adult loli’ body. My man Sasahara has taste—he better be hitting that shit day and night. But all jokes aside, Ogiue rocks. She’s my favorite female character in all of anime and manga, and she’ll probably be one of top waifus for countless years.

 

Peridot ~ Steven Universe

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The only non-anime character on this list. Peridot starts off as a cold-hearted villain, but after being trapped on Earth at the end of season one, she begins to go through a “thawing the ice witch” sort of arc, and it quickly becomes apparent that she’s not only harmless but totally adorable as well. She redeemed herself and transformed from a dismissable antagonist to one of my favorite characters in Steven Universe.

Design-wise, Peridot is completely different from every other character on this list—to begin with, she’s not even a human being. The Dorito-shaped hairstyle takes some getting used to, not to mention the fact she’s green. But her design grew on me more and more, and now I consider her to be the cutest Gem in Steven Universe. The way she starts off despising everything Earth but secretly grows attached to it and develops a friendship with her former enemies is an incredibly touching character arc, and her growing love of social media, television, and the classic alien aesthetic is adorable to see unfold. She’s essentially a socially awkward dork, something I can relate with and find incredibly endearing.

I also must confess that I’m a pretty hard shipper of Peridot and Lapis Lazuli—two socially inept outcasts living alone together in seclusion? Come on now, do I really need to explain the romantic potential there?

Peridot has been an absolute joy to watch in what I’ve seen of Steven Universe—I haven’t seen all of season four quite yet, but I look forward to seeing more of her antics for episodes upon episodes to come.

 

Rukia Kuchiki ~ Bleach 

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I’ve really been grappling with my feelings about Bleach for a while now. It was the series responsible for getting me into anime in a big way a few and a half years ago, but since I first watched it its flaws have become painfully apparent. I’d like to re-watch it or read through the manga from the beginning, but I’m scared of the possibility I won’t enjoy it, that a series which used to mean so much to me while suddenly mean nothing. Still, no matter how flawed Bleach might be, Rukia Kuchiki is a character I thoroughly love and remember fondly, and I highly doubt a re-viewing could change that.

Rukia was my top waifu for so long it’s insane that I almost didn’t include her on the list. Even those who criticize the way Bleach became worse and worse over its run-time agree that Rukia was genuinely cool and likable from beginning to end. Kubo can try to make Orihime top waifu all he wants, but Rukia will always reign supreme. I think you guys get it at this point—the petite build, the small breasts, the focus on legs and feet, etc, etc—it’s pretty obvious why Rukia suits my tastes so well. Kubo even makes a point out of giving Rukia a great ass—just like a peach. In addition to her cute and sexy design, Rukia is quite simply a fun, smart, and badass character who’s impossible not to love. I don’t think there’s anything ultra-specific about Rukia that resonates with me on a deep, personal, but you don’t always need that kind of stuff to make a great character or waifu. Maybe I’m just looking through rose-tinted glasses here, but Rukia sliced her way into my heart back in 2014 and hasn’t left ever since. She was the first of her kind—my very first waifu, even before knew what a waifu was.

As for the ending chapters of the Bleach manga, I’m actually a lot more satisified than many about what happened to Rukia. I’ll admit that I was an Ichiruki shipper for a long time, and I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t end up together in the end. But still, we got to see her follow in Byakuya’s footsteps by becoming a Squad Captain, and we  got to see her get together with Renji and even have a daughter, which is the next best thing in my eyes. Maybe I would’ve been angrier if I’d been following the series for longer than a few short years. Either way, it doesn’t change my opinion of Rukia. She’ll be one of my OG waifus for years to come.

 

Satsuki Kiryuin ~ Kill la Kill

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Satsuki is quite possibly the most badass character on this list. She’s probably one of the most badass female characters in all of anime, in all of fiction for that matter. She exudes power as both an individual and a leader, commanding respect, admiration, and fear from all. She has all the physical power, the charisma, the intelligence, and the indomitable will to back up her authoritative position and fulfill her hidden endgoal. Even though she’s only a year older than me at 18, I’m incapable of seeing her as a just a girl—she’s a mature, indomitable woman and warrior. Despite her harshness and intolerance for failure, Satsuki is a kind and caring person deep down, and is willing to sacrifice everything for the greater good, even her life. For those of you who don’t know about the Satuski’s massive revelation in Kill la Kill Episode 17, I won’t spoil it for you here. All I’ll say is that it elevates this already amazing character to a whole new league.

As I’m sure you realized by this point, I can’t really avoid talking about physical attraction when it comes to these ladies. Satsuki has a killer body, with an ass as thick as her eyebrows. She has the sort of tall, muscular build that really speaks volumes to the more sexually-submissive side of my fucked-up imagination. What makes her even sexier is that she’s completely unashamed to wear Junketsu and show off her rockin’ body, quite literally using sexuality as weapon. Satsuki is also deceptively cute, with a more feminine side that is only revealed in rare instances. As much as I love Ryuko and Mako, Satsuki takes the throne when it comes to Kill la Kill waifus.

 

Suruga Kanbaru ~ Monogatari Franchise

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When you make a top ten waifu list, a character from the Monogatari franchise is pretty much a necessity. Not only does the series contain some of the best character designs in all of anime, but each and every one of these ladies are oozing with the charm, nuance, and personality that put them in a whole new league from their contemporaries. I was considering Sengoku Nadeko for this list, but I feel that I wouldn’t have much to talk about outside of her unbelievably adorable design. Yes, I know all about her arc in Monogatari Second Season, but I haven’t had the pleasure of watching it myself yet. So for now, Kanbaru’s my girl.

Remember how I said Haruhi Suzumiya would be the female character most fun to date, rivaled only by one other girl on this list? Well, Kanbaru is that other girl. Like Haruhi, she is constantly bursting with energy and liveliness, a character who dominates every moment she’s on screen. It’s impossible not to love Kanbaru—she’s simply a blast to watch. I said how with Haruhi there’s a sense she wants you to know how hot she is. With Kanbaru, that goes waaaaay beyond just a “sense”. She has the most openly sexual personality of any non-hentai character on this list, spending much of her free time reading erotica naked and being an implicit bi-sexual, considering herself to be both a fujoshi and a lolicon. She frequently flaunts her insanely hot, athletically toned body without the slightest bit of embarrassment. And have you seen how flexible she is? I may not ever know from experience, but I’m almost certain she’d be a god in the bedroom. She might not necessarily be the hottest character on this list, but she’s probably the character I’d most like to have sex with. Kanbaru might not have quite the same love of the extraordinary as Haruhi, but I’ll bet she’s just as adventurous in the bedroom. I don’t even mind the monkey paw—I’m not much of a furry, but I find it kind of kinky in a weird way. And hey, I might not be much of an athlete, but I’d love to get private basketball lessons from Kanbaru. I don’t even mean that in the perverted way (well, maybe a little)—basketball is one of the only sports I can actually have fun with in P.E before hating myself for sucking at sports afterward—for most sports just the latter is true. And if it meant winning Kanbaru’s heart, I would learn how to slam dunk faster than you can say “I’m Araragi’s sex slave!”

I’d really like to talk about the deeper aspects of Kanbaru’s character, but she’s only had one full arc in what I’ve seen of the Monogatari franchise. Her development in the “Suruga Monkey” arc was interesting enough, but it left me itching for more. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to watching Hanamonogatari. But either way Kanbaru has already managed to claw her way into my heart, not to mention my google drive.

 

Honorable Mentions/Runner-Ups 

Your eyes don’t deceive you, ladies and gentlemen. Not only did I make a separate section for of all of the girls who just barely missed out on being on the list, but I also wrote a paragraph for each and every one of them. I am a madman and you can’t stop me.

  • Lenalee Lee ~ D.Gray-Man – This girl has one of the finest pairs of legs I’ve ever seen. Katsura Hoshino knows exactly what she’s doing when she designs the tantalizingly short skirts on Lenalee’s uniforms. I know it’s strange to start off by talking about her legs, but I really must emphasize: I want Lenalee to sit on my face. This is an important matter to me. But in all seriousness, Lenalee is not only adorable but also a kick-ass character all-around. Like Rukia, there’s not anything about Lenalee that I relate to on a deep, personal level. She’s a great character in the most straightforward sense, and sometimes that’s all you need.
  • Lum ~ Urusei Yatsura – From what I’ve seen of Urusei Yatsura (five episodes to be exact), it’s a damn good show, regardless of age. Because of how many anime I  watch, however, I’ve had it on-hold for a long time now, but I’ll be sure to give it the attention it deserves eventually. You don’t even see to watch the show, however, to understand the appeal of its main female character, Lum. She’s a sexy alien princess with long green hair, horns, and a tiger-striped bikini. What more explanation do you need? She’s up there with Fujiko Mine as one of the very first anime sex, and her appeal lives on after almost four decades. I won’t even deny that Lum was the only reason I’d even heard of the Urusei Yatsura in the first place, and I’ve probably spent more time beating my meat to her than I’ve actually watching the show itself. That’s pretty pathetic of me now that I think about it. When I finally finish the series, maybe I’ll write a blog post or two to make up for it. Maybe Lum will even make it into the list next time, who knows?
  • Mika ~ Resort Boin – Mika is yet another hentai character, but unlike Mafuyu, it’s hard for me to justify putting her on the list. She’s sort of similar to Suruga Kanbaru in that she’s an athletic tomboy with a toned, muscular body and openly sexual personality that make her unbelievably hot—hell, she even has Kanbaru’s implied bisexuality, being one of the only characters in Resort Boin to take part in a yuri scene. However, she lacks Kabaru’s level of depth and charm. She’s just a porn character, and no amount of sexy tan lines, or anal in the shower, or tribadism can change that.
  • Misato Katsuragi ~ Neon Genesis Evangelion – If my intense attraction to Asuka ever begins to fade away, Misato will almost certainly rise up in the ranks take her place as my Eva waifu. I’m not really old enough to relate with Misato the way I do with Shinji, but she’s still an incredibly likable, three-dimensional, and well-crafted character. Plus, she’s sexy as hell. I love the contrast between the badass, intelligent commander she is at NERV and the drunken slob she becomes at home. Her attempts to empathize with and help Shinji is something I find extremely admirable, despite the fact that most her attempts fail and that she shares many of the same flaws as him. She’s the glue that holds together one of anime’s greatest cast of main characters, and a lovable character all around. Plus she’s sexy as hell—what more could you possibly ask for?
  • Nico Robin ~ One PieceBest Guy Ever has superb taste in waifus. Not only does Nico Robin have one of the most heart-wrenching character arcs in all of anime (via the Enies Lobby arc), but she’s also unbelievably hot, with a character design that puts her in a whole other league from every other female in One Piece. And I feel I must mention that Nico Robin would be the ultimate hentai character and has been criminally underutilized in that area. Think about it: she can grow extra limbs out of anything—the possibilities are endless. Having sex with this woman would be completely and utterly godlike. I came very close to putting her on the main list, but she just barely missed the cut.
  • Ninamori Eri ~ FLCL – That’s right, folks. A 12-year-old girl is one of my waifus. Judge me all you like, I don’t give a fuck. Ninamori is a god damn vixen and I would totally let her wear my pajamas. I’m 100% serious when I say that bedroom scene in episode three of FLCL is one of my favorite pieces of fanservice in all of anime—it’s subtle to the point that some won’t even realize it’s fanservice at all, but for those who wield the sixth sense of the lolicon, it’s the stuff of wet dreams. Ninamori’s appeal goes far beyond that one scene, however. Like Mamimi, she can be difficult to fully grasp at first, and has that alluring combination of mystery and empathy to her as a result. I almost considered getting rid of the whole one-girl-per-show rule just because of her, but I stuck with my code of loyalty and had to drop her to the honorable mentions section. It doesn’t change the fact that I still absolutely adore Ninamori, and consider her one of the best waifus in all of anime.
  • Rei Ayanami ~ Neon Genesis Evangelion – I may stand on the side of Asuka in the never-ending Evangelion waifu debate, but I can’t deny that Rei is a great character and has one of the cutest and sexiest designs in all of anime. I think people underestimate how well-written Rei actually is. You almost don’t realize how much she’s developed until she’s replaced by a blank slate in episode 23. Many people insult her by calling her an “inanimate object” or a “doll”. Congratulations, folks, you’ve completely missed the point yet again. Much like Nia, Rei is able to create her own sense of individual identity through her friendship with Shinji, the only person who treats her as an equal. This development reaches it peak in End of Evangelion when makes Shinji humanity’s judge instead of Gendo. Rei is yet another testament to NGE‘s top-notch character-writing. And I really want to fuck her. So yeah.
  • Sengoku Nadeko ~ Monogatari – Nadeko makes my inner lolicon drool like.. She’s so adorable that I watched all off “Nadeko Snake” in one sitting despite it being Bakemonogatari‘s most poorly-written arc. The thing is, there’s almost no reason outside of character design that I even considered her for this list. Like I said when talking about Kanbaru, I haven’t seen the “Nadeko Medusa” arc yet, and because of that I can’t use it as supporting evidence. So for now, Nadeko remains stuck in the Honorable Mentions section.
  • Yoko Littner ~ Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – Yoko is a character who oozes sexuality every moment she’s on screen. While I personally don’t find her as attractive as Nia, I can’t deny that she’s one the hottest characters in all of anime. The long, fiery-red hair, the alluring, golden eyes  the flame-patterned bikini top, the voluptuous curves, the giant electric rifle—Yoko’s design speaks for itself. She’s a complete badass with a slightly muscular body that appeals to me for reasons I already mentioned when talking about Kanbaru and Satsuki. It’s a damn shame that none of the guys she hooks up with survive long enough to hit that shit. She’s no match for Nia in my eyes, but Yoko is a lovable character and hot as hell to boot.

 

Afterword

Damn, this list took way longer to make than I intended. I thought talking about my waifus would be a breeze, but I really had to think hard about who my waifus were and, more importantly, why. This is by far the longest post I’ve written thus far. As a result, I’ve been way less prolific in the past few weeks than at the beginning of June. I won’t try to make excuses, but keep in mind that I’m still a newbie at the whole blogging thing, and I’ve been struggling to fix my poor work ethic. I intend to become more and more prolific over the next couple of months.

In case you were wondering, that little google drive meme I brought up a few times isn’t just a joke—I really do have seven gigabytes worth of wank-bank material on there. Please help me.

You might have noticed that many of the girls on this list are “broken” or suffer from some form of social or psychological disorder. Asuka is violent and self-hating, Mamimi is a depressed, mentally unstable pyromaniac—hell, you could argue that Mafuyu and Kanbaru’s excessive sexual curiosity and openness is indicative of nymphomania.  I must confess that I find these types of characters profoundly attractive and endearing, in part because I can empathize and relate to them on a personal level, and in part because I want to be the one to “fix” or “save” them. Before you comment on how creepy and weirdly fetishistic this is, keep in mind that I’m fully aware of how fucked up I am. That quote from Shinji after he masturbates over Asuka’s comatose body in End of Eva is literally the most relatable line in all of anime for me. Well, maybe not the most relatable—but it’s up there, trust me. Besides, it’s probably because of that very trait—being ‘fucked up’ for lack of a better term—that I relate to and identify with these characters as much as I do. So at least I have empathy as an excuse.  It’s probably still a fetish though.

You may have also noticed that most of the girls on this list have relatively small breasts, something I even pointed out a few times. I have a great deal respect for breasts of all, but the characters I’m most attracted to tend to have B-cups—not necessarily flat-chested, just small. This isn’t always the case, though—there are tons of big-titted characters I find hot, just not hot enough to make the cut. Besides, I’m more of an ass man anyway. What I’m trying to say here is that my tastes are eclectic, so don’t think I’m a flat-only kind of a guy, and be a bit more open-minded when it comes to what makes a waifu a waifu.

Sitting Around Watching Lupin III Until I Die

I’ve recently become a huge fan of Lupin III. Since July of last year, I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through this long-running anime classic. I wish I’d started this blog last year so I could have tracked my progress with the series from the beginning, but I suppose this post will have to make up for that.

For those rare few of you who have never heard of Lupin III, it started off as a manga series by Kazuhiko “Monkey Punch” Katou all the way back in 1967. It received its first anime adaptation in 1971, and its latest iteration, Lupin III Part IV, just aired in late 2015. The franchise is still alive and well after half a century, and I couldn’t be happier. Lupin III is an episodic action-adventure crime caper, following one of anime’s most memorable and iconic casts: there’s the titular master thief Arsene Lupin III himself, his partner-in-crime and ace gunslinger Jigen Daisuke, the stoic master samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII, the femme-fatale Fujiko Mine (one of the first waifus ever created), and Lupin’s self-appointed nemesis, Inspector Zenigata. One of the best parts about this franchise is that there’s not really a “correct order” to watch it in; you can watch in release-date order, but you don’t need to. You could read a synopsis of the series (like the one I just gave you), jump into any random episode, and understand what’s going on without much of an issue. The first episode of Lupin III Part I does not act as an origin story in any way—it shifts into episodic format immediately with only the briefest of introductions to the main cast. Goemon is the only character that does not appear in the first episode, and briefly acts as an antagonist in an early episode before joining Lupin and Jigen. But we already know from the show’s opening that Goemon will become a member of the main cast, so you’re gonna get the kind of earth-shattering paradigm shift that comes with each new crew member in One Piece. Part of the appeal of Lupin is that its characters are well-established. They have the stylized, aesthetic personalities you might find in anime like Baccano, Durarara, and Black Lagoon, or in iconic characters like The Man With No Name and 007. This negates the need for extensive character depth and development but still leaving room for it. Hell, Lupin himself is essentially an eccentric, unlawful version of James Bond.

Having been made over 45 years ago, you could assume that Lupin III Part I would be outdated to the point of unwatchability by today’s standards. Hell, it’s probably the oldest anime I’ve ever seen. But while it certainly shows it age, the series holds up to this very day. I blasted through it pretty quickly last summer and gave it an 8 out of 10. Compared to the rest of the franchise, Lupin III Part I is a bit darker and more perverse—at the time of its release, few other anime had as mature of subject matter and as complex of plotlines as this series, a fact that seems downright laughable today. Regardless, the show is still brimming with humor and charm. If there’s any one word that can describe the entirety of Lupin III, it’s ‘fun’. When you sit down to watch an episode of Lupin, you know you’re in for a good time for one reason or another.

It was around the time I was finishing Lupin III Part I that I came across a blu-ray copy of The Castle of Cagliostro at Best Buy and purchased it without a second thought. I’ve been a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki for a few years now, and I’d been looking forward to seeing his debut film even before I started watching the main series. For once my impulsivness paid off in flying colors, as The Castle of Cagliostro is now one of my favorite animated movies of all time. It’s simply a blast from start to finish, and a testament to the Lupin III franchise as a whole. I think people exaggerate about how it deviates from the character of Lupin. He’s less perverse and more chivalrous than usual—what’s the big deal? He’s still the same humorous, mischievous, adventurous, and cunning cat burglar we’ve all come to know and love, and that’s what really counts at the end of the day. Miyazaki’s brilliance is visible in every single frame of this film, with visuals that outclassed just about everything from the time. I highly recommend it to all anime fans, even those who have never seen Lupin before. If you haven’t seen it yet, I implore you to do so as soon as possible. I’ve seen it three times already, and will continue to re-watch it for years to come.

With 155 episodes, Lupin III Part II is by far the longest show in the Lupin franchise, having run from 1977 to 1980. I started watching it almost immediately after finishing Part I but have only seen about 30 episodes so far. Because of Lupin’s loosely canonical and episodic nature, it’s not the kind of series you need to blast through as quickly as possible—you can view it at whatever pace you want. Of the 30 or so episodes I’ve seen, over a dozen were in the last couple of weeks, which is what inspired me to write this post in the first place. Lupin III Part II is a fantastic show and I absolutely adore it. It takes everything that was established in Part I and improves upon it in every way—from the animation to the music and sound design to the creativity and diversity of its storylines, everything has evolved. Don’t even get me started on the opening and ending themes—I could listen to them all day. Many people actually prefer Part I because of its darker tone and more perverse content, but I honestly can’t say I’m one of those people. Part II establishes a more optimistic and light-hearted tone while maintaining and refining the same ‘old-school cool’ style that the franchise is known and beloved for.

But what about the rest of the Lupin III franchise? Even after I finish Part II, there are still two more series and a countless number of movies, OVA’s, and specials left for me to consume. What I’ve seen thus far is only the tip of the iceberg, and saying I’ve got my plate full is an understatement. Besides continuing with Part II, I currently have my sights set on the film Lupin III: The Fuma Conspiracy, so I’ll probably be talking about that in my next monthly What I’ve Been Watching/Reading post. As I’ve mentioned previously, Lupin III is a franchise that can be viewed in whatever way you please. But that fact leaves many scratching their heads over where to start watching. So then, where do I recommend you start watching? If you’re an unbending anti-credfag like me, you’ll probably start from the very beginning, but if you’re not, I’d actually recommend the most recent show, Lupin III Part IV. That might seem strange of me since I haven’t even seen it, but trust me on this one. If ripping him off constantly hasn’t made it clear, I’m a pretty big fan of Digibro, and he included the show in his Best Anime of 2016 video—that might not exactly prove anything to most people, but it’s credible enough for me. Part IV has absolutely gorgeous visuals, carried over from 2012’s The Woman Called Fujiko Mine spinoff series, and from everything I’ve heard about the series, it adapts the Lupin formula flawlessly, capturing everything that makes it great. If this show doesn’t make you love Lupin, nothing else will. Except maybe The Castle of Cagliostro. I’ve probably made it pretty obvious by this point, but you all seriously need to go watch that movie. Like right now. Why are you even wasting your time reading this? Go watch the film, you clods.

Here’s a drinking game: take a shot for every time I said “Lupin” in this post, or for every time I used the word ‘franchise’ instead of ‘series’ in order to prevent confusion. You will die. And I will be jealous of you.

What I’ve Been Watching/Reading – June 2017

You guys do understand that this series is just me rambling about all the shit I do in my free time each month, right? Why the hell did my last list get twice as many views as the movie analyses that I actually put effort into? Well, shit, I ain’t complaining. I could talk about this stuff all day. June wasn’t quite as densely-packed as May when it comes to the amount of content I consumed. I would like to say this is because I’ve been busy writing the blog for the first time, but I wasn’t nearly as prolific this June as I had hoped to be—hell, I haven’t posted anything in almost two weeks now. I’m going to try step up my game for July. I have a whole lot of stuff in the works right now, so for all zero of you people who even know I exist, get ready. For now, though, here’s What I’ve Been Watching in June of 2017.

 

Films

  • Barry Lyndon (1975) – I’m honestly not sure how to feel about this film. I know that I enjoyed it, but I’m still trying to figure out why. It’s probably the weakest Kubrick movie I’ve seen so far, which isn’t really saying much since I’ve only seen three others (2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining), all of which are masterpieces. Barry Lyndon is an absurdly beautiful movie. Why Kubrick went from a lurid future-shock black comedy to a subdued, quill-pen era historical drama is a mystery to me, but the result was a truly remarkable achievement in cinematic visuals, and I don’t think anyone can complain about that. Kubrick is a director who continues to amaze me with each film I watch of his—the man died before I was even born, but his films have taken on a life of their own. I’m planning on watching both Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut very soon, so I’ll probably be able to discuss both of those next month.
  • Dog Day Afternoon (1975) – Without a doubt the best film I saw this month. I already said this in my analysis of the film, but I’ll say it again here: Dog Day Afternoon is a lesson in creating empathetic characters. Sonny Wortzik is one of the most compelling, funny, and tragic characters ever put to screen. This is due in great part to Al Pacino, who is so good in this film it’s absurd. If you’ve ever doubted Pacino’s ability as an actor or think he only knows how to overact, his performance here is guaranteed prove you wrong. This is also one of only five films to star the inimitable John Cazale, who brings a wealth of life to the character of Sal Naturile with half as many lines as Pacino. The hyper-realistic style of Dog Day Afternoon and the fact that it was based on a bizarre but true story adds an entire other dimension to the film. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as last month’s Blade Runner or One Flew the Cuckoo’s Nest, there are few films I can recommend more than Dog Day Afternoon—it’s the latest addition to my list of favorites.
  • Jaws (1975) – I’m not sure why it took me this long to finally watch Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, one of the most iconic films of the late 20th century. Jaws is a movie oozing with as much humor and heart as edge-of-your-seat suspense, accompanied with an iconic soundtrack by the inimitable John Williams. Most of you reading this have probably already seen the film, but if not, make sure to do so as quickly as possible. It’s the perfect horror movie for summertime.
  • Logan (2017) – This was the perfect sendoff to Hugh Jackman’s iconic portrayal of Wolverine. This is a film that not only manages to cast new light on the character of Wolverine but also reminds us of why he’s such a great character to begin with. It’s also an incredibly bleak and gruesome yet defiantly hopeful look at the X-Men universe and superhero movies in general.
  • No Country For Old Men (2007) – While I didn’t respond to it as well as I had hoped, No Country For Old Men is a film so well-crafted and so well-directed that it’s impossible not to appreciate and enjoy. It’s a fascinating study of how the Western paradigm becomes dysfunctional in a modern setting, something that’s been touched upon in films like Taxi Driver but has never been the main focus. Javier Bardem steals the show here with his portrayal of Anton Chigurh, a killer so remorseless he might as well be death personified.  I’ve done the Coen Brothers a disservice by only seeing two of their films so far, but I can promise you that I’ll be talking about the rest once I get around to them.
  • The King of Comedy (1982) – Like Dog Day Afternoon, I’ve already written a full analysis about this film, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much here. The King of Comedy is a darkly funny look at the celebrity culture of the 1980’s, yet it has only become more and more relevant over the years. It feels like a prophecy for the celebrity culture of today. Rupert Pupkin (played excellently by Robert De Niro) is a passionate and talented man with an honest and ambitious dream, but he uses only the most dishonest and heinous of methods to achieve that dream, and is driven by naive and unrealistic motivations. For as reprehensible as his actions are, Rupert is a strangely likable and even somewhat relatable character at times. Martin Scorsese delivers once again with excellent directing and cinematography. There’s a reason he’s my favorite director after Tarantino, and The King of Comedy is a testament to his brilliance.

 

Anime

  • Interviews With Monster Girls – This show is pretty decent, which is a high compliment for something made by A-1 Pictures. The characters are likable and the way the show explores the challenges of monster girls (or ‘demi-humans’) was actually pretty fascinating at times. And at the end of the day, not all shows need to be masterpieces—if they have enough good ideas, they deserve to be watched.
  • Kado: The Right Answer – This series just finished airing the other day and I’ve been itching to talk about it more. Kado is not only a fantastic hard-sci-fi series packed with interesting ideas, but it’s also a testament to the potential of 3-D animation in anime. I’d like to write a blog post on it once I’ve more clearly processed my opinions about the show. For now, I will say that Kado’s final message about human progress (the “right answer”, if you will) was something that really resonated with me. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching this anime yet, go do so as soon as you can.
  • Nekomonogatari: Kuro – Though I enjoyed the indulgent dialogue and fanservice of Nisemonogatari, it lacked the same level of insight, character-building, themes, and romance as Bakemonogatari. Don’t get me wrong, I could look at Kanbaru’s naked ass 24/7, but that’s not what makes Monogatari a great series in the first place. Thankfully, the four-episode prequel series Nekomonogatari: Kuro is a return to form, showing us the events that took place over Golden Week. The story arc, also called “Tsubasa Family” focuses on the character of Hanekawa, her troubled home life, and her relationship with Araragi. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the “Tsubasa Cat” arc from Bakemonogatari, but the two are relatively close in quality. As I’m writing this I’ve already started watching Monogatari Second Season and I’m really looking forward to talk about it in next month’s installment of this list. This franchise is already becoming one of my favorite experiences of 2017.
  • Repeats from last month – I must confess that I’ve done a pretty poor job of keeping up with anime lately. I haven’t gotten much farther in Little Witch Academia, Re:Creators, or Sakura Quest, so they’re not really worth talking about on their own just yet. I’ve kept up with Boku no Hero Season Two and some of the episodes that aired this month were absolutely incredible, as anyone watching the show right now could tell you. Studio Bones has been doing fantastic work lately (which only makes me feel worse about how slowly the project I announced is coming along). They’re a studio that only improves their craft over time. Still, I think I’ll wait until the series is finished to discuss it any further. The Pedantic Romantic made a fantastic video on the Uraraka vs Bakugo fight that I highly recommend you go watch.

 

Comic Books

  • Batman: Made of Wood – This hidden gem by Ed Brubaker was included in the reprint of Batman: The Man Who Laughs (see next entry), and was one of this month’s biggest surprises. It follows Batman as he tries to solve a mystery that is ominously similar to a famous case from Gotham’s past. Along the way, he gains the alliance of Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern and protector of Gotham, who comes out of retirement to fight one last battle. Made of Wood is a small but sweet gem of a Batman story that I can recommend to any fan of the caped crusader.
  • Batman: The Man Who Laughs – This short graphic novel by Ed Brubaker details the first encounter between Batman and his archrival, The Joker. It is sort of a follow-up to Batman: Year One, following both Batman and Jim Gordan in their early careers as they try to make sense of the situation and stop the Joker’s killing spree. It doesn’t take long to read and contains solid writing and art. Like Made of Wood (which is included in the current paperback print of The Man Who Laughs), I can recommend this story to any fan of the character and mythos of Batman.
  •  Crisis on Infinite Earths – Back in 1985, Marv Wolfman and George Perez set out to clean up the mess of continuity and inaccessibility that the DC Universe had turned into after over four decades of history. The sheer size and scope of their task and the revolutionary effect it had on the comics industry is impressive, but I don’t think I can recommend Crisis on Infinite Earths to those who aren’t big fans of DC and interested in the history of its universe. It is an utter clusterfuck of a story filled with hundreds upon hundreds of characters, and nothing that happens is interesting enough to make it truly compelling in my eyes. The fact that it is also an extremely long book doesn’t help. I wouldn’t go as far as to call Crisis bad. It’s still one of the most important comic books ever made and we owe a great deal of respect to Wolfman and Perez for changing the face of superhero comics. But you might be better off just watching Comic Pop’s Back Issues episode on it instead of going through the trouble of buying and reading it yourself.
  • Superman: Last Son Last Son was quite possibly the greatest comic book I read this month. It introduces a new character, a young Kryptonian boy who crash lands in Metropolis, implying that Superman is not, in fact, the last son of Krypton. Superman and Lois Lane adopt the boy, naming him Christopher Kent. However, the arrival of the classic Superman villains General Zod, Ursa, and Non quickly breaks the newfound family apart, and it is revealed that the boy is none other than Zod and Ursa’s biological son. The rest of the story follows Superman as he teams up with Lex Luthor, Parasite, Bizarro, and Metallo in order to stop Zod’s invasion and prevent him from turning the Earth into New Krypton. The story brings into question Superman’s belonging in the human world, and there is a nature vs. nurture motif relating to both Christopher and Superman himself. Last Son is also credible for re-introducing General Zod into the DC Universe in the mid-2000’s. It is written by Geoff Johns, who is the current president of DC Comics, and Richard Donner, the director of Superman: The Movie (1978). Everything about this comic was solid, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from beginning to end. Not a masterpiece, but I give it a high recommendation to fans of the man of steel and superhero comics in general.

 

Novels

  • Carrie by Stephen King – I read this book in two days. For someone who reads as slowly as I do, this is a considerable achievement, and a testament to Stephen King’s extraordinary ability as a writer and storyteller from the very beginning of his career (this was the first novel he published, after all). Carrie is a startling look at the darker sides of adolescence and of the human desire to overpower and manipulate others, as well as a great character study of a tormented young girl. Even though you know what her inevitable fate will be, even though you know it was never meant to be, King makes you hope with all your heart that Carrie White will find some kind of happy ending. Reading Carrie was a truly great experience, and I’m greatly looking forward to watching the 1976 movie adaptation by Brian De Palma.

What I’ve Been Watching/Reading – May 2017

Alright, you nonexistent motherfucking audience you, let’s start ourselves a monthly series. Because I’m a fat 17-year-old loser with no life, I spend most of my free time in a delirious, swirling haze of anime, manga, comics, books, movies, and YouTube videos. Now that I finally have a means to ramble on and on about all of the things I consume as much as I want, I’m going to do just that. With that said, the following is What I’ve Been Watching/Reading in May of 2017.

Films 

  • Blade Runner (1982)  Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is a film I’ve been meaning to watch for a while, and I finally had the pleasure of seeing it this month. Considering that this is from the same guy who made the science-fiction/horror masterpiece Alien, it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise that this film is great, but it still managed to surpass my expectations. Blade Runner, based off of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (one of the many books on my overstuffed to-read list), offers a harrowing vision of  a future (well, two years from now, to be exact) Los Angeles rife with social decay and rampant consumerism, a darkly beautiful world where the line between man and machine has become almost nonexistent. Similarly to Alien, Ridley Scott builds the film’s world with a slower, more methodical pace, using visuals instead of dialogue whenever he can. I’ve already seen the film twice and have been effectively entranced by its visuals in both viewings. The ambiguity of the Blade Runner‘s themes and conclusion leave a great deal of room for interpretation, discussion, and analysis, and Roy Batty’s famous “Tears in Rain” monologue is profound and unforgettable. I look forward to re-visiting Blade Runner for years to come. Let’s hope the upcoming sequel turns out well.
  • Blow Out (1981) – I’ve been meaning to check out Brian De Palma’s work for a while now, and after watching Blow Out, I’m hooked. The reason I wanted to watch this film specifically is that it’s a personal favorite of Quentin Tarantino, my favorite director and one of my biggest inspirations. And I can easily see why he loves the film so much—Blow Out is one of the greatest thrillers I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. This is one John Travolta’s greatest performances, possibly his second best after Pulp Fiction, and lead actress Nancy Allen shines in her role. The characterizations of Jack (Travolta) and Sally (Allen) and the their undeniable chemistry was truly something special. De Palma’s sense of style drips from every frame. The way he builds suspense is impeccable—De Palma is sometimes considered a successor to the likes of Hitchcock—and I appreciate that gives his characters room to breath, as it lets them really connect with the audience. One of the most memorable parts of Blow Out is its absolutely heartbreaking and bleak ending, which I won’t spoil for anyone (despite the fact that I don’t usually care about spoilers myself). Like Blade Runner, this is a film I plan on revisiting for years to come.
  • Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy ~ A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For A Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966) – My experience with westerns up to this point has been extremely limited, but Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western trilogy, starring Clint Eastwood in one of his most iconic roles, is enough to convince me to watch more from the genre. I watched the entire trilogy over a single weekend, an experience I will not soon forget. In each film Leone further develops his unique sense of style, and each film is better than the last, with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly reaching masterpiece-status, being the absolute favorite of Quentin Tarantino (who was once again my motivation for watching these movies in the first place). Despite the fact that these films were made over half a century ago on low budgets, they still hold up to this day (with a little help from the Blu-ray remaster department). Leone’s cinematography and attention to detail makes the West feel incredibly alive and packed with detail. Every shot feels like a painting, from larger-than-life landscapes to vivid portraits. And do I even need to mention the scores by Ennio Morricone? It’s sublime.
  • Heat (1995) – Michael Mann’s Heat has received as much praise as criticism. I thought it was…just okay, to be honest. De Niro and Pacino are great as usual, but the film is bogged down by a needlessly long runtime. Honestly I don’t have much else to say about it. Not a waste of time, exactly, but not a must-watch, either.
  • Jackie Brown  (1997) – It took me way too long to finally watch this movie. As I mentioned before, Quentin Tarantino is my favorite director—Pulp Fiction is probably my favorite live-action movie at the moment, and Kill Bill isn’t far behind—and Jackie Brown,  based on Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch, is some of his finest work, possibly my third favorite of his. The film’s colorful cast of characters are an absolute joy to watch. Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda, Robert De Niro, and Michael Keaton all deliver excellent performances. How so many people list this movie at the bottom of Tarantino’s filmography is beyond me. Roger Ebert matched my thoughts perfectly in his review: “You savor every moment of “Jackie Brown”. Those who say it is too long have developed cinematic attention deficit disorder. I wanted these characters to live, talk, deceive and scheme for hours and hours”. Yet another film I will re-visit for years to come.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – As much as I adored Blade Runner, Blow Out, and Jackie Brown, no film this month has climbed up to a higher spot in my favorites list than One Flew The Cuckoo’s Nest. The novel, by Ken Kesey, is by far the greatest book I’ve ever read for an English class, and probably one of my favorite books of all time. Milos Forman’s film adaptation, while not completely faithful to the novel (for reasons obvious to its readers), is excellent in nearly every way, and has become one of my absolute favorite films. It’s easy to see why it swept the 1976 Academy Awards and made Jack Nicholson into the legend he is today. Where do you even begin when talking about Cuckoo’s Nest? I could talk about the acting, the characters, the directing, the soundtrack, the themes of the story and how they appeal to me on a deeply personal level—I’ll probably write an analysis or two about it in the future. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I can give it only the highest level of recommendation. It’s a must-see.
  • Rocky (1976) – How have I never seen this movie until now? Rocky is a classic among classics, using the universal appeal of underdog stories to create an incredibly inspirational character, portrayed flawlessly by Sylvester Stallone. I don’t have too much to say about Rocky, it’s just a solid movie through and through.
  • The Untouchables (1987)  Now this film is just a damn fun time. De Palma captures the intrigue of Prohibition-era gangland Chicago and combines it with the larger-than-life scope of a John Ford movie. The historical conflict between Al Capone and Elliot Ness is depicted in a very black-and-white fashion—Kevin Costner portrays Ness as an honest and well-intentioned cop who cares about his family and the people of Chicago, and Robert De Niro portrays Capone as a mean and ruthless villain. While lesser films could suffer as a result of this simplistic sense of morality, The Untouchables just makes it work.

 

Anime

  • Boku no Hero Academia Season Two – The first season of Boku no Hero was pretty damn good. It suffered a bit from slow pacing but packed a plethora of memorable characters and kept me entertained from start to finish. So far, Season Two has completely blown my expectations out of the water. The slower pace of the first season really pays off—with its eclectic cast of characters established, the second season uses that backbone to create something really excellent and engaging. I’ve been looking forward to each new episode every single week, and the hype train has yet to come to a stop. I have no doubt that this will turn out to be one of the best shows of the Spring 2017 season.
  • Kado: The Right Answer – This series came out of absolutely nowhere and I’m loving the ever-loving fuck out of it. I’m not a huge wank about spoilers, but I think you’re better off going into this show blind, since the twist at the end of the episode 0 is a jarring but exciting surprise. Kado: The Right Answer is probably the most smartly written show of the season—of the year, for the matter, and I highly recommend it.
  • Little Witch Academia (TV) – A.K.A Studio Trigger saves anime once again. I really loved both of the original Little Witch Academia OVAs, so it’s no surprise that I’m already in love with this show after two episodes. I wish I had more to say, but that will have to wait until next month, where I’ll probably be gushing over it to no end.
  • Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon – Kyoto Animation knocks it out the park once again—I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised at this point. Adapted from a manga by the same guy who did I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying (which is also great, by the way), Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a show that took me way too long to get around to. Besides its excellent animation and character designs, the show had some surprisingly great writing and characters, tackling topics such as cultural division and family while never breaking away from its exuberant, lighthearted tone for very long. Plus, it’s about a bunch of lesbian dragons—what’s not to love?
  • Nisemonogatari – I think Digibro summed up Nisemonogatari pretty well when he described it as pure Monogatari pornography. From what I understand, Nisio Isin wrote Nisemonogatari for purely self-indulgent reasons and never really intended to publish it—hell, “Nisemonogatari” literally translates to “Fake Story”. That said, this show may not been nearly as good as its predecessor, Bakemonogatari, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a fun time, and probably one of the best fanservice shows out there. Studio SHAFT knocks it out of the park as usual with its bizarre but beautiful visuals. I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the Monogatari franchise.
  • Please Tell Me! Galko-chan – I admit that I probably wouldn’t have watched this show if it weren’t for Best Guy Ever’s excellent video on it. Being only 12 episodes long with only 7 minutes per episodes, I was able to watch Please Tell Me! Galko-chan in less than a day, and I enjoyed every second of it. Thematically, it really is the anime equivalent of The Breakfast Club, tackling and defying stereotypes in a high-school setting. The titular Galko is a truly admirable character for the way she never make judgments about people based on appearance alone and strives to see the good in everybody. Not to mention, she’s THICC as hell—and the name of this blog and my username should explain why this is such a great thing.
  • Re:Creators – I’ve only seen two episodes of Re:Creators thus far, but the show’s premise—what would happen if fictional characters came into the real world—and more importantly, the execution of that premise, is absolutely fascinating. It’s probably one of the most smartly written shows of the season, though not as much as Kado. If you’re not sure what anime to watch this season, Re:Creators is one I highly recommend.
  • ReLIFE – ReLIFE was good. Not amazing, but good. It had an interesting premise, decent characters, decent comedy, decent drama, decent visuals, decent everything, really. For some reason I just don’t have much to say about it, but if it seems up your alley, give it a go.
  • Saga of Tanya the Evil – Saga of Tanya the Evil has one of the most delightfully edgy premises I’ve ever heard, and it’s executed surprisingly well. Tanya is such a blatantly evil yet undeniably charming character who had me entertained from start to finish. The show had some pretty engaging action scenes—I was impressed by the way it used 3D animation, even if it isn’t used very often. Definitely a show that needs a second season, since the ending, while serviceable, didn’t feel like much of a conclusion.
  • Sakura Quest – This series has been a fun time so far, but again, I’m only a few episodes in. If you’re up for a more down-to-earth anime about a small, rural town in Japan trying to revamp its tourism industry, that’s exactly what you’ll get with Sakura Quest. I have high hopes that this will turn out to be one of the better anime of the spring season.

 

Comic Books 

  • Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross – Holy shit, this is some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen in a comic book. I was blown away by Kingdom Come‘s visuals. But besides that, the book is a truly fascinating story, as DC’s classic heroes, in the twilight of their careers, are pitted in a war against a new generation of amoral and irresponsible super”heroes”, as well as against one another. It is told from the perspective a minister named Norman McCay, who inherits apocalyptic visions from his dying friend Wesley Dodds, The Sandman, and is given the responsibility to ‘pass judgement’ on the potentially world-ending war between superheroes. Despite the enormous, even Biblical scope of the plot, Kingdom Come is essentially a Superman story at its heart, as the man of steel has become disillusioned after the destruction and irradiation of the Midwest, including his home state of Kansas, but must pull himself back together in order to stop the new superhumans’ reign of destruction. The story ends on a bittersweet note, showing how the power of hope can overcome destruction and tragedy. If you’re a fan of superhero comics and haven’t read Kingdom Come yet, give it a go.

 

Novels

  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – I bought this for an airplane flight last summer, where I read like fifty pages and then put it off for a ridiculous amount of time. I honestly don’t know why this happened, but now I’ve finally started reading it again and have made my way about halfway through it. It has a pretty unique dark-urban-fantasy premise, following good-hearted Richard Mayes as he is plunged into an underground world beneath London. While what I’ve read of Neil Gaiman’s work hasn’t appealed to me on a deeply personal level thus far, he is an undeniably talented writer and a treasure trove of great stories.
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien – This was the latest book I read for my honors English class. Like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I was blown away by how much it appealed to me on a deeply personal level, albeit to a lesser extent than Cuckoo’s Nest. Tim O’Brien paints a multi-layered picture of war and uses it to make fascinating comments on the craft of storytelling, something I was not expecting. Definitely one of the better novels I’ve ever read for school.

The Studio Bones Project – Prologue

So about half a year ago, anime blogger/youtuber Digibro released a three-part video series dissecting the career of Akiyuki Shinbo, the enigma behind many of the works of Studio SHAFT. At the end of the third and final video, Digi announced a project of massive scope and scale, “Dissecting SHAFT”, in which he will analyze the studio’s entire body of work over the course of  sixteen or more episodes. The prospect of such an ambitious series created by the drunken hobo-bearded lolicon god himself has had my dick wet nonstop for five consecutive months. When realizing how much of a task watching every anime that a major studio has ever created is on its own, much less writing about all of them in one cohesive analysis, it’s easy to see why not even a single part of the series has been released yet. In the meantime, however, I’ve decided to take on a grand quest of my own. Because I’m a suicidal cuck with 69 chromosomes and no originality of my own, I’m basically stealing Digi’s idea but applying it to a different anime studio, in this case the legendary Studio Bones, famed for their orgasmic action scenes in series such as Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, and Eureka Seven, and more recently in shows like Kekkai Sensen, Mob Psycho 100, and both seasons of Boku no Hero Academia. Needless to say, I have a massive Bone-r for Studio Bones that’s been building up over the ages, and once I complete my quest I can finally blow my load all over the entire anime analysis community. Despite the fact that I literally just created this blog yesterday and basically have no writing experience and the patience of a retarded goldfish with ADHD and super-AIDS, I somehow plan to watch dozens upon dozens of shows, many with dozens upon dozens of episodes, followed up by an endless amount of meticulous reasearch, and finally write about all of that information cohesively within the next few years. Either I’ll succeed in my quest or kill myself trying. Either way, I win and everybody else loses (or the other way around depending on how you look at it). For all zero of you autistic clods who follow this blog, I assure you that the payoff will in no way justify the wait.

(Every day my life goes on I fall deeper and deeper into a bottomless abyss of self-perpetuating misery. All I desire in life is the sweet release of death. If anybody’s reading this, please donate me a gallon of bleach so I can drink my pain away).

Also, here’s a google doc that shows my progress within the watching-phase of the project for anyone who’s curious: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qcRe8xNsjpzq0Np8joIDdoIRsaE4a_RO56DDliS6Y9M/edit?usp=sharing