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Month: July 2020

The Culture Behind the Grimm

If there was one show that I immediately fell in love with, it is RWBY. What can I say about it that people have not already said? The characters, the theories, the ships, and more. It is an all you can eat buffet of potential to get into, with dessert. I love the lore of the world of Remnant as much as the next person, but one thing that gets me thinking is, ironically, the one thing without a mind of their own. The Grimm. Now, Rooster Teeth did a great job explaining what Grimm are, and that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the culture behind the Grimm, and the references, or possible references, to said culture.

            One of the first Grimm we witness is the Beowolf. Beowolves are wolf like Grimm that are pack hunters. Fitting that the first time we see them in the Red Trailer since Ruby is based on Little Red Riding Hood. Now, their name is also the title of an Old English epic, Beowulf. Beowulf was simply the story of an awesome hero killing monsters and looking cool doing it. Seriously! The first monster we see him kill in his story killed a lot of people in a mead hall several times, and Beowulf fights it barehanded because he wants to make it fair!

            The second Grimm we see is in the White Trailer, which Weiss fights is called an Arma Gigas. This is where things get a bit complicated. What it is comes down to two things. In the RWBY Anthology manga, they (the author) says it is a suit of armor that is filled with multiple Grimm. However, there is a Grimm called a Geist. Geists, when they possess inanimate objects that are large, it as Gigas at the end of its name. More on Geists later. Now Gigas, as a term has roots in Greece. Gigas is Greek for giant. So Arma Gigas means weapon giant, fitting that it was wielding a giant sword.

            The third Grimm we see is the Ursa Minor. We see this in Volume 1, Chapter 6: The Emerald Forest. The Ursa Minor is a reference to the constellation of the same name, which means Little Bear. We see them in a fight scene when Yang fights three of them. This is fitting since Yang is based on Goldilocks, and she fights three of them. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but Goldilocks is a lot more violent.

            The fourth Grimm we see is the King Taijitu. We see this one in Volume 1, Chapter 6: The Emerald Forest as well. The King Taijitu is a two headed snake, one-half black and one-half white. This is a reference to the term Taijitu, which is what the Yin and Yang symbol is called. It is also based on the Amphisbaena, a two headed snake in Greek mythology.

            The fifth Grimm we see is a giant Death Stalker. Now the Death Stalker we see in Volume 1, Chapter 7: The Emerald Forest Part 2 is not the average size Death Stalker. Death Stalker, much like their real-life counterpart of the same name, are scorpions. They have pincers, a stinger that is full of poison and can burrow underground. Now unlike their real-life counterpart their stinger can glow much like an anglerfish, which Jaune fell for.

            The sixth Grimm we see a Nevermore. The Nevermore can be as large as Remnant’s airships and have the ability to fire off its feathers, as seen in their first full appearance in Volume 1, Chapter 8: Players and Pieces. Now, the Nevermore gets its name from the Edgar Allan Poe poem The Raven, specifically from the line “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore.’” The Nevermore is also based on the Stymphalian Birds which were made of metal, man-eating, and could also launch its feathers

            The seventh Grimm we see is the Boarbatusk. The Boarbatusk appears in Volume 1, Chapter 10: The Badge and the Burden Part 2. The Boarbatusk may not seem intimidating, been just a boar with large tusks, however its power and potential speed makes up for it. It can charge forward curled up into a ball. Now, its name comes from the Latin word ‘barbatus’, which means bearded and babirusa, which is a type of boar which is known for its tusks

            The eighth Grimm is related to another one I mentioned. This is the Ursa Major. Seen in Volume 1, Chapter 14: Forever Fall Part 2. This is the Ursa Minor’s bigger, meaner, and older cousin. Also named after constellation, which means Big Bear, it definitely earns that title, and is not the last “superior” version of a Grimm in the show.

            The ninth Grimm we see is actually not show through a fight scene, but as an observation in Volume 2, Chapter 9: Search and Destroy. This is the Goliath, an elephant like Grimm. The Goliath gets its name from Goliath, a Philistine giant from Abrahamic religions, which was said to be nine feet (2.7 m) tall. It is also based visually on the African elephant.

            The tenth Grimm is simple called Creep. Creeps are unique in this case because they are not based on anything from any culture. Seen in Volume 2, Chapter 11: No Brakes, they have parts of animals that some Grimm just lack. According to The World of RWBY: The Official Companion, Creeps are based on terror birds.

            The eleventh Grimm has only been seen once. This has no official name, but people call it the Beetle Grimm, since that is what it looks like. This Grimm was in Volume 3, Chapter 7: Beginning of the End. In which it is summoned by Cinder, spews some black substance in the face of Amber (who at the time was the Fall Maiden), and has the ability drain Aura and siphon it to someone else.

            The twelfth Grimm we see is the Griffon. Seen in Volume 3, Chapter 10: Battle of Beacon, these Griffons are much like mythological counterpart, are part lion and part eagle. Instead of cawing like birds, they roar like lions. There is not much more to say about them. They are exactly what you would expect from griffons.

            The thirteenth Grimm we see is the bigger, stronger, and nastier version of the Beowolf, the Alpha Beowolf. Seen in Volume 3, Chapter 10: Battle of Beacon, the Alpha is just like a normal Beowolf; however, they are the leader of the Beowolf Pack. They are strong enough to shred through the state of the art Atlesian Knights. The only reason it was stopped was because of General Ironwood killed it in the Amity Colosseum.

            The fourteenth Grimm we see is the Wyvern. Seen bursting out of Mountain Glenn in Volume 3, Chapter 10: Battle of Beacon. This monstrosity gets its namesake from wyverns, which are like dragons, but instead for four legs, they have two. One thing that makes this Wyvern terrifying is their ability. Along with flying, it drips black ooze that gives birth to more Grimm. Perhaps this is why Mountain Glenn fell, because more Grimm kept coming more than the Huntsmen and Huntresses could kill.

            The fifteenth Grimm we see is in the RWBY video game, RWBY: Grimm Eclipse. This is the Alpha Creep. There is nothing very impressive about these stronger Creeps. In fact, that’s their most impressive thing, that they are stronger than the average Creep.

           The sixteenth Grimm we also see in the RWBY video game, RWBY: Grimm Eclipse. This is the variant of the Creeps; these are the Mutant Creeps. Unlike their natural counterpart, these have green claws and green accents on them and unleash a powerful explosion upon its death. These were created by Doctor Merlot. Merlot mutated Grimm to make them even more deadly to get back at Ozpin and the people who doubted his vision. They could also be a reference to Creepers in the game Minecraft.

            The seventeenth Grimm we see is another mutant in RWBY: Grimm Eclipse. If it could not get even deadlier, Merlot decided to create a Mutant Alpha Beowolves. These beasts are powerful. They have strong claws, they are fast, and they can summon crystal-like spikes a decent distance. These Grimm are not complete overkill, luckily for Team RWBY.

            The eighteenth Grimm we see in Grimm Eclipse is a variant of the Death Stalker. This is the Giant Mutant Death Stalker and just like the Mutant Alpha Beowolf it is more deadly than its unmutated verity. This has the abilities of the normal Death Stalkers, burrowing, powerful pincers, and a deadly stinger. The Mutant Death Stalker has the ability to launch its poison from its tail like a volley of arrows. This is Doctor Merlot’s greatest and most powerful mutant.

            The nineteenth Grimm we see does not have a have a name but Doctor Oobleck, in the RWBY manga, written by Shirow Miwa, compares it to a parasite so that it what I will call it. This Parasite Grimm looks like the head of Cthulhu and has the unique ability to fuse Grimm together. It fuses four King Taijitu into a creature called a Yamata no Orochi, more on it later. From my knowledge, this has only seen once.

            The twentieth Grimm is an Orochi. This, as stated before, was the result of the Parasite Grimm fusing four King Taijitu. Now the Yamata no Orochi is part of Japanese mythology. Its name translates roughly to Giant Eight Branched Snake. The Orochi was a problem for the Izumo Province (modern day Shimane Prefecture), because it ate a girl every year. Now, this beast was defeated by Susa-no-O, but the story if its defeat is another story.

            The twenty-first Grimm is the Beringel. This Grimm was first seen in the Volume 4 Character Short. This Grimm is honestly seen as more intelligent than others. In the short, it throws an Alpha Beowolf at Ruby. Its name is most likely from the scientific name of the Eastern Gorilla, Gorilla beringei.

            The twenty-second Grimm is a Petra Gigas. It first appeared in Volume 4, Episode 1: The Next Step. The Petra Gigas, much like the Arma Gigas, is just a Geist possessing boulders. Petra is Greek for stone. So, its name means stone giant. Now this to me sounds like modern golems since the original golem were made from clay.

            The twenty-third Grimm is the Geist. The Geist also appeared in Volume 4, Episode 1: The Next Step. Geists can possess any inanimate object, seen in the Arma Gigas and the Petra Gigas. Now, Geists get their name from a paranormal classification for a ghost: Poltergeist. The difference between a say a black shadow variety of ghost and a poltergeist is that poltergeist can interact with physical objects, like throwing a glass or pushing a chair. Much like how Geists can possess inanimate objects.

            The twenty-fourth Grimm is the Sea Feilong. This Grimm is a sea dragon that breathes lightning. Its first appearance is in Volume 4, Chapter 3: Of Runaways and Stowaways. Though it lives in the sea, it does have wings that allows it to fly. Fēilóng, in Chinese, means flying dragon.

            The twenty-fifth Grimm is the Nuckelavee. We see this Grimm fully in Volume 4, Chapter 11: Taking Control. This Grimm is the exact same one that killed Lie Ren’s father. This Grimm, before this episode was seen in a silhouette. What makes this Grimm interesting is that it is not just one Grimm, it is actually two Grimm: the horse and the “human’s” upper half upon the horse’s back (which is called an Imp). The Nuckelavee is based on a creature sharing the same name. It is a demon from Orcadian mythology. Orcadians are the people living on the Orkney islands of Scotland. The folklore Nuckelavee was said to be able to ruin crops in the fields, and ruin entire villages. The Nuckelavee Grimm effectively did the exact same thing in Kuroyuri.

            The twenty-six Grimm we witness is the Seer. We see the Seer in Volume 5, Chapter 2: Dread in the Air. The Seer is Salem’s crystal ball and is in fact what they are based on. The Seer can best be described as a jellyfish and they can use their tentacles to attack, although they are not made for combat. We have only seen one attack and that was against Lionheart when Salem had no more use for him. Seers work as Salem’s version of a Scroll as it seems.

            The twenty-seventh Grimm is the Lancers. We see them for the first time in the same episode as the Seer. Lancers are like our modern bees; however, they are much worse. Their stingers are like rope darts that can pierce metal and a handful of Lancers can rip an airship in half. The World of RWBY: The Official Companion called them “Warrior Drones”.

            The twenty-eighth Grimm is bigger than the average lancer, and that is the Queen Lancer. The Queen Lancer is roughly the size of an Atlesian cargo ship. Queen Lancers, much like Queen Bees or Queen Ants produce children, so does a Queen Lancer. In Amity Arena this is the Queen Lancer’s strengths. It summons two Lancers every nine seconds, and upon its death four more Lancers appear.

            The twenty-ninth Grimm is the Ravager. Ravagers are bat-like Grimm found in Amity Area and After the Fall. What makes it interesting is that this Grimm was revealed in Amity Arena before After the Fall was published. When there is only one, or at least in Amity Arena, the one cannot do much damage. However, their strength comes when there is a whole group of them. They are a literal death by a thousand cuts. They do not much damage, however they are fast. There is a culture that reveres bats, that is the Mayans. The Mayans had a deity called Camazotz. Camazotz name translates to “death bat” which would also fit the Ravagers

            The thirtieth Grimm is found only in the RWBY novel, After the Fall (written by E.C. Myers). This is the Dromedon. It is a camel that spits venom at whoever it is attacking. Now, there is some folklore about camels, however it is mainly about how important they are. Like with the Kazak people who even have a folk song called “white female camel”.

            The thirty-first Grimm is the Jackalope. Also found in the novel After the Fall. The jackalope is part of American folklore. It is said to be a jackrabbit with antelope horns, therefore, jackalope. The Grimm jackalope are a lot nastier than the folklore ones. They attack with their horns and their powerful hind legs.

            The thirty-second Grimm is the Ziraph is from After the Fall. It is a three headed giraffe that is five stories tall and use their tongues to capture people and swallow them whole. At first glance, there may not be any culture in this one. After all, some monsters are just that, monsters. However, this bit of culture is found in its own name. Ziraph is actually a Middle English spelling of giraffe.

            The thirty-third Grimm is the Blind Worm, from After the Fall. This has a few abilities, but the one that I think highlights what it is based on is its ability to spit acid. Let me introduce to you the Mongolian Death Worm (often just shortened to Death Worm). The Death Worm supposedly lives in Gobi Desert. It came to public attention thanks to the book, On the Trail of Ancient Man written by Roy Chapman Andrews in 1926. One thing the Blind Worm and the Death Worm have in common is that acidic spit I mentioned and their habitats. Team CFVY encounter it in Vacuo, a kingdom that is primarily dessert. However, the Death Worm most likely could not swallow a human whole. Stated by Andrews himself, “It is shaped like a sausage about two feet long, has no head nor leg and it is so poisonous that merely to touch it means instant death. It lives in the most desolate parts of the Gobi Desert.”

            The thirty-fourth Grimm is the Manticore. First appearing in Volume 6, Chapter 1: Argus Limited. These flying atrocities are lion like Grimm, with scorpion tails and horns, can fly, and can breathe fire. It shares its name to what they are based on, the Manticore from Greek Mythology. In Greek mythology they are basically the exact same, minus the red, white, black, and yellow color scheme.

            The thirty-fifth Grimm is the Sphinx. Also appearing in Volume 6, Chapter 1: Argus Limited, they share their name with what they are based on, the Sphinx. In mythology the Sphinx was said to have a lioness body and the head of a beautiful woman and would speak in riddles. Solve the riddle, you live, answer incorrectly you die. The Grimm Sphinx has none of the elegance and riddles. It will just straight up kill you. They are a winged lioness with a viper as a tail.

            The thirty-sixth Grimm is the Apathy. They are first seen in Volume 6, Chapter 6: Alone in the Woods. The Apathy are not strong, they are not even fast. What they lack physically they make up for emotionally. They slowly drain all emotion both negative and all positive, until the target feels absolutely nothing. The target becomes apathetic and therefore easy to kill. In the mobile game Amity Arena, we see they have the ability to summon another one. Two Apathy can become four, four can become eight, eight can become sixteen and so on. These Grimm look like living skeletons, a walking corpse. I believe these are based on the original vampires. It is easy the associate vampires with being handsome and charming. You can thank the Twilight series and even Bela Lugosi, the actor who played Count Dracula in Universal’s Dracula in 1931. The original vampires were walking corpses that would drink the blood of unsuspecting people. They did not charm their way in, in fact they could not. They were not strong, they were not even fast, but they could drain a human body dry leaving the body as a husk. Where does that sound familiar?

            The thirty-seventh Grimm is the Leviathan. It is first seen in Volume 6, Chapter 12: Seeing Red. The Leviathan is based on the creature if the same name from the Judeo-Christian faith. Both Leviathans come from the sea, however the Judeo-Christian one is more akin to a dragon rather than the Grimm one who looks like a dolphin who lives at the gym that also breathes fire.

            The thirty-eighth Grimm is one we see getting created before our very eyes. In Volume 6, Chapter 13: Our Way, we see for the first time the Winged Beringel. This Grimm is based off the Winged Monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. In the movie, the Winged Monkeys follow the direction of the Wicked Witch of the West to apprehend Dorothy to get the Ruby Slippers. If RWBY has proven to us anything, it is that Salem is their Wicked Witch. Not only did she create the Winged Beringels, but her name comes from the town of Salem, Massachusetts where the notorious Salem Witch Trials happened.

            The thirty-nineth Grimm is the Ice Sabyr. First seen in Volume 7, Chapter 1: The Greatest Kingdom, these Grimm are older than some. Getting their reference from saber-tooth tigers, these Grimm partially covered with ice thanks to Atlas’ cold climate. They attack primarily with claws and their very sharp canine teeth.

            The fortieth Grimm is the Centinals. First seen in Volume 7, Ace Operatives, these centipede like Grimm burrow underground to get the jump on unsuspecting victims. Their mandibles can form a shape like the head of a spear or the point of an arrow. What makes this worse is that it can rotate is different sections much like a drill. This is also how they attack, the launch themselves towards their target at attempt to drill right through them. They also get their name from the word “Sentinel” which is a soldier or guard whose job is to keep watch.

            The forty-first Grimm is what I like to refer to as the Dust Gigas. First seen in Volume 7, Chapter 3: Ace Operatives as well, much like the Petra Gigas and the Arma Gigas, this too is caused by a Geist possessing rocks. However, these rocks are ice covered, and it decided to add Dust to itself. This makes it very difficult of it to be taken down, for if the Geist loses possession of the boulders and just, the Dust can fall, hit the ground and create an explosion.

            The forty-second Grimm is the Megoliath. First seen in Volume 7, Chapter 9: As Above, So Below, these Grimm bare quite the resemblance to the Goliath and that is because there should be. In its unit card in Amity Arena it states quote “Much like its cousin, the Goliath in Vale, these ancient Grimm are intelligent, powerful, but Mantle has given it one more quality…resilience.” These Grimm are based on Wooly Mammoths from the Ice Age.

            The forty-third Grimm is the Teryx. This Grimm also first seen in Volume 7, Chapter 9: As Above, So Below. These Grimm are raptors with wings basically. They can successfully attack Atlas grade ships with their claws, and they can also bite. Their name is Greek for feather or wing, a reference to their ability to fly.

            The last and forty-fourth Grimm is the Flying Whale. First seen in Volume 7, Chapter 13: The Enemy of Trust.The Flying Whale is basically an anomaly at this point. There are only a few things we know about it. 1.) It can fly. 2.) It is massive. 3.) Salem herself is riding it. Now, the cultural question is this: What whale is it based on? There are three whales that come to mind: Moby Dick the white whale from Moby Dick, the Whale from Jonah, and the Whale, and finally, Monstro from Pinocchio. If I had to take a guess, I would say Monstro. My reasoning is this, we already have someone based on Pinocchio and his father Geppetto. It would only make sense to have the whale from there too.

            In closing, I want to say this. This will eventually be out of date. RWBY is ever expanding. On August 15th of this year, Rooster Teeth will premiere a new show for First members called RWBY: The Grimm Campaign which will be a RWBY tabletop role-playing game, like Dungeons and Dragons. All that we know so far about it is that it takes place in Mistral, however it is uncertain if any new Grimm will appear. The same thing could be said for E. C. Myers’s next RWBY novel, Fairy Tales of Remnant, which is set to release September 3rd of this year as well. Also, let’s not forget about the anticipated Volume 8. The world of Remnant is ever growing, and I think that is a wonderful thing. With Remnant growing, it allows for more stories for Rooster Teeth to tell.

King of Bandit Jing: The Lost Story of the Bandit King

Greetings readers, CuriousCat-13 here with a new episode of The Underrated Vault. Do you ever re-watch a series that drifts in and out of your memory because of its simple, yet entertainingly brilliant concept? Does re-watching remind you why you enjoyed it and raise the question: will this brilliant piece of art ever be revived with a remake or rerelease? These are the emotions that resurfaced when I re-watched King of Bandit Jing, one of my absolute favorite anime of all time. Note: I will be mainly focusing on the anime, despite reading some of the manga before discovering the anime adaptation. Also, I’ll just be talking about the main series and not Seventh Heaven.

Story and Characters

The plot of King of Bandit Jing is simple and straightforward: Jing, the legendary Bandit King, and his trusty partner Kir travel to a town. In said town, there will be rumors of a treasure that thieves and bandits seek out and the duo come up with a clever way to steal it. Before they really make any plans on how to perform said theft, a curious character named Postino (a postman on a motorbike) crosses paths with them to give some advice, which doesn’t have a relevance until near the end of the episode. After they succeed in the theft, Jing always has a way to teach a specific character an important lesson. Something that I’ve noticed while re-watching the anime, is that there isn’t a particular order that you need to watch it in order to catch onto what is going on. While there are some stories/arcs that run for a few episodes, there isn’t really a chronological order that connects these stories. I will admit that it took me a minute or two to catch onto this, along with some research. For those of you that are curious about the manga, it plays the same way. Any characters or locations that Jing and Kir come across are never mentioned or seen again. The only “character” that reappears in another episode is the Por Vora, which are cute, chocolate-loving little creatures that can become unstable and explode (which are used by miners).

The world of King of Bandit Jing is simple, yet brilliant in its design, everything in it is related to one motif: alcohol. Almost all (99%) of the characters and locations are named after a type of alcohol or cocktail, the volumes are called bottles, the chapters are called shots, and even Jing and Kir’s special attack is called Kir Royale. In all honesty, I think this is a brilliant form of writing that you don’t come across every day, which is what makes me love this series even more. If any of you were bartenders at one point in your life, I guarantee that you’re going to have the time of your life recognizing the names that pop up in this series.

While there are a handful of characters (both main and minor) that play key roles in each episode, only three are reoccurring characters. It took a minute for me to get used to again, given that most series that I watch have at least four reoccurring main characters. Jing (voiced by Joey Hood), the infamous Bandit King, is a teenage boy who wanders the world searching for various treasures to steal. Jing is very calm and collected but won’t hesitate to use his words as a weapon against certain individuals and teach them a lesson. While he appears unarmed, Jing wears a concealed blade under his right sleeve, which always comes in handy. Other than his blade, Jing always keeps a crystal close to him, which is one of his prized possessions (and has some special connection to his deceased mother).

As Jing’s partner in crime, Kir (voiced by Ron Berry) the albatross (not a crow) almost always stays at Jing’s side. While he spends most of his time hitting on women and wants to aim for targets that give more wealthy rewards (due to his greed), Kir trusts Jing’s judgment. Although he tends to be more short-tempered, Kir will occasionally show his sensitive and caring side to some of the minor characters. Jing and Kir are almost unstoppable together when a fight breaks out. When Kir fuses with Jing’s right arm, they’re able to unleash the Kir Royale (a powerful blast of green energy) and take out their enemies. While he can’t fire forever (it really does a number on his throat), Kir is always ready to show who’s the tougher fighter in the ring.

As the only other reoccurring character, Postino (voiced by Gary Haddock) is someone that you’re always keeping an eye out for. As a motorcycle-riding postman, Postino travels all around the world to deliver mail and will always cross paths with the thieving duo. Whether it’s the beginning or middle of an episode/arc, he always (minus a story or two) gives Jing and Kir some words in the form of riddles that help them out at a later time. After that, Postino is never seen until the next episode/story. While these are most, if not his only lines, it’s always fun to find out what his next words of wisdom are.

Jing: King of Bandits | Anime-Planet
(Photo from anime-planet.com)

Animation

As an early 2000’s (2002 to be exact) anime animated by Studio Deen (which animated previously discussed series such as GetBackers and Ginga Densetsu Weed), the animation is very solid and the characters look almost exactly how they appear in the manga. The only thing that readers of the manga will have to get used to is how Jing looks. In contrast to the manga, Jing is given a more mature look, possibly to make him look more his age or they preferred his appearance from the Twilight Tales series. While the fight scenes aren’t very flashy (minus the Kir Royale scenes), they still have this graceful style that is very fitting for the bandit king himself. The facial expressions are both animated and natural, which fit their respectable scenes perfectly. In all honesty, I never found or noticed any goofy animation errors while I was re-watching the anime. It really gave off that energy that the animators really cared about this project and gave it their all; sure, there are some reused clips for certain parts, but the whole thing still looked amazing.

Soundtrack

While it’s not particularly memorable, the soundtrack for King of Bandit Jing does have a few songs that will remain in your memory. The opening (Shout it Loud) has this energetic, yet smooth and mischievous tone to it, which fits our main characters. The opposite is what we’re given with the ending theme (Sha Ra Ra), which is calm throughout the whole song, giving it more lullaby-like energy. Most of the songs that play in the background blend in really well and do a perfect job with representing the calm and cool attitude Jing (and sometimes Kir) always seems to express on their journey. In an anime, there’s always that one song that you’ll always hear when some serious action is about to go down and Kir Royale is one of those songs. As the perfect contrast to the calm and cool toned instrumentals, Kir Royale (and the instrumental version of Shout it Loud) is a heart-pounding song that lets you know that Jing and Kir are either about to unleash their ultimate move or ruin someone’s day. There are a few emotional-sounding that are occasionally sprinkled into the anime (because what is a soundtrack without some emotional songs), which are soothing to listen to is you want to relax. All-in-all, despite having a small handful of memorable songs, I believe the soundtrack is worth searching for, even if you’re going to only listen to it once.

Conclusion

While the animation and character design might not appear to be anything special, in comparison to a number of current anime or those after the early 2000s, King of Bandit Jing is still a delightful series to watch. It’s a short series that can easily be binged in a day and has some re-watch value to it. The music blends in well and is fun to listen to in the background while you’re working. While I wasn’t crying from laughing, the series offers some fun comedic moments that are well-timed; along with that, it does have some emotional moments that made me sympathize with the characters. All-in-all, this short-but wonderful little series stole my heart once again and I hope it does the same for you. So if you have time, which I’m sure a number of you do (given the current situation), turn on your computer and look up King of Bandit Jing. If any of you have a series that you believe deserves more recognition, feel free to leave any recommendations in the comments and I’ll check them out. Until then, this is CuriousCat-13, signing off.

Zetna Fuentes Brings The World of Cursed To Life Behind The Lens

With Cursed finally out on Netflix, audiences all over the world are getting invested in the newest fantasy series as it gives a whole new light on the classic tale of King Arthur. Director Zetna Fuentes has had a history of helming episodes for both network and cable television on some of the network’s top shows like Scandal, Jessica Jones, and Jane the Virgin to name a few. She directed the first two episodes of Cursed, which helped introduce us to our heroine Nimue, a brave young teen who gains the power of Excalibur and leads a fight for her people as destiny shapes her into a legend. We got to sit down with the director to chat about working on the new series.

Once she was offered the script for Cursed, the book was still being written by creators Tom Wheeler and prolific comic book legend Frank Miller. Fuentes was given the script by Wheeler’s brother Bill, someone with whom she’s worked with previously on an episode of Ray Donovan. “I got sent this script through Bill Wheeler and told me he was involved and what it was about.” Despite not being familiar with the book, she was interested in the story. “I read it and just really wanted to do it and then fought to get the job,” she said.

Fuentes has mostly worked in drama, which she is a fan of. However, her interest in the fantasy genre captivated her to take on this project. “In the fantasy space, there has been so many amazing things that I was remembering the other day talking to my son about going to the movies to watch all the Lord of the Rings with my brother. That was really fun sitting there and being transported and watching that.” She sees the many different factors that went into the script that she was working with in order to bring the fantasy to life. “I was recently saying how there were so many influences that I remember thinking about when I first read the script because you start to just to get the creative energy flowing about what this new world could be. Drawing from different fantasies have been fun.”

When it came to directing something as grand as Cursed, Fuentes explained that it was a huge task for her despite her experience being behind the camera. “I think with a show liked Cursed, the bigger in scale that it involves a lot of moving parts. So the more people you have, the more elements you have that you have to account for.” She also added how much planning it took to create a battle scene that happened in one of the episodes involving Nimue fighting against a pack of wolves. “If you have these battle sequences where you have horses on the sand, smoke, practical fire, weaponry, and stunts, so it’s a lot of planning.”

When it came to bringing a classic story to a modern audience, Fuentes talked about how important it was to tackle themes that resonate with us in the present. “I think for me thematically when the stories really have something else to say, it just has more meaning to me.” The Bronx native clarified that the Netflix series dives deep into the ideas that it tries to push into the narrative. “I find when there’s something underneath it, there’s something layered in that has some meaning, it creates a deeper world and I think with Cursed, that was definitely in there.” The female-led series brings in issues like subjugation and protecting the Earth as one of the most important centerpieces in the story. “The concept of this constant oppression of people who are different, I thought that was really meaningful for me. What’s happening to our natural world, I thought that was interesting. We wanted to make sure that that was in there.”

Even though the book was in the process of being published while the show was being filmed, Fuentes mentioned that ideas would bounce around a lot between sets. “It was so fun to throw ideas out and Frank was still working on his illustrations and he wanted to see what we were doing, designing, and what the vision was of the practical world that we were building so we could bounce ideas off each other. It was an amazing creative conversation,” she said. Even with the show’s main star, Katherine Langford, Fuentes added how much easy it was to have her on set to portray such a powerful character. “I felt so grateful that it was her because we asked a lot of her. It’s a physically demanding role and she’s carrying the story. She’s putting all the work into it.”

To check out the rest of our chat with Fuentes, watch the rest of the video below. Cursed is now available to stream on Netflix.

Shadowed Flames: PTSD in RWBY Part 5

Disclaimer: These articles contain in-depth discussion on the topics of mental health/illness and topics such as abuse. 

The writer is also not a trained nor certified therapist. However, they have been writing for twenty years with a heavy focus on correct, realistic portrayals of mental health. They have studied PTSD and C-PTSD in depth and speak from personal experience. Of course, they only speak from one point of view as PTSD symptoms and experiences are unique to each and every person. This is done from a clinical viewpoint, using sourced academic literature.

More technical jargon (namely the actual list of symptoms) will be given in more everyday language when and where possible.

Let me just throw the criteria up and then talk about what all of it means first.

D. Negative changes in perceptions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the trauma occurred (two or more needed):

    1. Inability to remember important aspect(s) of the event(s), typically associated with dissociative amnesia and not related to drugs, alcohol, or head injury

    2. Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted,” ‘The world is completely dangerous,” “My whole nervous system is permanently ruined”).

3. Persistent and distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the traumatic event(s) that lead to the individual to blame themselves or others

4. Persistent negative emotional state (eg, fear, horror, anger, guilt, shame)

5. Noticeable decreased interest or participation in significant activities (ie, socialising, hobbies, etc)

6. Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others 

7. Consistently unable to experience positive emotions (ie, happiness, satisfaction, or love)

So now we’re starting on the changes PTSD makes to one’s perception of reality and mood and we’re moving into the more subtle stuff. This is where many portrayals of PTSD fall apart due to failing to understand these.

As I stated in the primer article, PTSD twists your perception of reality and isn’t just “LOUD NOISE = FLASHBACK.” It’s this set of criteria as well as the next one that really showcase it. 

However, I will admit that this is where things will also get…tricky to try to point to. These are all internal changes in thought process and perceptions. In a visual series like RWBY, it makes it difficult to see these internal changes.

I feel like the three I can point to for pretty sure are D4/D7 and D6. 

So persistent negative emotional state is…very straightforward and we see it pretty well in V4 C3 “Of Runaways and Stowaways.”

The entire beginning of her introduction is literally nothing but a negative mood.

[Image source]
[Image description: Yang watching TV in the center of the frame on the couch. This is the first time we see her after the 6-8 month time skip in V4]

She’s completely impassive while watching the news.

[Image source]
[Image description: Close up on Yang’s face while she’s sitting on the couch but she has her head tilted over the back to look at Taiyang upside down.]

The greeting she gives Taiyang is extremely listless and not at all what you’d expect from her. She just tilts her head back and says “Hi Dad” in a relative monotone. 

The fact of the matter is that’s also implied to have been her mood basically since she did start to feel “better.” 

The end of V3 had Team RNJR leaving during the winter. 

[Image source]
[Image description: End of Volume 3. Ruby is off to the extreme left of the frame to look over her shoulder, taking up about a fourth of the screen in the foreground. From left to right: Ren, Jaune, Nora wait for her in the background in a snowy forest scene]

When Yang goes outside to get the mail, it’s obviously well into spring, if not into summer.

[Image source]
[Image description: Yang at the beginning of V4 getting the mail. She checks the mailbox with her left hand while tucking the letters under the remains of her right arm.]

I’m gonna combine D7 with this because they’re pretty related with one major example.

[Image description: Taiyang’s kitchen. Port and Oobleck sit at the table in the foreground with Port close on the left, Oobleck a little further in on the right. Taiyang is toward the center leaning against the counter. Yang in the center in her V4 attire. Subtitle says, “But…this is normal now.”]

In V4 C4, “Family,” Yang admits to her arm missing as being normal now, but there can also be deeper implications. 

This is how people with mental illness often talk. Once they’ve been in a low enough state, they’ll often just accept the fact there’s no such thing as ‘getting better.’ They’re willing to just accept the fact that their new circumstances are how things will always be from then on. A lot of people aren’t willing to fight or make efforts to get better.

Don’t think I’m talking down to people with mental illness. As I’ve said before, I have PTSD and C-PTSD. I also have severe anxiety and depression which is a pretty ugly cocktail. It’s not the fault of the people who have mental illness as it’s simply their brain’s reaction to the environment. 

What I’m getting at is that people just see it as safer to stay where they are. They’ve come to know the darkness of their mind and they’re afraid to leave.

Yang herself admits to it just a few seconds before.

[Image description: Taiyang’s kitchen. Port and Oobleck sit at the table in the foreground with Port close on the left, Oobleck a little further in on the right. Taiyang is toward the center leaning against the counter. Yang in the center in her V4 attire. Subtitle says, “Yang: I’m…scared.”]

She’s gotten used to the feeling of just being flat and not doing much in life now. Her world has become a lot smaller, relegated mainly to the house on Patch. It’s no longer the entire city of Vale, let alone her ambitions of becoming a Huntress. When things have become routine and predictable without much upheaval, it just feels better. 

That’s honestly what the entire dream sequence earlier in the episode was about.

It honestly wasn’t so much about Adam and being unable to defend herself; it was more about her fear of what will happen if she tries again. By putting on the arm, she’s saying she’s willing to take the first step toward leaving what has become safe for her. 

This is what these two criteria are getting at especially when combined. 

As this scene shows on its own, Yang is capable of experiencing positive emotions. She’s laughing and teasing with her dad. She’s able to joke around, laugh, and have fun.

[Image source]
[Image description: Taiyang sats on the far left, Yang stands to his right with both leaning against the counter., Oobleck sits near her at the table and Port sits across the table from him. Taiyang and Yang are laughing.]

People with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD can have good days and bad days. They can still have fun and act like neurotypical people. Just because they don’t “look” like they’re suffering from their conditions doesn’t mean they don’t still have them. And they can go into periods of remission before it comes crashing down over them again.

You can still experience good feelings, but it’s difficult to do so and especially sustain them. 

Well, join me next time when we tackle D6 and (probably) move onto Set E.

Sources: 

Ciccarelli, S. K., & Noland, J. (2014). Psychology : DSM 5. Pearson.

How Prince Panther Has Kept Mortal Kombat’s Competitive Scene Alive in 2020

In a year where it was supposed to expand to greater heights than anyone could have imagined, 2020 has instead seen the fighting game community sink to an all-time low. Global cancellations of tournaments, unreliable online netcodes, and a shameful chain of sexual abuse scandals have shaken the community from top to bottom. One of these scandals led to the cancellation of EVO 2020 and has put the future of the world’s largest fighting game tournament in question. Many members of the FGC have growing concerns about what lies ahead for what was thought to be a community finally earning its shine after nearly 30 years of existence. 

After the COVID-19 pandemic forced offline tournaments to cancel, tournament operators and players were left with no other option but to participate in online tournaments. It didn’t take long for many fighting games to fall victim to the pitfalls of delay-based netcode, causing players to detest the online experience. This has led to some games’ communities losing severe interest in competitive play during quarantine. For example, Tekken 7’s online is considered virtually unplayable compared to its offline gameplay, and no major tournaments have been held for the game since the virus’ initial wave in March. This has led Tekken and many of its legendary players (who hail mostly from South Korea and Japan) to disappear from the limelight after the 2019 Tekken World Tour saw the game become more popular than ever. Other delay-based games such as Street Fighter V: Champion Edition and Soulcalibur VI have had better luck with their netcodes and have been holding steady online events amidst the shutdown. Street Fighter developer Capcom is commencing with an online version of the Capcom Cup, the game’s official professional competition, for 2020 while a massive series of online Soulcalibur VI tournaments was sponsored for several weeks by Bud Light Beer League. However, even as a casual Calibur player I was able to spot a good number of laggy moments during each tournament that impacted gameplay to a noticeable degree.    

6380 best r/tekken images on Pholder | Suddenly, she has become ...
A common sight in Tekken 7 online

Contrary to nearly every other fighting game title, Mortal Kombat 11 has actually seen a rise in popularity since the shutdown thanks to other games faltering and the release of the Aftermath expansion in May. MK11 also utilizes rollback netcode, making its online experience significantly better than pretty much every other fighting game available. Because of this, the game’s community has maintained an online presence, with many pro players turning to Twitch streaming to keep their living. Online tournaments are held far more consistently for MK11 than other games, but developer Netherrealm Studios has neglected to hold an online pro competition for 2020. With little to no money for incentive, the game’s best players have refrained from entering most online events. That was until one previously unknown name started pumping money back into the scene, rekindling the player base’s competitive drive.

Mortal Kombat 11' Aftermath Release Time: When Can You Start ...

Very little is known about Fahad “Prince Panther” Alsaud, a man who was virtually unheard of in the FGC before COVID-19 forced the community online. He is believed to be from Saudi Arabia and might actually be a legitimate prince, or at least aligned with some sort of royalty. One thing that is for sure is that he has amassed an enormous amount of wealth in his life. On his Twitter page, you’ll find tweets about ludicrously expensive shoes and watches that he’s purchased and photos of him posing with Ferraris and Rolls-Royces.

But as evidenced by the same Twitter thread, his luxurious lifestyle is still secondary to his true passion: Mortal Kombat. Prince Panther is what you could consider the ultimate MK fan and is not too shabby of a casual player himself. When the pandemic forced tournaments to cancel and the upcoming Mortal Kombat 11 pro circuit was put on hold, Panther came up with an idea to hold high-level online tournaments while investing his own money out of pocket. He was ambitious from the start, as the first event he announced was a $25,000 winner-take-all tournament with intentions of attracting the game’s best players.

Prince Panther’s very first tweet

While this event never came to fruition, Prince Panther still managed to make a grand entrance onto the scene. His first-ever event was an 8-man online tournament dubbed “The C Initiative” with a $1000 prize pool. The bracket was filled with enormous names such as Jarrad “NinjaKilla” Gooden (1st place), Brad “Scar” Vaughn (2nd), and Frank “Slayer” Amaral (3rd). Just days later he held a second C Initiative tournament featuring some of the top players from Europe. Mere days after that he held another 8-man bracket with some of the top players from the Middle East. Simply put, Prince Panther had hit the ground running. Before long he was backing the most lucrative online tournaments that the FGC had yet to see during quarantine. He began holding invitational King of the Hill tournaments (where the winner stays on after each victory until a certain number of wins is met) to determine the entrants of his larger tournaments, some of which would hold up to $500 in prize money themselves. By the end of April, Panther was running personally-funded tournaments nearly every day. 

Prince Panther took his love for Mortal Kombat one step further when he created Team Panther and began signing some of the game’s top professional players from around the world. Team Panther’s roster has currently amassed a number of strong players in a few short months, including Slayer, Joey “KingGambler” Cortez, Arman “ArnKratos” Mkrtchyan, Baraa “Shark Teeth” Al Jaadi, and commentator Miguel “Darth Arma” Perez. This already rivals some of the FGC’s most illustrious teams and sponsors, and Team Panther is only likely to add more players to its stable of talent. 

Image
from Team Panther’s official Twitter page

Prince Panther’s sudden arrival onto the Mortal Kombat scene has not been welcomed by everyone. Some players have accused him of waving money around to gain stature within the community. Further drama ensued when noted pro player Zoulfikar “Kombat” Dayekh accused Panther of not paying him $500 after winning one of his King of the Hill tournaments. Panther explained that all payments are done over PayPal and that there can be delays and complications, but Kombat used the situation to call Panther out and denounce him to the whole community. However, many other players came to Panther’s aid, claiming that they had all been paid for every tournament. Players praised him for his efforts being put towards the scene, especially for the competitors who were missing out on chances to earn money from offline tournaments. After some heated back and forth over social media, Prince Panther ultimately decided to forfeit Kombat’s winnings and instead donated them to hospital staffers fighting the coronavirus. The two eventually resolved their issue and Kombat continues to frequently play in Panther’s events. 

Renowned players Sayed “Tekken Master” Hashim Ahmed and Christian “Forever King” Quiles show support for Prince Panther

Overall, it would seem as if Prince Panther’s rise to prominence is being mostly accepted by the Mortal Kombat community. His dedication to holding online tournaments has even inspired others to follow suit. Destroyer and Dream Eater, two well-known names in the scene, began holding their own series of tournaments after Panther’s successful blueprint was laid out. Their tournaments involve smaller prize pools but Destroyer’s Aftermath Tournament Finale still offered an impressive $2,600 in winnings. Between Panther’s tournaments, Destroyer’s Aftermath Tournament series, and Dream Eater’s Nightmare Series, a number of players have made names for themselves in these online competitions, including Shawn “Koisy” Harvey and Arsam “AVirk” Virk. Prince Panther’s achievements have already left an encouraging influence on the state of the game’s online competitive play; Mortal Kombat 11 was recently added to the G Fuel Energy Games, where massive weekly tournaments will be held every Thursday for four weeks and are open to all North American PS4 players. 

Image may contain: text that says 'GFUEL ENERGY GAMES TOURNAMENT SERIES EVERY THURSDAY NIGHT STARTING JULY 23RD MORTAL11KOMBAT VALORANT JULY23RD 13TH AUG20TH SEPT10TH 4ONLY PCONLY FIFA20 SEP OCT8TH PS4ONLY SIGNUP DISCORD. GG GFUEL WATCH TWITCH.TV/GFUELENERGY'
from G Fuel’s official Facebook page

Prince Panther’s reputation continued to prosper throughout the summer, as he hosted several tournaments with prize pools reaching $4000. Months and months of hard work and commitment culminated on July 20 and 21 when he sponsored the 10K Drop tournament, featuring his most stacked bracket yet and a $10,000 prize pool. Out of thirty competitors the top sixteen were paid, with $3,000 going to first place. The tournament had weeks of online King of the Hill qualifiers to determine the entrants; legendary names such as Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, NinjaKilla, Ryan “Dragon” Walker, Curtis “Rewind” McCall, and Julien “Deoxys” Gorena highlighted the final field of competitors. The tournament was filled with very exciting action and saw a number of upsets, including the game’s general consensus top player SonicFox being sent to losers by Koisy in their first match and ultimately failing to make top eight. NinjaKilla reminded everyone of his online legend, winning the tournament against AVirk in Grand Finals without dropping a single set during his entire run. Even in defeat, the unheralded runner-up AVirk still showed his peers that he was a name to be aware of. Furthermore, Prince Panther had proved to the entire community that he is the premier choice in hosting Mortal Kombat events as long as they are kept online. 

On August 20, Prince Panther plans to finally host the $25,000 tournament that he originally announced back in March. This will likely attract interest from the best players in the world, ensuring a bracket filled with the highest level of competition. With even more shutdowns looming for the United States due to COVID-19, Prince Panther’s tournaments might be where the best MK11 lives for quite some time. And even in a post-COVID world, who’s to say that he has to stop being involved? Panther could possibly accomplish even more with additional resources and the ability to travel, along with being able to personally interact with members of the FGC and potentially build trust with his skeptics. Here’s hoping that 2020 is just the beginning of Prince Panther’s story because it is safe to say that the FGC needs members like him right now. 

itch-Lit with Rohil: Catlateral Damage

itch-Lit🔥 is a play journal by Rohil, exploring the ever-expanding collection of brilliantly bizarre indie darlings on itch.io  — published exclusively on All Ages of Geek!

Catlateral Damage is Manekoware’s first-person destructive cat simulator. You play as an adorable menace — a furball of sheer chaotic energy hurling your way through your surroundings, knocking as much stuff onto the ground as possible. 

I was mildly put off by the ironically-cringe, yet legitimately-cringe infomercial for the game, but the wholesome aesthetic was too powerful to dismiss. The play experience is delightful, assuming the role of rampaging kitty and smacking objects around is oddly cathartic and meditative. You hit a trance-like state through the flow of play, hopping from shelf to kitchen counter, swiping paws, and relieving stress. A favorite: Manekoware’s take on the typical first-person shooter reticle.

The controls are easy to pick up, and the physics work well, even with all the fun power-ups, including moon-jumping and speed boosts—also, a forcefield for maximum toppling power. Most of the power-ups are collected via “events” in which a power-up drops, or a mouse needs catching. There are also cat towers, and beds you can interact with to collect a power-up. 

There are a variety of objects you’ll get to knock over, and the 3D-modeling truly shines. The cell-shaded graphics are perfect, and the color palettes thoughtful and engaging throughout. I was especially fond of the game console models and the dinosaur skeleton in the museum stage. (Knowing the premise of the game and then finding out there’s a museum stage released all the goddamn serotonin in my body). 

Pushing off the single sheets of paper is surprisingly the most challenging element to deal with — it would have been great to rip ’em up instead, perhaps this is an ability I’ve yet to unlock. Stages are procedurally-generated, adding some replay value. I am fully invested in unlocking all the playable cats. Also, the 230 photos of real-life cats are a real treat.

There is no larger narrative to get lost within. The game is very much a sandbox, offering some fun interaction and opportunities to decompress through brief intervals of play.

I give this game two 🐱🐱 and a single 🍩 out of 5. 

Play Catlateral Damage

Epilepsy warning: Some in-game effects may be problematic for some players. These can be disabled under the “Audio/Visual” tab of the “Options” menu on the title screen.

An Honest RWBY ComicCon @Home Reaction

Wednesday to Sunday of last week was filled with news of all kinds for geeks of all background. I didn’t really look at any of the programming personally aside from the RoosterTeeth panel on Saturday and 4PM EST. Even then, I skipped over about 80% of it. The panel included information about an upcoming Transformers series as well as stuff about the new Red versus Blue one. 

The RWBY portion was hyped up and it was…severely underwhelming. It was about the last 10ish minutes of the 40-minute pre-recorded panel. 

The first bit of news was them pairing with artist Babs Tar for new merch. 

I’ve seen some people say they think the art style is weird and offputting and I can’t blame them. We haven’t really seen the girls drawn like this in an official capacity. I don’t think it necessarily works with Ruby and Blake in terms of facial structure, but I think it looks fine for Yang and Weiss looks just fantastic in this drawing. I think the style is supposed to be somewhat reminiscent of fashion drawings. The long, thin limbs and the very exaggerated curves for hourglass figures… That’s what it makes me think of. 

Honestly, I do love Weiss in this drawing… I mean she’s best girl so it’s no surprise. But this honestly what I think she’d wear in some sort of modern college AU or something at least early out of Schnee manor. It’s just so bougie and stylish that it feels like it just hits the nail on the head.

The others are just ‘eh’ to me. 

Of course, the next piece of information was what we were ALL waiting for: VOLUME 7 SOUNDTRACK ON THE 31ST!!!

Like everybody else, I was screaming over that. We’ve all been waiting for it for what feels like an eternity at this point. 

One of my predictions was proven right about the track listing after it showed up on Google Play for preorder: we heard all the vocal tracks during the volume. After the volume ended, I counted up all the tracks and realised there were nine. Sometimes they can slip in another track they didn’t play during the episodes. But 7-9 tends to be the number of tracks per volume. It was a little saddening to know there’s nothing new new, but it was expected.

I May Fall acoustic though? YES PLEASE.


I don’t care a whole lot about the remixes. That sort of thing just isn’t my personal cup of tea.

I just can’t wait to see where these songs personally fall on my list… 

The next piece of news was they’re partnering with GoodSmile for more toy/figurine merch. It’s…It’s exactly what it says on the tin. I don’t have anything to comment on since I’m not much of a figurine person. If I were, I’d probably be off the walls. But I’m not. 

The next bit was some Q&A about RWBY in general. 

The main point that caught people’s attention was Barb’s summation of V8. Of course, nothing was given away, but the theme of the volume is “distrust.” 

Now that is extremely interesting considering the theme of V7 was trust. I mean the theme song is called “Trust Love” for god’s sake… 

“I feel like, especially with Yang, I feel like an overall theme is just because you like someone and respect someone or is close to them doesn’t necessarily mean you have to agree with everything they do or say.”

Hm.

It’ll be interesting to see where that goes.

The last big bit of excitement was the 30 second teaser clip which was so much fun to watch. It was just them screwing around on hoverbikes. 

And Yang was adorable of course.

It does raise a lot of questions about the end of V7 and why things aren’t as grim (hah) as they should be. Even in a dark situation, it doesn’t mean it has to be grizzly all the time. You can still have levity and, frankly, you need it to balance things out. Being dark and hard all the time honestly just wears people out. I remember there’s a season of Supernatural which is the literal apocalypse happening. I got some serious arc fatigue because it just went on too long and just because things were grim so much. 

Of course, it also raises questions for the context of this and a ton of others. Where are the others? Why is Yang only with the boys? How did Oscar get back with them? Where are they in Mantle? Why do they have hoverbikes? Were they gifted or are they being stolen?

I’m sure we’ll get these answers in V8. 

The thing that makes me go “guys, what are you thinking” is the fact that they’re doing all of this in public. And they have an arrest warrant out for them. 

But, again, we lack the full context so who knows what’s going on. 

So yeah, this bit of news was pretty underwhelming, but there was still some good stuff in there!

New Horizons: A Veteran’s Perspective

[Image source]
[Image description: A blue gradient background with the Animal Crossing logo. Fully says “Welcome to Animal Crossing” then has, on a tag “New Horizons.”]

Note: I am sorry to any TTS users. I normally include image descriptions but this goes into a lot of my island aesthetics. There are just so many images that I don’t want to try to describe them all.

As I’ve mentioned before in my other Animal Crossing content, I’m a veteran of the series. I’ve played every installment but City Folk, Pocket Camp, and Amiibo Festival. I have over 400 hours racked up on New Leaf, own the special edition 3DSXL, and the New Horizons Switch. 

Animal Crossing is clearly an outright obsession of mine, so what does somebody that’s been with the series so long think about it?

[Image description: Small section of a medium-tone grey screen. Top line says Animal Crossing: New Horizons in a very dark grey text. Below, in blue, it says Played for 95 hours or more]

I think that speaks for itself.

I know other people have racked up a lot more time on it, but 95 hours is pretty respectable. There’s another 25 or more racked up on my account for Blake. (I’m weird; I let my characters play games with me. It’s just a thing I do.) 

The main thing I love about this game is just how much more customisable it is. AC games are all about customisation, but this one just knocks it out of the freaking park. Being able to customise the island however you want is just fantastic. Mine may not be as fancy compared to some other people’s, but I love it a lot. I have a nice little corner that exists solely for taking photos—

—and a little temple complex— 

—to a large, multipart park.

And, yes, these take up roughly half my island. All of my villagers are clustered in the southwest corner.

But the thing I have to love the most is the clothes. They’ve always been a staple of AC, but they tend to be either…hit or miss in the older games. 

Mostly miss.

But there were some cute outfits I’ve always adored.

However, there’s so much variety in New Horizons it’s almost dizzying. 

They range from cute, comfy, and casual—

—to elegant and beautiful— 

—to prim and proper, semi-business attire— 

—to high-end fancy—  

—to goth, utilitarian, outdoorsy, and more! These other styles aren’t to my personal taste, hence why I don’t have any examples. Of course, I have a lot more outfits than just those, but that’s just what I grabbed quickly off the game. I could do an entire look book if I wanted to. I have so many outfits that I’m honestly still discovering new ones with the pieces I already have!

The other major sigh of relief for me was the construction services. I could get my red zen bridges right off the bat, no worries needed.

What does this have to do with anything?

In New Leaf, we had “Public Works Projects” which is exactly what Tom Nook does in this game, though it was bridges and other fancy things like wells, lamp posts, and so much more. 

That sounds fantastic, right?

Yes, in theory, not so much in practice.

The only way you could unlock most public works projects was if villagers flagged you down and offered them as suggestions to the mayor character. 

The worst part was that certain features were locked behind specific personality types.

Don’t have a Cranky villager? Too bad, you’ll never get a zen bridge!

The other thing I am so very thankful for is being able to move houses and choose where people live.

This was an absolute nightmare in New Leaf. People would just move in randomly

Have beautiful pathing down? Too bad, some jerk might move in over it!

Have an amazing foreign fruit orchard worth 100,000 or more bells per picking? Tough luck, half of it’s gone now!

This is an absolute lifesaver in New Horizons and I have never been happier.

And that’s about it for what I like. I know that might not seem like a lot to people unfamiliar with the series, but it is. The improved aesthetics are so welcome as well as the smaller quality-of-life features that I could go on for much, much longer about.

And now, for the things I don’t like.

Honestly, my biggest grievance with the game is probably the DIY system. The way it’s structured and functions is sound and easy. Gathering materials isn’t that difficult especially once you get late game. It works and it does so well.

My main problem is just how many duplicate recipes you can get. I’ve gotten the bamboo lunch box probably 3-4 different times (including when my best friend sent me a copy). I get so many duplicates that it’s frustrating. And then I don’t get stuff I want, like, period. My house is basically barren because I haven’t found any items I want. 

My biggest complaint with the DIY system was back at the beginning of April. ANybody playing around that time will know what I mean.

For those that don’t, there was an Easter event that went on for nearly two weeks. That probably doesn’t sound too bad but, trust me, it was horrific

Need mineral materials so hit a rock? You get a stone egg.

Want to fish to make money? Too bad, water eggs.

Want wood? Tough luck, you get wood eggs.

Hear a balloon? You better be happy with sky eggs.

But for me, the absolute worst freaking part was that it overlapped with cherry blossom season. There were these amazing limited-time recipes that you could get. Just beautiful that everyone wanted.

But Bunny Day ruined it. 

And cherry blossom season is my favorite time of years in Animal Crossing.

And, yes, I absolutely love Japanese aesthetics if you haven’t gleaned that by now.

I basically just shut the game off for two weeks. I didn’t bother playing because I was just extremely upset and frustrated by how much Bunny Day ruined the experience for me. I think I logged in to check the tailor shop and stuff, but that was really about it. Maybe 30-45 minutes if that

My other major problem is the house upgrade system. The first several are normal AC fare: you upgrade to an 8×8 tile room for your main room. However, after that, Nook just plops another room down in your house. 

It’s 6×6 tiles. 

That might not sound like a big deal, but trust me, it is. Like I said, I racked up over 400 hours in New Leaf. You can three additional rooms on your main floor along with an upper story and a basement. All of these can be upgraded to 8×8.

Here’s how I can best illustrate the difference. 

This is a New Leaf 8×8 kitchen:

(I apologise for the bad quality, but it’s a screenshot from the 3DS.)

This is a 6×6 New Horizons kitchen:

In New Leaf, you can have stuff along the walls and a table and still have space to walk. In New Horizons, you have to choose between the two. 

I don’t like it at all

In a game all about customising things, they took away a huge part of the customisation joy when it comes to your house

Saying it’s frustrating for me is an understatement

I do get why they did it though. In New Leaf, you have a small island where you can catch extremely rare beetles like they’re candy. You can earn upwards of 300,000 bells per one visit if you play your cards right. Not quite so much in New Horizons. You just have the stock stuff to catch. You can earn a lot of bells, but nowhere near as much as New Leaf. So having the same expansion system might just feel punishing especially for new players. 

So they came up with a middle ground.

It’s not one I like, but I understand why it happened.

But honestly, in the end, these two major grievances are minor points overall. They’re major in the scope of Animal Crossing which is all about the details. Bunny Day is behind us and other veteran players may like the new house upgrades. 

And even though I’ve gone on for a while, keep in mind the time I’ve racked up on this. Look at how much I’ve developed my island. I absolutely adore this game. It’s a solid entry in the series. 

What It’s Like To Be Burnt Out and Have Writer’s Block

This is probably an article I never thought I’d write given I’ve been launching articles in a never ending barrage, but in late May, I put out my last article and spent the entire month of June on break from article writing. I went from having a lot of ideas to write, to having too many ideas, only for it to culminate into an accidental burn out. Have you ever seen the meme of Patrick where he has a burnt hole in the back of his head after “Chum is Fum” and “Fum is Chum”? That was basically me in a nutshell. Now I do have a bunch of ideas in the woodworks, but I need to slow it down by a lot so this doesn’t happen again.

But for some people who don’t know what writer’s block is, I’ll explain.

If you’ve done an essay of some kind in school whether it be for class as a standard essay, had to do an essay on the fly on a test, or had to work on a 3-5 page essay project and you got suddenly stuck, that’s writer’s block. It’s when you know what you want to write, but you don’t know how to write it. Similar to me, I knew what to write, but I really didn’t know, since I had too many ideas. As of this article, there’s about five or six unfinished projects I’m working on, one that has been in the works since last month. And I know that there’s probably gonna be people who are gonna say that I should’ve taken a break after finishing up the Console Wars article series, and I’ll admit, I probably should’ve taken that break. Having writer’s block isn’t the most fun thing in the world, especially when you have to have ideas on what to write on within a weekly basis. While all my focus was on Console Wars from the end of January to around the beginning of May when it ended, I noticed that I was having trouble doing other articles that I would normally focus on, since I usually tend to do articles that are a bit different than the norm. And after I did my most recent article, my brain completely shut down. I had and still have no idea what to write, what article to start with and which ones to finish, and unfortunately while it’s a good thing to have a lot of ideas, it can also be a bad thing because you don’t know where to start and which idea to write about. While I’m glad I had a bunch of ideas to write about, having too many ideas unfortunately crippled me to the point where I pretty much ended up having an existential crisis.

Being burnt out as well, isn’t a good feeling either. We’ve all been through that moment where we worked really hard, and we need that break but we keep pushing ourselves to do more. This eventually leads to growing tired of working and taking time off to recuperate after a long amount of time of working, or working intensely on a consistent basis. I’ve always been someone who loves to work even if it’s for free. It’s a character trait I developed from my dad who keeps on working no matter what because he loves to work. But unfortunately I developed the similar habit he has. When we get burnt out, it gets so bad, it leads to quitting. I luckily broke out of this habit after only one job back in January, granted it was a job I wasn’t fond of after only two weeks, and the burn out was a whole lot faster, and a lot more uglier. But having writer’s block and being burnt out while having the urge to write at the same time, is like downing a bottle of Adderall while drinking a bottle of Jack, it’s gonna get super ugly when you crash, and the hangover is going to be hospital inducing. 

I’m glad I stopped and took a break when I did, because I pretty much turned into a runaway freight train and nearly collided with a wall which probably had the word “SELF-DESTRUCT” written all over it. This whole thing reminded me of when Kat reacted to Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared a few years ago and how she brought up how being too creative could make you go insane. Looking back at it, I pretty much did go insane given after Console Wars, I was about to drill myself head first into a brick wall with little time to figure things out, resulting in pressing my luck only to get a double whammy. That’s an old TV Game Show reference if no one gets it, 10 bucks to the first person who does get it.

I don’t really have any advice on how to prevent burn out and writer’s block, other than saying that it’s okay to take a break. And this isn’t just for the AAOG writers, this is for everyone who’s dealing with a gap with no bridge or an obstacle that’s hard to get over. That includes the guest writers, fan fiction writers, people writing books, comics, content creators, musicians, artists, even the people who are working on an essay project. It’s alright to take a break every once in a while when you feel that your brain can’t take it anymore and you feel the need to give up. We’re humans at the end of the day, not robots who can keep going without rest. But even robots need to rest before they start falling apart. You’d never want to overexert yourself to the point where you don’t love your passion anymore, because when it gets to that point, it’s gonna be a lot harder to recover from a burn out or even writer’s block.

Stay safe, and take care of yourselves.

Cursed Review

The legend of King Arthur has been adapted into film and TV numerous times over the years, giving audiences a new and fresh take on the story. Netflix’s new series Cursed does just that by telling the tale through the eyes of Nimue, a young druid with a mysterious gift has her destined for greatness as she is slowly formed into the powerful yet tragic Lady of the Lake. Based on Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler’s novel, the show adapts the book in its entirety and expands on the story of a young heroine who’s fate is intertwined by the sword known as Excalibur.

Thanks to its world-building, Cursed manages to bring the story to life with its amazing visuals while also retelling the King Arthur legend. It’s not just a story that has been gender-flipped, but it also has a great sense of adventure while looking at the tale from a fresh pair of eyes. The story answers the question of what would happen if the sword ended up choosing a queen instead of a king? The show explores some major themes regarding social class and feminism in a coming-of-age story filled with Arthurian lore. 

The story takes on bold choices that change the way we view the story of King Arthur by taking big leaps. Much of these changes do make some interesting storytelling, which can sometimes be rewarding for the viewer. The story focuses on Nimue, represented by Katherine Langford, as she is born with strong dark magic that can be more of a curse than a gift. She tries to defy destiny and forge her own rather than letting anyone else telling her what she’s expected to do. After wielding the power of Excalibur, Nimue uses her power to save her people from the likes of the Red Paladins who seek to destroy her kind. 

Along her journey, she is joined by two famous characters from the famous mythology. One of them is Arthur himself, played by Devon Terrell. This version of the character isn’t the one you quite remember from other depictions. Instead, Arthur is a mercenary who has a good mix of charming and style as well as pride. We also have Merlin, portrayed by Gustaf Skarsgard, who is more of a drunkard after losing his magic. Merlin is a true scene-stealer in every frame he’s in. We learn of how great of a magician he was before losing a part of himself in the worst possible scenario he has made for himself.

The first two episodes directed by the incredible Zetna Fuentes sets the stage for our young heroine. The gruesome massacre that takes place with the Fay is quite an eye-opener as all the narrative plot points are laid out. Much of the strength of the story comes from the great cinematography as well as the fight choreography that gets captured on screen. The slaughter of the Fay sets the world that the series is creating. Rather than the visuals, this opens up what audiences can expect for the rest of the show.

Cursed gives enough to present the story, but not enough to keep the intrigue going for the rest of the episodes. Much of the story feels heavy in dialogue with explanations that don’t always flow well. Some of the characters can be one-sided and much of the plot is thin. The series commits to making it modern, but it just doesn’t have enough depth to keep us glued to our screens. What the show is missing is the fantasy elements that made the King Arthur stories great with the many adaptations that have come before.

The show does feel cinematic in every shot with its stylish visuals. You can feel how much of Miller’s flair is engraved in every episode since he’s credited as a co-creator on the series along with Wheeler. Similar to his other works like 300 and Sin City, Cursed brings some incredible views of the world of Britannia through its lens. There are a couple of CGI effects that does take you out of the experience, but the world that the show builds can make you feel deeply engrossed by it. 

Much of the show deals with ideas like resistance, retaliation, and making your own fate. There is certainly a lot of potential in this series outside of its gender politics and class struggles. With its breathtaking visuals and dark imagery, there are parts of the story that digs deep into what power Nimue holds, being more than what the legend has foretold. Hopefully, the show can continue to embrace the female empowerment that is displayed here and expand on the world of King Arthur with genocide, distribution, and rebellion. 

The 10-episode first season of Cursed can now be viewed in its entirety on Netflix.