The Fangirl Mixtapes #3 – 2 Mello

It’s been 3 months, whew chile

Welcome back to another installment of The Fangirl Mixtapes! So far in this series I’ve written about my top 10 video game soundtracks and some of my favourite remixes/mashups from one of my favourite franchises. As part of my Fangirl Mixtapes I’ve decided to incorporate a ‘composer spotlight’ in which I’ll highlight my favourite video game composers, video-game inspired producers and remixers. In this post I’ll be putting a spotlight on one of my favourite remixers: 2 Mello.

2 Mello is an award-winning composer signed to Scrub Club Records and sound designer for the games 2064: Read Only Memories, Cerebrawl and Ghosts of Miami. Also a remixer, Mello is well-known for mixing video game music with rappers’ vocals.

I first got into 2 Mello after stumbling across the intro track to his Chrono Jigga tape on YouTube. Chrono Trigger is my 2nd all-time favourite game so my interest was already piqued, but the way the main theme to Chrono Trigger was remixed to the vocals of Jay-Z on Public Chrono Announcement blew my mind.

The project explores an alternate reality where Jay-Z, a hugely successful rapper and media mogul, announces himself as an avid gamer and goes crazy on some Chrono Trigger beats – courtesy of Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda. As someone who is as equally in love with hip hop and video games, especially JRPGs, this was an alternate universe I could wholly get behind and it made my appreciation for the project that much greater.

Chrono Trigger is my 2nd favourite video game but anyone that knows me knows that the number one spot goes to Earthbound. Which leads me on to another project I love by 2 Mello – EarthBIG: an ode to the Notorious B.I.G and Earthbound aka Mother 2. This is a mashup even I couldn’t have dreamed up but as was the case with Chrono Jigga, it just works. The melancholic feelings of nostalgia Earthbound drums up within me paired with classic Biggie tracks is *chef’s kiss*. Personal faves off of this project are Fiend of Mine (a mashup of the Starman and Saturn Valley themes from Earthbound with Friend of Mine) and .MID Poppa.

2 Mello’s discography is extensive and I could wax poetic for even longer but you can find all of his music on his bandcamp. His latest release, Memories of Tokyo-To: An Ode to Jet Set Radio (omg!!) is also available on Spotify!

2 Mello: Website | Twitter | Bandcamp | Facebook | Spotify | Soundcloud

Until next time,

Tudz.

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The Fangirl Mixtapes #2 – Zelda Remixes

Welcome to another installment of The Fangirl Mixtapes! I debuted this series with a post of my Top 10 Video Game OSTs, but this time around I’m going to be focusing on remixes and covers of themes from one of my favourite video game franchises of all time: The Legend of Zelda.

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I thought it best to begin this post with one of my earliest memories of fan-made video game mashups: The Ocarina of Rhyme by Team Teamwork.

This aptly named album sports 10 tracks that, now that I’m no longer a 14 year old, can say are hit and miss. However, the Still Tippin’ track that samples the Great Fairy Fountain theme and the mashup of Virginia by Clipse and the Lost Woods theme are just as good as I remember.

The entire album is available to download for free at: Ocarina of Rhyme

A few of my favourite tracks:

Still Tippin’ (Great Fairy Fountain)

No Jumper Cables (Goron City)

Knockin’ Doorz Down (Hyrule Field)

Virginia (Lost Woods)

Next up is this mashup of the Faron Woods theme from Twilight Princess and Young M.A – Get This Money. Yeah you read that right.

toonlink is one of my favourite mashup makers and this track demonstrates one of the reasons why. The ability to make a theme as peaceful and sombre as Faron Woods and combine it with a Young M.A track, and make it sound like it could be the original beat!, is truly to be admired.

Skatune Network only just recently started up their YouTube channel but there are already a few gems on there. Right off the back of his fun ska/jazz cover of the Mii Channel theme, he’s released this more ska/punk-inspired cover of the Lost Woods theme.


That’s it for volume #2 of The Fangirl Mixtapes! Do you think these mashups were a hit or miss? Comment with your thoughts below!

Until next time,

Tudz.

Review: Golden Kamuy – Volume 1

Golden Kamuy, billed as a “Japanese-style western” is a manga written and illustrated by Satoru Noda.

Golden Kamuy has been running since 2014 but I only heard about it late last year due to the repeated praise by Minovsky Article on twitter, a reviewer and podcaster whose opinions I hold in high esteem. But even then I made no serious effort to move it further up on my ‘to-watch’ list until I heard news of the anime adaptation that’s due to air in April. Determined to see what the fuss was all about in anticipation of the anime, I copped the first volume and here are my thoughts.

PLOT

The story is centred around Saichi Sugimoto – a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War who was dishonourably discharged and has become a miner in Hokkaido to provide for the widow of his dead comrade. Upon hearing a dubious story of hidden Ainu gold (worth about 800,000,000 JPY or 5,500,00 GBP) stashed by a criminal group, he sets out to find the treasure and stumbles across some clues to its location. After being attacked by the 7th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army and other mysterious groups who want the gold for themselves, he decides to search for the gold along with an Ainu child, Asirpa, who rescues him from Hokkaido’s harsh northern wilderness.

The synopsis for this manga particularly intrigued me as, while I’m no stranger to historical action-adventure seinen, I’m more familiar with series that deal with samurai in the feudal-era. Golden Kamuy is a change of pace in that it’s set in the early 20th century directly after the Russo-Japanese War; a time in Japan and event that I’m not very knowledgeable on.

One of the more enjoyable elements of this volume is the attention paid to the Ainu culture. This is greatly depicted in Asirpa’s extensive knowledge of the wilderness, hunting and trapping, but also in the use of Ainu language littered throughout along with captions with fun trivia.

ART

Given the fact that Golden Kamuy is an action-adventure seinen manga, the blood and gore and violence is to be expected, however Noda’s staging of the battles and linework adds to the vitality of the storytelling and prevents the violence from becoming gratuitous. He has a good eye for movement and the parallel between the detail-packed wilderness scenes, and action scenes with thick bold lines is executed well. The first volume introduces a few human adversaries but most of the time is spent familiarising the reader with the setting. There are several instances where the page is just a gorgeous shot of the scenery as Sugimoto and Asirpa traverse the harsh Hokkaido frontier.

CHARACTERS

I was unsure on how fairly I could judge the characterisations of Sugimoto and Asirpa given that this is only an introductory volume, however this aspect was definitely the least impressive part of the volume. Asirpa’s resourceful nature, knowledge and calm determination makes her an initial favourite. However, in Sugimoto’s case, apart from the glimpses you get in the midst of battle where he seems to almost relish the violence, you don’t get any deeper reasoning for his ambitions other than for love’s sake – and we don’t get to know a lot about the woman in question at this stage and it comes across as a bit weak. We quickly gather that Sugimoto is a brash, vicious fighter, however, his interactions with Asirpa where he comes across as more gentle, are definitely interesting. She immediately earns his respect and he trusts her ability to safely guide them to their goal, which gives me a bit more confidence in how his character may develop.

TO WRAP UP

Volume 1 of Golden Kamuy was an engaging read from start to finish, and I had to consciously slow myself down as I realised I was approaching the end. It’s clear that a lot of research into the Ainu culture has gone into this series as depicted by Asirpa, provn by the extensive list of academic references at the back of the volume. How well, this is done however will be easier to see as the series goes on.

The pair of Sugimoto and Asirpa balance each other out and the action scenes are a treat, so far we have already witnessed: a bear fight, mixed martial arts, bolt-action rifles, poison arrows and a variety of adversaries. I have high hopes for the anime, which is somewhat of a rarity for me lately (lmao), and I pray it lives up to my expectations.


Have you checked out Golden Kamuy? Are you planning on watching the anime? Leave a comment below!

Tudz.

The Fangirl Mixtapes: Volume #1 – My Top 10 Video Game OSTs!

This post marks the first of many in what I hope will be a fun, long standing series, and that is… The Fangirl Mixtapes!

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In this series I’ll be bringing my love of video game music, the main reason I started this blog in the first place, to the forefront of the blog. This will include me gushing at length about my favourite video game soundtracks, but also bringing attention to any remixes, mashups or covers I find on my internet travels.

To start off this series, I thought it best to provide my Top 10 (in no particular order, because I’m indecisive) video games OSTs, just to paint a picture of my tastes and to show what you can expect from these blog posts!

First up is…

Earthbound (1994)

Composers: Keiichi Suzuki, Hirokazu Tanaka

“Ok desu ka.”

Every time the melody for Your Name Please starts up during yet another one of my playthroughs for Earthbound, I’m transported back to fond memories of the very first time I played what has become my favourite game of all-time. The strange, slightly eerie tones in the beginning are balanced out by the jauntier more cheerful sound that makes up the rest of the piece, painting a picture of what to expect from a game like Earthbound. Sometimes creepy, sometimes sad, sometimes funny but overall inexpressibly charming. The soundtrack as a whole is just drenched in 90’s goodness; a trend I’m unashamed to say is prevalent throughout this post.

Favourite tracks:

Y’all mind if I sob uncontrollably?

Sonic Adventure 2 (2001)

Composers: Jun Senoue, Kenichi Tokoi, Fumie Kumatani, Tomoya Ohtani

“It’s your boy Knuckles.”

This blog post would have been out much sooner if I was able to resist the temptation to sing along to Escape From The City or rap along to Pumpkin Hill as I was looking up the tracks to add to this post.

Listening to I’m a Spy brought back memories of me leaving the game on idle during the Security Hall level so I could record the music from the TV onto my beloved Nokia 7600 (can’t believe the game’s that old, wow). Sonic Adventure 2’s OST is well-loved by most and for very good reason. The different genres, from Metal, Pop-Rock, to Hip Hop, R&B, Jazz fusion, House to UK GARAGE (!) and Techno, all work seamlessly together and represent the respective characters and levels perfectly. Despite the differences in the sound, all the tracks sound like they belong to the same game. All these years later, I still love the soundtrack as much as I did when I was a child, if not even more.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (1999)

Composers: Hideki Okugawa

“May the best fighter win. And win again.”

Getting straight back into the 90’s nostalgia, 3rd Strike is next in my list. Though the first version of the game was released in 1999, my experience of the game was with the 30th Anniversary Edition that was released on the PS2 in 2004. As shitty as I was, and still am, at fighting games 3rd Strike was a childhood favourite and I spent many hours playing it, partly because of how much I loved the music.

The soundtrack really is a treat; fusing house, drum and bass, with some jazz and hip-hop and techno elements. The main theme and Let’s Get It On featuring rapper Infinite, wouldn’t have sounded amiss being played on a radio station in the late 90’s. I clearly remember the first time I got to the bossfight with Gill on Story Mode and “beating” him, only for him to “resurrect” and undo all my efforts. But this fight also stuck in my mind due to that terrific theme, Psyche Out.

Chrono Trigger (1995)

Composers: Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobuo Uematsu, Noriko Matsueda

Dalton: No, no, no, no… Stop the music!

[music changes]
Dalton: Ha! There we go!

Next in this list comes from my second favourite game of all-time, Chrono Trigger. The first time I traveled to 600 A.D. I didn’t move a muscle and just listened to Yearnings of the Wind play for a few minutes.

The game was well ahead of it’s time in many ways, including in the music production and heavy emphasis on acid-jazz. There’s a reason why so many beatmakers and rappers love to sample from the soundtrack even to this day (Dom Kennedy and Evil Needle just to name a few). At the time of the game’s release, the number of tracks and sound effects was unprecedented—the soundtrack spanned three discs in its 1995 commercial pressing. Composer Yasunori Mitsuda slept in the director’s studio several nights, and attributed certain pieces—such as the game’s ending theme, To Far Away Times—to inspiring dreams. It’s clear from listening to the soundtrack that it was a labour of love.

Ace Attorney 2001 – present

Composers: Masakazu Sugimori

“Objection!!”

My favourite visual novel series is next in the list. Since the release of the first game, the music of the Ace Attorney series has been praised by fans and critics alike. One of the greatest aspects of the games is the audio design, and it’s been stated that the original trilogy used the Game Boy Advance sound chip better than any other game on the handheld. And I mean, you can have a listen for yourself.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012)

Composers: Manaka Kataoka, Atsuko Asahi, Kazumi Totaka

“You’re no square, so I’ll play you fair. Pull up a chair.”

Since playing Wild World on the DS, I’ve loved the Animal Crossing games dearly. But I didn’t realise how much the music was a part of my love for the games until I clocked several hours into New Leaf. Aside from the gentle melodies of the hourly themes, there’s also the great pieces of music provided by K.K. Slider. A few of my favourites below:

Persona 3 (2003)

Composer: Shoji Meguro

“No one can escape time; it delivers us all to the same end. You can’t plug your ears and cover your eyes.”

Persona 3 was my entry into the MegaTen series and the catalyst of my abusive relationship with Atlus. In terms of the music, I remember being thrown off guard by the Engrish in Burn My Dread and the bizarre Iwatodai Dorm Rap, but it didn’t take long for me to see the light. Mass Destruction remains my favourite battle theme from any Persona game and I won’t debate anyone over it’s greatness. Shoji Meguro is officially one of my favourite video game composers and Persona 3 features some of his greatest work in the series.

SMT IV (2013)

“Here’s hoping we both see each other alive again.”

Composer: Ryota Kozuka

I can say with conviction that SMT IV holds the title of my favourite MegaTen soundtrack; a title SMT: Nocturne held before I played IV. Motifs from earlier games, such as the Ginza theme from Nocturne, were added to the soundtrack, providing a sense of familiarity for older fans like myself. But the acid-jazz, house/electro elements of the OST really made the game an extra enjoyable experience for me. I was blown away by how much tracks such as the Hunter’s Association theme reminded me of Bobby Brown at his peak. The music is so effective in conveying the dystopian post-apocalyptic environment and is a real treat.

Persona 5 (2017)

Composer: Shoji Meguro

“Show me your true form!”

Not even ashamed that Shoji Meguro shows up multiple times in this post; he’s just that much of a goat imo. In the most stylish Persona to date he didn’t disappoint with this soundtrack. Unlike Persona 4, which in my opinion, had a few great tracks but a lot of mediocre ones, Persona 5’s OST is solid throughout. Mass Destruction is still my absolute fave, but Last Surprise is an amazing battle theme and so catchy. The opening strings never got old in the 100-odd hours I clocked in the game. The bass guitar in Layer Cake is superb, as is the electric guitar in Butterfly Kiss.

Super Mario Odyssey (2017)

Composer: Naoto Kubo, Shiho Fujii, Koji Kondo

“I’m busy planning my wedding! Don’t you know how stressful that is?!”

Last but definitely not least in this list (well done for making it this far) is Super Mario Odyssey!

It’s common knowledge how consistently good the music production is in Mario games, but the latest installment in the series, somehow, manages to exceed expectations once again. Watching the official ad with the swing-inspired Jump Up, Super Star! made me feel proud; even though I hadn’t contributed to the game in any way. The idea of developing a theme song with vocals (supplied by Kate Davis) was a genius decision and just makes it that little bit more special. This post has gone on long enough so I won’t embed every single track that I loved, but here are a select few:

That’s it for Volume #1 of The Fangirl Mixtapes – were there any appearances in the post you didn’t agree with? Or was there any game or series you feel that I left out? Leave a comment below!

Until next time,

Tudz.

Devilman Crybaby: Final Impressions

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Devilman is a manga series written and illustrated by Go Nagai from 1972 to 1973, which originally started as an adaptation of Nagai’s previous work, Demon Lord Dante.

Devilman Crybaby is the most recent adaptation of the original manga and is directed by acclaimed anime director Masaaki Yuasa and written by Ichiro Okouchi, best known for writing Code Geass.

In the series, Akira Fudo is informed by his best friend, Ryo Asuka, that an ancient race of demons has returned to take back the world from humans. Believing that the only way to defeat the demons is to incorporate their powers, Ryo suggests to Akira that he unite with a demon. Succeeding in doing so, Akira transforms into Devilman, possessing the powers of a demon but retaining the soul of a human. 

Because it’s been a handful of weeks since I finished watching Devilman Crybaby, I considered it too late to even draft a blog post on my final thoughts. My emotions left in a wreck after the final two episodes contributed to my initial procrastination, but then as the weeks passed and everything settled, my final evaluation/impressions of the show changed. I went from rating the show a 7/10 to perhaps a 5 or 6/10 at the most. And that’s worth writing about right? I wouldn’t want to go another 11 months without posting on this blog after all.

And if it wasn’t already obvious, *spoilers ahead*

ART DIRECTION

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To start this post off on a positive note, I think it’s best to open with what I enjoyed most about the show. It goes without saying that director Masaaki Yuasa’s reputation precedes him. His eclectic unconventional approach to art direction and animation has made him a force in the industry; it’s also the main reason I, and I’m sure many others who hadn’t experienced the older material, were compelled to give Devilman Crybaby a shot.

The rough lines and neon-drenched visuals compliment the electro/techno infused soundtrack and effectively portray the more hedonistic scenes that we see, for example, during the first Sabbath club scene. The muted colour palette that is present throughout, even adjacent to the more vibrant colourful tones, is highlighted more during the final episodes as the world plunges into chaos and the plot develops into something more bleak.

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Aside from Tekkonkinkreet, I haven’t experienced much of Yuasa’s work, but the impression Devilman Crybaby left on me has convinced me to check my MAL account and move Ping Pong and The Tatami Galaxy further up my to-watch list.

MUSIC

True to the blog’s name, this post would be incomplete if I didn’t talk about the music that accompanied this show. I could sum up all my thoughts with: Ken the 390 <3. But that would be the easy way out.

As mentioned in the previous section, the techno soundtrack present in the earlier episodes effectively portrays the mood and compliments the visuals, but as the plot progresses different styles are introduced. The appearance of the acapella rap group seemed out of place to me at first, but I was able to appreciate the choice to narrate the story so far at the beginning of some episodes through rap; I felt it was another way the show succeeded in bringing the story of Devilman into the modern day. The casting of Ken the 390 and Young Dais as Wamu and Kokun, who also happened to be two of my favourite side-characters, was an excellent decision. This also spurred my decision to plunge headfirst back into the world of J-rap and Hip-Hop.

Ken the 390’s skills in action

PLOT

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…Or to be more specific, the pacing of the story, was the biggest letdown of the show for me. Perhaps the story needed more episodes to be portrayed properly but compared to the first half of the show, the latter half appeared to move at breakneck speed. The apocalypse and explanation of Ryo’s origins and mission are just barely crammed into the final two episodes. Perhaps it’s the Shin Megami Tensei fan in me speaking, but the brief biblical and religious themes were a welcome addition, but could have been better served to be explored earlier on in the show, as opposed to in the few minutes of Ryo’s speech in the finale. It all felt rushed to the point where I experienced what could only be described as emotional whiplash. As soon as it was over, despite how much I enjoyed it, I felt compelled to read the original manga just to see if the anime did Go Nagai’s original story justice. Or if the pacing was just as poorly handled by Nagai as well.

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In terms of how the characters were written, it seemed the show uses many of the characters as vessels for emotions or even as symbols and representations of ideas rather than strictly giving them much depth. Akira himself seemed completely lacking in personality prior to being possessed by Amon, and even after the fact his “crybaby” persona and the fact that he was a demon who cared for humans, was about as profound as his character ever got. We don’t know anything about Ryo’s origins or motivations until it’s too late, and even then it isn’t handled too well. While I was sad and angry about what became of Miki and her family, I felt that the impact of the deaths could have hit so much harder if even just her character had been fleshed out further than “good-girl-childhood-love interest”.

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The only exception to this was Miko, and to a lesser extent, Koda who kills his boyfriend while under the influence of a demon and is thrown into emotional turmoil afterwards. He initially expresses that he doesn’t care whether the demons or humans win the war, only to later betray Akira and side with the demons. Koda’s stance, even as a supporting character, provided an interesting perspective, but it was Miko who was by far the most interesting character. She, along with Koda and the rappers were brand new characters created just for the show, which makes me wonder if I’ll be more or less harsh on the characterisation after reading the manga. It was easier to empathise with Miko than Akira personally, as she gained demonic powers to surpass her rival and good friend Miki. However her powers came at the cost of her sacrificing her humanity and ended up as a target of humanity’s hatred once Ryo’s plans start to enter full swing. She was by far my favourite character due to how she actually had human flaws and made mistakes that she later paid for.

 

CONCLUSION

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Everything being said, Devilman Crybaby was a great way to start off the winter anime season and was a breath of fresh air. Which is a lot coming from someone like me that struggles to give newer series a chance past the 3rd episode if I’m not impressed.

The pacing and story left a lot to be desired, but the visuals and soundtrack still make it an enjoyable watch. Devilman Crybaby didn’t blow me away, and I’ve already forgotten several episodes, but the hype and attention it gained makes me optimistic about the anime content that could be coming to Netflix in the future.

 

VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

– Time to mix drinks and change lives –

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VA-11 HALL-A (PC [reviewed], Mac)
Developer: Sukeban Games
Publisher: Ysbryd Games
Released: 
June 21, 2016 (PC), “2016” (PS Vita, iOS)
Price: £10.99 (PC)

Billed as a “waifu bartending” game, I was expecting elements of a dating sim to be more prevalent in VA-11 HALL-A. Then, after playing for a while longer I became immersed in this neon-drenched cyberpunk world, and witnessed some kind of coup taking place in Glitch City. I thought perhaps I was in for a more action-packed adventure instead. In the end, I got neither.

opening credits

PLOT

In VA-11 HALL-A you play as Jill, a bartender at the aforementioned bar, guiding the story in a thematically appropriate way: mixing drinks for different customers, all with their own interesting stories and relationships. Certain drinks allow you to add as much or as little alcohol as you like, meaning you can get certain patrons very drunk and uncover extra dialogue – great for replays! Jill is also an easy character to empathise with; between her shifts at the bar, she sits in her tiny apartment, under a kotatsu, spending her time online, slowly filling up her tiny apartment with various memorabilia and posters of the idol *Kira* Miki. You’ll also find that Jill spends entire shifts distracted if she doesn’t buy a thing she wants, affecting your ability to get orders right and how much you get paid. Gamers and anime fans can relate.

Given what cyberpunk as a genre usually implies, and the ominous chords that play on the title screen, you couldn’t be blamed for assuming you were in for a dramatic or dark gaming experience. Instead, VA-11 HALL-A is a slice-of-life simply using a cyberpunk environment as a backdrop to tell the stories of the curious and interesting characters you’d expect to inhabit a dystopian cyberpunk city.

DIALOGUE

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Given that VA-11 HALL-A is a visual novel, you’ll be doing a lot of clicking and a lot of reading. This might seem a tad tedious to gamers who don’t usually indulge in this genre, but the dialogue in VA-11 HALL-A really is a treat. You can tell this game was a labour of love for the creators at Sukeban Games, and thanks to the fantastic storytelling VA-11 HALL-A is a highly engaging experience. The dialogue a joy to read and immerse yourself in; it’s crass, humorous and charming. It brings to the forefront themes that any regular user of the internet in this day and age would find familiar and relate to. Also, I love how fellow bartender Gillian is frequently referred to as a “fuckboy”.

 

SOUND

fave playlist

My preferred playlist for mixing drinks ~

This review wouldn’t be complete without talking about one of my favourite parts of playing this game: the music. The neon-drenched, 80s/electronic, J-pop inspired score bridged the difference in making VA-11 HALL-A a good game and a great game. The requirement of having to fill the jukebox with tracks from the OST at the start of each shift was a great touch I really appreciated. I’d go as far as telling you to play the game based off of the soundtrack alone; Michael “Garoad” Kelly has done a fantastic job in creating a score that caters to not only the somber atmosphere of the bar, but also an eclectic range of tracks that cover the more upbeat scenes and emotionally charged exchanges between characters. But even without playing the game I’d recommend listening to the soundtrack on Soundcloud or Spotify. You can also purchase the soundtrack on Kelly’s bandcamp, either for free or a donated amount to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

REPLAYABILITY

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On my first go, playing through VA-11 HALL-A took me just under 10 hours, on my current playthrough I’m on a mission to get as many customers drunk as possible. The option to get customers more inebriated than required opens up new conversation options and plot paths. On the flipside, if you get an order wrong you’ll end up with a displeased customer who may simply choose not to pay and you lose some of your wages. If this happens enough times you’ll find that Jill is short on cash when rent is due and facing eviction from her apartment. Both instances open up new possible endings and achievements. A huge plus of starting a NG+ is that it allows you to keep all your money so you can fill up Jill’s apartment with as much crap as you can afford and you also get hints for each ending at the start.

mixing_drinks_va11halla

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’ll make this simple, if you like:

  • Vibrant pixelated anime aesthetics
  • An atmospheric soundtrack
  • Interesting, unique characters
  • Raw, funny and thought-provoking dialogue

…then play VA-11 HALL-A.

The dialogue is a core element of the game and you won’t find an action-packed adventure here. Having said that, I would still recommend VA-11 HALL-A to a gamer unaccustomed to visual novels, as I believe there’s a game in every genre for everyone. If what I’ve written here has piqued your interest enough, definitely don’t hesitate to try it out for yourself.

 

 

Mob Psycho 100: Final Impressions

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Mob Psycho 100 left a strong impression for 12 weeks in a row and the season finale did not disappoint.


There were a number of moments in Mob Psycho where my expectations were completely subverted, but the finale had to have the most notable example yet. As badly as I wanted (and expected) Mob to explode again and wipe out the remaining Claws, having Reigen being the star of the final battle was even more satisfying.

This final reflection of the show wouldn’t feel complete without talking about who turned out to be my favourite character.
I didn’t want to like Reigen at all in the beginning, but with each episode and as we got to see more facets of his character, he earned more of my respect. At first, like many others, I assumed he was just a scam artist; taking advantage of Mob’s gentle heart and esper abilities. But he takes his role as Mob’s mentor seriously and he implores Mob to never use his powers to harm others, for his own good.

It starts to be apparent that there was something more touching to Mob and Reigen’s relationship around episode 3, but the finale is where this is shown most acutely.
Mob forms numerous friendships over the course of the show, but Reigen is the only person to tell Mob that his powers don’t make him special. And despite his tremendous abilities, he must never use them to harm anyone, in fact, it’s his responsibility not to.

mentor

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When his friends are losing the fight against the remaining Claw members and Mob is about to give into his emotions to save them, Reigen steps in and pulls him back from his murderous rage. After Mob channels his energy into his mentor, Reigen proceeds to overwhelm the Claws in what is one of my favourite scenes of the show.

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As he bats away Ishiguro’s gravity balls like they’re soap bubbles, snaps Sakurai’s sword, and mocks Muraki’s shoulder pads, Reigen shatters their delusions and “drags them back to reality”. Perhaps it’s because he’s a conman himself that Reigen has such a good eye for BS; after stripping each Claw of their dignity, he makes it clear that they’re just kids who never grew up and that there powers aren’t a big deal: “You’re so addicted to your powers, you’ve developed tunnel vision”.

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Irony; thy name is Reigen.

Mob Psycho’s action scenes were visually stunning throughout, but the finale really pulled out all the stops. Yuzuru Tachikawa storyboarded and directed the episode and constantly bombarded us with striking shots. Miyo Sato’s paint-on-glass depiction of the transfer of Mob’s power to Reigen was more charming, and engaging than a mere info dump would’ve been.

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I wasn’t sure of what to expect from Mob Psycho 100 going into it  (especially after the wackiness and satire of OnePunch-Man), but what I got was a surprisingly deep and often symbolic story of an ordinary boy with extraordinary powers, and a genius interpretation of ONE’S creation. Well-written source material, paired with Tachikawa’s storytelling and directing made every episode loads of fun to watch at a time when new-season anime don’t tend to grab my attention for long.

Getting caught up on the manga is an absolute must now, but hopefully we’ll be getting a season 2 announcement soon!

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