Solo: A Star Wars Story Review (spoilers)

Solo

Hiyo again, everyone! I know I’m a bit late to the party, but today I’ll be reviewing Solo: A Star Wars Story. Since it has been so long since the movie released, I’m gonna assume all the diehard fans have seen it already, so, as the title of this post indicates, there will be spoilers everywhere. So watch the film before reading this!

Since I’m assuming you guys have all seen the movie, I won’t bother with a recap – instead, I’ll just talk about the stuff that stuck out to me.

Unlike Star Wars: Episode 8, I found Solo to be a fairly predictable film except near the end. In part, that’s because we already knew the outcomes of many of the events that happened. We knew Han wouldn’t end up with Qi’ra because she never shows up in the original trilogy. We knew Han, Lando, and Chewy would survive throughout the film, since they’re around in the original trilogy, which left us with only Qi’ra, Beckett, Dryden Vos, and minor characters to perhaps have die. We knew Han would survive the Kessel run, and we knew he would eventually end up with the Millennium Falcon. I found all that bounty of knowledge to rob the movie of much tension. So much screen time was devoted to showing us the pre-existing backstory.

Even the things that weren’t already known were, in large part, predictable; for example, that Han and Beckett’s attempt to rob that train would end in failure and with Val dead. The briefly touched-upon relationship between the two just raised her death flag through the roof!

All of that is not to say I didn’t enjoy the predictable parts of the movie, ’cause I did. I felt the actors all did well with their roles, and the action sequences were solid. One of the few things that did surprise me near the middle of the movie was Lando’s feelings for his droid, L3-37. A human-droid relationship would have been quite interesting to explore; it’s a (predictable) shame that L3-37 died.

Throughout the movie, I found Qi’ra to be the most interesting character. I had a feeling she would end up siding with Dryden Vos, but her feelings seemed mixed enough that I felt she might go either way. I also expected her to die, which she very much didn’t. That was the best twist in the movie. She betrayed both Han and Vos, killing Vos and letting Han go. I didn’t expect her to take leadership for herself, setting up a potential sequel.

The sudden appearance of Enfys Nest (the leader of the riders who attacked Han, Beckett and co during the train scene) to show up near the end of the film was also surprising – it felt rather abrupt, and Han’s decision to side with her seemed to come to him too easily. For someone who’s supposed to be a scammer, he sure ended up getting played by others a lot throughout the film.

If you’ve seen Solo already, you already know about the one thing in the movie that absolutely blew my mind. Darth Maul is alive? Initially, I thought it made no sense for him to be alive with the Empire in power, but, apparently, he survived being cut in half at the waist and falling down a very large pit. I did some looking into it; Disney’s animated Star Wars T.V. series gave him an out, and those series remain canon even now. Honestly, the twist was shocking enough to make up for much of the previous predictability. It makes me hope our favorite two-sided lightsaber user will play a more active role in a future Star Wars story film!

(Also, did you notice the total amount of words spoken by Maul in Star Wars movies was like quintupled because of his brief scene with Qi’ra? He’s become chatty!)

Overall, I did quite enjoy the film despite its flaws, so I’ll rate Solo a 4/5. It’s definitely worth watching if you’re a Star Wars fan… although, if you’re reading this, I guess you probably already saw it. xD

What did you guys think of Solo? Do you agree or disagree with any of my opinions? Is there anything I should have discussed but didn’t? Please let me know in the comments below! Until next time, I hope you have a wonderful week!

Review: Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson

Edgedancer

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson, a novella that’s part of the Stormlight Archive series. As usual, I plan not to spoil Edgedancer itself, just discuss the premise; however, I will spoil a single interlude chapter in the preceding novel, Words of RadianceThe reason is because the information in that chapter is necessary to understand the position of Edgedancer‘s protagonist, Lift.

During that chapter, Lift, a quirky thirteen year old girl with special Surgebinder abilities, attempts to rob Azir’s imperial palace. However, the heist goes wrong, and one of Lift’s teammates, Gawx ends up mortally wounded when the group is attacked by another Surgebinder Lift calls Darkness, who is an agent of the law. At great risk to herself, Lift heals Gawx. It just so happens that the imperial viziers present in the palace had been struggling with an issue where their Prime Agasix (emperor) kept getting assassinated, and they were looking for a new one. They take Gawx’s healing as a miracle, name him their new Prime Agasix, and he legally dismisses Lift’s crimes, leaving Darkness with no excuse to execute her. He leaves, but Lift certainly doesn’t forget about him.

Our story begins when Lift flees the imperial palace, paranoid that the privileged treatment she was receiving was in preparation to eat her. (I did warn you she was unusual.) Lift goes with her spren, Wyndle, who is invisible to everyone else and entirely unenthusiastic about leaving the palace behind. She uses her special abilities (which she refers to as ‘awesomeness’) to quickly travel on a grand quest to… um, actually, she’s not sure. She just doesn’t like staying in one place for too long.

Nevertheless, her overpowering hunger (her abilities are fueled by food) draw her to the Yeddaw, a city built into the ground where trenches replace roads. Being Lift, she quickly gets into trouble for stealing things; her primary targets are pancakes. No, I’m not joking. Before too long, she discovers that Darkness is in Yeddaw, too. Well, maybe she was sort of following him. She’s not entirely certain. In any event, she decides to tail him, and the story takes off from there!

I would say the greatest appeal of Edgedancer is Lift herself. It’s rare to be treated to such an eccentric protagonist. She’s generally a lot of fun to read about, and I find myself wanting more characters like her. She has a rather unique perspective on the world, and that leads her to take actions that aren’t always easy to predict. I’m eager to read more about her in the remaining Stormlight novels.

The setting of Yeddaw is also quite distinctive, and invites the reader to imagine a city that’s probably unlike any other they’ve read about. In my opinion, Edgedancer‘s greatest shortcomings are in its plot and the rest of its characters, who feel somewhat generic. It was pretty easy to figure out what was going on early in the novella, and there was an unfortunate lack of especially emotion-provoking moments, unlike in much of Sanderson’s other work. That’s not to say Edgedancer wasn’t intriguing, ’cause it was, but I’d say it was at its best when giving Lift character moments and showing the reader things from her perspective. She had a solid character arc throughout the novella, one that made sense without being overly predictable.

Overall, I did enjoy Edgedancer, but I would say Lift herself was the only part of the story that really stood out. Therefore, I rate Edgedancer 3.8/5. If you’re a fan of Sanderson’s work (especially the Stormlight Archive), it’s absolutely worth checking out.

Have you guys read any of Sanderson’s work? If so, which did you most enjoy? If not, are there any other books or authors you’re particularly fond of? I’m eager to hear about them in the comments below! Until next time, I hope your life is filled with awesomeness!

 

Why I Love Anohana: The Flower we Saw that Day

Anohana

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing an anime I recently rewatched that I found awesome! As you can tell from the title, it’s called Anohana: The Flower we Saw that Day. As usual, I will avoid substantial spoilers, but discuss the premise of the show. But I have an entirely different warning to issues about this eleven episode anime: Anohana is one of the most emotional stories I have ever experienced. If you watch from beginning to end, prepare to cry. If you don’t mind that, I encourage you to read ahead!

The story of Anohana began with a group of six kids who were close friends and called themselves the Super Peace Busters. For a while, they enjoyed days of fun and camaraderie. That came to a crashing halt when, after a dispute, one of the six friends, a girl named Menma (I will use their childhood nicknames instead of their real names in this review) suddenly died. Her death devastated all of those around her – her family and, of course, the surviving members of the Super Peace Busters. The group shattered, leaving the secret base they had long played in vacant.

Years later, the five surviving Super Peace Busters have, for the most part, gone their separate ways. Molded by his grief, our protagonist, Jintan, succumbed to the hole in his heart left by his mother (who died of disease) and Menma, and eventually stopped going to school. His father didn’t try to stop him. As of the beginning of the story, he lives at home and spends much of his time doing things like playing games.

Then, suddenly, Menma appears to him, and only him. He can see her and hear her whenever she’s around, but no one else can. She asks him to grant her wish, and he agrees. The problem is she forgets what her wish is. So, Jintan finds himself revisiting the places and people of his past, trying to find out what it might be. Before long, he is reunited with his old friends – and it’s abundantly clear that he and Menma are not the only ones who have struggled to move on.

I don’t want to spoil more than that. Such a beautiful anime deserves to be seen for itself. It’s on Crunchyroll for free as of the time of this writing, so I recommend you check it out… provided you can withstand a violent tearjerker. I’m not at all ashamed to admit I cried! A lot!

Anohana’s music is absolutely wonderful and pulls you right into the story’s themes, which include friendship, wistfulness for the past, grief, and the struggle to move on despite great loss. Anohana masterfully shows how intricately tied together your life is with those who care for you. If you’ve ever experienced loss, this will hit close to home in the best way possible. It will help you acknowledge your sadness even as you move forward.

Obviously, I rate Anohana 5/5. It’s phenomenal, and I just can’t praise it enough. I also rate having a box of tissues close at hand while watching Anohana 5/5. You’ll probably need them.

Do you like sad stories? If so, which are your favorites? They can be anime, movies, books, games, whatever! I’m eager to hear about them, ’cause I love that stuff. If not, feel free to share something cheerful instead! Until next time, I hope you make beautiful memories, and cherish your friends and family. Buh-bye for now!

 

Tales of Zestiria Review

ToZ

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I will review a game I recently finished playing – Tales of Zestiria! Like Tales of Xillia 2, this game is part of the Tales series, which I adore. Also, for reference, I played on Steam using a controller. I’ll be covering the premise of the story but, as usual,  I’ll avoid significant spoilers. That said, let’s get right into it!

The story begins with two friends, Sorey and Mikleo, engaging in their usual hobby – the exploration of ruins. Sorey is a human, but Mikleo, along with the inhabitants of Elysia, the town where the two grew up, are seraphim, beings much like humans, but who wield elemental powers and are invisible and inaudible to most humans. Sorey, having grown up with them, is an exception.

During their exploration, the two boys discover something most unexpected – an unconscious girl. They rescue her and allow her some rest, but their adoptive grandfather, the chief of Elysia, says she cannot stay for long. So, once she’s healed up, (and after revealing she’s a princess; there will be a few cliches in the premise of this story) the girl, Alisha, departs – and a hellion (creatures corrupted by malevolence) attacks one of the citizens of Elysia. After defeating him, he escapes, and Sorey and Mikleo learn his true mark was Alisha. Concerned, they leave in secret to warn her.

That leads them to the city of Ladylake, capital of the Kingdom of Hyland, where an event is going on wherein people try to pull a blade from a pedestal (told ya) and the one who succeeds is named Shepherd. The Shepherd’s role is to protect humanity, cleanse malevolence (a corrupting substance that can turn humans, animals, and seraphim alike into monsters) and eventually face the Lord of Calamity, who generates overwhelming malevolence. Naturally, Sorey succeeds at extracting the sword and becomes Shepherd. A seraphim named Lailah, who has been watching the sword for some time, makes a pact with him as Prime Lord and informs him of his duties – and that he musn’t let them consume him. But Sorey is a kind-hearted boy who is always looking out for others, so that’s a bit difficult for him. Regardless, that is the beginning of his journey, and he picks up several companions along the way!

Like most Tales games, Zestiria does a good job of developing its major characters, and expands upon them through small, mostly-optional interactions called skits, where they discuss anything from major plot points to completely trifling matters, like the meals they eat when they rest at the inn. Speaking of the plot, like most Tales games, Zestiria has a strong one with several twists, though in my opinion, it doesn’t quite hold up to Tales of Symphonia. (One of my favorite games ever.) Even so, both the story and the characters made me want to see more and more. I especially liked Mikleo and Edna.

The combat system is also similar to other Tales games, where you fight enemies in open areas, controlling one character at a time with a focus on combos. Zestiria’s iconic combat feature is armatization, which allows a human and a seraphim character to fuse and unfuse during combat; when fused, they become especially powerful, with a unique moveset. Armatization made for quite fluid and interesting gameplay!

Another of Zestiria’s features that I was less fond of was the use of special traits to boost your equipment. As an idea, that’s sound, but the 5 x 10 grid of traits you had to work with to line up traits for bonuses seemed excessively large and cumbersome, and it made gear customization a bit of a hassle. In my opinion, it’s a symptom of the mechanics bloating that has characterized some of the more recent Tales games. Still, even when you don’t worry about lining up or stacking traits, you can hold your own on lower difficulty levels. (Like most Tales games, difficulty is flexible and can be changed frequently throughout your run.)

Zestiria’s music was strong, and its visuals were quite pleasing. Overall, though I do have a few small gripes with the game, it was still an overwhelmingly enjoyable one to play through. Therefore, I rate Tales of Zestiria 4.7/5.

Have you played any Tales games before? If so, which did you most enjoy? If not, what are your favorite RPGs? I hope to hear from you in the comments! Have a wonderful weekend! Buh-bye!

Avengers: Infinity War Review (Massive Spoilers)

Avengers Infinity War

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I want to talk about a nifty little movie I’ve recently seen called “Avengers: Infinity War.” You may have heard of it.

For context, I don’t read comic books at all. My only real familiarity with the characters in this movie comes from watching others in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (I think I’ve seen them all so far.) So, I can’t compare this movie to the comic book version of the story or anything like that. I also assume most others with an interest in this film already know the general premise, and are decently-versed in the MCU themselves. Therefore, I won’t hold back; this review is going to be full to the brim with spoilers. If you intend to see the film but haven’t yet, I suggest you not read further until you do.

With that out of the way, Infinity War started with a bang! We were thrown right into the action, and we had a tiny lil character death right away – the beloved and charismatic Loki! He was one of the best things about pretty much every movie he was in, so, geez, I hope that one doesn’t stick.

Instead of linearly going through the movie, I’m just going to spout my thoughts in whatever order they come to mind. That’s just how I work! That said, one thing that struck me near the beginning of the film was how powerful some of Thanos’ minions were. Thanos’ prophet (I forget his name – was it even mentioned in the movie?) sticks out in particular. Y’know, the guy who is all ‘Rejoice, for your lives will be sacrificed for the great Thanos’ sake!’ He held off several Avengers at once with a cavalier attitude that made it look easy. It was enjoyable to watch, though his eventual death was just as satisfying.

I wasn’t expecting the Scarlet Witch/Vision romance at all. Maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention during Civil War. Anyway, they were easy to root for, but I still couldn’t help but feel from the outset that they were doomed. (Though I still wonder whether Shuri managed to pull off more than meets the eye; she seemed really determined at the end there, when the attackers were entering her workspace!) The scene where Wanda was forced to destroy Vision herself was a bit painful to watch, though not as much so as it would have been if I hadn’t seen it coming a mile away. Also predictable was Thanos’ casual reversal of that event; he had just obtained the Time Stone, so I figured he would use it.

Speaking of Thanos, what a well done villain! His desire to promote prosperity by keeping the population in check was a fairly believable motive, though it does have a few flaws. (For example, once wouldn’t be enough; he’d have to keep doing it over and over. Also, some worlds may have been prospering, and I imagine losing half the labor force wouldn’t help them very much.) Even so, I went into the movie expecting some all-powerful, indifferent monster, but instead I was treated to a Thanos capable of loving, sacrificing, and crying. He was shockingly relatable!

I feel many of the heroes didn’t get all that much character development. Among the ones who did were Spiderman, The Scarlet Witch, Vision, Gamora, Thor, and Tony Stark. A lot of the others just felt like they were along for the ride – I guess that’s inevitable in a movie with such a large cast.

If there’s one character this movie made me think less of, it’s Star-Lord. Upon learning of Gamora’s death, he lost his cool and started going to town on Thanos’ face – freeing him from the grasps of the others just before they could pull off the Infinity Gauntlet. Congrats, Quill, you just carried Gamora’s killer to victory! I felt bad for all the other characters present, who worked so hard only to have things screwed up by a teammate. They nearly had him!

But, in the end, they didn’t. Thanos collected all the stones and committed the foreshadowed snap of his fingers. Honestly, that was my favorite part of the whole movie. Watching half the heroes I rooted for across over a dozen films evaporate before my eyes. What a daring step for the writers to take! I love it. I totally basked in the despair engulfing the end of the movie, adored the shock of those watching their loved ones vanish, and reveled in the chaos that followed. Thanos actually won. For now, at least. Of course, they’ll all be resurrected later. I mean, Marvel has already announced sequels for several of the dead characters, such as Spiderman. Spoilers much?

Still, as things stand, we’re left with the original Avengers (minus perhaps Hawkeye; he didn’t show up in the movie anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter if he vanished or not), Rocket, and Nebula to continue the battle, along with possibly Ant Man, who was mentioned but also completely absent. (He’s got a sequel coming up, so we can’t kill him right now.) Obviously, in Avengers 4, our little crew is going to revive a bunch of the ones who died. I just hope they save Loki. 😦

Overall, yes, there were some small flaws, but I don’t really care. I had a lot of fun. 5/5

Aaanyway, what did you guys think of the movie? If you ignored my warnings and let me spoil you rotten despite not having seen it yet, who are your favorite characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? I’m eager to see what others thought! Until next time, ciao, and I hope your days are Marvelous!

Get it? >.>

Ancient Magus’ Bride (Anime) Review

Acient Magus Bride

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’ll be talking about an anime I recently watched called Ancient Magus’ Bride! As usual, I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum, but I’m going to talk a bit about the premise, so let’s jump right in!

Our protagonist is a girl named Chise Hatori who, in the wake of her mother’s suicide, decides to just sell herself into slavery; nothing good happens around her, and she sees strange creatures few others can. She is bought for a fortune by an otherworldly-looking magus named Elias Ainsworth – who, upon taking her home, immediately frees her but asks her to be his apprentice anyway. He reveals that Chise is a Sleigh Beggy – someone who can see magical creatures and wield magic herself, but who is frail in exchange. With nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, Chise agrees to stay with Elias.

What follows is a series of escapades during which Chise learns more about the vast world and its mysteries while slowly coming to understand Elias. She meets Elias’ acquaintances and, often through them, encounters a wide array of creatures from dragons to faeries to a boy who is rumored to be the devil himself, all the while gaining a better understand of who she is of her place in the world.

I don’t want to spoil too much, so I won’t delve into further detail regarding the plot. I will, however, say that Ancient Magus’ Bride succeeds where many stories fail at making magic feel both awe-inspiring and deeply interconnected with the world. It presents magic in a way that centers it in how people relate to each other and conveys the sense that everything has a price, giving it a Fullmetal Alchemist-esque mystique, though it’s far less combat-centric.

Chise’s adventures feature overarching themes of love, loss, and how to cope with life’s trials. Each of the major characters struggles to fill some void, making them incredibly relatable. The focus is on nourishing acceptance, inner-strength, and on fully embracing those deserving to be your home, not concealing vulnerabilities. I found the whole journey incredibly touching, and, admittedly, even cried at times. I therefore rate Ancient Magus’ Bride 5/5. I recommend it to anyone seeking to view the world from a new perspective.

Have you watched Ancient Magus’ Bride, or read the manga? If so, what did you think? If not, which anime have you watched that you found most moving? I’d love to hear about them below; I’m a bit of a fan of tearjerkers. =p May your days be magical! I hope to see you again next week!

 

Tales of Xillia 2 Review

ToX2

Hiyo, everyone! Today I want to talk about a game I recently got to playing, and found myself spending hours on most days – Tales of Xillia 2, of course! It’s one of many games in the large “Tales of” series of which I have been a huge fan every since playing Tales of Symphonia, one of my favorite games ever. It’s also a direct sequel to the original Tales of Xillia, so in discussing the premise, I will have to touch on some spoilers from the first game. I’ll keep them to a minimum, though, as usual.

The story follows a man named Ludger Kresnik who, as of the beginning of the game, lives with his older brother, Julius, in an apartment in the world of Elympios. Having failed to pass the exam needed to work for the enormous Spirius Corporation alongside his brother, Ludger begins his new job working on a train. However, the train is quickly attacked by terrorists. Ludger meets with a strange little girl named Elle who seeks a mythical land, the renowned researcher Jude Mathis (who is one of the original Tale of Xillia’s protagonists) and Bisley Bakur, the CEO of Spirius Corporation. They advance through the train until they find the ultimate culprit – who appears to be Julius. He pulls Ludger into another dimension, where Ludger receives a powerful ability called Chromatus. Ludger defeats a version of Julius from that dimension; since alternate-Julius served as the dimension’s catalyst, the whole dimension is destroyed in the process and Julius returns to his world.

Ludger is greatly injured in the battle, but never to fear! The Spirius Corporation heals him, leaving him good as new – and with an enormous 20,000,000 Gald debt. However, having seen Ludger’s power, Bisley decides he ought to hire Ludger after all. The latter is tasked to enter even more alternate dimensions – called fractured dimensions – and destroy the catalysts within, thereby wiping out those dimensions in order to ensure the safety of the one he lives in.

Ludger’s journey then alternates between paying off his debt and destroying fractured dimensions. Along the way, he meets and joins up with several characters from the original Tales of Xillia, some of whom weren’t playable party members the first time around. They travel throughout the recently-joined worlds of Elympios and Rieze-Maxia, facing all sorts of foes along the way. I don’t want to spoil more than that, so if you like action RPGs, I suggest you play Tales of Xillia. (You gotta play them in order!)

The game does a good job of developing its characters; aside from Ludger, each playable party member has their own series of optional missions you can follow to learn more about them. Xillia 2 also touches on some surprisingly dark themes, such as what it means to obliterate another world and what people are willing to sacrifice to achieve  their goals.

As is usual for Tales games, Tales of Xillia 2 looks great and has a strong soundtrack, though I didn’t find a single track I really loved as I usually do in Tales games. The combat system is engaging and diverse – you can control 9 separate characters – but, to me, felt a little bit bloated with mechanics. Others may disagree, though! I had lots of fun despite that fact, so it’s all good!

Tales of Xillia 2 reuses many of the locations from the original Tales of Xillia, and it builds on characters starting where the original left off, so I strongly recommend you play the original first. Admittedly, Tales of Xillia 2 is a bit grindy. There’s certainly plenty of cool fights and powerful story moments to keep the player interested, but you may often find yourself retreading familiar ground, especially if you do all the sidequests.

My best recommendation is to play Tales of Xillia and continue on to Xillia 2 if you find you want to learn more about that world. I did, so I had a great time. I therefore rate Tales of Xillia 2 4.3/5.

Have you guys played any of the Tales games? If so, which are your favorites? If not, are there other RPGs you’re into! Please let me know in the comments below, and have an absolutely lovely week! Ciao~