My Top Five Favorite Games I First Played Over the Past Year

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’m gonna talk about my favorite games I first experienced over the past year. I should tell you up front that there’s a little caveat there – this list is technically notĀ my top five games of 2018 because it considers games I played starting on December 25th, 2017 – I don’t wanna exclude some awesome games I played mostly in 2018 just because I got them for Christmas! Aside from that, this should be pretty straightforward. Of course, the list reflects only my opinions – yours may vary!

5. Super Mario Odyssey

Mario Odyssey

This list is gonna have a whole lot of Switch games on it, ’cause I got that system for Christmas last year – and we’re starting off with the latest entry in Nintendo’s flagship franchise! Super Mario Odyssey has what you’d expect of a 3D Mario game – excellent platforming, an engaging world full of things to interact with, and top-notch aesthetics. As usual, the story is rather shallow, but Odyssey’s charm makes up for it. I found myself spending hours searching for power moons! The game’s biggest downfalls are a few particularly obnoxious challenges and the fact that you can’t play the game fully with the system in handheld mode. However, the good vastly outweighs the bad here, and based on its placement on my list, it’s clear that I recommend it to any fan of 3D platformers!

4. Iconoclasts

Iconoclasts

Iconoclasts is a Metroidvania-style game featuring a diverse cast of characters, an engaging combat system, and a fascinating story and world. Since this game is the last thing I reviewed, I’m not going to delve too deeply into it again, but what I will add is that I played blindly on stream, which made the experience extra fun! Iconoclasts offers a wide array of challenges, some of which are incredibly amusing. In fact, the game has a really good sense of humor – there were times when I couldn’t help but laugh! Iconoclasts offers many of the things I seek in a game and does so with a lot of polish and personality. I highly recommend checking it out!

3. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee

Pokemon Lets Go

I was a little bit skeptical about these games going into them, and now I can confidently say my worries were for nothing! I played the Eevee version of the game, and it stole my attention right from the outset – I’m now planning to get the Pikachu version as well! These games revitalized my interest in a series I was slowly growing apart from. Despite playing through Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow, Fire Red, and Leaf Green many times in the past, this experience felt completely fresh to me. Seeing the Pokemon in a zone as you traverse it rather than as random encounters makes the world feel especially vibrant, and the shift to catching them Pokemon Go style encouraged me to catch as many as I could. Honestly, going forward, I hope the series sticks to this method of wild Pokemon encounters.

There’s so much positive to say about these games that there’s no way I’ll cover it all in this post. I feel they’re almost perfect. If I had to select a fault related to these games, I would say it’s locking Mew (as of the writing of this post) behind an overpriced and underwhelming Pokeball controller, but that’s really more of a business practice issue than an ingame flaw. My second biggest complaint is that the Poke Flute can no longer be used to wake up Pokemon in combat. Seriously. My gripes are that minor.

Instead of spending ages extolling the virtues of Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee, I’ll just say that if you have a Switch and have any kind of nostalgia for this series, give it a try. Oh, and each user account on your Switch has its own save data for these games – meaning that, for the first time, you can have multiple save files on a single cartridge. Enjoy.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild

Another wonderful Nintendo game! At this point, it’s no secret that Breath of the Wild is breathtaking. The world is massive, immersive, and both familiar and new at the same time. I spent over 120 hours on a single playthrough of this game, and that was with guides to help me figure stuff out. Without that, it would have taken much longer. Hyrule is so vast in its Breath of the Wild iteration. The graphics, music, gameplay, and even the story were all wonderfully compelling. This is a game I couldn’t put down.

It isn’t flawless, of course. At the beginning of the game, I had some difficulty adjusting to having to repeatedly replace my weapon, and I got killed in one hit for wandering off in the wrong direction more times than I care to admit. But all of that was because I played with expectations set by previous games. Breath of the Wild feels distinctly different from other iconic Legend of Zelda titles. That’s not a bad thing – if anything, it feels like a new way to experience an old series. While I would like to see a more traditional Zelda game for the Switch, I’d also love to play more games like this. I feel like there’s now room for another type of Zelda game, and it’s amazing. Again, I don’t wanna spend all day gushing, especially since you’ve probably heard a lot of praise for Breath of the Wild already. So, instead of babbling on, I’ll just say this game is wonderful.

1. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight

When I first reviewed this game, I gave it a 4.8/5. After playing it again a couple times and experiencing the DLC, I have to say I was too harsh on the game in my initial review, probably due to some frustration regarding difficulty and being unable to beat the true final boss. Now that I’ve delved more deeply into Hollow Knight’s cryptic lore and bested all of the bosses (except a few from the most recent DLC pack, Godmaster) I’ve gotta change my score to a perfect 5/5. Hollow Knight has become my favorite Metroidvania.

There’s so much to do in the world of Hallownest! Fierce enemies to kill, NPCs whose words and thoughts lend insight into this dark world’s past, and vibrant zones, some of which contain frightfully difficulty platforming challenges. Usually, I’m the kind of person who finds too much difficulty in a game to be more trouble than it’s worth, but overcoming Hollow Knight’s challenges feels so rewarding it has me second-guessing my usual way of thinking! Team Cherry, the game’s developer, shows staggering promise with Hollow Knight under their belts as a first published title. They’ve also proven their generosity by offering so much free DLC. There will also be further paid DLC for Hollow Knight, and I can’t wait to throw my credit card at it. I actually ended up having this game on both Steam and the Switch because I enjoy it so much and felt the developers deserved to be paid twice. (Actually, they deserve to be paid a few more times over.) I’ll be keeping my eye on anything Team Cherry develops going forward, because now that I’ve embraced the difficulty and decided to ‘git gud’, I see Hollow Knight for the masterpiece it is.

Aaanyway, that’s all for my list! What did you guys think of my picks? Which games did you most enjoy over the past year? Please let me know in the comments below! I hope you all thoroughly enjoy the coming weeks, however you choose to celebrate them! (Or not to!)

My Most Anticipated Releases of November 2018

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’ll be covering my most anticipated releases in November 2018, even though we’re already a few days in and my first pick is, in fact, already available. Sorry for being a bit late! Anyway, let’s jump right in!

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Skyward

Skyward is about a girl named Spensa coming from a world beleaguered by alien attacks. She desperately wants be a pilot and help defend her people. However, her father died long ago after being accused of desertion, which makes it exceedingly unlikely that she’ll be allowed to into the academy where she would train to fly. I don’t know much more about this book – even though it’s already out, I haven’t started reading it yet – and the story isn’t the sort I would naturally gravitate to, but I’ve enjoyed Sanderson’s work consistently enough in the past that I’m going to put my confidence in his writing and buy it anyway. Once I do read it, you guys are likely to see a review!

More RWBY Volume 6 and Sword Art Online Season 3 Episodes

This entry may be considered a bit of a cheat, since both of these shows premiered last month, but I really am super excited about them, and, based on what I’ve seen so far, they haven’t failed to deliver. I get access to a new episode of each every Saturday, which makes it my most anticipated day of the week! xD I don’t intend to go into any details because those of you who may be interested will have the best possible experience if you go in spoiler-free, but I highly recommend checking out both of these shows!

Sword Art Online Progress Volume 5 (Light Novel)

SAO progressive 5

I’ve been reading the Sword Art Online light novels for a while now, and I’ve mentioned some of them in the past, but I don’t think I’ve touched on the Progressive series here before. I have no intention of spoiling the previous volumes, but what I will say is that Progressive retells the story of SAO’s Aincrad Arc (the first one) on a floor-by-floor basis, without any huge time skips like the one in the original light novel and the anime. This is a great series to get into if you liked how SAO began, but felt the initial arc was way too rushed, ’cause this one follows Kirito and Asuna’s journey very closely! It also introduces a variety of interesting new characters and greatly expands on some who lingered in the background originally. Volume 5 releases on November 13th, and I can’t wait to read it!

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Crimes of Grindelwald

As a huge fan of the Harry Potter series growing up, I’m incredibly hyped for the release of this movie! The Crimes of Grindelwald serves as a sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but the story this time seems to be heavily centered on the notorious and legendary Grindelwald and his assault on the wizarding world. Characters from the previous movie will show up, and there will be fresh takes on ones from the original Harry Potter series. (Like Dumbledore!) From what I hear, early audiences thought quite highly of the film. It officially releases on November 16th. Another likely topic for a future blog post!

Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee

Pokemon Lets Go

Pokemon is another franchise I grew up with, and as such, I’m eager to try out the latest iteration of the series on the Nintendo Switch! From what I understand, these games retell the story of a trainer journeying through the Kanto region, but feature much better graphics than the originals and a number of other large changes. I’m not quite sure whether I’ll like some of them (For example, the Pokemon Go compatibility… I haven’t even played Pokemon Go!), but there’s only one way to find out! I’ll most likely be getting the Eevee version ’cause I’ve never had an Eevee as a starter before and, well… because I’m Evi! These games also release on November 16th, so I’m gonna have a lot to do next weekend!

What releases are you looking forward to this November? Are you interested in any of the things I covered? Is there something you’re excited for that I didn’t include? Please let me know in the comment below! Thanks for reading, and till next time, may your life be… fantastic!

My Most Anticipated Releases of October 2018

Hiyo, everyone! You guys probably don’t know this, but October is my favorite month of the year. I’m a total fan of the cooling not not-yet-too-cold weather, the falling leaves aesthetic and the festivities the month entails. So I figured I’d do something a bit different today and talk about the stuff I’m looking forward to releasing this month. I guess that’s a pretty straightforward topic, so let’s begin!

Mega Man 11

Mega Man 11

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Mega Man franchise, and the classic series is my favorite of all, so I’m ultra hyped to finally get another entry in it, releasing on October 2nd for a bunch of systems! For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Mega Man series is known for being a tough series of platformers where you run around shooting stuff with your Mega Buster and absorbing the abilities of your defeated enemies. I don’t know much about what’s to come in this game since I try to avoid spoilers, but I bet I’ll enjoy it! And let’s hope its soundtrack holds up against some of the older ones!

Sword Art Online Season 3 Premier

SAO3

Okay, I spoke about this one a couple of weeks ago, but I’m gonna briefly talk about it again. =p SAO Season 3, debuting on October 6th, covers this polarizing series’ longest and, in my partially informed opinion, best arc, the Alicization arc. In it, Kirito will be thrown into a virtual world inhabited by AIs so advanced they’re basically human, but in typical anime fare, the fate of this world hangs in the balance! The visuals and music for SAO3 already strike me as wonderful, and I’ve read the first halfish of the story in the light novels, so I know that stuff is good. Apparently, season 3 is gonna start with an hour long episode, and I am ultra hyped!

The World Ends With You: Final Remix

TWEWY

Ages ago, I played The World Ends With You, a lesser known title for the Nintendo DS and a complete masterpiece. On October 12th, the game is getting an enhanced re-release on the Nintendo Switch, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! The game takes place in Tokyo and features a vibrant cast of characters involved in something called the Reaper’s Game, which offers the dead a chance to return to life. The music is absolutely breathtaking and the combat system is quite unique for an RPG. If you have a Switch and are a fan of the genre, I can’t recommend checking out this game enough!

Luigi’s Mansion

Luigi's mansion

We’ve got a little bit of a pattern here; Luigi’s Mansion is being re-released, this time on the Nintendo 3DS, on October 12th, the same day as The World Ends With You! The game has you follow Luigi around a haunted house and suck a colorful cast of ghosts into your vacuum Ghostbusters-style. I used to own the Gamecube version, but I don’t have it anymore, and I’d like to play again, so I plan to pick this up for the 3DS.

Horror Content

This last entry is kind of cheating, but that’s okay! ^.^; One of the best things about October is Halloween! I don’t actually dress up in costumes or anything, but I love watching and listening to creepy content – anything from Youtube videos to horror movies in the theaters. Since Halloween inspires people to make more of this content, it’s a huge boon for me! I can’t wait to see what pops up this year.

I also like candy.

Aaanyway, what’s your favorite time of the year? Is there anything you’re looking forward to this October? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time, have an enchanting week!

Five Traits I Like in Characters

Hiyo, everyone! I haven’t done a writing related topic in ages, so I figured I’d do one today – and, once again, it’s focused on one of my favorite parts of fiction, the characters! Here, I’ll discuss five traits I really like to see in characters, in no particular order. Some of these are pretty commonly discussed as vital to writing a character people can relate to, and others not so much. Of course, I’m sure there are traits I’ll forget to mention. xD But I can always do another list later! Sooo let’s start!

Flaws

Yup, this one is about as generic as you can get, but still very important. Usually, an author will want to write main characters who are relatable, and since, as humans, we’re all flawed, it’s really hard for us to relate to perfect people. That’s why you gotta give your characters flaws! Flawed characters also make for better storytelling, because they offer an inherent journey – the journey of overcoming the flaws. That gives the reader something to root for throughout your work. If you like diabolical twists like I do, you can also choose to expand on your characters’ flaws and make them become more problematic over time. That just ramps up the conflict!

Passion

Okay, okay, another common one. But it’s still important! Giving your character some sort of passion, no matter how strange (In fact, the stranger the better, in my opinion!) makes them more relatable to the reader, because most of us are at least a little passionate about something, whether we realize it or not. And those who are completely dispassionate probably will just be bored reading a dispassionate main character anyway. Passion also inherently drives conflict by providing your character both with related motives and with something to lose. It also ties your character more strongly to the world around them, which makes for better worldbuilding.

Quirks

You guys probably think I’m just being desperately generic right now. What irony, talking about quirks in a list that, so far, travels along the straight and narrow! But that’s okay. I’m still gonna talk about them. We’ll get more into my own eccentricities later.

Aaanyway, quirks are important because they make your characters seem more real. We all have our quirks – little habits we have that aren’t shared by many of the people around us – even if we don’t always see them. Showing a character’s quirks provides a better insight to their personality. It also offers potential plot points – maybe the unique details about how a character acts will point at them as the culprit in the event that a mystery unfolds or, better yet, be used as a red herring! Manipulating quirks can also make for good plot twists. If a character is too set in their ways, you can use that fact against them to make something really unexpected happen.

Unusual Perspectives

Here’s where the fun begins! One of the most compelling things a character can show me is a wildly different outlook on their world than is the established norm. Two examples you may be familiar with if you follow the fantasy genre are Auri from Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things and Lift from Brandon Sanderson’s Edgedancer. Both of these characters have such unique ways of viewing their surroundings that they can make what you might consider familiar scenery new again. Things like emphasizing details most others would overlook and prioritizing objectives that others would deem trifling can completely warp a situation. It makes me ultra happy to encounter a well-written character who pulls this off, not to mention a little jealous, because I’d really like to be able to offer such engaging characters in my own writing!

Extreme Contradictions

This is the trait I find makes for the most entertaining characters of all. It’s just the best when someone believably writes a character whose perspective is so warped or single-minded that they’re able to act and think in flagrantly different ways with a single coherent goal in mind. Though not from a conventional novel, the best example I can think of is Nagito Komaeda from the Danganronpa franchise. Minor spoilers: His goal is to create hope by forcing the other characters to overcome extremely despair-inducing situations of his own creation. The inherent conflict yet simultaneous cohesiveness in his way of thinking makes him a supremely interesting character. I find characters with this trait to be quite rare, but when one is presented well, they tend to just steal the show and make me want to read (or watch, play, etc) more and more just to see what happens and whether the contradiction explodes upon itself or somehow wins through.

And that’s it for today’s list! What did you guys think of my picks? Do you agree with them? Think I missed out on anything? Do you have particular characters you’d like to bring to my attention based on these preferences? I welcome your feedback and comments! Until next time, have a wonderful week!

My Top 5 Favorite Moments in Code Geass R2

Code Geass R2

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’ll be offering the follow-up post to my previous one concerning my favorite moments in Code Geass R1. As before, I will assume the reader has already watched the anime. If you haven’t, please, watch it first. It’s ultra worthy of your time, and reading all the spoilers ahead of time would make for a much worse experience.

Anyway, time for the list!

5. Happiness

This is another short scene, but one that always struck me as profound. Lelouch, after coming to terms with the fact that he’s going to have to fight Nunnally, returns to Ashford academy to find that his friends have foregone their school trip so they could spend time with him and Rolo. Brought to tears, the Lelouch recalls a discussion he had in the past. Here’s the quote (English dub version):

“A long time ago, Nunnally, Suzaku, and I talked about something. We wondered what happiness would look like if we could give it a physical form. If I’m not mistaken, I think it was Suzaku that said that the shape of happiness might resemble glass. His reasoning made sense. He said that even though you don’t usually notice it, it’s still definitely there. You merely have to change your point of view slightly, and then that glass will sparkle when it reflects the light. I doubt that anything else could argue its own existence more eloquently.”

I’ve held that thought with me ever since I first saw that scene. It’s just so beautiful, and it rings true. When you reflect on the past, even on times you thought were difficult in the present, you’ll sometimes find that hint of nostalgia waiting for you in the memory. Happiness can blossom in even the hardest times. That’s something we should always keep in mind.

4. Rolo’s Death

Another emotional moment! With Lelouch exposed as Zero and revealed to have been manipulating people with Geass, the Black Knights themselves decide to finish him off. But he’s saved by Rolo, even though he’d just finished telling Rolo their relationship as brothers was a lie and that he’d been trying to kill him. Using his Geass – which greatly strains his heart – Rolo escapes with Lelouch aboard the Vincent. Various enemies give chase, and Rolo uses his Geass over and over, freezing the perception of time for others. As Lelouch tries to explain he has no reason to live, Rolo says that even if Lelouch was using him, out of all the people who used him throughout his life, only his time with Lelouch felt genuine. Therefore, he chose to save Lelouch of his own volition. As the scene progresses, the beautiful song “Like a Bird” plays throughout, charging it with extra emotion.

Once the two have escape, as Rolo lays dying of heart failure, he asks for assurance that Lelouch was lying about trying to kill him. Lelouch gives it (even though he really did try to kill Rolo) and, with a sad smile, leaves the locket once meant for Nunnally with Rolo’s corpse, a sign that he does now accept him as a brother.

I’ve always been so moved by this scene. The way Rolo remains loyal to Lelouch despite everything shows that he’s grown as a character, and has finally come to understand what he values most. And Lelouch’s response in the end, once he believes he has lost everything, brought me to tears. After the two of them had such a rocky relationship, it felt quite good to see them each put their own desires aside and, for a moment, accept the strength in even connections not tied by blood.

3. C’s World

It happens in a world outside of space. About 80% through the series, we finally learn of C.C.’s past, and of the terms of Lelouch’s contract. In return for his Geass, C.C. would have Lelouch kill her and take her place as an immortal. She views her time on earth not as living, but as accumulating experience, and claims life has no value unless it is finite. Lelouch, of course, refuses to kill C.C., so she sends him off to see her past and lets Charles do the deed.

Lelouch then sees that C.C. was born long ago, that she was an escaped slave, and that she made a Geass contract with a nun. Her Geass made others love her. But, in time, she learned that infinite love was just a meaningless farce. It prevented anyone aside from the nun from seeing many parts of her personality. One day, C.C. explained that to the nun, and the nun finally revealed her scheme – she had been using C.C. all along. She forced C.C. to kill her and inherit her immortality.

Lelouch returns to the place where Charles and C.C. are on the verge of C.C.’s death and promises her something that she never had. A smile. Impulsively, C.C. pushes Charles away, and she and Lelouch are ejected from C’s world. But, when they get out, Lelouch finds C.C. left something behind – her memories. In an instant, she transforms from an enigmatic witch to a timid servant.

C.C. has always been one of my favorite characters in the series, so it was nice to see her play a major role in an important scene. And everything about her is so relatable! Her desire to be loved having come from a background where no one loved her and her desire to die when life lost all meaning. C.C. is someone who feels both life and love lie in their limits, and there is something to be said about that opinion. Learning so much about C.C. made me like her even more. In this scene, she finally dropped the mask and showed her genuine self.

2. Nunnally’s Smile

Lelouch, along with Suzaku and C.C., faced off against his immortal father and his not-so-dead mother. They rejected the plan to hold the world in a constant state of past. The Thought Elevator is falling, broken by Lelouch’s request to the collective unconsciousness. Charles and Marianne are dissolving. But they haven’t given up. They try to appeal to C.C., to get her to switch back over to their side. She, however, now knows that they only love themselves, and says as much. Marianne says that’s false, and that they love their children. Then Lelouch delivers possibly the most powerful line in the series.

“Do you have any idea what the meaning is behind Nunnally’s beautiful smile?”

Naturally, Charles and Marianne don’t know. Lelouch explains that Nunnally is aware of the many things she can’t do without help due to being blind and crippled, and that she smiles to show her thanks. Charles rejects that idea and lunges at Lelouch – but with a few words, he dispels both of his parents forever.

That one question is all it took for Lelouch to expose his parents’ true motives. They didn’t understand Nunnally, nor did they even try to. C.C. is exactly right about them. They only look at things from an abstract angle, and, in doing so, they miss the people before their very eyes. That one question refutes all of their claims so easily. It was the perfect thing for Lelouch to ask, for it revealed a truth Charles and Marianne themselves were not aware of.

1. Zero Requiem

Was there ever any question?

Lelouch presides over a the public executions of his enemies as the evil emperor of the world. Everyone hates him, but they dare not speak out. But as his parade advances down a street toward its destination, they encounter someone unexpected.

Zero.

But Lelouch was believed to be Zero! How can there be another? Zero charges through Lelouch’s guard with comical ease and prepares to plunge his blade into Lelouch’s chest. That’s when Kallen – and we, the viewers, see the truth. Zero is Suzaku, who is not actually dead after all, and Lelouch arranged for his own assassination. He focused all the world’s hatred on himself then arranged to be eliminated, and that hatred discarded with him. His death would pave the way for the world to move forward.

Suzaku stabs Lelouch. lelouch tells Suzaku he is to sacrifice his own happiness to serve as Zero for the rest of his life, and Suzaku accepts. He pulls the blade from lelouch’s chest, and Lelouche slides down is vehicle and lands right next to Nunnally. She touches his hand – and sees it all.

To quote Lelouch: “Yes, I… destroy the world… and make it… anew.”

The result is bittersweet irony at its finest. The crowd chants “Zero!” as Nunnally wails, stating she had only ever wanted to be with Lelouch. The beautiful song Continued Story plays in the background as her cries grow louder and louder. Lelouch set out to make a better world for Nunnally, but, in the end, that lead to her grief and a bright future for the world.

In the subsequent scenes, we see how the world really is becoming a better place. Some people would argue that this ending is unrealistic, and maybe it is, but either way, it’s beautiful. It completes Lelouch’s and Suzaku’s character arcs in the strongest way possible. I sobbed like a baby! It’s the best ending of anything I’ve watched, read, or played ever. Thanks to this scene, my love for Code Geass is eternal.

Then there’s the debate about whether Lelouch actually died, but I’m not gonna get into that here! xD

Anyway, that’s my list! What were your favorite moments in Code Geass R2? What did you think of my choices? Did I miss anything you felt should have been included? Please let me know in the comments below! I command you, have a wonderful week! =p

My Top 5 Favorite Moments in Code Geass R1

Code Geass R1

Hiyo, everyone! It has been a while since I did a top list on this blog, and I’ve been gradually rewatching Code Geass, which I previously covered as my favorite anime, so I figured it was a perfect subject to discuss! In this post, I’ll talk about my five favorite moments from Code Geass R1 – that is, the first of the series’ existing two seasons. I’ll probably do another list for the second when I finish rewatching it, but that could be a while. Anyway, unlike my previous review, this post will be absolutely teeming with spoilers and will assume you have some knowledge of the series. If you haven’t watched it yet, I can’t recommend it enough! And, um, you probably shouldn’t read this post until you do. xD

Let’s begin!

5. The end

I guess beginning with the end is so overdone by now that it has become a cliche, but in this case, it’s still an accurate reflection of my opinion. R1 ends with Suzaku finally confronting Zero, his greatest enemy, and shooting the top of his mask, cracking it in two – only to have his worst suspicions confirmed in learning Zero is Lelouch, his long-time friend. With Kallen watching, Suzaku lays all that he knows bare – he reveals that Lelouch has been using a supernatural ability, his Geass, to control people. When Lelouch suggests a temporary alliance to save Nunnally, Suzaku will have none of it – he says Lelouch would just betray his trust, as the world betrayed Lelouch.

I love this scene because it shows just how far apart the two once-friends have grown. And Lelouch is visibly angered by Suzaku’s accusation; I believe this is the first scene in the series where it is presented to him so bluntly. It’s the culmination of the strife between the two throughout R1. At the end, Lelouch and Suzaku each aim their guns at each other – then there is a brief shot of Nunnally in some distress followed by blackness. The end of the season. I started watching Code Geass after the first two series were already released, so that didn’t really bother me, but I can’t blame anyone for hating that scene for its cliffhanger ending if they were watching while the series was ongoing. That’s just mean!

4. Euphemia orders Suzaku to love her

This scene is a short one, but I just can’t get enough of it! After thinking through the conflict that had occurred between herself and Suzaku, Euphemia finally comes to a striking realization, with a bit of help from Nina: she discovers that Suzaku suffers from self-hatred just as she does. Rash as ever, Euphemia contacts Suzaku in the middle of a battle and demands that he love her – and promises she will love him in return. Suzaku’s instinctive reaction of “Yes, your highness – huh?”just makes the scene even cuter!

This moment is particularly dear to me because I deal with self-hatred, too. Suzaku and Euphy can’t love themselves, so they each take on the responsibility of loving the other instead. It’s just so adorable, and had to ship it!

Until another event occurred…

3. Shirley follows Lelouch and discovers he’s working with the Black Knights

This entry may seem a little weird to some. The Black Knights are holding an operation to ostensibly save a submarine containing members of the Japan Liberation Front, but it’s not the battle itself that interests me, but the events leading up to it. As the beautiful “Stories” plays in the background, Shirley learns that Lelouch, the boy she’s had a long-time crush on, is working with the Black Knights, the terrorist organization responsible for killing her father. Meanwhile, Lelouch, under the guise of Zero, explains to his subordinates that they have to stay the course; that, to atone for all the blood they’ve spilled, they have to spill even more, and eventually succeed.

“Stories” played a large role in this scene’s influence over me. The feel of that song perfectly captures the tone of the unfolding events; everyone is trying to do what they feel is right, and despite those intentions, the song signals a tragedy in the making. The same sort of scenarios play out all the time in real life. Conflict is essential to who we are, and at this moment, it struck me more powerfully than ever.

2. Mao’s Death

Having kidnapped Nunnally and rubbed Lelouch’s weaknesses in, Mao agrees to confront Lelouch in his game of choice – chess. Winner takes all. The problem for Lelouch is that Mao’s Geass allows him to read minds over a large area, or, alternatively, focus his abilities on an individual and hear their every thought. Lelouch enters the situation knowing all about that, and he believes this is his last chance to save his sister’s life. But, as expected, Mao uses Lelouch’s own strategical prowess against him, then wins the game. Gleeful, he watches Lelouch melt down and presses the button designed to set off the bomb to end Nunnally’s life.

It doesn’t go off. Instead, Suzaku, who had been helping Lelouch, bursts into the room. By doing a high-precision maneuver, he disabled the bomb, and Lelouch’s chess game had been a diversion – one he himself hadn’t known about. With the help of a reflective surface, Lelouch used his Geass on himself so he would forget his own plans. Completely taken off guard and beaten by Suzaku’s comically overpowered physical abilities, Mao uses the only weapon he has – he reads Suzaku’s mind and reveals that Suzaku killed his father to end the previous war between Britannia and Japan. As a result of that action, Suzaku has been carrying a death wish with him, and that’s the reason he’s always so willing to risk his life.

But the visor Mao usually used to protect himself from Lelouch’s Geass had been removed. Furious, Lelouch gives his immensely satisfying command: “Never speak again.” Robbed of the voice he relies on to control others, Mao leavesĀ  – only to find himself face to face with C.C., the only person he loves and the one who gave him his Geass.

But C.C. has had enough. She’s finally ready to clean up her past mistake. With a bullet, she ends Mao’s life.

I like this scene because it pushes so many characters to their limits. It makes everyone face their pasts. I also found Lelouch’s Geass trick particularly clever. The scene plays out in a wild rollercoaster of emotions that I just loved to death!

Um, speaking of death…

1. Euphemia’s death

Throughout the series, Euphemia is depicted as unfailingly benevolent. She struggles to make the world a better place so earnestly and impulsively that you can’t help but root for her. So, when Lelouch finally takes her hand and tells her she’s won – that he will assist her in running the specially administrated zone of Japan she’s creating to put a stop to the violence – it’s quite cathartic.

That doesn’t last.

Lelouch’s original scheme involved having Euphemia shoot him, something he had told her she would do. She prods him about that, and he admits that he has the ability make others obey him. Euphemia scoffs, leading Lelouch to joke that he could even order her to kill the Japanese people, and she would have to obey.

That’s the moment his Geass starts acting up. The command takes, leaving Euphemia a mess begging not to be forced to do something so horrible. Lelouch tries to stop it, but it’s too late; he can’t undo the damage. Eventually, Euphemia succumbs to the order and runs off to do her new, dark duty.

The Japanese people gathered outside have no idea what hit them. Even the Britannian soldiers are shocked. But Euphemia takes the first shot, and the slaughter begins in earnest.

Chaos erupts. Through tears, Lelouch orders that the Black Knights make the most of Euphemia’s actions and orders her death. But, when the time comes, he himself is the one to shoot her. With Suzaku watching.

Enraged, Suzaku dives into battle, grabs Euphemia with his Knightmare, and flees. Euphemia is immediately hospitalized aboard the command ship, but the doctors quickly conclude she won’t make it. So Suzaku is left to speak with her in her final moments.

The emotions reach a crescendo when the song “Innocent Days” begins playing. Suzaku – who is Japanese himself – asks why she gave that order. But Euphemia remembers nothing. For a moment, it looks like she might again fall under the command’s spell, but, faced with the thought of killing the man she loves, she closes her eyes and finally snuffs out the Geass. “Innocent Days” alteernates between a mournful melody and a triumphant one as the scene shifts back and forth between Zero, who condemns Euphemia as a murderous hypocrite as the people wish her the worst, and Euphemia’s death bed, where Suzaku tells Euphy the lie she needs to hear – that her project was a success – and she asks him to complete his education in her place.

Then she flatlines, and the music with her. It’s replaced by a chant of “Zero, Zero, Zero!” as images flash by. Of Zero standing triumphant before a crowd having just established a new nation. Of Suzaku crying and reaching out for Euphy as he’s pulled away from her body. Of Zero’s supporters brimming with joy. Of the badge Euphy gave Suzaku when she named him her knight.

Cornelia, Euphy’s sister, sums up the scene succinctly at the end with the phrase “Dear God” when she learns what happened. Just like that, Euphemia, who pushed herself to her limit to help everyone, who was willing to give up her status as royalty to make the world a better place, has her legacy sealed as “Massacre Princess.”

Those events moved me to tears. The writers so masterfully pressed conflicting emotions right up against each other with perfect juxtapositoning; it all hits like a truck. And I love when media can draw an intense emotional reaction from me, so I love this scene. My descriptions can’t do it justice. It just has to be watched.

Aaanyway, that’s the end of my list! Have you guys watched Code Geass? If so, what were your favorite scenes in R1? If not, which scenes in anime move you the most? I hope to hear from you in the comments! Until next time, I hope you have a great time! Ciao!

 

Top 5 Anime I First Watched in 2017

Hiyo, everyone! I watched lots of anime last year, so, now that 2017 is behind us, I thought I’d revisit them and choose a few favorites. That’s what I’m doing here! And, of course, I’ll write a bit about why I liked them. As a reminder, these are just my personal opinions, so it’s fine if we disagree. Also note that I haven’t seen every anime – not even all the popular ones – so I may have never experienced some of your favorites.

The criteria for this list are as follows:

  • I must have watched all currently available seasons of the anime, beginning to end, in 2017.
  • I must not have watched the anime before 2017.
  • The anime does not need to have been released in 2017.

And that’s it! As usual, I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum, but will mention the premises of each anime. Without further ado, let’s get started!

5. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks offers the same setup as several of the other Fate/ titles; seven Masters (generally powerful mages) are bonded with seven Servants (heroes from throughout time) who fight each other to obtain the Holy Grail, which grants the wish of whoever obtains it. Each of the Servants has a specific “class” that describes them. (Saber, Archer, Caster, etc.) In Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks, we follow the story of Rin Tohsaka, a member of a prominent family of mages who has been raised to participate in the Grail War, and the story of Shirou Emiya, a man who finds himself accidentally caught up in the chaos. There are also a lot of other characters. Fate/ games tend to have large casts.

I enjoyed Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks in large part because of the intricate story it wove and the way many of the characters developed. Certain characters here are forced to confront their own personal ideologies and determine whether their ideals truly hold up. The action scenes are captivating, the the animation and music are great. This anime kept me hooked from beginning to end.

4. Gamers!

Gamers!

Gamers! begins with the meeting of Keita Amano, an avid yet surprisingly talentless video game enthusiast, and Karen Tendo, one of the most popular girls at school – and, to Keita’s surprise, the president of the school’s Gaming Club. Karen invites Keita to join the club, and his response eventually leads to a small incident at school that draws in several other students. For the rest of the series, Gamers! follows those characters as they try to work out the relationships between them with gaming as a backdrop.

I went into Gamers! expecting a typical slice-of-life anime, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself completely hooked. I’m not entirely certain why I took such a liking to it, though I suspect it has something to do with the cast of relatable and compelling characters. For some reason, watching them flounder to navigate their love lives was a regular joy for me, and I found myself looking forward to each new episode. The biggest downside of Gamers!, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t really have a proper ending; it just kind of stops. While that was disappointing, I find myself more than willing to overlook it and instead cross my fingers for a second season!

3. Erased

Erased

Erased follows a man named Satoru Fajinuma who has a strange and inexplicable ability; he is occasionally pulled back in time so he can save people from dangers that would otherwise claim their lives. As of the beginning of the story, he has never been pulled too far back in time, but that all changes after his mother is murdered – and he finds himself back in elementary school. Now an adult who appears to be a child, Satoru quickly realizes that not only his mother’s life is at stake, and that he makes it his mission to prevent the disappearance of a girl in his class named Kayo Hinazuki and relive his life to the fullest in the process.

The concept of Erased (as well as its popularity) is what first caught my interest, but the emotions involved were what kept me watching – in fact, I binged the whole anime. xD Any form of media that takes me on such a wild emotional roller-coaster finds a place in my heart, and Erased certainly did that. It also has deep themes that make you think and is backed up by great music. If you haven’t seen Erased yet, I highly recommend you watch it.

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar 2

Yes, I consider Avatar to be an anime. =p If you feel passionately about why I shouldn’t, I’d be happy to read your thoughts in the comments below!

The story of Avatar begins when a brother and sister duo, Sokka and Katara respectively, discover what appears to be a young boy frozen inside an iceberg. After being thawed out, the boy introduces himself as Aang and shows the siblings that he is an airbender – that is, he is able to manipulate air to his advantage. This is significant because all of the airbenders were thought to have been killed by the Fire Nation long ago. (There were originally peoples whose societies corresponded to each of the four classical elements; Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.) It is soon revealed that Aang is the Avatar – the one living person capable of wielding all four elements – and he, together with Sokka and Katara, go on a journey on which Aang is to master his powers so he can stand up to the tyrannical Fire Nation.

I was a little bit uncertain about Avatar at first; as a Nickelodeon show, I worried it would be too cartoony for my taste – and it certainly can be at times. But its moments of silliness are vastly outmatched by its deep worldbuilding, complex cast of intriguing characters, and running themes, some of which are darker than you might expect. Despite being over 60 episodes long, Avatar easily held my interest throughout, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in an adventure that varies between depth and the whimsical.

1. Your Lie in April

Your Lie In April 2

Your Lie in April follows the story of Kosei Arima, a boy who was a piano prodigy until the death of his mother, which mentally broke him and left him unable to hear his own music. One day, accompanying a friend on a date, he encounters a girl named Kaori Mayazono, a free-spirited violinist who reignites a spark of life in Kosei and (forcefully) inspires him to confront his past and learn to play the piano anew. Kosei also develops quite a crush on Kaori, which is problematic because she is dating one of his best friends – and because another of his friends has a crush on him.

What I loved most about Your Lie in April was how masterfully it drew out its characters’ deepest emotions and laid them bare in the form of music. I never expected to find myself so interested in a music-based anime, but Your Lie in April enthralled me from beginning to end. As the story progresses and a familiar theme reemerges, the emotional stakes only grow and grow; it was impossible for me not to get increasingly invested. Your Lie in April is absolutely wonderful. (As is its music, of course!)

What sort of anime did you guys watch in 2017? Do you have any recommendations? If you don’t watch anime, was there any other media you feel strongly about from that year? Please let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading, and have an ultra-fun day~