Category Archives: Media

I’m a media studies graduate and with that comes a raftload of tools that I’m repeatedly told aren’t actually useful for anything, to which I counter that I like using them and enjoy the experience of applying those tools to all the media around me I partake in and therefore my life is enriched and overflowing with wonderful experiences of interconnectivity. By this point the other person has usually wandered off. Anyway, this is the category for anything that I think of as being connected to ‘media’, whether it’s a type (like TV, music, movies or so on), a brand (like Disney! Hi Disney!). This category also covers my weekly critical engagement column-type-thing currently called Story Pile.

Wreck It Ralph Is About Trans Women In Sport

Hey, did you already listen to the Wreck It Ralph episode of The Disney Animated Canonball, a podcast where I, Talen Lee (he him) and not-appearing-in-this-post Fox Lee (she her), watched all of the Disney Animated Canon movies? If no, then keep going and you should maybe check it out later because it was a big project, watching and podcasting about 54 movies, of which upwards of five were movies I think are any good, and that there, that’s Disney magic, baybee, but if you have then this is going to sound like a rerun.

In case you don’t remember, Wreck It Ralph is an awful film.

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Story Pile: Harrow The Ninth

Harrow The Ninth is the second book in the four-and-a-half-book-so-far Locked Tomb trilogy by Tamsyn Muir, a New Zealand author, and to get the box blurb copy out of the way early, it’s as intricate as wristbones, multi-layered, wrought out of several kinds of deliberate excellence and also extremely bloody funny. It commands its venaculars and surgical terminology alongside one another to construct a narrative puzzlebox of regrets and rage and guilt and violence and queer shit and I loved it.

There are these healing moments of emotionally satisfying contact between people who you can maybe let your guard down and like because they don’t have to suck just because this situation sucks and maybe that’s the important thing, maybe it’s the friends we made along the way. Or maybe it’s really, really not. You’d have to get to the end of the book to start to find out what you think. I know what I think.

Now, it is a slight problem that Harrow The Ninth is a book that builds directly on the previous book, which is a book with a very distinct conclusion that leaves you wondering ‘okay, now how does this proceed,’ and Harrow The Ninth doesn’t actually give you easy answers. As a matter of simple necessity, then, and in order to discuss ideas in this book and why I love it, I am going to talk – even a bit obliquely – about the stuff in the book. Therefore, if you’re the kind of person who wants them, I put here, a SPOILER WARNING.

And you may think ‘oh come on, it’s a book with a twist, you can talk about stuff around that,’ and like kinda no not really, it’s way more complex than that, and even just telling you that is enough to make the wrong kind of mind leap at shadows thinking every single thing you deal with in the book is The Twist. Good news, though, because in this situation, oh natively paranoid, must-not-be-surprised, solve-it-first readers, you’re right!

Everything in this book is The Twist.

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Story Pile: 15 Minutes

Way back when I wrote about The Beginner’s Guide, I wound up talking about a movie called S1M0N3. The basics of that article are that some gamers seemed to be fooled into believing the fictional story of a developer stealing work and putting it up on the internet for sale was a real thing, just as in the movie S1M0N3 people believed that a movie about a fake fictional digital actress was made with a real fictional digital actress. It still stands out to me as an example of the way that modern, immediate anxieties about our relationship to technology are not, in fact, new at all.

In 2001, another movie came out that had a similar vibe to it, a movie about a fear of the changing culture of the now in the light of emergent technology. The fear was about what people would do in a world where everyone had access to a camera, about what a culture of news of spectacle would do, and the assumptions we make about people’s ability to control and express themselves. The movie was called 15 Minutes.

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Shirt 23.05 — Haru-Ni ’06

Anime in my mind comes in strata. Different ages, different things that made significant changes to the landscape of anime. Things that feel contemporary weren’t, because I got to watch them at the same time. Things that were contemporary didn’t seem to be to me because I missed one. And in 2006, there were two different anime that shook my world launched – and I didn’t enjoy either of them until they were years old, unaware that the impact they had was nearly simultaneous.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, a really great series that I should write about sometime, and Ouran High School Host Club, an equally excellent anime that made a lot of millenials grapple with being gay or girls or gay girls, both hit in April 2006. They were important in ways it was hard to explain, and even now they’re both handy touchstones where you can point to them to just open conversations about anime of that time. They, in a way, ruled the world.

And they both had main characters named Haruhi.

Here, then, I present stickers for you to show which you support in their quest to take over the world of anime as of 2006. If you’d like them, you can get them, with Haruhi Suzumiya as the Presidential runner, or with Haruhi Fujioka as the Presidential runner.

Story Pile: My Hero Academia, Season 5

Here we are, five years of watching into the story that is My Hero Academia, a story that took two seasons to get up to gear and then ran face-first into a pandemic making every part of its production slow and awkward and worse but don’t worry, they had a whole manga to build off. Which means that while the execution may suffer, there was at least a solid, robust spine of storytelling to build off.


Spoilers ahoy!

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Hollow Boys

There’s this anime, Love After World Domination that, once again, was an anime from the 2022 season of absolute banger anime, and it was funny and it looked nice and it delved into a familiar trope space and it had a good comic timing and its protagonist, Desumi Loveafterworlddomination was extremely cute and gifed up well and also dressed like what I can only describe as a horny skeleton bunny girl dominatrix, so in the context of is it a good show to watch it pretty easily sat above things that looked bad and weren’t funny. It was described as a romantic comedy, and occasionally, you’d see people talk about it in the context of having a good pair of romantic leads and how it had two protagonists and how they had good chemistry and this is a lie. There are no leads, there are no protagonists, plural. There’s Desumi, and it is a show about Desumi, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because Desumi is extremely cute and sweet and funny and hot and I bet you could catch genders off her.

The beef I have with this series, and why I never bothered to do anything Story Pile about it, is because half of the core of the show isn’t there.

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Story Pile: My Hero Academia, Season 4

Alright, now we’ve hit our stride, we’ve done most of the set-up stuff required to have stories and character information all out there. The major characters are all laid out, we have a villain on the horizon waiting to happen to people, and we just had an introduction of some new boundary characters, so it’s time to immediately do something with all of those. This is a series that has got a handle on the basic ideas of what it’s going to do, and each season can be snapped apart into a few short story arcs you can consider on their own.

There’s something to the experience of enjoying My Hero Academia, season to season. It’s got all the joy of a catchy pop song, popcorn playful and full of classic shonen anime battle feelings, but this pop song also includes a few slurs? And probably says something condescending about women. Basically, I’m enjoying it but I’m sure as hell not going to defend it.

What we get in this season is some high drama with a big battle, one of those stories that focus on the characters in the setting dicking around with the infrastructure that exists to deal with the commonality of superpowers, and then an absolute top-tier banger of a story arc about excellent nearly-zero-stakes hero bullshit.

I’m going to talk more about it and that’s going to involve spoilers, so, below the fold!

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Why Do Droids Scream?

In the Star Wars universe, there’s a class of characters known as droids. They’re robots, manufactured, created, bought and sold. They are also entirely capable of sentience, complex tasks, and, most importantly, they can feel pain, distress, and anxiety. There is at no point in any of the Star Wars media I have seen

— which, considering my antipathy towards the entire franchise, is a lot

do we get a meaningful description of why these droids are the way they are. I’ve been told that R2D2 is the way it is because it’s gone without being wiped periodically, which doesn’t really help things in any way. ‘Cos if R2D2 develops an advanced personality and his own peculiarities if he’s not wiped then that means that all the other droids in the world are just these nascent individuals, building an identity that is then actively suppressed by the people who can buy and sell them, and do, and scrap them when they fail to provide adequate utility.

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Story Pile: The Owl House Finale

Chances are good you already know what The Owl House is, and chances are even better, you’ve already seen the finale trilogy of episodes if you’re reading this. If you’re not, however, and if you’re just one of the people who likes hearing me talk about kid’s cartoons that you don’t watch, though, or if you’ve been holding back out of fear that the show’s conclusion is bad, I have good news! It’s good, I liked it, it’s charming and it’s very sweet and there’s a good conclusion that shows a respect for the stakes of the situation while also not closing the door on more stories for the characters you’re familiar with.

Basically, it’s a good ending and I liked it and it didn’t diminish my appreciation for the show. It plays fair, is I guess what I’d say. If what you’re looking for is someone to tell you you’re not getting your hopes up for no reason to set aside the time to watch it, yeah, it’s great!

Now let’s go a little more in-depth on the three episodes. This is your Spoiler Warning.

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Story Pile: Gideon The Ninth

Here’s the pitch; it’s a sci-fantasy magi-tech murder mystery story with sword fights and a ripped up muscle lesbian who wears makeup to look like a skull and mirrored sunglasses to look like a skull wearing mirrored sunglasses. Then with that kind of approach you’re left grappling with the question, okay, but how does it pull that off?

And the answer is with bombast and aplomb, two words that I think wouldn’t rate for this book’s love of linguistic particulars.

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We Don’t Need An Animorphs Reboot

It seems that every time a piece of nerd media comes out, other people in other nerd media spaces surface declaring that now, now is the time that our nerd media thing is ready to strike while the iron is hot. It doesn’t matter how unrelated it is. One of those spaces where I think I comfortably belong is the Animorphs fandom, even if I think I must come across as being so utterly negative all the time.

Whatever the current context, there’s always some reason that now, here, Animorphs is due a comeback. With the backlash against Hogwarts Legacy, there was a push that hey, now, now is a great time for us to make sure our Young Adult Fiction media property from the last millenium gets to take prominence and become the new thing everyone talks about with its own theme park! Then it was Goncharov, where the sudden thirst for creative element that encouraged people being able to make new Animorphs books and pretend they were always part of the canon as a great way to tap into that community! And then most recently, the fact there’s shapeshifting in the Dungeons & Dragons movie and an actor who’s a jerk —

Why, this movie is proof that we could totally have a great, successful, reboot movie for the Animorphs! You know, a movie! For that set of forty plus books!

Problem: This is completely unfeasible.

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Pitch: Development Issues

You know for all that this blog is a space to put down my own creative work, it’s kind of shocking how ill-equipped it is to talk about things I can’t do. I do board games and card games and talk about RPGs and anime and media and a lot of being angry about fundamentalist christianity, but there are rare times when there’s other stuff that interests me as well. Remember that one time I presented some recipes? What about the occasional outbursts of flag threads?

Here’s something I don’t think I’d ever have the means to make, then: I’ve been thinking about web shows.

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Story Pile: Summer Time Rendering

2022 was a kind of terrifying year for anime.

Terrifying in the scope, the variety and the general quality, mind you. It was still a year with a bunch of movies and continuations of things I don’t care about, and it was also a year in which the anime industry kept reeling after literal terrorism and the results of a pandemic slowdown. Still, the thing is, even when you take that into account and also the burnout and stress the anime producers are under, 2022 was a year with a selection of anime that would, in a less busy year, be considered the best anime released that year.

You doubt me? Well, consider that across 2022, we got heavy-hitter franchise installations Spy X Family, Demon Slayer, Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War, Bleach: The Thousand Year Blood War, Ascendance Of A Bookworm and the final season of Attack On Titan. There were also some pretty remarkable releases in the queer media space, with a mainline yuri production The Executioner And Her Way Of Life pushing into the isekai franchise space and The Witch From Mercury taking the lead of probably the venerable anime franchise machine that is Gundam. Looking at the lighter, shorter series, things that didn’t need a big backing from a big studio to get out the door, we got shows all over the genre space like Ya Boy Kongming, Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie, My Dress Up Darling, Akiba Maid War, Fuuto PI, Cyberpunk Edgerunners, Lycoris Recoil, Call Of The Night, Bocchi The Rock, Do It Yourself, Urusei Yatsuara, and oh yeah, did I mention Chainsaw Man up top because yeah, Chainsaw Man also came out in 2022.

That’s… one year. Any of those 21 series would be an all-star excellent show to be ‘the one great one’ of the year. For comparison, in 1993, when I think I can say I started really paying attention to anime (we called it Japanimation), there were twenty four anime series made at all.

And I bring this list to your attention, the scope, and the weight of that scope and hopefully also the number of highlighted links showing that hey, yeah, these aren’t just critically praised or noteworthy shows but shows I like, where I want to tell you about the anime that gets to be 22 on that list, and may, in my opinion, be the best one.

Summer Time Rendering is a 2022 anime based on the Shonen Jump+ Digital Manga series written and illustrated by Yasuki Tanaka who at least according to wikipedia has done nothing else. The TV adaptation is by OLM, long-standing anime industry juggernauts responsible for, amongst everything else, Inazuma Eleven, Yo-Kai Watch, Beyblade, Cardfight Vanguard, and, of course, the entire run of the Pokemon anime, amongst other less kid-oriented fare like Komi Can’t Communicate and Life With An Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated Into A Total Fantasy Knockout so we can mention an isekai genderswap anime as well, for the full bingo. As to what Summer Time Rendering is at its heart, is a mystery story, which makes it kind of challenging to talk about in a way that can both illuminate its virtues without dispelling some of the tension that people like to discover themselves, especially since one major component of the story is a time loop,

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Shirt 23.04 — Can’t Lose

I need very little encouragement to make some things. Over on my Patreon (where you can sign up for as little as a buck to give my brain good chemicals), I suggested this shirt design as a potential one for this month. One person went ‘I like it,’ and so I went and did it.

I was aiming at evoking a university sports team logo (which I looked at a lot of) and the DOOM logo from 1993 (which I also looked at a lot of, but for different reasons). This design involved learning a lot of things about how to make 3d-looking shaped text, which is how I got this eventual ‘curving’ effect — it involves the Lens Distortion tool in GIMP.

The popped text above and below the logo was made first in a vector program and then also made 3d in GIMP, too. Honestly, looking at this piece I’m pretty proud of how many pieces of this involved developing or refining a new skill to do something, or built on a skill I’ve gotten so used to I didn’t even conspicuously think of it.

I kinda want to get a hoodie or coffee mug with this on it for my dad but I think he, a preacher, might balk at the actual pentagram.

Anyway, you can get this design in black star or white star versions.

Story Pile: Lycoris Recoil

Lycoris Recoil is a 2022 action thriller anime about a pair of girls working to prevent terror attacks in Tokyo, while they get to know one another and become GOOD FRIENDS, while a plot happens around them. You know the type, right?

I am going to talk about things all through the series, I am going to spoil major twists, I am going to Talk About This Show. This serves as a spoiler warning, but also a content warning; this is a show that features guns, lots of guns, police shootings, medical tension, terrorism, bad dads, and dead probably-gays. It’s an action thriller anime set in a terrorism-wracked Japan, don’t imagine you’re getting something else just because there are girls on the posters.

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Values of A Dollar — The Confederacy’s Currency

Hey, the Confederate States Of America were a racist slave state that was founded in the name of maintaining a white supremacist state forever, and its eventual fall was a moral good. But don’t worry, while that state existed, they also made a bunch of shitty, self-glorifying art that even when it’s technically well crafted, is all built out of a fascist, white supremacist ideology that was so bad and so obviously evil that even The United States was their moral superior. Whatever aesthetic value their culture has is, like the art of Rhodesia, entirely predicated on them being a nation whose significance in modern culture is entirely about clinging to an ideology of racism, and you do not, in fact, got to hand it to them.

Anyway, I think that sets the tone right.

I have said, many times, that your culture’s money is probably the most commonly reproduced piece of art your culture makes in your name. It is the ideology of a nation, in its most common piece of civic art, art that’s meant to represent who you are and what you value, and that’s why it’s meaningful to care about what it depicts. I’ve said that the United States currency is some of the worst, both in term of its accessibility, but also its devotion to depicting nothing but the institution of its own governance from a very narrow window of time. Basically, US money depicts nothing as much as it depicts the importance of a small handful of people who maintained and operated the mechanisms of creating the country of America.

They still have Andrew Jackson on a bill and they’ve had seven years to put Harriet Tubman on a bill, and that hasn’t moved past prototype stages, so you can see how important it is to the people making choices.

But that’s America America; what about America America America, the America that insists it’s even more America than America America? What did the Confederacy put on their money?

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Story Pile: Unseen Academicals

When considering the Discworld series of books, it seems at times that it’d be almost boring for me to discuss them, because they’ve been so important to my personal history and interests that it’d be a bit like ‘oh, hey, this thing I like, but obviously I would, wouldn’t I, because I’m that basic that I kind of got my personality from a series of fantasy novels.’ Every single one of the books that I love, I can almost hold up and say ‘this book was basically written for me, as a person,’ given my interests. And if I could pick the one Discworld book to hold up as an example of me in a book, the things and ideas and experiences that all hold together for me, I think there are definitely books that I think of as cooler and better and having amazing moments and important lines in them. I could name Men at Arms with its maxim that a good man will kill you without a word. I could name Hogfather with its line you have to believe in the small things that don’t exist. I bet I could look stylish as hell if I could invoke Feet of Clay‘s maxim that all days are holy or none are or Monstrous Regiment and you are my little lambs, so many cool lines that would flatter my ego to talk about how this book is a good insight into me.

But there’s a Discworld book that kinda, without meaning, hits me with both barrels, reveals a second shotgun, fires another pair of barrels, and then reloads both of them again.


This is me, pretty much.

SPOILERS after the fold.

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Bob Ross’ Basilisk

I’m glad I didn’t rush into this conversation.

This is about generative art, using predictive models, which you might hear lumped together as ‘AI art’ these days. I don’t want to use that term for it (though, you know, no promises I don’t mess up and do that), and I don’t want to fall into the trap of that, of treating it like ‘an artificial intelligence.’ It’s not. The term I use for it is Generative Art, which media you can feed into a machine, and then make that machine spit out results based on composing those pieces.

There are two big reasons to use this term instead of ‘AI art.’ The first is that it’s just not AI. AI implies an intelligence, which this absolutely is not and cannot be. There cannot be intention behind the accumulated behaviour of a statistical average. Calling it AI is a cloak thrown over a system – a very clever system! – that’s able to divine fuzzy trends in how people sort and categorise things. The other thing is that calling it generative art connects it to previously generative art – institutions of technological systems designed to make artistic forms in a way that complicates the intention of the artist. This is a tradition that reaches back a long way, and sure, it includes things like these generative art systems, but also random graphical output demos on disks back in the 90s, noise generators in Photoshop, messy blurs, picrews, and even things like tie-die art, and when you can put them in that context, you’re going to be able to extract it from a lot of hype about it, both positively and negatively.

Let’s talk about it, then.

‘sad alex jones in a forest, in the style of bob ross’
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Shirt 23.03 – Sandy Hook Monday

When you engage in a work of satirical criticism, you need to approach it with a clarity of purpose that indicates to your audience the moral framework with which you do it, so that at no point it can be construed as uncritical support for the thing you are satirising, even moreso when contending with media designed to be consumed extremely quickly and uncritically. This is on my mind as I put a lot of work into how to draw a stupid cartoon of Alex Jones as a Garfield character, who absolutely sucks.

I made this design to be a sticker. Alex Jones makes a bunch of stuff in the form of stickers, things you can place around the world to direct attention towards his shitty advertising stream. Alex Jones, let me be clear, is an abusive cult leader who is trying to exploit en masse a community that he also never wants to interact with. Right now, he’s clocking on with a tediousness that speaks of the ‘hilarious’ office garfield strips about hating mondays, and that was the genesis of this design. He sucks, and he’s banal, and the things about him that suck are also pathetic.

This design didn’t feature the background at first. The ‘Hate mon days’ logo used to be ‘HATE ‘MON DAYS,’ as in ‘hate them on days.’ There didn’t used to be as many stackies of paper, nor the big Sandy Hook bill. But I had to add to it to try and make sure it didn’t just look like I was at best neutral about how much this guy sucks.

I’m proud of it, I think it looks unmistakably like Alex Jones if you’re familiar with him, and if you want, you can have it as a sticker, a pin, a shirt, a hat, a coffee mug, or even a magnet!

Story Pile: Arrival

Arrival is a 2016 movie about the individual experience of a very thoughtful linguist lady as humanity contends with the first engagement with an alien first contact, not in the vein of guns and bombs and tanks and planes, the way Will Smith taught us, but instead, the high stakes, deeply intense world of complex linguistic deconstruction without an existing linguistic frame of reference. And it whips, but it’s also like being bathed in wax.

It’s a language nerd movie, but I’d leave the detailed considerations of that to other people, you know, people who are experts in language. I’d recommend checking out Lingthusiasm, which goes in on the movie in depth. I’m going to try and avoid replicating anything they cover here. The only thing I’d point to that stands apart is the way that this movie demonstrates how weak our language is to discuss language we don’t have.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk spoilers after the fold. There’s probably some generalities that can give away things ‘about’ the movie, but instead I want to talk about what this movie thinks is reasonable and normal.

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Towards a Cozier Internet

The number one priority of Google is keeping your attention on Google. This is not a controversial position, it’s not a conspiracy theory. The priority of the systems that relate to that create an intention towards things like a search engine, or gmail or whatever, are all just functions in the name of keeping your attention on Google. They want you looking at them so they can make sure your attention is where they can monetise it, through advertisers.

This command of attention is prime: even just being a trustworthy source of search information is secondary to the command of attention in the name of making money. I’ve talked about the form advertising takes, in that its job is not to sell you products, but to sell advertising to the people who buy advertising, and anything you do is incidental to that goal. This drive towards the retention of attention and serving the needs of advertisers is so all-consuming that Google literally does not care if people paying for their services use them for exploitative harm, like how in 2022, an advertiser made a malware fake version of widespread software package OBS. Google would happily put this above searches for OBS proper, because they paid for it.

Simply put: Google’s not great.

Neither is Twitter, a service I’ve been using pretty much constantly for nine years. In June, I’ll get a notification about my ten years on the site, even though based on the way the API is behaving, the last post I made to it was February 22, and that was something a blog software was handling. It was, for the latter part of its presence in my life, doing a very bad job of what I wanted it to do. What I wanted Twitter to do was give me an audience who I could direct to things I thought were cool; instead, it mostly became about screaming, and demanding why you weren’t also screaming.

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Story Pile: My Hero Academia, Season 2

You can tell the quality of a shounen series by how quickly it turns to a tournament arc in order to fill out its episodes. Tournament arcs are a break-in-case-of-emergency story beat for any game in the fighting shonen battle franchise, because while on the one hand, they give you structure, motivation, and a clearly defined sense of progression, they are also, ultimately, just a series of disconnected fights where you have to show characters being cool and explaining what they’re doing for mulitple episodes. I understand entirely why an anime might need to do a tournament arc; the manga industry is a machine that eats artists and shits manga, and when you’re doing a shounen battle series, having this kind of chained sequence of fights gives you an opportunity to fill out the audiences’ perspective and demonstrate a bunch of things like you’re filling out a guidebook. They are practical arcs, they are serviceable arcs.

You can also elevate a tournament arc! There are stories that weave (say) intrigue around a tournament arc, or where the rules of the tournament create a different demand on the characters, or if you follow only one character learning about the world through the arc — there’s a lot you can do with them… but they are also predictable and require you to set them up well with an interesting source of tension.

The first half of My Hero Academia season 2 is a single big tournament arc, and it’s shockingly mediocre.

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The Fastest Woman In History

Who is it?

I thought this was a pretty simple question. It feels like the kind of thing that if you punch it into a google search, you’d get a card which mentions this person moved at this speed at this time and they had these genders and you’d have to dig to page 2 to get a good result that wasn’t just mimicking that.

Man, search engines have gotten bad.

Anyway, no, I didn’t get a good answer punching it in, but I did wind up finding a bunch of interesting questions, thinking about it!

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Story Pile: Eat, Play, Love

Alright, we’ve talked about some anime and some interesting indie media, why not talk about the most tedious, boring, mainstream thing in the world? I recruited Fox to talk to me about the movie Eat, Play, Love, produced by the Hallmark channel.

Just so you know: It’s not a good movie.

Shirt 23.02 – Steddie Things Shirt

First up, the design! On a shirt!

Second, the design on its own so you can look at it!

This design is something of a proof of concept. At first, the idea was that this was an idea I could port to a lot of different sets, where an identifying Ship Term (in this case ‘Steddie’, but I also considered Soriku) is surrounded by a love heart of phrases that are meant to relate to experiencing these characters in their lore space. And this is a design type I want to make more of (now I have this first one done), but at the moment, this design took a long enough time to make that my ambition to make a bunch of these ran into a wall.

The thing that may surprise you is how hard this list of text to add to this turned out to make. To make this kind of word clouding work well, I need a big variety of textwith different weights, and I had to construct this cloud myself. That meant that I also had to make the title in the middle the way I chose to. If I needed 300+ words with different appearances and weight, I was able to get to a whopping fifty.

I like this design! I like how much better I can make the next one, too.

If you want this design, it comes in three flavours, the mixed colour version, the pure red version, and a pure white version.

Story Pile: My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom!

This year has reminded me of something I truly, truly love about anime as a genre: You get a self-contained story idea, usually something with a bunch of familiar anchors, and then says ‘okay, now here’s the idea we’re working with in this space.’ You get useful, familiar tools for telling a story (so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to communicate ideas), and then that lets the story highlight what parts of it stand apart from the standard patterns.

Here’s your standard template: an anime that tells the story that plays out in your typical otome game dating sim, where the characters are divided easily into ‘the ones you want to have sexy stories with’ and ‘the ones who are rivals or hindrances to your sexy stories,’ set in a magical mid-fantasy kingdom where you get fancy outfits, princesses and magical colleges, but also there’s no conspicuous mention of plague or weird pooping habits. Then, there’s the also-standard form of it being a story focusing on a single individual who is from our world, an isekai story, or if you’re familiar with the Christian media space, Narnia-likes.

Here’s your twist: The world she’s in now is the world of a videogame she played when she was in our world, she knows how this type of game works, like the things that signal you’re on the wrong track, but she’s not in the role of the hero of the story like when she played it.

She’s the villainess.

And the villainess, in all the routes of the games, is screwed.

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