Friday, September 2, 2016

Transformers Prime AMV: On Top of the World

So... seeing as I have been rather inactive lately (and I promise I have a few good excuses for that), I have decided to share one of my most favourite AMVs ever. Transformers Prime AMV: On Top of the World, by RintinDestiny on YouTube.
Words can hardly express how much I love this AMV. The scene choices and the timing for each scene is perfect, as is the song choice. It somehow expresses everything I love about Transformers Prime. Heck, I'd even say it made me love Transformers Prime even more than I did before. Check it out. It's awesome.
By the by, does anyone know what AMV means? Cause I sure don't.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Enjoyment in Spite of Flaws

So, no doubt you guys recall that Thoughts on Robots in Disguise post from not too long ago (one of many these past few months). I ended the post saying that even though the show isn't really that great, it's still ok to enjoy it and love it, despite its flaws. I also ended it with a note telling everyone who doesn't like Robots in Disguise to please be polite when voicing their dislike.
Funnily enough, the whole reason I wrote that post was so I could give that ending note. See, not long before I started writing the post, I read a really harsh review on Robots in Disguise and it really discouraged me. While I aknowledged that the show had flaws and still enjoyed it in spite of its flaws, this reviewer appeared to outright DESPISE the show due to its flaws. A creeping doubt entered my mind: again, I knew that RiD had flaws, but this reviewer was so vehement in their dislike of the show, that to began to wonder if it was really all right to enjoy the show when they hated it so much, especially since I agreed with some of their complaints.
This really weighed on me for a while. I felt like I had to justify my enjoyment of Robots in Disguise. "I KNOW it's got flaws! The story is a little clunky and it's not as good as Transformers Prime, but the characters are so enjoyable to watch and I can't help but love it!" It really didn't help that, at the time, I was going through a lot of emotional ups-and-downs.
However, this doubt and worry was soon taken away after an absolutely amazing and incredibly encouraging answer to my dilemma from babycharmander on Tumblr. You can read said answer below or read the original post here, and don't worry, I'm reposting it with her permission.

--

Do you ever love something, like a toon or game, but the you read a review that bashes it for understandable reasons, and/or bash it for things that make up why you love it so much? And then you wonder, "is it right for me to love this thing so much when this person seems to hate it and brings up good reasons for hating it"? If you do know what this feels like, do you know a way to get past it or something…? Just wondering…
- Anonymous

WELP you came to the right person, friend, ‘cuz you basically described like, a good chunk of the stuff I love. :P
(oh gosh this got really long I’m sorry)
I will have to preface this by saying that I have dealt with people hating on nearly everything I love (sometimes because they honestly hated it, sometimes because I specifically liked it) for my entire life, and I have kindof had to build up an immunity to stuff like this because if I felt bad for liking things or stopped liking things just ‘cuz of what other folks said, I would like nothing and be utterly miserable. This is something I’ve had to learn to deal with over the course of my whole life.
BUT I think you can still learn to live with this kind of stuff! So let’s see…
Something you love got bashed for understandable reasons! Okay, so what are those reasons?
Is the thing you love bashed because maybe it has dialogue that’s poorly written or poorly acted, or maybe it’s a game that’s full of glitches, or maybe because it has plot holes? If that’s the case, you’ll just have to accept that the thing you like is flawed. Which applies to most things! All creative works are flawed in one way or another because they are created by humans, who are flawed by nature. The thing is, a creative work is not necessarily bad because it is flawed. It can still have good things in it that outweighs those flaws.
Like, okay, specific example–I hear Labyrinth get bashed because some of the acting might be bad. Is it? …I don’t really know because I’ve watched the move 500000 times and can probably quote it word-for-word. The point is, I DON’T CARE! The movie has a great story and great characters and great music and great atmosphere and a great moral and great practical effects and who cares if maybe the acting isn’t perfect because that doesn’t change the fact that EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE MOVIE ROCKS.
Another specific example–Pokemon Red! A lot of folks like to be all cynical because ooooh the first gen games are so glitchy and poorly balanced and have such bad graphics and they’re so bad and ~you should feel bad for liking old video games ooooh~ but who cares man, that doesn’t change the fact that I still get a rush of nostalgia from playing a game that I enjoyed as a kid. Is the game flawed? Yeah, but I can still have fun playing it.
So basically–if the thing you like is bashed because it’s flawed, and like, legit flawed, then just shrug and say “okay, but that shouldn’t stop me from loving it because it still has X Y and Z great things that I love about it!!”
Now, moving on–is the thing you love bashed because it has problems for moral reasons? If so, that’s a tougher case, but I believe what I said previously still applies.
For example, I love the Oz books, but unfortunately they have instances of blatant racism in them. They were written in the early 1900s–blatant racism was kindof a thing back then. There’s no getting around that. L. Frank Baum wrote some pretty bad stuff. BUT the Oz books still have some great stuff in them–great characters, great character design, amazingly creative (if incredibly flawed and inconsistent) worldbuilding, and so on. The parts that contain racism are bad–you cannot defend those parts and you can’t really get around that. But that also doesn’t change the fact that the rest of his story is still pretty great.
More recent example–One Piece. Oh gosh the sexism. Oda is very sexist and it sucks a lot and I really hope he realizes how awful that is and changes someday. BUT One Piece still has an incredible story and incredible characters and incredible worldbuilding and incredible humor and so on. Yes, some parts of it are sexist, but that doesn’t mean the rest of it isn’t amazing.
Like, honestly? If you looked close enough at literally any creative work, you could find SOMETHING morally wrong with it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t like the thing. If something is morally wrong, acknowledge it, understand why it is wrong, move on, and continue liking the thing. An exception would be like, if the thing was made specifically to defend or support a really awful thing (like say, if for whatever horrible reason the entire reason the story was made was to defend racism or something???) then I might step back and think long and hard about if you should support something like that. Otherwise, as I said, keep liking the thing.
OKAY, moving on–something you like got bashed over the stuff that made you like it! Well, crap. That’s definitely gonna make you feel bad.
This is also a thing I’ve encountered! I LOVE the video game Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest because it’s weirdly violent, over-the-top quirky, oddly cute, and flat-out different. But in nearly every review I see for it, it gets bashed for how weird and quirky and nonsensical it is!
Same with the movie Return to Oz. I love it because it’s dark and because it’s closer to the books and isn’t afraid to scare kids and uses different characters that other Oz stories tend to neglect–and those are the reasons a lot of people HATE that movie.
In this case, you’re going to have to accept the fact that you like different things, and that your tastes vary greatly from mainstream stuff. Not everyone’s gonna like the things you like. It sucks, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t like those things!
Now, this is something I’m still learning, and if you like stuff that tends to get bashed a lot, you’ll have to learn this too–don’t watch or read the reviews. Say a new review for Return to Oz crops up in the tag. Maybe there’s a chance the person will be praising it, and that would be cool, but there’s a far greater chance that the person is gonna be bashing it and whining about how it’s too scary and too different from the musical. Sometimes I’ll have to step back and say “you know what, it’s not worth it–if it turns out to be a negative review I’m just going to get upset and angry, and there’s nothing to be gained in that. I like the thing and I’m happy with the thing, and the fact that someone else doesn’t like the thing should not affect my own happiness. Instead of wasting my time listening to someone else’s negativity, I’ll do something else instead.”
Of course a lot of times I just give into the temptation and read/listen to/watch the review anyway and wind up regretting it later. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE! Ignore the review, ESPECIALLY if you KNOW it’s going to be negative!
In short–know that some people are not only going to not like some of the things you love–they may hate it. But that should not impact your own happiness. The fact that someone else hates something you love–even if it’s for a good reason!–does not mean that you should not love that thing. Acknowledge that the thing you like is flawed, and continue to celebrate the areas where it excels. Acknowledge that the thing you like may have moral problems and understand why they are moral problems, and continue to enjoy the positive parts of it. Understand that some people may outright hate the thing you love, and continue loving that thing.
99.99999999% of the time, there is nothing wrong with loving the thing you love. Please don’t let the opinions and views of others harm your own enjoyment and happiness.

--

So there you have it. I hope babycharmander knows just how much this answer encouraged me. After I read it, I decided to up and make my own 'review' of Robots in Disguise, one that allowed me to aknowledge its flaws, but also let me gush about how much I enjoy the show in spite of its flaws.
Sooo… Yeah. I'm terrible at writing conclusions. Honestly, everything that could be said here has already been said in babycharmander's post. Most of the time, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a flawed cartoon, book, game, or whatever. Aknowledge that its got flaws, and then list all the things you love about it, and don't let other people bring you down because of it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

My strange thoughts on the UK leaving the EU

[WARNING: Prepare to read the ramblings of an amateur writer who knows nothing about politics]

I'm not sure if I've ever said this, but I hate politics. Especially American politics, because they make little to no sense to me. I could talk a lot about how much I dislike American politics. In general though, I just really don't like politics, American or otherwise. I especially hate it when the politics of other countries (be it France, America, or whatever) start taking the world by storm, because then there is no way I can avoid the thousands of links and memes surrounding the whole political drama.
However, the whole recent thing with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union has been… interesting. I mean, I know nothing about the events leading up to the disunion (something about the government not wanting to deal with the immigrants that came with the union), but it has been made clear to me that this event is huge.
Before the disunion, I was already hearing tons of drama surrounding the presidential election in America and absolutely hating it. Largely because the amount of drama was actually starting to stress me out. I was, and still am, under the impression that one wrong choice in this election could bring about a terrible, world changing event. Possibly the end of the world. I'm sure many people, Americans or otherwise, legitimately feel this way.
But when I heard about the UK's disunion form the EU, now THAT made me feel like I was living in a world changing event. It took me a long time, and my own strange thought process to realize just how big this event is.
See, lately my mind has been flooded with tons of story ideas and concepts. I could talk a lot about how much of a problem that has been for me, but that's for another time. Anyway, one of the concepts that's fascinated me is alternate takes on history. Things like steampunk kind of fall into this category, but I'm thinking more broadly. Basically, what if one big thing in history had been changed? How would this effect the world from then on, what kind of interesting settings would such a big change create? Things like this have me fascinated, and so lately my mind has been coming up with all sorts of 'what ifs' in history.
What if Napoleon had won? What if India had succeeded in winning its independence from the British Empire? What if someone besides George Washington was America's first president? What if Prussia was still on the map? I could go on, but then I'd start getting paranoid that someone will steal one of my ideas. Anyway, it's stuff like this that I think about. I either take a certain event in history and change the outcome, or I sometimes take a certain historical setting (i.e. Canada during the 1930s) and throw in an unexpected, and often kinda stupid, factor that would certainly change history from then on (i.e. an epidemic caused a brief zombie apocalypse in Canada, but was squashed thanks to help from Greenland).
So it was when I was thinking up these things when I heard about the UK leaving the EU. And though I could only think, "Wow. I'm not exactly sure what that means yet, but that sounds big," after a while I started to realize that this was something that this is totally something I would have thought up for an alternate take on history.
'What if Britain left the European Union?'
And strangely enough, that's what succeeded in bringing home to me how big this whole event really is. I still don't understand it exactly, but I do understand that as a result Britain is floundering, Scotland is probably even more unhappy about being a part of the United Kingdom, and the whole world is practically shaking right now. I CAN TELL I'M LIVING OUT A CHAPTER OF HISTORY AND IT'S HONESTLY KIND OF FRIGHTENING.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Robots in Disguise Season 3?

Ok, so in my last two Robots in Disguise posts, I kept on referring to the Season Two finale as the series finale (I also clearly couldn't decide between numeral 2 and the word 'two'). There is a valid reason for that.

Before season one aired, it was said that the creators were planning for Robots in Disguise to go on for three seasons, with 26 episodes in each season. However, around early October last year (about three weeks after the season one finale aired it was announced that the show was planned for 45 episodes in total. This meant that, with 26 episodes already aired for season one, we would only get another 19 episodes in the second season. With the prospect of there being a third season seemingly forgotten, the possibility of there being a third season was dim. [source]

The possibility of there being a third season pretty much turned into a straight up 'no' around January this year, when the air date for season two was released: "This show—which has been commissioned for two full series and a movie—originally aired on Cartoon Network in March 2015. The second series will air in March 2016." [source]

As a little disheartening this was, I kind of understood. Toy sales and ratings probably weren't going great. Also, there seemed to be some serious issues with when the US aired the episodes vs. when everybody else aired the episodes, bla bla bla bla bla, the point is, the show wasn't doing great. And fact that season two also counted as the series finale was not the only disappointment: instead of 19 episodes, season two was only gonna consist of 13.

While all of these components may have biased my view on season two, it certainly felt like the show was trying frantically to build up a story that they could wrap up easily. Almost every episode added a new element to the plot line, with the exception of the very few Away Team episodes. This wasn't really to the show's advantage, as the buildup felt very rushed and left little to no time for fleshing out certain characters (like Glowstrike and Scorponok). But then, the show was being cancled, so I understood why they were doing this, even if I was disappointed about it.

As a side note, I have a theory that the missing six episodes were supposed to feature the Away Team. Because, good gosh, while the Homebase Team (as I call them) appeared in 11 out of 13 episodes, 7 of which focused on them, the Away Team only appeared in a grand total of 6 episodes out of 13, only 2 of which focused exclusively on them. As a result, I was kind of left feeling like a large chunk of the story was missing. I'm almost certain that had season three consisted of the original 19 episodes, instead of 13, the extra 6 episodes would have focused on the Away Team. But again, the show was being cancled, so the writers needed to put all their time into producing episodes that would build on the overarching story, and since the whole plot came into fruition nearby homebase, the Away Team became pretty much irrelevant.

This is too bad, because the Away Team roster was a rather interesting combination of characters, and I would have liked to see them work out their team dynamic. And I can't shake the feeling that we were supposed to see a lot more of the Away Team. Sideswipe undermining Optimus in episodes Overloaded part 1 and 2? I'm pretty sure that that was supposed to be a small arc. An arc that shall now remain unresolved, unless it was resolved off-screen, which is more than likely. Like I said before, I'm pretty sure that the missing six episodes of season two were supposed to feature the Away Team.

Anyway, back on track. Season two ended climactically, and, surprisingly, it both added and left unresolved a few plot threads. Optimus Prime is returning to Cybertron with Windblade, Ratchet, and a huge haul of Decepticon prisoners (including Steeljaw), with the intention of investigating Cybertron's new government. There are still plenty of Decepticons left on Earth, and so the Bee Team certainly isn't going to be leaving Earth anytime soon. Bumblebee even says that he's going to set up a permanent base on Earth! And finally, I can't shake the feeling that the writers are not finished with Steeljaw yet.

Unfortunately, with only a movie special to look forward to, one can't help but wonder if we can really condense the resolvement of all these plot threads into an hour (or more). Personally, I say you can't. Unless you're an amazing writer, I don't know how you can resolve all of these plot threads within an hour (or more) without the whole thing being terribly rushed. (But then again, I'm not a professional writer, so)…

However, fairly recently, there has been what seems to be confirmation of a THIRD SEASON of Robots in Disguise. In an interview at 2016's BotCon, a pair guys from Hasbro (I think they design the toys or something) kind of confirmed that a third season is planned to be released this autumn.

[WARNING: This transcript was written by ear, so expect some inaccuracy]
Interviewer: "So, we've noticed with the Robots in Disguise line - the Warrior Class toys, the Deluxe equivalents - the designs have gotten a lot more… not super complex, of course, but they've gotten… they've settled in more, I guess I'll say. The ones now are noticeably better. Has- is, like, going back and doing new versions of some of the core show characters anything that's on your radar?"
Ben Montano: "I mean always… I don't- we wouldn't like go back and say, 'Well we didn't do it well the first time, let's do it better this time.' There's always an intention, and when we design a character and [???] create the steps and the conversion, I think so many of it depends on are we really trying to nail the robot mode, or trying to nail the vehicle mode, or what is the story of this character, that really can architects how that character is converting. I mean, yeah, if there's a chance to go back and redo a Sideswipe or Bumblebee, we're gonna do it for a reason - the story that you'd get in the next season. A big part for us is, this is an opportunity for us to bring more characters to life in our idea, and that is probably more so our focus right now, is to bring to life more of the Autobots you see and more of the Decepticons."
Interviewer: "So you said 'the next season'. Does that mean that we are getting a third season of the show?"
Ben Montano: "I'm saying as we go f- So, like, in this fall, right? So we haven't- we had lot of episodes that you haven't seen. Season two, right? So, you'll see a lot of newness this fall, and that- as we actually call it season three. So season two is this spring, season three is this fall. So you'll see a lot more of the ongoing, and more characters. And you'll see them on the shelf."

They still have more toys to advertise! Seriously though, I got super excited about this. Not so much about the toys - I'm not really a consumer, though I am looking forward to buying a Warrior Class toy - but I am SUPER excited about the prospect of a third season. Coming out THIS AUTUMN no less!

There is something Montano said that I'm curious about. He said that there were plenty of episodes we haven't seen in season two, which kind of confirms my theory about the 6 missing episodes. Maybe, possibly? Anyway, I'm unsure what he means when he says that they 'actually call it season three'. Does he mean that season three will consist of episodes that were missing from season two? Seeing as we all ready wrapped up season two with a slightly wonky bow, that makes little to no sense.

But I'm really not trying to think too hard about this right now, because we're actually going to get a season three!! I'm so happy! *checks watch* And I need to wrap this post up. Sorry about the very (VERY) abrupt finish, but I want to get this post published before I forget about it completely. I hope that you guys aren't too annoyed by my constant Robots in Disguise posts, especially considering the fact that they are disorganized and clumsily written… But, I'm not sure if anyone reads these posts anyway, and I just enjoy posting what I'm passionate about.
Stay tuned! I will either post something different for once, or I will talk about what I'm hoping for season three! With luck, it'll be the former. 'Til all are one!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

More Thoughts on Steeljaw (also, birthday!)

Hey guys. I'm back with some more of my dorky over-analyzation! Huzzah! Ok, before I go on with the post though, I'll have you know that as of May 20th, I am now of legal driving age! At least in Malaysia. By American standards, I've been of legal driving age for little over a year now. Anyway, let's talk about Steeljaw.

So, in my last RiD 2015 post, I gave my overall view on the series, and this included my thoughts on Steeljaw. My thoughts remain relatively unchanged, but there is something I want to add to it.

As amazingly silver tongued and manipulative Steeljaw is, there was something about him that never sat well with me. Like I mentioned in my last post, I didn't feel like he was being used to his full potential as a villain. It wasn't until I finally took the time to watch the Orion Pax arc in Transformers Prime that it hit me. There is nothing personal in the rivalry between Bumblebee and Steeljaw. And everything I say from here on out is at the risk of me sounding like an uneducated idiot, but please, hear me out.

I'm unsure how to explain this in a well articulated way… Some of the best villain/hero rivalries are characterized from how they interact with each other. And I can't really say much about how Bumblebee and Steeljaw interact beyond 'meh.'

Bumblebee doesn't seem to regard Steeljaw as anything more than another convict, albeit a dangerously persistent one with a ridiculously resourceful processor. Steeljaw doesn't really regard 'Bee as anything more than another cop on his tail, one who occasionally gets in the way of his plans.

There is nothing wrong with this dynamic. This dynamic could really work if it simply evolved as time went on. If the constant conflict between the hero and villain started to effect how they act, both in everyday life and towards each other, then that creates a very interesting villain/hero rivalry. Largely - epecially when either the hero or the villain starts to make this conflict personal, because as a result, you not only become concerned with how the villain's goals effect the world, but also with how the villain's goals would effect the hero should the villain win. If a villain wants to take over the earth and wins, well that sucks for the earth. But what does that mean for the hero, the one who made it their life's mission to stop the villain? Do they simply lose and die, or does this loss effect them, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally?

For instance, let's say that Bumblebee started to get steadily more frustrated and angry about the fact that Steeljaw keeps on getting away with what he does. The more frustrated Bumblebee gets, the more he starts to make his battle with Steeljaw something personal. That would definitely effect Bumblebee's behavior, both around his team and around Steeljaw. And if Steeljaw is as smart and manipulative as the show depicts, then he would probably use Bumblebee's frustration to his advantage.

I don't know about you, but I love villains who mess with the protagonist psychologically and/or emotionally. Regardless of whether or not the protagonist views the conflict between themselves and the villain something personal, when a villain psychologically messes with the protagonist - whether by mocking them, or by taking advantage of a weakness/so-called weakness, etc. - they pretty much MAKE the conflict personal. That's another thing that makes me feel as though Steeljaw isn't quite being used to his full potential. The guy is clearly manipulative, but he doesn't use this skill nearly as much on the Bee Team as he does on his own teammates.

The whole 'steadily rising frustration' thing works on the the villain as well, though in a slightly different way. If Steeljaw started getting more angry and frustrated with every time Bumblebee gets in his way, eventually Steeljaw would be less concerned with his 'Make Earth a Decepticon homeland' mission and more concerned with 'DESTROY THAT SLAGGING AUTOBOT WHO KEEPS ON GETTING IN MY WAY.'

Sure, Steeljaw has hardly ever been beaten by the Bee Team. In fact, I think it's only when Steeljaw is executing his big plans when the Bee Team finally manages to thwart him (see Battlegrounds 1-2 and Decepticon Island 1-2). But in all the little battles leading up to the finale, with the more obvious exception of episode Lockout, Steeljaw pretty much never loses. And while that's not to the advantage of the 'villain makes it personal' idea - though Steeljaw is clearly about to make it personal at the end of Lockout, but that doesn't last long - it is most certainly to the advantage to the 'protagonist makes it personal' one. Unfortunately, neither of them is used, hardly ever.
Or are they?

Enter the Season 2 finale, episodes Decepticon Island part one and part two.

This finale was pretty epic, better than the Season 1 finale. It actually addressed (and somewhat resolved) an issue I've been concerned about ever since I watched the season 1 finale, had a pretty awesome final show-down between Bumblebee, Optimus, and Steeljaw, and contained some of the coolest scenes in the entire show. The amount of adorableness surrounding Strongarm and Sideswipe wasn't a bad bonus either. Also, Strongarm and Windblade being total BFFs is one of my new favorite things. I'm afraid I won't be reviewing the finale, but I will point out how quickly the dynamic between Bumblebee and Steeljaw evolved.

I predicted in my last post that the fast approaching series finale would leave little to no time for certain characters to develop. While I referred mainly to Glowstrike and Saberhorn due to their having hardly any screen time prior to the finale, I felt somewhat the same way about Steeljaw. While his character and personality was well established, his rivalry with Bumblebee, in my opinion, was not. And while my view concerning Glowstrike and Saberhorn remains unchanged, my opinion on Steeljaw and Bumblebee's rivalry however, changed rather quickly following the end of Decepticon Isl. part two.

"You're done, Steeljaw! Do you hear me!? Done!"
During the final fight with Steeljaw, Bumblebee has clearly had enough of this 'Con. He puts his all into attempting to beat Steeljaw into submission and shouts that Steeljaw is done for. With the amount of frustration and anger that Bumblebee displays, it certainly felt like he had made the conflict personal. Of course, Bumblebee spends much of the episode trying to contain his frustration surrounding an entirely different issue, so this could just be him lashing out (projecting his problems, if you will), but said issue was resolved several minutes before the final fight, and regardless, I became way more invested in their conflict.

Steeljaw, though… Steeljaw is so close to being on top of the world in these two episode. His ultimate goal of Earth wide domination is within his grasp, and he has enough brawn to take out any Autobot who gets in his way. Thanks to the three Decepticon Hunters in his possession, he is pretty much turned into a power-mad maniac with the ability to knock Optimus Prime on his aft and an incredibly wild design that Hasbro has probably made a toy out of. Steeljaw really is close to being on top of the world and he is NOT going to let ANYONE stop him from reaching it.
So of course, when Steeljaw is defeated, that is the final straw.

"This isn't over! I will tear you to ribbons, Bumblebee!"
As strangely unnerving as it was to see a power-mad Steeljaw - it's so unlike his usually suave attitude - it gave me chills to hear and see how furious Steeljaw was as his victory slipped from his claws. The amount of fury he displays as he tries desperately to escape from the trap Bumblebee has sealed him in is straight up feral. And I don't think anyone who watched this episode can forget that animalistic howl Steeljaw releases just before the cryo-gas puts everyone on Decepticon Island asleep. Now THAT gave me chills. And when Steeljaw pretty much all but said "I'LL BE BACK", when I first saw this episode, I told my sister, "Ah, NOW I feel like there's something personal in this rivalry." And it's true. Finally, after losing his chance at victory one time too many, Steeljaw has made the conflict between himself and Bumblebee personal. Even if Bumblebee feels like his battle with Steeljaw is over and done with, Steeljaw is now holding an epic vendetta against Bumblebee, and that makes me so excited to see how this newfound fury will effect future conflicts.
It's just too bad that there will be no future conflicts.

Decepticon Island part 1 and 2 pretty much marks the series finale. All there is left is an hour long special (whenever that'll come out), and I do have doubts as to how much they can fit into only one hour. Not only that, since Decepticon Island part 2 ends with Steeljaw and all other RiD 'Cons of consequence being put on ice, I'm not sure what else this show can do.

Unless, of course, this isn't the series finale… Stay tuned! I will eventually elaborate on that! Until then though, 'til all are one!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Thoughts on Robots in Disguise thus far

Hey! It's been awhile since I talked about Robots in Disguise, huh? Honestly, looking back at my old posts, it's just a small bit embarrassing how much I was getting into analyzing everything. But hey, I acknowledge that I am an overanalyzing geek.
I was planning to review the series one episode at a time, but then I realized how complicated that would be. Then I was planning on reviewing the Season 1 finale, but that didn't get far. And now that Season 2 is already out, and with the series finale racing towards me at an alarmingly fast rate, I'm at a bit of a loss. I guess the most I can do is give my thoughts on the series thus far, from the story, to the characters, to the villains, to (potentially) the animation and action. Anyway, where should I start…

The story of Robots in Disguise is nothing too big, and villains are 'pretty cool' at best and 'boring' at worst. Compared to Prime, I'm afraid Robots in Disguise doesn't hold much weight. I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that it has a different atmosphere compared to Prime, because honestly, I see it almost as a seperate entity from TFPrime. But even when not comparing it to Prime, Robots in Disguise is just 'all right'. However, that does not stop me from LOVING THIS SHOW TO DEATH.

If there is one thing that makes Robots in Disguise really good (in my opinion) it has to be the characters. Now, to get this out of the way, I've seen some people complain that the characters of RiD are boring archetypes. Regardless of whether or not that is true, that doesn't stop me from saying, again, a lot of what makes Robots in Disguise good (in my opinion) comes from the characters.

I don't know, I'm just in love with the way they interact. Strongarm and Sideswipe bicker like middle-schoolers, Grimlock is that brutally strong softie whom everyone can't help but enjoy the company of, Fixit is kind of quirky and odd, but everyone likes him regardless, and Bumblebee is pretty much the stressed out big brother who really needs everyone to just get along because that would make his job a whole lot easier. I really enjoy the character's designs (dayum, 'Bee, puberty did a number on you), and I could gush about how much I love Strongarm as a female character.

I'm not usually too big a fan of female characters, even in Transformers. I mentioned (in a roundabout away) in my first Top 5 TFP characters post (I have to get back on that don't I?) that I wasn't that big a fan of Arcee. I enjoy her backstory and her depth in character, but overall, I just didn't like her compared to the other characters, largely due to how broody she was. Here, however, Strogarm has got to be one of my most favorite characters in the show, and my most favorite female transformer EVER. Heck, maybe even one of my most favorite female characters in cartoons.

Strongarm doesn't exactly fall into the 'by the book cadet' category. She's tenacious, relies heavily on structure, and is ridiculously well-versed in her rule book to be sure. But she's also curious, easily fascinated, a bit of an insecure perfectionist, and maybe a bit self righteous. She's even rebellious in her own way, even if she's unlikely to aknowledge such a trait. Also, yeah, I absolutely love Strongarm's design. I FINALLY FEEL LIKE I COULD POTENTIALLY COSPLAY A FEMALE TRANSFORMER!

Now about the villains. Of course we will get the occasional one-time villain. With a show like RiD, where the plot is centered around capturing a bunch of different Decepticons, it's kind of inevitable. And for what it's worth, some of these one-time 'Cons are actually pretty interesting and/or funny. I think that my favorite one-timers I've seen thus far may be Ped from Can You Dig It? and Vertebreak from Some Body, Any Body.

When I first saw Ped, he came off as a surprisingly large and formidable villain. And then he talked. And I just could not take him seriously anymore, which may or may not have been the point. The guy just cracked me up from then on, and I wish that he would show up in later episodes.

Vertebreak on the other hand… Hm, well I just found him creepy. When I first saw him, I got a bit of a shiver up my spine. I really enjoy mad scientist characters, and of course this creepy snake-bot-thing fits the bill perfectly. I was honestly a bit surprised that this character didn't show up in later episodes, because let's face it, he would probably be useful to Steeljaw's cause. I guess Hasbro didn't make a big, expensive toy for him to advertise.

Now about Steeljaw. Hot dang, this guy is so masterfully charismatic and manipulative, and I love it! He has an air about him that you KNOW you can't trust, but you can't help but admire anyway. The way he so easily manipulates both Autobots and Decepticons alike with his gentle, apologetic, Every-bot act, is almost hypnotizing. Dude, not even Animated Megatron was this skilled at manipulation! Of course, he can't retain his peaceful countenance forever… My sister made this really good comparison of Steeljaw to Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron. He's charismatic and almost funny, but he has these moments of unbridled rage that often manage to catch everyone off guard, and makes the viewer remember 'Oh, yeah. This guy is super dangerous.'
I don't know how to express how much enjoy Steeljaw as a villain. He's charismatic, he's a backstabber, and he's an amazing liar. I just don't think he's being used to his full potential, which is truly unfortunate. There are a LOT of awesome arcs and/or story lines one could make with this villain!

Now as far a Steeljaw's pack goes… Well, I think that they were a lot more interesting in their own episodes. All together, well, some of them are kind of boring. I feel like Underbite had the potential to be a really entertaining 'Con, but when apart of Steeljaw's pack he really doesn't say much at all. Fracture had the potential to be a very ruthless 'Con, but after his debut episode he really doesnt live up to such potential. Thunderhoof has been and remains one of my favorite recurring Decepticons, but I don't think he always lives up to his potential as a freakin' crime lord. I guess anyone would be cowed by Steeljaw's claws, and sure Thunderhoof occasionally complains about his position as a lackey, but like the others, I don't feel like he's being used to his full potential. Clampdown was already a gutless character, and honestly I don't care enough about him to even find him boring, so I could take him or leave him.

In season 2 we are introduced to a slew of new villainous 'Cons, most notably: Scorponok, Glowstrike, and Saberhorn. And yet again I feel like these three aren't (or weren't in Scorponok's case) being used to their full potential.

Saberhorn's debut episode gave him an amazingly entertaining personality. He's a swordsbot with a theatric flair, and a gentlebot pirate with a vocabulary and fighting skills to match. Also, he's smart enough to stick around to make sure that an opponent is properly killed by a deathtrap, as opposed to just leaving him to his own devices. However, after his debut episode, Saberhorn has been seen in a total of two other episodes, and he does hardly anything in either. And with the series finale closing in, I doubt that we'll get to see much more of Saberhorn before he gets his aft handed to him. Which is too bad, because again, I really enjoyed Saberhorn's almost outlandish personality and I wanted to see more of his potential as a villain. But I guess when your show is reaching its end before its time, you have to focus more on wrapping up the story than on developing characters.

As for Scorponok and Glowstrike… I almost couldn't care less about them. Scorponok shows up in two episodes, doing next to nothing in the first and getting captured and incarcerated in the second. We find out almost nothing about him. He's an intolerant bruiser who hates it when he's questioned. That's about it. Glowstrike on the other hand, I can't make up my mind about her. Like with Scorponok, we knows almost NOTHING about her, and she hardly has a definitive personality. Which is really, really too bad, because female villains are my favorite and I really wish that she would DO MORE. Again, like with Saberhorn, I don't think that the approaching series finale will leave enough time for her to live up to her potential, or even create some kind of PERSONALITY.

The animation is typically well done. Nothing AMAZING, but well done. A lot of the backgrounds and environments are also well done, and it's interesting to see CGI characters in a handdrawn environment. There are some scenes that clearly combine 2D animation with CGI animation, and it can be GORGEOUS to look at. The main example, possibly only example as I can't think of many others, would be Bumblebee's nightmare from Even Robots Have Nightmares (shown above). I found the flaming Optimus thing to be almost artistically animated, and I LOVED it.

The action is also pretty good, though again nothing amazing. I do enjoy the amount of melee combat shown in the show, preferring such action to gunfights. There are a few times/episodes in which the action is slow and boring, and the animation seems stilted. One example is season 2 episode Cover Me. I don't know, the entire thing was rather slow paced, and I'm not sure if it was the writing or the animation that made it so. Other than that though, the action and animation are pretty well done.

So, yeah. I wasn't looking to make much of a well-structured point here. All I wanted to say was, is Robots in Disguise 2015 a great show? No. I wouldn't even say it's a good show. However, does that mean you can't enjoy it for what it is, in spite of its flaws? No, of course not. I enjoy this show, even if I am disappointed with the direction season 2 is taking - though I do understand why it's taking such a direction, but that's a talk for another time.
So to the people who seriously dislike this show: all right, I understand. I get that this show has flaws, and it's ok if you dislike this show due to these flaws. However, if you would please be polite to the people who DO like this show. Seriously, it can be kind of crushing for some people to see something that they enjoy getting bashed on. With all this said, let's rev up and roll out 'til all are one.

[Check out this absolutely lovely Bee Team Team Prime 2.0 fanart by fulcrumisthebomb on Tumblr (found via kisachi-tf on Tumblr)]

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Random thought on my writing

I kind of want to go back on all the posts in my writing tag and delete some of them. A lot of them are terrible things I wrote in my preteen years, or poems that I had considered poems at the time, but looking back on it with my better understanding of what a poem is, I realize are not poems at all. Then again, I have made it a point to not delete anymore posts off of my blog, in spite of how terrible they are. I'd rather look back on all the awful things I've written and see how far I've come since then, than forget just how bad I was at writing stuff.

T4YP audition monologues

These are the monologues I recited for my T4YP audition. Yes, I wrote them down from memory - though admittedly I did compare them to the source to check if I got certain words right. The punctuation in the Shakespearean I also had to look up.

Shakespearean monologue
Source: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Character: Helena
Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 226-251

How happy some o'er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so.
He will not know what all but he do know.
And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity.
Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind.
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath love of any judgment taste—
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy love is perjured everywhere.
For ere Demetrius looked on Hermia's eyne,
He hailed down oaths that he was only mine.
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight.
Then to the wood he will tomorrow night
Pursue her. And for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense.
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again.

Contemporary monologue
Source: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Character: Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding (played by Morgan Freeman)

Rehabilitated?
Well now, let me see. Now I don't have any idea what that word means. I know what you think it means, sonny. To me it's just a made up word. A politician's word, so young fellas like you can wear a suit and tie, and have a job.
What do you really wanna know? Am I sorry for what I did? There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. I look back on the way I was then - a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I wanna talk to him. I wanna try and talk some sense into him. Tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone. This old man is all that's left. I gotta live with that.
Rehabilitated? It's just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Cause to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Recent interests (2015) part 2

If you'll remember, about seven months ago (give or take a few days), I was terribly sick and didn't know what else to do, so I decided to make a list of my recent interests. Now I decided to make another list of the things that interested me the six months after that. And hey, I'm even sick again to commemorate the event! Lovely! Ok, here we go.

Outlast
This is one that I actually forgot to add in the first Recent Interests post, so here it is now. Outlast… I first got into Outlast by watching Teens React Gaming: Outlast on the REACT channel (gif source). If there is one thing I can say about Outlast, it is that it's legitimately terrifying. It's not just the jumpscares that get to me, though those are pretty well crafted, but the chase scenes. Oh gosh, those chase scenes have me so riled up. You can practically feel the enemies grabbing at your ankles as you climb into a vent to get away! The camera mechanic is really interesting, and I feel like the sound of the night vision activating should become a staple sound in horror games. The story is immersive enough, and you really start to connect with Miles Upshur, the journalist you play as. Your combined want to get out of there makes the ending of Outlast just that much upsetting. The DLC, Outlast Whistleblower also has an interesting story, though the gore factor is pushed to unbelievable heights… Your character, Waylon Park, is a very sympathetic person who you've just got admire for his strength, and just like with Miles you connect with his want get out, making the ending of the DLC just that much more satisfying after having finished the main game. The visuals are really impressive, and I am ESPECIALLY impressed with the fact that you can see the body of the character you play as (something that always impresses me in a FPS game). Now on that note, if there was something I didn't like about the game, that would be its disturbing visuals/gore factor. In Outlast alone I feel that they tried way too hard to make the inmates of the asylum look as disturbing as possible. I get that terrible things happen, but making them look terribly deformed doesn't creep me out or make me feel sorry for them. It's just kind of gross. As for Whistleblower, I'm not gonna talk too much on that. I saw the censored version on Teens React Gaming: Whistleblower, and I still feel it was over the top. Maybe it's just me, but I just don't like overly disturbing visuals or gratuitous amounts of gore. Focus more on the atmosphere! Like the scene in Whistleblower when you're being stalked by an inmate with multiple personality disorder. That was really well done! Other than that though, this is a really good horror game, and I'm interested to see what Outlast 2 will bring to the table.

Ib
I got into this thanks to Markiplier's Let's Play of it. Another horror game, but this one is much more low key compared to Outlast. I don't even really think of Ib as a horror game really. The whole story and atmosphere is something like… Alice in Wonderland meets Coraline. As an RPG game, the visuals of Ib aren't all that stunning, but the world that's created with these visuals more than makes up for it. The puzzles that you have to get through in this game are rather clever, and sometimes legitimately terrifying. (That freakin' doll room). What really makes this game for me though, is the story and characters. Ib, the character you play as throughout most of the game, is a silently stoic little girl who you can't help but admire and root for. Garry (my personal favorite, so sue me) comes off as a bit of a wimp at first, but you grow to admire his courage and selflessness. Mary is a truly tragic character whom you usually end up pitying in the end. It's kind of sad to know that there is no happy ending for ALL of the characters. Mary All Alone has got to be the saddest and most terrifying out of all the endings (of which there are many). My personal favorite ending is Welcome to the World of Guertena, a slightly unnerving ending and ironically the only one where the characters stay together. I don't know, I guess there's something appealing story wise, the idea that these characters will stay forever in this mad world, the playthings of a tragic little girl. I am definitely going to get this game sometime… [Gif source: this epic video]

We Happy Few
Yes, yet another game, but I actually got into this one do to research, as opposed to watching Markiplier or Jacksepticeye play the alpha version. Which I did, but that doesn't matter. When I first saw We Happy Few, it mainly had me interested because of how similar it was to Bioshock in the artstyle and gameplay. So I did a little more research, and the concept of We Happy Few had me hooked immediately. A dystopian 1960s England where everyone is a drugged out into a state of perpetual and unnerving happiness? Yes please! From what I can tell from research, the idea of the game is that during WWII, something terrible happened between the British army and the Germans. In an effort to forget this event, a drug, aptly named Joy, was invented by the British. It causes one to be in a state of perpetual happiness, literally unable to see the bad things in the world, and causes one to forget everything bad that has happened. It has now become a requirement for all people to take Joy, or else be beaten to death by a happy mob. You play as a downer (someone who has deliberately stopped taking Joy) named Arthur Hastings, who is trying to escape from the drugged out town of Wellington Wells. Along the way of course, you uncover more and more secrets concerning what exactly happened during WWII. This whole idea and story had me sold. I love history, I love English culture, I love conspiracies, and I can't wait for the full game to come out. Who knows, I may actually buy it and play it myself for once. We Happy Few is an indie game by Compulsion Games, and you can check out their Kickstarter page here.

To The Moon
Another game! Another RPG game! But not a horror game. No, this is the first game that I legitimately cried at while watching Markiplier play it. Hey, he was tearing up too! But seriously, I was close to sobbing by the end of it. The gameplay isn't something the laud, but it isn't the gameplay that makes this game. It's the story. You play as Dr. Eva Rosaline and Dr. Neil Watts, who work for Sigmund Corp., a corperation that helps people on their deathbeds achieve their dying dream/wish. By using futuristic technology, the doctors go through the client's memories until they get to their childhood, where they plant an irrepressible urge to achieve their dream, thus altering their entire lifetime of memories. Eva and Neil's client in the game is an old man named Johnny, who's dying wish is to go to the moon. The story in this is just too good, and I just can't spoil the ending here. You grow to love characters, especially Johnny and his deceased wife River. Dr. Rosaline and Dr. Watts are also quite the fun characters, and there seems to be a hidden story for the kinda jerky, always nerdy referencing Dr. Neil Watts that may or may not be uncovered in a sequel. Yes, Freebird Games has confirmed that they are making a sequel, which will be released late 2016 or early 2017. I hope that the story is just as impactful as this one.

Hetalia [a faint "noooo…" can be heard in the background]
I am not an anime person. I have nothing against anime or anime lovers, but it's just not something I care to get into. Unlike my sister, who gushed about this particular anime. After months of denial and claims that I WOULD NOT get into this anime, I grudgingly admitted that I was into this anime. 'This anime' is of course Hetalia, and yes, my sister is freakin' proud of herself. About my state as a Hetalia fan: I do not actively read the manga, I've only ever seen the English dub, and I DO NOT ship 99.9% of the ships - popular or unpopular/obscure - rampant in this fandom. That said… gosh dang, I love this anime. I mean, countries personified as an entertaining bunch of stereotypes and watching them truck through the insanity that is world history? Awesome! This show creates some really enjoyable characters, from enthusiastically oblivious America, to stuffy composer Austria, to the romantic and admittedly perverted France, these characters are so fun to watch. The anime serves to paint history in an interesting and fun way - like France and England fighting over who gets to be the big brother of a little colony named America - comment on the strange events that have happened in history - like the overpopulation of baby sea turtles in Spain around the 2000s - as well as make fun of the cultural differences between countries - like the different styles of horror movies, or the extreme difference in meal sizes between Japan and America. As an American citizen who grew up in Asia, I can declare the previously mentioned stereotype as true. While the show does sometimes show the sadder aspects of history - the American Revolutionary War is the first thing that comes to mind - it's generally lighthearted, if PG-13. It's an anime, what do you expect? In spite of this, I usually enjoy the humor in this anime, and I commend it for having the best English dub I have ever heard - seriously, the accents, the enthusiasm of the voice actors, it's all brilliant - for rejuvenating my childhood love of history, and for making me proud to be an America citizen. I am not kidding about that last one. Overall, even if I often feel discouraged as one of the only platonic shippers in the fandom, I really enjoy this anime. Check it out if you love history and don't mind some dirty jokes.

Generator Rex
This is another rather interesting one. Like Invader Zim, I really wanted to get into this but never felt the urge to. Finally though, I up and started watched it. And I LOVED it. I don't usually watch action cartoons outside of super hero cartoons and Transformers, but this one is absolutely prime. The premis is really interesting - microscopic bots called nanites are spread throughout the earth into the air due to an explosion of nuclear proportions. While the nanites are typically dormant and this harmless, when they activate inside a person, plant, or animal, they deform said person plant or animal into a freak of nature that is usually animalistically violent. These are called EVOs. The main character, Rex, is one of the few people in the world who remains relatively unchanged by his active EVOs, able to control and make awesome weapons out of them. He works for an agency called Providence, which works to stifle EVO threats. Aside from being able to fight EVOs with his nanite weapons, Rex also has the unique ability to cure EVOs, turning them back into whatever they were before. The characters in this cartoon are super cool, from Agent Six - a former mercenary Providence agent and Rex's default caretaker - to the villainous Van Kliess - an EVO man who can control nanites. Rex is also an interesting character, having amnesia and unable to remember anything before the nanite explosion (several years before the cartoon starts), he has a vague backstory that we don't find too much of. He has a personality that goes beyond the rebellious punk he instantly asserts himself as, and I don't know why, but the fact that he's Hispanic makes me super happy. The fact that he enjoys Spanish soap operas is hilarious as well. I could gush about this cartoon for a long time, but of course I have to crash it with this: the show was CANCLED… WHY ARE ALL THE AWESOME CARTOONS CANCLED!?

Coraline
I mentioned Coraline in my Ib section, and I would not have mentioned this movie if I hadn't watched it. When Coraline was first advertised and I saw the posters, my only thought was, "Aw, HECK no." Creepy people with button eyes? There was no way I was gonna touch that. That is until a few years later, when I started to really get into stop-motion movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Paranorman. I reconsidered my position when I saw some amazing clips from Coraline, and finally decided to check it out. And I LOVED it. It was very charming in its characters and ESPECIALLY in its visuals, which is the thing that made me decide to check it out in the first place. The story was engaging, interesting, and sometimes fairly disturbing. The stop motion animation was amazingly well done, as was the voice acting. Was the movie creepy? Yes, kind of. But the creepiness was just a part of what made this movie so good. Yeah, it may be a little intense for some little kids, but I would definitely recommend it to most everyone else if only for the amazing visuals and animation.

Undertale
The last minute addition to my 2015 interests list, one that was introduced to me via babycharmanderkeckleon on tumblr. I first watched Undertale through Markiplier, and went through the entire series thanks to Jacksepticeye and his entire playthrough. If you're a gamer, then I'm not sure what I can say about this game that hasn't been said already. The music is amazing and tons of fun, the world is interesting, and the CHARACTERS - holy crap, the characters are awesome. And of course, the story. It's hard to explain how great the story is without spoiling the whole thing, and honestly, I'm just way too tired to start typing everything I care to talk about when it comes to Undertale. The game is great, the music is great, the characters are great, the story is great, and this Recent Interests list is long, long overdue.

Other Things I Became Interested in Last Year, But Won't Talk About Because GOOD GOSH This List is WAY Overdue
Invader Zim
Batman Beyond
The Flash

How do I wrap this up smoothly? By again saying that an unnecessary amount of time was put into getting all those gifs I suppose. Have a lovely day.