Aliens Weaponize Teen Angst

This one doesn’t quite fit in my class-assignment-oriented opinionated posts. It’s more of a traditional one while the class is on break. Happy Thanksgiving. Let’s talk about Doctor Who. Or rather, the newest spinoff, “Class.”

I’ve seen “Class” described as Buffy meets Doctor Who. Rather than a Chosen One, there are 5 kids who know that Coal Hill school (the one from the very first Doctor Who story back in ’63, and where Clara Oswald worked) is the epicenter of a bunch of cracks in time and space, which release all sorts of alien stuff. It’s more like Torchwood, then, with teenagers and considerably less adult subject matter.

And oh boy, do they make the most of that teen angle. A few episodes ago, the kids encountered an alien that literally feeds on teen angst, particularly grief. Last week’s installment compared detention to a prison and featured an alien that turns teen angst, particularly guilt and anger from knowing what your friends really think of you, into a weapon.
The whole season the protagonist, an alien prince, has been feeling Doctor-like levels of survivor’s guilt as he wrestles with anger towards the aliens that slaughtered his race and fear that he’ll lose his boyfriend if he goes genocidal.

I can’t decide if there’s too much teen angst for a Doctor Who show or the right amount for the show’s demographic. Apart from the Doctor’s cameo in the pilot, I’m not sure if a casual viewer would recognize “Class” as a Doctor Who show.
Also, the the theme song is awesome. Unlike most Doctor Who shows it has actual lyrics, as it was borrowed from an actual rock band. It may be too high-energy and catchy for the angst-filled show it introduces, actually.

As I mentioned, the main male protagonist has a boyfriend. They’re kind of adorable, if you’re okay with the homosexuality. Also, that alien prince has a little box containing the souls of his entire dead race. It’s a very interesting afterlife concept. It even comes with Savior imagery, as the prince may become the mythical hero that brings them all back.
No big Christian connections this time, but I just wanted to nerd out for the holiday, kinda like last time I talked about Doctor Who.

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Food Wars? Check Please.

Note/Disclaimer: To be honest, I don’t like doing negative reviews. I like to share the things that I enjoy. Things that I find interesting. However, I make an exception here, and open with saying that I do not recommend this anime. I only reviewed it because it’s quite popular and recently got a second season. But I can’t really use that as an excuse. I didn’t read Twilight when it was popular; I read Dracula instead.

So, I realize that it’s been a while since I wrote about anime. And to be honest, it’s been a while since I sat down to watch an anime. I’ve been spending most of my time on YouTube, watching shorter videos.

And yet, I’m still not caught up on RWBY.

Anyway, I did get back into watching twenty-minute episodes with the series Food Wars! (spelled with an exclamation point, because Excitement!) The series centers around an eighth-grader named Soma, who works at his father’s kitchen, with the goal of eventually surpassing his father. In order to do so, his very supportive father sends Soma to an elite cooking school.

I describe this show as, effectively, One Punch Man met Ratatouille. Except instead of punching, they have cooking, and instead of awkward French stereotypes, they explain the culinary science behind the dishes, whether it’s “I’m wrapping mashed potatoes in bacon to make them taste like pork roast” or it’s “I’m tenderizing this meat with honey.”

So, it’s a good show, then, right?

Not entirely. While it is well made, and it looks well-researched, every episode has at least one “foodgasm” scene. They typically happens towards the end of the episode, and are rather sexually explicit in nature. Because they don’t last very long, I skipped over them (or made use of the “minimize” feature incorporated into most web browsers). I’ve only watched three episodes, so I cannot say if they get any less explicit. The show also has the inverse of these scenes (where a character eats something purely disgusting) as a running gag of a less than savory nature.

In closing, I like to give a rating with my anime reviews. I would give this show a higher rating were it not for the foodgasm scenes. They don’t make it the worst anime ever, but they certainly don’t help it any.

4/10 ~ Have I mentioned Devil is a Part-Timer on this blog yet? Watch that instead. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch a show called “Anything Else.”


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And, have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

(I say safe, because my state is covered in about an inch snow and the roads are wet.)


This Week in Geek-dom: Justice League Dark

My post about Doctor Strange has been delayed, partly because of my class schedule, mostly because I haven’t seen it yet. What I have seen is the trailer for Justice League Dark, DC’s upcoming animated flick.
My all-time favorite incarnation of Superman and his Justice League are back. They’ve faced Darkseid’s demons, Raven’s demons, and Atlantis, but this time they’re apparently facing proper magic that none of them are prepared for, so they need an entire B-team, straight out of obscure comic book canon.
Playing Batman’s role: John Constantine (voiced by the same guy who played him in the one-season Arrow-verse show), the magic world’s second greatest detective. The first greatest is a talking chimpanzee who is apparently unavailable.
Playing Wonder Woman’s token female role: Zatanna, with backwards magic words but (in the trailer) missing her traditional top hat.
And to demonstrate the downright weirdness of the magic world: Swamp Thing (exactly what it sounds like) and Etrigan, a demon who’s been on Earth since King Arthur’s days.
Longtime readers know how much we love media portrayals of angels and demons. (On that note, a big official welcome to everyone who found us through my Persuasive Writing class). Etrigan is remarkably similar to Marvel’s Ghost Rider, but believe it or not, both demonic do-gooders sharing bodies with humans were created for comics at the exact same time.
Unlike Ghost Rider, Etrigan doesn’t seem to punish the wicked for a vengeance narrative. He does it because Merlin hired him in one of those deals with a devil. I don’t think Etrigan even has a dark side. He may as well be an alien from a planet called Hell. Cool for geeks. Not so cool for Christians who are meant to believe that all demons are bad news.
Really, this is just another thing to add to the pile. Other fandoms suggest that angels can be jerks and the Devil himself might be redeemable. Turning a demon into a straight-up superhero, not even an anti-hero, is par for the course. All Christians need, as usual, is maturity and discernment. Kids, do not try this at home.
That’s the warning label that should go on all portrayals of magic. Most of it is purely fictional, but the magic that is real is really dangerous. Keep that in mind, though, and your innocence should remain intact.
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The NES Classic Edition and Poetry

During my first year of college, I took two four-credit literature courses at the same time. It wasn’t as confusing or aggravating as it sounds, despite the fact that between the two classes I wrote four papers related to Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

One of the texts I had to read for one of these was a lengthy poem called “Patience.” Literary scholars assume it was written by the same fellow behind Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, known only as, “The Pearl Poet.” “Patience” is a retelling of the Jonah story, and a pretty good read. I recommend it to those who can find a copy.

The overall theme of the poem is as follows: “Patience is a virtue, though vexing it may prove.” Essentially, patience is very important and sacred at the expense of being annoying.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, Nintendo released the NES Classic Edition a few days ago. It normally runs for sixty dollars and has thirty classic Nintendo games on it—like Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, and Punch-Out!.

I say “normally,” because Nintendo sent too few to the United States. The item technically went out of stock before it was even being sold, thanks to the large (and now unmet) number of preorders. Much like the Amiibos before it, the few consoles that were on the market are being resold for triple the original price.

So much for this broke college student getting one, am I right?

Well, I predict (if Nintendo repeats their entire mistake) the console will probably be in stores in reasonable quantities by February at the earliest. And, frankly, I’m fine waiting that long, just as long as Nintendo figures out that people will actually buy their product in large quantities.

(Hint-hint, Nintendo.)


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This Week in Geek-dom: Young Justice

After the good Teen Titans show and before the reboot, which I’m told is awful, there was Young Justice. Netflix is resurrecting it for a third season, which is a pretty big deal.
The show was basically Teen Titans again, but different. It had two Robins, two Kid Flashes, two Speedy’s (plus Green Arrow’s female sidekick, Artemis), Beast Boy, a different Aqualad, a Deathstroke cameo, even Mammoth. It also had Miss Martian, Zatanna, Superboy, Blue Beetle, and a ton of others. Most notably, it had the big-name heroes and villains like Red Tornado, Captain Marvel, Vandal Savage, and Lex Luthor.
Young Justice had less comedy than Teen Titans, and it squeezed more intricate plotting and character development into two seasons than Teen Titans had in five. Rather than being their own superhero team from the get-go, the sidekicks slowly gained independence and hard-earned maturity while trying to work together. In short, I liked it a bit better than Teen Titans, and I am really excited to see the new season. Here’s hoping it continues after that.
Teen Titans had some good friendship moments, but the Young Justice team is a family, straight up. They sometimes keep secrets from each other, so there’s mistrust thrown around, but when people come clean, they all forgive each other instantly. It’s beautiful.
The show is also about growing up. Sure, I don’t live in the shadow of Superman, Batman, the Flash, Green Arrow, or any super villain. But I still think teens can relate to the sidekicks’ problems. Superboy has serious daddy issues. Robin and Aqualad aren’t sure they want new responsibilities after they get them. Miss Martian and Artemis are sensitive about sharing their pasts with their friends. Red Tornado’s robot siblings struggle with why they should help humanity. Okay, that one might be a little less relate-able.
As I’ve said before, DC has more luck with their animated stuff than their live action films. Young Justice is the cream of the crop. And now we’re getting more of it, because the fans wouldn’t shut up about it. Nerds rule!

Doctor Strange Review

Well, I think we all need to take our minds off the election. That said, I won’t be talking about it further.

So, Doctor Strange came out last Friday. I actually got the chance to go see it on opening night. Even though you’ve probably all seen it by now, I’m going to go spoiler-free for this entry simply because I can.

The story is about a brain surgeon named Steven Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) who gets in a car accident and loses the use of his hands. Desperate to fix his problems, he travels the world and ends up in the courts of Tilda Swinton’s character, the White Witch–sorry, the Ancient One. So, what does she do to the former brain surgeon? Turn him into a superhero of course. And the story continues from there.

I wanted to write about Strange since it was announced, but when I planned, I was expecting the movie to be “Marvel does H. P. Lovecraft.” If you want to be thankful about something, be thankful that Strange was “Marvel does Inception and Harry Potter.” Otherwise, it would’ve been a five-post series about the aforementioned dime-novel author.

With that out of the way, I enjoyed the movie. It was bright, colorful, and well-written. While I wouldn’t call it the best MCU movie (that title goes either to the first Avengers or Civil War), it is certainly up there on the list. A lot of people have been comparing it to Iron Man in terms of the character development. Personally, I compare it more to Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor in terms of its worldbuilding. It’s clearly set in the real world, but there is a lot of new stuff to show off.

As far as the magic and mysticism, I’ll leave that discussion for Noah/another day. While there are few if any Christian themes prevalent, there are still good moral lessons. I won’t say what exactly, because spoilers.

Other Things I Liked: I was impressed with the humor in this movie. It was unexpected, and fit well with the story and the characters. That said, I also liked the character Wong, simply on the principle of him being a librarian.

Things I Didn’t Like: this could have just been me, but it felt like Cumberbatch slipped in and out of his native accent a couple times. Really, that’s the worst thing I have to say about this movie, though.


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The Fault in our Books about Dying People

I love that nerds can band together to accomplish some pretty ridiculous things. For example, the Nerdfighters made John Green’s book about kids with cancer popular enough to become a pretty unusual movie.
The Fault in our Stars looks at the star-crossed love story from the inside. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, the lovers know they’re probably doomed right from the start, but they try to ignore oblivion and be all romantic and adorable. The story is certainly deep and thought-provoking enough to earn some acclaim, even without the Nerdfighters boosting it.
But then Me and Earl and the Dying Girl came out. It’s a book about a girl with leukemia and Greg, a boy who befriends her. It’s meant to be satirical, funny, and thought-provoking like TFIOS. It is none of those things. I couldn’t get more than a few chapters into the book. They made it into a movie, because it’s similar to TFIOS, and that one became a movie, so why not? I got through the end of the movie, but it’s not any good either.
Greg says the book will have a happy ending, because the girl doesn’t die in the end. Then the girl dies in the end. If that was supposed to be deep or clever, it fails horribly. Later, Greg’s friend Earl reads him the riot act for responding selfishly to the girl’s condition. The whole time Greg has been satirizing everyone else’s reactions to the girl’s mortality, so it should be good for someone to criticize his own reaction. But it comes from Earl, who has been given no credibility in the rest of the story.
Toward the end (of the movie at least), Greg shows the dying girl a film he made in tribute to her. He was forced to make it by everyone who thought the dying girl deserved a tribute. He wanted to make it as good as he could for her. What he actually makes is a chaotic mess that would kill an epileptic person. It’s stupid. It’s not funny at all.

Both of these stories consider mortality. Neither looks seriously at the concept of an afterlife or God. They just focus on the fact that people stop being in this world, and the rest of us need to live without them. There are deep truths to be found, but I recommend Truest by Jackie Sommers for better ones.

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