Cabin in the Woods: A Movie I’m Conflicted About

Cabin in the Woods, Drew Goddard’s and Joss Whedon’s horror opus is a movie that I should absolutely adore. It’s by two of the best creators of all time taking their pass at once of the most time tested concepts of all time with a great twist. Unfortunately it’s not that. Instead it is a film that I constantly go back to, not because I think it’s an amazing film, but because I can’t figure out if I like the film or not.

Despite Joss Whedon being one of my favorite creators I don’t like everything he’s done. Firefly and Serenity among them. He sometimes runs with ideas that sound good on paper but are missing some connective tissue. In other words he falls into the trap of trying to be too clever for his own good. Drew Goddard has had a better track record, but isn’t perfect.

To back up and in case you haven’t seen the film, it follows a group of teens who get trapped in a cabin in the woods and are subjected to horror beyond their imagination. Unbeknownst to them they are in fact part of a ritualistic experiment by a sinister group who are using them as a ritualistic killing in order to prolong the earth. Creative and common horrors abound.

On the whole it is a good movie. It has this incredibly infections energy. The dialogue is so sharp, and the acting is great. Though poor baby Chris Hemsworth can’t keep an American accent to save his life, literally. The one big problem is in the setup. Much of the movie is about the teens acting irrationally and out of character, but we don’t get an amazing sense of who they are beforehand. It wants to be a tight film, and I respect that, but it comes at the cost of being told a character is acting weird instead of being shown. Also the whole dang budget is on screen. It’s both wonderful and leads to some poorly aged effects. They’re noticeable, but don’t distract from the point of the film.

The film is primarily a satire setup to mock the industry that birthed the ever more gruesome and elaborate horror films. Constant talk of please those with certain mandatory events, and a checklist of scares to get along with a whole system outside that’s setup to run the scenarios with nary a hitch in design. Though it also makes fun of those tropes, specifically the horror arch-types, in how they need a whole system just to make it work. They have to pump chemicals into the body, force rational scenarios out the window, and bend a person to fit a mold instead of finding someone the mold fits. It’s unrealistic, even video gamey.


I think the reason this film always gets under my skin is how it feels like it should change every time you watch it. The nature of the scares the movie creates, having the teens select their own doom and then showing us the whole treasure trove of horrors they could have dealt with makes it feel too safe in spots (I’m not saying the whole film is safe, but making the primary threat in the cabin red neck zombies feels far too standard and boring when you have Wolf bats and giant snakes and discount pin-head). I want it to change when I watch. The teens pick and I wish every time that it could change just like— Until Dawn, a cinematic survival horror game released onto the PS4 in 2015 and is exactly that!

Until Dawn, it’s spiritual sequel the Man of Medan and Little Hope (which I haven’t played yet but am hype too) feel like the successor to what Cabin in the Woods was trying to accomplish. Though Cabin in the Woods has a far harsher take on humanity and what humanity wants (why do you think the character who said our modern world should end just so happens to be the reason it does), but Until Dawns family tries the same thing but with the added interactivity and inherent replay-ability. Though they are not better stories they are what everything right that Cabin in the Woods fails at. It provides our chosen fears when we want and how we want. We want monsters, not bureaucracy.

Yeah, that might seem odd to say, but once the monsters start coming it is all too clear that they aren’t the threat in Cabin in the Woods. Instead it’s the systems. The teens were twisted and changed to fit what society needed from them. Two literal middle-aged white men (which I can’t help but see as author inserts for Whedon, an aged master, and Goddard, a strong up-incomer), placating their bosses by manipulating those younger than them is not a coincidence. Just like how the after-party they throw once they think they won is used to show how easy people can just accept brutality. They’ve accepted that they need to do all of this elaborate sacrifice just for those who want it (of course this gets tricky for an analogy because the world does literally end because the audience of evil gods is not happy, but the point stands).

I’ve watched this movie a bunch of times because I never got it. The first time I thought it was fine. I had seen Avengers of course but thought it odd the superhero guy was doing a horror thing. The second time, after watching a few horror movies, it felt shallow. This time, however, now that I have watched Buffy multiple times and know what Whedon is about and have watched more horror films, I can see what the goal was. It’s a Cabin in the Woods because that is what audiences wanted, but not what they needed. They need something that will shake up the status quo, push the boundaries of what can be horror and action all while being pretty quick witted. It’s honestly surprising someone like Blumhouse hasn’t thrown all their money at Whedon to do carte blanche. It’s a good movie about things. I just wonder how I’ll feel about it next time I watch it.

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Evil Season One: Every Vision is Lemons (a Review)

There is so much television. Outside the big steaming services and premium channels we still have classic networks pumping out shows for your parents or grandparents depending on how old you are. One that’s gotten a lot of attention comes from the NCIS dispensary CBS… Evil staring Mike Colter of Luke Cage fame. And since it is spooky season finally might as well look at what mainstream TV is up to.

Evil doesn’t follow Mike Colter’s character directly but instead Kristen Bouchard, played by Kathy Herbes, a criminal psychologist who comes head to head with Mike Colter’s David Acosta, an assessor for the Catholic Church, when a criminal defendant is said to be possessed. David and Kristen then must team up with their resident skeptic and handyman Ben to find out if the monsters and miracles of the world are the work of everyday life or preternatural. Their work often puts them at odds with Michael Emerson’s Dr. Townsend, a rival psychologist looking to push his hateful agenda on the world, but might also have some supernatural connections of his own.

It’s odd watching a series that feels made to be watched weekly try and be Netflix-lite. A comparison to the Netflix Defenders series is apt since they look so similar. Being they are both set primarily in New York during late fall into early spring (so Mike Colter can wear jackets just small enough to show how jacked he is), with lots of heavy atmosphere.

The season also uses a lot of great physical looking props and effects. It would be so easy to lean on digital and computer work to make some of the monsters seen in the series, but instead they go for real effects and they work. Seeing people in these amazing suits is impressive and surprising.

What sets the series apart, however, is how interesting the premise. A supernatural horror series where the reveal doesn’t always have to be a demonic presence or is more complicated than first appears is really interesting. It allows for so many didfeeent kinds of episodes and storylines to appear. They are able to do pastiches of different horror and supernatural stories all while trying to find real world psychological reasons they might be happening. They run the gamut of effectiveness. Some, like being trapped in the basement by a killer works in its subdued nature and easy to grasp emotions. Others, like the effectiveness of exorcisms on people who need psychological help… that’s a little more complicated and feels easy.

It feels easy in the moment at least. The show has a really interesting approach to pacing. Every episode has both a standalone story they have to solve along with a collection of usually two or three events. A personal drama or unrelated horror story taking place in the background. Usually all three reach some kind of endpoint by the credits. Some are left suitably vague or uneasy on purpose while others come back. The season has a sense of continuity that’s surprises me. The status quo doesn’t reset every case. It keeps some events and builds on them or goes back to old cases and forces the characters to face the mistakes or errors in their decision. It happens once early on when someone sues for the harshness of their exorcism, but when the first case of the series comes back as a side plot in an episode I was shocked and impressed. This goes for reincorporating past cases in new ways that don’t feel forced. Vague symbols, leitmotifs, and ideas coming back around. It’s honestly surprising how climactic the series is despite how stop and start the overall pacing feels.

The strong characters help. Kristen is more than a Scully-type. She isn’t close minded and is there just to be negative, but instead seeks to find truth. David is clearly tortured but means well and has a strong conviction. Ben, the best character, plays great as a skeptic and audience standin moreso than Kristen when it comes to the religious issues. Finally, Michael Emerson’s Leland is wonderful. Suitably punchable, while being intimidating in his own right. A great representative of what a internet troll would be like in real life. That makes his goal of radicalizing others into being incels all the more fascinating. He works as a great villain.

I make a lot about this series running on CBS. I mean NCIS lives there and that is as safe as you can get. Most CBS programming seems that way (as someone who doesn’t watch cable I can only go off the times I visit family and am forced to watched TV commercials). So it continues to shock just how progressive the series is most of the time. Focus on social issues, morally questionable endings, and a minority cast. Ben is Muslim, David black, Kristen a functionally single mom who is religiously lapsed, is refreshing. It doesn’t even criticize the use of drugs recreationally and supports no traditional marriages. Unfortunately not all is great. This is technically a religious series so even as it does poke jabs at religion and the Catholic Church it still has them be overall good-if questionable-people. But where it really gets problematic is making a women’s clinic the villains.

This will get into spoilers and talk of the story, but it’s revealed that the evil being down is to corrupt fetuses while getting in vitro fertilization. The reveal works great in practice and also thematically, but can be read as women’s clinics literally being run by the Devil. That is one of those impossible (for me) debates. I understand the artist merit in the show, but it is not without context in the wider world. I drive by a Planned Parenthood regularly and always see people protesting outside. People believe it is already evil (yes I know fertility clinics are not the same, but I can see people reading it that way. I also assume there are dozens of videos about how planned parenthood was started by satanists or something), so a show supporting that can be problematic. Also it takes about the Rwandan genocide which I know nothing about.

Outside of that one reveal and some support of a very corrupt religious body it is a good show. The setup and scares are unique. Has great cinematography and production values, strong characters, but some weak plotting in places. It’s a good horror watch. I mean they have an episode about a haunted Christmas song that gets stuck in your head. That’s so cool.

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One Piece Volume Cover Rankings Worst to Best #70-#61

I haven’t actually counted how many parts there are going to be, but this is easily one of the biggest projects I’ve done as far as the sheer amount of writing and time put into it. I think the easiest part is finding something to say about each one until I get to the point where it’s just that one passes the eyeball test more than another one. The hardest part was definitely trying to rank all of them before I started doing all of this typing. I found myself sitting there constantly moving covers around until I finally found that sweet spot where I felt comfortable with my placement of all of them. Believe it or not though, the easiest one for me was the one I have ranked 1st, which I didn’t know was my favorite until I realized that I never moved it from that position. Stay tuned to find out which volume it is! Here we go with #70-#61.

70. Volume 37

This one is pretty cool. We get to see Franky looking all cool with his floating head at the top with Iceberg with Water 7 in the background. I feel like Water is slept on for its creativity sometimes or it was so long ago that we just forget how creative it was. Anyways, we also get to see the train thing and we get our crew running. Everything going on for the most part in this volume is represented well, and it all looks pretty cool. I also like the background color of this volume. That specific shade of blue for some reason. It just looks good. 

69. Volume 55

I debated putting this one lower because I don’t like the weird look that the arms are doing from Buggy and Mr. 3 and the jailer monsters aren’t that cool, but the eyes of Ace tearing through is just awesome. He’s the reason why Luffy is there and why Mr. 3 and Buggy are brought back and helping and Ace’s eyes are tearing through as if on a burning piece of his vivre card. Stylistically it’s excellent and I love it but some of the other stuff going on I can pass on. It passes the eye test because those eyes are just staring right into me at how dire the situation is for Luffy and co and Ace. 

68. Volume 50

This cover was supposed to do something a little different because it was that “50” mark and I guess it does do something a little different. It had some flames to the Straw Hat logo. Yeah it wasn’t much of a change and I’m actually not a fan of it all that much. The cool thing about it though is that this is the end of Thriller Bark with some of the best moments like the Zoro stuff and Brook joining. I remember those events fondly and know exactly which volume to go to. Nami is just kind of there at the top so whatever to that, but Luffy, Zoro and Brook all look pretty sweet down at the bottom. The background color works really well too, so I like the memorability of this volume more than the actual design, but it is pretty sweet.

67. Volume 29

This volume is just lucky that I have a soft spot for giant monsters. I love Godzilla and all of those other monsterverse creatures like King Kong. I also love my monster movies and by that I mean like Jaws, Crawl, Anaconda. So yes, I have a soft spot for things like that. This cover has a giant snake on it that I can’t remember the name of and it takes place in my least favorite arc so maybe it shouldn’t be getting points on the board, but the cover is pretty cool. I just give it a pass with the eye test and for hitting my soft spot of giant monsters. If it weren’t for that I would probably rank this cover much lower.

66. Volume 39

The Robin design is kind of bad for some reason. I’m not sure what’s going on but it looks like a lazily drawn Robin, well just her face I guess. I also don’t like any of the villains represented in this cover, however I love the line up and layering of Luffy, Zoro, and Franky. Especially Zoro who looks awesome in this cover. For once it seems that Oda figured out how to showcase some of our main characters looking badass, but sharing the same amount of space on the cover. They distract away from the bad villains in the background and the bad version of Robin we get, so I give it a pass for that. Despite the bad villains, it still manages to represent the story within so it also gets points there. It’s not an entirely memorable cover, but it does a lot right. 

65. Volume 34

This cover is simple but awesome. Instead of having Luffy at the center we have Iceberg as he plays a major part in the Water 7 arc. We also have frames behind him of four main characters of this arc. At the time you don’t know of the betrayal by Lucci and Kaku, but when you look at the cover long enough, you can kind of see subtle hints of something shady. It’s not enough for you to realize if you haven’t read the volume, but once you have you can see where Oda carefully drew them in a way that could make you infer their change. 

64. Volume 31

This is one of those flashback volumes which are hit or miss, but the character designs are pretty cool and have a cool contrast off of each other. I also like how we see Luffy looking over a storybook in a way that makes you think of yourself reading this volume. It’s just all cool yet simple at the same time. It tells you what the volume is about without giving away too much and doesn’t do too much to distract from the focus of the volume. I like the background color as well and remember the volume findly for being the end of the Skypiea arc which is also another positive. This just passes the eye test for me.

63. Volume 81

There is a lot going on with this cover. A lot of it is not necessary which is a downside, but this cover really shows the importance of everything in this volume. Sanji is the focal point of this volume which is telling with him being the center of the cover. Luffy is brought down and reads the note that we can’t see on the cover but is revealed to us in the volume. It is an important moment that focuses on Sanji and is also the lead up to the Whole Cake Island arc. The addition of all of the Minks makes the cover as a whole look busy and a little too much, but everything on this cover is important, but also doesn’t give away exactly what’s going on.

62. Volume 72

I really like Luffy’s coliseum costume in this arc along with his cool shirt with the sunflowers. I like seeing him in any of the Dressrosa covers, but the cool thing is that he’s not even the main focus of the cover. We also have Usopp and some others surrounding him that show that he’s not the only important character in this volume. I think the coolest part though is the inclusion of Usopp. There are a lot of times where he doesn’t quite live up to what we hope out of a member of the Straw Hats, but he’s still quite skilled. This also brings back memories of how he became known as “God Usopp” the only great thing about that title would be if we actually got to see that on a cover. This cover passes the eye test and for me is memorable of some key moments in the early parts of Dressrosa.

61. Volume 30

This cover is incredibly simple and may be one of the shortest comments I have on a volume cover. Enel believes himself to be god with his electric powers and Luffy is the perfect natural enemy of god with his rubber like powers. This is all represented in this single and simple cover which also highlights the best part of the Skypiea arc. Everything just works for this cover.

It was kind of sad to end this part on the very simple volume 30 cover, but it can’t be helped. There are a lot of covers that I like in this group, but now we are really starting to get into some of the really good ones. I think it was around this point where deciding on the ranking really started to become difficult, but the further down the list, the more I’ll have to say about some of these covers.

Let me know what you think! Comment below or send us an email at and follow us @TowerCityMedia

Hot 100 Review: Lemonade by Internet Money (feat. Don Toliver, Gunna, & Nav)

Watch the video:

One of the few bonuses this ever changing chart has brought in our new world is the constant influx of new and varied artists. This whole series, really, but the artists most of all have helped expand my tastes some. That does come without it’s own caveats of course. The worst of these come out in this of all songs, they can be so repetitive and unoriginal.

Lemonade is not a bad song. It plays real hard on those last days of summer vibe (just ignore the fact it’s almost November. Yeah Global Warming totally isn’t a thing…) which makes it easy listening music. The lyrics are often so simple that they can get stuck in your head, but not in a malicious ear wormy way some do. Instead as just a song you kind of remember. It’s fine. The issue is that it doesn’t have all that much to say and it doesn’t wholly work in that way.

The song is less nonsense than, say, the Travis Scott song from a couple weeks ago. That felt far more like incidental music to be played in a movie. This feels like a normal gangster rap song with a twist (of lemon-lime). It hits all the usual cliches of those kinds of songs but with the change that it doesn’t seem as explicitly about being good musicians. I mean it is implied, but much more of the song is about selling and taking prescription drugs as uppers and downers than doing their raps good (think people can tell that’s a joking way to say that?). It does standout in that way. When talking about the rockstar life they focus more on the money and fame than actual accomplishments that stem from music. Maybe more songs are like that than I think, but it stands out.

In fact, lots of the drug references stand out because the song, though not incredibly tightly written, does feel like it’s about the effects of taking drugs. Not in the lyrics but in the delivery. They mention Xanax and Percocet often, and at the start of verses, the subsequent verses then sound like they were recorded while on those drugs or to mimick the effects of said drugs. Heck, apparently Lemonade, the title of the song and, you know, famous summer beverage can also be a perscription filled beverage (I guess Lean is out).

The video supports the idea the song was either made on or supposed to represent drugs, Lemonade (I can’t- I mean I can, but I can’t believe that’s a form of alcohol or way to get messed up) specifically, by having the trio of rappers doing the song in a fish bowl full of lemonade. Outside of that and the scariest girl in the whole world, it’s a pretty generic video. Just driving and fronting for the camera.

Though I have never taken any of the prescriptions drugs mentioned in the song I have been intoxicated before. In that state everything is fun at the time. Unfortunately after you go to bed so much of that had become a blur and just unmemorable. That’s this song. Fun but unmemorable. Considering something like The Box, which is just as generic, can hit so differently, I almost want to assume the drug focus was on purpose so that me saying it’s unmemorable is the point. Unfortunately, even if that is the case, being unmemorable on purpose still makes you unmemorable.

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The Strange (de)Evolution of Halloweentown

Halloweentown is a very unique series with such a simple and genius premise. What if Nightmare before Christmas was also Sabrina the Teenage Witch. A kid friendly take on all the monsters that go bump in the night along with a celebration of the spoopiest time of the year. It was also one of the few Disney Channel Original Movies to get continuous airplay on their channel around this time of year. It has engrained itself nicely into millennial public consciousness, but seems oddly under discussed. The sequels even less so, maybe it’s time to change that.

The first film, Halloweentown, is kind of perfect for what it wants to be. 13 year old Marnie Piper loves Halloween but cannot participate in it because of her mom. When Marnie’s grandmother, Aggie, turns up she ends up hearing about how she’s a witch and that there is a threat to Halloweentown. Marnie, with the help of her younger brother and sister, stow away with Aggie on her bus ride home only to find out themselves in the mystical of Halloweentown. Goblins, skeletons, and ghouls galore follow.

As an individual film it succeeds really well. Marnie working to learn her magic and uncovering this whole other world is great. She has a strong dynamic with Ethan, her brainy and skeptical younger brother, that is funny without going on too long. The acting from everyone is strong. Debbie Reynolds of well this series fame in Aggie, and being the mom to Carrie Fisher, stands out as the best grandmother ever. A Mary Poppins type that is clearly wise and deadly, but is so effervescent and charming.

The production values, though clearly dated, still give a sense of life to the town. It’s small Main Street America dipped in a fall fair aesthetic is strong. The costumes, though hit or miss, do help sell the town as real. It’s not deep. The politics of how the city works doesn’t matter, but all the diverse costumes and playing the only monstrous on the outside shtick gives it a Gravity Falls vibe.

The biggest weakness the film has is its pacing and plot. Though it gets through a lot quickly, not enough of the stakes are setup. Halloweentown is changing and there is a mastermind with a goal that’s never made tangible. It also ends a little too easily.

What really, I think, helped it standout aside from the aesthetic is the theme of not sepersting sides of the family and personhood. Not having to hide what makes you special because it could also be weird. It’s very whimsical about that, but the struggle to be human and be more than human is real. The cutaways to the mom watching informercials that’s their products is magic and her simply scoffing at that is proof enough.

Halloweentown was a success which meant there were sequels to come. The issue is that Halloweentown is such a simple movie that trying to expand the series is not as easy as expected and they each go in a different direction.

Halloweentown 2: Kalabar’s Revenge, is a very classic sequel idea. On Halloween someone tries to sabotage Halloweentown and make mischief in the mortal world, so Marnie and the Piper family must stop it. This time the machinations are being done by the son of the villain in the first film.

The film is more ambitious but less impressive. This is because it focuses on a couple different ideas that are good but also don’t totally work. One is that Halloweentown is being turned into a generic “Human World.” The whole Main Street and people are grayed out in an amazing practical effect. This is fun in concept, but the whole point of the series is to see this fun magical world. Now you get less of it. Marnie and Aggie have to save it, but that also means being stuck with comically dower characters.

The second focus is on the magic. The film goes into a lot more detail about how magic works. Spells are no longer just wishes but have meanings to be solved. It fun to make Marnie have to solve a puzzle to save the day instead of just wishing, but that is what ends up happening anyway so all that work is pointless.

The film is more ambitious with its effects and stunt work. The whole grayed out city looks amazing considering its all practical. Along with that, the new sets and costumes when they finally appear are defiantly impressive. It’s unfortunate that it feels like it is just all waiting makes the film more dull than intended.

Halloweentown High, the threequel, dives more into the Sabrina the Teenage Witch aspect to the series. It’s closer to a teen drama with supernatural elements than a Halloween movie. It also makes the title a let down.

Set a couple years after the previous film it finds Marnie taking on a group of exchange students from Halloweentown and letting them spend time in the human world at the cost of her family’s magic. Unfortunately a group called the Knights try to stop the progression of magic in the human world.

The idea of the monsters from Halloweentown coming to our world feels uninteresting. Again, the whole point of the series is to see that world and the costumes. The costumes that we see are great. A pink troll, cat girl, werewolf, and giant, are way more expressive and tangible than the past films, but you don’t see a lot of them. Instead they are stuck in human suits in order to push a pretty forward thinking message about tolerance for different people and to not give in to stereotypeing others.

The other big issue with the film is just how much it goes into the Sabrina the Teenage Witch feel. That show was incredibly punny, cheesy, and mushy. Those aren’t bad qualities. That was a great show, but that wasn’t what Halloweentown was about. It takes the fantastical and processes it down for us and then wants to say we need to treat others as people. We already did in the first two films and did that on their terf. It isn’t made better by doing it the other way around. This is also the one I saw the most and have the most nostalgia for. So even though I am harsh on it I think it’s still a fun watch. Just not the direction I would have gone. Also the mid 2000s look is strong with this one.

The final film, Return to Halloweentown, also feels like a misnomer. Not because the title is a lie. It’s true, Marnie and brother Dylan do go back to Halloweentown as college students while their mom is an empty nester and tries to do hijinx to sell a house. The misnomer comes from how this is much more of a classic portal fantasy like Harry Potter (even comes with a prophecy that makes the Cromwell line Marnie comes from ex-royalty and keeper of magical power and Magical Mean Girls). It’s less fall festival and more Ren Fair.

With that said the film is still incredibly charming even with the change from Kimberly J Brown to Sara Paxton. The dialogue feels sharper for one. The expanded costume for background characters is great, and expanding the ideas from the previous film, saying that getting to know others as people is important, but having powers that make you different doesn’t make you better is an important lesson. It’s just unfortunate that it ends with such a flop. The film seeming to want to set up another sequel or mini series to explore and never getting the chance to do so.

The fourth film has a negative reputation and has even less of that Halloween feeling, but taken as a whole series that was on the decline. Just so odd that as the series got better at writing characters and having better budgets they lost more and more focus on what made the first film so good and what they failed to carry over. They are still great watches for younger ones and I think that’s all that really matters

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One Piece Volume Cover Rankings Worst to Best #80-#71

Welcome to part 3 of my rankings of the One Piece volume covers from least favorite to favorite. In this post I will be looking at #80-#71 on my ranking. The first two parts covered my least liked covers and we ended the previous part with us crossing that line of the volumes being good but not great. From here on I pretty much like each volume cover for certain reasons, but like others more. My criteria is pretty simple, I look at overall design, impact, and memorability as well as some other smaller factors that may push one above the rest. Of course not everyone is going to agree, but take it as if it’s at least just a review of each cover in the model of my personal rankings. Anyways, with that, let’s move on to the list!

80. Volume 8

Yes! Some of the earlier volumes have made it further up the list than last place. I’m sure some of you have noticed that I didn’t rank them all at the bottom. There are some I really like and this is one of them. It does what it’s supposed to do in showing us a hint of the story within the volume as well as highlighting the villains and our hero. The difference though that separates it from some of the others is that it actually takes Luffy seriously as part of what is going on. We have our three villains of the Krieg pirates looking down literally in a way at Luffy who is in the bottom middle. His hand is bloody, but he still holds that Luffy smile. This is an impactful cover that for some looking towards the earlier volumes I feel would instantly be intrigued. It hits you right away with the blood on Luffy’s fist as well as Krieg being imposing with a pretty cool design and Gin also in the background as another cool looking character. It’s an early representation of how Oda will end up leaning more towards this approach and I love it. 

79. Volume 12

Another sense of adventure cover. This one is more sentiment I suppose than anything else. It really highlights that sense of adventure as our crew embarks on their next journey to the Grand Line. There isn’t much else going on other than just highlighting all of the members and their excitement, but it’s enough to show exactly what he was trying to represent here. It works and works better than some other covers that try the same approach. It’s not great or perfect, but it works and looks good as we are also excited to follow them on their continuing journey.

78. Volume 41

The thing I remember most about this volume is the actual size of it. I don’t know offhand how many chapters were in it, but for some reason I remember it being pretty big, as well as being the Robin flashback volume. It is a significant volume that I believe also leads to Luffy declaring war on the World Government, but the actual cover doesn’t represent all that makes the volume so cool. We do see Sogeking aka Usopp behind Luffy who is actually the one that burns the flag, but that’s all we have to reference that important event. I understand that the focus was on the flashback, but again my problem with the flashback volume covers is that they usually still manage to bring Luffy onto the cover even when he’s not a major player. Stay committed to the flashbacks and show us those characters or if you’re going to split it like he did then at least give us a better moment from the volume. It’s a good cover, but misses the opportunity.

77. Volume 82

I’m not entirely sure why this one ended up being so low, but as I looked at it more I realized that it’s just ok. The colors are good and bright and work well, but it’s another sense of adventure cover as we see Luffy and some new characters embarking forward. I think the colors and characters are what make it higher than others, but outside of those few points, it doesn’t really do much for me and doesn’t seem very memorable. It’s just a good cover with cool characters and a hint at Vivi in the background that does raise a brow, but other than that nothing else.

76. Volume 16

This is pure sentiment for the fact that I remember buying this volume alons with a few before it and a few after it. I looked at the volume and immediately recognized Chopper from the anime that I had seen pieces of before I ever actually read it. It got me excited because I was ready to read the parts where they meet him and he joins. The cover itself is basic and doesn’t do too much, but the memories I have of owning that volume for the first time and being excited to read it is what makes it higher on this list. Luffy and Chopper in the same position is great to show the connection they have and the flag in the background is significant to the story when Luffy holds it up. I just like it.

75. Volume 10

As I have been saying, some of these covers have made it higher on the list for more personal reasons. This cover does the job right in showing our imposing villain Arlong and his henchmen. I wish the cover was just him and his henchmen but that’s one of the downsides. I really like Arlong as a villain and wish he would return for future stories, but as of now he hasn’t. I really like the Arlong arc as well and just like that this cover puts his face big and bold and imposing. It’s a great cover to offer this new threat of these fishman pirates. When looking at the volumes before it too, you notice the difference of characters as you move away from humans and towards a new species. It has the impact and level of intrigue, but lacks a bit in potential. 

74. Volume 66

I really like Jinbei and I really like Smoker. This cover has both of those characters so it gets a few points right off the bat. I didn’t like the previous cover with Shirahoshi because there just wasn’t much going on with her there. The cool thing about this cover mostly has to do with what it all stands for in relation to the actual story in the volume. There are some characters like Smoker that make their reappearance here which is why we see a glimpse of him. It’s the connection though between Jinbei and Luffy that is the most highlighted here for me along with Shirahoshi’s new relationship with the Straw Hats. The cover give you a good sense of the events that happen in the volume, but overall it’s a feel good cover that makes you smile.

73. Volume 3

The coolest thing about this chapter is that my two favorite Straw Hat’s are Luffy and Zoro. I feel like sometimes their long friendship is overlooked and how close they really are. This cover is simple but gives us a look at these two together looking badass and Luffy wearing that captain’s jacket. I’m not sure if it actually has a name, but makes me hope that we get to see another cover of these two or even with the crew that parallels what we see here. It doesn’t do anything to tell you much about the story within and doesn’t have much going on, but I just love this cover.

72. Volume 74

The Dressrosa arc is one of my favorites and I like how many different characters get to show up during this arc. The volume is focused on Sugar for the most part which is why she is so prominent in this cover, but out of all of the different characters that they introduced in this arc, the three villains they decided to go with are actually some of my least favorite of the bunch. I understand why they’re represented here, but I just don’t care as much about them specifically. It is pretty cool though to see Franky and Usopp highlighted next to Luffy on this cover as they actually get a little more action in this arc, but it would’ve been cool to showcase them a bit more on the cover maybe doing something. It’s a fine cover that gives you an idea of what’s going on in the volume but I’m just not a fan of the three villains they showcased. 

71. Volume 26

The one good thing about the Skypiea arc was the adventure they went on and learning how different the sky islands are to their own world. This sense of adventure cover easily shows our crew exploring this new world and having fun while doing it. We have all of our Straw Hats shown and they all seem to be excited to see what the sky islands have to offer. The cover shows what’s going on and represents that sense of adventure very well. Other than that it doesn’t do much more.

I feel bad ending this part with volume 26 since it was a more simple review of the cover, but that’s just how the rankings fell. I didn’t want to move things around just for the sake of ending this part with a bang so take my honesty as a representation of how I feel about these covers. I always find it difficult trying to care one good thing to another when sometimes it’s just the eye test. Sure I could like some things about a cover more than another, but the eye test of just looking at it could determine one going over the other.

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One Piece Volume Cover Rankings Worst to Best #90-#81

I hate to say it but that first batch was quite difficult to write about because there really wasn’t much to say that I could be entirely positive about. They aren’t all trash, but they just aren’t great. I’m hoping I have a bit more to talk about with this next group of ranked covers as we start to close in on the line where the volumes are all quality in their own right. As I said though in the last post, my criteria is based on the overall quality of the volume as far as art, design and actual importance to the story. 

The early volumes all struggled with doing something to make the covers stand out save for a few that rank higher. Some of them come off more as color pages rather than that of an actual cover that manages to tell a story without you having to know what the story is. The cover needs to strike you in a way where you want to open it up and see what’s going on or at least start from the beginning of the story. With that though, let’s get to my rankings #90-#81!

90. Volume 17

This one is pretty cut and dry as far as why I do like parts of it, but there is a big reason why I don’t like it. We have Luffy ready to fight alongside Sanji and Chopper. The best thing about the importance of this volume is that we get to see Chopper in his reindeer form. When you contrast it with volume 16, it’s even more interesting because 16 shows us our normal form Chopper while this one gives us a different form. Also it’s great to see our characters wearing different outfits based on the snowy weather. It gives some intrigue as to where they are at. The downfall of this cover and what makes me drop it so low is that I really don’t like Wapol. Oda has a good sense of how to write villains and he’s written very well, but he and his henchmen are just a pass for me. I don’t like the designs and they just aren’t represented as imposing in this volume. They are trying to look like a threat but the design just doesn’t work for me. I feel like it could really be a turn off for some people that don’t know One Piece.

89. Volume 24

This one was actually tougher to place than I thought. So the actual art style is very different from what we’ve seen in other volumes. I’m not an art major so I can’t really explain the difference by an actual term, but it’s very apparent that it’s different. I also am a big fan of Bellamy and liked his return in the Dressrosa arc. There’s a lot I really like in this volume, but when it comes down to it, there just isn’t much going on with this cover. You have some new characters as well as Robin appearing in the background and Luffy there at center, but that’s it. There just isn’t much going on to help tell you what the story is about. It’s just kind of bland.

88. Volume 63

The coolest thing about this volume is the presence of Fisher Tiger whose design is pretty badass, unfortunately Oda only drew his head in a corner of the cover so we don’t get to see him in all of his glory. This volume suffers from the boring and bland problem. Fisher Tiger bumps it up a bit more and I actually like the color of the volume but Shirahoshi is just there and I’m not a huge fan of her, and Luffy and Zoro are just kind of there. Megalo the shark is there too, but that’s it. It’s just a bland volume that doesn’t offer much other than just being the next volume to add to the collection. Man I really wish they would have embraced the past characters a bit more and brought Fisher Tiger to the front alongside past Arlong and others. Oh well.

87. Volume 32

This volume is one of those sense of adventure covers that I mentioned in the first post. We leave our adventure on Skypiea and literally drop out of the sky towards our new adventure. We get to see the whole crew happy as ever as they continue their journey and the journey is presented very well with them dropping out of the sky. There’s not much else to say about this cover outside of how well it shows that sense of adventure and going from one point to another. It does what it’s supposed to do, but it only does that. I’d say that I would like to have a little more, but I don’t think you need to add anything to it. Even though it seems like everything is perfect with this cover, it still comes off as not as memorable. That’s the only downside, that and I feel like it’s overshadowed by the Afro Luffy volume after it.

86. Volume 38

This one is fine. There’s a lot going on, but eh it’s just fine. This is one of the volumes with the train to Enies Lobby that I didn’t care too much about. I just remember Sanji finally using his knives on the noodle guy I think, but that was about it. Just because there’s a lot going on with the cover doesn’t mean that it’s actually good. It conveys the events that happen within, but it just doesn’t seem as cool or appealing. I like to have a cover that just rocks and is awesome visually to look at and this one just isn’t that. I’m more likely to forget this one in a few hours. I give it credit though for dedicating itself to the events that happen, but it doesn’t quite make the mark of being good not great. 

85. Volume 15

This one may be more of a selfish feeling as to why I have it ranked high, but then again maybe not. This is when we get to meet our first giants of Elbaf who are an important point to note and connect to. Elbaf will eventually become an arc relevant to Usopp as he wants to go there and at the time, the thought of the giants was just awesome to think about. In the current chapters though giants aren’t as surprising as the feeling we had back then, but seeing the giants on this cover immediately makes me think about how exciting it’s going to be to see Elbaf in the future. It’s also awesome to see them as the main focus of the cover with Luffy of course making his appearance but the surprise being that Usopp is also right in the middle to show his significance of connection to the giants and his dream to go to Elbaf. 

84. Volume 2

I’m a little torn on how to describe my feelings towards this cover. The immediate reaction I have is that this shows our first look at Buggy on a cover and Buggy is one of those characters that I strangely like a lot. He is goofy and his design is a little silly, but he actually has a lot of depth and backstory. His design on the cover also makes him look very menacing which is cool to see because that’s how he’s represented early on. Luffy makes his typical appearance at the top making a face at the Buggy pirates, but I like that Oda brought the Buggy trio to the forefront and gave them the villain spotlight on the cover. It’s a great contrast to volume one as we get our first big villain for Luffy. Everything on the cover just works well and its very memorable for me in my early days of reading One Piece.

83. Volume 13

Volume 13 gives us a good look at several of the villains of Baroque Works in the early stages of the arc. We get all of them surrounding Luffy in the cover which immediately builds the intrigue of all of these new characters. All of which stand out in their own right with very different designs. I like this cover because it gives us several of these new characters, something that Oda does very well is creating new characters that are all unique in their own way regardless of whether or not they are actually good designs. The only problem with this cover for me is having fat Luffy right in the middle. It’s understandable because of the events in the story of the volume, but I feel like it takes away from the imposing threat that these new characters could be. I’m not saying that it’s bad or a mistake, but I just like when the cover can stick to one tone despite the fact that One Piece excels at being both humorous and serious with ease. I’m just mixed on this cover that overall I do like.

82. Volume 6

This is going to contradict some of the points I made in my first post with some of the earlier volumes. Yes, this cover does represent more of a color spread like artwork like some of the others did. Yes, I’m pretty sure this was actually a color spread, now that I think about it, are all covers color spreads? Weird…I feel like I should know this. Anyways, the cover feels more like just a fun color spread rather than that of an actual cover which worked against some of the other volumes, but something about this I really like. First of all, the background color of the volume being black is pretty sweet because I believe there are only two volumes that are balck so it’s different, and the cover with all of the characters in black outfits is a nice look too. This is just a guilty pleasure volume despite my previous criticisms of similar covers. I just like it. 

81. Volume 36

We are slowly starting to move into the volumes that I start to just say that they’re good just not great with this being one of them. You aren’t going to understand what this cover means if you haven’t read the story within and that works against it, but it’s striking with the various characters who are all wearing masks or costumes of some kind outside of Luffy and Robin. The problem though, which is a good thing, is that Robin is also wearing something different with no mask but it is represented as if she’s with these others while Luffy tops the cover above the others. It is represented as if the masked individuals are against Luffy which also puts Robin in the place of being against Luffy. This ends up being the case of course, but the layout of everything is careful and works well and the designs stand out as making you wonder and I like that. Of course now I know who is under those masks which makes it even more interesting, but overall it’s a good cover.

As I said in my previous post, I would start to approach the covers that begin to be good but not great and I feel volume 36 was the perfect one to leave off at for this post. That wasn’t planned at all I promise, but it was a perfect example of me starting to get into covers that I really do like a lot, but there are so many covers that are just fantastic that unfortunately it pushes some great covers lower than you would think. 

I’m curious where you all are at in your personal ranking of the covers and whether or not you agree or disagree. Please comment below and let me know or email us at and be sure to follow us @TowerCityMedia

Hot 100 Review: I Hope by Gabby Barret (Feat. Charlie Puth)

Watch the video:

The ubiquity of the phrase “I like all kinds of music… except country,” feels like it has been both growing and shrinking in popularity. Well, classic country. The real reason I think this phrase has so much power isn’t because country is a bad genre of music. All genres have good and bad song, but instead that country is chronically behind the times. You can’t tell me it’s not a coincidence that it took almost 30 years for the first country rap song to take off. Similarly Parmalee’s Carolina is clearly just a early 2000s rock song in sheep’s clothing. This isn’t a negative, just a descriptor. Country music has other strengths, I mean King of Tears is one of the best Revisionist History episodes for a reason. They can also do women scorned songs better than any other genre imaginable, and tie that do a song that sounds like it was recorded by Katy Perry in her good years, well…

I Hope, though defiantly a woman scorned song, is not the best. That’s not to say it is bad. It’s actually quite refreshing to have a fairly conventional song to listen to once in a while. It’s just not as detailed or vicious as the classics. No keying an ex’s car or puncturing their tires on this go around.

Some of this more restrained feeling goes back to the beat. It has undertones of classic country guitar and instrumentals mixed with the production of early 2010s pop music to create a nice enough sounding song that is carried on Gabby Barret’s fantastic voice. Charlie Puth’s higher octaves also for compelling backing tracks and a strong contrast to mix up the song.

But for a women scorned song it certinally has a very interesting title. The lyrics definitely help build the case. The first, and arguably best, verse does the most work. It sets up an interesting bait to switch. The “I Hope,” in this case being positives. Almost like she is wishing the new relationship wells lines like “I, I hope she makes you smile/The way you made me smile on the other end of a phone/In the middle of a highway driving alone,” are incredibly visceral and give a good scene that is flipped when we get to the chorus.

The chorus makes up the switch of the bait and switch when it’s revealed what she really hopes is, “I hope she’s wilder than your wildest dreams/She’s everything you’re ever gonna need/And then I hope she cheats.” Which is an incredibly interesting wish. One I have never really heard before from a breakup. It’s given more context however when she follows it up with, “Like you did on me.” Which does hit really hard.

That suggestion of being passive. Sitting in your own hatred and brooding for the bad to happen is defiantly unique. It’s not as exhilarating as smashing up someone’s car, but is just as destructive if it comes to fruition.

The second verse, done by Puth, positions him as a man who was cheated on and has his own anger. His opening lines, “Yeah, babe, I hope she shows up in a 2 AM pic from her friend/Hanging on to a guy and you just ain’t him/I hope you stay up all night all alone, waitin’ by the phone,” are not as immediate, but does reveal a jealousy not nearly as present in the first verse. The use of waiting by the phone is an interesting phrase that’s still around considering all of us are on our phones all the time. Its not like we are pinning by a landline and telling our sibling to get off the internet so you could get a call (totally not a real example).

The second verse is more vicious however, not in any explicit terms. But in the same creeping way. The final lines that lead into the chorus, “And take her on a first date again/And when you lean in for a kiss,” though don’t sound bad, do feel like the twist in Frozen. You’re about to be happy only for the other person to reveal they’re cheating or don’t have feelings in that way.

The best example of this song’s energy is the bridge, “I hope what goes comes all the way around/I hope she makes you feel the same way about her/That I feel about you right now.” It gets to the heart of what it feels like when an ex moves on before they should. It’s short but hits that same feeling. A feeling that hits harder if you were cheated on.

The video, which is of the songs original release and not this remixes duet with Charlie Puth has Gabby reflecting on a past relationship while clips of said relationship are played back. It, like the songs structure, is fairly conventional. The one change is that Gabby sings the second verse and chorus and it feels disconnected from the nighttime drive setup of the first verse. Not bad, but works better with that second person to act as the shift in setting.

When it comes to songs like these is it selfish to want more details. Like many songs on the hot 100, it is incredibly surface level lyrically speaking. Sometimes that works okay. Savage Love, for its couple lyrical issues is great and is shallow, but a breakup/woman scorned song should have more. The chorus works well enough, but it seems like we should know more about the relationship. It’s almost like she’s using cheating as a crutch to disregard the rest of the relationship. Not to victim blame, but there must be more of a story and that is something older country songs definitely would have provided.

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One Piece Volume Cover Rankings Worst to Best #97-#91

My recent reread of One Piece chapters and arcs that I remember fondly like Enies Lobby, Paramount War, Dressrosa, Whole Cake Island and many others has led me to taking a closer look at the Volume covers. I see people reviewing chapters and arcs, but I don’t normally see as much reviews on the actual volumes. If I do, it’s normally the volume as a whole as in the actual chapters within rather than the actual design and importance of the volume covers. The cover of a volume can say a lot and can be memorable in its own ways based off of what is shown.

I decided to do a ranking of all of the current volume covers, 97 at this point, and determine my own ranking based on a few things. It’s hard of course to not take into account the events that happen in each chapter, but I much rather would like to rank them based on memorability and actual design as a whole. In some cases the volume will remind me of certain events that were impactful to me, but to be the best, the volume also has to convey that importance and be designed well enough to be striking. 

Volumes are very important to a manga series. A volume can be the one thing to truly set itself apart without having to require any knowledge of the story for you to become intrigued. I think about the Bleach volume covers that each have a different character on the cover, but it doesn’t actually tell you much about the story. One Piece has always for the most part been able to have a cover that spews its creativity and intrigue and is enough to get somebody on board to give it a try. With that, We start off this ranking with the bottom of the list, numbers 97-91 of my least favorite volume covers.

97. Volume 11

One of the biggest points I made in my intro was that the volume cover has to be memorable and striking to incite intrigue as to what kind of story is underneath that cover. When you pick up this volume, sure you see our main characters, but it doesn’t really tell you anything about them or relate at all to the story underneath. It is a major problem with the earlier volumes of One Piece where it was more of just a stylistic art design, but it feels more as if it should have been a color spread rather than that of an actual cover. Forgive me if I’m wrong but I believe it may have been an actual color spread that was just transferred to the cover. I may be wrong, but the problem is just that there isn’t anything exciting about this cover. If you had no idea what One Piece was about, I feel that this cover would do nothing to gain your interest to go to volume 1. I also don’t even remember this volume cover and only realized what was on it when I was going through each one. Because of all of these reasons, this volume ranks last.

96. Volume 14

Sometimes it’s hard to rank things that are just a personal preference, but then again we all do it all the time, so for some people there will be volumes that rank higher than others, but again I just go back to my criteria as I rank each one. Volume 14 takes place in the beginnings of the Baroque Works saga and this volume gives us our first real threat of the criminal organization being Mr. 3. His appearance in the background is kind of cool, but there just isn’t much going on with this cover that incites the excitement or events taking place. I wish there was just a little more going on, but the only reason why this volume is of any importance is that it reminds you of Mr. 3 who ends up coming back later on in the series. It’s just a bland cover. 

95. Volume 27

My least favorite arc is the Skypiea arc and one of my favorite types of covers that One Piece has are the ones where we get to see the villain members. This is easily my least favorite of both of those. The villains are not memorable outside of Enel and aren’t doing anything to get me excited or interested in them. The designs are not great and unique so they don’t pop out on the cover. The only thing that pops is the inclusion of Luffy being the biggest face on the cover and the wink that he’s giving. I mean it is Luffy so it makes sense for him, but there just isn’t anything working for this cover to help it out. I like the dark blue color of the background, but it’s wasted on the non memorable villains. It would have been better to pull Luffy out and have Enel alongside them, it would at least pop a bit more and might have received more points from me.

94. Volume 4

My least favorite arc of the East Blue saga is represented by this early volume that gives a look a Kuro and his henchmen. We also have another cover with Luffy’s face as the biggest image on the cover. Again, I feel that leaving him out would benefit this cover with more focus being on Kuro and his gang. These were also the early characters where the henchmen weren’t very interesting until we got to the Arlong arc, so there’s a lot working against this cover. The biggest thing though is that I am truly not a fan of Kuro as a villain and have no interest in reading that arc again except for the fact that it’s when we get introduced to Usopp. Between the memories I have and the overall design, this cover just isn’t that great and is very forgettable. 

93. Volume 5

This cover isn’t bad, but it’s just not that great. It’s a cover that I refer to as showing a sense of adventure that I will bring up with several other volumes. There is excitement in the eyes of our crew as they head towards their next adventure, but that’s about it. Usopp is front and center due to him being the newest member, but at this time I wasn’t a big fan of him. The sense of adventure is very important in this pirate story, but for the cover to pull it off in the way that they need it to, they need to have something else to show us what that excitement is towards. It’s good to have our crew front and center, but that’s all that’s going on here. There just isn’t much to remind you of this cover, like I said these early covers are all victim to not having the big punch that they eventually have in future volumes.

92. Volume 7

So this cover was tough for me to place. At first I had it higher, but then I started to drop it as I noticed more things working against it. The first thing that makes this cover not bad is that it has Sanji on the front which makes me think back to how much I liked the Baratie arc and Sanji as a new member of the team. It isn’t so much a memorable cover though with there not being much going on. Again we have a Luffy front and center face that’s more for the gag aspect of One Piece, but it actually takes away from the actual story. Why not have more of the characters involved in this arc like Zeff and some others. There was more they could have done with this than what they did. It’s not necessarily a bad cover, but it’s more of a disappointing cover for what they could have done with it.

91. Volume 9

This cover gets more points simply for the fact that they made Nami front and center this time with the other members serving as the background characters. It shows that the focus of this volume is on Nami rather than the others, but shows that she has them as a support. Outside of the significance of volume though, there isn’t a lot going on to help it out. I’m not sure what else you could have done to help this cover out more, maybe just focus more on her past for the cover like they do with later flashback volumes. It’s a good cover that actually starts to show the growth of Oda as he starts to focus the covers more on the importance of the story to show how they work hand in hand. 

I anticipate this first batch of the bottom tier of my ranking to be the least interesting to you all. There really isn’t much to say about most of these covers because I really just don’t like them that much. Many of them were earlier volumes that all suffer from the same issues which is why they rank at the bottom. If anything though, maybe I’m in the minority and some of you disagree and if that’s the case then maybe this will at least spark interest in how I have the rest of the volumes ranked. As we get lower on the list, it becomes more difficult to rank them and there is a turning point where the covers are great but one is just better than the other. There will be plenty more to talk about as I move forward in this ranking so be sure to check out the next batch, volumes 90-81.
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The Idhun Chronicles: The Most Anime of Anime that Ever Animed (a Review)

Netflix has had an incredibly diverse track record when it comes to the anime they either distributed and/or produced. They have really ranged the gamut. From incredible shows like Beastars and Devilman Cry Baby to the uneven B the Beginning, to the congealed mess of traits that made up the energetic Cannonbuster and parody Neo Yokio. However, none seem to compare to the barest or bare bones, the recently released Idhun Chronicles.

The series, a Spanish production based on a trilogy of Spanish novels called The Idhún’s Memories, follows Jack. When he comes home one night to find his parents dead and himself about to be killed by the intruders he’s saved by a seperate factions of magic users and taken to a space between worlds. There, Jack finds out about a world of magic called Idhun, and a group of assassins sent from that world to earth in order to kill all magical refugees. Jack takes up arms to protect himself and avenge his parents.

The series is rough, clearly done on a tight budget, and poorly written. If I was someone who cared more about concise speaking than anything I could end it there. No additional words could describe the mind numbing process of watching the poorly animated and stiff looking production. The art direction and characters design for the whole series is barebones at best, and inconsistent at worst. For example, when one shot will have a piece of jewelry in one location but cut and it’ll be in a different location on the person and it does that constantly, that’s a minor problem when compared to what the show does.

All storytelling regardless of story, medium, and theme is all about a give and take. Anime, and anime inspired series like this one, are a prime example. They leverage consistent art and often limited animation for bigger payoffs in more key scenes. This series seems to have all the limitations with none of the payoffs or rewards. The animation and art doesn’t suck in some scenes but get good during fights. It is just always of low quality. Same with the dreary and lifeless voice casting.

I always watch in English if I have the option. Similar to the animation trade offs, in aware that I am getting the convenience of understanding at the cost of the translation not being accurate and the acting being lesser from time to time. However, based on posts by the author of the original book series and one of the head writers, the voice acting was a problem in the original cast as well. The only good proof is that the series has Johnny Young Bosch and Erika Halacher in key roles and they both are muted, boring, and stiff. Which seems impossible when they, JYB specifically, have more expressive lines and deliveries with less dialogue in Persona 5 than this series. It’s almost impressive they could tune them down to nothing.

It should be impressive, but they also don’t have anything to work with in terms of characters. Jack is the only character with a personality. Saying that being impulsive is a personality is woefully overstating him as a character. He wants revenge and to generically help, but that is it. Everyone is more flat than that 2D world they live in. This goes for the villains as well. The team might think that they are just posturing and menacing. Villains of few words and mostly actions. Instead they have no personality. They just appear, kill whoever and then disappear with I’ll defined magic.

Shocking, I know, the magic system and mythical world is at once over explained and needlessly complicated while also not being explained well enough, coming off as vague instead of anything concrete. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the incredibly fairy tale world the characters come from, but other than a bad case of the Dark Lords and magical oppression there isn’t anything unique. Something, after doing base reading on Wikipedia shows it’s an adaptational issue over a source material one. The world of Idhun seems kind of neat and has interesting lore that is dropped on us instead of being the story we are watching (a problem lots of fantasy stories have).

This is to say nothing of the story we are watching. It is bargain basement portal fantasy. That’s not bad alone, but it’s executed with all the skills of person finding out about portal fantasy for the first time. Every episode is a slog. The show has no energy, and the dialogue boarders on being a parody. Two characters jump from a high wall and one says that it felt like they are flying… I mean, have they never been on a trampoline before? So awkward, and not even purposefully so. Completely by accident. That makes it almost endearing if that wasn’t the high point of that episode. Because, overall, it’s a lifeless story.

To give one positive, I enjoy that this ostensible kids show does have a lot of blood and death used incredibly casually. Cuts and stabs produce blood and that was surprisingly mature.

This is a series who I don’t know the audience for it that couldn’t watch a better version of this story on the same platform. Its not told well enough to be a good starting point, not creative enough to be for veterans, not epic enough for those wanting a big fantasy story, and not well drawn and animated well enough for starving anime fan in need of new content. It’s cheap, not well told, and dull. All the worst things a show can be.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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