First things first: I finally have Pikmin 3. Take a guess as to when it arrived. Just guess. Done? It arrived today. Thatís two full weeks after I ordered it. Thatís bullcrap is what that is. Regardless, Iíve been playing it for a little while, and I can already tell Iím going to fall in love with this one. I especially love the feeling of walking around in some sort of garden. I donít think Iíve ever seen a video game thatís so appreciative of simple natureís beauty. I think itís the art and the graphics that really make it work. Iíll keep you posted as I get further in.
For now, there was something else I wanted to recommend to yíall. And it couldnít be further removed from Pikmin if you tried. You may remember I devoted one of my Ėisms to Attack on Titana while ago. Immediately after that, I got a whole slew of recommendations for other anime series I should watch. I took a lot of you up on your offers to various degrees, but the one I got sucked into more than any other was Deadman Wonderland, which I just finished this week. Big thanks to PKFire!
- As any good anime should, it has a kickass opening.
The premise of the show is that the main character, Ganta, gets his entire class brutally murdered by a powerful and fundamentally creepy entity he calls ďthe Red ManĒ. To make matters worse, Ganta is framed for the murder and sent to the only privately-operated prison in Japan: Deadman Wonderland. Here the inmates engage in all kinds of shows for the amusement of the paying public. While a lot of these shows are relatively harmless, almost like circus acts, there is definitely a shady underside to this particular slam. Ganta gets up close and personal with this Ďshady undersideí when he finds out he has a strange power. Once the wardens find out about this power, Ganta is transported to the secret Sector G, where he is forced to fight to the death against others with the same power as him. And to top it all off, it turns out that the Red Man is also somewhere in Deadman Wonderland. The only help he gets in all of this is from his forgotten childhood friend, Shiro.
Thatís about as much as I can share about the plot without going into spoiler territory.
I would describe Deadman Wonderland as Hellsing meets The Running Man. If any of you have read/watched Hellsing (you should) youíll be well aware how dark and gory it is. Deadman Wonderland is at least as dark and gory, perhaps even more so. In fact, blood itself is actually a vital element in the story. Most importantly, the strange powers I mentioned above all function using blood. Everyone who has a ďbranch of sinĒ (the name of this power) can go full-on Waterbender, but only with their own blood. Whatís fun is that each character has a different style of bloodbending: Ganta uses what is later dubbed the Ganta Gun, and basically involves him shooting blood-hadokens. Which, if you have any kind of medical knowledge, sounds like a fundamentally flawed idea (it kind of is). Another character, Senji, goes the much more badass route of slashing open his arms from wrist to elbow and bloodbending giant blades from the wounds. Another character has blood-whips, yet another is able to bloodbend floating mines (including explosion), and yet another summons a poisonous blood snake. †
- Senji is definitely my favorite character
Besides the inherent awesomeness of watching characters fight with all sorts of blood-related powers, I also find their personalities to be incredibly interesting. Long story short, over half of the cast is completely insane. And I donít mean that theyíre a little Ďout thereí. They are fucking insane. Deadman Wonderland is still a prison, after all, so almost all of the people here have their fair share of murder on their records, and it shows. This may sound strange, but watching the different varieties of crazy is almost as interesting as the varieties of bloodbending. For every significant character who just so happens to be batshit insane, the show helpfully provides a flashback to explain how they got that way, and takes care to squeeze out every single drop of crazy. For example, one character was severely bullied as a teenager, but when he realized how much joy his bullies were getting out of it, he got convinced that the worldís happiness functions according to Newtonís third law: action equals reaction. So if one person becomes extremely unhappy, the rest of the world must logically become happier as a result. Take this notion to its extreme and youíve got a serial killer on your hands, one utterly convicted that heís doing the world a service. Thereís tons of characters much like this one, and each has some sort of messed up philosophy which led to him or her becoming the killer we see in Deadman Wonderland. Itís fascinating, really.
And of course, as obligated by anime law, Deadman Wonderland is absolutely filled with the crazy-face. You know the one. Messed up eyes, terrifying smile? That. Thereís a lot of them I canít show you due to spoilers, but this one will do: †
- The Red Man doesnít even need the eyes.
All in all, I really enjoyed this anime. I mentioned before that I love shows that get dark and disturbing, and man does Deadman Wonderland deliver on that front. I havenít even told you the half of it. I donít know why, but that shit just gets me mad hooked. Pair that with some cool superpowers, and youíve got a show thatís worth watching for anyone who doesnít get turned off by blood and gore. One word of warning though: the anime only has 12 episodes, and it doesnít have the complete story. It has about one-third to half of the manga, and then it stops. It has some sort of ending, but it feels more like the ending to an arc than the ending to the series. As far as I know, there are no new episodes planned, so if you want the complete story youíre going to have to read the manga. Even some of the characters I mentioned above are manga-only. Still, the anime is well worth checking out to get a feel for the series, and if you like it you can always get into the manga later. Thatís what I did, at least.
And while I slip ever deeper into otaku-dom, letís get capping!
I also want to thank Sotanaht for the Steins;Gate recommendation. Iím watching that currently, and even though it started a little slow, Iím really getting invested in it now. Donít be surprised if next weekís Shadeisms are going to be Steins;Gate related. In the mean time, keep those recommendations coming!
May you always find water and shade
No matter what the experience was or which game or genre left that strong first impression, such experiences have the potential to open our eyes to the rich history of a series or genre. With any luck, we might find even more to love or something better. A great first experience with RPGs could lead to an undying love affair.
Sometimes a first kiss can be so impactful that the game gets placed on a pedestal and enshrined as a gold standard, which has its own pros and cons. I mean, it is nice to have a basis for comparison, but some folks take it too far. There are people who loved Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Final Fantasy VII so much that nothing after them really got a fair shake.
So first impressions matter -- they can shape and inform our gaming habits. I grew up on arcades, Nintendo, handhelds, and eventually into RPGs, so much of what I play will be influenced by how I acquired my tastes. I probably like Overwatch a ton because it has a passion for RPG roles, but contextualizes them closer to older shooters focused on objectives more than gear builds and grinding out perks for better killstreaks.
So for this month's Bloggers Wanted, we'd like you head over to the community blogs write about your first kiss, the games that positively influenced you or maybe biased you a little too much for a time. What turned you on to a series or genre? Was it love at first sight? Did it set any expectations in stone or possibly lead you to something better?
Whatever the case might be, remember to use the title "First kiss" and place "Bloggers Wanted" in the tags!
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