This Is US – Season 1 and 2 Review

It’s not often that I choose to write about (or really even choose to watch) American television. That’s because in my opinion, the writing in American drama is often inferior and the characters not as emotionally engaging as Asian dramas. Season 2 had already started when I finally got around to watching Season 1 of This Is Us, the show that would change my opinion of American Dramas. – Don’t get me wrong. I love me some drama regardless of what country it originates from.. but I distinctively recall for example, when “Fault of Our Stars” came out, how much praise it was being given, as being the saddest movie of all time, ever, by radio and TV critics and movie-goers across our nation. I watched the film and was left feeling, mostly, nothing at all. That’s IT?! I thought to myself as I contemplated the movie for the next few hours. Sure it was “sad” – but these people (who praised the film so heavily) have clearly no idea what a “sad” movie even is. Go watch a Kdrama, and then come back and tell me “Fault of Our Stars” is still the saddest thing you’ve ever watched. When it came to American dramas, they seemed to fall into one of 2 categories, smut filled soap operas that never end (versus the concise, beginning, middle, end, 24 episode formula of most Kdrama), or into a predictable, but enjoyable, feel good romantic comedy chick flick (where a happy ending was almost guaranteed). It’s rare to find a “serious” American drama that can evoke the same empathy and sympathy and devastation and heart ache that most Kdramas can cause the audience to feel. “Fault of Our Stars” (as well as “The Notebook” and other similar films) attempt to create a sad love story, but still I’m often left feeling less emotion than I expected (although admittedly, “The Notebook” did have both myself and my best friend running to the restroom to grab tissues as we started sobbing at the ending).

Anyways, this post is not about Kdrama, nor is it about “Fault of Our Stars” or everything that American TV / Cinema does “wrong” when it comes to writing an emotionally moving film…

This post is about “This is Us”, the drama that would change my opinion of everything that American TV / Cinema does “wrong”. I remember for months seeing previews, and being like oh yeah, I want to watch that, but pushing it off on the back burner as my back log of things to watch, games to play, and things to do IRL grew longer and longer. Over the next several months, “This is Us” was often discussed in the office where I work. This increased my curiosity and desire to sit down and binge watch it.

And from the first episode, I was not disappointed. It grabs you in. It had twists and turns and unconventionality. It took place in Pittsburgh (being an hour north of there (and soon to move within minutes of the city, this made it even more relateable to me). It was not the typical white-wash American sitcom family. Here was a family of mixed races, tackling some serious dark and depressing issues. Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Infertility, Adoption, Weight Loss, and a very dysfunctional family. A family with real problems, problems with their marriage, problems with their careers, problems with their kids, problems with their family members.

It was raw, it was personal, it was unlike anything I had ever seen on American TV.

I binged through the first two seasons over Christmas break.

And the series returns tonight 01/09/18 with new episodes.

I won’t reveal much in this review about the story thus far in the first 2 seasons. I think that part of the success of this drama is how it throws some amazing curve balls at you and completely blindsides the heck out of you, which heightens the emotional impact so much more. In fact, the first episode might be quite confusing at first. The entire series is told through jumping here and there from past and present, including different periods in the past, and different families and perspectives and characters and it gets complicated fast. Everything is connected. It’s one of those shows you can only really appreciate and enjoy by watching from the very first episode, and never skipping a single show. The more you watch, the more everything begins to make sense, and the more invested you become in continuing to watch what happens next.

Anyways I’m obviously a fan of this series. It is with love and respect for the amazing writing (and music score, and acting, and pretty much everything) that I write this review.

Title: This is Us

Network: NBC

Length: 43 Minutes per Episode, Currently 2 Seasons with new episodes airing tonight 01/09/18.

Genre: Drama

Where to Watch: This is Us Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Hulu

Geeky: 3/5 This drama is likely to appeal more to girls than guys, due to the fact that it is not an “easy” show to watch. It’s not the type of show you come home to, put on, and mindlessly just enjoy. It requires critical thinking and piecing together the puzzle pieces from episode to episode as complexity grows each week. There are conflicts, but they are matters of the heart, struggles of human kind, and society as a whole. You will not find action and excitement here; however, Pittsburgh locals, and Steelers fans, or anyone dealing with dysfunctional family problems will relate easily to this series.

Sweetie: 5/5

Overall: 72/80 90% A- “Excellent Drama for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 The concept of the story, the way everything is interconnected and woven together, the excellent writing, acting, music, and execution, the loveable but flawed characters, and how relatable it all is makes the concept and overview of this series easily a 10 out of 10.

Story: 8/10 – The story can be confusing if you jump in mid-season, and it can even be confusing for long time fans. There are many questions left unanswered, and to find those answers, the story skips and hops all over in piece meal fashion. One moment, the big 3 have not even been born, you’re watching their parents in their early 20s, the next moment, the big 3 are about 10 years old, then the next moment they are days old, then the next moment, the big 3 are in their 30s. This would be the only complaint I could give as to the story.

Now for what the story does right, it tells us a story about a middle class northeastern family from Pittsburgh PA. They love the Steelers, they love going out to the bars in downtown Pittsburgh, taking their kids camping in the woods, fishing, hiking, celebrating the holidays Christmas, Halloween, Birthdays, and all, and the realities that come with life in Pittsburgh, PA such as shoveling their cars out from 6 feet of snow, the attitudes regarding racism and the roles of gender etc in the workplace back in the 70s and 80s in Pittsburgh’s prime.

But this isn’t just any other American family. This family is different.  A white family raising a black kid, a black kid searching for his birth parents, a community that judges the family from all angles. A family that lost a child, but gained a child. And a family raising 2 remaining white babies along side the black baby. The saying “Love Makes a Family” has never been more true than it is in this drama.

But even parents with the best intentions and pure love for each other and for their children still make mistakes. Some of those mistakes we can never recover from. Some of those mistakes will cost some members of this family their lives. And other mistakes will cause members of this family to spend the rest of their lives searching for answers.

With each surprising plot twist and turn, we learn more about this unconventional American family. What mistakes did they make, what secrets do they hide, what went wrong? And above all, the love the family has for each other, the love that exists despite all of these devastating mistakes, the love that exists even beyond death. Love, self love, self identity, sacrifice, marriage, careers, raising a family, the struggle is real. We feel their struggle, that’s why we keep watching. We want to see how they overcome the pitfalls of life that so many of us face also in our own lives.

Characters: 9/10 Dysfunctional is the word I would use to describe this family, or in fact every single character within this drama. That’s part of what makes this series work so well. It plays on our sympathies, it makes the characters raw, real and relateable.  Addiction is also a central theme. Whether it’s Jack and Kev’s alcoholism, Randall’s Obsessive Compulsion and Anxiety, or Kate’s weight problems. These characters are flawed. Sometimes those flaws can be presented a bit heavy handedly and repetitively, which is the only flaw I could give to the unique cast of characters.

It’s also interesting how the characters cannot “escape the sins of their fathers”. Just as Jack resented his father, he turns out to be the same in many ways, and Kevin realizes he too is exactly like them. And even though Beca hates her mother, thinks she expects too much and is controlling, Beca turns out to have the same expectations and behaviors towards her own daughter.

In this way we are shown, no one is perfect. Parenting is not easy. It’s easy to judge what our parents do wrong. It’s easy to blame them for messing up our own lives. But in the end, we control how our future looks.

The big 3 are at different stages in their lives. Randall is married with 2 beautiful children and a loving wife. A successful career and big house. Kate is slowly climbing out of her past problems, she finds a new man, which brings new challenges, but she also finds confidence in herself and realizes her dream to pursue her career and goals despite her age and appearance. Kevin is perhaps the most flawed of the big 3. He is unable to handle relationships, unable to feel anything, he has burred his emotions for so long concerning tragic events in his past. He has messed up his career, and now has to start over from nothing. He will try desperately to cling to the past, and still not acknowledge his problems. Those problems will grow when addiction enters the picture, and just when things seem to be going well for Kevin they will all fall apart again. Similarly, Kate in season 2 is going to have a huge upswing of luck, prosperity, and achievement, only to lose it all again.

Life is full of ups and downs. It’s this roller coaster ride that keeps us watching each episode. We begin to care more and more about the Pearsons because of how raw and real and flawed the characters are.

There’s much more to it than I have revealed here. Like I said, the best part is to watch and be shocked by each new rise and fall.

Casting: 9/10 – I think the show is well cast. My only small critique, and coming at it from the angle of my blog being for young teen/young adult women, is I would have liked Kate’s love interest to have been more handsome. I feel like in American film/TV it is really common to see a fat male character with a beautiful wife, but it’s far less common to see a fat female character with a fit husband. It’s almost taboo in American society to see this combination. And as a fat girl myself in real life, dating currently a fit guy, it’s a match I would like to see depicted more on American TV. Stop perpetuating the misconceived notion that a girl is only as good as her weight. Stop perpetuating that a fat girl can only ever be worthy of being with a fat guy. This isn’t true. Slender guys, Muscular guys, all different types of guys, like fat girls too.

Yes, being fat is unhealthy, and seeing Kate’s struggles with her weight, infertility, and struggles with her pregnancy, all hit very close to home for me as well, since I also have fertility issues due to PCOS.

Anyways, you can hate on me, and call me out and say by my criticizing Kate’s love interest simply because he’s bald and fat, that I’m a hypocrite, because I’m saying then a Man is only as good as his weight – and that’s not really true. that’s not my point or what I’m trying to say, but I think many readers may view these comments as such attacks. I think the character that Kate’s husband plays is smart, funny, and genuinely sweet and a great person. Kate is lucky to have him. Kate would STILL be lucky to have him even if Kate was a size zero and he remained overweight. The scene in the coffee shop where he gets to announce their pregnancy is maybe my favorite scene in the entire series. His love and devotion for Kate is demonstrated time and time again. They are possibly “America’s Sweethearts”.

People like him are hard to find in ANY shape size color or whatever. And the actor playing him does fantastic so this isn’t about his ability as an actor either.

But in a show that CONSTANTLY pushes the envelope on touchy sensitive issues such as alcoholism, domestic abuse, drug addiction, homosexuality, racism, discrimination, etc, It seems like a missed opportunity to push another issue, by giving Kate a partner that would be unconventionally acceptable by society’s standards for a “fat girl”.

As a fat girl myself, and now recently dating a fit and active guy, I am well aware of society’s view of what is “acceptable” for a “fat girl” when it comes to dating. 9 times out of 10 when we go out, the waitress assumes it’s separate checks, even if we go there often, even if I’m cuddling, rubbing his back, flirting, or etc, obviously we are together and out on a date. I’m well aware too of the looks and stares we get when we go out. And probably of the whispers and other comments made behind our backs. And this is in part shaped by what we see on TV. Society doesn’t hold those same misconceptions for an overweight man with an attractive female.

We laugh it off, because who are they to judge us, our happiness, our relationship, our compatibility. But still, Hollywood could be doing more to break down these stereotypes and barriers. They could pair a fat girl with a hot husband. They could cast a fat girl in a main role, and NOT make it about her eating addiction and weight loss, they could, but they don’t, and This is Us is no exception to this.

What we see in the media, also shapes our realities. Hollywood should have a responsibility to do more to stop sexism, racism, and stop hate against people on their weight, religion, sexual orientation, or any other “less desirable” (as perceived by society “norms”) traits.

Randall and Kevin would both be considered hot or attractive, and what do they get, hot wives/girlfriends (although Kevin’s relationships are a hot hot mess).

And yes, Kate does have a wonderful happy loving awesome relationship. That’s wonderful, but why pair the only fat chick in the sitcom, with an equally fat guy? Also why make Kate’s who character so obsessed with her weight. Calling attention to how it’s such a huge negative thing. Meanwhile in countless other sitcoms we see fat or ugly men with smoking hot wives. Let’s reverse that stereotype just one time. I want to see a serious tv series like this, with a very overweight actress such as Kate, with a happy, healthy relationship, with a man that society would deem to be “above her station” and a character who is confident, happy, and content with her body size/shape and just owns it. Yes, we all know that being fat is not healthy, it affects your life in numerous negative ways, from fertility issues such as what Kate has, to heart disease, diabetes, and just lack of energy/stamina. We don’t need a TV show to remind us of this (because society reminds us of this every day). Instead what we NEED is a TV show to show us some kindness, some hope, some ray of light, in a world with very few “role models for fat girls”.

I am here to tell you, that even though TV will never show you that “ray of light” it exists. It’s real. There are REAL men, fit, athletic, muscular, handsome, sexy men, who love big girls. Who love and RESPECT big girls, who love you for you, for the person you are inside. Your heart, your mind, your unique wonderful qualities that make you you. As well as loving you for your curvy body. Loving, loyal, devoted to you.

Do you know what my boyfriend told me on our very first date? He told me all of the reasons why he liked me / was interested in getting to meet me / know me better. Because I’m different from other girls, because I’m real and genuine, and loving, and kind hearted. Because I’m myself, I’m not fake, I’m not shallow, I never judge others. I accept and love and support him. But also he genuinely likes and is attracted to big girls. I’ve seen photos of his exes, and they were even bigger than me. So it’s not just him saying that to please me. As unbelievable as it may be, there are fit guys who love big girls. And not only because they are big. But for all of the reasons that make them a wonderful person. Relationships shouldn’t be superficial. (so once again you might be calling me out here with my critique of Kate’s boyfriend in This is Us because he DOES treat Kate like the queen she is no matter how big he or she are.) But so could any man, regardless of his weight. Why only show fat actresses with fat men? When will hollywood realize that a woman’s value is more than her dress size. I have a wonderful relationship with a fit muscular guy and I’m a 200 lb girl. We share some things in common, but we also show each other new and interesting things, and take interest in each other’s interests. We have never spent a weekend apart ever since we first met, almost 6 months ago now.

I still think every time I go out with my boyfriend that I have the best looking guy in the room, or even in the world. And I find it unbelievable. Why? Why am I always so surprised and thankful and feel so shocked? Because of society’s norms, society’s expectations, society’s judgements. And what forms and shapes those judgements is the media. Magazines, movies, TV shows. We grow up looking to those. It’s a subconscious thing. You can deny it all you want and say you’re not superficial, but the truth is, you don’t even realize how it is shaping your judgement and notions.

Fat women often cast as sidekicks, comic relief, never taken seriously, never in a lead role, never in a “fairytale” type romance with a “prince charming”. If anything at all, paired with a man who society would equally judge and find fault with (at least their outer appearance).

I guess my bottom line is this… They could have written the character of Kate’s husband the EXACT same way, kept ALL of the scenes exactly the same, showing his silly side, his love for Kate, his willingness to let go of any pride or the lengths he would go to to publicly display his love for Kate, Kept all of that, and just cast someone better looking in the role – he still would have had the same qualities that make us love their relationship so much. While no longer perpetuating the stereotype of a fat girl not being able to have a happy relationship like this with an average or even handsome guy. Cast her with someone like Kev or Randall and then we’d REALLY have a show that pushes the envelope.

Acting: 10/10 – The show is emotionally engaging because not only of the excellent writing but the equally believable and convincing acting.

Music: 10/10 – I love the ending theme as well as many of the other tracks used throughout this drama. Many fans have asked repeatedly for Jack’s theme to be released on itunes store. As of yet it does not appear to be available for purchase. Take a listen below to Jack’s Theme.

Visuals: 8/10 – The nostalgia of the 70s 80s, and 90s are depicted through the different time skips back through the story. Although the show is a drama with no special effects or big budget visuals, the show does an excellent job of depicting life in western Pennsylvania. I would know since it is also my home.

Overall: 72/80 90% A- “Excellent Drama for Girls”

This Is US – Season 1 and 2 Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Magikarp Jump – Free Mobile Virtual Pet Pokemon Game Review for IOS and Android

Title: Magikarp Jump

Publisher: The Pokemon Company

Genre: Virtual Pet

Release Date: May 25, 2017

Available on Android: https://play.google.com/…

Available on IOShttps://itunes.apple.com/…

Overall: 63/80 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Geeky: 3/5 Gameplay is simple, but production values are surprisingly high. This title is sure to appeal to all Pokemon fans who will see not just Magikarp, but many of their other favorite Pokemon as well.

Sweetie: 5/5 – Adorable 2D colorful monster taming game with everyone’s favorite most useless unloved Magikarp as the main character. This game is full of a lot of heart and charm.

Magikarp Jump Game Review

Overview: 10/10 Magikarp Jump is a cute, free, seemingly innocent Pokemon Game for Mobile IOS and Android devices. The gameplay is very simplistic and reminiscent of Monster Rancher in that you take home a pet to train and raise and enter league battles. Pretty basic stuff, right? But actually it is perhaps one of the darkest Pokemon Games of all time, because for the first time ever, your Pokemon can die! There is no going back into their Pokeballs, and no amount of healing from Nurse Joy can bring a KoiKing back after he has become lunch for a wild flying Pokemon.

Gameplay: 7/10 Alright, so being a free mobile game, the gameplay, as you might expect is pretty primitive, but yet, oddly addictive. You begin the game by choosing a fishing rod (your first one will be given to you), and fishing up your very own Magikarp.

The karps come in different colors and patterns, and also have unique stats and bonuses. The main stat that your karp has to worry about is JP (Jumping Points). These determine how high your Magikarp can jump in special league battles where you face off against computer controlled AI opponents.

Magikarp Jump Game Review

You can raise JP in one of the following ways:

Feeding your Magikarp by tapping food that randomly appears on the screen

Training your Magikarp, in randomly selected training regimens. You get 3 TP (Training Points) that will refill over time and/or refill when your trainer rank increases and/or refill as a result of a random event.

Speaking of random events, there are lots of them, and they can either make, or break, your karp. You are given a choice here… to try the events or ignore them… If you do try them, and fail, you may lose your karp forever! Or your karp may lose several hundred or even several thousand JP. However, if you succeed, your karp may earn several thousand JP, or you may be given the special currency “diamonds” which are rare and usually only given during league battles or quest rewards (or purchased with real currency).

These diamonds let you buy other Pokemon to come help cheer your karp on and decorate your pond. These Pokemon have time activated abilities that will grant a permanent amount of JP to your karp, as well as appearing at random to give a temporary boost to your karp’s JP in each league battle. I’ve seen as little as a 5% increase, to as much as a 25% increase so far.

Magikarp Jump Game Review
Magikarp Jump Game Review

Your time with each karp is relatively short, especially early on in the game. Once they reach max level they are taken to the league battles to try one more time for the hall of fame. They can continue battling until they lose a match and then they are retired. They might float around in your tank in the background from time to time, and clicking on them will show their name and JP, but they serve no other purpose. If your karp dies (yes, this really happens), he will be immediately retired, and of course will not appear in your tank. After a karp dies or retires, you will be tasked with selecting a new fishing rod, and fishing up a new karp.

As you raise your karp your rank as a trainer goes up which in turn, raises the max level for the karps you can fish up. If you do a good job raising your karp, you also get a permanent motivation bonus that allows the new karps to earn JP at an increased rate.

There are many patterns and colors of karps available. As your karp grows, his patterns will become clearer, and new patterns will be added to your Pokedex. Gotta catch ’em all.

Your tank can be decorated with themes that change the background of the tank, or decorations which add stat bonus such as increasing JP from food or training, or increasing coins found from random events, etc.

The Pokemon “friends”, food, training regimens, and decorations can all be purchased from either the coin or diamond shops, and then also “invested” into after purchasing to continue to power and level up their effects and usefulness. As your rank increases, new food, friends, training regimens, and decorations will become available for purchase. Pokemon friends are also sometimes given as league battle rewards.

Magikarp Jump Game Review
Magikarp Jump Game Review

The game is simple and addicting and very cute too. However, there are some missed opportunities that could make the game more fun. It’d be nice to have online play with other players to be able to challenge their karps. It’d also be nice to have an online leader board tracking the highest jumps from Magikarps all around the world. And lastly, it’d be really nice to customize the look of the trainer character to make them more personalized.

Despite these flaws, the gameplay is solid, though repetitive, and yet strangely addictive. I spent way too much time this weekend playing Magikarp Jump.

Story: 6/10 There is a story, though I can’t say it’s terribly good. It is a super cute story, with detail and fleshed out at least in the intro. They introduce a new “professor” type character, this time a mayor, who serves as your guide. They set up an intro to the game by describing the town (name escapes me), and explaining that the quiet little town loves Magikarp and that all the residents participate in league battles to see whose Magikarp can jump the highest, but that lately, the Magikarp don’t seem as motivated as they used to be, and so something mysterious must be going on, and maybe you will be the one to raise a Magikarp again who can jump into the sky. I mean it’s brief, and not overly deep, but honestly, it’s about as deep or interesting as any of the actual Pokemon games or anime. Pokemon is not well known for story. I’m not far enough into the game yet to see where the story goes, if it goes anywhere at all, or if it just leaves it as an introduction. I’ll give it the benefit of doubt and give it a 6 instead of a 5 “average”. The extra point because it’s cute, and set up in such a way very similar to the story telling of the actual Pokemon games.

Characters: 6/10 The worst part about the character system is not being able to customize your trainer character. We don’t even get to name them or choose a gender. This is a step back from almost every “modern” Pokemon game over the last several years.

Magikarp Jump Game Review

Despite that small complaint, the other characters will all make any Pokemon fan feel right at home, from the “Mayor” who is basically taking the “professor” like role, to the Magikarps themselves, to the “Pokemon Friends” which range from classic favorites such as Pikachu, to more modern Pokemon such as Litten. I’m sure future updates will add more Pokemon Friends as well.

Character depth from a story standpoint is weak or even nonexistent. But the inclusion of fan-favorite Pokemon, in a game where Pokemon are the main characters, is sure to please old and new fans of the franchise alike.

Graphics: 10/10 The graphics, like everything in this game are super cute. Your Pokemon friends may be sleeping or playing on the screen, your loveable, ugly-but-cute, goofy, karps and you will forge a bond as you train them which endears them to you. Your tank can be customized with all sorts of decorations, and the karps come in various common and rare colors and patterns. The animations during training are quite cute as well. Everything is very brightly colored, and surprisingly “detailed” and full of personality for a cute simple 2D game.

Music: 6/10: Like most Pokemon games, the music is cute, snappy, and cheerful, full of fighting spirit and creates an atmosphere of innocence and adventure.

Replay Value: 10/10 – Since your time with each individual karp is so short, and you are forced to start over with your “current” league that your last karp left off in, and the levels and progress of your karps goes up bit by bit, you will have to play through multiple generations. I’m up to about Generation 8 now with the last karp maxing out around 53,000 JP I think. Some of my league opponents have upwards of 60k JP, so it will take me a few more generations before I can claim my next league badge. There’s also the collecting of decorations, Pokemon friends, and different colors and patterns of karps which makes playing more exciting for those who love to collect new things. Hopefully they continue to add new items and karp colors in future updates. Would love to even see some time-limited releases for items/karp colors in the future.

I love Magikarp, and after playing Magikarp jump, you will love him too! Next time, can we get a mobile game for the other underdog Pokemon, such as Psyduck?

 

Magikarp Jump – Free Mobile Virtual Pet Pokemon Game Review for IOS and Android was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Koe no Katachi Anime Review

Title: Koe no Katachi

Other Titles: A Silent Voice, The Shape of a Voice

Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Slice of Life, Drama

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Based on: A Silent Voice manga by Yoshitoki Ōima

Length: 2 hours 9 minutes

Release Dates:

Theatrical Japanese release: September 2016

Theatrical world-wide release: June 2017

DVD Blu Ray Japanese Release: May 17, 2017.

(no date announced at time of this blog post for an English DVD / Blu Ray Release).

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Geeky: 4/5 Gorgeously animated and very true to the original story within the manga. It does lack action and move at a sometimes slow pace and deals with heavy and unpleasant themes at times.

Sweetie: 5/5 The transformation of the characters and values of friendship, love, redemption, and need for connection, are all highlighted in a tale that shows the coming of age of a group of adolescents.

Overall: 48/60 80% B- “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Story: 9/10 Koe no Katachi is a coming of age story wherein we witness the growth and life changes which shape and change the nature of relationships between a group of friends, enemies, and lovers. The story centers heavily around 2 youths, Ishida Shoya and Nashimiya Shoko, and their classmates. When the film starts, they are in elementary school, and by time the film ends they are seniors in high school.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Shoko is a deaf student who transfers in to the class. Shoko is the only student with a disability, and none of the staff, students, or teachers are prepared or equipped to deal with her. As a result, Shoko becomes the victim of bullying, with Shoya largely being the ring leader behind her tormenting.

When it is discovered that Shoko has been bullied by her classmates, the other students and staff all blame Shoya which results in then his being bullied. The bullying continues throughout highschool as well, leaving Shoya with zero friends, and afraid to get close to anyone. Shoya even considers committing suicide to escape the bullying.

He runs into Shoko in his senior year of high school and immediately begins a plan to befriend her, having felt guilty for bullying her when they were younger. Shoya has been studying sign language and is now able to easily communicate with Shoko. He asks if they could be friends, the same thing she asked of him when they were little.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Shoko has grown stronger and has many friends already, but she blames herself for breaking up Shoya’s group of friends and for Shoya’s years of being a victim of bullying. The two forge an unlikely friendship, both hating and blaming themselves for their past interactions.

Shoya has grown and matured, and not just out of his feelings of guilt towards Shoko. Early in the film he befriends a male classmate who is also being bullied. This leads to Shoya’s first friend since elementary school.

Even Shoko’s sister who is very over protective of her, comes to accept Shoya when she realizes how much he has changed, and encourages him to date Shoko.

Shoko wants to help repair the friendships of Shoya’s childhood friends so she begins gathering the other students, some of which still resent Shoko and Shoya. There’s even a bit of a love triangle when Shoya runs into an old classmate, Ueno, working at a cat cafe.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

However, everyone is still haunted by their pasts. Shoko and Shoya both struggle with thoughts of suicide and guilt throughout the entire film. Eventually though, the two begin to develop feelings of love for one another as a result of their newly formed friendship, but even that love may not be enough to save them. (You should watch it for yourself if you want to know! 🙂 )

It is a touching and moving story. School bullying is a huge problem in both Japan, as well as North America, and it does often lead to an increase in child and teen suicide. Therefore, these themes and characters feel real, raw, relateable, and brimming with emotions.

The manga goes a little bit further than the anime by showing what happens after high school to most of the friends in this story. However, the movie is a faithful adaptation of the manga given the time constraints of the format (taking several volumes of manga and condensing down into a 2 hour film).

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Characters: 7/10: It can be difficult to watch a show as “heavy” as this at times. Almost of the characters are bullies and/or the victim of bullying. The main character and his friends are not “nice”. Even after they mature, many of the characters remain self-interested and shallow.

However, seeing Shoya’s transformation, and character development throughout the film from a bully to being bullied, and then to finding love and friendship is really the highlight of the film. Well that, and just how cute and unique of a character Shoko is.

It does a good job of showing both the home life, school life, and recreational life of the group of friends. Even the minor characters, such as Shoko’s sister and grandmother are well fleshed out.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Art: 10/10 – the anime is gorgeous to look at, especially some of the lovely backgrounds such as the koi pond, fireworks festival, or starlit skies. The character designs are cute and distinctive, from Shoko’s utter adorableness, to Shoya’s unkempt “I don’t care” attitude (messy hair, tag always sticking out of his collar, etc). Even the supporting cast has unique well defined designs, from their height, weight, hair, or fashion, all making them more memorable.

But perhaps the most interesting thing here is that they have actually animated some sign language scenes between the characters. Unfortunately I don’t sign, so I can’t comment how accurate the animations were, but it was still an interesting touch none the less.

Music: 4/10: I felt the music was very hit or miss for me. The opening theme song is an old (70s or 80s I think) American rock n roll song, which isn’t to my taste and didn’t seem to fit the theme or characters. The other music was not very memorable.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Voice Acting: 9/10: I dunno if Shoko’s voice actress is actually deaf or suffering from hearing loss, but the actress definitely has a speech impediment – whether that is real, or fake, I can’t tell. Other films and TV series, such as Switched at Birth have used deaf actors and actresses before. If she is not deaf, then that’s even a higher testament to her acting ability since she is able to keep the speech impediment consistently throughout the film.

This does make her hard to understand at times. The version I watched was likely fan subbed and not the official translation. The writers tried to characterize Shoko’s speech impediment even in the subtitles, and at times, I found myself feeling as frustrated and confused as the other characters trying to understand what she was saying lol. She still sounds cute, and her speech impediment plays an important part in the story.

The other characters are equally as well cast and really bring the characters from the manga to life on the big screen.

Overall: 48/60 80% B- “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Koe no Katachi Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Final Fantasy XV Review

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a review around here with the holidays and all. It’s time to fix that. Having just finished FFXV over the weekend, that seems the best candidate for a review this week. I’ve been a fan of Final Fantasy for a long time, ever since “Mystic Quest” on the SNES. Final Fantasy 6 (3 in America) is still my favorite in the series. I’ve played every Final Fantasy Game since the 16 bit era. And I’m “strange” I know, but I don’t really like FF7, not as much as everyone else seems to be in love with that game. But Final Fantasy in general always holds a special place in my heart. If I had to rank my favorite FF games that I’ve played from best to worst, it would look something like this when using the corresponding Japanese numbers for each title… With the newest game, Final Fantasy XV somewhere solidly in the middle. Although I’ve played 11 and 14, I didn’t include them in the list since they are a different genre (mmorpg)

  • FF6
  • FF8
  • FF4
  • FF10
  • FF13
  • FF15
  • FF9
  • FF5
  • FF7
  • FF12

Honestly, my most favorite thing about the new FF game was Prompto’s Photography skills lol. My twitter and facebook looked like a giant marketing website for the game for the past few weeks. Pretty smart move by SquareEnix, getting the public to help promote their game like that on social media. The characters are quite likeable in the game, and although the story starts slow, it eventually builds with a lot of emotion. The first half of the game features an open world environment where you can travel, explore, and quest freely, but the last several chapters are much more linear, and it’s within the later half of the game that the story becomes much darker. The emotions are felt stronger due to the first half focusing on friendship between the main character and his friends and the light hearted feeling of the early chapters.

The story however, is not without flaws, and that is where I have to deduct points. People are killed off much too early in the game to feel any sense of loss or attachment to them. Furthermore, some characters are mysteriously killed off without ever showing exactly what happened to them. The character development between the 4 “bros” is the highlight of the game – and it is beautiful. On the other hand, supporting characters are introduced only to be almost forgotten in later chapters. For example, I really liked Iris in the first half of the game. In the end it’s eluded that she too has become a daemon hunter, but it never shows her again nor does she ever rejoin the bros. Aranea is another forgotten female as well.

The game is supposed to be receiving numerous updates in the coming weeks and months. Among which include new story sequences, special dlc for each of the bros, gameplay enhancements for the later chapters (chapter 13), and the ability to create your own player character. But I shall base my review solely based on the content that was available when I played through the game.

Title: Final Fantasy XV

Platform: PS4 and Xbone (I played the PS4 version, but they are both the same).

Publisher: SquareEnix

Release Date: November 29, 2016

Genre: RPG

Where to buy: Amazon

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Geeky:  5/5 – The new combat system, high production values and cutting edge graphics make this new entry into the Final Fantasy series a new, but amazingly fun experience.

Sweetie:  4/5 – The story and character development sometimes struggles to keep things coherent and cohesive, especially in the later chapters of the game. Many of the side characters, especially female characters, are tossed aside and forgotten in the second half of the game. Some scenes that should have been tear jerkers fell flat due to not enough time spent developing characters before introducing tragic events. However, lots of non-combat activities, such as photography, fishing, cooking, and chocobo racing are sure to delight most girls playing this game. Not to mention ample amounts of glorious man eyecandy.

Overall: 69/80 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Final Fantasy XV is an action RPG with the ability to select Real-time combat or the Active Wait commands which allow you more time to use items and plan your strategy. Early chapters feature an open world with numerous quests, while later chapters shift to a linear narrative focused on building a strong story. Without spoiling it for you, Final Fantasy XV tells a story about a prince trying to rescue his bride to be while avenging his father’s death and reclaiming his kingdom. When the game starts, the prince is a mouthy spoiled brat, who, along with his friends journey to meet the Oracle, who is also the prince’s childhood friend and betrothed. However, shortly after leaving the capital city, their kingdom is attacked which begins a quest to seek the powers of the gods as well as past kings to help defeat evil and bring peace to the lands.

Gameplay: 9/10 – Some people really dislike the new action based combat; however, I find it much more fun, engaging, and fluid than traditional JRPGs (and I love JRPGs don’t get me wrong.). You can chain attacks like crazy, which is really cool, especially later in the game, it’s possible to see triple digits on your chained attacks. You can bring up the menu which in Real-time mode, monsters will still attack, but in Active Wait mode, the monsters will be paused allowing you to select the items you want to use. I had no trouble using items in the Real-time combat modes.  I relied pretty heavily on elixirs and potions, especially in later chapters of the game lol. There are two difficulty settings, and I played on easy and found most of the fights a breeze, even in the dreaded chapter 13 which finds the main character separated from the bros and without any weapons or armor. So I would say the game is of average difficulty probably. I did not need to grind or run into any issues.

Overall the game took me about 55 hours to complete. I spent the first several hours doing side quests, and enjoying the extra content of the game, and about the last 20 hours maybe actually trying to progress through the storyline. FFXV is one of those games that can take you as little as 30 hours or as many as probably 100+ hours depending on what you want to do! I still had plenty of side quests that I could have completed. However, I didn’t feel particularly motivated to do so, too many “fetch quests” – go here, bring back x, or kill x number of monsters, etc. Needed more story based quests. Also money became laughable as a quest reward. I had 99 (the limit it lets you carry) Hi Elixirs, Hi Potions, etc.

Long time fans will be delighted to see the return of chocobo racing (which in my opinion was the best part of FF7 lol). You can also name, customize (with medals and colors), and take your Chocobo on the road with you. Not only that, but as you travel by chocobo, he will level up, gaining more stamina and learning new skills such as being able to help you in combat. In the beginning he may run from a lot of encounters as soon as you dismount, but as he levels up it’s implied he has more affection for you as he will often take initiative to engage in combat and wait for you to mount back up when the fight is finished.

New features in FFXV include Prompto’s photography skills. Prompto will take pics randomly throughout the game. I believe most are randomly generated, but a few are perhaps storyline driven. This is by far my favorite part of FFXV. I filled up all 150 album slots by Chapter 10. You can check out my twitter to see some of my pics. 

The main mini game in Final Fantasy XV is a pachinko game (popular in Japan, these casino games kinda resemble Pinball in a way). You can win trophies and in game items (mostly accessories from what I noticed) by getting high scores in the game. The mini game felt kinda long and tedious in a way to me, too many levels. I made it pretty far, but never did reach the end – if there even is an end to it.

I think there also may be a coliseum fighting tournament thing – I heard NPCs saying “Let’s go out for drinks if we win the tournament” etc. I didn’t fully explore enough to find the arena – so I can’t comment on this feature – if it actually exists.

Fishing is another passtime which you can choose to level up throughout various fishing spots in the game. It is very challenging at first, but if you fish enough your skill increases and you also become accustomed to the controls and it does get easier and more enjoyable as you go on.

There’s also Ignis’ cooking skills. When you make camp you can have Ignis cook a stat-boosting meal for the group. As you travel you will discover new recipes (hint try ordering everything at the taverns you visit, and check shops for recipe books and other key items). Sometimes just foraging for the ingredients out in the wild will be enough to spark Ignis’ inspiration. Characters also have favorite foods that further give an increased boost to their stats when consumed.

Camping can also unlock special scenes between you and the bros. For example, staying at an outpost one night, Prompto approaches the main character to reminisce about their childhood. It’s a very moving scene – one that really does a lot to develop Prompto as a character – and kinda a shame a lot of people may not get to see it.  There’s other scenes too and some include mini games such as cooking with Ignis or racing with Gladiolus.

Traveling in Final Fantasy XV is easier and faster than any other JRPG I’ve ever played. The main mode of transportation is the Regalia, a beautiful black sports car. You can choose to drive yourself, or choose to have Ignis drive automatically for you by selecting quests or map markers kinda mindlessly guiding you through the game. To pass time you can collect and listen to numerous Final Fantasy soundtracks from previous games. You can also shop while driving in your car (or even while it’s parked). At times the radio will have news or other backstory elements you can hear while riding around. Your car will need gas so don’t forget to refill for a measly 10 gil at outposts along the way.

The car is not the only means of transportation though, as mentioned you can take your Chocobo on the road as well. I chose to travel by chocobo throughout much of the game, because I liked the photos Prompto took while on chocoback. Yes, that’s my “fuschia” chocobo in the featured image lol. I later changed him to teal. I named him Cho-Cho. And he was awesome :).

You can also instantly teleport to the last campsite or inn you’ve slept in, or teleport instantly to wherever you parked the car. When traveling by car you can also instantly teleport to any previously visited parking spots. This makes traveling super fast and cuts down on gametime and gameplay that is “boring” in most other JRPG.

With so much to do, Final Fantasy XV gets high marks on gameplay. I only deducted a point for the lackluster nature of most of the side quests which may cause some players such as myself to not want to bother completing them.

Story: 6/10 The bones are in place, but the skeleton needs a little meat on those bones to flesh out the story and characters more. The potential for emotional and gut wrenching scenes is there – and I won’t lie, the end and later chapters did elicit a few tears from me, but I felt a lot more could have been done, especially involving supporting characters who seem to be cast aside in the 2nd half of the game (as mentioned Iris, Aranea, etc). The supposed emotional scenes also would have had more impact had they built more rapport with the characters before killing them off, giving them some more screentime, personality, and showing the bonds between them. I feel they did pretty decently with one of the characters they killed – but I won’t say who so as to not spoil anything. But most of the others it never really explains exactly how they died or why we should even care that they’ve died.

The story starts slow and light hearted, a happy prince on his way to see his bride to be who he has not seen since they were children. Each chapter has setbacks and builds more and more darkness, and misery. Until the final chapters where light no longer exists in the world, very symbolic of the story itself. The final chapters reveal the true nature of the daemons that have been plaguing the lands as well as the role of a wayward god. The middle of the story focuses on seeking favor from the gods and ancient kings to help defeat the evil across the land. The end is left open-ended in a sense that it could be left to interpretation by the players and there is much debate as to what exactly happens. I have my own theories but I won’t spoil anything for anyone here. Make sure you watch through all of the credits, there’s numerous scenes after you may think it has ended. Until you have seen Noctis sleeping on the throne, you haven’t seen the true ending, the logo will also change after you complete the game.

Characters: 8/10 Although as mentioned, I have some serious gripes about how side characters (Iris and Aranea for example) are just forgotten in the later half of the game, I can’t overlook the strong character development of the main character and his friends. He changes from a whiny brat who’s insecure and unsure if he even wants to rule, to someone who is so determined and mature, that he is willing to sacrifice everything for his kingdom. Many sad and many happy things will happen between the bros. The first half of the game will make you love the bros. This is important in making you care about what happens in the later parts of the game. Aided by Prompto’s selfies and group shots, and some solid narratives, the bromance between the group is really the highlight of the game. Each of the bros is very likeable. Ignis is kinda the mother hen of the group, Gladio the rough around the edges strong forceful type who sometimes has to motivate Noctis to stop whining by nearly pummeling some sense into him, and Prompto the carefree high-energy playful sidekick who mostly serves as comic relief Prompto is featured prominently in later chapters of the game, and also as I mentioned you may get lucky and see a special scene with him and Noctis which reveals that he hasn’t always been so outgoing. Prompto has a lot going on under the surface – and for that reason, he may be my favorite character in the game. Although I also really like Ignis who has a tragic event in the later parts of the game which changes not only his character, but his appearance and also his skills and abilities. All of the bros are absolute eyecandy for any girls playing the game, and are often compared to boy bands of the 90s lol. And any guys playing the game will likely relate to the friendship between the group of young guys. Liking the characters goes a long way in motivating me to play through the end of the game and also is instrumental in drawing the desired emotions from the players.

Graphics: 10/10 – Can’t deny that this is one beautiful game. The huge scale monsters create a feeling of awe and terror. The various destinations, from desserts, to large cities, to forests, caves, and the open road give the game a sense of realism and adventure. Your characters can wear different outfits and you can customize the chocobo colors. – Soon you will even be able to create your own playable character as well. The quality of the graphics, especially the hair and the environment are amazing, almost photo realistic.

Music: 8/10 – I actually really liked the ending theme which is Stand by Me by Florence and the Machine. However, I miss days of yore when Final Fantasy had original music, such as Eyes on Me or Suteki Da Ne. That said, the music is still fitting for the game. That song got me at the end, making me cry a little. And it is a great song that fits the theme, because the bros will stand together through all kinds of hardships in this adventure. It’s also super awesome to be able to collect previous Final Fantasy soundtracks to play and listen to in the Regalia. And like most FF games, a large number of the tracks in Final Fantasy XV have been remixed once again (such as the chocobo theme which is a fan favorite).  I deducted a few points for lack of originality in the sound track, but overall, it’s a great soundtrack with a lot of variation and some old throw backs as well :).

Voice Acting: 9/10 – I played the English audio. I will probably do Japanese audio next time I play the game just to see what the original cast is like. But the English voice acting is actually pretty good. There are a few lines that are sometimes either overdramatic or lacking in emotion, but it’s nowhere near as bad as most other dubbed games or anime. The audio goes a long way also in helping the audience to identify with the characters and further creates deeper impact for the emotional scenes throughout the game.

Overall: 69/80 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Replay Value is unknown at this time. As of writing, SquareEnix is reworking Chapter 13. Most notably this will be gameplay “fixes” such as powering up the ring of lucis. However, they have stated plans to introduce new story elements as well which require localization and voice acting and are further down the road. There are multiplayer aspects and the game does present at times choices to the player, but those choices have little bearing on the story which remains largely linear. Replay Value ultimately will be determined by the nature of updates and DLC released by SquareEnix.

Final Fantasy XV Review was originally published on

Plastic Memories Anime Review

Title: Plastic Memories

Genre: Slice of Life, Romance, Scifi, Comedy

Release Date: 2015

Studio: Doga Kobo

Length: 13 Episodes

Overall: 32/35 91% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Story: 10/10 Plastic Memories is a 2015 anime series about a futuristic society aided by companion android like creations known as Giftia. The giftia live together with humans, and often as an integral role of their family. More often than not, they serve as children for couples unable to conceive on their own, or taking the place of children who died.

Imagine what you would do to protect your child. Now imagine if you knew that your time with your child was limited. You knew at best you’d have 10, maybe 15 years together. You knew this before agreeing to purchase the android – but you didn’t know how attached you’d become and how human-like they’d be. Giftia also have feelings and emotions – or at least artificial intelligence has advanced so far that they perceive some type of understanding towards human emotion.

But technology still has it’s limits. It always will. Technology does not last forever – and Giftia are no exception. They will break. It’s just a matter of when. And when a Giftia breaks, they can become very dangerous, and they may even attack humans. Because of that – there’s a special task force that is sent out to retrieve Giftia who are nearing the end of their life.

This is no easy job. Imagine what you would do if someone showed up on your door step with intent to effectively kill your child?

These special agents only use force when absolutely necessary. They try to spend several days reasoning with the families and making them understand, that it’s much like when you put down a beloved pet. You don’t want them to suffer. You do it as an act of kindness and out of love.

Once reclaimed, they can be reprogrammed and sent back to their owners – but none of the memories of the past 15 years will exist. They will view you as a stranger. It won’t matter how much you talk about the past, or even if you showed them photos, or videos, their memories are lost forever.

Characters: 10/10 The story of the Giftia is just one component, and not even the main focus – the main focus actually is on the team which must retrieve the Giftia from their owners. To do this they work in pairs. One human, and one Giftia make up one pair. The task force has about 5 or 6 pairs working in the office. The story focuses on their newest recruit, a young man named Tsukasa. He is paired up with Isla, a broken Giftia who is nearing the end of her life span. She is aware that she has very little time left and that she has begun to slow down both in mental and physical capabilities. However her team members hate seeing her so sad, so they decide to put her back out in the field – for a long time she has been “out of action” after failing to prevent an accident that occurred and failing to recapture a rogue Giftia. Being given a second chance, she trains hard every day to not be a burden to her team members, especially Tsukasa. The team is worried about Isla pushing herself too hard, so they make the two of them live together so that Tsukasa can help watch over her mental and physical well being. Initially Isla is very cold and almost inhuman like. She is worried about getting attached to anyone when she knows she will soon pass away and cause pain to herself and everyone who cares about her. She has seen far too many times, the painful goodbyes when she has herself reclaimed a Giftia from the people that loved it (and that the Giftia also loved them). Unable to bear the sadness, Isla would rather isolate herself and just await her gloomy fate. — But that slowly changes with Tsukasa in her life. She finds herself wanting to please him, wanting to make him happy, and most of all, just wanting to be near him.

And the story doesn’t just solely focus on them either. The other team members also have interesting back stories. However, what I thought was even more impressive, is how they can make you cry and feel attached to a very minor character within 1, 2, or 3 episodes, before killing them off. All of the Giftia in this series… I really felt for them and their families. I really found myself crying in nearly every episode. The amount of character development, back story, and emotion put into even the tiniest characters who are only there for an episode or 2, that is some seriously good writing!

Artwork: 5/5 – The artwork is very nice given that it is a 2015 anime, using the latest animation techniques and drawn in the current modern style. Isla is cute, especially if you love Tsunderes or TsunTsuns. I still don’t think she’s as cute as Chii lol but she is still none the less adorable. And the production values are much higher than say Chobits or Time of Eve. The bright colors and flashy animation really make this one stand out.

Voice Acting: 5/5 – I really enjoyed the voice actors in this anime. They had so much raw emotion that was necessary to tell such a sad tale. Even the “extras” who were only in one or two episodes at most, they all had so much emotion. There’s no way to watch this anime without crying lol.

Music: 2/5 – The music is just sorta average in my opinion. It’s been less than a year since I watched this and I can’t really even recall the ending theme (I recall the animation that went with it, but not so much the music.) — On the other hand, the opening theme is very catchy. Background music fit the mood and theme of each episode well as well. It’s average to above average, but not as memorable as many other anime soundtracks out there.

Overall: 32/35 91% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Plastic Memories Anime Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Wolf Girl and Black Prince Anime Review

Title: Wolf Girl and Black Prince

Number of Episodes: 12 anime episodes – over 40 manga chapters – the anime ends with manga chapter 21; so you can continue the story by reading on from manga chapter 22.

Episode Length: Approximately 30 minutes

Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Drama, Comedy, Slice of Life

Where to Watch: http://www.crunchyroll.com/wolf-girl-and-black-prince

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Story: 10/10 Erika is a typical highschool girl, worried about her reputation with her friends in her class. So when her friends all start bragging about their boyfriends, Erika decides that she’s going to make up a fictional boyfriend to impress her friends. Without thinking, she randomly takes a cellphone picture of a cute boy that she passes by on the street. When she shows her friends, they are shocked and don’t believe her, because it is the “prince” of the school; the one guy that all of the girls want to date, the most popular and most unobtainable boy in the school. Not wanting to get caught in her own lie, Erika approaches the “prince” to ask him if he could pretend to go out with her for a short time. He tells her he will be her boyfriend if she will be his dog. He tells her he likes dogs that follow him around and obey his every command. He literally treats her as if she were a dog. He makes her bark, turn circles, fetch, and sit and stay on command. She agrees to be his dog because she so badly wants to keep up appearances with her friends. While pretending to be dating, the two gradually draw closer. Erika almost instantly develops feelings for the prince, however, he does not trust women due to his own relationship with his mother and sister. He is afraid of being hurt and afraid that everyone will leave him if he gets too close. He is never honest about his feelings, and tries to deny that he also has grown rather fond of Erika. He slowly begins to change though throughout the series; his once playboy ways a thing of the past, as he refuses visits from other girls, and becomes increasingly possessive and jealous around Erika. He also at times shows her kindness that he never shows to other girls.

Recommended Age Group: 12+ The story is cute and completely “clean”, though it does seem a bit degrading for the girl in this story. If you just enjoy it for what it is, it’s a great anime, my favorite in fact from 2015; but if you think about it too deeply you may be somewhat offended by the fact that it “romanticizes” abusive relationships. I’m personally not bothered or offended by this series, but I think impressionable young children (7-10 yrs old) should maybe not watch it for this reason.

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Characters: 10/10 Erika and Kouya (the prince) are exact opposites, their personalities are usually in conflict throughout the series, with Erika wanting to “win” the heart of Kouya, and Kouya cautiously protecting himself and pushing Erika away. Erika is a sweet and simple girl who is eager to please others (which is what gets her into this mess in the first place) Kouya is more rough around the edges, and has a bad temper and a known track record for being a playboy. Erika is more high energy, while Kouya is more reserved. He gets embarrassed easily and is less open about his feelings. Kouya is the typical Tsundere type of character, one who acts cold, but is actually very kind underneath his outward appearances.

There are also a number of minor characters who bring the show to life, including a love rival trying to win Erika’s affection (briefly) in the series. I actually liked him better for Erika – Let’s face it, Kouya does not treat her right at all. The love rival is very shy and timid, and that really endeared him to me even more. He was just too cute! There’s also Kouya’s friend who tries to give Erika tips and advice to impress Kouya, but usually ends up making things worse for them. And later on, a new student wants to make Kouya stray, to prove that all men cheat, and make himself feel/look better, but Kouya proves that he is a better person and resists the temptation. A lot of drama and a lot of character tensions in this anime, really keep things moving. I love a good drama.

Artwork: 8/10

Music: 8/10

Voice Acting: 8/10

Final Score: 44/50 88% Very Good Anime for Girls

You Might Also Like: Kaichou Wa Maid Sama, Kamisama Hajimemashita, and Blue Spring Ride

Wolf Girl and Black Prince Anime Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Lufia The Fortress of Doom Review SNES Retro RPG Videogame

Title: Lufia the Fortress of Doom

Genre: RPG

Release Date: December 1993

Platform: SNES

Publisher: Taito

Where to Buy: Amazon has a few used copies in stock from time to time; at time of this review, it’s priced around $68 You can keep an eye on this page on amazon to see when copies become available. http://www.amazon.com/Lufia-Fortress-Doom-Super-Nintendo/dp/B0007Y66N4 You may also have good luck searching on ebay for a used copy of the game.

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”

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Concept: 8/10 This is the first game in the Lufia series if you look at release date; however, several “prequels” were released that take place prior to the events in this game. The order that you play them in does not matter much since several decades elapse between each point in the storyline; if you have time for only one game, I recommend Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals (Which we’ve recently reviewed in our new Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals Review ) over this original game. The pequel improves on almost every aspect of this title, including storyline, character development, gameplay, and graphics. But the first game is still a great rpg with a touching story full of plot twists and challenging gameplay. The game begins by playing a group of heroes (who are the stars of the prequel) in the final stretch of their journey to seal away ancient evil powers known as the Sinistrals. After some brief gameplay and story, the time skips ahead almost 100 years into the future, and you are playing as the descendant of these heroes. The world has been peaceful and uneventful until now; but now the ancient evil that your ancestors faced has reawakened and you must follow in their footsteps to save the world once again. Lufia’s strength as a whole has always been it’s rather challenging puzzle solving elements that are presented as you explore various dungeons. There’s also many different side quests and things to explore in each game which give players a break from the main story.

Story: 8/10 As mentioned above the concept of the game is that you are the direct descendant of heroes who faced great evil almost 100 years ago. You play as a young knight serving your kingdom, and you have a childhood friend who mysteriously turned up in your village 10 years ago with no memories of her past that serves as a love interest for the main character. The game is more about Lufia than your main character who is more just like a sidekick as far as story and character development go. Lufia has a very strange past which slowly emerges as you play the game and really becomes the main focus and catalyst of the storyline later on. The storyline is very touching, and you can really feel the love that has developed between the hero and Lufia. The real game (after the prologue) begins when a nearby village is attacked by someone claiming to be one of the defeated sinistrals. As a knight, it’s your duty to go help the villagers and when you arrive, you come face to face with the Sinistral Gades for yourself. After learning that the Sinistrals have reawakened you begin your journey to help save the world once again. The story does start out rather slow, so I deducted a few points there. It suffers from some bad dialogue at times too, being either bland or cringe worthy at times. However, the plot twists and the love story that slowly emerges, as well as the shocking truth about Lufia’s past make the storyline a very rewarding experience that’s well worth the somewhat slow start.

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Characters: 5/10 Your party consists of 4 characters, the hero, his childhood friend Lufia, Aguro a knight from a neighboring village, and Jerin, a healer who later becomes a love-rival for Lufia. The characters are not as well developed as in Lufia 2. With the only character who’s strongly well developed being Lufia herself. Lufia and the love that you feel for her are very emotionally engaging. However, the other two party members often feel flat and lifeless. The main hero is left somewhat generic to allow the player to better immerse and imagine themselves in the role of the hero. This can sometimes make the main character feel more cold and uncaring than if he also had a well developed backstory and personality. The character dialogue can also be cheesy or fall flat at times which can detract from the emotional impact of the storyline.

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Gameplay: 8/10 This is a typical “90s RPG” featuring turn based combat, dungeon crawling, (lots of) random enemy encounters, and puzzle solving. You level up and learn new skills and spells, travel from town to town, purchase new equipment, talk to NPCs, and take on side quests as you progress through the main story. There’s nothing terribly innovative here; but the puzzles and monsters can be quite challenging which makes this series very fun for those looking for a challenge. One of the most challenging features is the “Ancient Cave” which has 100 levels and I think it may be procedurely generated if I remember correctly. Each level features better loot, but increasingly difficult monster encounters. This area is completely optional, but most players will want to explore this dungeon to level up their party and acquire some of the best in-game items. This is a linear rpg (as most games where back then) with little in the ways of customization and no replay value or incentive for multiple playthroughs (so I deducted a couple of points there).  If you love traditional retro RPGs, that’s what we have here, so you should be right at home in Lufia Fortress of Doom.

Music: 10/10 The soundtrack to Lufia is very memorable, maybe one of the best back in the 90s (aside from “big name” games such as final fantasy). The sound effects and ambient sounds also help to immerse the player into the world of Lufia and help set the mood for each point in the story.

Graphics: 7/10 The graphics are dated by today’s standards of course, but back in it’s time, Lufia had some of the most vivid and colorful graphics around. One flaw in the graphics may be in the combat system, as you are shown a row of enemies in the middle of your screen, and beneath that, 4 status bars representing your 4 party members, with a small animated sprite in the right hand side of each bar. It seems odd to present the statistical info more prominently than the characters themselves. The game is also often criticized for reusing several graphics and not having enough variety in level or monster design.

Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”

Lufia The Fortress of Doom Review SNES Retro RPG Videogame was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Lufia The Fortress of Doom Review SNES Retro RPG Videogame

Title: Lufia the Fortress of Doom

Genre: RPG

Release Date: December 1993

Platform: SNES

Publisher: Taito

Where to Buy: Amazon has a few used copies in stock from time to time; at time of this review, it’s priced around $68 You can keep an eye on this page on amazon to see when copies become available. http://www.amazon.com/Lufia-Fortress-Doom-Super-Nintendo/dp/B0007Y66N4 You may also have good luck searching on ebay for a used copy of the game.

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 8/10 This is the first game in the Lufia series if you look at release date; however, several “prequels” were released that take place prior to the events in this game. The order that you play them in does not matter much since several decades elapse between each point in the storyline; if you have time for only one game, I recommend Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals (Which we’ve recently reviewed in our new Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals Review ) over this original game. The pequel improves on almost every aspect of this title, including storyline, character development, gameplay, and graphics. But the first game is still a great rpg with a touching story full of plot twists and challenging gameplay. The game begins by playing a group of heroes (who are the stars of the prequel) in the final stretch of their journey to seal away ancient evil powers known as the Sinistrals. After some brief gameplay and story, the time skips ahead almost 100 years into the future, and you are playing as the descendant of these heroes. The world has been peaceful and uneventful until now; but now the ancient evil that your ancestors faced has reawakened and you must follow in their footsteps to save the world once again. Lufia’s strength as a whole has always been its rather challenging puzzle solving elements that are presented as you explore various dungeons. There’s also many different side quests and things to explore in each game which give players a break from the main story.

Story: 8/10 As mentioned above the concept of the game is that you are the direct descendant of heroes who faced great evil almost 100 years ago. You play as a young knight serving your kingdom, and you have a childhood friend who mysteriously turned up in your village 10 years ago with no memories of her past that serves as a love interest for the main character. The game is more about Lufia than your main character who is more just like a sidekick as far as story and character development go. Lufia has a very strange past which slowly emerges as you play the game and really becomes the main focus and catalyst of the storyline later on. The storyline is very touching, and you can really feel the love that has developed between the hero and Lufia. The real game (after the prologue) begins when a nearby village is attacked by someone claiming to be one of the defeated sinistrals. As a knight, it’s your duty to go help the villagers and when you arrive, you come face to face with the Sinistral Gades for yourself. After learning that the Sinistrals have reawakened you begin your journey to help save the world once again. The story does start out rather slow, so I deducted a few points there. It suffers from some bad dialogue at times too, being either bland or cringe worthy at times. However, the plot twists and the love story that slowly emerges, as well as the shocking truth about Lufia’s past make the storyline a very rewarding experience that’s well worth the somewhat slow start.

Characters: 5/10 Your party consists of 4 characters, the hero, his childhood friend Lufia, Aguro a knight from a neighboring village, and Jerin, a healer who later becomes a love-rival for Lufia. The characters are not as well developed as in Lufia 2. With the only character who’s strongly well developed being Lufia herself. Lufia and the love that you feel for her are very emotionally engaging. However, the other two party members often feel flat and lifeless. The main hero is left somewhat generic to allow the player to better immerse and imagine themselves in the role of the hero. This can sometimes make the main character feel more cold and uncaring than if he also had a well developed backstory and personality. The character dialogue can also be cheesy or fall flat at times which can detract from the emotional impact of the storyline.

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Gameplay: 8/10 This is a typical “90s RPG” featuring turn based combat, dungeon crawling, (lots of) random enemy encounters, and puzzle solving. You level up and learn new skills and spells, travel from town to town, purchase new equipment, talk to NPCs, and take on side quests as you progress through the main story. There’s nothing terribly innovative here; but the puzzles and monsters can be quite challenging which makes this series very fun for those looking for a challenge. One of the most challenging features is the “Ancient Cave” which has 100 levels and I think it may be procedurely generated if I remember correctly. Each level features better loot, but increasingly difficult monster encounters. This area is completely optional, but most players will want to explore this dungeon to level up their party and acquire some of the best in-game items. This is a linear rpg (as most games where back then) with little in the ways of customization and no replay value or incentive for multiple playthroughs (so I deducted a couple of points there).  If you love traditional retro RPGs, that’s what we have here, so you should be right at home in Lufia Fortress of Doom.

Music: 10/10 The soundtrack to Lufia is very memorable, maybe one of the best back in the 90s (aside from “big name” games such as final fantasy). The sound effects and ambient sounds also help to immerse the player into the world of Lufia and help set the mood for each point in the story.

Graphics: 7/10 The graphics are dated by today’s standards of course, but back in its time, Lufia had some of the most vivid and colorful graphics around. One flaw in the graphics may be in the combat system, as you are shown a row of enemies in the middle of your screen, and beneath that, 4 status bars representing your 4 party members, with a small animated sprite in the right hand side of each bar. It seems odd to present the statistical info more prominently than the characters themselves. The game is also often criticized for reusing several graphics and not having enough variety in level or monster design.

Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”

Lufia The Fortress of Doom Review SNES Retro RPG Videogame was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News