Violet Evergarden & Special – A Letter From the Heart

Dear Reader,

I’m sure you came here expecting a review of Violet Evergarden and a recommendation as to whether or not you should watch it. In a way I suppose this will likely do that but today’s piece is more personal. It’s a letter to you, the community, and to myself. I’m not writing it as Jon Spencer, but rather as the man behind the persona, Nathan Mehlhorn.

As many of you know I have several conditions such as Cerebral Palsy and Autism. It’s not something I really keep secret. However, what you probably do not know is I don’t communicate very well with people. This, of course, is not always the case as with anyone but in person I’m not exactly an expert conversationalist. Surprised? I’ve always been much better at communicating through writing, though my spelling limits my vocabulary and I’m prone to more errors, it is generally more concise and easier to follow.

This is not so unusual for people in my position. I don’t have to track a conversation, focus on eye contact, or follow typical social conventions on the computer. I have time to process responses and am afforded ample time to think of phrasing to reply in turn. In short, writing, as a medium, is generally an easier forum of communication for me.

Hence why we are talking about Violet Evergarden today. This series is about three major things. The first of which is war, which I can relate to in that my Father was in the military but is not what I’d like to focus on today. As for the other two things, they would be about Violet wishing to learn what, “I love you” means and letter writings. Specifically, how sometimes it is easier to say things in writing than aloud.

In short, this is about the power of words.

Violet Evergarden is not unique in this exploration however. So you may be wondering why the focus on this show specifically? To which I would applaud you. That’s an excellent question. In truth, this could easily be about The Great Passage which explores similar themes through its story about creating a dictionary. Partially, I chose this series because it’s popular and more accessible. However, Violet Evergarden has one thing other shows do not, and that’s Violet herself.

A complaint often leveled at Violet Evergarden is that Violet is too robotic, she’s not quite, well, human enough for people. What an insult to people like myself. Allow me to explain. At the start of the series Violet is very much like an autistic person, she has poor communication skills. While she is excellent at conveying information and typing, she doesn’t understand people. Her quest for understanding what, “I love you” means is really a means for her to connect with others.

When I was younger, I was very similar to Violet. I just didn’t get people. I still don’t always. I’d take orders, relay information, etc… This made me an excellent student, I was smart and capable in that respect, but when it came to people not so much. I’d often misunderstand sarcasm, hidden intent behind words, and things that for many people are relatively obvious.

Seeing Violet’s journey through the series is one that I can relate to personally. Not because I have a tragic war story background but because the growth of her character is so similar to my own.

There is another thing I realized with Violet Evergarden though. My highest rated shows do one of three things well. The first being that they are technically impressive, the next being they are intellectually stimulating, and the third being they are emotionally resonate with me. Especially sad things.

You might be thinking, “So what?” because this in itself isn’t that uncommon. The focus is on the emotionally resonate stuff. I don’t experience emotions the same way as other people. I can become upset, frustrated, depressed, just like anybody else, but truly feeling something is pretty rare.

This is a lot harder to explain so let me do my best here. For a long time I wouldn’t even be phased by somebody dying, just as an example. I still don’t really because it is totally normal, it happens, just a natural phenomenon. Most people think that’s weird. I should be sad, right?

Well when it comes to anime, I feel these things really strongly. Not in every show, but things like Anohana, which I’ve mentioned, hit me so hard I can barely stand a rewatch. I seek these strong feelings out in media. Not just negative ones, but positive ones too.

Anime has been a blessing in that regard. It has helped me understand people a lot better. That’s the true value of something like Violet Evergarden and why I think it is such a wonderful show. The power of communication comes through so strongly and learning how and why people feel the things they do is invaluable to me, and others.

After watching the special episode for the series the other day I was overcome with an urge to write this letter to you. Maybe this was all a big rambling mess and you didn’t really get anything out of it, but I hope you did. Perhaps, you’ll look at anime a bit differently the next time you sit down to watch it even?

Works like these are transformative and important. I truly wish to experience many more shows that pack such a weight like Violet Evergarden does for me. If you haven’t already please give this wonderful series a watch with an open mind and heart.

Sincerely,

-JS

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Life & Stuff – Hiatus for the Month

I’m Just Too Busy

Starting today, until the end of the month, I am not going to publish anything else here on the site. I appreciate everybody who’s been reading but I haven’t been able to give this place 100% or really keep up with any of you guys. There is just too much going on. Let’s walk through all that stuff now.

Disability & Money

As you may know, I put in for disability awhile back and they denied my claim. This isn’t that unusual but that means I now have to go through the appeals process. I have to get a lawyer (again) and get people to come to a court hearing so I can hopefully get the aid. Personally, I’d rather work but nobody will higher me and the few times I did I quickly got laid off or had to leave for health reasons. It really put me in a bad mood. Money is a major concern for me and people are always hammering me for not doing enough.

I still have my job at my church but that has become pretty awful. Lately I’ve been getting angry church-goers tell me to keep the kids stock silent during church but that is really hard. They abolished our dedicated space to a small space behind the pews. I need the money but this has made me hate going to church and the job. Don’t get out much either so this is extra disappointing.

Indie Game Maker Competition 2018

You may have seen that I’m working on a game for the Indie Game Maker Competition 2018. I’ve been working really hard on my game, Hiro’s Ascension. It isn’t complete yet but you can play a demo of the game right now if you’d like, and for free too! Received some kind words from folks but also one comment about how my writing is bad. Don’t know what I’m doing well, just that the game isn’t good enough.

I’m gonna keep at it but I really didn’t need that comment right now. It isn’t that I can’t take criticism, I get it all the time, I just didn’t need it with everything else. I’ve been pouring a lot of effort into this dumb game because it is something to do. Never planned on winning either. There are enough people telling me I’m not good enough.

I do appreciate the feedback, and I recognize that the person is trying to be helpful. They do provide good points. It just comes off to me like I made a bad game, even when they said they thought it was a good first effort. Compounded with the last point, I’m feeling a lot less motivation for this project now…

Project

There is a project I’m working on with a ton of other bloggers, which is very exciting! I will be needing some time to give that more of my attention. Please look forward to this when more information becomes available.

The Site

That said, I just can’t do all the things. Either I do stuff for the site, or I work on the game. The project obviously isn’t going to be tabled either. Before writing this today, the game was the clear winner since I was having fun with it. Today, I’m just not as excited about it but I don’t want to give up on the thing either. When it comes to the site I just haven’t felt like writing much. There has been a lot less engagement with my writing, so maybe that’s a sign to take a break?

Been feeling bad because I can’t keep up with everybody else and their content either. I try but it is just too much. That probably plays into the engagement drop off too. Especially for my longer time readers.

Regardless, I’m gonna take a break until the end of the month. Thanks to those who have been sticking around and such but I do apologize for the abrupt break I’m taking.

‘The Grinch’ Film Review

Grade: B-

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Grinch (2018)

For those wondering about ‘The Grinch’, it is not like the Jim Carrey/Ron Howard collaboration at all, it is bright, colorful, whimsical, and touching despite mostly being filler for a story meant to be short. In other words, it is definitely better. Though nothing beats Chuck Jones’ 1966 animated Christmas special that made the green mischief-maker a Christmas staple, Illumination’s take on Dr. Seuss’ spiteful-yet-beloved character is as sweet as a sugar cookie, even when it is not much.

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‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween’ Film Review

Grade: C

Halloween may be over, but that does not mean that I do not have something to say about ‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween’! The first film – based on R. L. Stine’s most beloved books; and starring Jack Black – was a surprise success, both critically and financially, that I am sure a sequel was in demand! The thing about ‘Goosebumps’ was that it worked on its own as a stand-alone flick, but with Halloween on the rise, Sony felt the need to start a potential franchise for families to look forward to this Halloween. However, ‘Haunted Halloween’ turned out to be less successful, which is not surprising, being that nobody asked for it.

Continue reading “‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween’ Film Review”

The Mirror Lied – Mini Review

Halloween Leftovers

I love Freebird Games’ To the Moon, so whenever they release something new I check it out. Well, this is more like a re-release of a 2008 title, The Mirror Lied. The game is pretty abstract and only takes about 30 minutes to beat 100%. It was one of the games I tried out for my brief spooky game play session this Halloween. The big question here, is this any good?

Image result for the mirror lied

Really, I have no clue what to think of the story. It didn’t exactly make a ton of sense. Though I am not without some theories. There is a lot of referring to a birdie and a portion of the game where you look at, what appears to be, a virus under a microscope.

My best guess is that some epidemic is, or was, about to take place and that is what the story is about. Past that, your best guess is as good as mine. It is very much up for interpretation.

When it comes to the atmosphere it is kind of spooky but this isn’t a horror game at all. Stuff kind of just happens, the creepiest being a phone ringing with cryptic messages (if you answer). The Mirror Lied has one song for its soundtrack, which I liked ok, but it isn’t the greatest.

As far as an initial impression goes, this is something to check out if you like more experimental games. With such a short playtime it isn’t really asking much of you either. If anything, it is something different.

The creator, Kan, put out a video explaining everything so here you go:

Finally, all the questions answered!


Give the game a go, or not, it is free. What is your best guess for what happened in the story? Let me hear your voice in the comments. If you would like to help me out a bit please click the donation button below. As always, thanks for reading and hope to see you back here again soon!

‘Venom’ Film Review

Grade: F

Tom Hardy in Venom (2018)

Known as one of Spider-Man’s most notorious villains, Venom is creepy, sinister, and shrouded in darkness, yet the same could not be said for Sony’s second attempt at bringing the character to the big screen. While I do admit that ‘Venom’ brings enough fun to keep it from being a loathsome experience, as a film though, it is on par with ‘Catwoman’ to be one of the worst superhero movies in existence. However, unlike ‘Catwoman’, it is one of those terrible films I would watch a second time for enjoy-ability.

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Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches – Body Swapping Fun?

I Came Around

Related imageYamada-kun and the Seven Witches, or just Yamada-kun for short, is another anime that I watched quickly before Funimation left VRV. It’s a body swapping show, which there just aren’t many of in anime… well outside of hentai but that’s exactly what I don’t want. The best example of a show like this so far has been Kokoro Connect, and that doesn’t even keep the body swap plot for its whole run (in favor of some other interesting things). So the big question from me:  is Yamada-kun worth watching and is it a good body swapping story?  Continue reading “Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches – Body Swapping Fun?”

Hyouka – A Legitimate Mystery Series

With Some Romance Too

Since VRV is losing Funimation titles this week I did all I could to watch some shows that would be leaving the platform. Most notably, ones I really wanted to watch like today’s anime of discussion, Hyouka. What drew me to this show was the striking visuals everybody always shared, the gifs, and the promise of this being a genuine mystery show (with some romance tossed in lightly). I can confidently say that Hyouka delivers.

Image result for hyouka
I mean, that is pretty stunning

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Angels of Death – Mini Review Part 2 of 2 (Episodes 13-16)

Wasted Time

Related image
The look I’m giving this show

Welcome to part 2 of the Angels of Death review. If you missed part 1, you can read that here. Last time I stated I would be finishing this one mostly as a formality, but I always hope that my expectations can be exceeded. Was that the case with the final four episodes of Angels of Death? Kind of. You see, these episodes were generally better but the ending left a definite sour taste in my mouth.

What exactly it was that made three of the four episodes better is kind of hard to pin down. They didn’t really do all that much different, yet somehow they were more fun to watch. This might have to do with tighter pacing as things reach the end game, or perhaps how the characters interact, but regardless, there is something here that Angels of Death was sorely lacking previously.

Still, they weren’t the best episodes. These improvements were noticeable but nothing near enough to provide a boost to my opinion of the show as a whole. Even if it did, the final episode was really bad. Let’s talk about that.

Image result for angels of death episode 16The finale of Angels of Death is a lot of silent, sweeping shots. After finally escaping, Rachel and Zach make it to, what appears to be, the streets of modern day London. Zach is promptly arrested and Rachel is taken to a mental facility. The few bits of dialog are Rachel’s Dr. saying totally random stuff about Rachel (that is wrong) while being interviewed by a character, who they bothered to animate having a moving mouth, that never speaks because he isn’t Japanese.

That part really irked me. They didn’t even try to dub it with bad English. Heck, even if he just spoke Japanese, that would have been fine. The Dr. does so just fine. It is weird and nonsensical since they animated the guy clearly talking. Instead, you just get awkward silence and subtitles.

In the end Rachel learns that Zach is to be put to death for his crimes but then he shows up last-minute to whisk Rachel away and fulfill his promise. After the long credits, which were a nice touch just for the fact that everybody is seemingly accredited across all 16 episodes, a bonus scene lingers on the now empty room where Rachel was, with Zach’s knife that he gave to her on the floor with some blood.

You might think that Rachel killed herself based on that, which would be an ok enough end, but game players have confirmed that everything was very literal with the ending. Just do yourself a favor, don’t bother with Angels of Death. It just isn’t worth it for a few alright moments at best.

Image result for angels of death episode 16

I do plan to check the game out, as I recently acquired it during Steam’s Halloween sale, since the game is supposed to be a lot better. Hopefully that is true and when I finish that up you will definitely be seeing a review of that on here. If you would like to check the game out, click the image below. I’m trying a new thing out where certain key images link to places like the MAL page or other useful sites.

Image result for angels of death


What are your thoughts on Angels of Death? Did you find this to be pretty bad like me, or did you actually enjoy this quite a bit? Plan to check out the game? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you would like to support me and my content please hit the button below as I’d greatly appreciate it. As always, thank you for reading and have yourself a wonderful day!

Anime ABC’s P is for Psycho-Pass

Living in a “Perfect” World

Image result for psycho passImagine a world where you have the most ideal job for you. In this world you have access to incredible health care, especially in regards to your mental well-being. This is a world where everyone truly belongs, a utopia, if you will. Well… at least for most people. Sure, some folks fall through the cracks but society didn’t really need them any way. No big loss. Welcome to the world of Psycho-Pass.
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Overlord Series Retrospective (Seasons 1-3) – Bad Guy Isekai

Not Your Father’s Skeletor

Image result for skeletor gif
I mostly wanted an excuse to put in a Skeletor gif

Before the boom of Isekai shows, especially of the MMORPG variety, new kid on the block Overlord joined the ranks of shows like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon. However, what set Overlord apart from those anime was the fact that the protagonist took up the roll of bad guy. What started off innocently enough gave way to the making of a true villain in the form of Ainz Ooal Gown (formally Momonga) across Overlord’s three seasons. With a fairly varied run, I’ll be explaining what made each season unique and providing an easy way to discover if this series is for you. Continue reading “Overlord Series Retrospective (Seasons 1-3) – Bad Guy Isekai”