A direct sequel to 2014’s action-horror video game The Evil Within, The Evil Within 2 is a cinematic experience from start to finish. Three years after the events of the first game, protagonist Sebastian Castellanos, an ex-detective, is confronted by his former partner in crime, Juli Kidman. She informs him that his young daughter, Lily, had survived the fire that consumed the Castellanos household prior to the first game. Kidman explains that all this time, Lily was being used as a test subject by MOBIUS, a shady organization that was also responsible for the events of The Evil Within, and that MOBIUS needs Sebastian’s help to save his daughter. Sebastian is understandably skeptical of Kidman, as she had been working undercover for MOBIUS in the previous game, although during the time skip she’d been working to bring down the organization. Not to mention, he clearly has PTSD from the horrors he witnessed in the first game, so he isn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity to work with the same organization that ruined his life. Kidman eventually resorts to tranquilizing him, leaving Sebastian with no choice but to enter MOBIUS’ STEM system. Once in Union, a world created by STEM, Sebastian realizes that Lily is actually trapped there. In order to save her, he must fight his way through endless hordes of zombies-like creatures, body horror monsters, an artist turned serial killer, a crazy cult leader, and Sebastian’s estranged wife, Myra.Continue reading
An animated prequel to the highly popular South Korean horror movie Train to Busan (2016), Seoul Station deserves just as much praise as its sequel, if not more. While Train to Busan has since had a sequel, Peninsula (2020), and is supposedly getting an American remake (because apparently us Americans always have to profit off iconic Eastern horror films), the animated movie that started it all is often sidelined. Released the same year as Busan, Seoul Station details the events that led to the zombie outbreak in Seoul. The story follows three characters, including Hye-sun, a prostitute who desperately wants to get off the streets and return home to her ailing father. It also follows Ki-woong, Hye-sun’s boyfriend who took her off the streets and gave her a place to stay, and Suk-gyu, her father. As Suk-gyu and Ki-woong are searching for Hye-sun, a zombie epidemic breaks out in Seoul, and chaos, naturally, ensues. I’ll admit, it’s been a while since I’ve seen Train to Busan, so I won’t compare the two. Instead, I’ll explain why Seoul Station deserves more recognition, as well as emphasize the need for more adult animated horror movies.Continue reading
Welcome back, readers! Over the summer I played some great games and watched some excellent anime that I am absolutely thrilled to cover this semester. I would like to kick off this semester of blogging by reviewing the first game I played this summer: the highly anticipated Resident Evil Village.
I vividly remember how ecstatic I was on release day, and I have a feeling I’ll remember my giddy excitement for years to come. This being a game I and countless other fans had been waiting over a year for, I preordered it the day the game was available for pre-order, way back in winter 2020. (Technically the day after because the website was acting weird with everyone and their mother pre-ordering a copy). A few agonizing months later, release day–May 7th, 2021–arrived. I’d been tracking my package all week, and every time I saw a UPS truck in my area I’d get all jumpy, thinking my copy was on the truck. It was an excitement I hadn’t experienced in literal years, which is kinda depressing now that I think about it. Anyway, when I got an alert on my phone saying my copy had been delivered, I sped home, popped the disc into my Xbox, and waited (ugh, MORE waiting) for the game to install. I spent the next few days playing it, then replaying it. I could not have asked for a more perfect start to my summer.Continue reading
Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the 2005 video game Yakuza. Originally for the Playstation 4, Kiwami is also available on Xbox One and PC. Known as Ryū ga Gotoku (Like a Dragon) in Japan, the Yakuza video game series isn’t extremely well-known in the West. However, its wildly successful prequel, Yakuza 0 (2015), helped introduce more Western gamers to the wacky, one-of-a-kind franchise. Yakuza has often been described as the Japanese version of Grand Theft Auto due to its eccentric characters, zany side quests, and the fact that you can beat people up. The series has birthed seven numbered entries, a prequel, and two remakes, not to mention several spin-off titles. In addition to video games, Yakuza has two live-action movies to its name. The series is a mixture of various video game genres, most notably the beat ‘em up and role-playing genres. Despite featuring a wide cast of characters, the franchise’s main focus is on Kazuma Kiryu, a former yakuza member who is constantly dragged back into the doings of the crime syndicate throughout the series.
Kiwami begins with Kiryu going to prison in place of his lifelong friend Nishiki, who murdered their clan’s patriarch after finding out that he sexually assaulted Yumi, a woman Nishiki cared for. When Kiryu is released from prison ten years later, he discovers that the yakuza has changed drastically in the past decade, as has Nishiki, who is now the boss of his own family. Kiryu also learns that Yumi has vanished without a trace and that practically every clan in Japan is after the ten billion yen stolen from Kiryu’s former clan. Every clan is also searching far and wide for a little girl named Haruka, who is believed to be somehow connected to the ten billion yen. Kiryu eventually meets this girl. Their interactions are nothing short of adorable; there’s something so endearing about seeing a buff yakuza care for a young girl he doesn’t even know. Kiryu’s fatherly bond with Haruka makes him stand out from most action video game protagonists. He might look the part–buff, always looking like someone just spit in his coffee–but deep down, he has a heart of gold. Despite being affiliated with the yakuza, he refuses to kill, torture, or partake in any other activities done by the crime organization. He doesn’t use his status as a yakuza member to gain women or power but instead keeps to himself and regularly helps others. These traits are what make Kiryu such an unexpectedly human video game protagonist.
Nishiki’s descent into villainy is revealed through flashbacks, and as someone who’s played the prequel, it was disheartening to watch him grow to despise Kiryu, his sworn brother. His inferiority complex plays a big part in this. Several of these flashbacks consist of Nishiki being degraded by his superiors and being told that Kiryu is better suited than him for a leadership role in the yakuza. Nishiki vows to obtain the missing money, not because he wishes to prove himself to his superiors but so that he can afford a heart transplant for his sick sister. Things don’t quite work out, however, and his sister ultimately dies. This causes him to kill his superior, Matsushige, who was partly responsible for his sister’s death. This also marks the point when Nishiki becomes a true villain, as he becomes so obsessed with rising to power that he betrays his former friends and tries to kill Kiryu multiple times. However, there is a shift towards the end, which I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.Continue reading
With the fourth and final season half-finished and with the manga ending this month, I thought now would be a good time to review the first half of the final season of Attack on Titan. I still can’t believe the series is ending–it was one of the first animes I’ve ever watched, and I’ve even made a few friends through the fandom. But alas, all good things must come to an end. Before I discuss the first half of season four, however, I will first discuss the series as a whole.
The Attack on Titan manga began serialization in September 2009 and will end after 139 chapters this April. It was the groundbreaking debut of writer and artist Hajime Isayama. The series takes place in a medieval Europe-inspired world in which humans reside within walls erected to protect them from humanoid, man-eating creatures known as Titans. The series starts out very simply, with protagonist Eren Jaeger (Yuki Kaji) vowing to rid the world of all Titans after raiding his hometown and eating his mother right in front of him. As the series progresses, however, it gradually becomes more complex, as the main characters eventually learn that there are two races in their world: Eldians and Maryleans. They also discover that the Maryleans essentially created Titans to wipe out the Eldian race. Attack on Titan tackles serious themes such as racism, genocide, and indoctrination, particularly in its third and fourth seasons. The series offers something for everyone: social commentary, plenty of action, and a wide cast of entertaining and well-written characters. In addition to receiving a successful anime adaptation in 2013, it has spawned several spinoff manga series, video games, and a duology of live-action movies. The anime is adored by anime fans and critics alike, with several of its episodes appearing on IMDB’s “Best TV episodes of all time” page alongside other greats such as Breaking Bad and Bojack Horseman. The series has had a lasting impact on both Eastern and Western pop culture, as it has been referenced in other anime and American cartoons such as The Simpsons.Continue reading
In honor of Resident Evil’s 25th anniversary next week, and to further increase the hype of the upcoming Resident Evil Village, I will be reviewing the seventh main installment of the series, Resident Evil: Biohazard. But before I do, I will discuss the history of the series as a whole and how it’s managed to remain relevant as long as it has.
Resident Evil is a franchise that needs no introduction, but I will give it one anyway. It is one of the most influential video game franchises of all time, and as of 2020, has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. The first entry in the series, simply titled Resident Evil, was released in Japan on March 22nd, 1996 and in the U.S. on the 30th. Known as Biohazard in Japan, the first game was originally supposed to be a remake of the 1989 horror video game Sweet Home. until developer Capcom lost the rights to the game, forcing the development team to start from scratch. Despite being two different games, the original Resident Evil retained Sweet Home’s setting of a spooky, abandoned mansion, and other elements. Basically, if Sweet Home had never existed, neither would Resident Evil. Without Resident Evil, the video game world wouldn’t be the same, as one of Resident Evil 4’s earlier iterations became the first entry to another Capcom favorite, Devil May Cry. Furthermore, Resident Evil has influenced other video game franchises, most notably the Bioshock and Dead Space series.
Since its release nearly twenty-five years ago, the first Resident Evil has been notorious for its awful voice acting and poorly aged game mechanics. Despite this, the game was an unexpected success, birthing a multimedia franchise that consists of comic books, merchandise, CGI movies, an American film franchise, and yes, games. Its game catalog includes seven (soon to be eight) main entries and even more spinoff titles and remakes. Resident Evil games have been on just about every console imaginable: Playstation, Xbox, Wii, even the iPhone at one point. While originally a horror-orientated video game series, the overwhelming success of 2005’s Resident Evil 4 caused the series to become more action-based, which many longtime fans did not approve of. However, the release of Resident Evil: Biohazard (2017) saw the series return to its horror roots, pleasing many longtime fans and drawing in newcomers. Many fans wish to forget the more action-focused entries never existed. However, it’s possible that the series would’ve died out years ago if they hadn’t switched things up. The video game industry is constantly changing, and for your series to survive as long as Resident Evil has, you have to be willing to take risks. Even when the series tried to please all kinds of fans with Resident Evil 6 (2012), it was met with mixed receptions. Even so, the series has remained relevant for as long as it has because it has constantly been evolving over the years and introducing new characters and settings.Continue reading
When thinking of which piece of media to review for my first official blog post, the first thing that came to mind was Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. Released in 1979, this film is considered by fans as the best entry in the Lupin III franchise. Furthermore, many anime fans regard it as one of the greatest anime movies of all time, right up there with other classics such as Spirited Away and Ghost in the Shell. Speaking of Spirited Away, Castle of Cagliostro was renowned director Hayao Miyazaki’s theatrical debut. Miyazaki was no stranger to the Lupin III series, as he was the co-director of Lupin’s first anime series. But before we talk about Castle of Cagliostro, let me first inform you of the Lupin series as a whole, as it is somewhat of a hidden gem to the Western world.
To put it simply, Lupin III is like Japan’s Scooby-Doo or Doctor Who: a series that has existed for decades, with several TV series and even more movies and TV specials. Lupin was introduced to Japan in 1967 in the original manga, which was written and illustrated by Monkey Punch, the pen name of Kazuhiko Kato. Despite its cartoonish art style and overall absurdity, the original manga is quite dark, with Lupin often raping women to get information (yikes). While most Lupin installments are relatively child-friendly and a lot of fun, a few retain the original manga’s edgy vibe, specifically the 2012 series Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which, uh, you probably shouldn’t watch with your parents. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Fans, to avoid confusion, categorize Lupin installments based on what color jacket he is wearing. There is the Green Jacket-era, Red Jacket-era, Blue Jacket-era, and Pink Jacket-era. It is generally accepted among fans that Green and Pink Jacket-era installments are more lighthearted while Red and Blue Jacket-era installments are grittier. Despite its overwhelming amount of content, Lupin III is one of those rare series that you can start watching from practically anywhere. None of the movies or TV specials are interconnected, and only a handful of TV episodes follow the same storyline. Each installment has a similar plot: Arsene Lupin III gets word that there’s treasure he can steal, gunslinger Daisuke Jigen and samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII accompany him, and the trio’s plans are thwarted in some way by Fujiko Mine, Lupin’s love interest and fellow thief, and Koichi Zenigata, a detective whose sole purpose in life is to capture Lupin. Basically, Lupin III is a lot of fun, and it’s the perfect series to watch if you want to turn off your brain for a while.Continue reading
When one hears the word “art,” they will likely think of literature, film, or artwork. Some might even think of music or television. Very few, however, will think of anime or video games, as unfortunately many don’t consider these mediums as quality entertainment. This is due to a variety of reasons. For starters, those who are unfamiliar with the anime genre might believe that all anime consists solely of big-breasted girls and therefore poses no philosophical questions that’ll have you pondering at 3 A.M. As for video games, the word “games” stops people from categorizing this medium as an art form. While a lot of anime relies heavily on fan service, and while video games are certainly fun, these underappreciated art forms have emotionally affected me more than any song, film, or television show. In addition, many video games and anime have tackled topics that many mainstream films or television shows haven’t, such as war and genocide, racism, and whether humans are any different from animals.Continue reading