Anime Review: Zombie Land Saga Season 1

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Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here! It’s time for another anime review. Today we’re diving into an off-kilter idol anime with more than a few quirks. Zombies, singing and more, this is one weird show.

Yep, that’s right, I’m talking about Zombie Land Saga. I am going to try to be as objective as I can in my review of this anime, so I’m not going to needlessly bash the unholy crap out of it. That being said, I flat out do not like this show, and you will never convince me to like this series.

Why? Well, that’s strictly a personal taste in media. I actually loved it on the first watch, believe it or not. It was second and third watches through that left a foul taste in my mouth. Retrospection made me realize just how much I actually disliked it.

On the surface level it has strong animation, decent music, and a fairly strong cast of characters all things considered. So yeah, as much as I don’t like it, the series is far from “bad” on its face, trust me on that.

If it was just awful by nature, I’d bash the series in every unrepentant way possible. There’s no need to do that, because it is more or less a solid show, aside from a few very pointed gripes that ruin it for me on a personal level.

I’ll be fair to the show, but please be fair to me. You’re not expected to agree with me.

As I’ve stated before, one of the key ways I build a “watch list” every season is to pick at least one anime I know I probably won’t like. The link for that post is down below, for reference.


As a refresher for the rest of you, every season that my watch-list isn’t bursting at the seams, I tend to choose an anime or two that I know I’ll probably hate. I do this just to give it a try. As an anime fan, I find that to be a fundamental part of personal growth and broadening my horizons.

I have been pleasantly surprised in the past by this method. On occasion I do get hooked into a series and I truly enjoy it.

This doesn’t always happen though, and Zombie Land Saga is a good example of when that doesn’t work for me. I don’t mind some idol anime, but really if I’m going to enjoy an anime that contains idol culture something more along the lines of Perfect Blue suits my personal tastes far better. Normally though, I’ll go for grittier band anime like Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad or Nana.

So, with those upfront caveats out of the way, let me attempt to review this thing as objectively as humanly possible.

This is only a review of season one, as I absolutely see no reason to ever watch season two.

Zombie Idols

Okay, strap in and suspend your disbelief right here and now. That’s the only way to make it through a series like Zombie Land Saga, because as much as it’s a commentary on idol culture itself, it’s also occasionally stupidly funny for the sake of it.

When a fandom affectionately names a speeding truck, yeah, you know this is not a series that you should take seriously. Honestly, the fandom’s beloved “Truck-kun” likely has one of the single most hilarious moments in the first episode, not going to lie.

The first season of Zombie Land Saga came out in 2018, during a mild lull in the hype that was idol anime. They were a dime a dozen by this point, but the series promised to offer typical fans of the genre something different.

Directed by Munehisa Sakai and written by Shigeru Murakoshi, this is not their best work for reasons I’ll get into when I discuss the plot.

The music is notably credits two different contributors. The first is Yasuharu Takanashi. This is a composer I actually really enjoy, known for his other musical talents with shows like Naruto Shippuden, Hell Girl, and Ikki Tousen. The second is Funta7 a Japanese rock band that has made themselves a rather decent fan following by writing music for anime such as Zombie Land Saga.

The anime has several good qualities, particularly when it comes to the cast of characters and the representation of the transgender community within it. I can honestly say most of these girls are compelling enough on a surface level to make you want to know more about them instantly.

I can’t speak for season two, but as far season one goes, Lily is by far one of the best written transgender characters ever to be seen in anime. I will stand by that without question. Her existence isn’t defined by her gender performative actions, or her occasional lack of them. We aren’t beaten over the head with the concept either. Lily is who she is, and that’s the way life is. It’s that simple, and I can’t praise that enough.

The fact she’s transgender at all is merely accepted as a fact of life. Her existence is constantly validated by the fact that no one surrounding her makes a huge or complicated ordeal out of it. By and large, the characters don’t find her identity to be an issue at all.

That is worthy of merit for a discussion of representation in anime. Lily deserves a blog post all of her own, because I can count on one hand the number of prolific transgender characters that resonate well within the confines of anime. Lily’s identity is as strong and unquestionable as any other core character within Zombie Land Saga, without being overbearing or seeming like virtue signaling.

One of the nice things about Zombie Land Saga was that it held true to its promises about being different than typical idol anime fodder… at least, at first. Later on it really drops the ball on this, but I’ll speak more on that later.

The series begins with the same sort of cynical outlook that Perfect Blue has. Showcasing the drawbacks of the industry in almost every way. The girls in the series are ones who either want to be idols, or were famous at one point in their lives, only to end up dead in some way or another.

Being brought back to life, these zombie girls are objectified by their producer Tatsumi Kotaro, a guy that literally is just flat out crazy. When he isn’t acting criminally insane, he’s a pure eyesore on screen. He’s played off for laughs, but seriously, it can be hard to find humor in him, at least for me.

The abuse going on in idol culture is no laughing matter. This guy is the long running joke that really isn’t funny. He’s actually one of the reasons why I came to hate the series.

This deconstruction of typical idol anime really is a smart way to do an idol series though, right down to the asshole producer with more ego than common sense.

Tatsumi seeks to revitalize the very fictional “Saga Prefecture” in Japan by putting together the all-zombie idol group, because apparently that won’t just shock and terrify the entire world…

Actually, that’s a commentary that occurs in the first episode when a poor police officer lodges a bullet right into the newly minted zombie girl, Sakura Minamoto. Needless to say, that’s just more proof that the majority of the strong content is in the front of the anime, not the back of it.

Now is around the time when I would discuss the plot, but sadly, there really isn’t one. This is where the series begins to have some real problems.

Revive Idols & Bury the Plot

This is not an easy issue to pin down, but we don’t we have a plot in the first place. I can’t even pin down why we don’t have a plot for the anime. We just don’t, or if we do, it isn’t objectively functional beyond a certain point.

Seriously, did Tatsumi leave leave the story in the ground or blow it to smithereens? Did the show runners just shout “Idol!” really loud into the air, causing a huge scramble during production?

I really do have to ask. What happened here? What impossibly large brain fart caused the plot to go missing?

I just don’t understand how that could even happen. We have in front of us an anime bursting with serviceable animation, decent music, and a fairly strong cast of characters… but we have no actual plot to tie everything into a nice little package. For some people, myself included this will be a huge issue for the show.

First of all, Zombie Land Saga isn’t clear about what the “Saga Prefecture” needs to be saved from, or why anyone needs to save it in the first place. Why bring that up if you’re not going to detail that out? How in the world do idols even “save” anything if the situation was that detrimental in the first place.

You could argue that the vaguely hinted at debt crisis to the prefecture is the problem. However, that’s subtext at best, and you have to dive deep to look for it. The idea of having more idol groups to boost the economy in the area could have some merit, I suppose. Unfortunately, when you have to use that kind of slow and meticulous logic, it clashes with the confines of the show.

Suspending your disbelief matters here, and the lack of a plot is something you will have to shrug off.

The other option for plot only really works when subversion is at play. The fact that Tatsumi is a just a raving lunatic remains a far more plausible conclusion by its nature. Either way, we don’t really get an answer for why these girls have to be in this situation in the first place, only that they do.

All other idol anime have a clear goal, dream, or plot driven reason for why things happen. This series just doesn’t, and while it could also be a subversion of the norm, it is not the best choice from a narrative lens.

Thankfully, on the first viewing the spectacle and novelty of the series allowed me to overlook this. There’s a real charm here, the only issue it doesn’t last after the first time through.

Any subsequent viewing made it impossible for me to ignore the continually obvious lack of plot. Worst still, it’s even more obvious the more times you watch it, which is why I won’t ever watch this show again.

I’m not saying there needs to be a deep or complex story. I’m saying there needs to be a story in the first place to tie up those random plot threads. Otherwise the series comes down to strictly the core cynicism I stated about the show above, and that outlook is a very bleak one.

Speaking of that core cynicism, in the second episode there is an actual rap battle that really highlights all of the things this anime could have been. It’s gritty, it’s punchy, and above all it is very entertaining.

The only issue is, the anime didn’t put its bets on the places it worked, and it lost its way a few times in later episodes. The girls eventually find a fulfillment in being zombie idols, but there was no real weight to that decision, so it’s hard for me to really accept it.

I just don’t find that conclusion to be satisfying on its own. Cynicism and subversion are very strong building blocks to great anime, but they are not the only ones you require unless you’re going to unflinchingly stick to that core ideology for entire series.

To think that was all this show aimed to be, would be rather insulting because it doesn’t stick to that theme. However, we can’t discuss this series without a firm look at its subversive elements, either.

Subversion Takes Center Stage… Until It Doesn’t…

Zombie Land Saga makes you believe it will be nothing but subversion when you get right down to it. The characters, the comedy, the practice montages, and the performances on stage, all of it…

At the start, subversion is all we really get, and its all we ever really need. The anime has one single ethos; to comment upon what it means to be an idol. Subversion and satire of idol anime and the idol industry at large is the main goal of the show.

Early on, the series dives into those concepts so heavily, you just can’t look away from it. Even the characters themselves often come down to subversion of usual tropes found in idol anime.

The fact they are even zombies at all, but don’t naturally air that to the public, is a direct satirical commentary on the idol industry. It basically spits upon the near puritan and painted on culture that surrounds the people involved.

Even the lack of any real plot can truly just come down to “because Tatsumi said so” if subversion continued to carry the heaviest theme in the show. As an idol, you do what you’re told, and that’s the way it is. Objectified, because you are expected to conform to a point beyond reason.

The idol world is often insidious by its nature, but that nature is so grotesque that we don’t often care to think about it. Zombie Land Saga forces you to see the direct metaphor. Furthermore, it doesn’t mind being offensive to get the point across. It never crosses a line, but it isn’t kind in its critiques, either.

Sadly though, the series doesn’t cling onto that cynical metaphor, and eventually the zombie girls decide to work together. They decide to be the best zombie idols they can be, and this is where all of those early episodes give you a bait and switch.

There comes a time when that far more cynical satire is replaced for normal comedic situations. Over time, the subversive performances are forgotten. Instead, we just get more idol anime fare like the rest of the shows out there.

After Zombie Land Saga replaces some of that cynicism, we get some real nicely thought out character moments and decent backstories.

Sadly though, I just don’t think it is enough to carry the show at that point. That’s why the lack of plot I mentioned above bothers me so much. It only really works when you cling onto subversive elements like a vice, but the show doesn’t do that all the way through.

There comes a time that Zombie Land Saga becomes just another typical idol anime with zombie paint over the top of it. While there is nothing wrong with that, in my opinion it doesn’t live up to the genius satirical comedy that preceded it.

In short, this is why I came to hate the series. It really is a letdown for me as I see so much wasted potential.

Final Thoughts

The best thing about idol anime is to find a character you want to follow and invest yourself into them. You want to watch them succeed. This isn’t too unlike how fans often treat idols in real life. However, following an anime character that avidly typically harms no living, breathing person. After all, it is only an animated character, and there’s a bit of silver lining to be found in that.

Zombie Land Saga has an incredibly strong cast, and really after the satire dies out, that’s the only thing this anime really has going for it. The songs are good, but only because of the characters themselves.

The songs are extensions of these characters, brought to life by their emotional investment in what being an idol really means to them. Each girl has a different answer to that. Those themes are expressed though their personal conflicts and their unified performances on stage. The songs would not hold up well if the girls singing them weren’t characters we cared about.

To me the ideal viewer of this show is what I like to call a “popcorn anime fan”. That means it caters to fans that don’t want to think too deeply upon the anime they’re watching. They just want to watch it and enjoy it. There are a lot of people like this out there, and I myself have a few “popcorn anime” I thoroughly enjoy.

I wouldn’t even call this anime a guilty pleasure, because like I said, there’s nothing god awful that’s wrong with it. There’s no reason to feel guilty about liking this show. However, there’s plenty of reasons to hate the show too, and there’s nothing wrong with that either.

Zombie Land Saga is an incredibly well made series, at least up until it isn’t. I think the first three episodes are the strongest over all. Episode eight is also a noteworthy one.

All-in-all, it’s fine until you try to really dig into it. While some people probably could, that reach would be limited. I’d argue that only the most staunch idol fan base, or those who have a deep knowledge of idol culture itself would be able to truly study this anime intellectually.

I’m no expert, therefore for me the series misses the mark after the satire slowly dies out. There’s just not enough for me to sink my teeth into without doing a true deep dive on the minutia of details idol culture has to offer, and I just don’t care enough about the series to do that.

If you like idol anime though, Zombie Land Saga is a series you absolutely have to watch at least once. Give it four episodes at the very least, simply for the subversive elements and commentary alone. I’d say that for a fan of the genre it would be considered required viewing, and probably a touchstone for the fan base itself.

For me though, the anime is just mediocre and it can’t live up to my personal test of time. I should never have watched it multiple times, but I did and that perspective is what ruined the experience. To me a good anime is one that I can return to no matter what, and I won’t be returning to this one. Therefore, it fails the most important test I have when measuring for a quality standard.

Fans of the series are entirely entitled to disagree, as there may in fact be something in the series that speaks more deeply to them than t ever could for me. That’s the beauty of anime as an art form. At the end of the day I stand by the ideology that anime will always be artistry, and therefore even an anime that is not for me is capable of speaking to a great many people.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. If you liked this content, please be sure to check out some of our other content below.

I’ll see you next time…

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Anime Review – Your Lie in April

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. Today I’m reviewing a drama anime, before I do though we should define the difference between drama and melodrama.

Drama is a noun. In the context of this review it means to express an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances. Melodrama is also a noun, but it means to sensationalize a dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions. Sensational means over the top in this instance, but unless you’re Penny Polendina from “RWBY” sensational doesn’t always mean its good.

Actually, I’d argue that most bad drama anime are accidentally melodramas by their nature. Good melodrama is even more difficult to write than drama itself. For example Oniisama e, also known as Dear Brother is a melodrama anime done right.

Unfortunately, crappy drama anime are dime a dozen, melodramaticin all the wrong ways to a fault, and searching for cheap ways to pander to the viewers because that’s the easy thing to do. We’ve all seen them out there.

Every year more mindless drivel gets released only to be forgotten. To be honest, good drama anime are very difficult to come by. That’s why Your Lie in April is an important anime to discuss.

It isn’t a melodrama by its core nature, and it isn’t particularly bombastic either. At the end of the day, Your Lie in April is very well written drama anime.

Your Lie in April or Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, released in 2014. It was directed by Kyōhei Ishiguro and written by Takao Yoshioka. The studio that worked on this dramatic title was A-1 Pictures, so you know going in that the music is going to be amazing and the animation quality isn’t going to flounder under its own weight.

There is plenty of media for this series, including manga and a light novel, as well as an OVA. I’ll just be focusing on the anime though.

For me personally, it wasn’t the hardcore gut-punch that many claimed it to be. That being said, it shouldn’t be overlooked or bypassed. To even think otherwise would just be flat out stupid, because there are so many things this anime gets right.

A Simple Story Done Right

Your Lie in April isn’t about complicated interwoven narratives. It can’t carry the same sort of gravitas that some other great anime can. It doesn’t need to do that, and it doesn’t attempt to be more than it is. I can really respect series that understands the core messages and themes it conveys.

Let’s be honest, painting a narrative that encapsulates themes of traumatic experience and coming of age concisely and consistently isn’t always easy. These are teenage characters, but Your Lie in April manages to handle the story incredibly well.

It’s a simple story filled with complicated emotions. It isn’t anything more than that, and it doesn’t want to be. Therefore, what we have instead is a true series of heartfelt emotional turmoil, and the process of overcoming it.

We follow a boy by the name of Arima Kōsei, who is as troubled as could be. After his mother’s death, he lost his love and passion for the piano. He can’t even listen to the sound of his own playing without being bogged down by the emotional weight of it all. Suffering a mental breakdown at a young age, two years later he still struggles with his trauma.

At the beginning of the anime, about halfway into the episode Arima describes how he experiences the world. To him it is a place full of monotone. The vibrancy and thrill of life itself is something he just can see for himself anymore. This is a metaphor for a slew of deeper issues, but on a surface level saying he’s chronically depressed isn’t an understatement.

The catalyst for his emotional levity comes in the form of a young blond haired girl named Kaori Miyazono. She is a skilled violinist with a free spirited personality and a passion and flair for music arts.

Kaori lacks a fair amount of restraint, and Arima observes she has a bit of a violent personality at times. Regardless of that, he’s very interested in her. Kaori’s musical talents and her outlook on life are the influences he needs the most. She lacks his stringent views of the musical arts and she fills a void in Arima’s creative ability.

Slowly and with no small amount of effort, Kaori revitalizes Arima’s love of music. Through her, he begins to see music as an outlet he needs. Slowly, the world becomes a vibrant place for emotional and personal growth once more.

See what I mean? Your Lie in April has a simple and uncomplicated plot. As you can probably guess, this means the anime needs to dig deep to be fully enjoyed. The plot is an emotional journey of the soul itself, a story of triumph over trauma… or in some cases, acceptance over grief.

It’s not groundbreaking by any means, and I’d hesitate to call the series foundational to the anime medium, because it isn’t those things. That being said, the anime is a beautifully told story. Concepts of love and the desire for hope are focal points for the characters. It is what drives the plot forward.

Familial love, romantic love, a passion for hobbies and interests, and a love for life itself trickles into the narrative commonly enough. Hope for the future is what blend the ideologies of these youths together.

Love in spite of trauma and hardship. Love in spite of grief, and love clung onto tightly even when letting go of the past, are all themes well represented here.

Hope and inspiration are the balm for Arima’s traumatic past and his emotional burdens. The healing powers of music plays a strong role here as well. Showcasing that for some people, music is not only a talent, it’s a legacy.

There is also a thick layer of metaphor here, as music is used as a way to connect these characters. It gives us a deeper clarity to who these people really are. Rather than having a character simply go on long and cumbersome diatribes, music becomes the looking glass that allows us to really see beyond their carefully constructed masks.

To be clear, every character has one one these masks, the “lie” you could say. Even the free spirited Kaori is not exempt from this. She has once too, and it is just as tragic and cumbersome as Arima’s own.

The cast is huge. Since the anime is only twenty-two episodes in length, many don’t get the time they deserve. This isn’t too awful though, as the series was never meant to hold aloft a complete medley cast of characters.

At the end of the day only two characters really matter, Arima and Kaori. Everyone else just functions as plot threads to build the world these characters inhabit. Many of the side cast don’t get fully completed stories, and since the plot is so centrally focused anyway, it doesn’t rightly matter.

However for all of the good things this series does manage to do well, there’s just one way it entirely fails in every way possible.

Repetitive Trauma: Eventual Desensitization

Trauma is not a one-size-fits-all narrative lens. After an emotionally crippling experience, recovery has highs and lows. Recovery isn’t easily attained, meaning cycles of repetition can occur. Even though it is very factual to life, generally speaking it isn’t very satisfying to watch.

The cycle of trauma is a vicious one. When poorly handled, it can come off as overbearing. As fans, we usually expect better of protagonists by default and that doesn’t help. We want to hear stories of victory, but in some ways this is a story about loosing more than winning.

By its pure definition, trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. That means it sinks into a person with a vice-like grip. You don’t just get over it. That’s not how deeply seeded trauma works.

There is a “two-steps-forward and one-step-back” mindset that hard hitting emotional trauma causes. Recovery itself isn’t a linear path. Enter in Arima to that cycle of repetition, and we can see where this causes the main issue I have with Your Lie in April.

Arima is incredibly human for his depiction of circular patterns of thinking. He has a tenancy of falling back down into his own poor mental state.

Several times in the show we see how this impacts him emotionally. There is no question about how heavily it weighs down upon his poor self-image. We can’t avoid the topic, the anime won’t let you.

Although, to a point touching upon his trauma happens too frequently. It’s easy to get bored with him or to lose any ounce of sympathy you have with him. A huge part of that comes down to his constant inner monologues.

His struggles would negatively impact anyone, but especially a boy like him. We don’t need that point beaten into us, yet it often is.

While many characters use music to truly express themselves, there are times the thick and heavy mental state of the characters does that job too. Particularly where Arima is concerned, it can be too much.

I praised the show’s ability to use music as a means of emotional expression and metaphor. That’s because when those moments don’t happen, we get the exact opposite.

Sometimes it seems like the series thinks it needs to beat the point of his anxieties into us, because we’re too stupid to figure it out on our own.

When inner monologues do happen, they’re long and almost too heavy handed. Sometimes it detracts from the musical piece on stage to have the monologue laying so thickly over the top of it. This isn’t a psychology or sociology anime. In the attempt to make Arima feel more like part of humanity, what we have instead is a loss of that human nature itself.

In a way, that’s almost genius. No, I’m not kidding. Listen, it doesn’t matter if we want to admit this or not. It is pure fact. Arima is the personification of what trauma does to a person when left untreated. He should have gotten the help he needed long ago, but he didn’t and what we see is that result. Trauma harms his way of thinking in different ways, damaging the greater logic he needs in order to see his own self-worth.

As much as it sucks to realize this, that holds true to reality. This is why so many people just don’t recover from emotional strain in real life. Even when they think they are on the road to recovery, they can be proven wrong, and it can resurface or come back with a vengeance.

Across several episodes, Arima describes playing the piano as if being under water. The sound dulled, or at times he’s down so deep he can’t hear it at all. While these moments showcase his true anxieties well, it comes so often that it can feel like you’re watching versions of the same scene over and over again.

The issue is though, real life trauma and creative narrative stories don’t always mix very well. This isn’t a true story. These are characters and this is an anime. We need to be able to see the humanity in the characters too, not just the mental struggles they present to the story.

Your Lie in April is not anything like Anohana, that’s for damn sure. This is why it lacks the emotional gut-punch for me. We lose the character Arima to his own brain more times than not. Their mental diatribes lack parts of the core human experience. Notably, it and quite sadly, it lacks any real catharsis.

It gets to a point where I just don’t care about Arima, because I feel like he’s a character better suited to far more heavy handed series. Your Lie in April isn’t by its nature a dark series. It’s emotional, sure, but it’s not dark and gritty.

There’s too much poorly placed comedy to really draw me into a darker narrative. The over all tone of this series doesn’t suit a darker narrative anyway. tragic storytelling is not the same as dark storytelling.

All-in-all this is the largest issue in the series and for some it could even be a deal breaker. I know several people who dropped the show because of Arima alone midway through.

Honestly, that’s a real shame because Kaori’s story is just so damn good in the second half to a point she nearly steals the show, and for good reason.

Speaking of Kaori, by now you’re probably wondering why I am avoiding saying too much about her. Well, I wish I could say more on that, but I won’t.

No, really, I can’t dive into that, because it is way too fundamental to the story to speak at length about it. I don’t want to spoil her story arc for those who haven’t seen the series. I want you to watch it and see it for yourself.

What I will say is that Kaori is the reason you watch this anime. Her message, her emotional traumas, and her bond with Arima aren’t things you just pass up. All of it is just just too good, and it will kick your ass emotionally more than Arima alone ever could.

It also finally gives Arima the catharsis he’s needed for the vast majority of the twenty-two episode run time. So yeah, sorry, can’t spoil it. You’ve got to experience it for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Yes, there are many flaws with this show. Even so, it doesn’t diminish that Your Lie in April is one of the best drama anime out there. While it doesn’t usually portray as melodramatic, it can toe the line sometimes.

The series is also possibly one of the best examples of how real trauma manifests in a person. The series explains why it is not so easy to move beyond it. The show fully displays those difficulties even when its a hindrance to do so.

That legitimate “two-steps-forward and one-step-back” traumatic cycling is very hard to find in any anime series. Usually it just isn’t done well. Normally it has some supernatural or magical component to it… or there are time skips clogging the recovery itself.

Your Lie in April offers that distinct personal looking glass of that trauma inwardly. On top of that, it manages to do it in a fairly digestible way. Completely accessible for teenage viewers and with a core theme that suits reality. Often times people in mental health recovery programs take up the arts as form of healthy outlet. Arima’s coping skills through music are very reminiscent of that, even though music is part of his trauma in the first place.

It’s a messy message to send, I won’t deny that. However that alone holds true too. Trauma will never be clear cut, and it would be impossible to avoid the triggers that cause trauma for your entire life. Learning to move above and beyond that will never be simple. One day, you need to find the way to cope with it, or you’ll just continue to suffer.

Arima learns that the hard way, but it is a lesson we all come to learn in our lives at some point.

Kaori’s involvement in his life, and his newfound love of music isn’t a cure-all, and that’s the key. Thanks to Kaori’s influence and using music as a touchstone, Arima finds a way to deal with his traumatic life experiences in a helpful and meaningful way.

Now, are there better depictions of this sort of theme out there? Sure there is! However, all of those better examples I come up with aren’t as easily accessible to viewers, or they’re filled with concepts just aren’t useful for younger teenagers.

Your Lie in April doesn’t shy away from emotional difficulties, but I’d never say the anime goes too far down the rabbit-hole either. It can be heavy handed, but I wouldn’t call it nightmare fuel by any means.

This strong balance makes it one of the best drama anime out there that focuses on traumatic life experience. If that sort of thing interests you, then you have to watch this anime and come up with your own opinions. There’s no question about that.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. If you liked this review please be sure to check out similar content down below, plus a few announcements of upcoming anime review content.

We have a lot of great review content coming up in the following weeks. The Patreon exclusive poll has some results in for one game review and one anime review. If you want to help decide content going forward, becoming a patron is your way to do that.

Anime: Zombie Land Saga in the first week of June.
Game: Valkyria Chronicles for the PlayStation 3 also in the first week of June.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

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Kern Plays: Dinner with an Owl

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here! Good games sometimes come in small packages, often times when you least expect it. That’s what happened to me when I played a game called Dinner with an Owl.

It was a game I streamed live on Twitch late at night, long after Kresh was asleep. It is also now up on YouTube.

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into with this thing, as the description only says this: Break the puzzling spell of your eccentric host! Dinner with an Owl: A short surreal point and click adventure.”

The game is exactly as it says it is, really. This game is short, and the puzzle itself is actually quite interesting. In retrospect, it was actually easy to solve, hiding in plain sight, but that’s what gave me such great difficulty. My “let’s play” can be found below.

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The game is certainly “spoopy” instead of truly spooky or frightening in any way. Although it did catch me by surprise a few times, though not in a “jump scare” kind of way. It was more like a “Well, I wasn’t expecting that!” sort of way.

I’ll say this though, I doubt this is the sort of game anyone would want to play or watch more than once. If you’d like to experience the game yourself, go and do that instead of watching anyone play it, myself included.

Don’t worry about barriers to entry, there really isn’t any that I can think of. If you have a computer that’s even remotely functional, this game shouldn’t give you any issues. It’s free and you can get it over on Steam, so the price is right too.

Kern Plays: Dinner with an Owl

Kern’s “let’s play” footage of Dinner with an Owl. This game was played in one sitting, as it is very short.

Part 1 of 1 (Watch on YouTube)

More Information

If you like slightly grim point and click puzzle games, this one is worth a look. What we have here is strictly that. Dinner with an Owl is a point and click adventure game with surreal and grim undertones. The somewhat “Spoopy” part of the game lingers within the confines of the narrative.

Originally, this game was part of a game jam in 2017. On May 18, 2021, the enhanced “Dessert Edition” was released on steam. This is the version is the one that you see me playing in the video above.

Dinner with an Owl is compelling to say the least, because it isn’t overly complex, but it isn’t mindlessly simple. It stands in a strange in-between. The graphics aren’t god awful, and fit the over all design of the game well enough to get by without complaint. The soundtrack has its own original lyrical song as well, and that’s something noteworthy for an entirely free title like this one.

The voice acting isn’t half bad either. It is certainly good enough not to be earsplitting or absolutely awful. To be honest, I actually found some of the voices to be perfectly fitting, notably the owl himself.

If I had one gripe, it’s the repetitive nature of the game itself when it comes to dialogue options, though since this game was originally a game jam project made by BoringSuburbanDad you can hardly fault the project for being lacking in that single aspect. This likely wouldn’t be as annoying of an issue if I had figured out the puzzle far earlier than I did.

I wasn’t expecting it to be so straightforward, and that’s what gave me such great difficulty. All-in-all, this is a compelling little game, all things considered. For what it is, I found it enjoyable, and the price was right too.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. Be sure to check out our other great content down below.

I’ll see you next time.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

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10 Amazing 70’s Anime

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here! Over the years we’ve had some really wonderful anime that time seemed to forget. Let’s do ourselves a favor and dig through the decades to find those old gems.

These are anime that are pivotal to the medium, and helped to make the anime industry what it is today. If you haven’t seen these series, you really should. The anime in this list aren’t in any particular order of importance. These are just ten amazing anime that should be forgotten.

Mind you, there is an anime that’s on this list simply for being amazingly bad, and no I’m not joking. Could there be a worse one? Sure, but I haven’t found it yet. That particular anime made the list because it is the worst trash heap I’ve seen in 70’s anime, but we will get to that later.

The rest are real gems though, so don’t bypass them. This thing is going to be long enough without my rambling, so let’s just dig into the list.

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#1: Space Battleship Yamato

Originally run from 1974 to 1975 this twenty-six episode anime became widely popular, inspiring a wide range of other shows taking place in the vast world of outer space. It has plenty of sequel and remake fodder to keep an anime fan entertained for hours.

The series boasts a nice collections of games to accompany the franchise, so you won’t be hungry for more content. Space Battleship Yamato is almost required viewing for any science fiction fan. This thing is the epitome of a space opera, and for its time it even looks very pleasing to the eye. You won’t regret watching this classic masterpiece.

#2: The Rose Of Versailles

Okay fans of Utena, this one is for you. Historical anime have always been popular, and that’s no joke. In 1979, though there was a massive shift in how we think of these types of shows. All of it thanks to series like this one. Carrying its way into the cusp of the eighties, this anime refused conformity and gave a big middle finger to anyone that might be offended.

The Rose of Versailles was very unique back then, and it still is today. You’re not going to find many anime like it. The series totaled forty episodes, completely embracing the slice of life genre and blurring the lines of performative gender role as expected by society. All of these themes are wrapped with several layers of romantic intrigue and political drama. The fact that it takes place during the French Revolution is just another interesting bone to chew on. If you like series such as Revolutionary Girl Utena, this is not an anime you pass by.

#3: Ashita no Joe

If you like boxing anime, this one is your classic bread and butter. In recent years we’ve had Megalo Box as a spiritual successor, but you just can’t beat out this incredible classic. In 1970 this anime literally came out swinging and sports anime was never quite the same after that.

This anime had a little bit of everything. Great ring matches, wonderful commentary on the boxing world at the time, and a main protagonist you couldn’t help but love. There was a lot of heart and soul in this series, and at a robust seventy-five episodes, you can be strapped in for one hell of a ride.

#4: Mobile Suit Gundam (The Original)

Alright, come on guys, you knew this bad boy was going to be on the list. Mecha series are an anime staple for a damn good reason, and this anime was the forefather of the Gundam series. Yes it’s old. Yes it is very dated. Yes there are better Gundam series out there.

Any Gundam fan will already know this is not the cream of the crop, but that’s not why it’s on this list. It’s here because the original 1979 Gundam anime was foundational to mecha anime. Let’s be real honest with ourselves. Ignoring this landmark title is not something we can meaningfully do. Besides, it heavily inspired other mecha series too, and we can’t forget that.

The only mecha series that could be more foundational would be Mazinger Z, one of the first mecha anime ever made. It’s an honorable mention, because this this is one of the forefathers of mecha anime. However, I’d argue that Gundam is more paramount in the long run, and that’s why it’s on the list.

#5: 3000 Leagues In Search Of Mother

If ever there were a series that needed to be given the full remake treatment, it’s this one.  In 1976 anime fans were gifted a journey about a boy traveling from Italy to Argentina all on his own.

3000 Leagues In Search Of Mother is a heartfelt period piece taking place during Italy’s depression. It tells the story of a young boy who leaves in search of his very ill mother when he stop receiving letters from her. This anime is just so amazing, it’s hard to imagine it’s been left alone and forgotten. The heart and soul that permeates the series is not something easily described, because for as heartwarming as the adventure can be, the main protagonists is a little boy who goes through a great deal of trouble reach his destination. As much as there’s joy and adventure, there’s a lot of sadness and heartache too. At fifty-two episodes you’re in for an experience you won’t often find elsewhere.

#6: Future Boy Conan

1978 gave us one hell of a special anime series. Future Boy Conan is the first complete run of a series that Hayao Miyazaki ever fully directed. Do I really need to say more than that? Prior to this. he’d had a hand in directing Lupin the 3rd for about fifteen episodes, but that was about it as a director.

Sure, he had a slew of credits within animation departments, and had written and directed the Yuki’s Sun short film. However, Future Boy Conan was his first massive undertaking as a director, and this series really shows off what he was capable of in his earliest days as a director. This series showcases a world that has been devastated by war and the elements themselves after earth was thrown off its axis. As far as post-apocalypse science fiction goes, this is everything you’d expect of a good series. It has a love story, action and adventure. If you are a Hayao Miyazaki fan, this is a twenty-six episode series you have to watch.

#7: Chargeman Ken!

In the 60’s we had a real gem in Speed Racer, but in the 70’s we weren’t so lucky. In 1974 we were treated to the complete dumpster fire that was known as Chargeman Ken! This is one of those “so bad, it’s good” anime. Nowadays it has a fairly strong cult following.

Believe it or not, even when it was released, it was critically panned for low-quality production values. Knack Productions made this absolute abomination, and in turn it gives us a baseline for what 70’s anime looked like at its worst. There is no nice way to put this. Chargeman Ken! will show you what an animated shit stain in the 70’s really looked like. It is amazingly terrible. This is a series you watch with a group of friends to suffer with, or to troll the absolute hell out of them.

#8: Belladonna of Sadness

Okay, I’ll level with you, this one is way out there. I’d never fault you if you haven’t heard of it. Belladonna of Sadness is anavant garde anime film made in 1973, and dear sweet god, it is not your typical anime by far. Don’t go into it thinking it is, because it isn’t.

This film was initially coined as total commercial failure, however if you’re an anime connoisseur of the highest order, this is a must see film. It is very experimental with its animation. You’ll find beautiful painted still images that are as amazing as they are sometimes violent or explicit. There’s adult themes and imagery in this film that are not made for children. The film also inspired Kunihiko Ikuhara and its visual and thematic influences can be seen in Revolutionary Girl Utena. Having sat through the film twice now, I’ll say it’s interesting. I don’t know if I could say I liked it. but it is amazing just what this film managed to pull off.

#9: Aim for the Ace

We’re equal opportunity here, and with a sports anime showcasing athletic guys on the list, I couldn’t very well leave out Aim for the Ace! This anime has very strong female representation for an anime that came out in 1973.

It’s prolific for that alone, but if you like tennis, or sports anime in general, this is a paramount staple to have on your watch-list. Though the anime was initially aimed at girls, guys love this thing too. There’s a lot of great tennis anime out there, and this one stands with the best of them. You’ll always see it on a top list for tennis anime, and it even holds a solid foundation on most sports anime top lists too. If you need a good sports anime to watch, pick it up, it’ll be worth your time.

#10: Cutie Honey

I couldn’t avoid it forever, magical girl series are another common staple in the anime fandom. Very few anime from this decade will do you better that Cutie Honey. In 1973, this anime was a hit right out of the gate, and series is very intriguing to say the least.

This magical girl can assume a vast many personas, and when doing so she gains special abilities. The titular character, Honey is super mischievous and troublesome for a female main lead of her time. She’ll tease her male friends at school and has no qualms giving out her opinion. She’ll downright aggravate and taunt the absolute crap out of her enemies in combat too. She can be everything we want out of a magical girl. Do you like your female lead to be a bad-ass biker chick? She can pull that off. Would you rather have a magical girl with cutesy-poo pink hair that’s your typical warrior of love? She can do that too. This anime showcases one of the best female leads in a magical girl show. If you’re a fan of that, don’t miss out on Cutie Honey.

Final Thoughts

As you can plainly see, in the seventies we were given many great anime series, and this only scratches the surface. If you’re a mecha anime fan, you’ll find a lot of your classics hailed from this decade. Space operas found their calling, sports anime was heavily on the rise, and some of the earliest truly experimental works in anime can be found here.

When we think of classic anime we turn to the eighties and nineties most of all, but we shouldn’t turn our noses up at these seventies classics either. Some of the greatest names in the anime industry really found their footing here, and the foundational touchstones that many of these series had to offer influenced tropes and storytelling still used today.

If you’re hungry for truly classic anime, these choices won’t do you better. It’s an eclectic mix, so dive right in. You’ll be glad you did. Honestly, there are just too many great series that I couldn’t name them all. Maybe you’ve seen a wonderful series that I haven’t yet. Let’s share our passion for these classic treasures.

Do you have a favorite seventies anime that wasn’t on this list? Tell me about it down below.

This has been Kernook from “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at it’s finest and level grinds are par for the course. If you liked this content, please be sure to check out some other great content down below.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

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Kresh Plays: Crash Bandicoot (N. Sane Trilogy)

Hello everyone, it’s Kern here offering you up past live stream post. This is a game we recently completed over on our Twitch channel, and is now archived on our YouTube channel as well. Yep, that’s right! Kresh finally completed the first game in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a series of the first three remastered Crash Bandicoot games from the 90’s.

In the two videos below you’ll also hear me talking, as I’m on co-commentary on Saturday mornings when the live stream took place. You may recall that earlier this year, Kresh played and completed Crash Bandicoot 4:  It’s About Time on our Twitch channel. This prompted the decision to go back and play the first three games in the series.

The game has an absolutely infamous level that was so difficult in play-testing that they decided not to make it mandatory. You’ll see Kresh struggle against it quite a bit before true victory is achieved and the level is beaten.

Kresh Plays: Crash Bandicoot

This is the first game in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy being played Kresh. As usual, Kern sits in on co-commentary.

Part 1 of 2 (Watch on YouTube)

Part 2 of 2 (Watch on YouTube)

More Information

In the 90’s three dimensional platforming was still in its infancy. A few landmark titles had come out, but there was still many improvements to be made to the genre when it came to complicated and vast three dimensional environments. To be honest, developers were still trying to figure out the best way to design these sorts of games.

Crash Bandicoot is so widely loved by gamers because it managed to get right what so many other titles of the era got wrong. Originally developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment the first game in the Crash Bandicoot series first released in September of 1996 for the PlayStation.

This 3-D platfomer is one of the most popular franchises to have ever released for the PlayStation. To this day it is considered by many to be a very difficult and fun game to play. Many adults have fond memories of playing the game as a child, and others have gone back to experience the game from a simpler time.

There’s a lot to like about the franchise. The titular character is zany, the villains are a bit wacky, and there is plenty of comedic relief to go around. A game suitable for children and adults alike, Crash Bandicoot has earned a rather die-hard fan following.

The franchise proved to be so successful in fact, that in June of 2017 the first three games in the series were released in a compilation title known as Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy for the PlayStation 4.

A year later, Switch, Xbox One and PC gamers would have access to the game as well, holding a wide consumer audience and massive sales once more.

With upgraded graphics, and overall faithfulness to the original releases, not much has changed. If you want to experience the original game this rendition serves you well. Though the jump mechanic feels a little different for sure, something Kresh comments on during gameplay.

Game Mechanics, Crates, and Other Crap

Crash Bandicoot is a platformer, so you know the drill. You can jump, run, and all that other fun stuff. You also have two main ways of dealing with enemies. You can jump onto enemies, or you can do a spinning attack that will send enemies bouncing out of the way.

Boss battles often have their own set of rules, but the idea is usually the same. Weaken the boss in same way, then attack them. Do this a number of times, the boss goes down.

To win against “Ripper Roo” for example, you need to have him blow himself up on those flowing TNT crates. After he does, you’ll be able to jump on him and take down his health bar.

In each of the levels you’ll find different kinds of crates. This is a core feature, there is a ton of these things and some of these are actually pretty deadly, so there are ones you won’t want to break. Crates can be broken open by jumping on them, using a spin attack, or knocking an enemy into them.

Most crates will only contain “Wumpa Fruit”, a fictional fruit that can grant the titular character Crash an extra lives. You’ll receive one life per one-hundred fruit.

Basically if you’ve ever played a Mario game, “Wumpa Fruit” take the place of coins. There are occasionally power-ups inside the boxes as well. Some crates will display an icon of what they have inside. Crates displaying Aku Aku’s face on them will give you a mask that protects Crash from a single enemy or certain traps in the level.

If you manage to collect three masks consecutively without taking a hit (yeah, good luck with that if you’re not a pro at the game) Crash will get a temporary invulnerability from all minor threats in the level.

Crates marked with a “C” act as checkpoints, your absolute best friend. Crash will begin at a checkpoint after losing a life, so long as you haven’t gotten a “game over”.

Then there are metallic crates marked with an exclamation point. These cause something to change in the area. Usually this just spawns more boxes, but sometimes you need those things so it is best not to ignore them.

Now onto the more dangerous crates. Jumping on a red TNT crate triggers a timer that culminates in an explosion. Spinning into these causes an immediate detonation, so yeah be careful around these ones. You need to blow them up for the box counter, but do so carefully.

Thankfully, there is no “Nitro” in this game to worry about, as that didn’t make an appearance until the second game in the series.

In the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy a few changes were made. Crash’s jump has changed slightly, and returning players often comment on needing to get used to it. Kresh certainly does in the footage above. That’s not the only overhaul in the game either. There’s been a lot of “quality of life” improvements to be found.

Notably updated pause menus and save systems have been included. Time trials which didn’t show up in the series until the third game, now show up across all three games in this remastered version. Furthermore since this is a remastered rendition of the first three titles, game audio and cut-scenes have been updated. New recordings of the in-game dialogue was re-recorded by recent voice actors in the industry.

Well, those are the basics. By now you can determine for yourself if you want to play the game or not. With the gameplay footage above you can at least watch Kresh play the game if nothing else. So, that about does it.

Don’t forget to follow the blog for more content like this. Want to help keep the blog advertisement free? Please become a patron! We have a $1 “Little Ferret” tier that’s perfect for blog readers.

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What did you think of the game? Let us know in the comments below. I always reply to comments, and so will Kresh if the need arises, so be sure to leave one if you want to.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. If you liked this content, please be sure to check out more like it below.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

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At the time of this post there are 3 supporters of our content, currently all of them are in the “Demented Minion” tier.

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Fandom: The Comfort of a Good “Let’s Play”

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Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. This is just an introspection piece, and that’s why I’m posting it on a day that isn’t typically a blog post day. It’s just a few thought I have, nothing more.

About a year ago I was asked by an elderly relative, why gamers these days watch “let’s plays”, when we could just play the game ourselves? This older relative is an extended relative, a great aunt of mine. Unlike most of the family, she never quite understood why we played games in the first place.

Since she’s so old, I came up with the usual and easy excuses. I brought up money constraints, games can be an expensive hobby. I spoke of social interaction, internet communities can be very closely knit in some circles. Lastly I mentioned impressive feats of skill, some gamers are just the cream of the crop and the rest of us want to cheer that on.

However, those were all very impersonal answers to what I feel to be a very personal question. My aunt seemed to have forgotten she asked this question, and over the phone she asked it again just yesterday.

Cut her some slack, she’s very old. To put my family into perspective here, my mother (who used to be a gamer) is in her 70’s, my great aunt is in her nineties. The woman isn’t nearly as sharp as she used to be, she’s more forgetful about mundane conversations every single day.

Yesterday, I felt that I finally had an answer that was far more satisfying to me and far more appealing to my aunt.

I think we watch “let’s plays” because it fills some sort void. Something that is intrinsic to who we are as a greater community. It isn’t just entertainment, it becomes a balm for something greater. At least that’s what I think, and let me tell you why.

Today, my aunt is here and she’s watching my little cousin, her “great, great, niece” play a video game. She never did that when I was young, she was more ornery about games back then. More brainwashed that games were damaging to children. It took two full generations of gaming within the family to finally remove that stigma out of her.

Gamers of a certain age will recall the days of meager graphics and simple sound design. Times when we would run home from school, kick off our shoes, and grab the nearest controller. For a few perfect hours, all was right with our world. We’d take up gaming as a fun hobby before doing our homework, having dinner and going to bed. For many of us, these are memories that likely fill our heads.

Well, you would recall that if you were a little older than me at least. My recollection of the games started when I was still toddling around in diapers. Many of the early games I was exposed to came out sandwiched around the year I was born, 1989.

Games such as Mario and Mega Man titles were common household staples. A Boy and His Blob Trouble on Blobolonia was a beloved title in this house, though that cartage NES game finally died a slow death about eight years ago. The Mega Man ones are finally dying out too, but Super Mario Bros 3 is still going strong despite the heavy use.

I’ve said it before, but I came from a family of gamers, so the sounds of eight and sixteen bit games were often what I napped to in my earliest years. My father was the only one in the household that didn’t play video games. Anyway, I was one of those diaper clad toddlers that was handed a controller. I would push the buttons mystified, even when it wasn’t plugged in.

More importantly to my little and innocent soul, came the all too coveted nap time in the summer months. That’s when my extended family came over almost daily to spend countless hours enjoying the back yard, chasing the ice cream truck that passed by at the same time almost every day, and of course playing video games.

There was an eighteen year difference between some of my older cousins and myself. The shortest distance was still a lengthy one at a seven year divide. For me, there was no better way to fall asleep than to watch my family play games. Nap time for me was all about grabbing my pillow and blanket. I’d insist on laying on my favorite mat on the floor. I’d fall asleep watching those NES, Sega Genesis, and SNES titles. I eyed the lone Game Boy in the house and often got pretty bratty when I couldn’t see what was being played.

You could say I was a fan of watching “let’s plays” before they were ever really a thing gamers did in mass. I suspect they’re a sensation at all because so many gamers likely grew up like I did. With an older sibling or a parent playing video games as a key element of entertainment in the household.

Many of us probably grew up with that comfort, so it became something more than just a mere game. For me, it became an extension of family time. It was part of my personal identity in a very intractable way.

As I grew older, my cousins and sibling married off, eventually having children of their own. This tradition lives on. The huge age gap between me and my youngest cousins is about seventeen years. I’m the baby as far as the adults in the family go. While I’m now thirty-one years old, those little cousins are just now reaching their teens.

I feel old…

I also feel validated that they are growing up in a world where gaming is far more normalized than it was in my youth.

My family played video games, but most of the people I knew at school in the early 90’s didn’t. As a person that was constantly bullied I didn’t much care for having them as friends anyway. Back then I could barely hold a pencil, let alone play sports. Gaming was my major hobby.

Nowadays that stigma among other children has been thoroughly trounced, and gamers come from all walks of life. My cousins are growing up in a much more enlightened gaming generation, and I get to watch them mature within it.

That’s pretty damn special, I’ve got to say. After all, I firmly recall their earliest days. Actually Kresh and Ruka do too, to a small degree. After all, those little cousins were on my lap more often than not during hot summer days. Back then, we used Skype as a just barely functional for VOIP to play FFXI and other such games.

When I was fresh out of high school I was the perfect babysitter. Two toddlers roaming around diaper clad, a baby on the hip, and my games were on full display amidst the warm glow of the television. These children mystified, the same as I was in my earliest years. Now, they’re young teenage and tween gamers themselves. They’re just edging into the wide and vast world of gaming. Branching out from the insular family unit they clung onto when they were young, now they’re playing games together in small circles online.

Now they’re playing MOBA‘s with friends from school, and discussing what series they like in more interconnected and diverse ways. When you play games with kids, it is a powerful tool for teaching and engagement. I’m proof of it, and now, so are my cousins.

Sometimes it is very fun to play a game yourself, and my cousins agree. Every now and then though, I find myself missing the random phone calls. A small nightmare or a bad day at school prompting them to ask “Can I watch you play?” all while sounding so full of hope over something so simple. I don’t think I ever said no, now that I think about it.

Now that those days are gone and passed, I find myself wondering about it. What drove us to do that? Why were we so fixated? Why, amidst everything else, was gaming such a core comfort to the younger family unit?

Well, I don’t have an answer to that. I wish I did, but I don’t. There are too many factors to name. Maybe it was the comfort of a momentary escape. Maybe it was the bonding that occurred because of it, or maybe that was just because we liked games.

I think, in the end, the reasons are too diverse and personal to name. They’re so personal because we gamers aren’t a monolith. So, to answer the question, why do we gamers like to watch “let’s plays” so much? I go back to what I said before.

It gives us something we need, even if that thing isn’t entirely something you can measure. I think anyone who needs to answer that question for themselves will come to find their own personal story about why its so important. A reason why they watch instead of just playing themselves.

Something beyond the usual rhetoric and above the typical reproach. Intangible perhaps, but no less valid for its existence.

Why do you watch “let’s plays” and live streams? Let me know in the comments below.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets” where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. If you liked this content, please be sure to check out some other great posts down below. I’ll see you next time.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 supporters of our content, currently all of them are in the “Demented Minion” tier.

($1) Little Ferrets: None
($3) Fandom Ferret: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.
($10) True Blue Ferret: None.
($25) Premium Ferret: None.
($50) Round Table Ferret: None.

Kern’s Collections: Death Note

Hello everyone, it’s Kernook here (Kern for short). I hope this post finds you well. It’s time for another “Kern’s Collections” and this one was a long time in the making. Why did it take so long? Well, primarily because the video editing gave Ruka and I plenty of trouble. Anyway, here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

As always, this is a series dedicated to brief glimpses of media and why you might enjoy them. Included in this post is the video production and the written script.

Video Production of this Script

This is the finished video regarding the script. It is written, edited, and read aloud by Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”. You can watch the video on this blog and on YouTube. I hope you enjoy the content.


Don’t forget to follow the blog for more content like this. Want to help keep the blog advertisement free? Please become a patron! We have a $1 “Little Ferret” tier that’s perfect for blog readers.

As a “Little Ferret” you will be allowed to help decide topics for the blog, and have access to patron only updates. Your name will be credited on every post for as long as you are a patron. This will also get you access into The Demented Ferrets official discord server. Join here today!

Written Script

Hello everyone, it’s Kernook here. Welcome to “The Demented Ferrets” channel. This is a segment called “Kern’s Collections”, a series dedicated to brief glimpses of media and why you might enjoy them.

This is not a review. This is merely a simple glance at an anime that could be worth your time.

Today I’m going to be talking about Death Note.

I’d like to think that the series is so well known that most anime fans already known of it, but I recently realized how wrong I was. I met someone who was so new to the anime fandom that they thought Death Note was merely the live action movie that could be found on Netflix. They only recently got into anime as of this year, and well, as you can expect many shows just aren’t on their radar as of yet.

So, I’m going to highlight some of the good and the bad that the series has to offer.

While it’s true that Death Note does have have live action and written media counterparts, today I just want to speak of the anime itself. The series came out in 2006, so I can understand why newer anime fans may not have gotten around to it yet.

First of all, let me just begin by saying this. The series is a Madhouse production,and in the early 2000’s Madhouse was considered top of the line anime. They’re still great now, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that back when Death Note came out, they stood as the cream of the crop, so to speak.

Anyway, you’re going to get a quality series in a lot of respects. In spite of how old it is, Death Note has good animation, and a strong soundtrack. So, don’t let the fact it was made in 2006 put you off.

The series is a thriller first and foremost, but it is also a very good anime when it comes to studying society at large. The complex interplay between the characters makes you think that the minds of the core cast are all that really matters, and that might be true the first time you watch Death Note.

However, I find that the first half of the series is even more rewarding the second or third time through. When you can really sink your teeth into the implications of the world that Death Note attempts to illustrate.

The story is simple. A notebook falls from the sky, and into the hands of a boy named Light Yagami. This young man is on the brink of graduation, bored, and with more ambition than he knows what to do with.

He takes the book home, and finds out it has incredible power. With the book in his hands, and a clear set of rules in place, he comes to realize that he only needs a name and a face. With tho two things, the notebook is able to take human lives with little more than a few mere pen strokes.

Naturally, Light lacks basic human empathy in many ways. Displaying what passes for it, but never truly feeling it. As he chooses to take the law into his own hands, he plans to to make a better future. One that he can become the “god” of. He wants to build a whole new world, based on his desires and his ideals.

Now, this is problematic for the people around him for more than a few reasons. None more so than Light’s own immaturity, and lack of perception. He’s not a good person, and he’s really not the sort of guy you can root for if you have any value in humanity at all. Especially once he begins taking the lives of innocent people for his own gain.

Frankly, he isn’t meant to be the sort of character you can cheer for. Well, unless you like cheering for villains, I suppose. Make no mistake about it, Light is a villain from start to finish, but he is a very well written character even at his worst.

What make the series so interesting, at least for a vast majority of it, is the interplay between Light, and a surrounding characters. This especially holds true for a character simply known as “L”.

It’s the mind games and competition between these two characters that keeps the series engaging.

The anime itself has many super natural elements. Gods of death, and the concept of the book itself falls squarely into the territory where you’ll need to suspend your disbelief. The same goes for Light’s amazing intellect and ability to out smart the forces opposing him.

In general, this isn’t hard to do. More often than not, the series invites you to do this, and viewers often don’t have an issue doing so.

Now, that’s not to say the anime is all sunshine and roses, it’s far from it. Speaking from a time when I was a young adult, I look back upon Death Note very fondly. Anime conventions were full of cos-players, and “L” was a very common character to go as. He was so easy and simple to dress as.

To cosplay as “L” you required only a tiny bit of makeup under the eyes, a black wig, a white shirt, a pair of men’s jeans, and a simple pair of unobtrusive flip-flops… since you know, you shouldn’t walk around barefooted at a convention center.

He was the perfect character to cosplay as when you have very little money to your name and sill wanted to get in on the fun. So, he was a common character to see walking around.

Taking of the nostalgia goggles though, there comes a time when Death Note falls flat on its face in more ways than one. I won’t speak about why, as those would be spoilers. However, what I will say is that when a few new characters start coming around in the back end of the anime, they just can’t compete with their predecessors.

At that point, the story is in no way able to live up to the thrilling and suspenseful ride that it has built up to that point. You may find that to be a disappointment. However, to avoid the series strictly because of its short comings would be a huge disservice. Not every anime is perfect, most are not, and this one had flaws too. Even with the nostalgia goggles removed, there is a lot of good things here.

One last caveat, the last episode is absolutely abysmal, but fear not. There are live action movies that don’t include that crap as part of the narrative and if you really want to see those, give a look for them, they’re around. I’ll talk about them at a later time, though.

Regardless, I still feel that Death Note is well worth your attention. Even though we live in an era of more anime than we often know what to do with, so few can match what Death Note has to offer. So if you’re a new fan, or you simply bypassed it, go back and give it a try.

At the time of this post the anime series can be found over on Funimation and Crunchyroll.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you in the next post.

If you liked this content, be sure to check out our other great media down below.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 supporters of our content, currently all of them are in the “Demented Minion” tier.

($1) Little Ferrets: None
($3) Fandom Ferret: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.
($10) True Blue Ferret: None.
($25) Premium Ferret: None.
($50) Round Table Ferret: None.

Massive Update: Please Read

Hello everyone, it’s Kern here once again, I hope you will continue to enjoy this content. I’ve got a massive update for you. Firstly, let’s dive into some site related changes.

The “Support Us” page has been changed up a bit, offering a lot less clutter and more overall information on what we do as “The Demented Ferrets”.

The second major change regarding this is the new update to Patreon related tiers. It used to be that we didn’t have a good Patreon tier for blog supporters, but we wanted to change that. Previously, you would have seen a card like this one on our posts:

Don’t forget to follow the blog for more content like this. Want to help keep the blog advertisement free? Please become a patron! This will also get you access into The Demented Ferrets official discord server. Join here today!

However, we’ve come to decide that it wasn’t really fitting for readers of the blog. Yes, keeping the blog free of advertisements as much as we can help it is certainly our main goal. However we felt that wasn’t enough, so I changed the card, and now if you’re a patron, you get more perks.

Going forward, the card now looks like this:

Don’t forget to follow the blog for more content like this. Want to help keep the blog advertisement free? Please become a patron! We have a $1 “Little Ferret” tier that’s perfect for blog readers.

As a “Little Ferret” you will be allowed to help decide topics for the blog and you will have access to patron only updates. Your name will be credited on every post for as long as you are a patron. This will also get you access into The Demented Ferrets official discord server. Join here today!

I think that this is vast improvement, because readers can now have a voice in what content gets written if you choose to join our patron. If you choose not to, don’t worry, you lose nothing. All blog posts going forward will still have a home here regardless if you are a patron or not.

That being said, if you’d like to have a voice in what topics get written or covered, please do consider becoming a supporter.

The first discussion poll is out now for all patrons. A new card thanking patron supporters has also been made:

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 supporters of our content, currently all of them are in the “Demented Minion” tier.

($1) Little Ferrets: None
($3) Fandom Ferret: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.
($10) True Blue Ferret: None.
($25) Premium Ferret: None.
($50) Round Table Ferret: None.

Blog Content Additions and Changes

In general, Kern (the one writing this post) is the one that writes and produces all of the content you see here on the blog in written form. This has been the way it has been since Kresh and I started this whole idea.

You’ve probably noticed this, but much of our content is cross-platform to give you a variety of ways to enjoy it. If we have video content added, you can find that video up on our YouTube channel.

When it comes to longer running written media, such as Kern’s in-depth RWBY reviews and analysis they take a long time to make. This is because a video accompaniment is always included. Kern’s Collections take time for that selfsame reason.

That is why the majority of our content here is only in the written form. As games are completed on our live streams and more time is spent producing media, you’ll see the video related content on this blog continue to grow as well.

For the longest time, Kresh was only ever within the confines of live stream content found on our Twitch channel. However, in the coming months, that will also change.

In the future, Kresh will begin to have more of an online presence as more content is produced. As such we have two new images to help clarify what content is being produced by whom.

The blue bordered ferret is Kern, the pink one is Kresh. You can thank Ruka for making these, as she does all of our artwork, so thank goodness for Ruka on that front.

Upcoming Content

Kern has been hard at work preparing blog posts for you all. Known content being released for the rest of May looks like this:

  • Monday (May 24th, 2021) – Kern’s Collections: Death Note (written media and video content).
  • Wednesday (May 26th, 2021) – Kresh Plays: Crash Bandicoot. (written media and archived live stream footage)
  • Friday (May 28th, 2021) – Kern Plays: Dinner with an Owl.
  • Monday (May 31st, 2021) – Anime Review: Your Lie in April (written media)

As you can see, the rest of May is packed with both gaming and anime related content. When it comes to June’s content, that hasn’t been fully decided upon. Before I was the one to decide all of the blog content, but now the poll may impact the scope of content moving forward.

Content you can be sure to expect because it is already in the works is the following:

  • At least 1 “Kern’s Collections” (completely written, video edit in progress).
  • At least 1 “RWBY” analysis (scripting complete, video not yet begun).
  • 2 written game reviews (outlines have begun).
  • 2 written anime reviews (outlines have begun).
  • 2 “Let’s Play” posts (content to be determined).
  • 2 written opinion pieces (content to be determined).

Anything beyond that will depend on the voting suggestions and patron feedback.

Anyway, this has been Kernook of “The Decremented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time!

If You Enjoyed This Content…

Please consider following us on this blog. We also have other platforms with content to enjoy. At the time of this post we have a Twitter, Twitch, YouTube.

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The Problem with Lady Dimitrescu

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As a “Little Ferret” you will be allowed to help decide topics for the blog, and have access to patron only updates. Your name will be credited on every post for as long as you are a patron. This will also get you access into The Demented Ferrets official discord server. Join here today!

Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil Village could have been my absolute favorite character in the entire game. Instead, she became the character I came to hate the most. I’m so saddened by this, because I was so sure we were going to receive a deep and compelling character. I saw such a great promise in her. Now, I just feel that she was not the character I hoped she would be.

To be absolutely honest, I find her to be a flat our offensive character on principle. The issue is, as a villain she shouldn’t have been offensive in the very specific way she turned out to be.

Yes, her character design is absolutely the sort of representation we need in gaming. Women aren’t often portrayed as strong and assertive. At least, not nearly as often as we gamers might like.

I can respect her for that, but what I can’t do, is pretend she’s a good character when it comes down to dialogue.

Listen, she’s a man-hater, plain and simple, and the issue with her is that she could have been very compelling to have in Resident Evil Village with that mindset. However, it didn’t end up compelling, because the way she displayed that hate was just resolute mindlessness.

Lady Dimitrescu is many things, but she’s not supposed to be reduced down to a nitwit, and that’s ultimately what happened. When you listen to her speak for any length of time it becomes clear. Her insults are gender based more times than not, being prefaced with the word “man” in some way, shape or form.

Worst still, we know she has passed this ideology down to her daughters. Even they are very much obsessed with the concept of gender based ideologies, that just don’t have meaningful extrapolation.

Do we really need a reminder that our character has “man hands”? Does him being a man somehow lessens his complete and total existence? Is this really the best insult a person of such high bloodline and education can make? Is she really that lacking when it comes to turns of phrase?

Well, no, she shouldn’t be. She shows she can be far more than that. Yet, she doesn’t become more than that. That’s ultimately my problem with her…

Look, I get it, she’s a villain, but that’s the issue. She gets reduced down to a stereotypical woman angry at the male gender for seemingly no good reason. Lady Dimitrescu is supposed to be a very intelligent woman, thoughtful in her words and deeds. In short, she’s not a total and complete idiot. Yet, this is the best dialogue that they could come up with?

This is not the first time an issue like this has cropped up. It won’t be the last. A notable example is in Last of Us 2, showcasing a transgender character being horribly mistreated based on a performative interpretation of how they wished to be identified. A large contingent of the trans community, myself and Kreshenne included in that wide and diverse spectrum, took great issue with that.

Now Kreshenne hasn’t played Resident Evil Village, and and can’t speak to it meaningfully, but I have played it and I can speak to it.

I can’t in good faith have the issues that I do with the handling of Last of Us 2, unless I take those same issues with Lady Dimitrescu when referencing the male gender. It all comes down to the same problem. A complete and total lack of care when considering how best to handle the character.

Her hatred of men doesn’t help the narrative in any meaningful or heartfelt way. It only does damage. I don’t mind seeing difficult topics handled in games, but they must be handled with careful consideration, and Resident Evil Village failed to do that.

When you reduce insults and slander down to gender continually without any real need to do so, it is absolutely flat out bad writing. I don’t care what gender a character is, when insults are reduced down to that level, it makes everyone doing it look bad.

Lady Dimitrescu is not above this, and she really should be. She is tall not only in stature, but in personality and refinement. Even in combat, she fights with poise and grace until her final form. She is an aristocrat of the finest order, proud of that esteem, and her three daughters.

She is orders of magnitude above the other sorts of people our main character has faced before, and that alone should be intimidation enough. Yet, there is still something more. She hungers for more favoritism from Mother Miranda, and she’ll go to great lengths to get it.

She’s smart, cunning, and more powerful than she lets on. It is very heavily implied and shown that she is an intelligent woman. Apparently Dimitrescu maintained an almost feudal-like rule over the peasantry near her castle. Yet, for all of those amazing qualities, we see so little of them.

What little we do see is bogged down by her constant use of gender based insults. Unfortunately, we have no clear and obvious reason for her to hate men. Still, she treats the male characters she’s around with disgust and vitriol with no discernible reason for her to do this.

She doesn’t clearly voice a reason why she seems to look down on men, only that she does. It’s too heavy handed to place it aside. If you’re not speed running through the game, you’ll hear some of those insults more than once.

If you were like me, taking your time to play the game, you stayed in her domain long enough to hear those ideologies more than a few times. These ideologies coming from Lady Dimitrescu herself, and all three of her daughters.

Having one female character like that is one thing. Having four women in the same vicinity with that ideology is a bit problematic, don’t you think?

Lady Dimitrescu looks down to men like children, or the pure scum of the earth, some notable quotes are “Ugh, just another simple little manthing.” and “Stupid manthing! You won’t live long, even if you run!”oh, and let’s not forget the best one: “Oh, so gauche. What do you care for bread and circuses? The manthings suffering is assured, regardless.”

Look, here’s the sad part of all of this. She actually had the vast potential to be a far more compelling character. We see hints of it beneath it all. My absolute favorite line shows just how well educated she is, and just how cunning she can be when she says this:

“The man is of no real use to anyone else, and my daughters do love… entertaining foreigners. Furthermore, I can assure if you entrust the mortal to House Dimitrescu, my daughters and I shall deliver to you the finest cups of his slaughtered blood.”

There, see that? An insult, a threat, and a promise all encapsulated within the confines of her station and abilities. She can still see herself as a superior, but she does so in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

Now, that is a compelling villain. This is the sort of dialogue that shows just how prim and proper she can be, with that incredible ruthlessness we expect from her. It’s classy, it’s “well-to-do” as expected from an aristocrat. Above all it shows, her true grace and intellect as a ruler.

It shows how she was able to rule over the lands for so long, before becoming infected by the mold. It is characterization that is paramount for her, and we get too little of it.

We should have had more of that sort of dialogue. Grim promises, deeper threats to our livelihood, and a grace all her own. All of that from a ruler who doesn’t take idle shit from anyone.

Instead, a lot of her repetitious vocal lines fall under those before mentioned gender based insults, and that’s just sad. It diminishes her in a way that is well and truly a letdown, because she could have been so much more.

In attempting to defy stereotypes, Lady Dimitrescu become one of the worst ones a female antagonist could be. She became a mindless man-hater, with no real explicable reason for why that is, or what drives that deeper hatred of men in general.

We can’t assume she isn’t one. All we see is Dimitrescu talking down to her brother, or down to the main player character himself. There’s no other male for her to defy the precedent she sets for herself in a useful way.

It’s just so sad, because if those lines had been handled with just an ounce of care and mindful foreshadowing, she could have been one of the best villains to ever show up in a Resident Evil game.

As she is, only her looks will stand the test of time, her characterization will be too easily forgotten. That’s a real shame, isn’t it?

Well, that’s just my opinion. I know it will likely be an unpopular one, but that’s my view. In any case, this has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course.

If you liked this, please be sure to check out some of our other related content. I’ll see you next time.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.

Anime Review: Claymore

Warning: The anime I am reviewing today is called Claymore. It is rated TV-MA (Mature Adult). Therefore, it is not suitable for young viewers. The series contains adult themes.
Mature Content: Without question Claymore has graphic violence and gore. Children are absolutely mistreated emotionally and physically in the series. A male character flat out states he intends to rape an adult woman.
Kern’s Disclaimer: This is not just a typical hack-and slash action show. It should not be treated like one. Know that going into it. One more time for the people in the back. This anime is NOT for young or impressionable viewers. If you have delicate sensibilities regarding the content warnings above, maybe just don’t watch this anime. I won’t be held responsible if it triggers the absolute crap out of you.

Did you read the warning? I put that there for a reason, so you better have read it. There is some content in this anime that even gets to me a little, and I’m no snowflake. Anyway, if you didn’t heed that warning, that’s your problem now. I did my due diligence as far as I’m concerned. Assuming you did read it from this point on, let’s get started.

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Yeah, it’s time for another review. Today I’m going to talk about an anime that isn’t perfect, in some ways it isn’t very good at all, however in others it truly shines. I have always enjoyed it, despite its many flaws. There aren’t many series quite like it in my personal opinion. This anime is called Claymore.

Now, depending on your particular tastes in anime, there’s no shortage to pick from nowadays. As fans, our choices for solid anime has never been better. However, if you were a fan back in 2007, you know that the anime fandom was quite a bit different.

We didn’t exactly get the same flood of series that we do nowadays, and while we got a plethora of great shows over the years, fans had a tendency to cling onto their chosen favorites for just a little while longer. Mostly this is because a favorite and beloved anime was just harder to replace.

This is especially true for anime that deviated from the normal offerings of a yearly line-up. Yes, I do mean yearly, because back then full seasonal floods were just harder to find legally. We still had a lot to choose from, but nothing like the magnitude we do today.

Needless to say, when an anime manages to hold my interest for any length of time, I am impressed. This one stands my test of time. Claymore lingers in the back of my mind as a series I can fondly recollect, to me that is vastly important.

It was directed by a lesser known man by the name of Hiroyuki Tanaka. You may not have heard of him, because although he occasionally deals with extremely popular anime, he rarely dabbles in positions widely acclaimed by the anime fandom at large. Funnily enough, he would later have his hand in shows like Attack on Titian as an assistant director.

Dark World Done Right

Claymore is the sort of series that demands a particular attention to detail. There’s a lot of carefully embedded themes that help to build the lore and law if its world.

Animated by the studio Madhouse, it stands the test of time, more or less.

Even when the scenes do look dated by today’s standard, I’d never think them awful. The series is packed with action, and dips in quality do happen from time to time. This is not their best work, but it’s certainly not terrible either. Corners were cut, but never in a way that makes you truly cringe.

There’s a real sort of grit and grime that allows this series to age very well. When it wants to look beautiful or captivating, it does. Red pools of blood can shimmer in the darkness like a dark omen in one moment, while in the next a moonlit sky can softly drape across the land. There’s a duality here, layered in a way that only an anime like this can really pull off.

This is a historical, nearly medieval world. As many anime tend to do, it takes place in an alternate universe from our own. Plenty of sinister little truths lurk behind every corner, and emotional levity comes in small doses. All of this is encapsulated with a sunning soundtrack that is perfectly fitting for the themes at play.

Due to the existence of monsters known as Yoma, the people in this world are tormented and live in fear of their existence. This stands to good reason, as Yoma tend to feed off of humanity. They are quite demonic in behavior, but not necessarily in appearance. You see, not all Yoma make themselves obvious. Yoma can live among humanity, blend in as a human and act as a human might.

Yes, that’s right. These aren’t your typical monsters under the bed. Yoma can live among humanity, and might linger there without being found. How do they do this, you ask? Simple, a Yoma can take the form of any human that they’ve eaten. So long as they’re careful and calculating, an unsuspecting village may never know a Yoma lives among them.

Due to this, Yoma are not to be pitied. They are inhuman creatures, often posing a great threat to society and therefore they need to be expunged.

This is where the Claymore come in to the narrative and the plot begins in earnest. Claymore are the ones that take down these beasts.

Warning, there are spoilers beyond this point. If you don’t want spoilers, just go watch the show (provided you keep in mind the warning I gave above). Go find it, and watch it. it’s on Funimation, and I think maybe Hulu. There is an actual age gate on the anime on most reputable websites. That means you’re going to have to actually log into the website, like Funimation for example, just to watch the series. Anyway, with that said, let’s continue on.

The Story

Dotting the landscape there are sleepy little towns that would otherwise be peaceful. However, the townsfolk have come to the conclusion that a Yoma lives among them. This poses two different threats. The first is that Yoma would eventually eat them if it continued to live there. The second is that the townsfolk would have no real way to detect the Yoma hiding among them. For all they know their best friend or loved one could be the Yoma simply hiding its true form.

There is really only one way to deal with a Yoma, and that is to hire a Claymore. Now a Claymore is many things, all of them equally as deadly as the Yoma themselves. You see, these women are half Yoma, half human hybrids. Even when they sustain incredible bodily damage that would kill a human, they don’t easily die. Normally they heal right on the spot. For example, even while impaled like this Claymore is below, she is still fighting fit to take down her enemy.

They’re created and trained by a mysterious group known only as “The Organization” an otherwise nameless entity. As far as these women are concerned, they may as well be entirely removed from humanity itself.

A Claymore is created by cramming the blood and flesh of a dead Yoma into a living, breathing, human female. This combination slowly turns her into something not quite human, not quite beast. They’re given their names because of the swords they wield, and the fact that they’ve completely renounced the concept of a peaceful human existence.

They are not to trifle in human affairs, kill humans (even when those humans are bandits, thieves, and murders themselves), or in any way think themselves as equal to humanity. There is no exception to these rules, and a Claymore that defies them will be hunted down and killed by her own kind.

Assigned by numbers denoting their skill, they are considered mere monsters, even when it is clear that they are not entirely like the humanity they vow to protect.

The fate of a Claymore is hardly peaceful, and usually ends tragically. Anyway you look at it, their mere existence is rather lonely and their fates promise to be the selfsame as the Yoma themselves. If a woman becomes a Claymore, her days are numbered and that’s just a cold hard fact that these women accept. They understand that this is the way of the world, and will not change.

The story one follows one such woman. A fairly young one at that. Her name is Clare, and as a Claymore her job is to dispatch where she is told to go, and slay Yoma that put humanity in danger.

She is a person of very few words, favoring action over mindless diatribe, and because of this her speaking lines are rather limited, despite how central she is to the story and overall plot of the anime. This is not a disservice to her character. In fact, I’d say this is a marked improvement over the typical protagonist that doesn’t know how to shut the hell up.

Clare acts decisively, with brutal skill in combat and a very clear-cut view of the world. Clare is many things, but she is no pushover.

She is not to be trifled with as far as humanity is concerned. Now unfortunately whenever you have an incredibly self-assured, competent female protagonist, running around in a world full of monsters, you also tend to have the jackass male sidekick.

You know the kind I’m talking about…

They’re usually worthless, and often times beyond help. These are the sort of guys you want to hit with a hammer, because they could not possibly survive in the world that surrounds them in any meaningful way. There’s just no way that the world would not eat them alive.

Well, sorry to say it, but we have one of those, yet again. His name is Raki and he is young, stupid, and you could get the same characterization out of a little lost puppy on the side of the road. Actually, that’s likely an insult to puppies, my apologies. Not even his own village likes him, he’s exiled from it.

In any case Clare saves Raki from the Yoma that she was hired to kill, and begins to teach him the ways of the world. This is the lens in which the entire series hinges heavily on from this point. Monster fights, traveling the world at large, and Clare trying to keep Raki out of harms way.

When I mean that this is the shows core themes, I’m not kidding. When we aren’t following Clare and Raki, We’re following a different Claymore named Teresa and through that lens we’re shown Clare’s backstory. In these flashback episodes of sorts, we come to find out Clare’s past isn’t incredibly dissimilar from Raki’s own.

She was once a human girl with no place to turn, and traveled with world with Teresa. As a child, Clare was enamored with the concept of becoming a Calmore, not fully understanding the terrible life they tended to lead. After a rather gritty and sorrowful series of events, Clare is left alone in the world again. She decides to become a Claymore herself, just like the woman who had been trying to raise her.

All in all, the plot is serviceable, and outside of Raki, the cast is generally well rounded when they show up. Now sadly, as many series tend to do, it deviated strongly from it’s manga in the ending.

If you are a written media purists, this will no doubt make you want to throw your chair at your nearest screen. For the rest of us, the ending isn’t amazing, but the journey proceeding it is well worth it regardless.

Final Thoughts

Claymore is not without flaws, and it makes some very questionable choices on occasion. There are times that you can only be brought to wonder what drove such narrative decisions forward. The inclusion of certain small details and the firm exclusion of others can make the show sometimes feel a bit muddled. It is never for very long, but this is something to keep in mind.

Honestly, in my personal opinion the show is at its best in the flashback episodes of regarding Clare and her upbringing. If the show contained more of that, it would probably be better off.

Furthermore, Raki acts like a small boy, a mere child. Yet, he is quite clearly a teenager. The average viewer wouldn’t be wrong to expect better of him.

I was certainly very disappointed by the lack of a decent male lead. I’m not saying he needed to be a bad-ass, but his lack of emotional maturity is completely agitating. He can be prone to complaining, and crying. For some, it might actually be a deal breaker. He is that bad, and I will not defend him.

This brings me to my last thought. Claymore is a mature story of losses and grievances. These women live within a society that just doesn’t have any room for compassion or understanding. Each Claymore has her own reason to become one, or at the very least, a reason to exist in spite of being one. The world they live in lacks emotional warmth, and their eventual deaths promise to be violent ones.

These are themes that constantly pervade the narrative, so while this ensures awesome fights, it also promises bleak outlooks upon their world at large. If you like dark story telling, this anime has that. You can dip into the waters of cynicism as much as you like.

In my opinion, the ideal viewer for Claymore would probably be a person able to handle mature themes and dark world building, set in an almost medieval society. The series is age gated by most reputable places, and has some blood and carnage, so that part matters. Secondly, this ideal person would also need to be in favor of a strong female protagonists and supporting cast. Overlooking the walking insult that is Raki, decent male characters are few and far between.

Lastly, an ideal viewer would likely be one that hasn’t read the manga before. The deviations are just enough to be agitating. This is a series you want to watch first, and read the written material after.

In the end, if you’re the right kind of viewer, I think that Claymore is certainly worth your time. The series has plenty of heart and soul, but it’s also a bloodbath in combat scenes.

I return to it from time to time, and I don’t regret it when I do. It is far from perfect, but the journey is enjoyable. I return to it from time to time, and I don’t regret it when I do. It is far from perfect, but the journey is enjoyable.

However, if you expect the hero to always win, with no trauma or strife, find a different show. This is not the one for you.

You can check out some of out other anime related content below. I hope you find something you enjoy. Also, please consider supporting us on Patreon. It keeps the blog advertisement free, and allow Kreshenne and I to produce more content for you to enjoy.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll catch you in the next post.

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RWBY White Trailer Retrospective Review

Kern’s Note: Sorry that this thing was so late in coming out. We were having a few difficulties and had a lot of things to do in order to fix the issues. Now that it is here we are super proud of it. Audio issues were sorted out too, so that makes it even more awesome!


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The Retrospective Review

If you haven’t seen the RWBY White Trailer, yeah, you might want to go do that. It’s on the Rooster Teeth website, and it’s free. As always, please support the official release of the series.

Last week I kicked off my retrospective series with the RWBY Red Trailer. For a brief recap, I mentioned that the four character trailers that kicked off the series had three goals in mind. They were as follows:

  • To introduce the main four girls.
  • To teach the viewer how to enjoy the combat in the series.
  • And to give viewers a taste of the world through the eyes of these characters.

When the RWBY Red Trailer first released, I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of what I saw.

As I said last time, hindsight for the series is 20/20. Retrospection matters. My love of the RWBY series didn’t come until I saw the release of the RWBY White Trailer and the introduction of Weiss Schnee.

If Ruby’s trailer is all about sentimentality and holding the things you cherish the most close to your heart. Then, the trailer for Weiss is all about the rejection of emotional sentiment. Of leaving behind childish whimsy, and losing one’s own identity in the process.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look. The trailer opens slowly, a quote flashes across the screen. This quote reads like this:

Then a spotlight shows overhead, the garbled mutterings of an announcer calls her name. The audience cheers as a white haired woman takes the stage. Her face is elegant, but there’s a slender scar blemishing her skin over one eye.

She’s dressed in white, with a splash of red, and a hint of black. Her expression stays serious in front of the crowd. The soft fluttering of of a piano begins to play as the crowd cheers.

By this point in the trailer, less than 30 seconds into it, I had already found myself captivated by Weiss Schnee as a character. Where the RWBY Red Trailer failed to instantly grab my attention, the RWBY White Trailer had captured me from the very beginning.

Weiss looks out to the crowd, takes a breath and closes her eyes. Then the song begins in earnest. Unlike Ruby’s song that was merely playing as a music backdrop and only had a few lyrics, this time Weiss is performing her personal story for the world to see.

Her song, known as “Mirror Mirror” is a testament that Jeff Williams and Casey Lee Williams really know how to make a soundtrack shine.

This song is probably one of the saddest in the original soundtrack for the first RWBY Volume. As the song plays, Weiss is shown to be singing it, although, her actual voice actress didn’t do the vocals. The woman singing is Casey Lee Williams.

This trailer turns into a flashback as Weiss continues to sing, her eyes still closed. The camera pans lower and the stage fades to black. A reflection of Weiss glows from the dark abyss as she stands atop it, a perfect reflection.

If you haven’t noticed by now, this is a far deeper, far more introspective sort of trailer on it’s face. This make sense. Weiss is the most reserved of the main four girls. She’s cold, almost needlessly cruel in the first volume of the series. However, that’s well and truly a facade at best.

Without this trailer for character context, which I will get to in a moment, Weiss would be little more than a complete and total ass during Volume 1. Episodes like “The Stray” and notably the episode “Black and White” which is the Volume 1 finale, rely on this trailer. It explains everything about Weiss and her eventual blind acceptance of Blake.

The reason is because Weiss isn’t actually an ass, and she’s doesn’t really carry the hyperbolic thoughts and feelings that she’s expected to have. She spouts them, but they’re not real. This trailer is a looking glass into all of it, literally. It gives us all of her key struggles, and allows us to see this girl behind the Schnee family mask.

Anyway, at this point her eyes are closed. It is now implied that anything beyond this point is a flashback of a memory. When her eyes open, kneeling in front of her is a gigantic armored knight. It bows to her in reverence, as if she were its queen.

Then, it stands to its full height, grasping its sword as the tempo of the music changes.

No longer just a soft piano melody with gentle singing, string instruments and percussion are added into the mix. The soft classical music begins taking on new urgency as Weiss faces down her opponent. Swords clash as Weiss faces down this armored giant, deftly avoiding his blade.

Her combat is almost like a dancer’s grace as she continues flitting around the arena floor like a ballerina. She uses her sword with frontal swings and forward jabs just like a fencer. Weiss relies on a complicated mix of pure skill, dust, and her semblance to gain the upper hand.

As I said before, the trailers build upon each other. In Ruby’s trailer, combat was the thing breaking the fourth wall.

For Weiss it’s the lyrics of her song, breaking the forth wall instead. This is her personal story. She’s telling us who she really is as a person, and she’s not going to wait for us to figure it out.

Just like how she treats Ruby in Volume 1, she’s not going to dumb herself down for our sake. The lyrics are poetic and layered in symbolism. I will speak about that in the analysis of this trailer, which is a separate post. For now let’s just focus on the poetic storytelling at play.

Viewers need to stand on Weiss’s level emotionally, and understand what she’s telling us. We viewers, are the mirror she’s talking to. It’s not just that she’s talking to herself. She wants to be heard, she has asked us if we can hear her in the song directly. She’s asked us if she needs us, because we are that mirror.

She’s not sure if her own merits are good enough. She wants to be taken seriously. She feels that she isn’t. That she is somehow inferior.

Now, this is exactly what Ruby’s trailer referenced in regards to the color “white”.

While those lyrics were a factual assessment, Weiss attempts to explain those facts in poetic and lyrical way, using ambiguity.

Ruby’s trailer is self-assured and confidant. She knows she wants to be a huntress, and she’s ready to show off what she can accomplish.

Weiss is far less sure of herself. She wants the validation of others, but she’s afraid to ask for it. So, she’s asking us, the proverbial mirror.

Her faster and far more ruthless combat is an undertone to this as well. While Ruby shows us a fight that’s fun, Weiss shows us one that’s necessity. Weiss needs to fight this battle. It isn’t a choice. It’s an obligation, like so many other things in her life.

Unfortunately for Weiss, she’s still just a teenager trying to pretend she’s an adult. The adult world of Remnant will bring her down a few pegs, and so does the knight she’s fighting. She cannot stand on the world’s stage alone and hope to succeed that way. She needs others, she needs a place to belong.

In spite of her skill, this isn’t enough to stop the knight from countering every attack she lands on him. Finally he swats her aside like a paper doll.

She lands on the ground looking disheartened, defeated and bleeding…

Then the scene faces to black and Weiss is on stage again. Slowly she opens her eyes. Haunting operatic vocals fill the air as the moon overhead appears from behind dark clouds.

Weiss is still young, and just like Ruby, she’s a dreamer of bigger and better things. It’s just that those dreams don’t align with the world as she currently understands it. Her memories and expectations hold her down.

She’s asking us, the viewers, if she can really stand a chance to reach for her dreams. If she’s even worthy of those dreams at all.

Her eyes close again, and her memory continues. The flashback of how she got the scar in the first place is fresh in her mind.

The knight is still ready for more, and Weiss lifts herself up from the ground. There’s blood on her face, and determination in her eyes. Weiss won’t let herself be put down from a little thing like a head injury.

Instead she prepares herself for another clashing of blades. She’s smarter this time, going on the defensive and waiting for the right moment to take him down.

The song changes tempo again. This time, it’s not haunting, it’s empowering. She prepares her weapon, adjusting her stance, and strikes. A flurry of dust shimmers with every attack. A wave of ice spiking up from the ground as she returns the armored knight’s attack tenfold, effectively disarming him.

Then it’s time for her final attack. She readies her glyphs and the dust inside her sword. Trapping the the knight, she sends herself flying into the air, slicing a pinpoint attack into the knight. This turns him into a powder-like snow.

Sparkles of this now defeated knight fall onto the stage as she finishes her song. The blood on her face fades away. She opens her eyes and looks around as if trying to remember where she is. The crowd cheers for her.

When you saw this trailer for the first time, you probably cheered a little too, even if it was just to yourself quietly. I know that I did.

That’s because in the context of the series, Weiss is person worth cheering for. She’s worth her dreams and her ambitions. She wants to hear that cheering, she wants us, the mirror to tell her that she’s worth it. That’s what makes her so relatable even as early as the trailer itself.

Everyone wants to be told they’re worth something. That they’ve done a good job. Everyone wants just that one moment of satisfaction. That one thing that nobody can take away from them, because they earned that success themselves. That they are worthy of standing upon the worlds stage, accepted based on their own achievements.

In that way, Weiss resonates with that small part of humanity. We, the mirror she’s talking to, and we give her just that tiniest glimmer of hope.

Weiss looks out toward the audience and she offers her final bow. Her reflection is still there, a perfect mirror image upon the floor. Only she can see it. The curtains close, and the trailer ends.

It’s as if through the eyes of the viewer, she’s finally seeing her true self. The person she really wants to be. The person she can become.

The RWBY White Trailer is a showcase of characterization at its finest. A lot of fans claim that Weiss is one of the most interesting characters in the series, at least, on her own merits. I wholeheartedly agree.

In this trailer we’re given far more depth to her character than we ever saw in the RWBY Red Trailer. This trailer built upon everything we were told previously, and extrapolated upon them.

The thing is, Ruby’s trailer focuses more on factual information. For Weiss, her trailer is almost entirely emotional. The fight was in her point of view, and the song lyrics reflect that as well.

The song stands in a league of it’s own, the animation is absolutely fitting, and the fight is captivating from start to finish.

All in all, this trailer is my absolute favorite one in the early volumes. I love this thing.

However objectively, I wouldn’t actually say it’s the best trailer we received. No, in my opinion, that credit goes to the RWBY Black Trailer, featuring Blake Belladonna. It is the textbook definition of what a trailer should be. Join me next time as I cover Blake’s trailer. You don’t want to miss it.

Also be sure to check out some related content, in case you missed it before. Don’t forget to check out the page “All Things RWBY” to see all of our related RWBY fandom content.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

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Game Review: Silent Hill

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In the 90’s, survival horror began to become an iconic genre that spilled into the gaming market

People all over the world wanted to sink their teeth into something a little more bone chilling than the average shooter, platformer, or role-playing game of the time.

Game consoles of the 90’s such as the PlayStation could support better graphics, and PC gaming had been receiving plenty of its own horror classics for a while. Consoles needed to catch up, and fast. Thankfully, two types of horror franchises lifted from the shadows to meet this demand. Both of these titles hit the ground running, but they were vastly different in nature.

When 1996 came around, Capcom released Resident Evil. The horror title showed gamers just what they could hope for when it came to survival horror. It coined the phrase, and that successful effort would change the social sphere of gaming as we knew it.

Konami was hot on the heels of this new bandwagon, and they jumped into these new possibilities for gaming feet first. They aimed to make a game that could become Resident Evil‘s direct competitor. They knew this would not be an easy thing to do, as Resident Evil had cornered the market fairly spectacularly in the horror genera in one single game.

They wanted to create a cinematic game-play experience first and foremost. With this in mind, “Team Silent” was formed with a ragtag production crew. These were people with big ideas and bigger personalities. They didn’t necessarily fit the creative mold that others in the industry did, and that is why they were chosen. There was only one small issue…

The members of “Team Silent” had no idea how to go about making their new game. Horror games were not the staple that they are today. Survival horror was a newly coined term, and it was unknown territory. The team felt the weight of their task weighing down heavily upon them. They had the skills, but they had no idea how to apply that knowledge to a horror title. These once bright-eyed game enthusiasts began to become discouraged under the pressure.

Like many developers do, they began forging their own path. In the end, they ended up choosing a much more subdued narrative for their story. Something far more contemplative and vague than Resident Evil could ever be. All of their efforts eventually paid off, providing a game that split horror fans down two distinct paths.

Each path worthy in their own right.

While zombie fans had Resident Evil to keep them awake at night, others were hungry for something darker and thematically deeper. These fans had a different game to call a masterpiece. This game was known as Silent Hill.

As a gamer, it’s hard not to have heard of these two powerful franchises. While many consider both games it under the branch genre known as survival horror, Silent Hill is far from it. No, this game is without a doubt a psychological horror series.

Released in the early part of 1999, Silent Hill offered players a different type of experience.

Unlike its zombie infested distant cousin, this game provided a look into unsound minds, and along with it, a compelling narrative that wasn’t so simple to unravel. There are still questions left unanswered when it comes the lore of the game, meaning that new players to the series can still find it enjoyable.

With several games, decades of terrifying fun, and a spin-off movie, Silent Hill is by far one of the most fondly remembered franchises that requires a reboot.

For a while, fans even thought we were going to get that reboot when “P.T. Silent Hills” came out in 2014. It was a terrifying playable demo that has it’s own complicated story to tell.

I only wish to give it a brief mention here, because if I didn’t it would be a huge disservice to my love of the franchise, and everyone who worked so hard to bring fans another taste of the franchise.

Sadly, for many reasons, the reboot just wasn’t meant to be. Still, the legacy of Silent Hill, and the franchise as a whole, is something that should be remembered. Both for some of the best gaming in history, and some of the greatest failures later titles provided within horror as a genre.

Surface Level Shenanigans

It’s hard not to know at least a few fragments of Silent Hill‘s story. It may as well be a campfire tale, spoken with flashlights in hand while eating marshmallows with friends. Even so, the concept is effective for sending chills down any spine. The problem is, most of the story is left up to interpretation, and that’s by design. Silent Hill’s creator Keiichiro Toyama, made sure that the plot is as consistent as it is vague.

This writing style is a great way to spin fan-theories, and conjure about what goes on in the game. Unfortunately, since so much is left up to interpretation, and there are multiple endings, not everyone views the events of the game in the same way.

There will always be debates surrounding Silent Hill, and that’s the way it was designed to be. Just keep that in mind as I gloss over the very basic story.

There lingers a fictional town somewhere along the foggy shores of Toluca Lake. Within this small and seemingly insignificant location, a quaint little community resides here. One that probably fell on hard times and left forgotten about. It’s not likely one to attract a boat load of tourists any time soon, but something about that little town is compelling anyway.

As if the town has a voice of it’s own, it sings an almost sirens call. Unfortunate souls are attracted to this gloomy place. They find themselves wandering through a pit of dark truths, and murky discoveries. That sad, destitute little town, is known as Silent Hill.

You play as Harry Mason, a single father who’s on his way to Silent Hill for a small vacation. While driving at night, Harry swerves his car out of the way to avoid hitting someone that seems to be standing in the middle of the road. After waking from the crash, he notices that his daughter, Cheryl has gone missing. With snow littering the ground and fog thick in the air, he sets out to find her.

While Harry attempts to find his daughter, he wanders into the town. There he meets a police officer who attempts to help him, and eventually finds himself entangled in the dealings of a cult that seek to manipulate Harry for their own goals. As the game continues, players realize that the town of Silent Hill may as well have a life of its own.

However, all of that is only on the surface… The game has a deeper story… A darker one… I shouldn’t have to say this, but beyond this point, there will be spoilers.

A Town’s Sinister Tale

The above summery alone makes for a compelling story, but it isn’t the complete story. It’s not anywhere close to it. Instead, it’s a fabrication, made to lure the player in. Remember, this is a psychological horror game, and the story itself is intentionally vague. Nothing is as it seems.

I am now going to gloss over the actual story of the game, and if you haven’t played it before, you may struggle to keep up. This is not a simple premise, and it was never intended to be.

Contrary to what you might think given the details above, the story isn’t one about a father looking for his lost little girl. Even though you play as Harry, it’s not his story that begins to unfold as the player progresses.

Instead, Silent Hill is all about a little girl named Alessa.

This little girl was born into the town’s religious cult. This messed up collection of demon enthusiasts preach a far different bible story than usual. Apparently, the god they speak about returned to the heavens before the world was done being created. This ultimately lead to a flawed, and imperfect design. This god then promised to return one day.

The cult aim to speed up their god’s return the best way they know how. The crazy old lady, Dahlia is the current leader of the cult. She has the idea to use her own child as a means to do it. Unfortunately for Alessa, Dahlia isn’t just the cult’s current leader, she’s also her mother too.

Alessa has psychic abilities, and Dahlia believes that they can use that to impregnate her with god. Let me say that again. Dahlia, crazy person that she is, thinks that she can get her psychic daughter pregnant so that she will give birth to their god.

Obviously, it should come as no surprise that this plan fails spectacularly. The stress of the ritual forces Alessa’s powers to activate, causing catastrophic damage to Alessa, and her powers. During this messed up series of events, Cheryl is created. Once she is, Dahlia can no longer complete the ritual.

To make this explanation as simple as possible, the cult needs Cheryl and Alessa to reunite if they have any hopes to complete the ritual so that their god can be born. Alessa refuses to let that happen, and does everything in her power to keep the cult’s plan from coming to fruition.

Why does this matter? Simple, because the mechanics act as a metaphor for this story.

Everything in this game has mechanical weight that means something to the greater plot. For example, the story I just detailed above is the explanation for the “Otherworld” which is a commonly visited mechanic in the game.

After playing the game enough times, you can figure out that the “Otherworld” is merely Alessa losing control of her powers and her mind every now and then. When she does, her mind allows the darkest parts of her torment to seep freely out into the world.

The monsters that players see are physical manifestations of this poor girl’s suffering. The puzzles are tied to her intrinsically. When you look at the game through that lens, everything begins to come together and make a lot more sense.

Most of the characters are mechanical in nature too. The side cast carry the weight of monologue heavy diatribes. The few actual characters you run into are unstable at best. Some characters openly lie willingly, and others will merely offer a version of the truth. As I said before, the town itself might as well have a life of it’s own, and it certainly seems that way as each person you meet continually muddies those narrative waters.

Harry himself is merely the vessel the player uses to understand this sordid tale. Cheryl acts as the simple narrative device that new players cling onto as the story unfolds.

Intuitive Design Done Right

It would be easy to assume that since this is a horror title, that it would have game design that felt similar to Resident Evil. That assumption would be incorrect. While they’re both horror titles, the way they display that horror is vastly different.

There are a lot of the same hallmarks to horror series sprinkled in the game. Limited ammo, puzzles, and exploration are all part of the greater whole, but in very different ways.

At the time of the game, clunky controls were the staple for the horror genre. To some degree it is a hardware limitation of the time. They make a reappearance here as well. Thankfully though, it’s not as clunky in this game as its survival horror counterparts. I wouldn’t call them “tank controls” exactly. However, that said, running can be a chore on occasion.

Harry moves decently fast once you get him running, but you can’t always outrun every single enemy in the game. Some of the hallways are too narrow for the usual Resident Evil style bait and dodge. This means being prepared to stand your ground tactically. With this in mind, let’s discuss how to survive.

Weaponry isn’t just limited to guns and knives. There are plenty of objects to pick up and use as well, encouraging trigger happy players to take a different approach when it comes down to selecting weapons. Each weapon has its own “recharge” time, so to speak. Some weapons are faster than others, so learning how to time an attack is crucial to a successful enemy encounter.

Ammo should be saved for the larger fights, while other other items can be used to take down a lone enemy or two. Like Silent Hill‘s survival horror cousin, the best choice is to conserve weaponry and just run away when you can. However, because you can’t outrun everything, the average player will need a good stock of weaponry for those unavoidable encounters and boss battles.

As shown above and here as well, some spaces are tight and claustrophobic.

The camera accommodates this aspect well, adding significant tension to any environment. When it comes to the camera itself, it tends to be smooth and easy to control. No forcefully fixed camera angles here.

This allows for easier navigation, and comfortable coordination while in combat. There’s just one downside, it is a very a slow camera. This means anticipating where you’d like the camera to be is a skill players will come to learn quickly. The camera will move on its own to a decent spot whenever you enter a new area, and sometimes it’s best not to adjust it at all.

The concept of exploration is vast, and feels closer to an open world, at least for its time. It’s not as sprawling as an open world game is nowadays, but Silent Hill is a vast town, with plenty to explore.

The player is able to access a decent amount of the town fairly early in the game, allowing the player to stock up on supplies early and often. This is a double edged sword though. Stocking up early can give the false impression to new players that you will likely never run out of supplies, but it is very possible, and very easy to do so.

The game itself has a rather linear and set narrative direction. No side quests here, sorry. The game won’t let you venture too far from the beaten path. Once you’ve entered a building, that similar horror feeling will come flooding back to any players of Resident Evil. The hallways are dark, the areas are often crawling with enemies. Puzzle solving and key finding are the name of the game.

In general, exploration and backtracking are a bit more linear and laid out. A few doors in some locations aren’t meant to be opened at all. Silent Hill asks the player to traverse many locations around the town, so this “on rails” approach is slightly required. That said, environments can still be confusing to a newcomer. There are street names to remember, and fog to navigate. Thankfully, as Harry walks around Silent Hill, he’ll scribble things down on the town map. New players should check it early and often for clues and hints.

The “Otherworld” as Harry calls it, will crop up from time to time, and the player will have to navigate that too. While it might be the same basic area you’ve been wandering around in already, this world is darker, grittier, and different. Previously opened paths will be cut off from access, and monsters can catch the player off-guard if they aren’t prepared for encounters. Previously safe spaces are no longer safe, and this added element makes backtracking fresh and enjoyable.

The puzzles are difficult, hands down. This is one such puzzle, and one of the most iconic ones. Truthfully, it’s a very common puzzle to get stuck on. Silent Hill offered some of hardest puzzles that a game of its day could provide. They’re vast and several are multifaceted, offering vague hints and very little else. They’re not impossible though.

This puzzle here, is proof of that. It’s all about understanding the words that you read, and applying them to a broken piano.

To make it simple to understand, you just need to know three things. White birds are white keys. Black birds are black keys. Some keys are broken and don’t make a sound if you press them. Pushing the keys in the right sequence is how you solve the puzzle.

Puzzles can be solved without looking them up. The game offers you everything you need in order to figure them out. As an added little bonus, the puzzles actually mean something to the core narrative, so they’re not just made to slow you down. They’re made to progress the story in subtle ways.

Unbinding From Hardware Limitations

Silent Hill was praised for its atmospheric dystopia and unsettling visuals. In truth though, the game was designed this way was because it had to be. Due to the limitations of PlayStation hardware, the fog was added to keep everything from rendering all at once. The same could be said for the particularly dark backdrops. Less rendering meant a smoother experience, and faster loading times.

However, this too, became part of the game’s lore. The particularly dark backgrounds in parts of the “Otherworld” were explained by Alessa’s psychic powers. The thick fog that settled over the town was explained as being a product of the nearby lake. The occasional falling snow ties the dreary world together, and helps to make everything much more believable.

On top of that, for its time, everything looks awesome. The careful quality control of visible details were crucial. The game is immersive thanks to each and every environment. Combat is mostly fluid, and each area is truly a spectacle of what horror can accomplish if it is done right.

Characters feel fully realized, although in cut-scenes there can be odd moments when they don’t look quite right. Enemies are fairly disturbed and the horrifying placement of certain details do enough to make a player unsettled as they play.

When it comes to sound, the music is masterful. To me, it is probably the absolute best thing about the game. It is, in a word, iconic. I hear its music and I’m taken right back to the emotions I had while playing the game. Now later titles in the franchise certainly blow this one out of the water, but they were more advanced games, and had a much more powerful consoles at their disposal. With that in mind, the soundtrack to Silent Hill is everything we could have hoped for from Akira Yamaoka.

The voice acting is good, not outstanding, but the actors do their job. Rather, let me put it this way. The voice acting stands up far better than most in horror games of the time.

The only time characters sound weird, is when they should sound that way. It isn’t because characters have a sudden case of inexplicable constipation. Some of the characters are completely insane, and others just aren’t normal to begin with. The acting lines up with that, and really, that’s enough.

Final Thoughts

I do not consider Silent Hill to be a survival horror game. That is my passion when it comes to horror games, and I stand by the fact that it is certainly psychological, not survival.

However, with that said, I have nothing but praise for the original Silent Hill. This game is by far one of the most unsettling games to ever launch on the PlayStation. Furthermore, you’d be hard-pressed to find such a deep and immersive story anywhere else for its time. The story holds up to this day, and the music does too, even if the graphics don’t.

There’s only one reason I have for why a person shouldn’t play this game. It strictly falls down to players who aren’t horror fans. If they’re not, the game wasn’t made or tailored to them, and of course they won’t like it. They shouldn’t go near this thing, if that’s the case. It’s nightmare fuel, plain and simple.

Frankly, I’d say that horror fans who simply want gratuitous gore and simple plot lines should avoid this game too. Particularly if you’re a fan of modern horror that holds your hand and keeps complicated questions of morality to a surface level.

There’s real psychological torment to be found in this game. Abusive situations and trauma linger deeply within the core of the story being told. Silent Hill has gore too, but that’s not the crux of the game. It’s window dressing into the far deeper narrative.

For the rest of us, as in those who occasionally like deeply disturbed horror, this game is worth playing. The experience is unlike any other, and I don’t say that lightly. I could say the same thing comfortably about the first three games in this series. They’re experiences that you just don’t find everyday.

If you like a good horror game, this game is for you. If you enjoy going back to experience classic horror titles in the genre, this game is for you. If you are an absolute diehard fan of horror in gaming, these have to be on your shelf, or someplace in your gaming library. These games are unequivocally made for you.

The original Silent Hill is a true psychological horror game. I love it for that alone. Just like it’s survival horror cousin, Silent Hill has a place on my shelf. It’s earned that place, and all of the acclaim it has received over the years. It fully deserves every ounce of praise it receives going forward too.

It’s 2021 now, and it’s time to put that into perspective. This February, Silent Hill turned 22 years old. Think about that. In America, the game is old enough to have a beer if it wanted. As gamers, we can’t let this game slip into the forgotten corners of our history. It’s too paramount to be forgotten, too important to be bypassed and ignored by younger generations. It’ll slip into obscurity without passionate fans behind it, and that would be a crying shame.

My final thought is; play this game. If you even remotely like horror games with a bone to chew on, experience Silent Hill for yourself. Take the time and do it. It’s worth it. It’s that simple.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

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Kern’s Thoughts on Resident Evil Village

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I prefer to review series critically only after I’ve had time to look back upon it retrospectively. I like to have time time to play the game more than once, and let myself really sink into the core narratives and confines of the game as a whole.

Resident Evil Village is too new, and I’ve only played and beaten it once with plenty of dying and screwing up to say that yes, it is certainly a Resident Evil title in that way at least. Actually that’s probably the only way.

Anyway, this isn’t a review. It isn’t meant to be one. These are just some initial thoughts about the game, and my overall enjoyment of it.

I don’t know if I could call this game a masterpiece, but what I will say is that Resident Evil Village pushes boundaries I never thought it would. So, let’s dive into my thoughts, because god knows I have a lot of them.

This is mostly spoiler free. Nothing big will be discussed. Although I do briefly touch on a few things, you won’t be getting any deep details, so don’t worry about massive plot being spoiled here, you won’t be.

A Thoughtful, Captivating Opening.

Most Resident Evil titles don’t captivate me right out of the release gate anymore. Mostly, that’s because the series is too old to really give me a halfway decent bone to chew on. Usually I have to wait to I sink onto the meat of the game properly before I’m surprised by an opening.

This one did surprise me, and not just because it actually had a halfway decent recap of the events in Resident Evil 7. Though, because it was decent, there’s merit in that too. It told the Resident Evil 7 plot without getting too deep. It was easy to digest and simple to consume. It does strictly as it needs to, and nothing more.

Now, you’d expect that after this you’d dive into gameplay, but that isn’t what happened. What we’re greeted with instead is the truly astonishing part. Something that made me take two steps back. It was simple, but for the narrative it was compelling.

We got to listen to rather grim a fairy tale…

Typically, you only see things like this used in puzzles in the Resident Evil series. Survival horror as a genre likes to take fantasy elements use them to craft clues for puzzles or use them as incredibly vague item or enemy metaphor. Yet, we rarely get to see elements like this used as part of character development, or as a taste for a larger metaphorical narrative.

Fantastical music boxes, nods to classic novels, and other such tropes are usually only puzzles only. So it was super nice to see them pulling that key aspect into something greater than making a character merely interact with it. Instead of just getting some sort of key or clue, we get a greater poetic narrative of the game at large.

This opening primes the player, and through my entire play-through I was searching for those metaphorical hints that the opening provided. All-in-all it was a solid opening, and a great creative addition that deserves praise.

On Horror: Lacking/Poorly Managed At Times…

There are times it certainly looks like a classic Resident Evil game. However, it’s not even close.

The game took me about eleven hours to beat since I was taking my time, and occasionally dying. One thing that became noticeable to me at about half an hour into the game was I hadn’t received any meaningful tension to make me feel scared.

Sorry, spooky sounds and jump scares just don’t cut it. Around that time I was wandering around this spooky, snow covered forest filled with dead birds (one of them acting as a cheap jump scare), and subsequently the cabin in the aftermath that creaked and groaned but provided no real payoff.

Continuing to play the game, through more snow covered woods and several more homes (with plenty more mangled and dead animals to go rounds). It was a decent bit after that when I finally picked up my first knife and things actually became interesting.

All of this is to say that the game does have some very good horror elements, but sadly it also fails to manage them correctly at times. This leads to somewhat boring gameplay during certain stretches of time. Considering that many of the areas of the game feel like something out of the original mansion, I do take issue with that.

It just reminds me of how good horror can truly inspire fear, and how this game just can’t cut it in that regard.

Also, the gore itself was just occasionally hard to believe or immerse myself into. It was nearly bombastic at times, but the gratuitousness lacked reason or subtly.

Again, this would not have been an issue, if I had not been so thoroughly reminded of what subtle build-up can provide. That is an ongoing issue of this game. It reminds you of older titles, but never in a way that satisfies.

This style is particularly true early on, when some things weren’t explained yet. There is only one very noteworthy section of the game that is absolutely horrifying, but the rest of it is truly hit and miss for me.

Enemies: What The Hell?

No, seriously, what in the actual hell were the development staff thinking on this one? This goes back into what I was saying before about poor management of horror. The dude in this image, he is a miss.

Listen, I don’t mind when enemies get smarter and faster than your typical zombies. Chainsaw dude from Resident Evil 4 is without a doubt the kind of enemy that will make you crap yourself if you don’t know what to expect. However, when enemies that are half yeti, half zombie roar at me, I feel a distinct lack of chills, and a clear amount of agitation instead.

Come on, seriously? I wasn’t exacting this to be your typical Resident Evil game, but some of these enemy types are flat out stupid. They don’t scare me, they just make me wonder one simple question: what the hell? This goes back into what I was saying before about poor management of horror.

Unintentional Humor (Hands have never been so funny).

No image here, because I don’t want to take away from that moment. I have only one word for you….

“Good.”

That moment, which I won’t go into detail about, is the one genuinely funny thing is this game, far better than the likes of “Jill Sandwich” and other such campy dialogue, simply because it was not supposed to be funny.

Even so, I legitimately laughed out loud. Considering this has become something of an in-joke among players who know what I’m talking about, I have a feeling this moment will stand the test of time.

Looks Nice, Plays Decently…

I don’t want to show you too many enemies, because again this is mostly spoiler free, but look at this hallway. This isn’t even one of the more stunning moments in gameplay, I’m just running away a villain that’s behind me. I just wanted this image to prove a point. Let’s face it the only ugly things in this game, are the ones meant to be ugly.

Unless you’re super focused on everything looking absolutely sunning no matter what, you’ll have no problems here. Everything looks good (some wonky enemy designs aside), and it feels good to play Resident Evil Village.

I will say that I believe there are too many “chase” moments. I don’t understand why people can dislike Mr. X or Nemesis, and yet they enjoy running away from these constantly circling abominations. The sisters are a particular pain in the butt as a whole in my opinion. They’re just not needed. We already had one very compelling villain willing to chase you. Did we really need three cronies too?

It’s like out of a really bad anime, and don’t even get me started on the fact the woman in question might as well be Lust from FMA. Actually, that’s an insult to Lust, because I don’t care how well loved she is, I take extreme issue with Lady Dimitrescu, the reasons why will be details in her own separate post, because she is entirely offensive.

There are times aiming can be clunky, and first person view is the absolute last camera I want to be using, but those gripes aside, it’s a solid player experience. I wouldn’t say that it’s the best experience out there. Then again, it’s by far not the worst thing I’ve played either.

First person view is a major gripe for me, though. I just don’t like that style, and it’s becoming more common in horror games. Still, if they wanted to make more first person horror, why not revive the Resident Evil: Survivor series, or something? Remake those games and then add onto them, why not do that?

Why does it need to be in a main series title twice in a row? I suppose ultimately that is what I’m asking. Then again, you could argue Resident Evil 7 set the precedent, and that’s fine I suppose. To me though, it just comes down to personal preference.

Resident Evil 2‘s remake proved that you do not need first person camera angles to make a good Resident Evil game. Anyway, this first person camera thing, it’s just not my style. At least, not for Resident Evil, or horror in general. It pulls me out of the experience more times than not.

Not My Resident Evil…

Honestly, the game is good, it is very fun to play, but it just isn’t a typical Resident Evil title. It doesn’t feel like one, it doesn’t really play like one. Although I did enjoy the game, I won’t be praising it as heavily as I would other games.

The games looses brownie points for me because if you call it “Resident Evil” I expect to feel like I’m playing a “Resident Evil game”. I don’t think that’s unfair to expect.

I feel like this the game you’d get when you let BloodRayne have a very confused orgy with Resident Evil 4 and Outlast, without anyone knowing who the father really is. Aw hell, let’s just throw in uncle Silent Hill and aunt Clock Tower for good measure. See what I’m getting at? The identity of this game is hard to pin down, and it looses a great deal of charm that I’ve come to expect from the Resident Evil series because of that. I’ll explain more about that when I do a review properly.

The enemies don’t feel like something out of a typical Resident Evil game. Rather, it felt more surrealist in scope, or particularly high fantasy horror. Think something along the lines of Alice: Madness Returns. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, there is a time and place for those things. It doesn’t feel like Resident Evil when you include those fantasy elements to the degree Capcom did.

Again, that doesn’t make it a bad game. I just thought they would balance the setting and horror vibes more carefully, that’s all.

A lot of people compare this title to Resident Evil 4, but you know, I just don’t feel like that’s a fitting comparison either. Resident Evil 4 was certainly action packed, but it had a lot of truly creepy moments. This game doesn’t have that same creepy factor that I know and love.

You can’t really compare this to Resident Evil 7 either, because that game was super dark thematically. Way more than previous titles in the franchise. It was gritty, it was grotesque, and it was unapologetic. It glorified being disturbing to general sensibilities. Emotional abuse and mistreatment of the family dynamic runs rampant. Those qualities really upset some people, but at least Resident Evil 7 knew what it was. I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the lines it dared to cross, but at least I can respect it for understanding what it was trying to do.

To me, Resident Evil Village really jumped the shark. It’s not a scary game most of the time. When I play a horror game, I want to be freaked out, or at least mildly unsettled.

Resident Evil Village offered a thematically confusing, high octane experience. I really don’t care for that to such a large degree.

Now, there were moments that were actually unsettling or terrifying, but they were lightning in a bottle moments. They were not commonplace as I would have liked. I so rarely experienced the sort of tension required to be unsettled in the first place.

I wish I could say I loved this thing from start to finish, but I just don’t. It’s a good game, but for a Resident Evil title, it has earned itself a place in my mind of one of the worst in the franchise that I have ever played on the first run-through.

That being said, I felt the same about Resident Evil: Code Veronica and Resident Evil 5 at one point in my life, and they eventually grew on me.

If I pretend it isn’t a Resident Evil title, or at the very least pretend it is a spin-off, then the game is really damn good. Unfortunately, it’s hard to do that. You need a lot of the Resident Evil 7 backstory to even care about what happens to be going on. So let that ideology speak for itself.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are part for the course. I’ll see you next time. Be sure to join our other profiles for more great content.

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