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Numbered Review Scores Fail You – Brand Awareness

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Today I will be talking about a major fallacy in blogging: numerical scoring systems. If you enjoy content like this, be sure to follow our blog and our other platforms.

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I think I’ve only given a numerical value to the end of a review once or twice, and I hate the concept. Frankly, I really struggle with the idea of assigning any numerical value to my reviews. I think it does a disservice to the reader, and to myself the reviewer.

Why? Well… that’s complicated…

Reviews are as objective as they are subjective. It is a symbiotic relationship. I say that word a lot; symbiotic. When it comes to review blogging, so many factors are strictly reliant on each other. To overlook the ebb and flow of these details, also overlooks the meaning of what a review actually is. 

Critical thinking and personal ethos are paramount in a good review. Arbitrarily assigned numbers just don’t offer anyone justice. In certain review spaces we tend to forget that. We assign a number to movies, games, books or some other form of media.

In a way, it might even feel satisfying to assign a value like that.

Personally, I don’t find that satisfying. I’d bet a lot of your readers don’t either. If you have a low return rate on visitors, that could be why. They could just be looking at the number and then leaving. You could be losing more readers than you gain this way.

To look at why, we need to look at the bigger picture.

Binary Systems Fail Us All

The reality is, assigning a numerical value to something you have reviewed has no intrinsic meaning to anyone else. It only means something to you, the reviewer. Depending on your intended demographic, that can be seen as a pretentious action. 

You don’t built clout that way, you annoy people.

The gaming community, for example, actually hates numbers for scores on reviews. The vast majority either don’t care about the number, or generally assume that number to be meaningless. A select group actually find numbered review scores directly offensive.

In short: they only put up with them because the press sets the standard.

Many who actually read the reviews would rather find someone on a small site catered to them. When it comes down to reading a review properly, they want a reviewer that isn’t going to treat them like an idiot.

In the worse case situation, you may actually have a harder time building an audience by following a hard line numerical method. Sure, established hands do this all the time. I just mentioned that above. That is the key between the novice and the pro. The pros are established. 

Reviewers like that have either been around a long time, or they are writing for one of the big publications. Those publications generally maintain a particular content format. Bloggers need to follow that format for sensibility sake. 

Establishment doesn’t always breed competency, though. The old way is not always the best way… obviously. The fact is, establishment often breeds some level of complacency too. I’d argue numerical systems are a product of pure laziness and little else.

New bloggers need to be innovative. We need to know when an established method fails our readers. For the novice, the default assumption is that numerical values help to validate you. 

This isn’t true at all.

Unless you have a clearly designed system for your readers to understand, that number doesn’t mean anything. We don’t know what might be going on in your brain. Unless you refer your readers to a numerical chart for your reviewing method, they can’t even trust that you are being fair in your reviews.

There’s no innovation, only what some people call “asshattery”. No, I’m not making up that slang. It means exactly what it sounds like. You’re wearing your butt as a gloried top-hat, and you’d better stop.

Reviews are your opinions, nothing more… no review is sacrosanct, not mine, not yours.

Let me be clear: Hard numerical values on reviews have a place. However, that place is only for the strict and stringent review process. If you won’t do that, leave the numbers alone. 

Writing to be understood should always be your core ethos. We need to be honest with ourselves. My measure of a number won’t be the same as yours. It won’t be the same for our readers.

If there is no strict binary, you have no strict metric to measure. That’s why I said above that these numbers can feel exclusive and pretentious. It all comes down to “gate-keeping” ideology. If you want to be well-respected, wonderful. Just don’t inhibit new readers from joining in on the fun. 

Figuring out how to measure a binary system isn’t the only problem…

Reader Engagement

Do you want your readers to answer your “calls to action” with due diligence? If so, don’t give them an easy way out. Putting a number upon a carefully constructed review almost marginalizes the process.

Beyond that, in a way I would say that we infantilize our readers when we add one. We’re treating them like children. When we use numbers without a firm and strict system in place, we admit our own defeat too. I mean, okay… so you toss them a number, then what? 

We’ve just directly insulted ourselves, that’s what!

We have put countless hours of effort into a post only to inspire pure laziness in our readers. They can scroll to the end, read the number and leave without any effort or interest in you as a person… don’t let them do that. You are a person behind that screen.

You are allowed to expect your readers to treat you like the flesh and blood person that you are. You shouldn’t allow them to treat you like “content fodder”. You need to understand, readers who care will stay for you.

Your personality and your written cadence, will show in your writing. That is your personality, and it manifests into your content. Readers will connect with that aspect of your review directly. That is much too important to disregard.

Failing that, you need to at least prove you’ve got some skin in this game. How do you do that? Easy, you prove that by writing a review worth reading.

Most people will skim through your content to determine its overall value. This is true. However, you need to aim for the readers that won’t scan and bounce. Never mind the “bouncers”. By the way, a bouncer is a person who jumps in on a blog post and leaves quickly. 

The ones that stay, they will be your followers. They will be the ones to monetize your content. That fat paycheck you’re hoping for… the readers that stay are the ticket you need to ride. 

Get your readability score in the right range for your readers. Make the content interesting and mentally accessible to your core demographic. Whatever you do, don’t simply hand over the number, make them read the review.

Those of you that made it this far into the blog post, you are the people I’m writing for. You are the ones that I put my bets on. If I’m lucky, you’ll see that value, and maybe you’ll follow me.

That’s what you need to expect and want from your readers too. This brings me to my last point.

Brand Awareness and Rating Systems

Numbers don’t solidify your brand. It doesn’t give you an identity. It doesn’t make you relatable. If you absolutely must have a rating system, tie it to yourself in a relatable way… readers like that.

Plus, a reader is much more likely to remember that. If they remember you, they may come back and stick around.

A better option would be to come up with something looser in measurement too. For a good example, say movies, a loose system might be something like this:

Ingore it/Bypass it: For movies not worth their time
Stream it: For movies worth a single watch later when it hits the streaming platforms.
Theaters: For movies worth the box office price tag.
Buy it: For movies that belong on the shelves, collections, or constant viewing.
(Special rating here): For particularly special movies of your highest regard and acclaim.

For an example of a special rating, that’s where you tie in your brand awareness. This is where you place prestige without adding pretension. For this, I’m going to use an example that happens to me all the time.

When I have fog on the brain, sometimes I forget the YouTube channels that I really enjoy. People without memorable brand awareness get lost to the void. I may not find them again for months. On the other hand, a reviewer with firm brand awareness will be very easy to locate.

Here’s an example…

I think Glass Reflections is a wonderful channel. However, even if I don’t always recall his channel name in conversation, I always recall his very memorable and brand appropriate “Certified Frosty” rating. 

That rating sticks out in my head when his actual YouTube name doesn’t. I’ve mentally attached that rating to the reviews of his that I enjoy. That’s why I remember that rating and his catch phrase for it.

For him, that rating is reserved for only his absolute highest recommendations. Even the phrase sticks out: “For the best of the best, and anime too important too ignore”, I remember that off the top of my head every single time. 

 I can still find him by typing “Certified Frosty, youtube”.

 See? There he is, topping the engine. That’s what you want to do with your rating system. If you can add your own brand awareness into your rating system like Glass Reflections does, that makes you memorable. 

I’ll leave it there for now.

This has been Kernook from The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll catch you all next time. If I’ve been worth you time, drop me a follow. There’s more content like this coming soon.

End Post: See, even I have a catch phrase too, and those of you who frequent this blog know to expect it by now. That’s very intentional. I say it at the end of every blog post, at the end of most live streams, and certainly at the end of carefully edited YouTube videos. If you have a brand that crosses platforms too, this sort of consistency is paramount to your review style.

Embed yourself in your brand, make it part of your core blogging identity. You’ll be glad you did.

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 next time.

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Fandom: Emma Blackery

Hey everyone it’s Kern here. It’s time for another fandom related post. Obviously, these posts are all about the joy of fandom and cover topics that I’m a fan of. I decided upon another musical artist, it’s been a long time since I’ve written about one.

To be honest with you though, Emma Blackery’s musical talent is something I really should have brought up before. I absolutely love her music.

As a disclaimer, nobody solicited my opinion. Nobody offered me any sort of perk for writing about this artist. I have not met this artists personally. I have not seen her live, in concert.

I simply enjoy Emma’s music as found on YouTube and Spotify. That was my only qualifier that I found necessary in order to make the recommendation of Emma’s musical style.

If you would like to hear her content, I would advise that you follow the links to her YouTube channel or the songs I suggest below. She does plenty of other content over there too.

Artist: Emma Blackery – Emma’s Channel

If you know this artist at all, you may be aware that she’s done collaborative work in the past with Dave, from Boyinaband. That’s how I discovered her channel, in the first place. That was a long time ago though.

Emma has a range of vocal skill. Now, I’m no music critic so I won’t attempt to be one. I love it, that’s enough for me. There’s something about her style that’s so simple, yet, lyrically addictive. Her music will get stuck in your head if you listen to it enough.

I’m writing this blog post today because I’m eagerly awaiting Emma’s new single that she made a tweet about. I have to admit, I’m pretty hyped. Since that song isn’t out yet though, let’s discuss music you can already listen to.

I’d say look no further than “Agenda”. Why do I like it? This is snappy, upbeat, and very self-empowering. It’s the sort of song that I enjoy with the volume levels high as I do chores around the house or just in general. I relate to this song a lot. Hugely entertaining, and an all around good time, you can’t go wrong here.

Frankly, when I listen to an artist like Emma, I don’t resonate well with many of her deeper, more thoughtful pieces. Mind you, that’s just me. That isn’t a slight to her as a singer/songwriter. In fact, you may find that you like some of those tracks better.

I don’t dislike them, I just don’t relate as well personally to them. I just don’t have the same sort of life experiences that help me relate to it in the same way. I think that’s the key takeaway there.

If you do like music that tells a deeper story, I’d have to suggest “Don’t Come Home”. It’s a solid song, the vocals are brilliant, and the musical composition is nothing to sneeze at. I wholeheartedly recommend it because it’s just really good… but it is a bit sadder and introspective.

In the end Emma’s happier pieces, or those with an up-beat tone are the ones that draw me in the most. That being said, you should check out her channel and listen to her music for yourself.

One last song that I feel the absolute urge to add to this list, is Icarus. This song still brings me to tears to this day. Now the reason why it hits home for me is a personal journey. In my blog post “The First Brick” I talk about my cousin passing away and my life’s ambitions… what we always said we’d do… this song reminds me so heavily of those ambitions and my continued steps forward to reach them.

So, if you listen to nothing else… listen to that one… Icarus. If you like her musical style, support her, follow her on her platforms and jam out to that new single song “Cry to Your Mother” when it comes out.

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 next time.

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Gameplay: Spyro 3

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here, back with another gameplay video. This time we’re finishing off the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Want to watch the other games first?

Watch Spyro the Dragon gameplay.
Watch Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage gameplay.

As you can probably guess, the third and final game in this three part series is named Spyro: Year of the Dragon. Like the other two games that preceded it, the game was developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Insomniac would later develop Ratchet & Clank for the PlayStation 2.

This particular rendition is from the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in November 2018. Later in 2019, Microsoft Windows and Nintendo Switch would get their own versions as well.

Spyro: Year of the Dragon (Long Play)

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Like all games in the franchise, this one is a platformer. This time around Spyro and his buddies are celebrating the rare “Year of the Dragon”. According to them, this special occasion takes place when new dragon eggs are brought to the realm. You know how this goes. A big baddie comes to crash the party and the eggs are stolen. Spyro and his friends have to go and save the eggs.

If you’ve played a Spyro game before then you know what to expect here. Spyro: Year of the Dragon doesn’t make any huge changes to the general standard formula of its predecessors. Fly, charge enemies, breathe fire, Spyro is a dragon after all.

With bright world, mini-games, and Spyro’s signature style this is a wonderful game for kids and adults alike. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that it suits family friendly fun. For that alone it belongs in any gaming household that may have kids around. If platformers are your style, this is a good one.

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 next time.

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My Hero Academia Season 1 Review

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Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Today I’m going to begin my review journey through the My Hero Academia series. Some of you may know this title as Boku no Hīrō Akademia.

I’ll be starting at season 1. Over time, I’ll slowly move my way through all of them. Super hero anime quite like this one are particularly hard to find. It’s worth the effort to re-watch the series and gather my thoughts accordingly.

When it first released I was dubious. I wondered if the series would be another sub-par shounen romp. Thankfully, it really isn’t. Like most anime fans out there, I’m always searching for new anime to watch. While I certainly prefer older anime from the early 2000’s and the 1990’s, I jumped on the bandwagon for My Hero Academia fairly quickly.

I must say, I enjoyed season 1 for all that it had to offer. This 13 episode masterpiece won’t leave you hanging for more. There are plenty of seasons to pick up after you finish this one.

I don’t think I have to tell you that this series is worth the watch for any fan of the hero’s journey, which Deku, our main protagonist displays in spades. Really, I think that’s the most compelling part of this anime; Deku himself and the wider world he faces down.

We can thank  Studio Bones for its high value production quality and intelligent fights. That certainly helps a lot too.

The Basic Story

The world is dominated by two main types of people. Those with powers named “Quirks” and those who don’t have that power. The series is fairly utilitarian. It boasts the concept that a person should do what they most excel at to benefit the wider community. It isn’t a dystopian world though, far from it.

Our main protagonist is a run-of-the-mill guy named Izuku Midoriya, nicknamed fairly early on as Deku. That’s what I’ll be calling him from here on out, by the way, Deku…

This middle school kid has a dream to become a hero. There’s just one problem, Deku doesn’t have a Quirk of his own. Within the series, this excuse happens to be handled this pretty believably too. We get a solid medical explanation in a flashback scene.

During a doctor’s appointment Deku is told he’s absolutely unable to develop a Quirk. The doctor, almost cruelly tells him that he could never become a hero. Those around Deku tell him this continually, believing he should find a new goal in life.

This headstrong boy refuses to believe he can’t become a hero. He absolutely won’t give up his dream for anything. Now I’ve discussed the powerful storytelling found in Deku as a character. If you’re interested in that, check it out here.

The majority of the first season is about challenging the preconceived notions you might have about “hero shows” like this one. Deku spends his time facing adversity, his own mental struggles, and the preparation he needs to take in the power “One For All”. That particular Quirk belongs to All Might. After Deku proves himself, All Might decides to pass it on to Deku.

Note: Not all quirks can be passed on, but “One For All” can be.

Deku dives into his efforts head first at nearly every opportunity. He’s so engrossed in the training it takes to become a hero. You truly do want to root for him. The bond he makes with All Might is really a special thing. It reminds me heavily of Kakashi’s bond with Team 7 of the Naruto series. His role is almost paternal. This bond between them deepens from mentor and protege into teacher and student once Deku is accepted into the “UA” high school.

What makes My Hero Academia  knows exactly what story it’s trying to tell. It doesn’t deviate from the core themes. The series carefully balances humor with emotion, but the story is also tight paced and full of action where it suits. Better yet, the character conflicts hold their own emotional weight.

One of the best characters to facilitate the emotional conflict for Deku is Bakugo. He might come off as your average bully, but there’s more going on under the hood with this character for sure. Even early on, you can see that in spades. While Bakugo’s rage at Deku certainly feels a bit misguided at times, the emotional warfare feels realistic to the universe.

Yet, what would an action series be without stellar fights?

Animation

The animation won’t do you wrong. The combat feels weighty, the animation itself is very slick during the fights. The characters don’t “float” where there shouldn’t be any floating to their movements. All of the Quirks suit the characters well, even if we don’t fully understand the complete magnitude of these powers. Bakugo’s explosions feel bombastic. Todoroki’s ice powers feel layered and amazing.

Combat choreography isn’t something a screen shot can adequately depict. This is a series you have to watch to fully appreciate. I should call it raw magnitude. Well and truly, the fights are raw magnitude for a lack of a better description.

The attention paid to the tiny details really shows how much care the animators put into this series.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, this is a solid first season to a pretty good shounen anime over all. In my opinion, it’s also one of the best seasons because of how clean and concise it is.

There are so many anime in this genre that feel clunky or overdone. I promise you, My Hero Academia comes out of the gate strong. It doesn’t feel clunky in the slightest. Shounen anime often feel like a dime a dozen, but My Hero Academia feels like more than that.

The first season is only 13 episodes long, you could binge watch the first season in a single weekend with time to spare. The ending is wonderful too, paving the way for more great seasons down the line.

With the strong introduction of the main cast, and a few decent villains like Shigaraki, there’s a lot to like here. I often return to this first season for the tight writing, punchy characterizations, and compelling storytelling. If you haven’t seen this series, you probably should.

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 next time.

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Yes, Even a Novice Can Leave a Critic Review on “IMDb”

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. I’m back with a particularly quick post and a few little tips. This is just a write-and-toss, but I promise it’ll be of help to you.

So, you need eyes on your reviews, right? If you write reviews for the media that is already listed on IMDb, you’ve got to post it up in the critics section. I’ll show you how to do it.

First, let’s talk about why you should.

The Value of Trusted Databases

If you don’t know, IMDb stands for Internet Movie Database. A database means links and searchers. These are two critical things any blogger wants. You will find all kinds of shows, movies, and streaming media there. You can leave a linked review that takes a reader directly to your review.

The best part is, the approval process doesn’t take too long and the barrier to entry is particularly low. The big pros use IMDb to leave critic reviews, but you can too. This is important, you want to have your name up there with the bigger names. You want to be noticed and taken seriously.

When you share your links over on IMDb you give yourself a tiny edge in the analytics game too. People will search for things on Google and IMDb. Even if you can’t top the google charts just yet, this gives you another way to get your name out there.

Beyond that, you can use the database to find other bloggers like yourself. You can try to form friendships and network with them. Go read a few other critic reviews, leave a constructive comment on their post. Put yourself out there, get known.

All in all, IMDb does two things for even the most novice blogger…

Firstly: You to find people who’ve written content directly in your own niche. If you’ve both reviewed the same piece of content, you don’t get more direct than that. It hands you fellow reviewers on a silver platter, this makes it easier to find people working with similar genres.

Secondly: More links help you. IMDb is a trusted website by the masses.

With a little bit of research, we can see that IMDb has a global ranking of #58 at the time of this post. That means it is a very highly used website, and that makes it perfect for all of us. Pros and novices alike should be leaving our reviews in the critics section.

After you’ve written your review and shared it around, post it up there.

How To Do It:

This is super easy, anyone can do it. For this guide, I’ll be doing it with an anime. You can do it with all kinds of shows. If the media is on the site, you can leave a review.

Step 1: Go to IMDb. Make sure the media you’ve reviewed is on the website to begin with.

Step 2: Scroll all the way down until you see “edit page” button, and then click on it.

Step Three: It may ask you to make a “contributor account”. Go ahead and do that. It doesn’t cost you anything, totally free. I’ve already got a one, so I’m good to go.

Step 4: If you’ve got a contributor account, you’ll see a page like the one below with a lot of categories. Go all the way down to “Links to Other Sites”. There you’ll see “External Reviews”. Click on the drop down in that section. You’ll want to switch it from “no change” to “add 1 item”.

Then confirm the changes.

Step 4: Then you’ll be taken to the that you can leave your review. Put the link in the URL spot. For the description use your pen name, or the name of your website. Then click “Check these updates”.

It will take you to another screen asking you to confirm the updates you’ve made. If you’re good to go, then submit them. On their end, there will be a quick overview process. I don’t know what that is exactly, but as long as you’re not being completely disingenuous, you’re in the clear.

It should put your review through fairly quickly. On average it never takes me more than an hour to see my review posted up.

After it’s been posted, you’ll see your critic review added in that section along with all the others. Sometimes, you might review a series that doesn’t have any critic reviews at all. You can be the first one, just like I am here in this image.

See? It really is that easy.

Hip Shot: Don’t know what to write about? Here’s a prompt for you. Find a series with no citric reviews. Watch that series and then write your own. Share it on IMDb like I did with my review of A Little Snow Fairy SugarYes, I know that was a completely shameless plug. No, I don’t care. My point still stands.

Following Trends: If you click on the search menu for IMDb, you can find “Most popular movies” and “Most popular TV shows”. You can also see the top 250 movies and top 250 television shows. If you’ve suffered writers block, you’ve probably seen at least one of these. Find a short series or a movie, watch it and write your review on it.

Many of you can benefit from writing reviews. Even if they aren’t your main form of content, don’t overlook them. A review can provide a tangentially tied experience for your readers.

More importantly, a review can bank upon your larger backlog of content and bring in new readers. Reviews provide entry level content and simple accessibility, we need to remember that.

A few key demographics can really benefit from this.

Gamers:

Plenty of games are actually tied loosely to anime or live action movies. Sometimes you can get both. You can diversify your content by writing reviews about those series. This is particularly true for horror and the RPG/MMORPG/ARPG genres. Brawlers, you guys are in the clear too.

RWBY, Halo, World of Warcraft, Resident Evil, Walking Dead, Final Fantasy, Dragon Ball Z, Inuyasha, Naruto and even Mortal Combat has a movie.

Take advantage of these titles. There’s even more too, like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. It released just this year. I promise you there’s plenty more where that came from.

Use them…

Newbies in Celebrities/Politics/Sports/Hobbies:

When we love a hobby, we are likely to watch content based around that hobby. This is a no brainier. There are movies, shows and documentaries based around these things. Use them to gain early attention. If you’re new and unknown, grasp onto this kind of media with a vengeance.

This is a key aspect of diversifying your content. When you’re new this can be difficult.

Nero-divergent/Otherwise Able:

If you are a lifestyle blogger with a disability, see if there might be media based on that. You can review that series and provide a personal perspective as well. There’s something to be said about providing insight to these important topics.

Final Thoughts:

At first, blogging can be hard. Getting your name out there requires thinking outside of the box. Many people don’t realize how easy it is to get onto websites such as IMDb. They see the word “critic” and quickly become intimidated. It’s okay though, you don’t have to be.

Use all of your tools to get your name out there. Use every advantage. This is a free one, and it’s easy to do. Go ahead, give it a try and let passive views slowly flow in over time. In the meantime, keep putting your best foot forward. Work to get better and continue your endeavors as a content creator. In time, you will succeed.

That’s it for today. Was I of any help to you? If so, drop me a follow. You’ll be getting more tips and tricks for bloggers soon enough.

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 next time!

Fort

Hello everyone! It’s Demented Ferrets resident artist, Ruka. Welcome back to another “Universal Language of Art”

Today I will be talking a little about the history and the story behind this picture and why it’s so captivating to me.

Fort by Rukangle

This picture was taken at Fort Zachary Taylor located in Florida’s Key West Historic State Park. The fort was completed in 1866, taking 21 years to complete. The fort’s foundation consists of oolitic limestone and New England granite. Its five-foot-thick walls rose 50 feet above mean low water, and included two tiers of casemates plus a terreplein or barbette at the top.

There are three seaward curtains, 495 feet between bastions, each containing 42 guns on three levels. Each of them were augmented by a land-facing gorge. The troop barracks were built into this gorge with a capacity for up to 800 men. At either end of the barracks was a large gunpowder magazine while a Sallyport was located in the center, connected to land by a 1200-foot causeway. Rainwater was collected in underground cisterns along the perimeter of the fort.

It served as a deterrent for confederacy ships during the Civil War of the United States and was a stronghold in the Spanish-American War in 1898. Today, the forts hold a large variety of preserved weapons and have the largest collection of Civil War cannons in the United States.

Now, I am currently trying to get my B.A in History. When I think about what makes me want to study something that for many would-be considered boring, it comes down to my love for people, art, and architecture that really brings it all together.

Learning the stories behind places and the reasons why they still stand is a psychological part of its people. What it was and how it has evolved through the years, is also part of that wider culture.

This fort also brought back memories of my childhood, and they have nothing to do with this particular fort. Rather, they have to do with the one on a small island in the Caribbean. That one is called San Felipe del Morro Castle, located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Now I’m not here to give you all a history lesson or anything like that but places like these really make me want to just let go and explore its wonders with childlike eyes and a need to understand what happened there and how it still stands. (Of course, they would give yearly maintenance and all that. )

Yet with this fort, there was an interesting play of lights and shadows. Every corner was a play of what could be behind this archway, would it be more beams of lights or would it be more shadows? This play created some confusion but for an artist, it was a great source of contrasting lights. If you look closely we can distinguish each path and this includes the ceiling. It shows you how the support columns and ceiling round themself to make a tunnel-like structure to be able to support the artillery and all the men that were responsible for its defense. In a way, it can get a bit creepy and I do have another photograph that shows a darker side of the fort where it’s colder and there was almost no light coming thru.

It was a good time and we had fun exploring, learning, taking pictures, and having a piece of the ceiling fall on me while taking a picture, witnessed by multiple people, to me was a testament to how old the place was really is. And could you imagine, that dressing up as a pirate and running around the fort while being chased by confederate soldiers would be amusing, would it not? So, if you guys have any questions comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.

Until then, if you like this content, please consider supporting us on Patreon, and follow us over on our Twitch channel for gaming-related content, where I make an appearance via chat.

Well like always, this has been Ruka of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you around! Until then please be sure to check out our other content below.

The Simpsons Season 1 Retrospective Review

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. When I think of influential television shows, The Simpsons comes to my mind instantaneously. I wanted to discuss the first season, so that’s what I’m going to do.

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Honestly, I doubt that The Simpsons even needs an introduction at this point. It’s hard not to know of this series. With fifteen separate dubs and nearly thirty subs, The Simpsons stands right up there with some of the most prolific shows of our modern age. When it comes to worldwide appeal in the animation space, this series is something of an enigma.

Plenty of cartoons are, sure enough, but The Simpsons wasn’t exactly intended for children and it sits within an odd middle ground. It isn’t a Japanese anime, it’s not your average American cartoon, either.

Rather I should say that it didn’t used to be an average one. Back in the day, the series wasn’t directed at family friendly viewing. It just wasn’t so egregious that you need to slam the television off the moment a small child walked into the room. It’s no Family Guy or South Park in that way. It just wasn’t intended for children and appeared on a network and time slot that children wouldn’t gravitate towards.

The Simpsons got a start on the Tracy Ullman Show back in 1989, when the Fox Network wanted to appeal to young adults in the late teens and early twenties. My memories don’t actually include that, it’s just hard to be a Simpsons fan and not know that crucial little detail. I was also born in 1989. As you can probably guess my earliest memories of the show happened during my early childhood in the 90’s.

I remember The Simpsons as its own separate series. I grew up with it because my family watched it, thus I did too. I’d suspect many of you out there are the same as me.

In 1990, it began airing regularly as its own separate television show. The first season is about as messy as you can get. It was a new thing back then. Animation of the era, particularly american cartoons were sometimes questionable at best in terms of art style and quality. The Simpsons as a show wasn’t really any different.

Matt Groening, the cartoonist and creator of The Simpsons deserves his own separate blog post, but the key thing to note is that he wanted to put a lampshade on what a real american family was at the time. With his finger on the pulse he managed to do just that.

I don’t think any Simpsons fan would disagree that season one has a strange feel to it. It’s both a classic to television history, just as it is a complete and total mess by today’s standards. As a series in its infancy though, it was very well-liked and highly regarded. The distinctive feel of the early concepts we know and love today were just beginning.

These days if you were to look at the first season without context, it would be like walking into a bizarre world.

Waylon Smithers doesn’t look like this anymore. He’s yellow, like a large majority of The Simpson cast. I think it just goes to show how much the series was still in its infancy.

It’s funny, because when a lot of fans are “purists” about something, they’re usually referencing the earliest seasons. However, when it comes to fan of The Simpsons the idea of a “purist” usually refers to slightly later seasons, when characters began to feel fleshed out and the animation quality became stable.

Generally speaking, you either love or hate The Simpsons in the first season, or you just don’t remember the first season at all. Really though, I just can’t fault anyone for that. This animated series had a lot of bumps and bruises along the way to being the cultural icon as we know it today.

High Concept, Low Execution

The Simpsons was closer to a sitcom rather than it was a children’s cartoon, and that was by design. The colors were chosen to be bright and catch the attention of channel surfers, but despite the brightly colored characters, this was never meant to be for kids.

The characters themselves were generally down to earth when they needed to be, however the animation was experimental and occasionally that resulted in a total mess. While real character focused stories often took center stage, the scenes with a lot of characters on screen at once made for something of an eyesore.

If you look closely at almost every crowd shot within season one, you’re going to find a goofy little thing or two. It’s good for a small chuckle, I’ll give it that. This particular moment of unintentional hilarity comes from the episode Homer’s Odyssey. If you look carefully, you’ll see that it looks like two guys are either joined at the skull or they’ve freakishly snapped their necks.

I’m not sure if the creators intended it that way, or if it was just an accident. Either way, the first season of the Simpsons is absolutely bursting with moments like this. This is honestly one of my favorite ones to point to because it’s just so goofy that I easily remember it.

However, it wasn’t the animation that kept us viewers glued to our seats. The show almost always had something interesting to say. You see the thing is, The Simpsons portrayed a typical American family. At the time shows didn’t like to display families that were dysfunctional at best and absolutely downright awful at worst. The Simpsons refused to shy away from dysfunction. In fact, nine times out of ten, real and direct family dysfunction was the centerpiece.

The usual concentric focus of family related sitcoms get put under a looking glass where temptation and personal character failings demand attention too. While Homer and Marge do have a loving relationship, and arguably a more stable one, the failings of the romance still shows through plainly.

They can discuss marital issues, such as Homer going to a stag party and make notes of objectifying women with an earnest bent. The theme of the episode aside, in Homer’s Night Out the series still maintains the close family bonds that the family struggles to keep close at hand. The party itself is one thing. However the deeper theme is about how this impacts Bart’s view of women and Homer’s ability as a father to correct that.

Every episode is handled with similar attention paid to family drama and muddling their way through life. The same holds true for all the characters, although here in the first season we get more Homer or Bart related stories than anything else. They monopolize half of the episodes to stories centered around at least one of them.

Since the first season is only 13 episodes long, that’s a pretty large monopoly of screen time for these two characters. Although, I have to admit, that was probably a solid decision. These two characters certainly add a larger measure of flair to the family dysfunction.

We shouldn’t overlook the fact that the other family characters still get a large portion of screen time too within these focused stories. There’s a lot to be said about Lisa and Marge getting great early character development because of the stories that were told.

There’s a real sort of emotional focus upon the actions these characters take, and what impact it has on the family unit. We can have moments of Bart and Lisa arguing about who loves their father more, only to then have the joke subverting our expectations.

That’s not to say every episode hits it out of the park, or even manages to flawlessly get its point across. Many times, The Simpsons isn’t able to do that. What it can and does do flawlessly is leave the viewer with a loose ethos of what the series tried to represent. It asks you to either take it or leave it, and it doesn’t particularly care what you do with it.

The show is full of parody and satire culture, along with hot button issues of the era. You didn’t have to like the show back then, you just had to take notice of it. The series wasn’t trying to be a mindless popcorn viewing for the masses. Even though you could do that and enjoy the show just fine as it was, The Simpsons refused to be ignored either.

It gracelessly showcased the often questionable cultural identity of the white American family when “proper” sitcoms of the day hesitated to do strictly that. Homer was not the perfect father figure or husband, Marge while supportive was often short sighted, and the children were merely that; children. Bart was the wayward hell-raiser, and Lisa was the intelligent, if mischievous little artist. Maggie was the baby back then, clearly a very smart one, but she hadn’t come into her own as a character just yet.

There was a lot to unpack if you cared to, and many people did. The series was relatable, and that meant a lot.

Does The Simpsons Season 1 Hold Up?

Yes… surprisingly so, actually.

The Simpsons still continues on today, even though many fans often think the series has been milked for all it can be worth at this point. It lives on anyway. Perhaps it is a bit geriatric these days, lacking the more pin-point accurate depiction of what a microcosm of America should look like. However, you can look back on the first season of The Simpsons and find a relevancy there that hasn’t quite gone away.

Yeah, it looks dated, sure it does. The animation is a bit goofy looking sometimes. The series is over thirty years old, give it a little bit of slack there. It might not be perfect, in fact I’d say the show is very flawed. In a way though, that was the point.

The Simpsons should feel flawed. It should feel off kilter and askew while still feeling entirely relatable, and that’s exactly how season one feels even to this very day. Be it school yard woes and the topic of bullying, or martial problems and the struggles of faithfulness, there’s downright honesty to be found here.

It is satire, meaning it’s never too dark, or too gritty. There’s a humor and a light to be had at the end of the darkest moments. However that darkness pervades a little too. At the end of the day, the series has a lot of heart and soul embedded deep within every episode of this first season.

It can be funny and it can be dumb on occasion. No matter what though, it will always be astoundingly honest with you, the viewer. The Simpsons has a first season that doesn’t quite know what it is, and its beginnings are as humble as they are unsteady… but, well… we wouldn’t have so many seasons of the show, if it hadn’t started someplace.

If the series is a cash cow still to this day, then we only have these early seasons to thank for it, this first one most of all. That start really isn’t half bad even nowadays, either.

It truly is worth the watch. Even if you’ve already seen it, go back to the very start and get yourself a good dose of nostalgia. Enjoying the good old days every now and then really isn’t as much of a sin as we all make it out to be.

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 next time.

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Script RWBY White Trailer Analysis

Hello everyone, it’s Kernook here, and it’s time for my RWBY White Trailer analysis. This is not to be confused with my review of the trailer. That is a separate video.

To our patrons; thank you for supporting this content. For those of you who aren’t, and enjoy content like this, videos like these take time to produce, so if you like this content, please help to support it.

Before I begin, I just want to make it clear that this is not the first video production of my analysis series, and there is other content available. There was a lull in making these videos as they take time to make, and I was super slow with them for a larger number of reasons. That being said, the RWBY Red Trailer Analysis and the RWBY Red Trailer Review were completed some time ago, and these two blog posts each come with video content as well.

Kern’s RWBY Red Trailer Analysis

The RWBY Red Trailer does strictly what it sets out to do. It introduces us to Ruby Rose, a young huntress-in-training. In that regard it stands out with flying colors. With that said, let’s dive deeper.

Kern’s RWBY Red Trailer Retrospective

In my analysis post, I stated that the RWBY Red Trailer does strictly what it sets out to do. I stand by that. It doesn’t fail in its goals, not even slightly. It’s just not perfect, either. Then again, nothing really is, so let’s dig into this thing.

At the time though, admittedly, I was still figuring out my personal style at the time. Due to that, you’ll notice a lack in the quality of those older videos compared to the video that I have for you today.

RWBY White Trailer Retrospective Review

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.

In any case, after those two posts were complete, I slowly moved onto Weiss Schnee and the RWBY White Trailer Review. From this point on, I’m going to assume you have some insight into the RWBY series, and that you’ve watched at least the first volume.

If you haven’t done that, go watch the series. It is free on the Rooster Teeth website. As always, please support the official release.

You can either read the blog post or watch the video. I hope you enjoy this trailer analysis.

RWBY White Trailer Analysis

The video production of this particular blog post.

Previously, in my RWBY Red Trailer analysis, which can be found on this blog here, I stated that the RWBY series has a lot of themes embedded deeply into the subtext of the narrative. That despite the many flaws within the show, there rests a much deeper and compelling story than you’d find on the surface. Fan theories take on a life of their own, and perspectives on the show are as vast and deep as you can imagine.

Therefore this is only my take on the series. I don’t expect you to agree with everything I say, and I don’t consider my viewpoint to be the end-all, be-all interpretation of the show. This is only how I’ve interpreted the series, so please bear that in mind.

With the mindset that hindsight in the RWBY series really is of utmost importance, let’s go back and study all that the RWBY White Trailer has to offer when it comes to understanding Weiss Schnee. Before we do that, though, we must reflect upon a few lyrics found in the RWBY Red Trailer. It is absolutely paramount to do so, because all of the trailers build upon one-another for the greater narrative.

I’ve stated before that Ruby’s trailer is a simple view of the world. A nutshell, if you will. The lyrics that reference Weiss in the song Red Like Roses state this:

This is the first real interpretation we have of Weiss. Furthermore, this is a very apt description of the RWBY White Trailer and the themes of the RWBY series in regards to Weiss Schnee. Moreover, it allows us a lens upon which to view the RWBY White Trailer. You couldn’t get more obvious about that unless the creators beat you over the head with with the concept using Nora’s hammer, but I digress.

So, here we are then, in the RWBY White Trailer, and one such royal test is playing out in plain view. Weiss is on stage, and she’s about to sing a song, all while facing up against a rather formidable opponent in her memories. Her introductory character song is named “Mirror Mirror” which is more than a little fitting.

In my RWBY White Trailer review, I mentioned the fact that the song almost breaks the fourth wall. That Weiss seems to be speaking to us, the viewers as if we were the mirror in question. When I said this, I was using the lyrics as a basis for this assessment. At the time of this trailer, we have no voice acting. The song composition and battle mechanics were all that we had to go on.

Using the ethos that the trailers help to train the viewer to really enjoy the RWBY series to the fullest, subtext is the foremost tool that a viewer can use to dig into Weiss this early on.

So, let’s dive into the lyrics of Mirror Mirror, and how they apply to the greater narrative properly. The song begins with a soft and gentle melody along with these lyrics.

Mirror, tell me something,
Tell me who’s the loneliest of all?

The question is melancholic and gentle. At first, we can assume from this that Weiss is talking down to her reflection that stands upon the stage, her mirrored image. However, the lyrics then repeat and extrapolate further.

Mirror, tell me something,
Tell me who’s the loneliest of all?
Fear of what’s inside of me;
Tell me can a heart be turned to stone?

By this point, the song has reached a sense of urgency both in musical composition, and lyrical narrative. It is now almost bombastic compared to how the song started. At this point Weiss is reflecting on a battle she once had to face down, likely in recent memory.

It is at this point that we can begin to dig deeper into the content. We can begin to think outside of the box. I’ve always taken this to mean that perhaps Weiss isn’t speaking to her reflection at all, but rather the audience that she sings to. We viewers can be seen as part of that audience she performs for. These questions are abstract, but she’s asking for an answer.

This is a constant theme all through Volume 1 for Weiss Schnee. She is a teenage girl, standing in a place between her dreams and expectations. Aspirations melting under the weight of what she knows to be cold hard reality. The two cannot stand as equals. She often demands answers from others to find out what the truth really is.

A few key examples would be in Volume 1. Firstly, when she asks Professor Port why she shouldn’t be the leader of her team. Secondly, when Weiss and Blake fight in sections of the show such as “The Stray” or the “Black and White” finale in Volume 1. Weiss prefaces all of her moral questions with opinions, but really validation is a secondary goal in most of these cases. She’s looking to find a deeper truth hidden beneath what she finds to be mere conjecture.

Weiss isn’t always successful in her search for answers, but the context here gives us good reason for why she so easily comes to accept both Blake’s existence as a Faunus, and Professor Port’s rebuttal about leadership. People often say that having Weiss so readily accepting Blake at the end of Volume 1 was poorly handled, but as we can see, the subtext was here from the start.

If we look at this song from the viewpoint that Weiss is singing to us directly, and that we are the metaphorical mirror in question, then we are seeing the real person buried deep beneath the Schnee family mask. What we expect of her as a Schnee cannot live up to the reality, because she has no desire to act and think in such a way to begin with.

The next part of the song contains haunting operatic vocals, and while this is wonderful for atmosphere, it adds a context for Weiss as a person. We can see the true struggle that Weiss has within herself. The singing here is as delicate as it is strong. A tone that fights with its own duality. This could be seen as a window into the moral questions that Weiss wants answers for. She’s an inquiring mind, she demands these answers, they’ve just never been given in a way she can truly accept. There has always been something missing for her.

Continuing on, we have even further proof of her unanswered questions. The next set of lyrics give us insight to this, and once again there is an urgency here. The lyrics go like this:

Mirror, mirror, what’s behind you?
Save me from the things I see!
I can keep it from the world,
Why won’t you let me hide from me?

This, once again certainly reflects the struggles Weiss will face in Volume 1 surrounding her teammates, her academics, and her goals as a huntress. Her teammates and Professor Port will challenge her birthright given authority. Blake’s heritage as a Faunus will challenge the conjecture of the victim-hood Weiss carries around like a shield.

She sees the world in a way that terrifies her, it isn’t a safe place. She can’t trust it. She wants to, desperately so, but in these lyrics we see a terrified little girl screaming out at the world. A little girl that likely grew into what she became when Weiss decided to become a huntress. In this way, Weiss and Ruby are very similar.

While Ruby’s lyrics in Red Like Roses seems to compare herself with the world on a surface level, Weiss seems to use the lyrics in “Mirrior Mirrior” to pull that world inward. A reflection of it within herself that she cannot break free of. She is a product of her upbringing and she knows this. With an incredibly high intellect at her disposal, she can see the true nature of her own cruelty. She isn’t blind to it, and she even hates it. To a point, you may even say she hates herself.

However, to get rid of the qualities she dislikes about herself, would put her at risk too. She is more at peace with the things she doesn’t like about herself, than she is with the idea of letting them go.

She asks can a heart to to stone, after all? Can she hide from the darkest parts of herself?

That is the larger question, but for her narrative, the answer is no. She cannot be an unfeeling person, and despite herself, she isn’t a hateful person either.

She isn’t a bigot, even if it would be easier to simply hate Faunus. She distrusts them, but she doesn’t hate them. For her past and her upbringing it would be easier to see herself as superior because she is a Schnee. She knows there is no joy in that for her. There is no solace for a person who cannot find the greater good beyond the darkness of the world.

Weiss knows that, and it scares her.

Finally, we go back to the core question that Weiss has in the next set of lyrics. The selfsame question that began the whole song to begin with. We get one last repeat of the lyrics:

Mirror, mirror, tell me something,
Who’s the loneliest of all?

Weiss can only wonder this, because loneliness itself is a burden that cannot be understated. The trials and tribulations of Remnant are not things that characters should face alone. Be it the Faunus plight, grief, homelessness, the Grimm themselves, or so many other factors, it really doesn’t matter. Those struggles are not solitary fights, and in solitude they tend to end badly.

Even in the real world, the mindset Weiss keeps before the events of Volume 1 is impossible to uphold. You cannot discover yourself as a person without discovering the ideologies that best suit your personal ethos. To expect someone to forge their own path alone, with very little help at all, forges an echo chamber of negative thoughts. This cultivates dangerous biases that have to way to be challenged.

Weiss is isolated due to the way she sees the world, and those circumstances are not simple or easy to navigate. Doing so alone, as she feel she has, only complicates the issue. Letting go of her stringent upbringing and narrow views would bring Weiss validation, and a sense of belonging.

We know this to be true, and see the reality of this come to fruition in her later volumes and character songs. However, for now that fruition has yet to happen, and the song ends on these final lyrics:

I‘m the loneliest of all.

This is a statement, not a question, not this time. This means that she is telling us what she knows to be fact. She is lonely, she doesn’t like the person she is becoming. She doesn’t want to be this way, and if there were a way to change herself, she would. This is evidenced by all of her key character progression in Volume 1.

These are hard won battles for Weiss, no different than her hard won battle with the knight that leaves a scar on her face. It never comes easily for her. She had to relinquish blood, sweat, and tears to reach that victory, and in volume 1, she will go through that turmoil again.

In order to shape herself into a better person once more, she has to. That is the path Weiss really wants to take. In the depth of these questions, she knows continuing on as she is won’t make her happy.

We have one final clue to all of this insight, and it is found within the quote at the beginning of the trailer. It says this:

It is here that we find that direct line of sorrowful ideology. Weiss stands her ground in every emotional and physical fight she gets into during volume 1, but here we see how she really feels. In this quote, we see that she never thought Blake’s ideologies regarding Faunus to be something pointless. She never really though Ruby to be a lesser person. Instead, it comes down to one simple concept.

To Weiss those fights are worth having. Anything that matters at all, is a thing that matters enough to fight for, and to fight hard enough to win. This is why she continues pressing Blake about Faunus. To Weiss, fighting the matter out helps her to understand. That she eventually stands down in these arguments proves that she begins to understand the heart and soul beneath the battles.

To both Ruby’s leadership and Blake’s heritage, Weiss accepts these outcomes because they fought so hard for it. That they too, sought validation they way she does. That they too, while emotionally wounded, needed someone to listen.

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Weiss chose to listen, and in turn she finds a place to belong.

She finds her implied commonalities, because her teammates are not so different from herself. In the early volumes of the RWBY series, it all really comes down to the heart of the matter. For Weiss her strongest content and progression really comes down to teammates most of all. When it comes to fighting for ideologies in Volume 1, they are her strongest allies and adversaries. In later volumes, Yang plays a much larger role her progression particularly in volumes 2 and 3, when Weiss begins to act more carefree, and starts to take every day as it comes, an ideology that Yang seems to teach her. All of this is buried within everything the RWBY White Trailer has to offer.

This is why I say that Weiss’s choice at the end of Volume 1 didn’t come out of left field. It wasn’t abrupt. It wasn’t mishandled. It had no need to be extrapolated upon, because it was all here from the start. The subtext speaks loudly, nothing has gone to waste when it comes to outlining Weiss and her future among her team.

At the end of her trailer, she sees a glimpse of her mirrored image, and what she is capable of. For us, the image is blurry, but Weiss probably sees it clearly. She will ask the world her questions, she will demand answers. She will forge a new path because of them, that isn’t a spoiler, that’s simply her determination as a person at play.

It isn’t that Weiss wants the answers to her questions to be satisfying, it’s that she wants to know the truth. She can handle the truth, if it’s honest. We see this in all of the volumes. This is a character trait that never leaves Weiss, not even as late as Volume 8. Once she knows enough to get by, she leaves the inconsequential details by the wayside.

In volume 1, this culminates in her two largest arguments. Blake is no longer in the White Fang, and does not support their violence. Ruby is doing her best as a leader. Those facts are the ones that matter. When Weiss states that she doesn’t care to get into the finer details, that is honesty too. In truth, she doesn’t need to know them right then and there.

The fight was worth having, the insight she gained was enough.

Weiss is many unflattering things in Volume 1, but she is also honest. Even if it is sometimes to the point of cruelty. That she expects this same sort of honesty offered in return is something I will dive into when I dig into the meat of Volumes properly.

For now, this is where I leave the trailer. There is more to speak upon regarding Weiss. Her contradictions and flaws linger deep in the subtext, but I need to dive deep into the volumes to explain that, and those are other videos. In my next analysis, I’ll be covering Blake’s trailer analysis, so I hope to see you there.

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 next time.

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You can help support us through PayPal or Patreon.

Meanwhile, check out some of our other great content below. You can also find more information about supporting us at the bottom of this post.

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. If you don’t care for Patreon, and don’t care about perks, you can always support us through PayPal too… links below.

Those who join via Patreon get special perks, such as extra content, quicker updates, and more.

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To Our Supporters

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Patreon Supporters:
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Anime Review: A Place Further than the Universe

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here with another anime review. Today I’ll be discussing A Place Further than the Universe.

Looking back, the year of 2018 was a very strong year for anime. We had amazing contenders in the anime line-up every season, with plenty of content to choose from. From series like Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online to Cells at Work! and My Hero Academia Season 3, it was difficult to pick and choose what anime to watch that year. There were just so many solid choices to pick from that it was hard to go wrong.

One of the most notable anime of that year is A Place Further than the Universe. It’s also known in Japan as Sora yori mo Tōi Basho. The series was released in January of 2018 and finished around March of that same year. Written by Jukki Hanada the series started off on a strong foot for that alone.

For those of you who may not know,  Jukki Hanada also did the writing for such anime as Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl and the 2011 Steins;Gate series.

A Place Further than the Universe was directed by Atsuko Ishizuka, who is also known for his work on the design production and storyboard for Monster. That’s another anime I’ve reviewed on this blog, and find it to be one of the best classics that anime has to offer. As far as his directing skill is concerned, you may also know him from such anime as The Pet Girl of Sakurasou and No Game No Life.

Monster – You Have To Watch This Thing

What you can expect is a story that is very well written, with characters that are as multidimensional as any anime could ever offer. What you’ll find here is a truly mature anime. It is one that is certainly worth your time to give it a try.

I’m hesitant to say that A Place Further than the Universe ticked all the boxes for me. I deeply enjoyed it, but it would never make a top ten list for me. I’ll explain why near the end of the post. For now what you need to know is that the series is certainly noteworthy and you shouldn’t bypass it. If you like cute girls and slice-of-life series and you haven’t seen this anime, go watch it.

To me, this anime is required viewing, because it sets the baseline of what a serviceable anime really needs to be across the board. I think I just don’t hold the series to quite the same level of prestige because 2018 was such a strong year to begin with. It was an amazing year of anime, hands down.

If you doubt that, you were either under a rock that year, or you missed out on some really solid series someplace. Alright then, with that out of the way, onto the meat of this review.

The plot is simple enough, I suppose. Four girls, one big journey with a slice-of-life feel and a coat of cut girl paint. You have a character named Mari Tamaki. She’s a second-year high school student who wants to make the most out of her youth. The thing is, she’s a bit of a coward and she’s usually too afraid to step out of her shell. 

One day, she meets Shirase Kobuchizawa, someone much more brave and with big ambitions. She’s been saving up to travel to Antarctica. It isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s a goal with emotions attached, since mother disappeared three years ago. These two characters are eventually joined by two other girls, Hinata Miyake and Yuzuki Shiraishi. These four eventually make their way to the Antarctic.

It’s a simple series, with simple elements. The plot itself isn’t contrived, thankfully. It isn’t bombastic and it isn’t flat out stupid. What is very nice about the show is that it has 13 episodes. That’s just long enough to tell this story in a fulfilling way. The series doesn’t overstay its welcome and it doesn’t draw out nonsense plot elements to the extreme.

Honestly, I’d say the series could have used a few more episodes, even if just one or two. It is a packed series from start to finish. That’s a good thing, a very good thing. You’ll probably be left wanting for more after the series concludes and I think another episode or two would have given it just a little more room to breathe. Honestly, even without extra content, this series stands as a hallmark of a great anime.

When you get the benefits of a fulfilling ending and you still crave more, that’s when you know the series goes on a top ten list someplace.It might not be in my top ten list for anything particularly, but to say this anime is anything less than steadfast is a direct injustice. I’ve watched a lot of series across many genres, and every single thing this series does, it does very well.

The pacing is where it should be for a series like this. It’s the sort that slowly builds, but it is also tightly packed with key character moments. That’s the main draw of this show after all. It isn’t about the adventure itself, but rather our four main protagonists and what it means to them. They need to work hard to get to the Antarctic.

This isn’t an adventure where they sit around on their hands doing nothing but giggling their way through the show. Although I would say it is about cute girls, they’re not always doing cute things. Sometimes they’re put to real work, and the trip is occasionally far from glamorous. There are scenes where they even acknowledge that the cramped spaces they’re shoved into could be problematic for them.

These girls are multi-layered and very compatible on screen together, but they know they can sometimes clash in ideology too. It isn’t heavy handed, but there’s a real down-to-earth mentality used in this show. Unlike a lot of the other slice-of-life series you may come across, there’s not a lot of mindless or useless fluff. The character moments always feel as though it has been planned to enrich the story. These girls are all very likable and that helps too.

As a general rule, the series wants the girls to be fun-loving and adventurous. We see this most of all. They’re not dimwitted, and they’re not trying to do something entirely idiotic. Honestly, I just can’t praise A place Further than the Universe enough for this aspect alone. The series really hit it out of the park with these characters.

We get the same compelling banter between them that you’d expect from high school girls, but you also get some real heart and soul out of them too. The series hones in upon their dreams, fears, aspirations and insecurities. Frankly it does a phenomenal job of letting viewers get to know each of the four girls. At the same time, the series isn’t interested in cramming contrived emotional stupidity in front of our faces… when there is an emotional outburst, it means something valuable and important to the wider story.

We never lose out on that wider narrative either, nor the unpredictability of the adventure they’ve embarked upon. There are obviously a few small layers of drama, but it’s perfectly fitted for the story at hand. The series focuses deeply upon forged friendship, and facing tragedy.

As I said above, Shirase’s mother went missing three years prior to when the series actually starts. That’s a plot point that adds a layer of emotional gravity and uneasy tension to the journey. Also, the fact that they’ve got some measure of adult oversight and supervision means that the story is believable for these four high school students.

They travel with the Civilian Antarctic Observation Team, so as an adult watching this series, you’re not going to be raising an eyebrow. There’s no need to sit there wondering how in the hell these four girls are going to pull this trip off without suspending disbelief. It is a very believable story with a very steadfast component of grounded and logical plot elements.

You’re going to get an ending to this short series that’s about as complete as you could hope to expect for a 13 episode runtime. The plot ties up nicely, what isn’t addressed doesn’t need to be, and there’s a satisfaction to the ending. That entire final episode leaves you feeling justified for having enjoyed the show. There’s no need to point at the manga and say “finish the story there” although, there is a manga too and it is worth the read as well.

I’ve not said one single bad thing about this series, because there’s nothing bad to say about it. The visuals are solid, the soundtrack works well, the story leaves you fulfilled. So, you may be wondering if I’ve lost my mind. You may be wondering why, in spite of the fact I praise so highly, that it wouldn’t sit on my own personal top lists for anime?

It’s not groundbreaking, that’s why. I wouldn’t have it on my list, because it didn’t knock me out of my seat the way others in the genre have. I was thoroughly entertained, but I can’t say that I was surprised or taken aback by this anime in any meaningful way. I’ve seen a lot of shows like this, or similar to it. I’ve seen the basic idea of a journey like this one a billion times over.

While the characters are a home run out of the park, you’ve still seen these archetypes before a billion times over too. Honestly, I expect anime like this one to have strong characters, because if it didn’t, it would be a failure of a series. The characters are what matter, they’re what make the story being told amazing. If you watch animated series like this enough of the time, you come to hold a baseline expectation of what that sort of anime should be.

Let me be absolutely clear; A place Further than the Universe is everything an anime like this should be. It ticks all of the boxes in a way that any anime fan should demand of a high quality slice-of-life series. That’s exactly what this series promises.

It promises high quality animation and sound design. It promises to be exactly what it advertises its story to be. It upholds that standard throughout its runtime, and never once do you feel stolen from as far as a quality experience is concerned. However, although it holds the high quality standard, I personally don’t feel it surpasses the standard.

Maybe I’m just a jerk, but I expect a high standard of grounded, down to earth slice-of-life series. This one touches upon and continues to uphold that high standard baseline of quality anime. You’re just not going to find anything new here or something that challenges your notions of what a series like this one should be like. To me, it’s not a revolutionary series, if you’d think of it that way… and my top ten lists, those ones have to rip me right out of my seat and knock me down.

To me a top ten list is the best of the best. A Place Further than the Universe doesn’t quite match that. However, it would likely sit someplace on a top twenty which is far from an insult. Trust me, watch as many anime as I have, and so long as the anime makes the top fifty it’s a damn good show… two decades of anime watching does that to a person, honestly speaking.

So, there you have it. Watch this show if you haven’t already. A Place Further than the Universe sets the baseline of what we should all be expecting from our slice-of-life anime series. Quality characters, interesting visuals, a great story and one that wraps up nicely at that.

If you want to see another review of this series, from someone other than myself, perhaps check this one out written by NEFARIOUS REVIEWS. I thought it was a good review of the anime, maybe you will too.

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 next time.

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Kresh and Kern’s brand new disaster through Eorzea. Final Fantasy XIV Part 2: A Misadventure Reborn

Hey all, it’s Kern here. Kresh and I have been playing Final Fantasy XIV on our live streams. This is part 2 of our level grinds, joined by our friends for havoc and good time. Lots of laughter in this live stream.

In this particular stream we continue where we last left off. Before the stream, Kresh picked up a tank job and got it to the same level we ended off at. We want to be sure to stay around the same basic exp and level range if we can. From now on Kresh is playing a tank and I’m still playing a healer.

We finally escaped the low level zone of Gridania and the shrouds of forests that surround it… for now at least. We do 3 of the story related dungeons this time around and amass a few levels while we’re at it.

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Kresh and Kern’s brand new disaster through Eorzea: Final Fantasy XIV part 2: A Misadventure Reborn

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After a few story line related missions we entered Sastasha, a level 15 dungeon that keeps the training wheels on more or less. It’s pirate themed. I was massively under geared at the time, since due to the streamlined leveling process I thought I’d hit 20 before we entered and I’d be allowed to equip the gear I’d purchased to prepare for that.

Almost immediately after that, it was time for The Tam-Tara Deepcroft a level 16 dungeon all about a subterranean crypt used as a resting place for rulers and nobles of Eorzea. Outside of a few rusty pulls, it goes fairly well enough.

Once we escaped that, we did more story missions. Before we knew it, were ready for the aptly named quest “Copper Hell” and therefore entered the next instance, Copperbell Mines. This is a level 17 dungeon that has been made much easier since the enemies have been weakened and the developers made the area easier. I still personally hate it though.

All in all, it was a good live stream and we put a nice dent into the three hours we played. We didn’t get to do more gaming over the weekend because Kresh went away on holiday, but once she returns we’ll be back with more misadventures for sure. See you next time.

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 next time.

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