Thoughts on Last Hope

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These guys…

Having watched Hero Mask, only to find it wasn’t very impactful, I made a vow to find a good Netflix original anime to watch (it turns out people think there aren’t many) and I came across Last Hope. When I think of this anime, I put my lips together to make the pssh sound because I really don’t know how to describe this one. The anime follows the story of a worldwide crisis where technology and wildlife have fused together and evolved into organisms called Biological Revolutionary of Accelerated Intellect (BRAI) and mankind’s reaction to it. The main character is a man called Leon Lau, who lives as an outcast alongside his sister Chloe after having been blamed for the crisis. He’s called to a city called Neo Xianglong to help find a solution.

I tried, I really did but this series is down there with some of the worst anime I’ve ever watched. It’s not often that I find an anime boring but this one ticked that box quickly, expeditiously.  I’ve usually finished shows I’ve started so, I willed myself to watch this show but from the mannerisms I had whilst watching it, I didn’t even need to convince myself that I didn’t enjoy it. The premise of the story is interesting, probably one of the most interesting premises I’ve heard in a while but that can only take you so far. The show doesn’t start off badly, Leon comes back to Neo Xianglong, disgraced from the incident that he caused and he’s now back to redeem his name but that’s about as interesting as Leon and the show gets. The show gives an insight into what caused the current situation and the effects being suffered  as a result but it just doesn’t come together well. There are a few things the show did which I expect to see from any show in order to immerse myself, the background of the characters, what they’re fighting for, the moments where the characters bonded. It definitely gave me what it needed to, to get me interested but it still didn’t work.

The thing which stuck out to me most as to why I didn’t like this show is the characters. All of the characters manage to get so much screen time just to display how uninteresting they are. I said the show gave me everything it needed to, to connect with the characters but the truth is these things were so extremely forgettable. I remember the basic gist of the things that made the characters tick but ultimately, it was a group of characters with traits that the story didn’t help to display well. I think the show tried to get Leon to come across as a laid back genius who’s also very aloof but instead, what I got was a guy who’s smart and stupid at the same time and never stops eating Mahua. What I said of Leon could be said of nearly every character with their individual traits. Outside of the story, it feels like the show just tries to fall back on the same jokes with each character, especially when they’ve just finished fighting an enemy and I honestly have no idea how to process that. The biggest sin of a character in the show by far was Cecile Soo, easily the most uninteresting anime character I’ve ever come across. I don’t know what they were trying to achieve with her, for the first season her biggest contribution was being the primary source of fan service and then it looked like the show promoted her to some kind of guardian, which didn’t really do anything for me. It really looked like whoever was in charge realised Cecile’s lack of contribution and had her thrust into a slightly bigger role to justify her screen time. There’s so much to say on the characterisation and I haven’t even touched on the antagonists but what I’ll say is this, the show sets up the characters well enough to have interesting arcs but when it comes to execution, it actively misses the mark.

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My mind trying to figure out what this show is doing.

I honestly gave up with the story by the time I got to season two. It got to a point where I started using my phone or turning my head away from the screen to do something else whilst watching this because it wasn’t gripping. I don’t want to say the show didn’t make sense but it felt like it tried to over-explain everything and there was a need to link it to some kind of science (or pseudo science). When a show takes itself seriously, there’s such a risk because the show has to have a lot of its storytelling elements on point. The characters contrast the supposed serious nature of the show since they’re so hard to take seriously. For a while, it was unclear where the show was going, all I knew was that humanity was under threat so all I could take from it was that humanity was trying to preserve. Season two had the show go in the direction of human evolution and how humans should evolve, everything else around that was a distraction to me but the direction itself was a good idea and that’s what’s so frustrating. Last Hope shouldn’t be amongst the worst anime I’ve ever watched, it should be amongst the best. The ideas that the show played with were good ones but the show could never really demonstrate what it was trying to do, even as I write this, I wonder what would have happened if the show had a better execution of its storyline and dropped certain characters. This show is one of the best examples I could use to say that execution matters, it doesn’t matter how many good concepts you have, if you handle them poorly it will show.

There was one thing in this series which made me cringe without fail. Family contract. There was a running gag which slowly became more important as the story progressed where Leon would do something silly and Chloe would complain at him, reminding him that he has a contract with her he can’t break. It went something like this, Leon leaves the house to go the store but doesn’t tell Chloe, when he gets back Chloe tells him off saying ‘Family contract article 828042. Tell me where you’re going at all times!’ You know, at first it seemed like a less charming version of the wedding crasher rules that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson had going on in that movie but it slowly began to add to the mix of bad elements that didn’t do this show justice. There was supposed to be a developing story where all of the main characters become closer as a result of the incident at hand, which in turn would make way for them being incorporated into the family rules that Leon and Chloe had going. I can’t say that I didn’t see the characters becoming closer, there were enough scenes showing the main group hanging out with each other however, that didn’t justify the increasing prominence of the family contract. There probably should have been some emotional attachment that I felt to the family contract but getting closer to the end of the series, it felt as if it was being pushed in my face. It didn’t really make Chloe much more likeable when she kept reminding Leon and with the rest of the characters who were already struggling to be interesting, this just gave me another reason to want them off my screen.

Despite the explanation I’ve given (and could give) I haven’t done enough to show what makes this series so bad. I don’t feel this way about many shows (especially anime) but this is one of those shows that you have to watch to see how bad it is, otherwise you’ll never truly have an idea (or an accurate enough idea).

Other thoughts:

  • Chloe spends so many moments complaining and shouting Leon and her hair is also pink. Maybe that’s Sakura…
  • The first time I saw fan service of princess in the second episode, I told myself that this was going to be a weak series.
  • It took five episodes for the family contract to get annoying. The series is 26 episodes long.
  • There’s a character called Cain, he looks like Jet from Cowboy Bebop.
  • There’s a character called Doug, he shoots gun. He has a mech and the mech has a rifle. It’s excessive but it’s kind of cool.
  • Cecile’s crowning moment in the series was being shot. I’m not joking, that’s when she was at her most interesting.
  • I wish the series had gone with the evolution storyline from the beginning rather than doing whatever the first season was.
  • There’s a character called Queenie. In episode 23 she has a fight with someone at True Area 53 before teleporting to a dojo and back…

Quick question time

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Quick question time

Sex work is taboo, sex work is kind of illegal (depends on where you live), sex work is degrading (depending on how you view it) but sex work makes money. Good money. These are things that I’d consider when talking about this subject and being asked how I feel about it. When I hear and see opinions on sex work, what I take from it is that it’s a divisive industry. Those who are in it have a clear view of the things that happen and have ways to justify being in the profession whilst those who aren’t involved feel very passionately about it. It makes me wonder, would you have a problem with your child being a sex worker if they said that’s what they want to do?

Not too long ago, I watched a documentary which followed the lives of two escorts. One of them was asked if she’d want her daughter to do sex work and she said ‘No fucking chance.’ I gave my screen the people’s eyebrow when I heard her say that because she never talked of having negative experiences as an escort yet, it’s like she acknowledged that sex work isn’t something people should do. A lot of people don’t like the idea of their children doing sex work, and view it as something that’s beneath most people even though it can pay well. Personally, I understand it, I get why people would feel a negative way about someone they love being involved in that industry.

The thing is people love sex and this isn’t a secret. It’s not a crime to love sex; I can’t say I see much of an argument to defend (or accepting it’s a good thing) being paid from it being good but it does get looked down on really harshly. When people link the value of another person to sex, I don’t understand it but at the same time, I feel like I understand the argument that you can’t value yourself too highly if you’re willing to do sexual favours with people you find unattractive for money (even if it is a lot). Sex work is a weird subject because it’s not seen in a great light but sex is sold to people from all directions. There are lots of thoughts that people generally have on sex which they feel no way about but actually having sex for money is what people see as disgusting.

I think there’s a misunderstanding when it comes to sex work or more so sex workers. Learning and understanding why they get into that industry might help to change the way the public sees it because there are understandable reasons to do so. That all being said, I’ll ask again. Would you have a problem with your child being a sex worker if they said that’s what they want to do?

Thoughts on Hunter x Hunter (1999 series)

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(Potential spoilers)

Hunter x Hunter (1999) is a pretty easy story to describe so here it is with every relevant detail. The show follows the story of a man named Ging (pronounced Jin) who goes on The Maury Povich Show to prove that he’s not the father of a boy named Gon. Once the test results come in, it’s revealed that he is indeed the father of Gon and just like all women on the Maury show who don’t hear the result they’re hoping for, he runs backstage but here’s the twist. He runs so fast that the cameraman isn’t able to catch up so he successfully manages to abandon Gon, effectively starting Gon’s journey to find him. Despite knowing that Ging is a deadbeat who didn’t want him, Gon craves for the father/son relationship seen on television and puts his all into finding him. All jokes aside, the story focuses on Gon’s search for his father Ging. Having been told about his father from a young age, Gon became really interested and resolved one day to meet him.

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Ging’s thoughts on Gon

Hunter x Hunter is interesting to me for a lot of reasons if I’m honest. From when the main cast are introduced, Kurapika looks to be the only truly interesting character but as the story progresses Killua becomes more interesting leaving only Gon and Leorio, who aren’t exactly uninteresting. The way Gon was portrayed really tricked me into thinking this was going to be one of those anime littered with friendship speeches, friendship power ups and some other friendship nonsense but the friend stuff only heavily plays into Gon’s character. The characters stand pretty strong on their own, having established motivations as well as plenty of opportunities to show off their strengths (except for Leorio). Every arc plays well into the characters (except for Leorio) giving them a chance to really develop.

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The plot every time Leorio had to do something.

It’s not too overstated that Gon wants to meet Ging, despite the number of times that he says it and it’s really interesting how things play out. From the start, I wondered when Gon was going to meet Ging and the first arc (the Hunter Exam) made sense in relation to that goal but what it did even better was to open up the story and give me a chance to see Kurapika and Killua develop later on. It almost looks as if finding Ging takes a backseat to the story but it doesn’t, instead each arc has a little plot device that is established for revisiting later and it allows the story to go in so many directions without ever losing sight of the main plot. Gon’s relation to the arcs also make sense outside of him being the main character, every situation that Gon finds himself in makes sense and you can relate it to Gon’s goodhearted nature or the plot devices that I mentioned earlier.

Gon is the main character of the series, but it doesn’t feel like he’s the main focus of every arc and I appreciate it. Part of me really wants to see an anime where there’s a main group of characters who all feel like the main character at the same time and Hunter x Hunter has come the closest by far. Over the course of the show, I got to see Killua’s relationship with his family and the power that they held over him which set up an interesting question. How will the duty his family feels they have to him impact his relationship with Gon? I also got to see the length that Kurapika was willing to go to in order to achieve his goals and this might have been one of the best parts of the series just because of the contrast Kurapika showed when going for his goals in relation to his attitude during the hunter exam.

The storytelling in this show really gave me the impression that the plot was already planned out from beginning to end. Nothing really seemed out of place, even though loads of characters were introduced at points and never returned, it always felt like the situations in the show were thought about well in advance. There’s so much that I appreciated whilst watching this but none more than the way the show handled fights. For so long, it teased the possibility of a fight and so many times there were false alarms. The closest that the show got to a fight in the first 30 episodes or so was Kurapika taking on a convict in the hunter exam but other than that, the show had some really clever ways to attack the subject of fighting without actually showing a fight. It worked extremely well because it showed qualities that the characters had and made me wonder how those qualities would play out when a fight finally happened. One thing I’m used to in anime is the main character getting beaten down almost to the point of defeat and then getting main character power up and winning but there was none of that bullshit in Hunter x Hunter. I hope I come across a series that takes cues from this one and really focuses on the storytelling instead of cool moves and transformations (not to say that I don’t like that).

One thing I had read about this series was how it was different to other shonen and I wanted to know how but I have a pretty good idea of how it’s different. The story works so well to bring out the best of the characters whilst still making sense of what’s going on. I know that I’m going to watch the 2011 series which means I’ll have to watch the arcs I watched all over again and I have no problem with that.

Other thoughts:

  • They could have called this series Resilience and Willpower: The Gon Freecss story.
  • The show did a really good job making Hisoka fearsome, given that he didn’t truly fight until around 40 episodes in.
  • Kurapika is the best character in the show.
  • The soundtrack is great.
  • The first ending is a catchy.
  • In the hunter exam, there was a scene where Gon, Killua, Kurapika and Leorio said goodbye to each other, jumped through a gate and saw each other immediately. It was anticlimactic and I enjoyed it.
  • Tonpa is a pussy and proud. What do you call this?
  • There’s a character called Hanzo and I’m calling him Saitama.
  • Ging is pronounced Jin and it annoys me.
  • The OVA looked a lot weirder than the original series.

Another social media post

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Looking at social media outrage

Are people on social media addicted to outrage? Yes. I feel like I might have said this before at some point but I have a lot of social media posts so for the new readers/random people stumbling on this blog, I’ll say it again. A lot of people on social media are aware that there are some who are addicted to outrage and become vocal when something “worthy” of outrage appears. There are a lot of offensive things that pass through social media websites but sometimes, I ask how offensive they truly are because we seem to forget about the topic within 48 hours (or at least that’s how long it takes to disappear off my timeline).

Are things controversial on social media or are people just gagging for something to be pissed off about? People the latter when I look at it, but why? I know that controversy sells and it sticks with people but it kind of feels like controversy is trivialised to the point that anything can be a problem. A couple of months ago, I saw a tweet where someone talked about the Captain Marvel trailer and her complaint was that Samuel L. Jackson had more words in the trailer than Brie Larson. Think about that for a second. Think about it for another second. Go and make a drink and think about it then come back to the next sentence. It’s stupid. It doesn’t mean anything, Samuel L. Jackson having the most amount of words in that film trailer isn’t even patriarchy in action (furthermore, why are you counting how many words people have in their film trailers). Being angry at things online builds attention, it doesn’t matter what kind because on social media it’s all good (apparently).

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When Brie Larson talks in her own film trailer

I said how trivialising controversy on social media is a problem and I do believe that. I think people are aware of the response they get if they’re noticed for being offended at something and they almost use it for personal gain. When people get outraged over things, if they’re lucky enough, they’ll have people in their mentions and it doesn’t matter whether those people agree or not because they get attention and they can feel important. I never really noticed it before but when somebody is topic of conversation on twitter for being upset, even if their name isn’t mentioned, there are so many indirect references to the person that it becomes easy to figure out who’s being talked about. When people aren’t using outrage to be important on social media, the other problem with the so called controversy is that people have to ask and redefine what’s offensive, since we’re taking a lot of “sensitive” opinions into consideration.

I don’t expect outrage culture to stop (or slow down) anytime soon, in fact I think that somebody is going to find a way to make a sustainable income from it (if they haven’t already). Being outraged is a go to option for some on social media, so much so that it’s surpassed the realm of common sense. We all understand what outrage means and the value of it online and that’s kind of dangerous. It feels like a worst case scenario but with how the internet and real life are slowly mixing together, I could bet that a lot of societies where political correctness is in fashion will get bubble wrapped to the point that we might have to ask for permission to make statements that aren’t offensive.

Part of me feels like I have to give props to the people who actively search for things to be upset about because that’s got to be a full time job. You can see by the nature of things that people find offence with that they’re trying to be offended. It’s a sign that things have changed and it gets clearer each year especially when I consider that when I first joined social media, it was the Wild West. ANYBODY COULD CATCH A JOKE AND FIRM THE L. It’s a part of society and shows how we focus on a lot of negative things. I would be lying if I said that I want to see how getting offended online develops.

Gaming experience

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Fist bump of gaming experience

What makes a great gaming experience? How much does each component contribute to the experience of the game? I want to be specific in terms of what I’m talking about but, I know that the gaming experience varies for each player. In most, if not all cases I think a great experience would mean that a game provides an almost faultless experience in every area but that might not always be the case. If the game is a sequel then there might be some attachment to series which boosts the game’s rating even if it’s not so great in hindsight.

Recently, I looked at some reviews of Kingdom Hearts 3 and the general idea was that it’s a disappointment. After 762 years, Square Enix finally released a numbered sequel to Kingdom Hearts 2 but it left fans wanting more, it was unfulfilling. Like the “professional” reviews, the fans felt like it was close to a 10/10 experience but I didn’t get it because I saw the same things being said repeatedly. The fighting gameplay was good but not as good as Kingdom Hearts 2, the exploration was ok but not as good as Kingdom Hearts 2, the story didn’t do what it should have, no questions were answered and the ending wasn’t handled as well as Kingdom Hearts 2. Basically, the game was worse than Kingdom Hearts 2 in every way and I would get it if Kingdom Hearts 2 was generally seen as a perfect experience but it looks like it’s seen closer to near perfect.

I don’t want to go too much into Kingdom Hearts 3, but what I’m saying is that a lot of people felt the story let the game down and the gameplay is what made it good (which seems like a normal Kingdom Hearts experience if you’re asking me) but the extent to which the story let the game down was kind of major so things don’t add up. When it comes to games, does every element weigh equally in the experience or does that depend on the game? I always thought that depending on the genre, some elements might not matter e.g not caring for a story in a sports game. The reviews have me thinking a little a differently, I know all games (that aren’t SSX Tricky) aren’t perfect but it’s like a game can be seen as really good (maybe extremely good) even if there are many thorough criticisms. The less you can criticise, the better it is seems like a rule that makes sense to me but I don’t think it applies to games if I’m going by the reviews I saw.

There are so many ways to experience a game but how many ways are there to make the experience great? Great implies that the experience is of a high quality; at the very least I’d think that if the game isn’t all around great then its best features are presented on an elite level. The experience of a game is subjective but it’s still interesting to know that one area can be panned and it doesn’t affect the game as much as it logically should. Is there an X factor to games? There are a lot of questions to ask when looking at the bigger picture of what makes a great gaming experience, even if there aren’t I personally accept that the answer isn’t black and white.