Thursday, January 31, 2019

Naruto Shippuden Talk: Episodes 391-395

While I've been slow about actually watching Naruto over the past year, I've been even slower about discussing the episodes I've watched. Meaning it's been a long time since I watched this set of episodes, and I don't think that rewatching them before I write this is going to happen.

That's definitely not a good thing since a lot happens in this set of episodes, and the exact details are foggy to me after so long. The largest thing I remember is being mostly bored with these episodes, and I think that has a lot to do with how much time passed between me watching each episodes.

At this point, they're deep into the war, and many of the fight scenes in these episodes are not my favorites in Naruto. While I know I'm supposed to view Madara as a large, important villain, I don't care for him much as a character, and even though he's portrayed as powerful and therefore threatening, I don't feel much emotional reaction to seeing the characters confront him. I think it's because the characters themselves don't have much emotional stake in the fight aside from what's expected when fighting against anyone for your life and the world as a whole.

Other villains had far more compelling backstory than anything we've been presented about Madara so far. I volunteer as a tag wrangler over on the Archive of Our Own, and one of the fandoms I wrangle is Naruto, so I'm well aware of the amount of Madara fanfiction out there, especially fic that ships him with Hashirama. While I get the fandom appeal of that from what I've seen so far, I have to say that I don't quite get it. Maybe that will change in later episodes.

Episodes 394 and 395 are the start of a flashback to the chunin exams held while Naruto was out of the village, which I think provides a nice break from the war where I wasn't really enjoying the episodes anyway. While this is technically filler, it's filler that I welcome because of a lot of what I mentioned above. I appreciate getting to spend time with characters I feel emotionally connected to instead of the episodes that came before it.

But I'll talk more about that filler arc in my next Naruto post.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Life Post: 2019 Goals

It's that strange part of the year where I never get the year right. January also marks a year and a half that I've been in Japan, which is becoming less strange to say. I've definitely settled here, so it no longer feels odd that I've been here longer than a year.

The new year is usually a time to set resolutions, and since we're making all of our students set resolutions, I feel like it's only fair that I set one of my own. I've been studying Japanese since before I came to Japan, but this year I want to give myself more concrete goals, which is something I should make myself do considering I make my students do it. So, I've made concrete plans to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). I'm posting about that here to give me the push to not back out on it, though I'm not sure how much I'll talk about it here.

Taking the actual test won't come for a while yet, but I'm creating a plan to help me study for it and paying attention to the exact vocabulary and skills I need for it, as opposed to my more scattered studying of the past. We'll see how it goes.

Though it's not as concrete of a goal, I'm also hoping to post more here in 2019 than I did in 2018. That's always been a goal; I never planned to slow down so much. There was just a lot going on, but I think I've reached a point where I'm managing. It's more that that just happened to line up with the new year than it was that I did it on purpose in the new year. Here's to getting to finally talk about all those books and shows that I've been reading and watching since I got to Japan.

I look forward to seeing you guys more in the coming months.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Shadowhunters Talk: 2x20 “Beside Still Water”

Look at me finally getting around to talking about the season two finale more than a year after it aired! I knew I'd get there eventually.

We quickly learn in this episode that Sebastian isn’t dead, which wasn’t a surprise. Like I mentioned when talking about episode 2x19, there was no way they were going to get rid of Sebastian that suddenly. There’s so much more drama for him to stir up, and there was no way they were throwing him away without playing more with what he does in the books.

Someone who does die in this episode, though, is Jace. This also wasn’t surprising to anyone who read the books. I’d like to say that I felt emotional despite knowing Clary was going to bring him back to life, but I can’t. For the most part, while I liked how they handled that part of the story, I wasn’t anywhere close to tears despite crying rather easily in response to books and movies.

That’s something I blame on the lack of connection I feel with Jace as a character. I know Jace often gets more backlash than he deserves, so I want to emphasize that I don’t hate him or even dislike him. I just don’t connect with him as a character in the same way I do many of the other characters, and I think that was what led to my not-very-emotional response to his death.

Clary’s reaction to Jace’s death was more powerful to me than the death itself. My favorite part about that storyline was seeing her confront Valentine. Clary was a BAMF in this scene, and it was great to see. This was the climax of the original trilogy of books (before the last three books were added on), and I think the show was able to live up to that.

This episode ends with cliffhangers, of course, but I think I’m going to avoid talking about them because I'd just get into season three spoilers.

I remember being pretty stoked about Lilith appearing, since it plays out differently in the books, and I was intrigued by the direction they were taking. That's something I'll talk a lot more about as I talk about the season three episodes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Shadowhunters Talk: 3x01 "On Infernal Ground"

I had forgotten how much happens in this episode until I rewatched it. Even after the time since I first watched it, I have a lot to say.

It’s hard to believe that we made it to season three before anyone bothered to give Clary the angelic power tune. Obviously there’s been a lot going on, but the realization that she didn’t have it yet was jarring.

Ollie is a complicated character for me because, while I like her overall, her inability to listen to people who know more about the situation than her gets annoying. I’m not sure how she makes it as a police officer if she’s always acting without caution. From a story standpoint, the things she’s working out for herself are usually things we already know, which makes watching her figure it out a little boring as a viewer.

Magnus no longer being High Warlock of Brooklyn broke my heart. Even though in the books we see Magnus before he gains the title (like in the Infernal Devices series), I always see him as the High Warlock of Brooklyn. That’s why I like the decision for him to lose the title. I think it’s an excellent way to explore what it means to Magnus. That being said, I want to see him regain it before the end of the show.

A nurse dies in this episode, which is the first of many similar deaths. Because of the scene in the hospital that comes before it, it was easy to connect this death with Lilith before it’s really shown.

Jace’s hallucinations break my heart a little. I can only imagine having vivid dreams of killing the person you love every time you go to sleep. Watching him become more and more sleep deprived and anxious throughout the first half of this season was hard to watch.

Raphael asking Magnus for a vampire tranquilizer for a new vampire set off immediate red flags for me as much as it did Magnus. Also, I was glad Magnus knew something was up and that this wasn’t one of those times where it’s clear to the viewer that something is up but all of the characters are oblivious to it.

The Seelies give Simon the Mark of Cain in this episode, which is a diversion from the book, but one I think it interesting. They seem to regard this as their duty towards a Daylighter, and that makes me wonder why. I hope that’s something that’s dealt with in the future and not just never brought up again or explored.

The first time around, I was excited to see Simon with the Mark. That was one of the big things from the book that I was waiting to see on the show, and it didn’t play out at all how I expected it to. I’m going to have a lot to say about the Mark as I talk about later episodes.

Alec, Izzy, and Jace visit Catarina at the hospital, and I love the idea of Alec knowing to go straight to Catarina to ask for information. I hope we see an even deeper friendship forming between the two of them in the future because the small moments we’ve gotten so far make me really happy. 

As the main Shadowhunters characters befriend more and more Downworlders, it’s becoming noticeably easier for them to collect information because they have those connections, and I love that. Though the show’s been canceled, leaving us without a season four, I’d love the idea of them winning out in the Clave in the long run because of those connections. Maybe we’ll still get to see that in a condensed way.

Izzy is attending meetings to help with her drug addiction, which was a nice detail for the show to include. I spoke out in the past that I didn’t support the decision to give Izzy a yin fin addiction, but it’s something they did anyway, and I’m glad they went on to show that recovery isn’t something that happens with a snap of the fingers, though it still happened a bit too easily in my opinion. 

My biggest complaint here is that we don’t actually get to see Izzy at these meetings and instead just hear about them. I would have preferred delving deeper into that for her than the doomed romance with the doctor we got instead. I think that would have been more significant for Izzy’s character development, and I think it would have better justified going with the addiction storyline in the first place.

Magnus telling Alec that he doesn't want him to move to Idris and Alec saying he's not going anywhere gave me all of the emotions. God, I loved that scene so much. The playful but casual way Alec repeated Magnus’ previous words to him was perfect. I loved everything about that scene, and I’m happy to end this post on that note.