Back Row Reflections – Love, Simon

The following contains spoilers for the movie “Love, Simon”. Pretty major ones too in some cases. If you haven’t seen the movie and want to, stop reading. If you’ve seen it or just generally don’t care, read on.

You have been warned.

So. Here we are. The movie is almost finished in my hometown and I just got around to seeing it the day I typed this up. Having done so though, I decided to shelve the write-up I was working on for Infinity War. Yes. This was that important to me to do that I shelved an MCU thing. Though to be honest I was close to shelving it until I see it a third time anyway so it’s fine. It can wait. This can’t.

“Love, Simon” is a movie I didn’t think I needed. But I did. As a queer teen romance movie, it’s finally a movie of this type I can actually relate to. And yes, I’m bisexual, not gay, but you’d be stupid to assume that means I can’t relate to this movie. Or that I’d somehow relate equally to a story like this featuring straight characters. There really just are very specific things you deal with as a queer person that straight people just don’t have to deal with. I’ll stop there for now on this sorta stuff, since otherwise I’d be here all day. And this is my thoughts on the movie, not a queer Tumblr thesis.

Anyway, I love just about everything in this movie. The acting is great, the reactions to varying things are all pretty realistic, and the dream sequence cutaway moments can be pretty hilarious at times. Including one set to the song “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston where he sees himself in college being “gay and proud” which amounts to a choreographed dance sequence with rainbow colours everywhere and him sorta dancing along awkwardly. Only to conclude he’s not “that kind of gay” or something. Which I can tell you right now, that entire sequence made me laugh so hard I started coughing for a good minute or two.

Aside from laughter though, I also got sort of pissed off and also cried a few times. We’ll go with the crying bits first I think. I have to admit I knew going in that if this movie was well done I expected to cry. But crying four different times or so? Yeah didn’t necessarily see that coming. The first time was when Simon comes out to his friend Abby and she tries to reassure him that it’s fine and she still loves him as a friend. Not entirely sure what brought the tears on then, but it happened.

The second time was after Simon had come out to his parents as a result of having been publicly outed. He’d and had been avoiding talking to them about it for a while but finally talks to his mother about, who reassures him they still love him regardless of his sexuality, and reaffirms his statement when he came out of “I’m still me” with “You’re still you”, and points out he’ll be able to be more of himself than he’d been in years now that he’s got this off his chest to them.

The third time is when his father finally manages to talk to it about him, apologising furiously for all the times he’d made what could be taken as off-colour gay jokes or just jokes assuming Simon was straight. And even though Simon tries to downplay it by saying he knows his dad didn’t mean it, his dad wouldn’t hear any of it. The fact his dad was not only so accepting, but felt horrible in hindsight about all the shit he realised must’ve hurt Simon to hear was easily one of the best scenes in the movie. And I would assume could be viewed as wish fulfilment for queer men who wished they’d had a similar interaction with their dad when they came out. Because while I can see some having had that experience, it’s easy to remember not everyone got off so easy.

The fourth time (and last time that comes to mind) was when we find out exactly who Simon’s secret pen pal was. That being a guy nicknamed Bram, who had previously been teased as the love interest but was ruled out as far as we knew after Simon walked in on him drunkenly making out with a girl. The two talk it out a little before Simon clarifies he’s not upset that Bram was the guy he’d been chatting with and they kiss on the Ferris wheel, cheered on by a crowd of onlookers from their high school. Because if there’s one thing this movie did, it was made me care about Simon enough to want him to have a happy ending.

Now to stuff that got me pissed. Some cause the movie wanted me to, others just because I related to Simon more than most people. As far as stuff that pissed me off cause the movie wanted me to, the main one, and the only one I’ll talk about, is a guy called Martin forcibly outing Simon. Martin had been blackmailing Simon with screenshots of the emails between him and the mysterious “Blue”, with his goal being to get Simon to help him get the attention of Abby. Out of fear Simon goes along with it, but when Martin does the stupid thing and makes a grand and very public gesture to try and win Abby over, and it fails spectacularly, Martin posts all the screenshots he took to Tumblr and outs Simon.

Simon gets a chance later to chew Martin out verbally but I can honestly say I’m slightly disappointed he didn’t punch him. Or even attempt to. I was half expecting him to rear back for a bunch at least. Or given that Martin was actually trying to apologise (and doing a horrible job of it), Martin could’ve easily offered himself up to get hit. And you could have Simon go for it but decide it’s not worth it. That’s my two cents anyway.

The other thing that bugged me was how pissed off Abby, Leah & Nick get at Simon after he’s outed. While I can understand Abby & Nick being annoyed that Simon’s interference didn’t allow them to get together sooner…those fuckers come off like that’s somehow equatable to BEING FORCIBLY OUTED TO YOUR HIGH SCHOOL. Fuck you. You don’t get to be that angry. “Oh, boohoo, we weren’t dating earlier even though us dating was inevitable”. Cry me a river you little fucks. And then there’s Leah. “You’re gay and tried to palm me off on Nick even though I was into you and you didn’t take the hint cause you legit thought I was into Nick. You’re cruel”. What the actual fuck girly? Screw you. Someone you’re best friends with not only isn’t interested to the point he was oblivious of your interest in him, but that aside is gay so wouldn’t be anyway. Tough shit. Deal with it and move on.

Seriously. While I feel the reactions can be deemed realistic (I mean, shit, they ARE teenagers), that scene bugged the fuck outta me because I was solidly behind Simon in that whole scenario, even though he had admittedly done some stupid shit. And hell, as much as I was just shouting at him to “JUST COME OUT IT SOLVES EVERYTHING!” it obviously isn’t that easy. For the character or for people in real life. Hell, I didn’t come out as bi until I was 25.

Looking at how long this is now I think I’ll try to wrap it up so I can get some sleep. So, once again overall, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me both glad I saw it alone but also wish I had someone to cry with and hug. In some ways I’d argue this movie should’ve been to the queer community what Black Panther was to the black community. Even if on a smaller scale given this wasn’t a major blockbuster type release.

Though while I will thank 20th Century Fox for allowing this to be made under a major studio, I also have to ask that if this happens again, the marketing is done A LOT better. The only reason I knew this movie existed was because a gay guy I know shared the trailer on Facebook.

But I’ll stop now before I start rambling on. So, thank you to anyone who reads this. This movie meant a lot to me, so I felt I had to get my thoughts on it out there. I will most likely see you all next time for my absolutely-filled-to-the-brim-with-spoilers take on Infinity War. After I see it a third time anyway. So, it may be another week.

At First Glance – Black Butler

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the concept of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Black Butler

Ah yes, Black Butler. This one has been on my to-do list for a while, especially since it was suggested to me back when I started doing these in 2016. So, to the person who did suggest/request this…sorry it’s taken so long. As far as my knowledge of the anime went, this was another of those anime I was vaguely aware of but had absolutely no idea what it was about. And going by some of the promotional imagery, including this article’s banner, let’s just say you could be forgiven for expecting something other than what we get.

No, Black Butler thankfully isn’t what the imagery implies, it’s just a story about a rich tween boy called Ciel Phantomhive in Victorian England who has a Demon Butler, and is also apparently Queen Victoria’s Guard Dog, investigating and solving crimes in London’s seedy underground. You know. The usual. Oh, also he has three other servants who act as comic relief, and one of them looks like an interpretation of the Final Fantasy character Cid.

Which makes sense given Square Enix had a hand in publishing the manga

There isn’t ultimately too much to say about the events of episode, other than it serving as a good introduction to the characters more than anything. We’re not given much of a background on the characters yet, aside from a cold opening showing the deal being made between Ciel and Sebastian. Though we’re given no context as of yet exactly why this deal was made aside from hints. Though I am aware due to reading up a tiny bit.

I must admit, I actually expected this episode to have action in it. I mean, you know, demon butler and all. The actual approach of playing this more like a drama with some psychological horror kind of thrown in as well ended up working fairly well. Though I am aware there is action in this anime. So, this episode being more of a set up explains the lack of it.

One thing that irked me about this though is the English dub. Yes. I’m complaining about the English dub. I rarely if ever do that, but this is one instance where I will indulge in that kind of snobbery. The English accents in this are horrible. Just horrible. Well, most are anyway. Sebastian is fine, and to an extent so is Ciel, but Baldroy, Mey-Rin & Finnian’s accents are all just so terribly exaggerated that it takes me out of the moment. Whatever comic relief they’re supposed to provide just turns into annoyance.

Also, those three having very thick working class English accents makes no sense. Baldroy is from the US, Mey-Rin is of Chinese descent and Finnian is of German descent. Baldroy might as well have a thick US accent of some kind, and the other two should either be speaking English with a much posher accent than they are, as they’d have been taught English by Sebastian, or they’d be speaking English with an accent fitting their heritage. And yes, this is normally a silly thing to expect from an anime dub, but they went through the trouble of bothering to give them accents at all, so they could’ve afforded to be a bit broader with their choices. Maybe that’s just me though.

I’ll just stop there so I don’t end up talking in circles. In any case, will I continue to watch Black Butler? Well, the concept has me interested enough, plus I can’t really judge it too much on this one episode. I will say however, I’m not watching it in English again.

For those who are interested, Black Butler consists of 46 episodes across three seasons (24 in season one, 12 in season two, and 10 in season three “Book Of Circus”, respectively), all of which are available in both subbed and dubbed formats. There are also nine OVAs for the show overall (one for season one, six for season two, and two for season 3 respectively), all of which are also available in both subbed and dubbed formats. Lastly there is also both an animated Black Butler movie (available subbed and dubbed) and a live-action one.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – My Hero Academia

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the idea of these “At First Glance” things is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it. Simple, right?
With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

My Hero Academia

This show has been on my list for at least a month or so now thanks to someone suggesting it, so I figured it was about time I got around to it. Must admit I didn’t know what to expect, but when I read the little summary AnimeLab gave I got at least some idea.

In the world of My Hero Academia 80% of the world’s population has developed superpowers, with said superpowers being called “Quirks”. And like…..80% of the world’s population? Holy crap. This is like X-Men on crack or something with that shit. Anyway, the anime follows the story of middle schooler Izuku Midoriya and his journey to becoming a superhero, despite his lack of any “Quirks”.

As this is purely a set up episode there isn’t too much to talk about plot wise, because we really just do follow Izuku through the whole thing. In which case, I’ll basically be giving my thoughts on Izuku as a character based on this episode, and also a few moments I feel are worth noting.

Izuku’s characterisation is that of someone with high aspirations who constantly gets his dreams crushed and basically gets told he’ll never amount to anything. He’s among the 20% of the world’s population who doesn’t have powers, and in a flashback we learn he probably never will develop powers. He does sort of angst about it, but he’s still clearly hopeful to become a superhero regardless.

That said, Izuku is a fairly pathetic character. Like, it works in some cases, but other times it just comes off as them trying too hard. Him getting angry when Katsuki, a teenage boy who actually has a “Quirk”, goes too far when insulting him? That worked. Mainly because backing down from a fight with someone who has a superpower when you don’t is just being smart, even if they played it off as pure cowardice.

In any case they just kind of push it too hard in some cases, but in other moments it’s done pretty well. One example of it being well done is one of the flashback moments. After Izuku is told he’ll probably never develop a Quirk his mother finds him in the computer room watching his favourite clip of All Might (the world’s most popular superhero). Izuku basically asks his mother if she thinks he could ever be a hero or develop a Quirk (I forget which), and the mother kind of just breaks down and cries, telling him she wishes it could be different.

So without entirely saying so, she basically tells him it’ll never happen. And, being only a 4 year old at the time, he obviously feels heartbroken. His mother couldn’t even humour him by being all “Oh sure son it could happen someday”. The thing I love about this moment is both sides are understandable. The mother just wanting to be honest rather than give him false hope makes sense, as does Izuku’s reaction to that.

One thing I want to briefly mention but can’t show any images of because it’s just……yeah I’d rather not. There’s a moment late in the episode where this slime/sludge monster grabs Izuku and tries to take over his body so he can hide from All Might. However… he goes about doing so……let’s just say it borders on hentai territory……yeah…….if you check this anime out keep that in mind.

That’s honestly all I think I have to say on episode one, so I’ll leave it at that. I also plan on watching the whole thing, as I am interested to see where this goes from here. My Hero Academia only consists of 13 episodes so far, however their is apparently a second season on the way. Despite only airing this year, My Hero Academia is available in both subbed and dubbed formats for those interested.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – Attack On Titan

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article. This may even possibly be the most spoiler heavy one of these I’ve done so far. You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. Unfortunately I only managed one of these last week. But as a way to make up for that, I’ve decided I’m going to do three this week to make up for it. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the idea of these “At First Glance” things is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it. Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business

Attack On Titan

Here’s a fun bit of trivia for you. I actually had a chance to publicly watch the first episode at a local event several years ago. But I was so caught up playing Mario Kart 64 and then going back into the Cards Against Humanity space that I just didn’t watch or pay attention to it at all. So this is truly the first time I’ve given it a shot. I’d been meaning to for a while, so I guess it’s a good thing I started doing these articles, isn’t it?

As far as the actual plot goes, it really just boils down to a struggle between the surviving humans of this world and these giant, cannibalistic humanoids known as Titans. Which seems like a gross oversimplification, but I AM only one episode in. Speaking of, the first episode basically just drops us into this world, and shows us how everything is fairly ok, despite the imminent threat of the Titans, due to them living in a massive city surrounded by 50 foot walls.

Then of course everything goes to hell when the heavens declare “fuck this” and up pops a SIXTY FOOT TITAN who literally kicks the door in, allowing the smaller Titans to get through. Chaos ensues, obviously, and that’s what we’re left on. Damn. What a way to start this thing off, right?

We’re only introduced to a handful of characters, but luckily most of the episode is spent following around or introducing recurring characters, which I very much appreciated. I mean sure, seeing a bunch of people just wrecking shit and fighting these things will be pretty cool to watch when it happens, but this episode taking the time to introduce us to this world and the set up was the best choice.

The reveal of the “Colossal Titan” is probably my favourite moment though. Just this massive lightning strike and then bam, there it is. Kudos to the voice actor for the character Eren Yeager too. His reaction to the whole thing is great and really sells it. Really everything in that moment sells it, the whole think had me completely engrossed in what was happening. Though I almost wish I’d watched this in my room on my PS4, so the size of the Colossal Titan REALLY stood out. Oh well.

Speaking of the characters though, the primary three we’re introduced to are Eren (as I mentioned before), his foster/adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman, and their friend Armin Arlert. Mikasa seems to be the most ambiguous character right now out of the three going by this episode alone. The episode paints her out to be Eren’s de-facto protector, but that’s about all we know. Hell I didn’t even know she wasn’t Eren’s blood brother until I checked a wiki.

Eren and Armin are the more vocal of the two, and both seem to share the mentality that if the humans continue to live like this then they’re nothing more than herded cattle waiting to be slaughtered. Pretty bleak worldview, but hell, I can’t blame them. Even with that giant wall there I’d be pretty fucking terrified too. That said I also would’ve ran the fuck away as soon as I saw that Colossal Titan. Not just waited for it to level a few blocks with that kick. Though I guess I can understand a person being paralyzed with fear. I mean look at the damn thing.

“Peekaboo mother fuckers”

That said, despite the Colossal Titan’s reveal being my favourite moment, the climax of the episode itself is also a pretty great moment, in that it’s the most emotional moment of the episode. Eren & Mikasa have run off to their home to make sure their mother is ok. Turns out she’s still alive, but is now pinned down under the remnants of their home. They try to save her, but she tells them to leave as her legs have been crushed, so she’d just slow them down.

They keep trying anyway until a Hannes, a Captain in the branch of the military called The Garrison, shows up. At first he says he’s going to fight off the Titan and save them all, only to lose his nerve and grab Eren & Mikasa, getting them to safety instead. The most poignant part of this whole thing to me, is what happens when they’re out of earshot. Their mother has one of the most human moments I’ve ever seen in an anime, and openly goes back on her wish for them to leave her to die.

And then of course, we have to see the poor woman get eaten by the damn Titan. She even thrashes her arms around a bit until it does….something to her, to make her go limp. Broke her neck? Snapped her spine? It kills her in any case. Then Eren and Mikasa (or at least Eren) end up witnessing the whole thing. God damn, Attack On Titan. Heavy thing to end the first episode on.

On a lighter note, good God does this anime look beautiful or what? I mean as creepy and weird as the Titans look, my God, look at that Colossal Titan. It honestly looks amazing. The backgrounds, the city itself, pretty much everything. Sure there are some moments where the animation is a bit simplified, but it makes sense when it happens. Overall I couldn’t find anything to bitch about animation wise.

Now, will I be watching more of this anime? Holy shit, yes. I mean, it’s a slow start but I am definitely interested in seeing what happens next and finding out just what the hell is up with the Titans, which we apparently find out later in the show. If you’re interested in checking it out, Attack On Titan is 25 episodes long, and is available in both subbed and dubbed formats. There are also two live-action movie adaptations of the show, two anime film adaptations condensing the events of the show, and a spin-off satirical anime series called Attack On Titan: Junior High.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline. And just in case anyone was curious, next up in this “Three articles because I forgot to do two last week” special will be my thoughts on the first episode of One-Punch Man. I’ll see you then folks.

At First Glance – Kill La Kill

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question
in this article. You have been warned.

Well here we are again, and relatively sooner than may have been expected considering my track record. As a quick reminder for those who didn’t catch the first one, the idea of these “At First Glance” things is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it. Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Kill La Kill

Kill La Kill

As a basic premise, Kill La Kill is a revenge story where the main character, Ryuko Matoi, is on a mission to find out who killed her father, and is seemingly willing to go to any lengths to do so. With her search leading her to Honnouji Academy, which is where the series starts.

I’ve heard about this anime quite a bit, but I’ve somehow managed to avoid spoilers from what I can tell, so I went into this fairly blind. I’d always intended to check it out, and almost did at one point. For whatever reason I stopped and watched something else instead. However, after getting the idea to do these articles, I decided it was
high time I give this anime a fair shot, and actually watched it immediately after watching the first episode of “Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!”.

Needless to say, the two anime could not be any more different if they tried. Whilst……you know what let’s call it Cute High for short…..whilst Cute High came off as being fairly level-headed despite all the weird shit happening, and could be kind of subtle in places, Kill La Kill is about as subtle as a punch in the face.

 (Or a kick I guess, that works too)

Not even seemingly two minutes in Kill La Kill just goes from zero to sixty in the
weird department and doesn’t really let up too much. Not that I mind. In fact I enjoyed the hell out of it. The over-the-top action-comedy aspect of the whole show works amazingly well going by this first episode alone. There are some serious aspects to the story (namely the emerging backstory for Ryuko), but overall the show itself doesn’t try to take itself too seriously in most aspects, and it works to its advantage.

The show is also a nice change of pace as it’s the first magical girl anime that I’ve ever seen to be this crude with its humour. I swear one scene after Ryuko gains the outfit she’s most known for (which I will not link here, you know how to use google), the scene in which a male character reacts to first seeing her in it almost plays out like a Sailor Moon parody sketch they did on Robot Chicken.

If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for, it’s stuff that would normally just be run-of-the-mill sexual fanservice being played for comedy, and this show looks to be all about doing that. Personally I don’t think the outfit will ever grow on me, but at the very least I can put up with it because of how it’s immediately made fun of because the show is so self-aware.

All-in-all I am glad I finally got around to giving this show a try, and I can definitely see myself watching the rest of it. Just got to hope it doesn’t pull a Madoka Magica on me and end up being a depressing mindfuck in the end. Beause it probably could. Who knows. I’m
expecting shit to get real, but yeah, hoping it doesn’t get THAT real.

In any case, if you’re like me and have never given this show a watch, I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out. So long as you’re not put off by the crude humour and violence and stuff like that anyway. If that sort of thing isn’t your cup of tea then I’d steer clear of this. Otherwise, go for it. Even if you only watch the first episode, it’s definitely worth a
try. And hell, if you’re like me and prefer dubs, this anime is available both dubbed and subbed, so everybody wins.

As far as what the next anime I cover/watch will be is concerned, I honestly have no idea as of yet. I have made up a list of anime to potentially watch for these articles though. Regardless, you’ll just have to wait and see what I talk about next. And it’ll probably be next week, just so I don’t crank too many of these out. In which case, I’ll see you all again next week.

$$60,000,000,000 Reviews: Trigun

Having finally bought and completely watched the anime Trigun, Thomas gives his overall thoughts on the series on his new anime review series, $$60,000,000,000 Reviews.


Philosophy At Odd Hours – What constitutes a Sci-Fi movie? Part 1

                   Philosophy At Odd Hours              

(where SamanthaMaybe and AlanahSees talk about all the things)

Sam and Alanah at VidCon 2012

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