Apr. 12th, 2017

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Better than expected when I don't take into account the white washing, although I was still a little disappointed. I would see the sequel because this is one of my genres.

The movie itself really isn't trend setting in this current day and age. I suspect the is a weird result of its original anime being so influential. Twenty plus years ago when it came out it was a relatively unusual, groundbreaking event, influencing such seminal works as The Matrix. The Matrix and other movies then in turn, influenced other movies making the tropes from the original GitS cliche.

The whole concept of exploring what makes you human really had nothing new  in this movie that you couldn't see in a dozen other movies that handled it a bit better.

That being said, Scarlett Johansson did a good job as the Major. I felt she did convey the spirit behind the character, but unfortunately not enough to raise the move above "just ok". I was especially pleased with Bataou and how he was portrayed, but once again they didn't give him a big enough part to do much more than give some interest. The rest of the characters were just blips in the movie.

Now we get to the white washing. This clouded my opinion of the movie the whole time. The movie could have been done with any Japanese actress and I probably would have liked the movie better. Once again not because SJ did bad, but because the knowledge of the white washing left a bad taste in my mouth. I guess as I get older, the harder it is to look past stuff like that.

The movie did try to give a partial explanation of a white actress playing a Japanese character late in the movie, but it was less of any sort of in depth story idea, and rather something pieced in to explain why the major has a white body and not a Japanese body. Basically it was a reason they could use on why they went with SJ rather than it being a real plot point.

The good: Decent sci-fi, nice choreography, and an ok story.

The bad: White washing with a bit trope thrown in.
 
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Bloodline (Whyborne & Griffin #5)Bloodline by Jordan L. Hawk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Audiobook only!

This is the fifth installment of the series I have read, and the fifth time the story has just gotten better. Ms. Hawk's writing has gotten tighter, and the reader has gotten much better with intonation and cadence with the book.

The story itself is very interesting, you get to meet additional members of Whyborne's family, including some unexpected members. The struggle against a new threat from a couple of unexpected directions.

Where the last book had a lot to do with Christine and some additional items on Griffin, this focused mostly on Whyborne. I enjoyed every page of it, but I do have to say the series as a whole will do better overall if Ms. Hawk focuses on the the group as the whole. I can't talk about specifics due to spoilers, but I love his mom and I do like how Ms. Hawk has made Whyborne's father more and more three dimensional.

Overall, I definitely recommend it as a read!
View all my reviews
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Youtube LP Playlist: Valkyria Chronicles LP
Systems: PS4, PS3, Microsoft Windows

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is a facelift on the PS3 Valkyria Chronicles where you follow a plucky group of soldiers in Squad 7 as they try to fight off one of two large Empires that wish control over the resources of the small country of Gallia.

You play Gunther Welkin, a peaceful scholar who only wants to be a teacher. The problem is he is the son of a famous general and he presents a conundrum for those who know of his father but not him.

The other members of Squad 7 include Gunther's sister, Isara, a Darcsen (the stand in for Jewish people during World War II). Alicia the apprentice baker and possible love interest. Largo, a large old school soldier and Rosie the racists bar singer who hates Darcsen.

The story unfolds as Squad 7 is formed and they fight back the overwhelming Eastern Imperial empire. The game utilizes a visual novel format with a few cutscenes in a very linear fashion. The big "attraction" to this game is that each chapter has a tactical battle where you command different types of units that you can build up as you go. The game even involves a couple of traditional JRPG type creatures.

Overall the story I liked a lot. Its set in a World War II type era. It involves big personalities, romance, a weird pig thing. The story itself can get very adult and very dark, ranging from racism, concentration camps, death, despair. I was caught off guard by it, and I do have to say onions were cut during the game (that means possible tears). There was some inner meaning on war and what it does to people. I wasn't expecting that at all.

Oh, as a side note, the cell shading style of the game was unusual and I enjoyed it a lot. I wouldn't like it for all my games, but it served its purpose well here.

What I was disappointed with was the actual tactical combat. I play a lot of tactical and strategic war games, so I do have a skewed point of view. I seek out realistic combat that feels like a professional war-game. These were not bad battles, but they were much more simplified then I was used to.

Some of the missions were not satisfactory for me when playing. I also was disappointed that while you can replay the visual novel/cutscenes at any time, you could not replay the battles. I also disliked the experience points and research. It felt like it was similar to Xcom, but not in the good ways, when building your troops there was no specialization other than any individual weapons you may have found. The combat wasn't horrible, but it was far more basic then what I seek out.

Pros: Very intriguing story. I want to know more about the world.
Cons: The tactical combat was not what I was looking for.

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