Friday, June 30, 2023

Friday Creature Feature - Meicoomon

Anyone who knows me and my fandoms well enough shouldn't be surprised to hear that I essentially always have one Digimon series or another in my watch queue at all times. Most recently, I've been working my way through the Digimon Adventure saga, just finished up Tri (only Last Evolution to go after this). As I've been finishing up Tri (again), I figured it would be fun to spotlight the new Digi-Destined partner/unwitting villain: Meicoomon. So let's get into some background and speculation on this cute little terror (that makes her sound like my toddler).

Flashback Time

Circa fall 1999 (only a month or two after the eight Digi-Destined defeated Apocalymon and about a year before Ken met Wormmon) a Digivice and Meicoomon (already at the champion level) appeared to Meiko in southern Japan. It was revealed by Hackmon years later that a shard of Apocalymon's data was in Meicoomon, leaving her infected.

It wasn’t long before that infection started manifesting. As Meiko’s father was a Digimon researcher, he looked into the infection. But when Meicoomon was away from Meiko things got worse. She always seemed to be able to calm down her Digimon partner, even in the midst of the infection. And it seems, from what we learn from the seemingly all-wise Homeostasis during Tri, that this was the plan: give Meicoomon a partner to keep the infection in check. If only it stayed that way...

Digimon Adventure Tri

Somewhere in the realm of 2005-2006 (depending on whether you're looking at the dub timeline or original Japanese), Meiko and her family move to Tokyo and things start going nutty. So the distortions start appearing and Meiko met the Digi-Destined. Everyone is one big happy family right? Sure... until Meicoomon mutates and kills Leomon (he couldn't catch a break until Adventure 2020).

So things started going crazy. Meicoomon ends up dark digivolving to Meicrackmon Vicious Mode in fighting the partner Digimon. But then the Digital World is rebooted leaving everyone memory-wiped (except Meicoomon). And then everyone is reunited and everything is great, right? Nope. With Meiko tortured by Dark Gennai, she dark digivolve again, finally reaching mega level Raguelmon.

In a fight against Omnimon, Alphamon, and Jesmon, she ends up fusing with Kari's Ophanimon Falldown Mode into Ordinemon, who basically ushered in the end of the worlds. Izzy manages to unlock Ordinemon's memories as Meicoomon, but they're unable to save her...

Final Digivolution and the Future

Years later when Eosmon is trapping the minds of Digi-Destined, we see Meiko and Meicoomon in his Neverland. Despite her appearance here, I suspect it's too much to hope that Meicoomon was reborn, having died in the Real World. If there were any Digi-Destined that deserved to be in that Neverland, it would be Meiko.


Meiko and Meicoomon (and Tri in general) have been the subject of much criticism in the Digimon fandom. But Tri launched me back into Digimon (as if I needed a reason) and to me it told a compelling story. A tragedy for sure. I've heard it said that Meiko and Meicoomon's arc is too similar to Willis and Lopmon in the Digimon Movie. While they're similar, the fact that their story ends in tragedy (unlike Willis, who got Lopmon back) brings more of a mature air to the series. 

I'll admit, sometime I struggled with Meicoomon. Despite being a Champion-level Digimon (known as Adult in the original Japanese), she acts like a child (which is what the Japanese version calls Rookie-level). She and Gatomon ought to have acted more mature than the Rookies, more like Leomon. Though, to be fair, there are plenty of human adults I know who act like kids. But I suppose in the end, she did the most mature thing, as she was willing to sacrifice her life because of how much she loved Meiko and the others. Childish or not, she was a true friend.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Why Does Cosplay Bring Us Joy?

(Guest post by Jason)

As I made my way through the halls and booths at the Dallas Fan Expo, I marveled at the hundreds of elaborate costumes around me. This showing could surely rival the most massive Halloween parties in the US. With Jedi and stormtroopers, superheroes and villains, fairies and trolls, famous and obscure characters, I started wondering what’s behind the costumes? What about cosplay brings these people so much joy? And why they choose the costumes they do?

Is it for the attention? Cosplayers in the most elaborate or unique costumes would often get people wanting to take photos with them. They beamed each time it happened. Can’t imagine that happens to them much outside of this world.

Or possibly for the connection? The Guardians of the Galaxy group surely had fun planning their costumes and walking around feeling like they could save the world together.

Maybe it’s the escape? As I watched the lightsaber battles between jedis, it really felt like they had entered a different world. I can see how the opportunity to escape from everyday life and become someone/something totally different would be a reprieve from the same old daily routine.

Could it be self-expression? Harry Potter fans seemed to embody this purpose. First, with such passion in their different houses (particularly Hufflepuffs, who didn’t seem to realize they weren’t in Hogwarts). But, beyond that, many took it to a whole other level and tailored their robes to their personalities.

Or maybe people are just trying to feel young again? As I watched a toddler excitedly approach an edgy-looking rabbit from a game I didn’t know, the two connected on such a sweet, innocent level. The toddler just saw a sweet white bunny, and the cosplayer became that sweet white bunny in the moment as if it was the highlight of her day.

Not really sure what people’s reasons are. Maybe all of these, or maybe there are other reasons. But, whatever the reasons, the fantasy world cosplayers create is objectively incredible and something everyone should experience at least once in life.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Rob Recommends: Another Eden

A terrible thing happened to me about a year ago. I lost my hobby. 

For the second time I had to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do. 

But this time it was different, because I found something way better. 

The hobby that I lost was actually Pokemon Go. And by lost, I mean that one day I just didn’t care anymore. Catching new pokemon, collecting poke coins and taking gyms for team Valor had all just lost their meaning. There was no sense of achievement, or satisfaction. Just an odd awareness that I was a middle-aged guy making an unnecessary stop on the side of the road on his way home from work.

There’s a lot of details I won’t bore you with about my history with Pokemon, like the time in the fifth grade when the only friend that I had who would play Pokemon with me moved away, but to sum it up, this moment was the end of a daily habit that my wife thought would have ended at least two years earlier. So even though it was a light hobby, still it left something of a void where I needed to find enjoyment. What filled it was a game that I had very little expectation would become as fun as it did. 

 As I was writing for the blog back in March, I discovered that a person responsible for one of my favorite games, Masato Kato, had actually been a driving force behind a mobile game called Another Eden. I even found a trailer for a collab between Eden and Chrono Cross, which completely blew my mind. 

 Anyway, I downloaded the game, for free, and played for a few minutes before moving on to other things. Depsite being impressed that Masato Kato was involved in the making of this game, I had a sinking feeling that it wasn’t worth my time. The art was beautiful, and the music was quite lovely, but somehow I still felt that a mobile game wouldn’t be capable of delivering the same excitement I felt as a kid, sitting in front of a tv with that concrete gray controller, getting up to switch discs, my game manual open my side. (Don’t judge me, using the game manual enhances game play for me.) 

I came back to this game later. I think I got sick that day, and had a little time on my hands? This time I became totally immersed. Another Eden follows the adventures of a boy named Aldo who must save his sister from her kidnappers. But soon after embarking on his quest, he gets swallowed up by a wormhole that catapults him hundreds of years into the future. Very soon after his arrival he realizes that his entire world, and temporality were at risk of being totally obliterated. He must save his sister, and time itself before evil forces remove all things from existence. I realized that not only was Kato-San still putting out world-class work, but he was also keeping the classic JRPG style game alive with a mobile-savvy twist on the format that delivered us so many masterpieces over the years. He’s done a lot for Square Enix, including some writing for FF7, the Chrono games, Xenogears, and more. Kato-San, you made my childhood. 

So Another Eden is in the Chrono universe, but is not a direct sequel. It features wonderful story-driven gameplay revolving around leaping through time with a motley crew of companions who each have at least one if not more side quests that help to flesh out their back story. The artwork is GORGEOUS, and often surprising in its variety. The music gets an A+ from me. Overall, the ability of this game to transport me into a world of adventure has left me flabbergasted with glee. I thought it was fitting that Another Eden allowed the recruitment of many characters. If the game developers of the Chrono Cross team hadn’t been so restricted by the data limitations of playstation discs in the late nineties, they likely would have realized a much fuller vision of their game, and it’s cast of over forty characters. In Another Eden, it’s possible to recruit much more than forty. I’m willing to let the number remain a mystery for now. Suffice it to say, this is a popular feature in video gaming called “gacha” (ironic, since it sounds like “gotcha”) in which character recruitment allows a person to build a large roster, a collection of rogues if you will. My roster is currently at seventy. I think the devs continue adding more recruitable characters over time. 

I don’t play the game to collect characters though. I’m all about enjoying a fun, quirky, and overtly optimistic storyline, and Another Eden delivers on all these. At times the tension resolves in humorously convenient ways, and at other times the drama is gut-wrenchingly tragic. Overall, the story engages so much that i have to know what happens next. The game design is also flexible enough that you can have dozens of side-quests active at once without having to worry that you’ll lose track of how to take the next step to progress on any of the various threads, including the main plot. The level of detail in the world and in the many different settings across present day, antiquity, and the future make the game so full of variety there is no reason to ever get bored. 

My last note, the battle system is so different from other JRPGs I’ve played, it took me some time to get use to it. I don’t know whether the design and options were restricted by the mobile format, or if mobile design simply dictates a more sleek and streamlined approach to battles. But now that I have the hang of it, I’m in love with the ways they have created a whole turn-based battle system. The way one is able to heal characters and hold two characters in reserve, as well as dual tech abilities are really clever. The level-up system is optimized well enough that it’s not too impractical to train up a new character if you suddenly decide its time to bring a new face into the party.

Did I mention that you also you get to choose a feline mascot and choose their costume? I honestly can't think of a single reason why every video game doesn't offer this option. The new standard from here on out is if a game can give you an avatar, it can also give that avatar a pet cat that will follow them literally everywhere they go.

I’ll probably write about Another Eden again in the future. I'm far from done with this masterpiece. For now, let me know if you start a playthrough. If you like JRPGs, you're bound to fall in love with it like I have.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Will it bend? Or will it break? Netflix Adapts Fan Favorite ATLA

Netflix is teasing the release of a new live action series next year.

There is a lot to talk about here, but first of all, let's take a moment. 

Avatar the Last Airbender is the right series to choose for a live action remake. A succesful remake would be absolutely priceless. If you ask me, you're crazy if you don't think the adaptation is worth the risk.

Aang and Appa

That being said, I know it’s crazy to say there isn’t a good chance it could another maddeningly tone deaf iteration of what happened with the Avatar movie in 2010. The stakes are high.

It’s a sad, sad parade of Hollywood business deals that take our childhood favorites and disfigure them as soulless copies. I’m thinking of Disney's relentless live-action remakes of their entire catalog of cartoons, mostly. Netflix seems all too eager to follow suit. We'll see if The Little Mermaid breaks the cycle of persistent duds. Personally, I'm waiting for it to be released on Disney+. The positive reviews I hear give me some tentative hope, but not enough to spend money on theater tickets. In the interest of full disclosure, I never saw the 2010 Avatar movie. If you have talked to anyone about that movie, you probably know why. The overwhelming disappointment in that movie was enough to convince me not to waste my time.

Kiawentiio Tarbell as Katara

I am willing to hope, tentatively, Netflix could work things out, but here is my concern.

What were the creative differences that led the original creators of Avatar, Brian Konietzko and Michael Dimartino, to
leave the project?

In 2018, it was announced the original creators of ATLA would be executive producing and working as showrunners of the Netflix adaptation. However, both of them left the project in 2020 citing "creative differences" with Netflix. Without these two having any involvement whatsoever with Netflix's direction for the series, it's easy to imagine a number of ways the series could go wrong.

My hope is they get at least a few things right.

The original series meticulously consulted experts in many different disciplines of martial arts. Seeing these moves with real actors would bring a whole new dimension to the experience. A good kung fu movie, to me, is the pinnacle of the action category. With ATLA, the storytelling and the action were inseparably connected. It's a winning combination that I am excited to see again.

Ian Ousley as Sokka

The original Avatar was emotionally dynamic. Every episode was peppered goofy jokes and slapstick comedy, but also put a spotlight on deeper, more mature emotions. The sadness, anger, and desperation in the story arcs of entire nations, as well as the characters transcended what anyone ever expected from an after school special. This remake just needs to honor a few of the big moments with those deeper emotions, and give us some laughs, and it would already be way ahead of most live actions adaptations.

Dallas Liu as Zuko
Art from r/TheLastAirbender, by u/VeganCowJuice

We have an undisclosed amount of time left to wait to see how Netflix does with this series. There is a lot riding on it, as Netflix values its potential enough to invest 15 million per episode. We’ll see if their money was spent wisely.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Managing Mental Health at Comic Con

“When you hit [rock bottom], that’s when you change.” –Jon Berthnal (The Punisher)

I’ve been going to Comic Conventions for eight years now. In some ways, they’re old news, but I still typically enjoy them. The cosplays, the creativity, and the excitement! So what happened to me at Dallas Fan Expo this month kind of surprised me.

I’ve struggled with mental health in the past and even gotten annoyed with people at Cons before for crowding me (par for the course) but this time I swear I felt claustrophobic around all the people. So my mind started racing: Where did that come from and how would I deal with it? 

I’ve written about mental health and tips for comic conventions in the past, but as my mind started racing it wasn’t exactly clear what I should do. Should I cut my losses and go home? Should I try to stick it out? Granted, my list of things on my to-dos this year was pretty small compared to some years, but I’d still traveled an hour into Dallas to be there. I wanted to make the trip worth it.

Thankfully I managed to calm myself and finish out the Con, at least enough to attend the Punisher and Daredevil panels (I enjoyed their shows, but didn't expect them to get me so excited for Echo and Daredevil: Born Again). And with how many of us geeks seem to deal with some sort of introversion and/or social anxiety, I wanted to share a couple things that helped me that I hope will help my fellow geeks enjoy their next Con. 

1. It’s okay to take a break. I made this point a few years ago when I only had 8 hours total to be at Salt Lake FanX, but it was even more true this year at Fan Expo. There’s so much to do and see at each Con that it feels like I have to check out everything. But that’s simply not true. There’s always the next Con (which will have a lot of the same merch and artwork, so no need to get all your shopping done now). As I re-learned this year, it’s okay to sit in the hall, rest your feet, and breathe for a few minutes before going to your next planned event.

2. Be flexible. Speaking of plans, last year Ryan quoted Captain Cold in saying to “throw away the plan” when things go off the rails. And he was right. My brain is very black and white, so making a conscious effort to be flexible is tough. But with so many variables in play (especially people on the convention floor) the need for flexibility is non-negotiable. You gotta roll with the punches, because otherwise you’ll end up walking into someone on the vendor floor (because people stop in the most random places there). 

3. Give yourself some grace. Despite obviously writing from a religious perspective, I’m not necessarily talking about grace in a religious sense here. I’m talking more about the tendency that many human beings (me being a prime example of this) to expect too much out of ourselves. So whenever a depression flareup happens to me, I start kicking myself for not being able to manage it better (just ask my wife). To paraphrase something Vincent D'Onofrio (Fisk/Kingpin) said at the Daredevil panel, it’s better to embrace imperfection. 

So go in with a plan (but be flexible). Take breaks as needed. And be kind to yourself when things don’t go perfectly. Comic conventions are for everyone, not just the more social among us. So I’ll see you at the next Con!

Monday, June 19, 2023

Best Game in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep

This has been the best Kingdom Hearts game I have played so far. The story was above average, and you don’t need to play the prior games to understand what is going on. It is better if you do play the other games before this one, but it’s not necessary. The game mechanics were the best that this franchise has made.

In this post instead of giving you a detailed summary of the games plot. I will go over the main plot points and why I liked playing this game more than the rest of the series.

Birth by Sleep takes place 10 years before the first Kingdom Hearts game takes place. We follow three playable protagonists: Terra, Ventus, and Aqua. Each is a wielder of keyblades and becoming masters. Out of the three protagonists Ventus looks the most familiar. His character design is the exact same for Roxas from Kingdom Hearts II. So far there has been no connection between these two characters, but maybe in the future they will tie them together. Personally, I think that Ventus is connected or will be connected to Sora that is why Sora’s Nobody looks and sounds like Ventus. 

In this game you choose which character you want to play as. The recommendation the game gave was to play Terra then Ventus followed by Aqua. Each character has their own mission and visits the same worlds in the game, but they are different from the other games except radiant garden. What I liked is when you go to the same world as a different character the story is different and what you do is most likely different. For example, in Cinderella’s world, Terra helps Cinderella get to the ball without being harmed by the unversed (similar to the heartless). While Ventus, is helps Jaq and Gus make Cinderella’s dress in the wicked stepmothers house and Aqua helps the prince find Cinderella. Each character focuses on a different area of the world which takes away the repetitiveness that the game can bring.


The villain in this game is this old man named Xehanort. The same Xehanort that was the villain in KH I and II, but older. He became younger by taking over Terra body by the end of the game. When Xehanort posses Terra’s body he gets amnesia and only remembers his name. As in the previous games Xehanort is after Kingdom Hearts and in this game, we finally learn what Kingdom Hearts can do. From Xehanort report he said “It is said the one who opens its door will bring about the creation of the Next World. Such a feat is above any human. Or, to put it a different way: whoever opens that door will be reborn as something far greater than human.” It may not be definitive, but its better than what we learn from the previous games.’

From the games I believe there are many methods to get to Kingdom Hearts and in this game Xehanort tries to obtain Kingdom Hearts he must create the χ-blade (Chi blade --- keyblade). To make one he needs a being of pure light and pure darkness to be sacrificed. Xehanort does this by splitting Ventus into two pure beings: Ventus being the pure light and Ventas (who looks Sora) being pure darkness. Like all games in the franchise Xehanort fails to obtain Kingdom Hearts because of Aqua and Ventus. But Ventus ends up in coma while aqua seals him in what becomes castle oblivion. Aqua attempts to rescue Terra and becomes trapped in the Realm of Darkness and she sets Terra-Xehonart free. 

So here is a recap of what happened to the trio and why they weren’t in the first few games. Terra become possed by Xehanort, Ventus is in a coma, and aqua is trapped in the Realm of Darkness.

There are two things that stood out to me as I was playing this game: the game mechanics and the lore. As I have stated earlier this game has the best game mechanics for Kingdom hearts. You have a ranged attack that uses your focus bar. To replenish the bar is easy; you need to hit the enemy. You can build a command deck and attacks and spells that you want to use in battle, and it is easily regenerated through time. There is a D-link bar that allows the player use command decks of other characters like Mickey and get some awesome buffs. To replenish this bar the player must pick up blue orbs that enemies drop which is frequently dropped. I personally liked using Mickey as my D-Link because one of his buffs is double EXP. I really enjoyed the game mechanics and I hope the later installments have similar mechanics.

The lore is expanded greatly in this game. In the game prior to this one, there weren’t many keyblade users, but apparently before this game there used to be thousands of users, but they all died in a battle on a planet that is now known as keyblade graveyard. Apparently, there was a great battle that took place to get to Kingdom Hearts and mostly all keyblade users died in battle. 

The only downside from this game was there was only one Final Fantasy character in the game, Zack found in Olympus Coliseum. Zack is from Final Fantasy 7 and I thought he was a great character and sadly I don't think he will ever go on that date with Aqua or Aeris.

If you have never played Kingdom Hearts or want to see the best that this franchise can offer, I would recommend you playing this game. This game can be a stand alone and you wouldn’t need to play the other games to enjoy the story. There are easter eggs throughout the game that you wouldn’t understand, but it is not relevant. The game mechanics are the best so far for this franchise and above average for most RPG games.


Join us on our new Discord server to stay up to date and interact with other LDS geeks.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Marvel Dad Jokes: Spidey Edition

Many faces.
Many fans.
Is he your friend? In your dreams.
Here’s some jokes, told in memes.
Look out!

Here come some memes and Dad Jokes about Spidermaaaaaaaaaan!