Friday, September 29, 2023

Friday Creature Feature - Dark Magician

I recently finished my trek through the original Yu-Gi-Oh anime (including the subpar Dark Side of Dimensions) and I keep debating within myself how much of the story held up and how much of it is nostalgia… but I guess if nothing else, the nostalgia was powerful enough for me to start watching GX again. But before I get into the story of Jaden and Duel Academy, I wanted to spotlight one of my favorite Duel Monsters. He was Yugi’s trademark monster right from his first duel with Kaiba. Yes, I’m talking about the Dark Magician.

Makings of a Magician

Featured in the "Dawn of the Duel" story arc, we see a version of the Dark Magician's backstory (though it might be slightly altered because of the time travel). As one of the Pharaoh's childhood friends, it shouldn't be too surprising that Mahad grew to become a member of the Pharaoh's court, wielding the Millennium Ring. So when the Thief Bakura started campaigning against the Pharaoh, Mahad tried to put a stop to it early on. 

In confronting Bakura and Diabound with his trusty Illusion Magician, Mahad nearly defeated Bakura, entombing him. But as the Thief King got the better of him, Mahad fused his soul with the Illusion Magician. The newly formed Dark Magician was the Pharaoh's faithful servant through the battle against Zorc and would be featured on the Pharaoh's Tablet for millennia to come.

The Return of the Shadow Games

As mentioned, Dark Magician was Yugi's most iconic card, right from his first duel against Kaiba, right through the Ceremonial Duel between Yugi and Atem (and onward into Dark Side of Dimensions, but I don't want to discuss that movie again). He appeared during major battles against Kaiba, Joey, and many other rivals. In addition, Yugi utilized him against villains the like of Pegasus, Marik, and more. As the journey continued, we got different variations and evolutions of the Dark Magician, like Dark Magician Girl, Dark Paladin, and more. I'll discuss some of my favorite variations at the end. 

Why I Love the Dark Magician

I entered Yu-Gi-Oh as I was still early on in my obsession with Harry Potter and was immediately hooked on spellcaster cards as a result. So when the protagonist of the anime had a wizard as his trump card, it shouldn't have surprised anyone that I'd gravitate to the "ultimate wizard". I even made up some cards for a fan fiction that involved Hogwarts characters and spells. My love for Dark Magician has only increased new support cards have been released. In my humble opinion, my spellcaster deck on Duel Links was phenomenal and could take enemies down like nothing.

Favorite Dark Magician Evolutions

As I mentioned earlier, the Dark Magician has a number of different "evolutions" and "variations" that have appeared throughout the anime and the card game. And the list has only grown over the years. It was hard to narrow down my list, but here are a few of my favorites. Other notable mentions include Dark Sage, Skilled Dark Magician, and Sorcerer of Dark Magic.

Dark Magician Knight

When Yugi and company are captured by Noah and the Big Five, Dark Magician was the easy choice for his deck master and he took three new forms against the Big Five. After Dark Flare Knight and Mirage Knight fail to finish off the Big Five, we got Dark Magician Knight. This has been a favorite variation of the spellcaster ever since I first got a copy of Reshef of Destruction. Something has always appealed to me about the warrior magician… that energy must have carried with me onto my mission when a companion nicknamed me “Warrior”.

Dark Paladin

During the Battle City Finals, it was only natural (as it was foretold) that Yugi and Dark Magician should face off against Kaiba and Blue-Eyes White Dragon. As Blue-Eyes took the form of the three-headed Ultimate Dragon, Yugi unleashed his latest Dark Magician form: Dark Paladin. And it was with this warrior magician that Yugi defeated Kaiba’s dragons. Again, we've got another warrior magician. 

Amulet Dragon

Taking a detour from the Pharaoh’s mission, Yugi and the Pharaoh gained possession of the Legendary Dragon Timaeus. With his power to fuse with any monster card, it should be no surprise that the two monsters Yugi fused it with: Dark Magician Girl and Dark Magician. The Amulet Dragon (Dark Magician + Timaeus) was used against Raphael and gained massive strength by clearing the graveyard of spells. Just like the Dark Magician Knight, there was something that drew me to Legendary Dragon cards, so to see them fused with my favorite card was wonderful (I once made up a fusion of Hermos and Dark Magician).

Dark Magician of Chaos

While the ritual monster Magician of Black Chaos first appeared in Duelist Kingdom, he was never "technically" a Dark Magician card. Though, when he appeared alongside Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl in the Virtual World against Noah, I flipped out. Later, after Yugi retired from dueling (probably) his deck was on display at Duel Academy. Some punk stole his deck and pretended to be him. But at least we got the Dark Magician of Chaos, who doesn't just look as cool as Magician of Black Chaos, but he's easier to summon and he has an awesome card effect.

Monday, September 25, 2023

What if Cradle became a Video Game?


artist: Sommer Skye

On August 15th, Will Wight, the creator of Cradle tweeted “The meeting went well” with no details. So of course, many fans were commenting and giving their hypotheses on what the meeting was about. Some think that the meeting was about making his work into a movie, TV show (animated and not). With the writer’s strike happening I doubt that is the case, unless it’s being made from a different country. I am one of the many others that believe that a video game adaptation of cradle will be in the works. 

artist: u/sugar_skye (Sommer Skye)

As I was thinking about the video game adaptation there were two games that I believe would be fun for this series: 1. A JRPG game where we play as the main characters from Cradle. 2. An action role-playing dungeon crawler game. Personally, I would like to have both types of games because I want to play as Lindon, but I would also like to be able to create my own character and have a choice for Iron Body and Path(s) (I would have to try splitting my core at least 5 times). 

artist: Sommer Skye

Even though these two games are different, there must be some constants that I want to happen in both games. For starters, Travis Baldree is a must. For those of you who are unaware, Travis Baldree is the narrator for the books, a voice actor, and a writer (his debut novel was Legends and Lattes). He should voice any character he wants to. If the game was a JRPG, then I would like him to voice Eithan or Dross; why not both. But if he wants to voice a different character, he should have first pick. Second, relating to voice actors, I believe we should have an array of diverse voice actors. I feel like most anime style shows use the same actors and if this is a video game then we should get a fresh batch of actors with cultural diversity. Third, I would want to see gnome easter eggs throughout the game since the books are published by hidden gnome (Will Wight’s publishing company). Finally, the game should not be made by EA. I am still not a fan of them since the release of Star Wars BattleFont II

If the game is a JRPG I would expect us to play as Lindon for most of the time. In a typical JRPG when the character is roaming around there are side conversations that happen. As we play as him wondering around the world, I would want him to talk to himself quoting bloopers that can be found at the end of the book, breaking the fourth wall. I want those side conversations to be bloopers and they can involve other main characters like Yerin. Also, I would want the game to have beautiful scenery like Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild or Xenoblade. I want the game to be story driven following the events of the series, but I also want only a lot of fun side quests that can be repeated. Like facing a Gold Dragon that keeps getting stronger with each encounter. 

If the game is like an action role-playing dungeon crawler game, the graphics wouldn’t have to be as good as the JRPG, but if it was that would be awesome. I would imagine the game being like Torchlight or Path of Exile with MMO skill trees that are complex. I want a wide variety of options for iron bodies and paths, and I want certain paths to be earned and difficult to obtain. However, if you must obtain a path then I would want to be able to reset or restart my character once the path is unlocked. 

artist: Sommer Skye

I don’t know what Will Wight has in store for us in the future or what his meeting was about, but I hope it’s a video game adaptation. It very well could be a meeting about his upcoming kickstarter for special edition books 4-6 in the series. What do you hope the meeting was about?

Friday, September 22, 2023

Get to Know Your Geeks: Book of Mormon Scriptures

My dear friends, as an Apostle of the Lord, I invite you to follow our beloved prophet, President Nelson, in flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon. The need is so great; we need to act now. I promise that you will be participating in “the greatest work on earth,” the gathering of Israel, as you are inspired to reach out to those who have been “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.” They need your testimony and witness of how this book has changed your life and drawn you closer to God, His peace, and His “tidings of great joy.”

--Elder Ronald A. Rasband ("This Day", October 2022 General Conference)

This year is the 200th anniversary of the Angel Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith and his first trip to the Hill Cumorah. I spent four summers at the Hill Cumorah Pageant sharing the story of the Book of Mormon to those who came to the Hill. As members of Jesus Christ's restored church, we treasure the Book of Mormon. So while we normally talk about Harry Potter, Kingdom Hearts, Disney Plus, and everything else pop culture, But today wanted to share our favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon and how this book of scripture has influenced our lives. 

Spencer: Words of Mormon 1:7

7 And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.

When I was waiting for my mission call, I didn't know if/when it would come, because of my autism diagnosis. It was probably my first real adult episode of depression (which would later be the reason I came home from my mission). This was also the first time I remember this scripture. In a time of my life that felt out of control, this scripture provided me with comfort. Even if my heart is being torn apart coming home from my mission, I'm crying in feelings of loneliness and depression, or I'm stressed from a bad day at work, this scripture reminds me that God has a plan for me in all of these things... even if He has to get me there kicking and screaming at times.

And My Soul Hungered (Enos Praying) 

Michael: Enos 1: 3-5

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

I believe that one of the greatest gifts God has given us is blessing of prayer. There are many scriptures in the Book of Mormon that talk about Prayer and the blessings it brings. I like Enos experience because he teaches me to put my soul into praying. I know that we can feel forgiveness when we pray because it has happened to Enos and so many other. I might not give a sincere prayer every time, but I know this is something important. We are God's children and he listens to our prayers like he did with Enos.

Rob: Ether 12:27

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

This scripture has come to mean something different to me over time. Heavenly showing us our weakness does not mean, necessarily, that he shows us specific areas where we are weak. More broadly, we are part of a race of beings that are very weak, not matter if it's a navy seal or pimple teenager. People have limitations, and we're often in denial of this. But humility is a strong characteristic and shows one's willingness to account for the weaknesses which we have, and to find strengths that we may only have access to because we are imperfect. An example is that I often feel that I lack confidence. However, the idea that I need to challenge and push myself to build my confidence has convinced me to stay committed, even at times when I have the urge to quit. I know that giving up without a good reason will probably reinforce my fear of failure. Instead, I have intentionally chosen to face that fear, work through challenges, and keep showing up to work. I've experienced challenges at work, at church, raising kids, and in my marriage, and continuing to remain committed through struggles has paid off over and over. If I had not grown up questioning myself and feeling low self-esteem, I do not know if I would have developed the emotional grit necessary to face some of the challenges I have. And through all of that, I certainly know that I have failed or done poorly many times, and that's okay.

Joe: Alma 56: 55-56

55 And now it came to pass that when they had surrendered themselves up unto us, behold, I numbered those young men who had fought with me, fearing lest there were many of them slain.

56 But behold, to my great joy, there had anot one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.

The 2000 Stripling Warriors was always one of my favorite stories, not just because Helaman calling all 2000 of the young men his sons which heals my own daddy issues, but because of the conviction and faith the warriors had. Ask any military expert and they'll tell you that in a battle as big as the one against the Lamanites some casualties on both sides would be expected, but the fact that none of the warriors fell shows that Heavenly Father was watching over and protecting them in their most dire time. 

I think all men need a brotherhood like Helaman's army, a group of men with similar values and goals who will fight with all they have to protect each other and to serve their higher cause. 

Kenton: Moroni 10:5-7

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.

And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.

There is a singular power in Christ, which can't be compared. Yet it's through that, that we're able to act in power and in the ways that glorify and bring us closer together. Without that power, we only have truth, and truth endures, but it doesn't immediately make effort and change happen: action does. We often fail to realize that we all have access to the power of God, and godliness, and that He is wanting for us to grow and develop into our potential. We simply need not deny the power of God, either that He has power and influence in our lives, or that we are capable of living up to that power. Have confidence, stand for truth and goodness, and deny not God's power, and work according to it! That's just one takeaway from these verses, and I think there is even more that could be emphasized, but that's the beauty of Moroni's writing, he is able to convey many simple truths in so few words. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

I Finally Watched Detective Pikachu

It took me a long time to get interested in watching Detective Pikachu, because I’ve never been the biggest fan of Ryan Reynolds (I think his personality is too loud for me, a good guy I’m sure, but he takes a lot of energy out of me). When the movie came to the Tubi app recently, I figured I should watch it. I mean, it’s me and it’s Pokémon. So naturally, after giving it a try, I have to share my thoughts with you.

As much as I’ve always dreamed of live action Pokémon, but this movie showed me that I think they’re better left as cartoons. There was something about having live actors playing the humans that pulled me out of the wondrous world of Pokémon. Maybe it’s the style of storytelling, but there are things you can do in a cartoon that you can’t do in live action.. For example, the way the Pokémon themselves are so animated is strongly contrasted by the seriousness of the human characters. Even with the best actors, you can’t have the eye-popping and exaggerated facial features that cartoons provide, specifically anime in this case.

To be fair, some of that comes because this story was darker in nature than Ash’s adventures. We had the weight of a story, and a mystery that couldn’t have been told any other way. While there are plenty of serious anime out there, I don’t think this story could've done well, at least in anime form.  That being said, even trying to take the tone and the plot into account from both sides, it was still jarring to see the Pokémon in live action. Naturally, the Pokémon had to be CGI. The problem is that the CGI still made them look very animated and anime. Perhaps  that was the intent,, but to me, that was one more thing that pulled me out of the story. As if the two styles, live-action and anime, were trying to coexist. I’m not sure how you could’ve done it differently, I’m certainly no director, or producer, but it was still a drawback for me.

All that said, the plot was wonderful and I enjoyed it. For those who haven’t seen it, it could be placed about 20 years after Mewtwo Strikes Back or perhaps after Red/Blue/Yellow (putting it five years or so after Sun/Moon). As the story progressed, I had no idea who the real villain was. They led me one way and I followed them blindly and I fell for it. So when the plot twist came and uncovered the real villain of the story, I was blown away. So top marks for the plot. However if you’re looking for a fun Pokémon movie to watch with your kids I would not recommend this one. There's some minor language (biblical swear words) and some innuendo. I’d recommend this movie for teenagers and adults who grew up on Pokémon.

Also, despite what I said about the CGI Pokémon not meshing with the live action world, there were plenty of CGI Pokémon that just came out beautifully still, so I’ll finish off with some of them below.

PS: Regardless of whether I like or dislike Ryan Reynolds, there’s something beautiful about him, singing the original Pokémon theme song as Pikachu.

Monday, September 18, 2023

LDS Geeks Podcast #2: First Doctor Adventures

Enjoy our first of a three-part series as TJ and I discuss our journey through Classic Doctor Who, starting with the First Doctor and our favorite adventures.


Friday, September 15, 2023

I Am Groot: Season 2

I was going to do a Creature Feature about Groot that was a whole page full of “I am Groot” with different variations of punctuation and pictures of Groot. That may still happen at some point (maybe for an April Fools post) but for today I just wanted to talk about the second season of I Am Groot. Last year Joe wrote about the first season and why we love Groot, so make sure you check that out, but one reason I like these is that even though they’re MCU canon, they’re just for fun. It’s doubtful that Groot’s bird or snowman will play a critical role in Kang Dynasty or Secret Wars, but Groot’s mini-adventures can bring you joy nonetheless. 

Are You My Groot?

This episode was especially relatable as a parent. Groot did everything he could to keep his new little bird baby out of trouble… only for more trouble to ensue. But then the bird finds his mommy in the end anyway, so it all ends well I guess. Also an apparent reminder of Disney’s obsession with dumb birds. 

Groot Noses Around

On a serious note, this episode makes me wonder how the heck Groot’s anatomy works if that fake nose gave him the sense of smell. Or maybe the nose was a special technology that enhanced the sense of smell? Either way, the important lesson that came from this episode was the importance of enjoying the little things in life. But then the relatable part of this short was ignoring your faults and problems to put some ease in your life.

Groot's Snow Day

This episode went from cute to holy creepy snowman to that’s cute. Robo-Snowman kind of reminds me of Calvin’s snowmen and of the ones from Doctor Who… but with alien technology. To be honest, if it were for cute Groot, this short could be the thing of nightmares to some viewers.

Groot's Sweet Treat

This episode Groot was me when I hear a patient has brought us a treat. Gotta get there quickly or you never know if the good stuff will still be around. Maybe that’s why I found myself thinking “Go Groot go! Hurry!” throughout the story. And then just as he’s succeeding…

Groot and the Great Prophecy

Bringing the Watcher in to narrate an episode of I Am Groot was brilliant and wonderfully added to the comedy (side note: Where is Season 2 of What If?). This legend or prophecy (whatever you want to call it) brings to mind thoughts about how I think I’m supposed to be doesn’t always line up with who I’m meant to be. Especially coming from a religious perspective, there’s an interesting overlap of the two concepts. But then again I try not to take these shorts too seriously, because it’s Groot.

So in conclusion, I am Groot. I am Groot! I am Groot; I am Groot. We are Groot!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

My Adventures With Superman: Hero For Everyone

I've said this before: Back in the day when we were all flocking to Marvel movies I was the guy everyone turned to and asked who half these people were, particularly in the post-credit scene where they teased some future story. It was a fine thing to keep people excited about the next movie, but it also sometimes lead to confusion as not everybody would get why there's a dog in a space suit and a cigarette smoking duck hanging out with the Collector, or who those space freaks were with Sylvester Stallone. 

Now cut to my dear friend Thompson, who is a huge super hero fan, particularly Superman. He loves anything Superman related and has taught his kids his love as well, which is beyond adorable and I love it forever. Thompson has always loved the movies and TV shows but isn't that interested in the Superman lore (And who could blame him since there's nearly 100 years worth of it to learn about). He loves the out-of-comic Superman. 

Meanwhile I am a comic book stan fan. I know about Superman, Lois, Jimmy Olsen, the Lois and Jimmy comics way back in the day, Lana Lang, the mermaid he dated briefly, the last dog, horse, monkey and cat of Krypton, him living in the 30th century Futurama style briefly while a teen to help out the Legion of Superheroes, his death, his rebirth, the version in New 52 that dated Wonder Woman, the version in Injustice that tried to police all of Earth, the version in Red Son that turned the Earth into a communist paradise, his different forms in the 90's including long mullet and the Red/Blue saga, and far more than is healthy for any human being to know about a fictional alien. 

We both love My Adventures with Superman. 

Reboot with Nods

My Adventures with Superman is a retelling of the classic Superman story, starting when Clark and Jimmy start as interns at the Daily Planet and meet forever intern Lois. Superman is still trying to figure out his powers while starting his new journalism career and falling for Lois. All of this is hampered by the fact that his space ship, which is usually the repository for his Kryptonian backstory, doesn't speak English, so he has no idea what the bearded man in the hologram is talking about. We see Clark trying to balance his life, usually failing, all while trying to uncover the mystery of a pile of alien weapons that have ended up on the streets of Metropolis. 

Here's why I had two whole paragraphs describing my friend and I's different involvements with this franchise: There's nothing anyone needs to know about Superman to enjoy My Adventures with Superman. They don't hammer the lore over your head like some versions (*cough* Superman Returns *cough*) they just let the characters play out naturally and give tiny nods here and there for the super fans. 

After each episode, Thompson and I would frantically text each other geeking out about the new villain they revealed, or how this person learned this thing or whatever happened. I guessed a couple things beforehand but they're was still so much that was fresh and fun to watch that I had no problems knowing one or two things. Thompson loved the down-to-earth depiction of Superman and how absolutely adorkably relatable he is, and while I'm not a fan of Lois Lane (or superhero girlfriends in general, Mary Jane Watson, you human shaped pile of useless) I actually found myself loving Lois and Clark's relationship more than I ever had. 


The animation style can be classified as "Wanname", meaning it looks like anime but isn't made in Japan (See also Legend of Korra, Avatar the Last Airbender, Legend of Vox Machina...) and frankly


Yes I love many of the live action movies, and I think it's astonishing how they can make them look and feel like the comic books themselves, but you want to know an easy way to also accomplish that without CG and a massive warehouse full of green screens? Animate everything. 

I seriously could watch walking animations and movement gifs from the show all day, just admiring how stunning the animation is. This is a feast for the eyes for anyone who want to see their Superman the way they've always pictured him. If they did any other superhero show with the same animation you can bet you'd be finding me right there watching transfixed like I was hypnotized by a mind control ray. 

The Gates Are Open

My Adventures with Superman is frankly what DC needs if they truly want to keep their heroes relevant. A show that respects all sides of the fandom and doesn't just cater to the Uber geeks. I don't need to make Thompson read all my comics Clockwork Orange style, or put a drill to my frontal lobe so I forget all the lore so we can enjoy this show together. We're both on a level playing field learning about these characters and going on adventures with them, as it should be. 

I should probably say that on the opposite end of the scale, besides my snide comments, would be the show Young Justice. Now I love Young Justice but they are constantly dropping in new characters, places and scenarios without explaining who they are, just expecting the audience to know who this character is and why they're so important. A show like this I probably couldn't enjoy with Thompson because the show clearly knows who it wants to appeal to: The hardcore fans and frankly I hate that. I want to be able to share my love for these characters without having to host a masters degree level training on how the DC universe works, and it's not fair to expect him to have to have it all explained to him just so the show makes any sense. If we want our beautiful fandoms to stay alive we need to embrace all fans no matter how much they've read, seen, played or cosplayed and the studios need to as well, and it looks like they have with at least one.