Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Exploring Anime Tropes: Deal-Breakers and Hidden Gems


I enjoy watching anime, a passion that originated during my teenage years with Dragonball Z. What draws me to anime is its unique ability to convey aspects that live-action cannot capture. While I appreciate anime, it's important to acknowledge its flaws. There are certain recurring tropes that, when considering a new series, one should investigate. Some of these tropes are harmless but annoying, while others are outright distasteful. For those venturing into the world of anime or contemplating allowing their children to explore it, I hope this list proves helpful. Here are five deal-breakers when it comes to anime.

The Main Character Always Fights the Final Boss

   While a harmless trope, it can limit the creativity of a series. In many Shonen anime, the main protagonist inevitably faces the final boss, sidelining opportunities for other supporting characters to grow. An example is Fairy Tail, where Natsu consistently confronts the opposing team boss, despite other characters being equally capable such as Gray or Erza. This trope could be improved by allowing other characters to take on the main villain in the arc especially when they are better suited for. For example, If the protagonist has fire magic and the boss also has fire magic, then let the supporting character with water magic face the villain.

Deus Ex Machina Occurs Too Often

   This overplayed trope involves the protagonist receiving an unexpected power boost to defeat the villain when on the brink of defeat. Often tied to the power of friendship. It’s ironic when an anime has dark themes not suitable for children, but the heroes use the power of friendship. Naruto is a notable example where friendship plays a significant role in the protagonist's strength.

Perverted Characters

   This trope, featuring characters who sexualize women, can be off-putting and occurs too frequently in anime. Characters like Master Roshi in Dragonball or Daru in Steins;Gate exemplify this issue, potentially deterring some viewers. Perverted characters tend to have nose bleeds indicating that they are having an impure thought.

Women Betrayal

   Aligned with the previous trope, the objectification of women in anime is a concerning trend. Despite character development, female characters are often depicted in impractical attire with unrealistic bodies. One Piece is cited as an example, where every female character is scantily clad. Which should discourage viewers with moral standards.

Brother and Sister Romantic Interest

   This uncomfortable trope, where a sister develops romantic feelings for the main protagonist, is a definite reason to stop watching an anime. Instances like those in Sword Art Online can be particularly unsettling. Typically, if the main protagonist has a sister, then she will have romantic feelings towards him. The exception being Demon Slayer.


  Reflecting on these tropes, I invite you to share your own anime pet peeves. Despite these drawbacks, there are numerous anime series that avoid these pitfalls. I recommend the following, excluding Steins;Gate due to its inclusion of the perverted character trope:

1. Bungo Stray Dogs

2. Spy X Family

3. Hunter X Hunter

4. Marshle: Magic and Muscles 
(Yes, this breaks the first tope, but it is still good)

5. Love is War

6. Ranking of Kings

7. Log Horizon

8. Classroom of the Elite

Monday, January 29, 2024

Flashback: First Impressions of the Guardians

(Guest post by Russell)

First impressions are often a big deal. I thought I offended my wife during my first interaction with her. Fortunately, for me, she has no memory of it and now we have a great story to tell. When I first heard about the Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2014, I was very much like Korath responding to Star-Lord the first time, “Who?” I knew it was going to be a Marvel movie and I had enjoyed the other movies I had seen up to that time.  I recall hearing on the radio that the soundtrack was the first album that was number #1 and made up of previously released tracks. A classmate of mine at the time told me that the “Guardians of the Galaxy” were to the “Avengers” what the Suicide Squad was to the Justice League. This did not clear things up for me a whole lot, but  I saw the trailer and it looked fun. However, the timeframe for going to see it was not in the “I have to do this right now” section of my to do list. 

In the midst of a lot of moving for a lot of crazy reasons including cockroaches and cop calls for neighbors, we found ourselves in our almost empty apartment when my wife asked, “Do you want to take a break and go see a movie?” I replied, almost with tears in my eyes, “YES! Can we go see Guardians of Galaxy?” My wife replied in the affirmative and off we went. Not only was the soundtrack awesome and still remains one of my favorites to this day, but it was just a fun movie. I had no expectations and found myself laughing while enjoying the action and story as well. I loved the resolution of the Guardians with the people of Xandar. I loved Star-Lord doing a dance-off with Ronan and pretty much all of the funny things he does in the movie. Trying to pick up on Gamora by telling her about Kevin Bacon. Drax taking everything so literally that nothing ever goes over his head. Rocket speaking perfect “groot” language and taking fake legs and eyes just for the fun of it. I loved Groot’s sacrifice and dropping little firefly like things all over the place and on an on. I love when serious things are happening in a movie, but the movie does not take itself too seriously. Do you know what I mean? Yes, the Guardians so an epic walk, but it’s to the song “Cherry Bomb” and it’s right after they are all trying to get into leather pants and jackets, except Drax and Groot, so it’s serious, but funny. Seriously funny, my favorite kind of funny, seriously.

I especially loved how the “good” guys had their flaws and still worked together to beat the bad guys. That is not to say that I in any way, shape, or form condone any of the bad things that the good guys did, but in the end, they all stood together (literally, which was hilarious!) to beat Ronan from destroying Xandar. I guess it’s just a good reminder that in spite of flaws, we can still do good. 

So, my first impression of the movie was, “THIS IS AWESOME! I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I’M LAUGHING SO HARD! THIS IS AWESOME!” and it gave us the much needed break to get back to packing, unpacking, cleaning, and getting back to life. I have since seen "Volume 1" a number of times, but that first time will always serve as a tender mercy of being able to take a break from life for a while, which, I suppose is sometimes what movies and entertainment are meant to do.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Kingdom Hearts: Union Cross

So I initially thought that Kingdom Hearts: Union Cross (KHUC) also known as Unchained χ was the mobile game that KH Back Cover was based on. I was wrong. After watching so many videos and playthroughs, thank you PlayFrame, for playing this game and helping me understand the story. This was a mobile game that shut down and now is a video record of the game with being able to play KH: Dark Road (the next summary I am planning on writing about). Luckily PlayFrame played the game and finished it before it was shut down. In this post I will go over the main story of the game and what I think is important for the future installments of the franchise. 

So instead of being led by the five Masters from Back Cover we are being led by the Five Dandelions (Ephemer, Skuld, Ventus, Brain, and Lauriam). The five union leaders were given instructions to meet each other for the first time after the Keyblade war on the battle ground. Which they followed and started leading the Dandelions. 

Lauriam, Ventus, Ephemer, Skuld, and Brain

They place all the Dandelions in a virtual reality to gather light (lux) , having the unions be more unified because they are all Dandelions (mostly). In the virtual reality they get lux from the future and that is how we travel to the same stories and worlds that Sora did in KHI. It might be important to note that all the worlds we have seen throughout the series used to be all connected, but somehow separated into being their own worlds. It hasn’t been explained how that has happened, but it might be important later on. 

As the Dandelions gather Lux, their companions, Chirthy with the help of the virtual world erase the memories about the keyblade war so only the five Union leaders would remember. 

During the game there is a flashback to Luxu and Master of Masters explaining how they would defeat the thirteen Darkness. The Master of Masters and the original masters each would take one of the darkness and when they are destroyed that Darkness would go with it. Then the five Union leaders that come after them will do the same and sacrifice themselves destroying five more darkness. The final Darkness would be trapped in the virtual world and then the future will be safe from Darkness. Only Luxu was told this by the Master of Masters and this information was not in the Book of Prophecies so none of the other masters and union leaders know about this. The Master of Masters alludes that the masters will believe that there is a traitor which will lead to a Keyblade War that he believes needs to happen to vanquish the thirteen darkness. Master of Masters assures us that he has a plan for a happy ending, but can we really trust him? Look at the masters, they trusted him and they were led to a war that none of them initially wanted.

Before the Keyblade War, Master Ava, started to have doubts about the Master of Masters and didn’t obey him completely. As you recall she was tasked to form the Dandelions and was given a list of who should be the five union leaders and the one circled she was supposed to give a copy of the Book of Prophecies. Instead of giving it to Ephemer, like the Master of Masters wanted, she gave the book to Brain. She did this to inform them that the book doesn’t have the future she desires and hopes this small change will lead to a better future.

From the list they noticed that Ventus wasn’t chosen to be one of the Union leaders, but it was supposed to be Lauriam's sister Strelitzia. After they investigated with Elrena, a colleague of Strelitzia, they learned that Ventus erased Strelitzia. I don’t understand how that worked, but he was possessed. Ventus and Lauriam fight and darkness joins. Ventus uses the light within his heart to destroy the darkness, claiming he is pure light as they are pure darkness. 

After some intense fights the town, Daybreak, is on the verge of destruction. The five union leaders all travel into the future by the use of a waypoint and someone remembering them in the future. Ventus ends up unconscious on the keyblade graveyard where Master Xehanort finds him. Brian wakes up in a city called “Scala ad Caelum” founded by another union leader, Ephemer. We don’t know what happened to the rest but we know Lauriam and Elrena nobody is Marluxia and Larxene, respectively. While they are escaping the Dandelions die and their Chirthy turn into Dream Eaters. This makes me believe this virtual reality is the dreams that Sora and Riku enter in KH Dream Drop Distance.

Also, to note that Luxu at the end of the game pulls down his hood and he looks identical to Brian. I am not sure how important that is, but if it is at the end of the game it must be important, right? 

This story like KH Back Cover was very confusing, but I understood Back Cover more after watching a playthrough of the series. Also, I didn’t know the best way to watch the clips on the app. I didn’t know if I should go left to right or follow the column down.

Please leave a comment on what I missed in the summary. Is there something I should have noticed in the playthrough?

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Bluey Workout

This episode of Bluey is called "Geek Workout".

We've already established that parents love Bluey, possibly even more than their kids. It's certainly a parenting win when my four-year-old daughter (my Bluey) chooses to watch it over Fancy Nancy or Cocomelon. And as parents it can be hard to find time to exercise. But here's the perfect way to get you moving. Since each episode of Bluey is less than ten minutes, this workout is pretty low commitment. (though you're likely to end up watching multiple episodes anyway). Plus it'll keep your kid entertained for the time you need to exercise.

While I am a licensed physical therapy provider, I am not a personal trainer or a medical practitioner. Partner as necessary with your doctor prior to engaging in any diet or excise programs. If any of these exercises cause increased pain, stop the exercise immediately.

***This workout is intended to work without any equipment, but feel free to add small dumbbells or bands as you're safely able.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Filling Your Tank with The Book of Mormon

(Guest post by Spencer's Dad)

Recently I was getting low on gas. When I went to fill it up a mechanical problem stopped me. The culprit in question is the cover that protects the round gas cap. I pulled the open button and it did not open. There was no way to fill the gas without this panel opening.

In reality I had over half a tank of fuel left. I could probably drive around Whitehorse for another week. But there would come a day that an empty gas tank was going to be a problem. Yes, one of you would come and ferry me and my wife home. (She might not be amused at running out of gas somewhere).

Experience has taught me that a low gas tank can be a problem too. When gas tank is low and weather is just right, condensation can make the gas seem dirty. You have power sometimes. But starting it and maintaining power does not work when condensation takes place.

Another time my gas tank still had about 2% of gas left. However, since I had parked on our upslope driveway the gas tank thought it was empty and would not start.

While driving the Yukon winter don’t drive anywhere near empty. Nothing is going to be better because you are closer to E (that means Empty not Extra) than to F (Full not Failure)

In our personal lives, let’s not run our spiritual gas tank near empty.

The Book of Mormon is a super fuel that can fill our tank and charge our battery. In this post (and next time) I will share with you some of the promises we have about how reading the Book of Mormon can bless your life.

In his second last talk - President Thomas Monson pleaded for us to read the Book of Mormon every day. He said:

“If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so.,,,

"I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.”

[Thomas Monson gave 249 General Conference talks in his time as an apostle. The final talk was a five minute encouragement entitled Kindness, Charity and Love. The second last, quoted above, is entitled "The Power of the Book of Mormon".]

At least one church member in the April 2017 conference took Pres. Monson’s talk to heart. Six months later, Russel Nelson (then 93 years old) described some of what he learned as he did what Pres. Monson asked.

“Since President Monson’s challenge six months ago, I have tried to follow his counsel. Among other things, I’ve made lists of what the Book of Mormon is, what it affirms, what it refutes, what it fulfills, what it clarifies, and what it reveals. Looking at the Book of Mormon through these lenses has been an insightful and inspiring exercise! I recommend it to each of you.”

("The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?") 

Our study of the Book of Mormon can bless us starting today. President Ezra Taft Benson (in his first conference as President of the church) gave this promise

“I promise you that from this moment forward, if we will daily sup from its pages and abide by its precepts, God will pour out upon each child of Zion and the Church a blessing hitherto unknown.” ("The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion")

“A blessing hitherto unknown” can help deal with any challenge you and I will face today in 2024.

Next time I will tell you how I fixed my gas cover. (Not the way I first thought). Fear not I am able to refill the gas tank on our mission vehicle long before it hits empty.

As you go forward you to can fill up your spiritual tank by reading The Book of Mormon daily, you can have the energy to go where you need to go.

Friday, January 19, 2024

2024 Anticipation


For today's post, I'm deviating from my usual content to share something special. With the new year upon us and the promise of bright and beautiful things ahead, it's time to delve into the exciting nerdy releases lined up for the year. What sets this post apart is that each month, I'll highlight one thing that I find thrilling, and hopefully, you will too.

I've categorized the nerdy delights into four segments for each month: Movies/Shows, Anime, Video Games, and Books. As time progresses, more information and releases will be revealed. I've done my best to populate each category, and I hope you find this list helpful.

Now, I'm curious, which category excites you the most?


Movie/Show: Echo (Marvel)

Anime: Solo Leveling

Video Game: Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

Book: Assassin’s Apprentice II by Robin Hobb and Jody Houser


Movie/Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender (live-action)

Anime: Haikyuu!! Movie: Decisive Battle at the Garbage Dump

Video Game: Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

Book: [Not Specified]


Movie/Show: Dune 2

Video Game: Princess Peach: Showtime

Anime and Book: [Not Specified]


Movie/Show: Fallout

Anime: Demon Slayer: Hashira Training Arc

Video Game: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes

Book: [Not Specified]


Movie/Show: X-men 97

Anime: My Hero Academia Season 7

Video Game: [Not Specified]

Book: How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying by Django Wexler


Movie/Show: Inside Out 2

Anime: [Not Specified]

Video Game: Destiny 2: The Final Shape

Book: Red God by Pierce Brown (TBD)


Movie/Show: Despicable Me 4

Book: The Last Horizon book 3: Will Wight

Anime and Video Game: [Not Specified]


Video Game: Black Myth: Wukong

Book: The Dollmakers by Lynn Buchanan (TBD)

Movie/Show and Anime: [Not Specified]


Movie/Show: Transformers One

Anime, Video game, and Book: [Not Specified]


Movie/Show: Spider-Man: Beyond The Spider-Verse (TBA)

Anime: [Not Specified]

Video Game: None announced.

Book: We Do Not Welcome Out Ten-Year-Old Overlords by Garth Nix


Movie/Show: Wicked

Video Game: None announced.

Anime and Book: [Not Specified]


Movie/Show: The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim

Anime: [Not Specified]

Video Game: Kingdom Hearts: Missing-Link (fall)

Book: Stromlight 5: Wind and Truth by Brandon Sanderson


Honestly, creating this post was more challenging than I anticipated. A significant amount of research went into it, and if I'm honest, not many things caught my interest among the upcoming releases. Comparing it to last year, I felt there were more exciting releases. I hope your experience differs, and you find something to look forward to in this year's nerdy lineup.