Staying at home is the norm... What are you reading?

stroopwafel

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Also some manga just don't end so by that rule we'd not have any Berserk anime or any one piece anime, which would have been a very big loss.
The latest Berserk animes are total crap with their cheap ass animations. The one from 1997 however was terrific. Too bad it only covered the golden age arc. I wish so much we had a similar one for the retribution arc.

Anyways I'm about halfway in Obama's memoirs. Or the first volume atleast. Kind of had a slow start I didn't really find interesting but once it gets to the point where he takes office it becomes a definite page turner.
 

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Early in Season 1, there's this whole "We need to get to Erins Basement" and as of the end of the season, they still weren't any closer to getting there then they were at the beginning. Maybe they eventually did but I haven't been able to force myself to watch past season 1.
They did. AoT final season is airing on Neflix BTW. I could not get into the show, because it was just another shounen anime that suffered from Walking Dead syndrome.

I got ATLA: Rise and Shadow of Kyoshi. I'll be reading these on Christmas/Christmas weekend. They're part of my gift package. The latter I got on Amazon for $13. Used the last of my gift card to get it. I am excited for this prequel series.
 

Dreiko

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They did. AoT final season is airing on Neflix BTW. I could not get into the show, because it was just another shounen anime that suffered from Walking Dead syndrome.

I got ATLA: Rise and Shadow of Kyoshi. I'll be reading these on Christmas/Christmas weekend. They're part of my gift package. The latter I got on Amazon for $13. Used the last of my gift card to get it. I am excited for this prequel series.
That walking dead syndrome is prolly why the show got so big, when you kill beloved chars left and right and anyone can die at any moment it has some thrill to it. Though to me that is my least favorite bit of the series. The plot and insane amount of twists that keep going and going is why it's so awesome. Also it's really not shounen, it's more seinen, it just borrows some shonen tropes to define the characters but then kinda breaks the mold as it goes on, which is kinda regular among seinen with things like Vagabond or Akame ga Kill or Ubel Blatt for example.

The latest Berserk animes are total crap with their cheap ass animations. The one from 1997 however was terrific. Too bad it only covered the golden age arc. I wish so much we had a similar one for the retribution arc.

Anyways I'm about halfway in Obama's memoirs. Or the first volume atleast. Kind of had a slow start I didn't really find interesting but once it gets to the point where he takes office it becomes a definite page turner.
Oh yeah I'm talking about anime not 3D stuff, those I think of as a 3d movie or video not as anime. The one from the 90s was super good. Would be a pity to go without it.
 

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That walking dead syndrome is prolly why the show got so big, when you kill beloved chars left and right and anyone can die at any moment it has some thrill to it. Though to me that is my least favorite bit of the series. The plot and insane amount of twists that keep going and going is why it's so awesome. Also it's really not shounen, it's more seinen, it just borrows some shonen tropes to define the characters but then kinda breaks the mold as it goes on, which is kinda regular among seinen with things like Vagabond or Akame ga Kill or Ubel Blatt for example.


Oh yeah I'm talking about anime not 3D stuff, those I think of as a 3d movie or video not as anime. The one from the 90s was super good. Would be a pity to go without it.
That's the big issue and why I didn't like it. Sure it starts off that way, but once you know who the core characters are, they pretty much have almost plot armor on them and you know they're going to survive. Anyone else that can get killed off is just a big gimmick at that point or minor characters to add to the body count. It's also why I don't like Akame ga Kill. Though I hate that even more than AoT.
 

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That's the big issue and why I didn't like it. Sure it starts off that way, but once you know who the core characters are, they pretty much have almost plot armor on them and you know they're going to survive. Anyone else that can get killed off is just a big gimmick at that point or minor characters to add to the body count. It's also why I don't like Akame ga Kill. Though I hate that even more than AoT.
Right...but then the plot armor chars get the titan foot to the head too XD. Or maybe not, or maybe they do and they get revived, you kinda never know with this, which is why I feel it transcends it. Maybe give s2 a chance if you feel like it.

Akame had this issue we were discussing earlier in this topic where they made up their own ending to it cause the manga wasn't done yet, the whole last battle is entirely different in the manga and the story goes on for a while longer and it generally ends in a much more interesting way.
 

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Right...but then the plot armor chars get the titan foot to the head too XD. Or maybe not, or maybe they do and they get revived, you kinda never know with this, which is why I feel it transcends it. Maybe give s2 a chance if you feel like it.
Nah, I'm good. I quit a early into the second season, cuz there was just no holding interest for me.




Akame had this issue we were discussing earlier in this topic where they made up their own ending to it cause the manga wasn't done yet, the whole last battle is entirely different in the manga and the story goes on for a while longer and it generally ends in a much more interesting way.
I hate both versions about the same. I do admit that I hate the manga version a bit more, because this manga is made by such a edgy tryhard that it's not even funny. I know anime from the 80s and 90s had shock value but even those managed to have some restraint most of the time. The manga is just a straight up shock value fest that doesn't do anything interesting or different, it just disgust or bores me. aside from Esdeath, none of the characters I find interesting and most of them pop out of a how to draw manga book. They all either generic or walking cliches and stereotypes you seen about a million times. the manga and anime itself is pretty generic and you get down down to it and it has many ass pulls that come out of nowhere. The anime had a few moments made me geuinely laugh, but not much else before got super grim dark and edgy. I found much better done in the hands of fanfic writers hell, I've read a crossover with metal gear rising that did the characters and story better of Akame. There's a crossover with Ben 10 somebody did good too.
 
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Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rise of Kyoshi (3/5)

This is the first of two (why two, and not three? Meh) Avatar novels that centre on Kyoshi. The fan favourite Avatar pre-Aang who became favourite for reasons that...actually, I kind of understand why. Odd, usually I'm on the "I don't get why this character is popular" camp. But enough about that, how does the novel itself hold up?

Well, for starters, I'm going to specify something - this is arguably a "darker and grittier" version of TLA, and no, I don't mean that as an insult, but not as praise either. Whether this is good or not is something that might vary for you, but something that became apparent very quickly is that while the setting is recognizably that of TLA (as in, Earth Kingdom, lots of name drops, but not to the point of fan service), life here has a 'harsher' edge than what we see in TLA, both in terms of context and in presentation. Basically, times are tough for the Earth Kingdom, as the rule of law has generally broken down. Banditry, poverty, corruption, slavery, these are all issues. The parallels to Chinese history are fairly apparent, with the recent defeat of the Yellow Necks (a reference to the historical Yellow Turbans). In terms of presentation, while TLA was very sly as to how it handled death, the book makes no qualms about the world - people die, and sometimes, die horribly. Enough that even towards the end, I stared at the page for a bit as a character described how he made prisoners dig their own graves, forced them to climb into them, then used earthbending to smother them. Oh, and there's a group of warrior fanatics who recruit those who've been traumatized by bending (as in, been powerless in the face of benders), who style themselves as a warrior order, fanatically believing that they're immune to bending. Also, while the setting is more or less on the same tech level as TLA, it does feel more primitive. Hard to quantify, but a lot of the tactics used are what we'd call conventional (e.g. spears, bows, etc.), whereas in TLA, armed conflict seemed to be entirely the purview of benders.

Again, whether this change in tone is good, bad, or neutral is up to you. This isn't being "dark and gritty" for the sake of it, but if you're expecting this book to be in the vein of TLA, you'd be mistaken. The TL, DR version is that in this world (or at least the Earth Kingdom), life sucks, and the further you are down the hierarchial ladder, the more it sucks, and if you can't bend, your life is more likely to suck even further.

Moving onto the characters and plot, I actually have less to say here, and this is where the book is at its weakest. The plot is somewhat meandering, and the characters are...okay. That's the best I can describe them. Focusing on Kyoshi, in terms of character, she's done pretty well. Like, nothing special in terms of character, but at least distinct from the other Avatars we've seen. In part because of her backstory, in part because she isn't a clone of any other Avatar there is. Also nice traits, as in, with her earthbending, she's adept at controlling large objects, but terrible at controlling small ones (whereas for most earthbenders, it's the other way round). The other characters around her are likewise...fine. Nothing really sticks out for good or ill. Really, apart from Kyoshi, the only characters who really do stick out are Rangi (a firebender, her closest friend, and eventual love interest), and Jianzhu - her former mentor turned antagonist. If anything, it's Jianzhu who sticks out more than Rangi, in that he starts out as seemingly a good person, but by the end, you're glad to see the bastard in the ground. And yes, Kyoshi does get her own 'team avatar, so to speak, but this isn't on the level of TLA. It isn't even on the level of LoK.

At the end of the day, book's okay. It's tie-in fiction, and like a lot of tie-in fiction, your appreciation of it will likely depend on how much you like the material it's based on. Really, the thing it does best is its worldbuilding, but other than that, things are pretty average.
 

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The latest Berserk animes are total crap with their cheap ass animations. The one from 1997 however was terrific. Too bad it only covered the golden age arc. I wish so much we had a similar one for the retribution arc.
I saw the one that was 3 movies that covered the golden age arc and I appreciated that it actually explained how Guts Survived the Eclipse(something the 1990's anime failed to do). Can't remember much about the animation.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Read Hesiod's Theogony, which is everything I already knew about the origin of the world and its gods according to Greek mythology. The book/epic poem is mostly a verse genealogy of the gods and their offspring, with a peculiar tangent here and there (Hesiod pays an inordinate amount of attention to Hecate, for example). It's a very quick read and I enjoyed it. Greek myth has been my thing all my life.
 
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Dreiko

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I saw the one that was 3 movies that covered the golden age arc and I appreciated that it actually explained how Guts Survived the Eclipse(something the 1990's anime failed to do). Can't remember much about the animation.
That one was not too bad, it had some bad 3D stuff but also a lot of animated stuff. The really bad one is the one that came after the 3 movies which continues the story. It looks really ugly and weird. They fixed a lot of those bits in the blue ray release but it's not enough to save it. It goes up to the part where the Berserker armor comes into place too, which is some of my fav bits of the series actually. Golden Age is what most people come to know berserk through so it's always what people mention but to me the Berserker armor stuff is way more hype.
 

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That one was not too bad, it had some bad 3D stuff but also a lot of animated stuff. The really bad one is the one that came after the 3 movies which continues the story. It looks really ugly and weird. They fixed a lot of those bits in the blue ray release but it's not enough to save it. It goes up to the part where the Berserker armor comes into place too, which is some of my fav bits of the series actually. Golden Age is what most people come to know berserk through so it's always what people mention but to me the Berserker armor stuff is way more hype.
I do really want to see a version of Berserk that doesn't just go to the end of the Golden Age and stop once the Eclipse goes down. I guess I could break down and read the manga but apparently it's still not finished despite being IP since the 1990's.
 

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I do really want to see a version of Berserk that doesn't just go to the end of the Golden Age and stop once the Eclipse goes down. I guess I could break down and read the manga but apparently it's still not finished despite being IP since the 1990's.
You definitely wanna read the manga, it's way better than even the good anime. Also it shows you some bits that were a bit too extreme for the anime but which actually flesh the story more by explaining chars' motives better.

And yeah there's like 40 volumes out so far but the golden age era is only up to volume 12 and also the first couple volumes take place before the golden age flashbacks even begin and they cut a bunch of content from the actual golden age era itself too (the bit after they break Griffith out has a whole huge battle arc with a Zodd tier dude tied to it) so yeah you have a ton of content to go through. It only gets better past that bit too. If you remember the very first episode in the anime where Guts is fighting this snake head apostole with his full getup and arm cannon which takes place after the golden age chronologically and so on, it's all like that and gets crazier and crazier from then on. It's my fav manga easily.
 

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Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rise of Kyoshi (3/5)

This is the first of two (why two, and not three? Meh) Avatar novels that centre on Kyoshi. The fan favourite Avatar pre-Aang who became favourite for reasons that...actually, I kind of understand why. Odd, usually I'm on the "I don't get why this character is popular" camp. But enough about that, how does the novel itself hold up?
The second novel just came out a month ago. I bet you the third novel will come out later next year. I am not going to read the rest of your post, because I do not want to spoil myself.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Read Works and Days by Hesiod. It's filled with useful advice, like how you shouldn't pee in a spring and you should marry a woman who has been menstruating for 5 years max.
 

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The second novel just came out a month ago. I bet you the third novel will come out later next year.
Far as I'm aware, it's a duology.

Anyway:

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Katara and the Pirate's Silver (3/5)

So, this is the first in a string of comics that focus on "the ladies of Avatar." Why? I dunno, I never thought Avatar was exactly lacking in female characters. But fine, okay, that aside, I'll be honest, this is the weakest Avatar comics entry I've read so far, and if I had to nominate a single reason why, it's that there's all setup for little payoff.

There's also the issue that this feels more 'junior' than the others. Yes, TLA is a kid's show, but there seems to be consensus that it's accessible to people above its core age group. But the plot feels simple, the dialogue feels simple, the moral feels simple - yes, there's a 'moral to the story,' and it...well, it isn't bad, but it feels out of place. But even that aside, getting to the actual content, and lack of payoff.

So, somewhat uniquely for the comics, this takes place during the animated series rather than after it. Specifically, at some point in Book 2, after Toph has joined the gang. Katara gets separated, falls in with some pirates, before the gang finds her. As a premise, not too bad, but we start running into problems straight away. For starters, the gang capture a Fire Nation soldier (a teen), and spend some time trying to convince him he's in the wrong, with a handwaved explanation as to why they don't immediately start searching for Katara, who's been separated by this point. Now, it's established within the series that the Fire Nation has been 'twisted' by 100 years of war and propaganda, and swathes of its own citizenry are suffering as a result, but this simply plays it for laughs. Yes, Aang points out the absurdities of Sozin's claims, and Sokka the insanity of "we want to share our wealth with you, ergo, we're going to occupy your territory," but if you're expecting some kind of deep theme here, forget it. Played for laughs beginning to end. That's its prerogative, but still, feels hollow, especially when compared to what was in the series it's based on.

Second thing is that it kind of sets up Katara as having an arc, then drops it. At the start, it's mentioned how she's 'soft' compared to Toph, so she gets it into her head that she has to toughen up, or at least act tough around the pirates, only people are weirded out by her clunky attempts. You might be thinking at this point "gee, is this going to be the moral of 'be yourself, don't try to be someone you're not?' If you are thinking that, then congratulations, you passed primary school English. But no points, because the comic can't even get this right, as its resolution is that Katara just...stops. It can't even deliver a moral, it's more that the plot point is just dropped.

Oh, and the comic is aware of memes. Or at least I think it is, because Sokka says "that's rough buddy," and Katara gives 'the stare and fingers.' Make of that what you will.

At the end of the day, comic isn't bad, but it skews much younger than the other comics. Too young for me personally. There's enjoyment to be had, but there's little reason to pick it up, least compared to the other comics in the series.
 

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Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow (4/5)

Smoke and Shadow continues the trend of each Dark Horse Avatar comic trilogy being worse than the one before it. That said, here, the main issue is the last 5-10% of it, which manages to sink the comic with it. Prior to that, it's actually pretty decent.

Similar to Pirate's Silver, this does skew somewhat young (like all the comics), but not nearly to the same extent, thankfully. It deals with something that makes sense, the idea that there'd be Fire Nation members who resent Zuko, and thus plot to return Ozai to the throne. Also, there's these spirits that are abducting children...or maybe they're not spirits, and people in disguise? Also, Mei, Zuko, and "Guy Character" (I can't remember his name) are in a love triangle, after Mei and Zuko broke up earlier. Y'know, I can't help but do a bit of a double take every time "dating" is used as a term. I mean, did people "date" each other in feudal Japan (or China?), or did they "court" them? I dunno. It feels like a place of modern linguo that's just shoved in.

I'd say about 90% of this comic is well done. In part because it delves into Fire Nation culture and history, in part because it addresses the whole 'Zuko is technically a usurper' elephant in the room, in part because the love triangle thing isn't too bad, actually. Not exactly what I read these comics for, but it doesn't get in the way too much. That said, it's at the end of this comic that things kind of fall apart, and I find myself being reminded of Rise of Skywalker. As in, the comic has these ideas, but backpedels on them at the last moment.

So, to the surprise of no-one, the spirits are humans in disguise, and are being led by dun dun dun, Azula! Okay, I think, that makes sense, Azula wants to destabilize Zuko's reign so she can take power. Except, no. Her plan is to...sigh...destabilize Zuko's rule by turning him into a tyrant, thus proving that they're actually the same deep down. Ah yes Azula, Zuko's shown himself to be a tyrant by...initiating a city curfew and detaining people without charge. Ooh, the horror. I can't help but wonder if his 'tyranny' is down to the comic being limited by what it can get away with, or if the writers had a "yeah, whatever" moment at the end. Oh, and Zuko gains the trust of his people by the end, but Azula is cool, she can keep chipping away at the boulder. Reading this, after recovering from the silliness of Azula's plan, I had a sinking suspicion that the comic was trying to establish some kind of status quo. As in, we know from LoK that Zuko became fire lord, so we already know that there's little tension that can be drawn out from this plot arc. But the way it treats Azula, it feels less like character development, and more "we need a recurring villain."

Added to this is the love triangle thing. So, yes, Mai and Zuko were 'shipped' during the cartoon series, then the comics broke them up, and now she breaks up (again, is "breaking up" an anachronism?) with "Guy Character" for reasons that are never explained, opening the door to her being shipped with Zuko again. Like, I dunno, it feels like the comics want to backtrack from prior character development, but not commit to new character development. Truth be told, I don't particuarly care as to who Zuko ended up with, so while there might be an audience for love triangles in this IP, I'm not really among them. But the way the ending is handled feels like pandering to a status quo that can be maintained ad infinitum, since the comics effectively have infinite space to cover the gap between TLA and LoK.

So, yeah. I'm giving it a 4/5 because looking it as a whole, the ending doesn't necessarily drag the rest of the comic down. But does it 'taint it?' Yeah, pretty much. To use the Rise of Skywalker analogy again, RoS is a film I despise, but it doesn't retroactively make TLJ worse for instance.
 

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Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow (4/5)

Smoke and Shadow continues the trend of each Dark Horse Avatar comic trilogy being worse than the one before it. That said, here, the main issue is the last 5-10% of it, which manages to sink the comic with it. Prior to that, it's actually pretty decent.

Similar to Pirate's Silver, this does skew somewhat young (like all the comics), but not nearly to the same extent, thankfully. It deals with something that makes sense, the idea that there'd be Fire Nation members who resent Zuko, and thus plot to return Ozai to the throne. Also, there's these spirits that are abducting children...or maybe they're not spirits, and people in disguise? Also, Mei, Zuko, and "Guy Character" (I can't remember his name) are in a love triangle, after Mei and Zuko broke up earlier. Y'know, I can't help but do a bit of a double take every time "dating" is used as a term. I mean, did people "date" each other in feudal Japan (or China?), or did they "court" them? I dunno. It feels like a place of modern linguo that's just shoved in.

I'd say about 90% of this comic is well done. In part because it delves into Fire Nation culture and history, in part because it addresses the whole 'Zuko is technically a usurper' elephant in the room, in part because the love triangle thing isn't too bad, actually. Not exactly what I read these comics for, but it doesn't get in the way too much. That said, it's at the end of this comic that things kind of fall apart, and I find myself being reminded of Rise of Skywalker. As in, the comic has these ideas, but backpedels on them at the last moment.

So, to the surprise of no-one, the spirits are humans in disguise, and are being led by dun dun dun, Azula! Okay, I think, that makes sense, Azula wants to destabilize Zuko's reign so she can take power. Except, no. Her plan is to...sigh...destabilize Zuko's rule by turning him into a tyrant, thus proving that they're actually the same deep down. Ah yes Azula, Zuko's shown himself to be a tyrant by...initiating a city curfew and detaining people without charge. Ooh, the horror. I can't help but wonder if his 'tyranny' is down to the comic being limited by what it can get away with, or if the writers had a "yeah, whatever" moment at the end. Oh, and Zuko gains the trust of his people by the end, but Azula is cool, she can keep chipping away at the boulder. Reading this, after recovering from the silliness of Azula's plan, I had a sinking suspicion that the comic was trying to establish some kind of status quo. As in, we know from LoK that Zuko became fire lord, so we already know that there's little tension that can be drawn out from this plot arc. But the way it treats Azula, it feels less like character development, and more "we need a recurring villain."

Added to this is the love triangle thing. So, yes, Mai and Zuko were 'shipped' during the cartoon series, then the comics broke them up, and now she breaks up (again, is "breaking up" an anachronism?) with "Guy Character" for reasons that are never explained, opening the door to her being shipped with Zuko again. Like, I dunno, it feels like the comics want to backtrack from prior character development, but not commit to new character development. Truth be told, I don't particuarly care as to who Zuko ended up with, so while there might be an audience for love triangles in this IP, I'm not really among them. But the way the ending is handled feels like pandering to a status quo that can be maintained ad infinitum, since the comics effectively have infinite space to cover the gap between TLA and LoK.

So, yeah. I'm giving it a 4/5 because looking it as a whole, the ending doesn't necessarily drag the rest of the comic down. But does it 'taint it?' Yeah, pretty much. To use the Rise of Skywalker analogy again, RoS is a film I despise, but it doesn't retroactively make TLJ worse for instance.
It's pretty much why I hate Smoke and Shadow, and the love triangle being the worst of it. They turned Mai in to an even worse character, more unlikable, and just annoying. I was not that enamored for her to begin with (just another emo character), but the fact we're supposed to like her or find her sympathetic adds more to the insult. The only way you can get me to like this character is for this story to not exists. Otherwise, Zuko might as well be paired with Jin (the girl in the tea shop in the Ba Sing Se filler episode). I preferred that pairing back then, and this comic only proves my point.

The only great ATLA comics are The Rift, North and South, and Imbalance. Mike and Bryan finally got their heads out of their asses and let the writers explore ideas they've only hinted/implied in the show or actually try something different. A lot of the problems that show up in Smoke and Shadow, show up in Legend of Korra. The soap opera "love triangle", unsympathetic characters we're are supposed to like or see as cool, and politics that go nowhere or are drooped the instant they are brought up. The three comics I mentioned are better versions of the seasons of LoK. The Rift has the part about humans and spirits (Season 2 & 3), North and South is the Water Tribe part of Season 2 (only much better development and put to good use), and Imbalance is the better version of Season 1.
 
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Hawki

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It's pretty much why I hate Smoke and Shadow, and the love triangle being the worst of it. They turned Mai in to an even worse character, more unlikable, and just annoying. I was not that enamored for her to begin with (just another emo character), but the fact we're supposed to like her or find her sympathetic adds more to the insult.
I'm mixed on Mai in the comic.

I don't know if "emo" is the correct term, but semantics aside, I was never interested in Mai before, but the comic makes her more 'normal.' Like, less "I'm emotionally detatched from everyone and everything," and more 'normal.' So, what's better? A character with a unique trait that makes them dreary, or a character that isn't dreary, but has no unique character trait?
 

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I'm mixed on Mai in the comic.

I don't know if "emo" is the correct term, but semantics aside, I was never interested in Mai before, but the comic makes her more 'normal.' Like, less "I'm emotionally detatched from everyone and everything," and more 'normal.' So, what's better? A character with a unique trait that makes them dreary, or a character that isn't dreary, but has no unique character trait?
For me it's a case of pick you poison. Whatever "unique" traits Mai in the show are either gone, or turns her in to a complete and total jack ass. Even for emo/goth type characters in Western Animation, we've already seen better done before her in the 90s and early 2000s. The stand out examples being Kylie from Extreme Ghostbusters (who's more of a sarcastic goth with dry wit and some perkiness) and Raven from Teen Titans. We already know what there is to say about Raven, so I won't have to add much. She was properly developed in the show and became much more than you're standard emo/goth stereotype. Mai just came off as a less interesting version of Raven. Ironic, because I remember back in the day people on Deviant Art and other sites would make fan art of the two getting along swimmingly.
 

Johnny Novgorod

Bebop Man
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Apr 10, 2020
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Reading Michel Houellebecq's "Extension du domaine de la lutte" (translated as 'Whatever' in English).