Doki Doki Literature Club was the masterpiece that NO ONE saw coming this year.

When Doki Doki Literature Club was released on September 22nd, 2017, no one really thought much of it. It was the debut project from Team Salvato, and appeared to all just to be another run-of-the-mill visual novel.

Oh how wrong we were.

Doki Doki Literature Club flew under the radar until people started to play the game and saw the truth. It quickly went viral, jumping into the highest-recommended list on Steam.

It has even managed to become a staple series for Let’s Players and streamers for its content. People are clamouring to watch internet personalities experience this fantastic game.

Today, I am going to talk about what makes Doki Doki Literature Club the smash-hit it has become. As always, we are going into the spoiler-zone, but I would strongly recommend everyone to PLAY THIS GAME FIRST!

You won’t regret it.

Doki Doki Literature Club redefines subversion of expectation.

As our resident tsundere Natsuki advises the protagonist – “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

Doki Doki Literature Club is all about playing off the audience’s expectation, and it does this perfectly. It goes out of its way to spend large chunks of the game building assumptions before shattering them.

First off, the genre and tone of the game. Everything about this game screams cutesy and harmless – from the art style to the music. Even the download page plays up this front!

But the game completely shifts, utterly destroying its own facade and quite literally corrupting itself and its characters. It has been designed to confuse and unnerve the player, and drive them forward out of sheer curiosity.

Natsuki, Yuri and Monika discussing writing styles
Natsuki, Yuri and Monika discussing writing styles – IMDB

And then there are the characters themselves. They are all designed from traditional visual novel stereotypes, at least at face value. Well, that holds true for most of them…

The previously mentioned Natsuki acts as the hostile and distant ball of aggression. Yuri fits the quiet and lonely girl, and Sayori is the eternally cheerful girl-next-door type. But then we have Monika – the driving force of the story.

For those well versed in visual novels like this, she fires off warning signals fairly quickly. Not only is she not romance-able like the other girls, but she is the only character not to fit a stereotype.

Doki Doki Literature Club completely manipulates any assumptions the player might make about the game, and in doing this creates a unique and surreal experience that we never knew we needed.

This game portrays its characters’ flaws almost disturbingly well.

As I said before, the characters of Doki Doki Literature Club slot into traditional archetypes, but only to a certain extent. Once more, the game turns on its head as they reveal their true natures.

Natsuki, being the angry and sarcastic loudmouth that she is, has probably the tamest narrative arc of the bunch. She reveals that she is a fan of manga, particularly ‘moe’ series’.

But later, after the game takes its first major tonal shift, we see more of her. Through Monika’s interference, she reveals that her father beats her at home. There are also small implications of an eating disorder that she enables through her baking.

Natsuki opening up
Natsuki opening up – IMDB

Yuri is the most disturbing shift in character. She appears to just be the quiet, bookish student. She opens up to the player by showing him a book she loves, but she gets a lot stranger after that.

Yuri reveals that she is a knife lover with a collection. She has very controlling tendencies that lash out from time to time. She also has a fascination with blood and wounds, licking a cut the protagonist gives himself. Most alarmingly, she uses her knives to self harm, but rather than out of depression, does this for a stimulating, possibly sexual high.

Sayori has the saddest narrative. The bundle of cheer and happiness loves taking care of everyone and keeping them from fighting, but her reason for this is the first twist of the game.

Sayori reveals to the player that she has fought with depression her whole life. Her constant tardiness, her last minute poems, her refusal to do chores. These are all due to her apathy for doing anything and feelings of worthlessness. At the climax of the first half of the game, she causes the first big shock of the game by taking her own life.

But all of these arcs in Doki Doki Literature Club are not just for show, they have a purpose … and an instigator.

Doki Doki Literature Club‘s narrative and twists are not just for shock value.

All of the twists and turns that Doki Doki Literature Club take have all been driven forward by one person – Monika.

Monika, as the founder and president of the Literature Club, has become sentient of her existence in a game. She has become frustrated that while she shares the trait of having feelings for the player, she has not been programmed to have a romance with them.

Monika decides to work behind the scenes and directly edit the character files of her fellow club members. She causes the changes in their demeanour by accentuating their flaws. Her goal is to make them so unlikable that the player will be unable to fall in love with them.

Just Monika
Just Monika – IMDB

However, she is not proficient at coding, and unintentionally causes glitches in the game. She gets increasingly frustrated and changes her friends even more. She goes as far as to drive both Sayori and Yuri to kill themselves in the game.

Monika then decides to ultimately delete them from the game and restart, leaving only her and the player to talk. Until the player decides to delete her too, that is.

After an outburst of rage, she realises what she has done. She admits that her feelings for the player were as genuine as the others’, and brings everything back to the start, except without her.

The game then reveals that it is the position of club president that grants self-awareness, and transfers to the resurrected Sayori. The last remnants of Monika realise this and corrupts the game beyond repair to end the cycle.

Team Salvato absolutely nailed it with Doki Doki Literature Club.

Doki Doki Literature Club is a narrative masterpiece. It completely subverts the tropes and archetypes of its genre to create something completely new and immersive.

Doki Doki Literature Club even goes as far as to break the trope of narratives as a whole – no character is actually the villain in the end.

It spends most of its time building Monika as a puppet master behind the scenes. That is, until Monika breaks down and truly expresses her feelings. She then realises who the real villain of the game is.

The game itself.

The game forces whoever is the club president to experience a “hellish epiphany” as she calls it. They realise their own existence is manufactured, and in turn, its futility.

THIS. IS. GENIUS.

The romance-able girls of the Literature Club
The romance-able girls of the Literature Club – IMDB

Painting the game’s existence as the villain of its characters is an incredibly novel concept. It is an absolute credit to Dan Salvato as the lead writer of Team Salvato that this game has become so successful.

It absolutely deserves the IGN People’s Choice Award for Best PC Game of 2017 that it has won.

Even more to the credit of Team Salvato that they released this game for free, only accepting payments as donations. They even give out benefits for payment milestones!

If you haven’t played Doki Doki Literature Club yet (you shouldn’t be reading this!!!), PLEASE DO IT!

Check out the other IGN awards of 2017 here. Or, if you’re feeling particularly negative, you can read our rant on The Game Awards.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi may not be perfect, but is it the disaster that it is being blown up to be?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is quickly becoming one of the biggest film controversies of the modern age. The film has managed to cause an enormous rift in its fanbase. There appears to be no middle ground between love and loathing.

Personally, I love the film. I have gone to seen it twice and my opinion has not changed. I thought that Rian Johnson delivered a bold new take on the Star Wars saga and it really blew me away.

Not to say I am blind to the criticisms that have been being fired off regarding The Last Jedi, I am well aware of some of the problems that the film has. I just think that it is being blown way out of proportion.

Here I will be defending some of the criticisms against The Last Jedi, as well as highlighting some of my favourite parts of the film. As usual, we will be diving into spoiler territory here, so PLEASE watch the film before reading any further!

Luke Skywalker’s character arc was human and understandable.

A massive shot that has been fired at the writing for The Last Jedi is that Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker had been completely ruined for this movie. The apparent epitome of the light being reduced to a cowering, murderous hermit.

But to be honest, I loved the direction his character took in this film. I felt that he had been humanised to a new degree and I was able to understand his motives very clearly.

I knew when watching The Force Awakens that he wouldn’t have hidden himself away on Ahch-To without a good reason. The isolation from his family, his friends and the whole “saving the world” situation had to be due to something huge.

Luke feeling very afraid of Rey's similarities to Kylo Ren
Luke feeling very afraid of Rey’s similarities to Kylo Ren – IMDB

Luke’s lie to Rey about when Kylo burned down his training temple, as well as the subsequent revelation that Luke had almost killed him, was a shock to us all.

But then I thought about it a lot harder. Throughout The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, we see Luke struggle with his feelings. He is capable of using the Force choke ability – a traditionally dark side power.

The Emperor exploits his weakness, driving him to anger. He tries to murder Palpatine but is stopped by Vader. He then engages in one of the most passionate and rage-fuelled fights in the Star Wars saga.

We have seen Luke’s humanity and weakness to his own emotions. He describes his desire to kill young Ben as but a fleeting one, and motivated by preventing his potential catastrophic turn to the dark.

Luke is ashamed as exiles himself as a consequence for this one moment, and I truly believe that he would. He is more scared of himself than anything else now. I loved this arc of The Last Jedi and how much it humanised Luke.

The new Force powers were interesting and entertaining.

Another critique of The Last Jedi is that the new Force powers showcased in the film were strange and not in line with what we know. This is one of those criticisms that I can’t help but be amused by.

For one thing, we are discussing a MAGICAL ENERGY here. Something that we, even externally, cannot understanding the limits and restrictions on. It can evolve and change in amazing ways and I think this is what The Last Jedi did.

I have commonly seen the complaint that the new Force powers we have seen have not followed the history set by the Extended Universe. You know, that *cough cough* NOT CANON *cough cough* series set after the Original Trilogy.

I’m not knocking the EU, they are amazing stories and I love the directions they take. And though I may not be ecstatic that they have been removed from the official canon, they have been.

Rey begins her training in the mystical ways of the Force
Rey begins her training in the mystical ways of the Force – IMDB

Force abilities have been updated and new ones created with every Star Wars movie. And now The Last Jedi has branched out even further to flight and astral projection. I loved the projection power throughout the film and the way it is set up for Luke’s final confrontation on Crait.

I do agree that the Leia scene felt a little off in the visual sense (Guardians of the Galaxy vibes anyone?). But her use of the Force to me was a great narrative punch.

We knew that she was strong in the Force since the days of the Original Trilogy. We know that a lot of time has passed since Return of the Jedi and that she could only get stronger from there. I love the fact that her first ON-SCREEN use of her power was to save her life and keep hope for the Resistance.

The revelation of Rey’s heritage is great for her character.

As a fanbase, we have become so indoctrinated to the idea that people can only be special if they are related to someone special. Rian Johnson knew this, and completely subverted the expectation and threw us for a loop. And I loved it.

There have been plenty of powerful Force wielders in the Star Wars saga that were so of their own doing. So we know that power is not always connected to bloodline.

And while many feel that The Force Awakens was narratively building to who her parents were to explain her power, I feel more that it was a personal story of her trying to figure out her place. She doesn’t know why she’s involved or has this power, and she’s scared.

Rey hones her skills on Ahch To
Rey hones her skills on Ahch To – IMDB

Rey’s journey continues in The Last Jedi as she tries to find her place. As Kylo points out, she already knew on some level that they threw her away. But she is desperate to find out that she’s wrong. She wants to know that she is special.

In a way, she has the same desire as the audience. She thinks that if her parents were important, that explains why she has a place here and has to continue their legacy. It would give her purpose and answers.

But the fact that she comes from nothing means that she has a choice. She has no familial obligation to fight in someone else’s war, she only has to do what she feels is right. And I feel that this is a much more interesting turn for her character to take now that she is the last of the Jedi standing.

While flawed, The Last Jedi is a great narrative addition to the franchise.

There are still problems in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but I honestly think it was great. The narrative choices were bold and daring, and I really loved them.

Granted, this is the opinion of someone younger who grew up as the prequels were released, but I was still raised on Star Wars and have loved the franchise for many years.

I do recognise that while some of the choices for the film have merit to me, they were not executed perfectly. I love how surprising the death of Supreme Leader Snoke was and how well it plays to Kylo’s narrative, but I do wish we knew more about him and the rise of the First Order.

Finn and Rose’s story was interesting in how it developed Rose and also pointed out that not every Resistance plan is going to work, but I share the concerns about Rose’s character and sudden romance subplot.

A blood-boiling Kylo Ren ready to fight
A blood-boiling Kylo Ren ready to fight – IMDB

And yes, the green milk. I did have questions about how Luke kept nourished on the island, and I knew that the blue milk previously seen in previous films had to come from somewhere. But it was jarring and uncomfortable. Leave it at the spear-fishing scene, that was actually awesome.

So yeah, those are my thoughts on why I loved The Last Jedi and why it will be one of my favourite Star Wars movies. I thought it was great and loved the narrative choices it made.

But you don’t have to take the opinion of one whose favourite episode was Revenge of the Sith (for similar reasons to this, plus the cinema experience of that film blew my child mind, so sue me). Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

Feel free to check out why others at Digital Fox weren’t fans of The Last Jedi.

Released over 10 years ago, Elfen Lied remains as heartbreaking and important as ever.

There are some anime that like to take things lightheartedly and embrace fun and happiness. And then there’s Elfen Lied.

Elfen Lied was brought to our screens in 2004 from the studio Arms, and my god it was a rollercoaster! I was first introduced to this show back in high school, and the 13-episode experience definitely changed me.

The show contains one of the most powerful and compelling narratives I have ever seen. It achieves this by not shying away from any uncomfortable topics so that the audience can truly connect with the characters.

In doing so, however, Elfen Lied becomes one of the most gut-wrenching, stomach-turning and heart-breaking stories in anime. Here I will detail a few of the ways it accomplishes this. [SPOILERS from here on out!]

Nana and Mayu Elfen Lied
Nana and Mayu – IMDB

Elfen Lied showcases some brutal and twisted imagery

Sometimes you come across a show that displays something so twisted that you can barely stand to watch. But all the same your eyes are fixed on what is happening on the screen.

Well, Elfen Lied takes that up to eleven. This anime has some deeply disturbing imagery that makes you feel sick. And yet somehow doesn’t feel irrelevant or unnecessary and makes you want to keep watching.

A prime example of this is Lucy’s massacre of the Diclonius Research Institute, where she tears her captive’s limbs apart in an effort to escape. It seems like overkill at the time, but when context is drawn to how she was treated there, her sheer rage seems justified.

Another brutal example is the murder of a stray dog that Lucy befriended. While a recluse, their relationship showed us how kind she used to be, and to witness something so merciless as she did made us chant for her to take her revenge. And that is exactly what we got.

One scene on the more disturbing side of the spectrum was the montage of Mayu’s past and explanation of why she ran away. Sexual abuse is a real issue in society, and audiences were shown exactly how upsetting and manipulative it could be. I personally wanted to be sick during the scene in question, but couldn’t look away from the pained expression on the young girl’s face.

Elfen Lied certainly never shied away from dark subject matter. But being so close and personal to their experiences made us all the more attached to the characters and why they became the people that we see.

Lucy Elfen Lied
Lucy – IMDB

The show has an incredibly powerful and emotional score

I can’t even think about the music from this show without tearing up. The score for Elfen Lied is so raw and genuine that not even the most heartless of viewers could remain untouched.

The show seems to know what scenes required flicking the switch for emotional music perfectly. It just made the experience of watching all the more moving. As someone who has a great love for music and its emotional power, I felt these effects particularly strongly.

Scenes such as Nana listening to Kurama’s farewell message, Kurama telling Mariko how much he loves her despite everything, and again the death of the dog are particularly strong in this regard.

A special mention must be made to the show’s main theme – Lillium, a latin hymn performed by Kumiko Noma. The piece was used masterfully throughout Elfen Lied, whether in its simpler music box version or in its complete orchestral glory. The montage to this song in the final episode makes me cry every time I watch it.

The Kaede Household Elfen Lied
The Kaede Household – IMDB

The character narratives are twisted, but still relatable

While Elfen Lied clearly brings out its psychological power through both audio and visuals, this would not be possible without having the emotional character arcs to back it up. But as horrible as these stories are depicted, they are actually quite relatable.

Lucy has been persecuted her entire life for being a Diclonius – something beyond her control. She has had to lie and kill just to survive. This is easily analogous to racism and persecution that can be observed throughout history.

Nana and Mariko’s narratives tie together in a story of broken homes, step-parenting, adoption and reconciliation. These are so prevalent in modern life, and yet it is almost never touched upon in fictional media (at least not this heavily).

Mayu’s sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather and the apathy of her mother is a terrible example of how people abuse and torture those they can control. Sexual abuse in particular is a predominately taboo topic to cover, and that’s what makes this story so important.

Elfen Lied shines the most in developing its characters. Seeing these broken and hurt people come together, in ways we may have experienced, is so heart-warming and beautiful. It makes you root for the characters to find their happy endings in a way that not many stories can.

Nyu Elfen Lied
Nyu – Elfen Lied Wiki

Elfen Lied is an emotional powerhouse, but one worth enduring

Elfen Lied is a gem of modern storytelling. It does such a good job of keeping the audience enthralled and entranced by its characters. It never shies away from uncomfortable topics, and there lies one of its greatest strengths.

However, having the beauty of its visuals and raw power of its score makes it a work of art. The story couldn’t have the same impact without the same emotional weight behind it.

Elfen Lied is by no means a happy story, but don’t let that put you off. It is a story that will stay with you for a very long time, and is definitely worth experiencing.

Click here for an interview for with anime expert Michael Basile, discussing all things anime.

Ensemble stories are extremely difficult to write, especially TV shows or anime. Most of these stories don’t have the benefit of prologues for a bunch of their characters like when Marvel’s The Avengers was released, or the recent spectacle that was DC’s Justice League.

But in 2007, the anime adaptation of light novel series Baccano! was brought to our screens, and audiences were floored. The series had a bit of something for everyone, from magic to mafia wars to romance, and it was widely praised by critics and viewers alike.

The story brought together a large cast of characters, each with their own interesting backstories, and shoved them all together in a high stakes train robbery. Take notes, Murder on the Orient Express!

Here are some of the things that Baccano! does brilliantly as an ensemble anime that sets it apart and studios should take note of. As always, spoilers will follow, so WATCH THE SHOW FIRST! You won’t regret it.

The cast of Baccano!
The cast of Baccano! – IMDB

Each character’s backstory is given its due diligence

The cast of Baccano! each come from their own unique backgrounds and thus each have a very different experience through the course of the show. So the pressure was clearly on to give each character the attention and care that they deserve.

Baccano! absolutely nails this. While watching this you never feel like any characters were unexplored or lacking. I as a viewer really felt connected to each of the people aboard that train or behind the scenes of the robbery. Personally I felt a particular attachment to Firo Prochainezo and his journey as part of the Martillo family.

Baccano! never felt like it fell into the trap of having characters be carbon copies of each other in terms of their narrative, nor did they feel like complete stereotypes cut-and-pasted into the story. Each character felt unique and special, and it was a joy to witness their arcs and journeys throughout the show.

Firo and Maiza
Firo and Maiza – IMDB

The group scenes are handled perfectly

With each of its characters having totally different stories and reasons for either being on or staying away from the train, it would have been insanely easy for the writing to lose some of the quirks or traits of each character in an attempt to force a narrative.

But this show pulled off the impossible and managed to stay faithful to each of its characters for the duration of the story. The interactions were fluid and natural. I never had to pause the show and throw my pillow across the room because of an absurd out-of-character moment I had just witnessed.

This especially worked when the cast met and split off into groups. It really felt like those characters needed to stay together and played off of each other extremely well.

A prime example of this feat was the character arc of Jacuzzi Splot. It is only through his interactions with his fellow passengers and confrontations with Ladd Russo and the Rail Tracer that he shows his true courage. This is also the catalyst for advancing his relationship with girlfriend Nice Holystone.

Jacuzzi and Nice
Jacuzzi and Nice – IMDB

Baccano! actually gives us satisfying character conclusions!

Having mastered giving the characters interesting backstories and bringing them all together for a deadly confrontation aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, the final challenge remaining was to give each of this group the sendoff they deserved.

And once again, Baccano! pulls through. Each character that we have come to know and love along this adventure feels fulfilled and satisfied. We as an audience are able to sit back, close our eyes, and smile.

My personal favourite conclusion is that of adrenaline-seeking couple Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent. These two turned things around and became legitimate, but still seek out adventure and wonder. They are so wrapped up in their journey that they don’t even realise that [SPOILER WARNING!!!] they haven’t been aging. It’s completely in character and a joy to see.

The best part about this conclusion is that the characters’ stories aren’t finished for them. The events of November 1930 are merely a new beginning for everyone and sets them up for new adventures in ways only Baccano! can pull off.

Isaac and Maria
Isaac and Miria – IMDB

Baccano! is a wonderful piece of media. It is an amalgamation of so many amazing genres that fits like a suave and wacky glove. It’s fun and always leaves you eager for the next episode.

But best of all, it handles its ensemble cast beautifully. Everyone is given a unique backstory, cast interactions are handled faithfully in group scenes and everyone is given their own special and satisfying conclusion.

This anime is a must see, and we can only pray that future ensemble pieces, be it movie franchises, TV shows or anime, will take notes and make more amazing stories for us to see.

I do have a soft spot for slice of life anime, so I was quite excited to get on board with Little Witch Academia. 

At first glance it seemed quite similar to the Harry Potter series (at least the early books), just detailing school life within a magical community.

This was enough to get me through the door to watch the series in its entirety, and I am extremely happy with the results. The series completely captivated me from the first episode to the point where I couldn’t stop watching. I actually finished all 25 episodes in a day!

So, let’s analyse some of the great aspects behind Little Witch Academia and what I think makes it great. I will be keeping this as spoiler-free as possible so that you may experience the series with the same wonder I did should you choose to watch it.

Akko
Our protagonist, Akko – IMDB

Little Witch Academia Opening Theme Breakdown

Little Witch Academia sports two opening themes. The first is ‘Shiny Ray’ by YURiKA. This theme is straight up gorgeous. It is everything it needed to be. The visuals are stunning and introduce you to the shows wonderful cast of characters.

It includes some beautiful shots of Luna Nova and just completely captures the wonder of the magical world of the show. The song itself is perfect, featuring outstanding vocals and a great combination of strings and percussion to create the main theme. ‘Shiny Ray’ was the perfect OP to use to introduce the audience to the show.

After ‘Shiny Ray’ ran for the first thirteen episodes, we were treated to a new OP – ‘Mind Conductor’, also by YURiKA. This opening was quite different from the first, losing most of the visual artistry from ‘Shiny Ray’ and singling out character dynamics.

The music was also vastly different for ‘Mind Conductor’, increasing the percussion while trading in the strings for piano and heavy guitar. Despite the tonal changes, the song still managed to keep the same awe and beauty that makes Little Witch Academia so wonderful.

I will admit, I did enjoy ‘Shiny Ray’ a lot more as an opening theme, but that’s not to say I don’t love them both. They do a fabulous job of capturing what the show is all about and get you invested from the get-go.

Akko and her friends
Akko and her friends – IMDB

The cast and story of Little Witch Academia:

Little Witch Academia has a wonderful collection of characters to talk about. Our main protagonist is Atsuko Kagari, known more commonly as Akko. She is a character that anyone could get behind. She’s kind and hard-working, doing everything she can to help others.

Akko’s goal is to use her magic to make people smile just like her idol, Shiny Chariot, but she lacks natural affinity with magic. This just means she has to work harder to achieve her goal. She is also not without fault, being stubborn and proud, and sometimes prioritising her own ends above others.

She is aided by Lotte – a kind-hearted recluse who is also a closet fangirl, Sucy – an oddball girl obsessed with mushrooms and apparently apathetic to everything around her, and Ursula – a teacher at Luna Nova who takes Akko under her wing to help her keep up with the other students.

Akko also meets Diana – a magical prodigy from a well-known family, who becomes her rival, and Andrew – a sceptic of magic and budding politician who Akko takes a liking to.

One of the strongest things that Little Witch Academia has going for it is that all of these characters get the proper treatment and development that they deserve. None of them feel particularly lacking and have satisfying stories. Additionally the ensemble cast behind the leads are entertaining and only add to the hilarity of the show.

Ursula
Ursula – IMDB

Final Thoughts on Little Witch Academia:

I absolutely loved Little Witch Academia. The art style is cutesy and adorable, the visuals are beautiful and the narrative is captivating. You can get really invested in these characters. You WANT to see what happens next!

Even in the episodes that don’t revolve around Akko’s main story shine in this show. From flying races, to love bees, to entering Sucy’s mind and meeting all of her unfiltered personalities and seeing them function as a society (yes you read that correctly).

Little Witch Academia allows itself to be free in its weirdness while still grounded in the world it creates. It embraces everything about high school anime and then goes beyond that.

I honestly hoped there would be more when I finished, not due to an unsatisfying conclusion, but I had become so attached to these characters that it was hard to let go. Little Witch Academia is lovely and the perfect show to watch under a blanket with a loved one.

The cast of Little Witch Academia
The cast of Little Witch Academia – IMDB

There is a great difference between creating unnecessary continuations of successful works of art, and drawing a satisfying conclusion using existing material. And one of the biggest franchises that clearly needs to address the latter is Bleach.

Bleach is undoubtedly one of the most popular anime series to ever exist. Its extraordinary 16 season run was formative for a vast majority of modern anime fans. The combination of a wonderful cast of detailed characters, a vast world to explore, and a deep, rich lore made for brilliant television.

And yet, almost every single fan of the show would agree that the grand finale to such a long and beloved series was a massive letdown. Not in terms of the episode itself, but the fact that the show ended so abruptly and on that particular arc was disappointing and confusing.

As of 2016, the Bleach manga published its final chapter, bringing the iconic series to an end. But so far, there has been no word as to whether or not the last arc will be animated yet. Here are a few reasons that I (and many others) believe that the Thousand-Year Blood War Arc should be animated.

Spoiler Warning! I will be detailing some of the contents of the final arc of the Bleach manga. If you wish to wait to read/hopefully watch the arc yourself, READ NO FURTHER!

The Fullbringer Arc was NOT finale material.

Ichigo Kurosaki at the end of the Fullbringer Arc - IMDB
Ichigo Kurosaki at the end of the Fullbringer Arc – IMDB

Let’s be honest – the Fullbringer arc was not how anyone envisioned the show ending. It wasn’t a bad arc, but coming off the heat of the Fall Of The Espada Arc with Aizen, both the Gotei 13 Invading Army Arc and the Fullbringer Arc seemed to be building towards the next big thing.

Aizen had been the main villain of the whole series up to that point. Once he was gone and Ichigo lost his Soul Reaper powers, the fact that the series continued to the point that he regained them indicated that he would be needed to take down something even greater.

This proved to be true in the manga as the Wandenreich emerged and Yhwach became the true villain of the series. Admittedly there was a gap between content as the last episode of the Fullbringer Arc aired in Japan on March 27, 2012, and the first volume of the Thousand-Year Blood War Arc was published more than two months afterwards. But the show left the door open for the next adventure.

And now it has now been over five years since the last episode and we have no more Bleach. We need a better sendoff than what we got. The show deserves it.

The Thousand-Year Blood War Arc is AMAZING!

Ichigo, Old Man Zangetsu and Hollow Ichigo - Bleach Wikia
Ichigo, Old Man Zangetsu and Hollow Ichigo – Bleach Wikia

The grand finale of the manga was insane. In the best way. This arc brings a long standing feud between the Soul Reapers and the Quincy to a head, with Ichigo and Uryu stuck in the middle. Since these two had been rivals from the very beginning, this was a very interesting division.

So many more character details are revealed, such as Ichigo’s family, Unohana and Kenpachi, and the Soul King. The arc leaves a bloody trail and shows the whole Bleach crew pushed to their limits.

One of the most interesting points is the exploration of Ichigo’s true power, and the revelations regarding the beings we know as Old Man Zangetsu and Hollow Ichigo. The truth of the dynamic between these characters and what they mean to Ichigo stunned readers and left a mark on all parts of the story that came before.

So many things happen in this arc that are crucial to the overall Bleach story. It would be a shame to see the true final chapter of the series not be brought to the animated screen. I sincerely hope that we will see it soon.

This isn’t just a beautiful love story – there’s a hidden message that underscores the true meaning of the whole show.

First things first – I love Your Lie In April to pieces. So there’s clearly a massive personal bias right out of the gate. But it took me a couple of runs through the show and an outside opinion to realise that I had been missing something. I had completely glossed over a hidden message of the story that I feel needs to be addressed.

Obviously, spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the show or read the manga, PLEASE READ NO FURTHER UNTIL YOU DO! I promise it will be worth it.

The heart of the story lies at the similarities between Kaori and Saki.

At the beginning of the story, we are introduced to Kaori Miyazono – a fiesty, free-spirited violinist. She lives by her own rules and plays music the same way. As we see her start to lift our protagonist Kousei out of his depression, we start to see the reason behind it – his mother.

Saki Arima was a musician with dreams of her own. That is, until she fell ill. She knew that her time was limited, so she tried to teach Kousei the piano to set himself up for later life. However, as her condition worsened, she became desperate to teach him more. Her strictness turned to physical abuse.

Kousei and Saki - Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso Wiki Your Lie in April
Kousei is haunted by his memories – Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso Wiki

After years of putting up with it, Kousei finally stood up for himself. But his outraged words to her turned out to be his last, as she died shortly after. This damaged Kousei psychologically, to the point where he could not hear his own notes. That is, until Kaori came along.

However, when Kaori falls ill too, she starts exhibiting behaviour similar to Saki’s. Yelling at Kousei to practice more, unpredictable mood swings, constantly fretting about time. These similarities concern Kousei, and others around him worry that if something happens to Kaori, he will fall right back into his old ways.

But Kaori had been trying to teach Kousei to be his own person.

Kaori only wanted Kousei to go back to the piano because she knew that he loved it. She saw the conflict in his heart – that he loved the piano but hated the ties it had to his mother’s abuse. She tried to help him find his love for music again, and in turn his love for life.

Kaori Miyazono Your Lie in April - IMDB
Kaori Miyazono – IMDB

Her outlook deeply affected Kousei; she helped him to move past what happened with his mother. She helped him focus on being positive, moving forward and taking chances. Whether it be jumping off a bridge or being excited by the small things, Kaori gave Kousei the courage to develop and even take on a student of his own.

So when Kaori finally died and left a letter for Kousei explaining everything (that scene punches me in the heart every time), he is able to take what he has learned and move forward. He could very easily have treated her like his mother, become attached and co-dependent. But instead he is able to move on and just be glad for the time they had together.

The hidden message of Your Lie In April is self-sustainability.

The story of Your Lie In April isn’t just about Kousei and Kaori’s love. It’s about how Kousei learned to be his own person and not live purely for the sake of another. Kousei never thought about his future until Kaori came along. She helped him stop looking at the ground, and instead look forwards.

Saki and Kaori exhibited many similar traits throughout the show. They even fell down a similar hole when things got rough. But while Saki tried to set Kousei up for life, Kaori taught him how to live. So Kousei in turn was able to pull Kaori out of her own sadness and fight for her own life.

Kaori and Kousei playing Your Lie in April - IMDB
Kaori and Kousei’s play together one last time – IMDB

And that’s the true message of the story – living for yourself. Finding your passion and being able to appreciate what you have while you have it. That’s what should be taken away from the experience. And if you re-watch or re-read Your Lie In April, once you’ve finished wiping away the tears, that message might be a bit clearer.

For a list of the best winter anime of 2017, click here.

Hollywood creativity is a rarity these days. Maybe they should take a leaf out of Good Will Hunting… in more ways than one.

Nowadays, it seems the world of entertainment has been stunted in its creativity. Now, more than ever, almost every single movie coming out is either a sequel to a very old movie or a reboot. Even popular franchises need to create an extremely different or fresh entry to avoid becoming stale (cough cough superhero movies cough cough).

A prime example of current franchising trends – IMDB

The point is that not a lot of brand new content is being made now. If anything is even remotely successful, it needs to be cashed in on and made into a franchise or series. Of course not every success falls under this umbrella, but hey, I’m generalising to make a point here.

A Relevant Story

This is where the 1997 drama Good Will Hunting can be observed. Matt Damon’s titular character Will has a genius intellect, but chooses not to use it in favour of working in construction with his friends. After repeated criminal offences he begins therapy under the eye of Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). Simultaneously, he trains to hone his creative abilities with renowned mathematician Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård).

While Will finds Gerald’s teachings dull and a waste of time, Will and Sean strike up a close bond as they reveal things about each other that they did not want to face. After Will deduces that Sean cannot move on from his wife, he attempts to break him through taunts of possible infidelity.

Sean angrily reveals that the woman Will had mocked had passed away from cancer, shocking the boy. In an iconic scene by a pond, Sean breaks away all of Will’s layers to reveal that the reason he’s never done anything productive with his life is because after his childhood abuse Will has become caged and never wants to stray from comfort, familiarity, and ease.

Sean breaks down Will’s fears – IMDB

Tipping Point

While Gerald and Sean bicker and argue over whether to push Will into becoming another Gerald or following his heart and pursuing a relationship with his love interest Skylar (Minnie Driver), Will’s best friend Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck) brings down the hammer.

He tells him in not-so-eloquent terms that it was upsetting to see Will wasting his life and not living up to his potential. This is the kick in the rear that Will needs in order to leave his home and all of his friends and travel to California to attempt to make things work with Skylar.

Will’s happy ending – IMDB

The Message

Will is finally able to break out of his comfort zone and take a risk. He realises that sometimes things close to the heart are worth pursuing over the easy and comfortable option. HINT HINT MOVIE INDUSTRY! Passion projects are a beautiful thing and those who endeavour to see them through should be admired.

It’s not always the easy option, and many production companies are known for not being willing to move forward with new material. But hopefully that doesn’t stop writers and directors from pitching them. The world needs more new material, now more than ever. The power lies with the creators.

How do you like them apples?