“These Men of Wisdom, Your Would-be Allies” – Or Why I Could See G’raha Tia Getting Drunk And Putting a Traffic Cone On Top Of Thaliak But That Wouldn’t Happen in Strixhaven

It’s past time I got some thoughts about Endwalker, the highly-anticipated expansion to Final Fantasy XIV, down on paper. Long after the initial rush has passed, long after I’ve finished it and had time to dwell on it. Long after most of the debates about the massive plot points – about the core conflict, about the depiction of empire and nationalism, about the new lore reveals – have simmered down.

I was excited for one thing in particular in Endwalker. Sharlayan. The chance to visit the isolated, exclusionary magical research island that so many characters referred to, the land of Alphinaud’s parents, terrible bread, and so much more. I had high hopes, and what I got, for the most part, fulfilled them. It’s worth saying that this analysis of Endwalker is going to be astoundingly narrow in its focus, completely ignoring all the stuff with depth and substance the game has and focusing entirely on the worldbuilding of one zone you spend a comparatively small amount of time in at a time when it’s not running as normal anyway.

Why? Because I’m very very unsatisfied with a Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook based on a Magic the Gathering card cycle and so I want to talk about Final Fantasy XIV. This makes perfect sense.

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Attack Of The Robot Dinosaurs From Outer Space (This is Not a Getter Robo Post)

I was really looking forward to writing a review of Horizon Forbidden West because I knew it would let me actually revisit even more exciting things, like the very good anime Future Boy Conan and how cool robot dinosaurs are. And, as I played through the main story’s last gasp last night I summed up my feelings with the actual game as “this is very stupid.” I’ll explain more below, so obviously bear in mind this article is going to contain spoilers for the whole game.

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The Little Prince, A Little Princess, Fairytales, and The Galaxy Express is here too – Thoughts on “Ranking of Kings” and Some Other Things.

I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking “depressing fantasy series about how life is terrible for marginalised people in typical fantasy world” or “dark fairytale about how monsters aren’t actually the bad guys” are two premises that might drive people away because they’re very common attempts at deconstruction of typical fantasy things and also often done very badly. Which is why Ranking of Kings is a genuine surprise in how good it is.

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11 Years before “Hackers” There Was “Video Warrior Laserion”

In the absence of much English-language popularity or information about Video Warrior Laserion I ended up with a wildly inaccurate picture of what sort of a series it would be; it seemed like it was going to be a show about someone going inside a computer to fight computer viruses and so on, because it had a reputation of “a robot programmed in BASIC by a hacker”. And indeed the opening credits strongly suggested it was that, or maybe an Ender’s Game situation where the virtual world was actually something more sinister.

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There’s More to Gold Lightan than Killer Dolphins, Sexy Robots and Weird Fights.

There is something very interesting about Gold Lightan; it is a series that has clear past precedent and many, many interesting future derivatives and yet at the same time feels very much its own thing and quite unlike the competition. It aired in 1981, by which point Super Sentai had already started using giant robots (with Battle Fever J in 1979 and Denjiman in 1980). This is worth noting because the episode to episode plotting of Gold Lightan is strongly reminiscent of super sentai – and in turn it feels equally like a predecessor to 1982’s Space Sheriff Gavan in how strange the villains’ methods are.

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Stronger than God or Devil, but Mostly God, is Daimajin

Arrow Films released a very nice collection of the Daimajin films in 2021, and I have since watched two of the three. They’re honestly extremely interesting entries into the giant monster/tokusatsu milieu because they run with a lot of ideas that I feel would in turn turn into super robot anime tropes, and well worth a watch. I think it’s fair to say they’re both very different to a lot of monster disaster films but also much more thematically similar than you might immediately expect.

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Take a Ride on the Galaxy Express, And Learn a Thing Or Two About The Working Class

Simply put, Galaxy Express 999 avoids the most common pitfall of socially conscious science fiction by not trying to disguise the point it is trying to make in science-fiction jargon, or couch it in allegory. Instead, it makes the simple and devastating argument that scientific progress won’t actually fix the problems in society and will most likely just make them worse. It’s a bold move and one that doesn’t always work because there are some things that haven’t quite held up as thinking-points since its first airing in 1978. Similarly, society has changed and with it perhaps attitudes to social issues.

But broadly speaking while Galaxy Express is wild, unscientific sci-fi of weird and unlikely worlds and trains in space, absolutely none of this gets in the way of the fact most episodes are just extremely explicit complaints about something wrong with people. The show is over a hundred episodes long and trying to be comprehensive would be a fruitless endeavour, but I’m going to here talk about some of the episodes and themes that worked very well – even if the execution of the whole episode might have had some issues, there’s often something very relatable to it.

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The Divine Right of Kings Isn’t Much Fun in “The Twelve Kingdoms”

I’ve had many, many months to digest The Twelve Kingdoms because there’s a lot of it, it’s a very dense series, and it’s best looked at with that breathing-space. It’s a tough sell of a series, a meandering, often tricky to keep up with isekai story that is full of abrasive characters, but its sheer scale and ambition – as cliché as that sounds – is hard to find elsewhere.

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Bad Things Will Happen To People Who Mostly Deserve It In “Argento Soma”

Something I like a lot about Ultraman, among many other sci-fi serials, is it’s frequently willing to just have a very angry episode about scientific hubris and exploitation. The scientific world, or the military, or capitalism, will see in the marvelous and wonderful a chance to grab power or profit, and everything will go wrong. You know exactly what will go wrong and you will see how it once again leads to a senseless fight. Argento Soma is a series that in its first 8 episodes sets itself up as a very long build up to tragedy of this kind, and this is why it is very good.

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We’re Back

I stopped writing this blog because I ran out of things I cared enough about to write about them, and realised I enjoyed things a lot more when watching them without needing to look for things to write about than when I was trying very hard to find something clever to say about everything I enjoyed.

I’m going to be changing the way I write articles; they’ll be shorter and more direct, generally just my reactions to things often once I’ve seen enough of them to form a proper opinion. First impressions are generally wrong, and things are better discussed in any detail once you’ve had time to digest them and think about what to say.