Media I experienced in 2022
Published on 12/27/2022, 7237 words, 27 minutes to read
Over the year I took some notes on the games, hardware, and TV shows I experienced. Here's the best and worst of what I experienced and some thoughts on all of it. I hope you enjoy all these mini-reviews.
Games I played
I know that I'm getting dangerously close to becoming a game reviewer here, but here's some thoughts about my experiences playing through a bunch of good games this year. These are in no particular order.
Originally I wanted to try and come up with some summary to what I think my "game of the year" is. I can't do that. There have been too many fantastic games that have either come out or come into my greasy mitts that I don't think I can summarize the entire year into a single game like I have previously.
Pokémon Legends Arceus
I wrote a lot about this game in March, but honestly it's one of the best Pokémon games I've played in years. Pokémon as a series has been a very stagnant affair. It really hasn't evolved very much over the years and the mainline Pokémon games are just further attempts at refining the vision they set out to meet in Red and Blue.
Arceus is different. Arceus took a huge risk and actually innovated on the core formula. You aren't some kid that was selected by the professor or whatever, you're some random teen that gets sucked into a temporal vortex by God and ends up being the most proficient Pokémon trainer Hisui has ever known. Arceus is closer to the vision of something like Pocket Monster Hunter. There are big fields to explore in and completing your Pokédex takes more than just catching them all. You have to interact with the Pokémon, feed them, and more to really study them. I love it. It's easily a 9/10 game and if you're off put by how Pokémon games have evolved over the years you should give it a try.
I've always loved the aesthetics and gameplay design of Dark Souls, but I've never been quite good enough at the game in order to finish it. Dark Souls is a very confusing game, and I'm pretty sure this is done intentionally to make the player feel insignificant. You are an anonymous undead hero that wanders the world with the hope of killing off the rulers of the world to reshape things in your image. This game is actually a fairly decent metaphor for what it's like to be openly trans in a workplace that claims to support diversity and inclusion but doesn't actually take steps to actually be inclusive.
I was going to make a talk about this whole Dark Souls as a metaphor for what really happens when diversity and inclusion are either only given lip service or are not taken seriously, but I may just produce it as a video for the blog site. The talk wasn't accepted at any of the conferences I applied to with it. If the video ends up doing well I may turn it back into a talk next year.
Elden Ring hits the same way that Dark Souls does, except the player is given a lot more freedom. You're still some nobody that gets dumped into the world with a sword and a dream of becoming the Elden Lord. It's a fully open world game complete with deep mechanical depth, dungeons to explore, and an absolutely absurd number of bosses to fight. I love it so much, but I haven't taken the time to finish it yet. I'm probably 90 hours in and I got past the fire giant (oh god the fire giant was hard) and I hit a wall due to my build being a squishy glass cannon mage build. They nerfed one of the strategies I was using to take out bosses quickly (mixing magic attack up and temporary infinite FP), and that completely destroyed the momentum of my run.
Either way, I love this game. It's a perfect take on the Dark Souls formula and I'm sure I'll come back to it to slowly chip away at things and claim the title of Elden Lord. Just not any time soon, but that's okay. If it wins game of the year, I wouldn't be surprised. It's highly acclaimed for a reason and I give it a 10/10.
It did actually win Game of the Year! Congrats to the team, they did a good.
I played this game on my gaming PC and my Steam Deck. It ran amazingly on PC, but the Deck required some fiddling with settings. I ended up at 600p40 with FSR enabled at sharpness 3. That gets you a nice smooth 40 frames per second which isn't perfect, but more than enough for accurate gameplay.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby has always been near and dear to my heart. The Kirby series of games has you play as a lackadaisical pink puffball that just wants to vibe with his friends and eat sweets. You fight off universe-threatening bosses by consuming your enemies and stealing their powers for your own in an innovative power up system. This series has been in a constant state of stagnation for many years. A lot of the newer games were minor incremental changes to the core formula of going to find the bad guy and shooting it until it dies. I'm not saying that they were bad, Kirby games are always highly polished and fun to play; it just gets a bit samey to do the same thing over and over with different universal threats.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land innovates on the Kirby formula by properly throwing Kirby into the third dimension. Instead of being 3d models on a 2d plane, Forgotten Land lets Kirby move in massive 3d stages in any direction you want. It combines tight platforming, light puzzle elements, and the typical collectathon gameplay in a new way that is lovely to play through.
So you're going to just skip over the fact that Kirby is the reincarnation of the God of Death?
No, stop that, that will scare people away from playing the game. Yes the Kirby series has traditionally focused on cosmic horror being wrapped up in smiles as a mainly child-targeted series, but Forgotten Land is a game that is much more targeted at core gamers. Though I'm fairly sure that if you gave this game to a kid they'd have an absolute blast.
It's a 10/10 game. I'd say it's one of the best games I've played this year. It looks gorgeous. Kirby has never controlled better.
Forza Horizon 5
I'm not really a racing game person, but I like to play Forza Horizon 5 with my husband and some friends on Discord. We'll all hop into a voice chat and then fire up Forza and just have some fun racing around and goofing off with cars. It's good clean fun, and this time you get to do it in a beautiful photorealistic environment that looks and feels like Mexico should.
Many racing games want to focus on the simulation aspect of driving, the realistic impact of aerodynamics, or other things that I personally find kind of boring. Forza Horizon games are all about the joy of doing stupid stuff with cars. You can customize builds and tune things so that you can try to do things better. Each type of car has its own quirks and overall it just feels fun to play.
I don't really go out of my way to play it alone and I have to be in the right mood to play it, but Forza Horizon 5 is one of the best games I've played this year. It's nice and cozy. I'd give it a 8/10 rating with the caveat that I really don't like racing games all that much. My husband loves it, so there's that.
I played this game on my gaming PC and my Steam Deck. It ran great on both. No settings changes were needed on the Deck.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
I've tried to write something longer about this game for the blog a few times and I haven't really been able to end up with anything coherent. I'm going to try to write something smaller this time: it's good. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is not only a technical showcase on the Switch, it's a masterpiece in narrative design, worldbuilding, music, and overall character design. It's one of the best games Monolith Soft has ever put out. I'm going to be mostly focusing on the gameplay aspects and avoid talking about the story to avoid spoilers. All story content I talk about was in one of the first trailers for the games.
You play as a bunch of weirdos that follow the former enemies now friends trope and set off across the world after they get labeled as targets to everyone for plot reasons. Every character has their own specialty class (swordfighter, twin rings tank, DPS healer, ranged tactical healer, meathead tank, and giant hammer user) and they all complement eachother perfectly. I could easily see that team balance lasting the entire game without the game being horrible.
However Monolith didn't stop there. They kept going. Every character can get proficiency in every other character's class. When you meet hero characters in the world, you can assume their classes as your own and mix them in to give the combat system a lot of depth. Chain attacks are completely reworked and hilariously tactical. The combat system is both more simple and more deep than the one in Xenoblade 2, and I can easily see people finding ways to make it even more elaborate as more DLC is released and discoveries are made.
Other than that it's your standard jRPG. Fetch bread, slay archons. It's a 10/10 game, but I still think that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is my favorite game in the series. It's well worth playing if you are a fan of jRPGs polished to perfection. There's not many game developers that will go to the level of creating real-world functional replicas of in-game items to help them with the worldbuilding and music writing process, and that level of attention to detail shows.
It's a shame they got robbed of best music in the game awards. Not many music teams will design their own instruments so they can use the unique microtonal features of the instruments to their own advantage. This game is a must-play.
Every major console has a Quake. Splatoon is Nintendo's quake. It is a fast-paced multiplayer 3rd person shooter where you play as squid creatures and your goal is to cover the ground with as much ink for your team as you can. There's a huge varity of weapons to choose from and I'm pretty sure there's a near infinite skill ceiling. I love Splatoon and Splatoon 3 does more of what works with the the squid kids.
One of the side modes in Splatoon is Salmon Run, a PvE mode where a team of 4 fights off hordes of Salmonids similar to CoD Zombies. One of the big things they added was the ability to yeet eggs across long distances at the cost of most of your ink tank. This completely flipped Salmon Run on its head and has made it my go-to game mode.
This game is really good. I love how it plays, how it feels and I want to see more. I give it a 10/10.
Oh to be a cat wandering around Kowloon walled city full of robots. Stray is one of the more unique games that I played this year, and I really liked the time I spent with it. Stray is all about immersing you into the life of a stray cat wandering around an abandoned city full of robots. It is gorgeous, it looks painterly and takes full advantage of Unreal Engine 4's lighting systems to really sell the idea of you being a cat in a cyberpunk city.
I love how this game looks. I love how it controls. I just didn't love how it felt like it wasn't really evolving the walking simulator genre beyond you playing as a cat. Some of the "failure" scenes are kind of cruel looking. Overall, this is a solid 8/10 game for me. It's a lovely experience but it's not something you should really go back to more than once in a few years. It's a lot like The Stanley Parable in that regard.
Either way, the game knows what it is and does that really well. It's worth playing if the cutscene about monsters attacking a kitty aren't too much for you.
I played this game on my gaming PC. I am told it runs okay on Steam Deck, but I didn't test it there.
I forget who said this, but one of the speed runners that my husband and I watch said that Super Metroid is an acquired taste. Somehow I've managed to avoid sitting down and playing through the whole game and after playing it to the end, I can understand why people think that this is one of the best games ever made. Super Metroid is one of my favorite games. It's very simple yet fair and mechanically deep. It's earned its place on the high end of top 10 games lists easily.
Super Metroid is Samus' third big adventure, this time she heads back to Planet Zebes to finish off the Space Pirates for good. Through events that aren't explained, she loses access to all of her power ups from Metroid II and delivers the baby Metroid to Ceres station in the hope that its energy can help humanity for peace. The Space Pirates want Metroids so they can take over the galaxy. The space cops are not keen about this and they send in Samus to go wreck shit up until the Space Pirates are no longer a threat. You explore Planet Zebes, fight all the bosses, save or kill the animals, and overall have complete freedom in the 2d sandbox to do whatever you want.
There are sequence breaking tools like wall jumping, shinesparking, and infinite bomb jumps that were intentionally programmed into the game. When I say that it's a sandbox, I mean that you can literally defeat the bosses in any order you want. Speedruns will usually do the bosses in reverse order. This gives players an overwhelming sense of freedom and it easily allows for an infinite skill ceiling and infinite replayability. 10/10 game, it's a must-play for a reason.
Super Metroid may be one of the best games ever made, but future releases in the series have highlighted that there are severe ergonomics problems that can easily be polished out of Super Metroid with only minor improvements on the game itself. There's an entire rom hacking community for Super Metroid that works on trying to see what they can do with the game and they push both it and the hardware to their absolute limits.
One of the most commonly used "project base" roms is called "Project Base" and includes a bunch of ergonomic improvements from future games (such as the ability to start spinning in the air if you hit the button again). Hyper Metroid takes Project Base and built a whole new game on top of it. It just feels so good to play. Samus is responsive and shooting has never felt better.
There's the same Dramatic Personae in Samus, Ridley, Kraid, Drayghon, and Phantoon; but the world and goals are completely remixed and flipped on their heads. In vanilla Super Metroid your goal is to kill the bosses and then fight Mother Brain, but Hyper Metroid places 15 Tourian gates around Zebes and you must unlock them all in order to fight Mother Brain. Like Super Metroid you are dumped into the world with absolute freedom and the game is designed to allow for sequence breaking. I'm pretty sure that my casual playthrough had a few accidental sequence breaks because I just wanted to see if I could get places.
One of the other big changes it makes to the Metroid formula is the ammo system. Super Metroid normally has a few kinds of ammo for missiles, super missiles (affectionately known as supers), and power bombs. You have to track the ammo for each independently and this can lead to situations where you run out of supers at the worst time. Hyper Metroid introduces a universal ammo system. When you pick up a missile tank, you get 5 more ammo. Each missile uses 1 ammo to fire, each super missile uses 10 ammo to fire, and each power bomb uses 15 ammo to fire. This turns the resource management of Super Metroid on its head and gives players a lot more freedom in how they handle encounters.
I think this is a 10/10 game. It feels like it could have been made by the same development team behind Super Metroid and overall it's well worth your time. Metroid games have always been made as puzzles and Hyper Metroid delivers in the world design department.
I played both this and Super Metroid with RetroArch using bsnes as the SNES emulator. It ran like butter.
I've somehow avoided playing Prime in the same way I avoided playing Super. This was a mistake. Metroid Prime is a seamless adaptation of the Super Metroid formula to a 3D game. One of the big things that Metroid games in 2D do is give you complete freedom and set up a bunch of keys and locks. You need missiles to open some doors, so you need to go find them and then you can get around to many more doors left inaccessible before. The game has aged like fine wine and I'm fairly certain that it could appease the appetite of modern gamers with only minor touchups.
I tried to get screenshots of more than the opening area, but the Steam Deck seems to have put those screenshots in god-knows-where as jpg files. Please bear with me!
I did play through Prime with Primehack, a fork of the Wii/GameCube emulator Dolphin that adds the ability for Metroid Prime to be controlled like other modern FPS games using a standard twin-stick setup. Playing it on my Steam Deck has been a blast and I easily get 4+ hours of batttery life on a single charge.
I understand why this is on peoples lists of all time best games. It is worthy of all the praise it has gotten, it's a shame that Prime couldn't save the GameCube from relative obscurity in the console market. It is a 10/10 killer app that can only be relatively improved by minor tweaks such as having a normal FPS control scheme (granted, this didn't exist at the time of Prime's release). I can't believe that I didn't play it before this year. Don't make the same mistake I did.
No Man's Sky
I've tried to get into No Man's Sky a few times and it's just never stuck. When I was bedridden with COVID in June, I fired it up on my Deck and vibed out with it. It's a fantastic game and the team at Hello Games should be applauded for how they're treating the game over the years. It launched as a barely functional prototype and has been slowly refined into the game that the hype promised. It's easily the best turnaround story in gaming history.
No Man's Sky is a universe-scale procedurally generated sandbox/exploration game where you fly from system to system in search of the center of the universe. You play as an anonymous traveler and are given a starship, a multi-tool, and a dream. Every aspect of gameplay extends out from those basic three parts. You can build your own base, manage a fleet of merchant ships, smuggle counterfeit goods from pirate systems into freer parts of the universe, build the starship armada of your dreams, and more.
It is quite possibly one of the biggest scale games I've ever played. The size of the playable game world is so large that it's impossible for humans to comprehend. We're talking on the order of 317,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 square kilometers of playable space. The Milky Way galaxy has a radius of about 50,000 light years. If the entire world in No Man's Sky was mapped onto a single square plane, one edge of that plane would be 0.06 light years long.
One of the only downsides to this game is that everything is procedurally generated. This leaves things feeling a bit samey across planets and systems. If you've seen one volcano planet, you've largely seen them all. The game tries to compensate for this with alien ruins being scattered across the universe with tales of fallen civilizations and universal decay, and I think they do a good job with this.
I'd give No Man's Sky a 9/10. It's multiplayer leaves a lot of room for replayability. Community expeditions give you a lot of freedom to explore with more explicit goals. It runs perfectly on the Steam Deck and gets you hours of battery life. I'd be willing to recommend it if you want to vibe out and have a good time.
I have been a Pokémon fan for a very long time. The first game I played was Pokémon Diamond on the Nintendo DS in middle school. I easily put 200 hours into that game. It not only introduced me to the world of Pokémon, but it also gave me the freedom to explore and handcraft a team to my exact demands.
When Sword was annoucned, one of the things they mentioned was that the game would not have all 800+ Pokémon at release. This scandal was later called "Dexit" (in reference to Brexit because Sword was set in a Pokémon world version of England), and that scandal's social media outrage cycle made me avoid the game entirely.
This was a mistake.
Pokémon Sword reminded me of all the thigns I love about the more "classic" Pokémon formula. You are some kid who gets battle monsters and is told to go save the world. The art is crisp and has this lovely anime shader to it. Everything feels internally coherent and it runs so well on the Switch. It makes me forget that the Tegra X1 chip is almost a decade old as I immerse myself into the world of Pokémon.
One of the major weaknesses of the game was that it didn't bring much new to the table. It mostly was an incremental evolution of the core Pokémon games on the 3DS. I suspect that this game was originally intended as a 3DS game but hastily ported to the Switch after hearing that the 3DS was getting axed. However, by being so derivative, it allows you to just focus on the game and bring your past experiences to the table so you can explore the world of Galar to your heart's content. Dynamaxing was super dumb though.
Sword also introduced Wild Areas, which I believe are the future of the series. In Wild Areas you can run around and see Pokémon in the world around you. You have full camera control and fighting a wild Pokémon starts with you walking up to it and harassing it. This allows you to avoid battles you don't want to fight and avoid having to game the RNG to avoid it rolling an encounter for you.
Overall, this game is fantastic and it's exactly what I want out of a Pokémon game. It's the kind of game that is best enjoyed with a warm coffee and while under a blanket on the couch. It's very cozy and I love it so much for that. It's a 9/10 game, could be a 10/10 game if the entire game world was a Wild Area.
Pokémon Violet was the big ticket release for Pokémon in 2022. It is the next generation of Pokémon and they took a lot of the ideas of Legends Arceus combined with the Wild Areas from Sword and Shield and then delivered a truly open world experience. When you fight wild Pokémon, you do it in the open world. You fight traines in the open world. You can run around, fly on your bicycle, and more. You can even play with your friends co-op with the Union Circle, allowing my husband and I to truly play this game together, not just adjacently in the same room.
When you are playing together with the Union Circle and exploring together, version-exclusive Pokémon will show up around you. My husband has Pokémon Scarlet and one of the Pokémon you can't catch there is Bagon (a dragon Pokémon). When we adventure together, he can catch Bagon and all the other version-exclusives. This eliminates the need for a lot of random trading and we love the results.
I didn't mention it above, but Pokémon Sword and Shield introduced Raid Battles, which let you fight against a more powerful than usual creature in a many-against-one fashion. Violet takes this further with Tera Raid battles, which not only have music by Toby Fox (yes, the Undertale Toby Fox), but also let you get a guaranteed catch for the Pokémon you are fighting. This can help you clean out the remainders of your Pokédex that you just can't find in the open world.
Every Pokémon game has a gimmick, and this one lets you change the type of your Pokémon mid-battle. This adds an entirely new layer to the Pokémon metagame and I can't wait to see how people abuse that for fun and profit. I'm already starting to plan out a competitive team.
Violet is also a lot more refined than past Pokémon games. Items that you need to train your Pokémon to competitive status are all in one store for fairly cheap instead of spread out over the entire world. Every Pokémon center has a TM machine and a Poké Mart, and they are littered around the world such that one's always nearby. All of the dead time in other Pokémon games has been eliminated, even moreso than with Arceus.
I would love to say that this is the game of the year and probably the best experience you can have with Pokémon, but I can't. There are huge performance and graphical issues that intrude into the core game flow. There's some kind of memory leak that means you need to restart the game every few hours to avoid the game chugging down to 15 FPS or worse. Some of the late game cutscenes can run at slideshow paces.
It really makes me wonder what Pokémon games could look like if they targeted the PS5, PC, or Xbox consoles instead. The Tegra X1 that powers the Nintendo Switch is a very capable and versatile chip, but you need a lot of care and optimization put into development to really make it shine. Pokémon Violet doesn't have that level of polish and it sadly shows.
Personally I wish there were more outfit options than school uniforms, but that may have been a compromise made in development to make the deadline.
I absolutely love what they are doing with Scarlet and Violet, they are taking the series in the right direction. However, the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. I can ignore grapical issues up until they interfere with the core game loop. Scarlet and Violet do a bad job of hiding the fact that they are running on an underpowered Tegra X1 chip. I have to give it a 7/10 as it is right now, but with significant performance improvements it could easily be a 9/10 or 10/10 game.
Hardware I picked up
I managed to pick up some fun hardware this year. I was gonna write more about each of these, but I guess this has become a bit of an omnibus post with a whole bunch of details about a bunch of things I did in 2022. Soooo I'm gonna just roll with it and talk about some of the hardware I picked up!
PS5 (disc drive)
When I moved to Canada, I brought my PS4 Pro with me. This ended up becoming the tool that my husband and I used to watch YouTube with while eating dinner at home. After finally getting my hands on a PS5 after trying for a year, it's now...the tool that my husband and I use to watch YouTube with while eating dinner at home.
One of the Youtubers I follow named Pyrocynical has gotten a lot of flak since the PS5's release by saying that the PS5 has no games. Honestly, I have to agree with him. There are not really that many compelling PS5 games that aren't going to make their way to PC anyways (probably as a defense against people writing emulators).
Overall it's a great bit of kit, but as a hardcore gamer I really have my gaming hardware needs met by my Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck and gaming PC. It's a good console, it just needs good exclusives that I can't get a better experience with on PC.
Until then it's a great YouTube and Plex client for the living room!
The Steam Deck is a handheld PC that runs Arch Linux and Steam games. It is a phenomenal device and I do not regret my purchase in the slightest. I bought the 512 GB model and popped a 512 GB microSD card in it. I currently have 60 games on it and about 100 GB of space free.
It's a hackable Linux system that plays games really well. If you want a device that you can use to play Dwarf Fortress, Sonic Adventure 2, or any of your other Steam games on the go, you can't go wrong with a Steam Deck. If you travel a lot for work, this is going to become a vital travel companion. I've been seeing if I can get away with making a high-tier Steam Deck issued to new people on the DevRel team at work. I haven't succeeded at doing this yet, but I may just be able to get away with it!
It's one of the best purchases I've ever made. Half of the PC game screenshots were made with my deck.
Nintendo Switch OLED
I've had a launch model Nintendo Switch since the switch launched. That thing has easily gotten a few thousand hours of playtime under its belt and I've worn out 3 pairs of Joycons with it. I love the hell out of the Nintendo Switch and absolutely love what the development teams Nintendo hires can do with it.
From what I am told, the Switch OLED was supposed to be a spec bump to the platform. Then COVID and the chip shortage happened, so the spec bump didn't happen. The OLED screen is absolutely gorgeous though. Colors pop and dance across the screen. Black and white have lovely contrast that I don't really expect to see on anything but my iPad Pro or my work MacBook Pro. It is a premium device and I love the hell out of it.
It's very iterative of the basic Nintendo Switch formula, but the battery life increase is really nice. My old switch has seen enough charge cycles that the battery is starting to not be as fresh as it once was, so a new device where I can get 4 hours of battery playing Breath of the Wild or Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is very welcome.
The Switch OLED is a worthy upgrade. I just hope we get an actual spec bump soon. It would be cool to see if a higher clock speed at a better process could make games like Pokemon Violet play a lot smoother.
Visual Media I watched
Fair warning: I watch a lot of anime. There will be a lot of anime in this list. You have been warned.
Leadle no Dachi Nite
This started out as a generic fantasy Isekai in the vein of Sword Art Online except the bedridden protagonist dies while in the VRMMO and ends up trapped inside it. The event made the VRMMO get scrapped. The protagonist ends up adventuring through the fallen remains of the MMO world and they never really do anything useful with it. Overall it was a waste of my time to watch it. There were parts that were cute, but it is obviously either wish fulfillment on the part of the mangaka or trying to tell a story that the show runners couldn't make work. 4/10, the animation was fluid, but the story was just so terrible. If you are trying to tell a story, it helps to have something to tell in the process instead of trying to ride the coattails of a more successful story.
Reincarnated as a Sword
The isekai genre has been really crowded as of late. All of the "normal" scenarios have been done to death. People have been reincarnated into VR games so many times. People have been reincarnated into so many weird places (there's even one where someone reincarnates into the body of a succubus with an addiction to drinking cow's milk) and the genre is saturated to the point that it gets boring.
Reincarnated as a Sword is an anime about someone who...reincarnates as a sword. I really liked reading the manga over the last few years and I'm happy to see it get the treatment it deserves on the anime stage. I like it, but I could see how people would hate how wish fulfillment/mary sue/toneless and bland it can be at times.
It's a 7/10 anime. Very good technical production, the story falls a bit flat; but it's an isekai about a dude reincarnating as a sword. Fran is even more of a bean in anime form. It's a conflicted anime but it manages to avoid being an outright mess.
Management of a Novice Alchemist
There are some animes that I don't really know how to categorize other than calling them cozy. Management of a Novice Alchemist is a cozy anime. It's about a novice alchemist named Sarasa that tries to establish her alchemy practice in a small town and protect the town from various problems.
Sarasa is a heccin bean and even though there is a pretty predictable episodic story arc, the Japanese is very clearly enunciated and doesn't contain too many difficult words. I've been taking notes while watching it to build up more vocabularity in my eternal mission to not need subtitles.
Overall, this is the kind of cozy level that you get drinking a warm mug of coffee under a blanket while listening to lo-fi hip hop beats to relax/study to. I give it a 7/10.
My Dressup Darling (Sono Bisque Doll)
I must be getting old because romantic comedy anime is starting to become one of my favorite subgenres. My Dressup Darling is about the romance between Marin Kitagawa, a budding cosplayer gyaru that has absolutely no ability to sew or cook at all and Wakana Gojo, an apprentice seamstress for hina dolls.
It's an absolutely adorable show and I think it's well worth watching. Hijinks ensue as the two spend time together and each really is well written to balance their unique talents. It feels like this was written by someone who experienced this kind of relationship with someone and wanted to retell that story in a modern setting.
This is a must-watch 10/10 anime. It's adorable, cheezy, and overall a solid romantic comedy that I can't wait to see more of. I'm going to attempt to buy it on bluray just to keep on my shelf. Cloverworks does waifu anime properly.
Spy x Family
This is another adorable anime about a family consisting of a spy, an assassin, and a telepathic child. It's set in an analogue to the cold war and none of the main characters knows that the others are what they are. It's absolutely adorable and Anya is a bean that is precious beyond words.
I could try and describe it some more, but I feel that is a waste of time. It's good. Watch it. 10/10.
I thought that Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was going to be one of the few animes that I ever see that made me have feels. Sabikui Bisco has an absolutely batshit premise and manages to build it into one of the best animes of the year.
In this world there was some nonspecific war that resulted in rust becoming able to affect humans and spread virally. Humanity is succumbing to the scurge of the rust virus and it slowly pecks away at their numbers. The existing medical systems make absolute bank on treating the rust virus' effects on people though, so you can see the completely understandable systemic problems that would emerge unfold in front of you.
Then the main character buys mushrooms off the black market and gets entangled with a mycologist archer and they sent out to save Japan from the rust virus. Bisco and Dr. Panda set out on the back of a giant friendly crab named Actagawa and uncover the truth of the rust virus, investigate rumors of a mushroom that cures the virus, and overall save the populace from themselves.
I love it so much. My descriptions here are not doing it anywhere near justice. It's a 10/10 anime and I can't suggest watching it more.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
This show was okay. I really didn't like how the elves spoke the wrong language (it's like going around Rome and having casual conversations in liturgical Latin), they should be speaking Sindarin, not Quenya. They adapted things from a few paragraphs at the end of the Silmarillion, and oh god it shows.
They really made a mistake not starting out as strong as possible, but they were trying to literary style of Tolkien's subtle worldbuilding feeding into the plot feeding into the worldbuilding. This works great in printed media but not really in a TV series where they only have 15 hours to get across the vision.
There were at least 6 threads of plot that started to weave together in new and confusing ways. Eventually they did settle down to 3 plot threads, but a lot of the plot threads felt rushed. I don't know how they managed to make a 15 hour series feel rushed, but they did. It's kind of an impressive achievement.
The thing that saved it for me is the art style. They took the instructions "make it look like The Lord of the Rings movies" and NAILED it. It looks immaculate. I love how it just feels like the classic movies. There is style and charm oozing from every crevice of the visual presentation. The people working on this care about and love The Lord of the Rings and it really shows. It's worth study from a filmography standpoint. I can't figure out how they did some of the practical effects and I think they're doing them mostly practical. It has that feel that you get with practical effects.
Overall I'd say this is a 8/10 show. I was expecting a lot worse. It's worth watching, but if you are a super LOTR nerd you may not like it very much. Just be warned that the first two episodes are kinda rough.
I saw Morbius this year. I don't really know what to say about it because it seems to have an anti-memetic effect on me. I can't really name any solid events that happened in the movie. I know that Morbius morbs, but overall the actual events are hazy even for people that saw the movie multiple times. It's really not a very good movie.
For extra credit, if you've seen Morbius this year, email me with what you think is a summary of what happened in it. No cheating, I'll know if you cheat.
It's also kind of a technical achievement because they managed to make a horror movie about a vampire boring. I don't even know how you do that. The characters are so forgettable that the only reason I know Dr. Micheal Morbius' name is because of memes about it being morbin' time. It's quite something when Twitter shitposts have more cultural impact than the thing they are shitposting about.
It's a 4/10 movie. Not really worth watching unless you have friends. And drugs. Lots of drugs. You will need them. I saw it sober and that was a MISTAKE.
What did you experience in 2022? Take the year in retrospect media challenge and write up your own article like this! Just be sure to tag it with #fhqwhgads so I can find it!
Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.