This is a rough (non-comprehensive) list of what I’ve been watching and reading in the past months; starting with anime, then non-anime shows, then books and at the very end I share some YouTube channels.
I was going to share a partially written blog post about Aristotle’s Poetics and what I’ve been learning while in the process of writing Queen Hana…
…but then I decided I’d rather share an ENTERTAINMENT list instead!!!!
What makes or breaks my understanding of storytelling is being able to apply comprehension to things like TV, books, etc. and then in turn, to my own works. In result, this process guides and refines the creative decisions I make. Plus I also like to enjoy things.
💫 < this star means I highly recommend it.
Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
Battle Royale genres can be fun and I started watching this series on a whim due to the foundational Yandere character (Yuno) within it since I’ve been thinking about developing a story involving a yandere type and wanted to further define a couple characters who borderline the trope already. I never gave the franchise much thought in the past so I went into the series with fresh eyes and few assumptions. The story got a lot darker than I actually expected; it was a nice surprise because it made certain elements unpredictable in an enjoyable manner.
Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler
This one is on Netflix and the animation style is one of my favorite styles so I decided to give it a chance. Ever since I read GTO, I’ve been a fan of detailed and exaggerated facial expressions. Plus Gambling! Of course I had to watch! I ended up binging the whole thing in a single day because I enjoyed it so much. This was a series that was extremely consistent in all components; soundtrack, op, art style, story, etc. The creators definitely believed in the project and that came across.
This is a franchise I revisit now and then. There’s a lot of elements in the world of Berserk that helps get my mind in a state of the medievalesque fantasy genre. This is a series that tends to remain consistent through episodes; an anime with heart, if you will.
💫 Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii (Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku)
This is a Spring Season RomCom and I love it. It skips over some stuff and I was confused for a bit in the first three episodes, but I made do since I enjoyed the shiny art style and premise. I caught up after that and while I’m not sure how it will sustain any kind of conflict (a test for slice-of-life and romcoms), it has enough inside-jokes and amusing, heart-warming reflections on friendships between anime/manga/game fans that it’s one of my favorite shows right now.
Kyougoku Natsuhiko: Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari
Another art style that I have a soft spot for, this is a horror series. I enjoy this series specifically for the music and art, the story is kind of secondary for me though there’s nothing terrible about it. I’ve considered trying to find an english translation of the novels that the series is based on because I feel like reading it would be interesting.
Tears to Tiara
Based on a game, I started watching this because I found some overlapping tropes when researching TDF. The best thing about this series is the OP…. it can be kind of slow… but I’m watching it for research purposes… and I actually mean that. It has a lot of connecting elements to The Descent Files: Hana that lets me consider my own creative direction.
Angelique – OVA
I also watched this for research purposes. It was a chore. I do not recommend this anime. Maybe because it’s based on a game or was a prequel but it didn’t feel like it knew exactly what it was. It had harem elements due to the dating sim yet the romance felt secondary and stilted… I tried to watch more from the franchise but it was very jarring as every rendition changed the visual aesthetics of certain characters and were likely done by different studios. Luckily the OVAs didn’t waste that much time and I just wrote on the side like I tend to do if I’m not enjoying something but still feel like I should watch it.
Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits
This series I started watching for research because of the overlap with a hidden world, spirits, etheric kind of stuff. It follows a more strict Japanese mythology and the story is … okay. Not bad, but not particularly exciting beyond the potential romance hooks (it is Fruits Basket-level girly). The OP is so addicting and fun, I’ve been putting it on repeat while writing.
Space Battleship Tiramisu
One of those 4-7minute styled type of shows, this is a satire/parody show of futuristic mecha shows. The first episode was the best one and while it isn’t bad, it’s kind of dulled each one afterward. I find short format anime shows fascinating however because it displays how to pack information in to the audience within a very limited time.
On that note, this netflix show was another series I decided to give a chance on a whim. I binged it in a day, mostly because the episodes were so short and it was so freakin’ cute. Besides red pandas (along with fennec foxes) are one of my favorite animals soooo combined with death metal, mid-late 20s character, yoga and office work… I was definitely the target audience and I enjoyed it. The cuteness definitely carried it.
Cutie Honey Universe
I was excited for this reboot. And the animation style and soundtrack remind me of Devilman Crybaby… it hits all my nostalgic points. But I haven’t gone back to watch it since ep4/5. I’ll probably come back eventually, there’s something about it that is disconnecting though. Maybe because I’m already aware of everything there is to know? It feels as if there is nothing unexpected waiting for me when it comes to the story.
This series is a strange one for me. It has a Yakuza character (one of my favorite tropes) and a supernatural premise… but like with most slice-of-life shows, I got bored around episode 4. I’ll return to it as I enjoy the characters, their dynamics, and probably just need to give it some time so I can watch the episodes one after the other instead of having to wait a week between them. I hope the story picks up a bit more though… still it’s super cute and sweet!
Okay okay, that’s enough anime for now I think…. let’s move on to non-anime movies/shows (and then after that, we’ll do books)!
Unreal Season 3 – TV
This Lifetime series is my guilty pleasure show. I’ve been watching since Season 1 and started watching because I thought Shiri Appleby was Linda Cardellini (from Freaks and Geeks) at first… this was not the case but I got hooked regardless. The characterization feels solid and the main cast keeps developing with each season in a way that feels natural and responsive to the in-season stories. It’s one of those rare shows I actually don’t mind watching one-at-a-time per week. The meta-layers are interesting to the story itself (reminds me of a play-within-a-play tropes sometimes).
Safe – TV
This is a new Netflix thriller with British Dexter… I mean uh, Michael C. Hall… and I tried. I really did. I got to the start of the fifth episode (there’s only like 8) and I started watching partly for research on Father-Daughter character dynamics. But… I dropped it during the fifth episode because I did not care what happened to a single character in the cast. Plus it kept trying to introduce new things to create tension; in a bad way.
Maybe I’ll finish it to see if there is some sort of redeeming twist but I strongly doubt it. The world felt paper-thin, the characters felt forced, and the story felt drawn out, plus the camera-work was try-hard irritating at times (there were moments where I expected the camera to literally bump into Michael C. Hall’s face), and the opening was like it was taken from that Portlandia skit about Premium Cable Title-Sequence Music… I ended up wondering if this show was made just so Michael C. Hall could rebrand himself as a good guy after Dexter.
Nashville – TV
Only on season 1 of this series, and I started watching out of research interest to apply character understanding. I don’t know if I like it yet, but I don’t dislike it necessarily either. I feel I’d have to reach the season 3 area where shows either decline or succeed depending on how they handle the main cast’s evolution.
Twin Peaks – TV
An old one, a cult classic. I watched both season 1 and season 2 of Twin Peaks this year! This became my go-to when I wanted to analyze and apply characterization knowledge, especially season 1. The first season provides such an interesting ensemble dynamic to it and the thing that struck me the most was that Twin Peaks was successful at creating characters with great heart; in the sense that a character was the only character like them (unique) and they added to the story by being that unique person. Each had about 2-3 defining characteristics that summed them up, offering easy viewing for the audience and quick recognition for what the character symbolized.
I won’t get into the symbolism and all that used in Twin Peaks either. That’s obviously something that’s long been discussed by other people. Twin Peaks is a great example of not explaining the mystery of your world to viewers though, making room for theories and leaving space for artistic decisions while balancing the story and keeping things interesting. I haven’t watched Season 3 or the prequel movie yet, I’m just glad the series on Showtime wasn’t a reboot.
Longmire – TV
I watch episodes of this show from time to time when I’m cleaning. I like the characterization in the show, it feels fairly subtle to me as most long-term detective styled series tend to have (you don’t want the protagonist changing too dramatically or quickly, else you won’t have any road to go on in later seasons!) plus it’s got Katee Sackhoff in it and she’s just plain enjoyable to watch.
Hellraiser I and II – Movie
Another cult classic (I decided to make time for some cult-favorites to observe plot and character structures. There is something to be said that there is a REASON certain older movies and shows (pre-21st century) become cult classics and I like to give them a chance because of it). I enjoy the world of HellRaiser, while the characters are very 80s in aesthetic, the magic involved is intriguing. Clive Barker is one of those creators I feel like I’ll be using to apply my own creative understanding again and again – not necessarily to emulate, but just because he tries interesting things.
💫 A Dark Song – Movie
Now this one was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed this occult drama and might even rewatch it some time. It didn’t waste time (or stretch the story out) and I wasn’t able to predict the ending; the pay-off definitely was worth the premise and lead-up. All of the occult influences were a bonus and while it wasn’t perfect, I appreciated the way things were presented and talked about. It felt complete.
I am the Pretty Thing That Lives In The House – Movie
On Netflix, I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for… a long time. And I was thoroughly disappointed by it. It was slow and as all horror-based movies are judged, the end pay-off didn’t justify the set-up or gradual rise. It played with the fears around being isolated in a barely-known house, with an old person who is dying, but the story… felt incredibly boring and the potential of the premise felt unrealized. By the ending scenes, I was very meh about the whole thing.
Tale of Tales – Movie
I watched this before but didn’t finish it or didn’t remember it or whatever. So I watched it again recently for research/application purposes. The best thing about this movie is the amount of detail which went into the world/costumes, the visual translation of fairy tales, and allowing me to consider kingdoms/royalty/etc. Buuuut… I wouldn’t recommend it. Though it did make me want to read some translations of Giambattista Basile.
Let’s move on to books (non-fiction, fiction, manga)! Again, this isn’t comprehensive, it’s just a highlight list of some noteworthy titles – mostly recent as I forget book/manga titles pretty quickly as I’m an all-over-the-place, many titles at a time type of reader.
💫 Poetics by Aristotle
As mentioned before, I’m reading Aristotle’s Poetics. I’m taking notes so I’m reading it slowly as I want to give time between sections to allow for application to things I’m watching (see above). I highly recommend this though.
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John le Carré
Oh man, I am 110% enjoying this novel. I picked it up, randomly and without any expectations, off a shelf and have been reading it before going to bed. Apparently he has more than a couple titles made into shows/movies (such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) but I haven’t seen any of them except maybe a bit of BBC’s The Night Manager (which I didn’t care for). I plan on picking up another of his novels after I finish this one.
The Lady and Her Butler – manga
This is a romcom webmanga on Lezhin that slowed down a lot in the last few chapters but the start is an interesting case of building characters, dodging expectations and predictions, while not going too far-out-there in the story. It felt very light. The visual medium of scrolling webmangas are an interesting thing in themselves compared to the traditional printed manga or webcomics. The timing with the spacing of the format is unique and I suggest checking out the free first issue to see what I’m talking about.
Aoi Horus no Hitomi – manga by Inudoh Chie
I started reading this on a whim and then kept reading for research on the main character archetype of a royal female. Apparently it’s ongoing so I’m waiting because there isn’t a lot to the series yet. The Egyptian premise/world is fun though and art style is pretty. The creator feels like they truly believe in the story they’re telling too.
The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory
Gregory is one of my favorite easy-to-jump-in authors to read. I tend to feel at-ease when I read her work, and don’t feel obligated to keep reading either so I can pick it up, set it down, and then come back or not – it’s entirely up to me and where I’m at. This book is absolutely ridiculous too. I thought it was fairly straight-forward but then it started changing in ways that I can’t help but wonder if Gregory was getting bored with the story while she was writing and was like “This will spice things up!”.
Robert E. Howard stories
Whenever I feel lost, I read REH. I mostly keep to the fantasies (lately I’ve been preferring Kull stories) right now and it doesn’t take long before I feel like getting back to the work of writing.
So that’s an overview of some stuff I’ve been shoving into my brain. I won’t bother getting into music or games. I will, however, share some Youtube channels.
Since I’ve been developing the fantasy world of The Descent Files: Hana, a lot of my current favorite channels involve fantasy/medieval/historical/symbolism (Links go to the channel and I’ll offer a video at random choice):
With that, I’m back to work.
See y’all on the other side!