Dennis’ Favourite Media From 2022
Like most of you the deluge of simply okay Star Wars media left me jaded with the franchise recently. Like most of you I did try to watch Bobba Fett and dropped it, I did try to watch Obi Wan and dropped it and I had no intention of seeing Andor, I don’t even like Rogue One. It wasn’t until I saw a clip of Nemik explaining why fascist activities are so difficult to pin down and stop that I paid attention. Was this Star Wars show actually going to “go there” directly? It did and it was so entertaining. The three episode arc structure worked like a charm. Andor feels like a trilogy of films exploring our protagonists journey into becoming the renowned rebel he is in the Rogue One film. Andor is filled with memorable characters and so many quotable speeches. Look out for this one at the Emmys.
I have to give credit to my friends for relentlessly recommending this show to me. This is the second Kogonada (a popular Film Video Essayist turned Film Maker) project I saw this year. The first being After Yang, a slow contemplative slice of life sci-fi story about an android that is malfunctioning and need repair. Pachinko is a similar contemplative TV show about the lives and struggles of regular but extraordinary Korean women who had to navigate life as immigrants in Japan, before during and after the war.
It explores family drama and the lengths to which immigrants have to go through in order to be accepted in society. It tells a big story in the most personal way from the seemingly smallest of points of view. It’s a story about regular people navigating the ever changing and expansive dynamic world.
The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power
Firstly, I love the Lord of the Rings franchise. The movies have been my favourite for a very long time. I honestly had no expectations for this show going in and that probably helped. I say this because I have noticed that the show is deeply unpopular, I have read the negative reviews and they basically boil down to “Female Lead is too strong and I dislike her.”
Well, that’s the point. Galadriel is described as “the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle-earth”, and “the greatest of Elven women.” The Silmarillion (1977). So, forgive me for not gasping at the screen with shock whenever she did something incredible. That said Rings of Power was a fascinating character study at how a single-minded focus and hyper fixation with one’s goals and ambitions at the expense of everyone and everything around you can blind you and punish you in the end.
The show was also a visual spectacle, it is reported that it cost hundreds of millions to produce just the first season and it shows. I will certainly be looking forward to the upcoming seasons and the fall of Numenor!
Extraordinary Attorney Woo
Another brilliant recommendation from a friend and a show I saw with my sister on Netflix during the LsCon 2022 weekend. The premise alone was good enough to hook me. The show is a legal drama about an incredibly intelligent Lawyer with autism spectrum disorder. She has eidetic memory (I googled this, it’s the ability to recall an image with high precision) and she uses this gift to pass the bar with the highest honours and be hired by one of the countries most prestigious law firms.
Watching Woo Young Woo navigate everyday life and various courtroom cases with the stigma and challenges that having autism spectrum disorder brings was a fine line to straddle by the show. It was not played for the character to be laughed at even though the show is pretty funny. It’s fairly educational and treats the lead with the same level of respect that any other would and that’s what made it stand out. That is also what made the romance subplot and the mystery thriller subplots work so well.
Whether you’re a fan of courtroom drama, melodramatic romance stories or mystery thrillers this one is right up your alley.
House of the Dragon
I was late to the party with Game of Thrones, I only saw the TV show because Tell tale were making a game and I didn’t wanna be lost while playing it. Yes, I was that much of a TellTale fan. Anyway, Game of Thrones was great! I even like that last season. Gasp! Not as much as the earlier seasons of course but I thought it expressed its themes well enough. What I didn’t like was the obnoxious excess of it all, the violence and nudity and all that. It subsided as the seasons went on but you know what I mean HBOs gonna HBO.
I was afraid House of the Dragon would be riddled with the senseless excess in an attempt to woo the edgy crowd. Thank goodness they did not and instead gave use a mainstream TV show with two very flawed women as leads who drive the narrative! With excellent performances from Paddy Considine and Matt Smith to boot. You probably all saw this already so I can’t sell you on it, what I can sell you on though is Olivia Cooke’s (Alicent Hightower) other brilliant roles in Sound of Metal and Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. She’s gonna be a Star!
Marvel’s Midnight Suns
I m a big fan of the Firaxis tactical strategy games, I still believe XCOM 2 is one of if not the greatest tactical strategy game ever made. A followup to that would come with some hefty expectations. Midnight Suns is not quite as good as XCOM but it has its own charm. The card based battle system is a good twist to the tried and tested cover based mechanics we are used to and it allows for the fights to be dynamic, chaotic and most of cool. There is also a huge emphasis on narrative and story in this one. Not in the emergent role play your own story like the previous XCOM games, no actual fully voiced narrative choice-based narrative. Its fine at best it is not why you will come back to the game. If you like Tactical Strategy games don’t miss out Midnight Suns.
*Full Disclosure: Review Code was granted by 2K games*
Tunic is an Isometric ZeldaSouls like game that I had been waiting for ever since its first trailer was show. You play as a fox in this colourful world and are given very little instructions on how to play and where to go in a digital instruction manual that’s in a language that has to be deciphered as you progress through the game. The Combat is pretty fun and the environmental puzzles were fun to figure out. I initial bounced off of the game because of its souls like features but once I got into it again, I breezed through the game. The Boss encounters are a lot of fun and the music is pretty great too. Try it out for free on Gamepass.
Stray is a game where you play as a cat in a Post Apocalyptic Cyberpunk world where humans are seemingly nowhere to be found. It’s an intriguing puzzle platformer stealth game that took the world by storm. Major outlets were posting videos of their cats watching their owners play Stray and even manage to be nominated for Game of the Year at the Game Awards.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
I loved the Nintendo TMNT game Turtles in Time, played a lot of that game co op with my friend and family. Shredder’s Revenge is a true spiritual successor to that game in very many ways. Its combat is satisfying, the progression is addictive and the online co op works so well. I played through all of this game with my good friend Musa while he was o console and I was on PC! It’s got couch co-op and online co-op for up to 6 players!! Got nothing fun to do this holiday? Gather 6 of your friends and family, download Shredders Revenge for free on Gamepass and have some good old family fun.
Bocchi The Rock
K-on! Changed my life, its characters have lived within me for over a decade now and its influence on the anime industry is still reverberating to this day. Many critics tried to explain why K-on! Was such a phenomenon, at the time and most failed because the subgenre within which K-on! existed was not exactly popular at the time, ‘the cute girls doing cute things’ trope was frowned upon by many as shallow and vapid, so they couldn’t understand why this show about a bunch of girls hanging out and occasionally playing pop rock music resonated with so many people. Bocchi The Rock explains most of it.
Bocchi’s protagonist is an introvert and suffers from chronic social anxiety. However, she wants to be famous and loved by the masses for her epic guitar shredding skills which she learnt all on her own through middle school. Now that she is in high school she would love to find, or rather be found by band mates so that her dream can one day come true.
The show shines the most technically when it adapts the 4 panel format Manga style into all forms of mixed media animation and sometimes even live action to portray just how wild Bocchi’s spirals can take her whenever she is in a stressful situation. These gags are played for laughs but we aren’t really laughing at her we are mostly cringing at how relatable and ridiculous these scenarios are. The ensemble cast is just as great with each member being distinct and having a unique journey of character growth all on their own. The music segments are so immaculately animated and the sound engineering is just as great. In one of the bands first performances you can hear how they are all individually good but slightly off beat. You can hear and see the bad improve over time, this is reflected not only in the story via their relationships but in the animation as well.
Bocchi The Rock is one of the best surprises this year and it is bound to be a certified anime classic.
Spy X Family
The hype for Spy x Family was already at fever pitch before the first episode even aired. I reviewed the first episode and my expectation on this here website and I am glad to report back after 25 fine episodes that the show lived up to its lofty hype. Anya is one of the most endearing and hilarious characters of recent memory. The dynamic she has with her found family is the heartbeat of the show and the main reason we all come back to it every week.
I love Cyberpunk as a subgenre, I love Cyberpunk 2077 the video game, I love anime and I admire Studio Trigger. I was not ready for how well this combination would come together and I don’t think anyone else was. This show GOT IT RIGHT! From the aesthetic to the themes, the characters (Rebecca Best Girl), the action, the music, the narrative and even the opening and ending songs! Cybeprunk: Edgerunners was an edge of your seat ride that may have felt a bit too fast paced but that’s Night City chooms! You either ride in the fast lane and thrive or you get left behind along the way.
Made in Abyss: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun
I forgot just how bleak Made in Abyss was. I saw the film early this in preparation for season 2, which is the canon sequel and is an essential watch by the way don’t skip it or you will be lost. The film was so depressing and sad but captivating and wonderous. That’s the secret of the Abyss, we all know its dangerous but it draws us in and our curiosity gets the better of us.
Made in Abyss is arguably the best TV anime ever made, a second season had to be exceptional to match it. The Faputa storyline aligned with the overall themes of the Abyss and contrasted really well with the exuberant optimism of our protagonist. Some of the subject matter in this season requires a paragraph of trigger warnings, that said, I do think it sticks the landing and handles them with the care that is deserved. I can’t say I am looking forward to another season, I have not healed yet but I will definitely be watching once it drops.
Safe to say this is the most hyped anime I have ever witnessed. A lot of care and attention had to go into the release and production of Chainsaw Man. I will admit I struggled through most of the episodes, shounen action really isn’t for me and while Chainsaw Man is not your run of the mill monster of the week I want to get stronger and be the best one day action show. It does still share that DNA. It is beautifully animated, going for a grittier live action film look compared to most anime. I admire how it captures the ironic dichotomy of the malaise and the optimism of the current generation. It is Gen Z edge crushed and distilled into a tv show and let out for all the world to see.
I am still working through my ranked films of 2022 look out for that listicle in a few days.
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