Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

I've come to the conclusion in life that it's best to completely skip all trailers, commercials, hype ads, and other media when it comes to things I think I might enjoy.    I'm willing to watch one trailer to simply see what a movie might offer and learn that it might actually be something I want to know more about, but beyond that there's so little value to them beyond "revealing the entire plot."

However, I did say in that previous post that I would see both movies, and I've lived up to exactly half of that promise by going out and seeing the story of a guy with an armored suit battle a guy who's a walking atomic powerhouse.

So what did I think?  Well, look after the cut, and be prepared for spoilers.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Erik's Favorite Things: Millennium Actress

If you ever want to see me get really close to crying in public, ask me what it was like watching Perfect Blue for the first time.  I'll probably sit in a corner and gently rock back and forth, mutter to myself, and seem unresponsive to the outside world, but I can't promise there wouldn't be any tears.

What I'm saying is that the first directing work of Satoshi Kon messed me up pretty bad.  The fact that I keep going back to him for other projects he's worked on tells you just how amazing his works are as well, because I don't tend to go back to things that strongly disagree with me.

Millenium Actress was Satoshi Kon's second directorial project, the story of an actress who vanishes at the peak of her career, and the small documentary crew exploring her life to find out why.

Monday, February 22, 2016


When I first heard of Westworld years ago, I thought it was an interesting gimmick.  An amusement park where the attractions flip out and attempt to murder everybody present because of the uncontrollable nature of chaos theory?  By the mid-90s, I had already seen that story done so well that it's stuck with me ever since.

Wait, that can't be right.  Anyway.

Finally, just recently, I sat down and watched Westworld.  The announcement that a television series featuring Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris piqued my interest in it again, and I figured that it was such a staple of science fiction that the fact I hadn't seen it yet was a pretty huge blemish on my "nerd cred."

I want that poster.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Eleven: Tips For Steven Spielberg Regarding Filming Ready Player One

So, the Ready Player One movie is happening.  While I realize that my giving tips to Steven Spielberg about movie making is akin to Tommy Wiseau giving acting tips to Marlon Brando, there are a few things that I remember from my time listening to the audiobook version that have stuck with me, things that I don't think worked in a medium that wasn't "words on paper/screen" and are things I hope the movie would address.

Because I'm sure there's a good movie in there somewhere.  I'm just not 100% confident in Hollywood's history of portraying video games in any way, shape, or form.

But maybe I'm just cynical.

So here's eleven tips that, at least to me, should be kept in mind while creating a film that's one part huge "anybody can be a hero" adventure in the vein of Star Wars and Harry Potter, and one part "look at all the pop culture references we can make!"

Monday, February 8, 2016

Jurassic World

I really wish there had been someone else in the room when I watched Jurassic World, because when I watched it I really, really wanted to pause it and ask someone if they thought something I spotted meant anything or if I was just overthinking things.  The movie doesn't really present itself as anything other than mindless action and witty comments set up to show off a fancy new set of CGI dinosaurs, but I find it hard to believe that any movie Steven Spielberg takes part in wouldn't have at least some thought put behind it.

So if you wanted me to simply say "oh, man, DINOSAURS ARE AWESOME YOU GUYS" then I'm sorry, but you're stuck with me once again breaking down a movie in ways that I don't think it was meant to be broken down.

However, dinosaurs are totally awesome.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Heavenly Sword - The Movie

There are times a project comes together that is made up of individual pieces that simply scream to me "this is going to be absolutely wonderful."  It's destined to wind up my "best of the year" list and all I need to do is simply sit back and partake in its splendor.  A writer I love and an artist I love will come together to draw a comic book featuring characters I love to read about, and I wind up with Matt Fraction's run on Hawkeye.  A stellar cast comes together with amazing directors and producers and you can wind up with, well, any of the movies that found their way onto my best of the year list.  Writers finally hit their strides and I get amazing novels.

So let's look at the puzzle pieces here:

We have an animated movie.
Anna Torv (Fringe) voices the heroine, a sexy red-haired acrobatic woman wielding a powerful sword.

Alfred Molina (you know, the guy I just talked about being amazing) playing the villainous king.

Other voices by Thomas Jane (y'know, the Punisher), Nolan North (everything), Ashleigh Ball (Black Lagoon, Applejack AND Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony), and Barry Dennen (so much stuff on Broadway).

A story line involving revenge via massive battles against swarms of enemies, requiring a deft director's eye to choreograph complex fight sequences since this is based on a fighting game that essentially looked at God of War and went "yes, everything from that, just make the lead a woman."

Written by Todd Farmer, a guy whose extensive career includes... hold on, I don't actually know this guy.  Let's see what else he wrote.... okay, he wrote... Drive Angry, The Messengers, My Bloody Valentine 3-D...and Jason X.  As in "the one where Jason goes into space."

You know what?  I'm going to save all of you some time if you want to bail from this article.  This movie's terrible.  It's just awful.  The rest of this post is going to just be me ripping it apart and bemoaning the fact that I wasted an hour and a half of my life when I could have been doing anything else and it would have amounted to more, including "licking random mosses growing outside to see if they're toxic."

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Standard preface: Dame Judy Dench can do no wrong.

Okay, let's get into it.

Chocolat is a movie starring Juliette Binoche, Judy Dench, Alfred Molina, Johnny Depp (in a surprisingly small bit role), and other actors that I'm not personally familiar with.  It involves a young woman with strong Pagan beliefs moving into a small French village with her daughter and drawing the ire of the strict, religious Comte de Reynauld and other people in the village until her exotic chocolate recipes steadily start to win people over.

It's a very good movie, though I understand there's a considerable controversy surrounding its multiple academy award nominations (other than the one for Judy Dench, naturally), but honestly, I don't care about all that.  It's a good movie with lovely set pieces, superb acting from wonderful stars, but there's something I want to focus on in this review.

Why is restraint always the villain in so many movies?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Burn The Orphanage

Wow, looking at that title, I really hope nobody's taking anything I name these articles as calls to action.

I was a big fan of side-scrolling beat-em-ups for ages on video games.  Probably the game I go back to the most to play when I just want to kill time is the Streets of Rage series.  Considering how much I require most games I play these days to have a coherent story, it's rather interesting that one of my favorites will frequently have me playing as a boxing kangaroo punching out a rampaging bulldozer.

There aren't a lot of things in today's culture that take any cues from that genre of game, aside from some films like The Raid: Redemption.  I felt that Dredd was a fair approximation, since it essentially was just a few people fighting their way from one location to another with various small "boss battles" in between.

But there are not many comics that truly embrace the old style of video games, which is why I was so excited to discover Burn the Orphanage, a comic that is definitely not for kids, but so much fun to read if you had the kind of childhood that involved the aforementioned styles of games.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Let's Talk: Roleplaying

If you came here looking for tips on how to make life in the bedroom spicier, I'm sorry to disappoint you.

Recently I tried (admittedly poorly) to explain to someone that I spend my Sundays with a group of my friends playing games.  It just happens that these friends of mine are currently scattered across the country so we have to use a website that everybody logs in to in order to play the games together.  Also, the games are roleplaying games, known to many as "those games played by nerds involving funny dice."  Maybe you saw it on old episodes of Freaks and Geeks (yes, that is James Franco) or multiple episodes of The Big Bang Theory (yes, that is the cast of The Big Bang Theory).  Personally, I loved the episodes of Community that dealt with roleplaying, but that's just my preference.

But how do you explain to someone who has no idea what you're talking about what you do without sounding insane?  "We sit around and play make-believe" really doesn't sound that much better than "we roll dice to try to defeat monsters."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Key and Peele

I'm not a big fan of "raunchy" comedy.  Gross-out humor for the sake of grossing people out just isn't my thing, and it's why I walked out of the first Scary Movie film feeling like I should ask for money back.  Unfortunately I saw it for free, so I was just out the time it took to view it, but the feeling stood.

Comedy is hard.  If your humor is too broad, you risk having no real lasting impact with your message.  If you're too afraid of ruffling feathers, your humor isn't memorable (outside of a few exceptions).  If you're too far over the line, you get hit with a backlash and are accused of either being hateful, ignorant, or just crass.

There are few comedians I feel walk that line perfectly, and two of them are Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, easily two of the comedians in my top five "of all time as of this writing" list.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What's Up, Doc?

Several years ago I had the pleasure of watching the movie Bringing Up Baby, one of the best screwball comedies I've ever seen.  Starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, it's the story of a paleontologist (played by Grant) who gets caught up in the world of a free-spirited young lady (Hepburn) who needs his help dealing with a tame leopard, a missing dinosaur bone, and her growing fancy of him.  He just wants to finish building his brontosaurus, secure funding for his museum, and marry his secretary (all in one day!).

I'm seriously underplaying the story, but it's a madcap romp (and how often do you get to say that these days?) that builds and builds through the entire film until you're laughing throughout the ending of it.  It has great improvisations, sharp humor, and wonderful slapstick sensibilities with two extremely classy actors leading the way. describes a screwball comedy as "sophisticates gone silly," and that truly is what that movie represents.

In 1972, a spiritual successor came out starring Barbara Streisand, Ryan O'Neal, and Madeline Kahn called What's Up, Doc?  I watched it over the holidays, and while I found it to be a great successor to Bringing Up Baby, I think it slipped a few times while trying to reach such lofty goals.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review: The Artist

I caught this movie several weeks ago on a bus ride from Boston to Portland.  It was on a small television, and the sound and music were 3/4 of a second out of sync.  I was exhausted after a long flight, clinging to my carry-on bag despite having plenty of room around me, and pretty much ready to fall asleep, but instead I watched a silent movie that just happened to win an Academy Award.

I can see why this movie won, even with all the technical issues, it was still amazing to watch.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: The Martian (the movie)

Back in October I talked about a book I absolutely loved.  You might have heard of it.  They made a movie from it starring Matt Damon.

I'm here to talk about it.

...that might be the easiest introduction I ever wrote.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Star Wars Video Game (Not The Fun Ones)

As people might recall, growing up my primary source of video game entertainment was on the original Nintendo Game Boy.  I have a lot of fun memories of that system, and there's a reason why it still has a permanent place on my shelf.  There are still games that are fun to dust off and play, as I've said before.

However, digging down through some of the video game history I have in my cartridge bag, I discovered one I haven't played in a very long time.  Which is surprising, since I've talked about before how much I love the source material.

So what's the problem with Star Wars for the Nintendo Game Boy?

It's absolutely insane, is the problem.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: The Shop Around The Corner

When I visited my family, we tried to find a holiday- themed movie to put on one day, and we went searching through the "free movies on demand" feature that my parents have.  There were a lot of downright terrible offerings, but we spotted one movie buried deep that I was surprised to find wasn't being listed near the top as a great holiday movie.

Maybe that's because it's only directly related to Christmas in the same sense that Die Hard is a Christmas movie in that they both "happen to happen around that time of year."

It's also a movie I'm not sure you could remake and keep exactly as it is, because if you did it now, there would probably be some concerns as to whether or not what you're doing is in good taste, but I can't for the life of me find it in myself to complain about the same issue in this film.

No, it's not Blazing Saddles.  It's The Shop Around The Corner.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review: Ex Machina

This movie.  You guys.  This movie.

Okay, look, I love a good science fiction movie.  I think "fantastic future technology" has become more than just a regular "genre" of movie, it's become something you can tell any kind of story in.  You can tell romances (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Time Traveller's Wife, Wall-E), you can tell adventures (Star Wars, The Matrix, Terminator, Wall-E), and you can tell horror (Alien, The Thing, Predator, Wall-E).

But there are very few "science fiction" movies willing to spend more time on the "science" than they are the "fiction."  Hollywood doesn't like to tackle big new ideas that often, so while something like In Ti- ...hold on, I never reviewed In Time?  Okay, that'll be happening this week.  Anyway, while you might have something like Moon every now and again taking an idea and expanding on it until it becomes a complete story in its own right, more often than not you have something that has to abide by the rules of Hollywood storytelling.  You can't challenge the viewer too much, you need explosions to hold their interest, and special effects trump characterization.

Then something like Ex Machina quietly slips by.  You catch a glimpse of it in all the movie hype about other, bigger blockbusters that the critics inevitably pan, but it isn't until later that you start to hear the rave reviews and realize there's something out there you have to see.

So, since I had a long flight ahead of me several weeks ago, I finally downloaded it off Amazon Prime and watched it.

Holy crap, everybody.  This movie is amazing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Part 3

So this is it.  This is my third attempt at getting through this movie.  I've been bored, I've been angry, I've been slightly interested in things that I don't think I was supposed to be interested in, and I'm left with more questions than answers about just how this movie came to be.

Sadly, the podcast How Did This Get Made is yet to tell me so far how this movie got made, so I'm at a loss.  I can't even fathom how nobody looked at the script and went "are you serious?"

I can't help but get a sneaking suspicion that the answer might lie in "somebody had a movie they wanted to make, and the only way to get it made was to license it to something else."

So, yeah, that's all I have for an introduction.  Let's try to complete this train wreck.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Part 2

I will not fear, fear is the mind killer.  I will not fear, fear is the mind kil- oh, hi!

What was I- you know what, never mind that.  We were getting back into Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, a movie so bad it only sports a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Let's put that into context: DOA has a 34%, meaning one in three people went "eh, it's okay I guess."  Out of a hundred people, you couldn't put together a baseball team out of people who liked this movie.

It's rather bizarre, too, because as a character, Chun-Li fits perfectly into a martial arts film.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Not too long ago, I took a close look at the Street Fighter movie starring Jean-Claud Van Damme, Raul Julia, and Kylie Minogue.  It was awful.  It butchered what little story the video game had, twisted characters into unrecognizable versions of themselves, and had writing so incomprehensible that I'm still not sure some of the facial reactions weren't from people hearing the lines read out loud for the first time.

But you know what movie it's apparently significantly better than?

For the record, I was going to post a picture of the DVD cover of Bloodrayne here, but I assume you all read the title to this post, so it didn't seem worth it.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

I have a pretty heavy history with Star Wars.  I wasn't old enough to see the original trilogy in theaters, but I distinctively remember my family having a copy of Return of the Jedi on a VHS tape that I don't know if it was a copy of another VHS tape or what, but I remember watching that over and over again growing up.  When I finally watched the other two, I consumed them just as quickly and fell deep in love with the universe that George Lucas created.

I played the West End Games version of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game so much I had multiple sourcebooks memorized.  I have a collection of action figures never taken out of their packaging in a box somewhere.  I own the R2-D2 phone.  It sits on a shelf at my office.  Without batteries, of course, or it would be going off all the time from people just wanting to see it "one more time."

But I was one of the many burned by the prequels to the point where I didn't see Revenge of the Sith until the early 2010s.   It wasn't my Star Wars any more, it was meant for a new generation who loved it just as much as I loved the originals.  I was okay with that.  I was ready to pass on the torch and move on.

Then they announced Episode VII, and I was torn.  I was hurt before, but could the series bring me back?  Would it be like when I was young and wanted to be Luke Skywalker?

Yes, I know all the "cool" kids wanted to be Han, but I wanted to be Luke.  He got a lightsaber, you guys.  And a robot hand!  Robot hands are awesome!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Top Eleven Most Viewed Posts

I- wow.  You know, sometimes you start something and you wonder if anybody will ever really think it's that great.  Maybe it's a painting, or a music track, or a short story, and you repeat to yourself over and over again "nobody else is going to care about this.  Nobody is going to want to see/hear/touch/taste/read/whatever this is."  But you go through it, and later you discover that, somehow, people have found what you made either by word of mouth or something else, and that they apparently shared it because it's somehow gone out and become something in the world.

When I started this, I was rather proud of some posts.  "Hey, my look at the American Rabbit movie has 115 views!  Huh.  My list of Xbox games I'd love if I was still thirteen got 212 views.  How the heck did part two of my Street Fighter review get nearly 110 more reviews than the first part?"

Then I realized that there were certain posts that blew those numbers out of the water.I started seeing posts in the upper two hundreds, then the three hundreds.  I kept going further back, and I found four hundred, five hundred, and more views on certain posts!  These were things I had no idea anybody would ever care about to click on if they found it on a Google search!  I think some of it might have to do with the person I talked about perhaps linking to my post, but a few I have simply no explanation for.

So, to celebrate my doing four years of this blog (with a few gaps here and there), I'm looking at the most-viewed posts I've ever written.  Some of them make no sense whatsoever.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Bottom Eleven: Things I Blogged About In 2015

To every high there is a low.  To every crowning achievement of someone's life, there's the moments where they feel like they've hit bottom.  For every delicious ice cream flavor life provides, it has several cases of bubble-gum ice cream sitting somewhere in the back, just waiting.

I mean, seriously, why would you put gum, something not traditionally swallowed, into something that has a time limit before it melts and loses half of its appeal?  Do you chew while licking?  Do you gather the gum separately and store it while you finish the ice cream, then chew it?  Who approved this abomination of taste?

But I'm getting off track.  This past year I've had some things I discussed that I look back fondly on (see: yesterday's post), but there are also things I shudder and wonder "was I mean enough to that?  Did I properly display the vitriol I felt towards that thing's very existence in order to convince people to not try to experience it themselves?"

Because if not, here's eleven more shots at those things to remind you that they exist and that they're terrible.

These are like finding a dead roach in your bubble-gum ice cream.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Top Eleven: Things I Blogged About In 2015

This is coming a bit late, but to my credit, I was visiting family over the holidays.  Plus, it's my blog, so I'm entitled to a vacation every now and again.

Planned ones, anyway.  I'm going to try to cut back on the unplanned ones.

Anyway, another year come and gone and- holy cow, I've been doing this since 2013?  This is going to be my fourth year in a row working on this blog.  That's pretty impressive!  I'll have to shake up some of the stuff I was going to post (I saw a bunch of movies during those long plane rides) and do a few looks back at some of the more popular things I've talked about.

But that's neither here nor now!  Now, we're going to look back at the past year of posting and look at what I enjoyed the most enjoyed about the year 2015!  At least, it'll be the things I enjoyed talking about during 2015.

Here they are, in order of how much fun I had.

First, an honorable mention:

My trip to Vermont was amazing.  Seeing one of my favorite radio programs live again in a completely unfamiliar setting, seeing sites and eating at places I had never been to before, there wasn't a single thing that I think back to and go "man, that part of the trip was unbearable."

I'll only say that if you're going to have that many steep cliffs for people to drive past, you could at least decorate them some.  Draw a giant smiley face, or hang large posters or something.  Also, when did hotel bed sheets just become pathetic?

Number Eleven: Wytches

Okay, so to be fair, I didn't so much "enjoy" Wytches so much as I felt exhilarated and terrified every time I turned the page.  It's one of the few times a book has genuinely made me feel fear for the characters within it without feeling cheap or like there was an editorial mandate to simply "kill people off to be shocking" (looking at you, Marvel and DC).

Number Ten:  The Law Enforcement Guide To Satanic Cults

There are not enough words to describe the enjoyment that comes from watching something that someone genuinely meant to be engaging, informational, and interesting, and instead having it only succeed at one of those by being the professionally paid and produced movie about satanism version of your friend falling down and not hurting himself.

That's a terrible analogy, but I'm not going to put more effort into making a comparison than the production company did in researching the data behind this movie.  It's terrible, but so bizarrely interesting, not for the subject material, but because you spend the entire time wondering about every single decision the primary characters make.  Why did they choose this location?  Why did they film from that angle?  Why are they saying these things?  Was there an editor?  What does the unused footage look like?  How much was that camera guy paid?

Number Nine: The Walking Dead: Season Two

As promised, we have the second season of Telltale Games' foray into zombie storytelling, and while I am a bit wiser now about how games are made, the fact that the series was willing to go out on such an emotionally charged ending that leaves you with a choice that will genuinely affect the start of the next season (provided it features Clementine, naturally) is amazing.  I look back at the choices I made during the game, and still wonder if I would have done anything differently.  I know that many characters would have died regardless of what I did (the circumstances of "when" and "how" would be all that was altered), but I think that I would have still made the decisions I did regardless.

Number Eight: The Great Race

This movie is to movies what Rocky Road is to ice creams.  It's an almost perfect combination of flavors put together with expert precision, and anybody who doesn't like it is wrong.  With an amazing cast, perfect delivery of jokes, slapstick humor that rivals any of the best I've seen, and a story that veers into madness so quickly that it lets you accept anything that follows, it's a (extremely long) viewing experience that leaves you in stitches.

In this place I almost put my experiences watching Rifftrax, which did regularly have me howling with laughter while watching the movies, but the only condition is that you're also required to watch some really bad cinema, and sometimes the jokes don't outdo the movie itself.  This isn't the problem in The Great Race, which is simply wonderful from start to finish.

Number Seven:  The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Like the last entry, this movie is an absolute delight to watch.  It's not funny, by any means, though there are some cute, humorous moments.  Instead, this movie is a delight for the eyes, daring you to blink and miss something.  Expressions are simplified, but still so engaging that when the main character is happy, you feel happier.  When she's upset, you want to reach into the screen and offer comfort, except the sharp lines and quick movements would cause you to lose a finger.

Plus, it's impossible to reach into a screen, so there's that.

The movie does take a very "Japanese" twist at the end (which I don't imply to be racist, simply that if an American director put a similar ending into one of their movies, I'd assume there was a gas leak during production, plus, it is based on Japanese legend) and it might throw off some viewers who expected an ending to bring real closure or make sense, but I think it still strongly holds up with everything else the movie brings.  The tree with the blossoms scene still gets me, to this day.

Number Six:  Bioshock Infinite: Burial At Sea

Taking the story from one of my all-time favorite games and shaping it so that many loose threads were brought together from the rest of the series, Burial At Sea manages to be a brilliant stand-alone story that's truly enhanced by having played the rest of the franchise first.  Why you would play a follow-up game before playing the lead-ins, I have no idea.  Then again, I accidentally watched a movie sequel without watching the (probably) terrible original movie, so there's that.

It also finally gave closure to one of my favorite characters of all time, and while I was saddened by the ending, knowing how her actions would affect entire worlds left me satisfied that the story's ending wasn't pointless.

It was a perfectly folded bow tying together a wonderful package of a long as you keep ignoring the second game.

Number Five: The Martian

The second book on this list (and the only actual novel), the Martian was probably one of my favorite stories this year.  Spoiler alert, the movie will probably be on this year's list, because I watched it during my vacation.  Being a total math and science nerd, I loved the descriptions of how things work, how the main character was able to cobble things together, and every fun description of how he solved problems that kept cropping up.

The math was a delight (and seriously, how often does that phrase get used?), the writing was fun, and the story had me engaged from the moment I started reading.  The humor was sharp (though often juvenile, creating a great contrast with the strict science and "professionalism" of what was being done).  There were no wasted characters, everybody has a clear purpose, and though I doubt there would be any kind of sequel, I would love the idea of the author putting out another book.

Number Four:  Avatar Week

As I think I said before, sometimes I really need to remind myself that the reason something becomes popular is because it's really good.  All the praise I can say for this series would simply be drowned out by the massive amount of praise and analysis I already gave it, plus the fact I gave the series its own Top Eleven list.  So just click those links and find out why this series has joined the 90s DC Animated Universe, Animaniacs, and just a few others on my list of my all-time favorite animated series.

Number Three: Tink Week

I honestly did not expect to like any of these movies.  A few people I knew asked me to watch them, stating that they wanted my analysis of them.  I ignored them.  Someone I knew who I respected the opinions of pushed me, quite hard, to give them a try.  I finally relented, and wound up being completely blown away by the quality of the animation, the storytelling, and the acting.

Look, I'm not going to claim that every fraternity in the world should watch these.  Most guys probably wouldn't get a lot out of it.  But people with daughters (or boys who like nature and good stories and parents who won't get weird about it) should let their children watch these.  Together.  As a family.  You might also be impressed with what they're doing with classic Disney characters to keep them fresh, especially if, like me, you remember some of the absolute travesty "straight to video" sequels that Disney was grinding out for a while.

Number Two: Danganronpa and Danganronpa 2

Some things just change you when you experience them.  It might be that watching a movie about a shark convinces you to never swim in the ocean again.  Maybe A Christmas Carol convinces you to donate more to charity.  Bio-Dome might convince you that mankind is doomed.

For me, the Danganronpa series taught me to stop trying to predict plot twists in video games, that story-based games were not dead (yet), and that I really, really need to stop getting attached to characters in games.  It only leads to heartache.

Plus, it left me seriously pondering the idea of what it would take to "break" people.  Between the surprise twist towards the end of the first game that absolutely blew my socks off and my pathetic attempts to force my feelings certain directions in the second game, Danganronpa managed to hit me hard every time a character was killed because it was at that exact moment that I thought I had everything figured out ahead of time.

There's another game out that takes the formula and shakes it up some into a shooter, but there's a third Danganronpa game in the works, and I know it'll be on my "must buy" list.

Number One: Moribito

I don't talk about this series as much to people as I do other things on this list, but Moribito holds the top honor because it did something I thought was going to be impossible.

It got me excited about anime again.

Without this series, I never would have started into watching Sword Art Online, or gone back to rewatch classics like Ghost in the Shell, eX-Driver, or others that were simply gathering dust on my shelf.  It's inspired me to browse through the shelves at my local video peddler seeing what new and amazing things I can discover and then actually looking them up to see what other people think.

It has me interested in doing two full weeks at some point in the future of nothing but Studio Ghibli reviews.

It got me to convince a friend to watch it, and I'm pretty sure it's gone up into his top three favorite series of all time.

This was the series that I most enjoyed watching, that changed how I viewed classic storytelling tropes, and kept me on the edge of my seat as I watched, waiting to see what would happen next.