If you must blink, do it now…

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KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS


Directed By:
Travis Knight
Story: Shannon Tindle & Marc Haimes
Screenplay By:
Marc Haimes & Christ Butler
Premiered On:
August 19, 2016
Produced By:
Laika
Distribution By:
Focus Features

… There are few films, few stories, where I find myself at a complete and utter loss. It is not that I have no words with which to speak, or write as the case is, but rather… that I find myself with far too many. There are some tales that, no matter how original they appear in concept always inevitably fall to the stereotypical tropes and themes of what makes a story. Stories that follow the monomyth to such a finite degree that one can map out everything that is to occur long before it actually happens.

This film is not one of those stories.

True, there are some instances where seasoned readers or viewers of mythical tales of magic and fantasy can allude to some revelations that occur in the film itself, but I assure you that these assumptions do not prepare you for the story that unfolds in every literal sense of the word.

However… contrary to past reviews I shall not speak of the plot of this film in any details that would otherwise not be known by seeing the trailers save for one instance. I do this not because I wish to abstain from any unnecessary spoilers but because for all that I am as a writer, I am also one whom firmly believes in giving credit where credit is due and the only feasible way of doing that is to see this film for yourselves.

Produced by Laika, a film studio famous for many other wonderful stop motion animated films such as The Corpse Bride, ParaNorman, and Coraline, I had no doubt in my mind that Kubo and the Two Strings would astound me with its animation.

To my regret, I find that I had perhaps underestimated this film and now find such words as “incredible” and “inspiring” to be far too lacking in proper conviction. Say what you will of computer generated imagery and the ever traditional styling of pen and ink, there is a degree of dedication in stop motion animation that those other forms can never hope to attain and this film puts itself whole leagues above others of its ilk.

I am by no means an expert in origami as my own attempts at it in my younger days proved, but even so there is an undeniable amount of realism to the craft in this film. True, not every fold and crease is put upon display, when you see Kubo’s creations put to motion you don’t think of them as being impossible to create. Difficult to goodness knows how many degrees but nonetheless, very realistic and artful pieces of origami.

One thing that had me particularly curious was the choice of Monkey, or rather, a actual monkey to safeguard and protect Kubo on his quest. While I am not as intimately familiar with Japanese lore and mythologies as I am with others, I did not know of just how important a role monkeys, particular the Japanese macaque.

Monkeys are often noted as being mediators between the mortal and immortal realms with one god in particular, Sarutahiko Ōkami, is acknowledged as the God of Crossroads between the two realms and had even served as a guide to the child of Amaterasu-ōmikami, the goddess of the sun and one of the most powerful deities in Japan.

This makes it even more notable as the armaments that Kubo has to find to face and confront the Moon King all bear a certain solar motif to their design, complete with golden resplendence upon completion.

An interesting bit of trivia to be sure but what really intrigued me the most was the film’s primary antagonist, that being the Moon King who, in the final confrontation with Kubo, assumes a truly monstrous form. This, alongside a few other elements, was one of the instances I had mentioned that I knew was coming and was still surprised when it occurred not because of the transformation itself but the actual form that the Moon King, an admitted immortal and god, took.

A centipede.

Now, I know what you are all thinking. A god, particularly one whose dominion is that of the Moon itself, would take so lowly a form as that of an insect? No. No, that is so far from the case it may have shot right past the Moon and out into the stars.

In Japanese mythology, centipedes are to the valiant samurai what dragons are to chivalrous knights and are not just merely an insect of gargantuan size and strength. No, there are nigh godly in their own right and even the likes of dragons, whom are as close to gods as any mortal creature can become, fear their mortal and far more minute sized cousins, and rightly so.

Overall, I give Kubo and the Two Strings… ten out of five stars. It is a tale that is worth telling again and again with appropriate amounts of suspense, action, comedy, and yes even a dash of bittersweet, but then is that not what most endings of any story, even happy ones, usually are?

Go north with the wind…

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PETE’S DRAGON


Directed By:
David Lowery
Produced By: James Whitaker
Screenplay By:
David Lowery & Toby Halbrooks
Based On:
Pete’s Dragon (1977)
Premiered On:
August 12, 2016
Distribution By:
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Considering that this is, arguably, the fifth live action adaptation to a previously made Disney film, albeit one that was otherwise entirely live action save for the titular dragon, I’m beginning to think that a new title for these types of films are necessary. I’m thinking… Disney Reimagining Films or something to that effect but that’s neither here nor there.

Whereas a majority of these Reimagining Films are in essence the story told from an alternative point of view or with only marginal, to major, tweaking here and there, Pete’s Dragon is akin to Maleficent insomuch that this film only shares a few common elements from the original and is otherwise an entirely unique story. Much like the first film, the story is about an orphan boy named Pete and his dragon named Elliott.

That’s where the similarities end.

For you see, contrary to the first film, we actually see how a five-year-old Pete ends up an orphan and ends up in the care of a dragon that he names Elliott. There is no abusive adopted family baying, or singing if you could call it that, for his blood nor is the major focus being about Pete trying to find himself a home in a town that otherwise is also baying for his blood.

On that note, while this film thankfully lacks the amount of sheer idiocy that was abundant in the town of Passamaquoddy, I’m looking at you concrete construction guy, there is still a bit of… childish naivety and lacking of common sense around Pete.

Case in point, Pete is brought to a hospital after he is accidentally knocked unconscious and nobody, not anybody, entertains the idea of watching over him in case he wakes up and escapes through the window, which he does do and when the young girl who helped to find him points this out, the doctor actually has the nerve to ask “Who’s gone?”

Who else you flipping moron?

What gets even weirder, and admittedly more ridiculous, is that Pete dressed in a freaking hospital gown and looking like he spent several years in the wilderness is running through the streets and nobody tries to stop him or help him. Heck, he accidentally stumbles into a couple out on a walk with their dog whom barks at Pete who barks right back and the woman actually has the gall to yell at him not to bark at their dog.

Lady, sort your priorities a bit here.

Of course, this is after Pete hitches a ride at the back of the school bus and is seen by another kid literally hanging on the back exit door, and what does said kid do. Sticks his tongue out at Pete.

… Wow. Just… wow.

Pete. You might actually have been better off in the woods, I am not kidding.

Credit is where credit is due though there are some humans whom are far more intelligent than those around them. Case in point, Grace, a park ranger and the one who is taking care of Pete, talks with her dad about Pete’s tale of being in the woods with a dragon.

Her dad has told her, and many others who cared to listen, about there being a dragon in the woods and him having seen it himself. She says outright that she knows the forest like the back of her hand and could not have possibly missed a dragon to which her dad replies, rather blandly, that she missed Pete. Unsaid was the fact that he was there for six years.

Cool Old Man: 1

Know-It-All Park Ranger: 0

Yet, despite this abundance of silliness, which is sad to say par for the course for any film geared towards children, I still found myself captivated by where the story was going and was pleased to find it going in a sensible, if a bit rushed, direction.

Elliott, having noticed Pete’s absence, tries to find out where he’s gone and accidentally attracts the attention of the local lumberyard workers who get the oh so delightful idea (please note my sarcasm) to go hunting after him, thinking he’s some bear or something. After some admittedly hilarious shenanigans Elliott reveals himself fully to them and manages to scare them off but has the surprisingly brilliant idea to follow them to find Pete.

Of course, much like that fraud of a doctor in the first film, one worker in particular, the brother to the lumberyard’s foreman, gets it into his head to try and capture Elliott, which he succeeds in thanks to the help of his fellows despite the loud protests of Pete and the people whom he brought with him to see Elliott, one of whom is an old man whom had seen Elliott once before when he was a young man.

What follows is… not wholly original I’m sorry to say but still an exciting sequence of events that involve getting Elliott back to the woods and away from harm. The chase comes to a jarring halt when Elliott, rightfully fed up with everyone and everything, leaps his way atop a bridge and sets it aflame before being stopped by Pete.

I shan’t spoil how the film ends but I will say that it took two twisty turns that I honestly did not see coming. Overall, I give the new rendition of Pete’s Dragon… five out of five stars.

Yeah, there’s some… alright a lot of ridiculous behavior on the humans in this film but it’s not them whom we should be focusing on. Contrary to the first film, and most others that put together a human with a dragon, it is not a tale about a boy and his dragon it is about a dragon and his boy and believe me, you’ll note the difference while watching this film.

Never bet against the G-Man…

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GODZILLA (ANIMATED II)


AKA:
Zilla Jr., G.I.N.O. Jr., TriZilla
Height: 60 Meters (196.85 Feet)
Length:
78 Meters (255.9 Feet)
Mass:
60,000 Metric Tons
Premiered in:
TriStar’s Godzilla (1998)

While there are many who will gladly tear asunder what was an extremely poor attempt at a Godzilla film back in the late 90’s by TriStar Pictures, there is a strangely different sentiment in regards to the offspring of that titular rendition of the Monster King. Godzilla, as he is known in the series but will henceforth be referred to as Zilla Junior as it is technically his official name as far as Toho is concerned, proved straight from the start.

Whereas the film version died relatively easily, Zilla Jr. has displayed a level of endurance that allowed him to survive similarly powerful ammunitions straight on. He has likewise displayed a remarkable ability to traverse unbelievably long distances with little to no signs of exhaustion, oftentimes appearing right on the battlefield without pausing for breath.

His biggest contrast from his birth parent however is his ability to breathe nuclear flames, something that many a fan of the franchise will often point out first among the many glaring mistakes of the film. While not an outright beam of radiation, Zilla Jr.’s flames can travel pretty far through the air and have shown to be hot enough to instantly turn sand into glass and melt the hardiest of metals within seconds.

Compared to the original Godzilla, Zilla Jr.’s usage of his fiery breath is more… casual in a way. He will not hesitate to use it whenever and however the situation may call for it like when he was dealing with a horde of giant squid or turning an outdoor stage into a trap for a rather vicious shrew.

That leads me to another incredibly interesting aspect of Zilla Jr., his degree of intelligence. Though it hasn’t been shown often throughout the series, Zilla Jr. has displayed a degree of intelligence that puts him just beneath the human standard. Dr. Elsie Chapman even noted that even for a creature of his size, Zilla Jr.’s brain is far larger than the atypical reptilian brain but while it may explain his intelligence, it does not define his degree of sapience.

He is capable of making tactical decisions such as when he took notice of a nearby electrical power plant and utilized to kill an oversized mutant mosquito like a giant bug zapper. Yet, the most telling quality of his sapience is his ability to make moral decisions, such as when he sought to rescue Nessie’s offspring rather than continue the confrontation with her or the many numerous instances where he rescued his adopted father Dr. Nick Tatapoulos.

However, Zilla Jr. is not without his weaknesses. He has been shown that he can be goaded into going full brute force in some confrontations with other mutations, often leading to their initial victory before he manages to overcome them with strategic thinking.

Much like his birth parent, he also has an aversion to extremely bright lights, though this may be in part due to Nick setting off a large explosion of bright lights when he was mere minutes out of the egg. His biggest, and admittedly most unique, weakness though is his susceptibility to poison which, to be fair, could be blamed on the fact that a large majority of his foes are poisonous to some degree.

Overall, Zilla Jr. is not the Godzilla that most know and love, but on the animated scene he’s the closest that we’ll ever get. That’s not to say that he is the best purely because he is the better of the two examples we currently have to view and enjoy. While he is not the Godzilla that we know, he certainly upholds the name and all the weight that it carries with far greater ease than his premiere film. He may not be a king, but he certainly is a contender for the title.

The age of mutations…

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GODZILLA: THE SERIES


No. of Seasons:
2
No. of Episodes:
40
Production Company: Adelaide Productions
Distributed By: Sony Pictures Television
Original Release: September 12, 1998 – April 22, 2000

Ironically, not the first, and perhaps not even the last, time that the King of Monsters has been brought to an animated format, this particular series is unique in that it is not a spin-off telling its own distinctive series of stories. It is an animated sequel to one film in particular, the first attempt at an American Godzilla film inappropriately named Godzilla, to which many fans have since renamed, both the film and its supposed rendition of the Monster King, as G.I.N.O. or Godzilla In Name Only.

I am one of those fans who stood somewhat on the fence in regards to the film in that while I was initially very disappointed with how it played out, I respected it as a decent monster movie that was unfortunately misnamed. Sincerely, had this film not be labeled as Godzilla, it would have done a far better job in enticing fans, but I am not talking about the film today but in its animated successor which captured more of Godzilla’s spirit than the film could ever hope.

Immediately following the death of Godzilla, Nick implores the military to investigate the nest fully to ensure that no hatchlings or eggs survived. During the investigation Nick happens to stumble, quite literally, where one such egg has survived and witnesses the creature’s hatching, with the youngling actually imprinting on him as its adopted parent.

With the aid of his scientific associates, a absurdly good if a bit immature hacker, and one French spy/bodyguard, Nick inadvertently creates the Humanitarian Environmental/Ecological Analysis Team, or H.E.A.T. as the world swiftly proves that Godzilla and its sole surviving hatchling were but the tip of a utterly massive iceberg.

The opening of the series, much like Adelaide Productions’ previous work, M.I.B.: The Animated Series, the opening has no actual lyrics and consists mostly of intro-only scenes showcasing the scale and prowess of Godzilla. Of course, this scale is massively out of whack from one scene to the next as seen below but to their credit, they really do a good job of showing off just how agile this rendition of the Monster King is.

Save for a spectacular opening two-parter and a trilogy of episodes that paid homage to one of the greatest films in the Godzilla franchise, many of the episodes of Godzilla: The Series are standalone and rarely, if ever, give any kind of acknowledgement to previous events. That’s not to say that the characters don’t grow or develop overall, just that each episode in itself is a lot like a atypical giant monster movie wherein something goes weird at some part of the world, H.E.A.T. goes to investigate it only to be attacked by said cause with Godzilla coming to their aid.

However, contrary to what one might assume, Godzilla does not immediately defeat his foes and has, at times, succeeded only in driving them off or being distracting his quarry long enough for a proper solution to be found. At times, Godzilla has even suffered a defeat by his foes, most of which prove to either be too arrogant or too stupid to realize that they should probably finish him off while he’s down.

While I would certainly say that premiere two-parter episodes “New Family” are the best episodes to sample this series, as they do serve to answer the who’s, the why’s, and how comes, they aren’t really the best that this series has to offer. I’d definitely suggest the trilogy of episodes aptly named “Monster Wars,” which is the homage to the Godzilla film Destroy All Monsters, but unfortunately it is one of the few episodes where one has to watch previous episodes to recognize the monsters that are being utilized against the world.

As such, it comes to a toss-up between two of my favorite episodes in the series. After a few (dozen) coin flips, I’d say that the episode “DeadLoch” is one of the better examples of this series if only because the other episode, “S.C.A.L.E.” is told in a distinctive documentary styled fashion. In this particular episode, H.E.A.T. heads off to Scotland after the head of a local marine institute claims that his facility was being threatened by the Loch Ness Monster, to which Nick, of all people, is surprisingly skeptical about.

I like this episode in particular because it really shows off not only what H.E.A.T. actually stands for but also because this is one of the few instances wherein Godzilla displays near human sentience and compassion.

Though initially ticked off by Nessie attacking his… pack for lack of a better word, Godzilla changes his stance towards the aquatic monster when it comes to light that the sole reason she has been attacking the institute, and by extension Godzilla’s family, is because the head scientist has captured her baby and is planning on selling it off to the highest bidder.

For the first, and not the last, time we see monster cooperation with Godzilla purposefully backing off from fighting Nessie and then helping her free her caged child. It is not often that we see this kind of reaction out of what is otherwise a territorial animal and these moments in particular really makes one wonder just how smart Godzilla actually is.

Overall, the film itself might have been a dud of a bomb, the animated series makes up for it in spades and a half. It may not be the picture perfect example of Godzilla, but it does pay a lot of homage to him and a lot of other similarly monstrous films. However, as I said it is not the only rendition of Godzilla to be made into an animated format but that particular version will have to wait until next week, my dear readers.

We truly live in a Pokémon world…

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My Pokémon Dream Team

trainercard-Adrian K. II

Due in small part to the fact that Monday’s post failed to actually post, but mostly because frequent news/rumors of the upcoming Pokémon Sun & Moon alongside the rising madness/frustrations that is Pokémon Go (So. Many. PIDGEYS.) I feel like answering a frequent question asked me by friends and fellow Pokémon enthusiasts. My “ideal” team of Pokémon or as I prefer to call it, the “Dream Team.”

Now, contrary to my earlier reviews of my top eleven favorite Pokémon, this post will be entirely based on my own thoughts and opinions and will focus primarily on the top reason as to why I would want this particular species of Pokémon on my team. That being said, let’s get started.

Seeing as I’ve talked about Charizards both in its normal and Mega Evolved state, it shouldn’t be that surprising that out of the many starters to pick from in the franchise that Charmander will forever and always be my top pick. Though I will be honest in saying that it was not an easy choice to make. In the end, it was simple nostalgia that got Charizard a place on my team.

That and while I try not to adhere to any of the stereotyping often found in the trainers, Gym Leaders, and Team Whatevers, I would likely fall under the Dragon Tamer class of Trainers mostly due to the fact that a majority of my first choices were either straight up dragon-types or at least draconic in appearance. But as said by a pint-sized superhero fashion designer, capes are out of season and I rather like the outfit, and occupation, of being a Pokémon Ranger, or at least those found in the main series.

Lapras, like Charizard before her, and yes I’m aware they come in both genders but every single one I’ve ever had has been female so there, was something of a tough choice as well. Because while the Water/Ice type mixing makes for a very deadly adversary against Rock, Ground, and Flying types, I’ve never considered using Lapras in battle but rather for transportation as its category name implies.

Many Pokémon that can utilize the HM move Surf never really looked like good Pokémon to ride on save for Lapras and this was in thanks mostly to the anime series showcasing this throughout the Orange Islands arc. That… and alright, I’ll admit, seeing that the majority of my Lapras have been female, I’ve taken to nicknaming them variations of the name “Nessie.”

Grass-types have always been a weird type of Pokémon for me. While it makes sense for a good majority of them to be plants, as something of a gardener myself I always wondered how such Pokémon can survive going through the vast variety of climates and environments found in a single region. Most of them also don’t initially appear to be that combat effective in that, by all appearances, they are stationary or are otherwise not that agile. That and I imagine that a good majority of them would be outright terrifying to behold in real life.

Thus my choice in Gogoat firstly for the fact that it appears to be more animal than outright plant and secondly, for its transportation potential on land and sea because this fellow can surprisingly learn the move Surf and no matter what anyone tells me, I will always imagine that this Pokémon straight up runs atop the water like the Three Legendary Beasts are want to do.

As much as I find Pikachu to be a suitable, and adorable, mascot of the franchise, I have rarely, if ever, had one one in my team save for in Yellow and Omega Ruby with Cosplay-chu, at least for a time because as cute as that one is, it’s still really weird to see a Pikachu doing cosplay and utilizing attacks she would otherwise never learn. While Raichu is not the most powerful of Electric-types nor is it one that I would consider my personal favorite of this type, it has one thing going for it that puts it above others.

The Hidden Ability of Lightning Rod, which is admittedly more common in Ground-types but Raichu has the added benefit of recharging electrical equipment. Trust me, spending your informative years in Florida, particularly in the county that is infamous for the sheer number of lightning strikes that everything above ten feet tall is equipped with a lightning rod, you learn to be extremely… cautious… towards storms.

And before anyone asks, yes, I have seen the Alolan variant of the species and while I commend them for bringing back the surfing Pikachu in an evolved form, and making the admittedly unique typing of Electric/Psychic, it’s a little too cutesy for my liking. That and I’m sure that if I had one in my team, it’d be constantly showing off its surfing skills during lightning storms.

Out of the many Dragon-types that exist in the franchise, Dragonite is among my top favorites for a variety of reasons. Cosmetically speaking, it is one of the few Dragon-types that actually look like a sensible dragon, if a little cartoony in appearance. Battle wise, Dragonite can learn a surprising variety of elemental moves such as Flamethrower, Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, and even Focus Blast just to name a few. However, much like Lapras and Gogoat before it, my primary reason for wanting a Dragonite on my team is due to its Pokédex entry that states that it can traverse the world in sixteen hours.

This means that a Dragonite can fly at roughly 1556 mph putting it at about three times the speed of an average airplane. Do you comprehend what that means? Aside from cutting air travel time down to a third of what it is currently, it’d be so remarkably easy to get to anywhere I’d want to go in the world. I could finally see every variation of Disney Land!

Last, but certainly not least, is the Legendary Pokémon, Mewtwo, one of the few Pokémon I’ve ever used a Master Ball on and only because blast it, when you get to your hundredth Ultra Ball, you’ve gone and used far too many. Contrary to what one might assume, I do not choose Mewtwo for its power potential, what with it being the “world’s strongest Pokémon” and all that, but for an entirely different reason.

Out of the Legendary and Mythical Pokémon there are, Mewtwo does not hold a pivotal role as far as the world itself is concerned. It does not create dreams or nightmares, does not bend the fabric of space and time, nor does it serve as being the literal Creator of all Pokémon. It is powerful yes, but it is still a regular, if not extremely rare, Pokémon..

That was oftentimes the reason I was hesitant to ever have a Legendary, or Mythical, Pokémon on my team. I mean, could you imagine the kind of ecological damage I would inadvertently cause if I had Primal Groudon out in the open in the midst of a heavy winter up north, or contrary wise if I loosed Primal Kyogre in the heart of a desert? Never mind the kind of temptation that would arise if I had access to the time travel capabilities of Dialga or Celebi…

Yet, the primary reason that I would have a Mewtwo on my team is one that would seem rather lackluster to most others. I would want a Mewtwo on my team because of Mewtwo’s ability to translate for other Pokémon. True, this was an anime only ability that we would later see is not strictly limited to Mewtwo but when I first saw Mewtwo talk, the first thing that came to my young mind was how much easier it would be to understand the wants and needs of my Pokémon and to hold actual, comprehensible, conversations with them.

Still… Of the Pokémon that I had listed as being a part of my Dream Team… If I had to pick just one and one alone to have for all of my days and no other… Much as it pains me to admit, it would have to be Dragonite.

Again, primarily for their fast travel in the open sky and their elemental potential, thus covering quite a lot of bases should I ever encounter other trainers or wild Pokémon. As to why I have a shiny one in my Trainer Card above, that’s because I do in fact have one that I earned in Pokémon White 2, which was no easy task to get let me tell you!

Oh… and because I’m sure a good many of you who read this blog are curious as to what team I belong to in Pokémon Go

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A good detective trusts no one…

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ELISA MAZA


Occupation:
Police Detective 2nd Grade
Place of Employment: 23rd Precinct
Episode Premiere:
“Awakening Part One”
Voiced By:
Salli Richardson

Where do I start when it comes to describing Elisa Maza? I suppose the best place to begin is before the story’s actual beginning. You see dear readers, Elisa was originally designed to be Hispanic up until her voice actor was found and her character was redesigned to match her own distinct ethnicity of being half African-American and half Native American. Prior even to that, Elisa was originally conceived to be the reincarnation to Princess Katherine but that idea flew out the window so fast it’s a wonder that the sound barrier didn’t break completely as a result.

Elisa’s relationship with the Manhattan Clan had started out rather… uniquely to put it mildly. Investigating the cause of the rubble that had fallen from the castle as a result of a staged attack on the Manhattan Clan by Xanatos, Elisa inadvertently becomes a part of their lives by way of falling for Goliath.

And I mean that in the most literal sense of the phrase as his appearance, which had followed that of the gargoyle-beast Bronx, had forced Elisa back against and over the edge of the castle. She would have fallen to her death had Goliath not dove after her and caught her. Following this, Elisa ends up inspiring the Manhattan Clan in many ways, firstly in giving them the gumption to break typical gargoyle tradition and give themselves names.

In the eyes of the gargoyles, Elisa is a part of the clan though some are closer friends with her than others like Broadway who had adapted a strong sense of justice and low tolerance for weapons, particularly guns, because of an accident that had occurred between him and Elisa in the episode “Deadly Force.” Following another trip to a late-night western film, Broadway had dropped by for a visit to Elisa in her apartment and while she was busy cooking up dinner for the both of them, he caught sight of her gun and proceeded to play with it.

It went off.

Despite being grievously injured to the point of nearly dying, Elisa holds no animosity towards Broadway and actually blamed herself for the whole thing, saying that she was at fault because of how she had left her weapon out in the open like she had. This episode was the true game-changer for me when I was younger. I mean, yes, there was actual blood in the opening sequence of events in the very first episode but it paled in comparison to the entirety of this episode.

We see Elisa sprawled on the ground with a pool of her own blood beneath her, we see the literal blood on Broadway’s claws after he drops her off at the hospital… Heck, we even see a startling accurate portrayal of a hospital emergency room and how it treats gunshot victims and when said victim suddenly has no pulse.

It was frightening and yet so damned exciting to see as a kid. Because even then, I knew that despite being a series of animated events, this was as real as life could get. For a long time before and a long time since, I’ve yet to see a work that was geared towards children, animated or otherwise, to go this far, to push the envelope of dramatic realism and downplaying to an audience “too young to comprehend.”

Yet, of all the episodes in the series, my favorite one of the bunch, and one that again heavily features Elisa Maza in its main plot, is the aptly named “The Mirror” wherein Demona manages to get ahold of Titania’s Mirror and, through it, one of the most powerful and willy fae in existence: Puck.

Though she initially demands that he remove her inherent gargoyle weakness of turning to stone in the day before changing her mind to ridding the world of humanity, Puck distracts her from this desire by showing her what her heart really wants and, inadvertently, one of the major obstacles to it.

Elisa being surprisingly affectionate with Goliath though, admittedly, this might have been a ploy by Puck. Either way, it worked in that she demanded of him that he rids the world of that human Elisa, to which the fae does exactly as she asked. The human Elisa Maza was no more.

The gargoyle Elisa Maza on the other claw…

What made this whole affair so amusing to watch, aside from the hilarity that was Goliath trying not to stick his foot into his mouth, was how more open Elisa was with how she felt towards Goliath thanks to the spell altering her memories into thinking that she had always been a gargoyle while the rest of the Manhattan Clan had been human up until that point.

It was nice to watch up until the end when the spell was reversed and Goliath and Elisa became all too aware of their, and the other’s, feelings. Then began the usual song and dance that is forever the tale of “beauty and the beast” insomuch that the two obviously, and at times quite blatantly, want to be together but don’t because of stupid societal stigmas and self-made doubts.

Of course, between the two of them, it was Elisa who proved to be the most stubborn when it came to admitting For all her strengths, Elisa is not entirely without her faults as proven firstly in the aforementioned “Deadly Force,” she is human and can make the same mistakes as any person would. However, her greatest fault can be her own selfishness when it comes to the Manhattan Clan as she refuses to admit/share the knowledge of their existence with anyone, even those whom she knows in her heart of hearts would never betray her trust.

Because of this, and so much more, Elisa Maza is one of the best police detectives in fiction, animated or otherwise. It is a crime in and of itself that hers is not a recognized name among the masses and I hope with all of my heart that Gargoyles will see a new return in the future, if only so that a new generation can be introduced to one of the best heroines, and star-crossed lovers, in the history of fiction.

Stone by day, warriors by night…

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GARGOYLES


No. of Seasons:
3
No. of Episodes:
78
Production Company: Walt Disney Television Animation
Distributed By: Buena Vista Television
Original Release: October 24, 1994 – February 15, 1997

Seeing as I’ve spoken of not one but three different characters from this show, a princess, a hero, and a villain respectively, I think that it’s high time that I say my whole piece on one of the greatest animated television series of the 90’s if not all of time.

The basic premise of Gargoyles can be summed up entirely in its opening sequence which is a short but eloquent narration by the main protagonist Goliath, leader of the Manhattan Clan of gargoyles who tells the tale that centuries ago, in an age where sword and superstition still ruled, he and what little of his clan was left following a short but no less horrific massacre were cursed to sleep in stone for over a thousand years. Now alive again in this modern world, the gargoyles must try to adapt as enemies, new and old alike, await them in the moonlit shadows…

When I say new and old, I mean that in every sense of those respected words. There are villains of this modern world such as mafia bosses arming themselves with the highest grade of military weaponry, mutants derived from gene splicing to make artificial adaptations of the gargoyles and other mythical beasts, cyborgs that are more machine than man (or woman as the case is), and even freaking evil clones of the Manhattan Clan.

From the old we get ancient spirits whom were once revered as gods, spirits of the dead and damned cursed to remain on this world for their crimes, and mystical artifacts that could, and have, spelled the damnation of all life on Earth if they were to fall in the wrong hands.

Science and sorcery, two aspects of fiction that, until this show, did not blend together in a proper fashion as most shows, including newer ones like Voltron: Legendary Defender, have gone the route of “science so advanced it’s perceived as magic.” While Gargoyles does push the boundaries of what is and isn’t possible with science, at least at the time of this review, none of it is something that is, again at present, wholly inconceivable.

While we certainly don’t have handheld laser canons or any such variation as of yet, such weaponry is in development as well as gene splicing though not to the degree of creating literal chimeras. If I recall correctly, there are some goats that have been spliced with spider DNA so that their milk can produce the protein used in spider silk. Don’t believe me, look up “BioSteel” and tell me otherwise. Even cloning and cyborg implants are no longer works of an imaginative mind though not necessarily to the point of near-mirror copies and robotic limbs toting more weaponry than should be possible.

As to the sorcery, well, it’s actually rather interesting how magic is utilized in Gargoyles. Most spells and enchantments have a means of being broken but the way to do so was, at the time of that spells creation, wholly inconceivable my any mundane means. The curse that was afflicted upon the Manhattan Clan is one such example as they were cursed to remain in stone until such a time as their home, Castle Wyvern, had been raised above the clouds.

Cue a thousand years later and one obscenely rich and powerful man named David Xanatos purchasing and placing said castle atop one of the highest towers in Manhattan and voila! Spell is broken and gargoyles now roam the skies of the Big Apple.

The series itself begins in a five-part saga known simply as “Awakening.” It, and many other such future episodes, is par for the course for Gargoyles as most episodes, even those that stand alone, will eventually come back to play a pivotal part later on in the series. This opening saga touches upon all the major points of the series, at least those pivotal in the first season. We see that gargoyles, as a species, sleep as stone statues during the day only to come to life the moment the sun has set, and they all have a fierce protective instinct to guard what is their, including those whom otherwise show no respect towards them.

One of the primary villains in the series, David Xanatos, is introduced to us and shown to be equal parts Tony Stark, Lex Luthor, and a dash of Bruce Wayne. Out of any villain I’ve seen, he is one of the few whose endgame I can never fully figure out and who has demonstrated a level of intellect that is frightening to behold.

He has plans within plans within plans and it is exceedingly rare to see him display his true colors. Yet, for all his misdeeds, there is something honorable to him though that is in turn a stretch of the word and will gladly own up to his mistakes though oftentimes when it’s far too late to fix them.

We are also introduced to one of my other favorite characters in the series but I’ll discuss her in further detail later this week.

While “Awakening” is certainly an excellent way to start the series proper, the episode I would choose to demonstrate a taste of what’s in store for new viewers would be the fifteenth episode of the second season, “The Price” wherein we find that Hudson, following a brief but short skirmish with MacBeth (of the Shakespearian play no less), does not awaken from his stone sleep. As the rest of the Manhattan Clan searches frantically for a way to cure Hudson, we find it to be a ruse created by Xanatos who wishes to use Hudson as a test subject for his latest scheme.

Eternal life.

Thankfully, Hudson proves that despite his advanced age, his is still no less a worthy adversary to Xanatos and makes his escape. Though disappointed, Xanatos does not appear to be entirely distressed at the loss of a subject as his chief assistant Owen, steps up to the cauldron containing the concoction that will provide life “as long as the mountain stone.” Upon dipping his arm into the brew, the potion reveals itself to be quite literal in its description turning Owen’s arm to stone.

What makes this really noteworthy however is Owen’s lack of a reaction, merely adjusting his glasses as he tests the hardiness of his arm by tapping it against the cauldron. Even Xanatos himself is surprisingly relaxed at this reveal, lamenting at the spell being so literal before thanking Owen and dismissing him for the day.

“The Price” is not my favorite episode, as that one will be discussed in further detail in the next review, but it does show how deeply the Manhattan Clan care for one another and just how far Xanatos can and has gone to get what he wants. Yet, do you want to know something well and truly frightening, my dear readers? Xanatos, while a primary villain for most of the series, is not the worst adversary that the Manhattan Clan faces.

Overall, while there are elements to Gargoyles that have, unfortunately, not withstood the tests of time, there are moments involving computers and other such devices that make one groan as they recall a time where such phrases as “an Internet” were considered proper grammar, the stories and characters do not. Each episode is an epic in and of itself with most being far too great to contain in a single episode. Though the gargoyles have gone to rest for now, with the recent rise in nostalgia among the masses, who can say that they won’t awaken again in the near future?

Show your brave heart…!

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TAICHI “TAI” KAMIYA & AGUMON


DigiDestined of:
Courage
Taichi Voiced By: Joshua Seth Wendee Lee
Agumon & His Evolutions Voiced By: Michael Lindsay, Joseph Pilato, Lex Lang, & Dough Erholtz

Today, we get a two for one character review as, like with most of any children involved in the shenanigans of the Digital World and its denizens, one cannot simply speak of the kid alone. Admittedly, Tai was not my first initial choice as far as favorite characters of Digimon Adventure is concerned. In point of fact, he, and by extension Agumon, were about… third or fourth in the list I had compiled. The primary reason that pushed Tai and his partner to the top of the list however is due, mostly, to the… quasi-canon films, specifically Digimon Adventure, whose popularity spawned the anime series and its name in one go, and the aptly named film Our War Game.

Now, to be fair, as I had reviewed Digimon Adventure only, I will only lightly take into account the events of the first two Digimon films and not the one based in its sequel season Digimon 02 or its more recent film/episodic series Digmon Adventure Tri that will hopefully make the ending of the aforementioned sequel season non-canon.

No.

Just… no.

To begin with, let me point out a rather interesting fact about Tai, namely his last name being “Kamiya.” While no reason was outright stated as to why this was changed from the original Japanese’s “Yagami,” there are two highly probable reasons I can guess at being the cause. First, the manga series V-Tamer that featured a version of Tai who was not part of a group of kids and whose chosen partner, while initially an Agumon, had evolved into a Veedramon he named Zeromaru. The manga has not yet been given an official English release

Now, as I’m sure many of you might have noticed, at least not at the time of this post, but was likely in discussions when Digimon was being adapted for English audiences, which leads me to the second, and more likely, reason. The kanji for Kamiya is the same thing as Yagami except they’re in reverse, which means the translator either dropped the ball on Tai’s last name or somebody might have over exaggerated on their job application.

Of the DigiDestined, and yes I’m going to use the Americanized terms as those are the ones everyone is most familiar with including myself, Tai is the de-facto leader of the group. Though this can mostly be attributed to the fact that he is, quite easily, the most courageous, hence his title of DigiDestined of Courage, Tai is also quite the charismatic individual and few, if any, of the other children ever have a problem with him.

However, Tai is not without his vices. His courageousness can devolve into being one part childish impulsiveness and three parts reckless stupidity, oftentimes putting himself and others in extreme danger without realizing it. While he’s not one to shy away from admitting to his mistakes and faults, more often than not, events have to take a near deadly turn for Tai to realize the problem at hand, which I’ll explain in later detail when I speak of his partner Agumon.

Tai is, technically, the first of the DigiDestined insomuch that he was the first to encounter his digimon partner and, surprisingly enough, in the real world to boot. Through circumstances that were never really explained in detail, in film or in the series itself, a digimon egg, or digi-egg, ended up in the Kamiya household and in the arms of a then eight-year-old Tai and his younger sister Kari. It swiftly hatches into a Botamon and later digivolves into a Koromon at an astounding speed.

Whether because of the abundance of energies found in the Real World or because this particular variation of Koromon digivolves into a rather primordial Agumon insomuch that he only speaks to announce the name of his attack and is well over ten times the size of an average Agumon seen before or since. Heck, this incarnation of Agumon, and later Greymon’s, attacks are even more significantly powerful than what they eventually become in the television series but more on that later.

Of the DigiDestined, Tai is the first to achieve something with his digimon partner, oftentimes that achievement being digivolution. His partner, along with Matt’s, were the only ones to achieve the ability to reach the Mega level, at the time mind you, and were the first known digimon to achieve DNA digivolution, which resulted in the first appearance of a member of the Royal Knights.

While Tai is not the one who has grown or even matured the most out of the DigiDestined, I feel that he is the only the most anyone can relate to, especially those who have ever entertained the notion of adventure. As the series progressed Tai learns two very important lessons. Humility and responsibility, the later of which culminates the most in my favorite episode of the series “Home Away From Home.”

Following Agumon’s first digivolution into MetalGreymon and the annihilation of Etemon and his Dark Network, Tai and his partner inadvertently find themselves back in the real world. What makes this episode particularly noteworthy with me is how the real world is shown to be almost entirely lackluster with the colors almost being monotone with no real life or energy behind much of anything. For as dangerous as the Digital World may be, there was no denying that there was fun and excitement that went alongside it.

The point is driven further when digimon start appearing in the real world but, at the time, cannot be seen by anyone save the two Kamiya children and Koromon. The digimon don’t stay for long but do some serious damage before they disappear back into the Digital World save for Ogremon whose fight results in Koromon digivolving back into Agumon and blasting the vile virus with enough force to result in a somewhat stabilized portal back to the Digital World.

Agumon allows the portal to take him willingly, knowing that he is needed there to save Tai’s world whereas Tai himself hesitates for the briefest of moments, torn between staying in the real world, in his home with his family, to going back and risking life and limb for those he’s left behind and for a world that may never recognize him for the deeds he and his fellow DigiDestined have done.

A moment passes, and Tai takes the plunge.

That moment right there solidified my admiration for Tai as a kid and makes him well and truly deserving of the title DigiDestined of Courage.

Moving on to his partner digimon, whom I’ll mainly refer to as Agumon as that’s the form he’s in the most, this little guy is the humble version of Tai in every sense of the word. While most of the digimon partners are either polar opposites to their respected humans, Agumon and Tai share many of the same traits though not the same faults. Whereas Tai can be reckless, Agumon is more cautious. Whereas Tai is not afraid to speak his, admittedly sometimes thoughtless, opinions, Agumon tends to refrain from speaking up, particularly in moments that he really should.

Ignoring Agumon’s Baby and In-Training forms, otherwise known as Botamon and Koromon respectively, Agumon is a Rookie level digimon belonging to many different Families but is most commonly considered as belonging to the Virus Busters due mostly to his Vaccine Attribute and Reptile type. His primary attack is Pepper Breath, which is him chucking a small fireball.

What’s really rather interesting is that his first incarnation, as digimon in this setting do not stay dead permanently but have the chance to be “reconfigured” (AKA reborn) into a digi-egg, has a different variation of this attack. Pepper Fire is not Agumon breathing out a small fireball but launching one with all the speed and explosive force of a ballistic missile.

His Champion form, Greymon, is a Dinosaur type digimon and is to the Digimon franchise what Charizard is to Pokémon. Not technically a mascot outright but popular enough that he may as well be. As Greymon, his chief attack is the appropriately named Nova Blast, which is a fireball that has several times the devastating power of a Pepper Fire. Of course, this in turn pales in comparison with Nova Flame, which is a stream of burning blue fire so hot that it outright obliterated another Champion level digimon’s wing from a near complete miss whereas a direct hit vaporized it completely.

As to his Ultimate form… now here is where we get to an interesting development between Tai and Agumon. See, Tai was, at the time, the only one to have found his Crest, which he and the others had been told was the key to unlocking their digimon’s Ultimate forms, and had become a wee bit… arrogant. So much so in fact that he did all he could to force Agumon into digivolving into his Ultimate form by way of force-feeding him to the point of bursting and purposefully putting himself in danger.

Tai got his wish and so became the first DigiDestined two-fold. The first to get their partner to reach the Ultimate level… and the first to have their digimon undergo a corrupted digivolution.

SkullGreymon… a simple name for one of the most terrifying Ultimate level digimon, it is a skeletal monstrosity that knows only two things. Destruction and Death. Having no concept of friend or foe, SkullGreymon annihilates anything in its path through either direct force, i.e. crushing its foes in its bare hands, or obliterating it via the organic missile it grows from its spine in its signature attack, Dark Shot. Of course, this is merely the English adaptation’s name for the attack. The original Japanese has a far more fitting name for it.

Ground Zero.

Eventually, following a few life lessons from a surprisingly wise if not horrifically adorable pixie of a digimon, Tai and Agumon eventually achieve the proper means of an Ultimate digivolution and unlock Agumon’s true ultimate form, MetalGreymon, a Cyborg Type digimon whose chief attack, Giga Blaster, has twice the destructive force of SkullGreymon’s Dark Shot.

Next is Agumon’s Mega form, the aptly named WarGreymon, a Dragon Man Type digimon that is surprisingly small compared to Agumon’s Champion and Ultimate forms. Because of this WarGreymon is several times faster and more powerful than either form and is incredibly deadly to any digimon that bares the name of “dramon” thanks to his bladed gauntlets, the Dramon Destroyers. WarGreymon’s signature attack is the Terra Force where he gathers all of the energy he can from the atmosphere and condenses it into a high temperature energy ball before tossing it at his enemies.

WarGreymon alone is responsible for the defeat of two of the Four Dark Masters, thanks in part to their belonging to the “dramon” family and thus susceptible to WarGreymon’s Dramon Destroyers. However, WarGreymon is not the most powerful form that Agumon can achieve. When combining his power and code with that of his fellow DigiDestined digimon MetalGarurumon, WarGreymon DNA digivolves into Omegamon.

Omegamon is one of the Royal Knights, digimon who are so powerful and respected that they take their orders from only one being, which is oftentimes the literal god of the Digital World. Omegamon is considered the leader of the Royal Knights as its chosen leader, Alphamon, only appears in times of near apocalyptic situations and is, to this day, the only digimon capable of matching Omegamon blow for blow. Considering that it took a single swipe of his Transcendent Sword to obliterate hundreds of Diaboromon, which are in turn virally corrupted Mega level digimon, that’s saying a lot…

Out of the entirety of DigiDestined, nay, of any human and their partner digimon, Tai and Agumon’s partnership is easily the best. They’ve had their highs, their lows, and yet at the end of the day theirs is a bond that cannot ever be broken by anything that this or any world can through at them.

Change into digital champions…!

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DIGIMON ADVENTURE


Based On:
Digimon Virtual Pets
No. of Seasons:
1 (Technically)
No. of Episodes:
54
Production Company: Toei Animation
Original Japanese Run: March 7, 1999 – March 26, 2000
American Distributor: Saban Entertainment & Fox Kids

While not technically my favorite of the many variations of the Digimon franchise told in anime form, Digmon Adventure is the one responsible for many of the common tropes and themes found in them and is easily among the most recognized amongst fans for a variety of reasons.

To start with, let me bring an end to an argument that I’m sure a great many of you fans have heard time and time again. The argument of “which came first” in regards to Digimon and its similarly named “competitor” Pokémon. Pokémon versions Red and Green were released on February 27, 1996 whereas the first line of the Digimon virtual pets, which in themselves were a masculine spin-off of the then-popular V-pets Tamagotchi, were released in the summer of 1997 both in Japan and in America. Pokémon Red & Blue would not hit American store shelves until the following year on September 28, 1998.

So it can be said that, as far as American audiences are concerned, Digimon did indeed come out first followed shortly by Pokémon. However, one thing that I believe many fail to realize is that despite the similar naming convention, neither of them is at all alike save for a few themes shared between them, namely the human-monster partnership and the concept of evolution into stronger forms. Really, it’s like comparing Marvel Comics superheroes to those of DC Comics but that’s a kettle of fish the size of Manhattan that I have no intention of touching thank you very much.

Digimon Adventure, as it is named in Japan but is more commonly recognized as simply the first of the Digimon series in America, is about seven young kids who had gone to camp for the summer and wind up living in a digital land where they each meet their own digital monster. A… somewhat basic description but hey, if it works in song and all that…

Of course, the story of these seven, and later eight, kids and their digital monsters is not simply them having fun and surviving whatever “monster of the week” may come up next. Like most anime series, Digimon Adventure does not have seasons so much as it has “arcs” to its story with each arc featuring a progressively more powerful and far more evil Digimon than the last, each with their own agendas and plans for the digitally destined children and the Digital World as a whole.

Being an anime that was released in the late 90’s to early 2000’s, Digimon Adventure and its following series suffered from a rather severe… Americanization. Of the lot, Digimon Adventure got away with the fewest of changes mainly to the names of digitally destined children being shortened to Americanized nicknames and several Digimon names were translated to their English equivalents. However, contrary to the original Japanese version, Digimon Adventure’s English dub focused on being more humorous to the point of absurdity in some cases (I’m looking at you Etemon) whereas the original version was far more serious.

That and the whole “digi-whatever” wasn’t a thing so there’s that.

Still, it’s not even half as bad as what was done in an episode of the third series, Digimon Tamers wherein the digitally destined children help make “milkshakes” (or sake in the original version) to knock out an Orochimon that had been terrorizing a settlement of Gekomon.

Milkshakes.

Just… wow… There’s censoring, there’s adapting, and then there’s just treating your audience like they’re a bunch of idiots.

Still not half as bad as when the Pokémon anime tried to make doughnuts out of rice balls though…

Being an American adapted anime, there are two different versions to the opening theme, both of which thankfully have only a few minute differences in cosmetics. Between them both, I’m afraid that I have to pick the English song, aptly named “Digimon Theme” as my personal favorite for the series because while the Japanese introductory song “Butter-Fly” has a good beat to it… It, like most anime themes be they intro or closing, makes next to no sense when translated.

At least, not initially…

For Digimon Adventure, nay, the entirety of the Digimon franchise is about growing up, learning from one’s mistakes and one’s vices and surpassing them, finding the piece within themselves that is all that they are and all that they can be and accepting it. Of course, with seven, and later eight, kids and their respected Digimon, their development kind of leaps about all over the place insomuch that some don’t seem to change for several episodes at a time before suddenly making a progressively large leap forward.

Of the arcs, I’d have to say that my favorite amongst them would be a tie between the introductory and final arcs of the show. The introductory arc features the vile Devimon as the villain with his overall goal being infecting other Digimon with his Black Gears, devices that he uses to not only drive other Digimon into a wild and near unstoppable berserker-style rampage but can greatly enhanced their powers to be above their standard level.

The final arc however is the true end-game for the children and their Digimon, pushing them into realizing the darkness and the light within themselves in order to put an end to the four, aptly named, Dark Master who have converted nearly all of the Digital World into their own personal playground. Each of the Dark Masters is a Digimon at the highest level of power, aptly named “Mega Level,” and control whole dominions and minions alike in the Digital World, leaving virtually no place safe for the children and few whom they can trust as allies.

While I do find the American version to be quite humorous and with more than a decent share of good puns all around, I’d recommend the original Japanese to first time viewers of the franchise. For while there is certainly something fun to be had in entering a digitalized wonderland, there are monsters here. Most in the very literal meaning of the word and others… Well, it is as the saying goes… Look into the abyss and the abyss looks back into you…

There are things on this planet worth protecting!

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PERIDOT


Gem Identification:
Facet-2F5L Cut-5XG
Generation:
Era 2
Former Superior:
Yellow Diamond
Member of: The Crystal Gems
Occupation:
Certified Kindergartner & Technician
Episode Premiere:
“Warp Tour”
Voiced By: Shelby Rabara

Peridot is a character that I was initially quite indifferent towards in her premiering episodes, which, to be fair, did not really do her character an extreme amount of justice, or so I had felt at the time. When she first appears, Peridot comes off as being a cold-hearted scientifically minded individual with little to no moral fiber given how callously she destroys one of her little robonoids that had been only marginally damaged. She is also the first, and thus far only, Gem to have appeared more cybernetic than wholly organic in that her limbs possessed many a gizmo and device in them, especially in her “fingers.”

Her arm apparatuses, later named as “limb enhancers” allowed Peridot to interface and control various Gem technologies, at least those of a more recent make/design as those left over on Earth proved to be almost too ancient to even work let alone be controlled with any kind of finesse. On its own, her forearm enhancers could provide Peridot flight by way of mimicking helicopter blades and could even fire a concentrated blast of energy so strong that it knocked Peridot off her feet virtually every time that she used it.

I speak in the past tense of course because following her defeat by the Crystal Gems, which took quite a few episodes to get to you mind you, Peridot’s limb enhancers were tossed into the ocean and, upon her release via Steven wanting to know what had her so terrified and desperate to as far from Earth as possible, we see her real form.

Her really small form.

Contrary to most Gems shown thus far, Peridot is, currently, unable to utilize any of the common powers that most Gems have demonstrated. She is a “Era-2” Gem meaning that while not exactly a newborn all of her generation of Peridots are unable to use any powers and so were given their “limb enhancers” to make up for it. However, thanks to a… attempt… at training with Amethyst and Steven, Peridot discovers that she has a form of telekinetic powers pertaining to metal. Whether this is control over magnetism like Magneto or a Gem form of metalbending remains to be seen.

Since the premiere of her true stature, Peridot has done nothing but solidify herself as being “Best Gem” in my book. While the Crystal Gems have shown the capacity to grown and change over time, particularly in the case of Garnet who was almost entirely emotionless in the beginning of the series. Prior to her capture, we see Peridot growing more and more desperate with every new encounter with the Crystal Gems. It all comes to a head when Steven chooses to let Peridot free from her bubble and she reveals the main interest that the Gem Homeworld has in Earth.

The aptly named “Cluster,” which is hands down a creation whose origin is so irrevocable dark and twisted that frankly, I’m still amazed that it made it onto daytime television, nevermind a cartoon series aimed towards “younger audiences.”

From there, it’s a race against time to stop the Cluster from forming and though Peridot does her best to try and work with the Crystal Gems, it’s a sort of one step forward, two steps back method. Peridot is clearly trying but most of her Homeworld mannerisms and instincts often get in the way of her behavior towards the others. Pearl, for example, was treated as little more than a servant girl by Peridot initially for the fact that Pearls are literally “made-to-be-ordered” in Homeworld and are among the lowest in their caste system.

For Amethyst, she and Peridot get along surprisingly well with the only rough patch being Peridot’s, admittedly brutal, honesty in regards to the purple Gem’s creation and formation. For Garnet, Peridot admitted that she could not understand her, could not comprehend the concept of a fusion of Garnet’s lifespan, which has crossed over to several centuries by this point. At Garnet asking Peridot if she was interested in fusing with her, the little Gem had an admittedly hilarious reaction and though she tried, her own nerves prevented her from successfully fusing with Garnet.

… For now at any rate.

As to Peridot’s relationship with Steven, ah, now here’s where things get interesting. Virtually all of Peridot’s current behavior and mannerisms can be attributed to Steven’s influence with a dash of Amethyst. Whether by conscious or subconscious decision Perdiot has shown that she mimics the people that she likes/respects in some fashion, using Steven’s exact words for gratitude when expressing her own, even when she’s more than a wee bit ticked off.

This is especially proven when Garnet says to Peridot “Don’t worry Peridot, it’s our sworn duty to protect anything that calls this planet home, and that includes clods like you.”

Rather than be angry or offended, like i had expected her to given how frequently she throws the word around like it’s an insult, Peridot is surprisingly emotional and says, quite simply, “That’s my word…

Why would she react in such a way if not because she sees that, much like herself, Garnet, and by extension the other Crystal Gems, see her and are trying to understand her? To sympathize with her and show her that she means something to them?

Still, as much as Garnet has done for her, it is Steven himself who gave Peridot a reason to actually like Earth to a point where she outright calls Yellow Diamond, her literal supreme overlord, a “clod” right to her smug face.

In point of fact, almost all of Peridot’s individualism and quirks can be laid at least partially upon Steven as was proven when Peridot contacts Yellow Diamond and states just her name and not her specific identification. Yellow Diamond replied with “Which Peridot?” and for a moment, just a brief moment, there is honest despair on Peridot’s face as she’s caught completely flat-footed for two primary reasons.

First and foremost, she introduced herself strictly as Peridot and not facet whatever, something that she has done for likely the entirety of her existence thus far. For someone like her, so keen on the numbers and mathematics of everything, such a simple mistake would not happen. She has come to think of her name, of her very self, as being unique. That it alone would be satisfactory in introducing herself to people, her Diamond included.

Secondly… for all of her worship and idolizing of the Diamonds, and Yellow Diamond in particular, they will never see her specifically as an individual but as one among hundreds if not thousands of other Gems of similar design. For all of her accomplishments, for all that she has done for Homeworld and her people, Peridot will never be noticed, never be recognized, as someone special, as someone that stands out.

I can’t speak for the Gem Homeworld but for those of us here on planet Earth? Peridot never needs to worry about that.

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