Anime, Shows

MHA Season 4 is the Best Season Yet

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

My Hero Academia Season 4

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Intro

This is my favorite out of the seasons of My Hero Academia. So far none of the seasons come close to it, including what I have watched so far of Season 5.

Warning: This review does not contain significant spoilers for Season 4, but it does contain spoilers for earlier seasons.

Background

My Hero Academia Season 4 was released in 2019. It was produced by the studio Bones and directed by Kenji Nagasaki. The plot is based on the graphic novels by  Kōhei Horikoshi.

You can watch My Hero Academia on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Summary

U.A. students face off against villains new and old. Later in the season, the members of U.A participate in a school festival. In the meantime, Bakugo and Todoroki attend special courses to catch up with the rest of Class 1-A.

Pros

  • Creative quirks
  • New and unique characters
  • Dangerous and effective villains
  • Well-chosen way to introduce the season
  • The Big 3 show what they are made of
  • Backstory for Kirishima and Amajiki
  • Actual consequences for choices
  • Concept of Quirk Singularity Doomsday
  • Darkest season balanced with comic relief
  • Attractive intros and outro
  • Catchy music
  • Original art style

Cons

  • Tickling machine kind of disturbing
  • The relationship between Gentle Criminal and La Brava is uncomfortable
  • Weird angles on characters focusing on breasts, legs, and skirts at different times

Observations

  • Natsu look-alike appears near end of season

Review

Introduction

The idea of starting the season off with a feature story on the members of Class 1-A was an interesting way to recap everyone’s quirks and personalities without being boring and forced.

Creative Quirks

Creative quirks such as whole-body lens fill this anime. This quirk allows camera lenses to grow from different parts of Taneo’s body. He can print the pictures from his chest when desired, or keep them in memory. For a journalist, this is the perfect quirk, being able to take pictures anywhere anytime, looking inconspicuous until finally getting a shot.

Characters

Getting Kirishima’s backstory is a great bonus for this season. Seeing how he changed over time to become the person he is now was amazing.

Amajiki is a shy character who continually compares Kirishima and Togata to the sun. This season really gives him the chance to shine, however, delving into his past and showing that he is formidable despite his reticent nature.

Fat Gum’s fat absorption quirk allows things to stick to his body and be absorbed. His quirk is more complex than it initially seems, however. He is a Pro Hero who is honorable and likeable.

Eri is a 6-year-old girl whose quirk and backstory are a well-kept secret from most of the characters until later in the season. She is compassionate and self-sacrificing, and surprisingly mature for her age yet still childish in many ways.

Nighteye holds to many of the same ideals as All Might. He values laughter and smiling, and wants to make the world a better place. He truly believes there is no future to society without “humor and energy.”

I appreciate the character design of Overhaul with his unique mask. I thought about getting one designed to look like Overhaul’s during the worst part of the pandemic when everyone was wearing masks, but mask regulations have since been relaxed in my area for those who are vaccinated.

I think of Overhaul as the most evil and cruel villain introduced in My Hero Academia so far. He’s not only physically dangerous, he is also causes psychological damage to others.

Relationships

The relationship between La Brava and Gentle Criminal gives off strong romance vibes and it’s not the most comfortable relationship. La Brava is 21 and Gentle is 32, which is a large age gap–but that’s not a big deal. The problem is the character design makes it seem like Gentle is an old man, and La Brava looks like a little girl. That makes it seem like Gentle is some sort of pedophile and that he is grooming La Brava. And since they don’t mention ages during the anime itself, viewers aren’t aware that La Brava is not a minor. Seems like a poor design choice here.

Consequences

Trust me, there are negative consequences for failure, and even for hard-won success, in this season.

Concept

The Quirk Singularity Doomsday theory has to do with each generation having stronger quirks. There is the idea that one day the older generation will not be able to stop the newest generation from doing whatever they want.

Balance

This season gets surprisingly dark for My Hero Academia, and the comic relief of the school festival is well-timed and much-needed. The last couple of episodes don’t seem to belong and probably should’ve been in the next season, but that’s not a big deal.

Music

The first intro of the season is Polaris by Blue Encounter. What I like about this intro includes the camera angles seeming natural and the movement of the piece as a whole. If you look at the part with the hands at the very beginning, you’ll notice it shows his hand when he was younger, his hand when he joined UA, and his hand with the scars.

The first outro features the song Kōkai no Uta by Sayuri. This is one of my favorite outros because it portrays backstory for an important character in Season 4 without spoiling anything significant like some outros do. The pictures of Eri are so cute and really builds sympathy for her.

The second intro features the song Starmarker by Kana-Boon. Unlike the first half of the season, the second half is lighthearted, and the intro reflects that. Interesting choices are made regarding color, and the song is upbeat.

The second intro features the song Shout Baby by Ryokuōshoku Shakai. This scrapbook-style intro shows glimpses into the character’s pasts, including those of side characters.

There is a song during the school festival that is amazing too, but going into details on that would constitute a spoiler.

Style

The animation was done by Studio Bones, which also did the style of Fullmetal Alchemist, another one of my favorite anime.

The style is different from Fullmetal Alchemist because it uses bold, bright colors and deep shadows for contrast. The pupils of characters are much smaller than in most anime.

Problematic Aspects

Sir Nighteye’s tickling machine is uncomfortably similar to torture and harassment. As a boss, it’s entirely inappropriate for him to tickle his sidekick without permission as a punishment. Bubble Girl literally begs him to stop and he refuses. There are better ways to show that Sir Nighteye values humor without making him seem like a creep.

Occasionally with this season the camera would rest on breasts, legs, and skirts without any apparent reason. It just seemed unnecessary and an odd choice.

Observations

Looks kind of like Natsu from the anime Fairy Tail, right? Whether that was intentional or not, the pink hair and scarf make this side character a lookalike to one of Fairy Tail’s strongest wizards.

Conclusion

If you liked the first few seasons of My Hero Academia, you will like this one too. If you didn’t like the first few seasons, you may like this season anyway because its darkest moments are horrifying and its lightest moments are hilarious, and there are plenty of heartfelt moments that fall in between those two extremes.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Writing

Character Playlists: Hesper

“Hesper” – Original Art by Alyssa A. Wilson

Intro

My current work-in-progress is a novel that follows the journey of five “heroes” who must decide whether or not to obey their master, a sentient force whose life energy is inextricably connected with their own. If they follow its prophecies, they risk losing their identities and becoming its pawns forever, but resistance means risking its wrath—and fighting a battle no one has won before. Their story is narrated by a spy forced to recount the heroes’ journey, whose power to read minds offers omniscience but not answers, whose obsession with mortal snack foods and self-destruct buttons could have terrible consequences, and whose passive aggressiveness knows no bounds…

Recently I started making playlists for each of my characters with music that reminds me of each character. These playlists are made up of songs my siblings and I listen to. Below I share my playlist for the character Hesper.

Hesper’s Playlist

Conclusion

This is the link to my full Spotify Playlist for Hesper. I’ll be adding songs over time, so be sure to check it out.

I will post new playlists for my other characters, so look out for upcoming blog articles! The number of songs doesn’t necessarily denote the importance of a character, it’s just how well songs I know fit the character.

Do any of my fellow writers have character playlists? If so, comment below so I can check them out! If not, I challenge you to try it and share!

Card Games

A STEM-Themed Game that Makes Learning Fun

Card Game Review:

STEM: Epic Heroes

Rating: 6.5 of 10 stars

Intro

I played this game five times with my sister as a learning opportunity for both of us, with and without the additional challenge cards. I found it to be educational even though the game is simplistic and highly luck-based.

Objective

What I hope to accomplish with my card game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

STEM: Epic Heroes is an educational card game for 2-4 players. It has set collection and take that! mechanics. The theme is centered around figures from STEM history.

Gameplay (6 out of 10 stars)

The objective of the game is to acquire all the steps to the scientific method while acquiring as many points as possible.

Hero cards can be paired with discovery cards to build the scientific method. Heroes each have different special abilities. Hero types (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) must match the color and type of the discovery card.

Inspiration cards can be used at any time during any turn or between turns to thwart your opponent’s efforts or protect yourself. They sometimes let you steal something or block stealing, for instance.

Enhancement cards include locations and items. They can power up your heroes and are worth points. They can be played with the hero or later can be added to the hero. Only one location and one item can be played per hero and the type and color must match.

Challenge cards are included for a more complicated variant of the game. Challenges are set out and whoever completes them gets the points and the card when it is done. Honestly, that doesn’t add much to the game.

Design (9.5 out of 10)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art on the cards looks great and really makes figures from history look like epic heroes. The components are of good quality. The instructional manual layout is not the best for learning the game, but it is highly informative when it comes to describing historical figures. I appreciate the diversity of figures included in the game, and that they did not overlook the achievements of people of various races and genders.

Strategy (4 out of 10 stars)

Strategy is low because what matters most in this game is who gets what cards first. A lot is up to chance, so the only real strategy is choosing when to make the game end and which one of limited actions you choose.

Originality/Creativity (7 out of 10 stars)

Creativity when it comes to the theme is high. I have not played an educational game that teaches about the scientific method and historical figures from STEM history before. I enjoyed it more than expected as well. There is nothing super original about the gameplay, honestly.

Replayability (6 out of 10 stars)

My sister and I played it a few times in a row one day because it is short, but I could see this game getting old over time because it is so luck-based.

Conclusion

I admit I’m not a huge fan of card games compared to board games, but I found this one to be an easy and fun one. This is not a game for really serious gamers, but may be appealing to those new to the hobby, those who appreciate educational games, and those who just want a simple game to play with friends and family.

Pictures

Links

Books

A Rival for The Lord of the Rings

Spoiler-Free Book Review:

The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

This is the best book I have ever read. Period. My dad suggested it for me and I could barely put it down, especially near the ending. I was visibly smiling at parts, laughing, and on the edge of my seat repeatedly. In my opinion, it blows The Lord of the Rings out of the water. Read on to find out why this is my new favorite book!

Background

Brandon Sanderson is the author of various books for adults and younger audiences alike. Some of his more famous works include the Mistborn Trilogy and Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians, as well as the rest of the Stormlight Archive. He typically writes high fantasy with fantastic worldbuilding.

Summary

In the world of Roshar, three promising characters struggle against their pasts and continued threats while going on journeys of self-discovery. Kaladin, a mysterious slave with a tragic past. Shallan, an artistic young woman who seeks to become the ward of a famous scholar. And Dalinar, an older man who is trying desperately to unite the Alethi highprinces and create a stronger kingdom of Alethkar.

Pros

  • Multiple intriguing points of view
  • Gripping character backstories
  • Different lifeforms than in any other series
  • Unique magic system
  • Richly developed cultures
  • Objects unique to the realm of this book
  • So many quotable moments
  • So much research put into this
  • Illustrations and other worldbuilding snippets between sections of the book
  • Quotes that introduce chapters are interesting and relevant
  • Phenomenal ending with twists

Cons

  • I honestly cannot think of a con. Sure, it’s very long, but without that length I doubt the worldbuilding would be nearly as impressive.

Observations

  • The length of the book is 1200+ pages, but every bit is important to the narrative as a whole.

Review

Characters

Kaladin is introduced as a slave with a history of troublemaking and a host of enviable skills. The book delves deeply into his backstory in particular, speaking of his numerous losses and continued failures. If there is a character who is focused on the most in the book, I would say it is Kaladin.

Shallan is another point-of-view character, trying to become a ward of Jasnah Kholin, who is a high-ranking scholar. Shallan’s primary concern is saving her homeland, which has fallen into disarray since her father’s death. One of her most interesting skills is affixing an image in her memory and being able to draw a replica of it later on. She also draws from sight with remarkable skill.

When she drew, she didn’t feel as if she worked on charcoal and paper. In drawing a portrait, her medium was the soul itself.”

Dalinar is the third significant viewpoint character, an older man whose visions during highstorms worry him about the state of Alethkar. He has two sons, Adolin and Renarin, who are each very interesting in their own ways. Adolin goes through relationships with all the eligible young women of high enough rank quickly. Renarin struggles with physical weakness that prevents him from engaging in battle.

Lifeforms

This novel has lifeforms different than in any book I’ve read. From thunderclasts to chasmfiends to skyeels, Brandon Sanderson has a high capacity for creativity. My favorites, however, are the spren and the chulls.

Spren appear when something changes–when fear appears, or when it begins to rain. They are the heart of change, and therefore the heart of all things”

Hesina

There are musicspren, fearspren, painspren, windspren, and hungerspren, among dozens of others. Some are large and monstrous, others are like wisps, and some can even shift their form.

Chulls are kind of like large hermit crabs with rock-like shells that are used as herd animals and to pull cargo. See an illustration of one on Fandom here.

Magic System

The magic system is dependant on Stormlight. Stormlight from highstorms infuses many everyday items, the currency, and gems. That energy can then be used to perform lashings–attaching things to each other or moving objects, standing on walls, etc. Very few people are capable of these feats.

Culture

The first notable cultural difference is that men are expected to handle fighting, commerce, and creating glyphs. Yet women are the ones who are able to read and write and it is considered wrong for men to engage in these activities. There are also foods considered to be men’s food vs. women’s food.

In Alethi culture, people with light eyes are considered higher-ranking citizens than those with dark eyes.

There is also the Vorin tradition of having a safe hand, a woman covering one’s left hand with a long sleeve or glove. Uncovering one’s safehand is considered as scandalous in their society as very low cleavage. The society is medieval so there are a lot of restrictions for women and men.

According to Shin culture, one should not tread on stone and mining is an abomination. To them, a dying request is sacred. Farmers are celebrated with lavish clothes and acclaimed for their hard work. The Shin have childlike features. One of the characters in this book is a Shin assassin.

At the end of the book a kelek poem is displayed, which must be the same backwards and forwards (excepting verb forms).

Objects

Shardblades are the most interesting weapons in the Stormlight Archive. It is said that “a shardblade did not cut living flesh; it severed the soul itself.” Slicing through someone’s skin would cause no flesh damage, but would lead to numbness in the area swung through. Slicing through someone’s neck would lead to death and eyes being burnt out.

Soulcasters are objects used to turn substances into different substances. For instance, rock to smoke, or human flesh to flames. It is even possible to soulcast food, but it usually ends up being pretty bland.

Spanweed is an instrument that allows long distance communication through writing.

Quotes

But expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.”

Shallan’s point of view

Well, I myself find that respect is like manure. Use it where needed, and growth will flourish. Spread it on too thick, and things just start to smell.”

Kabsal

The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”

Wit

Research

After 10 years of research and writing, Brandon Sanderson produced The Way of Kings. There are many aspects of the story that are realistic and well-thought-out. The medical and surgical knowledge Sanderson included in his book added to the effectiveness of the story. Even though it’s a work of fiction, I felt that I learned more about how wounds were treated after battles.

There were other thoughtful aspects such as how a soldier was told to urinate before battle so during the battle he would not be distracted. He was supposed to do that well ahead of time because armor is hard to get off and back on. Another instance of realism is that the brand that Kaladin has is scabby and needs to heal.

Extras

The illustrations between sections of the book are beautiful and contribute to the illusion of realism that Sanderson creates. Illustrations can be seen at his website, here. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter are mostly made up of the dying words of random people. The reason for these quotes is revealed at the end, and they turn out to be extremely relevant.

Conclusion

If you like fantasy, read this book. I have a feeling this book will become a classic for the fantasy genre. Recommended for ages 13 at least and up, but may be better for an older audience due to length.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate books, check out my rating system.

Links