The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

August Roundup

August Roundup

So, with another month in the bag, I figured I’d start something new where I talk about a thing or two that stuck with me for that month. Now, these won’t be full reviews, just a few thoughts on why I did or didn’t enjoy something. Without further ado, let’s get into August’s Roundup!

100 Million Yen Women

Million_Yen_Women-p1.jpg

So 100MYM is something I went into with no prior knowledge. I just knew it was Netflix’s newest J-drama. What’s it about? Well, according to Netflix,  it’s about a poor novelist whose life becomes a mystery when five enigmatic, beautiful women suddenly move in, paying him a million yen monthly in rent. That premise reminds me of something you’d find in an anime or manga, which is funny because after I’d watched it, I found out it was an adaptation of a manga. The main character, Shin Michima, spends a lot of the show wondering why these women have been invited to live in his house (by a mystery person), pay him a million yen in rent and why they tend to encourage him more often than not. I wondered it too. I mean, he’s not insanely attractive, and in their own words, he’s incredibly dull. So why would these lovely women choose to live with Shin when they surely have better ways to spend their time and money?

MILLION-YEN-WOMEN.jpg

Well that’s the wonder of the show. You learn as Shin does for the most part. I mean we get glimpses into the lives of these women that Shin doesn’t, but that doesn’t necessarily clue us in as to why they agreed to live with him or who it was that invited them all in the first place. On top of that, there were instances where each of the women seem to like Shin and I had fun trying to see which one I wanted him to end up with (even though my hopes were slashed). Each of the women bring something unique to the house and to Shin’s life, and the further we get along in the story, the more the pieces start to come together and the more you realize things aren’t as carefree as they seem. The last thing I’ll say about this show is that things get dark, but man oh man did I enjoy the ride, so much so I'm looking for a new j-drama to get into. Definitely recommended for fans of mysteries and suspense.

Yakuza 0

yakuza-0.jpg

Yakuza 0 is a prequel game to the first one in the long-running Yakuza franchise in Japan. I had heard virtually nothing but praise for the game, and with it being a prequel it’s the perfect place to jump into the franchise as a newcomer. It’s about two different Yakuza members Majima and Kiryu, who are in two different clans in two different parts of Japan, but their stories are more similar than you’d think. Both are on the outs with their respective clans, and while they are fighting for different reasons, their stories are ultimately about redemption.

I’ve played a couple dozen hours so far, but the game has so much to do from disco, to karaoke, to helping random strangers to softcore porn (yep you read that right), that you can easily be lost in this game for over 100 hours. The story is one that has stakes, where Kiyru and Majima could both die at any given time, since the Yakuza life is not a peaceful one, and it is bolstered by strong voice acting and direction. While the graphics aren’t stellar in every area of the game, the main story cutscenes are gorgeous, which more than make up for the graphical shortcomings in other areas of the game.

And speaking of other areas, with all the things that you are able to do, its no wonder that the absurdness of Japan permeates the game. The aforementioned disco is addicting, the karaoke highly entertaining, and the many side stories you can engage in are almost always worthwhile, even without the moving voice acting the main story utilizes. Yakuza 0 leans into its absurdity, while being able to sober up when it comes to being serious. Disco, porn, and over the top fights? What more cold you ask for in a yakuza game set in the 80s? In all seriousness, this action-adventure game is a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve only just started, but I can tell I’ll be spending hours upon hours with Yakuza 0.

Death Note

Light (left) and L (right)

Light (left) and L (right)

For those who know me, know that I’m a huge fan of Death Note, an anime/manga about Light, a genius high schooler who comes to own a Death Note, a notebook that is able to kill as long as the owner knows the person’s real name and pictures their face while writing. Light’s actions as judge, jury and executioner draws the attention of the odd genius detective, L, and thus begins their face off. L and Light’s battle is one of the best fights I’ve ever seen that didn’t involve actually throwing a punch, because it’s a battle of wits between a genius detective and genius high schooler who just happens to be a sociopath who sees himself as a god.

Enter Hollywood’s white-washed live-action adaption of the beloved manga/anime: Netflix’s Death Note. Now, to compare this movie to the anime is wholly unfair, because it’s a westernized adaptation, so that alone is sure to bring changes, but I’m a huge of the DN anime so I can’t help myself.

In this adaption, Light isn’t a genius, or a charismatic popular student or even all that likable. He’s an underdog, a person looking to be a hero for those who don’t have a voice. I didn’t mind that, and he even reacted to seeing Ryuk, a death god that was in charge of the titular Death Note the same way I’m sure any other American high schooler would, but that reaction alone let me know just how different this version of Light would be. And that set the tone for the rest of the movie.

Gone were the psychological thrills of seeing Light try to outsmart L, while L tries to prove Light is the killer. No, now we get a couple scenes where they’re basically sitting across from each other and that’s about it…

l-confronts-light-turner-first-trailer-netflix-death-note.jpg

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie, because I did. It was a nice popcorn flick, good for some mindless entertainment for about an hour and a half. It had decent performances all around, though the standouts were without a doubt Willem Dafoe as Ryuk

ryuk-death-note-netflix-1005276.jpg

and Lakeith Stanfield as the eccentric detective L.

Screen_Shot_2017_06_29_at_10.33.09_AM.0.jpg

Those two make the otherwise forgettable movie worthwhile for me.

The Defenders

the-defenders-netflix.jpg

Netflix has been knocking it out of the park with their Marvel shows: Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage more than make up for the dud that is Iron Fist. Now, The Defenders is upon us, and is the equivalent of the MCU’s Avengers films: a team up of the heroes introduced to face a common threat that requires all their skills to defeat. In Defenders, that common threat is the Hand, the organization that was introduced back in Daredevil, and had an even heavier presence in Iron Fist. In the Defenders, we see Luke, Jessica, Matt and Danny all come together to fight the Hand (some more reluctantly than others), and many of the side characters from each respective show make appearances and meet one another, which was just great. Especially the meetings that could set up future spinoffs.

I hated Iron Fist’s show, absolutely hated it. I couldn’t imagine a show about mystical martial arts being boring, but Netflix managed to provide just that, offering us mediocre fight scenes and an unbearable main character. Still, the Iron Fist/Danny rand that I saw in Defenders was a step up from his own show, which admittedly wasn’t that hard to do, but I digress. I enjoyed seeing characters I’ve come to love interacting for the first time, and while the overarching plot and enemy wasn’t the memorable, the show as a whole was great way to wrap up the stories for most of the characters, and set up future stories for all of them. I’m looking forward to where things go next for New York’s Defenders.

the-defenders-netflix-marvel.jpg
Travis Bagwell's "Awaken Online: Precipice"

Travis Bagwell's "Awaken Online: Precipice"

Beauty In Tragedy: The Ancient Magus' Bride

Beauty In Tragedy: The Ancient Magus' Bride