The Orville, Discovery, Neither, or Both?

Standard Issue Star Trek Geek Jim came back with another Trek article, but he insists it isn’t a Trek article. The Orville isn’t exactly Star Trek—or it is. I may have to watch these shows and find out what he means. Fortunately for those of us who haven’t purchased the CBS App, Jim has consumed these shows and is willing to share his thoughts. Enjoy.

If the headline drew you in, then you must have seen it, the Keyboard Commandos arguing that The Orville is the only “real Trek” on TV today, or Star Trek: Discovery’s backers denouncing The Orville as frat-boy humor for bitter Trek fans who never understood Gene Roddenberry’s vision to begin with. Both shows are well into their second seasons by now, and I’ve recently caught up with both, so I wanted to take a moment to stop and look at each show, get into what’s working and what’s not.

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The Orville: What’s Going Wrong?

Any show, in fact, any story, is about its characters. What happens is never as important as who it’s supposed to be happening to. The Orville offers some quality characters, and in the spirit of Star Trek, it puts them in not just physical jeopardy, but in ethical dilemmas that are sometimes hard for the viewer to reconcile. This, in and of itself, is a good thing, but legitimate criticism is due when those dilemmas don’t result in any noticeable changes to the characters involved. For example, not nearly as much has been made of the decision to change an infant’s gender at birth, in compliance with alien cultural practices, as the fact that Captain Mercer still pines for his ex-wife. This makes understanding the stakes on a week to week basis rather difficult and can be disengaging for an audience.

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The Orville: What’s Going Right?

Contrary to what I’d expected, this show is not a Star Trek spoof. I say that because it isn’t a show that makes fun of itself. They don’t mock the thought of an idealized future for humanity. They don’t poke fun at the concept of an interplanetary alliance. The jokes in the show tend to be situational, as in snarky comments about given situations. Failing that, the humor comes from the quirky personalities of ship’s crew. The charge that The Orville showcases “frat boy” humor is, I think, more the result of an unfair comparison. Star Trek is a franchise that takes itself quite seriously. Jokes in the original series were almost completely limited to nothing more than a wry quip that might earn a moment’s side-eye under the arched brow of a stoic vulcan. In later Trek, Data offered some light-hearted moments as he read poetry or pet his cat, but the show never aimed too hard at making anyone laugh. Next to these, it’s not hard for anything meant to be funny to look juvenile. In this way, McFarlane’s show writes a love letter Star Trek without trying to be Star Trek.

Let’s talk about the other one, shall we?

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Star Trek: Discovery: What’s Going Wrong?

I’m going to get some obvious points out the way. These are my primary objections to the show, and they’re far more about decisions made at the outset than anything any one episode has chosen to do. First, and I’ve said this before, having a show that depicts a utopian humanity that has conquered poverty and scarcity set behind a pay-wall is horrible. CBS should be airing this series on its network, and they’re insulting the material, and hurting its ratings by not doing so. Second, I am bored to death and beyond with prequels. Trek fans have been pining for a look at the post-Dominion War federation for years now. We’ve already gone back to Starfleet’s humble origins with Star Trek: Enterprise, and I believe audiences may well feel that anything that hasn’t been mentioned in fifty years of Trek before now, must not be all that interesting a part of the story. How can it be? It needs to either fit neatly into established canon, or ignore established canon.  The season-one premise of offering audiences a look at the Federation in wartime is nothing new. Remember what I just said about The Dominion War? We’ve seen Starfleet at war. It was in Deep Space Nine, and those were some of the best episodes the franchise has ever produced, but it’s done. Lastly, making Michael Burnham Spock’s foster sister and dragging Sarek into the story undermines the show even more. It’s one thing for Captain Janeway to namedrop Picard, or for Torres to namedrop Data. It’s fine that Deep Space Nine begins with an uncomfortable meeting between Picard and Sisko in the aftermath of the battle at Wolf 359. None of those characters, Janeway or Sisko, leaned on Picard to make them interesting. Likewise, Picard was interesting before he met Kirk in the Nexus. There’s nothing about Burnham that means she can’t be an interesting character who can carry a show on her own, but by making Sarek (and now also Spock) recurring figures so early in the series, she’s not being given a chance to forge her own identity. She’s borrowing one from them. I could redouble this argument with a criticism about making Captain Pike the new captain of the U.S.S. Discovery, but it’s something that bothers me for a lot of the reasons I’ve already mentioned.

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Star Trek: Discovery: What’s Going Right?

The “What’s Going Wrong” section of this write-up looks disproportionately long. I realize that, but when you discount the fact that the paywall and the setting as a prequel were always going to be points against it for me, the damage really isn’t all that bad. One of the common internet gripes about this show is its heavy-handed agenda, but let’s be honest. Star Trek has always had a heavy-handed agenda. In the interest of fairness, some people may be reacting to the feeling that politics are permeating everything nowadays. It’s become inescapable, and I find it exhausting in so much other media, but Star Trek has never been a place to go to escape social, ethical, or philosophical discussion. The fact that Discovery engages in this is probably the way in which it is truest to the spirit of the franchise. If you were to strip any Trek series of its social, political, and philosophical agendas, you’d be left with phaser battles and ship explosions to carry the series, which interestingly enough, leads to another complaint people make about Discovery. It’s too action-focused. I don’t agree here either. As I said, any Trek series features combat (which makes their claim of Starfleet not being a military outfit silly), but in the past, the limitations of television budget and special effects have hindered their ability to make the battle scenes impressive. With Netflix footing the bill for Discovery’s first season, the producers were able to add a lot of polish that fans of the franchise just aren’t used to seeing. That doesn’t mean the violence underneath that polish is anything new. So if you have a problem with agendas, and action sequences, why watch any Star Trek series? Without both of those, you don’t have much more than William Shatner or Jonathan Frakes making bedroom eyes at women in bodypaint and forehead prosthetics.

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So Which One Works?

They both work. I truly enjoy both shows so far. Neither is perfect, and I hope to see each improve, but as is the case with so much media in Geekdom these days, I wish people could enjoy these for what they are. Neither needs to be bad for the other to be good. You don’t have to like each for the same reasons, because they don’t offer the same things. They aren’t trying to. If The Orville took itself too seriously, it would be a shameless ripoff. If it didn’t pick a demographic to target, it would fail because nothing is all that funny to everyone. If Discovery didn’t deviate from past series, it would have no chance to add something new to the franchise. Because it’s playing to a modern crowd, it stands to draw new fans who may end up deciding to go back and watch what came before it, gaining new attention for the older shows and ensuring what Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer had to say won’t dissolve into obscurity as their audiences age out. We’re fans of science fiction. New shows keep science fiction thriving. Let’s be glad about that.

Tabletop Games That Would Make a Good Movie

Your uncle Geekly made a list like of tabletop games that would make a good movie three or four years ago, but a lot can happen over the course of years, Uncle Geekly’s a fickle bastard, so the list would’ve changed two weeks after the first one. Hungry, Hungry Hippos? Nah, too scary. Ouija? Ach! Hollywood already made a movie about that since the last list. Maybe the following five games would make a good movie.

And yes, there have been good board game movies. Clue was one, I think. Unfortunately, they’re rebooting it. Ugh!

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Scythe

At first glance, someone may think of Scythe as a war game, but it’s more of a cold war game. It’s set in an alternate sci-fi fantasy version of post-World War I Europe. The technology used to fight The Great War far exceeds our current tech. One look at a gargantuan Mech is a great cue, but despite its vast technology, this world is more of an agrarian continent destabilized by conflict.

Scythe’s story changes depending on how gamers play, but the overall concept has the makings of a political thriller with plenty of espionage. This is a cold war game after all. It’s just a cold war game with Mechs, and that’s awesome.

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Pandemic: Legacy

The original Pandemic made the first list of this type, and one could argue that there’s already a Pandemic movie out there (Contagion), but Pandemic: Legacy adds what at first can be viewed as a subtle layer of storytelling that becomes so pronounced toward the middle of the game (gamers play a finite number of games, usually 24, because there is a story that unfolds like a movie or TV show) that you realize you aren’t playing base game Pandemic anymore. I won’t spoil anything here.

But the fact that I could spoil a tabletop game for someone suggests that it could make a great movie or TV show. I’m not that picky.

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Gloomhaven

People have seen high fantasy movies where the heroes join forces to conquer a common evil or foe. Gloomhaven shakes things up by having these “heroes” motivated by selfish endeavors and that needs to happen more in high fantasy stories. The city of Gloomhaven is down on its luck. You can kind of guess that by its name. Its “heroes” or anti-heroes don’t mirror the world in which they live.

This has the potential to be a dark movie, but in the hands of the right people, Gloomhaven could have some of the deepest fantasy characters.

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Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter may come off as a Walking Dead clone, but like Walking Dead, the zombies aren’t the most engaging thing about the story. The survivors take center stage. In Dead of Winter, players don’t know who the traitor is in their midst, they don’t even know if there is a traitor. This set up has the trappings of a good psychological thriller.

The setting of a zombie-apocalypse in the bitter cold adds another layer of tension. Finding out that food rations go missing or there aren’t enough being produced as before or that items like coats and firewood go missing would call into question everyone’s loyalty.

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Fireball Island

Sometimes you just want a dumb action movie about grabbing treasure and getting the heck off an island. Hire a resident actor of weird roles like Tim Curry, Johnny Depp, Neil Patrick Harris, or Jim Carrey and add them to the formula of a huge volcano god puking fireballs, and you’ll have yourself a hit. You just need a volcano god puking fireballs.

These five games can’t be the only ones good for a movie adaptation. Slap me upside the head with a VHS tape—those are ancient movie viewing devices for younger readers—or let me know about it in comments. If you like what we do, subscribe to our page to get updates and then you can let me know how wrong I am as soon as possible.

Crazy Things Video Game Developers Charged Money For

Video gamers have to put up with a lot from developers. Increased costs for additional content and hidden fees have become the norm. While developers can—and will—defend practices like extra downloadable maps, loot boxes, and microtransactions in addition to a game’s original $60 asking price, there have been things video game developers have charged players that make no sense.

Fortunately, your uncle Geekly is good at nonsense, so here are some crazy things video game developers have charged their customers and hoped their customers wouldn’t notice. Buckle up; this’ll be a bumpy ride.

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Mortal Kombat (Easy Fatalities)

Mortal Kombat is known for one thing: gore. The gore doesn’t get more gruesome than when it comes in the form of fatalities.

Usually, players input a series of buttons to execute a fatality after their opponent is weak enough. We’re talking about your opponent swaying back and forth on wobbly knees, but Mortal Kombat X sold the aptly named “Easy Fatalities” as downloadable content. Developer NetherRealm Studios insisted that it was to help players experience every part of the game, but it’s just a cash grab.

Fighting games center around pressing the right combination of buttons. If someone is playing Mortal Kombat X and doesn’t remember a button combination, they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to pull off a fatality. You’d still win the game; you just wouldn’t have the extra animation. Learn the controls.

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Metal Gear Survive (Extra Save File)

What? Someone had the grapes to charge players for an extra save space of a game they bought? Yes. Yes, they did. Screw you, Konami.

This scrapes the top of a very ugly iceberg for Konami. They’ve produced some terrible add-on content before and charged folks full price for unfinished games that were nothing but extended demos—we’re looking at you Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes—but the worst thing Konami has charged players for is the privilege of occupying more space on their hard drives.

We’re not talking about one of the better Metal Gears either. Metal Gear Survive must be the worst thing with Metal Gear in its title. Ugh!

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Asura’s Wrath (The True Ending)

Unlike a lot of other games on this list Asura’s Wrath is very good—I recommend it as it’s a sort of interactive anime that blends mythology and sci-fi—but it’s on this list because of an unsavory practice that many other games have duplicated: teasing a better and different ending. The game does more than suggest that there will be a sequel—we’re still waiting—and instead of doing that, Capcom added new downloadable content entitled “The True Ending.”

While it didn’t cost that much, this true ending proved the first in the line of game developers screwing over their customers with unnecessary content. I don’t care about a slightly different ending. Where’s “the true sequel?”

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Final Fantasy: All the Bravest (Buy Randomized Characters)

Remember how I said that Metal Gear Survive was the worst thing with Metal Gear in its title? Final Fantasy: All the Bravest may be the worst thing with Final Fantasy in its title. Square Enix marketed this game as a mobile game for Final Fantasy fans, but it’s nothing like a typical Final Fantasy game and the developer pumped the game with so many microtransactions that it’s made as much, or more money than, a typical Final Fantasy release, even though it’s free to play.

The worst of these microtransactions comes from buying characters ($0.99 apiece). It’s bad enough that players can’t unlock characters, but All the Bravest adds another level of shade by making these characters random when players buy them. That means that you can purchase the same character you already have. And let’s face it, Final Fantasy has been around so long that there are as many bad characters as good ones. Who wants fifty Snows and no Tifas or Clouds?

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Street Fighter X Tekken (Fighters Already on the Disc)

Street Fighter X Tekken is another case of a game pioneering some bad industry practices. Many games allow the player to unlock additional characters through downloadable content. If a gamer’s lucky, the absence of these characters won’t matter. In others the character in question could fill plot holes—ahem, Mass Effect 3–but Street Fighter X Tekken makes this list because Capcom didn’t do a good enough job of hiding this extra content.

Several additional characters existed at the game’s launch, but players had to purchase a code to download them onto their copy. This reeks of greed. Since these characters were fully developed at the game’s launch, it felt like Capcom gave players a partial game. Again, many developers have copied this practice or have taken it to new heights of low—Star Wars Battlefront 2—but Street Fighter X Tekken started a dirty precedent.

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Tales of Vesperia (Character Experience)

JRPG fans are used to a few things: androgynous protagonists with big hair, scantily clad females with large assets, and grinding—the process of fighting previously conquered areas for experience and levels for your characters. Tales of Vesperia takes the idea of grinding and flips it on its head.

For about $5 players can buy experience points. Okay, that’s bad enough. But that’s only for five levels or so. For another $10 players can purchase more experience that’ll afford them more levels. Great. It might seem silly to put this gaffe on the list. NBA2K and other sports games have charged players for in-game experience points, but players can ignore this offering. Heck, JRPG fans shouldn’t fall victim to this avarice because they’re used to playing long hours to raise levels. The issue is that Namco doles out too little experience in Tales of Vesperia.

The only way to level up any of your characters in a meaningful way is to pay for it. Foul!

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The Saboteur (Nipples)

To understand why nipples in a video game would be something someone would pay for, one must understand the video game rating system. A protagonist can blow people’s brains out of their eye sockets. A game can even zoom in on said brains oozing out of an eye hole in slow motion and the worst a game will get is a Mature rating. But no one can show nipples.

That’s fair. Children see brains flying out of orifices all the time; they don’t ever see nipples. Filth! Filthy little boob hats.

To avoid a higher rating (Adults Only), Electronic Arts omitted every nipple in The Saboteur and allowed players to pay for DLC that returned the omitted nipples to their breasts.

Why? Not that I’m a prude, but why would anyone pay to have digital nipples placed on virtual breasts? And why would Electronic Arts omit nipples to avoid a higher game rating? No one looks at those ratings. Put the nipples on the breasts.

Full disclosure: I just wanted to say nipple and breast several times and drop a boob hat reference in this write up. Mission accomplished.

Maybe you like microtransactions for random characters or you like paying for characters who are already in a game. Maybe there are other examples of DLC and microtransactions that you don’t like. Feel free to share them with us in the comments.

Stay geeky.

Good Anime Filler

Your uncle Geekly dabbles with anime. It’s not my forte, like it is Season’s, but I’ve watched enough to find some good examples of anime filler. Wait. There may be some of you who don’t know what anime filler is. Okay, here goes some background and a quick definition for the uninitiated.

Anime has rapid production schedules and usually an anime that’s based on a manga (Japanese comic) gets far ahead of the source material. It’s the same issue Game of Thrones has with George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire if Game of Thrones was on 49 weeks out of 52. Like I said, anime has a rapid—crazy!—production schedule.

To combat this, most of these anime add episodes into the storyline to mark time until the source material can get ahead. These extra episodes are “filler.” A lot of filler stinks, because they’re marking time for the source material to get caught up, but some good episodes have graced the small screen as a result too. This quick list will show some of those moments.

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My Hero Academia (Everyone’s Internships)

I’m going to be honest. I watched My Hero Academia before reading any of the manga, and I’m glad I did. The way the My Hero Academia anime integrates the cast’s internships was so seamless that I didn’t know it was filler.

Full disclosure: this is My Hero Academia’s only episode of filler to date, but these internships fill the audience in on what every other classmate of UA Highschool (My Hero Academia has a massive cast) is doing while Midoriya, Todoroki, and Iida are facing Stain. Many fans call this episode their favorite. With so much character development going on, it’s easy to see why.

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Cowboy Bebop (Toys in the Attic)

For a 26-episode anime, Cowboy Bebop has a shocking amount of filler, but a lot of that filler is great. Wait a minute. Cowboy Bebop and the show it inspired Firefly only have a runtime of just over 10 hours. What’s with 10 hours and shows of this type?

Anyway, “Toys in the Attic” is one of the best Cowboy Bebop episodes and it happens to be filler. An unknown poisonous creature terrorizes the crew, and they spend the bulk of the episode running from it and formulating plans to rid themselves of the creature, only to find that the creature is attracted to a fridge filled with moldy food.

Crap. I should’ve said spoilers before saying any of that because viewers fear for the crew’s safety and that’s in stark contrast with the moment they chuck the fridge out of the space station. For added levity, the episode ends with Ed eating the creature. Oh darn. Spoilers!

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Naruto (Lesser characters during the filler between the two series)

Yeah, this one may be controversial because most Naruto fans hate the five or six seasons of filler between childhood Naruto and company and their young adulthood. But Naruto also happens to be a show where few people cite the title character as their favorite and so many characters, who are most likely viewers’ favorites, receive much needed airtime.

We’re talking the characters who weren’t a part of the main cast. Unfortunately, most of the filler involving the title character Naruto was unwatchable. Three words: Curry of Life.

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Dragon Ball Z (Goku’s Ordeal)
Many fans would argue that Goku is anime’s answer for Superman. His power level is over 9000, and usually, he can do no wrong. Those powers don’t mean a thing in Goku’s Ordeal.

ChiChi asks Goku to do things around the house and that means that he needs to get a driver’s license—that lazy bum. This episode does a lot to humanize Goku as he struggles to complete day-to-day chores and fails during driving lessons. It also doesn’t hurt to have so much comedic mayhem.

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Soul Eater (Excalibur)

This one is less a single episode and more of a character. Depending on who you ask, Excalibur is the best or worst part of Soul Eater.

While the legendary sentient blade who dubs himself the “Elder God of Madness Born from Rage,” appears in the manga, his character is more fleshed out in the anime. Fool! Excalibur says that a lot. Fool!

That might be why he’s polarizing. Oh, well. The Soul Eater anime wouldn’t get into nearly as many shenanigans if it wasn’t for Excalibur. A fight with King Arthur? Check. Screw around with Sherlock Holmes? Yep, that’s Excalibur’s doing. I could go on, but half the fun is not knowing what to expect.

Buffoon!

What’s your favorite anime filler? You can yell out your window, but make sure you punctuate each sentence with “Fool!”. Or you could leave a comment, and I may respond with an idiotic reply.

Games I Hope Are Under the Tree

A certain holiday is right around the corner, and JK Geekly plans to take a break, but before we do your uncle Geekly will give into greed and list some of the games he hopes are under the tree. United States day of avarice, here I come.

I kept the term “games” vague because I’ll have some video and tabletop games on this list. No. I’m not changing beyond all recognition. Uncle Geekly may have a love of tabletop games, but there are plenty of video games coming out this year that can’t be ignored.

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Batman: Gotham City Chronicles (Monolith Board Games)

Yeah, I’m all in with Batman: Gotham City Chronicles. I’m also at the mercy of when the game will be available in retail stores (Conan also made it into gaming stores), so this may be a pipe dream. There’s a reason Gotham City Chronicles surpassed its Kickstarter goal in less than a day. It’s excellent.

I’m not sure if I need to clarify more than that. Okay. The asymmetric villains (one) versus heroes (many) gameplay creates some great moments. Those moments happen to be classic Batman tales from the comics, not TV or movies. And there are miniatures. Lots and lots of high-quality miniatures of classic comic book characters.

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Spider-Man (Sony)

I’m hoping the PS4’s Spider-Man does for the wallcrawler what Rocksteady’s Arkham series did for Batman. The web head hasn’t had a good video game in some time, and I wouldn’t mind taking on Green Goblin, Scorpion, or whoever the game has to throw at me. Plenty of reviews have been written about the game, but I’m trying to avoid them as much as possible. It’s gotten great reviews; that’s good enough for me.

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The 7th Continent (Serious Poulp)

The 7th Continent is another Kickstarter board game, but unlike Batman: Gotham City Chronicles, this one most likely won’t see mass retail appeal. Players are stranded on an island and must find ways to survive. The features exploration and has great storytelling moments. It’s an event game. It’s also one that makes you talk about it well after game night.

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Mega Man 11 (Capcom)

I don’t care if it receives good, great, indifferent, or poor reviews. I’ll probably look for Mega Man 11. It’s the first numbered entry for the Blue Bomber in over a decade, and it’s long overdue. Bring on Block Man, Fuse Man, Blast Man, Torch Man, and Impact Man.

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Dinosaur Island (Pandasaurus)

This one may be the most likely tabletop game to find its way under the tree, and I’m happy if does. Dinosaur Island is the board game version of Jurassic Park. The game mechanisms, of which there are numerous, blend together to make a great gaming experience. There are very few games that pack a lot of strategy in a small time frame (like Dinosaur Island), and Jonathan Gilmour is one of my favorite new game designers.

Your uncle Geekly could’ve added a few dozen more games, both board and video. If you disagree with a pick or two of mine, direct your anger at Jim. He likes hate mail that isn’t his hate mail. Or you could leave a comment.

Things Kyle Does When He First Opens a Tabletop Game

This little list may give you too much insight into what happens at the Geekly household when a board game is first opened. We’re talking about a rabbit hole that you may not want to go down. Consider yourself warned.

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Smell the box…mmm New Game Smell

I like the smell of a new board game. Nothing beats tearing off the shrink wrap, hearing the box fart for the first time as you open it, and having the smell of fresh tabletop game goodness waft over your face.

To be fair, I do this with a lot of things: books, cars, video games, the occasional magic marker. Mmm, magic markers.

I may have brain damage.

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Punch out all the bits, put them in piles, and make towers and other things out of them

I love it when I find a lot of punch boards with a heap of little bits I have to poke out. Gloomhaven had somewhere around 30 of these boards, and I was as happy as a kitten playing in gift paper.

I don’t care about the game at this point. I just want to make a fort out of cardboard discs, dice, and wooden pieces shaped like Whistler’s Mother.

Wait. Whistler’s Mother? What game did I just unbox? I don’t care. If you need me, I’ll be in space.

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Organize things despite not knowing where they should go

Who needs to read the rules to figure out which things go together in a little baggy or small tackle box? I follow my gut, and it’s almost always wrong. Never trust a gut that suffers from GERD.

At least an hour will be wasted figuring whether the color or shape of an object should dictate where it should go. Eventually, I’ll say, screw it and check YouTube.

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See if Rodney Smith (Watch it Played) or Paul Grogan (Gaming Rules!) posted a video on how to play

Who needs to read the rules to figure out how to play a board game when Rodney and Paul will tell me in a short video with time stamps directing me to specific rules? Sure, I’ll follow along in my rule book if I can, but rule books aren’t the best reading material. So many of them have too many Appendices and use terminology I can’t understand. With few exceptions most of these designers expect you to already know how to play.

Help me, Rodney. Help, help me, Rodney.

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Reorganize things after watching the video

I’ll remind myself that I should never trust a gut that suffers from GERD. If Rodney or Paul were in my house, they’d shake their heads and say, again, Kyle. What are we going to do with you?

I’ll spend another half-hour putting things where they should go and take another hour calming down before asking my friends and family if they want to play. You’d think I’d learn, but most game unboxings end the same way.

You probably know too much about your uncle Geekly’s unboxing habits at this point. What are the things you do when you first open a tabletop game for the first time? Let us know in comments.

Great Anime Available on Hulu

It’s been a little while since your uncle Geekly talked anime, so let’s start by dishing about some great anime available on one of the big three streaming services: Hulu.

In terms of anime, Hulu has a huge head start on the other three streaming services. It has the rights to some of the greatest movies and series in anime history—or at least the ones that put anime on the map for westerners. It’s also done a good job of gaining the rights of some of the newer stuff that anime fans won’t stop talking about. Sure, you could buy Crunchyroll and there are other services that can be add-ons for Amazon, but Hulu has more than enough anime to have a fan covered.

There is so many anime to get through, so I’ll stick to short blurbs, but here are some anime highlights. They are by no means the only ones you can find on Hulu.

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My Hero Academia

Stop me if this sounds familiar. A once-powerless boy gives his all to follow the path of his idol. The government monitors superhero activity and regulates it. Okay. The concept won’t sound new to anime and superhero fans, but My Hero Academia has earned its place as one of the biggest new anime series. It’s also more culturally relevant than a lot of other anime.

A famous Japanese CEO once said that he takes risks if he knows he won’t lose. If someone knows they can’t lose something, then that’s not a risk. Several generations of Japanese have followed a similar path and refuse to take real risks. My Hero Academia challenges that pervasive line of thinking. It empowers a younger generation to take risks, even if it means you may lose.

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Yu Yu Hakusho

One action can change someone’s fate. That’s at least what Yu Yu Hakusho seems to suggest. This fun series tackles ethical issues without getting preachy. It’s a character-driven series centered on a 14-year-old street-brawling delinquent Yusuke who died as he saves a young boy from being run over by a car. He’s met by the pilot of the River Styx who informs him that there isn’t yet a place made for him in either heaven or hell. Yusuke’s tasks toward redemption are many. His world is hellish and varied.

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Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan is a blockbuster the likes anime has seldom seen. Large humanoids called titans terrorize a dwindling human populous. The stories play out like a fusion of The Walking Dead tension for survival and the blood-pumping action and espionage of Mission Impossible. Throw in some Spider-man like powers with the Survey Corps’ vertical equipment, and it’s easy to see why this series has so many fans.

One-Punch Man

One-Punch Man

Sometimes you need something light. One-Punch Man is to anime and manga what The Tick is to comic books. Its humor is off-center. Everything in the show has some relevance to the genre as a whole, but the best thing it introduces is that idea that someone who has as much power as Saitama can grow bored with his strength. The series doesn’t navel gaze for too long as it’s a parody and a lot of fun.

CowboyBebop

Cowboy Bebop

Decades after its release Cowboy Bebop is still a lot of people’s default recommendation for anime newbies. It blends westerns, sci-fi, and noir and has some of the most diverse episodic adventures. It’s an unmistakable gateway anime that has one of the most iconic soundtracks—and not just for anime. It also doesn’t hurt that Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game) called it “better than most sci-fi films.” Cowboy Bebop inspired Joss Whedon’s Firefly. It’s a must watch.

Akira

Akira

From one classic anime to another, Akira is set in the post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo of 2019. Akira, like Cowboy Bebop, introduced Western audiences to anime as a medium and showed that the genre could cater to more adult viewers. It’s influenced so many anime that came after it that the list would be too long to state here. Even though it came out in 1988, the animation holds up today and the world is a wonder.

GraveOfTheFireflies

Grave of the Fireflies

I’m sticking with the year 1988 and another anime masterpiece Grave of the Fireflies. A lot has been said of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, but this classic comes from the director who many say influenced Miyazaki, Isao Takahata. I don’t want to say too much about this one, lest I give too much away, but this film is set in the city of Kobe, Japan in the final months of the Second World War. It focuses on two siblings struggling to survive. It’s difficult to keep a dry eye with this one.

PrincessTutu

Princess Tutu

I like my anime to get a little weird. Most anime that do get weird tend to go a psychedelic route, but Princess Tutu combines fairy tale and ballet to make a magical girl anime that’s surprisingly grounded. I won’t reveal too much, but trust me, the themes are familiar and blended in a way that’s new and interesting. Princess Tutu is that rare non-standard anime that can be shared with younger audiences, but there’s plenty to unpack for adults.

That’s it for my list at this point. I may be making another one of these soon. There are so many other series I could put here. Heck, shonen anime like Bleach and Naruto could dominate this list, and I didn’t even mention Death Note. How could I have not mention Death Note? You can belly ache about Death Note or any other anime I didn’t mention by leaving a message on my answering machine—or by leaving a comment.