Weekend Pop Culture Quick Hits

See, bubble gum? “Pop” Culture?

So, once again, I don’t really have anything major to post today, but I have been watching and playing enough stuff lately to round out the weekend with something quick.

But, first, a reminder that I’ve been doing some long-form write-ups about Star Wars:

Speaking of Star Wars, I’ve been re-watching Rebels. Mostly, it moves a lot faster than I remember, though I hadn’t re-watched it since it was airing live and that was already five years ago.

Man, I’ve gotten old

Anyway, I had completely forgotten that the first scene of the series is literally an introduction of the Grand Inquisitor and that his first major appearance as an active antagonist is only five episodes in.

Though I suppose that could be the difference between being able to binge the episodes now and having to wait until the next week for a new episodes the first time around.

Also, I think I need to re-watch Clone Wars. I’ve said several times that I like it half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of it half as well as you deserve less than Rebels, but I haven’t re-watched any of since I binged basically the entire thing before Siege of Mandalore, which was still two years back — and I, uh, remember very little of those two years for non-Star Wars reasons that should be fairly obvious.

Also also, the Clone Wars (that is “Star Wars: Clone Wars“) shorts that were actually contemporary with the movies, released between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith on Cartoon Network as a promotional tie-in, are up on Disney Plus now.

If you’re too young to remember those, they’re a series of initially three-to-five-ish vignettes by Genndy Tartakovsky — the guy behind Dexter’s Lab and Samurai Jack (among other things) — and the art style is immediately recogniseable. For the most part, there’s minimal dialogue and each short is really just an action scene: Kit Fisto leading an underwater fight, Mace Windu fighting a giant pneumatic press (with his bare hands), Obi-Wan versus an unkillable, regenerating bounty hunter.

For the most part, the nearly part of the series is largely style over substance. Which is kind of the point. And it is very stylish.

The series gets more of an in-depth plot as it goes on and the episodes get longer, with the particular focus being on setting up Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side and including a really trippy, really cool Vision Quest sequence.

It’s not canon anymore, but it’s cool enough to merit watching once and is currently available on Disney Plus with all the shorts compiled into two hour-ish long volumes.

I’m pretty sure my parents went to Hot Topic before Easter this year, because they bought me and my brother Pop Culture-themed t-shirts. According to my Dad, they were going to buy me a Naruto shirt, because anime, but they didn’t know what a Naruto was and didn’t know if it was something I like.

They ended up buying a Malibu-based surf shop Maui and Sons shirt, because their logo is a shark, and I do like sharks.

Kinda like One Piece, Naruto was inescapably popular enough that I was aware of it even though I was never in the right demographic to actually watch it.

But, hey, it’s on Netflix. So I’ve started watching it.

Now, if you’re like my parents and don’t know what a Naruto is, it’s basically a show about twelve-year-old ninjas, and Naruto is the title character.

I don’t hate it, but, much like One Piece, it gets hit bad by “This Meeting Could Have Been an Email” syndrome (though never quite to the same extent by dint of not having quite as many episodes).

The individual plot arcs are each too many episodes long and too many individual episodes devolve into one of the characters taking five minutes to explain in detail what their power is, how it works, and what exactly it does.

And that happens a lot, because the cast is huge and every single character has a distinct individual power — there’s a sand guy (who is also melodramatically, hilariously edgy and grimdark), a girl who can force her soul into other people’s bodies, a shapeshifting guy, a girl who can, like, see for miles.

I mean, props to the author for thinking up so many different superpowers and actually utilising them pretty well in the fight scenes. But, like, I do not need a dissertation on these superheroes.

Also, Naruto himself says “Believe it” way too often. He uses it in the same way a normal person uses commas…

And that kind of, you know, instinctive verbal tic is basically the worse. I mean, seriously, who talks like that?

But, again, I don’t hate it. I don’t know if I like it 700 episodes worth, but I haven’t given up on 30 or so episodes in (which is almost more than I can say about One Piece). And I actually really liked the story arc that was basically the ninja teams taking the written portion of their Ninja Licence Tests.

Finally, I’ve been playing Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes since Friday. I’ve really digging it, but I don’t know if it would make sense to do a full recommendation of it. It would probably be redundant in light of the fact that I’ve done a Fire Emblem and a Warriors recommendation already.

In brief, play Three Houses first, or you’re going to be lost with Three Hopes, and also get several fairly huge twists in Three Houses‘ story spoiled rather casually. That said, Three Hopes works as a great companion piece to Three Houses, fleshing out a lot of stuff that was glossed over in the original game and allowing for characters who didn’t have anything to do with each other a chance for new interactions.

Also, the demo doesn’t do the full game justice. A lot of the strategic elements in the gameplay aren’t well represented in the demo, classes, weapons, and abilites you don’t get access to in the demo are gamechangers in the full version, and none of the really interesting missions for each faction are included in the demo.

The new main character Shez isn’t necessarily a better avatar than Byleth, but was clearly designed to be a lot more personable and lively. Also, the moveset of the unique character class is one of the best in the entire Warriors series.

Shez is just so fast. It’s awesome.

Plus, you can teleport, which is a godsend in a game where defending strongholds is a major gameplay element.

Also, I keep getting thrown by the fact that Byleth can talk now.

Also also, chapter one of Forward, the Lyte Brigade went live this Friday:

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