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CftC: My Top 10 Traumatizing Scenes from Kids Movies

Another year, another return to…

 

Instead of looking at one Halloween special at a time, I have chosen to do a Top 10 list for this first installment. Below, you will see the ten most memorable moments in kid and family movies that gave me endless nightmares as a youngster.

I tried to dive in as deeply as I could, talking about the scenes themselves but also about what makes them so scary. I find that the psychology driving effective horror scenarios can be pretty common for most people, and surprisingly basic and traceable. But that doesn’t make them shallow by any means. Some people say that the root of all good comedy is that someone has to be miserable. No matter how elaborate you make the joke, there always has to be a “butt” of it. The same can be true of horror, but there are more roots, or “butts,” to choose from.

 

10) The Donkey Scene (Pinocchio)

 

I’ve seen Pinocchio maybe 5 times in my life. It’s not a Disney movie I come back to often, and I have no idea how faithful it is to the source material, but when I watch it again, I’m always struck by how dark and mean-spirirted it is, even as fairytales go. It’s like if Don Bluth made films back in the 40’s.

This one scene is pretty screwed up. It’s basically body-horror for children, and while it might not be as grotesque as a David Cronenberg production, it’s almost as frightening.

What is body horror, you ask? In short, it’s the whole concept of unwanted, uncontrollable transformation, which stems from a fear of not being in control. The one physical thing that any human being can own completely is their own body, so the notion of it changing without your consent, and most likely in a very painful way, is terrifying. This fear is in a similar vein with that of petrification; both of which most people don’t think about or wouldn’t admit to being afraid of, but totally are.

What sells this particular scene are Lampwick’s panicked screams and thrashing, but the lighting and music are pretty intense as well. He’s a kid, albeit a smug little jerk, so there’s an element of protectiveness that can be involved. But more importantly, this perversion of nature is what will happen to Pinocchio, our main character, who is nearby watching but unable to help. It seems to be going slower – possibly because he’s not a real boy yet – but it’s assumed that it will happen like that.

 

It’s a scary moment on its own, but also for the danger it poses to the person we most care about in the movie.

 

9) The Hollow (Ichabod and Mr. Toad)



I might have mentioned this in my full review of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but this scene is hilarious and scary at the same time.

The build-up is great, when Ichabod is on edge and thinks he can hear the Headless Horseman coming after him. The scene is mostly quiet – silly of course, but tense nonetheless – and when you’re first watching, you never know when the ghost will actually show up. It could be during any one of the little scares Ichabod basically gives himself, as he inexplicably travels alone in the dead of night after a party, where he probably could have found several someones to walk most of the way home with him. Or he could have booked a room with the Van Tassels and called it a night.

 

Walking or generally being alone at night is a common fear, particularly for women, and it feels even worse when other people tease you for being paranoid. Katrina chuckles at Ichabod’s fear during the party, and the fact that the schoolmaster’s horse just moseys along, not paying attention or speeding up when Ichabod tells him to, would certainly add to my frustration, not knowing whether or not I’m going crazy or should seriously get the hell out of dodge.

Ichabod and his horse have a good laugh when he thinks his imagination got the better of him, and then suddenly, a third voice joins in with a chillingly demonic cackle.

Now begins a scary…hilarious….scare-larious chase scene. Seriously, it’s morbidly delightful.

 


 

8) Donald’s Mental Breakdown (Fun and Fancy Free or Mickey and the Beanstalk)

Did you ever want to see one of your beloved childhood icons go kill crazy?…No? Well, here you go anyway!

 

I’m not sure how much more I can say about this one. It’s screwed up. Donald Duck gets crazy eyes and decides to kill his farm’s only cow, because he’s sitting there starving in his own home. I know the guy needs some anger management therapy, but damn!

On a side note, in a world of walking, talking, anthropomorphized animals, why does the cow not talk or wear clothes? Why can it be sold, but not Mickey, Donald, or Goofy? Is it that some characters can be captured and domesticated for slave labor, but these guys are somehow untouchable?

I have no idea how this world would work!

 

7) The Reveal (The Witches)

 

“Stranger danger” is practically beaten into every child’s brain, because they’re exceedingly naïve and their parents are terrified. The makers of this Roald Dahl movie adaptation probably made a bet with themselves to see if they could reverse that, because many adults happily rented it and their children were then soundly traumatized.

I saw this movie at a friend’s sleepover, and I could not sleep for the rest of the night. The Willy Wonka Tunnel of Hell may have the element of surprise on its side, but it has nothing on an entire movie full of disturbing concepts and imagery, all of them posing threats to innocent kids, simply because they are kids. Imagine if Willy Wonka was an army of hideous, vicious old women who had a more active loathing of children, beyond just the bratty ones, and decided to kill/eat them as a result.

The scene where a grown woman pulls a snake from her purse and attempts to coax the main character out of his tree house is nightmarish enough, but then you have the scene where the witches go to their witch conference or whatever. They remove their disguises in a hideous fashion, talk about their plans for child murder, and then turn the boy into a mouse after he is caught spying on them.

 

So we have “stranger danger”, yet more body-horror, and a race to foil the plans of a powerful, secret group that few other people realize is a threat, with only the boy’s grandmother to help the kid along. The one adult he can rely on is only so useful, and the other adults are either dangerous or ignorant. That’s encouraging to know, right?

 

6) The Cauldron Born (The Black Cauldron)

 

Some people consider this film a cult classic, while others demonstrate why it did so poorly at the box office. It’s a very flawed, mixed bag, but I would put myself in the former group. The villain has an intimidating, cool design; the art style is dark, but also fairly whimsical; and personally, I thought Elmer Bernstein’s music fit this movie better than it did Ghostbusters.

There’s nightmare fuel aplenty, too.

 

In one scene, the Horned King becomes a necromancer, resurrecting a bunch of dead warriors from various places and eras. An eerie green fog begins rolling out of the cauldron, becoming almost like a soup in places as it fills the room, and one of the king’s henchmen stupidly jabs it with his spear. Suddenly, skeletons erupt in a jump scare, descending on the man. We don’t see what happens to him, but we can assume he’s dead, as the scene cuts to the remaining humans looking away in horror. Then the Horned King sends his undead minions out to “destroy all in (their) path,” and I think about how they would go to the ends of the earth, murdering helpless, unsuspecting villagers like a plague.

 

The scares in this scene is pretty shallow for me. It’s mostly about the imagery and the music, but for what it is, it’s damn effective. The zombie sun-genre of horror isn’t really my forte, but these evil undeads unnerve me every time.

 

5) Charlie Goes to Hell (All Dogs Go to Heaven)

 

The concept of eternal punishment is scary enough by itself. Human beings don’t like pain, and the idea that we’d suddenly have no control, no way to stop the unpleasantness happening to us, and be stuck that way forever is a hard pill to swallow. Even worse, what if we don’t know what we did to deserve it, or the act/acts themselves were miniscule? Arbitrary? Does God even have an appeals court?

Hell is a fear that is instilled in Christians (and other religious folks with Hell-esque parallels) from an early age, and it’s hard to shake off the vague, but ultimately disturbing imagery that comes to mind when that word is uttered. It can be uniquely terrifying to each person, but the basic conceit is the same, and so the fear holds some universality as well.

In this movie, the main character, a German Shepherd named Charlie, stole a second chance at life while he was in Doggy Heaven. As punishment for this, he will go to Hell. Directly to Hell. He can’t pass Go, and he certainly can’t collect $200.

 

While he feigns indifference initially, we can see that Charlie is fearful of the consequences of his actions, and no scene shows this more clearly than the Dream Sequence. There’s fire, brimstone, demons, and most poignant of all, a crushing sense of being unable to escape or stop what is happening to him.

Don Bluth movies in general have this great way of capturing what it’s like to feel small, insignificant, and prey to the whims of the world around you…Probably because so many of the movies involve mice or other small creatures dealing with vicious predators, or the indifferent reactions of humans and nature. Bluth’s world either doesn’t care or is actively working against them, isolating and tormenting the characters but also providing great catharsis when they finally achieve their goals.

Charlie’s torment is necessary, showing his growth as a character and the loss of the innocence/ignorance that once shielded him from it, but that makes it no less terrifying.

 

4) The Bear (The Fox and the Hound)


Things that make this scene stick out:

  1. It’s jarring as all hell! It comes right out of nowhere; what you thought was going to be the climax of the story – Todd either escaping Copper and Amos or getting killed by them – is kicked out of this giant moving car to make room for a random bear attack.
  2. It looks like some weird, mutant cross between a Grizzly Bear and Black Bear. And what bear has freaky demon eyes like that?!
  3. Amos gets knocked down a hill, losing his gun in the process, and then he gets stuck in his own trap, which I’d imagine was pretty painful in and of itself. Despite how much I hate him during the rest of the movie, and despite knowing he provoked the attack by shooting the bear, I can believe his terror and helplessness. He’s old, and now suddenly rendered defenseless.
  4. Despite the lack of blood, the scene is full of violence. You can almost feel the impact of every bite and scratch, especially followed by all of those grunts and yelps. The Great Mouse Detective, which Disney put out a mere 5 years later, has a similar effect in its climactic showdown. Every blow and reaction shot seems heavily focused on.

 

As a kid, it was fairly easy for me to picture myself or someone I loved in place of whoever was being hurt or scared in any given movie. Animal attacks are particularly scary because you’re not facing something you can possibly persuade. All you have left is your speed (assuming you can move at all) and your wits (assuming you wouldn’t go stupid with panic and adrenaline).

 

KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!

 

3) A Wild Beast Appears! (Beauty and the Beast)

How many animal attacks make up this list now?

I’m not trying to go for a theme here. Honestly, there is just something viscerally upsetting about seeing terrified, defenseless people (particularly old folks, women, and children) being helpless in life-or-death situations.

 

In his first major appearance in the story, the Beast is a large, jagged black shape with white slits for eyes, towering over Maurice, who can only cower and beg for mercy. He stalks forward, enormous claws and fangs bared. He is unrelenting, unmerciful, and just plain scary-looking, all while the scary music swells and the audio engineers overlay his vocal track with loud, deep bestial snarls and roars. Every bit of him appears to be a monster; though unlike the monsters Maurice just escaped outside, this one could potentially be reasoned with. The Beast just refuses to hear him out.

 

Once again, the fear comes from imagining yourself or a loved one in place of Maurice. What would you do? Despite the Beast being a hand-drawn creation, you can watch him and feel the threat that he possesses. Everything about the scene screams “RUN AWAY NOW!” Lumiere and Cogsworth just cower and stand there, barely making an attempt to calm the Beast in his territorial fury. How comforting is that? One guy invited Maurice to come in and make himself at home, but then fails to defend him, and the other guy just constantly tries to cover his own ass at your expense.

Even later, when the Beast saves Belle from the wolves, he looks as monstrous and feral as the very things he’s fighting. This is another reason that I look down on the remake; their Beast is not even remotely scary or threatening, which removes his bite, so to speak. Nevermind that the CG effects are fake-looking as hell, which also distracts from the believability, but it then removes the sense of real change when the Beast finally starts coming around to Belle and acting more human. He wasn’t just a grump hermit in a fur suit; he was regressing in despair, to the point of mentally becoming an animal.

But I digress.

 

2) Any Hag Scene (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)

Particularly the one in which she is “born.”

Queen Grimhilde’s regular character design is unsettling, what with her frozen face yet sporadically widening eyes. But once she transforms into the Hag, using a potion literally made out of the stuff of nightmares, the woman becomes completely terrifying.

It is said that the actress removed her false teeth to achieve her older voice, and the Hag’s cottony cackles couple well with her poorly-aged, clearly-evil, “oh-my-God-only-an-idiot-wouldn’t-realize-this” disguise. She talks out loud to herself constantly, plotting needless cruel tortures for Snow White, and she often looks directly into the camera, as if she knows you’re there and will probably be coming after you next.

Aside from her physical repulsiveness, I think some of the fear also comes from the Queen essentially hating this little girl for an unbelievably petty reason, and being willing to kill her so sadistically. “Kill Snow and bring back her heart in a box.” “Have the dwarves bury her alive because they don’t know she’s just sleeping.” It’s all so simplistic, but brutal. Her insecurity and jealousy makes her into a complete monster, and had she survived, who knows what this depraved madwoman would have done next?

She also has a secret alchemy/black-magicky lab in the castle dungeons, which she can apparently slip in and out of unnoticed. There’s nothing like seeing a clearly dangerous person in power, roaming the streets and doing whatever she wants with no supervision or legal repercussions.

…Whatever happened to the Huntsman, anyway? Is his head on a pike, festively adorning the castle walls? Did he get away scott-free while Queenie was busy with premeditated princess murder? We’ll never know for sure, but she did say, “You know the penalty if you fail,” which I figure involves an execution of some sort…The less I think about this, the better.

 

1) Wolf Attack (Beauty and the Beast)

An old man gets lost in the woods, loses his horse, and then has to run from ravenous wolves.

 

Belle gets attacked by wolves as well, but that scene is actually very different. It comes hot off the heels of another major conflict, the music transitions fluidly, and the background and lighting are consistently…well, for lack of a better word, brighter all around.

 

Blue tends to be a more calming color. Plus, you can see every element clearly.

In Maurice’s scene, by contrast, the score starts out calm, but eerily discordant and all over the place. I couldn’t even find the track on the official soundtrack; it was released on a bonus CD sold separately, that’s how unnerving it is.

It also does what is called “Mickey Mousing”, a term that refers to how the music follows and embellishes the actions happening on screen, rather than just setting a general background tone. For example, at one point a shadowy wolf rushes by, and even if your eyes missed it, the music let you know that something bad had just happened.

 

Eyes and other animated facial features morph quickly from nervous to fearful (I have always found creepy or expressly afraid eyes chilling). Even Phillipe the horse knows that something bad is going to happen, and frustratingly, he realizes as quickly as the audience does. His rider, meanwhile, is stubborn and distracted, ignoring the obvious warning signs.

 

The lighting is predominantly composed of reds and yellows (colors that tend to excite and agitate, according to Psychology), and it’s limited because it comes from the inventor’s lantern. The light is soon put out, however, in an extremely quick and violent way, and then all is left in darkness as Maurice’s one immediate hope of escape, his horse, is driven away in terror.

Much like with The Fox and the Hound’s Bear, there is a lot of motion and violent energy in this scene. A chorus of wolf howls goes up, causing Phillipe to back his cart into a tree. A mass of angry black bats comes flocking out, scaring the horse into nearly running himself off of a cliff. Phillipe rears, knocking Maurice off and leaving him alone in the forest. Just as the old man picks himself up, he gets chased by a group of wolves and falls down a cliff. He then reaches a gate and manages to get inside, but a wolf bites his foot and almost drags his whole leg out into biting range. The pacing of it all rarely gives the audience a break, and depending on your imagination, it can be like experiencing the danger yourself, if secondhand.

 

Belle’s scene is still scary in its own way – it’s still a defenseless person possibly going to be mauled to death – but it’s not filmed the same way and it doesn’t really sneak up on first-time viewers. As soon as she starts riding into the woods, you already have an idea of what she’s going to face. The wolves themselves shown up more on screen, coming from predictable directions, and they are also a lot easier to see in their horrific entirety.

Maurice’s chase scene was shorter, but it was more uncertain and suspenseful.

 

What were your scariest movie moments from childhood? Please share in the comments below. If you’re wondering why something isn’t on this list, I most likely didn’t see it until I was older or it didn’t bother me all that much.

 

*None of the images, soundbites, or clips in this post belong to me.

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My Top 10 Favorite Generation 7 Pokemon

Happy 100th post!

Before the release of Pokemon X and Y, I was all but begging Nintendo to pull the plug. Many of the new designs were eyes slapped onto random objects and scribbles, and Ash, who should be pushing thirty years old by now, was still ten, but somehow has seen enough lady friends come and go to start up his own maid cafe. I officially quit playing the games after Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, consoling myself that maybe this was just that whole “growing up” thing I kept hearing about.

Whether it was my individual tastes or not, it just felt very tired, as though the franchise was running on nothing but steam anymore. Obligation and sheer momentum would keep it chugging forward, but it wouldn’t ever seriously capture my attention or child-like wonder again. It was too busy trying to keep up with the trends of its intended demographic, which tend to age as quickly as they do. That’s why Ash never ages, after all; no ten-year old could possibly relate to a kid who is even slightly older than them. 

Side Gripe: Nintendo, can we talk? If you can’t get a trainer’s license until age ten, then what’s the deal with these little snot-noses?

preschooler-ella preschooler-oliver

 

Thankfully, the two newest installments (and YSun and Moon) resuscitated Pokemon right before my eyes, showing me that it could still be creative, interesting, and at least slightly more innovative, in addition to upgrading the graphics. Then Pokemon Go came in for the kill, buttering me up with nostalgic indulgence and some costly, sweaty wish-fulfillment.

And, in the spirit of fairness, let me share with you some Pokemon that I’ve actually genuinely liked since the resurgence. After all, I was never a Generation I and done kind of girl; I liked plenty of Pokemon from the other generations just fine. Five just rubbed me the wrong way, for whatever reason.

10) Rowlet

600px-722rowlet

 

This little guy is adorable, and pretty great to start Sun or Moon out with too. The first trial has Normal-type Pokemon, but the two following it include Fighting and Water-types respectively.

Disregarding what he evolves into it, Rowlet just makes me want to hug him. And kudos, Nintendo, for finally making me like the Grass-type more than my other starter choices.

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Meh. It’s cute.

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OH HOLY GOD, WHAT IS THIS MONSTROSITY?! I’D SAY KILL IT WITH FIRE, BUT THAT WON’T WORK! KILL THIS SUCKER WITH LIGHTNING!

 

9) Mudsdale

600px-750mudsdale

 

Oh, cool! More equine-based Pokemon!

I wasn’t crazy about Mudbray’s design (Side Gripe: I don’t know why it looks stupider than Mudsdale because mules and donkeys tend to be a lot smarter), but I can definitely get behind this majestic evolution, even if it is based in mud. Its speed stat is the lowest, which seems ironic, but it’s only really weak to three other types and its Ground-type moves get much better with leveling. Mudsdale looks like a “salt of the earth” kind of guy, pun intended; the design is a  nice contrast to Ponyta and Rapidash’s distinctly mystical, feminine look.

 

8) Lurantis

600px-754lurantis

 

It’s a humanoid mantis with cute striped hakama. A great balance struck between cool and pretty without being too cutesy. According to its Pokedex entry, “It requires a lot of effort to maintain Lurantis’s vivid coloring, but some collectors enjoy this work and treat it as their hobby. It fires beams from its sickle-shaped petals. These beams are powerful enough to cleave through thick metal plates.”

 

7) Cosmog (a.k.a. Nebby)

600px-789cosmog

 

I’m awarding this one mostly because for once, a Pokemon game got me actually kind of invested in my mute avatar and her friends. Well played.

Actually, while we’re on the subject…

 

6) Solgaleo & Lunala

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circleoflife

 

NANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA!

 

600px-792lunala

 

Both of these legendaries are surprisingly cool and elegant. I love that the creators tried to keep them in form with the actual sun and moon; they aren’t just the same color of the game title, for once. Solgaleo probably would have topped this one out of sheer awesomeness if I’d been playing Pokemon Sun, but I just like Lunala too much. Halvsies it is!

 

5) Tapu Fini

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The Guardian Pokemon are interesting in general, but excluding my brief story arc with Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini is probably my favorite of them. I love her color scheme and Water/Fairy-type combo, and the swordfish-like shield she pops out of reminds me of Aphrodite’s clamshell. Supposedly she is based on sirens, mermaids, and the Hawaiian god of the ocean, Kanaloa.

She is one of the most obnoxious Pokemon to catch, however, considering that she can heal herself with every turn and her catch rate-of-success is among the lowest of the low.

 

4) Type: Null

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At first, I thought, “This is a Pokemon? At best, it reminds me of a jagged armored Mewtwo that needs to be put out of its misery.”

It does use the heavy mask on its face to keep its power in check, according to the Pokedex entry,  and the fact that it was a failed experiment by the Aether Foundation that Gladion freed in the hopes of helping it…awwwwwwwwww!

It’s weird-looking, but it just needs a little love. Literally, to evolve it, you have to max out its friendship, and its evolution, Silvally, is much happier and more in-control, thanks to you. Isn’t that sweet?

 

3)  Palossand

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At first, I scoffed at this one. A ghost sandcastleReally, guys? The very idea of a Ghost/Ground-type combo sounds contradictory by itself!

But, kind of like with Sylveon, with time and exposure, I warmed up to the idea. This time, I was helped along by its disturbing Pokedex entry: “Possessed people controlled by this Pokémon transformed its sand mound into a castle. As it evolved, its power to curse grew ever stronger. Buried beneath the castle are masses of dried-up bones from those whose vitality it has drained.”

What a unique ghost story! The souls of its drained become balls of hatred that form more Sandygast, its pre-evolution, and children are drawn to its whimsical shape and meet their doom by reaching for the shovel on top.

…Who comes up with this stuff? Do you need any therapy?

 

2) Mimikyu

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The ghost that wants to be loved so badly, but one glance under its sheet will drive any human or Pokemon insane. It wears a uber-cheap Pikachu cosplay, but looks like a poor imitation of Pokemon’s beloved icon. Is it trying too hard, or not hard enough?

Whatever it is, Mimikyu is tragic, pathetic, and adorable. Maybe it can be the underground mascot for awkward, lonely otakus everywhere.

 

1) Oricorio

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Oricorio is my favorite Gen 7 Pokemon, and probably my favorite of all bird-based Pokemon. It can take on four distinct, colorful forms, resembling a cheerleader, Hula dancer, Flamenco dancer, and Japanese fan dancer. These “styles” are based on the island meadow it inhabits or the kind of nectar you feed it, and much like the Fairy-type combo Guardian Pokemon, Oricorio pairs each with its own unique Flying-type combo.

The Pa’u (pink) Oricorio looks the most suited to Alola, but the creative team must have decided that wasn’t enough. My personal favorite forms are the Sensu (purple) and Baile (red) because they look so beautiful, elegant, and downright classy, but I was excited to see all of these birds and their dances for the first time. You can bet I was running around with my Rotomdex camera, trying to capture the best possible shot of them in the wild.

It still astounds me how much culture could be crammed into one game. Even better, it feels totally natural, inclusive, and fun. Pokemon could still stand to see more innovative gameplay, especially in its main series, but I’m much more optimistic now, thanks to Sun and Moon in particular. It’s not some monstrous, shambling zombie that obstinately refuses to die.

 

*None of the pictures in this post are owned by me.

My Top 5 Modern Adult TV Shows, Part 2

2) Breaking Bad

Breaking-Bad[1]

 

Originally, this was a three-way time between Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Better Call Saul, but that would be a cop-out.  By all accounts, Saul is still in its infancy, and even though Game of Thrones seems like it was genetically bred for me, I have to give props to Breaking Bad for getting me into a genre I had virtually no interest in: Crime Drama.

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The conception of the show was this: “Turn a Mr. Chips type into Scarface.” Walter White is by no means a perfect peach before his descent to the dark side, but you follow his progression easily. He’s made choices that he’s happy with, but also many choices that left him feeling pathetic and emasculated, and his pride can only suffer so much. So when he finds out that he’s probably going to die from Lung Cancer, he accompanies his DEA brother-in-law on a casual meth lab bust to “covertly” scope out his next venture: becoming a New Mexico meth kingpin.

With the help of a former student, the street-smart but chemically illiterate drop out Jesse Pinkman, Walter begins his simultaneous rise to the top of the drug ladder and race to the bottom of human compassion and decency.

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Much like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad is brilliant, not only for its drama, flow, and intelligence, but for its compelling, yet morally grey characters. The show has inspired so many complex reactions from fans; I myself have gone from loving a character to hating them and back again, all within the scope of a season or so. I find this even more impressive because the show has no dragons, magic, or grand political conquests to fall back on, which are interesting but entirely too innate to my tastes. It takes place in relatively modern day America, and while some schemes can be too intricate and far-fetched to be believable, or just rely on insane luck, suspension of disbelief surprisingly doesn’t hinder the show much.

The greater significance of such a show is its willingness to delve into the “why,” if in more subtle ways than the “how.” Keeping with the theme of criminals being real people who act on life’s complexities, this show provides both a cautionary tale to the individual  (don’t commit crimes and act on fantasies of power and influence) and an encouragement for viewers to look at prevalent, problematic ideologies (for example, subtly-enforced, pervasive hypermasculinity that boys pick up on as they grow up) in society that may need tweaking.

 

Walter White is at fault for his actions, no questions there, but the need to feel “manly” by providing for his family and discouraging his wife from working, as well as profiting from a creation that is solely his baby, are things that regular Joe Schmoe’s might sympathize with, but can also be, for example, teaching them to crush their feelings down inside and be too proud to accept help from others, even when they might really need it.

Mentalities like that, while not necessarily causing or indicating issues like domestic violence, can certainly be contributing factors.

Breaking Bad is about many things, but I see it predominantly as a story about a man running from his weaknesses, rather than embracing them.

And, on that note…

 

1) BoJack Horseman

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Forgive me, South Park. You haven’t been replaced; this is just a whole different ballpark.

This show is amazing. It’s depressing as all hell, but it’s truly amazing, and if the viewer is open to it, BoJack Horseman may just change your outlook on life. I really don’t think I or anyone else just talking about it can ever do it the justice it deserves. It is just one of those things in life needs to be experienced to be fully understood and appreciated.

Back in the 90’s, BoJack was in a very famous T.V. show, Horsin’ Around (in a nutshell, Full House). 20 years later, he’s largely done nothing but sit around, do drugs, and re-watch episodes of his own show, longing for the glory days and yet running from them at the same time. Even though BoJack got the fame and fortune he was aiming for, BoJack Horseman (the show, not the character) goes out of its way to show you how hollow and meaningless that can really be.

Just look at the intro:

 

What is the impression you get from this? How does it make you feel?

BoJack is rich, self-centered, and constantly pushing people away when they try to get close. He’s dragged out of his shell somewhat by Diane Nguyen, the woman hired to ghostwrite his memoir, but she is also dealing with commitment and comfort issues with her own boyfriend, Mr. Peanutbutter, a rival actor who became successful by essentially ripping off Horsin’ Around. BoJack’s agent and former girlfriend, Princess Carolyn (voiced by Amy Sedaris, the sister of one of my favorite authors btw), is constantly trying to get him up off his ass while dealing with her own loneliness and stress. Todd, a dumb but well-meaning slacker (voiced by Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad), lives in BoJack’s house rent-free and tries to be his friend, even when BoJack frequently puts him down.

Ironically, though the cast is comprised of many anthropomorphic animals, it is a very human show. At its core, it’s about change and consequences, as well as the definition and permanence of “happiness.” In the words of the great Albus Dumbledore, “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”

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Despite being downright unlikeable at times, BoJack is a very compelling character. He was dealt a crappy hand with abusive, unloving parents, but that doesn’t excuse him hurting the people he cares about most. And what is very refreshing about the show is that, unlike with something like Family Guy or even The Simpsons, there is a “too far” BoJack can reach, and his friends will call him out and hold him to it, even if it’s heartbreaking for them.

All of the main characters have their redeemable and irredeemable moments, because the show wants to illustrate that people, the world, and in particular, Hollywood, can be very screwed up, especially if they stop growing and changing. BoJack Horseman explores their capability of making the right choices; their capacity to learn from past mistakes and change in the future.

Watching his exploits, even the more humorous ones, you realize things about yourself that you’ve been ignoring or hiding from. It can feel downright terrible, but you don’t want yourself to fail, and you find yourself not wanting BoJack to fail either. The “power of positive thinking” only applies so far, because change is difficult and comes one step at a time.

The show is also genuinely funny…No, really. I’m not kidding.

Like South Park, it’s satire is biting, but unlike it, BoJack Horseman has smaller adventures, tighter show continuity, and a more coherent narrative. That doesn’t make it shallower or any less important, mind you; it’s just a different, more focused approach. Storytelling put above jokes, as opposed to the reverse.

If you can make it past the easy first few episodes, you may be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised by depth of wit and humanity here. I was, for sure. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I wouldn’t oust South Park or Game of Thrones from a top spot that easily.  XD

 

 

I hope you all enjoyed my list. If you’ve seen these shows, or check them out sometime soon, let me know what you think in the comments!

Top 10 Most Annoying and Hated Animated TV Characters

Now before I start this list off, here are a few ground rules:

I have to pick from shows that I actually watched more than two episodes of, but whether or not I like the overall show is irrelevant. Also, I have to pick from the cast of recurring characters, which means nobody who only appeared or starred in just one episode and then was never seen again.

I may cheat once or twice and list more than one character per slot, but that is my only safety net and only for a case when it’s more than two characters.

With that said, let’s get into it.

 

10) Bubbles, The Powerpuff Girls

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Love her color scheme, hate her voice.

I don’t really like infantile characters in general; I prefer the ones who act mature for their age. Preschool student or not, when Bubbles cries like a baby, it’s irritating. I’m fine with her being more timid or naïve than her sisters, but sometimes they act 10 years old and she acts 2, and thus she holds them up. If she’s going to cause a problem or make an existing one worse, it would be best if she weren’t as whiny as all hell. I’m honestly surprised that more boys watching the show didn’t find her obnoxious.

She does grow quite a bit in some episodes, though, so you’ll notice that she isn’t very far down the list.

I just have a cuteness threshold, unlike some people, and Bubbles crossed it way too frequently.

 

9) Blossom, The Powerpuff Girls

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My least favorite of the three main characters.

A lot of people consider Blossom a good role model for kids, and while I don’t disagree, I do think she gets more praise than she deserves. Being smart is a good thing, but no one likes a know-it-all who flaunts it like that makes them better than everyone else. That is how I always saw Blossom as a kid, and I also didn’t like when she was a tattletale. Regardless of age, tattletales are annoying, especially when they do it over something innocuous and petty.

Granted, Bubbles and Buttercup do that too and were particularly obnoxious in the ice breath episode, but I stand by my feelings. I’m tired of seeing arrogant leaders.

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Buttercup gets a pass because she was the least annoying and most badass. If I looked up to any of the Powerpuff Girls, it was probably her.

 

8) Angelica Pickles, Rugrats

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She’s a total brat who either messes with the other kids or gets them in trouble. Half of their stupid misconceptions about the adult world and world in general come from her, even though they know she’s a bully and her tone is always sly and disingenuous. Her well-to-do parents are a bit neglectful, preferring to just buy her whatever she wants and give into her demands unless she actually pisses them off enough for them to punish her.

Rich and bully do not a good character make.

 

7) Deirdra Hortense “Dodie” Bishop, As Told by Ginger

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She’s a social climber and gossiping chatterbox.

Despite Courtney, the rich popular girl on the show, being a bit stupid, vain, and vapid, she is much nicer to Ginger and a far better friend than Dodie. Dodie is willing to compromise her friendships and integrity to get her way, which is not a very good or attractive quality; she longs to be popular more than anything and completely fails to see and be thankful for what she has and the people who actually do care about her. Even if that is somewhat relatable, because we all want to feel accepted as children, it should not come at the price of making other people feel miserable and abandoned.

Also, and this is completely shallow, Dodie sounds and looks extremely punchable. As a kid, I lovingly dubbed her “Frog Mouth,” because even compared to the other character designs, she’s pretty weird looking.

 

6) Penny and her friends, The Proud Family

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The Proud Family was a rare show for me, because I found that every character – and I mean every character, including Penny’s infant twin siblings – did something totally obnoxious and loathsome. No matter how likeable they could be, I hated every character at one point or another, and sometimes my feelings toward them carried over to other episodes, whether or not that’s ultimately justified.

Penny usually meant well, but there were times when her spoiled, popularity-seeking attitude stopped being relatable. That said, she’s a damn saint next to her friends (yes, even Zoey, the nerd).

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LaCienega is the easiest punching bag, because she’s rich, spoiled, and an outright mean girl, even to her supposed friends, but at least she’s pretty honest about who she is. What you see is what you get. I still didn’t get why Penny stayed friends with her; she wasn’t exactly the least popular, most ostracized girl in school or anything.

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No, the one I hated most was Dijonay, or Dodie 2.0 as I called her. Her personality seemed to change on a dime, from supportive to outrageously selfish, and she was always so damn cheerful about it too. At one point, Penny tells her that though they will remain friends, she won’t trust Dijonay anymore, and that was such a bittersweet, what-the-hell moment. Why on earth would you stay good friends with someone like that, knowing that about them? It made absolutely no sense to me.

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Zoey could be relatable at times, but she is such a blind follower, even when she should know that what she’s doing isn’t right. Mousy and mean girl are bad on their own, but there is something so viscerally pathetic and despicable in their combination.

I reluctantly give everyone else in the show a pass. I still enjoyed watching it a lot, but the mean-spiritedness often felt like it came out of left field, and it always left a bad taste in my mouth. Especially when it happened to people who didn’t really deserve it, like when Penny makes a wish that her siblings are old enough that she doesn’t have to babysit them anymore, and literally everyone in the world, including her own parents, act like she doesn’t even exist.

The Proud Family really will push your buttons and make you want to hug them.

 

5) Sarah, Ed Edd n’ Eddy

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Sarah is Ed’s abusive baby sister. She is clearly spoiled by her parents, sleeping in a bedroom fit for a princess while Ed sleeps in the filthy basement (to be fair, he probably makes it worse than it is down there). Her voice is obnoxious and she is always yelling at Ed, making him do things for her, and threatening to tell their mother on him if he doesn’t comply.

What makes this somewhat heartbreaking is that Ed is perfectly pleasant to her. Yes, he is often afraid of getting in trouble with his parents, but he clearly means well and loves her despite the way she treats him. He also tries to defend her occasionally when Eddy fights or messes with her.

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This show was always colorful and fun, but I find it interesting that people are now theorizing that the Eds are all victims of familial abuse, which serves to keep them together while further ostracizing them from the other kids in the Cul-de-Sac. It’s entirely possible and kind of sad, really.

 

4) Patrick Star, Spongebob Squarepants

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A contemporary of delightfully stupid characters like Ed, Patrick had his bad moments in pre-movie Spongebob, but I never really hated him. He was mostly well-meaning, but that also made for some good, funny jokes.

No more, it seems.

Patrick is now basically a sociopath. His stupidity is no longer funny, and at times, even seems deliberately malicious. He does a lot of things for no reason whatsoever, and then acts confused as to why people are upset with him and around him. He’s just a walking (usually sleeping) tub of hedonistic, stupid selfishness.

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Also, I really hate his new, stupid, one-toothed smile. That really makes me think that the writers changed the show to appeal to toddlers, instead of kids and adults. It’s just so forcedly cutesy and stupid. Even if they are young and immature, are Spongebob and Patrick not home-owning adults? There is a difference between idiotic and infantile.

 

3) Jimmy, Ed Edd n’ Eddy

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You know what’s more despicable than an abuser? Someone who keeps them company, sees their behavior, and not only doesn’t stop it, but encourages it. Jimmy is Sarah’s playmate who hates Ed, Edd, and Eddy for seemingly no reason and frequently wants to see them hurt or fail.

I didn’t have a problem with him being effeminate so much as he was just weak and wishy-washy. There is an episode where his foot gets tapped by a clothespin, and he literally begins clutching it, shrieking, “My foot! It’s broken! Owie!” Unless his bones are made of sodden toothpicks, he’s just faking it and sucking up all of the attention around him like a sponge. He relishes being the pampered baby of the group, which is very annoying and, again, oh so punchable.

A lot of people hate him in the episode If It Smells Like An Ed, but I never had a problem with it. The other kids in the Cul-de-Sac are too quick to judge anyway, so it probably wouldn’t have taken much for them to turn on the Eds anyway.

 

2) Peggy Hill, King of the Hill

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I don’t really like this show at all, but I used to watch things on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim when I was bored or waiting for the anime to come on. It’s less funny and more obnoxious than even modern Family Guy, because it’s just boring, folksy rednecks doing nothing.

Pretty much all of my hatred for Peggy comes from an episode called Lupe’s Revenge. She is a substitute Spanish teacher with a less-than-poor mastery of the language, and even worse, she has a ridiculous ego. She goes with the students on a trip to Mexico and orders a Mexican child, Lupe, who tries to sell her gum, to get on the bus and go home with them. Because apparently roll calls and head counts aren’t a thing on school field trips anymore. And border patrols do not exist anymore either.

When she realizes her mistake – and I use “realizes” in the loosest sense of the word – Peggy accommodates Lupe by putting her in a closet for the night and then takes her back to Mexico the next day. Peggy then gets arrested for kidnapping, though initially she thinks that she’s being thanked because, again, she has an inflated ego and can barely speak the language. She refuses to admit that her Spanish is terrible, but inadvertently proves it to the judge, who lets her off the hook.

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So other than that brief scare, she gets no consequences and gets to feel secure in her job and Spanish skills.

Peggy seems like an annoying character regardless, but this is probably the best highlight of her obnoxiousness. She’s a good blueprint for the people I can’t stand in real life, but she still can’t beat…

 

1) Dora Winifred “DW” Read, Arthur

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Oh dear God, this character.

Talk about the most annoying little sister character ever. Beyond that, DW is the epitome of everything people hate about children. She’s spoiled, selfish, picky, gullible, she throws temper tantrums like a mini drama queen, and she sneaks into her brother’s room and unapologetically messes with his things. She’s obviously meant to be cute and precocious, but she looks more smug than anything and seems to enjoy getting Arthur into trouble whenever possible.

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Arthur’s Big Hit is her worst episode in my opinion, because she drives a normally calm kid like her big brother to punch her arm in frustration, and oddly enough, a lot of people empathize with him. He worked really hard and she was repeatedly invasive and disrespectful before breaking the very thing he’d been working on and complaining to him that she shouldn’t have been able to break it.

We never see her get punished or even scolded by her parents, and even when she does apologize, she ruins any meaning it could have had by complaining about the model airplane she broke. “I’m sorry I broke your plane, but what kind of a stupid plan doesn’t fly?”

Arthur gets repeatedly crapped on throughout the rest of the episode, and his parents don’t seem to care that he got punched at school at the end, all because of karma apparently. Yes, he did something wrong, but unlike DW, he learns from his mistake and genuinely says sorry.

I stopped watching Arthur in late elementary school and haven’t tuned in since, and yet all it took was looking at a picture of DW to get me to remember how much I hated her as a kid. That is why she is definitively the worst and most annoying animated tv character I’ve ever seen.

 

 

Marge’s Top Ten Zelda Boss Fights

At this, the tail-end of what the fans have begun to dub “Zelda Month”, I wanted to offer my own paltry praise and tribute to the massively-entertaining and immersive series of games known as The Legend of Zelda. 

I have been playing a little bit of Triforce Heroes with my friends, and I got to thinking: Zelda has some really fun and memorable bosses. Only in this most recent game have we been able to use other players to team up and defeat them, but the variety of settings, monsters, items, and, for lack of a better phrase, ways to expose and exploit weaknesses, have become pretty ingeniously inventive since the first game’s release in 1986. Add spectacular graphics and wide fields of movement to the mix, and you come away with much more challenging battles.

So today, I thought I’d give you my top ten favorite boss fights across the whole series.

I’m sorry to say, and don’t hate me for this, there will be no 2-D battles on this list. I haven’t played many of the earlier games, and most of the ones I have tried didn’t grab me the way 3-D Zelda games have. I think that is mostly due to how I was introduced to the series in the first place, with Ocarina of Time.

I love Oracle of Seasons and Ages, but those are the only ones I’ve beaten. And I digress. 

Here we go!

 

10) Majora 

At the very top of the list, we have the final boss battle in Majora’s Mask

If you’ve obtained the Fierce Deity Mask, the fight is insultingly easy, but it makes my number ten spot because it’s fun, fast-paced, and batshit insane. 

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Majora’s first form is the mask itself, hovering around the arena while shooting beams at you and bringing the mask-remains of the former bosses to life to distract you.

Once you’ve sufficiently slashed that, Majora grows limbs and a head with a single, large eye as its second form, and it darts around and dances wildly while a silly, distorted version of its theme plays in the background.

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The third and final form bulks Majora up like a body builder, and gives it shocking whips that grow from its hands.

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This is the hardest stage of the battle, but again, not that hard for boss standards and certainly not for those of final bosses. But because the rest of the game is fairly challenging, Majora’s Mask can be forgiven in this instance.

 

9) Ganon (TP)

Zelda games fall under two categories most of the time: those in which Ganon (Ganondorf) is the villain throughout, and those in which Ganon hijacks the plot away from another villain (usually by way of Villain B attempting to summon him). Twilight Princess is probably the most egregious example of the latter, and while the battle with Zant was epic and challenging and I feel bad for not putting him here, some room must be made on this list for the king villain of the entire series. 

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Of all of the Ganon/dorf fights, this game has my favorite. The first stage involves fighting a possessed Princess Zelda, doing the classic light attack volley. Then, a massive wild boar charging at you, and you have to alternate between your human and wolf forms to defeat him. The wolf form is one of my favorite mechanics introduced in any Zelda game, and pitting a beast against a much larger beast and still coming out on top is very satisfying.

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In the third stage, you are chasing Ganondorf on horseback across a wide stretch of Hyrule Field, with Zelda reprising her role from the final battle in Wind Waker by firing light arrows to slow him down. 

Being able to use your sword while riding is a great upgrade from the last game, and you can either beat a path to Ganondorf or lag behind, slashing at his virtually ineffectual minions. It’s really fun.

Just avoid energy beams, as they will sting.

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Lastly, you fight him mano-a-mano, applying the sword techniques you learned from the Hero’s Shade throughout your journey. The only one you really need is the finishing blow, which you will be made to learn anyway, but the introduction of specific sword and shield techniques to the gameplay adds thrills and even a bit of skill to your battles, especially this one. Ganondorf can move and block fairly well, so being able to roll behind him and slash at his unprotected back can really help you.

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Really, this game added a lot of good things. Some people say it’s just a rip off of Ocarina of Time with more story and better graphics, but I don’t think that’s fair. It’s not the most creative entry in the series, but it’s definitely not a straight-up rehash. A beefed-up, though still flawed, spiritual sequel is what I’d call it.

 

8) Volvagia

Ocarina of Time presents: Whack-A-Mole!:

 

7) Armogohma (TP)

I was tempted to put Gohma from Wind Waker here (Zelda has quite a few Gohma incarnations across the series, actually), but as fun as it is to hook on to a dragon’s tail with a grappling hook and swing over a giant beetle-centipede lava monster’s head, angering the dragon and unsettling the rocks on the ceiling and crushing said monster (yes, really), you know what’s more satisfying?

Squishing a spider!

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The Armagohma fight in this game is a nice and familiar retread of the Gohma fight in Ocarina of Time, but, as you might have guessed from the gushing in the Ganon section, incorporates new elements for a relatively challenging battle.

Armagohma is bigger and more spider-like than ever, but with the help of the Temple of Time’s item, the Dominion Rod, you can bring her down quickly. Literally. When she crawls up onto the ceiling, shoot her in the giant eye on her back with an arrow. When she falls to the ground, Link can use the Dominion Rod to take control of one of the nearby giant statues and crush her weak spot with its hammer. 

 

The only part I don’t like is when you finally break her hard exoskeleton, she turns into a bunch of gross mini-spiders, led by a main spider that apparently made up the eyeball on her back. This is gross and mildly annoying, but once you get here, you know you’re basically in the clear.

 

6) Hellmaroc King

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Spoilers: It’s a giant flying chicken. 

In Wind Waker, you take the most awesome hammer in the entire series and smash a giant monster chicken in the face! How cool is that?

This villain was a bit more personal for me than most others. It appears a few times before you fight it, once when kidnapping Link’s little sister and then again catching you just before you can rescue her, only to fling you out into the sea to drown. Sure, it’s technically a lackey, but the game got me to build up a vendetta against this stupid giant chicken and boy is the conclusion to that plot satisfying!

First, you goad the bird into trying to attack you, causing it to bury its beak in the ground and trap it momentarily.

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The hammer then chips away at its protective mask, until you can finally do more damage to the chicken itself. Meanwhile, dodge its gliding swipe attacks and gusts of wind, which will blow you into the painful spikes ringing the arena if you aren’t careful. 

It’s not the most fun battle in the whole series, but it’s definitely one of the most satisfying.

 

5) Blizzeta

In Twilight Princess, you come upon an old, dilapidated mansion in the mountains and meet two yeti, a husband and wife, who hold one of the pieces of a cursed mirror that you need.

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The yeti are nice and obliging, but the husband is preoccupied with making soup for his sick wife, and his wife can’t remember where she put the key to their bedroom, where the mirror shard lives, and you have to follow her baffled directions several times before you get it right. It’s a dungeon in practice, but not in name.

Eventually, Yeta the yeti will lead you to the bedroom and unlock it. In a case of complete tonal whiplash, the sweet yeti takes a look at the mirror and goes full-on Gollum over it.

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This boss battle involves using a spiked ball and chain to chip away at the moving ice chunks that encase Yeta. The boss will go up on the ceiling, so watch the reflection on the floor and dive out of the way as she attempts to crush you with each ice chunk. Once that is done, you have a brief moment to break the ice, and eventually, you will attack the center chunk and free Yeta.

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I love the music, the fight style, and the nice, helpful character who is corrupted and forced to battle you. It would be more emotional and dramatic in a movie, I think, but it works well in the game.

The moral of the story (and the theme of this list, so far): smashing things is fun.

 

4) Twinrova (OoT)

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I really like witches and natural element-based powers, so why not combine the two? Elemental witches!

In the last temple of the game, the Spirit Temple,  you fight Koume and Kotake, Ganondorf’s mothers(?), who can shoot beams of fire and ice respectively. When Koume fires you (pun intended), target Kotake and let the mirror shield do the rest. When Kotake gives you the cold shoulder, target Koume.

I just love turning the enemy’s powers against them; it’s a more epic version of “Stop Hitting Yourself.”

After about three or four successful deflections, the witches will combine into this delightful thing:

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She still has two staffs, one per element, and you just have to let her hit your shield three times with the same element, and it will create a blast strong enough to knock her to the ground…I guess because at least half of her is weak against either element? Then, hop over to the platform she’s on and smash! (your hammer does more damage, so I use that)

It’s relatively simple, but very fun, and combined with the cutscenes, it makes a nice conclusion to your journey through the Spirit Temple and your dungeon/temple run in general.

…But she is kind of creepy too.

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3) Koloktos

Speaking of using your enemy’s power against itself…

The whip seems a little lame compared to most dungeon items, and switching between it and the sword when you need to slash immediately afterwards can be a bit annoying, but it makes this fight a fan favorite, and one of the most memorable in all of Zelda, for one major reason: you rip off your enemy’s arms, steal its sword, and then beat it to death with it.

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Koloktos is a giant golden automaton reminiscent of an ancient Buddhist deity, bearing multiple arms and swords. It sits still at first, striking at you and then chucking blades at you when you get too far away. But once you do enough damage, it gets up on legs as well. It can also summon up zombie bokoblins to hurt you.

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The exterior of the boss is very hard, so once it puts a cage around its weak spot (can you guess where?), the only way you can get to it is by using something just as hard and massive. This is where the real fun comes in, but you have to be quick on your feet. Even if you manage to detach one or two arms, Koloktos has a wide range for its powerful swipes, and you have to balance staying in range so you can attack while also not getting completely clobbered.

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Hearts will burst from any pillars Koloktos destroys. These will be your friend.

Then, when at least one arm/sword combo hits the ground, pick up the blade and go to town. Bowl over bokoblins, or go straight for the boss. Whatever you do, it is absolutely essential that you cackle maniacally. 

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This fight is made all the more enjoyable by the vastly-improved motion controls (improved since Twilight Princess, which was not designed with them in mind to begin with). If only you could also hit something in real life, I think this fight would be damn near perfect. As it stands, it’s pretty satisfying.

 

I give this one major points for creativity, and for being the most fun sword fight of all of the games. This boss even gets a little bit creepy when you hear the girlish, childish giggle it lets out upon defeat (~4:40 of the video above).

 

2) Goht

Short, but sweet, and without a doubt my favorite boss fight in Majora’s Mask.

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He’s not the prettiest boss, but he packs a wallop.

Goht charges around the track/room as a giant mechanical bull, and you must don the Goron mask to roll out and give chase. Every time you slam into him, he will send chaotic bolts of lightning back at you, as well as place extra obstacles in your path, from falling stalactites to kicked up bombs.

The nice thing is that you don’t need to worry about running low on energy; the room is full of green energy pots, and all you have to do is roll into them and keep on going.

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I’ve heard some people call this fight difficult, and I guess that’s because it’s a rare instance of controlling a racing object, rather than moving more slowly with a sword in hand. But it’s not rocket science. Hugging the inside of the track will make you go faster, and dodging projectiles is fairly easy when you’re over or under a certain distance behind Goht.

It’s not nearly as difficult as the Goron race track.

I love the hell out of this fight. Majora’s Mask very kindly lets you go back and replay any boss fight that you want at any time, and more often than not, I find myself back in Snowhead Temple, ready for another run with Goht.

 

1) Stallord

After rocking your way through one of the best dungeons in the entire game (Twilight Princess’s Arbiter’s Grounds), and snagging one of the most fun and memorable additions to the LoZ arsenal, the Spinner, you reach my favorite boss of all time.

Stallord the Twilit Fossil comes alive as a towering skeleton creature, held up by several small vertebrae, emerging from a sea of quicksand. In addition to breathing fire and surrounding the outskirts of the sandpit with rotating circling blade traps, he summons up armored but otherwise harmless soldiers to surround and protect his spine, which serves as the weak point.

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To defeat Stallord, mount the spinner like a skateboard and latch yourself onto the circular edge that runs around the sandpit. When you see an opportunity, or have to avoid a blade trap or fire blast, detach from the edge and make a beeline for his spine.

You may pinball off of the soldiers, but each one you hit is one less that you will have to go through the next time through. Avoid losing momentum and getting stuck in the pit by hooking back onto the edge whenever possible.

After the traditional three to five good hits, this battle actually gets a part two.

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Stallord will fall to the ground, leaving only the head. It will come alive again, levitating, and shoot fire blasts at you some more. Hop back on the spinner and hook onto the ridge along the center pillar. The wall to your right will also have a track, and you must jump back and forth between the two surfaces to avoid being burned.

The blasts will cause Stallord to slow down slightly, so eventually, you’ll end up right next to his head. Jump into him, and then once he is lying helpless on the ground, strike the sword in the center of his forehead as many times as you can. When he gets up again, the blade traps will start to appear more frequently, making the next few hits a little bit harder to land.

 

Much like the Ghot fight, this boss battle involves staying in motion almost constantly. Riding around on the spinner is inexplicably, ridiculously fun, and it’s a shame that the item has virtually no use outside of its dungeon. Using it in battle is a test of your planning and reaction time more than anything else, but the crunch of breaking apart Stallord’s spine is just as satisfying as striking anything with a sword. 

I’m not usually a fan of boss battles that have multiple parts/forms/etc, but I’ll gladly make an exception for my favorite Zelda battle of all time. 

Who agrees? Who disagrees? Who’s feeling half and half? Let me know in the comments, and Happy December Holiday!

*The pictures and footage belong to Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto. I do not own nor claim right to any of it.

Top 10 Movie Theater Pet Peeves

Movie stubs and popcorn

 

Many of us movie watchers like to go to theaters from time to time. It lets us check out films in a large, dark room with a huge screen and a killer sound system: something that only the obscenely rich could afford to have at home in this economy. Whether it be a hot new release or a classic put back in theaters, whether you’re a casual viewer or a film enthusiast, chances are that you’ll find something to enjoy about the experience.

But the fun comes with certain pitfalls that we can’t avoid; outside elements that range from mildly annoying to torturous, and most if not all of them beyond our control. Why does it have to be this way?

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The short answer is that doing anything involving other human beings means that you forfeit pretty much any control over your environment. But even the rules put in place to be fair to everyone aren’t always followed, whether by the theater people themselves or the other people seated around you, and that’s just rude and unnecessary.

In a perfect world, you pay for something and you enjoy it.

So today, let me forgo a media review and just talk about some of the things that I – and people I’ve known – find painful and avoidable about going to see a film in theaters. Pet peeves, if you will.

Starting from least to most obnoxious:

 

(10 People Who Look at You Strangely When You Go Alone

alone-at-the-movies

I doubt this happens to most people, and not even all that often if it does, so I put it pretty low on the list.

While it can be fun to go see a new movie with a friend or group of friends, unless you are alone in the theater, you don’t interact all that much. You can talk during ads, and at the start and end of the film, but during, you are faced forward, looking at the screen. Occasionally, you might whisper to the person directly next to you, but that’s about it.

So why do some folks think of movie-going as a purely social experience?

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Introverts in particular might decide to go it alone once in a while. I certainly have. It is possible to enjoy a film and react to it with no relation to another person nearby. Sometimes it might just be because no one will go with you. They don’t have time, they’re not interested in the film or genre, they’re tired, etc. That’s fine, and it should not need to stop you.

And yet,  you might get looks or comments, mostly from total strangers, like you have no friends. You must be weird or sad or something! You’re going to see a film by yourself!

As a kid, I used to believe that you needed friends to do any big social fun things, and I would be damn near devastated when no one wanted to do what I wanted to do or weren’t available at all. When I spent some time in Tokyo studying abroad and slowly grew to discover that I disliked the company I was keeping (female classmates that weren’t friends and bickered frequently), I became a lot more comfortable doing things on my own.

It can be lonely, sure, but sometimes you have to be willing to be alone, or good opportunities will pass you by. And who knows? You may make some new friends if you’re lucky.

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It isn’t weird or unnatural or sad. It’s smart and self-sufficient. Screw anyone who tells you otherwise.

 

(9 Ads

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Movie theater companies, we need to talk.

We know how much you want us to come back to your venue. We know you’d like to try to sell us food and drinks. We also know that new stuff will be coming out soon, and you think we might like to see the next Hunger Games film…because we are about to watch The Nut Job…

Thanks for trying to help us out. Now please stop showing us over 20 minutes of ads before a film. I don’t care about half of these upcoming releases; I’m here to watch a movie. I’ll put up with this for a little bit, but after 20 minutes passes, you are seriously pushing your luck.

"Any minute now..."
“Any minute now…”

 

Also, stop with the shameless food ads over and over again. If I haven’t bought a popcorn and a large beverage by now, I’m probably not gonna, and more ads reminding me to visit the concession stand just make me want to never buy food from there again, out of pure spite.

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(8 Theaters That Overbook Showings

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Crowded theaters aren’t really that much fun. I think we’d all prefer that it just be our groups and no one else watching at that particular time, not a Sunday morning IHOP’s worth of people.

When Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows first came out in theaters, a good friend of mine and I went to go see it around New Year’s. When we got there, we were told that there were only six tickets left for the showing we wanted, and we decided to grab them. Hopefully, we’d find seats together inside.

After procuring some snacks and attempting to prevent future movie bladder, we went to our specific theater and found, to our dismay, that there were no seats left. Anywhere.

So we watched the movie sitting in the aisles, in the gap typically reserved for wheelchairs, and fidgeted nervously every time an usher went by. My friend shook her head. “They better not try to kick us out. We paid to be here.”

This is unacceptable. Going to theaters is expensive, damn it, and if you pay for a seat, you should be given an actual seat. I’m not typically a person who makes an audible, visible fuss about bad service, but this is bad service. You have a right to be angry and demand your money back.

And we weren’t the only people stuffed into the aisle that day.

The audience should not ever be allowed to violate fire and safety codes like that.  And companies should bother to actually count the number of seats vs the number of people paying for them.

 

(7 Not Allowing Outside Food and Beverages

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Not much to say about this one. It’s annoying, but I see why it’s in place. Easily circumvented if you are a girl or know a girl with a big purse, and excluding all but #10 of these annoying elements, this one is probably the one you can do the least about.

I particularly hate the overpriced candy, which is only really half full when you actually open the box. It is bull.

 

(6 People Who Throw Trash Everywhere

dirty-movie-theater

 

No cool, people.

Yes, there are people paid to clean the theater when you leave, but leftover food spilled in the aisles, down the seats, and in the crevices is rude, gross, and shows contempt for your fellow-man in more ways than one.

Imagine it like your floor being covered with germ-ridden legos, and you’re barefoot. Police your kids, if you’ve got them, and pick up after yourself.

 

(5 Forgetting/Disregarding the Guy in Front of You

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I consider this seat kicking, propping your feet up, and grabbing that seat to leverage yourself out of your own. You are not at home, so if there are other people around you, try to disturb them as little as possible in your comings and goings.

 

(4 People Who Complain About Kids

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This ties in with Pet Peeve #1, as it tends to occur in the theater, during the movie proper.

If you’re watching a family film or something specifically aimed at kids, there is nothing wrong with that. But, yeah, no $&1# there are kids here. Suck it up.

I once had a friend who complained about this frequently, at a matinée of all places.

 

You lose the right to complain just by virtue of where you are. Just have patience, or pick a time of the day where most of the little rugrats are at school if it bugs you so much.

 

(3 Misbehaving Kids

Frustrated-mom-with-kids

 

Haha, I’m being contradicting. But hey, even with the above, there are limits.

Movies are a good way to shut your kids up for an hour…except when they don’t. Whether it’s a small group or a large group, be firm with them. Threaten to take them outside, then home if they don’t behave themselves.

And I’m not talking about being a little loud or talkative here. I mean the kids running around, screaming, throwing food and things, being wild and excessively distracting. This stuff gets less and less forgivable the further you get from a G rating.

I know it’s difficult, and hey, maybe you wanted to watch the movie too. But sometimes you have to make sacrifices to raise your kids, and one of them is to not indulge rude and bad behavior. They may not know better, but you are the adult and they are supposed to obey you. Whether they “really are good kids” is irrelevant; disrespect to you and other people is a problem. It may even fester and stick around if you don’t treat it in moments like these.

And just don’t bring babies. Ever.

 

(2 Cellphones

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Personally, I haven’t heard a lot of people with the nards to actually answer a call mid movie, but it happens apparently.

Why haven’t they stopped showing those ‘turn off your cellphone’ ads before the movies yet? Clearly because people still do it in droves.

This one will never go away.

At least in America, from the tweens and on, people need to be plugged in at all times. An hour or two without being contacted or posting on social media clearly means that you have died, and the world is moving on without you.

I once went to a dive-in movie at my college’s main pool, and I saw a girl in an inner tube staring down at her smart phone. People were splashing all around her and a movie playing on the screen, but there she was, phone barely two inches above the water. No joke.

I’d ask where to draw the line between spoiled and stupid, but in this case, there may have been no line at all.

CT  CT 070611-ENT ent-0706-texting MJW

 

 

If the theater has almost no people in it, you’re in the way back row, and you bump down the volume and brightness, you might be able to subtly check your phone during a movie. But it’s easy to tell what you’re doing, and it’s distracting. If you can’t disconnect for a bit, then what are you even doing here?

Please don’t be rude, or waste your own time and money like that.

 

(1 Talking

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Even whispering. Once the movie starts, keep it down. And whatever you do, DO NOT pick a quiet moment to share your thoughts. I can hear you as clear as day, and probably the other end of this theater can too. Sound waves travel farther than you think.

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If you must talk, keep it short, and whisper right up in the person’s ear. We’ll understand if you had to leave for a few moments and missed something. Again, unless the theater is virtually deserted (I’ve had showings like that, which is more conducive to friends joking and talking), this is distracting and rude. You could be the funniest person on the planet, and people would still hate you. We didn’t come here and pay to listen to you.

When seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 with my folks, the theater we visited was a little on the lean side, but by no means empty. All the way at the front row, there was a group of young teenage girls who giggled frequently and made gag-worthy passes at the characters on-screen.

*Representation of fan girls at the movies*
*Representation of fan girls at the movies*

 

 

In the tense scene where, having just escaped from death eaters at a wedding and then at a deli in the city, Harry, Ron, and Hermione explored the quiet, seemingly abandoned headquarters of the Order, one of the girls began shouting things like, “We love you, Daniel!” and, “Marry me, Rupert!”

A man several rows in front of us got up and whispered something to them, then went back to his seat. Everyone else cheered him on, and the girls were silent from then on. Whatever he said, I still salute that theater hero to this day.

 

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As I’ve said, this is my personal list, but I did take into account my friends, family, and colleagues’ rants when thinking about it.

What it all comes down to is people being thoughtless and disrespectful in a public space they are meant to share. And sometimes even I can do some of these, because we all have forgetful/thoughtless moments from time to time. But most of this is taught to each of us – see “common sense” – at one point or another in our lives, and just because we are grown adults who can do whatever the heck we want does not mean that all has to go out the window.

It’s impossible to think about everything and everyone 24/7, but it is possible to remember basic manners and preserve politeness so that everyone can enjoy the movie theater experience, if not the movie itself.

So don’t stress about it, but don’t brush things off thoughtlessly. Intent or not, no one wants to look like a jerk.

*All pictures, video clips, and other media belong to their respective owners. None of the images or sounds belong to me.

CftC: Top 13 Favorite Villains of All Time

Note: This is Marge’s top 13 (Arthur can do his own if he really wants to), and I’m including all media for this list. Movies, games, books, shows, etc.

The only thing I’m leaving out is music, and that’s because music doesn’t typically have heroes and villains…unless you count one-note, one-sided break-up songs.

Meh.

So, why top 13? Because:

october

 

It’s Halloween season, and I’ve got your number! Unlucky 13!

Also, you may see some antagonists on this list. The difference between antagonist and villain is that the former can be merely a force that opposes the protagonist (the main character), while the later is seen as unambiguously bad or wicked. I used “villains” in the title because it sounds better, but I’m not limiting the choices.

This is how I judge them:

  • Crazy, hammy, and/or fun to watch
  • Creepy and scary
  • Love to hate ’em
  • Complex and/or sympathetic

Enough chatter! Let’s get to it!

 

#13: Team Rocket (from Pokemon)

rocket

 

Ah, Team Rocket. Was there ever a more nostalgic and lovable force of complete and total failure?

Well, maybe this one:

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But she’s a bit grating on my ears, and I didn’t watch Power Rangers for very long, so…

While I think that Jessie, James (haha, get the joke?), and Meowth lost all menace very early on in the show, they were instantly and lastingly memorable with their theme song, epic proclamation (where they state their names and cause every single episode), and subsequent defeat and blast off. With only those three aspects remaining constant, they quickly grew into the beloved, inept but determined characters we know today.

Jessie and James have big egos, but James is the more flamboyant and wimpy of the two. If they were in a relationship

*cough cough*

Jessie would probably wear the pants.

Meowth is one of the only speaking pokemon in the series. He’s a sarcastic loudmouth, ridiculing Jessie and James nearly as much as he schemes with them, but ultimately, he is loyal and cares about them very much. He wants to please their boss, Giovanni, and regain his standing in Team Rocket, having been demoted from evil villain lap cat.

Their aim is to steal rare and interesting pokemon, at first because, well, it’s their job, but later mostly to get back in Giovanni’s good graces. For some insane reason, they usually settle for trying to steal Ash’s Pikachu.

team-rocket-blasting1-o

 

 

These guys are endlessly fun to watch. They’re corny, snarky, hammy, and safe, but by God, they will get that Pikachu one day…

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#12: Gladys Leeman (from Drop Dead Gorgeous)

gladys

 

Hyperbolic, and yet so eerily spot on, this character is what I see when I look at crazy, jerk parents who try to bask in their kids’ accomplishments. Or, similarly, berate all the self esteem out of them when they lose.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a mockumentary (think Spinal Tap) about a succession of beauty pageants, starting off in small town Mount Rose, Minnesota. Rebecca Leeman is the richest girl around, and you can bet that her parents Gladys and Lester have bought off all of the judges to vote for their precious little princess.

But Gladys takes it a step further.

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Gladys shows us that divas never age well.

Taken from the spotlight of her own pageants perhaps a little too early, she sets out to make sure her daughter gets to state levels no matter what. She is willing to murder and sabotage anyone who gets in her way.

I love how sweet and impartial she pretends to be, playing it up for the cameras and breaking only occasionally when her husband is around. She’s punchable, but mostly enjoyably crazy and cutthroat, and we’re never really sure what means the most to her: her daughter, or the competition.

She’s more realistic than Violet’s mom in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the movie), and yet just, if not more, cartoony.

I have no doubt that this self-proclaimed “God-fearing” woman would sell her soul for another chance at glory.

 

#11: Big Brother and the Inner Party (from 1984)

bigbrotheriswatchingyou

The basic gist of this one boils down to: overbearing government that noses its way into everyone’s business, manipulates news and changes history, watches citizens at all times, and even changes the language in order to better control people’s thoughts.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a cautionary tale about overabundance of power; it being abused by one group jealously guarding the monopoly. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and what better way to keep everyone in line than to make them fear for their lives if they don’t fully, willingly, submit.

No one outside the Inner Party knows what is real and true anymore, and questioning could end them up in the mysterious Room 101 in the Ministry of Love.

Yes, I’ve spoiled that the government and Big Brother are the villains, but what they want, what exactly they do, and just how thoroughly they have infiltrated everyone’s lives will be left up for you to read, should you choose to. And especially given the controversies surrounding the NSA in recent years regarding breaches of privacy, you may find it even more interesting and relevant.

This story is a word to the wise and a whisper to the wondering. It urges we, the common folk, to be vigilant and involved in our government, lest it grow out of hand and turn on the very people it is sworn to serve and protect. Big Brother and the Inner Party earn this spot for the mystery; they took the people’s faith and trust and repaid them in fear and uncertainty.

It is good to love Big Brother. And we’d never want to be ungood.

 

#10: Ursula (from Disney’s The Little Mermaid)

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Ursula. What can I say that would do her complete justice?

She’s a Disney villainess modeled off of an iconic drag queen. She lusts for power over all the oceans…and a decent meal. She’s a cacaelia and a witch who effortlessly hooks our ditzy, pouty protagonist into her schemes, and mostly gives her a fighting chance.

But most of all, she sings this song:

 

How Ariel has no qualms about this, I’ll never know, but this is one of the best villain songs ever. I stand by it.

That song alone tells you all you need to know about Ursula’s character. She’s just awesome. Maleficent is a close second, but despite her powers and presence, she feels a bit one note.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

I think Ursula has more personality (silly, fun, and serious), even if Pat Carroll isn’t nearly as boss as Eleanor Audley.

Also, Maleficent’s motivation is pretty funny, when you think about it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

#9: Dolores Umbridge (from Harry Potter and

the Order of the Phoenix)

dolores

Book or movie, take your pick. I’m going more for the movie character because damn did her actress know how to make her so perfectly punchable.

Senior Undersecretary for the Minister of Magic, and for a brief while, Hogwarts’ Professor, Inquisitor, and Headmistress, Umbridge drove students and readers to call for a good, old fashioned witch hunt. She is harsh and unforgiving, yet outwardly sweet enough to rot your teeth. And she has no qualms about hurting students; like a pink-clad nun holding that dreaded ruler.

Nun-with-Ruler-300x300

 

 

The movie made her extra annoying, with pictures of kittens all over her walls, meowing constantly. And the way she smiles widely, knowing she’s hurting or irritating people and clearly doesn’t care…I just love to hate this woman.

The only thing I hate more than Dolores Umbridge is that we didn’t get to see the full extent of her comeuppance.

 

#7: Gaston (from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast)

 

beauty-and-the-beast-gaston-smiling

 

Yep, another Disney. And who do you think gave Frozen the idea of the whole “who’s the real villain” upheaval?

This guy.

No one’s slick as Gaston, no one’s quick as Gaston, and no one turns a superstitious town into a angry mob like Gaston. He does this in seconds, and you know why? Because he wants to marry the prettiest girl in town, and she snubbed him in favor of a brooding beast.

For that, all bets are off.

Gaston, like Maleficent, is not the most complex character, but in some ways, he’s a bit scarier than the Mistress of All Evil. He’s a jock and a misogynist who is so used to getting his way that he won’t tolerate otherwise. He’ll turn dirty and underhanded, even violent, to get his prize, and he’ll manipulate his crowd of followers to do so. Out of fear and love.

Gaston is one of the more relatable Disney villains. We know from the start that he’s a jerk, and by the end, he’s the true villain, but as I’ve said, he’s the town darling. He’s close to being just an average guy, and he uses other people to suit his ends. There are plenty of people in the real world like that, whether we like to admit it or not, and that’s kind of scary.

Could one of them become a Gaston?

I’m inclined to say no because, hey, as no one Gastons like Gaston, but the sad truth of the matter is yes. And they can be even worse than him, too.

Gaston. He’s the evil potential in all of us viewers. Handsome on the outside, jerkish in the middle, and pure monster on the inside.

 

#7: Azula (from Avatar: The Last Airbender)

 

azuzu

 

This is the princess of the Fire Nation. If this is your first time meeting her, rest assured: she will either find a way to use you, or kill you. Or both.

What is it with kids’ and family fare giving us some of the best villains ever?

Azula is Dolores Umbridge fully realized. She is a joy to hate, but also frighteningly awesome; incredibly powerful and intelligent, manipulative, and, in one episode at least, even a bit relatable.

She schemes in circles around her adversaries, and bullies her friends. She watched her own brother be scarred in a duel with their father, and smiled. She lives a life of luxury in the Fire Nation, that seeks to dominate the other nations, and gets pretty much whatever she wants. And Azula mercilessly hunts down the one hope for the salvation of the world, fully intent to kill. She’ll kill her brother and uncle if they embarrass her, or get in her way.

(big spoilers below)

 

This scene is one of her best and most punchable moments.

While Zuko, her brother, is perhaps just as interesting and complex (but more sympathetic), Azula looks cool, sounds cool, and is bitingly cold. Scarier than even the Fire Lord himself.

 

#6: Lord Darcia (from Wolf’s Rain)

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I doubt even some anime fans would know this guy, but trust me, he’s worth checking out.

Darcia is the main antagonist of the series, starting out with motives that are good (albeit selfish) that eventually deteriorate into madness. Without spoiling too much of his or the story’s twists and turns, the world is coming to an end and wolves, which are believed to be the messengers of the gods, are prophesied to open the way to a place called Paradise. Though believed to have been hunted to extinction, wolves have survived by passing themselves off as humans and living scattered among them.

The main character is a deeply faithful and prideful wolf named Kiba, who soon gathers friends in the form of a small, ragtag group of outcast wolves. They seek to rescue and protect Cheza, a maiden artificially created from a Lunar Flower, who is another, more established key to the doors of Paradise.

Back to Darcia, he is what is known as a Noble. He is powerful, old money, and not as human as he appears. He seeks a cure for his lover Hamona’s illness. Known simply as Paradise sickness, it supposedly takes the soul to Paradise but leaves the body behind, resulting in a comatose state.

There is much more to it than that, and the show is fairly complicated. For the best and shortest explanation of things, I would recommend this lovely video:

 

Suffice it to say, Darcia has a lot of complexity and mystery surrounding him, like Big Brother. Who he is, what he is, and all that he plans to accomplish can be found in watching the progression of the show, of course, but also by musing over subtle hints and details wagged just under your nose. Wolf’s Rain is very deep and takes “show, don’t tell” to heart, often revealing very little outright, but making the discoveries regarding the characters and the surrounding world all the more rewarding and interesting.

At least, I think so.

Darcia is generally calm and cool, and can even be sympathetic at times, but he also has moments of creepy and crazy. You do not want to mess with this guy lightly.

 

#5: The Joker (from Batman The Animated

Series)

 

joker 2

I’m sorry. As good as Heath Ledger was, I couldn’t put him higher than Mark Hamill.

This Joker is a ball of ham wrapped in an enigma. We’re not sure why he does what he does, but boy does he enjoy it!

And best of all (or worst, depending on how you look at it), he makes it enjoyable for us too.

Batman the Animated Series is a great show that gave kids something a little different than what they were used to. It took influence from Tim Burton; being just as campy, but darker, with truly tragic backstories, memorable and dramatic characters, and stylish and shadowy animation.

As I’ve said, we’re never sure if what the Joker says is true, but it almost doesn’t matter. He is the embodiment of chaos, for fun and for the sake of itself. He bounces around with the temperament of a toddler, but he’s so devious, clever, and malicious, tormenting people in his unique little traps without a care.

And must I mention his sidekick?

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Their relationship is so twisted, it’s evil.

He’s one of Batman’s most dangerous adversaries, and my favorite.

 

#4: Ghirahim (from The Legend of Zelda:Skyward

Sword)

 

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I am sufficiently conflicted about this.

I know what you’re thinking. Shouldn’t Ganondorf be here? He is the main baddie, and  the most iconic of the Zelda series. He’s such a big deal that he literally hijacks games away from other villains.

Let me say that Ganondorf is awesome. He has consistently great character designs, and has given players some great, memorable battles over the course of the games. But to be honest, his personality is not all that memorable. He wants to rule Hyrule (Wind Waker probably gives him the most sympathetic reason why), and that’s about it. Sometimes his minions have more stage presence than he does.

So why not the main villain of the game, Demise, then?

Because he doesn’t get enough screen time or presence to stand out besides the cool, menacing design. As you’ve probably guessed by now, cool look alone doesn’t make a good villain. He, she, or it has to have a stronger whole than that.

Demise’s principle minion, Ghirahim, on the other hand, has a distinct personality. He very nearly smacks you in the face with it.

Ghirahim is sporadic and flamboyant, which makes him seem both very creepy and very hammy at the same time. He loves to monologue like the classics, but his ability to teleport allows him to sneak up on you and spook you easily while he does it.

He’s got a calm, calculating side that barely manages to rein in his murderous side. One minute, he’s strolling around the room and taunting you quietly. The next, he’s doing something like this:

Ghirahim_tongue_trick_lolz

 

I don’t even know what this is.

When it’s finally revealed who he is, it all makes sense. But until then, you’re left to wonder at this strange person popping in occasionally to hijack dungeon boss battles and taunt you. All you know is that he wants to revive his master, which means bad news for you and the rest of the world.

His early fights are fairly easy, but then again, he underestimates you.

He dances, prances, whispers, and shrieks. He even kind of flirts with you. He’s Ghirahim!

*
*

 

The news that he made this list “has just filled (his) heart with rainbows!”

No, really. That’s a quote.

Oh, Japan. You and your homophobic game villains…

 

#3: GLaDOS (from Portal and Portal 2)

 

Glados

Imagine Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but make it a woman.

AHHHHHHHHHH!

Okay, it’s not that simple. GLaDOS is a lot more human than Hal (for good, but spoilery reasons), starting out as quietly deceptive and dry but slowly becoming more childish and, as you might have guessed, murderous. Even when she claims to be losing the restraints that kept her ethical and “human,” she still has a strong presence and personality you wouldn’t think a machine would be capable of.

She controls the Aperture Science Computerated Enrichment Center, an AI computer that stands for “Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System.” I’d say putting her on this list is a spoiler in and of itself, but anyone who is in anyway familiar with the meme “The Cake is a Lie,” or even casually starts playing the first game (with two functioning brain cells to rub together) could deduce that she’s up to something.

Both games’ greatest comedic moments come from her, whether she’s being sarcastic, childish, matter-of-fact, or any combination of the three. If you can’t play for whatever reason, I suggest watching a let’s play of the games. The first game takes about an hour if you know what you’re doing. And GLaDOS’s dialogue is worth it.

She’s my in my top 3 for a reason 🙂

 

#2: Eric Cartmen (from South Park)

 

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This “kid” is a piece of work. The ultimate bratty, despised character.

Sometimes I love to hate him, and other times I just love to watch him. Eric Cartmen is fascinating in many ways, but primarily for being a character that can represent the worst in both children and adults.

Like Gaston, but cartoonier. And worse. 

He’s manipulative, bigoted, selfish, murderous; he is whatever the plot demands, or whatever he needs to be if the plot threatens him in any way. Often, he will act like he’s working for the greater good, when really it’s for his own reasons, and if good comes from his actions, it’s usually an accident or incidental to his whims.

I think Kyle sums his character up best here (excuse the crappiness of the clip, but it was the only one I could find):

In case the video doesn’t play, here’s the quote:

“I believe that you believe you helped write that joke. That’s how people like you work. Your ego is so out-of-whack that it will do whatever it can to protect itself. People with a messed-up ego can do these mental gymnastics to convince themselves that they’re awesome, when really they’re just douchebags.”

~ Kyle, Season 13, “Fishsticks”

He lives under the delusion that the other kids think he’s cool, when really, only Butters does. He is constantly critical and bigoted towards Kyle and his family for being Jewish, Kenny for being poor, and many others, mostly in denial of his own insecurities of being fat and not cool. He prays on his lonely mom’s desire for companionship and acceptance, manipulating her and other parents and authority figures when it suits him.

Cartmen is the worst. Even when he ends up doing something good, he’s either not happy about it, or spins it to work in his favor. If he comes out on top, you just want to smack him off his high horse with a spiky mallet, then set him on fire tied to Joffery Baratheon.

The funniest and most reprehensible of cartoon figures.

 

 

So who’s going to beat him? Well…

 

#1: Lady Eboshi (from Princess Mononoke)

 

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Some people are probably thinking “who now?” Others might be wondering why she’s so high up on this list.

Let me explain…

The main character of the movie, Prince Ashitaka, leaves his people and travels to a far away land in search of a cure for the curse that is slowly killing him. The curse was given to him when he battled a cursed, enraged boar god that attempted to attack his village. His only clue to the curse and what angered the deity is an iron ball that he found in the boar’s body. The metal festered inside of him, driving him mad with “a poisonous hatred.”

Ashitaka eventually finds the land that the boar god came from. It is a land at war, with the local humans attempting to destroy the forest for their own gain and safety, and the animal gods fighting to drive the humans out and protect their domain.

It sounds like your typical hippy “save the forest” kind of movie, but it isn’t. It really, really isn’t.

Lady Eboshi is the mistress of Iron Town. She wants to uproot the forest for more iron and riches, but she also protects the people who work for her. She saved prostitutes from local brothels and gave them jobs working the bellows at the ironworks in her town. She took in lepers, “washed (their) rotting flesh,” and put them to work making rifles and other weapons. Neither the lepers nor the woman have easy lives, but they are very happy and indebted to Eboshi, following her plans and dreams faithfully.

In addition to the forest gods, Eboshi also has to deal with other humans as well; lords and samurai who are jealous of her success and aim to take it for themselves. She is also employed by the emperor’s men to help track down the forest spirit, the deer god who can grant life and death, and cut off its head. The head of such a powerful spirit may be the key to healing illnesses and unlocking eternal life, but Eboshi is more concerned with the safety of her own people, and aims to put an end to the war between man and nature once and for all.

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This is a sympathetic villain done right, although Miyazaki clearly strives to make the opposing sides equal threats to one another, and equally misguided. There is no designated good or evil, but beings simply working toward their own ends, and Lady Eboshi is a strong character among a cast of strong characters. She is charismatic and likable; taking care of the needy, powerless, and lowest members of society. She is smart, smooth, calculating, and caring, with moments of crazed obsession scattered here and there.

The other characters like to joke that she’s out to rule the world.

Eboshi is on the top of my list because she was the first genuinely likable, sympathetic villain I ever came across, and her characterization is done masterfully well. Sure, she’s not hammy, creepy, or the most fun to watch out of everyone on this list, but she comes the closest to seeming like a real person you would meet (without being a total psycho like Gaston or Cartmen). A person who may be likable, doing what she thinks is right, and someone normal people would be inclined to follow.

Eboshi: A leader and general decent human being, though misguided.

*As per usual, most of the pics don’t belong to me. The title card does, though. Twas done by the gracious and talented Zero, who can be found here. Check her out! 🙂