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A 25-year old writer. Currently in college. Has written a number of things here and there and is currently working on own IP when TV Tropes isn't ruining his life.

Here, I mostly either busy myself with reading or adding tropes to little-known works I'm fond of. This is in part because I'm usually a latecomer to shows, since I watch most of my TV on DVD/Blu-ray. That doesn't mean I refrain from editing the bigger stuff from time to time.


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Favorites / Recommendations (in alphabetical order):

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  • Full Metal Alchemist: Of all the animes on this list, Full Metal Alchemist is the most balanced. While Ghost In The Shell can get overly heady and Neon Genesis Evangelion has an underwhelming ending buried beneath the backwash of a Creator Breakdown, the quality of Full Metal Alchemist is consistent from beginning to end. Better yet, that quality is very high. It's easy to underestimate the show at first glance, given that it looks pretty much like your average shonen overrun with kid heroes and over the top villains. But in fact, FMA is a surprisingly sophisticated show, with sensible and well-developed Magic A Magic B rules, a rich ensemble of likable and believable characters, a wonderful mix of drama and comedy, and a very strong story. FMA really has it all.
  • Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex: I actually prefer this to the very morose (and in my opinion, slightly bland) film. For me, Stand Alone Complex isn't merely a great anime sci-fi show; it's one of the best science fiction shows out there, period. Possessed of one of the best developed Post-Cyberpunk settings ever and a cast of truly fascinating characters working through complex and moving storylines, Git S:SAC's only weakness is that it sometimes gets buried in its own philosophy. But for me, that's not too much of an issue and I can heartily recommend the show to anyone with a passing interest in cybernetics or science fiction.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: I came to this show pretty late and even though the show was not what I expected at all I was not disappointed. Neon Genesis Evangelion has a reputation for Wangst and Contemplating Our Navels but for the most part, these tropes are justified, given the precise nature of the circumstances the characters, who are among some of the most deeply developed in animation, find themselves in. The show's not perfect and in the end, I found it too pessimistic, the ending in particular striking me as a Rocks Fall Everybody Dies situation, but the combination of intelligent writing, fascinating setting, interesting (if sometimes haphazardly implemented) ideas, slick action, slapstick comedy, and deep characters makes this a classic for me.

     Comic Books 
  • Knights of the Old Republic: To be honest, I don't read many comic books and the only reason I picked this up is because I'm a big Kot OR fanatic so my opinion is hardly going to be representative of the chief comic book demographic. That being said, I find that the Kot OR series by Iron Man scribe John Jackson Miller to be surprisingly entertaining. In part, this is because it's likable protagonist, Zayne Carrick, is something of a subversion of the typical hero, not having any particularly grand destiny nor any special ability (although various characters sometimes hint otherwise). Instead, he's about as much of an Unlucky Everydude as you can get with a Jedi, which is a fresh change. The other characters generally are an entertainingly eclectic bunch as well, from the disreputable Griff to the mysterious Jarael. Overall, the series isn't brilliant, but it's fun, from its initial story arc to the more episodic tales the series goes on to later. Worth a pick up if you're a fan of Star Wars and comics.

     Films - Animation 
  • Ponyo: While I think it would be fair to say that Ponyo is not as emotionally complex as some of Hayao Miyazaki's other films I think it beats Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro for sheer heart. In part, my love for this film comes out of nostalgia for my own childhood: while I'm American I grew up in a town very much like that depicted in the film and I can relate to the experiences of film remarkably well (although neither of my parents were involved in marination). To me, Ponyo is Miyazaki's "soft" side at his best, filled with charming characters and beautiful landscapes, even if, in the end, it's perhaps a bit too simplistic. Also, this is the only film by Miyazaki I've seen where I'm ambivalent about the dub, though that may be in part because I saw the Japanese version first.
  • Princess Mononoke: It would almost be a crime not to mention this film. In my opinion, Mononoke stands out as the best of Hayao Miyazaki's rather impressive filmography, which includes no small number of classics. But what makes Mononoke stand out, I think, is its moral complexity. Many of Miyazaki's films deal with the difficulty inherent in pacifism and the conflicting pressures of industrialization and environmentalism, but few do it with so subtle and thought-provoking a touch as Mononoke where it's easy to make a case for any of the film's three conflicting viewpoints. Beyond just that, there's the richness of the characters, which I believe is carried through translation excellently by both Miramax's dub cast and Neil Gaiman's adaptation of the script for Western audiences. Mononoke has inspired me enormously in my own work and I think it's an absolute must-see for any one who's a fan of animation, fantasy, historical fiction, or even just films in general.

     Films - Live Action 
  • Casino Royale: I'm going to say this straight out: this is my favorite James Bond film and I say this as a lifetime fan (though admittedly I'm younger than many). It's not just that Casino Royale is Darker And Grittier - License To Kill and Quantum Of Solace both were as well and they're nowhere as good. No, it's that Casino Royale has a character element that is, frankly, lacking in almost all the other installments in the series. Daniel Craig's bond is a real individual, a person we can believe in even as he does unbelievable things, and the "devil may care" Suave Assassin moniker that is so often skin deep for Bond is, with this particular iteration, just the first layer of a deep and complex character. And while Quantum Of Solace did this to some extent, Casino Royale does it so much better. Plus, Eva Green as Vesper Lynd is not only Drop Dead Gorgeous but one of the most compelling Bond girls in the history of the franchise. Overall, in my opinion, this is the one to beat.
  • The Dark Knight: This actually might be my all-time favorite film, though I'm hesitant to say so because that leads people into thinking a film is impossibly perfect. That being said, every time I watch The Dark Knight I go in worrying I'll be disappointed and find something lacking that I didn't notice before, only for my worries to be blown away and my love for the film reaffirmed. Obviously Your Mileage May Vary. For some, the film is too brooding and too frenetic. Some think it's too long. But all the criticisms I've heard seem only in my mind to reassert its strengths: it's not just a superhero film, it's an emotionally complex crime thriller with both a believable (within reason) protagonist and a compellingly terrifying villain. If you haven't watched it already, I'm surprised. Do so. You may not enjoy it as much as I do, but I hope you do. As impressive as Inception is, this film remains Nolan's best.
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The only comedy to make this list and with good reason (not that I'm anti-comedy, they just usually don't make it into my favorites). For those not already aware Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is a high-energy dramedy about a strangely likable loser named Scott Pilgrim who falls in love with the literal girl of his dreams. As it turns out, however, they both have issues from their past relationships that hinder them, taking on intentionally melodramatic overtones. What follows is a crazy adventure involving crazy, Beyond the Impossible martial arts, video game Shout Outs galore, bizarre comedy, and crazy Crowning Music Of Awesome. Definitely very Troperrific, though in such a way that no one could really think it's a Cliché Storm. In order to enjoy the film though, you may need to be at least a little Genre Savvy.
  • Star Wars Original Trilogy: While I think we can agree that they're separate films and some are better than others the truth is that the Original Trilogy functions best as an entire unit. It's hard to say much about this series, since everyone has likely already seen it and already formed an opinion on it but to put things simply, this is in my opinion the most satisfying film series in existence. One can make a strong argument that individual films are better than any of the installments, but as a whole, few film franchises can come close to rivaling not only the financial success but also the consistency of quality that these films possess. It's a shame the prequels are not anywhere near as good as the Original Trilogy but regardless of what you think of the later films, Episodes IV - VI are indisputable science fiction and adventure serial classics.

  • Dune: I'll be honest and admit to two heresies. First, I thought the Prelude to Dune trilogy by Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert was good, although not great and certainly nowhere as magnificent as the original. The other heresy is that I found God Emperor of Dune so dull that I have found it difficult to go back to the original series. But that being said, the first three Dune books are classics of science fiction that did for Space Opera and Planetary Romance much the same thing that Lord Of The Rings did for High Fantasy. Dune is a magnificent example of world-building and one rarely equaled in science fiction, with a story that is far more than layer deep and characters whose motivations are as complex and as wide-reaching as Shai-halud is large. A must read for sure.
  • Enderverse: Anyone who knows me probably knows I'm a big Orson Scott Card fan (even if he's become a rambunctious old coot in his late middle age), but this is definitely his best work. Enders Game and Speaker Of The Dead are by far the best of the series, though most of the "Shadow" series following Bean is worth a couple of reads as well. In general, both halves of the series decline in quality as OSC's politics become more and more evident (an irony given his own criticism of other authors for this tendency), but few people can write dialogue with the simultaneous naturalism and intelligence that OSC's characters in the Enderverse manifest. Furthermore, he touches on morality in a way that most writers are afraid to: by asking questions, rather than providing blanket statements of truth, which by itself makes him a favorite of mine.
  • The Lord Of The Rings: What can you really say about the only fictional series to rival the Bible for print sales? JRR Tolkien indisputably created a rich universe unrivaled for its depth and detail among single-author franchises (so Star Wars doesn't count here). While the books can drag on and some of its tropes seem quaint to modern eyes (often because they're ignorant eyes), Tolkien turned High Fantasy into a respectable, high profile field of literature. It's a shame really, that no one has yet come even close to equaling him.
  • Revelation Space: I've only read the first book but I will say that it has impressed me so far. This is a vivid combination of cyberpunk and Space Opera that has rarely been attempted and which has never been done so well. Where I found other attempts lacking in fun or characterization (or most often both), Alistair Reynolds creates a universe that feels eerily real and fascinatingly assembled. Bravo for making it obvious to doubters that Hard Sci Fi doesn't have to be dull.
  • Thrawn Trilogy: I'm a pretty big fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe in general (as if you hadn't already figured that out), but I think the Thrawn Trilogy stands out as a series most people, even those who are not big Star Wars fans. The series is notable for doing the "remnant Imperialist out of nowhere" plot with a significant degree of believability, unlike most other instances in the franchise, while also developing a remarkably dynamic and logical Star Wars universe filled not only with epic heroics and dastardly villains but working men and women, complex webs of politics and subterfuge (long before the films themselves indulged in such), and logical character development. Some say Thrawn and Mara Jade are both Mary Sues, but too often people forget that Thrawn is Hoist by His Own Petard and Jade's {{Tsundere}] tendencies are far from universally positive. Give the books a try if you find the time. It's not the only good set from the EU, but it's probably the best.

     Live Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica: This show has been advocated for so many times that Hype Backlash is almost inevitable, but I truly think it's one of the best shows ever to air, particularly in its first and second seasons. Later on, as the show goes on its tendencies for overdramatism and the Chris Carter Effect do become obvious but in my mind the show retained a very high quality up until its last hour, which, like many fans, I found a Wall Banger. Your Mileage Will Vary and some people simply do not enjoy mixing Noughties Drama with Space Opera, but for me, this is a winner, with its complex morality and characters.
  • Doctor Who: It took me a while to get into this show, which I entered in the Russel T Davies era. My initial inclination was to see the series through the lens of the serious science fiction that I was normally drawn to, like Babylon5 or Firefly. In retrospect, I know now this was a mistake and that really, you should appreciate Doctor Who for what it is: a fun, smartly written ride that doesn't require you to worry about reality or science while still requiring you to think to appreciate its more subtle moments. Of the Doctors (I've watched the First, the Ninth, the Tenth, and the Eleventh) I find the writing for the Eleventh by Scotland's Steven Moffat the best by far, but I find much to love about the previous iterations as well and dearly mess Christopher Eccleston's "fantastic" Ninth. If you love the Brits and science fiction, check this out. It's worth at least a look.
  • Firefly: This requires very little recommendation from me I'm sure, since the (sometimes alarmingly organized) fandom has turned Firefly into the narrative equivalent of a Memetic Badass, with Serenity winning every poll for "best ship" and Summer Glau's Tyke Bomb River winning every poll for "best character." Personally, while I think this is one of the best shows ever to air, I'd caution against believing such hyperbole. Enjoy it for what it is - a wonderful Space Western Space Opera hybrid with fun characters, witty dialogue, and a deep milieu that was all Too Good to Last.
    • One of my notable opinions regarding Firefly is that unlike most Browncoats I think the film is a mess. Going beyond the Berserk Button many fans have regarding certain character deaths I actually thought that the film's plot is poorly threaded and has the problem of feeling like an entire season arc compressed into two hours. Plus, what Joss Whedon did to the Reavers is, in my mind, criminal. Your Mileage May Vary, as I myself demonstrate.
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine: I go back and forth over whether I prefer this show or its rival, Babylon5. Having rewatched both recently, I'd say that Babylon5 is more consistent, but when Deep Space Nine is good it blows Babylon5 (and most science fiction) right out of the water. I'm a lifelong Star Trek fan and have been raised on the franchise for as long as I can remember (both of my parents are Trekkies of varying degrees). However, I can easily say Deep Space Nine is the best, with its compelling Deconstruction and Reconstruction of The Federation, its daring and dramatic Story Arc, and its cast of characters which is arguably the most diverse and three dimensional of any Trek series. In particular, the characters of Odo and Kira stand out strong, both taking themes Trek had dealt with previously to new and more spectacular heights. The only weaknesses in my mind are the frequent divergences into silly Filler Episodes and, strangely enough, both its central character (Sisko) and central villain (Dukat), both of whom are at times compelling and at other times incredibly frustrating.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons And Dragons (4th edition): To be fair, it's the only ruleset I've played extensively and which I know the rules of in and out. I played 3rd edition and enjoyed it, but I never was a master of it and I never ran a game with it, playing only a single dungeon through its entirety. While 4e has its flaws to be sure (I find it's catalog of skills dishearteningly low) I have to say that it makes the game intuitive to a degree that even previous editions weren't. By mixing and matching character roles with power sources, classes have become easier to explain and understand, even if the fluff is sometimes lacking, and the standardized leveling tree makes character development easy. Sometimes I miss 3rd edition and I find Pathfinder tantalizing enough that I'd like to try it some day, but I won't be leaving 4th edition any time soon - a fact I don't regret in the least.

     Video Games 
  • Dragon Age Origins: If it weren't for the fact that this game is so good, this would be my Never Live It Down shame. My initial reactions to footage of the game was overwhelmingly negative, starting with a mere "meh" and quickly snowballing into ludicrous portents of doom. In part, this reaction was motivated because of EA's recent purchase of Bio Ware, which made me anxious about their next game following the excellent Mass Effect 1. Partially, it was because I was bitter about the unfair judgment rendered on Neverwinter Nights 2 by many Bio Ware fans. Mostly, it was because I was being a douche. However, I thankfully tried this game because of recommendations from just about everyone and their kitten, and I was rewarded with yet another Bio Ware classic. While I still think the gameplay is a bit oversimplistic the combination of a rich storyline, well developed characters, a fascinating Dark Fantasy setting that seems internally consistent, and a powerful toolset made me love this game in spite of myself. If that's not a testament to Bio Ware's abilities, I'm not sure what is and as a result I'm more than willing to take a wait and see approach with Dragon Age II, even as the fandom repeats my excesses of 2008 and 2009.
  • Gears Of War: I play a few shooters here and there, believe it or not, and in fact I count myself a fan of both Half Life and Halo so put aside your presumptions that all I play are RPGs (which would be a justified assumption based on this list). That being said, Gearsof War is the only game in that vein I've put on this list for one very simple and honest reason: I'm good at it. That's not say it's easy. Gears Of War is, by all accounts, significantly challenging at times, both in singleplayer and multiplayer. But whereas most shooters have a run and shoot gameplay style that I find difficult to play competitively, Gears Of War is far more tactical, with its focus on finding cover and sticking behind it. For once, this is a style I can sink my teeth into and excel at (at least in my small little world), which makes Gears Of War more enjoyable for me than more adrenaline-fueled shooters. If that sounds like you, try it out.
  • Homeworld: Homeworld is an unparalleled classic when it comes to Real-Time Strategy games. While many series have imitated Star Craft and Age Of Empires it is lamentable that almost no one has tried to copy Homeworld. Revolutionary in its combination of not only a three-dimensional camera but also three-dimensional movement with a compelling storyline and deep gameplay mechanics, the Homeworld series is a franchise that has gone too long without a sequel. If you enjoy Real-Time Strategy and science fiction, check any of the games in the series out (though Homeworld has the best campaign and Homeworld2 the best gameplay) - they're well worth a look.
  • Mass Effect: I'm going to go ahead and lay down the entire series here. Never has a blend of first person shooter gameplay and roleplaying been done better. Personally, I prefer the gun gameplay of the first game to the somewhat shallow imitation of pure shooters in the second, but both games are fun to play and easy to leap into while remaining difficult enough to provide a challenge up until the end. The universe of Mass Effect is also fascinating, even moreso in the sequel as it delves into the various alien cultures and provides some context to the Reaper threat that was missing from the first, and the storylines - while somewhat overrated in my opinion in both cases - are definitely among gaming's best. Not to mention that between Garrus, Jack, Tali, and Thane, Mass Effect 2 has probably the best romance arcs out of any RPG I've ever played. If only the game had the approval system of Dragon Age or the influence system of Neverwinter Nights 2.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: While I know that it's not a particularly stable game and the original campaign has pacing issues, I still find Neverwinter Nights 2, including the original campaign, one of the most enjoyable roleplaying experiences I've ever had with a game. I know that I'm a minority in this view, but I found the setting to be both rich and easy to get into, while the story, if a bit cliche, was compelling and kept me hooked to my seat from beginning to end. The characters of both the original campaign and Mask Of The Betrayer are truly memorable, playing on both old stereotypes and subverting them or presenting entirely new characters that are wholly original. To me, NWN 2 and Mot B is the peak of Obsidian's creative talents so far and one, rising the influence system to new heights of perfection and demonstrating their wonderful strength of writing. Unfortunately, neither Storm Of Zehir nor Alpha Protocol measured up to this greatness.
  • Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic: This is what really got me into roleplaying games and won me loyalty as Bio Ware fan for all eternity. While in some ways I prefer the second installment by Obsidian Entertainment I will not deny that the original Knights Of The Old Republic is simply a more complete experience and one that is fun from beginning to end. I'm not quite sure how many times I've played this game (it must be around four or five) but I never tire of it and its epic storyline that brings all the good of the Original Trilogy to the gaming world, with a touch of Bio Ware's own unique flavor. Rarely has there been an RPG so good in just every component, from story to characters to gameplay mechanics to even the way the game looks. It may be my favorite, I'm not sure, but it's definitely up there.
  • Splinter Cell Chaos Theory: I was tempted to put a Metal Gear game on this list but, unfortunately, I can't in good conscience because, unlike the first three Splinter Cell titles, the entire Metal Gear series has an incredible variance in ups and downs, even within a single game. Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, by comparison, is a complete experience in of itself that does not let you down at any moment. With its wide variety of gadgets, sophisticated stealth-based gameplay, and strong narrative that blows any of the recent series iterations out of the water, it's hard to beat Sam Fisher's third outing. It's a sad thing to think the series hasn't reached back to this height since, but then I just go and play Chaos Theory and I forget all about the inadequacies of Double Agent or Conviction.


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