2018 has largely been a mess for everyone, a transitional year for me personally and professionally, but a great year for watching and doing stuff! Here’s some of my personal favorites that made a difference to me this year:
First on my list is an old favorite for many anime fans, but I only just got the chance to see it this year. I picked up the bluray over the summer and was really delighted and impressed by this anthology! Each of the shorts were really enjoyable, all directed by anime legends like Katsuhiro Otomo and Koji Morimoto. I think that “Starlight Angel” and “Strange Tales of Meiji Machine Culture” were my personal favorites, but they are all really entertaining and the bluray is BEAUTIFUL! It really looks like you’re watching animation cels fly right in front of your eyes. If you’re into animation as an art form, please don’t skip out on Robot Carnival. It’s really cool.
BOY was this movie better than I expected it to be. The movie feels less like a Pooh reboot (rePooht) and more like an homage to the beloved series from a grown up perspective. I feel that a lot of folks were put off by the movie for being either unnecessary or just visually strange, but I found that neither ended up being the case. Each of the characters are the same old ones we all know and love, and their animated models integrate impressively into the real world. But less important than that is the emotional core of the film, which surrounds Christopher Robin becoming a crusty workaholic who has lost the spark in his life. Through a new encounter with Pooh and pals, he learns to unleash his inner child, remembering why his adventures with Pooh made him so happy in the first place. It’s not a story we haven’t heard before, but watching Ewan McGregor’s Christopher Robin re-evaluate his adult world through the lens of Pooh is beautiful, touching, and just a smackerel ridiculous (in a good way).
Many a night has been spent with The Perj in 2018. If you’re not familiar, Defunctland is a theme-park and television history YouTube channel. I’ve learned an untold number of factoids about extinct Disney attractions, Universal Studios attractions, PBS television shows, failed business ventures, and some sick Michael Eisner burns. If you’re even remotely interested in theme parks or obscure pop-culture ephemera, Defunctland is a must-watch channel. Check out his most recent video on Santa Claus Theme Parks.
After forgetting to pay Ryan for the tickets for months (don’t worry, I did), a group of us went to see Distant Worlds: The Music of Final Fantasy in Durham, NC. Having seen both A New World: intimate music from FINAL FANTASY at AWA and Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World Tour- in NYC (both last year), seeing Distant Worlds was the final piece of the Sqenix musical trifecta. It was fantastic! I’m not as much of a hardcore FF fan as I am a KH fan, but getting to hear the beautiful, epic music of FF through the ages was highly enjoyable. Who doesn’t love a “One-Winged Angel” sing-a-long with hundreds of your closest friends?
This show, man. This show. I really did not expect a simple show about girls going on camping trips to have captivated me for the entirety of 2018, but here we are and that’s what happened. ‘Iyashikei’ is often confused to just mean ‘slice of life,’ but it’s more accurate to translate it as ‘healing.’ Laid-Back Camp is true iyashikei as it healed my wounds, watered my crops, and built my bridges. With its soft comedy, gentle folk music score, and overall warmth in tone and mood, it melted my heart into a cozy puddle every week.
The Night is Short, Walk on Girl
2018 was most definitely the “Year of Yuasa,” with Devilman Crybaby dropping on Netflix, and both Lu Over the Wall and The Night is Short, Walk On Girl coming to US theaters. TNiS is just so relentlessly enjoyable. The imagery is wild and fun, the color palette minimalist yet beautiful, and the characters are all so weird and wild but highly relatable in their early adulthood anxieties. I think about the drinking game scene a lot, and the back-and-forth dialogue between the old curmudgeon dude and Otome. Otome’s positivity and optimism towards life is infectious. I try and hold onto to that kind of positivity to get me through this sometimes-hellish world we live in. Please see this film, I think anime fans will be talking about it for a long time.
My Brother, My Brother, and Me (LIVE)
Those wacky McElroy boys finally jumped into my life in 2018 and provided me with hours and hours of laughs. Their absurdist approach to comedy and general positivity in everything they do is both hilarious and uplifting. I know they are super big right now so they probably don’t need me to sing their praises, but if you’re looking for some funny stuff, the McElroys are masters of it. OH, right, I got to see them live! Tori and I went for our anniversary and it was phenomenal.
Waking Sleeping Beauty
Thank you, thank you, Bill Foreman! As some of you might know, I am a huge Disney-file. This documentary scratched itches for me I didn’t even know I had. That sounds weird but whatever. Waking Sleeping Beauty is a 2009 documentary about the internal studio politics of the Walt Disney Company before, during, and shortly after the Disney Renaissance Era. Directed by producer Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King) it is completely made up of archival footage from the time period, expertly weaved together to tell the story of what led to Disney’s comeback in the late 80s through the late 90s. I would highly recommend this film to any Disney fan or fan of film in general. It gives a look into the people and personalities behind some of your favorite childhood films and shows that things weren’t always as magical behind the screens as they were in front of them.
I think this game has made a bunch of Third Impact lists already, but it had to be on mine too! Doubtless you’ve already heard tons of praises sung for this game and I think it deserves every single one. The gameplay is fun and addicting, the story and characters are all excellent, and it easily sucked hours and hours away from me. Play Spider-Man, it’s good.
2018 was the year I finally made my very first trip to Japan! It was truly life changing and perspective-inducing in a lot of ways, but one of the most stand out experiences of the trip was getting to visit Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea. I had never been to a Disney park outside of WDW, much less an international park, so getting to experience TDL was a interesting and intensely fun experience. Getting to compare the attractions I love at WDW to their Japan counterparts was probably the most fun part of it, and seeing all the unique offerings at Disney Sea was just awe inspiring. That might be the coolest and most beautiful theme park ever built. I hate we couldn’t spend more time there! There’s a lot more specifics I could go into with regards to Tokyo Disney Land, but I will just let my short vlog speak for it instead.
There were a lot of cool things in 2018. Lots of good times, along with the not-so-good ones. I hope you can look back at your year and say the same. My sincerest wishes for y’all to have a great and healthy 2019. Here’s to it!