Berserk, vol. 1-41 (Written and Illustrated by Kentaro Miura and Studio GaGa)
This is probably one of those "Do you really need me to tell you about this?" things, but I've been chipping away at this since January and want to talk about it. My first experience with Berserk was ages ago with the Dreamcast game which I thought was a bit pants but maybe I just missed something, and I read the first volume of the manga way back when I was taking that manga history class, thought "What the hell is this?" and never bothered with the rest of the series. After watching some tribute videos following Miura's death I thought I'd give the series another attempt and... still had the same "What the hell is this?" reaction to the Slug Count arc. It's just some angry guy with a big sword, hacking up monsters and being a dick to everyone around him. The turning point was then the Count summons the Godhand, and it feels like an early "supposed to lose" battle in a JRPG where the big bads appear and hand the protagonist their ass.
Funnily enough, according to the Amazon description Berserk didn't gain much traction until the Golden Age arc, so I guess most people had the same reaction to it I did.
If you've never read Berserk you probably know it as "that hyperviolent manga where everybody gets raped" which... yeah, not gonna refute that. But it goes deeper than that with its lore-rich world, which personally is a better way to draw me in and get me to listen to what you're trying to say with it, as opposed to jumping right into the political symbolism (which I know sounds like a completely out of left field thing to bring up, but it's because I'm sitting here wondering why Akira never clicked with me the way this eventually did). Berserk is brutal, yes, and it frequently wades into the shoreline of gratuitously so (I hear even Miura thought he went too far with how often Casca gets assaulted) but it uses that brutality to tell a story about healing and emerging from your hardships stronger than before. And Mirua's stunning artwork is a juxtaposition of horror and beauty, one moment depicting intricately detailed architecture, the next wasp-like elves raping each other to death with their stingers, or a torture chamber where women are being held up by hooks in their breasts and getting spikes rammed up their hoo-haas.
Yeah, Berserk gets pretty fucked up.
My two biggest gripes with the book are first, as I stated before, everything with the Slug Count before the Godhand is introduced is just... meh. Second, the pacing comes to a grinding halt when Schierke joins the party and gives page after page of exposition about the nature of the three realms and magic and shit.
While Kindle is the most convenient way to read Berserk for ease of access, storage, and price as I snatched up most of these volumes for $4 each, the art takes a massive blow. Too much of the edge was cropped out, and two page spreads are utterly ruined by reading order since events won't make sense until you go to the next page and realize "oh crap, this was a two-pager" (unless you read the entire thing with the Kindle held horizontally, which makes everything smaller) and the gap where the book's spine would be. Sometime if I can figure out where to store them, I'd like to pick up the deluxe editions.
Oh yeah, remember when I compared the Great Roar of the Astral World to the Roaring in Deltarune? Turns out, the Roaring didn't need any inspiration from the Rumbling, the Great Roar already involved a rampaging titan erupting from the earth, and leaves the world filled with giant beasts in its aftermath.
Megamind (PG, Netflix Streaming)
I watched this on Netflix, but as of January 2023 Megamind has been delisted. I pinched a screenshot from somewhere else until I can order my own copy, which I don't mind because this movie slaps.
While Zangief's "just because you badguy that not make you bad guy" line springs to mind, Megamind got to the idea two years before Wreck-It Ralph. Megamind is a funny and touching story about a supervillain becoming who he wants to be as opposed to what the world expects him to be after he kills his opponent and has a "...well damn, now what?" moment. Hell, he only only became a supervillain because people kept shitting on him for his well-intentioned fuckups until he decided he was just going to own it, and even then was only doing the supervillain thing for chaotic-neutral shits and giggles as opposed to true malice. Except it takes him a while to figure himself out and his first idea is to keep being the villain which... bites him in the ass, hard.
Megamind didn't have the resources Wreck-It Ralph did because there is some bizarre inconsistency with the animation quality. On one hand is the expressive, energetic character animation, and spectacular moments like the drone lightshow PRESENTATION! But then you have the scene of Metro Man flying to the abandoned observatory, and the landscape looks like somebody's first Unity project.