Yes, he’s still alive. And his New Year’s resolution? The same thing it is every year: try to take over the world. But wait, before that, back to the “normal” suburbs to visit the family… And the stark amount of concentrated normality that comes with it…
Okay, so after being liberated from the education system, I wish you all belated Happy Chritsmases, Chanukahs, Kwanzas, and such holidays. And for lots of folks it’s around that time where you have some kind of lull in work, either from a winter break as a student or a day or two off from the job. With a smidgeon more time at home, what to do? Chances are there’s someone you know who doesn’t understand the passions of holy geek-dom, so how do you make things a bit more accessible to the mainstream crowd? Well, I’ve got a few recommendations of recent stuff you could show to a [normal] friend, your folks, or significant other who hasn’t the foggiest idea what the heck you talk about.
Anime Series and Films
For those who have no clue about anime other than your typical long-running confusing shonen, dive into your library and try showing that person some of these more recent titles.
Baccano! : I’d completely recommend showing this to your “normal” friend. Firstly, it traverses familiar territory; tons of average folks know of gangster mafia stories. While it may take some getting used to with all the various characters’ intertwining stories bombarding the viewer at first, as the watcher keeps going it’ll all weave together. Not to mention, the cast is extremely likeable from Firo’s fast talking to the debatable geniuses of Isaac and Miria. With plot twists, hidden plans, and action all over, you can even hook your own mother into watching the first half of the series in one night (true story). By the way, the English dub is fantastic too, to be expected since the setting is the US anyway. Baccano! will deliver your uninitiated pal confusion and excitement (with a small dab of supernatural to keep things zesty) all stuffed in one big cannoli of entertainment.
Eden of the East : Everyone loves a good political conspiracy show, so Kenji Kamiyama’s Eden of the East is perfect. People have this fascination with government secrets. Granted, the ending isn’t what one would expect and the two films that end the series have mixed reception, but it does give a bit to think about. The series is odd when it calls for it which some viewers will welcome, especially Akira’s encounters with “Johnny”. It’s not breakneck action on the edge of your seat but it does provide a tense sense of mystery that will keep your viewer asking just who is Akira Takizawa really. If the topic matter, the deeper underlying concepts, and the director of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex don’t seal the deal for your friend, hey, at least Oasis’ “Falling Down” is used as the opening.
Summer Wars : If your friend remembers the Digimon movie (well, in actuality, the second one, Our War Game) then Mamoru Hosoda is your man. The animation is stellar and the plot has a feel-good theme about the connections we have with one another. Summer Wars is fantastic but doesn’t go over the head of the viewer, and people can easily relate to a growing presence of technology; one look at the modern cell phone is all you need. The great thing about films like these is that it really shows animation as an art form of its own instead of the stigmas usually associated with it.
It seems these days when one says “gamer”, the first image would usually be your typical first-person shooter, and while there are plenty of great FPS games out there, it sometimes feels as if here in the US, people forget that genres other than FPS exist. But I will save that rant for another day.
Catherine : Yes, I’ll admit I’m an Atlus fanatic, but hey, it’s a short game and tons of fun at night. This is kind of for people that would enjoy playing Amnesia with a friend late at night, an interesting couples’ game if you will. If you’ve beaten the game before, blazing through the stages will be a snap, letting you and your friend back into that uneasy dread of Vincent Brooks. Best played in the dark for full ambiance, though play it with a significant other and interesting results may follow during the confessional scenes.
Phoenix Wright series : So you’ve got a CSI fan or Law and Order fan in the house, well just send your copy of the series their way and go to town. Snappy dialog and puzzling cases will give plenty of moments. The best thing is that in our busy lives where some folks just don’t have the time to sit down for a game, portability comes to the rescue. The game is more like a visual novel as well if that’s more suitable for a non-gaming friend. Taking down cases on the subway commute to work is always a pleasure and seeing Nick debate over stepladders is any way to brighten a dull Monday. PS: Also check out Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.
Valkyria Chronicles : Okay, so I’m not breaking completely from FPS, but we’ve got a twist on our hands. If your pal won’t play a game that isn’t in a wartime setting or doesn’t have firearms, break out your copy of Valkyria Chronicles. The game is a beautiful tapestry and the story is quite something even though it isn’t that gritty shades of brown and grey popular in your average FPS. Your trigger-happy comrade will feel right at home with the combat controls and tactics.
Anything mainline Nintendo. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with Nintendo; it holds some kind of place in people’s pasts at the very least. From days kicking around the old N64 or SNES, it’s old reliable. So why keep those great games locked in the past? Mario and Kirby are great go to guys for platformers. The Zelda series has been especially kind with Skyward Sword and the Ocarina of Time remake. Relive great times with Starfox 64 remade in 3D, and last but not least Pokemon continues to provide that PVP based RPG experience. You have your genres covered, no joke.
Hopefully any of these suggestions have given you ideas on how to share your hobbies and interests. I’ll stand by the adage that anything from sports, to games, to hobbies is more enjoyable when enjoyed with others. At the very least, if your friend is interested, he or she will have a deeper look into something new. Join me next year when I teach children how to skin wild boars with their bare teeth. Happy New Year’s readers.