EA’s Press Conference Recap – E3 2017

Each year it feels like the Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 starts earlier and earlier. With that being said, I took a day to process the information shown in the first major conference of E3 2017.

Electronic Arts or EA is one of the biggest game developing companies in the world and this year they were also the first of the large-scale conferences that large developers hold each year to show fans their latest games or updates.

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New Pokémon games? What happened in the Pokémon Direct?

To many, Nintendo’s Pokémon Direct that happened early on Tuesday morning was disappointing.

Being heavily involved in the Pokémon community on YouTube, Twitter and pretty much anywhere else I got to see the reactions to those announcements even while I was unable to watch the actual event. Continue reading

Is Cartoon Network doomed?

Cartoon Network is one of the reasons so many people, including myself, have such a fond memory and passion for animation. They were one of the three main sources of cartoons for American audience alongside Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.

 

While the animated motion picture market was, and still is, dominated mostly by Disney; Nick and Cartoon Network have been battling it out for the tops spot in the television department for nearly three decades now.

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A Deeper Look at NateWantstoBattle

When most people think of poetry they think of the traditional, on paper kind. Their thoughts drift to that of haiku or romantic poetry that they have heard, read, or learned about in school. While that is the most well-known form of poetry, one of the most abundant forms is music.

The average person doesn’t consider music as a form of poetry, but instead they put it in a category all by itself. This isn’t a wrong way of looking at it, but many others, including many respected historians and poets label music as one of, if not the most popular form of poetry.
Nathan Smith considers himself as someone who goes against the norm of the music industry. Even before becoming the big-time personality he is today, he advocated for his listeners and fans to do what they cared about and not what would get them the most payout.

The base of his fan community is built on how relatable he is and the feeling of friendship he conveys in each production he is involved in. His work ethic and slow build up to his current standing brought more people into his corner as his productions picked up steam. He is the embodiment of the phrase “started from the bottom, now we’re here.”
Nate ‘NateWantstoBattle’ Smith was born in Richmond, Virginia on March 1, 1989 and works out of an office in Los Angeles, California with his roommate and editor Brett Ultimus. He has been uploading music and other videos on his Youtube channel since 2013.

He has revived his second channel where he uploads gameplay and vlogs in his spare time, while his best friend Hunter ‘dookieshed’ Hughes has also moved out and into the same office so they could continue working together. He has recently started going on tour and announcing projects for both 2017 and 2018.
His work mainly consists of covers of video games and anime theme songs. He has stopped doing parodies of songs as he stated he prefers working with the original product rather than messing with it. His focus on gameplay has shifted to only the occasional series on his secondary channel and his co-op commentary with Hunter on their collaboration channel NateandDookie.

He has announced another completely original album and the sequel to his popular cover album ‘Thnks Fr Th Cvrs’ will be released between summer 2017 and 2018 and he has released many characters he will be voicing in the upcoming months in Funimation’s dubs of popular anime. In March, he launched a Patreon for anyone who wished to help fund the projects he does on his channel.

The fact stands that NateWantstoBattle was not the first and will not be the last independent musician to achieve success. He is however one of the most interesting examples.

He actively talks to fans and tells them to follow their dreams. He frequently hold question and answer streams hosted on his Youtube channel so he can get to know people in his online community. Most musicians would be limited to at event fan interactions, but Nate actively seeks it on social media and in his production.

Conventions around the United States and even a few overseas will fly him out so that his fans get a chance to meet him at their venues. His gaming background and videos opens another avenue for people to feel an attachment to him. When people watch him play games and tell stories with his friends it feels like they are conversing with him. This makes him seem more like a friend than an idol to the thousands of people who frequent his videos.

This lets him impact people on two major levels. Both as an inspirational person who for some is a goal they wish to reach and others can look up to, while also being a friendly person who anyone can view as a friend.

I picked the title song Sandcastle Kingdoms from the album of the same name to analyze for this article to give you all an example of his musical stylie. This song is a perfect showcase of how Nate’s individual style mixes with his lyrics and the unique type of instruments being used in the background.

The theme of both the song and album is time passing and how things change throughout the years. The opening of this song leaves you with an uncertain feeling because the sounds used at the beginning are not traditional. From there it talks about death taking everything and oceans full of dreams with someone being stuck on an island, alluding to the end of life and the many dreams left unfulfilled.

Strong reference to people not being able to trust their own words in life is used a few times and strengthens the base message of change in people. The entire beginning of the song is just comparing the goals of people in life to those of the dead before pulling them all together by saying it is all the same.

The theme never changes throughout as the lyrics move from talking about death being the end all and only your name meaning something to waking up and doing something to change your fate.

The song makes commentary about social structure and following blindly with no information being wrong and yet common. A few lines about kingdoms could be related to religion if you look hard enough at the context, but Nate tends to stay away from controversial topics in his music.

The final two lines in this piece strike two chords to the core. “Maybe one day you’ll find humanity. Until then don’t you dare say that we are the same…” The first strike is the theme culminating with this finale. The people who are dying without realizing their dreams and those that are just blindly following others are nothing like the people who put their all into getting everything they can out of life. And until they realize those faults they will never be the same.

The second strike is that this is a reference to one of his other top songs ‘No More’ which has a very similar theme (Smith Youtube). That gives fans some insight into the more serious context of the song. This is a great piece that has a lot of similarities to an elegy. The take on humanity and the undertone of helplessness is a great driving force to a strong song.

As of late Nate has taken a more personalized approach to his productions. Doing more and more original songs or covers of things he personally enjoys rather than the popular ideas. His tone has shifted from all fun loving and laid back to a friendly and yet emotional style that has seen his channel art and posters for recent works change to something that fits this new him.

Fans have shown their love for the new style and it appears to have amplified his already astounding creativity. But, while his style and look might have changed, his motives and message are still the same. I think his tagline sums it up better than I ever could.

“Hi, I’m Nate! I make music about anime and video games and other stuff I like. I hope you like it, too!”

Worth the Watch? Samurai Jack: Season 5 Episode 2

When I turned off the NCAA tournament to watch the latest episode of Samurai Jack, I honestly thought I might regret it. After watching it however, I can safely say that I made the best decision of that entire day.

While the premiere and therefore first episode of season five was great for introducing us to the world and giving us a glimpse at what Jack has gone through over the last 50 years, nothing could have prepared me for what the follow up was.

It might seem like I am exaggerating this episode a little bit, and to be fair I might be. But in my opinion, this is the single best episode of Samurai Jack to date.

Take into account when I say this however that I have not rewatched the original four season in upwards of two years so I am going off of memory and it is still a close call between this and a few other classics. But I stand by what I said.

If you are not caught up or for some reason have either not been watching the newest season or seen the original, then stop reading now and go do so, because this next portion will delve into spoiler territory. You have been warned.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

In the last episode, the writers slowly got us used to the new voice of Aku by making use of the villain of the episode calling him on a cell phone like device.

Many people took this to mean we would not actually see Aku for many more episodes until the buildup was over and there was a grand reveal, probably in some sort of menacing or evil fashion. What we got, in my opinion, was a much truer to style reintroduction.

How do we meet the conqueror of the world and lord of all evil? Well by seeing him wake up, don his iconic flaming eyebrows and go through a morning routine of stretches of course.

This introduction to Aku makes things perfectly clear that despite the much darker and meaningful tone of the final season, things have not changed so drastically as to make our favorite demon lord lose his comedic side.

We see him stretch and talk with a few groups wishing to pay him tribute, which while cool, defeats part of the significance for the back story of the Daughters of Aku from episode one. Part of the reason they are born and trained so thoroughly is due to their mother and apparent matriarch of their cult wanting Aku to come back to the world.

Hopefully we get a little more details about where exactly Aku is located and maybe some information about why he is there.

The second group of people who visit Aku are three scientists who show him a giant version of the beetledrones from the previous episode. They state it will finally rid Aku of the Samurai.

To my surprise, Aku talks about how he does not care for the defeat of Jack anymore and that he actually finds it amusing to see him run around with all of the issues going on in his head. This was a route I was not thinking we would see.

At this point it is still assumed that Aku knows not of Jack’s sword being lost, which I am hoping we see more about soon, so that makes this train of thought come as even more of a surprise. He tells them to keep trying anyways and slinks back down to his domain.

I took him seriously until he started talking in a slightly higher tone, and the next scene when he is talking to himself as a shrink made me laugh. It also gave us some insight into the events that led to the current timeline.

Aku said he destroyed all of the time gates in hopes that by doing so Jack would just die of old age over time. Instead he found out Jack does not age and he is distraught over that fact, but refuses to do anything about it.

Thus, ends our time with the main villain and we enter a scene with a single white wolf. I immediately thought we would see Jack hunting the beast, but soon found it was instead a simultaneous use of imagery for the fate about to befall our hero.

After the wolf runs into the shadowed tiger and its companions we see Jack riding his motorcycle and choosing paths on a fork in the road. He stops suddenly in a clearing and is attacked by the giant drone we saw previously.

We get a brief flash over to the Wolf before Jack uses his trusty spear to one-shot the large mechanical beast. As he is riding off again however his bike is destroyed by what appears to have been a steel trip wire and he is assaulted by unknown assailants.

A brief assault shows how helpless Jack is against these attackers and he is soon left in but a shell of his armor and trying to mow them down with a gun. It doesn’t work and he is forced to hide.

This scene where he confronts what appears to be the Jack of long ago is deep and very well written. It shows how truly at war he is with himself and touches on the idea of Jack walking to his own death with honor.

He manages to ignore his inner musings and makes a break for a temple, which is shown through a sequence that is amazingly done. His assailants are revealed to be the Daughters of Aku and we now truly see how much trouble Jack is in.

We see Jack outwit the sisters before he himself is outwitted and pushed to the brink. With one last ditch effort, he hides in a coffin with only a nearly broken sword as protection.

His position gets compromised and he begins to fight in what appears to be a hopeless battle against seven enemies. He once more manages to escape and faces down one of the sisters alone.

At this point I realized that no words had been said since the conclusion of the inner dialogue and I was speechless. Through nothing but music, sound effects and animation this episode hooked me more than I have been for an episode of anything in years.

The fight concludes with Jack slashing the sister’s throat and realizing that his attackers are actually human. There is blood on the blade when he drops it and looks at what he has done.

He does not have time to dwell on that as he has been stabbed by a dagger in the torso and the others are gaining on him. He grabs the vibrating sword he took from his opponent in the last episode and uses it to escape.

The last two things we see before the credits are a bloodied Jack floating down the river in a pool of his own blood, and an equally bloodied white wolf lying dead in the clearing from earlier around the dead bodies of the tigers.

Once more I am left with a hole in my heart where the next episode is bound to fit and waiting with baited breath for it. This series is shaping up to be one of my all-time favorites.