December 30, 2020

A Top Ten for 2020

2020. It was not great, I think we can all agree. It was bad. But I wanted to make a list of things I thought were good this year. So that’s what I’m doing. This list isn’t in any order and it isn’t in any category of “thing.” I don’t feel like making a games list, for example. But hey, here we go.

1. Riichi Mahjong – Mahjong rules? It’s this fantastic overlap of chance and skill that is just intoxicating. I’ve wanted to be able to learn the game for years, and tried many times, but Mahjong Soul hitting the mainstream, plus the helps in Clubhouse Games, pushed me over a ridge, and suddenly I understood it. I don’t claim to be GREAT at the game, and I certainly play a lot of SanMa (three-player style) which is just ridiculous and swingy as opposed to “legit” mahjong, but gosh, it’s just such a fun game. I don’t want to undersell that it is hard to learn, but once you do it is just a lot of fun.

2. You Watanabe – Earlier this year I had this moment of “Who is a big fan of You and why? I just want to understand.” Even as I asked that I knew, KNEW, I would become obsessed with her. And so I did. You is great. She’s active and cheerful and as butch as Love Live lets their girls get. Beginner’s Sailing is a fantastic solo song with a fantastic message. I really love her. Now, my first Aquors girl is still first in my heart. I will always be a little demon, Yohane! But You is a strong second. She rules. Anyway I wrote that and now I’m going to go put Beginner’s Sailing on.

3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Despite some of the weirder colonialist elements of the game, they somehow did it and topped New Leaf. I’m very impressed. It had such great customization and they’ve done fantastic with rolling out more and more fun things to do in the game to the point where it’s basically a different game now! As with me and most Animal Crossings, I don’t tend to change things, so once I got my island to a state where I really loved it, I kind of fell off. It sure would be helpful to let me have infinite things to decorate a la Happy Home Designer or something to keep me personally going! But yeah, it’s just an all-around excellent game and I love Sable Able to death the end.

4. Nijigasaki School Idol Club – Look, okay, Rina is my girl, I love her. She’s adorable and her face is the Rina-chan board and if you want to see her face behind the Rina-chan board I WILL FIGHT YOU. I could have just put her here. In fact, I reserve the right to do so later in the list if I run out of things to list. But honestly I just have to give it up to the entire Niji group. Love Live has never, ever had a stronger, more compelling group of girls, honestly. The idea of making them all go “solo” was genius, to the point where they seem to be kind of slowly trying to backport the idea to all of Aquors, which I’m into. The anime really brought the vague concept of a musical story to the forefront in a way that they’ve been playing with but never quite hit outside of the movies, and I love it. I’m really excited about seeing what they do with Superstar after this. I hope they continue to go hard into letting everyone shine individually!

5. Gunpla – I guess I could have put Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise on here instead, but this is more about building tiny robots. It’s very fun and very relaxing. It’s even more exciting when you know the characters (there’s a reason I have built like every single Re:Rise kit) of course, but there are so many cool designs and honestly unless you are very particular there are so many little cheap kits you can build for an afternoon of fun. This is really such a great hobby and I like that I got into it this year. I’m probably never going to build as regular as I have in 2020 again, but I can for sure see me putting together a few kits a year. It’s just nice to make something that is physical, you know?

6. Final Fantasy XIV – I finally gave in after years of people telling me to play this and HOLY HELL Final Fantasy XIV is good. I hadn’t even really played a Final Fantasy in years, never touched XV or whatever, but suddenly I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan again. It’s hard for me to even explain how they game literally has everything. The story is very good, with very compelling characters that are given just tons of room to breathe and grow. You’ll hate people and slowly start to like them and vice versa. It’s storytelling games rarely do! The combat is straightforward but flashy, anime, and fun. The dungeons and raids are designed so there’s a very casual tier so you can just enjoy them without having to stress TOO badly about them, but there are hard versions for the hardcore types. And I mean, the FASHION. This game knows people RP and dress up and it just gives you so much to work with in that way! It is such a blast. I mean, the game has FISHING RAIDS for gods sake. It is a complete package, and getting to play for free through Heavensward is a fucking steal. I am excited to see the story through to it’s current end and I fully suspect I will keep re-upping every time they put out a new expansion to enjoy the new story.

7. If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die – As idoltrash I really just appreciated this show a lot. It both made it obvious that obsessing that much is VERY BAD and UNHEALTHY but also showed a lot about how one finds family in fandom and finds strength in those cheering for them. It didn’t hurt that it was very, very gay. Eripiyo is just very understandable even if she’s clearly making extremely bad decisions, and knowing right off the bat that her feelings are returned makes it very easy to root for her as a protagonist. It’s also just a very funny show! Recommended if you’re into idols at all.

8. Paper Mario: The Origami King – There’s been a lot of discussion about how Nintendo has been hobbling the writers of these Paper Mario games to keep them from recreating TTYD’s charm. It sucks. But man, they took what they could and wrote their asses off, and Origami King is just a hilarious game. It oozes charm from every pore. The fact that I care and love Olivia, who looks like just the generic “character who speaks for Mario” is just obscenely impressive. The game itself has flaws. The combat is fun but only about once for each puzzle. Thankfully the game knows this and makes it basically trivial to skip combats with no downside after you’ve seen what an area is going to throw at you. It is an all around excellent release that I for sure recommend.

9. Glepnir – I kept calling this show “Murder Fursuit” and while that’s not inaccurate, perse, I feel like it really does the show a disservice. This show is a little bit shonen action, a little bit body horror, and a little bit sexual horror, in a way that all gels together into a brilliant mess. Basically nobody in this show is likable and basically everyone is “right” in some way, but they’re all constantly fucking it up regardless, and have superpowers to make things even worse. All of the show’s obvious, in-your-face allegory about sex is not subtle, but also does not shy away from any of it, which I really appreciated. It’s very good, and I very much recommend it.

10. Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling – I cannot recommend this game enough. It is literally Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, full of the same charm and writing, but because it’s free from the confines of “Mario,” it’s able to weave a friendly but deep story in a really interesting world of sentient bugs and strange, twisted magic. All three of the main characters in your party are all charming as hell, the combat has a lot of interesting depth to it, especially if you try to take on the extra super-bosses (I did and it was a blast), and while nothing in the story is unexpected it’s all executed very well, like a well-done cartoon. I cannot, cannot recommend this enough. I already said that, but seriously. I cannot. Please play this game.

11. Iwa Kakeru! Sport Climbing Girls – I guess this list has 11 things on it. But this one is like… I don’t know if this show is really GOOD, perse. But it is exactly my bullshit. Ridiculous climbing powers that make me laugh out loud every time someone uses one, a strong sports competition story to move things along, and lots and lots of lesbians. I’d compare it to Keijo!! but honestly Keijo!! was going all-in on ridiculous, and while this has that base, it’s honestly telling a pretty good emotional story so far. I’m not done with it, but again, it’s my bullshit, so it gets to be a number 11.

Anyway, there’s some stuff I liked. Let’s hope for the best moving forward. Love you all.

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