Yakuza All Day and All Night

Sometimes you hear of a critically acclaimed series that is up to like the third or fourth sequel and it puts you off. There is just too much history to go through and the earlier titles tend to be unplayable on the latest console. Yakuza was one of those series for me. I obtained Yakuza 4 and 5 on PlayStation 3 through PlayStation Plus, but why would I start there? A few more years passed and Yakuza 0 was a critical darling on the Playstation 4, which I found out was the prequel to the series. So I jumped in and played it for a couple of hours. It was fine and I put it down for a few months. When I came back to it everything started to click in place. The story was so grounded and cinematic in scope. I was all in. Then I started doing some side quests and things went completely bonkers. Somehow the game juggles the dramatic with the absurd and it works perfectly.

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The Yakuza story center around Kazuma Kiryu. The series is one big grand story so it’s been hard to appreciate when only selected titles are available on the current console. To date, on Playstation 4 we had Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, Yakuza Kiwami 2, and Yakuza 6. The Kiwami titles are remakes of the first two titles that were originally released on the Playstation 2. The Yakuza Remastered Collection has just been announced this week at Gamescom. This makes me really happy because now the entire Yakuza series will be available to play on the Playstation 4. That’s seven titles. If you’ve never played them you should start with Yakuza 0 as I did.

The series is a third-person action-adventure where you will brawl your way through clans to do the right thing. Every game takes place in the same city, which you see evolve over time. The side quests contain some of the most humorous side quests of any game ever and there are even in-game arcades that let you play some of Sega’s older titles. Each game is lengthy and could take around 30-40 hours to finish the main story, and double that to complete everything the game has to offer.

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You can watch videos on YouTube to see if you’ll enjoy the game, but I think you should give one a go and see if it’s for you. There are demos for the Yakuza Kiwami 2, and Yakuza 6 on the PlayStation Store if you want to get a feel for the combat. And if it is for you, well, welcome to what might be your favorite video game series.

Robert Ring

The Doctor Who Plunge

For the longest time, I considered Doctor Who to be the epitome of geekdom. It was this show that carried on for generations. It’s so old my grandfather was tuning in as a young man, and under the same cannon, it continues to this day. My grandfather is the reason I began watching it. After he passed away a couple of months ago, I’ve been thinking about him regularly. He had a quiet and quaint presence all his life, and spiritually he must be the same in the next life because I haven’t felt his presence. The days grow longer when I think about the end of his journey, so I strive to find a way to make these moments bittersweet instead.

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This past week I’ve started watching Doctor Who, and I’m enjoying it. Before I saw only a campiness, similar to an Ed Wood picture, whereas now I see what I believe my grandfather saw, which were the possibilities. The Doctor can travel anywhere in time with his Tardis, and this makes for some incredibly creative journeys. When the Doctor travels to the past, we get a creative albeit Twilight Zone spin on a historical time. However, when the Doctor travels to the future, we’re given thought-provoking instances that humanity may find itself in if given the time. It’s the episodes in the future that I find myself afterward wishing I could get lost in a conversation with my grandfather in. I could have known him for a hundred years and never quite work out how his mind interprets philosophy, time and space. This is the trait I think he shares with the Doctor. If my grandfather had been educated at a university level, he might have become a great engineer or a mad scientist. I’ll never know.

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I do know I’m going to continue watching Doctor Who, and share in something my grandfather adored, only if to feel closer to him for a moment. I’ve almost finished the first season of the 2005 series, and a further fifty odd years worth of content should I feel inclined. I’m sure I’ll make additional Doctor Who posts in the future regarding the series overall.

Robert Ring

Insatiable

You should be watching this show!

Netflix dropped Insatiable last week, a show that came off a trailer that had people blasting it for dealing with fat shaming. Yes, the initial trailer for the show even made me roll my eyes at what I assumed was going to be the final product too. So when I saw it available to watch on Netflix, I begrudgingly wanted to see just how bad it was. As soon as the short premise was over where the title character had lost the weight, which was I want to say in the first fifteen minutes, I was in, and I enjoyed what I was seeing. By the time I finished the last episode I was a huge fan.

Insatiable begins with Patty Bladell, a girl who took to eating and became very obese, getting into an altercation with a homeless man that breaks her jaw, that therefore stops her from eating and becoming skinny. Patty finds the lawyer, Bob Armstrong to help her on the case against the homeless man. Armstrong is also involved in beauty pageants and sees Patty as his new protege. Patty set on wanting to get even with all the hate she had when she was fat intends to become a beauty queen to show up everyone who called her names. It’s an over-the-top premise, and it’s meant to be because it’s partly a black comedy. It’s essentially the film Election (1999) with beauty pageants, and a slice of My Name is Earl. The revenge plot of the show is the central inconsistency within it, which can be righted in the second season. The show is filled with great characters, and they all come together nicely amidst absurd confrontations. The show is just as much about Bob Armstrong as it is Patty Bladell and I think he steals the show; his character is excellent.

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Critics hate on Netflix’s latest tv show Insatiable. I skimmed enough reviews to see that the majority of them just don’t get it. Instead, they are sticking to the fat shaming labels that ridiculed the show from the trailer. I thought that the show would keep going to flashbacks of her character being portrayed as fat, but it didn’t. The first portion of the first episode is the only hint of what outlets are saying. Patty’s character is not someone who thinks she becomes all that when she gets skinny, instead she still feels uncomfortable in her skin, like many young women do regardless of their image. It’s moments like this that show the real heart of the show amongst all of the craziness. There are also some relationships that form in the second half of the series that are hilarious and ballsey. The show deals with sexuality in a way I appreciate as I’ve never seen it done before as well.

I don’t want to give much away because I think the show has a lot of substance that is not being recognized by entertainment outlets. The show has an 11% rating on Rotton Tomatoes, and I think it should be in the 75-80% range. Not only that, there is a change.org petition for Netflix to cancel the show with 230,000 online signatures. Seriously? I’ll be recommending this show for the remainder of the year. It’s the best new show I’ve seen this year after Cobra Kai, and I want to see a second season happen. So give the first episode a watch and see if it tickles you.

Robert Ring