How to Fall in Love with DnD in Less Than A Month (Or how I watched 400+ Hours of Critical Role and It Made Everything Better.)

maxresdefault
credit: Geek and Sundry

Disclaimer: I wanted to write this about a year ago, then around the time episode 100 came out, but hey Life, the Universe, Everything happens, then I just let it sit for a while, but here I am almost 20 episodes into Campaign 2 with too many messy words. Also before you read this there’s a way better written post about why this show is so wonderful. They’re one of the reasons I finally got my act together to finish this. 


 

Let’s get down to business… (to defeat beholders!)

When I first started Critical Role I think I was in the perfect place for it. Weirdly enough, for me, personally it was a pretty shitty place. Interestingly enough, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about Critical Role in a similar way. How it gave them something to latch onto when they felt adrift. I’m sure many others people found Critical Role in a perfect and happy time in their lives, and I think that’s great, I think that’s wonderful! I don’t think it makes you love it more or less, but maybe differently. Maybe not. I can only speak for myself.  I’m not sorry to call myself one these people, because if anything I believe it shows how much this web stream reaches out and welcomes you into its fold. How much it gives those who find it a community when before they felt alone.

I first heard about the show through, shocker, the internet. A dear friend of my had been watching for a few months and others in my web sphere were doing the same. Or just talking about DnD, which I had never really encountered in my web sphere before. I think we can all thank Stranger Things for that visibility boost, but DnD, and Critical Role predates it. Still, it was a foreign concept for me. I knew what DnD was, again, thanks Stranger Things, and that one episode of Community, but it felt inaccessible to me. First, a tabletop RPG sounds a bit dated in the this age of video game with they’re shiny graphics and intricate storylines. Secondly, DnD has had a bit of a boys club cloud that hung over it which doesn’t immediately make it something I want to engage with.

So I never looked further into it. I’m pretty into many other things and to be fair, in my fannish circle it just wasn’t a thing. Until it was.

My friends were talking about— my almost exclusively female friends, which already made me rethink any previous ideas I had in my mind about it —  and suddenly it felt more welcoming. It sounded interesting at the very least and I’m a curious soul. Even if I don’t end up liking something, I like to give it a chance. Six episodes with normal tv, an hour for movies usually. So I told myself, it’s three hours per episode, Ari, you can do one or two and see how it goes. I’m so glad I did with Critical Role.

Okay, okay, okay… let me rewind a little to when I first started watching and not why I suddenly did. I had just finished my degree, my work was part time, my social life was…. eh, and I know how I’m making myself sound, but the fact is, for me personally, fandom and media have alway been a good coping tool for mild depression and social anxiety I live with , and during that time I had too much time in the day to think about all the things I wasn’t doing right even as I looked for jobs, asked of more hours at work, and started to really build important friendships. I was doing all these things, but I had still had too much time to think about the stuff I wasn’t doing (right).

Clicking that first video was a bit of a question. Would I like it? Could I commit three hours of my day to it? (LOL, of course I could, I’ve binged entire seasons of tv in one sitting.) Could I commit three hours of my life of watching people play a game? How does that work anyway? Not knowing anything about Dungeons and Dragons would I understand it? Did I have enough snacks? Did I buy toilet paper when I bought the snacks?

The answers to these questions I pretty much figured out during that first episode. (I had to go back out and buy toilet paper.) Some answers took a little longer for me to be sure about.

Firstly, I was immediately intrigued about the dynamics of playing a character while also just chatting with your friends. RPing with friends online is easy… you can have two chats, plus parentheses, but you also have jokes and things people outside the chat just wouldn’t get. I was a bit curious how that would work on a streaming platform.

The brilliant thing about Critical Role (and DnD as I’ve come to realise) is not just the game, but the players. The trust they have in each other, the quality of performance they give, the care they take in making the moment authentic, they way they laugh together and  sometimes cry together. So really, at first, I wasn’t paying attention to the game, per say, as a game, but to the actors as characters. To their interactions, their personalities, their relationships in and out of character. People after all are fascinating to watch when they’re good at something. I remember one of my first twitter posts (I live tweet a lot of what I watch) talking about how much I enjoyed the awkward lizard man and how the bard cracked me and everyone else up with his free styling of popular songs. I’d quickly learn everyone’s name, but that wouldn’t be for another four hours.

It was slow going. I took a break from that first episode at least three times, watched Dancing With The Stars and Masterchef Australia (aka the best one) in between, and go back to it. It was a wild ride. I don’t remember all the details of the episode, the battles, but I remember being interested and confused. Maybe more confused than anything, I’m not going to pretend. I didn’t think I’d wanted to do another episode, but I really wanted to finish at least one.

When I did it was the moment I realised I wanted to watch the next one.

Before that moment I didn’t know, but as the game ended, they all grinned at each other and I went: Yeah, ok, I wanna know what happens next and I pressed play for the next episode. Slowly, again, I made my way through it. Couple pauses here and there. More Masterchef AU, some Supergirl, one or two Brooklyn Nine Nines. Then I started to pause less and less, you know, unless I had to go work, and even then I would play it on my commute, on my lunch, my break. People would ask me how I was getting through so many episodes so quickly. Well, I was immersed.

I didn’t think I would be, and I didn’t realise why I was right away. It’s like when you realise your favourite thing is your favourite thing because suddenly other things don’t make you giddy.

Slowly, again, I began to make sense of all the reasons I was becoming incredibly attached to the show.

I felt welcome in this space. I didn’t need to know the rules of the game, I was learning them, I didn’t need to feel confused about the story because it was evolving before me. The cast didn’t care that that I didn’t know the rules or the story. The rules were slightly new for them too, they had just come Pathfinder, and the story was evolving before their eyes too. All they cared about was having fun with their friends for three hours and that’s honestly what I needed at the time. Someplace to have fun, to enjoy something for a few hours before you went back to the real world. Watching them made me want that kind of safe space in friendship, something they extended into their characters. These people, these characters were a family. A messy one with histories and stories that made life complicated but at the end of the day they were there for each other.

Did Vax’ildan and Vex’halia’s sibling relationship in particular touched me, because I know what it feels like to have your brother be your best friend and the one person in the world you trust with everything? That’s a big yes, though to be honest we’re a little more like Pike and Grog; my brother is 100% a barbarian or fighter class. Then learning that Laura and Liam share a birthday with my mom somehow made me love them more. Keyleth’s awkwardness and search for self hit a little to close to home. Scanlan’s deflection in humour was all too relatable, and even Percy’s reluctance to let people too close, being too clever, while wanting to be in the room where it happen felt familiar. There was something in all these character that I could connect with. (By the way I’m from Draconia.)

It was really important to see, because as much as I love tv and film and the stories of self discovery, friendship and family you can find in them, here it was just a little bit different.

You’re not just watching their characters be friends and family. You’re watching people who have invited you into something they love, something that bonds them, something that made friends into family. It’s not something overt about the show, but it’s the core of show, and why I think it’s reaches so many people.

Now, as to why the show got to me and how it kept me company for hours on end, through long commutes, terrible shifts, moving house? It’s because how I began to connect with it as a form of media and community I had never really thought about before.

I’m not really someone who has time to play video games. I have played video games in my life, mostly in my ~youth~, sitting between my brothers and cousins, strategy guide in hand, figuring out the puzzles before the answer on the next page. A fun nickname I had in my house was “technical analysis” because even as I played it was my “job” to figure shit out. I liked that. I liked being part of a team, a worthwhile member of they party. Gaming is not foreign to me and I understand why people love it so much. And while I don’t remember which episode it was I know it was during a boss battle that the game as a game clicked for me. This is just like Final Fantasy but in RL, was the thought I had. My Eureka moment!

With that thought I didn’t just care about the characters, which I was already getting pretty attached to (my feelings on the twins, let me show them to you. No, really, I wrote about it.) I cared about the game too. I’ve loved the Final Fantasy games that I’ve played, I was pretty okay at them, too. Then suddenly it was dancing lights spark all over my head. I was like: I could play this! I could be good at this! I could create a character and have it join a party and have a story and maybe it’d save the world.

It was such a effervescent thought to have: I can do this!!

I mean, not really, it’s pretty hard to play DnD by yourself, but you get what I mean. It wasn’t a game I didn’t get anymore. I, not only got it, but I wanted to be part of it. (Cue The Little Mermaid “Part of Your World.)

I’m still figuring out how, but I’m pretty happy with my slow progress.  

The other way I found Critical Role was special in a way I hadn’t considered for was it’s live nature. I’ve come to be part of fandom by way to tv and film and comics. From Livejournal to Tumblr to Twitter, I consumed media the way most of us do: a prewritten story I love to talk about and theorise over; see if you can get into the writer’s room heads. See if you find things they’ve missed and while Critical Role is a story you’re very much watching it’s quite different than those other things.

First of all, Critical Role is not prewritten. Brian W. Foster’s crack team aside.

Sure, the cast has ideas about their characters backstories and thoughts about what they’d like happen, but they don’t know if any of that will come to pass. You can theorise and try to get into Matt’s head or the players head about what they want to happen but again they don’t know if it will or how it will come to bare fruit.

In that way, Critical Role is truly one of the purest forms of storytelling. It’s literally happening as you watch it unfolds. If you’re watching live you can’t fast forward to see how the episode ends, because the end isn’t written. You can’t preview the next week’s episode because nothing about it has happened yet. You’re not just watching a story you’re experiencing it with the people creating it. There’s no editing process, there’s no going back to fix mistake or flubs, unless Matt is kind. They then have to live with those flubs. They can try to fix them but, again, they can’t be sure of the outcome.

There’s a level of absolute creation and that is so engaging. From the joyful moments to the heartbreaking moments. It’s constant forward motion.

It was truly something that took me about 30-40 episodes to absorb and understand as to why I was so hooked on how the story progressed. It was a growing process for everyone involved, characters, players, and me included. Which is another interesting thing about the show, how character choices help create player dynamics, how player dynamics help evolve character dynamics. It’s an immersive process. Improv and storytelling at its peak. From Sam’s quick wit informing Scanlan’s bard abilities to Travis’ love for Grog’s beard becoming an defining character trait, especially in the fan art. Not to mention how welcoming these people were with the fandom that grew around them. The slide reel of all the fan works, creating shirts, hoodies, dice, and books for their fans. Their thanks and an appreciation for their Critters was and still is so lovely to see.

Personally speaking, they made me want to start drawing again after months of just not feeling my art, any art I made was good enough, and I’ve done a few little sketches here and there though I’ve never posted it the show’s art tag, but that’s me being a shy weirdo who still doesn’t feel quite good enough.

Still, it made me want to create. Something I hadn’t felt like doing and I’m still struggling with. It helped give me something back I thought I misplaced or lost touch with.

They didn’t need to know me for me to feel like they had accepted me. They accepted me the minute I clicked play on that first video. They had opened the door after all and told me and many others, sit with us, have fun with us, laugh with us, cry with us, you don’t need to do anything else but show up because we’re just happy to see you here. And when I first clicked that video that’s what I wanted. I just needed something/someone that was happy to “see” me. Personally, my life is way more together than it was when I first clicked that episode, but it’s nice knowing that every week I, and others, have a place you feel  welcome and encouraged to engage with even if you do have to do it 10 hours later because timezones suck.

Now quickly, I just want to talk about something I mention above but isn’t necessarily show related, though the show completely influenced it:

The brand new group of people and artists that it’s introduced me too.

When I say that Critical Role helps build a community, I’m not joking. The amount of support I’ve seen not just towards the show but each other within the Critters is one of the most heartwarming things to witness. The output of art is truly inspiring to the point I know it’ll be a long time before I ever feel comfortable sharing my doodles on the actual tag. When I say there are true artists out there in this community I mean it. By the nature of the show there’s very few frames of reference in terms of character design and setting that it truly allows artist to just do pretty much whatever they feel like, and not only does the show encourage it, they praise it. They love it, they made a book about it!

Everything about this show is an infinite loop of creation I adore. Life needs life to live and Critical Role needs Critters to roll.

I mentioned I had one or two friends who introduced me to it and now I follow and keep up with their personal DnD Campaigns. Seeing them talk about their characters is Pure Wholesome Content.  And as I made my silly over the top-way too many CAPSLOCK twitter liveblogs I slowly, somehow that’s been my pace within this community, got to know their friends who introduced them or already were part of the show’s community. .

Fandom overall is almost always a welcoming place, but I’ve met some people who not only liked seeing my tweets, but welcomed me into their personal DnD circles. They’ve me watch them develop their campaigns and characters, let me like their art, introduced me to a plethora of on online artists, let me talk to them about their characters, encouraged me to play? Not a single thing I ever even considered would happen that November afternoon I clicked on a Youtube video.

This all made me feel all fuzzy and warm and welcome. I thank them as much as I thank Matt, Laura, Liam, Marisha, Sam, Travis, Talisen, and Ashley, because they didn’t have to open those doors and welcome me in, but they did, and it never stops meaning any less. 

Advertisements
How to Fall in Love with DnD in Less Than A Month (Or how I watched 400+ Hours of Critical Role and It Made Everything Better.)

TV MEME: Day 19 – Best t.v show cast

Oooh. Ooof. Like in terms of behind the scenes camaraderie or talent? Behind the scene camaraderie is difficult because people can change and often do, especially when working together and at times living in each other’s pockets. It can either strengthen or break friendships and relationships.  In this day and age with social media casts try to keep and sometimes pump up that camaraderie for the cameras, but personally, I think it can be obvious when it’s not as genuine. The CW is very good about pushing cast camaraderie forward as part of the marketing, though a lot of shows do it. As for talent, well not all shows are even in terms of talent, but generally it’s easy to see when a cast is good.

First, I have to make clear. I don’t care if a cast gets along perfectly. As long as you do good work and do justice to your characters, I could care less if you’re friends off screen. It’s a nice bonus, for sure, for fandom and for the show’s social media presence. But not everyone in the world is going to get along. Just as long as you’re respectful and professional I’m cool. (Now, if your fellow cast member is a racist, sexist, homophobic asshole please feel free to drag them to filth.)

I think that, for me, right now, I love the Lucifer cast. They appear to have fun together, get along, and do a great job in the show. The Game of Thrones cast also seem to still (after seven years) really enjoy working together and while the whole cast isn’t as equally talented you have to give it up to them for having Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Charles Dance, Maisie William, Iwan Rhoen, Sophie Turner, Carice van Houten, Liam Cunningham, and a few other actors who really make solid performance out of mediocre writing, especially in the last few years. Oh, and yeah, Battlestar Galactica! Man they had a good cast too.

And you know what, I think nostalgia is making me lean towards Battlestar Galactica for this one. They were a great cast, who did very good work, sometimes even amazing work, and were a cast that seemed to genuinely enjoy working together, a nice bonus all around. Also they have one of the greatest promo shots ever which I’m gonna use right now. Because I’m totally not shallow. (Thank god this question was “best tv cast” and not favourite though, lol. ;p)

fb2103c088521f3a47ebf88670341e49

TV MEME: Day 19 – Best t.v show cast

TV MEME: Day 18 – Favorite title sequence

Ooh, a fun one. I think I have to with Lost‘s. LMAO, I’m joking and if you don’t get why that’s funny I’m gonna link you to Lost‘s title sequence.

God, I did love the show, but it also really began the trend of only having a “title sequence” that was just a title card of the name that lasted well into the 2010s. Before that shows had very cheesy or fun or cool or all three title sequences. Before the early 2000s and Lost‘s influence show’s title sequences were defined by alt rock and fun music in the title sequences with character/actors credits like Fullhouse, Charmed, Friends, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to name some classics. Some songs became forever titled to the title sequences of the shows they were used for like Dawson’s Creek, Roswell and Smallville. Shows on cable like HBO and Showtime would sometimes would have short, more artsy title sequences that more like metaphors or quick representations of the show’s like Sex and The City and Six Feet Under. After Lost a lot of network tv cut title sequences for minimal title cards. One I remember that minimised itself was Grey’s Anatomy’s title sequence that changed from this to just the title card you see.

So the way shows depict their title sequences can change for several reasons like trends and show growth — Supernatural’s title sequence has evolved over the years in that it’s still just a title card but they’ve added and changed the effects behind the show’s title to fit the theme of the season, Jane the Virgin has changed it’s title card from having Jane the Virgin over a freeze framed clip of Jane doing sometime to, well, it’s still a freeze frame of Jane doing something but now that she’s SPOILERS no longer a virgin they’ve got into the habit of striking out the “virgin” part of the title card and filling it with her emotional theme in the episode. That kind of fourth wall breaking works for JTV because the show consistently breaks the fourth wall.

This fun mini history of title sequences aside, let’s get to the question and I had a think about it, because there are some classic title sequences I will never forget, most of them mentioned above actually, because they’ve become iconic. Other’s I thought about because they are beautiful (Game of Throne‘s, Marco Polo‘s, Black Sails‘, True Blood‘s) and I’m a sucker for aesthetics.

In the end I didn’t know which side I was going to fall on, but I kept coming back to one I just think is not only wonderfully made, has iconic music to it, and is actually surprisingly informative of what will happen in the episode (the locations change depending on where we will be visiting).

my runner ups:

TV MEME: Day 18 – Favorite title sequence

TV MEME: Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure show

I don’t believe in this question. Nothing I watch is a guilty pleasure because I have no longer any sense of shame about my tv choices. I mean, sometimes I am shamed about shows I’ve watched that have let me down, but that’s disappointment. Other than that, I’ve owned everything terrible or great show I’ve watched. It makes me a well rounded tv watcher. Or someone with a very low bar.

I will say, that if anyone does want a great show that might slot it into this category, for you, I’d say watch Lucifer. It is super duper fun, the characters are interesting and enjoyable to watch. It’s not an overly complicated show to follow as it is a cop procedural with a couple supernatural elements, so it’s structure is easily to keep up with. Tom Ellis is incredibly charming as Lucifer, maybe the character pop of the screen, Lauren German plays the usually portrayed straight laced cop with a sense of fun and irony. The rest of the supporting cast elevate themselves and their characters so much, anchoring them to the story and the found family dynamic that the show builds up. It also has one of the best kid characters on tv at the moment. Trixie Decker is a gem of a child.

All in all, if you want a show that is a pleasure to watch go to Lucifer. Feel no guilt over it, though, the Lord of Hell wouldn’t want you to.

Here are some trailers:

TV MEME: Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure show

TV MEME: Day 15 – Favorite female character

OH I LOVE THIS QUESTION, because now I can talk about my favest gal, Vala Mal Doran (Stargate SG-1). She was only in my life for about 26 episodes and a couple movies, but I loved her so much. She also, unlike Clark, came into my life way later. In my 20s later.

I think before Vala my favourite female character would have been Minako or Maria DeLuca. Personally, I always leaned to having more favourite female characters than male ones. If I had to make a list of all my favourite female vs. male characters, the female’s side would be way longer. I could have easily gone with a several formative female characters here that have defined my tv life: Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon), Minako Aino (Sailor Moon), Cordelia Chase (BTVS/Angel), Buffy Summers (BTVS), Maria Deluca (Roswell), Aeryn Sun (Farscape), Juliet Burke (Lost), Lois Lane (Lois & Clark/Smallville/JLU), Betty Suarez (Ugly Betty), and many others, but when it comes to this question Vala is the first one that always pops into my mind.

It happened one night. Probably. It happened during a Stargate SG-1 rewatch I decided to, because I had been watching Stargate Atlantis, as you do. I started from season one and made my way through the show casually for seven seasons. Then. Vala!

Vala literally crashed into the show and my life in season 8, so well into a very established show with very establish character and stole my heart. She was only meant to have an one episode guest role, but when the show did a little restructuring in season 9, they clearly saw the magic that I saw and brought her back. Not for long, because of Claudia Black’s real life pregnancy, they later wrote into the show and her character arc, but she was then made a main character in season 10 until the end of the show and the following two movies.

The thing with Stargate SG-1 is that it was not a great show. It was very much of its time and it writing was never as nuanced and intricate as it could have been, even with all the complexities it gave their characters. So all in all it was a fair standard scifi procedural. And did you see that magic word? Scifi? Oh yeah, no wonder I already liked it. Plus, I actually really love the original movie it’s based on: Stargate (1996). The premise of the movie and show is cliche and simple: aliens built the pyramid but they were also evil parasites called Goa’uld. This is important to know, because Vala used to be host to a Goa’uld.

A big plot point of the show is saving the galaxy from these aliens overlord and freeing hosts from the Goa’uld. Vala was “saved”, but not by our heros. As we meet her in a quick one episode that was never meant to be expanded, we know that her extraction happened a while ago by aliens, and it was as much a traumatising experience as the take over of her body by the Goa’uld. Thats’ the thing with Stargate. It made it characters go through some shit but it very rarely followed up on the ramifications of what they go through. Vala was very much the same. She went through hell and back, saved herself for the most part, and came out of the other side a bit broken, a bit disillusioned, but still ultimately bright, fun, witty, and a survivor.

That’s why I loved Vala so much. She was a survivor. She didn’t think of herself as one, however. Or as hero, which is what she ultimately became. Her path to heroism was a difficult one because she didn’t see that in herself, others didn’t see that in her, but Vala always fought for her free will and later the free will of others. She knew what it meant to live without free will, what it meant to live as a slave to another whims, and when push came to shove she fought. And kept fighting.

Now, as I mentioned before, Vala didn’t start as a hero. She started off a fun antagonist turned ally for our team. She was a bit of a Han Solo, but she had nobody on her side like Han did with Chewy. Being a space pirate is hard especially when alone. Her growth into becoming part of this the team and her own person, was so wonderful for me to watch, because what’s interesting to see of Vala’s growth beside her survivalism is the growth of her softness. Vala unlike a lot of the characters in the show doesn’t grow and become harder, and more cynical, but softer. Part of that is because she finds a place she can call home and stop living a life on the run, part of that is because she finds a family.

She’s a character I hold close to my heart and I love very much. She may not have had the most subtle character arc, but it was still a pretty good one, made better by Claudia Black’s acting. She was superb in the role, giving Vala more depth than I feel was on the page for her.

However, if you want Claudia Black perform an amazing character arc watch her as Aeryn Sun in Farscape. Aeryn Sun’s character arc and narrative development is honestly one of the most fantastic things written and performed out there. I could have easily done this post on Aeryn, but I love Vala just that little bit more. Since Vala I’ve loved many other female characters, of course, but something about her will always keep her as my favourite.

TV MEME: Day 15 – Favorite female character

TV MEME: Day 14 – Favorite male character

I’m going with a classic here. Clark Kent.

I love Clark Kent/Superman. If you haven’t picked up on it yet I’m a comic book fan. I won’t say I have the greatest history with comics. I didn’t read them as a kid much and a lot of my comix learning came from tv shows, hence the meme, but I also grew up at the height of comic book cartoons. However, Superman: The Animated Series aired with less frequency on my tv  provider than Batman: The Animated Series. My television introduction to Clark Kent was Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. It brought Clark Kent into my life the way the Reeve’s movies didn’t. It made him part of my weekly world, and I fell in love with the character. Then I started to watch Justice League: Unlimited and did a lot more visual learning. Soon after Smallville came on my screen.

Clark Kent was everywhere! 😀

He is such a great hero and more importantly a good person. Yes, he helps people because he has the ability and power to do so without getting hurt, but the thing is he’d do it anyway. When Clark loses his powers for whatever reasons he’s always still tries. He respects the people he’s saving, he believes in them. He even tries to believe in his enemies until he can’t. Lois & Clark dealt a lot more with the earthly villains and struggles Clark would have to go through, partly because I don’t think the show had the budget to commit to the more galactic issues Clark, especially as Superman, would have to deal with.  Justice League Unlimited and Smallville put some of those factors more into play for his character. Because Clark is an alien. Earth isn’t his birth place, but he makes it his home. As a kid who had just moved from the only home she knew to another brand new place it was a comforting thing to watch with Clark.

I just loved seeing a male character like Clark Kent on my tv. He was heroic, and kind, respectful, gentle, and powerful as all hell. A lot of media at the time, and even now, likes to lean to the hard boiled hero. A hero with hidden or little gentleness to him. Clark didn’t hide his kindness or gentleness, it was a core part of his character, and a great part of why it made him such a good hero and just a great person to watch. On top that, because he’s so powerful, his enemies, namely Lex Luthor, believe that it’s because of that god like power would corrupt and should be used to gain more power. Clark’s narrative actively fights against this. That’s why I find episodes where he’s on Red K or alternate universes where we see the Justice League go bad, or or evil!Superman be a thing, are so important, because they showcase how easy it would be for Clark to take power.  (Although interestingly, evil and Red K Clark/Superman is always interestingly respectful about somethings. Consent being one, innocent people being the other. He’s never outright cruel, from what I remember, though a bit totalitarian. )

Clark, like Usagi (Sailor Moon), like Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender) is a main character and hero that believes in the good of the world and the ability of humanity to rise up and be better than they are. It’s a hopeful and optimistic approach that’s for sure, but it’s one I always loved seeing.

Anyway, better, smarter people than me have written great meta about Clark Kent and Superman. This feels a bit of cheat summarised version of all those things. But Clark Kent, the best of the best!

 

TV MEME: Day 14 – Favorite male character

TV MEME: Day 13 – Favorite childhood show


5257-SeriesHeaders_SMv3_2000x800.jpg

SAILOR MOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Look, these girls were fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight, never running from a real fight, they were the ones named Sailor…. Mercury, Sailor Venus, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter!!!!! I just loved everything about this show. It was about female superheroes, female friendship, heroism, growth, hope, love, acceptance, believing in yourself and others. It was truly the most formative show of my childhood.

In a world where most of heroes I would see on tv were male superheroes, especially back in the early-mid 90s, having this group of girls was so magical to me. I lived in a house with a lot of boys, from my brother to my cousins, so I’d have to pick my battles for the tv and Sailor Moon was one of the few times I’d win. Thank god, it came before Dragonball and later Dragonball Z.

All these girls were so special to me. They all had qualities that I admired, found in myself, or wanted to develop. They were all so different but stuck together and believed in each other. On paper they made unlikely friends, but that was the point. They were archetypes of female characters that normally writers like to put at odds with each other, but Sailor Moon showed that no, it doesn’t have to be that way. There was no one way to be girl, and that should be celebrated and supported. They would sometimes fight or misunderstand each other, as all humans do, but they always try for each other and their friendship and they helped save the world. A lot. They were superheroes and struggled with the classic superhero issues: dual identity crisis, wanting to believe the best in world, saving the world, obsessive and sometimes cruel villains. And sometimes they’d even save the villains themselves. And while the show started with Usagi, or Serena as I knew her until I started reading the mangas and watching the dubs, being a solo hero, it quickly gave her allies to help her and support her. And it wasn’t always easy, not for Usagi, not for her fellow senshi (or soldier, or scouts), but they never gave up. They’d fight till the end.

Usagi is also one of the most amazing heroes of all time, in all honestly. She’s a Clark Kent/Superman, Diana/Wonder Woman type character. Someone who believes in truth, justice, and love. She’s a princess, but she’s also a teen girl. She likes teen girl things, she’s silly and funny, and likes manga and sweets, and terrible a school. Usagi is the kind of girl who doesn’t think of herself as hero and that others probably wouldn’t see as a hero either, but she’s got the truest heart and she’s so full of love and belief in the world. And because of that she saves the day, the world, the universe. She tries and helps the villains that try to take her out, she’s a force of good and it’s very wonderfully highlighted.

The other girls are equally important and all get a chance to shine. They, like Usagi, have insecurities of their own, but they also have immense amount of inner strength, skill, and qualities that make them not just heroes, but amazing people. Throughout the series, they all get their own minor arcs and character growth. One of the best moments I feel encapsulates what I loved about the show and these friendship takes place in the R Movie, where they all stand together as Usagi (and Mamoru, her love interest, and their romance is also central to the series but not central to their characters — um, not central to Usagi’s character ;p) tries to save the world and they remember of their lives before they knew Usagi, the glue in their lives, and after Usagi.

Another great moment is at the end of the S Series, where Usagi goes to saves someone, a fellow senshi and it’s a beautiful moment that highlights why she’s is a hero in a way other heroes aren’t always portrayed to be. Especially at the time. The 90s were great for many things, but the action hero and the anti-hero were at their height and growing in popularity, respectively. Sailor Moon was female oriented and focused and on all the time, thanks UPN and Cartoon Network. (Though, they were horrible about putting out Sailor Moon S and SuperS and Stars, because they just weren’t ready and open to lesbian relationships and non-binary characters.)

All in all, Sailor Moon was my first show about superheros, feminism, and friendship. It gave me everything I wanted when I needed it.

 

TV MEME: Day 13 – Favorite childhood show