Tag Archives: friendship

Big Hero 6: The Series (Cartoon)

Disney Television Animation & Man of Action Studios

Status: Ongoing (currently 1 season/22 episodes)

My rating: 5 of 5

They didn’t set out to be heroes (well, except for maybe Fred). Certainly, after handling the mess with Callaghan, Hiro Hamada and his friends were more than ready to put away their super suits and dive into the challenges that “nerd school” presents them, especially with an intimidatingly impressive new dean at the school. But it seems there’s a new villain in San Fransokyo, and the Big Hero 6 team is needed. So Hiro, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go, Fred, and Baymax don their secret identities and work hard (and smart) to protect their city–while also facing the challenges of being students at a highly advanced university. Good thing they’ve got each other to rely on.

Big Hero 6 is one of my favorite movies, period, and it’s grown on me with each time I’ve watched it (several times at this point). Big Hero 6: The Series picks up where the movie left off, although it retcons the ending just a smidge to make it work better as a series. I really love that Disney chose to take this tack with the story as opposed to doing another movie; it works so much better for this particular story. All the things that I love from the movie are here–the amazing characters, the neat art style, the great blend of action and humor, and the emphasis on character and doing what’s right. But because of its being a series, it’s allowed to be its own thing and develop in its own way as well. For instance, the art maintains the lines and general style of the movie, but rather than being the CGI style of the movie, it’s more of a traditional 2D animation–it manages to be soft, detailed, and very attractive while still lending itself to the action and comedy elements well. This is a smart show in that the characters are smart and there’s a lot of science thrown in, but it’s certainly not a hard-science story; you’ve got villains who completely defy all known science, for instance, and even the science that’s used is always secondary to the story. And the storytelling and characterizations are where this series truly shines. You’ve got the same brilliant, lovable characters that we were introduced to in the movie, but here they’re allowed more time to be developed gradually in more different circumstances; they truly shine, and I love them. The stories themselves tend to be episodic while tying in to a bigger plot that gradually unfolds (I do recommend watching in order), with some episodes being more focused on handling villains and others dealing more with normal everyday life–school, friendships, making good choices, that sort of thing. Usually, there’s a good mix of both, though, with enough humor  to make me laugh aloud at least once per episode. As far as the intended audience, well, I enjoy it as an adult, but it’s rated TV-Y7, I believe, and I would feel completely comfortable letting my 4-year-old niece watch it. There’s some superhero action/violence, but they keep it pretty safe on the whole; no blood or anything like that. Definitely recommended, especially if you enjoyed the movie.

Developed by Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley, & Nick Filippi/Directed by Stephen Heneveld, Ben Juwono, Kathleen Good, & Kenji Ono/Starring Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Genesis Rodriguez, Khary Payton, Brooks Wheelan, & Maya Rudolph/Music by Adam Berry

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: Kanna’s Daily Life (Manga)

Mangaka: Mitsuhiro Kimura

Spinoff of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid by coolkyosinnjya

Status: Ongoing (currently 3 volumes)

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Kanna originally left her homeworld for the human world to follow after Tohru, her dragon senpai. Finding Tohru happily settled in with the human Kobayashi-san, working as her maid, Kanna moved in with them–the more the merrier, right? Now Kanna is living disguised as an (adorable) human elementary-school student, going to school, making friends (especially Saikawa, who has a huuuuuge crush on her), dealing with bullies, and generally experiencing human life . . . all without revealing her true identity as a dragon herself.

This adorable, fluffy manga is exactly what it sounds like: a spinoff of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, focusing on the daily activities of the little dragon girl, Kanna. While knowledge of the original manga is not required to enjoy this spinoff, it is referenced, and characters relationships and such will be easier to understand with at least a bit of prior knowledge of the original story. But this story really does hone in on Kanna specifically. There are a lot of chapters about her friendship with Saikawa (and yes, those have an innocent but distinctly present shoujo-ai flair, much like the interactions between Tomoyo and Sakura in Cardcaptor Sakura), which are really cute and sweet. There are also several family-centric chapters, with Tohru, Kobayashi, and Kanna just enjoying life together. And for those who love the extended cast, yes there are chapters including Fafnir, Ilulu, Shouta, and the lot. The actual stories are very cute slice-of-life episodes, each one focusing on a specific topic, much like in the original manga. An interesting distinction here, however, is that each chapter is divided into single-page 4-koma comics; a nice change-up, especially if you enjoy the 4-koma style (I do, personally). As for the art, it’s similar enough to coolkyosinnjya’s in the character designs and such that it’s hard to tell a difference, although the art here may be just a smidge neater–again, it’s all really cutesy. Recommended for fans of the original manga (although do be aware that it’s by a different author) and for those who just enjoy cute, slice-of-life manga.

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Danny Phantom (2004-2007 Cartoon)

Billionfold Studios with Nickelodeon

Status: Complete (3 Seasons/53 Episodes)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Fourteen-year-old Danny Fenton’s life gets a lot more interesting when an accident in his ghost-hunting parents’ lab transforms him into a half-ghost, a halfa as the other ghosts in Amity Park soon begin calling him. The change definitely comes with some cool powers–invisibility, intangibility, and the ability to sense when other ghosts are around, to name a few. But life isn’t all cool abilities and fun; Danny’s parents have built a portal into the Ghost Zone, the place where ghosts normally stay, and now the ghosts are spilling out and causing havoc all over town. And since his folks are well meaning but not exactly the most competent hunters ever, Danny finds himself in the position of being one of the only people who can do anything about Amity Park’s ghost problem. And with the help of his two best friends, techno-geek Tucker and goth-girl Sam, he sets out to do just that . . . which would be way easier if he didn’t have to also keep up with school, dodge bullies, and keep his ghost half a secret from his parents!

Danny Phantom is one of those cartoons that I kind of wish I had discovered as a kid because I’m pretty sure I would have loved it. As it is, watching this as an adult is still pretty cool. The show has a strong Nickelodeon vibe, which is something that I unfortunately can’t solidly define; it’s just something that you know when you see it. But seriously, while falling solidly into the cartoon category, Danny Phantom manages to be engaging and fun in a way that most cartoons just miss. The comic-inspired superhero storyline is a winner to start with–complete with “pow” splash panels in some of the action scenes, which I love. The concept itself is pretty interesting, and Danny makes a good protagonist; he’s powerful and responsible for the most part, but also learns and grows as he goes and has his fair share of failings. He’s remarkably human, despite the whole half-ghost thing. He has some fabulous friends as well; Tucker and Sam absolutely make the show, Sam and her badass good sense in particular. Fair warning for parents that this show does include a certain amount of disrespect for authority and authority figures being incompetent; it’s one of the few negative comments I have about the show, honestly. Still, for all their bumbling, the Fentons do have their moments, and they kind of grew on me over the course of the story. As for the story itself, it’s fairly episodic with each episode focusing on a particular conflict–many of them with Danny fighting ghosts, but some with school, friends, and other normal teenage life issues with ghosts being a background issue. I enjoyed the recurring cast of antagonists, especially the way many of them become almost frenemies–a force to be opposed, but with plenty of punning and a certain casualness to the whole endeavor. But despite its episodic nature, there’s a broader progressive storyline that develops over the course of the show, which I looooove. Visually, again, the cartoon is pretty Nickelodeon with a distinct angular sort of style. I really like the color scheme–lots of strong greens and purples. It’s one of those strange styles that just works and fits the story remarkably well. Also, the music is fabulous and fits the story amazingly! So yeah, I would recommend Danny Phantom for older kids and teenagers as well as a fun treat for adults.

Created by Butch Hartman/Developed by Steve Marmel/Music by Guy Moon/Starring David Kaufman, Grey DeLisle, Rickey D’Shon Collins, Colleen Villard, Rob Paulsen, Kath Soucie, & Martin Mull

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To Be Shared (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: clotpolesonly

AO3 ID: 2212308

Status: Complete (19 Chapters)

My rating:  4.5 of 5

Rated T for violence; otherwise, no warnings

Arthur is mortally wounded when their small hunting party is attacked, and the only way for Merlin to save him is to use magic–openly for the knights accompanying them to see. Not even a choice, in his mind, between staying safe himself and saving Arthur, his best friend and his destiny rolled into one. But, being Merlin and having a great deal of raw power but very little training in using it, he basically shoves his magic into his injured friend. It works . . . but it also leaves Arthur with magical powers himself, a warlock in his own right. Now they have to deal with not only Arthur’s reactions to finding out Merlin’s secret(s) and the knights’ reactions but also must keep Arthur’s condition from the king and teach him how to control his magic–fast!

To Be Shared was a unique and very enjoyable fanfic that I would definitely recommend. As the author mentions, it’s rare to find stories in which Arthur has magic, and I think both the concept and the execution of it in this particular fic is wonderful. The author does a great job balancing the shock and emotional conflict with the easy bromance and friendships that are present within Merlin and Arthur’s small inner circle. Add in the tensions brought by Morgana’s dark presence and the fear of discovery by Uther, and you’ve got quite a nice plot going–very engaging, and balanced by enough humor and warmth that it makes for a pretty great read. Seeing Arthur’s reactions to magic, both Merlin’s and his own, was very fun and in character. I loved how the relationship between Arthur and Merlin was handled too–“soulmates” of a sort, but NOT slash. So you’ve got that warm, supportive Arwen dynamic going on, coupled with this intimately close brotherly connection between Merlin and Arthur; let’s just say that it works really well and is also pretty consistent with what you see in canon. On which topic, it should be noted that this is a bit AU from canon right at the start, and gets moreso the further on you go, but in a way that works and is logical considering the plot development. Honestly, my sole complaint for this story is that I wish that author used clearer section breaks; you go from reading about one scene and the next topic is a completely different section, only it’s not indicated visually, so it took me a moment to recover and figure out what I was looking at a few times. Other than that, To Be Shared is a really great story that I would definitely recommend to Merlin fans everywhere.

Note: You can find To Be Shared at https://archiveofourown.org/works/2212308/chapters/4849671.

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Endless Summer (Visual Novel)

Pixelberry Studios

Status: Complete (3 books)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Along with a group of fellow college students, you find yourself on a plane heading for a Caribbean island paradise. Sounds just about perfect, right? Only, before you even land, things begin to go awry. There’s an extra person on the plane, and no one can figure out which of you isn’t supposed to be here. A freak storm nearly causes your plane to crash. And when you arrive on the island, instead of a bustling tourist resort, you find . . . nobody. Eerie in the extreme, but also kind of tempting since you’ve got a huge resort stocked with food and booze, nice rooms, beaches and pools, and a fun group to hang out with. Only, how long can you have fun before the strangeness of the situation begins to have larger repercussions? And will you be able to find the clues you need and make the choices you have to in order to survive?

Endless Summer is another choose-your-own-adventure style visual novel that’s playable through the Choices app. And the first thing I have to say is, quite simply, play it. It’s a lot of fun, it’s well thought out, and it’s engaging. The art style is unique and in many places quite beautiful–especially the island scenery, of which there is a lot. This story is largely character driven, and they manage to create characters who are interesting and fun to interact with. Of note, a lot of what goes on in this story is driven by your relationships with the other characters, and those relationships are impacted by your prior choices. So choose wisely. The initial plot lands you on this seemingly deserted island with a group of fellow students, but the plot quickly spirals in an ever-expanding whirlpool of mysteries, time travel, strange people, and evil plots that somehow manages to remain unified and coherent in spite of the strange paths it takes. I also feel the need to note that this story is absolutely rife with geeky and pop-culture references–not that you can’t play without a good knowledge of these, but stuff is definitely going to go over your head. Personally, I thought this aspect of the character development was absolutely marvelous. The sole reason I don’t rate this visual novel a 5 of 5–and this is significant–is that a lot of major choices and story paths require diamonds (i.e. real money, in most instances). It’s possible to play, enjoy, and complete the story without spending any real cash–I did it and had a blast doing so. But you should know going in that there are lots of major things you just aren’t going to be able to do, or you should go ahead and purchase a set limit of diamonds before going in, if you choose to spend anything . . . otherwise the spending is just going to get out of hand. But despite that, I would highly recommend Endless Summer to anyone looking for a fun choose-your-own-adventure story that’s a bit off the beaten path.

 

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Secret Santa (Miraculous Ladybug Fanfic)

Author: TheLastPilot

AO3 ID: 5386433/FanFiction ID: 11644460

Status: Complete (7 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Talk about good luck! Marinette draws Adrien’s name for their class’s Secret Santa exchange, giving her the perfect opportunity to give him the handmade coat she’s been designing just for him–with no excuse to back out in stammering embarrassment. Little does she know that he’s drawn her name and is putting a lot of thought into getting the perfect, thoughtful gift for her too. Gifts exchanged lead to more conversation, plans to hang out, and Marinette’s realization that for all the glamour of Adrien’s rich-kid/model life, he’s actually pretty lonely, especially when his other friends leave town for the holidays. Marinette’s not about to have that, so she pushes her (huge) crush on him down and determines to give him the happy family holiday he’s never had.

I know, I know, this is totally out of season, but this adorable story was too utterly sweet to not post about, regardless of the season. TheLastPilot is probably one of my absolute favorite Miraculous Ladybug fanfic writers because the tone is spot on (pun only slightly intended), the plots are thoughtful and well-planned, and the characters are the best, most enjoyable versions of themselves. Secret Santa is a great example of just that. It’s mostly this sweet (like, watch out for cavities, seriously), adorable friendship-to-maybe-more fluffy story with a big emphasis on the friendship. Marinette and Adrien’s awkward but growing friendship is really fun to read, especially with the way they esteem each other’s alter-ego without knowing their true identity woven into their interactions. And yeah, we do get a great reveal eventually. But there’s a lot of these two just being teenagers, too–shopping, playing video games, hanging out with Marinette’s parents (who are also awesome)–and that is lots of fun. The sense of humor that pervades this story is just perfect, balanced with just enough angst (mostly stemming from the notorious Gabriel Agreste) to balance it out and make the happy parts all the sweeter. Secret Santa is definitely recommended, regardless of the season.

NOTE: You can find Secret Santa at https://archiveofourown.org/works/5386433/chapters/12440687 or at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11644460/1/Secret-Santa.

 

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That Awkward Moment When . . . (Miraculous Ladybug Fanfic)

Author: breeeliss

AO3 ID: 7770289

Status: Complete (7 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Much as she and Chat Noir were careful to keep their true identities secret from everyone–including each other–Ladybug was well aware that they would probably find out eventually. But she never expected her superhero partner to be her hopeless crush, the boy she sits behind in class. And neither Marinette nor Adrien expected to find out by running into each other in a back hall of the school in the midst of transforming back to their normal personas. Awkward. . . . The two struggle to combine their images of each other–Ladybug and Marinette seem pretty different to Adrien, and Marinette could say the same about Adrien and Chat Noir. And how do they even relate to each other now?! The challenges of teenage awkwardness facing these two could very well be enough to break the good thing these two superheroes have together . . . or maybe, just maybe, it could be the start of something even better.

Okay, this fandom is totally killing me with cuteness. I blame it entirely for my lack of posting much recently (okay, and I’ve been in a slump, but mostly I’ve been reading ML fanfic). I feel like That Awkward Moment When . . . does something special, even for this adorable fandom. Because it takes the reveal between these two and gives it to us in a lighthearted, humorous manner . . . but it also draws out a real, human side of this pair’s situation, a side that has relevance even to normal everyday relationships. It shows clearly how these two focused on each other in a surface-only manner and obsessed over someone who wasn’t even the real person at all. And it also shows a growth of real relationship that goes way beyond the surface level, becoming something meaningful and lasting and beautiful. You get a beautiful, real friendship that, yes, eventually grows into something more (but maintains a canon-typical rating, which is nice). I enjoyed the characterizations in this story, the way the people were written, as well as the writing style itself. That Awkward Moment When . . . managed to make me laugh (a lot), think, and even cry a bit at the end. Definitely recommended.

Note: You can find That Awkward Moment When . . . at https://archiveofourown.org/works/7770289/chapters/17722588.

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