Thoughts: Dishonored 2 and Kids on the Slope

In the course of a very productive weekend, my days went like this: Wake up, start watching Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon) on Netflix, go to work around 5 in the arvo, work till 10-11, come home, play Dishonored 2, go to bed and repeat. Not a bad few days if I say so myself.

Kids on the Slope is a 12 episode anime series directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, he of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo fame, with music by noted composer Yoko Kanno. It’s a coming of age story set over a few years from 1966 onwards. The protagonist, Kauro, is a freshman high schooler who’s on the honour role and a gifted pianist. He ends up befriending the school bad boy, Sentaro and his childhood friend Ritsuko, forming the core group of oddball characters the series follows as they go through high school.

Don’t worry about all those anime tropes, this series is real quality. The portrayal of domestic problems, societal stresses and teen romance is spot on. The characters end up bonding over jazz, so if you’re a jazz lover then you’re in for a real treat here. The animation is so on point here, particularly the animation when Sentaro is drumming is so damn good. The music as well is amazing. The OP is so damn good, normally I don’t really care about anime OP’s, especially the ones with generic Asian pop songs, that I usually skip them, but I watched the opening damn near every time.

I was really surprised with Kids on the Slope. I rarely watch this type of show, let alone anime’s of this genre but I’m so glad I did because it was really amazing. The whole series is on Netflix and it’s only 12 episodes so I definitely recommend it. Also it’s a very Japanese anime, if that makes any sense, so I ended up watching it subbed just because the voice acting is really good and it felt more appropriate to the story.

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I’m probably close to the end of Dishonored 2, so my thoughts here will most likely be the final ones. I really enjoyed the first Dishonored as something new, the art design was phenomenal and you really had a tonne of options. So I was really looking forward to the sequel, I’ve been craving a really good single player experience after mainly playing the Modern Warfare: remastered and Battlefield 1 multiplayers.

To be honest, I was a bit let down initially. The visuals are noticeably dated, as in this looks far more like a good looking 360 game than an xbox one game. Also, the controls felt a bit clunky and it took me a while to get used to the sensitivity. It was like the look acceleration setting was off but there was no option for me to change it.

Thankfully, the game improves dramatically after the first couple of levels. The art design is still top notch and it feels like there are more options to how you approach things. You can play as either Corvo (royal protector and protagonist from the first game) or Empress Emily Kaldwin. I chose Emily with the plan to do a low chaos run and then a Corvo high chaos run. There are a lot of new powers but the overall number doesn’t seem that much higher than in the first game which is a bit of a shame. Apparently Corvo has different powers, so I hope they’re not just the same one’s he had in the first game.

The premise is basically this: there’s a coup involving a witch who may or may not be your sister, you get ousted, whichever character you don’t choose gets turned to stone and you have to take it all back. The story is pretty basic but it’s more about the world building and the little stories that inhabit the environment which are special.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with Dishonored 2, but I was let down by the visuals and initial clunky controls. It almost feels like this game deserved a bigger budget which it didn’t quite get. I remember liking the first game more after I finished it the second time because I discovered a bunch of things I’d missed, so I’m hoping that’s the case with this game as well.

*Also, Vincent D’Onofrio and Rosario Dawson voice characters in the game, plus Emily is voiced by the same person who voices Sapphire in Steven Universe!

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