Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll

After watching the anime Violet Evergarden, I was excited when I saw on Facebook that Konnichiwa Festival brought the movie to Latin American theaters. Of course, as I live just across the border from Juarez, I didn’t give a second thought, got my ticket and went to Cinépolis (the biggest and most popular theater in Mexico) really excited. As you can read on my previous post about Violet Evergarden, you know that I loved the anime.

Another thing. Though I don’t think a clarification is necessary here, Konnischiwa Fest made the movie available for three days only: February 14th, 15th, and 16th. I went on Saturday 15th, so you know this post had been scheduled.


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An experienced Violet

This movie shows an experienced Violet. She hasn’t changed much, though, we have the same girl that we loved in the anime. Only now you can tell that she’d learned a lot from her past duties as a Memory Doll. Her social skills improved.

What is the meaning of friendship?

Isabella York is a young noble that was sent to a girl Academy to learn how to be a proper woman. Then Violet is hired to do a different job: help Isabella to become what she’s meant to be, a proper lady. This time there’s no letter to write, but CH Postal Company made an exception because the request came directly from the royalty.

During her stay at the Academy, Isabella starts as a hostile person towards Violet. Isabella felt a bit useless because her temporary servant, Violet, knows better about manners. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a more experienced Doll; doesn’t take much, though, for Isabella to trust her. She began to feel comfortable with the company.

Their bonds grow stronger. Violet gained Isabella’s trust. She tells her about her past as a poor girl and her “sister”.

Bonds that grew stronger

The second half of the movie focuses on Isabella’s “sister”, Taylor Bartlett. After certain events that came from the Academy and Violet’s friendship with Isabella, Taylor travels to find the CH Postal Company for work.

The bonds that were tied grew stronger, they’d extended to other places to the point that two adoptive sisters that, for twists of fate, ended up cutting a distance from each other.

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Conclusion

Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll focuses on friendship. The bonds that we make and how their strength could make us reach others. Never forgetting that the distance is insignificant when the feeling is real.


I really wish I could speak more about the movie. However, it isn’t long, and I’d spoiler something. This is definitely a movie you should watch if you like anime. It is not necessary to watch the anime on Netflix to understand what’s going on here. I STRONGLY recommend you do that, though! The story of the protagonist, her purpose, and how she starts gaining experience as a Memory Doll is beautiful.

Violet Evergarden

VEVVER

Violet Evergarden is an anime available on Netflix. It is also based on a Japanese light novel of the same name written by Kana Akatsuki and published by Kyoto Animation on December 25th, 2015.

An anime adaptation is available on Netflix since 2018, consisting in 13 episodes and an original video animation (OVA).


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Where it begins

The story starts with our protagonist, Violet Evergarden, whom has been raised as a weapon and used in war as such. She was literally a war machine—a child that had not known nothing but to follow military orders. There was nothing but chaos in her life, and her feelings were nothing. Violet was a robot-like creature.

Everything changes for her when the Major, Gilbert Bougainvillea, adopts her. Or more specifically, was given to him as a gift from his brother to use her as a weapon. Gilbert, though, didn’t see a weapon; he saw a starving child that needed something more. To be treated as a human being, not a murdering object.

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Their bonds gathered a sweet strength when both our protagonist and the Major were walking in a market. He wanted her to buy a dress, something that makes her feel like the girl Violet is. Then she saw an emerald and picked it up. Violet told Gilbert that it looks like his eyes; that, of course, touched deep in his heart.

We also see images of war, and how Violet ruined went straight into the battlefield without hesitation. Gilbert realized why she’d been considered a weapon only, but he didn’t let that obscure his perception of the girl. For him, that was a signal that she needed humanity. Love.

Before everything had ended, Violet and Gilbert were gravely injured. The girl lost both arms and she was unable to drag the Major out of the castle, and he asked her to stop. And gave her an order, a dying wish:

“Live… and be free. From the bottom of my heart, I love you.” —Gilbert Bougainvillea

And with those words, the story starts.

The power of words

Words move the world. The words that had been written tell a story, or the feelings of thousands. This is exactly the job of our protagonist now—After the war, Violet is hired as a Memory Doll, and her job description indicates that she has to write letters in the name of the employer. That employer could be anyone, from a single woman trying to reach her brother’s soul, to a big company that needs to close a deal.

Violet Evergarden accepted the job as a doll. Not to follow orders this time; the main purpose of joining is to find the meaning of “I love you”. But before that happens, her coworkers noticed that all her letters are too straightforward, and even though sincerity is a good thing, it is not the right way to do things. There are many ways to build words to cause an impression. And that’s what Violet learns in the beginning.

A linked journey

“I will run as fast as I can to wherever my customer desires. I am the Auto Memories Doll, Violet Evergarden.” —Violet Evergarden

Every customer has a story to tell. Every customer is a new emotion added to Violet’s experiences. As the story progresses, she grows emotionally, becoming more and more into a girl her age. Someone that was hurt by war, but maturing at the same time while accepting she was never a weapon; that she’s worth as any other person.

Conclusion

This is definitely one of the best anime series available on Netflix. If you’re looking for a good drama, do yourself a favor and watch it.

Vambrace: Cold Soul

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I played Vambrace: Cold Soul on PS4. The influence it took from Darkest Dungeon is clear. However, I have no more references than that; I haven’t played Darkest Dungeon so take my opinion as someone that only knows this game.

The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, XBox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.

A dark place

The game takes place in a frozen city that has been suffering a curse inside its walls. Life is just getting harder and harder, and people have lost hope.

I must say that the atmosphere in this game is really good. I was expecting a few mentions of the world but not something very substantial. To me it was just a place covered in ice, but as you progress and talk to the the folks, is when you realize something is very wrong, and that you actually need to help them;the NEED help, even though some have already given up, and others are have lost their minds already.

The gameplay is easy to understand. You are alone, and as any dungeon crawler, you’re going to need to explore dangerous places, so you better go and recruit party members. There’s a specific place on the map and as you get near you get the indication.

Recruitment

When you recruit your party members, you’re going to find different type of adventurers with different abilities, ready to help you in your journey. Be prepared because if they die, THEY STAY DEAD.

Battle mode

During your exploration, there are many dangers that you will find: the first and obvious are the enemies. These will come at random encounters while walking–you’ll fight them in a battle mode, your party fave to face against an enemy party. And depending on your companions, the fights can be easy or very hard, so take with you whomever you think will be more helpful. A healer is strongly recommended, but they are not always available, so make a good balance between their abilities and yours in order to get buffs for the team and debuffs for enemies.

Even when you have a good balanced team you should remember that the enemies have different attacks that might kill you immediately, or at least leave you with a stat that will affect combat or exploration. A lot of precautions are never enough here. The difficulty varies, and doesn’t help that you have a Fear (green) meter that will increase as you walk into another room or rest. There’s yellow bar that indicates your vigor, and once this reaches zero (this drains way faster when the fear meter is full), you’ll die instantly, unless you’ve been taking some breaks camping doing bonfires in the rooms that allow it; but every time you rest at a bonfire, your fear meter increases. You have to be well-prepared for that situation, explore and go straight to your goal. Do not be afraid to give up if you see there’s no way you could make it to the end of your mission. You’d have to start the dungeon from the very beginning, but at least you learned from the previous experience.

Whenever you return to a dungeon, though, it will be completely different. It randomizes. And the problem with it, is that all the traps that you had avoided, reset in different locations. In other words: you have to walk through the same but different rooms if you decide to go back and continue later.

The traps aren’t a real problem if you have a party member with good Awareness points (three or four points) in front. Dwarves are highly recommended to avoid traps, they have a good probability to get rid of them and keep walking without getting a negative status.

If you fall into a trap, you’ll get a negative status, from a broken bone, to a blurry vision (which reduces that probability to avoid traps), bleed, and some others that’ll make your journey through that dungeon more difficult. And believe me, you don’t want to make the game harder than it could be if you’re not careful.

While you walk in a dungeon, sooner or later you’ll end up triggering an event. From finding anything suspicious, from gas pipes or weird ghosts. You can pass some of these events, but others are unavoidable. Once this happens, you’ll get to choose one of your companions to do it. I believe it doesn’t matter which part member does it, the result is randomized, so I believe this was unnecessary in the first place. I guess the developers tried to add luck to increase the difficulty a little bit more, because hard isn’t enough nowadays.

Seriously, I looked and couldn’t find if the result depended on something else than luck.

If you fail, you’re going to get a negative stat, lose health or vigor, or increase your fear meter. If you succeed, you get an item, a little more health or vigor, or a buff.

Side activities

There are side quests in the game. Some of them are interesting and some of them are not. Some of them expands the story a little more, and some others are simple. These are entertaining, I’m not going to lie; and most of these are completed while you explore the dungeons, so you can get the side quest item, “give up” the dungeon and return to the city to deliver the item. You won’t get punished for abandoning the dungeon before finishing it. You have to repeat, as I mentioned, the same but different dungeon with the enemies, traps and random events reset.

For each side quest you complete, you won’t get experience or very important items. These aren’t meaningful, to be honest. And I bet this is the main reason this has been called Darkest Dungeon: Waifu Version. And as you can see in the photos, the characters are very good-looking, especially the female characters. So, after completing a side-quest, you get a different outfit for Lyric.

Dressing room, only shows what you’ve already unlocked

I am not going to lie, they are cool. Some of them look great, some of them look sexy, and some of them are less interesting (in my opinion). This is a good addition that, if you look at other games, they’d cost $5 dollars each. So let’s appreciate our rewards.

Final impressions

If you’ve played Darkest Dungeon before, you might not find something new here, or maybe interesting.

But, if you haven’t played Darkest Dungeon (like me), then this is an interesting dungeon crawler that makes you dive into its atmosphere if you pay attention to everything that’s happening. Your protagonist, Lyric, is charismatic, and your party members have a few dialogs, too, to help you believe they are actually living being and not just soulless bodies that you control during your journey.

The game has replay value. Not the kind of replay value where you want to start immediately after the credits; believe me, you’re going to need a good break before you even think on coming back because the game is punishing at times. But you have costumes to unlock, different decisions to make to see a different conclusion. Of course, the game is not for everyone, but if you enjoy a good dungeon crawler with a hard difficulty and a dark and sad world, then I recommend you give it a try.

N7 Day

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TWELVE YEARS ALREADY!

Sometimes, you don’t need a proper introduction; sometimes, there’s something that is close to a legend, something that marked a whole generation of videogame players that went looking for a good story, specially a space opera. Indeed, I know someone expects a Star Wars game to be great, but we are fortunate to have received a game that surpasses it and even created a whole new rich universe for us to explore. Mass Effect, those who had the opportunity to play it are not going to let me lie here; the epic journey of the Commander Shepard, our protagonist, is full of emotions. Happiness, sadness, excitement to know what’s beyond Earth, and a lot more were created magnificently in this game.

Mass Effect 1

I remember playing the first Mass Effect. At first, I wanted to let it go because its controls were kinda clunky. The character movement was weird and the only reason I knew I was damaging the enemies was because their health bar was decreasing. Did it matter? Of course not! Once you’re in the story, nothing else matters. You have the option to create your own commander Shepard, male or female; you usually start with the default character (the guy on the Mass Effect cover), and you immediately start your mission: Recover a beacon in the human colony of Eden Prime. Your first enemies are the geth, the aggressive AI that is invading that place. At first, you’re going to believe this is your average story of the soldiers that need to face against these AI forces and look for their source. You’re right the first few minutes of the game. Then, everything gets complicated when you discover, almost at the very beginning, a traitor in the alliance: Saren, a Turian with the rank of a Specter, an elite soldier that reports directly AND ONLY to the Citadel Council. Just imagine the trouble that Shepard need to walk into to give the Council proof that one of the best soldiers of the alliance is now working for someone–or something–else.

Saren is controlling the Geth somehow, and the work of our character is to fight them as he/she tries to uncover the antagonist’s crimes. Though it’s worth mentioning that this happens early in the story, and you get the Specter rank afterwards; the main quest after that is to catch him, dead or alive, and make the traitor answer for his crimes. This is where everything starts to get complicated. Obviously he won’t just stand there waiting for you to fight. You investigate other planets and different solar systems across the galaxy, and if you’d thought catching Saren was the only issue among the stars, let me tell you how wrong  you are. Yes, the plot starts with this antagonist doing the thing he does; but there’s no clear purpose until the very “last” encounter against him.

The journey through the game won’t be easy, though, you must do some “bureaucracy” (quests) before getting the Specter rank, and after that, you’ll meet a lot of characters, good and bad, that are there to accompany you or try to stop you. Along the way, you’re going to discover a lot of planets, alien races, and history. Your codex has a lot of information, and everything you do, the dialogues you have, the data pads you read, and any new lore discovery will be added to it. The game is lore-rich. And so interesting that even pausing the game to read its codex is an entertaining break from the conflict.

ME1 Again

Let’s remember that this is just the first game of an EPIC space opera trilogy. A space opera that, in my opinion, surpasses any other that’s been in other games or movies. The conclusion of the first game makes clear that everything that happened was just the beginning of something way bigger than a war. It’d be the beginning of the commander Shepard’s journey along with hisor hercrew to see what’s really out there, waiting in the shadows of a vast galaxy.

See you all next year to talk a little bit more about Mass Effect, and its second entry in the series

Have you played Mass Effect? Did you love it as I did? Let me know!


There’s no way for me to describe how I felt the first time I played the game. The only thing I remember is that my passion for videogames returned thanks to Mass Effect. Adulthood can be tough and sometimes you just lose the feelings for your childhood or teenage hobbies. But Mass Effect, with its epic story and characters, made me feel as a child following a journey through space.

Thank you for reading me.

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El Camino

El Camino

The wait is over, Jesse Pinkman’s fate is finally revealed. El Camino, a movie that’s made as a sequel of the now classic TV show that was originally aired on AMC, and directed by Vince Gilligan, a decade ago. The show from the very first episode to the last was an unique experience. It wasn’t just about the drugs, cartels, and all that topic–it was the story of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher that is having a bad time; A REAL BAD TIME. By now, most people know about his journey, turning from a morally weakened Walter White to the most feared capo, Heisenberg. So there’s one question that remained at the end:

What happened to Jesse Pinkman? The last we knew about him is that he finally escaped from the Nazis, leaving Walter White behind, triumphant based on his expression. And that’s it. After that we got back to look one last time at the dying Walter. The end.

Two questions:

Do I need to watch Better Call Saul before El Camino? Nope!

Do I need to watch Breaking Bad before El Camino? Yes, you must!

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The movie starts right after the final episode of Breaking Bad. This time, we focus on Jesse Pinkman, a now former cook and former drug dealer. He though he’d finally escaped his–literal–cage. Finally breaking any tie with Heisenberg. The thing is, “it’s impossible to escape once you enter the business.” Right? There’s an opportunity here. He believes that.

Jesse’s tired and traumatized due recent events that led him to that point. He goes straight to see two of his old friends and they give ’em something to remain hidden. A few flashback will take place in-between the events of the final season of Breaking Bad to add to the nostalgia. Just don’t be surprised if you remember the characters differently; remember the show ended 10+ years ago.

From this point, I don’t think there’s much to say about the movie without giving any spoiler. It is too soon for that.

Is the movie worth watching? If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad, definitely! Though I wouldn’t expect much out of it. It is a huge fan service, and we love it, admit it or not. All these years we were wondering about Pinkman’s whereabouts, and now we got it. A good way to describe the movie is that two episodes where missing, and after a decade, the studio found them and sold them to Netflix for a good amount of money and our hearts.

If you haven’t watched the show, then the answer is: stay away from this! It is a movie exclusively for fans of the show. You won’t know what’s going on and you won’t even care about the protagonist. Same goes for the people that didn’t like the it in the first place.

Remember what we all believe Jesse deserves. That’s all I’m saying.


Personal note: I am glad this was released. Yes, I am glad to know what happens the Jesse, but it also means all the theories about him becoming a zombie during the events of The Walking Dead will be gone forever. Seriously, I know it’s fun to come up with crazy ideas for your favorite shows–I do that, too–but taking them so seriously?

Don’t expect our favorite lawyer, Saul Goodman, to be in the show. If you want to know more about him, you need to watch Better Call Saul, I am sure we’re going to get all the answers we need about him once his show ends. I’m excited for the 5th season.