Weekly Update

Final Fantasy Analyses – The final part of Advent Children: What’s Beneath the Fan Service released this week! I’ve been working on these articles since December, and it feels nice to finally have them all out. I’ve mentioned this before on an Improvised Incoherence episode, but writing these was incredibly liberating and somewhat disturbing. I don’t know if anyone feels quite the way I do about Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, but I hope you all enjoy my analysis anyway. It’s hard to believe I released two things this week because of everything that’s happened since, but Kingsglaive vs Advent Children: Where Nonsense Originates also went out this week. Another video comparing Kingsglaive to Advent Children should be out next month.

Marketing – I opened a Twitter account! Shock and horror! I also started harassing Advent Children reviewers on YouTube. What have I become? What have I wrought!? I got a response to Are Both These Dubs Korean? as well. I want to ask around more to confirm, but it sounds like the Korean audio track on the German DVD of Elysium (2003) is actually Thai. O.o

Other – I beat Final Fantasy X! After four months, ignoring the year that passed between my previous attempt at beating this game and this one, it is done. The time it took has nothing to do with me disliking it (I’m just busy and this year has been really weird). In fact, X is probably my favorite Final Fantasy game so far. Yes, shockingly, it’s not Final Fantasy VII. I’m thinking about buying Final Fantasy XV and playing that next. I’m curious about it, and I also received a request this week to review Kingsglaive again after playing the game. That would be interesting.

Also, I moved to Washington today.

And that’s all the crap I did this week. Now, I’m tired.


Advent Children: What’s Beneath the Fan Service (Part 3)

Hello once again, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children fans! Have you ever read a review of Advent Children and wondered if the author actually watched the movie? How about listening to reviewers parrot common criticisms about the film only to finish by saying that they love it? How can this film be so amazing and so unique and still receive dominantly negative reviews claiming that it is everything it is not?

Advent Children: What’s Beneath the Fan Service is a three-part series in which I debunk common misconceptions about what is arguably one of the most important CGI movies ever made. Part 1 analyzed Advent Children’s story, characters, and themes. Part 2 discussed how the film tells its story through action. Now, part 3 speculates why Advent Children is so misunderstood and argues its importance in filmmaking history. You can find it here.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope this glimpse beneath the fan service gives you the courage to tell people why you love this movie and why they should love it, too. What does Advent Children mean to you?

I’d like to thank Jack Gardner and Extra Life for supporting this series. For those of you who don’t know, Extra Life is like a marathon for charity, but instead of running or walking, you play video games to raise money for a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital of your choice. The official Extra Life event happens November 4 this year, but you can raise money whenever you want year round. Check out the Extra Life website to learn more, donate, and sign up!

Kingsglaive vs Advent Children: Where Nonsense Originates


Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children get compared a lot. They both contain extravagant action scenes, were created by Square Enix, and are based on games in the Final Fantasy franchise. Both also receive criticism for having convoluted and confusing plots. But how justified is this comparison? In a previous video, I talked about how Kingsglaive’s visuals contradict its audio and its general visual chaos. Is that all that makes its story incoherent? Does Advent Children have the same problem with visual communication? Let’s compare three aspects of their stories to find out.

Both films feature protagonists with inner conflicts that they must confront. Nyx in Kingsglaive deals with the deaths of his mother and sister and his status as an immigrant… supposedly. The film shows the source of Nyx’s torment through a poster board in his room, which has photos of his family and characters likely drawn by his sister. Nyx also watches a cartoon on TV that features the same characters. Nyx, however, looks at these things with indifference… or maybe rage. Is he tormented, or is he just eating something? Stop changing the camera angle every two seconds! He seems to have a fear that his past will lead to his death. Maybe? What prompted him to think this thought? He’s just sitting on the steps, and then, some guy falls out of the sky and vomits. Nyx hears his sister’s voice throughout the film, but these memories only cause mild inconveniences. Similarly, guards only occasionally taunt his immigration status. The rest of the time he just plows through them. [“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! Wait a minute! Stop!”] Despite the suggestion that he must overcome these problems, we don’t ever know why they’re problematic… except when he decides Princess Luna needs to know about his sister mid-chase scene.

In contrast, Cloud’s inner torment in Advent Children is clearly a problem that he must solve if he expects to survive the film. Cloud deals with the deaths of his friends Zack and Aerith and his affliction with an incurable disease called geostigma. He experiences intrusive visions from his past at inopportune times. He pushes his surviving friends away out of guilt even though friendship gives him the strength to fight. He feels pain and bleeds blue ink from geostigma. Cloud’s battle against his inner demons makes it difficult for him to fight the enemies resurrected from his past in reality. His inner problems integrate so well with his external struggles that battling his enemies and reuniting with his friends is synonymous with letting go of his past and finding his place in the present.

Kingsglaive and Advent Children also have bad guys that must obtain something important to fulfill their evil plans. In Kingsglaive, the empire Niflheim wants to steal the kingdom of Lucis’ Crystal, which it uses to defend its capital city Insomnia with a magical wall; obtain a magical ring from Lucis’ King Regis; kill and/or kidnap Lucis’ ally Princess Luna; and/or kill King Regis. If that previous semblance of a sentence didn’t clue you in, Kingsglaive doesn’t explain why Niflheim or Lucis care about any of these goals. Let’s look specifically at the Crystal, which at first glance appears to be the most powerful object in the movie. The Crystal is so important in fact that it’s the first thing that we see in the film.

Unfortunately, the scenes during which Niflheim steals it are so chaotic that they render its importance questionable at best. During a distraction peace treaty, Niflheim’s troops enter a smoky room outside the Crystal’s hold. [“The Crystal! They’re after the Crystal!”] The troops break into a room with a control board and a vault door leading to the Crystal. They blow up the control panel, which causes Insomnia’s wall to fall. [“The wall, it’s gone.”] Later, Niflheim’s chancellor and emperor watch one of their ships carry the Crystal away. It sounds straight forward… until you mix it with King Regis’ battle against robots and a menacing suit of armor and Nyx’s fight with traitorous teammates and a giant octopus. Additionally, the Crystal doesn’t look like a crystal, and this movie doesn’t like to hold any of its shaky and poorly chosen shots for more than two seconds. There’s a reason why the characters narrate this entire heist. “They broke into a room with a… panel? Where’s the Crystal?” “What is this black thing covered in smoke?” [“The Crystal!”] “Oh, you mean this window divider is the Crystal?”

The aftermath doesn’t stress the importance of this event either. No one cares. Nyx and Luna point out that the wall has fallen before they return to killing traitors. The ambassador and the emperor of Niflheim talk about what happens next. “The Crystal…! Well, let’s go see if King Regis is still alive.” With the editing and cinematography, stealing the Crystal has as much weight as saving Luna from octopods and King Regis fighting for his life. In the end, do any of them matter? The Crystal’s gone. Regis dies. Luna throws herself out of an airship and yet is entrusted with a magic ring that no one can wear.

Advent Children’s antagonist Kadaj wishes to find the remnants of Jenova, an alien being that caused a catastrophe long ago. When Kadaj discovers the alien matter hidden in plain view, the film highlights its importance by making an event out of it. The possessor, Rufus, and Kadaj attract the attention of almost every major member of the cast when Rufus tosses Jenova’s remains off a building, and he and Kadaj jump after them in slow motion. Kadaj tries to grab the box out of the air while Rufus shoots at it. This scene occurs between two fight scenes, but they all feel very different, which makes it stand out. This scene features a desperate few seconds dragged out into almost a minute. The previous scene shows Cloud rediscovering friendship power, and the next has a high-speed motorcycle battle. While we don’t know until the end of the movie what Kadaj will do with Jenova, the dramatic visuals in this scene foreshadow the importance of him obtaining it.

Finally, the protagonists in both films must follow the clues to reach their goals and solve problems. Nyx tends to just know things for no reason. [“Your hairpin. They’re tracking it. Give it to me.”] [“Pelna, get out of there! It’s a trap!”] At one point, Nyx discovers a pattern on an enemy monster and somehow makes the connection that it’s attracted to a hairpin that Luna wears despite neither of them bearing any resemblance to one another. Similarly, he somehow determines that a trap octopus monster is onboard an airship in response to his teammate observing enemy guards. These are relatively minor problems in comparison to Nyx’s unexplained faith that a suicidal woman, a ring that kills everyone who wears it, and an absent prince have more importance to the future that he wants to save than an entire city of people who might have lived in it.

In contrast, the characters in Advent Children know surprisingly little about anything. [“So what’s going to happen now?”] [“Where’s Mother?”] [“Kadaj, what is he?”] [“Who’s that?”] [“What’s this stuff about Mother?”] [“What do you mean?”] Cloud seems clueless as to how Kadaj will reincarnate Sephiroth right up until Kadaj shoves Jenova cells in his chest. He doesn’t know the cure for geostigma until he’s cured. He doesn’t even seem know what happens at the end of the movie. [“It’s like she said: ‘Wait here and Cloud will come back.'” …] The film provides visual clues for the audience to interpret what happened, but the characters don’t usually do this themselves, at least not audibly.

This final point sums up what Advent Children and Kingsglaive do that makes their stories confusing to follow. They depict two visual storytelling extremes. Advent Children shows all its clues but rarely interprets what they mean audibly while Kingsglaive states what difficult to decipher and non-existent visual clues mean even when that interpretation doesn’t make sense. I’ll let you decide if a blank stare is a preferable explanation to: [“Your hairpin. They’re tracking it. Give it to me.”]

So how do their fight scenes compare? That’s a subject for another video. Talk at you next time.

[“A man’s past is his pride.” “No, my pride is shaping the future.”]

Weekly Update

Final Fantasy Analyses – I spent most of this week working on a new episode of Speech Therapy. Because Advent Children: What’s Beneath the Fan Service didn’t have nearly enough about Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, I’m making a couple episodes of Speech Therapy that compare it to Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. I swear I’ll talk about something other than Final Fantasy someday… I would have finished video editing today, but because I’m traveling instead, the new episode won’t be out until next week. Advent Children: What’s Beneath the Fan Service (Part 3) should be out next week as well. Sorry for the delay, but E3 week is a bad time to release retrospectives on twelve-year-old video game movies. 😀

Writing – When I wasn’t working on Speech Therapy, I continued outlining The Twelfth Hour and polished My Eliza. One of the characters in The Twelfth Hour had vague motivations, and in general, was being a bitch to write. After spending quite a bit of time thinking and free writing though, I finally figured him out, and I’m quite pleased with the results. Now I can actually start the rewriting process… after I figure out what needs to stay, what needs to go, and what needs elaboration throughout the book. I’m planning to put the polished version of My Eliza into the Critters Workshop next week. That should be an interesting experiment…

Job Hunting – I got a request to interview for a job I applied for three months ago. O.o Huh. Well, I’m not complaining. I also researched some freelancing websites because, damn, I really like reviewing and analyzing stories, and it would be neat to help people write them and get paid for it. Apparently, however, every freelancing website (Upwork, Freelancer, People Per Hour…) is horrible for one reason or another. That, or people just like to complain about con artists and not getting paid enough.

Weekly Update

Writing – The final part of What’s Beneath the Fan Service got delayed a few days due to an unforeseen technical glitch. It might be consumed by E3 news at this point, but when it’s up, you’ll be able to find it here and on my social media accounts at least. I signed up for the Critters Online Workshop this week, which I’ve wanted to do for a while. Now I won’t just be reviewing movies. I’ll be reviewing writing (privately) as well. Besides that, due to another unforeseen technical glitch, I poured a large amount of time and effort this week into The Twelfth Hour. I realized that one of my characters didn’t take a clear set of steps to solve his major problem throughout the book, so I’ve been backfilling that.

Development – I made some progress displaying a webpage in an iframe and displaying its raw text in another iframe for the That’s not an Argument website, but then, retrieving HTML using YQL stopped working. It seems that Yahoo! has discontinued that service without warning. This means that WikiNatural is also down until I can host it myself. It seems I can’t put off experimenting with transforming my old desktop into a Linux server anymore. I continued stalling by spending the rest of the week on The Twelfth Hour anyway. 😛 Also, I’m in the middle of moving, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to it until next month when I can find everything that I need again.

Marketing – I updated/reopened my Google+ account this week. I haven’t looked at it since probably 2011, and it took me half and hour to figure out how Google+ works these days. You kids and your Collections and your Communities. I’m also thinking about opening a Twitter and a public Facebook page. One of these days, I also need to make a banner and a profile pic/logo for all of my accounts as well. Graphic design: ARGH!