Black Mirror – Bandersnatch Review

Hey guys! Today we’re looking at a major Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch. This was very different from the others, but I loved the concept all the same.

Today, instead of doing a play-by-play, I’m just going to talk about the stuff that I enjoyed, as well as some of the Easter eggs that may fly under the radar.

As you probably know, Netflix got into a lawsuit because of the Choose Your Own Adventure thing, which, interestingly enough was used by a lot of authors over on Twitter back in 2020 (see my good friend Tim’s Project Tasman, for example, now adapted on Wattpad). But I was very intrigued by this episode, and it was the first Black Mirror episode I actually watched, considering its gimmick.

On watching, I was unable to actually see the choices on the screen, so I had to watch this video where the commentary discusses every ending. It had been a while since I’d watched the episode.

Stefan is the main character. They brought in one of the many probation workers from Misfits into it. It’s set in the 80’s, so like San Junipero, I get major nostalgia vibes from it. Stefan is basically trying to program and sell his game based on the CYOA book Bandersnatch. He goes to Tuckersoft to sell it, and Tuckersoft was the company in charge of the San Junipero systems, which highlights the 80s nostalgia all the more.

There’s a huge emphasis on mental health dysfunction in this episode, referring to the author, and the glyphs that show up, the same as those in White Bear. For this, it’s used as the signal for choice. There’s also the Pax demon, noted in different aspects of the episode. In this episode, the endings vary wildly, from the murder of Peter by Stefan, his own son, to Colin Ritman’s daughter, Pearl, being a programmer for Netflix and working on the very Bandersnatch that we are watching, who is also affected by the issues that Stefan suffered. There is a hallucinatory experience, and the safe hidden in the house, and visiting flashbacks, including Stefan actually dying in the train accident with him mum as a child. Don’t get me started on the PAX and JFD passwords that result in jump-scares.

One of my favourite endings had to be the one where Stefan talks to his therapist about Netflix, and tries to jump out of the window but is unable to, and it turns out they are on the set of Bandersnatch that they are filming for Netflix.

Altogether, the whole story is a lot more to it than the creation of a video game. It also delves deep into Stefan’s psyche.

There are several hidden Easter eggs, such as:

  • The poster for Metl Hedd, based on the episode Metalhead
  • The glyphs, as mentioned earlier, were present in White Bear
  • Colin Ritman’s game, Nohzdyve is a reference to Nosedive
  • The Saint Juniper clinic are nods to San Junipero and Black Museum
  • The Tuckersoft website itself shows game concepts based on episodes such as Fifteen Million Merits, USS Callister and Men Against Fire.
  • A newspaper article features Easter Eggs from Hang the DJ (but could also be Be Right Back), Fifteen Million Merits and USS Callister.
  • In Pearl’s ending, there are nods to The Waldo Moment, The National Anthem, Hated in the Nation and Crocodile.

Also, you can actually download and play Metl Hedd and Nohzdyve using a ZX Spectrum emulator.

Overall, this is a very fun episode to sink a few hours into, and just grasp the complexities of free will and choices. Of course, you don’t see this one in the usual Black Mirror section, it’s one you have to find separately, but it’s there! Considering the way that the series goes on with the next season, it’s more like the beginning of a…Nohzdyve.

Next time, we’re kicking off season 5 with Striking Vipers. And honetsly, season 5 has a lot to answer for.

Black Mirror – Black Museum Review

Hey guys! So after the fright-fest that was Metalhead, we come to the season finale, Black Museum. So let’s get to it!

This episode is probably best known for all of the Easter eggs in the Black Museum that is run by Rolo, the proprietor. These are little things, such as a mugshot of Victoria Skillane (White Bear), the parenting tablet (Arkangel), a lollipop sample (USS Callister) and the bloodied bathtub from Crocodile. There are several other different references, and the whole point of the episode was to celebrate the show as a whole, and what it had done.

Nish arrives at the Black Museum while she waits for her car to fully charge. She introduces herself to Rolo as a Brit (this is important later), and Rolo takes her through the museum. The storytelling format is very similar to that of White Christmas, with three stories that kind-of lead into each other, and the last one is the ultimate climax and gives us that satisfaction.

The first story is based on “The Pain Addict”, where Rolo took part in the implementation of technology, in order to allow a doctor to diagnose and treat patients based on what he could feel using a special head device. Of course, it all starts off well, but then becomes uncomfortable to watch when the doctor becomes heavily addicted to the pain he feels from his patients, and gets…sexually stimulated from it. And the lab rats are called Kenny and Hector, after the characters in Shut Up and Dance. Overall, it’s definitely uncomfortable. The technology is very interesting, considering it would help a doctor diagnose an illness or ailment without issues. And holy crap the body gore again! But the boner that Rolo added in to the story’s conclusion was a bit of comic relief, I suppose, but not exactly necessary in the context.

The second story is about a toy monkey. The strange part of this was a man choosing to transfer his comatose wife into part of his subconscious so that she could interact with their son. It’s very weird technology, and it’s not something that’s going to work out for the best. In the end, they can’t live that way because she irritates him and vice versa, so her subconscious goes into a toy monkey, that the kid eventually gets bored of, and is stashed in the Black Museum. There’s literally a Fifteen Million Merits comic too!

The third story is about Clayton Lee, the person charged with the murder of a weathergirl. The story had been alluded to in the first two stories, and Rolo shows an exhibit featuring the hologram of Lee, and it serves as a virtual torture chamber. A lot of people took pleasure in torturing the digital hologram, just like they tortured Victoria in White Bear. It’s then that Nish reveals that she’s actually American, and that the execution of Clayton was protested, as well as her being Clayton’s daughter.

And that she well and truly fucked Rolo over by having poisoned him before, hologramming him and then torturing him, just like he and his patrons tortured Clayton, and then burning down the museum. It’s revealed that Nish also had her mother implanted, probably after the mother’s suicide attempt, and Nish took Carrie-monkey with her.

Overall, this is a very heavy episode, although it was definitely reminiscent of White Christmas with its portmanteau structure, as well as its heavy similarities to White Bear. I think the biggest draw of the episode is the multiple Easter eggs, and that’s mostly it.

Next week we go over the heavy Bandersnatch. We got a lot to go over with that one!

Noughts + Crosses – The TV Show Discussion

Hey guys! I wrote a post a while back about the Noughts and Crosses books, and I took a nosedive into the BBC iteration of the series as well. And here we go. Spoilers included!

It’s clear that this adaptation is essentially a loose adaptation. While there are some familiar characters, such as the McGregors and Hadleys, there are additional characters involved, some seem to have disappeared, and the story is a new story that takes place in the same universe with the same characters.

Would I have liked a very accurate depiction of the books? Absolutely.

Am I displeased with the results of this TV show? Absolutely not.

A lot of the story is completely different. Instead of Callum and Sephy growing up together and sneaking around to see each other throughout their childhood, they reunite in this after a long time apart. Sephy has a boyfriend in the beginning, Lekan. Callum opts for a military service rather than going to Heathcroft High with Sephy. Callum and Jude’s sister, Lynette, doesn’t exist in this story.

The whole story starts off with an illegal gathering that ends in police brutality similar to how black people are treated in the real world, and ends up with the victim, Danny, becoming the martyr figure that the Liberation Militia uses. It’s strange considering that this series came out only a couple of weeks before George Floyd’s death from police brutality, which in turn reignited the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hang on, they brought Pete Tyler (Doctor Who) into this as the leader of the Liberation Militia? Holy f-

Well, at least the Liberation Militia (L.M.) stayed in the fray, which it kinda has to considering it’s the backbone for the first three books. I didn’t recognise that Emily from Friends is in this as Meggie, but it has been a hot second since Ross said Rachel’s name at the altar. And Ryan is Professor Quirrell. I mean sure, at least we know Voldemort isn’t on his head this time…I’m getting sidetracked. But this series initially focuses heavily on the world around them even more so than the books do, I daresay.

Kamal is another character that you love to hate, just like in the books. His words “There is strength in difference” is taken wrongly as well. I would say that in the fact that literally everyone is different and that we can all share our opinions and experiences to make the world a stronger place – you know, the whole Equality and Diversity thing. However, in the context of this series, it’s more grounds for division between Noughts and Crosses.

Of course there are a lot of plot points from the source material that made it into the book. This includes the following:

  • The aforementioned love story between Callum and Sephy
  • Kamal’s illegitimate child (although Yaro is actually present in this instead of being relegated to a news article in Crossfire)
  • Jasmine’s affair at the beginning of the story
  • Meggie being the Hadley’s housekeeper (although she’s fired in the middle of this series rather than at the beginning)
  • Jude being a part of the L.M.
  • Sephy blurting out the slur ‘blanker’ in relatiation to an assault
  • Jasmine’s alcohol problems
  • A bombing and Ryan’s subsequent arrest, trial, imprisonment and death (although the circumstances of his death is different)
  • Callum joining the L.M. and kidnapping Sephy
  • Sephy’s pregnancy (although a lot of circumstances around it are different)

Of course, because of the shift in story, these all happen for different reasons, different motivations, and at different times. But they all work within the story. I’m really pleased that these plot points made it in, despite the difference in the way that the series was structured compared to the books.

One of the things that impressed me about this show was the aesthetic. I think a lot of people assumed that the location would be a regular London city with the Cross elite, but it takes on more of an African theme, which I adore. Of course, it was filmed in South Africa, and the Crosses dress really well, in these traditional outfits. The costuming was beautiful, and so were the locations – yes, even Meadowview, which is supposed too look like a rubbish sack, so I’ve heard. But I love it because of the contrast between the rundown areas where Noughts occupy and the fancy, polished neighbourhoods where Crosses live. I also love the establishing shots with the view of the modified London, focusing on the changes due to the difference in culture.

Overall this series is a hell of a lot darker than the original story. And for that I’m really happy with that. I understand that a lot of book-to-film or book-to-series adaptations can be disappointing if not kept originally to the source material. However, because this doesn’t pretend to follow the story directly, it’s a lot easier to take this adaptation as its own story. It’s easy to draw comparisons and parallels, but that’s just what you do, especially when you’ve literally just read the source material for the 20th time (I’m not even exaggerating).

My partner hasn’t seen the series yet, or read the books. But I’ll be more than happy to watch it with him and I know he’ll really enjoy the TV show more, because of its darker tone and emphasis on militant action.

I really enjoyed this! And I’m looking forward to see what comes of the series, if a series 2 is ever made. I can’t see that happening for various reasons, but mostly due to where the series is in terms of story. So what did you all think of it? Let me know!

Black Mirror – Metalhead Review

Hey guys! We’re at the penultimate episode of season 4, and we’re finally at Metalhead. I mean, I’ll just let the review do the talking.

Metalhead is the shortest episode in the series, with a 41 minute run-time. Honestly, it does feel like longer, and whether or not you enjoy that depends on your preferences. The first time around, I didn’t enjoy that. This time around is pretty different. Overall though, this episode doesn’t need to be any longer, as there wouldn’t actually be much in the way of content. In short, the episode is a post-apocalyptic scenario with humans being hunted by these robotic guards, resembling ‘dogs’, so that’s what we’ll call them.

I can’t believe I watched this episode again, after not really enjoying it the first time around. I do love the fact that it was shot in black and white, to make the episode feel more dangerous and oppressive. I’m so used to seeing Black Mirror in colour that it’s very different to have this episode devoid of colour, and if anything makes the episode stands out, it’s this, and the barren wasteland feel. This could have been set in the Fallout universe and, lack of radiation aside, it could blend in very well.

I like post-apocalyptic scenarios, but a set-up for the scenario would have been nice. I can understand that lore-building would have been better for a film or a full TV series variant.

The plot is very minimal though, and I still can never work out the role of the teddy bears at the end, except that they’re supposed to be the only soft and comforting aspect of the entire episode, which through all the tension it’s a nice break, but all the same it threw me off, and I’m not sure whether I like it or not. More dogs would have been better in my personal opinion. I’m aware this is going to be a short review by comparison, but I can praise Maxine Peake’s acting as Bella, the main protagonist of the episode. The episode is supposed to be minimal, and that has it going for it, and the dogs are very memorable as enemies too. They’re smart and dangerous, and that’s hugely terrifying for the episode. There’s some body gore that I absolutely hate, but that’s a me thing.

The score for this episode, because of the nature of the episode, is very stark, and amazing on the quiet. You don’t tend to notice the score in other Black Mirror episodes as much, but in this, you do. It builds up that really nice tension, to go along with the otherwise non-existent music.

Overall, Metalhead isn’t as bad as I remembered it being. While it doesn’t feel like a Black Mirror episode, there are enough tense moments to keep you hooked. I think that because it didn’t feel like a Black Mirror episode, I didn’t particularly enjoy it first time around, but it’s definitely not the worst episode overall.

Next week, we’re looking at the last episode of season 4, Black Museum!

Black Mirror – Hang The DJ Review

Hey guys! How’s 2021 going so far? And in the grand Wednesday tradition, we are continuing our Black Mirror reviews series, starting off with Hang the DJ. I must say that there are no DJs actually harmed in the making of this episode.

The episode is centralised around dating, and there is this ‘System’, where each individual’s sole purpose is to find their ideal match, going through a series of dates and relationships, via the Coach, which is this device that tells them how long the couple has together, and alerts them when their ideal match has been found. I suppose it makes things a bit easier for people, not having to worry about having to find a partner.

In this episode, the pairs meet up, check their allotted time, and also have their own specific accommodation to stay in for the duration of their relationship, then at the end they leave it, and just…wait for the next date to roll around, and repeat the cycle.

Frank and Amy are two people that are part of this world, where they meet dates at the Hub. They meet each other, and after a bit of nervous first-time awkwardness, hit it off right away, but only have 12 hours to spend together, which is underwhelming considering their compatiability (in my eyes anyway). They get these little golf carts that automatically take them to their accommodation, which is actually really nice. It’s the kind of place I’d love to see myself living in, except I’d require more space. Oh no, he put his feet up on the sofa, that’s just giving me pure stress. I’m a ‘shoes off the furniture’ kind of person.

The whole point of the System is to get people serial dating in order to find that one compatiable person. Man, I just couldn’t do that, but I know why some people enjoy that – playing the field, that kind of thing. Amy ends up with a nice guy that honestly is pretty damn attractive, while Frank gets someone that just deeply dislikes him. The relationship between Frank and Nicola was a long-term thing, if you can call one year a long-term, that she just couldn’t wait to get away from. And I couldn’t wait to get her off my screen, no personality.

Of course, with an episode about dating, there’s obviously the element of…doing the dirty (guys, it’s hard to think of more phrases). They did try and make Nicola the worst person, and Frank can’t get away from her.

The Pairing Day is probably the most cultist thing to appear in this episode, where it’s a celebration of two people finding their ideal match. It’s like a wedding, but worse. The female of the couple, Edna, states ‘Do have faith in the System, because it does deliver’, especially with Edna’s appearance makes it look way more cultist than it should be.

During this Pairing Ceremony, it looks more apparent that Frank and Amy are supposed to be together, and this is highlighted when they have another chance at the relationship, after Amy has several partners while waiting out Frank and Nicola’s expiry date. The reunited couple choose not to look at the expiry date though, because Amy has had a lot of short-term flings and felt very detached. But Frank being Frank, eventually he checks the expiry alone, and it was initially going to be five years. But due to the lack of trust involved, the expiry date actually keeps being brought forward.

Amy gets ‘The One’, and gets to see Frank one last time. And they run away, rebelling against the System.

At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that the pair is just a part of a repeated simulation as part of an actual online dating app. It maps out how many times Amy and Frank rebel against the System, to give that 99.8% compatiability that has been alluded to earlier in the episode, the couple having rebelled 998 out of 1,000 times. It’s revealed that the real Amy and Frank meet each other after finding each other on said dating app. In reference to the title of the episode, Panic by The Smiths is playing in the background. As a fan of their music, I’d actually already had this song in my head just from the title alone.

And it was funny because Amy in the simulation actually joked about it being a simulation.

I feel that the technology involved in the episode would be handy for those who thrive off being in a relationship, and literally cannot live happily as a singleton. I still think the Pairing Day ceremony feels very much like a cult activity, even though it’s their equivalent to a wedding ceremony. But that’s just me – a woman happily in a relationship (without a dating app) analysing the ins and outs of a dating-based Black Mirror episode.

I’ve also realised this time around that there aren’t really any same-sex couples featured, aside from one of Amy’s passing conquests. I’d have liked to have seen a bit more diversity in terms of couples.

Next week, we got Metalhead, and oh boy.

Black Mirror – Crocodile Review

Hey guys! We’re looking at the strangely-titled Crocodile today, which doesn’t involve any crocodiles.

The entire episode is shot in Iceland, which is a destination I’d love to go to, and even more so after seeing this episode – not for the episode, but for the scenery. Mia and her her partner Rob get distracted and accidentally kill a cyclist while driving. Then they panic and just…throw him off a cliff and into a river. Nice. Well to be fair, she just wanted to call the police and do the honourable thing. Y’know what? Fuck Rob right now.

One shounden-style timeskip later, and Mia is a successful architect with a husband (not Rob) and a son. We’re also introduced to Shazia, who’s a worker for Realm Insurance that uses a Recall device to gather witness statements for accidents and crimes. She uses the ever-present If Anyone Knows What Love Is that we heard in both White Christmas and Fifteen Million Merits. It’s also a clever call-back that makes us recall those episodes, and it’s used in this episode to help others recall their memories.

This whole episode just goes to show how quickly things can go so wrong because of one incident. Mia is still talking with Rob, which is a big mistake because she kills him, plus then there’s the guy that gets knocked down by her hotel, which she witnesses. Of course, thus beginning a hugely tense cat-and-mouse scenario with Shazia needing the memories from Mia, and Mia ends up letting slip that she killed Rob.

I just feel bad for Shazia and her family, really. Especially considering her baby son was also killed because of the Recaller technology, but the poor kid was blind and wouldn’t have been able to be a witness. It’s overall a very uncomfortable implication, and one that I hate to return to, because I hate the idea of someone murdering a child in cold blood, especially a baby. Joke’s on her, the Recaller was used on the guinea pig. Of all things, a sodding guinea pig. Honestly, I laugh at that tiny twist.

Mia’s in total shit and I wish I’d have been able to see that, but at the same time it adds to the dramatics that we’re left in suspense.

Overall this is a good episode. The main draw for me was the scenery, and again we’re in the shoes of the antagonist of the story. This makes it more intriguing, too. The Entire History of You is similar, in terms of the impact of memories. However, it’s vastly different technology, using a Recaller, which would make a lot of witness testimonies far more interesting. The issue I would have is if someone managed to manipulate their own memories, by delusion or sheer persistence. You can see that it didn’t quite work out that way for Mia, but for someone else that’s perhaps more cold and calculated, quite possibly. You see the trend of narcissists resorting to gaslighting their victims (I’ve been a victim of such), so it’d be handy to actually have that kind of technology to refer back to.

Next week, we’re looking at Hang the DJ (note, no DJs will be harmed in the making of that review).

Black Mirror – Arkangel Review

Hey guys! We’re starting to really get stuck into season 4, and today we’re looking at Arkangel, which is a ride.

The episode starts off with the woman, Marie, undergoing a caesarian section, obviously guilty that she couldn’t do a natural delivery, and then worried about the newborn. And this sets up the entire episode really well, signalling Marie’s paranoia. Although in the next scenes, Sara, the daughter, looked too big to be pushed in a pushchair. But then Sara ends up disappearing briefly, which launches a neighbourhood search, as well as the events going forth.

The Arkangel technology that follows seems very interesting. It’s basically advertised as ‘peace of mind’ for the parents, and comes with the parental hub for the parents to oversee everything. It has health vitals information, which would be hella useful for parents. It also has a filter, where the disturbing content is blurred out – which also references Men Against Fire on the tablet.

This technology is handy when the kids are small and young. But it’s just really tragic when Sara’s grandad having a stroke and Sara not being able to react appropriately because of the filter. This in turn over the year affected Sara’s psychological development and affected her from understanding what others in her age group knew. She’s unable to comprehend what other people are saying if it involves anything traumatic. The Arkangel technology altogether resulted in psychological issues, and was actually to be banned. So Marie hides the tablet to help Sara develop properly, but you can see that she’s too attached to the device, as she keeps taking it out to observe.

Meanwhile Trick, another kid from Sara’s school, teaches her about the real world and, well, porn and violence. It just goes to show that Sara, having been sheltered her entire life prior, is easy to corrupt, and it shows later on in life when she’s a teenager, when she starts acting out by having…well…y’know, and take drugs. Marie gets paranoid, rings around everywhere, and goes as far as to pull out the godforsaken parental tablet to find out where she is. It’s also shown that there’s a ‘history’ section that is reminiscent of The Entire History of You, in its set-up and layout.

The ending is honestly very tragic, with Sara lashing out and beating Marie with the tablet, and accidentally putting the filter on. She then hitches a ride to an unknown destination, while Marie screams out for her, echoing the earlier scenes in the episode.

The whole episode is themed on the concept of helicopter parenting, where the parent employs a hugely militant watch over their kids, hovering over them like a helicopter. While I don’t have children of my own (and don’t want any), I have had experience with overbearing, narcissistic parents. I’m pretty sure if the Arkangel technology was implemented in real life, a lot of parents would opt for it, and so would have my biological dad onto me.

A lot of people had mixed reviews about it. I wonder if it’s because it hits a little too close to home – perhaps parents feel called out because they are helicopter parents? Maybe people can relate all too well to being restricted. Another take I found from my good friend Tim was that it was forgettable, which was new on me. But each to their own, I suppose. I personally enjoyed it, partly because of the child psychology. Fun fact, when I did my GCSE in Psychology, I took a special interest in child psychology, and was one of the few career paths that I was considering!

Although the thing that I feel drove most people away was the lack of autonomy that Sara had, be it via the Arkangel technology or the pregnancy termination in the closing minutes.

Next week we’re looking at Crocodile, which is another hell of a ride, with a lot of suspense.

Black Mirror – USS Callister Review

Hey guys! So we’re just starting the fourth season of Black Mirror, and I feel like there are highs and…a low of the season. But here we are, starting off with USS Callister.

A series where Cristin Milioti is introduced quicker than the series where she played the titular character? Don’t mind if I do!

All jokes aside, this episode literally takes Star Trek to a whole new level. I’ll preface this by saying that I never liked Star Trek. I was forced into watching it when I was younger, and I didn’t enjoy it one bit.

This episode combines a Star Trek spoof with the inner workings of a MMO RPG. It follows Robert, who was an underappreciated programmer and co-founder of this game. He doesn’t get the respect that he feels that he deserves from his co-workers. Nanette, played by Milioti, is new to the team, and of course has no idea what Robert gets up to in his own time.

You see, within his own game, Robert has sampled the DNA of his co-workers, and put them into his own separate server of his game. He can use the co-workers to his whims, and it reflects the same kind of themes as White Christmas did in the second story, which featured Greta’s consciousness in a program while the real-life version still lived her day-to-day life, as well as the technology used is reminiscent to what was used in San Junipero.

There’s also a festive element in this story, considering the time it’s set in. The major deadline is the Infinity update to the game rolling in on Christmas Eve, and the need to get Robert’s modded variant to update.

The aesthetic of the in-game scenes is heavily reminiscent of Star Trek, and that’s amplified by the outfits and even the stylisation of the opening scene – remember that the original series started in 1966! This also feeds in to the monsters and different planets that are available, including Skillane VI.

In this world, he is admired and loved (when he is around, of course). This contrasts vastly with his real-world counterpart, where he’s at best ignored, and at worst ridiculed. Initially you feel bad for him, considering that there’s no context to why everyone treats him with a lack of respect – Nanette seems to be the odd one, who actually admires Robert, and he was the reason that she wanted to work at the new job. Of course, the resentment Robert feels from his regular day-to-day life drips in to the game world, where he takes control of them all, and uses incentives in order to get his way.

All in all, this is an enjoyable episode even if you’re not a Trekkie. It’s because the story focuses on the behaviour of Robert, rather than rely on the nostalgia. It’s similar to how San Junipero worked, and that’s why USS Callister became so popular.

Next week we focus on the heavily divisive Arkangel.

I Rank The Naruto Shippuden Openings

Hey guys! And like last week, I’m spending the time between anime review posts to rank the best anime openings from each of the Naruto series (excluding Boruto). Today we’re looking at all 20 Naruto Shippuden openings and seeing which one comes out on top for me.

20. Distance (OP 2)

Holy crap this opening is creepy. I’m sorry, okay? This opening is specifically for the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission arc, where Sasuke makes a reappearance. The song’s English-sung lyrics speak for themselves – ‘You are my friend’ and ‘I’ll go the distance’, considering how I feel about the friendship between Naruto and Sasuke, probably not great enough friends for this fanfare in the first place. On top of this is the utter creep-fest that is that one scene with Sasuke naked, covered by snakes posed as if on a crucifix, with Orochimaru’s eyes on the background. Nope.

19. Diver (OP 8)

Diver’s actually a really good song, but it’s one of those filler arc openings that doesn’t offer a whole lot, really. I like the symbolism in it, at least, but because it doesn’t grab my attention, it’s one I’d skip more often even in the canon episodes that it features on.

18. Moshimo (OP 12)

This definitely screamed ‘filler’, and I’m just not a fan. Even though it does touch on canon storylines and backstory, it just doesn’t feel the same as other OPs do. Having to watch a few seconds of Gaara’s backstory every episode doesn’t help, because that’s better suited for in the episode.

I also take specific umbrage with showing Sasuke with his Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan, because we realise that the OP changes before he actually shows it for the first time.

17. Tomei datta Sekai (OP 7)

This is okay. It’s nothing spectacular, plus there’s a really strange artistic choice part-way in with all the characters looking a bit 3D (and that’s never a good look with most anime). Plus I would have liked to have seen an actual battle with the girls versus Konan, because we never actually got that, and that’s disappointing. Plus this opening had so many spoilers. Mate, some people don’t read manga!

16. Hotaru no Hikari (OP 5)

This entry is so low because, once again, Orochimaru decides to act like a paedophile yet again. Otherwise this would be closer to the top 10, I will admit. It’s a lot better in the last variation that introducese Suigetsu, Karin and Jugo, though.

15. Newsong (OP 10)

This is a very silly OP, fitting for a filler arc. However, it’s really entertaining with the silly antics and dancing. Plus Gaara of the Funk is real!

It’s a nice change to not have anyone moping about Sasuke! It’s just lower because there are literally 14 other openings that I prefer.

14. Niwaka Ame ni mo Makezu (OP 13)

I like this. I just…like this.

13. Karanokokoro (OP 20)

This opening sounds like the perfect accompaniment to a last arc that focuses on a more slice-of-life element to go along with the series.

12. LINE (OP 18)

I will admit when watching through the anime it is a boring opening, with not a lot going on. But on its own, it’s so good! I think it suffers from being a filler opening, rather than being in context with the current arc. However, I’ve come to appreciate the symbolism all the more as time has passed.

11. Lovers (OP 9)

We get to a bop, and it’s a pretty badass bop with a badass opening, and…of course Sakura is crying because Sasuke. This could have been a little higher if not for that.

10. Totsugeki Rock (OP 11)

I noticed when this first came out that a lot of people hated this opening. I’m not entirely sure why, but I suppose they didn’t find it as action-packed as they would like. But they were literally presenting the start of a war that would inevitably be for most of the entire series with this opening. And we had Newsong just before it that was completely insane. A lot of people think it’s too happy (?), I dunno.

9. Closer (OP 4)

This is a great opening to come into, towards the end of that arc that we hate so much because it not only tugs at our heartstrings, it stomps on them. Poor Asuma. Poor Shikamaru. This opening has two versions – the Hidan and Kakuzu battle, as this opening closes that arc, and another filler variant that doesn’t feel as good until you see Guren. I gotta be honest, even though I didn’t review it, it’s a solid arc, and Guren and Yukimaru are great filler characters.

8. Blue Bird (OP 3)

A lot of people love this one, and so do I. Again, this one has two versions – the filler variant, as well as the variant with the Hidan and Kakuzu battle. It’s a great song with amazing visuals, though. I think the filler variant actually fits the song better than the canon, though. But that’s just my opinion!

7. Sign (OP 6)

At one point, this was considered the best of the Shippuden openings, but the later ones tend to blow it out of the water. Although it still ranks a little low because it does involve some eyeball play and I’m not about that.

I do like how it foreshadows the battles between Jiraiya and Pain, as well as Sasuke and Itachi. Although it is a tad spoilerific at the ending scenes.

6. Hero’s Come Back (OP 1)

This is ranked highly because after the slog-fest of the pre-Shippuden fillers and Yura Yura we get this. Bonus points because I think Gaara’s in the opening (collectively) more than he’s actually doing anything in the arc. Well it is the Kazekage Rescue arc, after all…am I biased? Probably.

5. Guren (OP 15)

This is where the latter portion of the series really upped its game with its openings. I mean, it’s this high just for the song alone. Whenever I come back to this opening I’m like ‘oh shit yeah, Neji’s dead’ and I don’t like that one bit. But I love the visuals of the divisions between Naruto and Sasuke, Kakashi and Obito, and Hashirama and Madara in their backstory, with the former of the three lifting as they work together and become allies. Hooray! The whole Tailed Beast ‘montage’ – can I call it that? – is a tad cheesy, but I’ll accept it. Plus the revived Hokage look impressive.

4. Tsuki no Okisa (OP 14)

I love the song, but the different visual style took a long time for me to like it. But I really like it now. The contrasting style works really well with the song, and feels like there’s so much hype building up for this section of the war. And yes, the Kage are still fighting Madara here.

3. Kaze (OP 17)

Similar to the last entry, it took a while for me to like this visual style they went for. But the visual style is different from the other openings, but it took a lot less time to appreciate it. And the more I watched it while watching the anime, the more I enjoyed it. It’s very traditional Japanese, and the fight between Gai and Madara always gives me chills. Without fail.

For me, this also signals the urgency of the forthcoming episodes, and that, very soon, everything will go completely tits up. I love it!

2. Blood Circulator (OP 19)

There are three different versions to this opening, and all of them hit so differently. The first focuses on the immediate danger of the Infinite Tsukuyomi and Kaguya, the second mixes that with tension between Naruto and Sasuke, while the third focuses entirely on Naruto and Sasuke, their history, duality and their battle. Not only that, Asian Kung-Fu Generation really do some amazing songs (see Haruka Kanata and Sora Dewa, Mata Ashita from Road to Ninja – I will review that soon), and this one I personally think hits harder than those two. Overall, they hit so well that these would have been my favourite, but one stands out more.

1. Silhouette (OP 16)

You knew this would be here, didn’t you? This is an absolute bop if I ever heard one. There’s not much to say.

Also bonus points for breakdancing Madara.

Black Mirror – Hated in the Nation Review

Hey guys! So we’re finally at the final episode of season 3, and we still have plenty more episodes to cover!

If I were to summarise this episode briefly, I’d say that this is basically what cancel culture has the potential to become.

We follow two detectives, Karin and Blue, as the ydetect a series of murders. This episode actually takes place before the previous episode, Men Against Fire, as the news ticker reveals the MASS project. Blue reveals that she left forensics after the Rannoch case, which was the focal point of White Bear. It proves that even if they aren’t completely related to each other, these three episodes are linked via these references.

Anyway, back to Karin and Blue, who are investigating a series of murders. We’ve been seeing people die, such as Jo Powers, who was a journalist that insulted a disability rights activist, thus receiving online death threats, as well as Tusk, a rapper that had become hated online for insulting a young fan. Of course, he ended up having a seizure, and then later died while in the MRI machine.

This is where it starts to follow up on the summary – both of these people were targeted with the hashtag “#DeathTo”, which is revealed to be part of the online Game of Consequences, which on each day, the person with the most #DeathTo tweets targeted at them would be killed. Could you imagine if this hashtag actually took off, and this game actually played out? You would never want to be in the public eye in any way. I even looked up the hashtag on Twitter, and most of the results I glanced at actually referred to this episode.

Elsewhere, a company called Granular has developed artificial bees, known as ADIs. The main objective is to offset the shrinking bee population, ensuring that nature doesn’t suffer after the bee population dwindling.

Of course, the #DeathTo hashtag gains popularity, people ironically using it, not aware that what they are doing is basically handing someone a death sentence.

Of course, it ends up that the users of the hashtag also suffered, with Garrett Scholes being the one to hack into the system for the ADIs to make them the ones to do the killing.

I think if the episode hadn’t been too technological, it would have been fine. Like I had trouble wrapping my head around a lot of the ‘techie’ stuff – despite living with an IT graduate. The episode is really long, but I wish they ended up tracking down the mastermind rather than go through a bunch of different stages, as I call it. The episode didn’t feel empty though.

On the topic of cancel culture, normally it’s not that effective. In one striking example, Trisha Paytas ‘came out’ as suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, after Anthony Padilla featured people with DID on his channel – whether or not you believe her is entirely up to you. At this time and in her video, she specifically called out Nin from the DissociaDID system, calling her ‘crazy’. Of course, this amounted to huge backlash, with a #TrishaPaytasIsOver hashtag that was trending. However, nothing really resulted from that.

I think that this episode weighs in on that if you end up being a (I dunno what to really call it) victim(?) of cancel culture, it may lose you more than just a few followers.

That concludes season 3 of Black Mirror! Next, we’ll look into USS Callister!