Xaimi's Nerdy Blurbs

Saturday, May 16, 2020

HULK Smashing Self Doubt

May is Mental Health Month and comics– like Mariko Tamaki’s She-Hulk run– can serve as a respectful and elegant reminder of coping with the inner battles we face.

Comic books serve as an escape from reality– a break from the stresses of everyday life. But often, these colorful universes and their characters cross that gap to help us tackle “irl” responsibilities and trials. Before and during this current pandemic timeline, there are those among us battling themselves and loneliness. In respectful observance of Mental Health Month, we’re revisiting She-Hulk (2016-2018).

Tamaki’s She-Hulk was cancelled in early 2018, yet her depiction of Jennifer Walters’ struggles with trauma, grief, and self-acceptance remain relevant today. As Tamaki herself points out in an interview with Marvel, “ There are a lot of layers to trauma—so as a theme, and as an experience, it has a lot of twists.” 

When we meet post-Civil War II Jen in Hulk #1, she’s finally regained consciousness from her rocket-induced coma, only to learn that her cousin, Bruce Banner is dead. Banner trusted Hawkeye with the burden of ending his life should he go beyond the point of no return. But Jen carries different burdens: Guilt and PTSD from loss and the events that caused her coma. These yield themselves to a loss of self, unbearable grief and intense rage– the latter manifesting as her new, unstable, gray Hulk form. 

The Sensational, Incredible, confident Jennifer Walters readers had grown accustomed to was now afraid and reclusive. She tries to throw herself back into work at the law firm. Finds temporary solace from writhing in pain on the floor, in baking videos.

She refuses to transform into her vibrant green-skinned persona if she can help it. There’s too much pain there— a chance to lose herself in rage and turn into the neutral gray monster. Her two identities, once in a harmonious fusion, are dissident. She’s at odds with herself.

Friends and fellow superheroes reach out to check on her but she pushes further away.

Meanwhile, people in Jen’s life are wading through their own new normal too; Bradley, her new personal assistant, deals with his own loss while supporting his new boss. Maise Brewn, a new client, struggles to find her footing after suffering through an assault with a looming eviction.
For many readers, these feelings hit close to home. Tamaki’s writing manages to bring to life how it feels to wade through the waters of compromised mental health while trying to stay above the surface in everyday life. 

Many consider our current pandemic state to be a sort of trauma and, like any distressing experience, there are a multitude of ways to react to it. But, the reactions are normal in the face of abnormal circumstances. Jen is not sick or suffering from a disease as she fights to find herself again, just as those of us trying to sift through the negative emotions during this time are not sick.

“I really appreciated Jen’s internal monologue that would include statements about what’s normal and not normal...it underscores the idea that whether we want to label it or not, her mental health condition—her post-traumatic response—is not considered a disease, it’s a normal response to something that was abnormal. I love that this series is framing that for us, to let us know that yes, she’s questioning normality, but she is still intact. She’s acknowledging that she is still normal, and that helps readers to realize that what was crazy or abnormal, it wasn’t the person, but what happened to the person.”
- Dr. Andrea Letamendi, “Tackling Trauma

Until Later Guys,


All images property of Marvel Comics

Support Networks, Charities, and Avenues:

Monday, April 20, 2020

FGC: What Happened to Trash Talk?

“ I miss the shit talking in the fgc.”

UPDATE: This article was updated 11 June 2023 to reflect the Washington D.C.'s official NFL team name change.

Trash talking and competitive activities tend to walk hand-in-hand. Place one of the following fans from each of these NFL teams in a room: Washington Commanders, Baltimore Ravens, and the Dallas Cowboys. Stat drops and butter-finger call-outs will rain down within minutes.

 Yet, nowhere have I seen it more infused than in the fighting game community-- the fgc.

If French is the language of romance, FGC shit talking is the sharp tongue of pressure; wise cracks, jaunty stabs, and colorful comebacks land with enough strength to jostle your ancestors. Some speak a dialect so archaic, one must ask the elders among us to translate.

When I read fellow fight gamer, and competitive Teppen player, Nuzzlemaster’s tweet saying he missed its presence in the community, my first thought was that trash talk never really left. 

But it did, or rather, the rhetoric and purpose behind trash talking changed-- and not for the better. 

Know Your History

During live fighting game events, the air bristles with competitiveness and intensity. This was not cultivated in the modern esports arenas of today, but rather in living rooms and the arcade inner city nooks all over the world from yesteryear.

In the 90’s, you tested your mettle risking $0.25 to $1.00 per play. I was that kid plopping tokens in the local arcade’s Street Fighter II and Street Fighter: Alpha 3 cabinets. Little hands trying desperately to b.s. my way to the final boss. Back then, you were risking pride and coin because your quarters were limited and at any moment, your treacherous run could be interrupted by another’s twenty-five cents and a “NEW CHALLENGER APPEARS!”

Those who beat the era’s popular titles were considered skilled, but that new challenger was a true assessment of all that you thought you knew about the game’s mechanics and your character main. It’s the hype around these matches where trash-talking simmered and brewed, waiting to be unleashed when a combo was dropped or the favorite to win toppled by the underdog.

Spectators huddled around the players on-deck. Some coached from the sidelines while others bit their lips in suspense. Feeling froggy? Want to show off? Initiate a mirror-match, a term for selecting the same character as your opponent, even if it’s not your main. A silent shit-talking flex that screams “I’ll beat you at your own game.”

EVO 2019 x Hi Score Girl Collab. Source: Otaquest
Thus, in this majority male scene, was born the most succinct mantra and simultaneous bash in the fighting game community: “Get Good!”

But, that’s the whole point. There was a time when friendly trash talk, for all intensive purposes, encouraged the player to improve or grow. Constructive shit-talking did not attack a person’s beliefs, race, sexuality, or customs. Rather, saying something like “Want some dip for all that chip damage?” after an opponent weathered your storm, was the boxing match equivalent to mind games; the boxer hits his glove against his own chin after eating a heavy punch. The message being “I’m still here. What else you got?”  

Yet, as the esteemed Soul Calibur veteran, Sekirei, pointed out, “...communities were smaller, tighter… and [sic] it was pretty much like all of gaming back then, a boys’ club.” This frat boy mentality, combined with a transition from local arcade play, to console friendlies, then online matches led to a shift in the tone and direction of trash-talk in the community.

Internet and Toxicity 

The late 2000s to early 2010s saw developers’ focus transition from couch co-op to online multiplayer. We went from battling friends in our rooms to waiting in online lobbies for a Virtua Fighter 5 match up with a player in Seoul.

The move closed the social divide, but toxic behaviors marinating in online forums and anonymity hopped in for the ride too. It’s not as if the Internet only brought the benevolent among us together.Growing up alongside the Web, means encountering your fair share of trolls, discriminatory jargon, and hate speech right next to cat videos and “Motivational Monday” posts.
Not the hottest take. Another day on Twitter. Source: Twitter

The main reason for this is a sense of anonymity. Some people are emboldened because they hide behind their custom avatars, computer screens, expressing  themselves without a filter...and getting away with it. Say something reproachful on the street, a physical altercation might ensue, but rage quit online and spew venom at, say,  the LGBTQ+ community and what happens? Twitch might ban you. Twitter may suggest that you “Block” or “Mute” the offender. 

Let’s not even talk about YouTube’s attempt at reparations.

This behavior bled straight into the gaming industry’s online environment. Women in the Overwatch community receive frequent harassment as soon as teammates hear a woman in voice chat. Are you a person of color too? Tack on additional slurs. Your team may even throw the game out of spite.

A better expression of rage than most. Source: The OASG

The FGC was not spared. Quite a few members fail to “...keep it about the game…” as Robert Paul (@tempusrob) wisely suggests. Instead of playfully “dogging” someone’s questionable neutral game, players make it personal. This is not to say that the verbal jousting of old was wholesome and lacked malice. There were always folks that overstepped their boundaries. Yet, Nuzzlemaster and I agree “...that it used to be something that was fun and made matches hype…” between good friends and respected rivals. “But…” as he continued on, “...now it’s more so just for toxic reactions and...people take it too far.”

Within the last few days, FGC Twitter has been in an uproar because of one person’s rage quitting and discriminatory remarks against another. Why? There’s never a reason to be a disrespectful runt to anyone, but the former’s reaction is due to an inability to cope with losing matches and maintaining an image. 

That’s right folks! The clout chasers among us don crude personas with unfiltered vernacular for the ‘Gram, Twitch, whatever shocks enough to make a buck. It’s no wonder trash talking is not what it used to be.

YouTube’s Core-A-Gaming, a channel I highly recommend for quality fight game discourse, recently interviewed a well-known player with a turtle style: Justin Wong. What did past competitors have to say about his defensive play? They called it “lame” and “unexciting.” But, if the method is effective, it’s up to the opponents trash talking Wong to adapt their skills.

Garbage Day

So what happened to trash talk? Sekirei’s theory is that there are three degrees of competitive jousting:
  1. “Trash talking between friends”
  2. “Trash talking between random players”
  3. “Harassment disguised as trash talk”

The familiarity in level one permits trash talk as long as no one is offended by the remarks. Meanwhile, levels two and three are garbage.  Two lacks the background and character development between both parties. In other words, a jab thrown in level 1 could be funny, while the same jab in level two can have a negative impact. Level three is self-explanatory.

So where do we go from here?

Realistically, shit-talking will never dissipate in its entirety. I love playful verbal pokes between friends. That said, a bud and I also had our friendly BlazBlue game interrupted at a convention by a guy looking to stroke his ego before a tourney for the same game. No, we did not think we were “hot shit” because we beat him once-- especially since we had never touched the game before a day in our lives and ArcSys titles are complex as hell. But, what did it say about that player that he had to spit trash to hype himself up?

Maybe it’s about time we try cleaning things up and taking out the garbage.

Until Later Guys,


Special thank you to Nuzzlemaster (@nuzzle_master) and Sekirei (@__sekirei) for taking out the time to share their thoughts with me.Follow them on Twitter using the links above. Also sending a thank you to others that helped mull over this topic during all times of the day. 

I leave you with a great display of classic, chill, good ol' shit talk.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Avengers Endgame: We're left to Marvel

Exactly one year ago, you and I sat down for an impromptu therapy session. A chunk of the world grieved for the lives lost after Avengers: Infinity War. 

Critics want to talk about what Infinity War and Endgame did right, what it did wrong, what was left out. Vindictive movie goers continue to spoil the latest title for others. Marvel fans, myself included, focus on the significant differences between the comic arc and the movies. Not today friends.

“It’s not about how much we lost. It’s about how much we have left.”

That’s right Steve; fans young and old cling to the past eleven years, but we can find what it means to move forward beyond the Avengers we know. The next few moments together discuss not only how I feel about Endgame , but reflect on the bounty it left us for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! If you have yet to see Endgame or ANY of the movies leading up to it, you continue forward at your own risk.

Source via Know Your Meme

Multi-verse is MCU Canon

Multiverse has been canon in Marvel Comics for at least 5 years now. It’s the reason Into the Spiderverse even exists. Kevin Feige’s MCU has yet to touch on this...until now. 

Tony Stark may be the brains and martyr of Endgame-- we thank you for your service-- but Scott Lang’s Ant-Man is the Avenger’s unsung hero. Twenty-three days after Thanos snapped his fingers and did his step, the remodeled Avengers find the Mad Titan on a distant planet, decapitate him, and get nothing for it.

Not a goddamned thing. No stones, no solutions, and no idea how to move forward as individuals or a team. Five years later, they are still dead in the water. Each of them trying to move on except for Natasha. She holds together the remnants of Avengers’ HQ surveillance and keeps communication open with their allies.

“I keep telling everybody they should move on. Some do, but not us.”

They have no way to move on until Scott reappears from the Quantum Realm via luck and suggests a “time heist.” If the Avengers can map the Quantum Realm, they can travel back in time to specific points where the infinity stones were, acquire them, return to the “new” present (more on that later), and undo what Thanos did. 

Professor Hulk is what one would call a "Family Size" snacc. Source: Marvel Studios via Quora

Loki and 2012

When Professor Hulk is sent back to 2012-- the setting for the first Avengers film-- to acquire the Time Stone, he meets the Ancient One. Takes some convincing for her to give up the stone, but before she does, she reveals that her current reality is just as real as our present day (2019) post-snap reality. Remove a stone and that creates a branch in time. Meaning the team must make sure to put the stones back at their original point in time when the job is done.

What does this have to do with multiverse?

Tony, Scott, and Steve were sent to 2012 as well to acquire the Mind and Space Stones. Steve succeeds with his mission, but Scott and Tony fail due to a collision course with 2012-Hulk; it sends the suitcase containing the Tesseract clattering open right next to the manacled God of Mischief himself, Loki. He picks it up and disappears.

Tony and Steve devise an alternate way to grab the Tesseract, but there’s no further mention of Loki or that incident for the rest of the movie. The six stones in the Avengers’ possession are returned near the end of the movie, but what about 2012’s Space Stone? It’s not in its original place because Loki has it. This means 2012 now has a branch in its timeline where everything that happens after is up in the air. 

Does Loki return the Space Stone to that timeline’s Thanos? Does he keep it for himself? Does he prevent the death of his adoptive Mother?

BAM! Multiverse made canon.

Following so far?

Tale of Two Gamora

Peter Quill’s Gamora serves as Thanos’s sacrifice for the Soul Stone in Infinity War. She’s fucking gone and we can never have that particular one back. However, we do get 2014’s Gamora back for a brief moment before she “disappears” after Thanos and his army are dusted. We see Quinn and Gamora during the final battle, but after the dust settles (not apologizing for that one), Quinn is on an active search for her using his ship’s computer.

Now to those of us paying attention, Stark’s snap has more implications than offing Thanos and the Mad Titan’s entire army. We will never know what Stark specifically thought, but the stones will dole out exactly what the wielder fathoms at that moment. Think of it as a wish from Aladdin to the Genie; make too vague a request and you might not get what you want. This means Stark’s mental projection to the stones had to be something along the lines of “Destroy Thanos, his army, and anyone that fights for him.”

Although 2014 Gamora chooses to aid the Avengers in this 2019 battle, it does not mean she would not still fight for her father after preventing his wish fulfillment. Thus, we do not know if she decides to go off the grid, or if she was reduced to ash during Stark’s snap. 

So, there may be no Gamora for Quill to find.

Let’s take this a step further. The year 2014 literally has no Thanos, none of his Children, or his militia. What does this mean for this timeline? Remember, in our main timeline, Thor and his people lose their home, manage to escape to space, but get wrecked due to Thanos in 2018. Does this not happen in the near future for 2014’s new reality?

The Captain Americas

The flood gates were thrown open for Captain America in the multiverse too.

1) During Endgame’s epilogue, Steve is sent to return the Infinity Stones they borrowed to their moments in time. He should have returned within ten Earth seconds. When Hulk flips the switch for Steve’s return, there’s no sign of “...America’s ass…” until Bucky and Sam glance off-screen. 

Source: T-Shirt design by Portrait Team via Teepublic.com

Steve has returned, but he’s much older-- senior citizen old. He explains that he returned all of their stones, but chose to take a moment to experience life- advice Tony gave him long ago. He reunited with the love of his life in another timeline and even got married, then, returned to 2019. He gives his shield to Sam, and when Sam tells him it feels like it belongs to someone else, Steve assures him it does not. Thus, the Captain America title is passed on to Sam, just like in the comics.

Fans have asked whether or not Steve’s extended time travel changed the original 2019 timeline-- thus was he never Captain America?

1a) How did two Steve Rogers co-exist in the timeline our Steve chose to live out his dreams in? My theory is that our Steve went to a point in time where he was injected with the serum, but did not end up frozen. A cut-scene shows the buff Steve we are used to seeing dancing with Peggy, the love of his life. So we know for sure the Steve in that scene had the serum, otherwise he would not have that appearance. This does not answer what happened to the other Steve in that timeline, but it does not have to.

2) When our Steve retrieves the Mind Stone from 2012, he has to convince the Hydra agents in the elevator to give it to him. The 2012 Avengers do not learn about the Hydra infiltration until much later in the MCU, but our 2019 Steve knows and whispers “...Hail Hydra.”

Holy fuck all the ducks! If you don’t understand what this does to the reality for that 2012 timeline, consider this: Our Steve is forced to kick his own 2012 ass in order to keep the Mind Stone. When the 2012 Steve eventually awakens from that beating, those Hydra agents will still be under the impression that he is in league with them!

Marvel Comics fans will eat this up: The 2017 comic arcs, Captain America: Steve Rogers and Secret Empire, has Captain America aligned with Hydra. So not only did the Russo Brothers give us an Easter egg comic reference, they also changed the course of 2012’s reality in tandem with the Loki event mentioned earlier.

Future of the MCU

Making multiverse canon is already enough hype for the Marvel Studios phases, but there’s still plenty of juiciness in the MCU’s future if we focus on the present arc in Endgame. Characters we have come to know and love (or hate) received plenty of development. Here are a few ideas to whet the palette:

1) As mentioned before, one Gamora is missing/dead and another is guaranteed deceased. What does this mean for the Guardians of the Galaxy third installment that we know goes into production after director James Gunn finishes his current project(s)? Will it be a prequel? Will it include Thor since he decided to hop on board to discover himself? The script for the third GotG movie was complete before Infinity War, but we have no idea whether or not the events in Endgame affect Gunn’s script.

1a) If GotG picks up where Endgame left off, this may be the movie that leads into an X-men crossover. In 2015, Marvel Comics debuted Black Vortex. The story details how the Guardians of the Galaxy and the all new X-Men work together to defeat a common enemy. Their foe possesses a powerful object called the Black Vortex. Kitty Pryde, ultimately absorbs some of the Black Vortex’s power and, unlike others before her that were imbued with some of its power, she gets to keep the boost. She also ends up engaged to Star-Lord!

The MCU already took a few liberties that would require changing the storyline for the Black Vortex arc a little bit, but now that Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, a post-credits GofG three scene can point towards this mash up!

2) Kevin Feige confirmed a standalone Black Widow film is in the works. IGN reported that he told Comicbook.com Widow’s movie will not be R-rated. He did not confirm whether or not the script is complete, but the writer and director are listed in the interview. 

That’s all good and well, but Black Widow dies in Endgame. Irreversible death, Natasha sacrifices herself so that Flint can retrieve the Soul Stone. The state of her character in this timeline is the same as the first Gamora; the action is permanent. This means viewers can say with strong conviction that the pending Black Widow movie is either an origin story or and alternate timeline. No other way about it. Maybe the writer will finally explain the Budapest reference Natasha and Clint kept making.

3) The potential outcome I am ecstatic about leads to an A-Force-esque movie. The A-Force comic arc is a female powerhouse Avengers team featuring Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Medusa, Mighty Thor, Nico Minoru, Singularity, and Dazzler-- the first of its kind for Marvel. 

Valkyrie’s Tessa Thompson, Scarlett Johannson, and several other MCU actresses have been quite vocal about a female-led movie for the franchise. Yes we got Captain Marvel and an untitled Black Widow entry is on the way, but it would be pretty damned slick to see a full team on the big screen. Tony’s demise in Endgame leaves a vacancy for the Iron Man title. With multiverse in effect and a cast of powerful female characters already established, what’s stopping a Riri Williams casting for Iron Heart? 

Source: Marvel

Look, I’m not expecting the last idea to happen right away, but if we got Spider-man Homecoming that last minute, anything is possible in ten years. Besides, audiences were given that glorious splash page view of the MCU ladies preparing to rip Thanos’s army a new one while Carol ferries the gauntlet. It screams A-Force.

Feeling Far From Home

Where Infinity War left me longing to break Thanos’s ankles, Endgame left me with a sad melancholy. Sad because I lost Stark. Hell, all of us lost Stark. Melancholy because Steve finally fills the hole in his heart, but discontent because not only does the torch pass end an era, but both him and Stark receive more grace in death and life respectively than Natasha or Gamora ever will.

Sam Wilson accepting the Captain America mantle moves my spirit because not only is it a nod to Wilson embracing the helm in the comics, it’s a subtle nod to Truth: Red, White and Black. The 2003 comic spans seven issues and reestablishes the origins of Captain America; Steve Rogers is not truly the first Captain. Isaiah Bradley, an African American man, is. When old man Steve tells Sam, the shield is not in the wrong hands, he means it.

Seeing Pepper Potts don her custom Iron Man suit made me squeal because I remembered unlocking that playable character suit in the Lego Marvel Super Heroes video game back in 2013.

Yes, I’m sad to see this phase of the MCU come to a close, but we still have one more movie in the phase to look forward to: Spider-man: Far From Home. Until then, we’re left to Marvel over how far the MCU has come and most important, where it is going.

Until Later Guys,

Xaimi ^_^

Monday, April 1, 2019

Alita: Battle Angel - Finally

What kickstarted your adventures into anime and manga?

The now defunct Borders Books and Music had a decent manga and manwha library for a North American retailer. Around that time, TokyoPop, Dark Horse, and a few other publishers released English translations of popular series. My internet access was rudimentary at best, so while everyone else slurped down the popular anime of the time-- Naruto, Bleach, Hellsing-- I discovered the following sweet gems: Zombie Powder (see Bleach artist Tite Kubo), Black Cat, Saiyuki, and Battle Angel Alita.

Originally released in Japan as Gunnm, Battle Angel Alita is the story of a young cyborg woman, Alita (Yoko/Gally) that wakes into a world she does not recognize, with no memory of her past, and a prosthetic body built by the kind, but reserved Dr. Edo. She has no idea where to start digging for her memories, until a life or death situation awakens her innate prowess in the ancient fighting art of Panzer Kunst-- a Martian style thought to be lost and only taught to Berserker warriors. She enlists as a Hunter Warrior, believing that she will find herself through her fists. Gunnm spends three full arcs following her literal and figurative transformations as she develops in this world.

I opened the manga thinking I would get the usual big-eyed pushover protagonist followed by me rolling my eyes and closing the novel. What I got is a series that resonated in so many ways. I’ll try to keep my strong women rant brief, but HOLY SHIT I LOVE A STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER! You’ve heard me mention this before, but I felt out of place growing up because my interests were considered unlady-like. So, seeing Alita break literal legs,compete in Motorball (think Blitzball out of water and on rollerblades), take on strong warriors of all genders, and still cry or struggle with naivety was refreshing.

Then, all went quiet. I finished the manga, never knew the anime made it stateside, missed that Playstation 1 game release, and mused over cosplaying Alita. But that was it. If you had told me James Cameron looked to helm a live action adaptation around the same time I happened upon the manga, I probably would have squealed.

But, I never knew.

Instead, the years after 2003 gave us painful memories like Avatar: the Last Airbender, two Hitman (iterations based off the games), Dragonball: Evolution, Death Note, Ghost in the Shell, Street Fighter: the Legend of Chun Li, and Speed Racer-- aka Hot Wheels ™ the live action. The anime community weathered a lot of torment, but I think nothing cut deeper than Evolution. I mean, we’re still referencing how it hurt us…

Thus, you can imagine my wariness when I learned last year that Alita Battle Angel was in production. Watching the trailer ignited hope and worry in equal doses. Hollywood does not have a happy history with anime adaptations, but complicating things further is that Gunnm is a cult classic; Gunnm is to Ghost in the Shell as Equilibrium is to the Matrix. Mention the latter in each example and the fans flow in abundance. For this adaptation to succeed, it would have to attract positive attention in groves.

I caught an early screening of the film in IMAX 3D. I usually avoid paying extra for 3D, but this particular screening offered the tickets at a discount rate. Thus, I saw Alita the way the directors intended it to be seen. I decided to forgo the 3D option during my second viewing and I can honestly say the lack of extra effects did not hinder the experience. After watching it twice, I feel Rodriguez and Cameron succeeded where many have failed.

Cameron chose to script the adaptation as a coming of age story, and while I disagree with this approach, his reasoning behind it is sound. The early screening finishes with a 30-minute Q&A with cast members and the co-directors. Here, Cameron explains that reading Gunnm while raising his young daughter was perfect timing. He felt that Yukito Kishiro crafted a female protagonist with depth without relying on the usual tropes for women in the Shonen/Seinen genre.

Audiences unfamiliar with the manga or anime, are lured into the movie because you want to see how Alita develops in this new world. Does she allow the corrupt, loathing despair of Iron City to cloud her positive outlook, or will she change the pecking order through sheer grit? This is a movie you can enjoy as an adult, but you can bring your young niece or so to and they actually take away multiple life lessons.

Alita incorporates several of the early manga volumes into one two-hour movie, so die-hard fans will take issue right away with the timeline of events or item/character origins-- Damascus Blade found with Zapan-- yet the directors managed to succeed for this exact reason; you do not have to read the manga or watch the anime in order to follow the live action. Only those of us that are fond of the series would notice the inconsistencies or liberties taken.

After diving through various reviews and articles, I noticed some critics feel that Alita Battle Angel failed overall financially. True, most of the box office revenue came from China sales, but compare Alita’s $400 million to the $169.8 million box office sales for the Ghost in the Shell live action adaptation. Dragonball Evolution brought in approximately $57.5 million worldwide. The numbers speak for themselves. A cult class protagonist beat out the live action rendition of the series that inspired the Wachowski siblings to make the Matrix!

The nerd culture community are vocal--sometimes to a level of toxicity-- about live action remakes for their beloved series, but I believe Rodriguez and Cameron gave us hope with this entry. Yes, the love interest plot felt forced and Alita’s big eyes still bother me, but the dynamic duo gave us a work of art that made Kishiro-san cry with actual joy. Cameron deferred to the series’s creator every step of the way. Even changing script details because Kishiro-san told him that certain behaviors are not in Alita’s nature.

I’d say given Hollywood’s track record, us nerds won this time.

Until Later Guys,

Xaimi ^_^

Random side thought: Hey @RoosterTeeth and @DEATHBATTLE , how about Alita versus Motoko Kusanagi?

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Box Office Gross
Dragonball Evolution Box Office Gross

Friday, September 28, 2018

HUEFest 2018 Recap

Xaimi checking in from the first annual Harrisburg University Esports Festival (HUEfest). Collegiate Varsity teams representing at least twenty universities from all over the country filed into the campus main building just after 8am on Sept. 21st to check in for the Overwatch and League of Legends pool play. Security was tight in light of the recent tragedies in Jacksonville, but there were no complaints. One thorough bag check and a wand pass later, and I was free to move about one of the most high tech campuses I have ever laid a foot.

Players, coaches, and spectators roamed between floors eleven and fourteen for orientation, team huddles, and hushed whispers as to what was happening. There was an air of mystery, excitement and confusion. Some students did not know why there were at least forty people in jerseys they could not recognize. Others marveled over team composition diversity; gamers are used to hearing that there should be increased representation for women and players requiring special accommodations. I was proud to see that both demographics were reflected here today. Gamers have come a long way from the 30-year-old in a basement stereotype.

By 9am, there was some concern as to why the games were not underway. A few teams killed time with practice bouts in one of the designated rooms. Before the main pools room filled, I took a moment to savor the gorgeous rigs from Hewlett Packard’s OMEN line. The clear cases and neon lights are the prestige at the end of the trick.

Look at how majestic it is.

The tech troubles were causing games to pause mid-play and although this frustrated everyone present no one displaced the annoyances on their comrades. I was surprised by the composure and professionalism of the invited teams given that varsity esports are still in their infancy and some of these bright-eyed individuals had only been a team for a few weeks; it is a testament to how essential this event’s success is to the community as a whole. Once the games were afoot, everyone present could view the evolving pool bracket results on monitors in hallways, in “the Pit,” and online via Challonge (
Overwatch/League of Legends).

The Pit, one of the main rooms for pool play, swarmed with vendor representatives, sponsors, and newscasters while the players shook some of their rust off. Even the mayor stopped in to spectate and meet players around 1pm.

Archon Clothing had a table set up with school spirit and brand merch. The aforementioned produced both the baseball and compression t-shirt jerseys for the home team, HU Storm. I resisted the impulse buy urges as best I could, but interested parties could also purchase the jerseys online with custom embroidery-- gamertags anyone?

Pools went well into midnight, with both teams and the corresponding crews burning both ends of the candle. With quarter finals starting at 9am Saturday morning, some teams are going to experience a 24 to 36-hour play marathon. Forget skill sets, the next day will be a test of mental fortitude and endurance.

Day 2:

Even a casual gamer knows what it feels like to burn the midnight oil, so it was no surprise walking into a quieter HU this morning. Yours truly was already on her first coffee, cough drop, cold symptoms, and no breakfast by 6:45 am. Players strolling, power-walking, and running into the Pit and 11th floor rooms around 7:45 am were in about the same position, minus the cold. As teams settled at the glowing rigs from before, thoughtful team managers ran to local eateries nearby to grab needed nourishment for their players. HU staff ensured rooms were equipped with several packages of bottled water to keep our would-be stars hydrated. Players needed to focus on the battlefield at hand, as day 2 was serious business:

These were the quarterfinal bouts and, with the exception of technical difficulties, the bouts would start at 8 am on the money. Yup, you read that right. Right before closing my eyes at 3 am the night before, I discovered my timing error. Schools that were not at their computers and ready to play by that time were subject to disqualification and I witnessed one team almost suffer that plight. Verily, the Game Gods smiled kindly upon them and they clicked into battle, mice at the ready.

Anyone claiming gamers are sedentary creatures did not see myself and other media personnel bobbing back and forth between floors to catch different games. I snagged a seat in one of the 11th floor rooms to catch Harrisburg U’s last quarter-final League of Legends game.  For the curious, I was recently introduced to OWL, but I played LoL up until 2014. Thus, I am more familiar with the game mechanics and strategy while my OW could use extensive polish. This was also perfect timing to discuss the game with fellow gamer girls-- one that never played League before, but loved Kingdom Hearts. We managed to use KH mechanics to explain League, so this can go on my list of achievements.
League of Legends Coach Geoffrey "Central" Wang for HU Storm

Storm secured quarter-final wins for both IPs, which meant guaranteed spots in the semi-finals. Would the home team take it to the Grand Stage in Sunoco Theater? We would find out...as soon as I located rations to get me to 10pm.

Day 2.5 A.M. (after meal):

A speed run to the Restaurant-Formerly-Known-As-Dunkin Donuts (I’m not kidding about this. Seriously. Check it out), yielded a run-in with one of the sponsor representatives for HUEFest itself. We discussed gamer woes and joys, such as adjusting to new equipment, changing corporations’ perception of eSports, and our genuine ecstasy to be part of this event. We were briefly separated after acquiring our meals, but we reunited at the gates to the semi-finals throwdown-- aka the Whitaker Center for Science and Arts.

Holy hell. The architect for this building created magic. I had barely fifteen minutes to get to the Digital Science theater for the Overwatch semi-finals, and yet, here I stood gawking on the stairway like a child that found a secret passageway in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The Whitaker Center is now home to the training room for the HU Storm. The multi-floored building combines science and art in a form rarely captured in balance. It was not until roughly 2012 that video games-- software creations requiring ample rendering engines and artistic backgrounds-- were officially acknowledged as artistic expression. What better home for a collegiate gaming team?

Harrisburg and Bellevue fought for dominance, but the home team took the OW win. There were “pop off” moments for both teams. One that stuck with me was from Bellevue’s team. At one point, I swear I saw Noru peg shot after shot as Hanzo as if he were helping Lil’ Jon lay background vocals.


For those lucky spectators, OMEN by HP had a table of freebies post match. I swung by to say “hi,” then booked it back over to campus for the LoL semis which were due to start at noon. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the last Overwatch final, with Maryville at an advantage, was still underway! Maryville advanced to finals for a fated meeting with Harrisburg later that night.

The next few hours were a blur as the Storm put on a powerful display during the LoL semi-finals. This had Harrisburg facing Columbia University in the finals! Seeing their home team in both finals had local fans in a contagious frenzy. Overwatch was slated to start at 4pm, with League of Legends beginning almost immediately afterward-- both in the Sunoco Theater. Fan reaction would have led you to believe that this was the OWL grand finals, because Sunoco Theater sold out by 200 seats. The center had to open up another theater area so that attendees could watch the bout via live feed. Viewers unable to attend in the flesh could monitor the excitement through Harrisburg University’s official Twitch stream.

Never thought I would include a college and Twitch in the same sentence in my lifetime…

Damn it feels good to be a gamer in 2018.

Akinola Verissimo, our MC for the evening introduced the players of the hour and our shoutcasters Mitch Leslie (Ubershouts) and Robert “Hexagrams” Kirkbride prepared themselves for their first official collegiate OW commentary. The finals were best of two of three sets, with each set consisting of five games. Bloody hell was it close. Harrisburg took the first bout, but Maryville came back with the quickness to tie it up. Almost every game in the sets came down to Overtime or tiebreakers, but Maryville came through with the final score: 2-1. Maryville University was your first annual HUEFest Overwatch Grand Champions. Not only did they win sweet OMEN gear, but the team earned the $25,000 grand prize to split.

League finals began with a great video recap of the previous day’s excitement and a personal word from the Director of Harrisburg University eSports Department himself, Chad Smeltz. Verissimo asked the director how he knew this is what he wanted to do and you could see Smeltz smile from ear-to-ear; he was exhausted as all hell, but seeing this event go from a fledgling idea to a full, organized festival was his defining moment. Thereafter, the last final of the night began with Stephen Johnson and Clayton Raines giving some of the fastest play-by-play commentary I have ever heard. They could have given auctioneers a run for their money.


Speaking of how things were running, the Columbia University Cougars had Storm running under pressure from the first match. The “early game,” i.e. the first five minutes in LoL, can make or break a team and spell inevitable doom if nothing is done to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, despite a strong mid-game comeback in match one, nothing could be done to recoup the field. Game one went to Columbia in a strong showing. After a brief intermission, game two picked up where game one left off; Harrisburg fought hard, but Columbia dominated the playing field to become our second set of Grand Champions for the night!


I left the Whitaker Center that night sick, sleepy, and hungry for more games to watch! Locals and fellow Philadelphia Fusion fans were bummed about the losses, but all I could roll around in my head was how unprecedented HUEFest was...shit...is! Just like Overwatch League season one set a historical milestone, HUEFest etched its own initials in history. Anyone in professional and amateur gaming will tell you that we are still getting used to the recognition. Evolution Fighting Championships (EVO) used to be a crowd of people sardined into a claustrophobia-inducing room with little air conditioning to balance the heatwave a a few CRT screens to huddle around. Now it takes over the Mandalay Bay every year. The closest shooters and MOBAs had to open competitive play in the States were money matches at a friend’s house.

Look how damn far we have come? An entire city opened its arms to the masses and welcomed them into the world of gaming, and people walked right the hell in! Every player, manager, custodian, writer, videographer (wink wink), and fan helped make HUEFest bigger than all of us.

Here’s to next year loves.

Until Later Guys,