Lessons in Boy Adolescence: Goodbye, Don Glees!

I believe that the appeal of anime and manga stems partly from its willingness to tackle a variety of genres and subjects, and “I can’t believe they made an anime out of this!” is an old and common refrain. But just because anime creators are willing to go places doesn’t mean every type of story gets the limelight, even if such stories might be more prominent outside of this particular sphere. Case in point is the animated film Goodbye, Don Glees!, which can best be described as a coming-of-age teen story more akin to the 1986 movie Stand by Me than the kind typically seen in and around anime.

Goodbye, Don Glees! focuses on the lives of three teenage boys in a rural Japanese town who call themselves the Don Glees (the meaning of which is explained late into the film). Roma and Toto have been friends since they were little, bonding over being rejected by their classmates. Shizuku, nicknamed Drop, is a more recent addition, having befriended Roma while Toto was off in Tokyo for middle school. Toto is back home for the summer, and Roma is eager to continue their tradition of having their own fireworks party because the other kids don’t want them around to see the big one everyone else goes to. But when a series of mishaps occur, the Don Glees are wrongfully blamed for a forest fire, leading the trio to take a long journey to retrieve evidence that could prove their innocence.

I don’t know how I would have viewed this movie as a teen, but as an adult, it definitely inspires memories of that time. While I never ventured through forest to find a downed drone only to get chased by a bear and find myself lost, what Goodbye, Don Glees! captures is the way everything feels so eternally consequential as a teenager, as well as the sense of how oxymoronically important and silly it all is. The way each of the three guys have their own perspectives and hang-ups at that pivotal moment in their youth leads to butting of heads, airing of closely guarded feelings, and a closer look at how fleeting life can be.

The director and screenwriter is Ishizuka Atsuko, who is also behind the utterly fantastic and near-flawless A Place Further than the Universe. The two works definitely have their similarities, but come across at two distinct works with their own pacing and priorities. Goodbye, Don Glees! doesn’t quite have the emotional wallop of Ishizuka’s older title nor the wondrous nature of its detailed voyage to and across Antarctica, but it tells a memorable story nevertheless. At times, it can get a bit too cheesy, especially when the music hits and it’s a sappy tune (in English!) that feels like it time-traveled from another period.

Goodbye, Don Glees! provides an experience rarely seen in anime, but rather than trying to imitate contemporary live-action film, it feels like a flesh-and-blood work from a bygone era. It successfully captures the topsy-turvy nature of being a small-town teenager, but it’s also not so generic as to blend in with the rest. This might be the one to show your anime-skeptic friends, but that accessibility isn’t where it derives its strength.

Life, the Universe, and Battling – Pokémon Legends: Arceus

For better or worse, the Pokémon games have stuck to a tried-and-true formula that has brought it great success for nearly 30 years. While there have been some oddballs, the clear emphasis on the series has been on a fairly gentle-yet-complex turn-based experience that allows it to remain popular and accessible. For those wanting more—like a real-time battle experience—it can feel like a futile wish.

The pseudo-open-world of Pokémon Legends: Arceus isn’t exactly the game to answer these prayers, but it is the most daring title to date. It’s sort of a middle ground between various poles—not a full-fledged main title entry, but one that still maintains most of the core concepts of Pokémon. The open field at the center of the Sword and Shield games is greatly expanded upon here, and is in fact pretty much the feel of Legends: Arceus. The game also incorporates some real-time gameplay elements that put your trainer in peril instead of just your Pokémon, but battles inevitably come down to a turn-based experience, albeit one where the mechanics have a few added twists. All this makes for a fairly refreshing game that’s like a foot pressing halfway on the gas pedal. Some things feel familiar and other things are real surprises.

The premise of Pokémon Legends: Arceus is that you have been transported back in time to an era before the Sinnoh region was even called by that name. You arrive right on the cusp of the invention of the Poké Ball, which means that the so-called Hisui region is a place with a fundamentally different relationship with Pokémon consisting of fear and reverence. I was genuinely surprised to have the player character experience a time slip, and I have to wonder why the developers went with this angle instead of just having it be a child of the past. The story is decent enough, but I think the gameplay itself is what’s most interesting.

Because this is supposed to be a historical period that’s also more dangerous for regular folks, the new mechanics (or sometimes lack thereof) feel like both a throwback and a new frontier. There are no features like traits or even held items, let alone something as modern as Dynamaxing, giving me a real Generation-1 vibe at times. I experienced a number of moments where I was worried about a Pokémon having something like Levitate, only to quickly realize that such things don’t exist in Hisui. 

The really major change comes from the way attacks can have different “speeds” to them, such that while battles are still fundamentally turn-based, sometimes you or your opponent can go two or more turns in a row. Combined with the fact that things like status effects and stat buffs/debuffs work quite differently all around, and the result is something familiar, yet strangely new. Also, sometimes, you’ll have to fight 1v2 or more, whether because you caught the attention of multiple wild Pokémon, or you’re fighting someone whose village culture is one where having multiple Pokémon out to do battle is perfectly normal. It’s not like any standard rules have been codified yet—which adds to the feel that this game takes place in a bygone era.

As for the real-time elements, the main ones are special boss fights against guardians known as “Noble Pokémon,” where you have to pelt extremely powerful Pokémon with bags of soothing balm and create opportunities to engage them in a proper Pokémon battle. The added factor of having to learn boss patterns and how to best dodge their attacks brings a dexterity element mostly absent from older games, but the awkward transition into battle mode feels like it could use some work—like a bizarre cousin of chess boxing. Maybe if you still had to dodge collateral damage while your Pokémon is engaging them, it could integrate the two pieces better.

There are hints that the upcoming Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are going to utilize at least some elements of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, though to what extent is still not entirely clear. While I do enjoy that real-time aspect, I’m not sure if I necessarily want it for the main series. I personally would be served with a solid hybrid between real-time and turn-based, but when I think about the fantastic accessibility of Pokémon that has allowed players young and old to approach it regardless of dexterity, and of the stories where kids have learned to read because they played these games, I don’t want that taken away. Maybe we could live in a world where Pokémon can somehow be both, and everyone can be happy.

Thoughts from Girls und Panzer das Finale Part 3

As Sentai Filmworks gradually releases the Girls und Panzer das Finale films, I look forward to watching them and following the tank girls on this last endeavor. This time, it’s Part 3, and it continues to bring the things that make the series memorable.

To call them films is perhaps a tad misleading, as they usually have about 60-minute run times, and there isn’t really a complete narrative arc from start to finish. It’s probably better to think of them like hour-long OVAs, or perhaps even old black-and-white serials a la Flash Gordon.

das Finale is surely not meant for anyone but veteran fans of the show: The fact that episodes end in mid-match cliffhangers means they have to quickly establish the situation or rely on the viewers to remember where they are. Here, the movie begins with the heroines of Ooarai Academy engaged in a surprisingly difficult battle with the previously weak Chi-Ha-Tan Academy. As the story progresses, evidence of character growth (mainly in the arena of tank combat, of course) relies on having prior knowledge of how they behaved in the prequel works. Case in point, seeing the first-years team start to come into their own in Part 3 means knowing where they started. And while it’s technically not personal development, seeing Mako in a night battle acting hyper-alert—in contrast to her lethargic daytime self—is something I can appreciate both as a gag and a story element for a fight.

Even more than the TV series or der Film, das Finale focuses on tank battles. The willingness to more or less portray protracted fights and not skip around is appreciated. Although the matches between the non-Ooarai teams naturally get less screen time, the ways they show one school overcoming another (as well as how and why) puts the brain-centric combat of Girls und Panzer on full display.

If there’s one thing to take away from Girls und Panzer das Finale Part 3, it’s the way that it emphasizes the importance of protagonist Nishizumi Miho, whose tactical mind is arguably unmatched in the series. The question it presents in this context is whether the rest of Ooarai can step up to the plate when needed. I expect the later films to make this an increasingly prominent theme as we get closer to the end, and I have faith that the team will shine.

The Language Barrier of Tsukino Mito

Tsukino Mito is one of the first Virtual Youtubers under the popular Nijisanji umbrella, and one of its most successful. At over 900,000 subscribers, her position is enviable. Yet, for as big a deal as she is, I had found it odd that Mito has not already cracked the million-subscriber mark, despite the fact that four other Nijsanji members have managed to achieve that milestone. I believe her to be one of the absolute funniest VTubers out there, but I’ve come to realize that Mito’s strength, that amazing sense of humor and delivery, is kind of a double-edged sword when it comes to her growth.

Reaching the million-subscriber mark as a VTuber generally means having some kind of reach beyond Japan. Perhaps they’re already fluent in another language, like English or how Kobo Kanaeru got so big in Indonesia, her songs are being played in live settings like in the video above. Maybe they sing and dance on a regular basis. Or they could be really expressive, and the emotions they display while streaming reach across language barriers.

Mito, however, doesn’t really have any of those traits. That’s not to say she isn’t talented or hardworking, and 800,000+ subscribers is nothing to sneeze at, but the essence of her humor makes it harder for non-Japanese speakers to latch onto her. Her whole gimmick is that she’s supposed to be a class president who sounds very prim and proper, until you realize that what she’s actually been discussing can be incredibly dire. 

In other words, if you just listen to how she says something, Mito sounds perfectly normal, or at least soothing in a Bob Ross sort of way. In contrast, someone like Hyakumantenbara Salome plays the obnoxious ojousama role to a tee, while distinct voices like Oozora Subaru and Sakura Miko are entertaining just from how their voices sound. The example of this difference that really caught my attention was from Haachama’s video about her trip to Enoshima—many of the comments are people saying that they can’t understand a thing Haachama says, but they still love her energy. 

Mito has even mentioned being told that it’s hard for overseas fans to get into her (only 3% of her viewers are from abroad), and it’s because she does the long zatsudan chit-chat streams. She’s a very fast talker, and combined with her gentle-yet-deceptive delivery, it can be difficult for non-Japanese-fluent viewers to latch onto anything she says. She inadvertently winds up relying on the clippers to grab snippets of her streams and make them digestible, but even that involves a greater amount of work compared to clipping other VTubers.

Watching her original introduction video, Tsukino Mito said her initial goal was to get 1,000 subscribers. While she’s far surpassed that marker of success, the fact that she’s still not broken that million-subscriber mark shows the point at which the language barrier starts to become a real obstacle for the majority of non-fluent viewers. Nevertheless, I hope she can hit that milestone someday.

What Bridget’s Return has Taught Me About the Internet

I’m no stranger to Guilty Gear or the yo-yo wielding Bridget: I cut my teeth on the character’s debut game, Guilty GearXX, and I’ve seen both the unorthodox zoning and the particular internet notoriety garnered by Bridget’s feminine appearance and association with a certain term that implies an element of deception. I’m also one of the many surprised by Bridget’s return in the current Guilty Gear STRIVE—doubly so at the reveal that Bridget has gone from identifying as a boy (albeit one raised as a girl for superstitious reasons) to being a trans girl. Honestly, I never thought the games would make this decision, even accounting for the fact that another fighter, Testament, is nonbinary in STRIVE

However, the biggest shock of all to me was seeing some of the more negative reactions to Bridget’s loudly declaring herself to be a girl, specifically coming from a 4chan-derived crowd who worshiped Bridget as a “femboy” while simultaneously engaging in transphobic behavior. To them, Bridget being trans is a deep betrayal, or as one person summarized it, “their 9/11.”

I’ll be upfront in saying that I don’t really have an “interest” in Bridget, so this is not that type of personal matter to me. However, having seen the “Bridget worship” from all the way back in the day, I had always chalked up the caustic behavior of certain fans as a bit of self-deprecation mixed with slowly discovering their sexuality in a way that was psychically acceptable. While I never thought that being into Bridget automatically made you gay (attraction and sexuality are far more complex than that), I had assumed these people would like to see Bridget happy regardless no matter what decision she made—and even then, the art of her wouldn’t have to substantially change. What I failed to take into account was the fact that bigoted fetishism is a thing, and that by extension, some use “femboy attraction” as a form of identity politics to rally against “wokeness.”

That was an oversight on my part. I know full well how fetishizing a group can risk dehumanizing them (though that’s not to say fetishes are inherently wrong). It also needs to be acknowledged that Bridget is a purely fictional character, which changes the dynamic compared to a real person. It does make me wonder, however, if affirming Bridget’s trans identity is somehow a breach of that plausible deniability that some had used to keep their contradictory beliefs afloat.

One thing I do worry about is how the politics of grievance seem to turn everything into a culture war, and that Bridget is going to be another front for harassment to occur, if it hasn’t happened already. Kudos to Arc System Works for being willing to take this risk, though. When it comes to updating their characters—be they straight, gay, cis, or trans, or anything else—Guilty Gear is unmatched.

What if “Legendary Defender” Voltron Became a Soul of Chogkin?

On occasion, I like to entertain the notion that the Voltron from the Netflix Legendary Defender series could someday become a Soul of Chogokin figure. 

I know the audience isn’t quite there. The kinds of fans who flocked to Legendary Defender in the 2010s are not like the fans who were drawn in the 1980s to Voltron: Defender of the Universe or the original Beast King GoLion in Japan. And from what I understand of the Legendary Defender fandom, the show left a really bad taste in the mouths of some of its most ardent supporters that might make any sort of subsequent merchandising futile. I can dream a little, though.

It wouldn’t be the first American work to have the privilege of being rendered into premium collectible format through the Soul of Chogokin line—that honor goes to Gipsy Danger from Pacific Rim. But when I look at the 2016 release of the SoC old-school Lion Voltron and marvel at its presence (as well as the almost-as-cool 2019 Dairugger/Vehicle Voltron release) I think about how great it would be for the new-school Voltron to be standing in display cases and on shelves in people’s homes. While I’m not as big a fan of the more recent design compared to the original, I’d be confident that the Soul of Chogokin line would make it look like a million bucks.

The main barrier, as already mentioned, is that the majority of the Legendary Defender fandom couldn’t care less about how cool the giant robots are. What fueled its popularity was the characters and their relationships (both real and imagined), and there isn’t a strong enough connection between those characters and their mecha for there to be a strong emotional bond between viewers and robots—like with many Gundam series, for example. A 2018 post on the Voltron subreddit meant to drum up votes for an SoC Legendary Defender barely garnered any support. Maybe if the Soul of Chogokin release came with plenty of material based on the characters (perhaps much more detailed human figures than what you’d typically get from SoC releases), it could bridge the gap to an extent.

There are also plenty of past series that garnered unexpected fanbases who cared far less about the giant robots. God Mars built up a significant female audience due to its handsome characters and drama, and it debuted the same year as GoLion in Japan. Granted, God Mars also had impressive toy sales that contributed to its success, and it came out in a different time, place, and culture, so the comparison between it and Legendary Defender is limited at best.

The audience for a Soul of Chogokin Legendary Defender Voltron needs to be there to be justified, and the best hope in that sense might be to play the long, long game. While the main fandom for Legendary Defender skews older, there are probably young kids who have watched it on Netflix and like the robot action. It would probably be decades before they reach adulthood and have the disposable income to afford figures costing hundreds of dollars, but perhaps their nostalgia (not unlike the nostalgia that fuels the SoC line in general) would still be running strong.

So, see you in 2035?

A Long Time Coming: Speed Racer (2008)

In 2008, the Wachowskis’ Speed Racer movie made its box office debut. At the time, I was eager to make an outing of it, but by the time anyone wanted to go watch it with me, it was already out of theaters in my city. Over the years, I watched its reputation go from “beloved by a select few” to “cult classic” to “criminally underappreciated gem too advanced for its time” in the eyes of the public, yet for whatever reason I never sat down to actually experience the film myself. Now, 14 years later, I decided to right this wrong, and I’ve come out of it wishing I decided to do this sooner.

Speed Racer is based on the 1960s anime of the same name (known in Japan as Mach Go Go Go), and follows a guy (literally) named Speed Racer. Coming from the appropriately named Racer family, Speed loves cars and driving, but his entry into the circuit world comes tinged with memories of his controversial dead brother, the ex-pro Rex Racer. When Speed is propositioned to join an elite racing team under the auspice of one of the top sponsors, it sets him on a moral and literal battle between cynical big business and genuine passion—through racing, of course.

So many articles and reviews have been written about the Speed Racer film at this point that I doubt anyone needs me to convince them to watch it or give it a second chance. That said, as someone who’s watched a lot of anime (enough to blog about it for nearly 15 years!), I found Speed Racer to be entertaining and engaging in multiple ways without a shred of irony. The movie often looks intentionally flat, as if they had taken animation cels and replaced the characters with real people. The races are intensely energetic, but I never found them difficult to follow, and they always served a very clear narrative purpose to convey specific themes about how the characters like Speed see the world or racing. Not surprisingly, the fast pace at which information is integrated into the greater world, combined with its simple but memorable characters, reminds me of a different anime that is without a doubt descended from Speed Racer’s legacy: Redline.

The divisiveness of Speed Racer as either the greatest thing or an unwatchable mess comes down to a number of qualities, but I think characterization is a big bone of contention. If you’re looking for fully fleshed out beings with layers and layers of complexity and moral ambiguity, this film has maybe one or two of those, tops, if I’m being charitable. Otherwise, you have a literal monkey mascot as comic relief that the Wachowskis could have jettisoned Tom Bombadil–style, but they actively chose to keep. What Speed Racer has in spades, however, are characters as embodiments of groupings of emotions, and the film shows how these feelings drive their decisions and their ways of being. Speed has a number of times where he has to make tough moral choices, but they’re always through the lens of “How does it affect the love of racing that is core to his being?” The characters are very intentionally two-dimensional, and not for the worse.


When the film’s ending credits begin to roll, a remixed Speed Racer theme plays that starts with the Japanese lyrics of the Mach Go Go Go opening, and it feels indicative of how much the film seeks to pay homage to its artistically influential original that captured the imagination of so many people. It’s a clear love letter to the original, but stands on its own as a visual spectacle that drives its story through its aesthetics. For those who can take the step forward to meet Speed Racer where it’s at (or are indeed there already), what awaits is one of the best adaptations of an “anime” feeling to a film of flesh-and-blood people.

Falling Falling Let’s Enjoy: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for September 2022

The summer of 2022 is starting to wind down, and it feels somehow different from even recent years. Maybe it’s that Japan hit a milestone with Comic Market 100 this past month. Maybe it’s the prospect of COVID-19 Omicron-centric booster shots potentially making me feel safer and more comfortable with traveling—including to Japan itself at some point. Or maybe it’s the passage of the largest climate bill in US history, as well as the announcement of a massive student loan forgiveness plan, that gives the vague sense that humanity can do something.

I hope this is a positive turning point, and that we’ll all be in a better position to do the things we love and plan for the future we want to see.

Thank you to my September 2022 Patreon subscribers, notably the following:

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Naledi Ramphele

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from August:

Shattering the Old Baltimore Ceiling: Otakon 2022

A huge chunk of the blog this month has been dedicated to Otakon. You can find my thoughts on it, as well as links to interviews, here.

S-M-R-T! I mean, S-M-A-R-T: “Fist of the North Star Side Story: The Genius Amiba’s Otherworld Conqueror Legend”

An amazing premise for an isekai parody starring a second-rate villain from Fist of the North Star.

Mother of Mercilessness: Everything Everywhere All at Once

The rare portrayal of an Asian mom as action protagonist touches on so many aspects of the Asian diaspora.

Kio Shimoku

Kio Shimoku talks on Twitter about how he’s bad at doing panty shots.

And here’s a look at the Spotted Flower version of Angela Burton.

Apartment 507

An early review of Love Live! Superstar!! Season 2, focusing on the concept of the senpai.

Closing

As the seasons change and cooler weather (hopefully) arrives, I also want to think about revisiting some old projects. I keep meaning to do more Gattai Girls, but a lack of time and to some extent motivation has hampered that. I also wonder about continuing the Fujoshi FIles after many years of inactivity, but have to consider the possibility that it’s not my place to discuss how “rotten” fujoshi characters are. I’m not that BL and saw the characters with fascination, and am still wondering if I should let those closer to the fandom take over this sort of endeavor. I’m still entertaining the notion of a fan wiki, but who knows where it’ll end up.

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights August 2022

There was a hodgepodge of topics this month from Kio Shimoku’s tweets.

Kio has always had a problem with the air conditioner in his work area, where 28°C (82.4°F) is too hot, but 27°C (80.6°F) is too cold. This year, though, he has an AC that can be set to a perfect 27.5°C.

Kio wishes a happy birthday to Aoki Ume, author of Hidamari Sketch. (Seeing two of my favorite authors interact makes me happy).

At an Oedo Choraliers concert.

Kio reminisces about the Zukkoke Sannin-gumi, a juvenile novel series. Because Kio turns 48 this year, he read the sequel series Zukkoke Chuunen Sannin-gumi (when the child heroes from the original are now middle-aged) and thought it was the best. He thanks the author, Nasu Masamoto.

Someone mentions buying all of the Zukkoke Chuunen Sannin-gumi, to which Kio replies, “Amazing.”

Kio is two volumes away from finishing Zukkoke Chuunen Sannin-gumi and loving it. A fan of the soccer team Sanfrecce Hiroshima replies that the Hiroshima-born author actually had a collaboration with that time, and that a lot of the matches during that period ended up being very zukkoke (unusual, foolish).

Mourning the death of Kobayashi Kiyoshi, the original voice of Jigen Daisuke in Lupin III, who played him up until last year.

Kio promoting some new digital chapters of Spotted Flower, specifically starring Not-Angela! A fan replies with an emoji for panties, and Kio finishes the statement with “Please”—another reference to Genshiken and Spotted Flower.

Mourning another apparent death. This time, it’s illustrator Suzuki Masahisa, who passed away back in June.

Kio bought a new printer with a scanner function, and has moved his old massive scanner capable of handling A3-sized (manuscript) paper off his desk. He mostly works digitally now so it’s not always practical, but that old one comes in handy with things like scanning in paper drawings to use as extra materials for manga volumes.

Having more room on his desk means being able to use a dual-monitor setup, so he can look at references while drawing. He does this most often with women’s clothing.

A fan expresses how much they love “An-san” (Not-Angela), to which Kio replies that all three extra digital chapters this month revolve around her.

Promoting the third of the extra Spotted Flower chapters.

b, the huge Kimura Jin fan, asks Kio if he wants to promote a special campaign that lets you read the first two volumes of Hashikko Ensemble until August 31, and Kio does just that.

Kio has gotten around to gathering the film recordings and books he needs to put into manga what he couldn’t before. When asked what he’s drawing and if it can be shared on Twitter, Kio replies that it might be possible but it’s better to play it safe.

Kio talks about how exciting it would be go to the live talk event for Hirakata Ikorusun, author of Special, and ask about what happens in the final volume. (Hirakata debuted in Rakuen, the magazine Spotted Flower runs in).

Kio admonishes himself for still not being good at drawing panty shots after 28 years as a manga artist, and also for still putting in panty shots after 28 years.

Apparently, it’s not exactly for “work” (or is it?).

Hololive TEMPUS, Nijisanji ILUNA, and Attractive Male Designs

Cover Corporation and Nijisanji, the two heavyweight companies of the Virtual Youtuber world, both recently launched a new generation of English VTubers. TEMPUS and ILUNA respectively are new steps forward for their respective organizations, with HoloTempus being the first English-language Holostars (the “dudes” counterpart to the all-girl Hololive) and ILUNA being the first mixed-gender debut group for Nijisanji English. The initial announcements were made close to each other, inevitably leading to comparisons. Among the topics of debate were who has the better character designs, with people taking sides and criticizing the other for being uglier.

Normally, I really don’t care about this sort of petty, contentious arguing. And in terms of determining who’s “better” or “worse,” I still don’t give a damn. However, what interests me is that I find TEMPUS and ILUNA to have taken different approaches to portraying attractive men. The distinction can be roughly categorized as “hardcore bishounen” (TEMPUS) vs. “mainstream bishounen” (ILUNA).

It’s not a perfect analogy, especially because each individual VTuber has a unique artist behind them. But when you look at each group’s aesthetics, as well as the actual visual styles, the comparison only grows stronger. The TEMPUS designers include Kurahana Chinatsu (Uta no Prince-sama) and Komiya Kuniharu, and the VTubers have such sharp chins and body proportions that one expects more to find in BL or even CLAMP manga—the kind of look parodied by Gakuen Handsome. In contrast, ILUNA’s designers feature among them Arisaka Aco (Bestia) and Amaichi Esora, and their VTubers have a softer appearance that reminds me of something like Genshin Impact. Given that, it’s almost no wonder that fans have found this to be a topic of contention.

But Ultimately, while visuals do play a role in Virtual Youtuber popularity, personality is also vitally important. Picking favorites comes down to how each individual balances what they care about, though I think it would be best to not bash someone for liking one over the other, as long as the core reason isn’t some bizarre tribalism. As for me, I haven’t watched enough of them overall to pick a top guy, though finding out Vesper Noir has a thing for Carmen Sandiego makes me like him.