So things got a little bogged down here at the Kraken as 2015 came to a close, but now that 2016 is here, everything is back on track. First order of business, looking back at 2015 for one final and comprehensive time… So welcome to the first annual “Best of”s from all your friends here at We Have Always Lived in the Kraken! This year we start a tradition of making ridiculous top lists, handing out awards we just made up, and in general celebrating the weird, wild year we all just experienced.
We can all agree that 2015 was the Year of Too Much, and nowhere was that more true than for culture. We live in a time when vast amounts of culture are literally at our fingertips, whether it’s the giant pile of movies found on streaming services, the glut of truly excellent television, or the insane amount of great comics work both online and off. Video games routinely contain entirely new worlds that take hundreds of hours to explore and many of our newest board games take hundreds of hours to master. One human with all the time can’t even really take a comprehensive look at even one medium, let alone the half-dozen whose unceasing deluge of works batters at our lives and productivity, and for anyone with a full-time job well this is impossible.
Some might call this a dreadful state of affairs, where at every moment you’re missing something amazingly unmissable, where you didn’t catch the next Breaking Bad because when the hell did Lifetime even start making good things for God’s sake (seriously, Unreal is good, people), where you spend 400 hours in the post-apocalyptic landscape of Fallout or in Xenoblade Chronicle X and emerge to realize you haven’t even seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet and it’s already time for Star Wars, where you’re so busy sorting anime into Trash and Not Trash that Brazil of all places snuck up and screened a wonderful new animated movie for approximately 5 hours in the back of a van in Poughkeepsie and now it’s gone. The temptation to lament 2015 as the year of the best ever paths not taken is strong–but don’t give in.
Because the truth of the matter is, you’re not imprisoned by this maelstrom of quality entertainment and art. You’re freed by it. Free to hear about a show you’ve never heard of from a friend who’s fallen in love with it. Free to read about a lifetime of adventures in a digital world you’ve never visited. Above all, you’re free to pursue the experiences you want to have, rather than listening to what some morons with a blog think is the best.
With that, please enjoy the following best things from 2015, brought to you by all of us here at We Have Always Lived in the Kraken. Really, they’re unmissable.
Josh Kyu Saiewitz, Sam Kenkel, David Robertson, and Amy Davidson
- We start our “Best of”s off with Video Games and Board Games in 2015. This has been a really fun year for both, so we here at the blog offer our thoughts on the highlights. Just don’t mention it to the Kraken–we had to stop letting him play games after he ate someone for beating him. That’s just poor sportsmanship.
- Today we continue the “Best of”s with Books and Comics in 2015. The written word has had a solid year, providing a diverse amount for all to read and enjoy. Meanwhile, the Kraken still angry about the fact that George RR Martin hasn’t written the sixth book yet (even Kraken powers can’t tell him what happens next), and has decided to start reading Faulkner instead. This can only end with horrible sound and terrible fury.
- Originally we had scheduled our look at 2015’s movies for today; but the rest of our “Best Of” series is getting pushed back a day, thanks to the awesomeness that is T.I.M.E. Stories. Astute readers may noticed that T.I.M.E. Stories was one of the games we were looking to catch up with in our “Best Of” Video and Board Games post, and we decided there was no “T.I.M.E.” like the present. Had we played this a little bit sooner, it definitely would have been one of (if not the) best games of the year. Gorgeous presentation and excellent design complement a one-time-play mystery scenario (ala Mansions of Madness or Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective) where players travel through time in order to accomplish their mission and protect time itself. Funny, creepy, tense, and exciting, T.I.M.E. Stories is a cooperative puzzle solving experience so good we totally blew off the blog for a night. We can’t wait to play the other published scenarios–but we’ll schedule things a little better next time.
- It’s time for “Best of”s to take a look at Movies in 2015. This has been a great year for movies, and we are here to bring you all the well-thought-out words about the year’s cinematic output. (Also the not-so-well-thought-out words.) Be sure not to mention the Clash of the Titans remake to the Kraken; he’s still very bitter about blowing his audition.
- The “Best of”s continue as we enter Keskel’s domain with a look at Anime in 2015. This has kind of been an uneven year for anime, but there have been a few gems, and we’re here to talk about them–well, except Kyu, to whom it is a mistake, it’s all trash.
- The “Best of”s move from the silver screen to the small(er) screen for our final entry discussing Television in 2015. There was way too much good TV this year, way more than any mere human can watch. But the Kraken is caught up on everything, damn him.
- Baturdays can’t stop, won’t stop, continuing today with Detective Comics #38, the introduction of Robin, the Boy Wonder! It’s all downhill from here, folks. (Nah, it’s actually pretty good.)
Catch of the Week:
Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week.
Kyu: This month I’m talking webcomics, and I might as well start with the one nearest and dearest to my heart, A Lesson is Learned But the Damage is Irreversible. Beautiful, moving, strange, and abandoned all too soon, ALILBTDII is to newspaper strips as the Sistine Chapel is to that painting of dogs playing poker. The strange narratives that are part allusion, part allegory, part twisted punchline; the phenomenal art, so expressive and so innovative, especially in terms of panel structure; the bold use of the internet’s infinite canvas to create sprawling stories of shocking depth, emotion, and humor–this comic has it all. It’s mostly defunct now (although every year or three, artist David Hellman and author Dale Beran quietly add another strip to the archive), but it lives on in my heart (and in several cases, framed on my wall). Go read it! And if you like the art, check out Hellman’s work on the indie puzzle game, Braid.
Keskel: This week I recommend Gantz. It’s a manga and an anime about a group of random people who die, and then wake up in a room where a random black sphere (who speaks entirely in l33t) who tells them to kill things for points. It’s an amazing narrative about gamification, violence, sex, vampires, and of course, aliens. Watch or read it, either way.
David: The New Year brings new shows, and today I bring you Galavant. This fun musical show came and went early last year, and I am honestly not sure if many people watched it besides me, my roommates, and the families of the cast and crew. In a way all of us Galavant fans are on quite the isolated little island. But somehow this show get renewed for a second season, and so now I invite you to join our small group on Galavant Island. It’s really nice and everyone gets a coconut and a solo.
That’s it for this week. The Kraken is really looking forward to 2016. For us it’s another chance for great pop culture, but to the monster it’s when the Ghrexebus will arrive in this dimension (in accordance with the ancient prophecies). Supposedly her turgid, carapaced form will either rend or save us all. Us, we’re hoping for save.