1. Slings & Arrows

I don’t know how this incredible show managed to not really show up on my radar over the last six years, what with my routine checking of former Kids in the Hall cast members’ IMDb pages, but I’m glad it finally did. Eighteen episodes over three seasons of quality Canadian television, set at a fictional Shakespearean festival. Those eighteen episodes pack a lot of emotional punch, and the show’s case for great theatre and performances and the value of art is exhilarating. William Hutt’s Charles Kingman’s King Lear is one of the most devastatingly beautiful performances I’ve ever seen, and I can only wish that I could see him do the play front to bakc.


2. Now and Then, Here and There

There aren’t all that many new things on this list. This is an anime originally aired in Japan in 1999. It plays like a beautiful combination of Castle in the Sky and Grave of the Fireflies, set in the world of Nausicaa. Studio Ghibli references aside, it’s a powerful and thoughtful piece about violence and war, as well as the potential for goodness humanity has. It’s pessimistic and optimistic in the same breath. It’s wonderful.


3. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne

There are few, few things I have found more satisfying than putting on my fucking demon pants and punching some demons in the fucking face. Like an inverted, Persona 3, this mainline Shin Megami Tensei game is light on story and dialogue, but incredibly expressive through its mood and design.


4. Little King’s Story

I’ve just begun this game over the weekend, but I’m already completely smitten. It’s an ingenious mix of time management, real-time strategy, kingdom simulation, charming design, and beautiful music. May be the best Wii original title I’ve played.


5. The Thin Man

I’ve been watching quite a few of the great screwball comedies of the thirties lately. Most charming in this recent batch was the incredibly funny 1934 film, The Thin Man. The banter between William Powell and Myrna Loy’s Nick and Nora Charles is some of the best stuff that’s ever been committed to celluloid.

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About John D. Moore

Writer, cartoonist, filmmaker, and student of Japanese language, literature, and cinema at the University of Utah.

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1. The Sopranos

Nine years late to the party, but I finally made it. I can’t tell you what it is exactly that kept me from checking out the show widely considered the most shining example of the television medium done right. Was it the media oversaturation manifest in grating The Simpsons parodies slapped on every slappable product? I don’t know. But the eighty-six hours of The Sopranos would probably be the most purely rewarding eighty-six hours of anything I’ve ever taken in. Anchored by two positively powerhouse players, James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, giving the performances of a generation, and keenly, shrewdly, darkly led by the clearly genius mind of David Chase, I have no doubt The Sopranos will be remembered as one of the most valuable cultural artifacts of our most recent turn of the century. Grim, personal, broad, angry, cynical, sardonic, and depressed, it belongs just a little above David Simon’s The Wire when it comes to listing television’s greatest works. After finishing the series, the Netflix disc hung around my DVD player for a couple weeks, as I just wasn’t willing to give it up.


2. killer7

I’m pretty sure Suda51 and his team over at Grasshopper Manufacture broke the central rule of game design when they concocted killer7: gameplay comes first. But for this video game player, the primary focus on story, character, and aesthetic was a refreshing experience. And the gameplay isn’t bad in the slightest, and nowhere near as demented as the game’s plot, which introduced me to just about the most disturbing “hobby” I could ever discover the old man next door was into. Also, there’s a scene where MASK de Smith, the wrestler character, headbutts a bullet. There’s enough twists and turns in the relatively short game to signal to me that I’ll be replaying this one for many happy years to come.


3. The Fall

Tarsem Singh’s art-about-art masterpiece, The Fall might have opened near you to negative reviews and little to no fanfare. It’s a shame, really, because my second viewing only enriched what was already a lovely experience. Don’t let its premise (or the fact that Tarsem directed The Cell) put you off. Not a vanity project itself, the film examines the motivations and responsibilities entwined with an artist’s reasons for creation, and in doing so examines our motivations and responsibilities in living. If you can see it, you need to.


4. The World Ends With You

Yes, I finally succumbed to what’s been calling my name on store aisles for the better part of four years now, and purchased a Nintendo DS. And on that DS, I discovered this recent, marvelous gem of an action RPG. Striking in its visual and audio design, addictive and exhaustively customizable in its gameplay, and moving in its story, it’s fast joined the ranks of my all-time favorite games.


5. Kaiba

From Masaaki Yuasa, mad genius behind the profoundly human film Mind Game and bonkers horror-romance series Kemonozume, comes Kaiba, a 12-episode anime series still airing in Japan. See that picture above? Our protagonist, Kaiba, is on the right. Yes, he has a hole in his chest. In his world, memories of individuals are stored on chips that can be transferred from body to body, and the underclasses sometimes sell the bodies of loved ones to the decadent rich in order to survive. Until it gets licensed in the States (which it probably never will), it’s streaming at crunchyroll.com. Thus far, episode 7 has been uploaded and subtitled. Episode 3 broke my heart. Then my heart mended. Then I rewatched episode 3 and got my heart broken all over again.

About John D. Moore

Writer, cartoonist, filmmaker, and student of Japanese language, literature, and cinema at the University of Utah.

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