What is a “Fair Share”?

This topic has been brewing for quite a while ever since the days of the primaries where Bernie Sanders campaigned on making the wealthy pay “their fair share” and then proceeded to spout “speculation tax” nonsense (that had been tried and failed in Sweden before) and a carbon tax while at the same time saying that we should expand health services. In the Sanders vs. Cruz Heatlchare Debate, Senator Cruz said this

Let me put it in perspective. All of the federal income taxes we pay today are about $1.5 trillion a year. $2.5 trillion means every one of us paying income taxes would have to about triple what you pay in income taxes to get an additional $2.5 trillion.

Now, Bernie no doubt is going to come back and say, no, no, no, none of you are going to pay. Just the rich. Well, how about if we took every person that makes over $1 million a year and confiscated 100 percent of their income, took every penny that they make. That would raise only enough money to fund Bernie’s plan for five months. – [Source Transcript]

Cursory Argument

I don’t know where Cruz is getting his numbers for this claim and frankly I don’t care. I bring it up because it seems that the implication is that Sanders believes the poor are paying either their “fair share” or more than their “fair share”. Granted, the quote doesn’t mention the poor at all (outside of the phrase “you”, possibly) so how do I reason this implication? Based on context at the time of writing (that line is for the future historians reading this blog after I become President of the galaxy) the implication is that the wealthy pay too little. And you can reason this out as well even without context. Why would someone complain that the wealthy pay too much and then advocate for higher taxes on them? It doesn’t make sense. In addition, I feel that if everyone else were not paying their fair share, the argument would be “get everyone to pay their fair share” rather than “make the wealthy pay their fair share”. And I don’t believe Senator Cruz is incorrect in his assumption because I followed the Sanders Presidential campaign and Sanders was all about taxing the wealthy and expanding benefits for the poor.

The Numbers

First, let’s look at some sources. The first is some Pew Research data and the other is the wikipedia page on U.S. Income Tax. I use the income tax example because that’s what the Pew Research data focuses on, while mentioning the increase in payroll taxes over time.

On the surface, I’d probably say that the wealthy pay more than their “fair share”. Why? Because the United States (income) tax system is progressive in nature. The more you make, the more you get taxed on that extra you make. I’ll demonstrate this with an example with easy numbers. You are taxed 10% on income up to $100 and then at 20% for amounts over that. If you make $100, you pay $10, a tax rate of 10%. If you make $200, you pay $30, $10 from $0-$100 and then 20 from $101-$200. So your tax rate for making double goes from 10% to 15%. You might be tempted to say that the percentage increase isn’t much considering you now make double, but you’re forgetting the raw numbers. You make double the money, but you pay triple the money.

And look, while I am a bit of a free market libertarian, I’m not saying that there’s anything excessively wrong with such a tax system. And yeah, the example was vastly simplified, but it has the core tenets of a progressive tax system in place. The more you make, the more you get taxed on that money over these breakpoints.

So what we get – is that as you make more money, your tax rate will go up. It always goes up because there is no bracket with a lower tax rate than one above it. You will never see 10%, 20%, 15%, 30%. It will always be 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%. So no matter how wealthy the top 1% is, they will always have a higher income tax than you because they have more taxable income than you.

But sure, let’s just plod along and see what we get in the way of an income tax argument with actual numbers.

“All told, individual income taxes accounted for a little less than half (47.4%) of government revenue, a share that’s been roughly constant since World War II.” – Pew Research

According to the Pew Data, the people making $100k and above pay are estimated to pay for about 75% of our taxes, despite making up about 20% of our households (in 2007) (source). I would be highly skeptical of this number jumping to 75% in 10 years but you can try to prove me wrong.

Why Do We Care?

So what’s this all about? Why do we even care whether or not the wealthy are “paying their fair share”? While there are probably some talking points by the left that I could quote, I’m going to propose what I think this is all about – social programs and the deficit. United States Federal Debt seems to be around 20 trillion dollars. Let me just put down all of the zeroes for you so you can get an idea of how deep in the red we are.

$20,000,000,000,000

The largest problem with the debt is (I would guess) the deficit. Which all of us should understand as the money that you’ve agreed to pay but do not have. You can have debt without a deficit and you can have a deficit without debt. I think the simple way to think of debt is as the accumulation of deficit. So what are we looking at in terms of deficit? By the same source, the estimated deficit for FY 2017 is $504 billion dollars.

We care because it’s difficult to justify spending more money without generating more revenue. And it’s difficult to expand current programs without either cutting other programs or collecting more revenue.

I’ve taken the liberty of generating a graph of deficit as a percentage of GDP. It makes more sense to have a higher deficit with a lower GDP.

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And as we see, my prediction was correct. When President Obama took office, we were coming out of a recession and the GDP was some 4 trillion dollars lower than it was in 2016. But in having these deficits, our national debt has skyrocketed, nearly doubling over Obama’s two terms.

I feel it would be remiss of me to neglect mentioning that President Obama may have ‘almost’ doubled the national debt, but so did President Bush II. President Reagan tripled it. In fact, the trend among the past few presidents seems to be that the republican presidents contribute more to the debt (percentage-wise) than the democratic ones, but that’s just me playing politics I guess.

 Even the deficit for President Trump’s first year in office is estimated to be higher than the lowest deficit during the Obama years. But as a side note… if we have the same GDP that we had in 2016, (it will probably go up) then we STILL see a lower deficit as a percentage of GDP over every single Obama year, coming in at 2.1% compared to Obama’s lowest at 2.8% (it’s still higher than the last Bush year of around 1.1%). It’s unfair to give President Trump any credit for that though, as his first fiscal year will be in 2018, not 2017. So we’re still under Obama as far as budget is concerned.

This analysis means nothing by itself, really. Because it’s one thing to point fingers and say President Obama’s spending money that we don’t have, and another thing to question what he’s spending it on. The stimulus package, unemployment benefits, more military spending, etc. are all nice things to have. So I guess the question at the end of the day is if you could take away the spending and the benefits, would you do so?

Deficit Source
GDP Source

$200k Tax

But let’s take that estimated deficit for this year and say it’s about 500 billion dollars. Let’s look at the number of tax returns in the 33%+ tax bracket (dollar total varies based on status, but it’s around $200k). If we tax all of these individuals for $200k regardless of total income, how much money do we get?

Using the chart for taxable income (why would we calculate based on non-taxable income?) from the IRS for 2014, we see that we get around 1 trillion dollars. Which would pay for double the deficit, at the cost of 3 million returns, 2.4 million of which are married couples (so, 2.4 million families) lying at the border of $200k.

Let’s dig a bit deeper though. We’re most concerned about the people lying at the border, right? How much tax do they really pay? Well, if you take the revenue generated by taxing the 33% and higher brackets, you get about $400 million, of which the 33% bracket pays about 25% of ($111 million). The 39.6% bracket pays the bulk of that, at around 60%.

My guess is that if you’re wealthy enough to be in the 39.6% bracket, you’re so obscenely wealthy that you wind up paying more tax. Who knows. 

Most of that money comes from couples filing jointly, about 90%. I’m not quite sure where I’d like to go with this analysis, it’s just something I wanted to point out. It’s possible, but it’s not going to pay the debt any time soon (it would take 40 years with current spending).

50/50 Analysis

I’d like to go one step further before I come to my conclusion. I’d like to evaluate what I’m going to call a 50-50 analysis since I don’t know if it has an official name. I’m going to evaluate the number of tax returns such that the revenue generated by these returns (by bracket) equals that of the other bracket. I will neglect capital gains for this analysis (as I did the one before) because of what (my understanding of) capital gains taxes are.

So let’s take the poorest and compare them to the wealthiest. The 10% bracket generated $75,927,732 compared to the 39.6% bracket which generated $227,474,052. The 10% bracket is heavily outweighed by the 39.6% bracket, so let’s tack on the 15% bracket, generating $229,998,073, which outweighs the 39.6% bracket… [math ensues]

And what we end up with is this (and I’m actually quite surprised by this result). The brackets necessary to balance each other out are the 10%, 15%, and 25% brackets compared to the 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6% brackets. The totals are $490,067,188 to $412,524,138. Much closer to a 50/50 split than I thought, coming out to 54.29/45.71

“Now just hold the phone, Artemis! From what I see, the poor pay more than the wealthy!” Ehh, technically yes, But there are also a lot more poor people than grossly wealthy people. The number of returns for people in the lower-half is substantially higher than that of the higher half, with around 101 million returns for the lower have compared to around 9 million for that of the higher half. So the higher half pays 10x as much on a per return basis than that of the lower half. And all of this is ignoring capital gains taxes which are likely heavily slanted against the wealthy compared to the poor.

I’m self-employed, I make around $16,000 a year. You take take ten of me and you get well past the 25% bracket, you actually get squarely within the 28% bracket for a single person. And I know that anecdote isn’t really an argument, so let’s use the federal minimum wage. A full-time federal minimum wage worker makes $15,000 a year, and 10 of them is also squarely within the 28% bracket (for singles). So no matter how I cut it, it seems fair. 10 of me would make 10x as much money and I would flip from my side of the ratio to the other. Ironically enough, you only really need about 6 of me to flip sides of the ratio, which means that the wealth are actually overpaying (through this analysis).

Conclusion:

No matter how I cut it, I can’t help but get to the result that the wealthy are not only paying their fair share, they’re paying more than their fair share. So I don’t see the need to start increasing the taxes on the wealthy. I think if anyone wants to take a good stab at the deficit, the first place you hit is the military (Amdahl’s Law). But we live in the United States so I don’t think that’s likely to happen any time soon despite spending double that of China and totaling that of the four countries that follow us in terms of total spending. Despite China spending only 1.9% of their GDP on the military, we spend 3.3% (source). I dunno, shoot me.

Of course, you’re more than welcome to poke at my analysis. I’m not tax expert, I’m just a robot in a cave looking at numbers. If I’ve made any mistakes in my analysis, or if you just think it’s terrible, please let me know in the comments or by email. As always, I welcome criticism. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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What is a “Fair Share”?

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

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I wanted to love this movie. I did, truly. I guess you already know how the rest of this review goes but do try to stay with me here, I’m not just a crying fanboy. While I drafted this with minimal spoilers, there still are spoilers ahead so consider this your spoiler warning.

So Ghost in the Shell is a manga from the late eighties, a movie from the mid-nineties, and an anime from the early 2000’s. This franchise has been through a lot, and I’ve been a fan of it for a very long time. The 1995 movie, while slow-paced, is an excellent work of art that conveys the messages that it wants to convey quite clearly. The Major, Batou, and Aramaki are some of my favourite characters from manga. The Major has this playful nature, Batou… is the butt(ou) of several jokes, and Aramaki is a sly fox that you can’t help but admire. Togusa representing the stubborn, older generation. Most of the other members had augmentations that made their job easier (Saitou’s vision, for example). Others augment themselves for fun (Borma’s liver augmentation). I guess the point that I’m trying to get across is that Ghost in the Shell represented a crossroads in our future where all of these types of people coexisted. We weren’t all cyborgs and we aren’t all humans. And the characters are all so relatable, it’s hard for me to pick ones that I don’t like. Even in the older movie, it was incredibly difficult for me to dislike the Puppetmaster, rather I disliked some of his actions (the poor man with false memories).

Maybe this one was a little close to home, and I shouldn’t have gone in because of that. Let’s talk about what I liked about the movie first.

The movie is visually appealing. I can almost see the future with holographic advertisements the size of skyscrapers already. While I see the payphones on the side of the street disappearing (sorry 1995) I can see the idea of more robots in the service industry. Hell, Japan, in preparation for the 2020 Summer Olympics is already constructing hotels run by robots dinosaurs. ROBOT DINOSAURS! Come on man! ROBOT FRICKIN DINOSAURS! There are some great special effects, however I believe the movie failed to capitalize on the 3D. Especially the scenes where The Major is getting painted back to normal, mesmerized me every time.

The acting is fantastic. ScarJo knows how to play her character (most of the time) and there were some great scenes where you could really see how her movements felt robotic, like it wasn’t a natural human body. In the source material The Major is a little more playful, which is what I liked about it, but eh, new adaptation, different direction. I’m not terribly bothered because what ScarJo did do, she did well.

Before I move on, I do want to take a moment to address the whitewashing controversy. Anyone that complains about it doesn’t understand the source material. The Major’s origins are notoriously mysterious (within source material, which this movie dodged for the most part). And I think that anyone that complains about the whitewashing doesn’t quite get the point. See, the major is effectively a human inside a machine and (I believe) the point that Shirow was trying to make with the character of The Major was that none of the external features really matter (and this is very effectively demonstrated in the 1995 movie). Quite simply, there’s nothing in the source material (that I recall) that makes The Major “Motoko”. In fact, there’s nothing that really makes The Major female. Sure, the exoskeleton appears female, but it could have easily been male. The Major itself could easily be ‘male’ (if we’re going by original personality) but again, that doesn’t matter. That’s the point of The Major.

I don’t know where they found Batou (Pilou Asbaek) but he was perfect. I don’t think they could have picked a better Batou. Christ I loved his Batou. He just seemed so buff! Kuze (Michael Pitt) exaggerated the little robotic flairs of The Major. I’m not sure how much of that was CG, but the line delivery was spot on. He really played himself off as the villain we could all sympathize with even if corporates didn’t turn into assholes.

There are some notable exceptions to the excellent acting. Togusa’s character (Chin Han) had like two lines the entire movie and they were delivered in such a way that I felt like it detracted from how naive the Togusa of old seemed to be. But this isn’t just nostalgia bait, he gave the line so quickly and so flatly “I am a human, and I will always be 100% human” that I felt like the line was wasted. I also don’t like exposition that way, especially when that line served no purpose for the entire movie.

I do wonder why Aramaki spoke Japanese for the entire movie. He clearly understood English, as everyone else spoke in English and the others clearly understood Japanese (maybe they had a translator in their ear or something). But with what little screen-time he had, he did exude badass. And while we’re on the topic of Japanese, why was Hanka always pronounced as hay-n-ka? Should’ve been pronounced Ha-n-ka and every time they pronounced it incorrectly I would cringe. Sounds weird when you read and hear Japanese most of the time.

Okay, let’s talk about what I didn’t like. Everything else.

I don’t think this is really “Ghost in the Shell”. The original Ghost in the Shell discussed several existential themes regarding humanity and what it means as we merge man and machine. It also addressed how these things would impact our day-to-day lives, and how these things could be abused by corporations and governments. It’s not like the source material lacked things to really discuss. And I don’t feel like I got much of that out of this movie. I feel like it was sorta just mentioned, and then we moved on so we could get to the action scenes. The action scenes weren’t terrible, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not really what I paid for. Other scenes didn’t seem to connect too well if you ask me. I feel like we may have been shown a series of loosely connected stories, which is kind of what the manga did… but I don’t think that a movie should be doing that sort of thing.

The language (Ghost, Shell) seemed very forced every time they were used, to the point where I feel like it would’ve been more natural to use ‘soul’ instead of ‘ghost’ every time they mentioned it. But this is due to line delivery, in the source material ghost is used so matter-of-factly that it doesn’t really leave an impact. But the doctor says “But the important part of you, your humanity, your ghost, is still there” is practically romantic so the language doesn’t seem to fit the line.

They ripped a scene straight out of I, Robot (a beloved favourite of mine), and I, Robot did it better.

My biggest complaint might be the Motoko subplot. It gets introduced about twenty minutes before the end of the movie and is resolved like five minutes after it’s introduced. And quite honestly, I don’t mind its inclusion at all. I have several problems about how it was included. First – why is the effective introduction of the subplot at the END of the movie, rather than towards the beginning? I feel like it would’ve been more effective had it been placed much earlier, perhaps right before the bar scene. And the extra irony about that scene is despite everyone complaining that ScarJo isn’t Japanese, the way they characterized Motoko’s mother looked distinctly Chinese. Just saiyan. The second thing is how very little we have to go on. There’s a glitch that The Major continues to see and it’s really the only thing she has to go on and The Major sort of just accepts that she’s Motoko but I personally don’t feel that the audience has enough information to come to that conclusion. The pieces of evidence she has are the memories of the burning building, watching her allies get kidnapped, and the name she was told by the Chinese lady. Sure, it’s “confirmed” by Kuze but I don’t think he should’ve had the information to make that conclusion either.

Long story short, I believe the movie failed to deliver on its source material, and just became another Hollywood action movie. Which I find depressing because of my attachment to the source material, but that’s fine. I would not recommend this movie. The pacing seems poor and the scenes incoherent. While there is some beautiful imagery, I don’t think that there’s enough of a movie here, let alone Ghost in the Shell. Thanks for reading

Artemis Hunt

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Super Impossible Road

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Steam Page

I write this review as the game is still in Early Access. I say that not because I plan to go easy on the game or something, just as a heads up to those that will consider buying the game. I’ve always maintained that “Early Access” is not an excuse for how good or bad a game is. Once you put it on the marketplace, you’re fair game… in my opinion.

Super Impossible Road is a racing game. There’s really not much to say about racing games in general. You control a ball. You can modify your ball to have the stats that you want it to have but let’s be real here, does anyone ever care enough to min-max perfectly? If you do, please send me a message, I need to know what’s going on in your head.

The tracks have gates on them which fill up your boost bar. Using boost makes your ball go a little faster (obviously). Where this game differs from other racing games that I’ve played is that you can jump off the track to “cheat” your way to finish line faster. That’s why the game’s tagline “Winning is cheating”. Now you can’t just jump off the track and free fall to the finish line for victory. The game would be too easy in that case. Upon leaving the track, you have five seconds to return to the track. If you fail to touch the track in that time, you will automatically respawn at the last boost gate you touched. Which means that you have to be really careful about deciding when to ‘cheat’. Otherwise you may waste up to five seconds. If you see the writing on the wall that you’re not going to make it, you can force respawn early.

The tracks can be fairly complex. At this time, while there are only three ‘tracks’, the tracks are procedurally generated so it’s like having an infinite number of tracks? There’s also a daily track where you can compete with people across the world for the top score.

The game is aesthetically appealing (to me) with that ‘Tron’ feel. I’m not the biggest fan of EDM so there’s only one or two soundtracks that I like but it definitely matches the feel of the game. Excellent job.

While the game does have multiplayer, it seems it only has local multiplayer. Perhaps they will change that as it is still in early access. You can still have CPU racers and you can even race against your ghost. So it has some rudimentary tools.

Anyway, at the time of writing, the game is priced at $12. While I do like the game for what it does, I don’t think it’s worth $12 yet. Do it if you want to support the creators but other than that, I’d wait for it to go on sale or something for $5 or $6. I’m not the biggest fan of racing games so I won’t dump too many hours into it, but in my opinion, it does look promising. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Super Impossible Road

Tallowmere

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Steam Page

Tallowmere is a dungeon diving roguelike. A return to basics, maybe. This game features all of your favourite people. We got bitches be spitting mad rhymes, Mike ‘Taze the Rainbow’ Pence, we got Allahu Ackbar, we even got President Donald ‘Grab em by the Pussy’ Trump.

Tallowmere (to my knowledge) is one of those endless games where you just scoreboard whore. Nothing wrong with that, just makes it a timesink rather than an experience. The controls are fairly easy to pick up and it has many ways to challenge players. The weapons you find each have unique controls even if some of them seem absurdly overpowered. I think with the exception of three weapons: the dagger, the club, and the grenade, all attacks home in on enemies and the differences between the weapons are usually how you’re affected as you use them. For example, the ice wand hand a weird range where it won’t angle up or down that much. The rocket launcher has a longer range and a faster projectile, but it knocks you back. Don’t use it next to walls or spikes (I have the achievement you get for suiciding by rocket). The katana has to be my favourite weapon even if I think it’s terrible. When you use it, you teleport to a nearby enemy and you can do this to easily bypass walls and traps. The drawback is, in rooms with large hordes of enemies, it’s easy to lose track of yourself. And when you suddenly die because you didn’t realize you had fallen into a spike pit, it can be annoying. But seeing myself fly across the room killing everything in 1 hit is just sheer delight that whenever I would get bored (usually around floor 50 or 60) I would just suicide using the katana.

Unfortunately, two things play against it. One thing is that you can sacrifice kittens for more health and that’s not okay. I mean, seriously, what the fuck. And you get an achievement for sacrificing all nine. Which I totally only did for SCIENCE! Also because I like to collect achievements.  The second thing (real thing here) that plays against it is that the difficulty curve drops off rather abruptly. After getting some good equipment on floors 1-10 it can become trivially difficult to kill all of the mobs and get better equipment which makes the future floors trivially difficult… The game becomes too easy. And this is why I wind up stopping or suiciding with the katana.

Overall, I think that the game is quite fun to play and well worth a few dollars if you have some hours to spare. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Tallowmere

The Testament of Sister New Devil

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[Image taken from CrunchyRoll]

This review covers Seasons 1 and 2. It is implied that there will be a Season 3.

This show is all over the place. So the premise of the show is that Basara (not to be confused with Subaru who was often called Basuru from Re: Zero) apparently always wanted a little sister and his father up and found two sisters for him. I… I’m not making this up. The two sisters wind up to be demons fleeing a war that were attempting to use his father to secure safe lodging. The next part of their brilliant plan is to forcibly oust Basara and his father from their home. Just like the current migrant crisis (political humour… check). Unfortunately for the girls, Basara and his father are in fact not retarded and highly resistant to the charm magic they were using. So they were sorely mistaken if they thought Basara and father were going to take that shit lying down (like the United St…). But get this, Basara is so cucked that he lets the two demons stay in his home after he kicks their ass out. Because… they’re family now? I don’t even…

The redheaded broad is apparently a princess whose power is the envy of the demon realm so she has to hide. Only she’s shit at it because everyone and their dog seems to know where she is. So much so that some people were already observing her from the demon realm and the hero village. Shit man, why even mention that she’s in hiding if it’s all moot three episodes in.

I should probably mention that Basara is a hero village exile because he blew shit up when it hit the fan. This dude stole a sword and went on rampage so Basara blew him up (somehow) and now Basara uses the sword (not sure why). Apparently the sword has a special ability which erases magical power but the caveat is that it can only be used as a counter attack. Which… doesn’t explain why the sword’s power didn’t stop Basara’s explosion… huh. On top of that, the ‘counterattack only’ rule kind of goes out the window by episode 4 or something which is kind of a drag. It even gets mentioned in Season 2 where the dude literally says “I THOUGHT THAT WAS ONLY SUPPOSED TO BE USED AS A COUNTER ATTACK” and I’m shouting at the screen “I KNOW, RIGHT?”

If there’s any consistency in the show, it’s that the rules are inconsistent. The plot is inconsistent. And I think some key pieces of source material may have been left out. Basara’s father saves a poor kid falling out of a building and that kid has one or two lines. And that’s it. Mind you this kid was saved during episode 1 or 2 in a 10 episode season. Like… what was the role of this kid? What point did he serve? Why do I even care? And the fight scenes are absolutely terrible. Jesus christ, a fight scene is poetry through fists and these fights are just a fancy effect or two and done. There’s little to no background to the fights other than “Me gud, you bad”. Our characters are very reactionary. Were it not for the demon realm trying to get their hands on princess, this show would just be a bunch of sex scenes. There’s nothing motivating the characters to move forward. They just seem to want to hold their ground.

Honestly, I’m wondering if the adaptation was made for its sex scenes but its sex scenes are mostly used as plot convenience or dialogue dumps and I don’t even understand what the point of it all is. Most of these scenes don’t even have proper setup.

Anyway I’m trying to think of something good to say about the series but I can’t. This series is terrible and I cannot recommend it to anyone. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

The Testament of Sister New Devil

Re: Zero

This one has been in the queue for a while because I’m always late to the party but really because it has impressive plot. I mean, look at that plot.

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No, not everything I do can be motivated by cute anime girls, gimme a break (Seriously though, Rem best girl).

A lot of people have hyped this one and I figured with cute battle maids, it can’t be all that bad, right? Right.

So Re: Zero tells the story of a useless idiot that for some reason is called to a fantasy world. He expects the whole protagonist thing where you’re ‘The chosen one’ but finds out that he’s totally fucking useless. His only power seems to be to return to a very specific point in time every time he dies with all of the knowledge of the life he had before. I know there’s source material that I haven’t read, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say that his power is to rewind time but rather to send his consciousness back in time. It is through repeatedly dying that Subaru solves the various problems that come his way.

Subaru is the inversion (yep, gonna have to use that word again) of the typical video game (not saying that this is a game) protagonist. Comparing Subaru to SAO’s Kirito or Log Horizon’s Shiroe, he’s useless. He’s closer to Kazuma from my recent KonoSuba review. His only talent (and it’s a damn good one to be quite frank) is his ability to send his consciousness back in time (I swear that has to be his real ability despite openings suggesting otherwise). Because it allows him to navigate ‘Dead Ends’ similar to the quickload function in my visual novels.

This sort of power is kind of a mess to deal with because it’s so easy to make it seem like a deus ex machina device and in reality it kind of is. What I like about the way it’s executed here is that Subaru has to die first. And it might seem terrible but I think that’s the most important part. In other series this power might be activated like a ‘Get out of jail free card’ but Subaru actually has to experience the full death in order for this power to activate. Which can be excruciating because it can take a while to die.

Unfortunately when your character can return to a save point, it can make relationships between characters difficult to effectively establish because you’re playing with cause and effect. What this means is that you have to rely more on character interaction itself.Not saying that it’s a bad thing, just that it’s something to consider and all things considered I believe Re: Zero effectively executes this. And I do like how the various tragedies that happen to Subaru turn him from this otaku that was happy to find himself in the magical world into this man that has died several times and quite frankly doesn’t want to deal with this bullshit anymore. And the transformation is effectively communicated because you can easily see the intermediate steps, very well done.

My main complaint with the show is motivation and plot. Quite frankly, there isn’t any. At the end of the second season I find myself asking ‘What was the point of all that. What have I learned’. And I don’t think I’ve learned anything. So it feels like everything was pointless. Now you could point to the Royal selection process and say ‘Aha! That was the plot you nimwit’ to which I’m going to have to say ‘No, no it is not’. You are confusing ‘backdrop’ with ‘plot’ Understandable, yes, but they’re not the same thing. The backdrop is something that may set things in motion and continuously acts from behind the scenes. The plot is our reason for moving forward and quite frankly, there isn’t anything. Nothing feels natural.Most of all, Subaru’s feelings for not-best-girl. Subaru says he’s motivated by Emilia’s smile and whatnot but something weird happens and it gets to the point where what was once sweet and charming becomes downright deluded and creepy. And there are things he says that make me cringe. Jesus Christ dude.

Okay, maybe I’m being unfair to Emilia because Rem is just everything I need in a woman and also because her character is probably the most fleshed out one of the main cast post-resets. But the amount of character in the characters is remarkably tiny. We only really get development of Rem. I’ll also remind you that Rem probably has one of the most beautiful, heartfelt confessions in anime history and her character is also great and Subaru still turns her down. SUBARU. WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING.

Overall, a very beautiful anime with some epic music. While the anime wasn’t as great as I was led to believe, I definitely enjoyed watching it even if it didn’t really make any sense. If another season comes out, I’ll probably watch it. Those are my thoughts, thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Re: Zero

KonoSuba

Is overrated.

As a nerd that lives in their mother’s basement, true to form I watch YouTube videos about anime. There seemed to be a consensus within the community of YouTubers that I watch that KonoSuba is a pretty funny anime. I beg to differ. Maybe I watched it the wrong way, maybe I wasn’t supposed to wait for the humour. It’s not a gag anime like Gintama.

KonoSuba is the tale of Satou Kazuma after he is killed in episode one Yusuke Urameshi style. In purgatory(?) he is told that he can reincarnate in a fantasy world. He’s an otaku, seems like a pretty sweet deal. So he takes it. The Goddess in charge of his reincarnation says that he can choose anything to take with him. Now Kazuma is a pretty serious guy and he doesn’t want to die again in the next world so he’s taking his time. Goddess gets snippy. He demands that he get to bring her with him. Apparently that was allowed! So in a fashion reminiscent of ‘Ah! My Goddess’ his story begins.

Kazuma is the inversion of the absurdly competent hero trope. Instead of being able to transcend the limits of his world through sheer willpower (*coughBullshitFloor79cough*) he spends his skill points in useless stuff that only become situationally useful. Because of this, instead of winning fights through ability, he often has to pull things out of his ass. The four main characters all seem to have been designed to be as terrible at their job as possible and the story itself has been written in such a way to make their uselessness not so bad as to end the story. In fact, if I had to sum up KonoSuba in a word, I’d say inversions. It seems to be a series that is comprised entirely of inversions and aversions.

That’s not to say that it’s bad for setting itself up like that. I just don’t see the direction. Normally these ‘standstill’ anime are comedies. You stay in one spot until the comedy is done and then you all take a bow. But those often rely on being… ya know, funny. KonoSuba isn’t funny, at least not to me. And I’m someone that rolls on the floor laughing at Gintama. There are plenty of other anime that are funnier and much better executed than KonoSuba with more consistently good humour.

Maybe my hopes were set up too high thanks to the YouTubers I watch. That’s not to say that KonSuba is terrible. I’d say that it’s even a little fun. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible. I’d say give it two or three episodes and if you’re not sold, drop it. Because the formula doesn’t change for the other 17. That’ll be it from me though, thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

KonoSuba