Tag Archives: high school

FGC #507 Kill la Kill –IF

Kill itWorking hypothesis: in the 21st century, for anyone that is privileged enough to be in a position where their creative output is capable of being excessively monetized, the scariest moments in their life were in high school.

And to the rest of the population, that’s horrifying.

Let’s state something plainly: high school sucks. It seems there was some golden age of high school that inspired Bruce Springsteen and more than a few musicals, but, as long as I have been alive, I haven’t encountered a single human being that considered high school to be the best years of their life. Scratch that, I have met people that “miss” high school, but they are, by and large, currently working at a location commonly referred to as “the sheep grindery”, and they’re generally addressed as “Crazy ol’ Gus who smells like a sheep grindery”. Modern high school is, by and large, less an educational institution for teenagers, and more of a daycare for proto-adults. The average high school student is old enough to be trusted with vehicles, voting, and vices, but they’re not trusted enough to acknowledge that the concept of “home room” is a daily waste of a precious 20 minutes of life. Study after study shows that teenagers need more freedom and more stimulating methods of learning during adolescence… so, of course, high school is little more than a graduated elementary school, only marginally different from the instructive environment that greeted these students when they were five. College at least offers the benefits of some manner of quad!

Get 'emBut it’s not the failures of the educational system that make an impact on most people. High school is often remembered as a fiercely competitive gladiatorial arena where only the strong survive… so much as “the strong” is defined as “has the right haircut”. Pop quizzes and alike may inspire a lifetime of impromptu nightmares about not being prepared, but the real horrors of high school are all social. Does Becky like me? Should I ask her out? If I ask her out, and she says no, will I be ostracized for the rest of my days? Everything in high school is magnified by having to deal with a social circle of hundreds that isn’t going anywhere for four years, so you damn well know that if you accidentally splash water on your jeans the first day, you’re going to be “Pissy Tammy” until college. And your name isn’t even Tammy! Who started calling you that!? What’s more, Tammy, is that high school seems almost designed to make you hate yourself and the things you enjoy. Like playing a music instrument? Ha ha, band geek, good luck having a social life. Loving the gymnastics of cheerleading? Well you better start loving some football players, too, because everyone is going to assume you’re sleeping with them anyway. Sci-fi club? Noxious nerd. Basketball team? Dumb jock. You literally cannot win, and even the most beloved of the quarterbacks spends his nights wondering why so many people are mean to him. Oh, did you just reflexively think, “well, yeah, people are mean to him because he shoves smaller kids into lockers”? Well then, yes, we can see why the very nature of high school leads to stereotypes and a virtual melting pot where it seems like 75% of the student body is against literally 100% of that same student body at all times.

And, yes, that can leave a mental impression.

The botsToday’s game is Kill la Kill –IF. As one might expect, this is a videogame based on the anime Kill la Kill. By and large, the game follows a truncated version of the original Kill la Kill plot, as we’re dealing with a fighting game, and we don’t have all day to wait around and figure out special moves for a cadre of incidental characters. Kill la Kill the 26 episode animated series is reduced to about ten characters and an hour or two of “story mode” so its audience can just have some fun tossing fists back and forth. And what is Kill la Kill boiled down to its most essential story beats? It’s the story of the student body president fighting random, occasionally possessed students, and eventually leading to a final confrontation with her mother. Or, you can choose the other path, where you’re the “outsider” student, and you’ve got to battle all those students and the previously featured president of the class. And that’s it for the plot of Kill la Kill –IF. It’s a fighting game based on being a high school student, and it transforms the usual “high school is a struggle between students, other students, and adults” into a literal struggle that involves weapons and sentient uniforms that may or may not represent conformity. High school is Hell, at least you have a sword.

And the whole “high school is Hell” concept isn’t unique to Kill la Kill by any means. In fact, that very phrase was the pitch for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a television series from two decades ago that combined high school tropes with actual monsters every week. This week: Buffy has to care for an egg as part of that one child-rearing class that only seems to exist in fiction, and maybe the egg is set to hatch an Ancient One in the basement! It’s spooky and relatable! And, whether it was simply because Buffy was popular or writers latched onto the trope almost instinctively, the “high school is Hell” concept has been repeated across practically all media, from books to movies to videogames to whatever the hell Todd and the Book of Pure Evil was supposed to be (Jason Mewes, know that you are appreciated). And, to be clear, the “seriousness” of high school doesn’t just exist in these “hell” versions, either. Whether you’re watching an outright drama or a fluffy situation comedy, the crushing weight of the possibility of being socially embarrassed is often plumbed for pathos. Even something as silly as Sabrina the Teenage Witch (the OG, TGIF version, not the current Netflix iteration that literally involves Hell) frequently derives its 20-minutes of drama from the possibility that the titular Sabrina will be outed as an “other”. The message is clear: high school is deathly serious and vaguely traumatizing. It can and should be compared to eternal torture.

And, honestly, if high school is your idea of Hell, you’re living a pretty good life.

It's roughDoes high school suck? Yes. But you know what sucks more? Not seeing your family on a holiday because your boss explains he “needs coverage”. Getting exposed to a fatal disease because “the economy has to keep rolling”. Being strangled because you bought your groceries with the wrong bill. People are suffering in horrible ways on a daily basis. When you consider that some people live their lives under constant threat of literal death, it seems disingenuous to worry about a situation where “the prom” is the biggest problem one can encounter. The idea of issues in high school being life threatening is a fun metaphor, but for so many people, high school and beyond being death-defying is not a metaphor in the least.

But if real life is so dangerous for so many people, why has the high school cow been milked so often it is pumping out powdered dairy substitute? The answer seems obvious: if you’re privileged enough to be in a position where your story is being told to the masses, then it is likely high school really was the worst time in your life. Why? Because high school really does suck for everybody.

And that’s a good thing.

You can’t win high school. We frequently revisit the trope of “the queen bee” or “the rich kid” because it presents the comforting lie that someone was the top of the high school food chain, but, in reality, those “winners” often spent most of their time wondering why they were losers. And, while this might be an untenable situation for those of us with some combination of OCD and an unfathomable drive to be liked by all, it does mean that no one student can be the “boss” of high school. You might be first in the class, but you’re not the quarterback. You might be the star of the track team, but you’re still going to sweat more asking out your prom date. No matter how much power you have in high school, you literally will never have enough, because there is always another aspect of the experience that will be outside of your grasp. And, since humanity has something of an issue with letting things go, you’re always going to remember that feeling of powerlessness. You’re always going to remember that hell.

It sucks hereAnd when you grow into power, when you grow up, get that degree, become the boss, and become the person that has the power to have their own stories told, that’s when you’ll look back at when you were powerless. High school was the one time when power was impossible, so that was the worst time in your life. You’re in power now. You’re the man, man, but remember when you were little more than a scrappy underdog? Remember when it was you against the world? Remember when you didn’t have the power to fail repeatedly yet still succeed? That was terrible! Never mind that there are people today that will never feel that same level of excessive privilege, you have to tell your story about how Debbie always went for that cool jock, and you could do nothing. No one can deny you your prizes now, but at least you can romanticize the times you had to struggle.

And everybody else has to struggle with real life being Hell.

The wonderful thing about high school is that eventually it inevitably ends. Maybe the same thing should happen with privileged men telling stories about high school.

FGC #507 Kill la Kill –IF

  • System: Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. Essentially, all the big platforms that host anime nonsense.
  • Number of players: This is a high school of two.
  • Mega Get 'emMaybe actually talk about the game for a second: It’s a fighting game that, like Dragon Ball FighterZ, is here to let an excited audience “play the cartoon”. That said, the roster is extremely limited (two angry leads, the four generals, two boss ladies, and two DLC whackjobs), and the gameplay is extremely basic. Or maybe it’s complicated? I have a hard time distinguishing how complicated fighting games are, as, if there’s a dedicated “special” button, I kind of assume it’s more simple than King of Fighters. Regardless, despite some gorgeous visuals, this game feels more like a budget release than something that will enjoy three seasons worth of DLC.
  • That old chestnut: Oh, excuse me, there are an additional two fighters on the roster: the two mains, but now they’re both dual-wielding. That’s, like, totally a different character. They play slightly differently!
  • Small Favors: Also, considering the source material, it is a minor miracle this game doesn’t employ Senran Kagura-esque clothes-plosions. Everybody stays just as half naked as normal throughout every bout. Hooray?
  • Say something nice: This is a pretty basic fighting game, but the story mode does include a few interesting fights against multiple opponents that seem… seamless? No, that isn’t quite right, but the “targeting” for quashing multiple objectives does at least feel vaguely natural. It would be cool to see this system adapted to a game that has more interesting mooks… Or at least some saibamen.
  • What’s in a name: Kill la Kill is basically a pun in Japanese, and it boils down to “dressed to kill”. In English, however, it just sounds like someone learned, like, one Spanish word, and then gave up. Localization now!
  • Let's go!Story Time: This game’s plot isn’t merely an excuse to truncate KLK to something a little more fighting game-centric, it’s a dedicated “imaginary story” about student council president Satsuki Kiryuin’s chilling daydreams about destroying the high school hierarchy and her mother. This allows the game a chance to be “canon” (within Satsuki’s mind), but still change the plot and perspective as much as can be allowed by a judgmental fandom. That said, for highlighting a completely invented playground with theoretically no limits on storytelling potential, this tale still boils down to little more than an abbreviated version of the original, so what was the point?
  • Favorite Fighter: Nonon Jakuzu is the uber-band geek drum major that attacks with classical music, so it’s kind of hard for me to say no to that. Her official biography says she’s also responsible for the gardening club, so, ya know, good for her.
  • Did you know? Erica Mendez is the voice actress for main heroine Ryuko Matoi. Laura Bailey famously played Kaine in NieR. However, hearing Mendez shout at the Kill la Kill cast for being “a bunch of dumbasses” really evokes Bailey’s opening dialogue from the boot of NieR, and, to my gentle ears, it’s difficult to tell the two women apart. I guess there are only so many ways you can shout at anime dumbasses…
  • Would I play again: No thank you. This is a fun game for two hours, but feels very slight. I won’t be revisiting this anime high school anytime soon.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Chocobo Racing for the Playstation! Let us race monsters with birds that are known for outracing monsters! Please look forward to it!

Seriously

FGC #013 Sonic the Hedgehog

Waterslides are fun!She and I used to date.

It was back in school, and we just hit it off. First time I laid eyes on her, let me tell you, love at first sight. She had her problems, granted, everyone was talking about how fast she was, and I always preferred to play it loud than process this blasting, but I could change. I wasn’t going to give up my… old fashioned ways for her, but I still ended up buying everything she claimed I needed. Suppose she was just that good.

The relationship went on, and I thought she might be a one trick pony. Running, jumping, rolling, it was great, don’t get me wrong, but I could only do the same thing so many times. She invited her foxy friend over, but that was just… well, the same, but with a blonde. I felt a bit dirty, but maybe that’s a part of any relationship. She… well, we tried some… interesting hardware, but that was the same, again, with a few gimmicks thrown in for good measure. There was something about… time travel? It all seems like a blur now, but I still remember the doubts: Had our relationship grown stale? Was it her? She did have a way of trying certain things that, while they might have been great for her, made me sick. She was like a pinball, bounding from emotion to emotion, but, like pinball, how long could it hold my interest? Wait… my interest? Could it be me? I just didn’t know what to think anymore. It was still fun, but could I do it forever?

Then she showed how much she loved me. Suddenly, our world was so huge, so massive I never wanted to leave. Things she’d considered “bonuses” in the past, horrible asides that just ended with her obtaining more jewelry, were gone, and in their place, a wonderful pile of spheres. Sorry, we were a little strange. Our hearts were locked on as one, and nothing could tear us apart. Then, just a little while later, she, always the more experimental of the two of us, invited this red head to join our fun. Old things seemed new again! Stages of our relationship I once swore to never experience again were now something I looked forward to reliving with a seething passion. There wasn’t a cloud in our sky.

This is not fun!Of course… I guess the signs were all there. I remember the night before graduation, everyone excited about one stage ending and a new one beginning, and, while I was paying attention to some old friends I figured I’d never see again, I saw her out of the corner of my eye. I took a more focused look, and saw her doing something we had both said, on many occasions, was stupid. Others… others we insulted on many occasions, they’d tried it, and, well, we both agreed, we both agreed, it was horrible. But there she was, going all “three dimensional”. It didn’t really seem to do anything for her notoriety, no one really noticed at the time, I tried not to bring it up again, and we went on like nothing happened. I thought, you know, it was a party, she’d always been kind of “wild” and “cutting edge”, figured it was a one time thing. I still wish I was right.
Well, school ended, and I guess so did we. We were going in two totally different directions, and we both figured it would be too difficult to try to maintain something that was just going to hurt both of us. We had a relationship based on happiness, and if we weren’t happy, why continue? I admitted that, no matter what, odds are I’d still love her, and, if memory serves, she kinda shrugged. Should’ve taken that as a sign.

I didn’t try to look her up immediately after that, heard she was just running around a lot with no real direction. Some sort of doomed racing thing? I don’t know, I had no interest in hearing about her failures, so I just laid off for a while. Eventually, she called me. I guess that’s always the way it is, me too much of a coward to seek the truth. She was, after a long dry spell, finally with another guy. One of those guys into the three dimensional stuff. I really didn’t want to believe it. She kept telling me how deep he was, how much fun she had with all her old friends while he was around, that the 3-D wasn’t a problem with him, because he’d always be there. Get with the times, she told me. Sorry, babe, that’s just not my way.

Special Thanks to Faith HillThose two, they just kept it up. I’d talk to her sometimes, she said he was always finding fresh things to do. I told her his shtick wasn’t anything original, that it was a step backwards to please others if anything, but she wouldn’t hear me. I tried to be happy for her, I really did, but… it was all just too different for me. I had this idea of how things should be in my head, how things were, some sort of mega collection of memories, but even the memories couldn’t bring me the same kind of joy, knowing how it all ends.

And it is over. She’s getting married in the fall, and now that I know even more about Big Mr. 3-D, I’m even more disappointed. I sat down, tried, really hard to like him, but it just isn’t happening. He’s repetitive, he can’t seem to focus on any one thing for longer than ten seconds (don’t even think he can pay attention to her for that long, for that matter, he’s always talking about the blonde and the redhead and, geez, some brunette that seems pissed off all the time), and possibly worst of all, I’m beginning to wonder whether or not my ex-love even knows he’s this… broken. He seems to sully the past with his mere presence.

And, look, I know I’m kind of a prude, but if her feed is any indication, they seem to be into some kind of different kink every week, some of which I genuinely do not understand. I can sorta (sorta!) understand things like Arabian or Medieval cosplay, but they were into something called “wolfplay” for a hot minute, and I have no idea what that was all about. I should really delete her feed, but, ugh, sometimes she posts a pic from an amusement park and… I mean, she looks happy, right?

Sure, we still talk. We’re still friends, we’ll always be. Sometimes we sit down and talk about all the good times we had, maybe even throw out a few ideas of what it might have been had we stuck it out, a generation’s worth of memories that never were. But, there’s always something bittersweet there, that there’s just… I don’t know…

I’m sorry, I must have something in my eye.

FGC #13 Sonic the Hedgehog

  • System: Sega Genesis. Also available for practically every system released since the Dreamcast, including your phone and maybe your toaster. No, that isn’t fair. I will not slut shame.
  • Number of Players: One, the loneliest number.
  • Bonus for Collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds: Pissing off a fat, mustachioed man. He looks so hurt.
  • Favorite Zone: Star Light Zone, which is odd, because there is rarely a good Sonic level past the starting stages. Sonic peaking early is a constant to a fault.
  • Does this make you physically ill?
    He just keeps bouncing
    Yes.
  • Did You Know? According to The History of Sonic the Hedgehog, the soundtrack for Sonic the Hedgehog was composed involving a process passing cassette tapes back and forth. I made her a mixtape once, and made a copy for myself, too. Sometimes I still listen to it. Sometimes.
  • Would I play again? Yes, though, given the option, I’d go for the one with the redhead.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Persona 4 Golden. It’s relationship week here at Gogglebob.com, apparently! Please look forward to it!