Insights & Art

Straight from the dome to the plate.

Tag: Avatar the Last Airbender

Game of Thrones: The Winds of Winter – Review

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“Jon, a raven came from the citideal; a white raven… Winter is here.”
“Well, father always promised didn’t he?”

[MAJOR SPOILERS]

Whilst there are certainly lulls in season six of HBO’s record breaking, culture changing franchise; Game of Thrones, the final two episodes; Battle of the Bastards and The Winds of Water were absolutely magnificent.

As film director Rolf de Heer famously said “Sound is sixty percent of the emotional content of the film” and the music in season six was breath taking. So whilst, the season finale was a celebration to how amazing the actors and actress are in this franchise, not enough credit gets given to Ramin Djawadi; the lead composer for Game of Thrones. Without Djawadi’s magical touch, this franchise would only reach a fraction of its true potential and the awe-inspiring scores helps elevate this piece of art so much more. Kudos to a true musical genius.

JON TARGARYEN

“Listen to me Ned, his name is… If Robert finds out he will kill him, you know he will, you have to protect him… Promise me Ned… Promise me.”

Rejoice Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark theorist, today is our day! Today our goblets shall be filled with wine, we shall sing merry songs and we shall dance in the hall of the kings!

This was perhaps my favourite scene from such a splendid, action packed, violence packed episode. For the last two seasons, Jon Snow Targaryen has been my favourite character, he is one of the only currently living characters (along with Ser Davos and possibly Daenerys) which acts as the moral compass of the franchise. Whilst Daenerys has her compassion for the slaves and her desire to liberate the Free Cities, Jon is really the only character that constantly demonstrated his beliefs through his PHYSICAL actions, to the point he was ready and willing to die for his beliefs, I always respected him for that.

So, my heart was pounding during Lyanna and Ned Stark’s final conversation. This series had been teasing out this reveal since episode one and to the disappointment of the fans, the directors seemed to have completely forgotten about this plot during the middle of the season. However, the exchange was every bit as sad, emotion and epic as I could have hoped for. The transition from the little baby opening its eyes to Jon Targaryen sitting at the head of the Stark house, as the music crescendoed, sent shivers down my spine.

I’ve also grown particularly attached with Lady Mormont of House Bear, her confidence, wit and Ayra-like charm won me over the moment she appeared on television. But the scene after Jon’s heritage was revealed, completely cemented my love for her.* In a moment which mirrored the original ‘King in the North’ christening of Robert Stark, the great Lords of the North pledge their allegiance to Jon Targaryen. However, despite the similarities, there was clearly a tonal shift from the conclusion of season one; those were simpler, more innocent times. This christening didn’t have the glamour or the glory which accompanied Robert’s affirmation, instead it foreshadowed even greater conflict and death as the North prepares for the war against the dead.

Jon Targaryen, first of his name, the King in the North, the Lord Commander, the blood of old Valyria, the Dragon and the White Wolf.

*I was nearly in tears at that point, for a character who had suffered the shame of being a bastard, the shame of being abused by Ser Alliser Thorne and even being betrayed by the Night’s Watch. It felt amazing that finally, finally, his fate was turning.

Ayra Stark is also finally in the game again, the Starks have really bolstered their position compared to the beginning of this season. As much as I enjoy Ayra’s tomboyish traits and her confrontational charms, it is slightly concerning to see a teenager display such a ruthless desire for revenge. Whilst the audience has always supported Ayra avenging her family and having a goal to work towards, it is slightly unnerving to see the awe and joy in her eyes after slitting Walder Frey’s throat.

QUEEN CERSEI LANNISTER

“This is Ser Gregor Clegane… He is quiet too… Your gods have forsaken you… This is your god now… Shame… Shame… Shame.”

A Lannister always pays their debt. After close to two whole seasons of being lurking in the shadows, Cersei is ready to become a major player in King’s Landing again. In one suspenseful scene, Cersei managed to destroy most of her opponents in one single blow with wild fire under the Great Sept of Baelor.

Cersei is back, with a vengeance, except this time she is without any of her children, her only link to sanity, the only things which were able to humanise such a vicious woman. Cersei was always power hungry, yet she always seemed to symbolically cover that up with beautiful floral dresses and sparkling jewelry, as if to distract from her less than stellar personality. But it seems Cersei has no time for such trivial fancies. As she ascends the Iron Throne dressed in a dressed in a beautiful black dress, perhaps to foreshadow her fall into madness, Cersei begins to resemble Aerys II Targaryen; the Mad King even more. Shockingly, it was not the Dragon which burnt King’s Landing with wild fire, but instead the Lion. Isn’t it even more symbolic that her most trusted adviser Qyburn was an former maester who was shunned by the order for practicing forbidden arts?

In many ways, the scene of Cersei preparing herself for the explosion at the Great Sept reminded me of the infamous baptism scene in The Godfather. Where Michael Corleone stands completely stoic at the altar after ordering the assassination of the rival families, his unflinching stare making the audience question whether or not he had become an emotionless monster. This time it was Cersei who failed her child, her kinder traits seemed to have been blackened after Tommen declared that trial by combat will be outlawed specifically to handicap his mother’s only trump card; Clegane. Cersei wasn’t at Tommen’s room trying to comfort the naive boy after he had lost his wife and his faith. In fact compared to her reactions when Joffrey and Myrcella, she seemed cold and aloof. No one crosses Cersei and lives to tell the tale, not even her own children.

The question remains, how does Mad Queen Cersei aim to keep not only her Iron Throne, but also the love of Jaime Lannister? The cold glare between the two signaled a clear shift in their relationship; she had become the very monster he killed to protect the city. How does a woman who has isolated all her allies and supporters maintain the crown against Daenerys Stormborn, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons?

Will Jaime Lannister be adding the Queen Slayer to his long list of titles?

DAENERYS TARGARYEN

“What is my heart’s desire?”
“Vengence… Justice.”
“Fire and blood.”

I am so glad that Daenerys finally got out of Meereen, she was a big fish in a small pond. It is time for Daenerys to leave her isolated world and join the rest of the cast in the battle for Westeros. It is time to announce to the world that the Dragon is back.

I thought that Meereen was rather dull this season and it was only Peter Dinklage (Tyrion), Jacob Anderson (Greg Worm) and Nathalie Emmanuel’s (Missandei) performances which were keeping this narrative afloat. After all the entire point of the unrest and the emergence of the Son of the Harpies was to teach Daenerys how hard it is to rule and that the crowd is fickle, particularly if you do not know the city’s culture. I thought season five really effectively showed us the pains of leadership with Daenerys facing the first real test of her queenship; public backlash. However in season six, Daenerys was completely missing from Meereen, her absence meant that the rise in tension lead to more character development for Tyrion than the Mother of Dragons, thus I just wasn’t very emotionally invested Meeren during this season. The Free Cities always felt like a stepping stone to Daenerys’ true purpose and I’m glad she has is on her way to her true goal.

Whilst the main theme of Daenerys’ character growth has been her becoming more stern and less forgiving, changing from a beautiful, soft young lady to the authoritative and inspiring queen. It was very touching to see Daenerys display a more compassionate side of her personality with Tyrion. His emotional reaction, shows just how much his past has shaped him and despite having killed his father and been exiled from Westeros, Tyrion belongs in the western continent. He will never be able to undo his love for Shae, he will never be able to forget his brother or wash away the emotional scars caused by his father.

The ending sequence was also breath taking, the transition from Theon Greyjoy standing alone to Grey Worm standing proudly to the rest of the immense fleet was breath taking. The sheer scope of this production combined with Djawadi’s perfect composition ended the season in a manner befitting on of the greatest television series ever to grace the screens.

Valar Morghulis. Westeros, doesn’t know what is about to hit it.

CONCLUSION

In general, I find that the later seasons of Game of Thrones haven’t been as ‘lean’ or ‘sharp’ as the first three to four seasons. Part of this is because they lost George R.R. Martin as a key editor on the show and also because David Benioff and Daniel Weiss have started to drift into territory which isn’t covered by the novels. In particular I felt this season dragged on from episode six to eight (straight after Hordor’s death to before the Battle of the Bastards). There were a few questionable decisions, such as why bring Sandor Clegane back if he is not going to spar with his brother during the Trial by Combat? Why reestablish the Brother Without Banners so many seasons after they were first introduced?

So this wasn’t a ‘perfect’ season, but the final two episodes in particular was one of the best pairs of episodes I have ever seen. It reminds me of Avatar Wan’s double episode in The Legend of Korra for raising the bar in animation and television respectively. Most of all, I am hyped for season seven already and it pains me to announce that we as the fans, have to wait another ten months before we can get our weekly fix of this show.

THE KING IN THE NORTH.

Protected: Top 25 Most Important Songs Part 1

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The Second Blog Update

The 18th of May, 2015 has been chiseled into history. Many generations on, my descendants will commemorate this day with a feast. The great songs shall echo through the grand hall of the Ching dynasty, the wine shall flow like the Nile and the ancient kings will rise from their tomb to herald the changing of the new age.

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Ask not what the blog can do for you, but what you can do for the blog.

ONE THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED AND EIGHTY SIX VIEWS IN A SINGLE DAY.

Note that my previous record was 49 views in a full 24 hours, the jump to 1886 represents a net increase of… 3748.9796%. I was completely stunned when I first saw this, believing that either I instantly needed to get corrective eye surgery or that I had taken one too many shots of Vodka that night.

Now you as the audience must be asking, “How on Earth did you get such an explosion in views?” and secondly “Did you threaten the slaves in the basement your friends to continuously press F5 at gunpoint?” After donning my thinking cap and investigating, I found that my website was linked several times in a Norwegian forum dedicated to academia. Many students used my piece analysing the rhetoric in Obama’s Yes We Can speech (which you can found by clicking here) as a scaffold for their own writing.

The Peloponnesian War cemented the greatness of the Spartans in western lore, the 13th belonged to the ferocity of the Mongols, the year 1788 signified the start of the French Revolution and the solidification of modern day European ideals. But the 18th of May, 2015 heralds the triumph of humanity, the forging of the human spirit. But most of all, the 18th of May will forever be the swan song of the Norwegian nation, they rose like a Phoenix from the ashes, dashing away villainy and corruption in a single stroke.

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So what’s next for Insights & Ball? I’m currently completely swamped in assessments though I’m loving this semester as it is really allowed me to dive deeper in my education degree. The timetable gods have also been merciful and I’ve been able to meet some incredible like minded education peers and to strengthen past friendships that I’ve already developed.However I do have a few essays and articles which I do want to publish in the near future, I’ll be on holidays around the end of June.

Schedule

The Fifty Greatest Moments in the Avatar Franchise
This has honestly been a piece that I’ve wanted to publish for many months. I’ve already established my 50 favourite moments from the Avatar franchise in order. However I would like to re-watch The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra one final time just in case I want to make changes. This article will most likely be stretch out over a five separate post starting at number 50 to the magnum opus, I find posting 50 consecutive moments in a row to be a little extreme and very ugly on the eyes.

Tim Duncan; an Ode to Greatness
Duncan is a living legend, the embodiment of a professional, the symbol of longevity. His resume is overwhelming, 5 different championships, 2 MVPs, 3 finals MVP and a ridiculous 18 regular seasons under his belt and another 18 PLAYOFF RUNS played. However, Duncan is nearly the end of his career, how will he proceed? Will he silently exit the game, content with the legacy he has craved out, or will he strive for another championship run?

The Yellow Vicks; a Cherished Memory
The yellow Vicks cough drop will forever be associated with my childhood. My grandmother will always reward me with that delicious treat, promising that this would be the final one of the night. However she could never contain her love for me and by the end of the night, I would sit in my parent’s car with four or five cough drops happily consumed in the stomach. That was close to a decade ago and now her Dementia has cruelly stolen away her memories, ripping down her charisma and destroying her independence. I visited her in the nursing home recently, I tried to make conversation but it was hard connecting intimately with someone who was starting to forget you. As I walked out of her room, I left a packet of yellow Vicks near her bedside table, maybe for one more time she will remember me, the past laughs we shared and how much I loved her.

These are the pieces that I have lined up, however I write whenever I’m motivated and if an idea or an event catches my fancy then I’ll focus on that topic instead. Though I hope that you as the audience have a better idea of what I’m planning to focus upon and I hope that you’ll follow me as I document my life, my beliefs and my experiences before I, too, am whisked off the stage off life.

To my Norwegian viewers, I salute you.

Farvel, Chingy out.

Ten Orchestral Pieces.

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Joe Hisaishi and Jeremy Zuckerman, my two favourite composer as of now.

I was and still am really hesitant to write this article, music is a universal language which communicates through emotions and memories, all tangible feelings but that also makes it incredibly hard to write about. How do you accurately describe a triumphant crescendo? There’s no doubt that my own personal experiences and emotions will affect how I interpret that piece, but how can I accurately communicate these thoughts to the wider audience? Though, regardless I think orchestral is one of the most undervalued genres of music and sadly there is a distinct lack of exposure since it doesn’t fit into ‘pop music.’

This is a key reason why I am writing this article, hopefully I will be able to intelligently and articulately explore how these pieces of music have touched me without allowing my writing to becomes overly personal and incomprehensible. I have written another article about the orchestral genre and unfortunately I decided to name it “Top Ten Orchestral” pieces, completely ignoring the fact that my knowledge in this field is still very shallow and that my top ten list would be constantly changing. Of course I will not be mentioning any of the songs I wrote about in my previous piece which you can find here.

Personally, I define orchestral as a more modern variation of classical music and whilst classical composers like Bach, Mozart and Verdi have all stamped their legacy upon the history of the world. My heart has been whisked away by composers like Akihiko Matsumoto, Jeremy Zuckerman and Yoko Shimomura.The most beautiful aspect of orchestral music is how the absence of words means that the audience can easily and freely substitute their emotions into the piece, orchestral music really is a blank canvas, allowing listeners to paint however they please.

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato

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Title: Fantasia Alla Marcia
From: Kingdom Hearts II
Composer: Yoko Shimomura

What a musical journey, this is a song which incorporates many different emotions, from genuine warmth, to impending doom to glorious victory. This song starts off casually, a bouncy and bright melody that quickly transforms into a heart wrenching melody, softly whispering silent pains into the soul of the audiences. Then like a lion, it announces it’s return and it finishes upon a crescendo, the darkness is cast aside! The Keyblade remains undefeated and chaos has been imprisoned! One complaint I have of classical pieces is that too often the changes between their melodies seems forced, unnatural and inconsistent, the biggest strength of this piece is Shimomura’s ability to guide the listeners on a journey of highs and lows.

Now if only Square Enix could release Kingdom Hearts within the next century and on the PS3, that would be fantastic.


Title: The Village in May
From: My Neighbor Totoro
Composer: Joe Hisaishi

Joy to the world! Flirty without compromise, Hisaishi delivers one of his most memorable works for a Studio Ghibli classic. This song perfectly captures the innocent and curiosity of youth and in particular of Mei, the younger sister of the protagonist; Satsuki. It was clear that Hisaishi was trying to reflect the optimism and energy of youth, for myself this song triggers buried memories of picnics, sunflowers and spring; the simple events in life which give colour to our existence.


Title: Greatest Change
From: The Legend of Korra, Book One
Composer: Jeremy Zuckerman
Such power and strength, for anyone that has visited my blog they will know I am a huge fan of animation and The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra series both have a special place in my heart. Zuckerman has one of the most original sounds I’ve ever heard as both Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko wanted Zuckerman to create music which deviated from traditional styles. Zuckerman has managed to combine eastern instruments with the spirit of western orchestra to produce some of the most mesmerising music I have ever heard. Jeremy Zuckerman’s music was the emotional heart beat of Avatar The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, his impact on these works and my life can not be understated.

For me, this song represents growth and evolution, it starts off timid, shy and reserved but slowly the melody grows stronger, embolden by its success, until finally it creates a tidal of emotion to overwhelm the listener. The thunder of the drums further adds to the power flow of this piece, like a flash of stallions, galloping along a river.


Title: 150 Million Miracles
From: Summer Wars
Composer: Akihiko Matsumoto

“And if you remember nothing else, remember to find time to eat together as a family. Even when times are rough; especially when times are rough. There’s no lack of painful things in this world, but hunger and loneliness must surely be two of the worst.”

Having an angelic choir is one of the oldest tricks in the book, it adds a gorgeous sincere element to the music and the same could be said for 150 Million Miracles. Of course as someone who has watched and loved Summer Wars, I feel a much stronger connection to this piece of music than strangers to Hosada’s film, played during a very intense and emotional moment; for me this song speaks about family, loyalty and love.


Title: Omnis Lacrima
From: Final Fantasy XV
Composer: Yoko Shimomura

The goddess of Japanese orchestral strikes again, the flames of human adrenaline, the frenzy of battle and the fall of great empires. Omnis Lacrima taps into the darker elements of humanity, our desire for glory and our sub conscious thirst to vanquish our foes. Humans are a fickle species, being able to simultaneously shed tears for nameless victims of a tragedy whilst inflicting death in the name of love and loyalty. The crescendo of drums, trumpets and voices at the start of the song combined with the driving beat and the Latin choir produces a chilling piece of music, full of passion, courage and power.


Title: Ruby & Sapphire Ending Theme (I presume)
From: Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald
Composer: Junichi Masuda

You could definitely make the case that I spent too much of my youth playing with my Pokemon Ruby and pretending my Blaziken was real. But did I regret spending over 300 hours training my Pokemon, capturing basically every Pokemon I could except that pesky Huntail and beating the Elite Four over and over again to the point where I could remember every single Pokemon the trainers had? NO. This song is so nostalgic for me, sending me down a roller coaster of memories from a close friend giving me a Camerupt EX trainer card, to switching Rayquaza to abuse the Air Lock ability to negate Solar Beam. I don’t expect my readers to be so emotionally charged when listening to this gorgeous piece, but one can still appreciate how lightly the keys echo, how the soft music seems to coat and soothe the soul. Sunflowers, seashells and a picnic with a beautiful girl in a grassy mellow.

Long live Hoenn, long live Swampert and long live Treecko.


Title: The Name of Life
From: Spirited Away
Composer: Joe Hisaishi

Joe Hisaishi at his very best, riveting and seductive. Like other Hisaishi pieces such as Journey to the West and Laputa: Castle in the Sky, he manages to intertwine bitter sadness, optimism and joy in a single piece. Whilst the echoing piano notes contain a sombre element, when stringed together, this piece of music delivers a powerful emotional punch. For the frequent listeners of Hisaishi, they may notice a distinct resemblance to One Summer’s Day which was featured in the critically acclaimed Spirited Away (arguably the 21st century’s version of Akira, in terms of influence and introducing Japanese animation to western nations). However One Summer’s Day lacks the haunting piano keys at the start of this piece, arguably my favourite section of this song (excuse the lack of musical terminology).


Title: Traffic Jam
From: Halo ODST
Composer: Martin O’Donnell

Martin O’Donnell’s music has the ability to transform the mundane into the spectacular, the ordinary into the chaotic and the predictable into a frenzy of movement. This piece starts with it’s head held high, every note reflecting its proud and militaristic origins, every thud of the dream saluting a distant victory. War is dangerous, filled with sorrow and suffering, but amongst such conditions, iron bonds of camaraderie are formed. This is a thunderous salute to the selflessness of sacrifice to the men and women who would die for their country and their peers.

Lock and load marines, time to flank some elites.


Title: Dearly Beloved
From: Kingdom Hearts I
Composer: Yoko Shimomura

I would often leave my PlayStation 2 on all day with my Kingdom Hearts disc inserted just to hear this song on repeat and repeat… And repeat. This is as bitter sweet as it comes, a tale of star crossed lovers, redemption and separation. Honestly, it’s hard to write about this song, it’s one of the defining soundtracks of my younger days. There’s something magical and soothing about Dearly Beloved’s soft and angelic start, like the final hug from a departing friend, or the warmth of twilight stars. Arthur Schopenhauer argued that music was the purest form of literature because of its ability to produce unfiltered emotions, unlike other mediums such as books or films which required the creation of situations, events and characters to move the audience. A tranquil song like Dearly Beloved is both haunting and beautiful and even cultural barriers can not hinder its message of loneliness. Music expresses emotions in its purest form, I truly believe that.

Press play and let the music sweep you away to a land of wonder and tranquility.


Title: Legend of Korra Ending Song (Has not been officially released, no official title)
From: Legend of Korra, Book Four
Composer: Jeremy Zuckerman

I had to. I had no choice.

Music has the ability to make or break films and television shows, adding a subtle splash of depth and emotion to accompany the visual. The finale of Legend of Korra impaled my heart, it was like losing a friend, a friend you never fully appreciated, but someone who was tenderly loving and supportive. Bryan Konietzko and Michael Di Martino told Jeremy Zuckerman to deliver an emotionally charged sound track, nostalgic and gentle and he delivered in spades. The ending notes in particular are what resonate with me the most, it’s so graceful and haunting leaving the audience satisfied but strangely wanting more.

I’ve stated this before, but I’ll state it again, Zuckerman has one of the most unique sounds I have ever heard, being able to masterfully combine the spirit of the east with the soul of the west. This was primarily achieved by playing the Erhu like a violin, allowing it to boldly produce its authentic high pitched sounds whilst being surrounded by the versatility of western instruments. That’s no easy feat and the end product is a heart breaking piece of music, which will strike you at your core. Maybe I’m a lot more invested in this piece because it featured in Legend of Korra, particularly at the ending which was just a tidal wave of feelings. Maybe it’s just a beautiful piece of music that needs no context for it to overwhelm.

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I have always struggled with articulating my thoughts on music and its impact. Unfortunately I am not musically literate and thus I often have to discuss the context of the musical piece or my personal experiences and thoughts attached to the melody instead of publishing a piece which breaks down the different approaches and methods used to produce said sounds.

There are still many other pieces of music I have yet to suggest and discuss about, as you can tell sadly there is a distinct lack of musical appearances from the Lord of the Rings franchise, a sin which I shall mend in my next musical article. Music is that splash of colour that everyone’s life needs and humanity’s ability to create art to entertain and heal, separates our species from every other living organism.

Hopefully these ten songs I have recommend and written about will resonate with you the same way it has affected me. We live in an age where war and death are more threatening then ever with technology proving to be both a curse and a blessing. We live in an age where the mobile phone may replace physical interactions.

Music is something which we can never forgo, not even for a second. It may be the bridge which unites us all.

Protected: The Last Stand, the End of Korra.

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Subtle Rhetoric. (A Dime A Dozen)

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“Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.”

These following submissions are part of my Rhetoric course at the University of Sydney, I’m required to submit around 80-100 words every week as a requirement to pass my course. (obviously my submissions completely broke this word ‘limit’…) Hopefully, this is an enjoyable read as it details my thoughts on rhetoric, it’s uses and how it effects society.

Friends, Romans, lend me your ears!

Intangible Consumerism.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s work is very similar to the lecturer who believed that fundamentally language is about quotations and paraphrasing and thus there can be no real sense of creativity since the medium used to translate the ideas are socially constructed.

This made me question the purpose and the legitimacy of copy right or patenting, is this just a method for companies to store up ideas and inventions? Are ideals like trade mark and copy right just a product of a consumeristic society? Or is it used to heighten one’s ego? Giving their words or beliefs legitimacy because of their association to an idea or item that is recognised as their ‘personal’ production? Personally I think capitalism, pride and financial gain are the three biggest contributors to a world where intelligence and ideas can licensed.

Lost in Translation.

As the world becomes more and more connected with the rise of technology, the distinction between cultures and nations have been blurred with the internet becoming a powerful medium where people can experience a wide variety of texts. There has always been critics of translated texts, personally I am a big fan of anime (Japanese animation or cartoon) and there’s a huge split down the community about the authenticity about translation animes.

However just like translation can take away from a text, it can also add meaning which may be more relevant to the audiences. In some ways translation can be compared to adaptions, such as Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, which took a traditional text can placed it into a different cultural environment, though no one questions the validity or the purpose of those adaptions. My views on translation has been directly influenced by something my year eight English teacher talked about; The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes. Whilst this may be influenced by my relative mentality, I believe that once a text is created, the author loses their position of authority on it since different interpretations of the same event, book, and sentence etcetera will be supported by varying experiences, all of which are just as valid.

I guess it is up to individual viewers to decide whether they value complete ‘authenticity’ or the injection of a ‘foreign’ perspective.

Apples and Oranges.

In today’s tutorial the class (spear headed by Benjamin) discussed how national perceptions are social constructions within involve the participation of the said nation along with the international communities which all contribute to the final image. In some ways this could be seen as the situated ethos of the nation which is an accumulation of the perceptions and surrounding stereotypes around a nation. Despite the statistics (logos) which reflect the modern, technological society that most Australians live in, the typical belief that all Australians are Caucasian surfers with blonde curly hair who are also ironically desert dwellers exist.

Though instead of pointing how the creation of beliefs and perceptions are a joint product between multiple parties, I think it’s interesting how societies will always define themselves in comparison to other nations. Australians share a lot in common with the British, a similar language combined with a capitalistic society with democracy as its social foundation. However Australians proudly uphold the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ image whilst the English will joke about their fetish for tea and biscuits.

This is another issue I have with the media, it’s over simplistic rhetoric is both manipulative and false. It aims to present easy to consume stories and images for the busy and largely ignorant masses. These over generalisations will often reinforce the already socially accepted stereotypes and thus trapping society in a dangerous cycle of self-delusion.

Rhetoric and how we word and portray ideas is important my friends.

Is Technology indistinguishable from Magic.

Rhetoric is something which is constantly evolving, it evolved under the Humanism movement, it defined itself against the scholastic movement and during the Industrial Revolution it became less and less important as economics opened up trade and communication amongst different nations with different languages. With the spread of the internet, rhetoric has also undergone changes as communication adapts to an increasingly shrinking world.

In my opinion, the internet has allowed unknown individuals to publish their thoughts anonymously meaning that ethos is becoming less and less important and instead there is a larger focus upon the strength of one’s arguments. Likewise powerful influences like situated ethos have been nullified by the internet as the author’s physical appearance and socio-economic status are hidden from sight. I also believe that pathos is harder to effectively implement and aggressive tactics such as intimidation would be poorly received as those rhetorical strategies often require face to face communication or at the very least the use of body language to subtly convey certain emotions and feelings.

I also believe that the main purpose of modern rhetoric is not to ‘persuade’ but rather to simply communicate or pass along a certain message or theme, this is due to the widening audience which can access a speech, article, essay, comment or picture. This means persuasion is harder than ever as the audience will have a wider spectrum of values and beliefs ingrained into them by their culture, thus simple and effective communication seems to be more important than ever as language barriers become more apparent than ever on the internet.

Personally I don’t see this evolution of rhetoric as something which destroys the ‘art’ or ‘soul’ of rhetoric, which is a form of knowledge or practice which has under gone many different transitions and likewise a 16th century rhetorician might of complained about the destructive capabilities of the printing press, something which is integral to modern society.  Instead I think it is necessary that rhetoric evolves along with the world so it does not become an outdated skill left to gather dust upon a bookshelf, void of all relevance.

The Essence of Rhetoric. (A Dime A Dozen)

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The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis Davis.

These following submissions are part of my Rhetoric course at the University of Sydney, I’m required to submit around 80-100 words every week as a requirement to pass my course. (obviously my submissions completely broke this word ‘limit’…) Hopefully, this is an enjoyable read as it details my thoughts on rhetoric, it’s uses and how it effects society.

Friends, Romans, lend me your ears!

Has Rhetoric Sinned?

Is Rhetoric inherently bad or good? Is Rhetoric simple persuasion? A gentle nudge towards a certain stance or is it blatant manipulation where the strong orators reign supreme and unchallenged? There was a belief that rhetoric often failed to add anything of value and instead a rhetorician would just twist the truth for self-gain. However I see the study of rhetoric as a beautiful field of knowledge which like any skill or information can be used for positive or negative causes (extreme amounts of pathos incoming), much like how a bird watcher doesn’t study birds so they can shoot them down.

I feel like some of the greatest moments in history are have been blessed by rhetoric, Martin Luther King’s skillful manipulation of rhetoric to promote civil rights for citizens of colour. The spectacular and elegant writing found in the American Declaration of Independence to haunting words that Socrates uttered just before his execution are held up to the pinnacle of rhetoric. All of which have left a mark on mankind because of the elegance of the speaker or the sophistication of the chosen words.

Is manipulation really so bad? Isn’t that exactly what any text or any piece of literature does? Movies are deceptive because the audience assumes the camera to be their window into another world, so camera angles and lighting which all evoke different emotions within the audience are subconsciously accepted. One of my favourite quotes in V for Vendetta is “Artist use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up”, one could argue that the I Have a Dream speech adds no new information, but I would disagree, rhetoric unlocks the potential found within language, turning it into a tool for good or bad. The question is with any information…How will society use this tool?

How Far Can You Take Relativism? 

Context is everything. The third tutorial focused primarily upon the referent and signified and signifier and how the omnipresent context which surrounds every individual affects all interpretations. If the meaning of words and phrases can be altered based on their subjective context, then why can’t this view can be extended towards morals and beliefs?

Plato’s cave is a fantastic example of this which highlights how meaning of a word, event, action etcetera will be based on one’s position. Applying this relative position onto morals could you argue that ‘evil’ things like murder and human sacrifice are can be deemed ‘okay’ or ‘understandable.’ Unless we were to conclude that there wasn’t a single person who was moral during the Aztec empire or prior to the Thirteen Amendment. Whilst I believe theoretically you cannot claim authority on subjective matters like what is morality? What constitutes evil? I believe that relativism is impractical for building a society upon, as acts like murder, rape and thief must be punished. I guess that begs the question, if philosophy and human thinking was given a choice, should it walk down the path of pure idealistic logic or practicality?

Love, Hate Relationship.

Intimidation and integration are two rhetorical methods both with their positives and negatives and their specific uses for an orator. Both are heavily intertwined with ethos and one must consider their ethos and purpose before applying either of those tactics. Intimidation is the tactic of building up authority and using that sense of power and knowledge to belittle one’s opponent. Generally it can be said that orators who attempt to use intimidation will have to be more aggressive, and will have to actively assert their status on the argument. Thus one’s status must be considered before attempting this tactic since there are heavy consequences if implemented incorrectly. For an example, if a person with low status or with a history of being a ‘push over’ used this tactic, this will be very ineffective.

Ingratiation can be considered the opposite of intimidation, where instead of trying to actively push one’s authority onto the audience, integration is supposed to build a connection through pathos. Other ways to create a connection between the audiences include “As we all know” and “I think we’ve all felt …” Likewise ingratiation should generally not be used by people with high status, since it blurs the line between the audience and their level of ‘professionalism.’ Ingratiation can sometimes empower the audience whilst ‘dis-empowering’ the speaker since the orator aims to portray themselves as one of the majority.

The Legend of Korra: Change – Review & Analysis

[SPOILERS, PLEASE WATCH THE SEASON IF YOU HAVE YET TO COMPLETE IT]

It’s been over a month since the Venom of the Red Lotus aired, signalling the conclusion of Change and I have yet to give my input on a series that is very dear to my heart. In many ways, my attachment towards the Avatar universe has stopped me from writing up this review, since I feel like anything short of ‘perfection’ would be a great injustice to Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino and the audience. I will say I enjoyed Change, it was a ‘breath of fresh air’ after what I personally considered the weakest book in the Avatar franchise; Spirits. There is a clear distinction between the Korra seasons and the original seasons featuring Aang, Konietzko and DiMartino have matured and this is reflected within their increasingly sophisticated plots. Though this book isn’t perfect (what piece of art is?) hopefully I can explore the strengths and the flaws of Change whilst balancing my affection and rationality. Generally this review will explore themes and characters rather than give you an episode by episode summary since you can just watch the book by yourself.

It is important that the characters in a fictional world stand for themes which transcend them as individuals, personally I feel like this is especially true for the antagonist, thus giving deeper meaning to their conflict with the protagonist. When Luke Skywalker fights Darth Vader, it isn’t just a clash of lightsabers, Luke’s victory also symbolises Vader’s redemption and Luke overcoming the tempting powers of darkness. Likewise the Joker mirrors the Batman, both characters are lonely, misunderstood and margalinised by society and when Batman defeats the Joker he is also defeating his inner chaos. This is one strength of Change that I felt was lacking in Air and Spirits, Amon and Unalaq were decent antagonist in their own right. However Zaheer’s polarising set of justice and freedom meant he developed into one of the more entertaining villains in the Avatar universe, allowing the audience to empathise with him on a level that never happened with the villains of the previous books. Whilst one can argue that Amon was more intimidating since his whole identity was clouded in shadows, the ending of book one severely hurt his characterisation. It was revealed that Amon’s main objective was not equality amongst benders and non-benders but his revolutional campaign was a way to amass more power, immediately cheapening everything he stood for and thus relegating him to the role of the stereotypical power-hungry villain. This trend repeated in Unalaq’s characterisation, he hungers for power and is even willing to sacrifice the world to obtain it, once again cardboard cut outs of villains.

Enter Zaheer, slowly but surely Zaheer became my favourite character within book three, maybe it’s my natural affiliation towards air bending, but I think it was his intelligence and charisma that won me over. Zaheer represents the worst of the air nation, he took ideas like isolation and separation to the extreme and his characterisation clearly contrasts against that of Aang. In many ways, Zaheer is what Aang would have become if he passionately believed that the ends justify the means and he had failed to develop a strict moral compass. Aang’s biggest weakness arguably could be his inability to accept responsibility to his failure to fully deattach himself from ‘earthly links’ which ‘hindered’ his journey towards becoming a fully acquainted Avatar, master of the four elements and a force of stability in the world. Aang couldn’t elevate above his emotional bonds, his reluctance to let go of Katara nearly resulted in both their deaths and would have signaled the end of all resistance to the Fire Lord. However when compared to Zaheer, we can view Aang’s flaws in a new perspective, maybe his inability to shed his humanity isn’t a flaw and it was his emotional bond with his peers stopped him from becoming an emotionless robot without the ability to empathise. Through Zaheer’s characterisation this has been one of the few times the show has criticised the air nomad culture, as the original Avatar series offered a very black and white view of reality; fire nation is bad, air nations are good. I believe this shows the evolution of the creators, their texts blur the distinctions between good and bad, of justice and injustice and just like the real world, everything has positives and negatives.

It was sad that Zaheer managed to unlock weightlessness only when P’Li was killed, his last attachment to the world had been cut forever and now he was forever suspended in a state of indifference. In many ways P’Li was Zaheer’s ‘earthly tether’ their private discussion before her eventual demise showed a softer side to Zaheer which remained hidden to the audience and a few scene later that tenderness was ripped apart, Zaheer gained the world but lost his humanity in the process. Maybe that’s why it was so effective when Jinora and her fellow air benders defeated Zaheer, for me it symbolised how communal bonds of affection will always trump individualistic pursuits, that relationships are not burdens but something which gives colour to life.

This was a big reason why I was offended when Zaheer became insane at the book, it was an easy tactic on behalf to the producers to ensure that the audience sided with Korra. But in many aspects this character assassination was exactly what Konietzko and DiMartino inflicted upon Amon, it cheapened everything that Zaheer represented and this moment of insanity contradicts his calm and reversed persona. This was also seen in what I consider the most emotional moment of the book, when Tenzin refuses to submit and states he would rather die than endanger the air nation, the look on Zaheer’s face is blank and emotionless. Surely someone with that much respect for air bending values would cringe or display some sort of reluctancy before attacking someone who is willing to sacrifice everything for their beliefs.* These examples of character assassination were never found in the original three books, Azula and Ozai were both terrifying but in their final moments, they displayed a genuine sense of fear and humanity. I could only wish this was extended towards Zaheer, Ghazan and Ming-Hua.

“The question is not can they reason, nor can they talk, but can they suffer?”

Generally I feel like a major flaw of Change was the lack of back story for Ghazan and Ming-Hua, both Konietzko and DiMartino are more than capable of making the audience empathise with characters, just look at P’Li and Zaheer’s last words. Over all apart from their flashy skills, these two Red Lotus members remained fairly underdeveloped and many questions about their origins still remain. So Ghazan is tough, powerful and overly masculine but where did he develop his skills? Why does he so strongly believe in the Red Lotus? The same thing can be said for Ming-Hua who remains even more of an enigma for me. Thus when it came to their eventual deaths, I felt nothing, two unknown characters were whisked on and off the stage before the audience could properly become acquainted to them.

I have always believed that to build a believe cast of characters, their actions must have consequences otherwise the plot becomes unbelievable and redundant, characters must grow and learn from their mistakes. This was a major issue I had with the ending of Air, apart from the reveal of Amon’s hidden identity, Korra magically getting her bending powers back without struggling to recover them was a slap in the face to the fans. Like Zaheer, the creators of Korra developed her to be the complete opposite of Aang, she’s fiery, passionate and just itching to embrace her role as the avatar, whilst Aang was naive, timid and passive. A large portion of Korra’s identity is built upon her role as the avatar, from a young age she’s relished her ability to bend the elements and his ‘fight now, talk later’ mentality has gotten her in trouble many times. By removing Korra’s bending, Konietzko and DiMartino would have allowed Korra to embrace her spirituality and slowly overcome her rash and hasty personality to become a more balanced and well rounded individual. Instead Korra learns very little from her ordeal with Amon, she may of grown physically, but emotionally she’s the same and her lack of trust in her father and Tenzin at the start of Spirits reflects this. Now I don’t want to just attack Korra’s character, her passionate personality is a welcome change from Aang and it is clear that by the end of book two that she has become a more weary and careful Avatar after her legacy was literally torn away from her body. I just feel Korra would have been even more engaging if the consequences of having her bending removed would have manifested itself in previous books. A criticism of the Legend of Korra is that seasons are more ‘episodic’ with villains and events from the past seasons rarely getting any screen time in the following books. What happened to the Equalist movement? Why was there a distinct lack of spirits in Change? It would have been wise to show the consequences of these events in order to build a more realistic world where the future is intertwined with the present and the past.

Personally I loved seeing Korra in a wheel chair at the end of Change, because finally the audience can see how Korra maintains her identity when she has lost such a fundamental aspect of her personality. Already the changes to Korra were becoming more apparent, especially after book two, she was more cautious and less willing to rely upon force to solve her problems. A major strength within Legend of Korra is how the villains are reflections of a modernising world with concepts bending and the avatar being challenged. Amon’s character was a constant reminder of the inequality between the benders and non-benders, potentially pointing out the flaws behind an avatar who is basically an reincarnated deity with immense physical and spiritual power. As mentioned before Vatuu and Unalaq basically ripped out of Korra’s past, she’s arguably the most isolated avatar since Wan as she can no longer call on her past lives for guidance. Korra can still bend the four elements but her status has been weakened, her words and actions no longer hold the weight of 10,000 avatars before her. After the finale of book three, Tenzin announced that the new air benders would be filling in the role of the avatar as Korra heals, I think her single tear stems from the realisation that her worth and purpose in this world is slowly being diminished in an ever changing environment. This is one major strength that the Legend of Korra has over Aang, the villains are reflections of Korra’s flaws and society’s changing beliefs. Aang was always quite distant from Ozai and Azula and never viewed them more than enemies. Personally this is why I think Zuko is the strongest character in the series, his emotional bond with the villains makes his switch to team avatar so triumphant and rewarding.

In the second last episode Enter the Void, Korra is confronted with a hard dilemma, sacrifice herself to the protect the weak air nation or leave the novice air benders at the hands of the Red Lotus. In the first book, when Korra arrives at a similar situation, her arrogance clouds her judgement and she stupidly challenges Amon to a duel which could of potential resulted in her death. However a more mature Korra chooses to sacrifice herself, she understands that the future of an entire culture is more important than any single individual; even if they are the avatar. That’s why I can not wait to see how Korra rises from her situation, hopefully her physical impairment isn’t just brushed off in the first episode and instead we can explore other aspects of Korra’s personality apart from her overwhelming physicality and her brash personality.

Whilst I can clearly say I am in the small minority, a huge disappointment in book three was the fact that Tenzin did not die. One of my closest friend often jokes “if you want Stanley to care just kill off a few characters” and to some extent this is true. I’ve always believed that when an audience knows that characters can be removed from the plot then the audience feels a sense of urgency and attachment. One major strength of Change was the finale, I was completely absorbed in Zaheer’s plan to poison the avatar and permanently destroy it, I did not breathe for a good ten minutes because the possibility of Korra’s death seemed realistic. This perspective is partly due a fear of death which was very prominent when I was younger, I’ve experienced many sleepless nights as my mind explored my mortality. Thus I see sacrifice as one of the most noble characteristics, humans are fundamentally self fish, so when individuals are willing to perish to protect something they treasure, it’s endearing and extremely emotional.

Aang’s influence on Tenzin is highly visible, Aang’s obligations to the world was often given prioritised over his obligations to his family. Tenzin’s reverence towards the air bending culture is a constant reminder of Aang’s failure as a father, his feelings of inadequacy and regret was transferred to his son, leaving Tenzin the burden of maintaing a lost culture. Tenzin’s sacrifice to preserve the air nation would have permanently removed Aang’s shadow over his character. Instead he would have been able to see to Aang as an equal as he achieved what Aang could never do; revive the air nomads. Personally this was by far the most emotional scene of the entire book, when Korra was dying in the arms of her father, I didn’t shed a tear, she battled Zaheer out of necessity. She had no other choice, as fleeing wasn’t an option with the metallic poison pulsing through her body. In the end Tenzin was faced with a decision, but his actions showed that he was willing to forfeit his life in pursuit of goals which transcended him as an individual.

Jinora’s shadow over her father has also began to increase as she has already surpassed Tenzin in spirituality. Tenzin’s death would have been my third favourite moment in the Avatar world behind Zuko and Iroh’s reunion and Raava’s destruction at the hands of Unalaq. (Q: Have you really made a list of your favourite Avatar moments, A: Most definitely.) His swan song would have helped him escape the constraints of his flaws, which are becoming more pronounced next to Jinora. It also would have been symbolic, the responsibility of air bending being passed down to the younger generation, allowing the air nation to embrace new ideals instead of clinging onto outdated belief systems. Whilst it seems this stance isn’t very popular, it would have immortalised Tenzin; strong, magnificent and proud, much like how Achilles’ legacy resonated strongest after his death.

One major difference between The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra is that the characters in the original series were a lot more engaging. Mako, Bolin and Asami whilst mildly fun and endearing (particularly Asami and the fortitude she showed after her father’s betrayal) are in desperate need of further characterisation. It seems that Mako’s character development has really taken a step back with his role diminishing rapidly within Changes. I hope he rekindles his relationship with Asami in Balance, that felt more natural and realistic then his feelings for Korra, plus I want Korra to balance herself internally before building her external relationships in book four. For me Mako really hasn’t changed or matured after book one, his physical skills have become stagnant and his relationships with the other members of team avatar have deteriorated. I think these flaws are mainly a product of the shorten seasons, The Legend of Korra will have 52 episodes compared to The Last Airbender’s 60. Whilst this has resulted in less ‘filler’ episodes with a more ‘frantic’ and an intense plot, it also means that characters are given less time to develop. Filler episodes like The Great Divide and The Runaway were redundant in terms of story and world building, but it offered insights into the mindsets of our characters. Whilst the conflict might not be connected with final objective of the series, these obstacles challenged our lovable protagonist and causing them to shift their perspective in order to overcome these hurdles.

On a more positive note the bending and animation in Changes was absolutely sublime. I have previously voiced my opinion that bending in The Legend of Korra lacked the authenticity that it had in The Last Airbender, mainly due to the fact that all elements fight like fire benders. There’s a distinct lack of sophistication behind Bolin’s attacks, which includes creating small boulders and throwing them at the opponent, a long shot from Toph’s destructive capabilities. However the bending in Changes was fantastic, I loved the additions of lava bending, octopus water bending** and flying as the sub genre of air bending. Zaheer’s fight with Kya and Tenzin’s fight with Zaheer stand out as some of the best fight scenes ever created for animation. Speaking of animation, Studio Mir really stepped up their animation during the last few episodes, particularly the scene when Zaheer is dogding an enraged Korra.*** I can only imagine the effort that the writers and animation team went through to create such memorable works of art.

I enjoyed book three; Change, in terms of plot and characterisation I felt it was a big improvement from Spirits which seemed confused and unfocused at times. For the first time in The Legend of Korra, there was a truly memorable villain, the Red Lotus were efficient, mysterious and politically active. Zaheer’s voice actor; Henry Rollins deserves recognition for his ability to embed authority and menace into his character. Zaheer also repeats one of the most memorable quotes in the Avatar franchise “Let go your earthly tether, enter the void, empty and become wind” which was responsible for my interest in meditation. Book three’s pace really picked up after the Earth Queen’s assassination (one of the most memorable moments of the Avatar franchise) and the season became noticeably darker. There were some fantastic moments in this book which were previously mentioned like Korra’s growth, the villains and the animation. On the other hand it seems like the writers of Avatar consistently struggle with maintaining the pacing and plot in the middle of the season and this was evident in Change. There’s always a drop off in quality before the finale completely stuns and enthralls the audience. Some of the flaws were more visible such as the lack of growth and development for team avatar and the Red Lotus but I don’t want to end this review on a negative note. Change built on the foundations paved in the previous two books, the plot was fluid and the ambiguity between good and evil was a satisfying change to The Last Airbender’s simplistic depictions of the world.

The Avatar world has brought a lot of emotions to my life and I can say without a doubt that it was partly responsible for fostering my love of literature. Zuko’s internal conflict, Katara’s motherly warmth and Korra’s single tear are all images and memories that carry weight and meaning to me. Whilst Change was far from perfection, similarly it had moments of ingenious and dignity founded within a beautiful Asian inspired world that The Last Airbender established. Despite all the flaws and weak points within the seasons, I can say without a doubt that Konietzko and DiMartino will continue treating their project with the love and integrity that the audience deserve.

Here’s a toast to the final season of The Legend of Korra, may it be wonderful, emotional, heartfelt and memorable.

See you space avatar.




* It is very hard if not impossible to have an ‘original thought’ since our context will always play a part in shaping our thoughts but my comments about Zaheer’s emotionless glare when he’s beating up Tenzin was stolen directly from Marshall Turner’s WordPress on Avatar. Whilst I certain disagree with some of his thoughts and generally I believe that he focuses on the minor details over than the overall picture or plot, I would recommend it for any fans who want to look at this franchise through an analytically microscope. http://avatarreviews.wordpress.com/

** I have no idea if it is really called octopus water but let’s pretend it is.

*** 
Skip to 2:15 if you want to watch the exact scene I was referring to, it also ends at 2:50.

The Legend of Korra & Update on the Blog.

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MAGNUM OPUS WATER DRILL.

This beautiful piece of art work can be found at the website http://swade-art.tumblr.com/ all credit goes to them/him/her/alien/cow.

Firstly and most importantly, the last season of Korra is airing tomorrow, hopefully the creators Konietzko and DiMartino will be drawing the curtains on the Avatar universe with a bang. I have high hopes for this season and possibly a few tears will be shed when a large portion of my child hood and adolescence ends.

Secondly, I wanted to tell everyone that I am close to finishing my review on Korra book three, it’s an essay where I try to not only to give my opinion on how successful or entertaining the season was but hopefully some analysis on the themes or characters. It’s quite a long read, though I didn’t want to release something which was lack luster especially for a piece of art that has touched my heart so dearly.

See you space avatar.

10 Pieces of Orchestral Music.

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Hip Hop has been the staple to my musical diet for the past 3 years, I’m a 5 foot 6 Asian with a slightly under average frame but if you caught out my heart you would found out I’m equipped with 50 Cent’s vernacular and Method Man’s flow. However I’m still a sucker for beautiful, peaceful music that tugs at your heart strings, gently reminding you that there’s still hope and “through every dark night there’s a brighter day.” (2Pac) 2013 was a year of discovery for me, I aimed to push my boundaries and forever leave my comfort zone, I’m glad to announce I have achieved everyone of my goals. Along the way I discovered the tranquil affect classic and orchestra music had upon me, they were a total contrast to what I’ve religiously listened to over the past 3 years. They rarely had words, allowing you to shape the meaning according to your emotions and instead of draining my energy like some hip hop songs do, I felt more mature, relaxed and generally more optimistic after listening to songs of this genre. So to share my new found love of soft and gentle music, here’s my top 10, I can guarantee you this list is far from complete, after all I’ve only started to dabble in this genre 6 months ago. I can guarantee there’s a few songs which were absolute staples on everyone’s list that I’ve left out due to sheer ignorance. But this is my list, my personal list and at the end of the day everyone’s a winner (Unless you disagree with me… Then you’re the opposite.)

NUMBER 10:
Everything’s Alright.

To The Moon is a game that deserves so much more recognition, it has a unique and quite frequently heart melting story line. We follow two scientist as they aim to give an old man (Johnny) his final dream; flying to the moon, a goal that could never be achieved due to the harsh and suddenness of life. Along the way, the audience learns about his life, his goals, his dreams and his failures and the game crescendos into an emotional explosion at the end. Everything’s Alright is a song which captures the main themes of the game perfectly, a beautiful soft voice accompanying a melodic tune. Honestly I could of easily put 2 or 3 of the songs from the game’s soundtrack on this list because they’re all so beautiful but Everything’s Alright definitely stood out. (Yes you should go check out the soundtrack, and NO I’m not getting paid for advertisement, you have to give credit when credit is due.) The lyrics are put together carefully and aim to reflect the tear jerking relationship between Johnny and his wife River.
When this world is no more 
The moon is all we’ll see 
I’ll ask you to fly away with me 
Until the stars all fall down 
They empty from the sky 
But I don’t mind 
If you’re with me, then everything’s alright

Grab the tissues children.

NUMBER NINE:
Avatar’s Love.

Bedroom eyes here, bedroom eyes there, bedroom eyes everywhere! I love Avatar The Last Airbender. I love everything about it, from the characters, the humour, the excellent story line and oh did I say the characters? This short song inspired by the budding romance between Katara and Aang and Eastern instruments symbolises the finale of my favourite series. The fire lord has been broken! The world is safe! The Avatar has returned and finally he has overcome his sense of failure and fear and fully cemented his relationship with Katara, go get him boy! It’s a short song but it ends on a triumph and proud note, it’s head held up high much like the cartoon series. You know this piece of music has touched the lives of thousands when you get comments like this on the Youtube page, “actually makes me weak. At the same time strong, it makes me remember the things that’s so good in my life that every time I make a mistake, it doesn’t keep me down. Avatar was the best cartoon I’ve ever watched. Thank you for the memories :’)” – Dom Novak and even “I want to walk down the aisle to this when I get married.” – Pevensify. 10/10 Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, 10/10.

NUMBER EIGHT:
The Promise.

You know I could make a top 10 list with only songs from the Final Fantasy series. You ABSOLUTELY know I could. Every game, Square Enix somehow is able to embed songs which we’ll remember forever. The Promise made me cry in year 9, it was just overwhelming beautiful, noble yet sad, proud yet solemn, I can’t explain it, just press play and let the genius flow.

NUMBER SEVEN:
Aerith’s Theme.

No, I never finished Final Fantasy 7, I’ve downloaded on Steam and there it sits quietly in the corner. I don’t know why I don’t play it much, it’s probably a mixture of the fact I’ve slowly but surely moved away from video games and I already know 85% of the plot from Wikipedia and just searching the net. Regardless you can tell without a doubt Final Fantasy 7 was one of the most influential games of all time, solidifying Square Enix/Soft’s legacy, thus leading to Final Fantasy becoming one of the most famous video game series ever. Personally I feel as if this songs stands as a metaphor for life, it starts off slowly and sadly and then becomes joyful and triumphant. Much like Aerith, we will eventually pass from this world, all we can hope for is that we’ve touched those we’ve loved enough so that our legacy will be remembered. All I can say is I listened to this song for 3 days straight when I was studying for my University examinations. 3 days straight! I couldn’t even watch Michael Jordan clips for 3 days straight!

NUMBER 6:
A Watchful Guardian.

The quiet before the storm. The echoing of thunder. The roar of horses and the taste of blood. That’s what I imagine when I listen to this song. I always see Theoden sitting proudly on his steed, armour gold, hair flowing shouting out his battle cry. “Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day… a red day… ere the sun rises! ” A Watchful Guardian sums up passion, courage and camaraderie within the song, the quick beat creates a whirlwind of movement, exciting yet dangerous. It’s a gorgeous song to listen to.

NUMBER SIX:
Time.

Easily the most haunting piece of music on this list. Whilst searching for the Youtube video to embed, I knew I had to choose the MusicVideo version, so much emotion. It successfully captures the true essence of humanity. Like the other songs on this list, Time’s melody can be shaped into whatever emotions you are feeling. Need a song to give you strength when you are weakest? Need a song to inspire and empower? Time is perfect, it’s the Swiss army knife of classical orchestra. Hats off to you Hans Zimmer and hats off to Inception.

NUMBER FOUR:
Halo Theme.

Man the turrets! Grab the ammo! Solidify the defense! The Halo Theme is an instant spark of energy, turning every day things like taking out the rubbish into an epic event for the ages. I feel unstoppable when I listen to this, it’s like sniffing cocaine and injecting moose testosterone into your veins simultaneously. The pace is fast enough to inspire courage but slowly enough so one doesn’t descend into the realm of sadness or insanity. This song takes you on an incredible high now choose your weapon, get your grenades and let’s kill some elites! WOO-RAH!

NUMBER THREE:
Journey to the West.

Just wait for it. It starts off weak and timid and then transforms into an explosion of power and strength. Princess Mononoke is also one of my favourite films of all time, it’s an instant classic for a wonderful plot with epic Japanese mythology combined with great characters. Can humans advance forward without destroying the natural environment? Will the animal spirits cling to their traditions despite a shifting landscape? The film and the musical score are both beautifully crafted and it stands as a testament to the greatness of Hayao Miyazaki. Long live Studio Ghibli, long live Totoro! Long live Chihiro! Now if only I had the courage to watch Grave of the Fireflies… I don’t want to become an emotional wreck for two days!

NUMBER TWO:
Promise to the World.

It’s just so beautiful. Fuck you Japan for being producing the most heart moving music, no I’m not crying there is just something in my eye! On a serious note, I’m 100% convinced an angel sang this. Listen to this whilst you just had an argument with a friend or family member and I guarantee you this will absolve away all tension and hatred. Once again Studio Ghibli you never cease to amaze! There’s literally nothing left for me to say, words can’t capture how gorgeous this piece of music is… Just press play.

NUMBER ONE:
Forbidden Colours.

I was literally spellbound when I held this. I was frozen with wonder, “How can music be this beautiful?” It’s music like this that makes one reflect… Why are we on this planet? Am I being true to myself? How should I better myself and thus better those around me? This song was  used in the film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, a film I’ve never watched and don’t plan to because this song may reduce me to a babbling and crying two year old. For me, the songs is about a relationship that will never work because it’s deemed forbidden by society, it’s about the fundamental need every human wants; love. It’s about acknowledging joy can only be experienced with sadness, that heart break only leads to true love. This will play at my funeral and my wedding, hopefully serving as a reminder that people need more than just materialism to sustain them and that life is too short to waste on trivial matters. Ryuichi Sakamoto you are my deity and I’m your disciple.

There were so many runner ups for this list and I could of easily made a top 20 or even top 25.  So here’s a few songs below which were excluded and YES, you SHOULD give them a listen… Here’s a short tip, Final Fantasy/Square Enix/Studio Ghibli/ To the Moon/ Hans Zimmer are my favourites and you should definitely check out their works.

Man of Steel.
Twilight Town. (I’m sorry Kingdom Hearts for not including you in the top 10)
My Neighbor Totoro
Married Life (From Up)
Once Upon a Memory (To the Moon)
Kairi I (Kingdom Hearts)
Born a Stranger (To the Moon)
For River (To the Moon)
Roxas Theme (Kingdom)
To Zanarkand (Which I have NO idea how it didn’t make the top 10… Should of made a top 20…)
Finish the Fight (Halo)
Into a Night Time Sky (Avatar)
Peace Excerpt (Avatar)

Ahh… Music, it’s the language of humanity, spoken by few but understood by all. It supports us at our most vulnerable and humbles us at our strongest. No doubt that I’ve fallen in love with this genre and there is still  space for one more, yes you, the one reading this right now, now be ready to be gripped and moved.