Hello everyone! This will be my first time doing a mid-year review for the website. Already half a year has gone by and so much has came out in all fields of entertainment. Let’s take a look to see what I’ve enjoyed so far this year.

Video Games

God of War for me is already Game of the Year. I had never played any of the games before on the PS2/PS3 eras, I would always watch my friends play them. The reviews were coming in, all either high or perfect scores. I was in the middle of my Yakuza 6 play-through thinking of getting to the end of that game just to finally get to God of War. Everything about God of War was perfect, the graphics, story, gameplay, music, I loved every minute of the game. I have been on a sabbatical ever since I finished the game, hopefully I will have a reason to turn on my Nintendo Switch this year with Octopath Traveller and Smash Bros Ultimate. Playstation is ending the year super strong with Yakuza Kiwami 2, Dragon Quest 11, and Spider-Man rounding off my year of must plays. Check out my Gaming Journal of God of War below.

Movies

IsleOfDogsAvengersInfinityWar

The gift of MoviePass has enabled me to indulge on my movie viewing hobby that hasn’t been at this all time high since I used to work at a movie theater back in my high school/college days. Hopefully MoviePass with all its crazy drama and new schemes continue to allow me to visit the theater to view stories on the big screen and write reviews for the website.

Isle of Dogs, Avengers: Infinity War, and Black Panther have been the movies I’ve talked about the most so far with people this year. Isle of Dogs is such a beautiful visual masterpiece and the story is good, it should be seen by everyone. I love the swerve of an ending Infinity War pulled on everyone. It wasn’t always the “heroes winning all the time” trope we have gotten used to with Marvel Universe movies. Black Panther was a celebration by the time of its release. Nothing but positive reviews and a million of Wakanda handshakes since. A superhero movie that brought not just the heroes or the characters together, but it brought the people and the families that viewed the film closer together as well.  As of this writing, I’ve seen 22 movies on MoviePass and hopefully I can at least make it 50 for the year.

Wrestling

Watching wrestling has definitely taken a hit this year for me. I still watch the big PPVs like all the NXT TakeOvers, Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and Wrestle Kingdom, but watching the weekly shows have taken a backseat to either working out, watching the Rockets, or playing video games. That being said, we’ve already seen some amazing matches.

On the top of my lists are Omega/Okada 4, Johnny Gargano vs Almas and Johnny Gargano with his series of matches with Tomasso Ciampa. Gargano has been a must watch no matter what the lead up may be. Daniel Bryan coming back, Ronda Rousey making her debut and wowing the crowd at Wrestlemania with her match, and with Fox looking to buy the rights to Smackdown for $1 billion is making WWE very interesting to keep tabs with for the rest of the year. My interest in NJPW is at an all time high but mostly because I can’t make any of the shows due to work and timing. I also wasn’t able to score any tickets to ALL-IN despite waiting to purchase on the website and the mass of marks breaking the website that afternoon. Hopefully we can still continue to cover wrestling events for the rest of the year.

Music

A lot of bops and bangers (as the kids say) so far this year. With many people going all in with streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, it has become so much easier to expand your music libraries as well as consume new music. Keeping with our origins of Korean and Japanese pop and idol music, here are my favorites of 2018 and why I can’t get them out of my head.

BoA – One Shot, Two Shot

The Queen of Kpop is back and One Shot, Two Shot is such smooth sultry banger. I like how simple the dance is yet it actually fits very well to the song. Song is infectious as well and it gets me off the ground to dance as well. I know a lot of coworkers that are more into Kpop groups like TWICE in the last few years. Recommending BoA One Shot, Two Shot to them leads to conversations about BoA and her previous hits and her overall history. Flashbacking to her old songs is always welcomed. Love that BoA is back in my rotation in 2018.

AKB48 – Jabaja

I favor Jabaja over Teacher Teacher. Those same coworkers I mentioned, I thought would be more into Teacher Teacher as well. As it turns out, I get more people bouncing to the beat of Jabaja as background music as opposed to Teacher Teacher. Personally, I like everything in the video besides the outfits. It’s like a crayon box exploded all over the girls. I’m also a huge fan of Okada Nana getting her first center single. The highest ranking AKB48 girl will hopefully get more centers in the future and I enjoyed her first time.

NMB48 – Yokubomono

Coming off the cute and silly theme of Warota People, NMB48 just had to follow the pattern of going to a cool and more serious single. The lyrics spoke to me at a time where I had to figure out what my desire was going to be this year, no matter how many of them I may have. I added this to a workout playlist as I find it’s tempo and arrangement gets me hyped. Yamamoto Sayaka, my NMB favorite, returns to center. This single also highlights the final time for Yagura Fuuko and Ichikawa Miori in an NM48 single as they shortly graduated a few months later.

Nogizaka46 – Synchronicity

I have been all in with Nogizaka46 since last year and 2018 has already been an amazing year for them. With their 20th single, we see Shirashi Mai return to center but also the exit and graduation of the first face of Nogizaka with Ikoma Rina. Synchronicity I thought was going to be something grand, but they ended up going with an easier aesthetic to both the single and the video. I always wanted to call the video “Simplicity” because of the simple idea of them dancing in simple long white dresses, gradually getting to the final part of the of the song where they simply added smiles while they danced and Maiyan finally mouthing the final parts. Little simple details went a long way for me. Plus the lyrics of synchronizing our feelings and pain especially in these times really spoke to me. Feeling and empathizing… Keep going Nogizaka!

Produce48- Nekkoya (Pick Me)

I’m all in on this concept and show. I thought it wouldn’t be anything exciting but I’ve been addicted to everything they have put out on social media like the Hidden Box videos and Sakura’s hilarious Wink Challenge video. Then the music video came out and the song became nothing but an ear worm in my rotation. I can’t help but e put in a good mood hearing the song. All this hype and the TV show had not even be released yet! As of this writing, two episodes have been subbed and I’ve been hooked. It has the feel of old school American Idol shows that highlight certain girls as well as show behind the scenes training, mostly the struggles and the drama behind it all. I am biased as I mainly know the Japanese 48 group girls and I want them to do really well.

I am conflicted because the show has me rooting for girls that I normally root for their rivals in the past. Finding myself supporting Matsui Jurina, Shiroma Miru, and Miyawaki Sakura for the show now I would have never done a year ago. We have some underdogs in the fight as well like Oda Erina, Goto Moe and Yamada Noe. I’m also learning more about other Kpop girls too. I did know a bit about Lee Ga Eun in the past because of After School, her backstory is very interesting and now being the Korean center of the show. I’m very excited to see the rest of the season and this immediately overshadowed the 10th Senbatsu Sousenkyo in my book that only happened very recently.

In other news, the 10th Senbatsu Sousenkyo came and it was easily viewable through Youtube. Lots of drama with a lot more salt and butthurt this year with Jurina taking the crown and Suda Akari shocking everyone taking #2 leaving Miyawaki Sakura at #3. It was another shocking and eventful election and I’m glad it was easily accessible for mostly everyone to watch.

Personally, I have been going through a lot of injuries this year. I hope to run another marathon by the end of the year if all goes according to plan. I previously had to drop out because of not properly resting and letting my injuries heal. I don’t plan on making the same mistake twice. That being said, my summer will be busy with work as I get an opportunity to go to another state to try things out.

I do appreciate Greg and the Selective Hearing team for letting me post my movie rankings. I feel like a real contributor to the site now in addition to the past podcasts. Hopefully it leads to the site getting more exposure and more people enjoying the content we continue to put out as we continue to “pull no punches.”

– Allen

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