Category Archives: Reviews

YouTube Channel Review: AngryAussie

AA

What YouTube angrymen become in a decade.

Suppose you’re in the mood for some righteous indignation. Some frequent, scheduled YouTube content where some guy shouts at the camera about random topics. Then you stumble across an old channel called “AngryAussie”. You watch a few videos and say, “No thanks”, then you keep searching.

That’s pretty much the entire AngryAussie experience.

However, suppose you were to stick around and poke about his archives. That’s when things really start to get interesting.

For one thing, you find out that the channel is old. Really old. Some of his videos have been around for over a decade, so he got into YouTube shortly after it got started.

You also notice something else: there was a time in which the guy was skinnier. Much, much skinnier. He does take his efforts to hide it. His avatar is of himself from back when he was skinnier, and his newer content shows him from the chest up, whereas the content from when he was much skinnier showed him from the waist up. While he’s going to these pains to make a better image for himself, he’s apparently not taking the effort to lay off the donuts.

Why does it matter? When you spend time in front of the camera, your image is part of what you’re doing; your face is how you make your living. And, as it would seem, time has not been kind to AngryAussie.

This is true in more than one sense. While his older content from shortly after he got started had viewcounts numbering in the thousands and even tens of thousands, his newer content only has viewcounts numbering in the hundreds. Yet, he keeps going, with a certain persistence that one would only have if it didn’t matter to them that no one is interested in their content any longer.

And that brings us to the main problem with AngryAussie’s channel: the content.

AngryAussie’s videos can best be described as going on angry tangents about whatever is newsworthy or whatever random topics just happen to catch his ire. When I say “angry”, I don’t mean “angry” as in “tee-hee he’s an internet comedian with his fair share of clever zingers”. I mean “angry” as in “aggressively beats you over the head with whatever point he’s trying to make”.

Unless your opinion is completely in lock-step with whatever point he’s trying to make, you’re bound to come away feeling at least a little condescended. This already does plenty to limit AngryAussie’s appeal. But it gets worse: if you leave a comment telling him that you disagree with him at all, prepare to see your comment deleted, and your account possibly being banned from his channel.

AngryAussie seems pretty sincere in the belief that freedom of expression should belong to him, but not to the people who frequent his channel. One could argue that this made him very early to the SJW movement. However, when your content has very limited appeal to begin with, it’s a bad idea to block whatever few viewers that you have over petty disagreements.

Want evidence of this? Go back to his earlier videos. At one point in time, he replied to most people who commented, and it’s interesting to sort them by date to see him replying to comments that are no longer there. Of course, it would be much easier for him to respond to each commenter now, seeing as he has so few. The fact that he blocks those who argue back likely has something to do with how few viewers he has.

If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out to begin with. In fact, critical feedback is a good thing, as it provides insight on how to improve. It’s not unusual to run into criticism that has no purpose other than to tear you down, but the solution to that is to carry on unfazed, and grow some thicker skin, if need be.

Let’s take an example of his content to see just what we’re dealing with. The following video is titled “WAINGAFAT? Koran quoting bigots!”

Your first question may be “What is a WAINGAFAT? Some kind of Australian slang?” No, it’s an acronym which is short for “What Am I Not Giving A Fuck About Today”.

His choice of topic is one that I agree with, because I too get tired of seeing bigots use the Koran to advance their sordid agenda. Let’s examine what he has to say.

INTRO WARNING: Content starts at 0:17

“Who am I not giving a fuck about today? Random losers who go around online and prove that Islam is evil,”

Wow, there goes my expectations! As it turns out, the people who he thinks are losers are those who are critical of a religion. This happens to be something that AngryAussie himself does, by the way.

INTERNAL CONTRADICTION WARNING: He does it in this very same video.

“putting out random, out-of-context quotes from the Koran, saying ‘THAT PROVES IT!'”

It does prove it. If a fanatical ideology that kills people has a proclamation calling for the death of non-believers in it’s very charter, that is proof that it is a violent ideology. QED.

“…A quote from the Koran doesn’t prove a fucking thing.”

This would get quite a response if it were instead directed at Muslims. They’d wonder just who this man is that he thinks that he’s in a position to tell them what their religion is all about. They’d call him a religiouly-ignorant rattling cap. And they’d be right.

“Something is lost on you because you’re not capable of a logical sequence of thought.”

Apparently it’s not logical thinking to point out what a book says as the reason behind the behavior of those who take it seriously. Also, it’s apparently not logical to look for reasons why a particular ideology turns out a disproportionately high number of violent fanatics.

“You do not actually LISTEN to other people. Listening involves understanding what the other person says. Not just waiting for your next turn to spout some shit.”

From 0:55 to 1:07. That’s the point in the video in which he completely demolishes everything that he’s ever done on YouTube. Go ahead, watch it. If you’ve seen any of his other videos, or just this one for that matter, you’re going to laugh so hard.

In just 12 seconds, he destroyed his entire YouTube career.

“I can give you quotes from both the New and Old Testament that justify murder, rape, and slavery. Does that mean that all Christians and Jews are terrorists too?”

No, you can’t. Murder and rape are endorsed nowhere in the Bible. In the Old Testament, slavery was merely tolerated, and heavily regulated to the point that it wouldn’t have been considered attractive to practice. The New Testament discouraged slavery in favor of a brotherly relationship between believers, which was the entire point of the book of Philemon. The Christian world would eventually use New Testament reasoning to call for the abolition of slavery in the western world altogether.
Source: Every reputable theologian and Bible scholar ever.

On the other hand, Muslim countries still practice slavery, and some are actively involved in the African slave trade to this day.

“Um, Atheists, don’t bother answering that, because I know what your answer will be.”

AngryAussie himself is an Atheist, and therefore assumes their response. I don’t, but that’s because I believe that most Atheists are better people than AngryAussie.

“But where they do start to shit me a bit is when they say ‘you should read the Koran, then you’d know’ as if they’d read the Koran. And they will bald-faced lie and say that they’ve read the Koran.”

What really starts to “shit him a bit” is when someone not only presents evidence, but invites him to see the evidence for himself. It’s easier for him to just say that they’ve never read the Koran, and then never bother to look into it. This is called, “being lazy.”

As an aside, I’ve read the Koran. Extensively. In fact, I’ve spent thousands of hours researching Islamic ideology to see just why Muslims do what they do, and whether the desire of their fanatics is actually supported by the Koran. And it is. It didn’t even take a few hours to arrive at that determination; the reason why I’ve researched it so much is because Islamic theology is fascinating. Muhammad was the Chris-Chan of the 7th century.

That fact isn’t preventing AngryAussie from doing no research whatsoever and then acting like he has any idea what’s going on.

“This is the same kind of moron who pulls a quote out and says ‘this proves gay marriage is evil and wrong, homosexuality is bad’ because it’s described in the Bible as ‘an abomination’. Yeah, in Leviticus, the Jewish book of law. So, if your using that, saying ‘ooh, that’s God’s word, that’s absolutely it’, Leviticus also talks about keeping Kosher! Do you keep Kosher, right along with saying that man-on-man sex is an abomination?”

It’s amazing how, with every word, AngryAussie proves that he doesn’t understand a thing about Christian or Jewish ideology. For one thing, homosexuality wasn’t just denounced in the Old Testament book of Leviticus, it was also denounced in the New Testament book of Romans. There is New Testament justification for the Christian position on homosexuality. The key difference is that the NT doesn’t call for stoning people for being gay. The reason for that is because the command to stone them is understood to be limited to Israeli national law, which is why Christians and Jews don’t practice stoning.
Source: Every reputable theologian and Biblical scholar ever.

Incidentally, Islam not only actively teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but actively calls for the death penalty for those who practice it. If you think that they’re wrong, find the Koran passage that tells them that they’re wrong, go over to ISIS, and show them. They claim to take the Koran seriously, so let’s see how they take it. It would probably be an eye-opening experience for them.

“And, Orthodox Jews? You don’t have to answer that, because I know what your answer will be.”

I suspect that it would sound something like, “You just mocked what we stood for. Don’t act like we’re friends.”

In the end of the video, he does admit that some “dodgy” things are done in the name of Islam, so by that point, he’ll have insulted every religion that he mentioned in his video. He wraps up by saying that he isn’t interested in any resultant backlash that may result from touching on this topic, which is what you’d expect from an internet angry man who can’t take it as well as he dishes it out. Want proof? Scroll down and try finding the comments of the commenters he insults. Can’t do it? That’s because he deleted them.

Of course, that regrettable pile of crap was from 8 years ago. What’s AngryAussie up to today? If you answered making fun of Donald Trump and calling right-wingers Nazis, then that groan of “Of course. Another one of those.” probably came from you.

So yeah, AngryAussie is currently competing directly with the corporate mainstream information media, and pushing the SJW narrative at a time when the SJW movement is going through its backlash phase, during which it’s seriously not cool to be an SJW. And if the SJW movement is anything like the punk or hippie movements that preceded it (it is), the whole thing is only going downhill from here on out, and in just a short while, the dead-enders will be the only ones left.

I’m getting tired of this guy, so it’s about time to give his channel it’s score, which is censorship out of ten.

berlin book burning out of ten

Which is a zero. That’s what you get when you get on a platform that gives you a voice, call everyone else stupid for not having your worldview, then delete the comments from those who respond in kind. Enjoy having a platform that YouTube grants you totally free of charge, while denying that same platform for your fellow users.

Webcomic Review: Rain LGBT

not cleverNo, it’s not.

We have yet another one of those. By now, you should know what I mean; yet another wannabe non-Japanese manga artist attempting the manga style.

This one has a very obvious agenda. And no, I didn’t pick this one out just to hammer on something with its subject material. It just happened to be a webcomic that caught my attention.

Rain stars a boy named Ryan, and the story picks up with his first day in high school in which he dresses up as a girl and starts going by the name “Rain”. By the way, I’m referring to Rain with pronouns corresponding to his biological gender, because it’s easier to touch on issues such as this with at least one foot in reality. Because science wins.

And speaking of reality, no, science cannot change a person’s biological gender. The most that a person can do in that regard is have their body butchered to closely resemble a person of the opposite gender. This means that the legend of the “sex change” operation is only a myth. Most trans people who learn of this get discouraged and settle for wearing a dress and accusing those who use their biological pronouns of hate speech.

But hey, this is a webcomic, so there’s pretty much no such thing as too fantastic. They’re expressions of someone’s fantasies, so they can be about any made up thing they want. The author’s fantasy in Rain is that a cross-dressing high school boy happens to find some of the most supportive friends he can happen across, all in one place. In fact, almost the entire cast encompasses the wide range of diversity in sexuality, which would be pretty amazing in real life considering that the school setting for Rain is an American school, where anyone can be picked on at any time for any petty thing.

Because this is the fantasy of someone with an agenda, it should come as no surprise that there are straw men for the heroes to ideologically trounce. And in Rain, the main one is Gavin, who is initially depicted as being a cisgender bundle of toxic masculinity. Gavin was Rain’s childhood friend who finds out that Ryan is going by Rain and dressing as a girl, and he does not take it well. No prize for guessing that we’re allowed to think that he’s a jerk, but he does get over it. There is also the principal himself, who can be called an old stuffy suit.

The conflict in Rain comes mainly in verbal interaction between the characters, rather than physical action. Considering this, special care must be taken to prevent the comic from descending into a collection of talking heads. Care to guess whether this happens? Sometimes, large portions of the comic are dominated by large walls of text, such as this particularly egregious offender.

This is certainly the worst one in the series, though the next page is also pretty bad. When writing a webcomic, it’s best to keep in mind that what you’re authoring isn’t a light novel, it’s a visual novel, and one of the main rules for writing for visual media is “show, don’t tell”. The potential to engage the audience by conveying plot development visually is wasted with walls of exposition. And it comes off as lazy. Even if you take the effort to redraw your characters in each panel, the talking heads approach to storytelling is just bland. Check out this example.

There’s pretty much nothing exciting about it. And it’s the kind of thing that you can look forward to in each exciting installment of Rain.

And speaking of lazy, let’s talk about Rain’s artistic style. As mentioned already, Rain is done with an attempt at manga style. All the tropes associated with manga style are there: oversized eyes, tiny mouths, pointed chins, etc. It comes off as a cheap shortcut, because it pretty much is.

When you criticize someone for using the manga style as a crutch, they usually go on the defensive, and claim that it’s their style. Which it isn’t. The manga style has evolved over the course of decades at the hands of countless professionals including animators, mangaka, and freelance artists. They did not do this just so someone can claim it as their own. And for that matter, why anime or manga style? Why not the style that Jim Davis uses for Garfield? Or the style that Berke Breathed used for Outland? Why do so many people think that they’re being cutting edge for using a style that has been used in Japanese cartoons for the better part of a century? For that matter, why not use the Disney style that inspired it?

I do want to make it clear that I like the manga style, and you’re welcome to try it if you can do it justice. LittleLynn84 doesn’t do it justice. It’s hard to choose one stylistic mistake to pick out as the worst. Such as that the eyes seem just a tad too close together for how big they are. Or how the faces look too elongated, despite having little forehead (note: manga style characters usually have large foreheads, even if they’re covered mostly by bangs). Or the fact that LittleLynn84 doesn’t seem to like to shade. It all adds up.

Ironically, the people most likely to be offended by Rain would be trans people themselves. This is because Rain referred to his condition as “dysphoria”, a word that is used by opponents of the trans movement to point out that “gender dysphoria” is officially recognized as a mental illness by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a disease that usually runs its course in just a few years. And yes, I actually recalled the name of that book from memory. Go figure.

Of course, it doesn’t help the trans cause that it’s being championed by such an insipid webcomic. Because as it is, even a trans person would find very little to enjoy. In fact, I admit that I didn’t even read the whole thing. I got 150 pages in, and after that, I flit about to look for signs of stylistic improvement and to see whether the story picks up. The author uses a different tool for drawing, but that’s about it. Usually, when a webcomic continues for nearly 1000 pages, there’s some sign of improvement somewhere, but in Rain, there is none. Even the storytelling remains just as dull and uninspired. There was so much potential and so much unbroken ground in the subject matter, but it was largely squandered.

Don’t believe me? The last several issues were spent leading up to a prom that still seems far off. If you’re going to build up to something, then the build-up itself has to be entertaining. Otherwise, it’s going to seem like there’s nothing going on in your comic. And that’s Rain in a nutshell. It’s a long, painful, ugly comic where nothing happens.

Oh, by the way, here’s a picture of Kagura from Azumanga Daioh, for some reason:

woe indeed

Oh, hold on. That’s not Kagura. My mistake. Here’s the real Kagura:

kagura azumanga

Now to give Rain it’s score:

3.2 / 10

Yeah that’s right, nothing cute this time. Just a number. As I see it, if LittleLynn84 doesn’t want to make a halfway-decent webcomic, then I’m under no obligation to give it a cute score, as I’ve done with the others up to this point.

By the way, the fan art looks awful, too. But considering the source material, the fan artists didn’t really have much to work with. The very fact that something like Rain resulted in such a volume of fan art is sobering in its own sense.

Webcomic Review: Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets

save yourself

Can we agree at this point that randomness alone doesn’t make something funny? I understand the mechanics of humor: it involves building up a person’s expectations and then presenting them with an unexpected outcome. Randomness involves unexpected outcomes. But when randomness is the only element used, it loses its effect.

The webcomic we’re looking at today is Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets. My first problem with the comic would be its name. Hot Pockets suck. I’ve spent much of my adult life living like a Spartan, so for me, something like Hot Pockets was a “too-rich-for-my-blood” kind of thing. But one day, I tried them, and I was disappointed. They come with those weird cardboard boxes that are gray on the inside, likely to use to attempt to heat the things evenly. They fail. Usually, one bite can be as cold as ice, but the next is so hot it burns your mouth so that nothing tastes right for days. And if you made the sad mistake of getting the kind with pepperoni, have fun having the skin on the roof of your mouth stripped away by the hot oil.

hot pockets yuck.png

Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets doesn’t star Yuyuko. It stars a couple self-inserts named Xephious and Dzelda. That’s right, this comic has two authors. When we get into just what this webcomic is made of, it’s going to be apparent that the authors were sabotaging each other every step of the way, and the result was Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets.

One of the authors has their age as 28 on their profile, so at least one of them was college-aged when they started on this webcomic. The profile of the other one includes the following tidbit:

dzelda's profile

That’s an endeavor that definitely failed. And considering that her webcomic is Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets, it’s safe to say that she’s done enough to contribute to it.

Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets takes place in the fictional realm of Gensokyo, which is the intellectual property of ZUN of Team Shanghai Alice, the creator of the Touhou Project series of video games. Obviously, the authors aren’t going to go professional with this, but it is a common mistake among webcomic artists to believe that they can go professional using someone else’s copyrighted material. What’s more, characters from Touhou are also used, further anchoring this webcomic to an intellectual property that the authors don’t have rights to.

clone cap

The picture above should give you a good idea of what to expect from this comic’s artistic style. While the chibified anime style comes off as a cheap shortcut to begin with, this comic uses what appears to be the same template for every individual character. I feel I’ve seen the same style used for Touhou characters before, which makes me further suspect that the authors are using yet more properties that aren’t their own.

Like I’ve said already, this webcomic is random. There’s practically nothing in terms of storytelling. There’s something about clone capsules and Utsuho having her arm cannon stolen, but that’s about it. There’s even a random demotivator thrown in there for good measure. May as well; just about everything else about this comic is template driven, just like this meme was when it was relevant over a decade ago. I have my doubts that the art used for it was their own, though that part doesn’t seem to be from any cut-and-paste template I’ve ever seen.

Failed storytelling aside, the wordbubbles suffer from “tiny text syndrome”. I’ve found myself using the zoom function on my browser to try to figure out what the tiny text says, but Xephious has found another solution on this page: to provide a transcript in the comments section. That’s nice, but how about getting the word bubbles right while you’re still in the process of editing your comic? Not that I’m expecting much in the way of technical expertise from someone who asks in the comment section “how to compress an image without stretch/skewing it”.

It’s about time to give this comic its score, and I give it a Nitori’s frog out of ten:

nitori's froggy

Which would be a 1.6. And I think I’m being generous with this one.

Review: Pentel Twist-Erase Click

pentel-twist-erase-click

When it comes to office supplies, people tend to think “work”. That’s understandable, but just because you’re working with something on the job doesn’t mean that you can’t work with the good stuff.

I’m not writing this review because I’ve been sponsored by Pentel, because I wasn’t. I see it as my way of standing for quality in writing utensils. I know that I’m not the only one who went years writing with those cheap BIC pens that are a couple dollars for a dozen, then later discovered how much more joyful writing can be with a quality rollerball and not want to go back to the cheap BICs.

There is a high-quality mechanical pencil that is affordable, and that’s the Pentel Twist-Erase Click (PTEC, for brevity). I’ve liked mechanical pencils for a long time, and favored them over old-fashioned wood pencils due to the wood pencil’s many unpleasant features:

  • They get dull, necessitating sharpening after just quick bursts of writing,
  • You can get thin wood shavings all over your desk or other writing surface after sharpening,
  • Also, sharpening them is seriously inconvenient.

While those with wood pencils are taking trips to the pencil sharpener, those of us with mechanical pencils can keep writing like champs, keeping the momentum going with pencils that don’t get shorter. That’s even better for the PTEC, because the clicker is on the side of the pen, rather than on the top and housing the eraser, so there’s no need to perform hand gymnastics to keep pumping the graphite and writing efficiently. You can keep the flow of graphite going in the same position as you would be holding the pencil.

Oh yeah, speaking of the eraser, that’s the PTEC’s stand out feature. You know how most mechanical pencils have stubby little erasers that wear down quickly and are difficult to pull out and replace, provided that the pencils even come with replacement erasers? The PTEC comes with long erasers that can be mechanically drawn by the pencil itself. Meaning you can have a mechanical pencil with a convenient eraser that lasts longer than just a few assignments.

And better yet, the eraser isn’t one of those cheap erasers that have dyes that change the color of your paper when you try to erase something. Does anyone actually like those pink erasers? While the eraser that came with my PTEC was already pretty good, Pentel makes a quality high polymer eraser that erases very well that I would have preferred was in the PTEC. So I went and performed a modification to my own PTEC by trimming one of those erasers to shape using a box cutter, so I made some long cylinders that would fit in the PTEC and enjoyed the benefits of having a great mechanical pencil with a great eraser.

Not only is the PTEC a blast to write with, it’s made of some rugged stuff. I purchased it as I was beginning a 2-year college course, and it didn’t break until I was taking the final exam of one of my courses towards the end of the second year, so I finished the test with an inferior pencil. Noticeable difference. I still passed, though. There is more to getting a great grade than having an excellent mechanical pencil, though it doesn’t hurt. I liked my PTEC so much, that I fixed it with Gorilla Glue and kept using it.

There is one minor complaint I can think of, and that’s that the thin button protrudes noticeably towards the bottom. This can make the pencil appear as though it has a mechanical flaw, even though it’s just fine. However, even this turns out to be an advantage, as it allows for an easy tactile indication of the button’s presence when it’s time to draw out more graphite.

If you think that I made a good case that the Pentel Twist Erase Click is a great mechanical pencil, perhaps this will help you out: a link to an online store where you can buy it. Or you can choose another retailer, if you prefer. As of this posting, the listing contains the message “not sold in stores”. It’s upsetting that such a great product is not getting restocked, perhaps because it wasn’t being supported by purchases or because people are simply ignorant of just how good this mechanical pencil is. I know that there are some out there who just go with what’s supplied to them at the office, and resign themselves to either writing with cheapo stationery and whatever pens that their ultimate-cheap company managed to pilfer from a nearby bank. If their company isn’t going to get better office supplies for them, why shouldn’t they at least invest for themselves in making their time in the office at least slightly less miserable?

Score: 9/10

There might be better mechanical pencils on the market, but I think that the Pentel Twist Erase Click is among the best that are still affordable. It may not be perfect. As far as I know, there is no mechanical pencil out there that has a feature that summons a team of scantily-clad ninja women to make you a sandwich. But this mechanical pencil is great for getting the job done, and because it gets so many things right.

Webcomic Review: Classes

classes webcomic 1.png

I did not alter this.

Today, I did something painful. I’ve read through another bad webcomic. This one is called, “Classes”. It’s a name that’s strangely fitting, because it’s one thing I can recommend to its author.

Classes is easily the whitest webcomic I’ve ever seen. Don’t believe me? Read any page of the webcomic for yourself. Such as this one, which happened to be the most recent one as of this posting. Then do your eyes a favor and return to this page, quick.

I can assume that the reason why this webcomic is so white is because the author is trying to make it stylistic. Most pages don’t use panels; the comic reads from top to bottom with sequential drawings. It’s an interesting idea, but the result is a webcomic that hurts my eyes. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded narrowing the many super-wide margins, because as it is, Classes is like staring into an LED flashlight.

classes webcomic 2

He’s not alone.

If you’re a non-Japanese artist and you want to draw in the manga style, go right ahead. I don’t mind it. I’m not one of those super-snooty weeaboo freaks that think that only the Japanese can do the style right. But be aware that not everyone who attempts to draw in the manga style is good at it. In fact, there are people out there that draw in the manga style for the wrong reasons.

When some people see the manga style, what they see is something stylistic and visually appealing that they’d enjoy drawing and that their audience might enjoy seeing. They would be the people drawing manga for the right reasons. When other people see the manga style, they see a formulaic and easily-replicable art form that they could use as the visual vessel for their poorly-written stories with minimal effort, which they can sell by saying that they’re being stylistic. They would be the ones that decide on the manga style for the wrong reasons.

Yes, I know that there are high-quality manga out there. Some of the best ones have a simplistic and messy style, such as those drawn by Ueda Hajime, while others pay heavy attention to anatomy and composition. Those manga aren’t a problem. What’s problematic is when the manga style is used as an excuse to put less effort forward.

A novice artist might discover the manga style, then start drawing his characters with rounder faces that look flatter when viewed head-on, and drawing pointed chins that often disappear when a character’s profile is viewed. Part of the style. But then you notice that they’re drawing each of their characters in the chibi (simplified and child-like) style, and you suspect that they’re cutting corners, as Japanese artists typically only use the chibi style in certain circumstances. Even that can probably be sold as being stylistic (not that Teen Titans Go is off the hook).

But look closer, and you’ll see the mistakes. Okay, you probably don’t have to look close. The art has a rushed look to it, like manga is going out of style, and someone is in a hurry to make a quick buck off of it, even if they don’t know how.

One of the biggest mistakes that novice manga artists make is drawing the eyes as blank and shallow. Unless the character you’re drawing is in some catatonic state, the eyes should always look deep and expressive, even when it’s clear that everything else about your character is heavily chibified. Consider this example:

Umaru eyes

To make your manga characters really pop, you get the eyes right, even if you get nothing else right. There’s a reason for this: when people look at other people, their gaze is naturally drawn to the eyes. When looking at a person’s eyes, it’s easy to determine their mood and sometimes even their intentions. Because of this tendency, manga style is easy viewing because the eyes are larger and easier for viewers to find.

How does Classes do eyes? See for yourself:

classes webcomic 3.png

If you’re curious, that’s how the eyes for characters in Classes look by default.

I’ll give the author of Classes this much: she does choose her colors very well, and the shading is okay. Still, it’s pretty obvious when an artist chooses a semi-chibi manga style to hide the fact that the artist has a difficult time drawing things such as clothing. Yes, I know it’s challenging to keep track of things such as pressure points and how they would affect how a fabric wrinkles. But if a person doesn’t bother with that, the clothing can look like it’s skin-tight, or even floating in place.

As for the story, Classes is about a group of children who join a military academy that uses elemental magic. It’s about as cliche as it sounds, but because it’s in the anime style, there’s bound to be an extremely dangerous and competitive shounen-style field examination led by a severely disinterested proctor. Is that in there? Yep.

And while we’re discussing worn-out conventions, this thing where the characters are color-coded by the elemental magic types that they use is beyond stale. Sometimes, I suspect that writers do this to keep things straight for themselves. Is it too much to ask that writers express the creativity necessary for their characters to deviate at least slightly from the standard archetypes? Even the personalities of the characters seem to follow the color-coded conventions. For example, one character uses the ice element and has blue hair. No prize for guessing that she’s aloof and distant, that would be too easy. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s not much of a leap to imagine that she’s an overpowered child. It’s almost as though Classes was optimized for TV Tropes.

The main character is Kiwi, a young girl who is unrelatably irresponsible. If you thought Giga from Boss Rush Society was bad, Kiwi will make you wonder how even a fictional universe can host a creature so prone to bad decision-making.

I know that giving your characters flaws can make them more relatable, but going too far with the flaws can have the opposite effect. To give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here, Kiwi missed her own graduation just to goof off, and ended up missing out on gaining magical powers. She was allowed to graduate anyway, and was allowed to take the field exam without them, which goes to show that some people wanted her to die. She was also responsible in part for a huge disaster during the exam, wherein she was provided with just the substance needed to do so by chance.

Also, to give you a heads up, the narrative is sometimes broken without warning by non-canon sequences featuring the dog doing things like gender-swapping experiments. It’s tricky enough guessing the genders of some of the characters already, so these sequences didn’t help. They add nothing to the comic except to pad it out, which can really hurt if you just want to get it over with so you can get to writing a review about it.

I think it’s about time I got around to giving this webcomic its score. I’m a little surprised that I went out on it as much as I did, but Classes made some mistakes that brought to mind some problems that I’ve been noticing in creative communities, so I took an opportunity to vent a little bit. I know what some of you may be thinking: “But Raizen, webcomics like this are free. You get what you pay for, right?”

You know what else is free? Malware. And malware does take something away from people: their time. Time is something that a person only has so much of, and once they spend it, they don’t get it back. If someone doesn’t enjoy something, they feel like their time is wasted. A moment enjoyed is not wasted. Based on this criteria, I can give webcomics like Classes a score that reflects how I feel about the time I’ve spent with them. And on that note, here’s the score for the webcomic: Angry out of ten.

angry manga out of ten

Which, if you prefer numbers, would be a 3.2.

 

Webcomic Review: Boss Rush Society

giga kay

It seems like there’s someone out there that has me beat when it comes to confidence. There is someone out there who likes what he likes, and is not at all ashamed of saying so. That person is TokenDuelist, the author of the webcomic Boss Rush Society. TokenDuelist posts to his DeviantArt account with furry lesbian art, MLP characters (at least one work of which being lesbian art), Pokemon fan art of a ten-year-old with huge breasts, and a bare-breasted woman pawing at a blurred-out banana. That he is a male should be evident considering the nature of the DeviantArt material described. He also posted a picture of himself using the same DeviantArt account. That’s some confidence, there.

As mentioned already, he is the author of a webcomic, and that’s what’s primarily getting the attention in this review.

Boss Rush Society stars Lucas (a.k.a. Giga), a young man who enters a battle tournament, but shows up late, and the tournament starts without him. When he does show up, there’s only one contestant remaining, and he’s permitted entry, leaving him only having one weakened and tired opponent to trounce before being crowned the winner of the tournament. Which, predictably enough, he does. Isn’t that every layabout’s fantasy? Getting the prize just for showing up and saying his ABCs.

The art style can be likened to a combination of manga and the work of Phil and Kaja Foglio (but not in a good way). There is an obvious problem with proportions, and that is particularly evident in the first panel of this page, where the claw game is taller than the woman standing in front of it, but the woman is much taller than the arcade machines right next to them. There are other, similar problems, but I think you’d see them if you were to read the comic for yourself.

Also, almost all the female characters have huge breasts, except for one, which was probably a character that we weren’t supposed to like. Again, it’s obvious that the author of this comic is male. He has this thing for huge, swollen, gravity-defying breasts. What the obsession is with oversized breasts, I don’t understand. When they get too big, they sag and can actually be pretty gross.

Usually, small expressions of sexual immaturity can be ignored as a quirk in some webcomics, but that’s really hard to do when it’s used as a punch line in the very first issue. An example of this can be seen on this page, where one of the characters, apparently the main character’s girlfriend, shrugs off that she could have seen the main character almost nude. After he throws her out of the room, she starts pounding on the door. Not only does Giga get an easy tournament victory that he didn’t deserve, he also has a nymphomaniac girlfriend. What a guy.

There are a couple reasons why tournament battles are a recurring concept in so many shounen manga: the arranged battling environment allows for matches that otherwise might not easily occur in the flow of the narrative, and it’s very easy to write for. However, the concept is hindered in Boss Rush Society by several problems:

  • Too much meta humor. The main character actually stalls during his only tournament match to explain his weakness to spikes using video game logic. Yeah, you probably already figured this out, but Boss Rush Society has a video game theme. Not only did Giga show up late to the tournament and only have to face one tired opponent, he called for a time-out as a stall tactic to charge his energy. Perhaps for his next match, he can take on crippled girl scouts.
  • Too much exposition. One of the elementary rules of a visual medium is “show, don’t tell”. The first few pages established nicely that the backbone of the plot would involve tournament battles, so one would assume that any other dialogue would serve to set the stage for the next tournament battle. An excuse can be made for this for character development, but that leads to another problem:
  • The characters are seriously annoying. Every single character in Boss Rush Society is needlessly grating. Because of this, I wanted to see every character lose every match, regardless of which side they’re on. TokenDuelist needs to get the memo: you only portray a character as annoying when you want them to be perceived as annoying, such as when you don’t want your audience to like them. There isn’t a single character in Boss Rush Society that comes off as likable, the main character least of all. The single action of taking advantage of a weakened opponent for an easy tournament victory is more morally reprehensible than anything that the “bad guys” are ever shown to do.

Boss Rush Society is an excellent example of what can go wrong when someone who is not Japanese and plays lots of video games and watches lots of anime attempts to draw a manga of their own. Japanese manga and anime artists are better at it for a reason: they typically go to an art school where they do lots of practice drawing manga and anime before going on to become professionals. At that point, they can work shifts as long as 16 hours animating, get paid about as much as fast food employees, and some of them don’t even have homes because they’re allowed to sleep at their desks. It’s usually by about this point that many of them realize that they’ve made a mistake. Weeaboo artists typically aren’t aware of what being a manga/anime artist is like, otherwise, they’d probably stop trying so hard to be one.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take much more, I’ve read the entire series. As of now, there’s less than two dozen pages. One might think that this is because TokenDuelist is just getting started, but his archives indicate that this isn’t the case. He only releases his webcomic one page at a time, with updates as far as several months apart. TokenDuelist had nearly two years since the inception of his webcomic to carefully craft it’s 23 pages into a masterpiece, but it seems like he waived this so he can draw lots of furries on DeviantArt, and what we got instead was Boss Rush Society.

Worse yet, the spaced-out timing of releases for pages of Boss Rush Society suggests that, for each page, he carefully considered it’s content, and deliberately decided that they were worthwhile additions to his series. There is a reason why most suicides are quick: otherwise, a person might realize that what they are doing is a bad idea, and not go through with it. TokenDuelist gives himself as many as two months at a time to review the content of each page before making the conscious decision to add it to his webcomic.

Like I said before, TokenDuelist is confident. So confident that he actually links to his webcomic on message boards. Obviously, he thinks his webcomic is great, otherwise, he wouldn’t have such confidence.

I think it’s about time to give Boss Rush Society it’s score, which is a Robbie Rotten out of ten:

robbie rotten out of ten

Which is somewhere around a 2.3.

More pros than cons to providing citations and staying on topic

I’ve decided to provide a critical analysis of a student essay by the name of “More Pros Than Cons in a Meat-Free Life” authored by Marjorie Lee Garretson, and published in the student newspaper of the University of Mississippi in April 2010. Those who wish to read the essay may do so here.

In her essay, Marjorie makes the case for a vegetarian lifestyle by stating that there are health benefits to adopting it. She also makes a moral appeal, citing the treatment of livestock used as food sources. At some points in her essay, Marjorie makes some statements that are quite emotionally charged.

The title of her article, “More Pros Than Cons in a Meat-Free Life”, is somewhat misleading, as it would lead the reader to expect an enumeration of both pros and cons to a vegetarian lifestyle. Instead, Marjorie makes a one-sided case for vegetarianism that leaves little doubt as to her position. What’s more, the title leads one to believe that the focus of the article would be the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, when in fact much of the article consists of moral appeals, such as criticizing the treatment of livestock used as food sources, even though the treatment of livestock has no direct impact on the lifestyle of a person who is either vegetarian or prefers a conventional diet.

Persons who argue for a vegetarian lifestyle typically begin on a rational-sounding note, though much of the time, their arguments quickly degrade into emotional appeals and ad-hominem attacks against anyone who would dissent. Marjorie, however, wastes little time getting to accusing adherents of the conventional diet of overlooking or ignoring for convenience the multiple benefits that she claims the vegetarian lifestyle provides.

Of course, she was only getting started. She lists the supposed benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, which she says includes:

  • lower body mass index
  • significantly decreased cancer rate
  • longer life expectancy
  • avoiding Alzheimer’s disease
  • avoiding osteoporosis

There is a problem, however. She provides no citations. Marjorie’s claims are not considered common knowledge. They challenge conventional thinking. As such, citations are important in backing up her claims. Without citations, she is allowing her audience to assume that these claims are conclusions reached as a result of years of study by educated professionals, and it would seem as though she expects that her claims will be accepted by her audience without inquiry.

This is a trend that continues in Marjorie’s writing. She goes on to claim that “It takes less energy and waste to produce vegetables and grains than the energy required to produce meat.” Do you see where this is headed? She goes on to cite the statistic that it takes 16 pounds of grain and 5000 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat. This statistic is among the most repeated among those advocating a vegetarian lifestyle. However, the statistic is false. She provides no citations, however, so she is apparently banking on her audience not being particularly inquisitive, and accepting her claims on the basis of “sounds like it’s probably true.”

However, just because something sounds eye-opening doesn’t mean it’s true. A study by the Council of Agricultural Science and Technology in 1999 has found that 2.6 pounds of grain is used to produce a pound of beef in developed countries, while in developing countries the number is 0.3 lbs (for anyone wondering, this is what a citation looks like).

Vegetarians claim that the land that is used to raise cattle and other livestock could be more productive if that same land would be used to produce vegetables and grain. However, not every plot of land is suitable for growing grain. Livestock is typically raised on marginal lands that are not suitable for growing vegetables.

Marjorie goes on to claim that the runoff of fecal matter from meat factories is the single most detrimental pollutant to our water supply. She provides as her only citation in the entire article the Environmental Protection Agency, even if she doesn’t mention a specific study, leaving her readers with the task of verification. Perhaps Marjorie was employing some psychology, intentional or not; people tend toward the path of least resistance, so they’re likely to accept her claim rather than do their own research (such as with a simple web search) to verify.

The most significant source of pollutants according to the United States Department of Agriculture is nonpoint sources. Agricultural pollutants are among the pollutants that fall under this category. However, the EPA lists among these pollutants “Excess fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas”. So, ironically, Marjorie’s only citation in her one-sided case for vegetarianism is for a study that states that runoff from growing vegetables is among the most significant pollutants for water. Other sources of nonpoint pollution include urban runoff, salt from irrigation practices, and other sources.

The following charts show the ratio of pollutants in water supplies. Interestingly, as much as industry is demonized for being a significant polluter, it comes nowhere close to non-point pollutants, to which agriculture contributes heavily:

Percentages_sources_of_pollution_that_impair_water_bodies

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, Public Domain

Marjorie goes on to cite inhumane treatment of livestock. While there may be a problem with the treatment of livestock, vegetarians seem to idealize life in the wilderness. Anyone who thinks that life in the wilderness is idyllic has not spent a significant amount of time outdoors. Most people don’t have to. It’s typically done for a refreshing change of pace or to enjoy scenery.

For animals, however, it’s a different story. Animals live there. And for them, it’s a constant battle for survival. Nearly every organism in the wild is surrounded by predators and scavengers, many of which would happily accept them as their next food source, and not care about their objections or opinions on the matter. When animals do die, it’s usually a painful death as a result of predation.

Humans give livestock a pretty sweet deal. Livestock get to live with no fear of predation. They get enough to eat, whether it’s enough to sustain them or plenty to prevent them from getting too lean. When the time comes to make them into our food, we make things much quicker than predatory animals do.

Marjorie also voices objection to the practice of using livestock to obtain dairy products such as milk and eggs. She likens the practice to that of puppy mills, and accuses adherents of the conventional diet of looking the other way when it comes to livestock.

Again, the title of Marjorie’s work is “More Pros Than Cons in a Meat-Free Life”, which leads the reader into believing that the potential cons of the decision to go vegetarian would be considered. However, Marjorie doesn’t list any. It shouldn’t be a surprise by now that Marjorie was not interested in providing an objective analysis of the options. It should be easy to guess what her position is.

If Marjorie were to touch upon the cons of living a meat-free lifestyle, she’d have a fair amount to discuss. For example, those who are strictly vegan have no sources of iodine or essential B vitamins, a deficiency of which can lead to mental retardation and irreversible neurological damage. However, that’s a potential for discussion that she ignored.

Due to the deficit of citations and the overall level of professionalism in this piece, I do not believe that Marjorie’s essay is University-level work. The University of Mississippi should have felt at least a little hesitant in posting it on their web space as representative of their student’s work, and if this work is reprinted in any textbook (as it is in mine), students would be right to critically analyze it to identify Marjorie’s mistakes, and avoid making the same ones themselves.

Works Cited:

“CAST Animal Agriculture and Global Food Supply.” Publications. CAST, 1 Jan. 1999. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://www.cast-science.org/publications/?animal_agriculture_and_global_food_supply&show=product&productID=2836&gt;.

“What Is Nonpoint Source Pollution?” What Is Nonpoint Source Pollution? EPA. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/whatis.cfm&gt;.

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire: My impressions

Over the last several weeks, I’ve played some Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, one of the two newest installments of the Pokemon series. If you’re a Pokemon fan, you might already have at least one of these two games, so you probably don’t need a review to tell you that you’d like this game. Actually, this is less like a review and more like my own impression of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, the one that I’ve played.

So, you might be thinking of asking, “Is this the kind of game that anyone would like, even someone like Adolf Hitler?” Let me tell you something about Adolf Hitler: Adolf Hitler was a Nazi. In fact, he was the biggest Nazi of them all.

just say no

There are bound to be people out there that don’t like Pokemon ORAS (short for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which is like a tongue twister to say). However, I think it’s a pretty well-made product.

Yes, ORAS is a remake of Ruby and Sapphire, and while there’s a real element of nostalgia to it, so much was added to the experience that it could hardly be called the same experience as the originals.

For one thing, the presentation is very similar to that of Pokemon X and Y, which I don’t recall meeting very many complaints. The overworld map generally has an overhead perspective, as do caves and buildings, with some exceptions. Generally, this aspect of the presentation has improvements over X and Y, which seems natural, considering GameFreak has had more experience with dynamic perspective since it was first implemented in X and Y. Like X and Y, it’s the presentation in the battles that really shines. Each of the pokemon models are well rendered and animated, with a cel-shading effect that makes the battles look almost like the Pokemon anime. GameFreak did very well with this in X and Y, and that they took the same approach in ORAS is a decision that seems pretty sound.

Perhaps the biggest issue for Pokemon ORAS is the balance of gameplay, though this issue wasn’t nearly as severe was it was in Pokemon X and Y (where it took a long time to get the third badge, and after you did, you could get a mega pokemon, and the badges generally came in rapid succession). Much of the lack of balance with X and Y came from the fact that once a player could use mega evolutions, they could sweep most of the rest of the game with ease. In ORAS, there is a little more balance with mega evolution, but the way it was introduced was pretty odd. About midway through, the player receives a legendary pokemon that wasn’t available until the post-game in the originals, and it could mega evolve. The player doesn’t have to battle it, either. It’s not broken like either of the Mega Charizards, but it’s still a very strong pokemon.

Like the originals, though, once you capture Kyogre or Groudon, you’re set until the post-game. Pokemon ORAS takes this further, though, by allowing the player to access their newer, stronger “Primal Reversion” forms, which allow what was already a couple really strong pokemon to hammer most of what the game can throw at them.

For the most part, though, if you’ve played Pokemon before, you already have a good idea of what to expect from ORAS, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deliver an excellent experience. In fact, there are many standout aspects of ORAS compared to the originals. For one thing, there’s much more character development. It’s a little surprising, but it would seem that the main character you don’t choose (from between Brendan and May) becomes a somewhat romantic interest as the game progresses, in a manner similar to Shauna from X and Y. Characters such as Matt and Tabitha are far more interesting and well-defined (rather than being the generic Admins they were before), and Archie actually turns out to be quite an interesting character. The character of Wally is also much further explored (and he gets a pretty sweet battle tune).

Many Pokemon players consider the real meat of the game to be the post-game, when new areas become accessible, and the flow of the game is not limited by a plot. In ORAS, there is a bit of an extension which occurs after the initial victory over the champion in the form of the Delta Episode. The Delta Episode is an additional scenario which adds more to the story of the Hoenn region, mega pokemon, and Rayquaza. A lot can be said about the Delta Episode, and among those things is that there is a lot of dialogue! But there is also a lot of character development, particularly for Steven.

Pokemon ORAS is a game which seems like it was made with the fans in mind. One could imagine the following exchange having taken place between GameFreak and a Pokemon fan:

Fan: Wouldn’t it be cool if we could fly on a pokemon around a 3D map of Hoenn?
GF: I agree. Let’s call that “soaring” and put it in ORAS.
Fan: I think it would also be cool if it were easier to get a pokemon with high IVs, such as through chaining or something like that.
GF: I agree.
Fan: Wouldn’t it also be cool if hatching eggs became easier because there was a long path to ride a bike on?
GF: Why don’t we make a circular path that can be traversed by only holding down one direction on the plus control pad?
Fan: I think that it would be sweet if Rayquaza got a mega form that didn’t need a mega stone, and was much stronger than it had to be.
GF: Okay. It’ll be interesting to see what competitive communities such as Smogon do about it.
Fan: And a bunch more mega evos would be nice.
GF: Agreed.
Fan: And it would be cool if one of the event pokemon became obtainable in-game.
GF: Why don’t you play ORAS and find out which one?

Yeah, there are new mega evos, which has had a real impact on the competitive scene. Also impacting the competitive scene is a new set of move tutors. Some pokemon seriously benefit from this, such as Greninja, which gets low kick to answer Chansey, and Gunk Shot. Another nice touch is that obtaining pokemon through Dexnav allows the player to encounter pokemon that know egg moves. There are also a lot of legendary pokemon to obtain in this game. For competitive players, there’s a lot to like in ORAS. But if a person plays competitively, they’d probably want a copy of Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire, because at least until next year they are considered to be the definitive Pokemon games.

It’s obvious that a lot of effort went into Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, and the result is that they turned out excellently.

10 out of 10

YouTube Channel Review: UrAvgConsumer

The pursuit of quality is a quest for consumers everywhere, and we help each other out when we write reviews. I’ve decided to do a review of a YouTube channel, and the channel up for review is UrAvgConsumer, which can also be referred to as the Beats by Dre channel.

beats apologist

One thing that’s obvious right off the bat is that UrAvgConsumer is a huge fan of Beats by Dre, a brand of headphones famous for being endorsed by Dr. Dre, being worn by celebrities, being expensive, and sounding like garbage. This is disappointing, until one considers that the headphones were originally made by Monster, the same company that set an MSRP for an HDMI cable at $120.

Something that’s expensive like Beats by Dre should not be getting mixed reviews. But it is, and people keep going out and purchasing them. Many of those that do rave about it’s sound quality. Others return them to the store, because there’s more to the audio experience than bass, and other, less expensive headphones do bass better.

UrAvgConsumer’s video selection includes:

  • Beats by Dre Pro Unboxing
  • urBeats vs Beats Tour Comparison (a comparison of his favorite headphones is unavoidable, since he spends a lot of time discussing the Beats brand)
  • My Top 5 Favorite Headphones 2.0 (he lists his favorite headphones, which are pretty much bass headphones and this list includes [guess what!] Beats by Dre)
  • New Beats Studio Review 2013
  • What’s in My Gadget Backpack 2.0 (which, yes, does include a Beats product)
  • My Beats Headphone Ranking / Purchase Guide

That last one should give pause for thought. This guy calls himself “UrAvgConsumer,” short for “Your Average Consumer,” and he has enough of these expensive headphones to make a purchase guide for them including footage of his experiences with the products. I admit that I haven’t gone around surveying consumers to compile data on their audio purchasing habits, but I don’t think it’s a bad assumption that the average consumer doesn’t have a few thousand extra dollars in the mattress to go out and purchase dozens of headphones, with emphasis in those large purchases being bass headphones and Beats by Dre.

I know that some might say that I’m not making a fair assessment of UrAvgConsumer’s YouTube channel unless I’ve watched each of his videos. I don’t have to watch each of his videos to write a review of his channel, and I don’t want to watch dozens of his videos. It’s enough to see that he has a number of videos reviewing Beats products and flirting with his girlfriend to get the idea just what kind of content he’s offering the internet. Also, if I did watch more of his videos, more channels like his may appear in my recommendations, which was how I came to be aware of his channel to begin with.

And while we’re talking about recommendations, I think YouTube could benefit from a clickable box (similar to their Watch Later option) that removes certain videos from your recommendations so you don’t have to watch them to get them out of there. There was one video that I was trying to avoid that appeared in my recommendations for about a month. When I did finally decide to watch it, even with my lowered expectations, I was still disappointed.

As for UrAvgConsumer’s channel, I’m giving it a score of 4 out of 10. Which I think is pretty generous. I was considering giving it a score of 3, but UrAvgConsumer’s channel provides plenty of material for nerd battles, which are sometimes a little amusing. Other than that, it’s hard to recommend this channel at all. Unless you happen to be a Beats by Dre fanboy who is out to attempt to justify his purchase, which is something that UrAvgConsumer is happy to help you with. Just don’t count on the comments sections to help you as much in that endeavor.

BugCo. BugBox: Cricket convenience, or killer death evil bad? An objective review.

I have some pet toads. I like feeding them, but I’ve been travelling a considerable distance for store-bought crickets. I did a search for closer pet supply stores, and found one with an interesting product: BugCo.’s BugBox.

It’s a neat little thing. It was actually stored among the merchandise, but it was a small box of 25-30 crickets with a bit of “wafoo” in the box, which is apparently a proprietary cricket feed that keeps them sustained while in their packaging, and pre-gutloaded, making them ready for consumption by reptiles. Yes, the crickets were live.

I decided to give the product a try. The box of 25-30 only set me back $2.99 plus tax, which was okay considering that I was paying 10 cents a cricket at the other place, and those ones were plainly starved. When I would place the loose crickets in the keeper, they’d go for the Fluker’s feed as though they hadn’t eaten for days. On the other hand, the crickets in the BugBox seemed content. I had placed some of the Fluker’s High Calcium Cricket Diet and Fluker’s Cricket Quencher that I had on hand into the BugBox (I didn’t know what “wafoo” was, so I wanted to be sure they were well-fed). The crickets in the BugBox didn’t seem nearly as hungry.

The BugBox has a perforated pattern on the side designated as a “Pencil Punch Out” and next to it were the simple instructions to “Place in Vivarium”, which suggests to me that once the opening was made, the crickets would dispense themselves. I decided to give it a try.

It didn’t take a couple toads long to find out what was going on, and they went right up to the opening of the box. One of them (named Big Buf) would eat the crickets just as they came out of the container. Another one (named Herbert) was hiding somewhere in the vivarium, so with Big Buf eating them as they were coming out, there was little chance that Herbert would get any. So I opened a side of the box and shaked some crickets out. As crickets often do when dispensed in such a manner, some of them looked for hiding spots, so they’d probably come out again at a later point, effectively dispensing themselves at a time of their choice.

I actually expected to find some dead crickets in the BugBox when I opened it to check after the live ones were out. I had found an exoskeleton, which was apparently the result of shedding, which is something that crickets do. Aside from that, I didn’t see any sign of crickets having died in the packaging.

I decided to try to find out just what “wafoo” was, but after a Google search, I didn’t find an explanation. I’d like to know what it is, considering that what goes into the feeder crickets I take home in turn goes into my toads. If I were to know about it’s nutritional content, that would be okay.

What I found was that not everyone had the same experience with the BugBox that I did. Some complained that crickets were starving and/or eating each other. This was odd, was there wafoo in the box, or not? Some complained that some of the crickets died in the box. Personally, I think this may be a sign of carelessness on the part of the retailer rather than a fault with the product itself, which some reviewers apparently could have likened to some sort of buggy-Auschwitz. Sometimes, in spite of efforts to ensure otherwise, feeder crickets do die. This is true whether they come in the BugBox or are purchased in bulk. Yes, crickets can die in the BugBox, and it’s much more likely to occur when sitting on a store shelf for a while.

As far as the dichotomy mentioned in the title is concerned, the BugBox is certainly a cricket convenience. I’d think that pet supply clerks would prefer it, considering how time-consuming and poorly-rewarding it would be to spend a significant amount of time counting crickets into small plastic bags with bits of egg carton. I know that if I had a degree in English, Psychology or Philosophy, I’d want to do something different for a living. With the BugBox, the clerk can spend more time with the kittens and puppies, and I can pick up some crickets without worrying about whether the shipment of fresh crickets actually didn’t come in, or the clerk is just making an excuse because she doesn’t want to count them again.

That is, when the BugBox is in stock.

Score: 8/10

I wouldn’t mind giving the BugBox a score of 9/10, but there is something that bothers me about it just a little. I still don’t know what exactly wafoo is, or what it’s nutritional value may be. Other than that, it’s an excellent product, but I’d be a little concerned about buying it from pet supply stores that aren’t so negligent.

Pros:

  • Seriously convenient
  • Crickets are already fed
  • A bargain at $3 for 25-30 crickets, though the price may vary
  • In-box design gives crickets plenty of room without standing on each other, and there’s a plastic window to view them.

Cons:

  • Wafoo is still a mystery substance
  • Careless retailers may result in dead crickets, though to be fair, it does still happen.