Well, that was a fun year! 2015 kept me busy, sometimes far more than I ever asked it to, but I look back on it very fondly. There were numerous comic cons attended, plenty of progress made in my book, The Luminous Legend, and far too many entertaining movies, books, comics, and video games that I enjoyed. Just as I did for 2014, I’m here to narrow down my favorite pieces of entertainment media from 2015.
Quick disclaimer, not all of these picks necessarily were released in 2015; these are just the things I finally got around to watching/reading/playing last year. I have a hectic schedule, some things tend to fall on the back burner for a while.
With that out of the way, allow me to roll out my best of 2015!
FAVORITE MOVIE – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
I told myself walking out of the theater back in May that there was no way any other movie in 2015 would out-do Fury Road, and even after watching the masterpieces that were The Martian, Bridge of Spies, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the return of Mad Max stands tall. Fury Road was a visual thrill-ride, its cinematography absolutely blood-roiling. Even some of its simplest shots were more intense that the action in other films. Fury Road’s stunt work was a marvel to behold, and they felt that much more visceral because they were largely produced with live stunt men, practical special effects, and real-world settings. Sure, some CGI was occasionally tossed in there, but when it was, it was usually to bring an injection of color into the forlorn wasteland. That director George Miller could make a post-apocalyptic world so vibrant was a testament to his amazing pedigree.
FAVORITE BOOK – MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE
If Fury Road is the apex of intensity for film, then the Mistborn franchise might be the apex of intensity for written fiction. The battles that author Brandon Sanderson describes in these books are outright wild, just as entertaining (and, sometimes, as strenuous to follow) as the most high-energy battles in a Kung-Fu movie. Sanderson created an incredible magic system for this series with Allomancy and its similar forms; the seemingly-endless ways that the characters are able to empower themselves utilizing different metals is beyond inventive. Sanderson then dropped this intriguing magic system into a world that’s seeped in lore, culture, and history, bringing together a franchise that demands you continue it once you start.
FAVORITE TELEVISION SHOW – GRAVITY FALLS
I’m a child of the 90’s, so I grew up watching a slew of cartoons that were riddled with jokes and innuendos that went way over the average child’s head, and cracked up adults who managed to catch them. Gravity Falls is a throwback to that style of animation, showcasing all the color and levity necessary to entertain a younger viewer, but also while being loaded with little secrets, details, and jokes that only an adult would recognize. That’s not to say Gravity Falls ever crosses the line of being crass or vulgar, but there’s so much more to this show than first meets the eye. The setting for this show has far more in-depth world building than a Disney-channel cartoon has any right to, and it manages to endear itself to a far wider audience than most cartoons will with its litany of references to pop culture of both the past and the present.
FAVORITE COMIC BOOK – RUROUNI KENSHIN: THE JINCHU ARC
The Rurouni Kenshin anime is among my very favorites, but as many fans know, it never had the chance to adapt the final story arc from the original manga, and it was only in recent years that I decided to check out the manga. The Jinchu (Revenge) Arc brings one of Kenshin’s most sadistic foes ever to the page; Yukishiro Enishi, the younger brother of Kenshin’s former lover, Tomoe, and the same woman who Kenshin inadvertently killed in battle. This is easily the most personal feud throughout the Rurouni Kenshin saga, with Kenshin facing an internal struggle almost as dire as the collection of vengeful foes that try to wreak havoc on his life. It was a great sendoff for the series, and not simply for Kenshin—all of the series’ beloved characters, from Yahiko, to Sanosuke, to Saito, to Aoshi, all get their moment/s in the spotlight before the last page.
FAVORITE VIDEO GAME – BLOODBORNE
I adore the action-RPG gameplay found in the Souls series of video games; they force you to master not only the intricate systems that build your character, but they also require you to master the button commands and reflexive inputs in order to survive the game’s grueling battles. Taking this game design and putting it in a Gothic horror setting was a one-way ticket to my heart. Bloodborne had all of those merciless battles with fearsome beasts that its predecessors were famous for, while taking place in a world that’s forged from Victorian-era imagery, and all of the spooky and grim attributes of Gothic horror.
FAVORITE SPORTING MOMENT – HOLLY HOLM KNOCKS OUT RONDA ROUSEY
As I sat down to watch Holly Holm challenge Ronda Rousey for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship, I didn’t think Holm stood a chance. Rousey had looked like an unstoppable beast in her previous bouts, while Holm—despite being a former boxing and kickboxing world champion—hadn’t looked even remotely impressive in her first two UFC fights. It was as if she couldn’t figure out how to translate her striking acumen to MMA. Then, as she faced Rousey in the middle of the Octagon, she suddenly did. From the opening bell, Holm put on one of the most impressive performances in UFC history, completely outclassing Rousey with her pristine striking while avoiding any of the clumsy swings and grappling attempts by Rousey. The fight simultaneously left me shocked and enthralled, no more than when Holm finally secured the victory early in the second round.
Later this week, I’ll look ahead to what stories and events have me most excited to experience in 2016!