Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Velcro the Ninja Kat: The Complete Edition - Now Available!

In the Country of Widows, the military organization known as the Devil Corps has waged a secret war against its own people. One cat has become aware of this evil scheme, and has set out to put an end to this brewing conflict before it's too late.

Featuring all five action packed books, this is her full magical journey, the tale of Velcro the Ninja Kat. Now available!


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Celebrating 10 Years of Velcro the Ninja Kat!

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the release of the first book in the Velcro the Ninja Kat series!

It's been a long and arduous journey up to this point, and in that time we have since seen the release of five Ninja Kat novels, a brief Ninja Kat comic book run, and even a live action Ninja Kat short film, with much much more still to come. But today, we celebrate 10 years of progress, and begin a year long celebration that will continue to push the Ninja Kat legacy forward!

Velcro the Ninja Kat is the story of one cat's desire to save the world from a brewing evil. And as we join her on this action packed adventure in this magical world, we get to meet a wide assortment of characters and explore their various dynamics. As much as it's a story about wanting to save the world, it could be argued that it's also just as much about coming to terms with personal strife, finding peace within oneself, as within the world itself, and learning to connect with one another again.

The majority of the characters are based on actual animals, oftentimes pets of my own that I had while growing up, capturing their personalities and bringing them to life on the page, taking the various antics that the real life animals would find themselves in and expanding on those stories in a grand and fantastic way in these books.

The real life Stan, and his comic book counterpart.

Though today marks 10 years since we've officially shared this story with the world, really, this journey has been going for far longer, all the way back to my childhood. In fact, you have to go all the way back to my elementary school days to find the origins of when I first came up with the idea of the Ninja Kat.

Back then, I used to play with my friends, where we would sometimes act out the different adventures that the Ninja Kat and other assortment of characters would go on. And as I said, most of the characters were based on our pets, including my childhood cat and title character herself, Velcro.

A majority of the cast of characters was made up of my other pets that my family would get over the years, including our other cats and dogs and hamsters and rabbits and such. But even pets of long distance family members would make it into the stories, such as my family up in New York, who practically had a zoo in their house from the wide assortment of animals they had living there. And even more still, I didn't reserve it to strictly just family, but the pets of many of my friends also found their way into my novels, many of whom I'm certain still aren't even aware of it yet!

But one friend in particular is certain of his animals' inclusion, that being an old neighborhood friend, Kevin Law, who I would most frequently run off with as a child and act out our animal's fantastical adventures. In fact, a number of his pets wound up securing key roles in the story, including many of the hamsters from the original book, as well as Kip, who managed to score an entire short film about himself at that. And I know Kevin is well aware of his pets finding their way into these stories, as he's expressed his excitement and gratitude to me in regards to these callbacks.

Even beyond just the characters though, much of the world explored in these books have their origins based on real life locations. For instance, for anyone not native to Tallahassee, FL, Lake Ella is a real lake in this city, and is indeed the very lake that the one from the books drew its inspiration from. The Twin Trees are based on an area in my Mom's neighborhood where we used to play as kids, and the village of Highland itself is based on my Mom's neighborhood as well, with many of her animals residing there. And likewise, the village of Redfield is in turn based on my Dad's neighborhood, and as such, many of the characters who live in that village are in fact the same animals who lived at my Dad's house growing up.

What I also find really cool though is how even many of the original characters not actually based on any real life animals were actually characters I made up way back in my school years as well. Characters such as Vini, Buzzbee, the Devil Dog, and Bullet came about way back when I was in elementary school (I even drew pictures of them back then as well, though I have no idea where those pictures are anymore, assuming they even still exist), and then Tails Mask first came to mind sometime around middle school, with The Great Mosquito being a character who I first conjured up in high school. And ideas such as the Universal Pole saw their origins back when Kevin and I would play pretend way back as kids. And yet all of these elements, many years later, would pass the test of time and find their way into the main story once it was time to be told.

But the older I got, the more I wanted to truly pursue taking these stories of pretend and making them a reality for all to enjoy. And thus, after I graduated high school, I began looking into options to do precisely that. We actually tried the comic book route before going into novels, as I had met a few artists at work at the time who expressed interest in the project, but nothing really quite worked out back then.

Though it would eventually come together!

And so, I decided instead to just write the story out as a series of books. Which of course meant that I had to actually learn how to write a novel length work.

Though Velcro: The Ninja Kat is my first published novel, it is not the first novel that I wrote. I actually got my start with novel writing through National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a month, and I learned a great deal from completing that challenge two years in a row. I then took all that I learned and began work on the Ninja Kat novel itself, though I chose to take my time with this one, as opposed to rushing it onto the page in a month. And after years of outlining, and writing, and workshopping my novel, finally, I was ready to share those childhood stories of my animals with the world.

And yeah, you can certainly tell that the first Ninja Kat book is still a learning process from me. But one thing that I've learned over the years as a writer is that you learn a lot with every project completed, and I feel that certainly shows in the sequels, which I am much more proud of how they turned out (and my dedicated reviewers tend to agree with the consistent improvement of quality!).

Even so, I finally had my first novel out, Velcro: The Ninja Kat. But as it turns out, getting my work out was the easy part. Now the hard part was getting people to actually read it! And so, I started marketing my book, to varying degrees of success. I've never really found too much success online, but in person, I've been able to do a bit better for the most part. I've done book signings at local bookstores, and have even gotten quite a number of stores to stock my books on their shelves.

The Ninja Kat series on display at Books at Park Place in St. Petersburg, FL.

In addition, I also set up booths at local conventions, and I would even branch out and travel around to conventions elsewhere, trying to spread my book out as far and wide as possible. I've toured throughout most of Florida, and have spread out as far west as New Orleans, LA, and as far north as Charlotte, NC.

Pictured at MegaCon 2017 in Orlando, FL.

And throughout all of this, I would wind up meeting a number of artists who I would go on to collaborate with on future Ninja Kat projects. The cover artist for the first Ninja Kat novel, Sharon Kemmerer, is a friend who I actually met back when I was originally bringing my Ninja Kat excerpts to local writing workshop events, and it was at these events where I also met Rachel Rice and Natalia Locatelli, who helped me out quite a bit early one with a lot of the technical stuff.

Sharon is also quite the fan of Vini, as seen in this fan art of hers!

Shortly after I published the first Ninja Kat novel, one of my artist friends who I had mentioned before that I used to work with had reached out to me. That artist was Trevor Tee, who saw that I had published the book, and who was now eager to get started working on the comic. He had a pretty decent run, putting out 9 chapters in about a two year span, as well as doing the cover art for The Green Lion and The Masquerade. But eventually a change in career forced Trevor to have to step away from the gig, but I'd love to pursue another run with a comic book adaptation at some point in the future.

Trevor Tee with his copy of Velcro: The Masquerade.

One of the first conventions I ran a booth at was Alt-Con 2013 in Tallahassee, FL, and it was at this show where I met one of my biggest fans and supporters, Nikki Hall, who would go on to help me out at future shows.

Nikki Hall helping me run the table at Hamacon 2014 in Huntsville, AL.

While I was touring around to various cities selling the books at conventions, I also met many other artists who I would keep contact with, and later on down the line collaborate with. Artists such as Christine Schongar, who I met at Florida Supercon in Miami, FL back in 2013, and who did the cover art for Polluted War and The Egg Hunters, and the poster art for Kip.

Art by Christine Schongar.

And Travis Earls, who I met the following year at the 2014 Florida Supercon in Miami, FL, and who did the cover art for the upcoming Complete Edition, a reworking of a fan art piece he had originally given to me when we initially met.

Travis Earls with his fan art of Velcro the Ninja Kat, and his rework for The Complete Edition.

And I've most recently collaborated with a fellow local artist, Daniel Hooker, who I first met at a Free Comic Book Day book signing at Secret Headquarters in Tallahassee, FL in 2013, where he was promoting his new book HIT!, and whose contributions will be revealed soon enough!

Art by Daniel Hooker. Details coming soon...

And speaking of collaborations, a huge shout out to everyone who came together and worked on the Ninja Kat short film, Kip, including Kayla Badia, Andre Forbes, Jason Simmons, M.H. Smith, Outlawed Beats, and the guys at Crinsy Productions and Orora Arts. It might not be the most popular project I’ve completed, but it’s certainly one of my favorites. I think it came out incredibly cool as hell, and I’m really proud of what we accomplished.

Though we would eventually do the live action Ninja Kat short, that outing was actually not the first time we attempted to bring the Ninja Kat off the page and into the real world. In fact, we've actually been doing it since before the first book was even published!

My stepmother, Valita, and stepbrother, Jason, helped me put the costume together, with Caroline Barr providing the voice in the trailer. And since that initial teaser trailer, there have been at least four people who have donned the Ninja Kat costume at events, including Jory Burks, Phil Blaiklock, Thomas Curry, and even yours truly!

Jory Burks as the Ninja Kat.

Phil Blaiklock as the Ninja Kat.

Thomas Curry as the Ninja Kat.

Yes, I'm aware that the Ninja Kat is a female, and yet has primarily been acted out by men up to this point. Though in one of the coolest moments on my journey touring the book around at conventions, one enthusiastic female fan did come to the show cosplaying as the title character, which I suppose should count for something!

One of the most rewarding experiences along the way has been gradually growing a fanbase, and seeing some of the same people come back out to later events in order to pick up their copy of the latest releases, or sometimes to just share their enthusiasm with me in the form of fan art. I've highlighted a few pieces of fan art so far, but it's always such a cool feeling when someone is so passionate about what you're doing that they feel inspired to create a piece of art to help celebrate it with you, and right now, I'd like to share a sampling of some of the art I've received from fans over the years.

Lyrics to a Ninja Kat drinking song about the hamsters written by Rebecca Gilbert.

A balloon artist made this caricature of Vini.

It's Ninja Kat time! Made by Esclair Studios.

A fan from work, with his crossover suggestion.

So as you can see, it's been a bit of a journey up to this point! But, it wasn't always fun and games.

A little over 11 years ago, my childhood cat and best friend in the whole world, Velcro, sadly passed away. She died on August 6th of 2011. And it's because of this that I had chosen that day to always try and promote something new Ninja Kat related, so that we can take a day of loss and sadness, and instead turn it into a way of celebrating the life of my cat once more. So that's been the reason why most years I try to have some bit of news to share on this day, though it doesn't always work out that the bit of news is Ninja Kat related. But even when it's not, it's at least something to share my creative efforts with the world, to show that I'm still working, still trudging away, and trying to get my own contribution out and into the world.

A year after she passed was the first time I shared anything in regards to Velcro the Ninja Kat in a more official manner, with the release of that initial trailer. And it was later that month, 10 years ago today, in which that childhood dream became a reality, and Velcro's own legacy had been cemented with the release of Velcro: The Ninja Kat.

And that's what today is all about! But we're not relegating the celebrations to just a mere day. We'll be celebrating 10 years all year long, and it starts with the release of Velcro the Ninja Kat: The Complete Edition, a compilation of all five books, featuring updated text. It's taken longer than I would've liked to get this new edition released, but it's coming sooner rather than later, and will be followed up with even more surprise releases to come throughout the year.

And as to where Velcro the Ninja Kat will go from here? Well, without saying too much, let's just say that while the Ninja Kat's tale may be told, a legacy lives on, and there are still yet more stories to be told, in more ways to come.

I'd like to now take this opportunity to thank everyone who has joined me along the way throughout these 10 years and more. In addition to everyone I've already mentioned, I need to give a huge shout out to my Uncle Bob and Aunt Laurie, whose contributions to my novels truly cannot be measured. Thank you Mom, thank you Dad, and thank you to my family and friends who have been there for me and helped me out over the years. Thank you to everyone who's read my books, and to everyone who has continued to join us along this journey over the years.

And here's to more stories still to come. Because as far as I'm concerned, we're still only just getting started!


Saturday, August 6, 2022

Saturday, December 25, 2021

My Top 5 Movies of 2021

My movie viewing habits have changed in recent times. In years past, I tried to see as many movies as I possibly could in a given year. Nowadays though, I've become a lot pickier in what I choose to watch. I'm not going to see something just because it's a major tentpole movie that everyone else is seeing, or because it's some awards contender that everyone's buzzing about. No, I've reached the point where I just want to watch what genuinely interests me. And as such, I've actually watched a lot fewer movies in recent years.

And yes, I'm aware that that does mean that I've very likely missed some key releases in a given year. But, you know, I'm okay with that. I don't have nearly as much free time these days to watch nearly as many movies as I once did, and even then, I've also grown quite burned by the sheer number of underwhelming releases in more recent years as well, which contributes to why I've been less willing to make the time to see more stuff. So with that out of the way, of the movies that genuinely caught my eye and intrigued me enough to give them a chance, here is what I consider to be my favorites from the past year.


Last Night In Soho
(Edgar Wright)

Edgar Wright's first foray into horror is largely a success. We follow a girl as she's able to slip into the mind of someone from the past and essentially experience life through their eyes in her sleep. I love how this movie really takes its time, and isn't afraid to let us get sucked into this world and the glamour of this fantastical situation before it even begins to introduce the true horror lying underneath. But once that happens, this movie gets seriously intense, and there are scenes where I was left with my eyes bulging and my breath caught in my chest at the sheer intensity on display. This movie offers a phenomenal concept with effective execution that has stayed with me long after I've awakened from its trance.


(Pablo Larraín)

This Princess Diana biopic starring Kristen Stewart was more than I honestly expected. I really only saw the film because of Kristen Stewart, and she turns out yet another outstanding performance, and a charismatic and transformative one that possibly stands among her best in a film yet. And as we followed along in a single weekend in the life of Princess Diana, we're taken on a psychological journey that often leaves us feeling just as trapped as our lead does in her own life. Certainly not what I was expecting going in, but I love what this film turned out to be, and it's one that left me feeling inspired by its craftsmanship.


The Green Knight
(David Lowery)

I'll be honest, I really wasn't a big fan of this film immediately. But even so, I found this movie refusing to leave my head afterwards, and it left me pondering its deeper themes and meanings. Almost as if the film presented a puzzle to the viewer, but one that it didn't expect you to completely put all together by the time the credits roll. The pieces are all there though, you just had to toy with it a little, and figure it out on your own. And the more I thought about this film, and started connecting those pieces in my head, the more I grew to love it, and what it was trying to say.

And I especially appreciate how it's not just we the viewer who are left pondering over the greater messages at hand, but the main lead himself, played by Dev Patel, is often asking himself these same questions, almost as if we're in the same boat as he. But in the end, I loved this movie's message, and feel it's an important one, especially in these more dire times we live in. At its core, it's about honor, and living true to your word. And it's about the dark path that leads should you decide instead to live your life in fear and shame. And I think there's something profound in these themes and how they're explored all throughout this film.


Zack Snyder's Justice League
(Zack Snyder)

As someone who was campaigning for the Snyder Cut since before #ReleaseTheSnyderCut was even a movement yet, words cannot truly express just how thrilled I am that this film actually got released. And sure enough, the difference between this film and the theatrical version from 2017 are night and day. In fact, it's almost incredible just how severely different the two cuts of the movie are, despite telling more or less the exact same story. And it's baffling to ever think that anyone thought it was a good idea to release the Joss Whedon cut of the film in theaters at all, especially given that they had this magnificent monster of a movie available for them to put out there instead.

Simply put, Zack Snyder's Justice League is god damn cinema. A grand sweeping epic of a motion picture, and essentially DC's equivalent to a Lord of the Rings film. Why anyone would ever want to shelve this beautiful picture is anyone's guess, especially when the version they originally threw out there is just forgettable, throw-away nonsense in comparison. This version has a certain gravitas that's totally absent in the other cut, and as such, this story and these characters truly feel larger than life on the screen. Granted, I wish I could say the big screen, but sadly, this one wasn't released theatrically, though I would love to see this film on a huge IMAX screen one day, as it was clearly intended.

And at four hours in length, this film is an absolute breeze, and doesn't feel a second longer than three hours, so I would definitely include it along the likes of Interstellar and Blue is the Warmest Color as one of the champions of pacing in longer films.

I love that this film finally got released. And I love even more that it not only met the hype, it far exceeded it. It's an all around outstanding film, and certainly one of the very best that the genre has ever seen.


Raya and the Last Dragon
(Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada)

I not only feel this is the best of the year, I'd also easily consider it the most underrated movie of the year at that, because this movie that was otherwise met with a collective "meh" from everyone else just completely and absolutely floored me.

I actually started writing a full review for this movie shortly after it released, but I was never quite able to get all of my thoughts on it written down, as just my notes for the review alone was becoming even longer than some of the bigger reviews from the past. But I just have so many feelings about this movie, which I'll only be able to briefly cover in this short write up, but feelings which really started after I was driving home after my first viewing, and I found myself struggling to hold back tears just thinking about it. I've since seen the movie two more times in the theater, and in those subsequent viewings, I totally failed at being able to hold back those tears while I watched.

I was just so touched by its message of bringing society together. Of being able to find it within yourself to open up and trust one another again. And even at the admitted naivety of such a concept, as shown throughout the movie. But even so, without that human connection, and without that trust, all that lies ahead is dark times for everyone. And I think it was a telling choice to cast Kelly Marie Tran in the title role, who not only did an outstanding job bringing Raya to life with her voice work, but who can also seemingly relate to such a journey as Raya is traveling, having endured a campaign of harassment after her portrayal in some of the newer Star Wars films. So someone like her would absolutely have every reason to cut people off and keep her head down. Yet here she is putting out a message to do the opposite, and to find it within you to be able to reach out and connect with people again, all without even remotely diminishing just how hard that may be for some.

But even beyond its messaging, I loved this vibrant world that was presented to us, and I loved the unique take on the dragons in general as well. In stark contrast to something like How to Train Your Dragon, in which the dragons there are basically flying cat lizards, here, dragons are closer to something like a fluffy water dog, which I thought was an interesting change from what we usually see, and also added to the naive appeal of our last dragon in question, Sisu.

All in all, I thought this was a beautiful movie that told a beautiful story, and put out a message that I feel the world absolutely needs to hear right now. But while I might personally struggle with the idea that that message will actually connect with the people of the present generation, I also keep in mind that these Disney animated films are primarily targeted at kids, who may well latch onto such a positive message and keep that with them as they grow up into this messed up world that we've all found ourselves in. Maybe. It's a nice thought at least, and one that maybe gives me a little bit of hope for the world of tomorrow.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Alignment Podcast Interview

Check out my recent appearance on the Alignment Podcast, hosted by Thomas Curry and Suzette Sanchez-Martinez. We discuss some of my films and other filmmaking experiences, as well as our thoughts on our favorite directors and favorite films. Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2021

For Your Consideration: Babymetal - Legend Metal Galaxy

So at the end of last year, after I had posted my Top 10 Movies of 2020 list, I started paying attention to other people's lists as they started going up. And one thing that I kept noticing was that a number of people were including Hamilton in their lists. And I found this a bit odd, seeing how Hamilton is quite literally not actually a movie, but in fact a recording of a stage production performance, which is an entirely different medium completely. Now, I understand that a lot of films didn't get released last year, so I suppose I can see why some might be making an exception in order to include it in their lists for last year, and hey, if I had chosen to include it, then it would have easily topped out my own list as well.

But now I see that Hamilton's acceptance as a movie has moved beyond just being included in end of year "best of" lists, and is now actually being taken in consideration for film awards, even being nominated in a number of categories already for this year's Golden Globes. And yeah, this is certainly an odd turn of events, but it's one that's got me thinking, if Hamilton can be accepted as a movie, then, why not a Babymetal concert? And so, with that all said, I now present my case for why I think Babymetal's production of Legend Metal Galaxy, which was performed and recorded in January 2020 and formally released in September 2020, should similarly be taken under consideration as one of the best films of 2020.

Now, you might argue that one is a concert, and the other a play. But to that I say, the two honestly have a lot more in common than you might think, which I'll be tackling on a point by point basis. But first, let's start out with the plot. And yes, despite being a concert, Babymetal's shows oftentimes include storyline elements which carry over from show to show, and this one was no different. While Hamilton may follow the story of the title character's life and his involvement in the Revolutionary War and the subsequent development of the American government, Legend Metal Galaxy sets us off on an adventure as we follow Babymetal on their journey traveling the Metal Galaxy in order to acquire both the light force and the dark force and ultimately become The One.

The two shows are even split up into two distinct halves, with the first half of Hamilton focusing on the Revolutionary War aspect, and the second half with his governmental duties, while Babymetal's show is in fact split into two different nights, where the first night saw them exploring the light side of the Metal Galaxy, and night two the dark side. So already we can see the similarities from a narrative perspective between these two wildly different shows.

But even beyond the story, the two shows also present an expanded and revolving cast of characters. In Hamilton, we meet a great many number of historical figures that he encounters along the way. But one of the things I love about Babymetal is that, over the years, the cast of characters in their own storyline has continued to expand, and they're on full display in Legend Metal Galaxy. In addition to our stars Su-metal and Moametal, they've brought along on this latest journey their three rotating backup dancers, the Avengers, their live backing bands the Kami Band and their newly introduced counterparts, the Gods of the West, a surprise return of the Babybones, and guest pre-recorded appearances by F. Hero and the "Winterland Metal Warrior" Joakim Brodén.

But speaking of the pre-recorded aspect of those last two, one other element to the Hamilton release that I've seen some people argue should qualify it as a movie is the fact that it also includes rehearsal footage edited in to help give it a more cinematic feel and offer angles that they wouldn't otherwise be able to capture while filming in front of a live audience. Well, Legend Metal Galaxy also includes this element, and not just with the performances from Joakim and F. Hero. The backing visuals quite often feature pre-recorded elements as well, such as when we see Su-metal commanding the audience with her eyes and her fingers during Distortion, and that's not to mention Future Metal, which is an entirely pre-recorded opening to the whole show.

And then there's of course the obvious comparison, that being that they're both musicals. Su-metal herself has mentioned how she views Babymetal as an ongoing musical, and watching their shows which often feel more like stage productions certainly gives off the feel more in line with watching a musical as opposed to a typical concert. And while the story in Legend Metal Galaxy plays out almost entirely through song from start to finish, Hamilton is in fact quite similar in that regard, as it's one of those musicals which is start to finish non-stop music, as opposed to one that sees them playing the story straight until the action stops for a quick musical number. So Hamilton itself has quite a bit of a concert feel in how it plays out as well, similar to how Babymetal's show has a musical feel to itself.

(And if I can add an aside, let me just say that, as a writer myself, watching Hamilton was almost overwhelming from a writer's perspective, as my mind was simply blown away that they managed to pull off a near three hour long non-stop lyrical musical that covers such complex topic matter in a manner that flows so smoothly while managing to be so easy to follow along!)

And as I mentioned with Babymetal's shows often feeling like stage productions, this much is quite evident in their unique stage set-ups, which often feature moving pieces that come into play in different ways throughout the show. On this occasion, they were going with a bit of a combination of their space ship design from earlier in 2019, as well as their giant triangular design they had used during their bigger Japan shows in the fall of 2019, resulting in a massive triangular ship stage that would at times move into the audience area and back again, and featured platforms that would also elevate into the air to different effect given the song. But we also saw similar with Hamilton, which also had quite a number of moving pieces in their own stage design, including a circular floor that would spin around with the actors on it to genius, almost cinematic effect at times.

For Your Consideration:
Best Production Design

So you see, Babymetal's Legend Metal Galaxy has quite a bit in common with Hamilton from a production standpoint. But then, how does Legend Metal Galaxy compare from a place of quality? Well, for me at least, while I said that if we were to count Hamilton as a movie, it would've easily topped out my list, if we were to then also include Legend Metal Galaxy as a movie, then it would easily take the top spot over even Hamilton at that.

The show is simply outstanding, one of the best shows that Babymetal has ever put on, and features not only a number of debuts for some of their newer songs, but also a number of the best performances we've seen yet for even some of their older classics. But to start off looking at Day 1, the light side, we saw three new songs being performed for the first time ever, and I'd say that these debuts were easily among the night's highlights, with Oh! Majinai being the biggest standout of the bunch. It's just such a wild and fantastically boisterous performance, and the choreography is so infectiously fun that it's impossible not to smile while watching it.

Pictured above: Basically the same thing!

But then we see a little later on with Brand New Day as they add a real atmospheric aesthetic to things, and put on a performance unlike any other we've ever seen out of them before, cast in silhouette while the massive screen being them plays to the mood of the song with images of the sun and rain.

The Kami Band was also given free reign to play around a little bit with their sound, as we saw with the classic Gimme Chocolate, which was performed in a unique manner compared to how it's usually played, and which helped freshen it up and make it feel just as new as the songs we were hearing for the first time. And to add to that freshened up feeling, they even brought back the original Japanese version of The One, as opposed to the English version with the Unfinished opening, as we had become accustomed to seeing for the past number of years now. And I gotta say, seeing this back-to-basics version of the song being performed again for the first time in such a long time almost felt like seeing an old friend for the first time in forever, and definitely left a warm feeling in my heart.

Top off the night with an epic performance of Road of Resistance, in which the Gods of the West joined the Kami Band on stage, and all three Avengers stood behind Babymetal on stage, as Su-metal stood in the front looking like the true leader of a fully coherent team that had come together to win this fight and win this night and fully acquire the forces of light, and yeah, the first half of this show ended things off in a wholly satisfying manner.

Key figures through American history;
And key figures through time and space,
for lightyears to come.

And yet, the best was still to come.

Day 2 saw our girls now traversing the dark side of the Metal Galaxy, and featured some of the most appropriately dark and atmospheric performances of that batch of songs that we've seen yet. It was the Gods of the West performing the instrumentals on this night, and they were clearly given the go-ahead to let loose and do their thing just as the Kami Band was the night prior, which helped make for some of the best performances we've seen yet if purely from an instrumental standpoint, with key highlights in this regard being seen in Syncopation, Headbanger, and Karate. And while only one new song was debuted on this night as opposed to the previous day's three, it was a hell of a debut, as they tore the house down with BxMxC, in what was only the start of one of the greatest stretches of back-to-back songs we've seen in any of their sets, as they moved on to Syncopation next, and then followed up with the best performance of the whole two night event with Headbanger.

For Your Consideration:
Best Cinematography

Their performance of Headbanger on this evening was just something else entirely, and isn't just the best performance of the show, but also ranks among the best ever that the band's put on, and one that certainly belongs in the same conversation as Ijime, Dame, Zettai from Sonisphere and Road of Resistance from Legend 2015. Like, it's one of those performances where every time it comes on, you just sort of brace yourself for what you're about to experience, and I'm just left shaking my head at what they accomplish here, getting the whole massive audience involved in their bowing to Su-metal as they build and build and build the atmosphere. And you can hear the motivated enthusiasm of the audience's roaring response as the song continues and they chant along, and by the end of it, I can't help but let out a satisfied breath of air. Like, I don't smoke, but even I need a damn cigarette after watching that performance!

Follow this up with the first and to date only time they've ever performed the Trilogy of Lights (Starlight, Shine, and Arkadia) together and in album order, all leading to what's come to be quite possibly my favorite Babymetal song yet with Arkadia, in its own best performance to date yet. They managed to pull off here what they didn't quite capture entirely with their performance of this song at The Forum, and put on an epic spectacle that brings me to tears literally every single time.

I don't usually rate movies,
but I'd say this show is an easy five stars!

But we're not finished yet, as now that Babymetal has achieved their goal of acquiring both the light force and the dark force, they all come back out one last time along with all the Avengers and both of their Kami Bands in order to truly become The One, in a surprise performance of Ijime, Dame, Zettai, being performed for the first time in over two years. And by the end of it, you can see the gleeful look of satisfaction on Su-metal's face, after having successfully pulled off one of their best and most ambitious shows to date, and one that I've gone back and revisited many many times already in order to relive this emotional journey through the vast Metal Galaxy and all it has to offer.

So, from a quality standpoint, does it compare? I mean, do I really need to say any more? So then, with that all said, I'd like to think that I've made a compelling enough argument for why I feel that Babymetal - Legend Metal Galaxy should be taken into consideration for 2020's movie awards season. At least, so long as we're counting Hamilton, despite being from a different medium, I think Legend Metal Galaxy absolutely deserves to be taken at least as seriously, and I'll readily defend that position.