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Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018)
This is a troublesome little film.
There are some things I enjoyed while watching it, which I'll address first.
The main character Sierra is an intelligent but unpopular girl, a bit chubby but not too concerned about her looks or her status in school. I liked how Sierra is shown as standing up for herself from the beginning, how she obviously feels the pressure of conforming with the more popular girls but makes up for it with wit. She is not the classic "loser" that we know from other films, that can only ever be happy when ascending to a more popular or attractive state. I think there need to be more portrayals of "losers" like Sierra, because, let's be real, you don't need to be the most popular or beautiful person in school to find some friends and do your thing.
I also liked how Veronica is initially portrayed as the classic mean girl but soon turns out to be a sensitive girl with her own troubles and insecurities. I loved that these two characters become friends over something that was initially meant as an insult to Sierra, a prank. I could see how a friendship between Sierra and Veronica would help both of them and even out the strengths and weaknesses between the two of them. But sadly this did not happen.
While Veronica does turn out to be a good friend, Sierra does one terrible thing after another. She continuously lies to the boy she likes, she asks Veronica to play along with ridiculous staged dates (that can only be uncomfortable for her) and when the boy, Jamey, kisses Veronica, Sierra immediately humiliates her in front of a huge audience.
I hated the whole thing, really. I think the film portrays the act of pretending to be someone else to make another person like you better as a harmless technique to "get the boy" (or girl). But it is not. Think of the damage this could do if people used it with more malicious motives. Think of what sort of things happen to unsuspecting people (often children) over the Internet nowadays.
If the whole affair of catfishing had been addressed appropriately and Sierra had felt at least some repercussions for her actions I might have been on board with this film.
But that Jamey and Veronica forgive Sierra just like that, is not only lazy storytelling but also unbelievably unrealistic.
I don't know what the writers wanted to achieve with this ending other than insulting the intelligence of their audience.
Akatsuki no Yona (2014)
A solid start
Akatsuki no Yona is a story about a princess who is on a journey to reclaim her kingdom. To do that she needs to reunite the legendary four dragons and do something about poverty and crime spreading through her country.
She also has to deal with her throne usurping cousin, who, as an antagonist, is an intriguingly complex character. Yona herself initially comes across as very sweet but boring, which is one reason why I was a bit reluctant to continue this at first. The other characters, who join her as the story progresses, are much more entertaining than Yona. BUT: this show does not employ an ever repeating formula with no character growth and a never changing status quo. Yona does grow and changes as she realises that she has lived a sheltered life, which made her ignorant of the troubles that she now faces. And as she slowly gains this realisation she starts to do something about it and works on herself. Which is honestly so damn enjoyable to watch and excuses the rather slow progress the show makes in the first season.
As it is now, the story has only just begun and the first season only collects all the main characters, which does for a sometimes uneven pace. This is one reason why I'd say that this isn't a perfect anime. Another reason is the animation. I personally find it somewhat lacking, the fight sequences especially are rather mediocre. The soundtrack is fine and so is the art style, but a more dynamic animation would have made this so much better, given what a suspenseful material it is trying to illustrate.
There is so much potential though and as the manga readers know, this is going places! So I truly hope that Yona gets a second season.