That's right, folks! Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, AKA When They Cry is back! Going by likes that have trickled in over the months since I wrapped up the first season, it looks like this was one of the more popular TV show I've covered so it makes sense to circle back to it with October right around the corner. But instead of diving straight into season 2--When They Cry: Kai--Wikipedia convinced me I should watch Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Nekogoroshi-hen, a special that takes place between seasons 1 and 2, also known as Cat Killing Chapter. But don't let the name make you worry! This isn't a retread of Revolutionary Girl Utena episode 10, so not actual animals were harmed in the episode. And really, no one died outside of flashbacks from years ago, so this is one of the more peaceful episodes of the series, in a weird way.
A lot of What If...? comic stories are total downers. A bunch of real bummer buzzkills, bro! But why can't everything just be chill for once? Sometimes it's just nice to have an alternate reality that doesn't harsh my vibe. I'm running out of incredibly dated slang, but the gist is that "What If Thor Was an Only Child?" is essentially a frat bro comedy about Earth's biggest party ever, and the party poopers who are ready to nuke the site from orbit.
You would kind of think that "What If Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?" would be one of the first episodes of the series, since the first full trailer for the show opened with that moment. But nope! The episode that effectively nullifies the entire MCU comes two-thirds of the way through the first season. Not that I'm complaining, as the first 5 episodes have some really solid entries. But I just really wanted to see more Killmonger, you know?
Breaking the tradition of the last two What If...? posts, this is not my newest favorite episode of the series. By process of elimination I think it's actually my least favorite? But that's not the same as "the worst"--just "my fifth favorite out of five episodes." This wasn't too much of a surprise, as episode 5, "What If Zombies?!" goes all in on the reanimated dead, and I'm typically lukewarm towards zombies. And for reference, Otto; or, Up with Dead People gets a pass on how gay it is and because it came out before zombies oversaturated the media landscape.
A lot of people were prepared for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to underperform. Beyond the chuds who predict any film not starring a white male will fail, we're still in the middle of a pandemic and theaters--enclosed spaces where you and up to a hundred strangers sit for hours, sharing the same air--aren't as popular as they used to be. But the naysayers can suck it! In addition to having a pretty good opening overall, Shang-Chi is now the highest grossing Labor Day opening weekend box office, earning over triple the previous top film, 2007's Halloween. Hell yeah!
I know I said that last week's episode, “What If the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” was my new favorite episode of What If...?, but that's no longer the case. "What If Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?" continues the series' fine tradition of clunky episode titles, but it delivers a compelling tale of love and loss that also actually involves the Watcher! You know, the omniscient narrator of the whole thing? He gets to actually do something! Kind of.
In the comics, What If? stories don't typically have happy endings. Sure, there are exceptions like "What If the Thing Had Continued to Mutate?" (What If? #37, 1983) where Ben Grimm ends the story back in his human body and his girlfriend regained her ability to see. But in that same issue, "What If the Beast Had Truly Become a Beast?" sees Hank McCoy get dropped off in the Savage Land--a jungle filled with dinosaurs--because he had lost all of his intelligence and humanity. The first two episodes of What If...? definitely had their sad moments, but things generally worked out better than in the MCU. Peggy Carter had the training to better foil Hydra, and T'Challa had the charisma to change the universe. But then we have this episode, "What If the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?" which is a murder mystery. The victims? Just about every Avenger. Better grab a flashlight, 'cause it's about to get real dark!
Death is an inevitable part of life. We all ultimately die, and once you're dead there will be a collection of "the lasts" left behind: the last conversation you had with someone; the last meal you had; and for actors, the last project they worked on. In honor of the life of Mr. Stan Lee, comic writer and creator of too many characters to name here, Captain Marvel opened not with the normal Marvel logo, but a memorial montage of him. And then there's Chadwick Boseman, star of Black Panther who died one year ago of cancer. While Ma Rainey's Black Bottom might technically be the last project he worked on, What If...? is the last media he was in to be released, and this is the MCU's chance to memorialize him and the amazing work he did. Bit of a downer intro, huh? Well all that hangs over "What If T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?" making it a space heist comedy with a background aura of sadness.
A few weeks have passed since Loki wrapped up, so it's about time for a new Disney+ Marvel Cinematic Universe show! But the formula is getting changed up a bit; instead of a series that overtly builds up to another show or movie (like WandaVision setting up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), What If...? is Marvel's version of The Twilight Zone. Taking its premise from the comic series of the same name, What If...? does exactly what its title suggests, asking what if the characters and events you know deviated from what was "supposed" to happen? In this particular case, "What If Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?"
Starting this post off with a little PSA: We live in the age of immediate spoilers, and whether you like it or not, we sort of have to adjust to that. Back when Marvel Comics killed off Captain America, they infamously told news outlets before comic stores even opened to sell that particular comic. But don't actively tag people in spoilers before you know that they've seen the media in question. As you can probably tell, I went into the season finale of Loki's first season knowing that my theory from episode 5 was wrong. So let's see how things shaped up in the last episode of Loki... or is it? Let's dive into "For All Time. Always."