2020 was a weird one for Magic. With all close proximity interaction being dangerous, one of the most important parts of Magic was lost -- the gathering. Some of us migrated to places like Spelltable for our social fix and others swapped to Arena as a means of filling the time.
Others still made what is arguably a wiser decision and decided to take a break from the game. I was talking recently with a friend of mine who took that path and they told me something that got my gears turning. They told me that they’d actually been able to measure how much time out of their day Magic was taking, and it was honestly more than I expected. This person is by no means a casual player, but they’re nowhere near the level of immersion into the game as I am. Still, it turns out they were spending anywhere from 5-6 hours a day on Magic. Whether it was brewing, playing, reading articles, etc Magic had become a major time sink. So I took a page out of their book and set Magic aside for a bit and honestly…. It felt really good. So I come to you here today with something of a palette cleanser for those who have sunken into the Magic rabbit hole. Below I will provide you with my personal top five pieces of non-Magic related media (in no particular order) to ring in the New Year on a clean note.
5. Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is the greatest video game of all time and I will die on this hill. I played it for the first time in early August last year during a time when everything was kind of falling apart. I was living with my partner and their family for the summer due to covid and I felt almost separated from reality. When I started playing this game it gripped me. The characters felt real, the choices held weight, and the story flowed effortlessly from humor to heartbreak to eldritch. I very fondly and vividly remember crying after finishing the game because I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness that I'd never get to experience for the first time again. I genuinely can’t recommend this game enough.
Comics have always been a sort of haven for me, lore to study and absorb. It was only natural that with my lifelong comics obsession I ended up working at a local comic shop for a few months back in high school. It was a sweet gig. I could read anything I wanted all day as long as it didn’t keep me from the customers. It was during a slow afternoon that Gwenpool issue #1 was quite literally dropped into my lap. My boss had thrown it at me and said, “Hey check it out, she’s basically you.” From the second I opened those pages my life was never the same. Gwenpool is a love letter to comics and comics nerds everywhere. It’s a series full of emotion, action, and humor. Gwenpool genuinely has influenced my life more than almost any other piece of writing, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
3. The Night is Long, Walk on Girl
So there’s this animation studio, Science Saru, that as far as I’m concerned is the next Studio Ghibli. The Night is Long, Walk on Girl is one of only two movies they’ve released so far and holy hell is it a treat. It tells a whimsical story that manages to stay grounded and feel real despite its fantastical elements. The closest comparison would be to stories such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. It’s a beautifully animated pseudo fairy tale that I haven’t really seen anything like it before. It’s the perfect movie for a cold night in with those you love or even something to just kick back and vibe with. Everything from the soundtrack to the visuals combine to create an experience that needs to be seen first hand.
2. Alice in Borderland
I watched Alice in Borderland on a call with friends and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in quarantine. It’s the kind of episodic show where having a group to watch with will enhance it tenfold. Alice is sort of like Saw if Saw had incredible character writing, a unique aesthetic, and an actually gripping story. I don’t want to go too in-depth here as it’s hard to say much about the series beyond this without spoiling it, but I promise you it is an incredible piece of media and well worth the time. It’s only 8 episodes long atm and season two is in development.
1.The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter
I first picked up The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter at a train station in my hometown. There’s a small book carousel where people can put books they don’t need so that readers can grab something for the train. Its classic fantasy art cover stood out from the usual stock of self-help and parenting books, so I picked it up. I started it then and there and was fully absorbed. The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter is the most grounded piece of fantasy I’ve ever read. It’s realistically human, featuring believable and relatable characters, yet still features classic fantasy elements. The whole book is an emotional ride, making me feel more than any other piece of fiction since. I went from laughter to tears within minutes. Every chapter is a perfectly crafted bite of the story that urges you to keep going, to see where it all ends. I love this book, and if you haven’t read it or even heard of it, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Well, that’s all for this month folks. Sorry for the delay, life’s been a bit hectic. Regular article timing and subject matter should resume next month. What’s your favorite piece of non-Magic media? Let me know in the comments below, You can also find me on Twitter @East2Westmtg or email me at East2westmtg@gmail.com.
As always I’ve been East2West, your resident radical reader and part-time planeswalker. I’ll see you guys on the battlefield.