I don’t know if it’s Trump, the return of Twin Peaks or just the democratisation of cute animal videos thanks to phone cameras and YouTube, but compared to the rest of the world, Japan doesn’t seem so crazy these days. Time was that we in the West were transfixed with whatever the latest insane transmission from the East was: hilariously cruel prank shows, another hyper-violent Takashi Miike film or, for a brief shining period during the early-noughties, a spate of wildly inventive (and invariably quite cheaply made) video games. The likes of God Hand, Katamari Damacy and Earth Defense Force felt of a piece with that reality show competition where tried to cry the most (in volume of tears) within a strict time period, or the career of Beat Takeshi, as viewed through the prism of an entirely different culture on the other side of the world.
Over the past month Nier: Automata has blown me away. A game that on it’s face is one where you hack robots to pieces in various fashion appeals to me, but I didn’t expect to be dragged into one of most interesting and memorable games I’d ever played. A true masterclass in story telling and emotional manipulation, by the time I had killed my way to the “true” ending, it had solidified its position as one of my favourite games of all time.