Creative Commons license icon

opinion

Death's Door - Turns out death is actually a great adventure

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (10 votes)

DeathsDoor.jpgDeath’s Door is a game where you play as a crow who has been tasked with reaping a soul. However, things become complicated as someone rips one of your assigned souls from your grasp. This leaves you on a quest to hunt down some monstrous beings who are doing everything they can to stall their egress from the world of the living.

Gameplay-wise it has the exploration and dungeon crawling elements of a Zelda game. However, the large boss fights are punishing and far more difficult than the Nintendo faire. They seem closer to Dark Souls boss fights in terms scale— but not quite as brutal, a nice moderate difficulty.

I honestly hope this one wins the Ursa Major award for gaming in 2021.

Usually, I don’t have a horse in these races, as most of the games I get an opportunity to play are in a backlog from prior years. Luckily, as a furry, I don’t ever feel compelled to keep up with the Joneses of the world and consume the latest titles. Instead I play anthro games as my audience votes on which one they would like to see me play. So it is rare that I get to play a game in the year it came out.

This treat of a game was published in July of this year, developed by Acid Nerve and published by Devolver Digital. It is available on PC and XBox consoles. And this October the voters decided this would be a good game to play. You know, death is spooky. However, the game is not of the horror genre.

A new sort of animal: 'Lady into Fox', by David Garnett

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (15 votes)

I don't feel the need to justify bringing up David "Bunny" Garnett's 1922 short novel Lady into Fox in a furry context. As the title suggests, the story involves a lady who turns into a fox. Technically, it is not a story about an anthropomorphic animal, and is in fact about the direct opposite of that, a zoomorphic human. Of course, this is a nitpick. I doubt anyone cares.

Sylvia Tebrick as a fox merrily chasing ducks in a cute little dress, from Lady into Fox

On the point of genre, however, there is one area where I would like to make a rather more controversial "take" on the subject matter. Though the novel was a bit unclassifiable when it was first introduced, with H.G. Wells (an author known for his use of anthropomorphic animals) praising it as "a new creation, a new sort of animal, let us say, suddenly running about in the world," a phrase that I imagine had him enthusiastically punching the air at his own cleverness.

More modern takes tend to classify it as a "contemporary fantasy". However, I find it to be entirely different: it seems nothing more (or less) than a tale of the supernatural; a ghost story whose 'ghost' merely requires a few scare quotes - or, put another way, a horror story.

Streaming review: 'My Little Pony: A New Generation'

Your rating: None Average: 3.1 (14 votes)

'My Little Pony: A New Generation' movie poster And so it begins. Again.

The long running My Little Pony is introducing its latest toyline "generation" with what was supposed to be a theatrical movie. Due to the whole "ongoing pandemic" thing, that was mostly canceled (it was released theatrically in a few regions) and the whole thing moved to the streaming service Netflix, where any further spin-offs will also be held. My Little Pony: A New Generation is directed by Robert Cullen and José Luis Ucha with co-director Mark Fattibene, and has been available on Netflix since September 24 in most regions.

Not to beat around the bush, but the last time My Little Pony launched, it was kind of a thing. I'm sure the vast majority of Flayrah's readership is well aware of the "brony" subculture, but if you somehow missed it, or would just like a refresher, this Ursa Major-nominated video by YouTuber Jenny Nicholson is recommended – though you could always troll through Flayrah's "My Little Pony" tag. The upshot: there are higher expectations attached to this series relaunch than usual.

Culturally F'd enters The Bone Zone

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (14 votes)

Meet Rattles: Lives in bones, eats bad movies, pukes acid, vulture.The Bone Zone.

Our new Vulturally F'd host Rattles has a unique appetite. He eats terrible movies, looking for that juicy, so-bad-it's-good fermentation of cheesy old cinema. The lair he calls home is the Bone Zone, a hollowed-out corpse of a once mighty beast, nesting in an old video rental store.

With nothing but an old TV to keep him company, he shares his favourite meals with you, and warns you to steer clear of certain buffet items strewn about the floor of his cave. In proper Culturally F'd fashion, all the films Rattles will be reviewing feature anthropomorphic characters at their core. (Show trailer)

Of Lindsay Lohan, Canine Cartels, and NFTs

Your rating: None Average: 3.1 (8 votes)

Lindsay Lohan's Fursona Celebrities, gang references, and questionable measures of affluence are not the typical fare for a furry fandom news site. However, this trifecta from the underworld rose from the earth on the 30th of September in the year of 2021.

It all started when a celebrity known as Lindsay Lohan made a tweet prompting a pack of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called the Canine Cartel, using a dog character designed for her which is being put within this 10,000 token pack. With each of the individual tokens being put up for auction, including her own.

Reception by the fandom has mostly been negative. Some pointing out the lack of ears on the character's art, some showing agitation on having anthro characters being used to promote NFTs, others indicating that this was just a celebrity doing some arms-reach appreciation of the fandom while avoiding actually working with those in the fandom.

Today we’ll go over this event, furries' relationship with NFTs and crypto, and why this event may not be as furry as people in the fandom and media are making it out to be.

What does justice mean among furries? An unauthorized account of Megaplex, VancouFur, and Samuel Conway

Your rating: None Average: 2 (31 votes)

It can feel a kind of madness when the memory of the world has moved on without you and you are left unsmothered. It is not madness, however. The feeling is called injustice, and what I aim to show in this account of events, beginning in May of 2020 and ending with Megaplex of 2021, is that this injustice is a cultural issue in furry, produced from west coast to east by figures as disparate as Samuel Conway, the Megaplex convention board, and the British Columbia Anthropomorphic Events Association (BCAEA). I take these as case studies because they involve prolific figures, because they are current, or—with the BCAEA—because they are well-known to me even if they are not well known in general.

I could have chosen other case studies. There’s no scarcity of them—every few months there is a new bad story about a furry-run community group, a fursuit maker, a popular furry personality, or, most recently, a furry convention. This account, in its intention, is both to attempt a brief history of furry spaces since May of 2020 and to explain them as a part of a larger, overarching, and cultural issue. I do this in part because when there is a bad story every few months—one which often involves trauma of some kind—and numerous smaller pains arrive in the weeks in between, it can feel as though you have walked into a numbing fog.

The details become fuzzy and their dates more distant in memory, although they may have only happened months or weeks ago. For others, however, those bad stories aren’t just stories—they are real things that happened to a person and the numbing fog is not always so kind to them. It can feel a kind of madness, and historicizing them, putting them into context and connecting them with other, similar events, is my choice of remedy.

I grew up a nerdy theatre kid who wanted to be a punk. It taught me that I loathe the spotlight (I was compelled by an editor to add this section on myself). I get stage fright, with only the shakiest of legs, and, while I have an excellent memory—as this account may demonstrate—my perpetually flat affect made me unsuitable for serious acting. After that, I turned to writing, first stage plays, then later and with much more enjoyment, fanfiction. Furry as a subculture was a short leap away. While doing what amounts to queer/feminist studies at university, I joined a small poetry community on FurAffinity in 2016, and, unexpectedly, encountered a few poets who were upset whenever my poems mentioned punching Nazis.

My furry experience has continued in that general fashion ever since.

An independent and alternative review of the new FFA convention

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (39 votes)

As I've been browsing Twitter recently, scrolling through various news about the fandom, I came across this QRT (quote retweet for the less savvy) talking about a new con and how it was going to fail right out of the gate. Being the curious investigator I am, I decided to look at the original post from an organization calling themselves AWOO or Anthro West Open Organization. From what I saw, I was saddened by the number of my fellow furs calling for death to the con, or wish harm to those that would hold it, especially since we used to be such a loving fandom. I kept reading more into the reasons why people both hated, and loved this con or the idea of it (whichever it is, we'll know for certain soon enough).

Turbulence in Tulsa as ousted Tails and Tornadoes president starts new convention in same hotel

Your rating: None Average: 3 (19 votes)

Free Fur All convention logoIn Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tails and Tornadoes is a young convention that's been running in the Central U.S. state since 2019. Its premiere year was reviewed here on Flayrah by one-time contributor Koori Kitty. Like the weather system it was named after, the con has subsequently found itself in a whirlwind that's rattled its organization.

The first shakeup was one that affected most gatherings, in that its second year was unable to be held in 2020 due to COVID-19 closures. But on top of this, the same year brought in political fallout from the final year of Trump's presidency. Riots in the American Midwest soon spurred worldwide protests following the murder of George Floyd by a law enforcement officer, where the unarmed black man was strangled by a knee to his neck that was held there for over eight minutes. The entire duration of the strangulation was recorded on a smartphone and shared over the Internet.

The United States government, under the leadership it held, decided to go against the advisability of de-escalation in these matters and instead responded with hostile rhetoric. Given the shutdown of many non-essential jobs due to the pandemic, this created a perfect storm of vocal protests and rioting towards an unsympathetic system, sentiments that spread far beyond the Midwest where the murder took place.

Update: Correction made about staffing shifts from 2020 to 2021 in Tails and Tornados per Koori.

Update: AWOO has released a statement in their Telegram group that the hotel has withdrawn from their contract.

Megaplex bans registered sex offenders from attending future conventions

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (25 votes)

Megaplex has updated its rules to ban registered sex offenders from attending their convention. This followed a publicly posted Twitter thread from a Megaplex attendee describing how they'd been assaulted by a registered sex offender at the convention, and their subsequent experience of trying to inform the staff.

Although the convention's initial response said they would ban those in the registry, the passive tone used in the opening paragraph of their announcement was not well-received:

We are saddened and sorry to hear that people felt [emphasis added] harassed or worse during the weekend. This is unacceptable and no person attending the convention should be made to feel [emphasis added] this way.

The language then shifted responsibility to victims to be more proactive in informing the con - despite having received an advance conversation before this was announced publicly. Megaplex's poor choice of wording ended up overshadowing the announcement of the ban itself.

'The Suicide Squad' Review

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (8 votes)

thesuicidesquad.jpgFlayrah Mission Control: You have been chosen for your unique abilities to take on a mission of utmost importance. You must describe and evaluate James Gunn's The Suicide Squad for this website's audience of furries.

Okay, I can do that. Fine. I'm not sure if my "abilities" are that unique, though. And since when have we had a "mission control"?

FMC: What are you talking about? We've always been here, monitoring your activities. Waiting for the moment when the world most needs your skillset. Which is right now. Articles about superhero movies with marginal to minor furry elements. Avengers: Infinity Wars. Avengers: Endgame. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. That's the unique skillset we're talking about. Those last two are even by the same director as The Suicide Squad's. So what's the problem?

Furries might enjoy The Suicide Squad, a movie about super-powered criminals being forced to work as a secret government "Task Force X", which features an anthropomorphic shark and a team member who talks to rats (there's also a Weasel, but the less said about him, the better). It's showing in movie theaters now, and is also available to stream with an ad-free subscription to the HBO Max for the next month.

FMC: That's a description. Half the mission is done. But what we need is an evaluation.

But I didn't even like this movie that much. In fact, I liked the universally panned 2016 Suicide Squad more, and I'm not sure I really want to defend that position.

FMC: Sounds like a problem. But it's your problem. Complete the mission. Or we'll totally blow up your head.

So that's it? What? This some kinda ... The Suicide Squad review?

Game review: 'Changed'

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (7 votes)

Changed, originally released in April 2018, is a surprisingly-difficult, action, puzzle game made by DragonSnow with background music composed by Shizi. While not overtly sexual, this game is certainly risqué with plenty of fetish undertones as, instead of deaths, your failures result in your transformation into a latex furry. Since June 2020, buying Changed will also give you access to English version of Changed-Special, the still-unfinished reworking of the original game which contains new rooms, transformations and some updated graphics.

'Later Alligator' - Better reviewed later than never

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (5 votes)

Later Alligator Released on PC 2019, Later Alligator is part visual novel, part mini-game puzzler game with fantastic art direction and characterization. You play as a hired hand trying to help Pat the alligator discover who is trying to off them. You explore this reptilian version of New York City to interview as many of Pat’s relatives as you can. Each unlocks a minigame that you will need to defeat before they will give you clues to what plot is afoot.

Mechanically the game requires multiple playthroughs to find everyone and do everything, and it knows this. In a way it has a repetitive three act structure like Majora’s Mask, where you have to make notes on who you spoke to and who you missed out on. However the gameplay is more like The Neverhood where the animated world you explore is broken up by quick puzzles and minigames.

If you like puzzles and talking with alligators of a very memorable persuasion, then this is the game for you. This title fell under the radar for most furries and even myself, as I think it holds its own against all the games that were nominated for the Ursa Majors in 2019. Of the three titles I played on the list: Untitled Goose Game, Winds of Change, and Blacksad - I think this one was better as it held its charm from start to finish. It was not too short, nor too long.

On the plus side, the Switch version was released this year; we could nominate that for 2021.

Below the fold I’ll discuss the writing, which will go into spoiler territory. If you want to discover the twists for yourself, please do not read further.

'Savage Species': that time Wizards of the Coast called furries a bunch of jackasses

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (7 votes)

Savage Species Onager In the far-off time of 2003, Wizards of the Coast published an expansion to the rules of its popular Advanced Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game known as Savage Species. It’s purpose was to allow players to choose one of the many monsters the game featured as a playable race and still allow them to play with players sticking with one of the Player’s Handbook pre-approved playable races, who were either human or basically humans, just with pointy ears or a shorter build than normal.

The appeal to furries is obvious. The Monster Manual contained various anthropomorphic animal races, including minotaurs, gnolls, kobolds and many others that furries would almost rather certainly play than just vanilla humans and the human adjacent. In addition, tucked into the third appendix of Savage Species was added a new “creature template”, which could be added to existing creatures, specifically animals. That template was known as “anthropomorphic animal.”

Unfortunately, this was the far off time of 2003, and the reputation of the furry fandom among other geek cultures was not good. Wizards of the Coast didn’t mind if furries wanted to buy their expensive add-on books, but they also wanted to make sure to signal to all the other non-furry geeks this wasn’t a furry book and also they didn’t really like furries either. They did this with the selection of the example animal that the template was applied to: a donkey, which we’ve covered the symbolism of elsewhere.

Movie review: 'Space Jam: A New Legacy'

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (7 votes)

spacejamnewlegacylola.jpgThere’s a problem comparing Space Jam: A New Legacy to the original Space Jam. I could say the new movie lives up to old one; but the thing is, despite its popularity over the last quarter century, the verdict of whether or not it’s any good is still very much undecided.

That’s always been a bit of a mystery to me, however, because the original Space Jam is fine. It’s a movie for kids, and I was actually a bit old for it when it first came out, but I remember smaller kids than me absolutely loved it, so instant pass right there. Target audience likes it, you win. I rewatched it last year while binging a bunch of Looney Tunes stuff while in pandemic lockdown. I enjoyed it. Lots of the jokes held up. You’re a comedy. You make me laugh. There’s another instant pass. It’s fine. That’s my mini stealth review of the original Space Jam in my Space Jam: A New Legacy review. So you got two Space Jam reviews for the price of one. You’re welcome.

The movie Space Jam: A New Legacy is about LeBron James (charmingly credited as “Himself”) playing basketball with a bunch of Looney Tunes. It is a mixture of live action, CGI animation and hand drawn animation, directed by Malcolm D. Lee. It is playing in theaters now, or is available to stream until August 15 on HBO Max for those with a subscription to that service. It is also fine.

This is the part of the review where I should say which Space Jam is better, but actually if you get the HBO Max subscription, they also have the original to stream, plus a decent collection of the original shorts, some of the more modern iterations of the property, including the The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, The Looney Tunes Show, New Looney Tunes (a.k.a. Wabbit!), the HBO Max original Looney Tunes Cartoons and even something called Baby Looney Tunes: Musical Adventures – which I don't think shares a common target audience with Flayrah, but if that's your jam, you do you. So I'd recommend doing that.

Movie review: 'A Whisker Away' (2020)

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (14 votes)

A Whisker Away (trailer) is an anime film about a young Japanese teenager who gains the ability to turn into a cat. Released in the summer of 2020, it was written by Mari Okada, directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama, and animated by Studio Colorido. Its original title is Nakitai Watashi wa Neko o Kaburu, which translates to "Wanting to cry, I pretend to be a cat".

The main protagonist is a girl in her early teens, nicknamed Muge. She's madly in love with Hinode, a boy in her class who doesn't appreciate her advances. One night, she encounters a mysterious anthropomorphic feline who offers to sell her a magical mask. With it, Muge can turn into a cat and spend time with Hinode, getting to know him better. As she switches back and forth, she begins to wonder if she'd prefer to be a cat, rather than a human - but doesn't know what it might cost her.