John and I go to so many cons that its easy to track the newest and most popular shows, because anyone who cosplays will tell you: that's a labor of love you reserve for the very best. So if I see a sudden tidal wave of characters from something I don't know, then heck yeah, I'm gonna check it out.
Plus then I get to call it "research."
[Me, in my 6th hour of watching anime: "I'M WORKING, JOHN."]
Cosplay is how I first discovered (and fell in love with) Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, My Hero Academia, and getting to the point of this post, Critical Role. [insert Mercer's eyebrow lift here]
I first started watching Campaign 2 of Critical Role last August, I think?, and I've JUST NOW caught up. This is a fandom that demands massive amounts of your time, but pays off in so much heart, laughter, and even occasional tears.
Hang on, I should probably back up and tell you what it is.
Critical Role is a web show/podcast where "a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons." It's led and DM'd by Matt Mercer, who my fellow Overwatch players know as the voice of McCree.
The 4-hour (sometimes longer!) show is live streamed on Twitch and YouTube every Thursday night, and Campaign 2 is currently up to Episode 48. That's over 192 hours of content - and their last campaign had 115 episodes. Yeah. Wowza.
Now, if that description sounds less than compelling, believe me, I understand. I actually started listening to the show as a way to help me fall asleep at night, ha. After a few weeks something terrible happened, though: it got so interesting I couldn't fall asleep. Then I realized I needed to WATCH these people, not just listen to them, because they often make jokes and react to things the others are doing, rather than saying. And since they're all pro voice actors who drop in and out of their character voices, there were times I couldn't tell who the heck was talking.
Once I was actually watching the show, I realized I had to watch all the announcements, too, because they were so funny. Then I had to start reading the comments (breaking the first rule of the internet, I know) for all the fan theories and in-jokes. Then I had to watch all the fan art at the end, because it was gorgeous and often illustrated parts of the previous show.
So yeah, a few months in, and I was a fully fledged Critter. (We even get a cool fan name!)
Now I'm converting the cats.
Again, this is a fandom that asks a lot, and the pay-off (at least for me) can be a slow burn. Even now I find the show drags sometimes, but then it will sneak up and sucker punch me with an amazing twist, or a sweet back story, or a heist-gone-wrong. Plus you can't spend this much time with 7* people without feeling like you know them, and sitting in their virtual circle (...triangle?) feels like hanging out with friends. (*Technically there are 8 in the cast, but Ashley isn't there much.)
For most of Campaign 2 the show had this hilariously groovy 70s themed intro. There's a new animated intro now, but it has major story spoilers, so stay away if you're not caught up!
There are two married couples in the cast: Matt & Marisha (Marisha is on the right in that pic) and Laura & Travis (middle). A lot of fans like to joke that Sam & Liam are married, too, because their bro-mance is real and adorable and often the most hysterical part of the show:
Liam's and Sam's characters are actually a couple in the show, but not in a romantic way. Sam plays a tiny goblin girl, and Liam is a... well... hobo wizard. I won't spoil anything, but their dynamic remains the best, purest, most heart-warming story arc in CR, and I can't wait to see where it goes.
I won't go into the other characters because there's just too much, and I'd probably accidentally spoil something. There's a little of everything, though: from the mysterious, angst-driven type to the immature joker to the warrior to the snarky hedonist. They also have guest stars sometimes - other voice actors - who honestly keep getting better and better. Oh! And as the DM, Matt plays every other character the team talks to, which has yielded pure GOLD on a number of occasions. (His flirty Dwarven barkeep was a personal favorite.) The best has to be Pumat Sol, a firbolg shopkeeper with three clones, a magical supply shop, and a voice like a tipsy Canadian angel. I'm telling you, PURE. GOLD.
Right, I think I've raved and rambled long enough. SO.... any fellow Critters out there? Have you cosplayed any of your favorite characters? Crafted anything? Started playing D&D? Spill! Tell me in the comments, or share your pics on FB or IG so I can see!
And if you're not a Critter (yet?), I hope you'll give the show a chance! I recommend starting with Campaign 2 like I did; it's a fresh start with everyone playing all new characters, so it doesn't matter if you've seen Campaign 1. You can watch the first episode right here on YouTube. Just a cautionary note for parents and/or anyone listening at work: there are F bombs GALORE, which took me a while to get used to. There are also plenty of crude jokes and characters drawing wangs on everything, so proceed and parent accordingly. :D
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