Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Anime Review: Yona of the Dawn

As probably everyone already knows, I have been a huge fan of the Akatsuki no Yona manga for years so I was happy was an anime adaptation was announced, thrilled when I heard it was going to be two cours (since adapting any part of the story into just 13 episodes was going to be a mess), and then shocked when it was picked up by Funimation from the get-go, I guess successes like Kamisama Kiss are making people a little less hesitant about shojo again. So why do I love this show so much? Well, this adaptation does a pretty good job at explaining it!

Yona of the Dawn

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Book Review: Greenglass House

For my final entry in Middle Grade March I return to a familiar author, Kate Milford who also wrote the The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands set of books. As far as I can tell, this book is set in the same world as those two and her novellas (the style of the stories within stories matches up and I haven't seen Milford say it isn't) but this book is standalone so a newcomer can come in easily (or someone like me who really needs to do a massive re-read of this whole collection!).

The Greenglass House by Kate Milford, illustrated by Jamie Zollars

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Webcomic Review: Cucumber Quest

While Cucumber Quest has a fairly large following I'd imagine that Gigi D.G's first comic, the Hiimdaisy (her old pen name) Persona 4 fancomic probably has an even wider name recognition and that's how I first found her work. I really liked that series of comics and was sad that it's unfinished (for the uninitiated, I really like this fandub of the comics) and I'm still surprised by the notoriety of it, I believe that the English dub for the Persona 4 The Arena game even had a reference to one of her jokes in there. So it wasn't a surprise to me that this work is also influenced by classic RPGs, although it might be an even stronger connection than I first thought.

Cucumber Quest by Gigi D.G.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Manga Review: Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches

Sorry for the lateness here again, as I said in my round-up post yesterday I actually did finish writing this on Monday but my late work shift left me too drained to do all of the copy editing. And this is going to be the last of my manga Mondays, the winter anime season ends this week so next Monday I'm diving back into the anime reviews with new shows and comics every other week (well, and manga reviews every week on OASG, at this rate I'm set to review about 70 different comic and manga series this year which is a bit of a terrifying number).

Yamda-kun and the Seven Witches by Miki Yoshikawa

Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekly Round-Up: March 15th-21st

Forgot to do this last night because of work and nope I have not forgotten about my last Manga Monday, I finished it up earlier today but waiting to post until tomorrow to see if I get any grammar corrections on it, it's pretty embarrassing to see what I manage to miss during proof-reading.

So, for last week's Manga Monday I talked about another Crunchyroll Manga, Spirit Circle. It's from the same manga-ka as Hoshi no Samidare: The Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer although I really prefer this series, it's a step up and I really hope it gets a US license.

For webcomics I talked about the just-ended Girls With Slingshots, been reading it for a long time but I don't think I'll tune in for the newly-colored strips very often, gonna use those 30 seconds to try and read some new comics! 

Finally I continue with my March of Middle Grade fiction with Children of the King, a wistful sort of story about World War II, historical fairy tales, and the kind of people children grow up to become. Interested in what else this author has written but it's all MG so I'm tempted but worried that the appeal might wear off if I'm so different from the characters.

Oh and I actually had a chance to catch up with most of my anime this week (both hulu and CR offered me two week "please come back!" memberships aw yeah) and I get quoted towards the very end of the APR list (my rankings this week were: Death Parade, Yona, Shirobako, Maria the Virgin Witch, and then Gundam Build Fighters Try because dammit this season has been missing the first season's lighter episodes and that one made me laugh). We're going into finale week this week so expect anime reviews to resume next Monday!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review: Children of the King

After I read Nightingale's Nest I was wondering if I should go ahead and review a MG book on my blog, even if it was really good, but after I read this book and it was also MG and excellent I felt like I had to. All of these great books make me sad that MG really got big when I was already in high school, just a few years earlier and I wouldn't have felt like I needed to start reading questionable adult science-fiction in middle school! (I would also like to note that I think this is a very pretty cover but I'm sure everyone knows I'm a sucker for illustrated covers)

The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Webcomic Review: Girls With Slingshots

Well this wasn't the original plan but since the comic did end just last week it's perfect timing for me! If you follow the RSS feed the comic is now repeating with it's very earliest strips (but now in color) and holy cow I didn't even remember that the art was so different at first, so if anyone else is looking at the front page for the first time in a while and is confused that would be why, it's not your memory it's actually the comic!

Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Manga Review: Spirit Circle

Funny story, I actually had this post all ready to go last night and completely forgot until 11:30 to actually hit post so I decided to wait until morning. Which means, this post originally appeared on Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses!

This is one of the many manga I first tried out when I was using friends' guest passes on Crunchyroll and frankly my luck for finding good series on there was pretty terrible. Honestly it still is but I'm lad I stumbled across this one, I actually had no idea it was by the same manga-ka as The Biscuit Hammer and after I enjoyed this series so much I was convinced to try The Biscuit Hammer again and I think that one is growing on me too!

Spirit Circle by Satoshi Mizukami

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekly Round-up: March 8th through 14th

Well I've got some late posts again so by way of explanation: currently I'm in this odd situation where I'm doing an unpaid (but potentially career starting) unpaid internship three days a week and a paid (but retail ugh) job another three days a week so my free time has basically vanished, especially during a week like last week where I had a lot of commitments in the evenings. 

Aaaaaand the review that's going up tomorrow here/sometime this week on OASG completely kicked my ass and required 800 words of notes/pre-writing and a week to parse it all together, haven't had a review which made me question my reviewing and writing skills in at least three months and that's always fun. I've also developed a frustrating headache today so I'm going to simply push back my missing book review instead of trying to play catch-up this week and stressing myself up even more.

So, for what I did publish this week, I posted the first of my March of Manga posts both here and on OASG, a Crunchyroll title (they all are) called Orange which is a nice little shojo about romance, time-traveling letters, and slice of life friendship. I did have some friends chatter at me about the title after I posted the review so I found out that the series is ending this year at five volumes (sad but not unexpected given the pacing) and that it's actually sold really well in Japan so this isn't because the author has to cancel the series, yay! I'd love print copies of the series but I'll settle for an online copy at this point.

Also in comics, I reviewed the webcomic As the Crow Flies which is about a queer, black, young teen girl coming of age while dealing with a group that hasn't even realized that they don't understand her yet. It's basically everything people say that comics need these days yet I don't see as many people talking about this title. So go read it, it's still a great read if you aren't a queer, black, young teen girl (saying this as someone whose a different kind of queer anyway).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Webcomic Review: As the Crow Flies

I had completely forgotten until I started writing this review but Gillman was another artist I met briefly at Small Press Expo last year (seriously, if you are in the District/Maryland/Northern Virginia area you need to go to this con) and they laughed a little bit when I said that I thought the story was wrapping up soon. To me it seemed as if the major reveals had been made and we were being set up for a climax with a quick downturn but Gillman said that there's a lot left to this story, I'm hoping now that I haven't jumped the gun and reviewed it too early.

As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman

Monday, March 9, 2015

Manga Review: Orange

As an aside, this review was supposed to go up on OASG first but is going up here first. This only matters since I did read this manga using the press account with Crunchyroll so "a review copy was provided". This won't apply to my other two manga titles this month however, I read both of those thanks to many guest passes from friends!

I went to the Crunchyroll Manga panel at Katsucon a few weeks back (and ran out of the room to take a phone call AND ended up sitting next to some other people from "Anitwitter") where Dancia and Evan spent part of the panel talking about some of the manga they personally liked. Orange was brought up and Danica said something to the effect of "the Japanese editors had no idea people were even reading it overseas since they didn't think it would appeal to anyone else". That made me giggle a bit since a few months earlier I had mentioned in passing that I hadn't read it yet and wanted to I immediately had friends offering me guest passes for the express purpose for reading the series. I am sure that that the editors are completely correct that the overseas fanbase is small but at least it's a dedicated one!

Orange by Ichigo Takano

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Weekly Round-up: March 1st through 7th

Guys when I misspell something in a title, please tell me, I'm terrible at spelling February! (you'd never believe I was born in it)

Moving along, last week was pretty quiet here, I did post a review of the webcomic Galaxion (which I've loved for years, even if I wish it updated a bit more quickly) and I talked about the middle grade novel Nightingale's Nest. I actually didn't have anything going up at OASG this week since I submitted my review a tad later than I planned on but you guys will see what the review was tomorrow anyway.

Anime-wise, I managed to catch up with Durarara!! last week (why are these conflicts so much less entertaining now whyyyyy?) as well as the magical boy show (I've been watching it with a friend), and discovered I was more in the mood for Maria the Virgin Witch than Yatterman Night so I caught up with that instead (I still have a lot of problems with Maria, it has so much trouble creating "big plots" with reasoning and character motivations but it pulls off smaller scale conflicts and ideologies just fine). I've also started making progress in finishing Happiness Charge Pretty Cure so that someday I can start on Go Princess and the plan for this week is to make more progress in catching up with YN (although it sounds like the series has been in a bit of a slump, I'll admit that the rest of the episodes didn't impress me as much as the first one did) and I'm going to start also making slow progress in finishing Space Brothers as well (with no more hulu+ and trouble with the Funimation app I'm just a bit limited in what I can watch during Monday lunches so into the backlog it is!).

Friday, March 6, 2015

Book Review: Nightingale'sNest

As I've said before, I've been waffling over whether or not to continue putting up reviews of middle grade (and adult) books here or if I should try and keep my book reviews more consistent and only talk about YA. That is the majority of what I read but over the past month I requested a number of books which turned out to be MG and they were all rather good too! So I still want to talk about them but these will be shorter reviews, that just tends to happen when it's a shorter work and that's part of the reason why I don't read MG as much, I feel like their shorter length doesn't always develop the story as fully as it could but I thought that the next few books were the perfect lengths.

Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Webcomic Review: Galaxion

This has not been a good week for my review writing but the delay on this post does mean that I heard a very apt quote for it. I was listening to NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast (one of their more recent episodes, a short take on the Scott McCloud Sculptor book and other comics they currently recommend) and they had a great line "but this isn't a place where we dump on things, this is where we recommend things that we like". I've been getting a lot of webcomic review requests lately and haven't taken any of them up yet since that's exactly what it would be, me dumping on an amateur's comic when I'd rather just recommend stuff I like!

Galaxion by Tara Tallan

Monday, March 2, 2015

March of Manga: An Intro

I seem to do this a little differently every year since I began NI but, as I laid out yesterday, this is going to be even more different than usual. Last year I decided not to spend November talking about the scanlated manga I was currently following like I usually did, partially because I instead wanted to focus on what was available legally digitally and, to be perfectly honest, partially because my reading hadn't changed very much from the previous year. Compared to what's currently available in print in the US, digital is still lagging behind a bit and, even with Crunchyroll getting involved in manga, there's still far fewer ways to sample manga than there is anime (short of getting it from a library or being a "manga cow" in a bookstore). But it is getting better every year, within the past year Yen Press said they were moving away from their previous model (which was somehow connected to Square Enix and Windows only, I never heard anyone talk about it) and the publishers are putting out books on multiple different platforms which is of course great.

Since I joined Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses I've been reading a lot of digital manga and I've become even more familiar with Viz Media (Viz Manga) and Crunchyroll's platforms than I was which has been interesting. When I read online I prefer Viz's reader, I like how I can read an entire volume at once without having to constantly reload pages and being able to put in a bookmark is great (although I wish I could do more than one) and it seems to sync my place between my phone's app and the website. Crunchyroll's reader does the same thing but I really prefer their phone app to Viz's. With Viz I've had some trouble with slow load times and a slightly less intuitive interfacing, Crunchyroll's is quick to respond and loading a new chapter is simpler than it is online. I believe I've mentioned it here but my computer has really slowed down in the past few months so these days I actually keep my phone next to my computer and if I'm trying to load something important and it's taking forever I'll just pull up a manga and keep reading that in the meantime which has been rather nice. I used to do this in the dial-up days (abet with a book instead of cell phone manga) and it's really helping keep me up to date, although hopefully once I get a new machine I'll have less wasted time so I can simply read it on a web browser anyway.

All of that said, all of my manga reviews this month will be from Crunchyroll. I came up with this plan back in November, well before Justin contacted me about reviewing for OASG, and I wanted to focus on what I was currently following and those were all Crunchryoll titles since with a bit of remembering and guest passes I can read all of their titles for free, it's gotten even easier now that manga is being included in their all access anime membership making it cheaper as well. So with that being said, if anyone has been following a title that I haven't reviewed yet, post in the comments and I'll at least give it a shot!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Weekly Round-up: Febrauary 22-28th and looking ahead to March

Ugh it's icy outside again, snow I can handle just fine but ice always makes me nervous, I spent too many years in North Carolina which was ice storm central and lost power from it more times than I would have liked. So let's talk about something nicer instead, what I wrote about this week!

To start off, I still can't find the name of that side character from The Story of Owen but I went ahead and published my review anyway (and I just saw a review pop up on my blog roll for the sequel so I'll be sure to check that out as soon as my library gets it). I also reviewed an Amazon original romance (which I would have sworn was YA but billed itself as adult), A Love for the Pages.

On the manga side of things, I finally tackled one of the bigger shonen series that never made as big as splash in the US, Magi. Or rather, the first five volumes of it, after writing it I did discover that my library had a few more volumes and requested them BUT they only have 1-5 and then 9 and 10, I will be sending them "hey please buy this" requests to them for volumes 6-8 pretty soon. Over at Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses I talked about the first volume of Assassination Classroom and whether the anime's slow start was the problem with the adaption or if the manga was slow to start as well (I think it was the first one) and I also chimed in on the manga we read in February post.

No anime posts this week since I'm still swimming upstream trying to catch up with all of my shows. Currently I'm up to date on Yurikuma Arashi, Yona of the Dawn, Gundam Build Fighters TRY, Shirobako, Death Parade and Log Horizon (with the one week delays anyway) and my goal is to catch up with Durarara!! x2 Shou and Yatterman Night this week, although YN hasn't been as strong as I hoped (the Funimation app continuously crashing on my phone is making this challenging). At the moment Garo is on hold until I catch up with winter shows and I've more or less dropped AssClass, the first few episodes just haven't convinced me to rewatch material that I already know (unlike Yona's adaptation) so I might tune in later, especially since my larger goal is to catch up with everything in time to start fresh with the spring round of Anime Power Rankings. 

Looking ahead to March, expect manga reviews on Monday (focusing on the digital releases I've really enjoying and currently following), webcomic reviews each Wednesday, and then book reviews of middle grade fiction on Fridays (I have enough for three Fridays right now and might have enough for a fourth depending on how fast my library can fulfill my holds).