Friday, May 29, 2015

Yearly Round-UP: My favorite books from 2014

For newcomers to the NI, I tend to get most of my reading material from my libraries (books and comic books) so there's usually at least a small delay between a book coming out and me actually being able to check it out (although it is getting shorter in some cases especially manga weirdly enough). So I always do my favorite books of the year post halfway through the next year to give myself additional time to actually read everything. There are still some books I haven't been able to get a hold of yet but I actually got to a fair number of books this year, the full list can be found here but here are the most notable ones that I read.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Webcomic Review: Wasted Talent

Funny enough, this is a Webcomic Thursday instead of a Webcomic Wednesday because I finally got a new computer and spent an hour transferring over my webcomics! The bookmarks came over as part of Chrome but I didn't realize the RSS feeds for my add-on wouldn't, it wasn't the most tedious task ever but that's because I have done the most tedious tasks in the world recently so the bar is pretty high for me. 

Wasted Talent by Angela Melick

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Anime Review: Durarara!! x2 SHOU

This was a bit of an odd show to be air. As I think I talked about in my Yuri Kuma Arashi review, studio Brains Base is hardly worth mentioning these days and Durarara!! was their best selling show ever, I think Natsume and the Book of Friends was a close second but DRRR!! sold like gangbusters and everyone expected a sequel to be announced in a year or so. Come five years later and a lot of the core creative staff has moved onto an entirely different studio to produce this show and it makes me wonder what was going on behind the scenes for that to happen. We'll likely never know (short of getting someone important drunk which is always a possibility!) and even odder is a recent episode of the podcast ANNCast with "Aniplex Guy" who says that the US support for the show helped get this second part made. There have been cases before where an American company has helped fund a sequel (like with Big O) and Aniplex of America is special since it's a branch of the Japanese production company but this would be almost the first time simple support for a show has helped make it possible. Plus, I had always heard that DRRR!! DIDN'T do as well as they expected, they even switched over to their more premium releases afterwards so that change in marketing always seemed to support the rumor. So I guess you can say that the story surrounding the show is more confusing than the show itself, although given that this show tends to explain itself fairly well after a point maybe that's the least surprising point.

Durarara!! x2 SHOU

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: May 17th-23rd Edition

Well last week I had a little bit of what I guess you could call a headache swarm, just a bunch of them where the only solution really was more sleep and that was something I just couldn't get more of. No idea how people can pull off all-nighters if a headache that frustrating is a side effect.

When I wasn't zoning out with a heating pad on my head I got quite a bit written this week! I finished work on a bit post on OASG; Moving Beyond Despair in The Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer where I look at the whole series and try to explain why it got good when it did and I really did end up enjoying it. Spirit Circle still edges it out a bit but I think I need to get the Seven Seas release for it in the future. I also had a pretty positive review for Gundam Build Fighters TRY which was about 90% as good as the original (writing was a bit weaker and pacing not as great but the fights were fun and way more female characters so that helps it balance out).

On the more negative side of things, I was only lukewarm on Avengers: Age of Ultron (I also did a spoilery post on tumblr talking about all of the things I've heard were cut from the theatrical run, really hope a lot of that makes it onto the DVD release) and I gave a very rare one-star review for The Dead Key which apparently has already helped somebody shop for the book. I'd moan about how bad reviews seem more important than good reviews but since I had a rape warning in the review maybe that was the important part.

Like I said last week I also want to start chatting about what I'm currently consuming that I might not review/get around reviewing for a while. I've been a dummy and haven't gotten anything from the library recently so I had a reread of Seraphina (since the sequel is already out and I read that book in 2012) and it was as great as I remember and a nice reminder that yes, YA can be really and truly great, I just hadn't been reading those titles recently. Also slowly working through a book on my kindle called The Age of Fable which seems to be a big collection of Western mythology, although I'm still in the Greek/Roman period of it. And finally, I'm really trying to finally finish Space Brothers but I'm still 20 minutes from the end, Hibito is in Russia with a story that varies between engaging and off-putting, and the dreaded "racist cartoon theater" has finally made an appearance so I'm skipping the last three or four minutes in each episode. On the plus side, when you watch the show as intermittently as I do the super long recaps at the beginning of each episode actually come in handy!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Review: The Dead Key

This was the second of the free books I got from Amazon as part of my Prime trial membership, if anyone else here is thinking of doing the prime membership I highly recommend doing it so it falls over two calendar months (especially a 15th-15th if you can) so that you at least have the option of getting more than one book from this deal.

The Dead Key by D. M. Pulley

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Movie Review: The Avengers: Age of Ultron

My schedule has such few, odd free hours at this point that I thought I just wouldn't have the time to see The Age of Ultron until sometime in June at this rate but as I was playing catch-up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I got to the tie-in episode and realized, I really wanted to see the movie right now! The tie-in seems to be that the "Operation THETA" that was mentioned a few times prior to the episode was Coulson working out a way to get into a HYDRA base to learn where Loki's scepter is and then I think they end the episode on the line "It's time to call in the Avengers." Oh and there's also a wonderful bit of Coulson sass earlier in the episode saying to someone "Here's Fury's toolbox, you can have it until he wants it back. Oh, spoilers." I'm so grumpy that they still aren't working this guy back into these movies since he really is my favorite Avenger. 

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Anime Review: Gundam Build Fighters TRY

EDITORS NOTE: Hi guys, sorry everything is so late already this week and as a heads up, tomorrow's post is probably not going up to Thursday since I'll be out late babysitting and really don't like typing out huge posts on phones if I can help it (the autocorrect alone makes it a huge headache).

Much like Log Horizon, I did a whirlwind marathon of Gundam Build Fighters last year as the first season was finishing up and absolutely fell in love with it and was completely on board for the second season. It is seven years later and features a mostly new cast but I'm going to say that yes, you should see the first season first. It'll help you in the long run and come on, if you like this you'll want more of it and that's 25 episodes of more right there.

Gundam Build Fighters Try

Monday, May 18, 2015

Weekly Round-Up: May 10th-16th Edition

Well I was going to change the format of this up a bit but I'm on day two or three of a headache and that sounds like it would require more focus than I currently have so, next week (EDIT: Headache got so bad that this got pushed back an entire day, anime review coming tomorrow!)! In the meantime, I talked about a lot of stuff as per usual this week, on the grumpier side of things we have Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (think I got that name right) and Anansi Boys, neither of which were bad works but I'm unlikely to recommend them unless I get very specifically asked "I want a magical BOY show" or "I want something with even the barest hint of African mythology in it." On the more positive side, I really enjoyed Ms. Marvel: No Normal and also enjoyed Shirahime-Syo more than expected (over on OASG).

Going back to anime for a moment, last season I did an entire post about how the season was looking at the halfway point but I feel like I'm already moving through my reviews slower than I'd like so I'm going to condense that all under the cut here, at least that's one good thing about a smaller season.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Book Review: Anansi Boys

Recently it's been a bit more convenient for me to get to my Maryland library system than the DC one so I've gone back through my ever-too-long to-read list and grabbing a few things from the early parts of it. I can actually specifically remember where this recommendation came from, back in the livejournal days I wrote about a book I had just read which was a collaboration between Gaiman and someone else and I thought it was pretty bad. It was a failed tv pilot involving people from alternate worlds but the catch was that every single one of them was essentially the same person, literally a group of chosen people that was all the same person. I mentioned that if this was my first exposure to Gaiman I wasn't sure what the fuss was all about so a friend of mine kindly posted a few recommendations for his best-loved books and they've sat on my list ever since.  

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Comic Review: Ms Marvel Volume 1: No Normal

I've been hearing great things about this comic for a while but it didn't occur to me to look for the collected issues at my library until I stumbled across one. I also didn't realize that the second collected set is also out now so be assured, as soon as I find that I'm reading that one too and bemoaning how short these volumes are compared to the manga volumes I'm used to.

Ms Marvel Volume 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Anime Review: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!

Once again, sorry for the delay in this review, writing through a headache after a six day work week is never tempting enough for me to want to do it. Plus, I've reached the stretch of shows which I did enjoy enough to finish watching them but don't actually have a lot to say on them and as a reviewer that's a little stressful. How do I manage to convey why I thought that they were worth finishing if I have such a flat opinion at the end of the show? Middle of the show reviews really are the toughest ones to do, thank goodness every year I get pickier and pickier about what I continue so I watch fewer of them. 

Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (Binan Koukou Chikyu Boei-bu LOVE!)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: May 3-9th Edition

Hey all! It's been a busy week for me outside of the blog but I guess it's been a busy week here as well, got four reviews and this week two were on time! (and I'm slowly getting back to submitting my OASG posts earlier which is good for everybody involved). To start at the beginning, like I do every week, I'm afraid I sounded too harsh on Log Horizon 2 when I really did like the show, it just ended on the weakest point and does a bit better when you marathon it rather than watch it week to week IMO. I think I came down Song of the Sea just right however, I was actually chatting with my mom about the movie before I finished writing the review and she sounded really disappointed when I said "you can replace one of the main characters with a magic flute and it'd be the exact same story." I continue with the sea theme with The Mermaid's Sister, a book, and finish up the week with a Moyoco Anno work Insufficient Direction. I'm starting to think that my tagline on OASG should be "that grumpy manga reviewer" since that's all I seem to post these days, at least the next few weeks will be more positive reviews....

Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review: The Mermaid's Sister

Back in February Amazon offered me a free Prime trial membership (I had a free trial when I was a student but since that one was about five years ago I guess they decided to give me another chance at free shipping) which was great and I found out that Prime members can get a free, Amazon-first, ebook each month, curated from a special list by the editors. My membership was spread out over February and March and, in honor of National Reading Month, I actually got two free books in February so I have three, Amazon-first ebooks in total that I'll be talking about soon. It's a rather nice perk!

The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Movie Review: Song of the Sea

Unusually enough for me, I actually saw this film in a theater in one of the last weeks it was in DC (the Angelica Pop-Up which was a nice theater but in a borderline sketchy part of DC, got nervous when a bus passed me heading for Capitol Heights, you do not go to South-West DC if you can at all help it). I really wanted to make the effort to see it on a big screen considering how much I loved the visuals in The Secret of Kells which was also made by Tomm Moore/Cartoon Saloon and the art in the trailers for this film looked gorgeous. But actually watching it made me realize that seeing something on the big screen just isn't that much of an improvement for me, it was nice but I feel like I could've gotten the same impression if I had watched it on a nice tv back home.

Song of the Sea

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Anime Review: Log Horizon 2

I don't normally re-watch shows (due to a lack of time more than anything else) but I managed to marathon the majority of the first season before this second one started. The first season just really clicked with me, I liked how it tackled its conflicts (which were basically, how do we build our own world?) and liked the characters so I was excited for the second season. I was a bit worried since the show switched animation studios from Satelight to Studio Deen (who rarely makes a good looking show) but fortunately the majority of the staff went with the show so it's not a very noticeable transition at all.

Log Horizon 2

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: April 26-May 2 Edition

Another quick update for this week, got my three regular reviews out and a fourth should be out any day now. For those published this week, I checked out Kuniko Ikuhara's latest anime Yuri Kuma Arashi, had my monthly Webcomic Wednesday with Kate Ashwin's Widdershins, and continued on a recent (and accidental) trend of mine by talking about a fairy tale retelling, Shannon Hale's Goose Girl

See everyone again tomorrow!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Book Review: Goose Girl

Shannon Hale is an author who I feel like I hear about more often than I should, which isn't a bad thing but just a curious thing. She started writing mostly middle grade books once I was already in mid-late high school at least so while I've read a little of her work before (The Princess Academy, also one of the graphic novels she's written for, Rapunzel's Revenge) I haven't been actively looking for her work since it's a little young for me. I forget how this one ended up on my kindle from the library recently (my to-read list is the size of a small mountain so it's rare I do remember recommendations these days) but wasn't too worried, I did enjoy The Princess Academy after all.

Goose Girl by Shannon Hale