Thursday, July 30, 2015

Radio Drama Review: Tokyo Demons Book 1: You're Never Alone

As I alluded to several weeks back, I like to listen to podcast, audio books, and when I can find them radio dramas when I’m working on big sewing projects, I find it’s a way to actually help keep me focused and look forward to my work. So with nearly everything exhausted pre-Otakon, I turned to Sparkler Monthly, an online “shoujo/josei magazine” of sorts which I knew had a few audio titles. I went for what seems to be their best well-known one, Tokyo Demons, which I remember also received glowing praise from Ash of Experiments in Manga. There is also a prose version of the story but when I first inquired about this story (quite a while ago) I was told that the audio version was the more “complete” one since it also had a few exclusive side stories. I’m not sure you could say that now however since the audio version has only covered one out of the three books in the series. And for a quick plug before I get to the review, Sparkler is holding a Kickstarter to help fund Year Three of the magazine and it’s in it’s final days with a bit more to go. Most of the titles I enjoy on Sparkler are ones I was already familiar with (Knights Errant, Witch’s Quarry) so I’m more than happy to see them return and encourage more people to give the titles a shot.

Tokyo Demons: You're Never Alone written by Lianne Sentar, adapted by Rebecca Scoble, illustrated by Rem

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Anime Review: Sound! Euphonium

This show wasn't even on my radar when the spring season started and now it's a lock for my top anime of the year list. It's funny, so far it's felt like a weak year (although fall looks amazing so far) since there haven't been as many shows that I want to watch but for the shows I am watching so many of them have ended up being ridiculously strong. Now to pray that the PonyCan release isn't ridiculously expensive....

Sound! Euphonium (Hibike! Euphonium)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: July 19th-25th

Lordy Otakon was a thing, I was still sewing my cosplay (Kureha from Yuri Kuma Arashi) the day I was set to wear it, so glad it's going to be three weeks later next year since I clearly need those weeks! I'll post a write-up of the con later in the week and I can link to it in the next round-up if anyone is interested.

As for actual writing, I still had two pieces post last week! One was the Summer 2015 Anime Round-UP, I should note that I have tried out Castle Town Dandelion and Aquarion Logos now, Dandelion was fun fluff I'll try a few more episodes for and Logos was dull (but that Aquarion Evol OVA was tons of fun) and the other was another joint Shoujo You Should Know write-up on Natsume and the Book of Friends (Natsume Yuujinchou). Funny enough, there seems to be this weird pattern where big news comes out about each series after we write about it and right after Muse and I finished our post I found a post on tumblr that suggest that Natsume is finally making some plot-related movement regarding his family, that one post is enough that I really want to catch up with the series now!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer 2015 Anime Round-UP

And so we begin what is for me yet another strange anime season. Once again I have no carry-over shows (if I catch up with Precure in time I will have one for the fall but otherwise I think everything is too short) and there were fewer shows I was just interested in trying this season. Just about everything was already on my “well, maybe I’ll look at it” list from before the season started, nothing had a stand out premier that made me try it out through sheer word of mouth. Missing from this list is Durarara!! x 2 SHOU which I will marathon at the end if it sounds like it has more highs than lows but I do not plan to watch this week. The Brain’s Base show Aoharu x Machinegun also doesn’t interest me (a really blatant Ouran High School Host Club rip-off in a survival club? Not my thing). And I am going to get around to the second Knights of Sidonia season when I have time, I’ve just been a bit short of that lately so no impressions on it yet.

Right, to the star of the post!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: July 12th-18th

Well that could have gone better, couldn't even get out one review this week because new job+old job+Otakon cosplay+panel prep has throughly kicked my ass. I have no time to cook meals (or desire to eat since that's how I handle stress, yay) or even time to exercise (well also because my knee is acting up again and it's "hot as balls" outside). I did get a SYSK post up on OASG this week, Kitchen Princess, and my partner-in-crime Muse posted hers on Skip Beat! as well but that's it, expect a joint review from us sometime this week and my round-up of the summer anime shows tomorrow, got one more show I want to get watch another episode of and I'll be all set for that!

Also, for those going to Otakon, my panel Notable noitaminA is Friday at 5:45pm, much better time than when I did it at Katsucon and some new material so hopefully I get a few more folks this time as well!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

No posts this week after all

Other than Shoujo You Should Know that is, after a full day of sewing I'm still too far behind for Otakon and there's just no way I can focus on all of that, four reviews, and a new job, especially since I know when a review is going to be a long one and the ones this week were going to be longer. Never happy to do this, since I do like doing reviews, but being able to put the majority of these off until I have the time to focus on them sounds like a better choice for my sleep schedule now. SYSK still going up Thursday and summer anime round-up on Monday!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: July 5th-11th Edition

Since this post is going up on Monday instead of Sunday like usual, yes the anime review is getting pushed back to Tuesday since dangit I wanna do Sound! Euphonium justice and I will not have that chance with a late work shift tonight. Or with all of the sewing that's been keeping me busy outside of work, and on that note reviews as normal this week but stuff will be different with Otakon next week, I'll explain more in that week's round-UP.

Funny enough, the stories I talked about last night went from good, to fairly good, to only average, usually it's not such a clear delineation! It's also funny since it was Yamada and the Seven Witches (the anime) that had the most potential to go wrong and yet really pulled the show off. It's an incredibly fast version of the manga but it keeps in every subplot and remembers that the show is about witches but it's even more about just the characters themselves and their relationships, I can recommend it in good faith even if I think people should also read the manga. Next up was Expelled from Paradise where the CGI was about how I expected, so I wasn't very disappointed there, but the story just wasn't as strong as I had been lead to believe. It did work, I think that Gen Urobuchi also cares more about writing characters and their relationships than writing high-flying plots, and on that level the story fully succeeds in any case. Finally, I swear I did like the third installment of The Shades of London series, The Shadow Cabinet, more than the second book but it still doesn't live up to how much I enjoyed the first book. I've read a number of Maureen Johnson's other works and all of those [that I've read] are pure realistic fiction, realistic fiction in weird circumstances but there is nothing supernatural to it and I really like how she brings a very familiar weird to the stories (her own life is so weird, check out her twitter for the saga of the neighbor with a hundred angel statues and a chainsaw). But I wonder if here it's holding her back, she's trying really hard to keep a story about actual ghosts still grounded in the modern day where character's have families and friends to keep in contact with, police to work around etc, and so the parts where that don't match feel really disjointed and I just really wonder how this series will end.

And in the "things I read but probably won't review" (since it's non-fiction in an area I don't feel well-versed enough to talk about), I just finished Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths by Nancy Marie Brown and rather enjoyed it. For those not familiar with the name, Snorri was a medieval Icelandic poet who is the source for the majority of Norse/Viking Mythology we know today from his works like the Prose Edda (also sometimes the Edda but that's different from the Poetic Edda, different authors). I've tried some of the actual Prose Edda before and found it too dense for me to get through and this isn't a copy of that work, it's about Snorri's life and times which I found fascinating since I knew nothing about Icelandic history and it's interesting to see just how few sources we have on the Vikings in some ways (I also especially liked the bits where Brown explicitly connects to later works, most notably J.R.R. Tolkien since that man borrowed so much that his colleagues felt like his works weren't original at all!). It has convinced me to give the Prose Edda another go (I'll try the translation she suggests but I think a heavily annotated one might work better for me since I have no frame of reference for most of the kennings which I remember confusing the heck out of me in high school with Beowulf) and it might have even convinced me to seek out other works with these influences including that ring saga opera which is impressive since opera is just about the last thing you can convince me to go see!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Book Review: The Shadow Cabinet

There was actually a novella that came out in-between this and The Madness Underneath called The Boy in the Smoke and looking at this post I think I did actually read three of the four stories but I have no idea where. If you can also find those stories I do recommend reading them at some point since Stephen remains an important character in the series but I don't think it's vital that you have to read them before you track down The Shadow Cabinet.

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Movie Review: Expelled from Paradise

I had barely even heard of this movie before a friend texted me that he was in town to see the movie at a special, one-night only event (on a night I worked of course) and I was wondering how the heck I could see it myself since this is the rare anime film that the JICC hasn't screened. But then suddenly it popped up on Netflix so my problem was solved! Now, Aniplex, since you did that for the Madoka Magica movies as well, think you can toss Garden of Sinners up there as well?

Expelled from Paradise

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Anime Review: Yamada and the Seven Witches

I think this was actually my most-anticipated anime for the spring season since I already adore the manga, although the short runtime was making me pretty nervous. It was fun to see all of my friends react to the promotional images however, a lot of them were familiar with black and white comic pages or the drama so it was amusing to see everyone realize what the characters' real, rainbow like hair colors were.

Yamada and the Seven Witches

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: June 28th-July 4th Edition

So, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress review still isn't out yet but I'm just going to refocus and get it out when I can, more of a thought piece than an actual review. Fighting lots of stress here (current job, incoming new job, balancing two jobs, Otakon stress, hormonal stress, extra review stress, weird stress dreams involving a CGI Lambchop accosting me in bed and trying to make me sign a magical girl contract....) but I'm gonna live, I'll just be super tempted to call in sick to work since at this point I only have three, maybe two, free days left before Otakon and oh god let's think of something else now.

I start the spring anime reviews with Wish Upon the Pleiades (thoughts on all the spring shows in general below the cut) and for Shoujo You Should Know I talked about Cardcaptor Sakura and Muse talked about the Earl Cain saga which I tried a bit of in high school actually. It didn't click with me and I think her review is a good example of why, I can totally see why people adore it but I see a lot of things I don't like so I feel okay about dropping it (and damn I wish Pandora Hearts was shoujo so I could talk about it there). I didn't mention in my review but I do also recommend the CCS anime as well as the manga! It has a lot of "filler" but it's cute fluff and my only real beef with the series is at the very very end (regarding Clow's magic) which isn't enough to keep me from buying those NISA blu-ray sets someday. I also talked about the BBC radio production Earthsea, not my favorite but I liked it well enough to go looking for the books again which I consider a good thing.

Now, onto the anime!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Radio Drama Review: Earthsea

It's con season so I'm spending an embarrassingly large amount of my time working on sewing and have accomplished the nigh-miraculous task of catching up with my podcasts in the process so I had to look elsewhere for listening material. Lucky for me BBC is doing a special on Ursula Le Guin, celebrating her 85th birthday this year (and she's still writing which is absolutely bonkers) and turned both The Left Hand of Darkness and Earthsea into two, multi-part radio dramas which typically are free online to listen to for a month after broadcast (I don't know what the region restrictions are but I had no problem hearing them in the US). I actually tried LHoD first but realized partway through that I just wasn't connecting with it. The story was fine but somehow I just wasn't getting into it as much as I wanted to (and I've had it on my to-read list for years since it's such a celebrated work) so I switched to Earthsea and decided to simply read it later. I actually did read A Wizard of Earthsea, and maybe a part of the second one, as a young teen since my parents were forever recommending it to me but I didn't connect with that work either, it's an older style of writing that felt stuffy and impersonal at 14. But I was hoping that with a full cast of characters it would flow better for me and at three hours it was going to be faster than even I could read the books.