Friday, January 31, 2014

Manga Review: Start With A Happy Ending

And this folks is the very very end of my emanga reviews, I haven't heard anything from them in a few months so I doubt I'm going to get any more review titles from them (which is fine, truly since Crunchyroll has now started offering manga and Viz still has a number of series I need to catch up on). I did actually try out a few on there which I didn't review since I didn't finish (anthropomorphized kitchen utensils???) but all in all this has been an interesting ride. there was nothing I absolutely adored but several titles I did really enjoy (The Legend of the Twilight Demon and Marin for sure) so this has been pretty fun for me, let's get on with this one last review then!

Start With A Happy Ending by Risa Motoyama

Monday, January 27, 2014

Anime Review: Blue Drop

Another Sentai title that I've wanted to see for a while, although this one has been streaming on crunchyroll for years and I could have gotten around to it much sooner. What I didn't know is that there are apparently several manga series also connected with this title (at least two of them set after the end here), obviously you don't have to read any of them to understand this story but they do seem to make the story a bit weirder and creepier than it was here.

Blue Drop

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Movie Review: The Garden of Words

Like many an anime fan, I was curious about Makoto Shinkai's work but, since it was much too new for Sentai to be streaming it (and crunchyroll's annual "Makoto Shinkai day" was months and months off) there wasn't really anyway for me to see it. However I was tipped off that a local group (they're connected with the Japanese embassy somehow but I'm not sure how, enough that the staff speaks Japanese and you have to go through metal detectors to go into the building however) was going to be having a showing one night. So I braved the cold to see a short film set in the summer.

The Garden of Words

Book Review: Demon's Surrender

Well this review has been a long time coming, I read the first book in this series sometime in early college and had such a hard time getting a hold of the later two that I even ended up reviewing some of the author's next series in the meantime. Admittedly I had rather mixed feelings on the first book ("but if I like the storytelling in her blog posts why don't I like her ACTUAL books?!") but I found that I enjoyed the second book more than the first and the first book in her new series even better. So I'm glad to finally finish this series, both for completeness sake and to see just where it's ended up.

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Reese Brennan

Friday, January 24, 2014

Comic Review: Drama

Despite the fact that I had heard good things about Smile by Raina Telgemeier it took me a number of years to actually get around to reading it, and of course once I did I rather liked it! And then I just repeated the process by taking quite a while to track down Drama, even though I had heard good things about it and even heard Telgemeier speak about it at Small Press Expo this past fall. I guess my only excuse is that when you only get your books from the library you don't develop the habit of checking out their catalog immediately to find new books, they just aren't designed very well to keep people up to date with what new-ish things they have.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Anime Review: Uta Kata

In the past six months or so Sentai Filmworks has put a lot of their back catalog, instead of putting up just one or two episodes, onto hulu which I think is fantastic and this one was close to the top of my list of shows to catch. You see, the magical girl genre is nearly as old as anime itself so it's had plenty of time for variations and different takes on it, light-hearted and grim. Which is why I've always been frustrated when people say things like "Madoka Magica is the first deconstruction/dark take on the genre!" since it's just incorrect and I've seen other people comment on that as well, offering up examples of other shows which have taken a dark turn. And there was one show which popped up sometimes in these discussions but the viewers of it said that no it was just as dark as Madoka, had clearly been planned that way from the beginning, and also had aired in a late night timeslot aired at male otaku, I had been interested in the show ever since I had heard about it (it came out in the US before Madoka aired) and this only made me more curious. So, how dark does this show get exactly?

Uta Kata

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

I've been dying to see this film ever since it came out but, due to an error in communications on my part, I didn't have a chance to watch it over the summer and was holding off until I could get over to redbox or such. And then one week I jokingly said "oh maybe the film that [my step-sister] is bringing this week is Pacific Rim!" and I was right! Clearly I need to tempt fate more often, this is so much easier than putting my name on the holds list in the library, as far down as I am for some of the 2013 films currently I'm not sure I'll have a chance to see them before the next New Years.

Pacific Rim

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Review: A Natural History of Dragons

This will be my last review of a 2013 book for a while, thank goodness, I've had to completely reorder my reviewing list to get these done as quickly as I could and as a result there are some things that have been on there for quite a while. Perhaps in the future I should continue reviewing novels during November Month of Manga as well, hmm. Regardless, I'm a little surprised that out of all the 2013 books I was looking for in my library that hey had this one (new author, not your typical set-up for a fantasy, etc) but I am not one to complain when the library has things I want to read!

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Tent by Marie Brennan 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Comic Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search Part One

Hmm, so it appears that my library does not yet have Wandering Son Volume 4 and that it is in fact still in the process of ordering, guess that review won't be up for a while. I had originally hoped to push this review back a little bit in the hopes that my library might get the second volume soon so there wouldn't be a large gap in reviews but, since I recently found out that there was also a third volume in this series and my library just got this volume, it looks like that plan of mine is also a bust. Drat, well, time to talk about Avatar (and it appears that I somehow forgot to review The Promise when I finished it sorry about that folks, might get to that in the future might not!). In case people are confused, yes this is a direct sequel to The Promise which is a direct sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender and I do recommend reading The Promise before The Search, although you could probably follow the story relatively easily if you haven't.

Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Search (part one) written by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Gurihiru

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter Anime 2014 Round-UP

It's that time again and finally, between the fact that most of my anime ended the week before Christmas and that the rest all took a week or two off for Christmas and New Years (which I do completely understand) I was going a bit mad over here with nothing to watch. I tried out a number of things, half rewatched some others, convinced myself to not start rewatching even more shows, and just am very glad that I'm back to having a regular schedule of having anime magically pop up every few days to watch. As per usual, let me first spend a few minutes on what shows I'm continuing from the fall season (at this point I've more or less dropped Tokyo Ravens and don't even ask about Space Bros, I'm at least a full season behind):

Kill La Kill: Oh damn, when KLK (along with these other two shows) took a two week break I wasn't that impressed where it ended. Some new things had been revealed, the second half was set up, but a couple of major things I expected to happen, well, didn't. They still didn't happen here but the story has finally done it's "major upset to motivate the second half" and this should make things quite interesting, at least for the next few episodes. I still am torn about KLK in many ways, the story has grown on me, I like the soundtrack, I like the characters, yet dear god it's just so much fanservice each week. And no guys, I don't think you can really say "these super skimpy outfits empower the female characters!" when, well, unless I'm wrong this is a show with a mostly male staff and guys, characters don't technically get to decide what they wear. Cosplayers? Sure, people on the beach in skimpy bathing clothes? Absolutely, but not fictional characters, not really, and that's putting aside the "okay howcome it's empowering when I wear little clothing but not when I wear baggy clothes that I really like?" detail. It's a problematic show in a lot of ways yet it's also really fun, just be really really careful where you watch it since it's rare for it to go more than 10 minutes without hitting NSFW territory.

Nagi-Asu: Finally, we're back to the plot! For those just tuning in, Nagi-Asu is a semi-fantastical, semi-coming-of-age story about a group of kids from the sea who are going to school on land and it was slowing down right before the mid-season cliffhanger a few weeks back. However the story is moving forward once again and quickly, as predicated by many viewers we have had a timeskip (although, given the character designs if I hadn't been told how many years it was I wouldn't have guessed) and it works out much better than I would have expected. The show is at it's strongest when it treads the delicate line between happiness and sadness and for once I think the show made a good call to focus on middle schoolers, instead of an older age group, for a romantic story given just how tumultuous that time of your life is without all the additional problems. And those additional problems are why I love the series actually, it takes a while but the fantastical setting finally comes into play and both creates new problems for the series and uses it as a metaphor for others, I would love for the series to focus on the fantasy a bit more this time (which I think it will given the slight change in setting) and it's gone from being a show I was unsure of to one of my favorites of the season.

Samuari Flamenco: Oh man SamFlam, what are you doing now? To recap, SamFlam started out as a show about a regular guy who wanted to be a superhero except, well, since there's no such thing as super-villains he was doing stuff like stopping people from littering. I didn't like it at first, lead Mayoshi's viewpoint grated with mine but as he changed and grew (both in thinking and his ability to not get beat up by hooligans) and it progressed rather nicely until about a seventh episode which honestly felt like the end of the series with everything wrapping up. Then, completely out of nowhere, the series underwent a huge genre-shift (less of a shift and more of a "gets in a monster truck and jumps across the arena" actually, social media was fun that day) and then it played around with these new superhero tropes, seemed to get comfortable with those as well, and then in episode 11 it seemed to shift over into a new one again and frankly I just don't like the current setting. It's sentai, which I have nothing against, but it plays all the ideas and tropes too straight, there's too little of that real-world connection the first two arcs had (and Goto who serves as the series comedic straight man) and without that I'm finding it boring. I'm sure we're going to go through another shift and I just hope it comes soon and that I like the show more again after it!

All three of these shows are streaming on crunchyroll, KLK also goes up on hulu fairly quickly and Sam Flam (both of which are licensed by Aniplex) has slowly been going up as well. Nagi-Asu has also been licensed but by NIS America instead.

Okay, time for the new stuff!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Anime Review: Sunday Without God

This past year (so, 2013) I made a real effort to listen to the anime-bloggersphere and see what series that I didn't try in a given season (usually because I was too busy or just too cynical to give another show a shot) were worth picking up later and I did a pretty good job at getting them them sooner rather than later. There are still a few shows I didn't get to, I'm waiting until all of the OVAs for Yozakura Quartet are out before I tackle that, might get around to trying stuff like Majestic Prince and Attack on Titan if they ever announce second seasons, twitter is convincing me to try out a few things like Meganebu but that's mostly it, it just wasn't that big a year for me. And it's funny, I finished the summer out with just four shows and given that I could have easily made room for this one but when I tried out the manga adaptation (the series was originally a light novel I later learned) I was turned off by it. The pacing felt a bit weird and the character designs didn't quite work for me either. Funny enough I could say the same thing about this anime version but in a different sort of way. 

Sunday Without God (Kamisama no Inai Nichiyobi)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Documentary Review: An Adventure in Space and Time

For Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary they really went all out and had a big special, screenings in theaters, and honest to goodness simulcast in the US and they also had this little thing, a nearly 90 minute dramatization of the situation surrounding Doctor Who as it just started and how it succeeded. I think that, almost more than anything, shows just how big this show has become, can anyone else think of any other show which has had a documentary on the making of it? I'm sure there might be a few others but I can't think of any at the moment, especially considering just how niche the audience for something like this must be.

An Adventure in Space and Time

Book Review: Thirteenth Child

Patricia Wrede is one of my favorite authors and one whom I credit with really getting me interested in fantasy way back in middle school yet if you asked me I wouldn't be able to name that many books of hers. I've read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (which starts with Dealing with Dragons which is probably a more recognizable name) and I enjoyed her The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (and it's sequels) with co-author Caroline Stevemer quite well but I've never really looked up her other works. So it was a combination of pleasant surprise and slight embarrassment when I found out she had another fantasy series currently going, although the fact it was a few years old already meant that at least I didn't have any trouble getting it from the library.

Thirteenth Child by Patricia C Wrede

Friday, January 10, 2014

Manga Review: Wandering Son (volume three)

I was at a different library than usual recently and had just enough time to browse their comics section before I went racing for my bus and was delighting to see that they had the third volume in this series, no more multi-year waits for me! And I discovered that another library has the fourth volume so expect a review on that one in the next month or so, now if only I can convince the library to pick up the fifth and sixth volumes soon and I'll be a happy reader.

Wandering Son (volume three) by Shimura Takako

Monday, January 6, 2014

Anime Review: Valvrave the Liberator Season Two

To refresh everyone's memory, I started the first season of this back in the spring, dropped it a few episodes in (since I dropped shows left and right last year), was really glad I dropped it when I heard about the rape scene, and then got kind of curious about it again. I dropped it four or five episodes in the first time which is rather late for me and, well, sometimes I want to watch shows with amazing world-building with deep characters and other times I want to watch flashy, fluffy mecha shows. So I finished it and decided that since it was one of the few shows I wouldn't have to wait a week to watch each time, well, why not?

Valvrave the Liberator: Season Two

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Documentary Review: How Sherlock Changed the World

Someone on twitter pointed out this little documentary to me and, since I'm waiting for the PBS broadcast of Sherlock which won't start for another few weeks, it seemed like a fun little diversion in the meantime. And I was curious, considering that the science Sherlock Holmes used, based on what I remembered from reading the books, seemed so similar to modern day forensics there's no way Arthur Conan Doyle made up all of that, right?

How Sherlock Changed the World

Book Review: Quicksilver

While I scrambled and tried to post reviews of as many 2013 books as I could before the year changed I wasn't able to get them all up in time and in this case it's rather ironic since, while many of those books wouldn't have made my top five favorites list this one certainly would have. Back in 2012 I read Ultraviolet and while I really did enjoy it I was a bit leery when R.J. Anderson announced she was doing a companion/sequel novel to it since it wrapped up so nicely. But it sounded like since it was going to focus on another character (and I should note now, you shouldn't read this without having read Ultraviolet because it completely spoils it, although I am attempting to keep review as spoiler-free as possible for both books) which sounded interesting, and then she announced the main character, the point of view character, was asexual. And then there was no way I wasn't on-board for this, how could I say no to the first book I know of with a narrator with my own sexual orientation?

Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson

Friday, January 3, 2014

Manga Review: 20th Century Boys (volumes 1-14)

It's always nice when I get to read something I've been looking forward to for a while and, given the effusive praise I've seen for this series over the years it's been on my list for a while. People speak of it as if it's Naoki Urasawa's crowning masterpiece (I simply find it silly to call something that when the creator is still alive and making things) and I did like Pluto when I read it years ago so I've wanted to read it for a while, the problem is that not only is it quite long (over 20 volumes) but Urasawa does not want his manga available digitally so if I wanted to read it it looked like I was going to have to shelve out quite a bit of money and shelf space. Thankfully my new library system did have some of it but sadly I'm still at least eight volumes away from the ending, I wonder how I'll get to it and how many of the plot threads I can still keep straight by then.

20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa