Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Anime Review: Wish Upon the Pleiades

As the spring anime season starts winding down it's time for me to finally start talking about it's current shows and I suppose the best way to completely sum it up is "not as bad as expected". There were plenty of shows I enjoyed enough to keep watching week to week but I'll talk more about the season as a whole in my Round-UP next Sunday. In the meantime, out of my roster of shows Wish Upon the Pleiades (literally After School Pleiades in Japanese which actually works a bit better with the show) was the first to wrap and it's a show I enjoyed so I'm glad to talk about it early on, also glad to see some non-franchise magical girl shows every few seasons!

Wish Upon the Pleiades (Houkago no Pleiades)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: June 21st-27th Edition

Well, I at least got three posts out this week even if my monthly webcomic review (of Skin Deep) was so delayed that it pushed back Death Sworn but considering how little I enjoyed DS that wasn't exactly the best motivation to finish that review anyway. I did really enjoy Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta so I hope that helped convince some people to check it out and I just launched my summer co-column series over on OASG with fellow writer Muse, Shoujo You Should Know. We talked about Wish for our first installment and it had a late-breaking update that apparently Wish was originally based on a JoJo's Bizarre Adventures doujinshi that CLAMP once did which was the most bizarre comment I never even expected. Sure I knew they had done doujinshi in the past but this was still totally out of left-field to me. 

Speaking of SYSK, I've already gotten one of two comments along the lines of "why are you even focusing on older stuff again, hasn't everyone already done this?" and FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION THAT. I did actually put a lot of thought into this column (it's more my idea than Muse's) so here's all of my rational below the fold:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Book Review: Death Sworn

"Helen didn't you say that you weren't reading any more books about assassins?" I did but wanted to make an exception here since this book is by an author who I've both loved and disliked and really wanted to read another book by her to try and figure out if I should keep up with her works or not. Plus, the main character in this book, she's a mage losing her powers which sounded like a really cool premise and I'm willing to overlook a couple of personal biases for that.

Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

Friday, June 26, 2015

Webcomic Review: Skin Deep

There are only a handful of webcomics that I tried out nearly six years ago when I got into the medium that I'm still following now, both due to me becoming bored of them and due to the comics actually finishing. Skin Deep is one of those rare titles although I remember that not because I had an immediate, deep connection with it (although the characters are also college freshman!) but because I remember getting a pop-up malware ad on the site and panicking quite throughly in my freshman dorm room (I think I went so far as to take the battery out of my laptop to make sure nothing was going in the background). Fortunately this didn't color my experience reading the comic or make me resentful, but I am glad that these days the majority of ads I see on webcomics are ads for other comics which are 100% less likely to give me malware.

Skin Deep by Kory Bing

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Anime Review: Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta

As a general explanation before I get into the reviews: Yozakura Quartet is based off of a manga by the same name and the manga is still on-going so this series does not have a hard and fast ending as I expected. The manga was adapted first into an anime in 2008 of the same name is apparently terrible and should be ignored, that one is the one that Sentai Filmworks has licensed in the US. Over the past few years Studio Tatsunoko has been making a few OVA series as well as another full anime series that adapts the story much more faithfully and is the one I'm talking about here, the main tv series Hana no Uta (Song of the Flowers), Hoshi no Umi (The Sea of Stars), and Tsuki ni Naku (Howling/Crying at the Moon). This is the order you should watch them in, I promise it's for the best but it can be a little hard to find Hoshi no Umi online these days since it's been a few years and none of these series were even licensed for streaming. Since there is no official license, I'm going to try and use the actual Japanese terms for the various supernatural aspects of the works instead of English terms the way I usually would for consistency. The subs I saw used "dæmon" instead of yokai and "Sakura Newtown" instead of "Sakurashin" but since everyone will at least hear those same words this seems to be the best way to avoid confusion!

Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: June 14th-20th Edition

Hey guys, it's been a pretty standard week over here (well blog wise, I have no idea what a "normal" real life week is like anymore) and it some mostly good, and some ugly so let's jump into that. For the mostly good I've got a review of Maria the Virgin Witch, the second season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and a joint write-up on OASG of Donyatsu (which I really do need to read at least a bit more of, it's the kind of straight-up bizarreness but with rules that's so tough to pull off). And then for the ugly I have Helen of Sparta which I had hopes for and then just ended up being not my thing at all and I thought a cop-out for being yet another book about the mythical, Greek Helen that avoids the Trojan War. Presumably all of these authors have thought "well I don't want to make that [the war] the most important thing about her life, I want her to have agency!" which sounds all fine and dandy but it's like writing about a historical figure and cutting out literally the one thing they're known for, not your best move! I actually just finished another, YA this time, book set in Ancient Greece but I'm not sure I'll review that one either; I might have even read it before since I can't believe I found two, separate works on Alcestis with a weird, pseudo-lesbian relationship with Persephone...

Friday, June 19, 2015

Book Review: Helen of Sparta

This was the third and final title I got for free from Amazon during my prime membership trial and I was drawn to it because of the title like a lot of people were like the editor at Amazon (wait they have editors working with these books?). She wrote along the lines of "everyone knows her as Helen of Troy so why Sparta?" but actually, every story says that Helen came from Sparta, she's only associated with Troy because of her abduction. A story that makes that distinction from the start sounded interesting so why not check it out?

Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella


Thursday, June 18, 2015

TV Series Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (season two)

I blame cosplay for this post going up late but at least at this point it's still before midnight. Let's just go ahead and dive into it shall we?

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Anime Review: Maria the Virgin Witch

I did purposely shuffle this post to the end of my winter 2015 anime reviews since I was hoping I could stall long enough that the manga would be fully out in English so that I could compare the two but alas, even with my unexpected week delay here it wasn't long enough. I'm not sure if people have noticed but starting this season I'm reviewing the finished shows in the order that I enjoyed them so this series should have been one of my middle reviews, it's far from the worst show I saw over the winter even if it did have a lot of flaws.

Maria the Virgin Witch

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: June 7th-13th

So there weren't any posts this week, what's up with that? Multiple family visits, a few very wordy and hard to articulate posts, headaches, and work, nothing new (well except for those family visits, I'm in the odd situation where I'm not estranged from any of my family but go months, if not years, without seeing even my immediate family and as a result absolutely nothing will get in my way of seeing them). I do think my review of Maria the Virgin Witch (hopefully posting tomorrow) is better for the break since I did actually learn a crucial fact but otherwise, sorry about that. I'm also going to say that anime reviews are not necessarily on Mondays anymore just because my work is stressful and tiring so perhaps the best thing for people to do would be to check in Tuesday nights for those reviews instead. 

I have been doing a lot of collaborative writing on Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses however and one post went up last week about one of the new Crunchyroll manga titles, Father and Son (expect another one this week and we ignored the last two new titles because they sounded bad). And hopefully there should be an announcement about a big project concerning me this summer, super excited to do it even if it means even more writing to fit into my schedule, especially with Otakon prep-crunch in full swing now....

As for what I'm watching and reading, I've mostly dropped Legend of the Galactic Heroes since I realized I was more stressed than anything else trying to fit the show into my schedule each week and just wasn't enjoying it enough to justify that. I may come back to it someday but with Knights of Sidonia 2 set to drop on Netflix in a few weeks I'll have my sci-fi opera fix soon enough (although it sounds like this season hasn't been as great). And I also had some thoughts about magical girl stories, specifically webcomics, this week and I'm dropping that below the cut for whoever wants to read. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: May 31st-June 6th

Getting this up a little earlier than usual so I can remind people about Makoto Shinkai Weekend at Crunchyroll and they can take advantage of it in case there were some titles of his you haven't seen yet. I used to to watch Crossroads (a cute, two minute short about two kids using at home cram-books to study for college, sponsored by the company I believe) and his very first work She and Her Cat which has lovingly detailed backgrounds, a completely at odds cartoon cat, and some limited animation but hey, for a one man work it works (but wow I don't think he can make anything without a romantic tone, Crossroads technically had no romance but still felt like it did!). And now I can see all of his work which is amusing since I'm not a huge fan of it, I did like Voices of a Distant Star and seem to be in the minority for mostly enjoying A Place Promised in Our Early Days and Children Who Chase Lost Voices but honestly I remember how his work looks more than what his stories are actually about.

Now for the long-form reviews of the past week, I talked about "the better MAPPA show" from Fall 2014, Garo, Bryan Lee O'Malley's latest work Seconds (from last year technically but shhh), and I started a new-to-me book series called The Agency by L.S. Yee with the first book A Spy In The House. Been a pretty quiet week otherwise, although I did submit my panels to AUSA so fingers crossed that they get accepted for this year's con!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Review: The Agency Book One: A Spy in the House

I might have messed up that title slightly since it's written a little oddly wherever I've seen it but oh well, at least this way it's easy enough to understand what book I'm referring to. I had seen a post on the The Book Smugglers blog recommending the latest volumes a few months ago and decided to go ahead and check out the first book so I could see if I wanted to catch up to this later volume.

The Agency 1: A Spy In The House by Y.S. Lee

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Comic Review: Seconds

For some reason I had a hard time writing this review, I can't tell if I'm in a slump these days or if I've simply come across a lot of hard-to-talk-about stories lately.

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Anime Review: Garo

Most of the buzz I saw for Studio MAPPA last fall was their unexpectedly good series Rage of Bahamut: Genesis which I found enjoyable and way better than any card game-based series ever has a right to be, but it was there other series that first caught my eye. I've seen bits and pieces of tokusatsu shows before but the hamminess of Japanese live action is a mild turnoff at the very least so it's not a genre I actively seek out. Put it in anime however, which for some reason has that same hamminess much less frequently, and I'm game for trying it out!


Monday, June 1, 2015

Weekly Round-UP: May 24th-31st Edition

I totally thought I could get to making this short post yesterday and finish writing about Awesome Con (which I went to on Friday/Saturday) but that post ended up being rather massive so I didn't quite pull it off (the short version: eh??? A few good points but I would approach doing this con very differently in the future and I have been corrected, Otakon is moving to DC in 2017 not 2016). Continuing with more negatives, I wrote about the first of the Durarara!! sequels and how this might have been more enjoyable three years ago but by now I've become more jaded and seen it's tricks and tropes in many other places as well. Haven't had a chance to write about that "submissive high schooler mentality" that I mentioned in the post but should have time this week and I'll be sure to link when I do.

On a more positive note, for this month's Webcomic Wednesday I talked about the journal comic Wasted Talent which is one I've enjoyed for many years and then I finally did a big post on my favorite books from 2014, published in 2014 (it felt like a bit of an "average" year, plenty of books I liked with only a few really amazing stand out titles, although again there are still some of my want-to-read list that I haven't gotten a hold of yet!). 

Finally, as I mentioned last week I also want to use this as a chance to talk about what I'm currently reading/watching that I might not otherwise talk about. I tried out the sequel to Goose Girl, called Enna Burning and actually disliked it enough that I dropped it, while Goose had a good balance between "this is a horrible thing that is beyond the character's control" and "this is a bad thing but the character can work with it", Enna has changed it's character so much that she's in a bad situation completely by accident and doesn't even realize what she's done despite having seen it earlier and therefore doesn't even have the ability to start thinking about changing it around and I don't want to read books about characters with that little, agency I guess. And then I tried another middle grade book called Goblin Secrets but that one seems to be just too young for me to really enjoy. 

On the anime side, I've started the Legend of the Galactic Heroes group watch which is loosely organized on twitter but I'm still a bit lukewarm on the series two weeks in. It's massive, 110 ovas IIRC which means it'll take a year at this rate to watch and honestly I'm not sure if I want something that long paced, I don't see many space operas but I know of some shorter ones I could watch instead. I am going to give it a few more weeks and see how I feel then but if I do drop it then hey, that's one more thing off my to-watch list!