Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Manga Review: Cronos Haze

This review originally appeared on Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses.

Title: Cronos Haze
Genre: Action
Publisher: Futabasha (JP), Crunchyroll (US)
Story/Artist: Takano Masayuki
Serialized in: Manga Action
Reviewed: 7 out of 11 chapters
Review copy provided by Crunchyroll.

Readers could be forgiven for looking at this series, which involves fights using sentient “jackets” and the original publication date, and thinking “is this a Kill la Kill rip-off?” Since this series is a reboot of a 2001 title of the same name the answer is no and upon a closer look the details of these two series are rather dissimilar after all. In Cronos Haze, Touya aims to find out more about his missing father by attending the same high school he did, Amagiri Academy, and quickly discovers that this school is bizarre by anyone’s standards. The school possess mecha, the student body president wields a military gun, and as mentioned earlier some of the students fight using “jackets” which when not activated take the form of a person and change their appearance to suit their wearer. Despite all of it’s shonen trappings the series runs in Manga Action magazine which means it’s actually a seinen series although it hasn’t done anything that would feel out of place in a shonen manga aimed at 14 year olds yet.

When Touya isn’t on screen there’s a subplot emerging in the background: Gigantes is a group of beings who have ruled the world (secretly I assume) for centuries and Amagiri is the one group that has been able to oppose them, despite their supernatural abilities. The abilities themselves are a bit vague, all of the ones presented so far seem to be related to probability, but more confusing is the fact that they have never caught onto the fact that their mysterious nemesis shares a name with an enormous, famous school and then when they’re searching for the headquarters (tipped off that it might be found at sea) run straight into the island.

None of this is portrayed humorously, which therefore means that the readers are supposed to take these characters seriously, yet the series hasn’t explained why Gigantes and Amagiri are fighting each other besides making vague speeches about ruling the world. Touya is as flat as a protagonist can be, with the vague goal of “I want to learn more about my father” but shows no interest in actually doing anything and the side characters are nothing more than walking exposition speech bubbles (except for when the series indulges in some particularly pathetic fanservice, just because you had a girl in a guys dorm instead of the other way around doesn’t suddenly make it funny). The exposition is also among the worst I’ve ever seen, the series literally waits a few chapters and then has one, two-page monologue by a new character explaining everything he thought Touya already knew and it still doesn’t answer many key questions.

If you want a series with the characters uncovering complex, hidden schemes there are better series out there and there are also plenty of series which combine that with action as well. If it wasn’t for the fact that this is a reboot I would have assumed Cronos Haze was a manga-ka’s first work where they were really passionate about their story but had no storytelling skills. As it stands I’m scared to look at what they’ve created in the 13 year gap between these versions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Anime Review: Erased

Now it's time to really get going on the Winter 2016 anime season with noitaminA's third mystery show in as many seasons. For newcomers to the blog, I tried Ranpo Kitan (loosely based on the works of Edogawa Ranpo) but didn't like the first episode at all and watched The Perfect Insider (based on either a novel or a light novel from the 90s) until the end but got frustrated with both it's philosophy and it's "solution" to the murder mystery (I'm honestly surprised that more people weren't even harsher on that detail). Each of these shows has had greater credentials than the last and so we come to this show, based off of a manga with an excellent reputation and with a strong staff (I enjoyed the director's previous work on Silver Spoon quite a bit) and news that the anime would end concurrently with the manga and have the same ending. That's a promising start!

Erased (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi The Town Where Only I am Missing)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Weekly Round-UP: March 20th -27th and winter 2016 anime post-moratem

Right, so it looks like my Erased review is going up tomorrow instead of tonight (curses, fell too far behind in my watching) so let me give you guys at least some content tonight. First up, what I actually did get posted last week!

And I might start posting even more posts each week! "Helen you can barely do three reviews a week". Four-thank-you-very-much (although OASG was delayed this past week, my fault), but here's the thing, when OASG switched sites at the beginning of the year the old site went offline and all of my old links are bad. However, thanks to the miracle of website cacheing, I should be able to recover a lot of my old posts and plan to start uploading them here as well! I'm not sure how many it will be (in theory, several months worth if not a full year) but I'm gonna try to post those on Thursday.

Okay, now onto the new stuff, it's time to talk about how the winter anime season ended as a whole!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown

It seems that right now I only want to write reviews for things that are set to be posted in a few weeks, ho-hum. I mean, it's not that I didn't like this book, on the contrary I enjoyed it from the very first snippets I tried on Tor, although I had to be careful that I didn't read this book and A Darker Shade of Magic back to back since I wasn't sure how similar their settings would be. They are quite different it turns out, DSoM feels like a more generic fantasy even though it revolves specifically around the city of London. However, SttC revolves around England itself, a real England where you can't describe it with just one color. 

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Chou

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Movie Review: Garakowa - Restore the World -

Originally the plan was to watch this movie the weekend it premiered on Crunchyroll but that was smack in the middle of my Katsu-crunch and, in addition to having fewer cosplays were I could multi-task and sew while watching anime, I found that I just wanted to watch the shows I was already following, the lack of reviews for the movie wasn't making me more interested in it. But once I found the time I was glad that it was only an hour, that's at least easier to make time for than a full two hour movie.

Garakowa -Restore the World-

Monday, March 21, 2016

Anime Shorts: Wakakozake and This Boy Is A Professional Wizard

It's been so long since I covered anime shorts that most folks probably don't remember I even do! Considering that these are so, well, brief, I like to lump two or more shows together and not make a review that takes longer to read than one episode. Sound good? (and with this I've reviewed my first 2016 anime, I don't feel so behind now!)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Weekly Round-UP: March 13th - 19th

So we're missing a post this week, mostly because I was supposed to review a movie this week per my schedule and I've been so busy I haven't actually seen any films in months! I had realized this might be a problem but just realizing it wasn't enough to give me the time to watch something, remedying that now as soon as I finish this so to run it all down quickly:

  • I talked about a manga I liked on OASG! Even my editors are starting to tease me whenever CR puts out new chapters but I'm pretty sure we're caught up with Japan!
  • I reviewed an anime I thought was okay! And yet had few qualms picking up during the Right Stuf holiday sales, honestly that was mostly for cosplay references but I've discovered that either my external hard drive, my new-ish macbook pro, or the DVDs themselves don't let you take screenshots. I suspect the DVDs (which is BS since I'm pretty sure my "license" to buy the DVDs entitles me to take stills for non-commercial, personal usage) so thank god for those Crunchyroll streams.
  • And I grumpily outlined why I didn't like a book that most book blogs think is hot shit. Been a while since that happened, I wasn't worried that I was going soft or anything but it is odd when I go a couple of months with opinions that are completely in line with everyone else's.
It's the last week of the anime season too so next week's round-up will include a short moratorium on that! And dear lord, apparently the spring premiers are spread out from April 1st to the 16th, that seems longer than normal to me, anyone else think so?

Book Review: The Grace of Kings

I think I made a mistake, back in November I realized "oh no, it's near the end of the year and I haven't more than a couple of 2015 books!" and then requested entirely too many from the library. Seriously, it's now March and I still have about five left in my to-read stack. Some of the books, like this/last week's title, were rather long but really, it was just too many books at once.

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

Monday, March 14, 2016

Anime Review: Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Whew, I've only got a week's gap in-between anime seasons to review a backlog title but with how full this season has been for me I haven't had a chance to really work on my backlog honestly. Spring doesn't look like it's going to be much better at this rate, it's crazy how even the "weak" anime seasons always leave me watching more than I think I am....

Yuki Yuna is a Hero (Yuki Yuna wa Yuusha de Aru)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Weekly Round-UP: March 7th - 12th

Geeze, that Vinland Saga did not go up at a reasonable hour like I had planned, sorry about that folks. Honestly I'm happy that I finally managed to get all of my posts up here (plus an Instant Analysis of Futaba-kun Change! at OASG) since that hasn't happened in a while. I'm not quite sure I did The Scorpion Rules justice, probably because some of my favorite parts of the book are quite spoilerly so I obviously couldn't dive into them, but I think I articulated pretty well why the second half of Seraph of the End just didn't work as well as I expected. 

And I think I'll keep this post short this week, see y'all again tomorrow with a long overdo magical girl review!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Manga Review: Vinland Saga (volumes 1 - 5)

Well this is not the reasonable time I hoped to have this review up, my apologies. So let's not waste anymore time and talk about vikings. 

Vinland Saga (volumes one through five) by Makoto Yukimura

Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Review: The Scorpion Rules

Yep, missed another post Wednesday, my evening schedule was a little different this week so I ended up trying to write too much one evening and it didn't work. Also, honestly the reason I used to churn out so many posts was because I'd stay up as late as it took, I'm really trying to get better about my sleep schedule so I'm doing that less. My thoughts on Vinland Saga should go up by a sane time Saturday though!

So, Erin Bow. I adored Plain Kate and had quite a few problems with Sorrow's Knot (and ultimately didn't like it because of those problems). After SK I thought "well, maybe that first time was a fluke, me liking it anyway, since I didn't even see the prose I adored in PK in SK" and when I saw it was more or less set in a dystopia that really didn't make me excited for the book. But it got good buzz so it ended up on my to-read list after all and here we are, I finished it which is always a good sign!

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Monday, March 7, 2016

Anime Review: Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya

With this I am finally caught up with my fall season reviews, wahoo! Straight onto the winter season reviews next week since one show I was watching (a short) has already ended and after that, geeze, maybe I'll have time for a few backlog show reviews too! Hmm, guess that means I'll need to actually finish up a few of them first....

Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Multi-week Round-UP: February 23rd - March 6th

Okay so, at this point I'm apparently going to have colds etc until my allergies start up once spring hits. I am not very happy with 2016 so far and no one is going to believe that I planned to write even more this year at this rate. I have been getting some reviews out, like The Perfect Insider and K: Return of Kings but it's harder to focus on titles you like less, even if you're not sick. Thankfully I have liked a number of other titles I've also been reviewing, like Uprooted, A Darker Shade of Magic and volumes 2 & 3 of ReLIFE over at OASG but only five reviews in two weeks? That's not the amount of content I'm aiming for so, a little catch-up with a few reviews I missed and decided to just summarize instead:

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

Man, colds are terrible. So are unpredictable weather patterns, neck aches, and everything else that gives me headaches. Since Wednesday's review was already going to be a shorter one I'm going to wrap it into my round-up on later today (along with last week's posts, it's going to be a long post) and instead just keep moving forward and getting some of these posts out on time (or close) for once.

I'm glad that I enjoyed all of the books I read between Thanksgiving and Christmas since it means I can still remember a lot of aspects of the stories and give them the reviews their deserve! At this point I'm still just getting started with all of the 2015 releases so hilariously enough for this book I just found out today that the sequel is already out! Doesn't change my feelings on the book thankfully (I thought I had heard/suspected from reading the book that this wouldn't be a standalone) and hopefully I'll get around to reading A Gathering of Shadows sooner rather than later.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab