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Aug. 29th, 2009


Zero No Tsukaima

I liked the plot, I loathed the whole, I guess the term is Tsundere (according to tv tropes and anime-planet)

All it took was 5 minutes into Futatsuki no Kishi, she brings out the whip and I realize I didn't enjoy the show so much the first time with all that beating on the guy - I'm sure as hell not going to enjoy a season two with her still beating on him, when he's proven in very certain terms how much he cares about her. Actually I've no idea why he cares about her, or if it's supposed to be some weird masochistic relationship on his side. But ugh.

So much ugh.

I already had problems with her treating him like a slave. But this just - so much ugh. Possibly cool story - too much ugh.


Kazi No Stigma

Starts off non spoilery, then well, I get pissed off at the FAMILY FULL OF IDIOTS )

Episode 2

The Stupidity Continues )

Aug. 15th, 2009


Manga Dislikes

Shikabane Hime / Corpse Princess | Yoshiichi Akahito Cut cause this is on some folks flists )

Aug. 5th, 2009


Manga Likes

Possible Long List of Manga Willow Has Or Is Enjoying

Hunter x Hunter
--- I adore the friendship between the two young main hunter characters. Even though it has, what I've come to understand is the sports theme of 'try harder, practice more, get stronger, defeat/impress stronger enemies' I really like the theme within the character arcs. I loved the fact that by the time they reached a certain point, with one particular 'bad guy', I'd not quite forgotten the horrific things he'd done. But I was starting to think of him as a heroic type in need of redemption and acceptance. This is possibly true because the second young male character has strong and solid echoes of that possibility in his own storyline. It's just hits all the right spots so far and I'm looking forward to hunting down the anime.

--- The summary of this manga doesn't make it seem interesting at all.
History isn't Tokidoki's strong subject. He's even forced to do make-up work at a high-tech history museum to bring up his failing grades. After losing an eye to a virtual reality monster in an Edo-period simulation, he finds himself unable to leave the game. Could it be real?

But it absolutely is for me, even though I admit to hunting down the anime (currently only 13 episodes) and liking the anime better. It's cleaner and more tightly focused - which makes sense since an anime of a manga would essentially be a rewrite. I can almost remember everyone's names already because of watching the anime. And I'm trying to hunt down the names Tienten and Gyoten because they were mentioned as the names of higher spirits in The Twelve Kingdoms as well and I'm immensely curious now.

I love the curveballs thrown into 'finding oneself in a heroic journey/another world' kind of experience.


Manga Dislikes

Possibly Long List Of Manga Willow Does Not / Did Not Enjoy

World Embryo
--- WTF was going on there after a while, I didn't even know. At first it seemed to be one story, but then it switched in the middle and involved other characters and then the very premise seemed to switch or get confused. And then a character I was only just starting to get to know dies and the reasoning doesn't even make sense because they don't bother explaining anything in enough detail to keep me interested.

Deadman Wonderland
--- It's got an amazing name and the premise seems cool. A kid gets wrongfully sent to a gladiator futuristic, amusement park type prison in Tokyo. But once again the explanations and intrigue is just too slow. And while I know I'm reading scanlations, I've noticed they take more time trying to fill in the blanks than official English translations done for America, which often try to -Americanize- or at least Anglosize everything. That said the scanlations are using the same art and the art-panels make things plain enough. I have a pretty good idea of aspects of the storyline and it's not being presented in a way that makes me eager to read more.

Jul. 27th, 2009


Hunter X Hunter

Currently reading Volume 1 of Hunter x Hunter and I'm unexpectedly happy and surprised by it. I thought I wouldn't like it, since I'm not too fond of artwork styles that exaggerate features. And I'm having a tiny problem following some panels. But it's offering me an interesting story. I know it's a trope to have ' The Young Son Of Amazing Master Seeking His Fortune' - but I liked that aspect of Negima and I like it here.

Considering how depressed and upset mainstream American comics have been making me, as well as mainstream SF, I'm looking forward to getting my fill via Manga. And best of all, now that I know my sister's reading Manga too - I can recc things for her :)

Dec. 16th, 2008


Webcomics: Dominic Deegan, Oracle For Hire

Unlike the prior post this review of a webcomic belongs here. It's not appropriate to Faces of Colour and it's not something I want to discuss in a political way. Dominic Deegan, Oracle for Hire is just plain geeky fun for me to read.

As I got up to date I couldn't help thinking that it's a web comic version of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden Files. The constant visions, the plotting evils, the larger arcing bad guys all give me a sense of a Dresden File book, with organizations navel gazing with their machinations and one hero left to gather his friends and loved ones to fight off the darkness. It also only helps the heroic parallels that Dominic likes wearing a long striped scarf that's reminiscent of the 4th Doctor Who.

The universe is Tolkenesque/ Dungeons & Dragon-esque fantasy. There are humans, orcs, were-wolves, sorceresses, mages, necromancers - it's a full fantasy spread. But it's set with a very contemporary feel. For example, there's a City of Sin that's a cross between Las Vegas and an open market bordello. And there are references to racism, including lynching and what such single-minded thoughts & actions can do to degrade an individual's soul. I was impressed that it wasn't just the overt moments that were represented, but also how peer pressure and desensitization can lead to a certain just under the surface darkness and blindness.

But that's all heavy stuff and Oracle for Hire doesn't read as heavy to me - ie - this is my message, this is my moral, open wide and swallow. Instead I found myself liking the character. He's a bit of a misanthrope, mostly because of constant interactions with stupidity. I liked how he meets one of the female characters and comes to care for her because she's brilliant and he just finds her intelligence unbearably sexy even if she has self esteem issues and can't image that's possible. I've experienced the surprise of finding someone patient who lets you recover from vast psychological torture. I've also been the patient friend. This was one of the few occasions I didn't end up thinking the writer had no clue what they were doing and why did they ever embark on this kind of storytelling subtext in the first place.

I like Dominic's friends. They're flawed, funny, loveable characters. I have favourites in fact. I even like some of his enemies. I've seen their flaws. I've seen them realize how their own mistakes led them up to a point and then watched them justify their continued actions. Very few characters feel dark just so that there can be a bad guy. Most of all, I like Dominic. I like his loyalty and determination to protect the innocent. Maybe that's the part of him that reminds me the most of Harry Dresden, that sense of righteousness.

As much as I enjoy digital comics, I may find myself ordering a few hard copies to share with friends. Good world building, intelligent plot arcs, motivated characters and a good ensemble with clan building. How could I not share that?

And yes, I am aware that I'm being very spoiler-careful, but I think there's value in discovering certain aspects of the world and the characters for yourself as a reader.


Webcomic: Magellan

Review & thoughts on Magellan webcomic @ SA.

Nov. 23rd, 2008



Hero by Perry Moore

Before I talk about anything else I have to talk about realizing there's a trope I dislike. The trope of the first true love of gayness. Heterosexuals get to kiss frogs, make mistakes, realize things work or don't work for them, grow up and make choices. In books a lot of the times there's a gay character and they either are portrayed as a) turning gay just for that one person or b) being a gay teenager who finds true love (Gays mate like Swans, yo! Never fear, just the right queer meets just the right queer).

On occasion, the one who makes their heart go thub-lub turns out to be too shallow and scared to come out, or something else that isn't villainous but is unhealthy and involves secrets and lies. But the uplifting stories? It always seems to be - and then the teenager boy was looking for love and he almost fell into the hands of a predator, or went into some 'sleazy gay bar' (why are gay bars any more sleazy than straight ones?) but lo and behold there was some virtuous fellow virgin also waiting to make with the immortal gay love story.

I don't know why I think it's more than a romance trope. But it feels like it. It feels like a message that homosexuality is only ok, if the protagonist is yearning for moonlight walks on the beach, and baking cookies with the perfect someone; lesbian or gay man. And then sparkle sparkle, there they are. It's.... it's a little too much 'We're just like you. We're the people next door.'. The whole We're Not Different. See? And To Ostracize Supposed Differences Is Wrong!

More directly related to HERO, was my shock at reading a coming out story and feeling so distanced from the experience. I found myself surprised they were cellphones and laptops in this universe because somehow this was a town large enough for a legacy epic superhero team and yet small enough that there'd be fear of being known as 'The Father of the Fag' and other societal shunning techniques. Maybe I just wasn't buying the protagonist as an actual highschool student and thus my shock was the character felt older, thus too old to be going through those anxieties in quite that way.

Read more... )

Nov. 13th, 2008


Skullduggery Pleasant (unfinished)

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Not a good book. Not a good book at all.

As I said in my private journal, I have a finely tuned hair trigger against the minimization of trauma. When G.W.Bush was telling the country after 9/11 to go on as if nothing had happened, I got incredibly pissed off. It took therapy to help me realize why. And yet I took three or four attempts at this book, unable to understand why I just couldn't sink into it.

The writing of itself is not pedantic. This is ok prose. And the setting and premise while somewhat cliche hinted at new possibilities of storytelling. So it took me a while to realize why I wasn't biting.

Spoilers here )

Oct. 27th, 2008


The Forbidden Kingdom (Movie)

I find myself having to write a review because I'm so.... displeased. But let me start at the beginning. First off, I didn't go see it in theaters. I just wasn't going to spend money on 'Yet another White Boy is the protagonist in a fantasy setting, far less a kung fu fantasy setting'. And having Jackie Chan and Jet Li involved just made it worst that it was a white boy.

So I'm glad that now I've seen it there was mention of the fact in the dialogue that he was a white boy who was walking with his head in a kung fu cloud. But that wasn't enough. I can't be overly grateful for 10 seconds of mention when the whole damn plot is 'And now white boy will become an honorable man - MAGIC CHINESE, just as mysterious as MAGIC NEGRO but with special butt kicking action! Buy one today!'. It didn't have to be a white boy set up in those cliche, shortcut scenarios, but it was.

But the other thing was the shortcuts. I understand the purpose of shortcuts and yet the entire movie was nothing but shortcuts aka cliche scenarios that by their cliche nature give the audience cues that aren't explicitly stated in action or dialogue.

Here there be spoilers )

Sep. 24th, 2008


Anime: Fairy Musketeers (Otogi-Jūshi Akazukin).

I watched this series on Veoh and fell in absolute love. And I have to laugh at myself because originally somewhere around the 4th or 5th episode I caught a hard sudden dislike because the non-active protagonist (male/Souta) was doing some very cliche things.

I was watching in a very young state of mind and got frustrated that it seemed as if the audience was being talked down to. After all how many times does someone have to be told that the people around them are there to protect them but DON'T go rushing into danger? How old does someone have to be to get that concept?

About two episodes later I realized that two things had confused me. The main one was that the male character had very much been given a "female" role. And I usually accept that particular stupidity in female characters; running into trouble without any plan or power to really help. It was very enlightening to realize that while it annoys me in female characters I've an easier time accepting the impulse because women and girls are supposed to care so much that it blots out rational thought.

But leading into that was the realization that that the character himself didn't realize everything that was going on around him even if I as a viewer did. It seemed obvious to me, but I was never an ordinary 10-13yr old. Looking at his actions as confusion, determination and friend loyalty as appropriate to his age helped smooth out the only true rough patch I ended up having. And I was glad that I was so intrigued by the storyline and world building that I kept watching.

Like I said I watched the fan translation online. The dvds don't seem available via Amazon. I'm unsure if this is a wait and see thing or what. But I know when I can afford it, it'll be in my top three must buy series. Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty kick some serious tail in this and the music is really wonderful.

PS: The second best thing about this series was knowing the fairy-tales and legends so knowing and understanding the characters at a deeper level.

Jul. 22nd, 2008


The Stravaganza Series

These are the old Stravagana by Mary Hoffman book covers.


You can see The New Stravaganza Covers at the link. I sincerely don't like them. Putting faces on the covers takes away my ability to shape the world she describes to my own satisfaction. Moreover I feel like something magical is quite, quite lost.

The old covers spoke of Italy but not Italy. They helped me fall in love with Talia, a world of secrets and intrigues and magic and heroes and heroines.

I have no doubt the new covers are meant to capitalize on the Twilight Movie and the hope that young teen readers will see these covers and be drawn to another world about teenagers and magical happenings. But now I regret not having had the money to buy the books with the old covers when I had a chance.

I don't want to see white faces on the covers. I don't want the protagonists' looks spelled out plainly by photography. The world building in these books is a fine craftsmanship. It builds upon Italian history and geography. I learned about real aspects of Italy even as I became engrossed in the plot of this other Italy, the magical Talia.

The faces on the covers are far too modern. They take away from the secondary characters who help make the books what they are.

I'm going to refresh my memory and then come back and write up reviews for the first three books in the series.

Jul. 17th, 2008


Flesh & Spirit / Breath & Bone - Carol Berg

My original, very short review of Flesh & Spirit sometime earlier in the year was :

Really enjoyed this one. Despite the first person pov, I felt suspense, urgency and peril/panic of dire situations. Oddly it made me think of Anita Blake done right, only without vampires, sex and 80's clothing.

I've just finished Breath & Bone and I really, really enjoyed it. Even if it took me 9 weeks to finish reading it. The suspense was so much I kept putting it down because I couldn't handle anything else happening.

So I think it's safe to say the main character does not have it easy. But I adore him. I absolutely adore him.

About Valen )

Jul. 6th, 2008


Movie: Prince Caspian (Liveblogging)

If I ever read Prince Caspian, I've long since forgotten it. So this review is strictly as a movie goer, though with some 'I read British books as a wee lass' thrown in.

Here there be comments of mine )

Jul. 5th, 2008


Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

I believe a friend, [info], had read and liked this novel. I so far have not. I've borrowed the audio version, as I've discovered that books I want to read but which I may be currently unable to read (but still able to comprehend) are best via audio. I listened to chapter 1 and I think if I'd been reading it I'd have stopped before the chapter even finished.

The pace is horrible. It's the end of the chapter and all I know is that there's a Wizard with secrets who practices magic and a bunch of stuffy others who only deal with theory and out of those stuffed pots two who have hunted the sneaky wizard down. That's it. I don't know how magic is viewed by the populace. I don't know how it contributed to the growth of the Empire. I don't have a clue why people stopped using it, or if it happened all at once or not.

I understand what happened to magic is part of the mystery of the book and yet I'm not bloody well intrigued at all. The book's just page after page of We're Quirkily Old School British But About Magic, Don't You Love Our Gentleman's Club. And the my reply is a resounding no.

In my eyes it's a very watery (thrice used tea bag) version of The Bartimaeus Trilogy.

[originally posted in my Posterous on June 30th]


Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

Introduced to my state library system's ebook and audiobook via download lending system, this was my first test borrow. It was listed in Science Fiction & Fantasy. I eagerly snatched it up.

But over and over again the book made me wince or shudder or just plain mashed the zombie dance all over my TOTALLY WRONG button.

Grr argh. I'm frustrated )

Next 20

January 2015



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