the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘anime

I was hoping to write full length reviews of these books, but well, life (and Netflix) happens, so I didn’t.  Here are some ultra quick reviews of some recent reads!

 

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I am finally on the Schwab bandwagon, and I can see why she has the following she has.  Vicious was hella fun! I described it to a friend as “gleefully violent”. Think Flatliners meets X-Men, But twice as snarky and three times as smart.  Tight writing, fast paced, not a wasted sentence. I enjoyed every minute of reading this book! I will def be reading the sequel, Vengeful.

 

Noumenon Infinity by Marina J. Lostetter –  I really loved the first book, Noumenon, and my Dad did too. So we read the 2nd book together.  I had a hard time getting into this book, very little of the characters I’d enjoyed so much from the first book. Had I not been reading it along with my Dad I would have DNF’d it. Too much felt like a plot device – too much of “ok, so this plot thing needs to happen for the story to go in this particular direction because that direction makes sense”, and then exactly that happened. The big reveal at the end wasn’t a surprise at all. I wish C had been a bigger part of this book.  Lots of great science and an intriguing first contact plot line, but execution was flawed.

 

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal –  very fast paced, Kowal has a ton of story to cram into a not very long novel.  I loved the alternate history extinction level event – a meteor lands off the Atlantic coast, taking Washington DC with it. Within a few decades we may not be able to survive on Earth, so it’s to the stars we go! Elma is a “computer”, that is, she is a math savant who can do complicated calculations in her head faster than a 1950s computer can. She’s also a pilot. Who says women can’t be astronauts? Umm…   all the male astronauts, and the government,  that’s who. So Elma and all her female pilot friends will just have to prove them wrong. This book teetered right on the line of Punching You In The Face Every Other Page with all the isms. You might not even notice that aspect, you might love it, you might hate it.  This is a prequel to Kowal’s novellette The Lady Astronaut of Mars, which you can still read over at Tor.com.

 

Bride’s Story vol 10 by Kaoru Mori – Finally the story is  back to Amir and Karlak! Karlak has decided to spend a few seasons with Amir’s family, so that he can learn how to hunt with a bow and understand more about her family’s nomadic culture.  Amir’s brothers and cousins quickly adopt Karlak, and even though he has a lot to learn, they treat him with respect. Karlak is even gifted with a hunting eagle. I think Karlak went into this expecting Amir’s brother and cousins to treat him like a child, like a “city boy”, like a joke.  And they treat him with hospitality and respect.  The artwork in the scenes with the eagles were incredible! I love this series for the artwork alone!  The last third of the volume goes back to Smith. He gets the surprise of his life, and he’s going to decide what to do with her. And she no longer has a home to return to. Volumes 7 – 9 were all over the place and didn’t have much focus, so I’m happy that this volume has more focus and features more of my favorite characters.

Watching!

 

I’ve gotten hooked on The Final Table on Netflix  – Think Iron Chef mixed with the drama of Chopped, but the dial cranked up to twelve. It’s over produced and more than a little ridiculous. Lol, maybe it’s Total. Drama. Cooking show! My favorite part has become the “final plate” portion. The judges for the final plate portion of each episode give supportive and positive feedback.  There is a contestant I wish had more screen time, he is slender, wears round glasses, and wears his brown hair in a ponytail. I want to know how long his hair is. He looks like an anime guy!

 

And speaking of anime,  I’ve also gotten hooked on Castlevania, also on Netflix.   An American version of the Japanese anime, this is paced and designed more to western tastes and expectations. I nearly cried in the first episode. The characters are snarky, sweary, fighty, and the dialog is fantastic.  I’m only 4 or 5 episodes in, and we just met Alucard, who is most certainly not the sleeping savior soldier. (I knew he had to show up eventually). Oh boy, my female gaze is strong with this one! How are those pants staying on?  I know (i hope at least) he’s not there just for fan service, but DAMN.  Anyway,  great characters who are snarky, sweary, smart, and sexy? And an excellent Dracula story? Um, yes please!

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. How about you? what have you read, watched, and enjoyed?

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Stephen GeeToday I’m thrilled to be talking with Stephen Gee, who recently released his debut novel Wage Slave Rebellion.  I’ve known about Stephen for a while, I just didn’t realize I knew him. Lemme ‘splain.  My husband watches a lot of anime, reads a lot of anime reviews online, and talks about those reviewers whose reviews he follows and opinions he respects. The name “Stilts” kept coming up over and over again. So I started following Stilts on twitter, and we’d tweet back and forth from time to time (my anime preferences seem to be begin and end with Hiromu Arakawa, but whatever).

I eventually got a very nice e-mail from Stilts, and we chatted some more. Turns out his name is Stephen,  he’s really cool, and he’s got a novel out!

Wage Slave Rebellion is Stephen Gee‘s debut novel, and you can head over to Random Curiosity for the big reveal party.  Head over there, check it out, then come on back here for my interview with Stephen.

Ready? Let’s go!

wage slave rebellion cover

Little Red Reviewer: Congratulations on your debut novel Wage Slave Rebellion! What’s the quick elevator pitch for the book?

Stephen Gee: Here’s what I’ve been telling people: “Wage Slave Rebellion is an urban fantasy adventure set in a sword & sorcery world. It’s about three friends who hate their crappy jobs, so they decide to become monster-slaying adventurers instead. It’s like Terry Pratchett spliced with a badass action anime.”

It’s sort of an old-meets-new, a medieval-style fantasy setting (swords, spells, monsters, etc), but with modern themes such as job dissatisfaction, refusing to accept mediocrity, and living life to the fullest that many people grapple with today. Add in explosive action and plenty of funny banter, and it’s a lot of fun!

LRR: Who is your favorite character in the book? Who was the hardest to write?

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So I recently posted about a bazillion photos (part 1, part 2, part 3. that’s almost a bazillion, right?) from Anime Midwest. Yes, the people watching and cosplay was the highlight of the weekend, but I did things other than sit in the lobby and photograph people!  The convention had tons of programming, there were panels about cosplay, about specific shows and fandoms, Q&As with famous voice actors, concerts, there was so, so much to see and do.   Hubby and I went to a few panels together, but there were so many good panels that were all occurring at the same time, that it was mostly “You go to this one, I’ll go to this other one, we’ll compare notes later”.

 

Here’s a recap of what we saw and did:

 

Friday:

 

The first  panel we went to was called Dialects of Kansai. The woman who hosted the panel studied and lived in Japan, and was doing a series of panels over the weekend about Life in Japan. Students who study Japanese learn the “standard” Kyoto dialect, but Osaka uses a much older dialect and language patterns and casual slang that goes about about 1,000 years.   I didn’t understand most of the Japanese she used, but it was a really cool panel. She also did the Kimono panel I went to later Friday evening.

 

I caught the last 20 minutes of the Q&A with voice actress Caitlin Glass, who anime fans know as the voice of Winry Rockbell, Haruhi of Ouran High School Host Club, Evergreen of Fairy Tail, Petra of Attack on Titan, among many other roles. She is such the perfect nerd!  She said that as a child she loved the movie The Little Mermaid so much that she’d walk around imitating Ariel’s voice.  She studied classical theater in College, and took the “never close any doors” advice to heart, later auditioning with Funimation in her home town in Texas.  It was a huge crowd, and she was great about answering everyone’s questions and having a lot of fun.

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Just joining us? You’ll want to read this post first.

Oh, and if i have misidentified characters, let me know in the comments so I can fix the  captions. Google image search only gets you so far….

Jumping right back into cosplay photos:

The Fairy Tail Meet-Up

The Fairy Tail Meet-Up

Natsu from Fairy Tail

Natsu from Fairy Tail

 

Kirito from Sword Art Online

Kirito from Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online was another very popular show to cosplay, there were a ton of Kiritos and Asunas running around. Running Around, very hard to photograph.

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This about summed up the weekend.

This about summed up the weekend.

Last weekend, hubby and I drove to Chicago for Anime Midwest. Over 6000 people converged on the Hyatt Regency and neighboring Expo center for  autograph sessions and Q&A sessions with famous voice actors, concerts, panels, fan meet-ups, fashion shows, the dealer room, fandom specific activities, and the best people watching in the midwest.  More a Cosplay convention than anything else, the lobby of the hotel and all areas outside were most definitely the place to see and be seen.  it was all about the cosplay, with the most popular costumes being Kill la Kill, Madoka Magica, and Attack on Titan.   Lots of younger people were dressed up, and the costumes these kids put together were simply incredible. Entire outfits, props, wigs, make up, the whole nine yards.   Also? more Homestuck than I ever want to think about.   I took a ton of photos, but for photos that are actually good, head over to Geek Girl Chicago’s recap.

Attack on Titan cosplayers. Check out that Vertical Maneuvering Equipment!

Attack on Titan cosplayers. Check out that Vertical Maneuvering Equipment!

You know how we’re always talking about how we want our conventions to be more diverse? We want more women, more minorities, more younger people?  This convention was the definition of diverse. The crowd skewed on the young side, with plenty of kids and teens with parents in tow, and a huge crowd of 20-somethings. I saw all ages, all backgrounds, all skin colors, all everything. and it was beautiful.  Everyone was cheering their favorite fandom, dressed to the nines as their favorite character, or in some cases, favorite two or three characters all at once. there were anime characters, video game character, a Maid Cafe, American superheroes, Disney princesses, you name it. Had I known ahead of time that there would be so many American characters, I’d have taken my Sabetha costume (don’t worry, I took a different costume!)

A few more quickie comments before getting to the photo dump (which lets be honest, you’re here for the photos, right?)

The hotel was spacious and down right huge, with plenty of public areas for people to socialize and take photos. Loud activities such as concerts were in the basement, as far from the hotel rooms as possible.  Celebrities brought in for the convention did wonderful panels, gave autographs, and seemed genuinely excited about interactive with fans.  The peoplewatching, oh my god, the people watching!  I’d just sit in the lobby and watch people go by!  There was a huge variety of panels, everything from anime show specific, to learning about Japan, to Cosplay tips and tricks, to Japanese street fashion, to fanfiction, to how to use Samurai Swords, to name that tune, to about a billion other things.  The most popular events were, unsurprisisngly, the Masquerade Costume Contest, and autograph and question sessions with the attending voice actors, like Greg Ayres, Sonny Strait, Caitlin Glass, Johnny Yong Bosch, Chris Patton, Alexis Tipton, Laura Post, and D.C. Douglas.

Programming went very late at night, and around 11pm, most panels switched to 18+, and I was impressed with how strict they were about carding people. You had to show a convention badge and an ID. The two guys in line in front of me for the 18+ panel I attended were turned away, and the guys doing the carding chuckled when I said “I’m old enough to be those boys’ mom”. They let me in no problem.

photos!  lets get to the good stuff!

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A lot of anime gets watched in this house. 300 channels of cable TV, and I’d rather watch Crunchyroll.  I got hooked on anime when I was in high school, watched a boatload through my early to mid 20s, and although in my late 20s I got out of it, the hubs has been watching a ton recently and been getting me hooked again.

Here’s what he’s been watching the most of lately, and I’ve been enjoying these too – Gosick, Mysterious Girlfriend X, and Hyouka. He’s seen every available episode of the shows mentioned, where I have probably seen half the episodes. The words below are his.

 

Gosick– this came out a year or so ago, and it advertises itself as a mystery solving anime, but it’s really a character study and a romance, possibly one of the best romances ever seen in an anime story. It does everything right, successfully combining action, adventure, romance, and situation comedy. A refreshing way to present a story, as so many anime are so focused on just action, or just comedy, or just romance, or just slice of life, etc. Although many animes genremash, very few offer such a good blend of, for lack of a better phrase, storytelling methods.

Taking place in the 1920s, the story starts when Kujo goes to a small fictitious European country to study at a private school. He’s the 3rd child of a fairly wealthy Japanese family, and he experiences some prejudice against Asians while in his new city. In his boredom, he explores some unused buildings in the school, and meets Victorique. Tiny of stature but large in attitude, to tell you much more about her would spoil the major, and most fascinating part of the story.

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Think anime is all mechas or outer space bounty hunters or weird jokes you won’t get or Tokyo getting exploded? Think anime isn’t for you? think again.

Take Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, and put it far in the future. A future where a walled Paris is one of the few habitable places left on Earth and the moon has been fully colonized. A future where the rich marry for political reasons and machinations and everyone else just tries to get by as best they can. A future where the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Loosely following the original material, yet told from the point of view of the overly naive Albert, Gankustuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is as visually stunning as it is fascinating. This is an anime that you want to watch because it is well written, well voiced, and simply beautiful to behold.  The fact that you’ll be digging around for old Dumas titles afterwards is just an added bonus.

An oversimplified summary of the original story goes thusly:  shortly before the sailor Edmond Dantes is to marry Mercedes, he is betrayed by Fernand, a rival for Mercedes.  Dantes is imprisoned in the Chateau d’If, and Fernand marries Mercedes.  During his imprisonment, Dantes befriends a fellow prisoner who claims to know of a buried treasure. When Dantes escapes the Chateau, he finds the treasure, and returns to Paris.  It’s been 15 years, and Mercedes and Fernand have a son, named Albert. Introducing himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes plans his revenge on the man who destroyed his life, a slow revenge that is as beautiful as it is brutal.
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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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