[Manga Monday] Big O, Vol. 1 ★★★☆☆

bigo1 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Big O, Vol. 1
Series: Big O #1
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 216
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

We are introduced to Roger Smith, Big O, Beck and Paradigm City.

Roger has several encounters with Beck, where Beck tries to blackmail the city for 5 billion dollars so he won’t destroy some memories, another where he uses an electricity eating bug to try to destroy Big O in revenge for the previous escapade and finally where he kidnaps R Dorothy and uses the Dorothy I megadeus to try to rob a bank. Every single one is foiled by Big O and Roger Smith and Beck seems to have it in for Big O.

My Thoughts:

I took a quick look at wikipedia and the Big O manga was started several months before the anime, probably to try to drum up excitement for the anime. With that in mind, I wasn’t surprised when this was a real hash of old and new material. The first story about holding memories hostage was all new, the electricity bug story had overtones of the electric eel monster and the R Dorothy story was pure re-tread.

The art was different. Very similar, but not the iconic Batman: The Animated Series like the anime. It was too bad, because that art worked so well. The Big O too was not shown to the best and besides being big and having some big fisty arms, didn’t have much presence. The biggest difference was Beck playing such a major villain. In the anime he’s a 2bit loser who occasionally annoys Roger. Here, he’s still an annoying 2bit villain, but he’s the main villain and he doesn’t even try to be corny/funny like in the anime. The perennial loser villain.

The biggest issue is the 40 year memory loss. In one page, Roger relates how people still show up without their memories, and the main event happened 40 years ago. But, most of the people trying to get their memories back aren’t even close to 40, so they shouldn’t have had any to lose. Or regain. If the time frame had been changed to 5, maybe even 10 years, then I could accept things better. It really feels like the 40 should have been 4 and something was seriously lost in translation.

Not an auspicious start for this manga series I’m afraid.

★★★☆☆

Record of Lodoss War OVA (1990 Anime)

lodosswarFor those who don’t know, OVA stand for Original Video Animation. It is shorthand for “not quite a full length series” and may consist of either 13 episodes (just like the Tenchi OVA) or 2-5 episodes that are longer in length. 

The Lodoss OVA follows the adventures of Parn, Deedlit, Etoh, Slayne, Ghim and Woodchuck. The first couple of episodes deal with them trying to stop Emperor Beld from conquering Lodoss. Once that is accomplished they must next rescue Deedlit, who has been kidnapped by the wizard Wagnard. Deedlit is a High Elf and has eternal life. Wagnard wants to use said life to resurrect and control a slain dark goddess of destruction. Former allies of Beld help the group. In the end Deedlit and Parn ride off into the sunset to have more adventures and to create their own legend.

Much like the manga, I came away from this viewing realizing that I had gone past it. I was now the master and the anime was the student.

It also didn’t help one bit that the anime episodes weren’t linear for the first several and we’re bounced around a lot, trying to figure out WHEN we are. It isn’t until the 4th episode that things settle down. I remember it confusing me when I first watched it and it still confused me this time around.

Also just like in the manga, the romance between Deedlit and Parn is understated way more than I had remembered. Turns out that every “romantic” bit was in the opening and closing songs. I did a Music Monday post for those last week but didn’t want to talk about them until I was writing about the anime itself. The songs are sickeningly saccharine sweet. Yet even now they make me go “Yes, that is what I want”. Weird huh? They appear to be from Deedlit’s view and talk about wanting to be loved and cherished. As a man, wanting to encompass, protect and love slots right into that. To a 20’s something single guy with a broken heart, it was the Song of the Siren, ie, irresistible.

I watched this with the english dub and it was pretty bad. There was a reason a lot of early anime viewers preferred to watch stuff sub-titled.

Once I had watched this OVA back in the day, I went on to buy the Chronicles of the Heroic Knight series, the Legend of Crystania movie (it deals with Ashram and Pirotess, badguys turned good from Lodoss) and Legend of Crystania: The Chaos Ring OVA. I don’t remember much, but considering I thought the Lodoss OVA was the cream of the crop, I think I’m going to pass on watching them again. I also ended up buying 2 cloth wall scrolls and several of the OST’s (original sound tracks).

Now that I’ve watched 4 different seasons of various anime this month, I am left wondering, what do I do with the stuff I don’t care for any more? Most anime is a younger person’s game and I doubt the stuff I own that I don’t want would appeal to a younger group of people. It would appear that my options are either to try to sell them dirt cheap on Craigslist or to donate them to the library. This is why I am collecting less and less “stuff” the older I get.

Big O, Season 2 (2003 Anime)

51x0ze2cd6l Big O, season 2, is where things get REALLY weird. Season 1 was all about meeting the characters and finding out the mystery of Paradigm City. Season 2 is trying to make sense of the amnesiac state of everyone and what the future holds.

While power plays are exposed left and right by various high officials and new megadeus are revealed like candy in a five and dime store, it all comes down to the fact that Paradigm City is a virtual reality and in the end is reset. But we never find out why it was created, or who actually created it  or what its purpose might have been.

 

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Back when I first started watching anime, I enjoyed mystery, unanswered questions,  unresolved situations. It provided for an incalculable amount of speculation fodder. I’m no longer in that place and questions put forth simply to confusticate no longer amuse me, but annoy me instead.  And this whole season was trying to be one mind bender after another. It would have been simpler to just use the followering on yourself. With about the same results is my guess.

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The “Mind Bender!”

The other change, in myself that translated to not enjoying this as much, was the almost unstated romantic angle between Roger Smith and R. Dorothy Wainwright.  As a single guy in his 20’s, this “destiny” between 2 disparate entities was something that spoke to my very essence. Yeah, I was one of those “romantics” as a young man. I never descended to writing bad poetry, but it was a close thing at times, hahahahaa. Now, viewing things from the other end of the telescope, it came across as heavy handed and about as subtle as a baseball bat to the kneecaps.

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Other than those 2 issues, this was still a fantastic watch.  The various battles between the megadeus was everything you could ask for in a mech battle.  The animation is as slick as the first season and from my casual watch, I couldn’t tell that 4 years had passed between seasons.

While I didn’t feel awash in confusion, or that I had wasted my time, I have to admit that I’m not sure I’ll ever watch it again. A very different reaction from my watch of Season 1, that is for sure. Upon this re-watch, I have to say that I think if season 1 had ended things, we’d all be better off.

Crap man, I’m watching my 20’s really slipping away. This gets a solid thumbs sideways 😉

 

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bookstooge (Custom)

Tenchi Muyo OVA (1992 Anime)

tenchiovaAhhhh, what a fantastic little series.  This is actually two 6 episode story arcs with a connecting longer special episode connecting them.

Arc 1 introduces us to Tenchi Masaki, the titular character.  He is training under his grandfather to be the next shrine priest. There is a cave that contains a demon that the priest Yosho defeated 700 years ago. Tenchi explores it against his grandfather’s will and ends up setting free the demon, who turns out to be the space pirate Ryoko and her sentient spaceship Ryo-Ohki.  This in turns sets off an alarm that alerts Princess Ayeka of the planet Jurai.  She and her little sister Sasami travel to Earth to apprehend Ryoko. The Galaxy Police also send their top agent, Mihoshi, who while being their top agent, is also a bubblehead and leaves a trail of destruction wherever she goes.  Arc 1 ends with the villain Kagato trying to capture the legendary power of Jurai. Tenchi defeats him after it is revealed that Tenchi is descended from Jurai. Kagato’s defeat frees Washu, the universe’s greatest genius and mother to Ryoko.

Arc 2 starts out with three standalone episodes and then morphs into a story about a Lady Tokimi, a higher order being, who wants to capture Washu and the power of the Light Hawk Wings. Ryoko is replaced by a robot, known as Zero Ryoko and Tenchi must rescue the original Ryoko. When Tenchi faces Tokimi down during the rescue, this brings him to the attention of the Royal Jurai Family and the King and Queens of Jurai come to Earth. They force Tenchi to fight against Ayeka’s fiance, who is a complete fop and Mihoshi ends up crashing her ship on the fop, thus ending the fight before it even begins.

 

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Tenchi, while not necessarily the very first, was definitely one of the first in the Comedy Harem genre. All the girls like him and while fighting amongst themselves, will immediately gang up on ANY outsider who looks like they might take Tenchi’s attention. The emotions are ramped up to 11 and range from the romantic to the desire to protect. I think if I were to watch this for the first time now, I’d be rolling my eyes like there was no tomorrow. But having watched this in my early 20’s, it has imprinted itself into my emotional makeup and even now I like that 11 ramp!

 

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The music aptly captures the pathos and the light humor. Some pieces are so emotionally laden that they practically drip. When Tenchi is fighting Kagato there is some great organ music and when Tenchi dramatically unveils his ability to use the Wings of the Light Hawk, the music is perfectly synthesized to match the mood. The ending songs are extremely up beat, bouncy and positive. You could easily imagine an 11 year old girl dancing around with her favorite stuffed animal. When Zero Ryoko is supposed to kill Tenchi, the music captures the battle inside of her and perfectly sets the mood for her despair and shows her emotions for Tenchi overcoming even her programming. Here is the soundtrack for Ryoko’s theme. Hope it comes through.

 

I’ve watched this both subbed and dubbed and I must say, the english crew were cast perfectly.  Specifically, Petrea Burchard’s voice as Ryoko, perfectly captures everything you’d expect from the character. Sadly, she didn’t reprise her role in the future OVA’s and I know that influenced my opinion of them.

 

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The art style is the (now) old fashioned hand drawn art. I absolutely love it and it is part of why this particular ova still appeals to me.  They don’t create anime like this any more, more’s the pity.  The only thing to be aware of is there is some nudity in this.  The North American release was edited so Ryoko wasn’t dancing around in the nude but with the new bluray release, I don’t know which version they went with.

While the ending was a bit ambiguous, it WAS an ending that every fan could live with. However, it was so popular that it spun off a large number of other series. Tenchi Universe, Tenchi In Tokyo, Tenchi: GXP, War on Geminar, two more OVA’s  and The Mihoshi Special/Magical Girl Pretty Sammy, were all produced. 3 movies were also created, Tenchi in Love, Tenchi 2: Daughter of Darkness and Tenchi Forever. Sadly, none of them quite captured the spirit and romance of the original OVA. Some of them went so far afield as to be barely connected.  More recently, a fifth OVA was announced, so  the Tenchi franchise is alive and well.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this and I’m sure I’ll be watching this again.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Big O, Season 1 (1999 Anime)

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The Big O started life, at least here in the United States, as one 13 episode series that ended on a cliffhanger so big that everyone who watched it screamed and hollered until the sequel was produced.

The setting is Paradigm City and a world devastated by an unknown Event forty years ago. Said event apparently destroyed the rest of the world and wiped the memory of every living person. We follow Roger Smith, a Negotiator, who makes deals between parties wishing to exchange “memories” (bits of data from the old world). He is the operator of a megadeus known as Big O. While rare, other megadeus do exist or can be built and these are usually run by various criminals, etc, giving Roger the chance to flex Big O and beat the living daylights out of them. In the first episode a hostage negotiation goes wrong and Roger ends up with R. Dorothy Wayneright, a robot that was built in the image of the original Dorothy Wayneright. Various adventures happen while it is hinted at that the world might not be as empty as supposed and that the power movers of the city know a lot more than they are letting on. Roger fights to preserve Paradigm City with the help of Dorothy,  his butler Norman and of course the megadeus Big O.  Series One ends with a huge fight between Big O and Big Duo and while Big O ends up victorious, in the distance we see 3 megadeus stalking out of the ocean towards the city.

I really enjoyed this anime. The art style is almost copied straight from Batman: The Animated Series. If you like that kind of art, this is going to really float your boat. The lines, the curves, the angles, it just works so well.

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Second is the music. The opening theme song is pretty much the singer just saying “Big O, Cast in the Name of God, Ye Not Guilty” 2 or 3 times while some seriously Queen sounding music plays. It seems to be almost intentionally modeled on the music in the Highlander. While I wouldn’t listen to straight up Queen music, it has it’s place. The episodes are filled with a mix of saxophone jazz and some really intense and serious fight music. As odd as that combination seems, they stay separate and work perfectly.  The music man in this series had a great sense of what music fit where and how to blend disparate types seamlessly together.

The characters are pretty 2 dimensional. Roger is simply the cool private eye and while a romance is hinted at between him and R. Dorothy, that has more to do with her journey about learning to be her own person and not just a set of programs.  Norman is Alfred the Batman Butler and there are a whole host of side characters ranging from erstwhile allies to pure villains. While each character has a pretty specific role to play and a bit to fill, they never exceed that or become something more. It didn’t bother me but it is something to to be aware of.

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Finally, we have the “mystery”.  It is the strongest part of the anime and yet the weakest at the same time.  Tons of hints and vague memory flashes show the sky being filled with megadeus and a world so advanced as to be a paradise. And yet we get hints of nothing being as it seems.  There are so many things that don’t make sense, whether deliberately or because of lazy story telling. If the memory loss happened 40 years ago, where did Roger learn to pilot the Big O. Why are so many young people (and I use the word “young” to mean anyone under 50) so obsessed with memories? They didn’t lose anything. something just doesn’t add up. Why can the megadeus sometimes act on their own?

I call this the strongest part of the anime because it allows the viewer to speculate endlessly with others who are watching. It is the glue that binds all the previous parts together. It is also the weakest because things simply don’t make sense. A story must be internally consistent for it to be a strong story.

Overall, I still enjoyed the heck out of this. Not as “cool” as my 25 year old self thought it was, but I think this is worth hanging on to for another view in several years.

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I did not expect to write this much. We’ll see if I’m so wordy about Season 2 next Sunday.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

[Manga Monday] The Final Battle (Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #3) ★★★☆☆

finalbattle (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Final Battle
Series: Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #3
Author: Ryo Mizuno
Artist: Yoshihiko Ochi
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 7K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 16: Starts out with naming our characters and a one sentence lead about why they are in the story. Everyone returns to Roid, the capital of the kingdom of Valis. King Fahn welcomes back his daughter but makes sure to drive home the lesson that her running away, even for a good cause, cost the lives of several knights. Emperor Beld and Karla discuss the new alliance by the kingdoms on the island of Lodoss and Beld gives Karla permission to do as she sees fit. The chapter ends with Parn and Co coming to meet the king.

Chapter 17: Soldiers from the desert kingdom of Flaim are present at the court and King Kashu is seated next to King Fahn when Parn and Co approach. Everyone ends up discussing Karla and an Ancient Kingdom that was destroyed 500 years ago. Said Kingdom was inhabited by many powerful sorcerers and one sorceress was named Karla. With no real answers available, it is determined to go ask the Sage Wort (one of the 6 Heroes of King Fahn’s generation) and see what he knows. Parn and Co volunteer and even when told that their path will go through an abandoned Dwarven Hold now controlled by a dragon and goblins, they aren’t persuaded to abandon the quest.

Chapter 18: Wort the Sage is spying on Parn and Co through a crystal ball and we see him talking to Karla. He tells her to what she pleases with the company and she says she still wants them to join her. Wort remembers his adventures with Fahn, Beld and the others and we see the reason Beld is trying to take over Lodoss, to unite it under one king and to bring peace to the whole land. Wort realizes that Beld is imply a pawn in whatever scheme Karla has going. Parn and Co meet Wort and Karla and Karla reveals that both Beld and Fahn have the same dream of bringing peace to Lodoss, one through the power of darkness and the other through the power of light. Karla reveals how the Ancient Kingdom fell and that its destruction was completed by savage barbarians. Her goal appears to be to stop such a thing from happening again.

Chapter 19: Karla claims that neither light nor darkness can bring true peace, but that only a balance between them is the the surest way to lessen warfare. Karla has been interfering in events for 500 years, stirring up small wars so neither light nor darkness can get enough power to overwhelm the other. Small continual warfare is her answer to preventing another huge conflagration that will destroy civilization. Parn summarily rejects her reasoning and Karla leaves, vowing she is still their enemy. King Fahn and King Kashu are discussing how Beld seems to be sowing discord amongst the Alliance and they realize one all out battle is what is necessary. Parn and Co return from Wort’s tower. Everyone get’s upgrade, Parn is a full knight of Valis, Etoh is now a high priest and Slayn is now full sorcerer. Ghim and Deedlit give their rewards to Woodchuck. Ghim is making a magical comb for Leylia, Karla’s host body and Deedlit realizes everyone is going to have to go war.

Chapter 20: We switch back in time to Parn and Co talking with Wort. Ghim reveals that Karla takes over bodies now to survive and that Leylia is her latest victim. His goal is get Leylia back. Wort reveals that Karla won’t help Beld anymore if he, Wort, won’t help Fahn. He then tells Parn how to destroy Karla and save Leylia. Karla takes over the person who kills her current host body, so they have to take her alive and remove the circlet that is her center of power. Wort gives them a magic wand that will temporarily dispel all magic in its vicinity. Parn relays this all to Fahn and Kashu back in the present and everyone prepares for a final confrontation with Beld. Ghim goes with Slayn, as only they can entrap Karla while Deedlit accompanies Parn and uses her magic to protect him.

Chapter 21: The fighting commences and Slayn tries to put all of Beld’s army to sleep to prevent bloodshed. Beld releases fire salamanders, regardless of the carnage it causes among his own soldiers. Wagnard uses a dark elf to kill the Sage of Valis and Fahn and Beld meet for a final showdown. Beld prevails and Parn is prevented from avenging Fahn by a knight of Marmo named Ashuram. Kashu then challenges Beld to another duel. Karla shoots Beld in the chest with an arrow, thus allowing Kashu to kill Beld. Ashurum takes up Beld’s sword of darkness and retreats with the remaining forces of Marmo. Parn and Co realize this is the exact outcome that Karla wanted. Parn vows to hunt Karla down and put an end to her meddling that costs so many lives.

Chapter 22: Parn and Co attack Karla at her tower. We flashback to see Woodchuck being commissioned to steal the circlet of Karla’s power off of Leylia’s body. Parn and Co are just a distraction to gain Karla’s attention. Ghim confronts Karla and appeals to the suppressed Leylia. Karla kills Ghim and that sets Leylia off, giving Woodchuck an opportunity to steal the circlet. Unfortunately, Woodchuck’s bitterness about his life leads him to put the circlet on, thinking he can control its powers. This allows Karla to keep on surviving, even if in a body without the capability of using magic. Etoh returns to Valis and Princess Fianna, while Slayn returns Leylia and Ghim’s body back to Neece. Parn and Deedlit begin a new quest of hunting down Karla and trying to rescue Woodchuck.

 

My Thoughts:

When I was done reading, I wasn’t really sure what to think. Except that I had just read a D&D campaign where the campaign was over, the villain gets away and this leads to yet another campaign to be played at a later date. It didn’t help that the OVA anime jams in another storyline and adds some real pathos and relational drama between Parn and Deedlit.

Speaking of relationships. I’m usually not a fan of that kind of thing playing a big part in the stories I read. However, everything between everyone was so understated that I found myself actually wanting something from them. Deedlit and Parn are a couple but you’d never know it besides the fact that she keeps hanging around Parn and protecting him. Etoh and Princess Fianna do nothing but blush at each other and Slay and Leylia haven’t even started their relationship yet. I wanted the romance from the anime.

And I guess that sums up the issues with this. This is a fine manga on its own. But for me, Lodoss started with the OVA and that is the metric that I measure everything related to Lodoss by. It’s not fair, but that is just how it is. I mentioned in the review for book 2 that I have some more Lodoss manga and that I was wavering about reading it. I have decided that I won’t be. The Chronicles of the Heroic Knight deal with a new cast of characters taking over from Parn, Deedlit, etc and Deedlit’s Tale is a shojo manga that involves a high dark elf trying to take Deedlit’s affections from Parn. I don’t want THAT much relational drama.

Glad I read these but I feel no need to hold onto them or the other Lodoss manga I own. Not sure if I’ll try to sell them online or do a book giveaway. The last 2 book giveaways fizzled and I’m not sure that old manga series is going to do better than some Michael Crichton techno-thrillers 😀

Once again, the individual covers were fantastic. This one really showcases the snub-nose art that predominates the mana. The anime was much more classical anime with small, curvy, pointy noises, but the manga-ka here wasn’t afraid to show those schnozzes!

The Grey Witch 16 - Cover

 

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Princeps’ Fury (Codex Alera #5) ★★★★★

princepsfury (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Princeps’ Fury
Series: Codex Alera #5
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 350
Words: 153.5K

 

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com & Me

The book begins with Octavian negotiating with Captain Demos of the trading vessel called the Slive, to book passage for Octavian and his contingent to cross the sea and reach the Canean homeland with Varg. Meanwhile in Alera, Crown cursor Ehren reports to Gaius about the Vord having entered Alera and learnt how to furycraft.[2]

Octavian and the Canean survivors face several storms as they make their way for the Canim continent. Octavian learns more about the Canean civilization, which has several tribes with populations in the millions and also learns the Canim tongue as they prepare to disembark. Amara and Count Bernand are helping improve the defensive structures around Calderon Valley, in anticipation of a future Vord assault. However, they are summoned to an Imperial Council by Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, for an urgent mission against the Vord.

Gaius Sextus informs the Council of the threat of the Vord, which was slowly expanding from the Kalare wasteland. The Vord had overwhelmed four Imperial legions, leaving no survivors and the croach[check spelling] was expanding through Alera at an increasing rate. More than one hundred thousand Aleran freeholders and citizens had been killed in less than a month. Gaius requests all the High Lords of Alera to unite their strength and muster all the legions that they could, so that they could force a big battle against the Vord. Gaius appoints High Lord Aquitaine as the captain of the military campaign. The First Lord also meets Countess Amara and Count Bernard and requests them to go behind the Vord enemy lines on a mission to find out how the Vord are using furycrafting when they had been unable to do so.

Amara and Bernard find out that one of the High Lady’s has been taken by the Vord Queen and that Brencis Kalarus is using his father’s slave collars on Citizens to make them fight for the Vord. They take out Brencis and without him and his knowledge, the Vord Queen loses the ability to collar any more Citizens.

Tavi formulates a plan to take down a Vord Queen in Cania, thus allowing the surviving Canim to escape to Alera to regroup and plan how to take back their homeland. His plan fails but Kitai and Varg’s backup plan works perfectly. Everyone escapes on giant ships sculpted from icebergs.

Isana is sent north to the Shield Wall to broker a piece with the Icemen so the Legions guarding the Wall can march South and bolster those fighting the Vord. She realizes the Icemen are empathetic crafters and that the whole war has been a gigantic misunderstanding. She challenges the Lord of the Legions to Juris Macti to force him to march South. She loses but her standing up to him makes him realize the truth of her position.

The Vord overwhelm the Capital City and Gaius destroys the city and all the surrounding Vord to give the rest of the people a chance to formulate a way to fight back against the Vord.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, this review is where I start using the Calibre Page AND Word count to get my numbers. So while the paperback actually has close to 700 pages, based on characters per page, it is “only” 350. Which is why I want to include word count, to give a better data estimate between. Ok, enough of the nerdy stats/data talk.

Man, what do I say? I loved this book and this series? Tavi is the best hero and everything a proper Hero should be? This is a book of Ideals triumphing over petty base human’ness even while humanity reels from blow after blow from the Vord? You can almost hear the Capital Letters when ideals are discussed or even just acted out? In short, this is exactly my kind of book.

Self-pitying fools and dunces these characters are not. They have no time or place for pseudo-philosophizing while calling good evil and evil good. They have too much to do to drag the reader down into the cesspit of a self-loathing mind. They don’t hate themselves or the world they live in. They love life and it shows in every action they take.

There is no despair.

★★★★★

 

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Karas: The Prophecy, The Revelation (2007 Anime)

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Where do I even start? By the time I was done watching this I was scratching my head desperately trying to figure out why I had bought this back in 2007 when it was released on dvd for American audiences.

I have 2 good things to say, so I’m going to get them out of the way. The visuals in this anime (there are 6 total episodes) are absolutely stunning and the fight scenes are so action packed and awesome that it took my breath away. And that was it. Nothing else about this anime is anything I would recommend.

This was a confusing mess that made so little sense that it wasn’t until I went over to the Wikipedia page that it started to get straightened out in my head. The anime opens up with what appear to be 2 jet planes flying over Shinjuku strafing each other and obviously fighting against each other. Then they suddenly transform into old school samurai looking guys (like the armor on the cover) and begin hacking away at each other in front of the moon all the while being a bajillion feet up in the air. Then one guy eventually kills the other and the dead guy turns to black feathers.

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Two Karas with their feet towards each other, preparing for the final confrontation

 

There are robot demons, and a cop who investigates supernatural stuff and Karas is supposed to be a protector or something and one karas went rogue and is trying to take over the city with the demon robots. And there is more stuff that I don’t even remember because I was so bewildered and lost as to what was going on that I didn’t know what to look at or who to pay attention to or anything.

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A mikuras, ie, a robot demon

By the time these 6 episodes were done, all I knew for certain was that I would never watch this again and if I could get rid of these, I would in a heart beat! It was a waste of my time and I doubt anyone now, 13 years later, is going to spend any time on it, nor should they.

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It did make me want to go through some of my other anime though, to see just how much my tastes had changed. So in July I think I’m going to be dedicating Sundays to anime.

 

I plan on watching Big O Seasons 1 & 2 (think Batman the Animated Series in Japan with giant robots), The Record of Lodoss War OVA (my manga reading this month inspired that choice!) and to wrap things up, the Tenchi Muyo OVA (scifi romcom) that got me hooked on anime back in the early ’00’s. Prepare yourselves, Bookstooge is going Old School Anime next month!

 

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[Manga Monday] Birth of a New Knight (Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #2) ★★★☆☆

birthofanewknight (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Birth of a New Knight
Series: Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #2
Author: Ryo Mizuno
Artist: Yoshihiko Ochi
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 214
Words: 7K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 9: The Gang meets a group of Holy Knights who are chasing the carriage with Karla and the princess. Parn chases after them to “help” and of course everyone else is dragged along. Before they can catch up a fireball explodes and Deedlit has to summon a spirit of wind to see what has happened. Slayn intervenes and uses magic eyes to see what has happened. He sees Karla and her guards as the sole survivors and recognizes her as the woman in the painting in the manor from before.

Chapter 10: Parn is all set to go charging in to avenge the dead Holy Knights but everyone reins him in. Then Ghim reveals that Leylia is the spitting image of Karla and HE goes charging in. Only it is too late and Karla has left. Etoh revives the one surviving Holy Knight and tells them Karla had kidnapped the Princess. Everyone decides to go after Karla and rescue the princess. They catch up to Karla that night and surprise her. Ghim confirms Karla IS Leylia while she attacks him with magic.

Chapter 11: Karla releases a slumber spell and puts everyone to sleep. She has the remaining guards lock them up as she hopes to recruit Parn and Gang. Karla leaves to go get more guards and leaves a skeleton warrior to guard the gang. Our gang defeat the skeleton warrior and prepare to take on the remaining human guards. They then rescue the Princes and head back to the capital of Vallis.

Chapter 12: They then rescue the Princes and head back to the capital of Vallis.

Chapter 13: Karla catches up to them, offers to let them join her and tells them what she is doing is best for Lodoss overall. The Gang refuses and Karla prepares to incinerate them all.

Chapter 14: Everyone attacks Karla but she doesn’t destroy them all for some reason. She just holds them off with a shield spell. Then a bunch of Holy Knights show up with the Head Sorcerer of Valis. Karla makes her escape using a spell that only a High Priestess of Marfa could use, confirming that she is indeed Leylia. Parn reveals his father’s name to the Holy Knights and they all react negatively to the news.

Chapter 15: The Sorcerer reveals to Parn how his father died and that he did not die in disgrace as Parn has always been afraid he did. As a reward for saving the Princess the Sorcerer promises Parn that the truth of his father shall be known to all.

 

My Thoughts:

I did not enjoy this volume quite as much as the previous. Mainly because I could almost hear the dice rolling as the story moved along.

While I know that Karla IS Leylia, and I even know why because of the anime, the continued “mystery” and her evil villain monologue of all 2 sentences about doing everything for the good of Lodoss just had me rolling my eyes.

I have the sequel series in manga as well (in regular tankubon size. This Grey Witch Saga has been in the trade paperback size and I really appreciate that) and I was considering reading them next, but I am seriously reconsidering that now.

Thank goodness for the chapter covers. Those at least are still fantastic.

The Grey Witch 09 - Cover

 

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

[Manga Monday] A Gathering of Heroes (Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #1) ★★★☆½

agatheringofheroes (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: A Gathering of Heroes
Series: Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #1
Author: Ryo Mizuno
Artist: Yoshihiko Ochi
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 214
Words: 7K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 1 introduces to the world of Lodoss and how a generation ago 7 heroes fought against the dark god and re-chained him. That story is told by a blind bard to an elf named Deedlit. They are then attacked in daylight by goblins, something unheard of. We then switch to the dwarf Ghim, who is taking leave of Neese, a high priestess. Neese’s daughter Leylia was kidnapped 6 years ago and Ghim means to find her and rescue her. We are also introduced to Parn and Etoh, a young knight and priest respectively. Parn has seen goblin attacks in his recent journey and is trying to rouse the villagers in defense. They ignore him so he and Etoh go after the goblin band themselves.

Chapter 2: Parn and Etoh fight the goblins but only succeed because Ghim hears the sound of fighting and helps them. Parn is wounded with a poison knife and Ghim takes him to the sorcerer Slayn for healing. Slayn apparently knew Parn’s father in the past. They all decide to go on a quest to find out why the goblins are active in the day. We switch to the city of Kanon, where a castle lies. Guards see a fleet of battleships approaching from the dark island of Marmo. The sorceress Karla appears and destroys the fortress, allowing the fleet to unload all of its warriors. Last off the ship is Emperor Beld, one of the 7 heroes, who has become an evil villain.

Chapter 3: Beld reveals to Karla that he intends to rule the entire island of Lodoss. Parn and Co are now in Allan, capital city of Allania, one of the kingdoms of Lodoss. The kingdom is celebrating the birth of the new heir. Parn sees a woman being attacked and comes to her rescue, only it turns out to be the elf Deedlit, who takes care of business all by herself. Parn is instantly smitten. Slayn meanwhile visits his old university only to find it abandoned and neglected. Deedlit takes Parn out to dinner as thanks for stepping in. We see Woodchuck, a thief just released from prison, picking a pocket and running away.

Chapter 4: We see Woodchuck making some sort of deal with the Thieves Guild. Deedlit brings a drunk Parn back to his inn and she meets Slayn. The next morning Slayn relates his discoveries of his old school and how it was destroyed by a former student, one Wagnard, who turned to black magic and was expelled. Wagnard learned some powerful magic, returned, killed all the wizards and plundered and destroyed the school. Parn gets angry that the wizards didn’t fight back and Woodchuck, who is having breakfast at the inn, mocks Parn for his naivete.

Chapter 5: Woodchuck tells a tale of how it wasn’t Wagnard that plundered the school but some unlicensed thieves and how the guild wants them punished. Woodchuck claims to know where the plunder is but that it is now guarded by minions of Emperor Beld. The group goes off to investigate. Slayn and Deedlit confront a dark elf while the other explore the inside of the manor.

Chapter 6: Deedlit, Slayn and Woodchuck defeat the dark elf. Inside, Parn and Ghim kill 3 soldiers of Marmo and find a plan that looks like an attempt at assassinating the King of Allania. They find a magically sealed door. The room doesn’t hold any of the schools books but there is a note signed by Karla and a picture of her upon the wall. Ghim seems to recognize it. The group brings the plan to the King and the assassination is thwarted. Woodchuck asks to join the group. The chapter ends with Allania finding out about Beld’s invasion and due to an alliance made in the previous war, they must come to Kanon’s assistance.

Chapter 7: Allania has decided to barricade themselves in against Beld instead of fighting against him. Parn gets angry and tells everyone he’s going to Vallis to see if that kingdom will mobilize against Beld. His only way to Vallas, though, is through the Forest of No Return. Deedlit guides them through the Forest and reveals to Slayn that she is one of the last existing High Elves.

Chapter 8: Karla is reciting how the gods themselves warred and brought destruction to the land and how even now humans fight amongst themselves for more and more power. Her goal is to put a stop to the fighting and destruction, everywhere. Beld reveals to Wagnard that his fight is personal against King Fahn of Vallis. Parn and Gang are on their way to Vallis when they meet Karla,who has kidnapped Fianna, daugher of Fahn.

 

My Thoughts:

My memories of the Record of Lodoss War start with the anime and the original 13 episode OVA. The manga came much later. In all honesty, it is probably a good thing.

This is basically a Dungeons & Dragons campaign scenario. You have The Group with your various “character types” and an overarching campaign goal of stopping Beld’s invasion, while each individual character has their own little sub-goal.

The style itself is different enough from the anime that it was a bit jarring at first. The noses are much snubbier and everyone isn’t as streamlined as in the anime. Rougher is probably the best word. It’s not bad by any means just different.

I read these 8 chapters in one collected volume, but the original manga was released in 8 comics and THOSE covers were gorgeous! I’ve included one as a sample.

The Grey Witch 03 - Cover

 

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)