[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 2 ★★★★★


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 2
Series: Yotsuba&! #2
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Drawing

Yotsuba & Revenge

Yotsuba & Cake

Yotsuba & Donmai

Yotsuba & the Pool

Yotsuba & the Frog

Yotsuba & Asagi’s Gifts

My Thoughts:

Ahhh, this was just what I needed. After the previous week having been such a mess, reading this Saturday morning was perfect. I laughed, I laughed and then I laughed some more. Not uproariously, not side-splittingly kind of laughing, but a continual amusement and fluffy kind of laugh.

The above picture is a chapter where Yotsuba is watching a gangster tv show with her dad and Jumbo and sees a gangster kill someone. She then proceeds to squirt gun her dad and Jumbo to death and then switches characters to hunt down the person who killed her beloved dad and friend. She goes next door and kills all of the girls next door, except for the eldest, Asagi, who ends up killing Yotsuba. The chapter ends with Yotsuba admitting to her dad and Jumbo that she failed to avenge them and died. Jumbo moralizes that nothing good ever comes from revenge.

I am finding that Azuma is able to do a ton of world building and character sketches in just a couple of panels. It is rather amazing. It gives the manga a bit of depth that makes it easier to digest. It also makes this re-read possible and future re-reads a real possibility, if not a sure thing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 1 ★★★★★


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 1
Series: Yotsuba&! #1
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 227
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Moving

Yotsuba & Manners

Yotsuba & Global Warming

Yotsuba & TV

Yotsuba & Shopping

Yotsuba & Cicadas

Yotsuba & Rain

My Thoughts:

This definitely deserves all the stars. I laughed so many times while re-reading this that it wasn’t funny (ha, get it?).

I think the following page from this volume perfectly encapsulate Yotsuba:

Read right to left

I’ll talk about specifics in later volumes but for now, I just had fun reading this. If you’ve ever wondered about picking up a manga to try, this is the one. Even an old battle hardened, warhammer40K reader like myself finds it irresistibly cute.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Castle in the Air (World of Howl #2) ★★★★★

castleintheair (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: Castle in the Air
Series: World of Howl #2
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 176
Words: 67K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Castle in the Air follows the adventures of Abdullah, a handsome young carpet salesman from Zanzib, who daydreams constantly about being a stolen prince. One day a strange traveler comes to his stand to sell a magic carpet. During the night, Abdullah goes to sleep on the carpet but wakes up to find himself in a beautiful garden with a young woman. He tells the woman, Flower-in-the-Night, that he is the stolen prince of his daydreams, believing that he is in fact dreaming. Flower-in-the-Night, who has never seen a man other than her father, first believes that Abdullah is a woman, so Abdullah agrees to return the next night with portraits of many men so that she can make a proper comparison. He does so, and Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night decide to get married.

Abdullah returns the next night, but he arrives just as Flower-in-the-Night is snatched away by a huge flying djinn. Soon after, the Sultan of Zanzib captures Abdullah who then discovers that Flower is actually the Sultan’s daughter. Enraged that his daughter is missing, the Sultan blames Abdullah and throws him in jail, threatening to impale him on a 40-foot pole if his daughter is not found. Fortunately, Abdullah is saved by his magic carpet and escapes from Zanzib.

Abdullah ends up in the desert and stumbles upon a group of bandits, who have in their possession a particularly cranky genie who grants only one wish a day. In the night, Abdullah steals the genie and flees. After a wish, Abdullah is transported to Ingary and ends up traveling with a bitter Strangian soldier whose country was recently taken in a war with Ingary. While traveling to Kingsbury in search of a wizard, the two stumble upon a cat and her kitten, whom the soldier names Midnight and Whippersnapper, respectively.

As they travel, Abdullah wishes for the return of his flying carpet, who brings with it the very Djinn that kidnapped Flower-in-the-Night. It is revealed that the Djinn, Hasruel, is being forced to kidnap princesses from all over the world by his brother, Dalzel. The two proceed on the carpet to Kingsbury, which is where they find Wizard Suliman, who, upon realizing that Midnight is actually a person in cat form, returns her to being a human. As the spell is lifted from the woman, who turns out to be Sophie Pendragon, her baby, Morgan is returned to his normal self as well. However, when they go to collect the baby, he is no longer in the inn, where he was left with the soldier.

Abdullah and Sophie then order the carpet to take them to Morgan. The carpet does so, taking them far into the sky, to the castle in the air, which is merely Wizard Howl’s castle, having been greatly enlarged. There they meet the abducted princesses and plot with them to escape the flying moving castle. Led by Abdullah, they overpower the two Djinn, freeing Hasruel who banishes his brother. Flower-of-the-Night had by then wished the Genie free, who turned out to be Sophie’s husband, the top-level sorcerer Howl.

My Thoughts:

My feelings about this book almost exactly what I felt when reading Howl’s Moving Castle. That always makes writing a review that much harder.

The light fairytale’ish feeling permeates the entire book and not at any time did I feel that things weren’t going to work out for Abullah, even if we come to realize that things might not work out exactly how he planned or wants. When I reviewed Castle in the Air in ’08, I ended it with the words “Light and Delightful”. Both still definitely apply in the best sense of the words.

This isn’t exactly a sequel to Howl though. More of another book set in the same world where some of the same characters from the previous book intrude. Just to make things complicated though, Howl’s Moving Castle was made into an anime movie by Hayao Miyazaki. Beautiful film that is more “inspired” by the book than a direct medium change. The complicated part comes because Miyazaki had previously made a movie called Castle in the Sky. It has nothing to do with this book however. What’s more, this book was written in 1990 while the anime movie Castle in the Sky was made in 1996. Howl the book was written in 1986 while Howl the movie was made in 2004. Confused yet? Good. You’re just a schmuck if that confuses you. But even if it does confuse you and makes you a schmuck, at least now you’re a better educated schmuck about something that nobody really cares about. And if that doesn’t stand for everything that the internet represents, well then, I guess I’M a schmuck.

(no schmucks were harmed (very much) in the writing of this review)

★★★★★

Voices of a Distant Star (2002 Anime Movie)


Well, this was a gamble. I knew that completely going in to this re-watch.

The story, all 25minutes of it, revolves around a teen girl and boy who are separated, as the girl makes it into the UN Army to fight the aliens and the boy washes out. She becomes a fighter pilot in a matter of months(? time isn’t real clear here) and then the fleet gives chase to the aliens. She can only contact her boy love through text messages and the further she gets from Earth, the longer they take to get to him. Eventually, she is far enough away that it takes 8 years for her message to get to him and she is fighting the aliens. She survives and the movie ends with the boy, now a man and the girl, connecting with each other about one thought, that they love each other.

I am literally watching my memories from my 20’s melt away into a hormone laden and angst ridden reality. Ugh. I can see why this appealed to me 15 or more years ago. LOVE overcoming even time and space, Destiny and Fate bowing down to the power of two people with the will to overcome anything standing between them.

This time around? I noticed that the girl is still wearing her school uniform, while fighting in probably one of the world’s most advanced space fighters. She abandons her mission to rescue her cell phone, as apparently communication with Earth doesn’t exist on the carrier ships. But my goodness, her cell phone must have GREAT coverage. I’d hate to get that bill though. After this, I didn’t bother to watch Place Promised in Our Early Days for fear I’d have the same reaction. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

At the same time, I am grateful to have seen this again as it really held up a mirror for me about what I was back then. I have changed, matured, become more a man. I have grown up. I just didn’t know what growing up meant. Now that I have, I am grateful I didn’t know. I’m not sure I could have handled it then. Now? I just have to remember not to be too hard on younger people who are now just like me back then. For they too will one day turn into curmudgeonly grumps and make the world a grumpier place.

This reminds me of an incident from my Bibleschool days. One of our professors was talking about finding an old journal he’d written back when he was in his 20’s. He related that he had re-read it and then razor bladed the thing so it would never see the light of day. My first thought back then was “Then how are you going to remember what it was like to be in your 20’s?” As the years have gone by I begin to understand why the professor did what he did but I’ve also come to realize that my question has even more relevance now. If I can’t remember, or won’t remember, then I am cutting off communications, pre-emptively, with entire generations of people. If I want to reach them, I must go to their level and draw them up, not demand that they come up to my level before I’ll communicate with them. I have to show that I am not the center of the universe, as an example for them to learn that they are not the center of the universe.

All of that sprang from re-watching this anime. I might forget most of this, but remembering that I’m the adult now? That will stick with me. Sometimes I begin to grasp that I’ll never be fully “grown up” in this world. Thank God for the next life.

Oh, the music was hauntingly beautiful. Here’s the youtube link to the ending song that carries most of the movie on it’s shoulders:

So a conditional thumbs up. It was a good movie for a very specific audience.

I am zero idea what I’ll watch next month. I am leaning towards something non-anime though. I’ve got so many movies that I have never watched since I bought the dvd. Thankfully, that rarely happens anymore. Self-control and all that tommy-rot 😉

First Lord’s Fury (Codex Alera #7) ★★★★★

firstlordsfury (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: First Lord’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #7
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 758
Words: 202K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Returning from the ruined continent of Canea, Gaius Octavian, his girlfriend Kitai, the Canim warmaster Varg, and their legions find that most of the Aleran Empire has been destroyed or besieged by the insect-like Vord, a monstrous race led by a single sentient Queen that consumes everything they come across. Most of the Aleran resistance is based in the city of Riva, on the far eastern end of the continent. Octavian and his troops have landed on the northern edge and need to find a way to meet up with the other Aleran nobles in Riva. Meanwhile, Aquitainus Attis, who has been named First Lord in Octavian’s absence, has given the order to salt the earth between Riva and the Vord, slowing the insect’s approach.

After making landfall outside of the city of Antillus, Octavian begins preparations for his march to Riva. However, the Vord queen makes an appearance via watercraft projection, making essentially a hologram of herself out of every pool of water large enough to hold it, all across the continent. She states that her victory is inevitable and that she will accept any Aleran that wishes to surrender and allow them to live out the remainder of their life in peace provided they do not have any children. Octavian then uses the same watercrafting tactic to announce his arrival on the Aleran continent and give a morale boosting speech. Meanwhile, his aircrafting knights use their abilities to fly in and evacuate an occupied village from under the Queen’s nose. In retribution, the Queen kidnaps Octavian’s mother, Isana, as well as Araris Valerian, Isana’s lover and the most skilled swordsman in the realm.

To make the march across the continent, Octavian receives help from the great fury Alera and the northern icemen to coat the north in a thick layer of ice, as well as cause hurricane strength winds that constantly blow east. He has his engineers rig their ships with steel keels and support struts, so that they can sail across the ice like giant sleighs. While Octavian’s forces are on the march, Riva falls to the Queen’s onslaught. Her vast number of troops are bolstered by the feral furies of all the Alerans the Vord have slain, and Aquitainus is forced to retreat and evacuate civilians to the Calderon valley, where Bernard and Amara, Octavian’s uncle and his wife, have been fortifying the valley in preparation for the Vord. During the assault, Aquitainus makes a show of claiming new furies to bolster his power in an attempt to draw out his wife Invidia, who had betrayed Alera and joined the Vord Queen and become the Queen’s right hand. He succeeds but loses the ensuing fight, and is mortally wounded while Invidia escapes.

During Octavian’s march, one of his military advisers, Marcus, is revealed to be Fidelias, one of Octavian’s grandfather’s spies who had been a double agent for Invidia and caused a lot of deaths in previous books. Fidelias, who as Marcus had come to redeem himself somewhat, is condemned to death by Octavian. However, instead of immediate execution, Fidelias is allowed to die in Octavian’s service, as his skills are too great to waste with the Vord threat. Afterwards, Octavian’s force reaches Riva and decides to assault the Vord-occupied city. Octavian uses his strength in furycrafting to bring down the cities walls, and after the battle his firecrafters burn the Vord larders, cutting their supply lines to the Calderon valley. Octavian’s force then moves to the valley to pin the Vord force between his own legions and the valley’s defenders. While marching to the valley, the Queen herself makes an appearance and attacks Octavian’s camp. She kills many and wounds Octavian.

Meanwhile the Vord have begun to assault the valley. Invidia goes to Amara in an attempt to betray the Vord Queen, and gives Amara enemy troop compositions and the time of the next attack as proof of her intentions. Later, the remaining High Lords and Ladies gather to assault the Queen with their combined strength, using Invidia’s information. However, the Queen expected Invidia’s betrayal and prepared for it, and begins slaughtering the attackers. Invidia again turns to the Vord as the Queen forgives Invidia, but Amara manages to assassinate Invidia before she can turn on her fellow Alerans again. The Queen retreats, leading to Isana and Araris’ freedom.

Octavian’s forces have arrived at this point, and the Queen takes to the air off towards the mountains in an attempt to take control of the colossal great furies there. Octavian and Kitai pursue the Queen and duel her while she is simultaneously claiming the extraordinarily powerful furies there. Meanwhile, the defenders of the valley are fighting against the endless Vord, and slowly losing. After a protracted battle and managing to interrupt the Queen’s attempt to claim the furies, Octavian and Kitai manage to kill the Queen, causing the Vord to become feral without her guidance. The Vord break, and the survivors of the battle rejoice.

After the Vord’s defeat, Octavian becomes the First Lord of the realm and marries Kitai, while both of them as well as Octavian’s advisers begin rebuilding. The series ends with an opening for sequels, as on the continent of Canea there are several lesser Vord queens to be dealt with, as well as the consequences of some of the climate-changing furycrafting Octavian had to perform in order to defeat the primary Queen and save Alera.

My Thoughts:

Just as good as before. Which allayed my main worry that this whole series wouldn’t be as good and that I was remembering it through a lense of “good times” instead of it actually being a fantastic story. Have no fear, Bookstooge, this WAS a great story.

I also found it to be the story that made me the most emotional out of the 6 books. I do suspect that life conditions when reading this (super stress, physical stuff, etc, etc) played a very large part of that. I was needing some emotional outlet and choking up on obviously manipulative writing on Butcher’s part allowed me to get rid of some of the internal emotions without having to mentally acknowledge the basis for my even needing to vent like that. Just like opening the flood gates on a dam. Doesn’t matter if the extra water behind the dam came from a huge rainstorm, or 10,000 hoboes pissing in the lake all at once, all that mattered was opening the gate to bring the waterlevel back to normal levels. Now with that wonderful image in your minds….

I would say this was the weakest of the series. The action is hot and heavy but the lack of indepth characterization really shows. For this series, that didn’t bother me. In another series, maybe it would. Either way, it was something I noticed and it might bother others, so it is something to be aware of.

One thing that was really well done, in my opinion, was Butcher making his characters realize that their current actions would have lasting affects for the next several generations. From the death of the Fury of Alera (while she chose to give up herself to help Tavi against the vord, she still is dead as an entity), to possible alliances with the both the Canim and the Icemen (on top of the already cemented alliance with the Marat), to the future repercussions of creating storms and awakening Great Furies liked Galadros the Mountain, Butcher has enough of his characters cognizant that the world doesn’t begin and end with them. It was really a small part but it was nice to see it included.

When I read this for the first time back in ’10, I wanted more Alera, a lot more. Then when it became evident that Butcher wasn’t going to write more Alera, I was despondent. Now, at this point in life, I’m satisfied with where the series has ended and I don’t want Butcher to write any more in this world. After watching what Dresden fans are going through, I don’t want any part of that. No amount of Alera is worth that to me.

To wit, I enjoyed this book and this series, just as much as before but with this re-read am more than satisfied with how and where the series ended. Consider me a very happy customer.

★★★★★

[Manga Monday] Big O, Vol. 4 ★★★☆☆

bigo4 (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. 4
Series: Big O #4 
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 176
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

Roger Smith is hired to find an old bar. What he doesn’t know is that the old bar has an enormous safe with a vast amount of memories in it. What the client doesn’t know is that those memories are all old letters between his father and and old lover. Roger keeps having flashbacks to a woman who he claims he’ll never forget, but he’s never seen her before. The chapter ends with Dorothy telling Roger that since she’s an android, she’ll never forget him.

2 mad scientists find a machine for extracting forgotten memories and end up kidnapping Roger. His memories overwhelm the machine and then he and Big O destroy the machine.

The final chapter deals with the return of Schwarzvald and his megadeus, Big Duo. Looking like Big O, but red and with the ability to fly, Schwarzvald claims that the power of the Bigs is for destruction only and sets out to destroy Paradigm City. Roger and Big O stop him but their battle has brought them to the attention of Alex Rosewater, the CEO of Paradigm Co and the de facto ruler of Paradigm City.

My Thoughts:

No scantily clad or uncovered women this time. Hence the high water mark of 3 stars.

Other than that, mediocre. Nothing is revealed, nothing interesting happens, the characters barely appear. Flat and lifeless is what this seems to be going for. Almost like it was a project that the manga-ka didn’t care about but had to do anyway.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I am going to finish this series since I own it, but my goodness, it is like eating stale crackers while sipping on tepid tap water.

★★★☆☆

Spriggan (1998 Anime Movie)

spriggan Spriggan was released in 1998 but didn’t make its way over to the US until around 2002. Ahhh, the good old days of anime when fans actually had to wait for things. Ughhh, they really weren’t good old days!

This is Rated R for Violence and it earns it. Gutting knives, guns (little and very big), missile launchers, even psychic compression, the blood is everywhere. Not for the faint of heart.

Spriggan is a pure action movie about an organization called ARCAM that recovers and protects super artifacts found throughout the world. This movie deals with Noah’s Ark. It turns out Noah’s Ark is an alien artifact that can not only control our climate and weather, but also create life to fit whatever climate it creates.  Rogue elements of the US military, using insane cyborgs and led by a child Colonel with psychic abilities, take over the ark. Only 2 Spriggan’s (super special agents of ARCAM) are on hand to stop this.  Yu and Jean (Japan’s top Spriggan and France’s top Spriggan) will do their best, but against the might of the United States Machine Corp (how clever, the USMC, ha!)  and Colonel MacDougall, can they stop him from remaking the world and becoming its new god?

Duh. Of course! Bodies will fall like wheat, hands severed, necks broken, yes, a veritable river of blood will follow the 2 Spriggans as they put a stop to the insane MacDougall.

Jean and Yu, pictured above, are the 2 main protagonists but Yu is the main character. What I did like was that Yu was distinctly japanese while Jean was about as french as you could get. But they were both ARCAM at heart, almost like it was their home country.

Colonel MacDougall, on the other hand, well, he was just a nutjob. When I bought this dvd and watched it, I hadn’t read Akira yet, so it wasn’t until this viewing that I realized how much influence the Akira movie/manga had on this movie. MacDougall is an oldkid with psychic abilities that age him the more he uses them. I then found out that the creator of Akira was involved in this, so I was no longer surprised.

The ark, pictured above, was supposed to shock everyone with how the creators turned what the Bible said about it to the movie’s reality. The reality was that it was no different than the Arc from Indiana Jones spitting out ghosts and melting Nazi’s. They took an idea and then just did what they wanted with it.

There was an 11 book manga series in Japan that this anime was based on. It turns out that only 3 volumes were ever translated here in the US. What a shame, as this seems like something I could really enjoy. I contemplated torrenting the japanese versions just to see the stories in pictures, but even those I wasn’t able to find. Probably just as well, as a story needs words as well as pictures.

Overall, I enjoyed this quite a bit, again. I think this is my 6th or 7th time watching it? There has been no official release on bluray in the American market so I guess I’m stuck with my dvd. Somehow, ♪I will Survive!♪

Next month, still sticking with the anime theme but going in a very different direction. I’ll either be watching The Place Promised in Our Early Days (a 90minute movie) or Voices from a Distant Star (a 25minute “movie”). Both have the same director/creator and have the same tone and both are stories of a connection between 2 people couched in an SF setting. Let me know if either looks more interesting.

The Screwtape Letters ★★★★½

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 Screwtape Letters
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction/Theology
Pages: 138
Words: 37K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

In The Screwtape Letters, Lewis imagines a series of lessons in the importance of taking a deliberate role in Christian faith by portraying a typical human life, with all its temptations and failings, seen from devils’ viewpoints. Screwtape holds an administrative post in the bureaucracy (“Lowerarchy”) of Hell, and acts as a mentor to his nephew Wormwood, an inexperienced (and incompetent) tempter.

In the 31 letters which constitute the book, Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on various methods of undermining God’s words and of promoting abandonment of God in “the Patient”, interspersed with observations on human nature and on the Bible. In Screwtape’s advice, selfish gain and power are seen as the only good, and neither demon can comprehend God’s love for man or acknowledge human virtue.

My Thoughts:

This is a very short book at only 138 pages. With there being 31 chapters, it is easy to read one here, read one there and go from there. I read this in one sitting, as I hadn’t read this since my teen or Bibleschool days, and I wanted to eat the thing in one go.

I found this easy to assimilate. The ideas behind what Screwtape was talking about are easy to reverse to get the correct message. Lewis does an admirable job of presenting the wrong view to showcase just what the right view should be. I don’t envy him though, trying to write a book by a demon.

One thing that did stick out to me was Screwtape saying how they wished all humans were either atheists or magicians (occultists in my terminology). To either not believe in the devil at all or to believe in him so much that one becomes entrapped. I wonder if Lewis put that in there so that anyone reading this wouldn’t be tempted to dig deeper into the occult to “learn” about demons and such. Lewis didn’t write this so people could learn about demons, but so that they could learn about Jesus. In that regards I simply disregarded everything whenever Screwtape started talking about hell and anything related to that subject. I differ enough from Lewis anyway in how we think of hell so it wasn’t a problem for me.

This would be a great study book, as each chapter is so short. Read one chapter, take notes and then discuss with others. Next time I read this, I certainly won’t be rushing through it in one sitting. As I’m sitting here, I’m actively considering reading it again next year and making it a Project.

★★★★½

[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.