Sunday, February 23, 2014

Attack on Titan (manga, vol. 2) by Hajime Isayama, translated and adapted by Sheldon Drzka, lettered by Steve Wands

Attack on Titan is a dystopian fantasy series. I got this volume via interlibrary loan.

Synopsis:

The Colossus Titan has breached Wall Rose, and Titans are flooding in. The evacuation is going slowly because a greedy merchant is blocking the way. The few remaining soldiers still fighting don't have enough gas to escape to safety and will soon be unable to use their three-dimensional maneuver gear. They can replenish their supplies at HQ, but the building is overrun by Titans. Mikasa and Armin are momentarily thrown by their grief over Eren's death, but then a shocking new Titan appears and Armin comes up with a plan.

Review:

Story-wise, I thought this volume was a bit better than the first. Unfortunately, the story is still crippled by its terrible art. If I hadn't already seen the anime, I would likely have wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what was happening in certain panels and what had happened from one panel to the next. I really hate Isayama's overly dark, sketchy art style.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Natsume's Book of Friends, Season 3 Premium Edition (anime TV series)

This Natsume's Book of Friends boxed set was published by NIS America. While Seasons 1 and 2 were packaged together, in DVD form only, Season 3 is included all on its own, in both DVD and Blu-ray format. I watched the Blu-ray discs.

There will be no watch-alikes or read-alikes included at the end of this post. Take a look at my original post for the series if you want anything like that.

If you liked Seasons 1 and 2, you'll like Season 3. It continues to deal with a lot of the same themes covered in the first two seasons: Natsume's difficult childhood, the bittersweetness of yokai/human relationships, and Natsume's difficulties with learning to trust and rely on his human friends and family.

This season had several more Matoba clan episodes, including the first appearance of the head of the Matoba clan, which I think I would have enjoyed more if I hadn't already known that the Matoba stuff was going to fizzle out in Season 4. My favorite episodes of the season tended to be less action-oriented. I particularly loved the ones that dealt with Natsume's childhood.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Remember Me (book) by Christopher Pike

Remember Me is a YA supernatural mystery.

This review contains great big spoilers. You've been warned.

Synopsis:

Shari falls four stories to her death while at a birthday party. Did she jump, or was she pushed? Shari, now a ghost, is determined to find out. The suspects include:
  • Beth, the big-breasted birthday girl, who may have been trying to steal Shari's boyfriend away from her;
  •  Dan, Shari's boyfriend, who seemed a little too interested in Beth's charms;
  • Jeff, Beth's boyfriend, who seemed to dislike Shari for some reason;
  • Amanda, Shari's brother's girlfriend, who Shari sometimes teased about being poor;
  • and Jo, Shari's best friend, who had a crush on Jeff and didn't seem as upset about Shari's death as Shari thought she should be.
Shari's investigation is hampered by two things. One, she's a newbie ghost and has no idea how to even walk through solid objects, much less communicate with the living. And two, if she's not careful, the Shadow will find her and perhaps imprison her for good.

Review:

Christopher Pike was one of my all-time favorite authors when I was a teen, and Remember Me was one of my favorite books by him. This post on Ruth's Book Blog inspired me to reread it for the first time in I-can't-remember-how-long.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Smashwords

I've started adding some of my reviews to Smashwords. Since I make use of reviews and ratings there, I figured I should contribute some of my own. It feels a little awkward, though - I think I might have some of the longest reviews on the site. I'm debating posting condensed reviews instead. The problem with that is that it would require more work - copying and pasting what I've already written is easier.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Quicksilver (book) by R.J. Anderson

Quicksilver is YA science fiction, the second book in a series. I have written about the first, Ultraviolet.

This review contains spoilers. You've been warned.

Synopsis:

The events of Ultraviolet put Tori too much in the public eye, and one man in particular, Deckard, seems determined to uncover all her secrets. When he starts asking about Tori's unusual genetic results, Tori's parents decide it's time to pack up and leave.

They move to a new place, start a new life, and take new names. Tori, now Niki, gets a job at a supermarket and does her best not to attract attention. Events prompt her to tell Milo, one of her coworkers, a little about her past. Then Sebastian reappears, and Milo finds out more than Tori ever intended for him to know.

Unfortunately, Tori has bigger problems, in the form of Deckard, who's obsessively trying to track her down, and Mathis, who at any second might kidnap her the same way he did before, this time for good.

Review:

I put this on my TBR list after learning that its heroine was explicitly stated to be asexual. It was recommended to me again after I wrote in a previous review that I was looking for books with asexual romance in them. The recommendation came with a warning that it would be a good idea to read Anderson's Ultraviolet first. Now that I've read both books, I can say that I agree with this. Not only does Quicksilver contain many spoilers for events in Ultraviolet, a lot of it would probably confuse those who hadn't read Ultraviolet first.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

RE: Alistair++ (game)

RE: Alistair++ is a free otome game that can be downloaded here. I played the Windows version, but there are Mac and Linux downloads too.

I don't think this is my first game review, but it's the first time I've devoted a full post to one. I'm going to experiment with adding visual novels to the list of things I review on this blog. And by “experiment,” I mean “figure out how annoying it is to do.” There are more aspects to take into account when reviewing games than I'm used to. As a result, this post is kind of long, probably unnecessarily so. Sorry about that.

I used the menu screen as my "cover" image, but, beyond that, there are no screencaps in this post. Honestly, I'm not sure what's okay and what isn't when it comes to screencaps in game reviews. I may go back and add some later, once I figure things out.

Basic Story:

You play as Merui, a high school girl who loves playing Rivenwell Online, an MMORG. Merui is gaming with her online friend Fiona when another player, Alistair, swoops in, defeats the monster they were fighting, and wins the item Merui really wanted. Alistair's a jerk about the whole thing. When Merui learns something that makes her think Alistair goes to her school, she becomes determined to find out who he is. Alistair agrees to play along and gives her a month to correctly identify him. If she wins, he'll give her the item, a Blessed Stone. If she loses, she'll give him all the gold she earned during the month.

After looking at her school's computer usage logs, there are only three people who could possibly be Alistair: Derek, Shiro, or Travis. Derek is a basketball player and student body vice president. He's popular and acts confident. Shiro is one of Merui's classmates and is supposed to work with her on a group project. He's shy and smart. Travis is president of the Computer Gaming Club. He acts cold and arrogant.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mixed Vegetables (manga, vol. 2) by Ayumi Komura

Mixed Vegetables is a romantic comedy series. It's published by VIZ Media, as part of their Shojo Beat imprint. I found it in a used bookstore.

Synopsis:

Hanayu learns, to her shock, that Hayato has been lying to her about his feelings: he was only dating her because he wanted to one day inherit her parents' bakery and become a pastry chef. Once he learns that Hanayu wants to become a sushi chef, she becomes useless to him, so he dumps her.

This results in a lot of tension, since Hanayu and Hayato are still classmates. Gradually, they get to know each other for real, without all the lies in the way. Hanayu teaches Hayato a little about baking, and Hayato tries to recreate the sushi-style rolled omelets that inspired Hanayu's desire to become a sushi chef.

Review:

In some ways, volume 2 is an improvement upon volume 1. In other ways, it's worse.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mixed Vegetables (manga, vol. 1) by Ayumi Komura

Mixed Vegetables is a romantic comedy series. It's published by VIZ Media, as part of their Shojo Beat imprint. I found it in a used bookstore.

Although Hanayu and Hayato referred to each other by their family names in this volume, I opted to use their given names in this post.

Synopsis:

Hanayu is the daughter of a pastry chef, and it seems guaranteed that she'll one day inherit her parents' bakery. The problem: Hanayu wants nothing more than to become a sushi chef. She's obsessed with fish and making sushi. She decides that the only way to achieve her dream without disappointing her parents is to marry the son of a sushi chef. Then she meets Hayato, the only son of a sushi chef. Hanayu works to improve her skills in the kitchen in the hopes of catching Hayato's eye, but when he finally does ask her out, she feels confused and guilty. Is he really interested in her? And, if he is, how does she feel about that? Do her ulterior motives for dating him mean she's a bad person?

Review:

Okay, first off, I should mention that the description of the back of the volume contains a spoiler. While this annoys me, I can sort of understand why VIZ did it. Komura's plotting is not the best, and so this volume doesn't even cover the series' full premise.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Yggdrasil (manga, vol. 1) by Lay Mutsuki

Yggdrasil is a sci-fi/fantasy series. It was published by Go! Comi.

I picked this up because it was a used copy and therefore relatively cheap. I knew nothing about it or the author's other works.

Synopsis:

Yggdrasil introduces a near-future world (this volume was originally published in 2006, the story takes place in 2010) in which the Leaves operating system is hugely popular. Wood Soft, Inc. bundled Leaves with a free-to-play MMORPG, Yggdrasil, which likewise exploded in popularity. Some players' avatars have even become popular in the real world.

However, something strange is going on in the game. Monsters have been spawning in areas they're not supposed to. The Phantom, a powerful avatar whose player is rumored to be a professional programmer who created nearly 30% of all of Yggdrasil's magic spells, often appears whenever these strange monsters do.

This volume introduces four major characters: Koki, a high school student who spends too many hours playing Yggdrasil; Haruna, one of Koki's friends/classmates, who is nursing a secret crush on him (so secret she won't even admit it to herself); Gyoku, an annoying Yggdrasil player who types with an accent and hits on all female avatars; and Aoi, a Yggdrasil newbie.

Review:

To be honest, this bored me. I've seen this kind of setup before, complete with the same types of characters. Of course Haruna has a crush on Koki. Of course Gyoku is a lech. I correctly guessed the real world identity of Teal, a famous singer who built her fanbase via Yggdrasil. I came close to guessing the real world identity of the Phantom (or one of them, at least, since there may be more than one). The only reason my guess wasn't quite right was because I thought “it couldn't be that simple.” Yes, it could.
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