#47 Anime Review

 

 

By Kore Yamazaki; Aya Takaha
Directed by Norihiro Naganume
Studio Wit Studio.
Music by Junichi Matsumoto

Another Beauty and the Beast

Chise Hatori is a 15-year-old orphan girl haunted by creatures that no one else around her can see.  This ability has always been with her and it has been a problem her whole life.   Since her mother died, she has been passed around by reluctant family. Ostracized and vilified for the things she sees and her reactions to it. Abandoned and emotionally abused, she willingly sells herself on the supernatural black market, to whatever end (actual words from anime).

It is a strange luck for Chise to be bought by the Thorn Mage, Elias Ainsworth.  He is a unique creature, a man’s body but an animal’s skull with horns for a head.   He looks as dangerous as he appears.  However, his manners are impeccable.  He announces to all in the auction house that Chise will be his new Apprentice.

It is an event since Elias has lived in seclusion for many years.  It seems that Chise’s rare and highly prized ability has brought him out of isolation.    Elias takes Chise into his home, in England.   He does her the honor of telling her exactly what she is.  It is called a Sleigh beggy.  She attracts faery creatures to her.   People like Chise are rare and don’t live long.  The analogy is that she is like a Queen Bee to faery creatures; they like to be near her and they will do her bidding.  It is a blessing and a curse.  For Chise it has been all curse.   This all changes with the help of Elias and other interesting characters.  At the end of the first episode, Elias also informs Chise that he wishes to marry her.  Hence the title.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride a.k.a. Maho Tsuki No Yume has a movie and an anime series.  It is based on a manga of the same name.  I don’t know any animes that are called different.   Its creator is Kore Yamazaki. I have never read the manga, I can only talk about what I have seen in the anime. I watched it through vrv.co/crunchyroll.com, subtitled but the English version is now available on vrv.co and Funimation.com.  I don’t have a dub or sub bias.  I’m sure the manga has more interesting facts about all the characters.  The ones introduced in the 13-episode anime besides Elias and Chise are Silver- the fae landlady, housekeeper, Ruth-Chise’s black dog familiar, Angelica Varley, her daughter Althea, Hugo – Angelica’s familiar, Lidenbaum (Lindel)- Elias’s master and dragon keeper, the priest-Simon Kalm, an alchemist-Michael Renfred and Alice his apprentice.  There is also a vicious sad creature named Cartaphilius but prefers to be called Joseph and all the creatures of faery, most prominent Queen Titania, King Oberon, Spriggan and the Leanansidhe.

Each episode Chise learns something about the magical world and the something about herself.  She falls in love with Elias despite his monstrous appearance.  I believe Elias is also in love with her but has never had the experience so is very inept, despite his vast knowledge and age.   I am not keen on this May 3000 BC/ December relationship trope,    common in many manga/animes and any young adult paranormal books.   Chise in the beginning of the anime is a totally defeated character.  She doesn’t know what love, kindness or care is.  Elias from the beginning give her kindness and care, it wins her loyalty.  I admire that in this anime since many have the male lead playfully or psychotically abusing the female lead.  Elias may be brutally honest, but he is also very vulnerable because of Chise.    Most of it is shown in his voice since a skull has no facial expression.

The manga/anime is under the shonen demographic due to the action.  It is also a romance with high stakes I believe.   Chise and Elias need each other or they both won’t survive.   Chise needs Elias’ help to live. He is showing her how to take back her life and giving her a much-needed home.  I have a suspicion that Elias needs Chise to keep him human-like.  In the words of the movie Jerry McGuire, they complete each other.

Although the stories are vastly completely different, I can’t help comparing the Ancient Magus’ Bride to Appleseed.  It is the only other story I know where the male lead does not have a face, and there was a subplot not really developed that felt like beauty and the beast.

This essay began when only 12 episodes were watched.  I was not sure the anime would continue, because of my fringe status I was not aware of how popular the Ancient Magus’ Bride is.   It felt like the series had reached an arc, Chise decided to return to Elias despite learning some disturbing truths about his past.  There were other cliffhangers that which I hoped will be resolved.  Fortunately, there is more to see and at the end of the season, I may have to write a follow-up post.   My overall thoughts on the anime are that it an interesting world to look at; the story is compelling, and I recommend it to anyone who wants experience unique feelings along with their action-filled anime.

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#46 Review

 

A new Ancient Egypt Mythology

By Paul Louise Julie
Published by Midas Monkee 2015

Brothers Khenti and Nekhat are two of Nubian assassins for the Pharaoh of the Northern Lotus Kingdom, known as the Shadows. They are very efficient agents, and their pivotal mission combines the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Egypt. The Shadows are given all they could desire except their freedom.  A longing for home compelled the brothers to cross a line no one expected.  They become fugitives on the run from the whole Egyptian Army.  Khenti encounters a wolf.  It bites him and nearly kills him.  He shares this burden with his brother who delights at the new abilities.   The brothers form a band of outlaws.  It consists mostly of men and only one woman is turned with intent.  She is Egyptian woman, a former slave different from the Nubian brothers.  They found her dear dead in the desert and one of the brothers, Khenti felt a need to save her.

Meanwhile, in the court of the Pharaoh, Akhenaton, has been given the crown, crook, and flail.  He is as vicious as his father.  However, he not only wants the lower and upper kingdom, He seeks the undermining of the ruling Egyptian gods.  The only people opposing him are Queen Nefertiri and the temple of Anubis. It all seems like a coincidence I think not.

Issue 1 is misleading, the description has me presuming the brother were already wolves.  Instead, this is the origin story.  We are introduced to the brothers.  We see that they have opposing but complementary personalities. The circumstances could be envied, and they don’t want it.  The Pharaoh is an arrogant cruel entitled person obviously plotting.

 

Issue 2 – the brothers still on the run, are united.  Khenti shares his gift with his brother.    The well trained Egyptian army is not prepared.  The pharaoh is well aware of the shapeshifters but purposely denies this to the detriment of loyal servants.  He calls up a different band of assassins different and deadlier than the shadows.    It is also made clear that he is corrupt, a follower of Sobek and knows something that is not common to the people.  Along with his brother, Khenti makes two other shifters, the woman found near dead in the desert and a young man the wolf left for dead.

Issue 3 –  the brothers set up in a city, establish a band of outlaws, become crime lords.    The Sobe-ka still hunt them and kills the people who knew them.

The Pharaoh Akhenaton seeks to force the High Priest of the Egyptian gods to convert to the following of Sobek.  All capitulate except the High Priest of Anubis.

The band of Outlaws takes on a job that is too much for them to handle.  Only the four survive- Khenti, Nekhet Nephti, and Mizra, barely.

The pack for me ended on a cliffhanger.  Midas Monkee promises three new issues of the series but they are not available through Comixology.   It looked like they would have to be acquired from the source, Midas Monkee.com but they are not yet available there either.  The covers look interesting though.     The characters were left in dire straights how they get out of it and find their true purpose will be so entertaining and interesting.  Is it obvious, I like this series? It has me thinking up fanfiction scenarios.  I am partly envious and awed by Paul Louise Julie.  One of these days my graphic novel will be out there.

In conclusion, anything by Midas Monkee should be looked at. They have wonderful covers, with intriguing titles.  It would be nice if they also add an excerpt or description.  I will be appeasing myself with the other title, they have been promoting for 2017.  Not sure when something will be written about it.

End

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45 Resolutions

Happy New Year!

The  Sorry-for-not-being consistent paragraph will be skipped.  It takes up time and this is a new year.  Nothing can be perfect, the work and acquiring the dream is all about getting it done.

The writing resolution is to find ways to maintain achievable goals.   Not going to enter the debate about the benefit or lack of resolutions.  I like making them.  Completing is a benefit.  I believe making the resolution is about having hope.

What is instore for the Jo Experiment Review Blog?   The stack is high, and I will do everything in within my skill as a writer to keep the promises I made.  I will also be adding reviews on other forms of media.  I have already reviewed graphic novels, expect more of them.  I did mention that I am a big anime and K-drama fan, to break up the monotony.   I will like to discuss those shows and well.  There may also be a classic review post or new classic review.  Not sure if I will add movies from the theaters, since the last movie I saw in the theaters had me wishing I could get the person who paid for it money back.  It would require me becoming a matinee queen.  It something to think about.  I doubt I will ever be cutting edge and up to date, but they will be interesting.

As always feel free to leave a comment.

End

 

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44 Up to Date

Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.

Keri Russell

 

Over the last four months since the last blog entry, the creative wells to write reviews dried up.  Did this mean I stopped listening or reading books?  Hell Nah!  I live vicariously through fiction.   There is always something lined up.  I have also been watching anime and K dramas.   It has been a journey going through the many episodes of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden.  I am not even done with that yet.  A couple of scheduled books that were of interest to me were finally released.  There is also my own fiction and the several projects that are in development.

 

In my last entry, I spoke about Daniel Jose Older’s Bone Street Rumba series.  In the past, I have written about Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives series.  These two series have one thing in common, I’m a fan of the worlds these writers created and I’m jealous I didn’t come up with it myself.  These worlds are completely opposite, one being an alternate world fantasy and the other being an urban fantasy.  However, they have similar issues, racism, corrupted systems of government, love, broken hearts, revolution.   The tales are told in an entertaining inspirational way.  However, since I am setting a standard for my reviews, I was never satisfied with what I wrote about the volumes of the story I have.   The Bone Street Rumba series is complete and Mr. Older has moved on to his Shadow Shaper series and Star Wars book I think.   Kate Elliott’s third book in the Court of Fives Series was just released last month.  There was no reminder set.   Since I know the term never say die, I will persevere and eventually, a review for the Court of Fives series and the Bone Street Rumba will be posted.  Until then be whelmed by other stories that have interested me and inspired me to share my thoughts with you all.

End

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43 Best Intentions for Reviews

If there is no struggle, there is no progress -Fredrick Douglass

It has been a long time since a review has been posted on the Jo Experiment Blog.  It has been a struggle to maintain creativity.  There are several reviews in development but none are complete and it had become frustrating.   The raison d’etre for this website/blog was in question. Why was I  working on it and what was being written?    These are the answers; the Jo Experiment Blog are about reviews that should inform and entertain.  They are written for two reasons, to share thoughts about various works of fiction and media and an exercise to expand the skill of the writer.  The focus would be on speculative fiction but would include other genres and literary works.  It would also include audiobooks as well as music and visual media, new and old because why the hell not.

 

Those are the goals for the JoEx in 140 words or less.   The word count for a proper entry is 500 or more words.  This is the personal challenge for the writer and allegedly the standard word count for blog entries.  It is only going to be mentioned until it is no longer needed.   The tactic is used to keep the mind in the game and has worked in previous challenges.

This paragraph is going to be about the struggle of the several reviews.  Three or Four reviews were started in 2016.  One book was a standalone, the other two were part of a two different young adult or new adult series.  The desire for the reviews to be more objective and less subjective has been a real issue.  It stopped being fun and the authenticity was in question.  Various books on how to write were consulted.  But nothing brought back the muse.  That was the time when any writing reference book or expert will suggest to work through the creative doldrum.  It was also the time when the personal life took precedence.  The end of 2016 was dark and had absolutely nothing to do with politics.  In one of these website/blogs, there should be a full disclosure entry.  But this is not the place for that.  Fortunately, this is the time to fight though. It has been under consideration to cut my ties of stagnant reviews and begin something new.  The consumption of new media didn’t stop.   There is a lot of books and tv/internet shows on the list and new things premiering every month.    However, the only thing this writer wants to quit is quitting.  She will endeavor to be the writer she tweets about on twitter and make it fun.

In conclusion, the Jo Experiment Blog Review is quietly re-re-relaunching itself for 2017.  It will finish what it started, the Court of Fives by Kate Elliott and Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson.  These two books, especially Court of Fives, because it was mention on twitter.  Sister Mine because the novel was fun and the narrator deserves some props.  It will also include recent reviews; the Bone Street Rumba series was completed and there are a few guilty pleasure books that should get a review.  In fact, there are several guilty pleasure series that are like chicken soup for this writer and should get mentioned. Wrinkled but not forgotten this writer will continue to put forth something of interest.

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#42 Update

Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.-Buddha

gold-light-heart-bedroompcIt has been some time since I have posted on this site. It is the same for the other website/blogs.   2016 has been a really effed up year for me and it has nothing to do with the election.   Real life made serious issues and I got into a productivity slump.  It took nearly the whole year to get out of the slump especially since it wasn’t recognized for the trap that it was.  It was almost too late for me.    2016 began with so much potential.  I was becoming the writer, I called myself.  Promises were made that later became chains as time moved on. Personal deadlines were either pushed back or missed completely.  Apologies were made where they could be and the whole situation was agonized over.  Writing never completely stopped, there are several drafts of blog essays that will never be seen.  I did stop posting which is bad for the website/blogs, this brand is built on content.  I was feeling horrible and I didn’t know what to call it, frustration, ennui, listlessness, tired.  I went through all those words and I was getting angry about it.  Then sometime in the summer I started the morning pages again.  It is my 4th morning page book.  This time I kept to the rules of 3 pages, I didn’t keep to the time constraints because I am not a morning person.  In fact, I have a slight dislike for morning people.  The exercise reminded me why I need to be a writer.  Why I like fiction?  Why I like stories, that are sometimes books, which become movies and in some cases TV shows.  Everything gets connected.

This post was started in September the plan was to post it and use the remaining three months to bring the website/blogs out of the red.   Then as started earlier real life kicked me in the knees in October.  The month of my new beginnings.  There was no plan B and the wobbly beginnings were dusted.   Now it is December and 2017 are few weeks away.   It is the ultimate new beginning.  Adjusting to a new kind of life is difficult and isn’t quite mastered yet.  I like the poorly named thejoexperimentblog.com and I will continue to work on it.  I don’t know if my three cents about tv shows are worth it or not. But I will start adding them.  I will also admit to anyone reading, I am not the reader I used to be.  I’m an audio book listener and when I’m reviewing a book in that form I will disclose it.  I have passed the 300+ word count challenge it is time to up the stakes to 500+.  While I typed that I cringed believing I am setting myself up for failure again.  It has happened before.   Enough with that tangent, done with self-fulfilling prophecy.

It is the beginning of December and there is no law that stated, I can’t start my new beginnings now and take them into the new year.    At the end of this month with all my best wishes I will post some reviews of the books I have been reading or listening to. I am not professing perfection, this is only attempting to keep my word.

 

Peach Lotus

 

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#38b Review Graphic Novels

       Learn as much by writing as by reading –Lord Acton

This may not have been mentioned before, I am a big fan of graphic novels or comic books, which ever you prefer.  I like them from  every variety or genre, new stories or ones based on books, the American icons from the two major distrbutors and their imprints, the international Japanese manga and Korean manwha and the indie stuff.  I based all my judgements on the story and artwork.  If the writer and the artwork can hook me, I become an avid fan.  I am quite happy to go over my book budget for them. Below are five graphic novels that had me all of 2015. Most were bought digitally.   I just might do another review like this of my fave mangas and animes just to be fair, in the future.

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Caitlin Kittredge/ Inaki Miranda –  10/09/2013

This paranormal urban fantasy series is about Eve Coffin a young woman who returned to her home town to fix the mistake she made when she was a rebellious teen. It is gritty, gory and weird in some places. There are several mysteries some solved by Eve or history. I like it because I know Caitlin Kittredge’s previous works of fiction, the Nocturne City and the Black London series. I was intrigued enough to see what she would do in the Coffin Hill story. In her introduction she mentioned Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series as inspiration to bring forth her original story in the graphic novel genre. An author I too admire and a series that is on my list to get into. With those two pluses I read Coffin Hill. I can openly admit she went places I don’t think I am prepared to go as a writer. Inaki Miranda also drew some truly unsettling but also fabulous work. I can also say that I was impressed and slightly envious.

EFF comicTim Seeley, Marley Zarcone and Mike Norton – 01/28/2015

Rookie cop Chandra Jackson is trying to establish her new life in her hometown.  She is a former child star, forgotten by Hollywood but not her backstage mother or a maniacal fan turned serial murderer.  I started reading Effigy because it was advertised in the back of one of the Coffin Hills.  I was intrigued.  An added plus was the main character is a black woman.   Sometimes I am biased, I apologize.  Effigy has its point of weirdness, but it was enough for me to follow.   It turned from serial murder mystery solved by rookie cop (finding her path) and veteran detective (realizing rookie cop has value) to conspiracy, secret society/occult vs. rookie cop and veteran detective and entourage turned fugitives.  In seven quick issues it got that crazy.   It was also hilarious.  Chandra’s mother is true stage mother/blanche dubois distressed and reminiscing about the past golden time of Chandra’s fame on a sci-fi show.  She is constantly trying to get her daughter out of obscurity and into the Hollywood lime light again.  Chandra tired of that life is diligently trying to forge another with little to no support.  The unexplained murders make her life worse. It brings her into the sphere of her number 1 fan, a former childhood friend, who is startlingly different now.  While reading Effigy, I was exposed to the underbelly of fandom and Cons.  I do know that it can’t actually be like that but recent articles on the rules enforced and updated to deal with toxic behavior makes me not be surprised if one or two images were retellings with the names and characters changed.  I know nothing about the writer Tim Seeley except that he is a comic book veteran.  He has a wide variety of comics to choose from or so Barnes and Noble is telling me.  It is the same for the artist Marley Zarcone and Mike Norton.  This will have to be something I look into further.

 

RQv1Kurtis J. Wiebe/ Roe Upchurch/Stjepan Sejic and Tess Fowler – 04/08/2014

Betty, Dee, Hannah and Violet are ride or die friends and hardworking mercenaries, in the fictional town of Palisades.  They take YOLO to extremes and would most likely punch me in face for using that term with them.  What is not to like?

This comic was touted by a feminist gamer podcast; I listen to online.  I had seen the cover and full disclosure I had trouble with the name.  Why would anyone want rat in their name? I did say I was biased.  After all that praise I gave in and I am totally glad that I did.  Rat Queens is one of my faves.  I am honestly tempted to start buying single issues, digitally of course.  I can’t wait for volume 3 to come out.  It is irreverent and funny, unexpectedly funny.  It is full of diversity, elves, orcs, dwarves, man and woman kind of every color, plus whatever the hell Betty is and trolls.  Women of every shape and size, living their lives doing right and wrong. There is so much to love, just makes my feminist heart soar.  The Queens all have complicated pasts and reasons they end up in Palisades.  The two volumes introduce the characters and a devastating mystery that is eventually solved but also starts a new adventure.  Should I be a little perturbed that the story is written by man? I don’t know or care the story is that good.    I have stated earlier that I haven’t paid enough attention to comic/graphic novel writers and artists.   So I can’t say much about them except they don’t make me cringe or wince.  Which is an excellent thing.

 

Erika Alexander/Tony Puryear/ Robert Alexander- 10/14/2014EA CP

All I’m doing for this whole review is admit to my shadiness.  I bought this purely on the respect and admiration I have for Erika Alexander.  I know her from of course the hit shows Living Single and the Cosby show.  I also remember she had a bit part in an interesting live action play/movie called the Mahabharata.  Don’t know it look it up.  I read that the Concrete Park was pitched to Hollywood as a movie.  The closed minded SOB’s response was that people of color are not into science fiction.  WTF!  So Ms. Alexander, Mr. Puryear and Mr Alexander, proved them to be out of touch bastids.

So what is good about Concrete Park?  Well actually nothing. It opens in the future, the planet’s resources are very low and everything that is worth having food, water, shelter is at risk.   Poverty and violence are high especially in gangs.  Isaac is a young man caught up in that violence and raising his younger sister Rose, alone.  He is by no mean an innocent, Rose pays for his transgressions.  This introduces us to another character we will see again Boza.   Isaac and Boza are hated enemies of opposing gangs.  It is never said how it happens but they both get arrested and transported.    This is where things become interesting.   It seems that the world has taken a page out of Great Britain’s book.  They found a habitable planet in space with no intelligent life but rich in resources to be mined. It becomes the punishment for many to be sent to this world.   Like Great Britain did to many to form the country of Australia.  To do hard labor for the mysterious company.  It is never said outright but it looks like a one-way trip. Once your time is done in the minds, many inhabitants settle in the city of Concrete park.  They join in the gangs that run place.  Resources are so scarce if you aren’t part of something you die.  Introduce Luca and her lover Lena.  Luca has down her time and has established a place in the city.  However, it hard out there for chick.  Her place and life in the city is threatened as a leader, the potato king, she meant to make peace or lucrative deal with plans to kill her.   In the midst of this do or die trial, a transport ship carrying Isaac and his enemy crashes.  A down company ship means resources on the barren but mining rich planet.  It is no holds barred to crash site.

Despite all the information I just gave, the story is intriguing and drawn really well.  There are some things I have not spoken about that might intrigued the next reader.  Questions that should be answered in the next volume.  I am crossing my fingers.

 

Brian K. Vaughn/ Fiona Staples – 10/10/2012

Saga v1Marko’s moon Wreath and Alanna’s planet Landfall have been at war for generations.  The war has lasted so long; it has expanded to include to their known universe.  It looks like a weird occurrence but somehow Alanna and Marko meet, agree on something and fall in love.  Their bold star-crossed move to be together changes their lives and many others.  It makes them criminals of both their planets and fugitives for life.  Their daughter Hazel who we meet before she is born b/c she narrates much of the story, is a criminal from the day she is born.  She is born with her father’s horn and her mother’s wings, she is a unique being hunted by both governments wanted dead or alive.

Even though the story begins with Alanna, Marko and new born Hazel, we are introduced to so many others, a diverse galaxy.  Everyone has questionable loyalties and reasons to search and find the small outlaw family.  Nevertheless, Marko and Alanna find a way to travel the universe and maintain a marriage and family life with and without the strain of being fugitives.

One of the weird and wonderful aspects of Saga is that it is extraordinary in its ordinariness.  The universe created by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples is diverse, with humanized animals, as well impossible imagine being with TV for heads.  Creatures that appear to look like plants, cyclops, elves etc.  However, everyone lives their lives accordingly.  I have five volumes of Saga and wait avidly for volume six.

 

Those are the first five. It took me three months to put up because of … well real life.   I know I am not the only one out in the internet-verse writing about comics or graphic novels.  There are many others more knowledgeable, this is just my take on what I have read.  To emphasize the quote, I learned from reading as much as writing.  The process is worth it.

 

Peach Lotus

P.S.  Check out the book page.

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