Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian Episode One "Turn-up Book"--Recap

This anime is based on a series of light novels. The story takes place after World War One and is about mysterious collections of magical books that contain secret, forbidden knowledge. The collections are guarded by equally mysterious girls and their "key keepers." Our main protagonist is a young man named Hugh Anthony Disward, who discovers that his grandfather left him his mansion and book collection when he died. His grandfather also left him a mysterious little girl named Dalian who it turns out, is the custodian of one of these mystic book collections.

The first episode opens with a mysterious place filled with water and spiral staircases made of light. We see a young boy and a white haired girl dressed in white. The girl is reading a book. This is a very dreamlike scene and the conversation is very cute but also slightly creepy. We learn that this space without any walls, floor, or ceiling has many names, among them the Labyrinth Library. The boy decides to befriend the young girl, and then we go to credits.

When we get back from credits, we're introduced to our Main Protagonist, Hugh. His grandfather had been murdered by a burglar, and Hugh has inherited his home. The grandfather had been a "bibliomaniac" with an intense passion for books. (Both collecting and reading.)  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reading Homestuck Part Six: ==> Rose, engage in passive aggressive warfare with Mom!

From here to here.

In our last installment, Dave had accidentally stabbed the crow that had stolen the game, resulting in both game and bird heading out the window. Dave is horrified, and has a moment of silence for the poor bird. He does not regret the loss of the game in any way, because he had no intention of really playing anyway.

We then encounter a wandering sudden scene shift!

We are back to Rose, and her heavily wizard-decorated house. Rose feels that the excessive wizard decorations are part of some passive aggressive ploy on her mother’s part. (Let it not be said that Rose is completely innocent of being passive aggressive herself. She gave her mother a vacuum cleaner as a gift, complete with a drink holder. Mom of course had the vacuum cleaner bronzed and put on display.) Rose heads for the kitchen, intending to sneak out through the back. (The adversarial relationships each of the kids have with their guardians is very nostalgic 80s kid vid for me.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Manga Review: Tena on S-String Volume Three, Sesuna Mikabe

In this volume, we make some discoveries about Kyosuke and the actions of the Tuners become slightly more sinister. We open with Kyosuke and Tena looking for notes. Unfortunately, it turns out that there are possibly more tuners out there who are getting to them first. After some flailing and frustration, the pair head back to Kyosuke’s home.

We also learn that this competition is for the purpose of making preparations for some kind of event. Said event seems to have some sinister implications, given the lighting surrounding the Tuners talking about it. We get two scenes of the higher ups in the organization talking about their plans. We learn that this competition is to focus the Tuners on collecting notes to the exclusion of anything else. (Such as whatever it is the higher ups are up to, perhaps.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gosick Episode Twenty Four, "Looking at Infinity Over the Reaper’s Shoulder"--Review

We open with Brian continuing to attack poor Victorique who is frantically trying to escape. Brian corners her, and they have a brief exchange where she attempts to beg Brian to help her. Brian is not able to deal with the images and memories that Victorique's evoked, so he picks her up and throws her. He appears to be having some kind of flash back, and calls Victorique "Cordelia" as he demands to know why Victorique is so important to her. He advances on Victorique, who is getting very close the edge of the cliff, and suddenly makes a grab for Victorique's pendant. Victorique manages to dodge, and Brian goes over the edge of the cliff.

Later, we see a dock and people getting onto a ship. The "camera" pulls back a little and we see Victorique and Brian Roscoe, who has blood on his clothes. They're stopped by the person taking the tickets. Brian attempts to bluster his way on board the ship, but allows Victorique to coax him away from the ticket taker.

The pair end up in an alley, and Brian asks why Victorique saved him. She states that she doesn't want to lose anyone else. Then Grevil turns up at the entrance of the alley with a bunch of cops. Brian tries to get Victorique to run, but she holds her ground, shouting defiance at Grevil. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The First SF I Read Was by Anne McCaffrey

I heard last night from a friend that Anne McCaffrey had died. 

It always hits me in a strange way when a writer I grew up reading dies. You half want to believe that the writer is immortal, and when they're not, the realization that they and their worlds are now gone can hit you kind of funny. This is especially true when the writer is one whose work you've read and enjoyed (and occasionally snarked about) from the time you were a kid. 

The first (or at least, one of the very first) science fiction novels I read was Dragonflight. I think I was probably eight or nine--maybe ten at the time. I borrowed it from a woman who lived next door and had a considerable collection of books crammed into every conceivable part of her tiny trailer. (She would be my main supplier for all things fantasy and science fiction until my parents finally let me get my first library card, and even after that, she could be relied on to supply me with my "fix.")

Anne McCaffrey was my first  favorite writer, I loved The Dragonriders of Pern and the Harper Hall Trilogy. (I still have a soft spot for the first three books of Dragonriders of Pern and for the Harper Hall books.) I cried like a sad and sorry sap at the end of Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern, even though I knew what the ending of the story would be. I loved The Ship Who Sang and the collaborations she wrote with Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon and Elizabeth Scarborough. 

Though I'm not quite as fond of her work as I was when I was a kid, I feel that she is still one of my favorite writers, and I'm going to miss her and her writing a great deal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review: Changes, by Mercedes Lackey

326 pp.

In the third book of The Collegium Chronicles Herald Trainee Mags spends a lot of time manipulating his friends for their own good. (I think Lackey is trying to show that Mags is very perceptive and smart with a natural ability to solve people’s problems for them. I am not entirely comfortable with the way Mags maneuvers people into doing what he wants for “their own good.”) He is also being taught by the King’s Own to work under cover and also spends a lot of time dodging the foreign spies and assassins that have been a recurring plot point in the series.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Review: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

219 pp.

buy on Amazon
Following the advice of a friend where books are concerned can be a little risky. There will always be points where your taste and your friend’s tastes do not coincide. (For instance, I had a friend who liked Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books. I do not. Emphatically.) Therefore, it took me awhile to get around to getting this book.

The Thief is a young adult fantasy novel taking place in a setting that is a great deal like Greece. (The technology level is pre-Industrial, sword and gunpowder.) This is a “low magic” setting; the one character identified as a “magus” is actually a scholar. What magic there is comes in the form of extremely subtle miracles and interaction with the gods. (The author does a really great job of having the gods seem distant and a little alien/beyond human comprehension, but not necessarily “remote.”)

Blue Exorcist Episode Fourteen "A Fun Camping Trip"--Review

It's summer break, and the regular students are heading off on their summer vacations. Rin and his class however are going to be going on a camping trip that is actually a "field drill." After Yukio states that he and Shura will be supervising them, we go to the opening credits. 

When we get back from the opening credits Rin and a few of the others are extremely enthused about this camping trip. (Rin in particular is a bundle of hyperactive energy.) A little later, we see the kids hiking along in much less cheerful spirits because they are all carrying heavy back packs. (Except for Rin, who is bubbly and ridiculously energetic, even though he's carrying both his and Shura's supplies. His fellow classmates have no idea where he gets all of his enthusiasm.) Yukio warns them that the forest is calm during the day but at night is infested with lower level demons.

The kids reach a clearing and Yukio assigns the kids tasks. (He has the boys set up the tents and the girls draw a protective circle and cook dinner.) Rin is in extremely high spirits, much to the annoyance of Ryuji and the hilarity of everyone else. Meanwhile, Izumo is being ridiculously grumpy because Shiemi is ridiculously cheerful and appears to still regard Izumo as a friend. Later, it's revealed that the girls are actually not that great at cooking, which prompts Rin to immediately take over. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gosick Episode Twenty Three "Announcing Checkmate at Dyed-Gray Chess" --Review

After the opening credits, we see Victorique playing a one-person game of chess. She saying vaguely prophetic things and wearing a nun's habit. The scene shifts to the city, and we get a note stating that it's now 1925. We move to some kind of meeting about a war that's beginning between Germany and Poland. (I would like to say now, pretend you have no awareness of the actual dates of World War II, it might keep your brain from breaking, but this is not a guarantee.)

We next see the king announcing that thanks to Jupiter Roget, Saubure will not be getting involved in the war. This is greeted with great enthusiasm by everyone present, up until the point that Albert de Blois interrupts. De Blois states that Roget is not doing any of this for the benefit of Saubure, but for the benefit of the Gray Wolves and the kingdom of Seyrun. He outs Roget as a Gray Wolf, which causes massive outrage. Albert puts forth his agenda, which is that Saubure should get involved with the war. Roget manages to escape before the crowd can lynch him.

(During this scene, Victorique is rather spookily predicting each event as it occurs.)

Read the rest at Associated Content.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Demon’s Covenant, by Sarah Rees Brennan

Margaret K. McElderry Books
440 pp.

The sequel to The Demon’s Lexicon is from the point of view of Mae, who is trying to deal with her very complicated life which has been made even more complicated by magic and the presence of Nick and Alanl Ryves. (She is also in the dog house with her mother Annabel, who it turns out, is not the kind of parent who would not care if her two children disappeared. She is just the kind of parent who deeply sucks at interacting with children. Unreliable narrators are not to be trusted and should not be trusted because they are unreliable.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homestuck Video: EET

I discovered this fan-made video for Homestuck recently, and I was extremely impressed, so I thought I'd share.

Book Review: Wraith by Phaedra Weldon

378 pp.
There are times when a book that might have been otherwise been entertaining ticks me off. I will still read the book, but chances are I’m mostly reading to see how much more bad it can get. (It is the only reason I was able to read The Warriors of Spider and sequels all the way through.) This is more or less the case with Wraith, which managed to annoy me on several different occasions.

Our heroine is one Zoe Martinique a young woman who because of a trauma in her past is able to travel out of body. She makes a living doing industrial espionage in a uniquely ham-handed manner. She is aided by her friend Rhonda, who is a witch and her mother, who is psychic and runs a botanica that’s also a tea shop. (There are also two gay ghosts who apparently serve the purpose of being Sassy Gay Friends to Zoe, her mother and Rhonda.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blue Exorcist Episode Thirteen "Proof"--Review

The episode opens with a flash back to when Rin was a little boy, a little boy with a great deal of strength and a very bad temper. (Rin's self-esteem issues are somewhat justified in that he feels a great deal of shame because of his inability to control either.) We get a view of some very frightened kindergarten teachers and Rin having a tantrum. Then we go to the opening credits. 

When we get back from the opening credits, the scene is a direct continuation of the previous episode. Shura is introducing herself as a Senior inspector and stating her mission. Then she announces that she's taking Rin back to headquarters and is going to need to speak to the preceptor, Mephisto. She grabs Rin and drags him off in a headlock. (In sotto voce she tells Rin she has a lot of questions for him.)

Shura and Yukio take Rin to the Japan Branch headquarters where they meet up with Mephisto. Shura is extremely unhappy with Mephisto, and demands to know why Mephisto hid Rin's existence. Mephisto of course states that what he's doing is what's best for the organization and states his intention to use Rin as a "weapon" against Satan. Shura is not convinced. She asks if Shiro was involved with this project of Mephisto's. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reading Homestuck Part Five: ==> Rose, stop dilly-dallying!

From here to here

Rose allocates her knitting to her strife specibus. Her weapon is now “needlekind.” With the “root card” of her sylladex tree now in the strife deck, she immediately loses everything she captchalogued and has to start over.

The unknown controller tries to get her to knit a cuddle Chthulu. Rose has apparently never heard of Chthulu, though she is familiar with many examples of other non-Euclidean Space Gods from Beyond. Rose browses through a few of these examples in her Grimoire of the Zoologically Dubious. There are also diagrams and directions for summoning these creatures, though the diagrams don’t make a lot of sense as they don’t seem to involve anything really arcane.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bewitched and Betrayed by Lisa Shearin

366 pp.

Raine’s current situation continues to maintain its usual level of disaster. She is currently trying to track down and apprehend the sorcerers who had busted out of the Saghred in the previous book with limited success. Among the other escapees is her father, who currently inhabits the body of one of the Guardians and Sarad Nukpana who is currently *Jerk the Bodiless. She is also under investigation for a number of murders and elven politics turns out to be just as murky and sinister as goblin politics. (Since this has been the usual situation from book one onward, I shouldn’t need to explain it, but still.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blue Exorcist Episode Twelve "A Game of Tag"--Review

The next episode begins with Mephisto looking moderately ticked off about something. The person he is moderately ticked off about is his younger brother Amaimon, who has been playing tourist all over Japan. (He has bought every kitschy tourist item in existence.) Mephisto is not happy about all the time his brother has been wasting, when he's supposed to be "testing" Rin. His tune changes slightly when he sees that Amaimon has managed to get his hands on a rare collector's item (a yukata with pictures of an particular anime series). Mephisto immediately confiscates the yukata. Just before we go to the opening credits, we learn that Rin is apparently at an amusement park. We also learn that Amaimon has finally decided to "test" Rin.

We next see Rin and the rest of his class at the amusement park. Just as the trip to the beach was not a vacation, neither is this trip to an amusement park for the purpose of fun. (Ryuji is less than pleased about the presence of the two classmates who never seem to do anything.) This particular amusement park is the property of Mephisto and is currently haunted by the ghost of a young boy. Rin and the rest of his class have the assignment of catching the ghost. To do this, the class gets split up into teams. Rin is with Shiemi whose new school uniform is not the best fitting in the world. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gosick Episode Twenty Two "A Christmas Carol Decorates the Windowsill’s Happiness"--Review

We open with some kind of Christmas carnival taking place at the academy. Various students are in costume, though some of the costumes seem more suited for Halloween than Christmas. A girl with a cleaver through her head bumps into Kujo and has hysterics when she bumps into him. She runs off screaming that the "Reaper" touched her. Kujo is exasperated, since he'd been rather startled by the girl.

Avril turns up wearing a fairy costume that is too cold for the winter weather. (Winter is cold. You are not going to be running around in a costume like that when there is snow on the ground, I'm just saying.) She drags Kujo off to find a costume for him, though Kujo protests. The scene continues to some kind of attic room where Cecile and Sophie waiting, and then we go to credits.

It turns out the costume Avril and associates have in mind is "Monstre Charmant" which is yet another significant fairytale that gets attached to Victorique. (She was the Golden Fairy, then she was the Gray Wolf, and now she is Monstre Charmant.) Monstre Charmant is a terrible yet beautiful monster that is accompanied by a rabbit. According to the fairy tale, someone wanting to capture Monstre Charmant killed the rabbit, but the rabbit had been Monstre Charmant's heart, so she died as well. Cecile thinks that Kujo should wear the rabbit suit, and that Victorique should where the costume of Monstre Charmant. Kujo thinks this is a great idea, and heads off to find Victorique. (Meanwhile, the viewer feels a sense of deep forboding.)

Read the rest on Associated Content.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Margaret K. MacElderry Books
322 pp.

Sometimes, even though I should know better, I forget how detailed, engaging and even disturbing a young adult novel can be. (I have no idea why I do this. There are many, many engaging disturbing and intense young adult novels out there.) So, I was surprised when I read the The Demon’s Lexicon because it’s a very intelligently written urban fantasy with some fairly intense moments. (And when I say intense I mean horrifying and various levels of disturbing.) I have to admit that the book also in general reminded me a little of Supernatural, though the show and the book have almost nothing in common except two brothers and also, demons.