Tag Archives: recommended

Dr. Stone (Anime)

Title: Dr. Stone
Episodes: 1-13

Senku was a high school student with a lifelong love of science and a single goal: to go to the moon. Unfortunately, a civilization-ending disaster strikes first, turning everyone in the world to stone. Three thousand years later, Senku breaks free. And from a second stone age, he’s working on restoring all the civilization—and science—he knows and loves.

This is an odd show with some crazy character designs in places, but it’s also a huge amount of fun. Senku is a genius, but he’s the kind of genius who is just so passionate about his favorite subject he wants everyone else to love it too. And because he’s been doing experiments from a young age, it feels natural for him to have the know-how to recreate some of the many things that were lost.

On a personal level, he’s a bit snarky, likes to tease his friends, and holds intense loyalty to them. So he mostly avoids the more annoying sides of being a genius.

The situation with other characters is a little weirder. The beginning of the show sets up a certain group of friends and enemies, but the author seems to have given up on that plotline rather early in favor of moving Senku to a village populated by people he hasn’t known in his pre-statue life.

Overall, even if the more typical elements (a tournament arc, really?) don’t really work for me, the science is always fun, and it’s a bit of a game guessing what Senku will try to create next. I rate this show Recommended.

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The Saga of Tanya the Evil (Movie)

Title: The Saga of Tanya the Evil

Format: Movie

Tanya had hoped to get away from war, but as usual she’s been dragged to the front lines. This time, Russia is the primary enemy—but an international unit that gets entangled in the fray suggests the United States may not be far behind. With no other options, Tanya puts her all into staying alive . . .

This feels like an extended next episode of the series. Picking up right where the series left off, it showcases Mary Sue and her new placement in an international unit visiting Moscow to help foster friendly relations in their mutual fight against the Empire. Mary Sue isn’t paying attention to anything other than her own goals for revenge.

It’s an interesting contrast to Tanya, who strives for ultimate professionalism in what she does (though sometimes her emotions do slip through). This war, like the wars before it, creates a perfect storm to draw Tanya in. Between her superior’s shortsightedness, unexpected enemy action, and some manipulation by Being X (though he doesn’t have a direct role like in the series), Tanya is unable to grasp the peaceful life she so desires.

Visually this was stunning. The cloudscapes were gorgeous, and there were several amazing arial dogfights. The flying battles are reason enough for me to buy this. A few shortcuts are evident in some of the more intense fight scenes, but given the sheer dynamic motion of the rest of it I’m more than willing to overlook it.

Overall, this is best watched after seeing the regular anime, but there is enough context for a new viewer to jump right in. The only real downside is that the relatively open nature of the end implies there needs to be another season to continue from where this one leaves off. I rate this movie Recommended (if you enjoyed the series, Highly Recommended).

Web Novel Short Reviews

I haven’t been completely inactive, but most of my reading has been web novels that either don’t have an ending yet, or are things I dropped after a few hundred chapters and haven’t gotten around to finishing.

So I’d like to briefly highlight some of the standouts, as an eventual reminder to myself.

To Be A Power in the Shadows (official title: The Eminence in Shadow) – Sid has always admired the mysterious figures that rule from the shadows and fight evil, and has made it his life goal to be one of them. This is amazingly funny. Sid flat out admits in the first chapter he’s willfully thrown away sanity in pursuit of his dreams (I do hope this chapter retains all its best quotes in the official release in November). So what’s left is a boy having the time of his life playing at his dream, while not realizing that everything he thinks is pretend is actually real. Which drives the evil organization nuts because they can’t understand how their information is leaking, when from Sid’s perspective he’s just making up a nice backstory to explain why he’s doing what he does.

My Death Flags Show No Sign of Ending – A young man is pulled into the character of one of the villains of his favorite games. Starting as 10-year-old Harold Stokes, he’s trying his best to avoid all the things in the game that led to his death. This one is funny too, although it took a few chapters for me to get into it. Harold has an interesting quirk where the original body’s personality seems to not be completely gone, which results in him being completely incapable of saying anything nice. I love the grumpy thought he has calling his mouth cursed equipment. But since he’s not sure how much other people ought to know, and because no one will believe him if he tries to explain anything, he keeps most things to himself and the misunderstandings keep piling up. Unfortunately, the extremely slow release of recent chapters suggests the original author has either dropped this or is close to dropping it, which is especially aggravating because the story is so close to the final battle.

The Amber Sword – A gamer is pulled into his favorite games as one of the NPC characters seconds before his death. After scrambling to survive, he works to save the country he loves, which fell in the game to the undead invasion that is just now beginning. This is a pretty solid fantasy, with a surprise appearance of a magic system based on Magic the Gathering somewhat late into the plot. That said, most of the magic and abilities are outside that system, so the introduction of cards doesn’t unbalance things too badly, and it’s an amusing look at what a card based magic system could look like in practice.  The only downside is that the translator got busy with real life stuff quite a ways in and seems to have dropped it, and there’s no indication if he or anyone else might pick it up again.

The S-Classes That I Raised – After an unfortunate incident where his brother sacrificed his life for him, the main character manages to return five years in the past. Determined to fix his relationship with his brother, avoid all the stupid things he did, and generally take it easy, he’s a bit derailed when his caretaker talent starts setting him up to play a much bigger role finding and strengthening the world’s strongest. This one is interesting because the main character himself is generally incapable, though not usually incompetent, and now that he’s had such a bad experience he’s ready to do his life over “correctly.” It is hilarious watching him encourage others when he really wants to scream because his ability can only be triggered by the words “I love you.” So he has to keep forcing conversations around to the point where he can say those words and have them mean something to the receiver. But it’s also surprisingly heartwarming because even if he’s not entirely the nice guy others think he is, he does try hard to make their lives better. Also it features a cute unicorn-cat-lion monster that mostly acts like a cat unless it gets annoyed, when it can swat couches into splinters. This one is ongoing and updates on Fridays.

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes (Movie)

Title: My Hero Academia: Two Heroes
Format: Movie

When All Might receives an invitation from an old friend to attend I-Island’s exhibition, he invites Izuku Midoriya along with him. Izuku is thrilled to meet some of the people so important to his mentor, like David Shields, a genius inventor, and his daughter Melissa. But a fun outing on the island is interrupted by terrorists, and Izuku must put into practice all the heroism he’s been learning . . .

This was a fun movie. My favorite parts were seeing young All Might as he was before he truly became famous, and how that friendship with David has influenced and changed the both of them.

Because it’s a movie more focused on filling in some of the background details for All Might, it works fairly well as a standalone or as a way to introduce someone to the series. There’s a somewhat large chunk of flashback from the first few episodes of the anime explaining how Izuku got his powers from All Might, so people new to the franchise won’t be totally lost (although the various unnecessary cameos that exist solely to give the rest of the cast very minor roles are pretty much just for fans).

The terrorist takeover plot wasn’t bad but it was more interesting seeing the differing views David and All Might have about All Might’s current situation. All Might has basically been preparing to retire—to pass things along to the next generation. David isn’t ready to let his best friend and light of the world step down. There’s a lot to sympathize with on both sides, and neither of them really tells everything to the other, so they end up in conflict despite not meaning to go that far.

On the student side, the plot mostly focuses on Izuku (Deku), Orihime, Todoriki, Bakugou, Iida, and other fan favorites.

Overall, although missing this isn’t going to affect too much for fans of the regular series, I would still recommend it, as it’s one of the few places we get any kind of detail about All Might’s past, and it’s a pretty good movie on its own. I rate this movie Recommended.

The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel (Rachel Griffin #2)

Title: The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel

Author: L. Jagi Lamplighter

Series: Rachel Griffin #2

Things have barely quieted down at Roanoke Academy since the battle with the dragon. Now that the Wisecraft know there is a geas that can control people without them remembering it, everything is in an uproar. Rachel is desperate to be in the thick of things, but the adults are trying to keep students in the dark—even though the students themselves are the ones most likely to be hurt. If no one will tell her anything, she’s determined to keep investigating herself . . .

I really like how Vladimir Von Dread and Gaius are shaping up as the book goes on. Pretty much all the adults have written Vlad (and by extension, his loyal henchman Gaius) off as evil, but as the first book showed, that’s oversimplifying things by a lot. Now Rachel is finding that the people she trusted so well are brushing off serious concerns, but Vlad is willing to take her warnings to heart.

As for Gaius, he’s enough older than Rachel to make dating a concern—which even Rachel admits. So she teeters between wanting to keep him as a friend, and wanting him to be more. I like how Gaius is, even more than Vlad, ambiguous.

But nobody beats Siggy when it comes to making me laugh.

Rachel sighed. “Sigfried, you’re a human being. You don’t have glands like that.”
Yet!” said Siggy stubbornly. “You told me people can’t turn into dragons—but look at Dr. Mordeau! If she can do it, I can do it. I have great hopes for alchemy class. I can’t wait to perform alchemical experiments on my head!”
“It’ll work out great!” Lucky added loyally. “You’ll overcome many naked monkey boy handicaps! When have horrible experiments with unknown magical forces ever gone wrong?”

The scene where Mr. Burke is trying to explain about dangerous areas to Sigfried is another bit of comedy gold. Siggy and Lucky take all his warnings as if they were signs on attractions, and wants to see them all.

This is a darker book than the previous. Although the event itself happens offscreen, a student was raped, and she’s struggling to heal.

The Raven also gets some interesting bits of development. Rachel’s always seen it as a harbinger of doom, but once she knows a little bit more of who he is and what he’s doing, her feelings get more complicated.

Overall the story continues to build and improve. I rate this book Recommended.

The Rising of the Shield Hero (Anime)

Title: The Rising of the Shield Hero

Episodes: 1-25 (focusing mostly on 13-25)

Naofumi is struggling to get the other three heroes to take him seriously as the Waves continue to strengthen. But the Waves aren’t the only threat—political and religious conflict explodes against him, and he’s stuck defending some of the people he hates most.

The second half of the series highlights some of the best and worst of the story. I really like L’Arc and Therese, who show up right at the end (they were awesome in the books and even better on screen). L’Arc is still basically the only competent male character who gets a significant role in the action. He’s a bit of a prankster, but he knows how to be serious when it counts, and he’s every bit the hero Naofumi is. I very much hope the anime gets another season so we can get the arc where they meet again.

The conflict with the corrupt noble who used to own Raphatalia was changed in some disappointing ways, but overall that arc was still well done, especially with the music. Her backstory was as tragic as expected, but the use of visuals and music really elevated this above the source. I just wish she’d still kicked him out the window.

The middle arc with the Pope, though, is where most of the problems are. This was not great writing in the books, with how much standing around and monologuing at each other is happening in the middle of a fight, but on screen, with the ability to feel time wasting (and a lot of recap animation because characters keep bringing up old events) makes it even more tedious. In this case, being a little less faithful to the source would have been a good idea, as a lot of the needless exposition and bickering could have been cut for a stronger fight.

This was overall still a fun ride, and I do hope they make a second season so they can adapt my favorite arc (Naofumi visiting the world where L’Arc originates). I rate this show Recommended (although possibly watch the Pope’s fight on fast forward).

One Punch Man (Anime)

Title: One Punch Man

Episodes: 1-12

Saitama was once an ordinary man, but he trained hard and became a hero. The only problem is that he’s gotten too strong. Now everything he faces dies in a single punch. Can he find any meaning to being a hero?

It’s hard for me to summarize this show because it’s a comedy whose central gag is in the title: everything dies to Saitama in a single punch. I don’t generally like comedies because I tend not to have the same sense of humor, but there were a few pieces of this one that did make me laugh.

Genos is easily my favorite character in the series. I don’t find Saitama either relatable or funny, but that changes when he interacts with the overly-serious Genos, who pretty much worships him. Saitama might have gotten into the hero business to help people out, but that’s really hard to tell these days. Genos is the one with all the raw emotion behind his every action, and the fact that most of the time he fails miserably despite his incredible firepower can also be funny. His repair bills must be enormous.

Other characters like Sonic the ninja offer a good bit of amusement with how very much they get into their fights.

The animation is also particularly good for a TV show, especially the last episode. The fights are big and bombastic, and a lot of fun to watch (at least, until Saitama gets involved, generally).

If you have the Blu Rays, they came with 6 OVA episodes, which are generally minor bits from the series expanded from someone else’s point of view, or adventures involving other characters. Those were good, but due to the content I’d recommend watching them after watching the regular series.

Overall I did enjoy this, although I needed to get past the first episode to find anything I liked enough to want to continue. I rate this show Recommended.