Tag Archives: recommended

I Reincarnated for Nothing

Title: I Reincarnated for Nothing

Translator: NaughtyOtter

Chapters: 128 (Ongoing)

Link: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/i-reincarnated-for-nothing
(Please note the site is temporarily taking this novel offline, but it can likely still be read at web.archive.org)

Artpe used to be the weakest of the four demon lords, the final bosses before the demon king. But after being killed by the hero’s party, he finds he’s somehow gone back in time. Now he’s a second hero, alongside the original hero . . . and he can finally get his revenge on the demon king who had formerly enslaved him.

This is a lot of fun. Artpe still has all his memories as a demon, as well as an innate ability that lets him analyze whatever he’s looking at to extract a high degree of information. He used to be the demon in charge of gathering intelligence due to that ability, so he has a lot of knowledge about how things used to go (although of course things are changing now that he’s veering off-script from the original events).

And he may be the hero, but his basic personality hasn’t changed. Which means people really question whether he’s actually a hero or if he’s somehow a demon.

The original hero, Maetel, is naive, good-hearted, crazy strong, and a moron when it comes to anything not related to physical combat. Artpe, on the other hand, is a genius with limited physical abilities. So Artpe decides he’ll specialize as a magician (since heroes can learn all class skills) and have Maetel focus on melee combat.

This is a litRPG, but the skills and stats angle is fairly light. Artpe does focus on leveling up as much as possible, but his interaction with various opponents usually comes down to cleverness and his innate skill rather than pure firepower. So far his interactions with demons have been limited, although that’s looking to change in the near future. Once he’s prepared enough to go back to the demon world, things should get very interesting. Because two Heroes means it’s highly likely there’s an additional Demon Lord to deal with . . . and if the one Artpe remembers was some kind of counterbalance to Maetel, the unknown one is likely to be a great deal more threatening as a counterbalance to HIM.

Overall even though I’m not fond of the “all the girls fall for Artpe” angle, I’m still enjoying the rest of the story. I rate this book Recommended.

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Everyone Else is a Returnee

Title: Everyone Else is a Returnee

Author: Toika/Toy Car

Chapters: 348 + 4 extra (Complete)

Location: https://kobatochan.com/korean-novels/everyone-else-is-a-returnee/

Yu IlHan has always been left out because no one notices him. And when God moves all of humanity off to other worlds to prepare for the coming Cataclysm on Earth, Yu IlHan remains the sole person left behind. But the endless years of being alone transforms him into someone able to break all common sense when everyone else returns . . .

This is a hilarious twist on the usual formula. Instead of one person getting sent from Earth to another world, all of humanity is sent to other worlds, and the story follows the one poor guy who didn’t get the intergalactic tourism experience.

So Yu IlHan tries to teach himself what he’ll need to know when mana shows up and monsters start spawning on Earth. With the help of a sole angel who visits every few days to keep him from going insane, he learns combat techniques, blacksmithing, dissection, etc. My personal favorite is how he eventually ends up on a quest to read all the books in the world, because it gives him something new to do.

This is a litRPG, so levels, skills, and stats provide a framework for how the world works. Of course, Yu IlHan is so busy proving he can do the impossible from pretty much the get-go that it’s not like these numbers represent much other than how much experience he can get.

I’m not fond of the predictable way the story set up Heaven as basically just another group of high-level beings who banded together under one leader, which has the expected outcome. The author does make a point that he’s not specifically trying to dump on religion, just use some angel names, but just the structure telegraphs the ending from miles away. So I had more fun with the book before about the last quarter, because that’s when the innovation is strongest and the threats are still credible.

I also hated YuNa. She was funny when it was her aggressive pursuit bouncing off Yu IlHan’s stone heart. It was less funny when this turned into sexual assault. And the harem ending was depressing because the whole story has been about Yu IlHan sticking closer to Liera than anyone else, and suddenly he’s okay with multiple wives because he thinks he shouldn’t limit himself.

So it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. I love seeing the bizarre and completely overpowered things Yu IlHan creates. I love his pessimism, which prompts him to over-prepare for every possible scenario and then some. (Like how he designed his house to be usable in space. Because he was sure THAT was somehow a likely possibility.)

It’s the kind of mentality that results in this:

“Yes. It’s a great idiom meaning that I should not act until I am convinced that I can defeat the last boss, the true last boss that comes after that, the hidden dungeon that comes after the true last boss, and the hidden last boss that comes out at the end of the hidden dungeon, and the true-true last boss that can only be met when I install a super expensive downloadable content later, even after I have the strongest equipment and maxed out all my levels.”

So overall this is kind of a mixed bag. There is plenty to enjoy, but also some things that really annoy me. Still, it made me laugh a lot. I rate this book Recommended.

Your Name (Movie)

Title: Your Name

Format: Movie

Taki lives in Tokyo, and Mitsuha lives in the country. They’ve never met, but one day they begin waking up in the other’s body. They want to find each other, but it’s difficult when their swaps are their only clue, and the memories fade like a dream . . .

This was an interesting movie. It’s kind of a romance, but the main characters have never actually met. They get to know each other through friends and family, setting, and living each other’s lives. Eventually they start leaving notes for each other to try to keep the other person aware of the important things going on, but they haven’t directly talked.

I liked the twist of why the comet is so central to the story, and what that means for the two of them. And what Taki, especially, tries to do about it.

I watched the movie in English. One surprising touch is that this meant the music RADWIMPS provided ended up playing with English lyrics as well. That helped during some of the dramatic scenes, where the lyrics were just as important as the sweeping melody. The voice actors were also good. I liked how Taki sounds more feminine when Mitsuha is in his body, giving him a vocal tic as well as the physical ones to indicate he’s not who he used to be.

Overall, even though I’m not sure why it got as popular as it did, this is still something I would watch again. The sci-fi angle on this unconventional romance is fun, and the movie is something that can be enjoyed by anime fans and non-fans alike. I rate this Recommended.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower (Movie)

Title: Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Format: Movie

Mary Smith is living with her great-aunt in the countryside, waiting for her parents, for school, for anything interesting to happen. When she finds a mysterious flower in the forest, she’s drawn into a world of magic greater than anything she could have imagined . . .

This is a cute movie. It is based on a British children’s book, which was noticeable to me. As I haven’t read the original, I don’t know if anything was changed in the adaptation.

The scenery is gorgeous. The backgrounds are all bursting with detail and color, from the English countryside house to the floating island that harbors the witches.

The characters are okay. Peter felt really passive in the later parts of the movie, especially when he’s getting led around without protest (and apparently not under a spell). Mary is the focus of the plot, and she’s better, although she’s still basically a blank slate. She’s a bored child who discovers a world of wonder but she doesn’t seem to have much personality beyond hating her hair.

The one thing that did stand out to me is that the cats do not really behave like cats. They come out from their little hiding hole during a loud storm to watch it, even though they’re clearly frightened, they track each other down, etc. I kept expecting the cat to reveal it was actually a former human, but that didn’t happen.

Also, I really hate “I’m never using magic again” endings like this. Mary seemed to be using her own power by the end, as the flower’s power should have run out by then. Just when she’s getting started, she decides to reject it entirely instead of looking for a better way.

The dub is very good. I watched the movie in English and all the performances were solid.

Overall this is a nice movie but not one I’m particularly wanting to rewatch. I rate this Recommended.

 

Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3)

Title: Rogue Protocol

Author: Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #3

Murderbot isn’t having much luck with its grand escape plans. After interfering with a human conflict while trying to learn its own history, it needs to get away again before more awkward questions come up. But when an opportunity arises to probe more deeply into the corporation that nearly killed it, Murderbot arranges for a personal visit to an abandoned terraforming base . . .

I liked this one a lot better than the previous two. The story is finally long enough to feel more satisfying, and the cast is small enough to flesh out all the major characters.

Murderbot is also dealing with new emotions this time around. When it meets Miki, a robot who likes humans and calls them friends, all sorts of confusion results. To Murderbot, there’s a divide between human and AI that goes far beyond physical capabilities. To Miki, that wall may as well not exist.

I liked the way the battled played out in this book as well. Particularly the way Murderbot can split its attention between multiple parallel tracks, or the way bot “biology” means that brains are in the torso, not the head, which changes fighting styles a lot (headshots aren’t useless, but they’re definitely not fatal).

Overall this is a good continuation of the series. I rate this book Recommended.

Stop, Friendly Fire!

Title: Stop, Friendly Fire!
Author: Toy Car/Toika
Translator: Boko
Chapters: 1 – 6.3 (Vol 1 complete, story ongoing)

Location: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/stop-friendly-fire

Lee Shin Woo has been given a second chance at life by a god who is desperate to stop the undead curse ravaging her world. But his request for an immortal body and infinite growth potential has backfired. Now he’s a skeleton, dropped in the middle of a dangerous world, with the goal of wiping out the undead Empire . . .

This is another hilarious book. The fact that Lee Shin Woo has become a special type of undead allows him to blend in somewhat with the forces he’s out to destroy—although even the stupidest ones can prove deadly if they suspect him. But it gives him the option to switch up his tactics as the situation demands. Some of the funnier fights involve him working with other skeletons to fight the Treasure Eater monsters. He’s encouraging all the skeletons to help him, while at the same time ensuring their numbers stay low enough for him to wipe them all out.

His habit of nicknaming the various types of monsters is also a lot of fun. All of the ordinary skeletons are Paul, and he counts the number of Pauls he’s killed. And this goes on in a similar manner for the other types of enemies he’s dealing with. (Hearing him curse out “Steve” the Treasure Eater kept me laughing.)

Lee Shin Woo does have a grudge against this god, too—his two great fears were becoming bald and impotent, and now he’s stuck with both.

The story is a litRPG, so skills, stats, and levels are an important part of the worldbuilding. I like the absurdity of the leveling system—he’s floored that monsters a single level higher than him are so strong, until he finds out how the mechanics of a “level” actually work. The karma system is also interesting. People’s actions build up karma, and when combined with levels it can act like a job or class change. The bit about spending money at a shop being another form of karma exchange also fits into that.

So far it’s been a good blend of adventure, absurdity, and worldbuilding. Lee Shin Woo seems to be heading for the Trickster karma, which should bring plenty more amusing fights. And given the title of the book he’s bound to have trouble with the other summoned heroes once they actually meet him. I rate this book Recommended.

Cells at Work (Anime)

Title: Cells At Work
Episodes: 1-13

This is an oddball little show that’s half education, half entertainment. It’s a collection of little adventures inside the body, following various types of cells around, with the main character being a certain klutzy red blood cell (and the white blood cell who ends up as a love interest).

I’m not hugely into biology stuff, but this one caught my attention with the hyperviolent humor. Because there’s something really fun about a show where over half the characters introduced are some form of rampaging killer—and this is known by everyone, and applauded, because it’s just their jobs. There’s a scene late in the show that sums it up perfectly: Red Blood Cell is explaining to another red blood cell “He’s perfectly nice, really!” while White Blood Cell is rampage-murdering a pathogen right in front of them, which is only visible as huge gouts of blood splashing up from below.

I love White Blood Cell.

For that matter, most of the immune system is hilarious. There’s the white blood cell tendency to flip into rampage mode shouting “DIE, GERMS!” or the SWAT-team-like T-Cells or the axe-murderer Macrophage (who also teaches preschool) . . .

Basically cell behavior looks really weird when you transpose it onto humans.

On the downside, because much of the show depends on some rather technical information, it keeps stopping to throw up WALLS of text explaining some biology fact. I think to a large part these were not needed, as the most pertinent bits could have been worked into dialogue or something the characters did.

Overall this is a fun show that offers something a bit different from everything else out there. If you like more science-focused shows, or you just want to see some germs get their just desserts, this is a good one to check out. I rate this show Recommended.