Tag Archives: sci-fi

Parasyte (Movie)

Title: Parasyte
Format: Live-Action Movie

Shinichi wakes up one night to a bug in his room—one that burrows into his right hand and replaces it with an intelligent parasite. Now Shinichi and Migi must learn to live together, in a world where both humans and parasites pose a threat to their continued existance.

The live-action movie is probably best seen after (or in addition to, at any rate) the anime. Although the story preserves some of the main highlights, cutting down 12 episodes to one movie means a lot of the more extended character development just doesn’t have time.

That said, it was fun. The CG worked out better than I expected, and Migi looks suitably more creepy in a closer-to-life format. The parasite battles also looked more understandable than a lot of the similar fights in the anime.

I think what bothered me the most was taking Shinichi’s dad away. They probably decided to do it to give more pathos between Shinichi and his mom, but one of the more interesting parts of the anime to me was contrasting the way Shinichi and his father both handled the major event. And Shinichi’s concern for his father drove a lot of his later decisions.

Overall, if you liked the anime, or are just curious about the series and don’t feel you have time for the whole anime, this was a decent movie. But it doesn’t offer a whole lot above and beyond what the anime already did, so I would recommend if the movie interested you at all, then check out the anime too. I rate this movie Recommended.

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Parasyte – the maxim – (Anime)

Title: Parasyte – the maxim –

Episodes: 1-24 (complete)

Shinichi wakes up one night reflexively slapping at a bug that then proceeds to burrow into his right hand. Only quick thinking saves his life . . . but in the morning, his right hand starts talking to him, and he realizes he’s now unwilling partners with a bizarrely intelligent parasite. But Migi isn’t the only parasite that’s shown up in Japan. And most parasites eat humans.

I liked this a lot more than I expected. Shinichi changes a lot over the course of the series: from a nervous, wimpy guy who freaks out easily to a shell-shocked survivor of extreme situations to someone who takes everything that happened and actually comes out stronger.

I do disagree with Shinichi’s assessment of himself being unable to cry as a sign he’s not human. It’s very clear why he would believe that, but this also strikes me as an extremely normal reaction to the kinds of violence he’s been exposed to and involved in. He comes off to me more as a state of shock or PTSD, where he’s gone numb in self-defense since he doesn’t have the luxury of breaking down if he wants to survive.

The violence is mostly short, sharp, and brutal. A lot of the messier scenes are more implied than shown, and Shinichi and the others exposed to it are dealing with the consequences long after the actual events are over. I really liked the drawn and haunted look Shinichi has after a certain major event—he’s physically, mentally, and emotionally at the end of his rope, and you can tell just from looking at him.

And Migi is great. I loved how his viewpoint differs so drastically from Shinichi. They may share the same body, but they’re complete opposites. Migi is powerful, coldly logical, and only interested in his own survival. Migi sees nothing wrong with killing anything that gets in his way. Shinichi keeps flailing around with what the definition of being human actually is, and trying to prove he’s different from Migi’s criticisms. But the show isn’t about proving Migi right with his animalistic evaluation of humanity. Migi makes some good points, but so does Shinichi, and both of them end up adopting parts of the other’s viewpoint.

I can’t say I found Kana to be compelling, though. I hated her from pretty much the moment she shows up, as she’s standing there with a bored expression watching her friends beat the crap out of some poor guy, and then joins them in mocking Shinichi when he ineffectually tries to get them to stop. Even if Shinichi weren’t trying to explore a relationship with Murano, I would’ve been mad if he’d started dating Kana, who clearly has her own self-interest ranked much higher than any kind of empathy.

So when Kana makes a stupid decision in episode 12, I found this hilarious rather than heartbreaking. All the romantic comedy shenanigans between Murano and Kana are mixed with the slasher-horror story that is Shinichi’s life, and that kind of crossover was hugely entertaining for me. Especially since Shinichi is responsible for a fair amount of the killing himself. Or rather, Migi is. So the typical girls-getting-mixed-signals is not because the guy can’t choose between them, but because a lot of people are dying and Shinichi can’t extricate himself from bad situations.

I’ve heard complaints about the later half of the series, and I don’t entirely agree. The show as a whole does stumble a bit at several points, in both halves. It’s a bit too focused on over-explaining some things, some characters die in pointless ways, and the random serial killer at the end was out of the blue. But it’s not as though I wasn’t engaged during the second half of the series, and there were still some very good moments (Shinichi’s confrontation with Gotou particularly…. He’s shocked by what ends up working, and I was laughing hysterically). Actually the thing that bugged me the most was Migi’s decision at the end. It felt like a bit of whiplash with him in the last few eps, and hearing what he decides makes little sense.

But for all that, I was still looking forward to each episode, and I enjoyed my time with the show.

Overall, this is definitely a series for more mature viewers who don’t mind a bit of violence. I think the series handles this without glorifying all the slaughter, as it keeps coming back to the negative effects on those who encounter it. And for all that it can be a brutal series, it manages a mostly-happy ending, so it comes off more as dark fantasy/dark sci-fi than horror. I rate this show Recommended.

Overgeared

Title: Overgeared

Author: Park Saenal / Translator: Rainbow Turtle

Chapters: 774 (Ongoing)

Location: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/overgeared

Grid is a mediocre player in the immersive VR game Satisfy. But when his persistence unlocks a legendary class, his luck seems to be changing. Only he’s been saddled with Legendary Blacksmith, when he really wanted a combat class. The Legendary Blacksmith’s unique feature is the ability to equip any item, so he devises a plan to become the greatest through using items.

This is an extremely funny book. Grid isn’t familiar enough with games to know how to play effectively, and he’s also cursed by RNG, so things that even average players could do come with a lot of trouble for him. As an example, when he finally challenges a dungeon that recreates your greatest trials in the game, he’s fighting the rabbits in the starter town, because it’s the enemy he lost to the most.

Although my favorite bit of humor is Piaro. Grid runs into an insanely powerful NPC in the course of doing other things, and later when he needs more people remembers Piaro exists and recruits him. Piaro, having lived in the wilderness to avoid pursuers from his previous life, is dressed like a peasant, and Grid doesn’t bother telling anyone his true class or abilities, so everyone mistakes him for a farmer. Grid thinks this is funny and waits for everyone else to figure it out, but Piaro treats farming like training and pours all his considerable ability into it . . . leading to the creation of a legendary farmer who has a reputation for beating up strong people and then requiring them to work in the fields with him. “Happy Fun Training Times” indeed. Grid is, hilariously, extremely put out that Piaro’s potential got “wasted” on FARMING. He was hoping for Piaro to become a legendary sword saint like Piaro originally wanted.

And then Grid tries to complete Piaro’s revenge quest and comes back with another warrior . . .

Some bits of the book do drag a bit. For example, the second national competition was far too long. And no, I don’t buy that the viewership was that high, especially for things like an 8 hour blacksmithing competition. Most people would tune in right at the end to see the result instead of watching 8 hours of people hammering at forges. Even the Olympics don’t have that kind of dedicated attention.

It also seems odd to me that Satisfy is so popular when it features such things as using your real face instead of allowing you to create a character who’s totally unlike you. And it’s highly unbelievable that the executive team has time to sit around watching various players. Even more unbelievable is the mantra of “The game has no bugs and we refuse to interfere.” (As someone who works in software, the idea that any software has no bugs leaves me laughing hysterically.)

And some bits are probably going to rub some readers the wrong way. Grid is not only a terrible player at the beginning, but a terrible person. He’s a 26-year-old manchild who acts like he’s 13. But in the course of learning to love work, make friends, and find a purpose for his life, he starts growing up (of course, the story in its latest chapters is almost pushing it too hard in the opposite direction—but then Grid will do something utterly selfish and prove he’s not entirely reformed).

So overall this is a bit of a mixed bag, but the story is just so much fun I kept staying up way too late to read just one more chapter, even if I did end up skimming most of the real life segments in favor of the more entertaining game segments. I rate this story Recommended.

The Isolator: The Stinger (Isolator #4)

Title: The Isolator: The Stinger

Author: Reki Kawahara

Series: Isolator #4

Still reeling from the aftermath of his previous battle, Minoru is determined to improve so that the people around him won’t be hurt. But the newest Ruby Eye proves a huge challenge—someone who attacks Jet and Ruby Eyes alike, and has a more dangerous ability than anyone they’ve met so far.

I liked this, but it feels like a big step back from the previous books.

The biggest issue is that it feels like more of the same. The new facet to Minoru’s abilities is immediately overshadowed by the Stinger’s attack, and the story never really gets back to it except to prevent him from trying this with someone else. Although we get a lot more insight into Liquidizer and Trancer, there still isn’t much about the Syndicate’s real goals. And it’s never clear if the Stinger is even human, much less what his actual abilities are.

I’m also really frustrated with turning the Professor into the latest girl in love with Minoru. For starters, she’s ten. And even if she wasn’t ten, she’s still presented as someone who has no handle on emotions, just super-smarts for logic. So the whole bit where she’s playing “little sister” comes off as creepy, like she’s aping the trope in an attempt to figure it out and make Minoru more attached to her. I also completely fail to see what she sees in Minoru other than a mystery she can’t solve, as his direct interactions with her are (as Suu accurately identified) basically ignoring the person in favor of the ability.

The fight scenes are still a lot of fun. I’m always up for more of Divider’s random sword skills, or Trancer’s clever use of water phase changes. And the fact that THIS enemy is targeting both sides leads to some initial misunderstandings followed by unlikely teamwork. I really liked seeing that Minoru’s big stand against Liquidizer in the last book actually shook her up enough to seriously consider his words.

And I love the science, especially this little gem in the author’s note afterwards:

To sum it up, weak forces are carried by elementary particles called weak bosons, strong forces are controlled by gluons, electromagnetic forces are what make giant robots move and stuff, and gravity is what makes them fall when they’re defeated in battle.

Overall, I really hope the next book has more progress on some of the bigger mysteries. I’m still enjoying the series but I miss the way the earlier volumes did so much more to expand the overall world. I rate this book Recommended.

The Isolator: The Trancer (Isolator #3)

Title: The Isolator: The Trancer

Author: Reki Kawahara

Series: Isolator #3

Minoru never thought his protective shell abilities could be so useful. But its incredible impenetrability combined with his newly-discovered ability to cover more than just himself would make it the perfect weapon . . . if he could actually recreate the part where he can protect another person. The Ruby Eyes won’t wait for him to figure it out, though. This time, their enemies are a few steps ahead.

I have to admit I really enjoyed Yumiko’s abrasive personality coming back to bite her, as Minoru can’t figure out how to include her within his shell again. Instead, as his interactions with Suu shows, he’s more comfortable (and “comfortable” is really stretching it) with someone who’s equally afraid of him. And he can work with Suu because she doesn’t make it personal, and goes out of her way to minimize the friction between the two of them.

I also love what happens with Minoru’s developing powers. He’s figured out more about it than someone with a literal power of super-intelligence. The revelation at the climax was especially good. And now that he knows, now that he has more flexibility with how he can use his power, there are so many places the story can go.

We don’t get as much on the Ruby Eyes this time around, but we do get an interesting new set of powers, and some very intelligent ways to use them. I particularly liked how Liquidizer got around Minoru’s invincibility. He’s starting to trip up more and more on the fact that he’s basically a regular kid thrown into a high-stakes arena he has no idea how to navigate. Just because nothing can get THROUGH his shield doesn’t mean he’s actually safe if he doesn’t use his head.

Overall, this one kicks up another gear. Although I’m still not fond of the more typical “we’re totally not in love” hijinks, I liked that this volume pushes forward so much more for the characters and the overarching plot. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Isolator: The Igniter (Isolator #2)

Title: The Isolator: The Igniter

Author: Reki Kawahara

Series: Isolator #2

Minoru has reluctantly joined an organization composed of other Jet Eye users like himself to hunt down the Ruby Eyes before they can kill. He’s nervous about all the memories this will create for him and for others, and he’s not sure he’s cut out for fighting. But when the next Ruby Eye is located, it’s someone the organization has seen before. Someone who has killed Jet Eyes.

I like the variety in both the type of villain and his powers. The enemy is once more a serial killer, egged on by his Ruby Eye, but the circumstances that drove him to that place are different, and his power isn’t as straightforward as everyone initially assumes.

Minoru’s timidity also doesn’t win him much with his new teammates. He’s a mystery the Professor wants to solve, a cook the girls adore . . . but in terms of battle capability, his novice mistakes almost end his career before it starts.

(Also, a small peeve: CPR IS NOT KISSING. If someone’s life is in danger, you aren’t stealing a kiss on them, you’re using your lungs to help theirs. Save “first kiss” talk for if/when the two of you choose to do it.)

It is interesting how Minoru’s powers develop in this book. It was pretty clear in the first one what, at a basic level, they are: he can totally isolate himself. But in this book, we start to see how it all works—or doesn’t work, as the case may be. And the fact that his experiment at the end works hints at the possibility for far more if he ever figures out how to use it. It also brings up a fascinating question. If Minoru is no longer isolated, if he allows himself to deeply connect to others, will his powers expand, or quit working? If the need that created his isolation no longer exists, will the Jet Eye change how it manifests? I don’t think those questions will have answers for a long time, but it’s an interesting thing to consider.

I also like the little we see of some of the other Jet Eyes. Hopefully future books will expand on them farther. And it looks like the Ruby Eyes have noticed the Jets have banded together, and have formed an organization of their own.

I’m less fond of some of the stereotypical aspects that start popping up, from the little girl genius professor to the fact that most of the girls seem to be in love with Minoru when he’s not really doing anything (or they can’t remember what he did do). But the rest of the story is engaging enough, and I hope future books will allow the guys at least as much focus as the girls so it can round out the team properly.

Overall, if you liked the first book this is an easy recommendation. Pretty much everything gets expanded, Minoru is more actively engaging the plot, and it’s setting up a much bigger conflict to come. I rate this book Recommended.

The Isolator: The Biter (The Isolator #1)

Title: The Isolator: The Biter

Author: Reki Kawahara

Series: The Isolator #1

Minoru lost his entire family the night someone invaded his home. Now he wants nothing more than to get through life without impacting others at all. No more memories, good or bad, for him or anyone else of him. But his strong desire to have a minimal existence has one major problem: when the alien orbs descended three months ago, one of them chose him. Now he has the power to completely isolate himself, but others received more malevolent abilities . . .

This was a lot deeper than I was expecting. It’s an excellent picture of both Minoru, who reacted to extreme tragedy by turning in on himself, and also Takaesu, whose twisted childhood set him down the path of becoming a serial killer.

I liked that Minoru really struggles with connecting to other people in the wake of losing everyone who was important to him all at once. Even though this book hints that some of the people he’s met would consider him a friend, he’s not ready for friendship. He’s defining his relationship with them by how quickly he can get rid of them, and how he can try to smooth over anything they might find memorable about him so he can fade into the background once again. Other characters don’t get him at all, but he’s got that quiet desperation that drives him, and he stands up for his own convictions.

This takes an interesting twist when he finds himself somewhat responsible for putting others in danger. He doesn’t wish on anyone else the same kind of tragedy he experienced, so he steps up despite wanting to keep a low profile. It’s also fun how he ends up using his perfect isolation to fight. He’s not a skilled fighter, and his abilities are entirely defensive, but he can do quite a lot more than I expected with them. (And the book never did answer if he will eventually run out of air if he keeps the shield up too long.)

It was also interesting how deeply the powers tied in with who the characters are. Minoru getting isolation powers is easy to see, but I loved that the villain’s biting powers made just as much sense. In both cases, the orbs latched on to an obsession in their host and amplified it past all reason. Given that, I’m looking forward to seeing more backstory on his new teammates, to see why their powers developed the way they did.

Overall this was a very nice surprise. The sci-fi/supernatural elements are flashy and fun, but also grounded in well-realized characters. I am looking forward to see where the rest of this series goes. Recommended.