Tag Archives: urban

Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun! (Anime)

Title: Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun!

Episodes: 1-23

Iruma has been sold off to the demon Sullivan by his irresponsible parents—but that just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to him. His new grandpa is spoiling him rotten, and if his new school is all about eating people, well, most of them don’t even know what a human looks like. So Iruma can do his best to find friends and fit in—as long as nobody figures out his secret.

I do want to point out that the very last episode has an after-credits scene that throws a huge wrench in the happy ending, and makes me desperately want a season 2.

This was one of the unexpected good finds of the last few seasons. Iruma is an engaging lead—cheerful, optimistic, klutzy . . . and completely unable to say no to people. This leads to quite a bit of comedy, as well as a few good friends.

Much of the fun in this series is taking traditional school tropes like a school festival and reimaging it with demons. And the presence of magic makes for some truly wacky hijinks. But it’s also got some pretty strong character-based humor: Az is the straight man to Clara’s insanity, but both of them are new to this whole “friends” thing and tend to compete as much as they get along.

This is more kid-friendly than the typical anime fare, as well. I appreciated having a cleaner story than I expected, even with episodes covering classes in seduction (which was one of the funniest of the entire season, given Clara’s bizarre antics).

I think this one is best binged (at least the festival arc, because each episode feels like it covers so little ground individually). It’s a lighter, kid-friendly show that’s usually decent and sometimes excellent. I rate this show Recommended.

In/Spectre (Anime)

Title: In/Spectre

Episodes: 1-12

Two people whose lives are intertwined with the supernatural tackle the cases where both worlds collide. Kotoko is an energetic young woman who lost an eye and a leg to become the specter’s Goddess of Wisdom, whereas Kuro was tricked into gaining power. When an urban legend starts manifesting in reality, it’s going to take both of them and some help from Kuro’s ex-girlfriend to take it down . . .

I loved the manga, so I was really looking forward to this adaptation. That said, in many ways I feel this story does work better as a manga, as so much of it is about characters talking. To its credit the anime tries to make this interesting, and if you’re engaging with the back and forth of the logic it can still feel intense, but this is not really a typical action or mystery show.

The show opens with a solid first episode, then quickly dives into a smaller case that showcases a lot of the ideas that the later, larger case will tackle. Most of the season is tied up with the issue of Steel Lady Nanase, an urban legend come to life and growing increasingly violent as the rumors about her keep pushing a worst-case scenario.

The issue at hand is not the mystery—that gets resolved quickly. The real problem is that something is real that shouldn’t be, and telling the truth is only going to strengthen a killer no one will be able to stop. So the central question becomes how the three of them re-frame this whole mess to eliminate the belief that’s powering a nightmare.

Overall this is still a good watch, and one I plan to buy once it’s out. If you’re in the mood for a different kind of supernatural show, check this one out. I do hope there is a second season adapting some of the short stories covered later in the manga, as those had a lot of great moments, and the shorter format would probably work better with a show since there isn’t so much repetition. I rate this show 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.

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 Awful Truth About Forgetting (Rachel Griffin #4)

Title: The Awful Truth About Forgetting

Author: L. Jagi Lamplighter

Series: Rachel Griffin #4

Rachel is determined to fight against the demons invading her world—if anyone could figure out how. But she’s also struggling with the betrayal of one of her closest friends, and the things she remembers that everyone else forgets. Ordinary magical school life once again mingles with an adventure that could determine the fate of the world.

I like that Rachel is learning physics from Gaius. I also like the growing relationship with Vlad and the Knights—and how Rachel is now a key figure for Vlad as well.

“We are defending the world,” replied Vlad, firmly. “I am not certain that all we do keeps the entire world from spinning off into chaos. But, on the other hand, I am not sure it doesn’t. Why would I take the risk?”

And the humor is, as always, spectacular. Sigfried takes another easy first place with his many quotable moments.

“Siggy! Come and meet me in the gym. I’ve had a most superior idea! Come see!” Rachel spoke into her calling card.
“I can’t. We’re locked in.” Sigfried sounded petulant, as if the security measures had been designed to personally stop him. “Lucky and I are burrowing through the basement floor with flaming acid. But we won’t be out for another hour or two.”

The revelation of one of the major villains was a very nice surprise. Rachel can’t tell anyone who could help, because that would mean showing that she’s aware of something she should have forgotten. Rachel is also starting to run into real trouble due to her relationship with Jariel. Her trust in him is pitting her against those she loves, who still see him as an enemy.

Overall this was a fantastic fourth book, and given the secrets revealed by the end, I hope the next will not take long to arrive. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland (Rachel Griffin #3)

Title: Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland

Author: L. Jagi Lamplighter

Series: Rachel Griffin #3

When a bit of dreamwalking goes wrong, Rachel ends up across the world and deep in another mess. Demons are breaking into her world—and will break her world utterly if they aren’t stopped. The only problem is that no one knows how to stop them.

The best thing about these books is still the humor. Siggy and Lucky, as always, get first place.

“Sorry,” growled Lucky. “Couldn’t resist. I mean they were just flying there… like tiny chickens. Who could be expected not to want to annihilate them utterly with super-hot flame?”

But they’re starting to get fierce competition from Gaius, whose remarks often left me in stitches.

Gaius raised his right hand solemnly, “I will keep your secret. Er… with Vlad’s standard clause of: ‘if you are planning to blow up a significant portion of the world, the deal is off.’”

Now that we’re three books in, the character development continues to improve. We finally get more details about who Vlad and Gaius were in their previous lives (well, off-planet, before-Raven-meddled lives). And the answers are fascinating, because it’s obvious neither of them have truly changed at their core, but the various factors around them may have the power to move them in somewhat different directions this time.

I especially liked the development with the Raven. He’s gone from being Rachel’s most dreaded nightmare to something closer to a best friend. It’s also interesting to see how Rachel may be unwittingly humanizing him, as his appearance has been changing from beast to angel.

I liked how history plays a bigger role in this. Certain historical references come up, and end up being very important to the overall plot. Although I’m also really amused it gives Gaius the opportunity to show off.

“In other words, we do not want any Pyrrhic victories,” said Gaius, “which is appropriate, considering that we are discussing a deity worshipped by the Carthaginians. Oh… wait. Wrong Roman war. That would be a Punic victory, wouldn’t it?”

Overall this is another excellent story in the ongoing series. If you liked the earlier books at all, this one continues to up the ante. I rate this book Highly Recommended.