Tag Archives: vampires

To the abandoned sacred beasts (Anime)

Title: To the abandoned sacred beasts

Episodes: 1-12

Hank was once the captain of the Incarnates, an experimental squad of humans who can transform into mythological beasts. But once the war ended, the Incarnates find themselves unable to return to normal society. Their bodies have increasingly succumbed to their transformations to the point where many of them can’t revert to human anymore, and worse than that, many of them also lose their minds. So Hank determines to fulfill the last wish of their creator, Elaine, and hunt down all the Incarnates before madness consumes them all.

This was something I wanted to like more than I did. Shapeshifting people with alternate mythological forms? I am SO down for that. But as the title might suggest, this is mostly a series of vignettes that are uniformly tragedies, with a larger plot involving Hank’s hunt for one particular Incarnate that just kind of sucks.

The worst of it for me is that there’s no evidence Schaal is wrong. Schaal is the daughter of one of the Incarnates, who pursues Hank relentlessly once he kills her father. She thinks there’s no need to kill the Incarnates, even if they can’t transform back, and that they can integrate back into life. I think there’s actually strong evidence in the show that she’s correct—Siren, in particular, shows no signs of being unduly influenced by her more bestial form. Although some Incarnates have certainly lost the battle to madness, it seems horribly preemptive to call this inevitable and just slaughter them all whether they are insane or not.

But instead of looking for a way to redeem the Incarnates, both Hank and Schaal have given up on them and go around killing them.

The animation isn’t usually great, but it’s serviceable. I do appreciate that the Incarnates are hand-drawn and not CG. The overall story doesn’t exactly wrap up, but they tried to give it some sense of closure, as Hank and Schaal have both decided what they are going to do with their lives from here out, even though they haven’t reached their goals.

Overall this is an odd little show. It had plenty of moments of pathos, even if Cain was exaggerated evil and basically invincible (daylight doesn’t seem to bother him, and you can’t physically hit him, so I do wonder how Hank intends to kill him). And despite knowing that every little mini-story was going to have a bad ending, it was fun seeing the various Incarnate forms and personalities. I rate this show Neutral.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 5 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 5

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

It’s time for Hajime to return Myu to her mother—but new locations inevitably mean new problems. An oasis town is suffering from a contaminated water supply. Two new dungeons await, pushing Hajime and his companions to their limit.

For the first time, we have a good look into the demon’s perspective. And Hajime meets someone he can’t overpower or avoid, who is competing with him to conquer the ancient labyrinths and obtain their powers.

I also liked the way Hajime gets roped into helping out around town far more than he originally wanted to. Certain types of problems are very easy for him and his party to solve, which makes him feel like it’s not a big deal, even though it’s still things others find impossible to duplicate.

I’m still not a fan of the harem antics, but at least there’s enough other stuff going on to balance it out. Myu’s mother is of course added as another candidate, and Kaori is working on integrating herself with the group.

Overall, if you’ve liked the previous ones this is a good next step. It throws a few more interesting things into the mix, namely the demons, and has plenty of good action scenes. I rate this book Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 4 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 4

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime has rescued Will from an army of monsters, but no sooner are they home then the trouble starts all over again. This time it’s Myu, a small slave girl Hajime inadvertently rescues. And she’s not the only one in trouble—Kouki and the strongest of the transplanted students are still pressing towards the bottom of the Great Orcus Labyrinth, and they’ve stumbled into far more than they can handle.

Given that last book only a few of Hajime’s classmates found out he’s still alive, this book has a second (and equally amusing) reunion—this time including Kaori, the girl who never stopped believing he’d survived.

I really like how Hajime challenges Kouki’s heroism. To some extent, Kouki has the Hero class because he really is heroic. But his weaknesses are equally glaring, and have been pointed out since the first book: his inflexible thinking, his inability to even see things that don’t match his assumptions, and his lack of resolve. I love that Hajime points out Kouki’s unwillingness to kill an enemy has more to do with his own unwillingness to see someone die and not compassion or mercy.

Endou’s stealth skills were also good for several laughs. “And just who are you calling the king of invisibility!? I’ll have you know that the automatic doors at stores open for me one-third of the time!”

Kaori’s crisis at seeing Hajime alive but almost totally different was one of the best parts of the book. She’s waited and suffered so much for this moment, and yet it’s nothing like what she wanted it to be. She can’t keep her promise to protect him. In fact she’s rejecting who he is now more than anyone except Kouki.

Overall this is one of the better books in the series, as it mostly eschews the pandering for some solid plot development, intense action scenes, and strong character moments. I rate this book Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 3 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 3

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

When Hajime takes on a request to find a lost adventurer, the last thing he expects is to run into some of his old classmates. At least with the monsters he’s on more familiar ground. For his classmates, it’s a shocking revelation that Hajime even survived, let alone how much he’s changed.

This volume contains the moment I was hoping for since the end of the first book: Hajime’s reunion with his classmates. And it was every bit as funny as I anticipated. Hajime immediately goes rather grumpy and close-mouthed, possibly trying to tone things down for the teacher who’s been so distraught over his situation. But he can’t change the obvious fact of his current strength, which in its own way says more than words ever could.

I like that we get the perspective of Aiko, his teacher. She can’t help but see herself as responsible for all these kids, and the fact that they’re now in a world where death is just around the corner bothers her to no end. She doesn’t even have a combat class that she could train to keep them safe. And because Hajime knows this, it makes their reunion even more awkward, because she’s one of the only people he can respect.

Q: After you fell from the bridge, what happened?
A: I went through hell.
Q: How come your hair is white now?
A: Because I went through hell.

Also a major highlight is the continual shock and awe tactics Hajime pulls off. The battles are a lot of fun—and I love how Aiko accurately calls him out on what he didn’t say when she originally asked him about the army.

But it’s not entirely a volume without problems. Yet again we have medical procedures interpreted as kissing, and I’m doubly annoyed that this time it’s with his teacher. Tio, however, was even more eye-rolling. She was better before she joined the party, because once she does she’s yet another flat character whose whole existence becomes getting Hajime to sleep with her (and also punish her, because she’s into S&M). Which means yet another character has a really annoying behavior pattern that’s constantly popping up.

Overall, if you liked the first book I would say give this one a shot because it makes a nice benchmark to show how far Hajime has come. I rate this book Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 2 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 2

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime and Yue have conquered the first labyrinth dungeon, but their troubles are only getting started. Once they’re finally free, they run into bunny-girl Shea, who’s fleeing for her life. Although Hajime isn’t thrilled about it, they eventually join forces, as Shea may be able to help him find the next dungeon. He plans to conquer all the dungeons, learn their ancient magic, and somehow get himself home.

Shea is the most annoying character in this book. Her willful misreading of every single situation to conform to the way she wants it to be has the makings of an extreme villain. But of course she’s supposed to be comic relief.

“Please don’t talk about me like I’m dense or something. In fact, why don’t you learn to read the mood instead? You’re always trying to twist every situation into an opportunity to satisfy yourself.”

At least Hajime gets it.

I don’t find her funny, I find her insufferable. And since the whole book is about her, more or less, that made a good deal of this one hard to read through since I mostly kept hoping something, somewhere, would finally kill her.

At least the new dungeon was more amusing. This time Hajime, Yue, and Shea are challenging a dungeon built by a real sadist, whose annoying traps are much worse than the monsters they faced previously.

And there were some bits of genuine humor.

“Did you get her?!”
“Shea, anytime anyone says that the enemy’s alive.”

Overall, this book firmly cements the series as going the harem route, which is a shame (Hajime’s opinion, once again, is firmly discarded by absolutely everyone—what Shea wants, Shea won’t stop until she gets). I plan to go on long enough to see Hajime’s eventual reunion/confrontation with his classmates, but I disliked a huge amount of this particular book. I rate this book Neutral.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 1 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 1

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime never expected his class to get summoned to a fantasy world. But the dream-like awakening everyone else experienced never came for him—he’s just as average in his new life as his old. Worse, the prettiest girl in class won’t leave him alone . . . which results in him falling to the depths of a monster-infested labyrinth. He’ll need to change himself drastically if he wants to have any chance to survive.

This was more interesting than I initially expected, although parts of Hajime’s journey feel rather compressed.

I liked that Hajime loathes the way Kaori pays attention to him, because he’s not interested in her, and he’s also become the target of all the guys who are. Even when he finds out her true reason, he doesn’t seem interested in her at all as a girlfriend. He’s just trying to get her to go away in the nicest way he can think of. Because her attention is poisonous to him, and she either can’t see that or refuses to.

It’s also interesting that the biggest “villain” of the piece is likely Kouki, whose inability to accurately perceive and react to the world around him is causing all sorts of problems, even when he’s trying to be helpful. And because nearly the whole class got pulled over, Hajime remains the target of the people who tormented him.

The labyrinth part felt like it could have been several books, instead of about half of one. This is where I would have liked to see far more of Hajime’s adventures in the depths, but what we do get is still a lot of fun. I had to laugh when he starts lovingly describing the features of the various guns he’s creating, although my favorite moment by far was the exchange:

“Don’t mind me, shoot!”
“Wait, really? Thanks.” Bang!

Although the bit where he’s completely ready to ignore that sealed block is probably my second favorite scene. Him figuring that if someone went this far to hide something, it’s probably better off sealed was hilarious. Hajime is not interested in the typical heroic tropes for the most part. He’d rather avoid the trouble.

I’m not that fond of Yue. She’s more interested in sleeping with Hajime than anything else—and picking the middle of a fight to seduce the man is not conducive to anyone’s survival. I also really dislike the trope of making a very young-looking girl legal by saying she’s a few hundred years old, she just stopped aging early. And she won’t take him telling her no, so it feels like she rapes him in the end.

Overall, though, I’m at least interested enough to see where this goes next. I can’t wait for his reintroduction to the classmates who think he’s dead, as that should be entertaining in a lot of ways (Hajime’s stay in the labyrinth was brutal, and his body reflects that). I rate this book Recommended, as long as Yue’s visual age and sexual aggressiveness isn’t a barrier.

The Death Mage That Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time (Web Novel)

Title: The Death Mage That Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time

Author: Densuke

Translator: Yoshi

Chapters: 1-178 (ongoing)

Location: https://lightnovelbastion.com/project.php?p=248

Amamiya Hiroto has had a terrible life followed by a senseless death when terrorists bomb his school field trip. Then a god intercepts their souls and offers them the opportunity to be born again in another world, with powers and everything. He accepts. And the god mistakes him with another student who has nearly the same name, so Amamiya gets a second life even worse than his first since all of his powers and good luck went to someone else. All he has is a gigantic mana pool, but no ability in magic; he ends up as an experimental test subject until he dies. Now on his third life, and under curses with the intention of making him die quickly, he’s determined to live as long as possible and carve out happiness for himself.

Of course, now that he’s a Dhampir called Vandelieu in a world where most people consider Dhampirs to be monsters, he’s not going to have it easy. The only things he’s got going for him are an absurdly large mana pool, the possibility of re-acquiring his unique death-aspect magic, and the memories of his previous lives.

This was amazing. The story undoubtedly has dark moments, but it’s also packed with humor, so it’s not this grinding horror story about all the awful things Vandeleiu suffers in his various lives.

At a high level, I adore the humor. Vandeleiu is mostly like a normal lonely kid who just wants people to stop picking on him, and to make lots of friends. But he’s also going more and more insane, because he’s completely out of touch with “normal.” It’s so bad that the various races that live in the city with him all get along very well because “compared to him, we’re all normal.” His friends put up with his eccentricities. But his enemies, who don’t have the full picture and refuse to talk to him or try to see it his way, see this as signs he’s dangerous, so they push harder, which makes him do even more to protect himself.

Those other races are a high point. From the very beginning of his third life, Vandelieu finds more welcome from the monsters and the half-monster species than he does the humans (Vampires excepted, as they see Dhampirs as something to eliminate), so he’s got a very open mind towards thinking beings. So the story really digs into culture and lifestyle of various races, and Vandeleiu’s interactions with them. This is also somewhat contributing to normal humans thinking he’s insane, as the cultural standards for these races tends to differ quite a lot.

But I like that the differences are more grounded than “Ghouls sleep around a lot.” There are valid biological reasons why their culture built up that way, and when Van finds a way to address some of those biological issues, their culture starts changing as a result.

It’s also telling that for everything that he’s suffered, Amamiya/Vandelieu never completely breaks. His first life had him in an abusive home and a situation that basically never allowed him to make friends, but he still impulsively sacrifices himself to try to save a classmate who can’t even remember his name. His second life is spent deliberately crippled by the scientists who treat him as nothing more than a lab animal with a unique magic, but when he breaks free at last he only kills the researchers and guards, and frees and heals the other experimental subjects. And his third life, which begins with curses intended to make him die or commit suicide, also has a caring mother and then lots of friends who unconditionally support him and give him the strength to keep going.

The chapters where some of the other students are digging into his background are really powerful, as they’re finally realizing why he was the way he was and realizing it may not be too late to try to reason with him—but they can’t find anyone who treated him kindly enough to send to have that discussion. They’re also too paranoid to recognize that he’s only targeting people who are actively trying to kill him in the current world, so any messenger is actually likely to work as long as they aren’t hostile.

I also really like how the chapters will occasionally break away from Van to show the lingering impact of his life on Origin (the second world) or the perspective of various gods who are tangled up in this. Unexpected consequences arise, like the Eighth Guidance, a terrorist organization/cult formed from the experiment subjects he freed, who recognize that he was the only person they can trust, and have devoted themselves to carrying out what they think was his will.

There is a harem aspect to this story eventually, but this is one of the few books I’ve read where I’ve felt that aspect is well-done. Vandeleiu himself is too young to really be interested in girls, and he’s grateful to anyone who wants to be friends. In fact there’s a hilarious sequence when he meets his first Arachne (a woman with the lower body of a spider) and tells her she’s beautiful . . . because he really, really likes her biceps. Having been on the smaller, weaker side in all his lives for various reasons, Vandeleiu appreciates muscle. He completely ignores curves. (The fact that he implements a bodybuilding contest later on—for both genders, since he just likes muscle—was a lot of fun.) And all of the women so far have been people first, and potential wives second.

Speaking of beauty, though, I also like that Vandelieu himself comes off as more creepy than beautiful. His face is expressionless and he has eyes like a dead fish (it’s unclear if this is because of his race or his trauma, but indications are more on the side of trauma), waxy skin, and a small build. Combined it means many people mistake him as a doll instead of a person. And this is before he does things like use his astral body to grow extra heads because that’s the easiest way to cast dozens of spells at once. (And the insanity is probably why he doesn’t just stop at one or two extra heads—when each head can cast a spell, and you have THAT much mana, why not make a few dozen? Watching his enemies freak out is hilarious.)

Overall this is a very good read, and I hope it one day gets officially licensed so that it will be easier to support the author. Chapter 178 basically finishes off a book (minus appendices) so at least I’m at the end of the major arc while waiting for new chapters to arrive. I rate this Highly Recommended.