Tag Archives: zombies

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.

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Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Humans live huddled in fortress cities. Kabane–former humans infected by a virus that leaves them unthinking monsters–have taken over the countryside. Only the great iron trains dare to travel from city to city. Ikoma is a steam smith for these trains, until an attack on his city leaves him infected with the Kabane virus. Yet he manages to stave off its full effects, and rises to fight them as a Kabaneri . . .

I’m so torn about how to recommend this show. I love the beginning. It’s gorgeously animated, over-the-top zombie-busting fun. The characters are shallow but they serve their purpose, driving the plot from battle to battle as the tension ratchets up. This isn’t a show about deep characters or weighty philosophical questions or even accurate physics: it’s about killing as many of those critters as our heroes can stab, shoot, or blast apart, and fighting with style against the backdrop of a great soundtrack.

And then the show tries to add a human villain and totally falls apart.

Some of the problems are just pacing. At 12 episodes, Kabaneri would’ve been long enough for just zombies or just humans, but trying to do both in one show left the human element decidedly too little time to build up to anything, so all we get is evil dude being supremely unlikable and getting nastier all the time, and then we’re at the finale.

Overall the story doesn’t accomplish any of what it seemed to be building up for in the beginning, like Ikoma’s investigation into what the Kabane are and how to cure the disease–or failing that, just wipe them all out. Then it introduces some additional intriguing questions (and some annoying questions) with the human villains that it also mostly fails to follow up on. The pinnacle of my annoyance came during episode 11, when Ikoma is hiding from Kabane rather than trying to go out in a last blaze of glory. (Dude’s already lost everything—why wouldn’t he try to take the creatures he’s hated with a passion out with himself rather than cling to a life now devoid of purpose?)

And then the last episode managed to partially redeem itself, so I ended feeling more positive about the whole thing than I had expected, though still annoyed we couldn’t have just ripped the last several episodes out and started over with where the series was originally going.

If you like zombies, nice animation and action, and don’t mind a bit of gore, you might have fun with this one. Just temper any expectations of it being great. I still plan to buy this when if it gets a disc release, as I would easily re-watch the beginning (and possibly the very last episode), and I’ll try to pick up the soundtrack as well if it comes down in price. I rate this Neutral.

The Crown of Three (Crown of Three #1)

Title: The Crown of Three

Author: J. D. Rinehart

A thousand years of war have left the people of Toronia longing for peace. And a prophecy promises peace will come when three stars rise, and three children are born of King Brutan. The king is less fond of this prophecy, since it also predicts his death at their hands. So when the triplets are born, they are scattered and hidden. But now the time is coming that the three of them are drawing together at last . . .

This was interesting in the sense that it bucked a lot of what I was expecting. Evil king? Dead after a couple of chapters. So the book is a lot more about introducing the children and the powers they each possess, and leading them to each other and the probable throne. Until it all goes south in a most unexpected way.

I liked Tarlan and his bond with animals, as well as the three giant birds that help him out. He’s naive but not stupid, and much quicker than the other two at figuring out who should be trusted. I wasn’t nearly as fond of the other two siblings. Gulph starts well, but his character arc quickly becomes “listening when other people tell me what to do, even when I know it isn’t right.” Or doing very little. Elodie was even worse—I didn’t buy her character transformation and I question if she’ll actually be someone you’d want in charge of a country. I’m still not sure why Fessen, who has kept the rebel army alive in the face of violent opposition, thinks it’s a good idea for a girl who can’t even swing a sword to command his army, prophecy or no. All she really managed was to get a lot of them killed, but they’re fanatically loyal (mostly). It would make a lot more sense to allow her to direct the general goals and leave the specifics up to the people who actually know what they’re doing.

Overall I thought this had some good ideas, but I wasn’t sold on the execution. It’s a little odd that the siblings are instantly best friends when they didn’t even know they had siblings. I liked Samail better than Elodie (well, hopefully he’ll continue to accompany her). Still, I’ll probably read the sequel whenever it comes out, if only to see more of Tarlan and his birds. I rate this book Recommended.