Cartoons

The Castlevania Cartoon is Coming AHHHH!

 

A while ago there was speculation about a new Castlevania cartoon that was all but confirmed, but I didn’t realize how much further along in production it was!  It’s coming in July, and I couldn’t be more excited!  A while ago, I did a post about what I was hoping to get from a Castlevania cartoon – mainly, I wanted it to be more geared towards an adult cartoon, which by the looks of this trailer, it definitely will be!  Seems a lot like an anime, and this trailer got me so pumped for the series!  Best of all, it’s a Netflix original, so it’s going to have audio description for sure!

 

What I can gather from this trailer, it seems like it’s going to merge Castlevania lore with some classic Bram Stoker Dracula vibes – at least, that’s the vibe I got from the main characters in here, seems very gothic and action based and ayaaaah I can’t wait for July!  The voice acting I already love, as well!

 

Really not much to this post, I just got linked this trailer and wanted to share.  How do you feel about the show from this trailer?  Are you gonna watch it when it airs?  I know I am!

Books · Uncategorized

The Siren by Kiera Cass Book Review

Sometimes you just pick up a book because it has a good concept, or has a mythology in it that you like.  I picked up The Siren because I love mermaids, and Sirens.  After reading the plot synopses, I knew it would be a generic romance, that part of it didn’t bother me.  What wound up bothering me however, was the drawn out premise, the directions this plot went, and how predictably cliché it wound up being.  If it wasn’t for the fact it had sirens in it, I probably would have stopped reading.  Overall, it was a good enough read because of its length:  the audio book was 7 hours, and I finished it in 2 days (could be one day if you felt like binging the book).  It’s definitely what I like to call, a popcorn read.  It’s nothing ground breaking, but enjoyable enough and engaging enough to finish.

 

I’m not going to review this in my normal long form format with all the categories and stuff, because honestly the book was short like I said and really not much to fill in each section.  So I’ll just touch on the things I liked, and didn’t liked, and then give my final thoughts.  Going to be major spoilers in this post, you have been warned!

 

I’ll start with the things I liked:  I loved the core cast of characters.  All of the Sirens had really distinct personalities and quirks, and it truly felt like we were looking in at pre-established relationships.  The one character that started to bother me sadly, was the main POV character Kahlen.  She just kept on whining about everything!!  I don’t mind a character complaining in a book, but the entire time she wasn’t even trying to change her situation and just was whining the entire time.  They establish early on that “her talent is obeying” but she kept on fighting against it and rebelling, but only halfway. And then going back to the way she was.  Everyone but her moved the plot forward, and although the overall themes of the story were good, Kahlen was infuriating to read about.  Half of the book is her being depressed or pining or angsting over something and it’s just so irritating to read.

 

Interestingly enough, I thought the best character in the story, was The Ocean.  In this, The Ocean speaks to the sirens, and is their maternal figure for them.  Her story is way more interesting than Kahlen’s, and she kept the story going when at times it was hard to get through entire chapters of Kahlen moping, or being depressed.  Making The Ocean a talking character that interacted with her daughters was a really nice touch.

 

 

Coming off of that, I really loved how the siren lore was used in this!  Kiera Cass did her research, while still adding her own lore to it to make the narrative cohesive.  Like I said, I love sirens, and getting an explanation of their lives and powers, and why The Ocean picked certain women to be sirens was really cool.  Honestly, if it weren’t for this section of the book, them going out and singing, and coping with killing to feed The Ocean, not allowed to speak to humans because their voice literally would make them want to kill themselves, using sign language because of this, therefore having a really good depiction of disability in the book was great to read.  It added great depth to the story that wasn’t there for me when it was strictly a romance.

 

But with all of this cleverly crafted lore, there was one thing that was a HUGE missed opportunity, and it had everything to do with the predictable turn the second half of the book took.  Eventually, Kahlen gets sick.  Which is odd, because sirens can’t get sick, don’t need to eat, etc etc.  So, I instantly thought, “Oh, really cool!  She’s going to make it like Kahlen is becoming human because she fell in love, and a siren can only be set free early from her sentence if she finds true love”.
But nope!  Instead of going with that, which would probably be just as predictable, but fit more with the story, we get some soulmate mumbo jumbo that is so convoluted and half baked that I literally was like what are you serious.  It would have made so much more sense to make the conclusion to Kahlen’s sickness be a siren based problem, and not a random soulmate’s via insta-love problem.  Dropped the ball there, Cass.

 

The “romance” between Kahlen and Akinli erked me too, because it wasn’t a romance.  They met once, and then she ran from him for a year, then met him again one more time.  So it was twice before he offered her the world, and then she had to run again because she thought she’d hurt him but oh she loves him so much and can’t stop thinking of them because they’re total soulmates!  I don’t mind insta-love, but initially the book made it like we’d be following their actual romance, and the hurdles Kahlen would face dating Akinli while being a siren.  Instead, we got two meetings, and her pining for him all through the book.  If you count the final chapter, and the epilogue, they were together a total of four times in the book and the rest of it was Kahlen moping about how she couldn’t be with Akinly because of her duty to The Ocean, and daydreaming about being in love with this boy she had only hung out with probably a total of like 30 hours.

 

And still, with all that said, there was something engaging about this book that made me want to keep reading.  Maybe it was the half good seen amongst the half flaws, the other more likeable characters that weren’t the leads, the fact that they were sirens (I can’t stress how very in love I am with mermaids and sirens) or the fact that it was just so short it wasn’t worth not finishing.  I’d honestly probably read it again if I were bored, because it’s a quick, enjoyable read like most romance novels are.

 

I usually wind up liking paranormal romances, but an aspect of them frustrate me.  I think this is a good example of that:  They always have so much potential, but at the end of the day they’re made to sell for a light read on a trip or something, so not much weight is put behind the interesting, dynamic concepts initially put forth.  The Siren is a shining example of that, but still something I’d suggest reading if you just want an easy read, and want to see a good take on siren mythology in modern culture.

 

Did this book make me want to read any more of Kiera Cass’ novels?  Not at all.  If your stand-alone novel can’t do that, I feel like there maaay be a problem with your writing.  But hey, I may be wrong, and The Selection series is an amazing piece of literature I’d enjoy.
Have you read The Siren?  Or any of Kiera Cass’ other works?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments!

Anime

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Series Review: Fan Service, Fantasy, and a Lot of Fun

April was a rough month for me – a lot of things weren’t coming together, and there was a lot of stress involved.  I had read a lot of reviews about this show, and as a destresser I decided to watch it.  I was skeptical, because maid’s in anime are well, always known as fanservice moe fauter, but was it worth watching through this show, and  getting past the fanservice for some genuine entertainment and sweetness?
Yes, yes it was.  I will say that I waited until the series had completely aired – I don’t think it would have held up as well if I were watching this series over 13 weeks.  Watching it over 1 week, in blocks of 4 or 3 episodes at a time was a lot more enjoyable for me, because when I got bored or tired of the show I was able to stop and just go back to it the next day.  It definitely helped me with the destressing as well, because it’s just so darn cute!  The humor was funny, and the show genuinely has a sweet message to share, with an enjoyable cast of characters (mostly).  My main criticisms  with the show is it’s rather one note in its plots.  Like I said, if I were watching this week to week, I probably would have been tired of it.  It’s mindless, adorable slice of life fun and if you need something that will give you a chuckle and warm and fuzzy happy feelings, definitely watch this show.
Now for the things I didn’t like.  Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the show, I really couldn’t stand Toru!  The first episode almost turned me off from the show, because it just was playing up all the weird, pervy tropes I really don’t like that tend to rear their head in certain anime.  Toru’s selfish, possessive and pervy personality traits never quite go away (they do get muted a bit, but still) and it just makes an enjoyable show lose a bit of its charm.  Kana is entirely too cute, which I get people may like but I don’t care for.  But once again, I know that other people may disagree with that, I generally don’t like cute characters that are just there to be cute.

 

The supporting cast is great, minus Lucoa and Shota’s relationship.  I liked their interactions, but the boob jokes got a little old.  She was a late comer, but I think Elma was probably my favorite character.  I love myself a good comedic straight woman who also participates in the goofyness every once and a while.  The gag with her and food is also something I would do, so it was always funny to see XD

 

Criticizing this show for lack of plot is sort of unfair.  As I watched it, I kept on comparing  it’s format to Azumanga Daioh – just a lot of scenes taking place that go over a period of time that are funny, cute, and entertaining.  If you go into the show knowing this, I think it’s a lot easier of a show To get into because all in all it’s just some good fluffy fun.  If anything, just watch for the Christmas play:  hands down, my favorite story from the series.  I wish the entire episode was the whole play, because it was amazing and hilarious.

 

After I finished the show, I wasn’t exactly sure on my feelings about it.  But the day after finishing it, I genuinely missed visiting with the characters, and seeing what wacky adventures they were going to get into.  For all its flaws, it had that many more enjoyable traits, so if you need a great, humorous watch that is going to make you relax and bask in some mindless, sweet fun, then definitely give this anime a watch.  I recommend watching at least the first three episodes to see if you want to give it a chance though, because the first episode does not give a good example of how charming this show truly is.  I watched the English dub, and it does a great job capturing the characters!  That being said though, I only heard a tiny bit of the Japanese version, so some characters may be a bit more hyped up for American audiences (I have a feeling that may have been the case for Toru, correct me if I’m wrong in the comments).

 

Did you watch Miss Kobayashi when it was airing, wait to binge it like me?  Would love to hear how you liked the show in the comments!

Anime

The Facet of Love Tackled in Magic Knight Rayearth? An Analysis of the Themes Addressed in the Anime

Recently, I watched a let’s play of the Sega Saturn Magic Knight Rayearth game.  Isn’t that completely out of the blue, you might ask, and the answer would be somewhat yes:  initially, I was looking for a very specific track of instrumental music that I couldn’t find anywhere on YouTube (I eventually found it, but only as a midi) and in the process of doing so, found a LP of this game.  I love MKR, so decided to watch it.  The game is…problematic, to say the least, and the plot aspects of it barely scratch the surface of the depth that both the anime, and manga had.  After watching the game, I went to rewatching the anime, and this thought crossed my mind.

 

CLAMP’s main corner stone to me has always been, their central themes focus on love.  It’s fairly abundant  in any of their works, but Magic Knight Rayearth being their first one, I never thought that was the case for it.  Rewatching it older however, I realize I was wrong:  because underneath all of the magical girl, epic fantasy adventure, is a very subtle study of one of the many facets of love.  Spoilers for Magic Knight Rayearth beyond this point, you have been warned!

 

As opposed to say, Cardcaptor Sakura, which makes the relationships between characters very obvious, Magic Knight Rayearth takes a far more subtle approach.  And that’s because, the aspect of love they touch upon is very subtle.  At first, I thought that the overarching theme was how your love can affect others, and change them for better, or worse, in the case of Alcione.  That’s what I got after finishing the Sega Saturn game.  Starting to rewatch the anime though, the concept of love touched upon here is a lot more introspective than that.  It’s how loving someone can internally effect you, and your actions, and how it can be the driving force for your actions, for better, or worse.

 

An image of Alcione, one of Zagato's faithful servants

The first, and most prominent, example of this is Alcione.  She loves Zagato, and will do anything to prove herself to him, because she thinks doing so will make him love her back.  Look a little deeper at this, and it’s really a lack of self-esteem and self-worth that drives her:  She trained under Clef so she could serve Princess Emeraude, another chance to prove her self-worth.  We can assume that somewhere between the show starting and Emeraude being kidnapped, that she fell in love with Zagato, and transferred her need to prove herself by protecting the Princess, to being useful to him.  In the end of the anime’s first season, there’s this really heart breaking scene between her and Zagato that just drives this point home, and has always made her this really sympathetic, tragic character for me, honestly one of the best character arcs in any anime for me still to this day.

 

An image of High Priest Zagato

Zagato, on the other hand, takes a far more aggressive approach.  He loves Emeraude, finds it unfair that she’s been given the cards dealt to her, and wants to move heaven and earth to make sure she’s safe, and loved, and protected.  He’s a good example of how internal love can externally drive you to do extraordinary things.  Best example of this?  Making his own freaking Rune God!

 

The only people who had enough willpower to stand up to him were the Magic Knights, and that’s saying something.  Though I will say, rewatching the show, his lack of caring for anyone but Emeraude makes me sympathize with him a bit less.  I found myself yelling at the screen:  “Yeah, the Magic Knights feel bad about what they did later, and he loves Emeraude, but that doesn’t excuse treating every other character like garbage!”.  I suppose having that sort of reaction only proves my point further.  Zagato’s actions are extreme, but can any of us say we wouldn’t do something like that for someone we loved, who was not only doomed to eternal servitude, but their only way out of it was death?

 

An image of the three Magic Knights: Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu and their Rune Gods Rayearth, Celes, and Windam at sunset
The heart which believes, decides the future!

Our main trio, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu, all took a bit longer for me to try and figure out.  Hikaru is definitely the driving force for any of their character development.  Her determination, and love for her friends, is what drives her forward.  I’d say her drive is also a version of wanting to prove herself, but at the same time she genuinely wants to help the people around her, because of her love of life.  Because of that, both Umi and Fuu grow as a result.  Umi, becoming less selfish, and Fuu, becoming less selfless, and being less self-sacrificing than she started out as.  It’s honestly really hard for me to think of these three as individuals, because so much of the story hinges on the fact that they love, support, and care for one another in such a foreign situation, when if they were back in Tokyo, they probably would have never become friends in the first place.  In that respect, what internally drives their affection for one another, is protecting, and eventually caring for one another, and their mission at hand.  But honestly, that’s scratching the surface with these three, I could write a whole essay on the Magic Knights, they’re amazing!

 

CLAMP has always been amazing at writing realistic characters, no doubt about it.  The main reason why is because they touch on deep topics like this, and don’t shy away from amazing plot twists, like in this show.  Magic Knight Rayearth will always hold a special place in my heart as being the first series I watched as a preteen anime fan, and as the show that introduced me to the fact that being a voice actor was actually a profession.  Rewatching it, listening to its music, and just basking in the awesome that is Magic Knight Rayearth always makes me so happy!

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this show in the comments!  Have you seen it before?  What are your thoughts on how love is portrayed in this series?