Books

Shadow of the Fox Trilogy by Julie Kagawa Review [Spoiler Free]

Fair warning, this is going to be me gushing more than anything else.  Technically I should just throw it into a Bite-Sized Book reviews post, but I loved this series so much I wanted to give it its own post.

If you like anime, you’ll enjoy this book series.  It 100% reminded me of Inuyasha the entire time I was reading it.  The way this series is set up we go in this episodic fashion until the end ramps up to this fantastic, well deserved climax.  All the characters are lovable, but the leads were just so perfect that I was so happy to read from both of their points of view.  The supporting cast was very well fleshed out as well, and I thoroughly enjoyed the found family themes that were a part of this series.

Themes of duality, balance, finding yourself and where you belong also are very prevalent in this series and are all well fleshed out.  Every book in the trilogy has a clear plot that is well paced, and none of them feel like filler.  If something in the series isn’t furthering the plot, it furthers the characters, and it’s such a well-balanced read.  Usually, I say things need to focus on plot, or focus on characters because stories can’t do both well.  But the Shadow of the Fox trilogy masterfully balances both in a very well written manner, and it’s one of the rare occurrences  where this story is both plot, and character centric, but both are done superbly.

There are characters doing things in the background unbeknownst to the main characters, and in the end I thought the motivations for them were a bit weak.  I liked seeing the reveal in the end, and it was enjoyable having those characters interwoven into the narrative for all three books, but I just thought that the reveal was a bit generic and wasn’t as big a fan as I would have been if there was something a little more less tropey used for the big reveal.  I think that’s because of how well thought out the character was, their final motivations just felt a little off to me considering what they had done throughout the entire story.  That would be my biggest hrmm about the series, but not worth knocking my enjoyment of the series down a peg because of it.


The romance too, oh the romance!  Tatsumi and Yumeko are both wonderful characters on their own, but together it’s just perfection.  I think their romance was such a great slow burn, and it was super satisfying and sweet when it ended the way it did.  I’ve legit read the last few pages of the epilogue a few times, the resolution of their relationship just makes me so happy and it’s my new favorite YA fantasy couple. 

Like I said really nothing bad to say about this series.  I just wanted to gush about it.  If you like anime and manga, you’d definitely like this series.  If you like well done characters and an epic action adventure, you’ll like this series.  If you like Japanese Folk Lore, you’ll like this series.  And finally, if you just like well done stories, you’ll like this series.  It’s in my top list of favorite YA series now, I just adore it so much!

Have you read the Shadow of the Fox trilogy?  Let me know how you like it in the comments!

Anime · Cartoons

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy Chapter 1: Siege Review [Spoiler Free]

I was browsing Netflix the other day when I didn’t have anything to do and this show was recommended to me.  I’m a Transformers fan, so figured I’d give it a go and was pleasantly surprised.  This show has a lot of depth, a well-paced plot, and great characters.  Good voice cast as well, and with audio description too!  But how does the show hold up under a microscope?  Let’s see, on to the review!

 

Technically this one is a trilogy of episodes?  I thought it was going to be a trilogy of movies, but then this first chapter wound up being six episodes so we’ll go with it being a mini series of sorts.  The first chapter of this, I really enjoyed.  Now keep in mind, I’m going in as a casual Transformers fan.  I watch the live action movies and like about half of them, I grew up watching the old franchise but I was super young so don’t remember it super well.  I watched episodes of Cybertron back in the day, and liked it well enough.  I’ve seen people complaining about this show destroying their childhoods, that it wasn’t good because it wasn’t like the old Generation 1 cartoon and can we please just give this a rest?  I get tired of people wearing nostalgia glasses and ruining new experiences for viewers that enjoyed somethings newer take because maybe they just want to watch something and enjoy it without comparing it to the original.  I prefer Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon over Sailor Moon Crystal, but you don’t see me crapping all over people who may think differently, do you?  But ahem I went on a bit of a tirade there.  It’s just that I went to read discussion threads about the series when I finished it because I enjoy doing that, saw people doing nothing but complain about it not being like the original instead of talking about how the show was on its own and it just bothered me so much.

 

But anyway!  I really enjoyed this take on the franchise.  It’s nice to see a robot-centric version of the show when for years it’s been about the humans more.  Optomus and Megatron’s relationship is the focal point of this series, and already I think they’re doing a good job with its execution – though be prepared for some heavy handed handling when it comes to Megatron allegory.

 

There are a lot of characters in the series, and they do a decent job of giving us supporting casts that are fleshed out enough, but not taking the spotlight from the main group of bots.  This is a darker take on the war for Cybertron, with a lot of action and it doesn’t shy away from really heart wrenching plot beats, and deaths.  And for this show, I think it works.  The storytelling is really well done, as well as the character work, and the conflict feels real, and raw, and it just captures a war time story really well.

 

The ending of this six episodes was a bit of a cliffhanger, while at the same time finishing up the storyline set up in this first chapter.  There are enough mysteries laid out for the second chapter, and I can’t wait to see what happens in chapter 2.
This show has audio description yaaay.  It describes the fight scenes really well, and also describes what’s happening in each scene really succinctly.  One thing I have to dock it points for however, is it just expects you to drop into this universe and know which bot is which.  So instead of describing the bots, it says “RC, Bumblebee, and Mirage all stand on a cliff” and it really doesn’t give you a nice grasp of their new designs, or what they would look like other than they are robots.  It also bothered me that they didn’t tell us what Megatron turned into, which is weird?  Like every time a bot transforms, it says they turn into a jet or truck or something, so why not Megatron also?  I’m assuming he has his classic design of turning into a motorcycle, but at the same time there are so many different Megatron designs that maybe it isn’t.  And I had vision when watching Transformers as a kid so would know this, but for a person coming into the series blind, it’s kind of a glaring error to not describe every robot’s look and transformation.  There are also new characters in this, so what do they look like?  I get it’s a huge cast, and it’s hard to cram all the aesthetics into a description when a scene is going, but it took me out of the viewing experience a bit not knowing at least basic details of how they looked in this iteration.  It makes you have to look up descriptions on the wiki, and while doing that extra legwork is something I do anyways when I like something, it’s also avoidable if the description described the characters a teeny bit more throughout scenes.  Other than that, solid plot beat and battle narration.

 

So would I recommend this series?  I really enjoyed it.  I didn’t find anything wrong with the series at all.  Voice cast is superb, plot is really deep and well-paced, character work great.  If you like anime, I’d best describe this as Transformers if we just turned it into a mecha anime, because it hits all of those plot beats from the genre.  If you’re new to the series I feel like you’ll like it more than old timers with the franchise, but who knows?  Needless to say I super enjoyed the first chapter and can’t wait to follow this show to its conclusion.

 

Did you watch Transformers:  War for Cybertron?  Let me know what you thought in the comments!