Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Nozomi Entertainment Kickstarter - English dub for Season 1 of Emma: A Victorian Romance


Look what I heard about today! If we're all very lucky and enough people back it, there could be an English dub of the first season of Emma: A Victorian Romance, and possibly the second (you have no idea how badly I want to hear English-dubbed Hans). Here's a link to the Kickstarter.

I feel a bit weird about companies doing Kickstarters for things like this, but I ended up backing this anyway. It's only the second Kickstarter I've ever backed. Crossing my fingers that both seasons get funded and that the dub actually turns out well. I've only heard two English dubs Headline Studios has handled, Gravitation and His and Her Circumstances. I don't recall liking the Gravitation English dub much at all, but His and Her Circumstances was great. That said, neither of those shows featured the kind of issues that Emma has - English characters from a variety of social classes and situations, an Indian prince, and, if Season 2 gets backed, several German characters.

At any rate, some of the higher level Kickstarter tiers have amazing stuff in them. I'm not even a cosplayer and the Housekeeper tier (includes a custom-made cosplay costume) sounds exciting to me. And I don't collect figures and still want one of those Emma figures. It's gorgeous. Not that my budget could withstand backing at that level. I can dream, though.

Well, I should get to bed so I can hopefully handle tomorrow morning better than I did today (some kind of stomach thing going around, I think?). I just wanted to make sure I posted about this first.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

REVIEW: The Haunting of Hill House (audiobook) by Shirley Jackson, performed by David Warner

The Haunting of Hill House is gothic horror. I checked this out via my public library's Overdrive.

My note at the end could be considered a spoiler.

Review:

I'll be brief, since I only just read and reviewed a paper copy of this back in June.

David Warner's narration was good, although I occasionally wished that a female narrator had been chosen instead, since he didn't always fit Eleanor and Theodora very well. From the look of things, both Audible and Kobo only have the version of this book narrated by Bernadette Dunn, which might potentially have worked better for me for that reason.

This is definitely one of those books that invites rereading. This time around, I knew what was going to happen and could therefore approach the story's events in a different way. Although I enjoyed that aspect and ended up with a new favorite interpretation of what happened, I was still frustrated with the way The Haunting of Hill House promised more of a ghost story than it actually delivered. It had some great creepy moments, and I just wanted more. Instead, I got several characters who became increasingly difficult to tolerate, and that ending.

I appreciated the ending more this time around than I did the first. In fact, taking my new interpretation of the story into account*, it was a perfectly logical and fitting ending. But I really wanted more creepy haunted house stuff, and ghosts.

REVIEW: Missing Abby (book) by Lee Weatherly

Missing Abby is YA suspense, but aimed more at the younger end of YA. It was an impulse library checkout of mine - I went looking for some YA or older Middle Grade mysteries or thrillers and this looked interesting.

Review:

I assume this is set somewhere in England, based on the author's bio. It's written from the perspective of Emma, a 13 (or possibly 14?) year old girl who realizes that she was likely the last person to see her former best friend Abby before she disappeared. She reports their encounter to the police and is forced to think about a time in her life that she thought she'd left behind and that she desperately hopes no one at her new school will ever find out about. Although a part of her wants to try to continue with her life as normally as possible, she can't stop thinking and worrying about Abby, Abby's last words, and the events that eventually drove them apart.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

REVIEW: Chi's Sweet Home (anime TV series)

Chi's Sweet Home is an adorable slice-of-life comedy. I watched the second season (series?), Chi's Sweet Home: Chi's New Address, six years ago, but between now and then I've also read the entire manga series. I picked up this particular boxed set during a sale and kind of wish I'd gotten the second one as well. I suppose I had a good reason not to, though. No shelf space!

Chi's Sweet Home adapts most of the first three volumes of the manga into 104 3-minute episodes. The Yamadas find Chi, a kitten that accidentally became separated from her family, and take her in despite living in an apartment that doesn't allow cats. They try to find a home for her but fail, and eventually realize they want to keep her themselves. Unfortunately, that may be a difficult decision to stick to if their apartment manager finds her and they're faced with the choice of either giving her away or being evicted.

Overall, the series is very light and gentle. There's the threat of Chi being discovered, Chi's occasional vague and slightly heartbreaking memories of her mother and siblings, and the part where Chi was accidentally locked outside during a severe storm. That's about it as far as stressful content goes, and even that stuff is depicted as gently as possible. There are no cats in Chi's Sweet Home that get run over by cars, or die of old age (or anything else for that matter).

Monday, September 10, 2018

REVIEW: Killing Mr. Griffin (book) by Lois Duncan

Killing Mr. Griffin is a YA suspense novel originally published in 1978.

Review:

Brian Griffin is a strict high school English teacher. He doesn't accept late assignments for any reason. He considers an "A" grade to indicate perfection, meaning that even his best students don't get more than a B in his class. He once humiliated one of his students, Mark, making him beg to stay in his class after an incident with one of his assignments, only to tell him "no" and force him to take the class over.

Mr. Griffin's kidnapping starts with Jeff's frustrated and angry mumbling: "That Mr. Griffin's the sort of guy you'd like to kill." From there, Mark hatches a plan to scare Mr. Griffin by kidnapping him and making him think he might be killed. Jeff, Betsy (Jeff's cheerleader girlfriend), and David (senior class president and one of the most popular guys in school) also get involved, as does Susan. Susan is one of the Mr. Griffin's best students. She doesn't exactly like Mr. Griffin, but she doesn't have any reason to want to scare him. She does, however, have a huge crush on David, and it doesn't take much for him to convince her to help. Susan's job will be to make sure Mr. Griffin is in the right place at the right time to be kidnapped, while Jeff, Mark, and David do the actual kidnapping. Betsy is supposed to provide the guys their alibis. Unfortunately for everyone, the kidnapping does not go as planned.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

REVIEW: Honey So Sweet (manga, vol. 2) by Amu Meguro, translated by Katherine Schilling

Honey So Sweet is a high school romance series. I got this volume via interlibrary loan.

I'm just going to put a general spoiler warning on this. Some of the things I mention could be considered spoilers.

Review:

Onise's words at the end of the previous volume cause Nao to wonder whether her feelings for Sou really are romantic. As she puzzles through the concept of romantic feelings and how to recognize them, Onise suddenly brings things to a head. He kisses her while she's dozing and she wakes up and catches him at it. He's utterly horrified with himself and sure that this will be the end of their friendship, while she experiences an epiphany after the kiss: the one she has romantic feelings for is Onise. She wants to tell him, but how? The volume ends with the introduction of a new character, Ayaha Futami, a classmate of Onise's who takes an interest in him.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

REVIEW: Horrorstör (audiobook) by Grady Hendrix, narrated by Tai Sammons and Bronson Pinchot

Horrorstör is a horror comedy about a haunted Ikea knockoff called Orsk. I felt guilty about not having used any of my local public library's services in ages and recently got my library card reactivated in their Overdrive. This was the first thing I checked out.

Review:

I reviewed a paper copy of this back in February, so I won't be writing a summary this time around and don't plan on writing a lengthy review.

I definitely preferred this in paper form. Although Bronson Pinchot did an excellent job reading the product description pages in a cheerful and comforting advertiser voice, it wasn't quite the same as getting to see the images. I know that the library checkout included an enhanced content PDF download that may have had all of those images, but I couldn't figure out how to download them on my phone (if that was even possible) and, even if I could have, it still wouldn't have been the same as reading the text and having it all right there.

Tai Sammons was okay as the narrator of the bulk of the text. She fit Amy reasonably well, and I thought she did an excellent job with Ruth Anne. Her Trinity voice grated, but that was probably the point. I really didn't like her take on Basil, though, and overall I felt like her narration leeched out a lot of the creepiness I remembered from my initial reading of the book. Then again, that might just have been due to me having read it before and knowing what would happen.

My favorite part of the book was still the bit where Amy was trapped in the Liripip. It was an excellent use of the location and Amy's Orsk employee skillset.

All in all, this was a decent audiobook, but I'm glad my first exposure to the story was via a paper copy of the book.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

REVIEW: Dark, Season 1 (live action TV series)

[I tried to keep spoilers to a minimum, but there are a few here and there. Unfortunately, an important aspect of the premise qualifies as a spoiler.]

Dark is a German sci-fi mystery/thriller series available on Netflix. I watched it after seeing someone recommend it on one of my German cooking discussion groups. At first, it reminded me a lot of the Netflix series Safe, which I'd started and abandoned. Both series have mystery/thriller, a small and interconnected community filled with secrets, and somewhat annoying teens. Still, I found Dark to be more immediately intriguing than Safe, and when the sci-fi aspects started cropping up, I was hooked.

Dark is set in the small fictional German town of Winden, where one of the country's last nuclear power plants is about to be shut down as the country transitions to other sources of power. There are concerns about the area's safety - a local teen has disappeared, and it's unclear whether he ran away, has been killed, or whether something else is going on. Then another boy, Mikkel, the youngest son of a local police officer, goes missing somewhere near a cave entrance. His father, Ulrich, fears the worst when a dead child is found, but the child turns out to be neither Mikkel nor the other missing boy.

As the series progresses, it weaves in parts of the town's history, from 1953, when the nuclear power plant was still being built, to 1986, when Ulrich's younger brother went missing, to the present, 2019, and its various disappearances, and shows how everyone's relationships are deeply interconnected.

REVIEW: Spiral (book) by Koji Suzuki, translated by Glynne Walley

Spiral is the second book in Suzuki's Ring series.

My review includes several spoilers. A spoiler tagged version is available on LibraryThing, Goodreads, and Booklikes.

Review:

Spiral begins hours after Ring's ending and stars Ando, a medical examiner who was once classmates with Ryuji, one of the main characters in Ring. Ando performs Ryuji's autopsy and is intrigued by several findings. First, Ryuji died of sudden heart failure despite being otherwise very healthy. Second, he has a mysterious ulcer in his throat. Further tests eventually reveal that Ryuji may have been killed by a virus that bears an eerie resemblance to smallpox. As Ando investigates, he learns of several other victims. But how is the virus transmitted? What does it do? And why did one man who was exposed to it, Asakawa, survive? The case takes on greater urgency when Mai, Ryuji's lover, disappears. Was she exposed via Ryuji somehow, and can she still be saved?

Monday, August 20, 2018

REVIEW: Barely Lethal (live action movie)

Barely Lethal is a teen action comedy. I watched it on Netflix.

Review:

Young female orphans are secretly raised to be assassins at the Prescott Academy (later on viewers learn that there's a similar school for boys). They're not supposed to form any attachments, but for some reason Agent 83 can't seem to help longing for something different. She tries to cuddle the dolls she's supposed to stab and, when she hits her teen years, she finds ways to stealthily read teen magazines and watch teen movies from the '80s and '90s.

During an operation to capture a dangerous woman named Victoria Knox, 83 finds an opportunity to escape and have the kind of life she'd always dreamed of. She adopts the name Megan Walsh and signs up to live with a family in the US while claiming to be a foreign exchange student from Canada. Her "regular teen life" gets off to a rocky start due to all her intel coming from cliched teen romantic comedies, but just as she starts to feel like she's getting the hang of things and coming closer to achieving her own cliched teen romance, her Prescott rival, Agent 84, arrives and begins to ruin everything.

REVIEW: Detective Alice, Season 1 (live action TV series)

(I didn't take notes on name Romanizations while I was watching and ended up having to rely on other sources in order to write this post. Name spellings therefore don't necessarily match what was used in Netflix's subtitling.)

Detective Alice is a comedic Korean crime series. Each episode is approximately 15 minutes long.

Cheon Yeon Ju, a bubbly young woman who loves food, is partnered with Jung Re Oh (or Leo? I don't know if that was a nickname or an oddity of Netflix's subtitling), a serious and by-the-book guy, to investigate crimes for the Food and Drug Administration. Their investigations frequently result in them crossing paths with a criminal mastermind named Red Jung, who has connections to Re Oh's past.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

REVIEW: Crazy Rich Asians (live action movie)

Crazy Rich Asians is a romantic comedy-drama based on Kevin Kwan's novel of the same title. I haven't read the book yet, although it's on my TBR.

I didn't pay much attention to the book when it first came out because the cover made it look like women's fiction about rich people being bitchy to each other. Then the movie came out, and I kept seeing romance marketing, which made it look much more like my thing.

So, the story: Rachel Chu is an economics professor whose boyfriend, Nick Young, has asked her to come with him to Singapore to meet his family. Nick has to go back anyway because he's going to be the best man at his best friend's wedding, so this seems like a good time. Rachel agrees and rapidly discovers that she knows less about Nick's life than she thought. His family is old money, and many people in his life, including his beloved mother, instantly judge Rachel to be unworthy of him. Even if she manages to stand up to them, there's still the issue of the choices she and Nick would have to make in order for the two of them to remain together.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

REVIEW: To Terminator, With Love (e-novella) by Wes Kennedy

To Terminator, With Love is m/m sci-fi romance, although be warned that the sci-fi elements are pretty light. It's published by Less Than Three Press.

Review:

Dexter Wu isn't a terribly social guy. He's a grad student whose life currently revolves around his big project, a robot named HAL that's supposed to be able to read stories to children. He has one close friend, Sandhya, who's about to move back to India. He's trying not to let that fact utterly wreck him, but it's hard. He's tired, stressed out about finals and HAL, and...suddenly in a confusing and terrifying amount of danger.

According to a powerful device owned by a shadowy group known as the Agency, HAL is going to destroy the world. Dexter's work on it must be stopped at all costs. The Agency's people don't normally try to kill their targets, but for some reason protocol is being broken this time around, and Dexter's running for his life. Luckily he has one agent on his side, Andre Jackson.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

REVIEW: Read It and Weep (book) by Jenn McKinlay

Read It and Weep is the fourth installment in McKinlay's Library Lover's Mystery series. I borrowed my copy from a coworker.

Review:

In this entry in the series, Violet La Rue is holding auditions for A Midsummer Night's Dream. The entire town is excited, and not just because many of them want a chance to shine onstage. It turns out that the role of Puck is going to be played by a friend of Violet's, a charming famous actor named Robbie Vine.

Lindsey doesn't want a part in the play, but she does agree to help with costuming. Meanwhile, Sully's helping build the set, and their friends hope that the close proximity will lead to them getting back together. There's definitely still a spark between them, but things become complicated when Lindsey finds herself drawn to Robbie. Sure, his personal life is a mess, but at least he talks to her and tells her how he feels. Unfortunately, something sinister is going on. Someone seems to want Robbie, and possibly anyone close to him, dead.

REVIEW: The Perfect Insider: Complete Collection (anime TV series)

I'm going to start this with a content warning (which could be considered a spoiler, except it's revealed in the second or third episode, so maybe not): this series includes things that would be considered incest, statutory rape, and pedophilia in the US. I'm not 100% sure of the timeline, but the character was between 13 and 15 when the "relationship" started, and she was consistently portrayed as the seductress who started it all. Okay, now on to the review.

The Perfect Insider is an 11-episode mystery series. Specifically, it's based on a locked room mystery novel by Hiroshi Mori. From what I can tell, the novel hasn't been published in English.

I bought this completely on a whim. Right Stuf was having a really great sale, so I concentrated on the Sentai Filmworks stuff since their boxed sets are usually more expensive than I'd like. I ended up with several titles I might not have gotten under other circumstances, like this one.

The Perfect Insider stars Saikawa, a professor (of architecture, I think), and Nishinosono (who from here on out I'll call Moe, her given name, because I'm less likely to mistype it), one of his students. One of the reasons why I'm unsure of Saikawa's area of expertise is that he often had a tendency to come across as either a philosophy professor or possibly a computer science professor. I'd never have guessed his true area of study if he hadn't handed someone a business card.

At any rate, Moe has an enormous crush on Saikawa and uses his interest in the infamous Dr. Magata to entice him to a vacation on a secluded island (along with several of her fellow students and one other professor, although they're all relegated to the background for most of the series). Shiki Magata is a genius who killed her parents 15 years ago. She was declared "not guilty" by reason of insanity and has lived in seclusion ever since, continuing her research in a completely locked down apartment at the lab. Saikawa wants to meet her, even if only by video chat. However, when they arrive, he and Moe discover that Dr. Magata has been killed, her body dressed in a wedding dress and her arms and legs severed.
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