Sunday, September 25, 2016

REVIEW: Halo: The Fall of Reach (animated movie)

First, some info: I haven't actually played any of the Halo games. I started reading Halo: The Fall of Reach after someone said that the series had some good AI-human interaction moments, but I stalled almost halfway through for various reasons. In an effort to renew my interest in the book, give me a better foundation on the visuals, and maybe clarify some of the more confusing aspects, I decided to watch this. I was sure it would spoil certain aspects of the book for me, but I was okay with that.

Yeah, what I didn't realize was that this movie only adapts a small portion of the book – up to page 154 of my copy, to be exact. I'm currently on page 168, so I suppose I'll have to muddle through the rest on my own.

The movie covers the origin of Master Chief, the protagonist and playable character of the games. Dr. Catherine Halsey first identifies him as a candidate for the SPARTAN-II program when he is only six years old. John and other children are kidnapped from their homes and replaced with short-lived clones. It is then that their military training begins. However, Dr. Halsey has more in mind for the children than just training. There are dangerous augmentations that will turn them into true super soldiers, if they're able to survive the process.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

REVIEW: Foreigner (audiobook) by C.J. Cherryh, narrated by Daniel Thomas May

I first read and reviewed a paper copy of Foreigner only a few months ago, so there's a lot I won't go into again, and I won't be writing another summary. However, it's worth writing a second review. I have some comments to make on both the audiobook experience and on the rereading experience. As a result, I'll be touching on some spoilery things.

The audiobook doesn't include the pronunciation guide or the glossary that can be found in my paper copy of the book. Although I missed the glossary a little, the pronunciation guide wasn't necessary. I didn't actively compare Daniel Thomas May's pronunciation to the guide, but I do know that his pronunciation of “Jago,” at least, followed what Cherryh wrote in her guide. Maybe I'll finally start mentally pronouncing Jago's name correctly while reading the books.

Although I had some issues with May's narration, overall I enjoyed it. He was particularly excellent when narrating Bren's thoughts and dialogue (basically most of the book), infusing the lines with just the right amount of emotion. His atevi voices didn't work quite as well for me, but I'm not sure there was much he could have done about that. After all, atevi aren't supposed to do much obvious emoting.

FYI, this next bit is where the spoilers come in.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

REVIEW: Atelier (live action TV series)

Mayuko is a “fabric geek” who gets a job at Emotion, a high-class custom-made lingerie shop. Her first days there are nerve-wracking, as her new boss, Mayumi Nanjo, tells her that she doesn't understand beauty and dresses horribly. She eventually adjusts and learns to love the place and her coworkers. However, as much as Mayuko and the others admire Nanjo and her work, her way isn't always their way.

I really enjoyed this series, much more than I expected. I had thought it would be a sort of Japanese The Devil Wears Prada, but it was much warmer and kinder than that. Even though Nanjo was pretty blunt with Mayuko at times, she was also gentler than I would have expected – some of the things Mayuko did when she first started working there (like talking back at the boss) would probably have gotten her fired from any other place.

REVIEW: Black Butler (live action movie)

Oh look, it's my first review in over a month. Sorry, I've been in a horrible funk for a while now. Everything is hard: writing reviews, reading, and even watching TV. The only thing I've been doing is working, sleeping, and playing Stardew Valley. Here's hoping that this review is a sign that things are going back to normal, because I'm tired of doing nothing much. And also, I have an ILL book that's due in a week or two.

Anyway, yes, a live action Black Butler movie exists and I have watched and reviewed it. Contrary to what that movie poster might lead you to believe, it actually takes place in a modern day setting.

No watch-alikes, because I figured writing the review itself was hard enough. Also, warning, this review includes major spoilers.


I watched this out of morbid curiosity. To be honest, I was expecting it to be horrifically bad. I knew that the story and characters had been drastically changed in several areas, and I vaguely remembered reading something about Mizushima Hiro (Sebastian) losing weight for the role, because obviously the most important thing about Sebastian is his thinness.

In the end, this wasn't as bad as I originally expected it to be, but it wasn't great either. It helped a lot that I already knew it wouldn't be a redo of either the anime or manga story, and that the characters wouldn't be quite the same.

So, the story. The movie is set in some kind of alternate history modern day Japan. Genpou Shiori is a girl pretending to be a boy so that she can be the Genpou family heir. Several years ago, her parents were killed and she was kidnapped. She escaped by entering into a contract with Sebastian, a demon. Since then, her goal has been to find and punish those who killed her parents. In the meantime, however, she serves as a secret investigator for the Queen of England (I think?), for reasons that make no sense unless you have some familiarity with the original series and what's been twisted to fit the movie. Anyway, people are being spontaneously mummified, and no one is sure how or why. Shiori is tasked with looking into the murders, and her investigation unexpectedly touches on her past.