New Game is a 4-koma style comic about a college graduate who starts working at a game company. the tone is very light, and it’s closer to slice of life than anything else, with a few references to game development (I’ve read about half at this point – taking it leisurely since there doesn’t appear to be a second volume yet). when I read the synopsis I was hoping for something more story-oriented, but this is cute so I’m okay with it
A couple of mini-reviews of the books I’ve read lately:
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
The 20th book in the Discworld series (and yes, I’m reading them in order – I find they tend to make a little more sense that way), about average Discworld length, possibly a bit longer than that, and focuses on Death (and his granddaughter, Susan). I tend to prefer the books involving Death, so that automatically makes it interesting for me, but I found Hogfather to actually be a bit creepier than most of the Discworld novels I’ve read. I can’t quite pinpoint why (although it might’ve been Teatime). Reading it now gave an additional “Christmas in July” feel so I’m not sure if it would have seemed less strange and/or more appropriate if I’d read it in December XD;
All She Was Worth – Miyuki Miyabe
This book was written by an author I’d never heard of previously, but happened to pick during a particularly ambitious book-buying spree on amazon. (I have two more books by completely new authors still waiting for me.) I don’t quite remember how it got recommended to me, I imagine it was through a (Haruki) Murakami page. ASWW is a fairly straightforward detective novel, in the sense that the protagonist is a detective and spends the entire time trying to unravel What Happened. Naturally there are some additional scenes, giving background on the protagonist and his life, but that’s generally overshadowed by the investigation and the information learned about the subject’s life and personality. I was a little disappointed that there was no shown confrontation at the end, as it felt a bit like things were left hanging. I suppose you can come to the conclusion that everything unfolded just as the detective had discovered it, and I suppose the motive for the actions was clear enough… but I somehow still prefer to hear it straight from the character’s mouth. It wasn’t a bad ending, just not my preferred one. (Also, the fact that there were at least three or four blank pages at the back of the book didn’t help any, but that’s a publishing/printing choice, I believe.)
I should note that I read these two books in quick succession, as I seem to always do. Hogfather at least took a couple nights to work through, but All She Was Worth was read from beginning to end last night XD; That was unintentional, but not unprecedented. I’m wondering whether to wait a bit before starting on In the Miso Soup or Out (I’ve also got Kinki Lullaby and Jingo but I’m saving those, one because KL’s the last Billy Chaka book and Jingo because, well, I just read a Discworld book.)
I always welcome book recommendations and questions about books that I’ve read! Feel free to leave a comment here, or on my 2010 book list page
As “Umineko no naku koro ni” moves steadily towards the end of its run, I find it harder and harder to explain why I’m completely in love with this series without giving major brain-melting spoilers.
But I’m going to try.
Because I think this is definitely a series that should be given serious consideration.
Point 1:” Sound Novel” as a concept
I feel like it’s difficult to properly convey how completely awesome the idea of reading text on a screen with images and bgm tailored to fit is… because it sounds like such a weird concept if you can’t quite imagine it.
Maybe it’s a bit strange to be reading a book on a computer – I can certainly appreciate that, as I still can’t make the transition from physical novels to ebooks, but I also read tons of stuff online as it is, so I may be more used to this concept than others.
However, Umineko is much more than just words on a screen – say what you want about the art style, but the expressions are usually right on. That style of story-telling, where the key pieces, that is to say, the character’s general appearance, are given to you right away helps make them feel more real from the start. Perhaps my imagination is less strong than others’, but without a visual representation, characters in novels often end up extremely vague, nondescript shapes inside my mind. I may have a grasp on their personality, but I can’t see their face. In some stories, this is more or less the point – they’re just vehicles for conveying something else entirely, but especially in Umineko where it’s important you come to know and like Battler’s relatives, being able to actually see them speeds up this process.
Even though there are some visuals in Umineko, a large chunk of the action is left up to the narrative and the reader’s imagination – a fact that Ryuukishi takes full advantage of. It’s much creepier to fill in the blanks yourself than to see everything clearly (although it might be less disgusting, depending on your individual experience and imagination). That which makes a novel – word choice, tone, spacing, punctuation and so forth – still features prominently in the Sound Novel format. The images do not tell the story, they merely enhance it.
The true genius of this format is undeniably the background music. I don’t doubt that Umineko’s story would still be worth reading without it, but the overall experience is improved tenfold by the amazing tracks composed by dai, zts, and others. For me, who loves music and often listens to it while reading novels anyway, this feels like pure genius – how could someone have not done this before?! (Have they? Please let me know, I’d love to read others!) I find myself repeatedly drawn to them even after I’m done reading, I’ve listened to nothing but Umineko bgm for over a month in the past – which is unusual, because I tend to prefer music I can sing with to instrumentals-only.
Point 2: Genre-mashing
Umineko seems to fall into the category of occult-horror, but yet, there’s also a mystery element, and clearly more romance than is normally allowed in most mysteries, and still, beyond that… something I can’t quite explain.
There’s tons of fan service in Umineko, I won’t deny it. The wardrobe of certain characters definitely can be described as nothing but. At the same time, it’s not nearly as awful as such things can get, and the designs aren’t bad, either.
References to other works pop up from time to time, anything from another popular doujin series (Touhou) to anime to clothing brands to TV shows. There’s even a reference to Ryuukishi’s previous work! XD
If you come into Umineko expecting to be able to wrap up the experience neatly in one genre-box, you will be disappointed.
Umineko is not wholly occult-horror, or even just horror, or mystery, or romance.
Umineko is about something much larger, which fights being quickly categorized.
Point 3: Umineko will change the way you think
Naturally, this is not something I can guarantee.
But I think it’s quite likely.
I can’t outright say how, or why, because that’s something each person should experience for themselves – to have someone else explain it, not only probably won’t work, but will have no impact.
I will say this: Umineko encourages you to become an active participant in the story.
Umineko encourages you to not stop thinking.
Certainly, you can just read it, and float along for the ride, but I would encourage you to do more than this, and I feel that you might actually have a harder time just accepting everything that you are told.
So, are you convinced?
Yes, the novels are in Japanese, but due to the hard work of the Witch Hunt, Episodes 1-5 have been fully translated into English.
The install process does involve changing some settings on your computer, but nothing that should seriously impact your day to day use of it.
If you have any questions about the series, installing the game or the English patch, you can always ask!
… is it just me, or are series using !s more and more?
the second season of Hayate no Gotoku! was Hayate no Gotoku!!, for example.
Durarara just has two from the start XD
Why I Started Watching: because I watched the first season, basically XD
Why I’m Still Watching: S2 is a perfect continuation of S1 – everything I loved about K-ON!: the girls, the music, the humor, still combines into one seriously enjoyable experience.
Why You Should Watch It: the K-ON franchise is based on a 4coma, which means that humor is ever-present. the entire series is very light-hearted and it’s rare that any serious conflicts ever arise between characters (ep 11, I think, of S1 had a teeny bit of drama, as well as 13, but hardly anything, esp in the latter case). not only does K-ON! have energetic OP/EDs, but insert songs are a guarantee, since the story focuses on a five-person all-girl light rock band. There haven’t been any new ones shown yet, I think, but we’ve still got 6 episodes to go! there’s a little bit of girl/girl fanservice if you put your yuri-goggles on, but no pairings are set in stone (something the fanbase definitely takes advantage of…)
Why I Started Watching: People I know were watching it, and I’d heard the series name a few times on forums and the like.
Why I’m Still Watching: Celty is awesome, Celty & Shinra is adorable and hilarious, Shizuo is <3 and Izaya is certifiable but scarily insightful. Why You Should Watch It: DRRR!! manages its moderately large cast quite well, making an effort to balance out the focus for the main seven or so and giving time for everyone to tell their own story. DRRR!! covers some heavier topics (ep 2 doesn’t lose any time in showing the series’ more serious side) and offers a thoughtful view on human interaction. the cast is large enough that it’s likely you’ll find someone to love, but no one feels like a stock character – everyone could easily be someone you know, or are. the background music is amazing and fits right in with the mood of the story.
Why I Started Watching: I’d seen references to the series on blogs, and saw ads for DVD sales in some of the raw DRRR!! streams I watched. I finally gave in.
Why I’m Still Watching: It’s still hard for me to pin down exactly what I love about this series. I definitely connect with it, though, having watched all six episodes twice in succession. It might be in part due to Girls Dead Monster, an all-girl band that exists within the show and has already had FOUR insert songs in six episodes XD;
Why You Should Watch It: AB! is possibly a bit heavier than DRRR!! even though it contains a fair bit of weird (near?) slapstick comedy. AB! is being created in cooperation with Key – the company that made Clannad, Kanon, Air and Little Busters! – so if you like Key’s works, AB! is probably right up your alley. AB! was not a visual novel first, although it definitely has that feel, in my opinion. The OP, for example, is classic Key style. the cast is a bit more stock than DRRR!! but it’s not the most extreme I’ve seen, and it takes it in stride, poking fun at everyone in turn. the humor can be a bit over the top at times (there’s this strange running gag about people getting hit and the ED theme starting to play…) but the verbal tsukkomis are good XD (I especially like the SSS-renaming discussion in ep 1). AB! is still revealing its true form, so I can’t say more than this, but I’m definitely looking forward to the future episodes (especially after the end of ep 7!)
Since we’ve entered the new season pretty completely by now, here’s my updated list of currently watched anime:
Umineko no naku koro ni | うみねこのなく頃に | When They Cry 3: based on the sound novels by 07th Expansion, a seemingly normal closed circle murder mystery case turns into something really weird when witches get involved… feels like playing the game on fast forward but it’s nice to see some stuff animated
Shugo Chara Doki!: Yeah, I’m still watching this…. XD
Kanamemo | かなめも: cuuuute story about a girl who’s just been orphaned joining an all-female newspaper delivery company. Based on a 4-koma (there seem to be a lot of those now), sort of sketchy (yuri I have no problem with but there’s some questionable age-related sketchiness XD)
Saki: a sports-type anime about… mahjong. XD 95% female cast, lots of implied yuri, overly dramatic motions for a table-based game XD
Detective Conan: well, obviously. I mean, until this show finally goes off the air I will watch it. Becaaause.
Canaan: action-based series, only seen one episode, lots of shooting involved. looks interesting.
Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei: well, who can say no to Zetsubou sensei? I’m surprised it got a fourth season though!
Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsuu… season 2?: so, this has been kind of mis-handled by the production company (let’s make people think there are new episodes! LOL SRY ONLY REPLAYING… actually JK NEW EPS THROWN IN 8D let’s watch the same events happen over and over and over again! yeeeeeeeey!) but I am still watching. passively.
Hayate no Gotoku 2nd Season: well, I finally caught up with the 1st season, so now I need to catch up with the second… hilarious narrator, little continuing plot, generally ridiculous… and Kugimiya Rie <3 Yokuwakaru Gendai Mahou: ridiculously fanservice-y show about “modern day magic” (a.k.a. using programming on computer for magic). based on a light novel that was definitely aimed at guys…. still, entertaining XD
I don’t -think- I’ve skipped any series, but I may go back and edit this later.
I’ll go back and update my master list eventually, but here’s some more anime I’ve been watching and what I thought:
Shugo Chara!: I tried watching this when it first came out, and wasn’t interested. But now since it’s on Crunchyroll I thought I’d give it a second try. It’s not bad! Clearly aimed at kids (the main characters are 5th graders) but things are a little different than you’d expect so it’s entertaining :D
Toradora!: Have I said that I love this anime yet? Because I do ♥ I want to read the light novels too, but I’m on a spending ban right now… (;o；_；)o
Kannagi: This is over now, and although I liked it, I feel like nothing really happened? I don’t know, none of my questions got answered, and even MORE questions appeared in the last couple episodes. The manga’s on hiatus too so who knows what will happen with this one… （＠＿＠）
Pretty Cure: … don’t laugh! I saw merch for this EVERYWHERE when I was in Japan so I finally gave in to see what the show was all about. Relatively typical magical girl show, but not as good as Sailormoon so far :P I’m not overly fond of it, and it’s not culturally necessary that I watch it so I might stop…
Maria Holic: This has been animated AMAZINGLY (I ♥ SHAFT!) and has a crazy OP. Only 2 episodes in, but I will be watching this one to the end for sure!
Skip Beat!: I just watched all current 14 episodes today… kind of an overload, but it’s good! Of course it’s good timing right now, to watch a show about a girl trying to break into the entertainment business in Japan… (=^_^=) ヘヘヘ (although her motives are REVENGE oriented)
Looking at the list, aren’t there a lot of anime with ! in the title?
Or am I just collecting them somehow?…