Keiko Online

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Music Review: Navy and Grey by Crete Boom

Year: 2009
Genre: Psychadelic Rock + Blues Rock + Surf Rock + Soul Rock
Similar Artists: The Commitments, Wilson Picket, Grand Funk Railroad, Steppenwolf, The Animals
Online: Facebook, Bandcamp, Jamendo, Soundcloud,
Tracks: 5

  1. The Choicest Cut
  2. Coffee After Six
  3. Navy and Grey
  4. Going West
  5. Broken Teeth

I first discovered Crete Boom on Jamendo about six years ago. I really dug “The Spyin Blues” from their 2009 release Them Bones Need Oxygen EP and decided to check out some of their other offerings. Years later, I frequently return to their music catalogue. Today, I will be reviewing their 2008 EP Navy and Grey.

Navy and Grey is a 5-track EP featuring five aurally pleasing songs with a distinct 60’s and 70’s Soul Rock vibe. Although I don’t regularly listen to this music genre outside of a handful of artists, I find that Crete Boom expertly delivers songs reminiscent of an era when bands like Grand Funk Railroad and Steppenwolf received heavy airplay. I highly recommend that folks check out the EP as well as some of their other offerings on Jamendo, Bandcamp and Soundcloud.


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Manga Review: Momoiro Heaven Volumes 1-7

Chapters Completed: Chapters 1 – 28
Author + Artist: Yoshino Mari
Version: English (Starry Heaven scanlation project)
SH Online: Starry Heaven Blog (no longer actively translating)
Momoiro Heaven Online: Mangafox, MyAnimeList,
Genre: Romantic Comedy + Drama + Smut (some non-explicit sex scenes, nudity, naughty words and innuendo)

So, I’ve been reading lots of romance manga of late and was beginning to find myself reaching a point where I believed that I’d reached the limit of quality that was available. Lo and behold, I come across a gem on Mangafox called Momoiro Heaven, as known as Pink Heaven. The word “pink” should suggest something rather inappropriate to some of you and with good reason.

Momoko Shiina is a hard-working, seventeen-year-old high school student living a secret double-life ghostwriting romance (light porn) novels as her deceased father to take care of her seven-year-old brother Touma and their sick mother. Everything is put in jeopardy when she sees the newly transferred teen idol, Ranmaru Inui, shagging one of the English teachers and decides to use it as inspiration for one of her novels. When Ranmaru is linked to the story, he decides to track down the writer and discovers that the quiet yet-driven honours student is the author. She pleads with him not to tell anyone and he agrees to keep quiet if she agrees to be his “slave”. So begins a rather amusing, yet adorable romantic comedy.

The concept of a male lead using dirt in order to gain leverage over the heroine is not a new concept in romance manga, but it is done in a rather neat way in this series. The important thing is how the seemingly different leads complement each other in meaningful ways. I really like the chemistry between Ranmaru and Momoko, how the presence of the other leads to each growing as human beings. In Ranmaru’s case, he is somewhat broken from his family situation. He is the illegitimate son and heir to a large corporation, whose loving mother died when he was little. His father’s wife is highly abusive to him and his dad is ignorant regarding how resentful his wife is to his son. Momoko’s presence in his life helps him heal and begin to trust someone on equal terms. In Momoko’s case, she was stagnating because of her high work schedule. The thought of ever having a boyfriend or social life was just not an option because she was providing for the household. Ranmaru’s presence upsets her routine and leads to her making a meaningful connection with someone.
To the characterisation, the series did make use of archetypes to some extent. Ranmaru is the mischievous sexy prince whilst Momoko is an idealistically romantic virgin. These archetypes are tweaked and improved upon using humourous dialogue and situational comedy. This also manages to give the characters depth and make the reader abundantly aware that the world moves forward even when a character is not in a scene.
The dialogue is well-played out, feeling natural and true to each character. An example of this is in the one chapter where we see the world through young Touma’s eyes. Touma is a kid, hence his world is filtered through what he’s been told and has experienced. Though I am heavily amused by Momoko’s conversations and thoughts, I feel myself more often than not, to the point of snorting milk out of my nose because of Ranmaru’s tendency to be inappropriate. Seriously, who but Ranmaru would offer to teach a seven-year-old how to give an orgasm to a girl? Yes, that actually happened, leading to Momoko going into disaster mode.
To the art, I would say that I like Yoshino Mari’s art a lot more than that of Ukyou Akane, the author and artist of Biyaku Heaven. This actually makes quite a bit of sense given that Ukyou Akane creates a bit of Yaoi. I am not a huge fan of the art style of most Yaoi to begin with as it tends to suffer that issue where the characters that are either way too similar to each other and/or too archetypal. This can be an issue in other manga genres as well, but I find it more prevalent in Yaoi. Yoshino Mari’s art is a lot neater and feels less rushed, the characters are easily distinguished from each other. The backgrounds are noticeable yet don’t take away from the action.

I really enjoyed this manga so far. It is a breath of fresh air and I look forward to reading more instalments. I highly recommend this manga to anyone entertained by romantic comedies that poke fun of adult situations and make use of innuendo.


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Manga Review: Biyaku Cafe Chapters 1 – 33

Chapters Completed: Chapters 1 – 33
Author + Artist: Ukyou Akane
Version: English (Decadence scanlation project)
Decadence Online: Transcendence Scanlations
Baiyaku Cafe Online: Mangafox, MyAnimeList,
Genre: Romance + Comedy + Drama + Smut (some non-explicit sex scenes)

As regular readers are no doubt aware, I’ve been consuming a bit of Romance manga and anime recently. It has been fun revisiting old series as well as discovering new stuff, but most of all I am excited to see other writer’s deal plot and style romance in their own works. In this post, I will be reviewing a new discovery, the rather odd Biyaku Cafe as translated by Decadence scanlations.

The series begins with high school senior Kaoru stumbling across an odd cafe named The Aphrodisiac Night Retreat late one evening. She enters and meets Kagetsu, the gruff but attractive chain-smoking proprietor of the odd establishment, a teahouse without a menu. Drinks (not coffee) are prepared and served based on the traits of the customer. Kagetsu offers her a drink.
Kaoru wakes the next morning on the floor of the cafe, cognizant of the fact that she slept with Kagetsu. Upon discovering that the first tea that she drank was the only one that was free, she is “forced” to work off her minor debt for one of the most perplexing men on the planet. So begins a tale about the staff and the customers of the teahouse.

I decided to read this manga based on a search for Romance on Mangafox. What began as more of a curiosity turned out to be oddly amusing and highly addictive. It is an odd one because of how it weaves between the lives of more than the two central characters. I was somewhat impressed with how Ukyou Akane managed to tie the stories of the expanding cast (there is about a dozen characters) together in a coherent and entertaining manner.
The series makes good use of soap opera and anime romance cliches but doesn’t take itself too seriously. That being said, it still manages to offer commentary on how tricky relationships can be when people refuse to acknowledge their own feelings and motivations. This is all played out with solid dialogue and often self-created drama. “Self-created?” you say. Yes, a lot of the drama is created due to misunderstandings and people not being willing to express their feelings honestly. Although this is a mainstay of a lot of storytelling, I found Ukyou Akane’s take on human nature to be compelling. It does what it needs to do – give the characters a chance to grow because they are often forced to rectify their own problems and learn from these same mistakes.
Though the story does move occasionally to other people, there is still arguably a focus on the relationship between Kagetsu and Kaoru. As abrupt as Kagetsu is, we see an honesty to his behaviour and actions that are refreshing. He is the sort of guy that prefers to show people how he feels rather than talking meaningless gibberish. Compare this to the inexperienced Kaoru who spent most of her life having girls confess to her because they believed her to be a dude. (flat chest cliche – check!) She also overthinks things and tends to have a low opinion of her own attractiveness to the guy obviously going out of his way to show her how he feels. (So what if that usually involves heavy petting!!!) And of course, we see the ongoing silliness of the rest of the staff not bothering to confirm whether the two have been shagging on the floor of the cafe before entering the next day. (Seriously, you’d think that people would learn after a while.)
One issue that I did have with this manga is that some of the characters are way too similar in appearance to other cast members. This is not a game-breaker, not by any means, but it is a mild irritation for me as a reader. When you are forced to double-back in order to make sure that you are following the right character, it tends to decrease the level of immersion of the story itself.

I really enjoyed this manga and hope to see an anime adaptation sometime soon because it is adorable. However, I don’t recommend it for anyone that finds romance and/or anime romance cliches annoying. If you are good with that, be sure to give this one a read.


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Manga Review: Kuzu no Honkai Volumes 1-7

English Name: Scum’s Wish
Completed: Volume 1-7 of an English fan translation, roughly 42 instalments
Scum’s Wish Online: Official Website for show (Japanese), Wikipedia, manga@ Crunchyroll,
Genre: School life + Romance + Psychological + Drama + Smut (apparently this is a category for certain anime that deal with sexual situations)

I decided to read some of this manga after seeing a list of upcoming anime shows. Scum’s Wish was in the top ten, so I decided to check out the manga to have a comparison when it is (hopefully) dubbed into English. The premise was interesting enough but not necessarily original given that there’s been a few different series that have touched on the idea of two people mutually agreeing to go out for the purposes of being substitutes for unrequited love. What I didn’t expect was how much of a train wreck most of the cast were.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

The series revolves around Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya, two high school students at the same school. Hanabi has a huge crush on the guy that lives next door, a young man that sees her as a little sister and has become her homeroom teacher. Mugi is one of the more popular guys at school, who has a thing for a music teacher who has also started taking an interest in Hanabi’s crush to spite her. Aware of each other’s particular dilemma, Hanabi and Mugi agree to play the part of the perfect couple, even arranging specific rules such as dealing with physical needs. The story becomes even more complicated when it becomes apparent that Hanabi best friend, Sanae, is in love with her; and that Mugi’s love interest is not what she appears.

This series is about lonely people making bad decisions in the hopes of alleviating their loneliness and feelings of inferiority. This isn’t just the teenagers making these mistakes time and time again, though. Although I tend to steer clear of this sort of thing in stories, it seems to work well in this manga, giving the characters numerous chances to learn and grow from their mistakes. However, just like all human beings, the cast have huge problems in breaking cycles of poor choices and bad habits.
To the conflict itself, we see characters often making the mistake of relying on sexual contact in order to deal with their loneliness. This creates its share of problems, with Hanabi and Mugi often looking for ways to fulfil their own physical needs outside of their odd arrangement. That being said, we know early on that any chance of the pair falling for each other is minimal at best because that wouldn’t make much sense. After all, the two did enter into the arrange because they were obsessing over two unavailable people. The fact is that relationships and the world as a whole are complicated.

Back to the issue of characterization, a lot of people would find the flaws of the main characters annoying enough to stop reading early on. This was nearly the case for me in the third volume, where we see Sanae and Hanabi’s relationship become physical. It was a strange choice, but it was part of Hanabi’s need to keep her best friend in her life instead of rejecting her. Yes, I did have an issue with this choice as Hanabi was lying. In spite of Sanae clearly knowing that Hanabi was lying, she was also fine being a substitute because love can apparently make some people stupid.
Self-destructive and manipulative choice compounds for both Mugi and Hanabi to the point where something has got to give. Confessions are made and only one comes out of with a secret bang buddy. At least the pair began to acknowledge their own part in the whole mess and are beginning to make choices not to drag other people into their own situation by the end of volume 7. I suppose that is progress. Baby steps?

What did I like about this manga? I liked the fact that it didn’t try to gloss over the glaring flaws of the cast. As lonely and pathetic as they are, it came off as a bit more authentic than the characters of a handful of manga and anime that I have consumed in recent years. (I am looking at you Honey X Honey!) I wanted to see if these characters can dig themselves out of their own self-created shitty situations because I want to see positive struggle rather than just wallowing about like a… perpetually wallowing thing stuck in a tub. Are the characters perfect? Of course not, but they aren’t supposed to be. However, if you prefer not to read or watch something with heavily flawed and often self-destructive characters, then this series will certainly not be a good fit and neither will the upcoming anime adaptation.


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Anime Review: Keijo!!!!!!! Episode 1

Episodes: Episode 1 of an ongoing series dubbed from Japanese into English.
Keijo Online: Wikipedia, Funimation,
Genre: Sports/Fighting + Comedy + Ecchi Comedy + Drama

So, today I have finally decided to review the first episode of Keiko!!!!!!!!, that silly anime with more exclamation marks than Yuri on Ice!!! Okay, so maybe I stole that last bit from the evil one Gigguk, but it does seem apt given the bizarre amount of hype that this very strange anime received in the months leading up the release. In an anime season that offered up the continuation of several sports drama and a one that has broken the internet (I’m looking at you, YoI!!!), we have an odd newcomer offering us the hilarity of boob and butt wrestling. I easily convinced my husband to watch this one with me, and he also seemed amused by this odd series.
I have been putting off posting a review of this show for a number of reasons in spite of watching it more than a week ago. The first is that Keijo is an Ecchi comedy, which means that it offers a lot of pervy fanservice and innuendo. The second is that I was really trying to figure out what to say about this anime without falling to the floor in fits of laughter.

The first episode sees Nozomi, the effective main character of the show so far, succeeding in getting into a sports college of aspiring professional Keijo players following a successful tryout. This is shown through a series of flashbacks wherein we see some of the other competition from the entrance exam. This plays out via an amusing and certainly tricky new multiplatform format of the game and allows us to get to know a bit about the motivations of the cast members. It also gives us a good idea of how boobs can be used to knock people out. #epicboobattack At the end of the episode, we are also introduced to the group of girls that the somewhat narcissistic main character is dorming with.

For some of you, you will be aware ahead of time that this show follows aspiring professional players of an imaginary gambling sport called Keijo. Keijo comprises young women boob and butt wrestling on podiums floating in the middle of large pools. Yes, it is as in your face as one would expect, but there is a bit more to it as well. There does seem to be depth in even some of the shallow characters, even the occasional boob-fondler girl. Each of the characters seems to have a few unique strengths and/or attacks as well.
The show is simultaneously a sports drama and a weird Ecchi comedy all wrapped up into one very strange series. How the heck it manages to walk the tightrope between the two without becoming a complete farce is a miracle in of itself. Yes, the boobs and the butts are relevant to the overall pervy theme, but the game for which this anime revolves is actually somewhat complex. We get to learn a few of the more basic rules in the first episode, but we will no doubt learn more in future instalments of the series.

I was amused by the over-the-top fight butt battles that are rather epic. We also have characters that are unique enough to be interesting without feeling convenient. The voice acting is solid for the English dub version and the storyline feels like it will be somewhat linear. I am more than amused by the series so far to see how it plays out. However, I do think that it is an acquired taste and recommend it to folks that appreciate butt and boob humour.


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App Review: Grammarly for Chrome

Categories: Productivity
Grammarly Online: Chrome App Store, Official Website
Size: 2.08 MB
Price: Free of charge with premium subscription options

There are a few apps floating around the interwebs to assist with writing these days. With the wealth of offerings available, it can be tricky finding one with just the right around of features to avoid confusion for the user whilst still being powerful enough to get that document, article, email, etc… to a professional quality. After all, most human beings do not want to inflict cringe-inducing prose on the end user. This is where an app like Grammarly for Chrome comes into the equation.
From the hour or so that I spent tinkering with the app on the Chrome browser, I’ve found it to be quite useful in clearing up some mistakes on several of my writing wikis and I even noticed it catch at least one error whilst I was drafting an earlier part of this short review. However, you will need to have the internet connected and create an account in order to use it as the app saves settings to an online profile.
To use the app, you will notice a little icon near your web address if you are using the Chrome browser. Check to make sure that the right settings are enabled and away you go. When interacting with a document in Chrome, small icons and numbers will appear at the bottom of the workspace. Any problematic text will also be underlined in the workspace itself. Click on either to bring up information on identified issues with the text. If the secondary setting is enabled, you will also have access to associated thesaurus options. In this window, you will be able to opt-in of recommended changes. I am not sure how it will appear on a Chrome machine, but I suspect that it should be moderately easy to figure out.
How would I describe the app? I consider it tiny-yet-powerful. The reliance upon an internet connection does bug me though and I hope that the developers offer some packages for offline use at some stage, but it is not a game-breaker. In spite of there being a premium option, it doesn’t appear to offer this option either. Is this lack of offline use for the app enough for me to stop using the app? No, but it does mean that the occasional internet and power outages in my region will result in periods of time when I just won’t be able to do any software-assisted edits.
The purpose of the app is to polish a piece of writing by fixing grammar, avoid spelling errors and help tighten sentences as well as give suggestions on style, which it does really well. Based on my own testing of the app so far, I have found that it is fairly intuitive with customizable features. This focus on the user experience (UX for the cool kids) reduces the barrier for new users adopting this software. Premium .
Do I recommend it? I know that I like the features and usability of the product itself. Based on my own experiences, I believe that a bunch of other writers, bloggers and communicators will make good use of the software. We often miss typos, grammatical errors, etc… when we write something, and this piece of software is a great way to deal with those problems in a prompt manner. I would recommend that folks give the app a run to see if they find the features useful in their everyday activities. Also, note that there is also a standalone app for Windows and for Microsoft Office that folks might also consider checking out. I haven’t tried the Windows app yet but I look forward to giving it a run now that I have it installed. I don’t have the applicable version of MS Office yet so I am unlikely to try the associated version anytime soon.

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To clarify, this isn’t a sponsored post for the app, merely an attempt on my part to share a piece of software that some of my friends might find useful with their own writing. I look forward to posting the occasional app review in future on top of the anime, TV, movie and music reviews that I have recently started posting. If you try the app, feel free to post your own findings in the comments section. If you have recommendations for Chrome and/or Windows apps, feel free to let me know about them as well. I look forward to learning about apps that you find useful in your everyday activities.


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Anime Review: Show By Rock!! S1E01

Episodes: 1st episode of the ongoing series now into its second season (English Dub)
Show By Rock!! Online: Wikipedia, Funimation
Genre: Science Fantasy, Music, Adventure

I first heard about this show a few days ago after seeing one of the scenes posted on Crunchyroll’s facebook page. Curious, I decided to give the show a run. I came in with significantly different expectations as to what to expect.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

The show revolves around a young high school named Cyan Hijirikawa, a shy girl that really wants to join one of the school band groups but whose social anxiety keeps getting in the way. One night after practices guitar, Cyan plays a music app on her mobile phone and wins a game item, the Heart Guitar. Soon after, her phone is taken over by a malevolent force and she is transported to another world, a place where music has real and tangible force. After being in awe of a concert for a male trio, she and the lads are transported to a place where they are attacked by a large monster that has the ability to steal lifeforce gems which are tied with musical ability. Seeing the trio get captured, the girl learns from her apparently sentient guitar (yeah, it she appears to be trapped in some sort of game) that she can use it to save the lads and look awesome doing it. She intercedes, looks awesome and is subsequently transported to some other part of the bizarre world that she is in. Not long after that, a record producer voiced by English-Kirillon offers her a record contract. After meeting with the girl band that egg-man has as one of two signees, she rebuffs the offer by that group of guys that she saved earlier and agrees to sign up after being asked to join the girls in their band because she’s always wanted to be asked to join a band. Queue to unseen scene of egg-man involved in weird BDSM situation with his Dominatrix manager lady. We pan to the malevolent guy that zapped her into the world in the first place and discover that she is there because one of his musical contractees/slaves has been assigned to write a song and only she can play it. Something about world and universe domination. Cut to credits.

To begin with, I went into this show expecting a musical rather than a world-jumping digital world thing. It was odd, but I went with it to see if there was an apparent point.
The artwork goes from standard cutesy to occasionally chibi-CG sequences, which might be associated with the mobile app that the show is attached to. This attachment to a game really does show, and I really hope that the writers did something unique with the idea instead of a standard exit parameter.
The story is somewhat standard, but with the twist that Cyan, now a catgirl, likes being in the world as it fulfills her fantasy of being wanted. We can see the possible threat to her freedom looming in the background though, which might lead to her being more proactive in learning how she got there in the first place. Of course, the answer may very well reveal itself to her rather than our protagonist having to do much digging.
The first episode is a little bit of a head-scratcher, but I think that I will stick with it for at least one more episode to see if it builds upon what was in the first episode in some meaningful way. However, I suspect that some folks may be immediately put off by some of the elements because they are somewhat basis.