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World of Keiko 2018/03/11

This week’s posts: –

Sorry that I haven’t posted much over the past week. I had to do some personal stuff on Friday and on Saturday, the new Path of Exile league Synthesis, started.

ANIME & MANGA
I started and enjoyed a few new manga series this past week. Whilst many of them are older titles, they still provided hours of entertainment and gave me a well-needed “change of scenery”. I also noticed that Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon had a bunch of installments drop over the past few weeks. This is a good thing, in my personal opinion, as I have been trying not to read the chapters of this charming series too quickly.

READING & WRITING
This week, I came up with one throwaway idea and another that
The templates that I’ve devised over the past month or so have proved to be quite useful over the past seven days. They’ve allowed me to quickly get down a few new ideas whilst also helping me refine some older ideas. I also managed to transfer a few notes from some old projects from open office and word to OneNote. I’ll do what I can to create a few more useful templates in the coming days but I think I am close to a layout that I can make quick use of. I do not discount the possibility that I will change it again in the future, but that is a part of the process, I suppose.
Given the huge variety of different ideas that I’ve come up with of late, I need to decide which story to start drafting soon. I think that I will give it until the end of the month before I settle on something, giving myself time to mull and play. After that, I intend to have a plot outline completed in a fortnight and then get to work on whatever I have decided to focus on. It will definitely be something either fantasy or urban fantasy, I know that much. I will also have to write something that I have at least some idea of the long-term arc as I want to avoid unnecessary rewrites.

GAMING
Due to the new PoE league starting, I spent several days gaming and planning with the other half. Whilst I won’t be spending large amounts of time gaming this league, the current league already feels significantly more enjoyable than Betrayal league. This time around, I wasn’t constantly on edge to see if some piece of content was going to interfere with normal gaming. To me, this extra content is best added to end-game, preferably with its own instances. Unless, of course, the extra content is subtle enough, as was the case with the changes to crafting. Let players engage in the content they want to play rather than throwing four types of content at them. That sort of defeats the purpose of the content in the first place which is to provide optional “other” content.
That being said, Grinding Gear Games has proven time and time again to have some good ideas and regularly produces new content, which includes large amounts of new mechanics, with each new league. This is something that cannot be said for numerous other gaming companies. This willingness to regularly provide new content inspires confidence in their product when coupled with good community support.
For those interested, we are both playing Cyclones builds for the Psion class. It seriously rocks. Whilst his Ice Spear and Vortex build for the Witch class deal large amounts of damage, it is way too squishy for my lazy-ass tendencies to enjoy, which makes the Cyclone Psion build a better choice. My reaction times tend to be a bit sluggish, making a tanky build a lot more enjoyable long-term. We will, however, see if this hold true as the league progresses.
Anyway, the biggest side benefit of these sessions was calling hubby “bunny-sama” to the name he chose for that character. He figured that his choice of the leap slam ability was sufficient enough to include “bunny” in the name. I think that he might have got a kick out of hearing me call him that name as well.

OTHER
We got quite a bit of rain this past week. Whilst I still have a few cucumbers growing on the vines, some bugs are doing a number on the leaves and at least one of my fruit appears to be rotting at the base. I will have to keep an eye out in the coming days but I suppose that the toads will likely eat some of the critters affecting my plants. I know that some of my fellow Aussies are in shock over my statement on the usefulness of toads in pest removal. However, toads are all over the place so I might as well take advantage of this peculiar resource for chemical-free pest control. I only wish they liked eating grasshoppers significantly enough to keep the little buggers from stripping some of the leaves from my cucumbers and pumpkin vines. This has become a noticeable issue in the past week, leading to issues with flowering and production of sugars for developing fruit due to reduced photosynthesis.

Anyway, that is it for this week. Here’s wishing you a healthy and productive week that is absent of rampaging monkeys. I leave you with the following word to mull over as you contemplate how best to discuss lawn bowls with aliens over cheese and wine: Ultracrepidarian.

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Manga Review: Okobore Hime to Entaku no Kishi Vol. 1

Alternate names: The Leftover Princess and the Knight of the Round Table, The Leftover Princess and the Round Table Knight
Year: 2013
Author / Artist: Kaori Katsuki and Rinne Ishida
Genre: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance

Reviewer’s Note: Volume one consists of chapters 1 – 5 of this 17-part series. This review reflects the Aqua Scans English fan translation.

Okobore Hime to Entaku no Kishi is a series following Princess Leticia, the newly-appointed heir to her kingdom. She has been chosen by her father due to the various issues that picking either of her half-siblings, the first and second sons of her father would likely cause. Armed with knowledge gained through conversations with the monarchs that came before and after her, she attempts to gain twelve knights to act as her round table as per tradition. However, her pick as the first knight, Duke Barchet, is resistant to the idea of becoming her flunky. As the machinations of an ancient enemy seek to destroy her and the kingdom, she will need to draw upon the knowledge of the past, present and future. The future Heartbreaker Queen will need to be on her toes.

Firstly, the first volume provided plenty of background for the female protagonist. The worldbuilding and lore were delivered in a timely fashion rather than suffering from the dreaded infodump. We also see Leticia’s curious conversations with the other rulers of the country initially providing their own share of questions. This aspect was a little confusing at first but it became clear what was happening by the third chapter. This time travel aspect was a little weird but I can now appreciate it. The MC and the other rulers have to keep verifying which part of the timeline they are experiencing, showing that there are limitations to using these discussions to gather information.
To the characters, Princess Leticia and Duke Barchet have some nice chemistry in the first five chapters. Her three brothers and Duke’s protege also provide a lot of interesting moments. However, we don’t see many interactions with other characters. This makes the world feel a little lacking in population. Sure, there are some main characters, but the story would be slightly more interesting if it included more cast members that they interacted with. I suspect that we will see more characters being introduced in the remaining chapters of this series.
As for the art, the character and world design was pretty much standard. However, the linework is clean and it easily conveys action and emotion. Whilst it is your standard European-inspired fantasy world, it is still sufficient.

Verdict: The first volume of this series has enough going for it that I will continue reading it. I liked the worldbuilding, characters, and plot. I am, however, concerned that I will get attached to it and then go through the peculiar mourning stage that many readers suffer from when a series that they like comes to an end. Why the heck am I thinking so negatively when I still have three more volumes left? Lame! Super-lame!


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Manga Review: Mission of Love Vol. 1

Alternate Names: Love Mission, Missions of Love, xx Me!
Year: 2009-2015
Author/Artist: Ema Toyomo
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life

Reviewer’s Note: Volume One of this manga covers chapters 1-4 of the series. Beware of possible spoilers.

Years ago, I saw this title on Mangafox but never got around to reading it. At the time, the series was also still being released. Most anime and manga readers dislike waiting around for new installments of their favorite franchises, and I am no exception. This mindset can also be a bit of detriment because a good series may suffer due to that desire for immediate gratification. In any case, I decided to finally give Mission of Love a run and am enjoying it so far.

The premise is simple enough After her readers demand more romance in her stories, of a teenage cellphone writer, Yukina Himuro, is at a loss as she’s never been in a relationship before. Shigure Kitami is the student body president, a rich kid that has decided to make a game out of manipulating the gullible girls at school, all documented in his notebook.When Yukina comes across his notebook, she discovers that she is the last name remaining on his conquests list. She confronts him and decides to blackmail Shigure into helping her with “love missions”. It begins a game of cat and mouse game as the two attempt to outwit each other.

The school setting for this series is pretty standard, a high school with idiotic teenagers doing idiotic things because teenagers are exactly that – idiots. We see all of the girls fawning over Shigure because he tells them what they want to hear. This lack of skepticism makes them easy prey for his womanizing game. Yukina’s disdain for this behavior also means that she doesn’t feel guilty about blackmailing him. The two begin a cat and mouse game, wherein Shigure and Yukina try to outwit each other.
The plot progression is solid so far, with there being just enough information to move the story forward. We also see the same approach with the character development. Both of these aspects give plenty of wiggle room for storytelling in future volumes.
The artwork for this series isn’t anything special but it is easy to differentiate between characters and environments. We also see the appropriate use of mood and gestures to help convey action and emotion.
In the first four chapters, there are some neat moments wherein we see Yukina’s people-watching skills (a common bit of advice for writers) and imagination to deal with Shigure’s ploys to get out of the arrangement. It is a lot of fun and allows the two main characters moments to shine. As such, the first volume comes off as intelligently written whilst still being in the scope of how a high schooler could behave and still fit into the shoujo category.

Verdict: The first volume is an entertaining read that I look forward to reading more of in the future. It promised to be a slow-burn romance with two characters with very different goals and so far it seems to be delivering on that promise.


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Manga Review: Kare wa Diablo Vol. 1

Alternate Names: He is Diablo!, Kare wa Diovolo
Year: 2010-2011
Author/Artist: Kayoko Shimotsuki
Genre: Shoujo, Urban Fantasy, Comedy, Romance, Drama

Reviewers Note: Each volume consists of four chapters. This review is based on the S2 Scanlations English translation.

Whilst trying to find a few completed manga series to get stuck into, I came across a short-run series called Kare wa Diablo. The first chapter proved to be interesting enough for me to read the first volume. Here is the premise:

High Schooler Meiko has a major crush on a boy at her high school. However, he has a girlfriend. So, she does what any self-respecting school girl with an interest in the occult does – she summons a supernatural being to make the object of her affection fall madly in love her.
Well, it turns out that she made the arrangement with Lucifer, who also decides that teaching her class would be a great way to amuse himself. As Meiko deals with the ramifications of her request, her demonic summon puts forward the option for her to become his witch or let one of her schoolmates get murdered due to the initial request. So begins a silly story about demons, witches and the power of Anpan.

The first chapter of this series has a bit of a darker edge to it. However, it is made clear in the latter parts of this chapter of what to expect from this series: a comedy set in a world where the supernatural lies just below the surface… with enough variation in pace and story arcs to keep it interesting. Whilst these arcs are often predictable, the first volume was still enjoyable. The romance element is there but it takes second place to the comedy, which is not necessarily a bad thing given how focusing on romance often means focusing on drama.

This series involves a cast of human, demon and angelic characters. The human cast comes off as just as interesting as the non-humans so far. Whilst I can understand why people may not like Meiko as a protagonist because of how quickly she adapts to all of the weird stuff happening around her, I think that this makes her more of an interesting character because she isn’t an emotional wreck. Lucifer’s use of telepathy for communication with Meiko is a simple way of avoiding other people knowing who and what he is. As expected, there is also a playful aspect to characters such as Lucifer and Beelzebub.
Now, to the art! Whilst the linework is clean and crisp, the character designs aren’t overly unique. We see your standard stereotype appearances, such as Lucifer having the “black prince” type. However, the monsters are visually interesting and the action sequences do just enough to do their job. The artwork as a whole looks pretty fresh for a series released nearly a decade ago. It ages well not only because of the linework but due to the artist making the smart move of not including references to pop culture or technology. So, no talk of MySpace or use of phones that need to be carried around on a wheelbarrow.

In conclusion, the first volume was a joy to read and reminds me a little of Kamisama Kiss so far, but with more of a focus on the comedy rather than the romance. If you are looking for a short-run shoujo comedy than I highly recommend that you give this series a short. I give the first volume of this series eight out of ten Aguris.


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World of Keiko 2018/03/04

Hello again! I hope that you guys had an awesome week. What did you guys get up to?

Here are this past week’s posts:

I didn’t post as many reviews this past week because I was busy with other stuff. However, it brings me up to date as far as the anime reviews are concerned. I am pretty happy with not having a backlog to distract me from actually watching anime. I am really looking forward to getting stuck into some Asian drama as well this week, which includes the KDrama series Item which I watched (and enjoyed) the first few episodes of last week.

ANIME & MANGA
I actually managed to watch a bit of anime this week compared to the atrocity that was last week. I caught up on some of my seasonal shows and hubby also started watching the old Disgaea anime as a supplement to playing the PC version of Disgaea 2 and 3. The anime is still adorable more than a decade since it was first released. I might get around to binge-watching it sometime down the track as I keep missing episodes. Anyway, I finished the following series and even got around to reviewing them:

  • Gamers!
  • Re:Zero

On the manga front, I didn’t get around to reading anything. Whilst I didn’t subject myself to more installments of Butterflies, Flowers, I also didn’t read any of the other series that I am actually enjoying. I guess I will have to see how the next week pans out.

READING & WRITING
I got a bit done on the writing front this week. It is just a pity that the efforts were heavily divided between multiple projects. No matter how much I try, I have to contend with the fact that I am easily distracted. I just need to manage my low attention span in order to get something finished. Oh, look, a spell-flinging poodle…
On Monday, I watched the beginning of the film Hell or High Water and got an idea for a story with the inciting incident being the death of a woman during a bank heist. I started bouncing ideas back and forth with my hubby and we came up with an overview for a three-book series. We came up with numerous character arcs and whatnot. I then spent three days heavily invested in the worldbuilding and research, as well as writing up quick overviews of chapters. Whilst the plotting and worldbuilding aren’t finished, I have a bunch of stuff fleshed out. Seriously, how the heck did that happen? I suppose that this is what happens when I spend time chatting with the other half. I also had an idea come to me this morning for an urban fantasy story. I made notes in OneNote as soon as I got up.
On the subject of OneNote, I have substantially refined my writing templates in the past few weeks. This should help make the management of new ideas a lot easier and quicker. Including indicators such as “Action” or “Reaction” at the beginning of a quick overview of a chapter should get me in the right mindset when writing scenes as it gives a focus. I think I might also need to change the way that I expand upon my scenes, however, as I find myself being bogged down by my current template, one that I have been using for over a year. Sure, the current template (a breakdown of each chapter into individual scenes) potentially provides lots of information, but it has become more of an annoyance than of assistance.

OTHER
The weather has been all over the place this week. We’ve had what I can best describe as “half-hearted” rain. The clouds have rolled in on several occasions and drizzled for short periods of time. Hubby and I have been trying to do yard work the past few days but the weather has unreliable. For example, today we kept on going outside to do yard work on about five separate occasions. Within a minute, it began to rain. It was a tad annoying but at least it has been cool today.

Anyway, that is it for this week’s update. Unless something happens, I should have some more anime and manga reviews posted over the next week. Here’s wishing you an awesome week! I leave you with a final word: clepsydra.


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Anime Review: ReZero

Alternate Names: Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World (English name), Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Japanese name), Re: Life in a different world from zero (English synonym)
Year: 2016
Episodes: 25 (English dub version)
Genre: Isekai, Fantasy, Romance, Drama, Psychological

Warning: Spoilers below.

Back when this series was first being released, I decided to wait for an English dub of the series to be released. Then, I somehow forgot about it. Well, hubby and I have been going over old shows and learned that ReZero did indeed get an English dub at some point. So, we jumped in headfirst.

When otaku Subaru Natsuki gets sent to another world whilst grabbing snacks from a local quickie mart, he meets a monarchy candidate named Amelia. The stigma of looking like the Witch of Envy creates numerous problems for the kind-hearted young woman, including gaining the attention of the witch’s cult who are trying to bring back the object of their worship. Suburu has fallen head over heels for her and quickly learns that he has the ability to come back to “save points” if he dies. How will he rise above his own fears to help her fulfill her dream of becoming the Queen?

The unusual nature of this Isekai series was a big factor in drawing people’s attention to the series in the beginning. That weird mechanic of coming back to a save point after death sounds appealing in theory. However, in practice… Natsuki’s desire to help Amela is easier said than done. He will need to die over and over again to gather information on numerous threats, but like any sane person, he is afraid of dying. As put forward in at least one of the episodes, he isn’t sure of the parameters of the return from death power. This uncertainty is an understandable concern. Also, his deaths tend to be quite horrific. Most people prefer to die in their sleep rather than disembowelment or torture by people you believed to be allies.
Natsuki is a relatable protagonist. He isn’t good at everything. Instead, he has to learn things over time. He makes mistakes along the way, but at his core is that love of Amelia. Folks will likely ask, “What about Rem?” Yes, Rem is the best girl of ReZero but Subaru was in love with Amelia from the start. Rem is played beautifully throughout this series, her own love of Natsuki reflecting how he feels for Amelia. They understand each other on this fundamental level even if Natsuki’s own affections are directed elsewhere. He never pretends otherwise even if he does talk of running away with Rem in order to reduce the chance of causing more harm to those around him. At this moment, we see one of the best pep-talks in anime and manga by Rem. It shows the strength of her character and how much she wants him to be genuinely happy.
“But Keiko, what about all of the violence?” Yes, there are some really violent sequences in this series. It can be confronting at times, but this gives Natsuki incentive to fight even more to avoid such fates for himself and the various people that he cares for. Some of these scenes also give us insight into the inner world of other characters as well. A great example of this is his relationship with the demon twins Rem and Rom. On several occasions, he is attacked by them resulting in at least one death. Multiple perspectives of situations often play a huge part in some of the conflicts. The stakes are even higher given that a lot of the series relates to the political situation of a kingdom.
The voice acting and characterization for this series was excellent. Sean Chiplock knocks it out of the park with his voicing of Natsuki. Given how he rocks this character, I am wondering why the hell he doesn’t do a lot more voice acting. The oddly named Brianna Knickerbocker is perfectly placed as Rem, with another unfamiliar voice actress, Kayli Mills doing a great job as Amelia. Of all of the cast members, the standout for me is Sarah Williams’ voicing of Felix Argyle. She does an awesome job of his vocal mannerisms and injects an ample amount of mischief into this odd character.

In conclusion, this is one of the better Isekai series out there. It also easily fits into the romance category because of how it approaches the love triangle of Natsuki, Rem, and Amelia. That approach to character and worldbuilding makes for a genuinely enjoyable experience. I absolutely adore this series.


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Anime Review: My Hero Academia Seasons 1-3

Alternate Names: Boku no Hero Academia (Japanese)
Year: 2016 – 2018 (ongoing)
Episodes: !3, 25, and 25 (English dubbed versions)
Genre: Shounen, Superhero, Action, Drama, Comedy

Warning: Some spoilers below.

I first came across this series back when the first season was being released. There was a bit of hype in the lead-up but I was heavily distracted watching rom-coms and other nonsense at the time. I ended up watching the first episode on AnimeLab and absolutely adored it. However, it was about a year later that I managed to convince hubby to watch the show with me. The big selling point was that it was one of several popular series from the same anime season that got an English dub. As expected, he loved the show as well. She shoots… SHE SCORES!!!
I have decided to write this review for the first three seasons of My Hero Academia because I think that just covering one season wouldn’t do it justice. Whilst most of you are already familiar with the series, below is a short overview for those that are not.  

My Hero Academia is a show set in a world where people with powers (aka quirks) are commonplace. The series follows an intelligent young man named Izuku Midoriya that is born without a quirk but really wants to become a hero. When he is given a quirk by the most powerful and popular hero in the world (All Might), Midoriya sets about becoming a hero. His path is made difficult by the antagonism of former childhood friend Katsuki Bakugou and by the machinations of All Might’s archnemesis All for One.

The world of My Hero Academia is an alternate Earth where people at some stage started manifesting powers. Because of the chaos, various governments implemented rules for using powers, which includes the hero licensing system. This system is one of the major elements that Midoriya will have to negotiate due to it being illegal to be a vigilante. The entrance into these academies is hard enough, but the training is even tougher especially when you are still learning how to learn how your powers work like our protagonist is.

Along the way, Midoriya will come into contact with a host of heroes and villains with their own unique powers and personas. The motivations and backstories for many of these characters are often just as compelling as that of our protagonist. These characters also do a great job of helping move the plot forward whilst offering a nice contrast to Midoriya. The characters are given the chance to shine and fail, the latter giving them a chance to learn from the experience.
And this brings us to seasonal versus series arcs. Whilst each season has a major arc, it ties into the series arc. Little events, such as an attack of a group of villains are shown as often being a part of something bigger. As the characters learn more about the problem, they are forced to adapt. This results in our heroes having to train harder, become stronger and more versatile. Whilst we see a lot of growth on the part of other characters,
Midoriya and Bakugou’s joint arcs are the most compelling because of their shared history and hero worship of All Might. The latter often holds both back significantly more because their actions tend to be related to what All Might would do. However, neither are All Might. When All Might inevitably lose his powers, Bakugou is forced to rethink his relationship with Midoriya, who has been keeping a secret from him. On the other hand, Midoriya is forced by an injury to fight differently where before he was emulating All Might.
To the subject of the artwork, the character design does a good job of conveying the bizarre physiological traits of many of the characters in this world whilst at the same time have a whimsical element one comes to expect from a series about a hero with a positive outlook. The colors are bright and fit well with the themes of this series. I also love the equipment design we see throughout the series. A good example is the shoes that Midoriya has made in the third season. They aren’t as extravagant as the ones worn by Tenya Iida but they fit well with their purpose. The action sequences are put together well, conveying character in the process.
One thing I will say is that whilst some sites online list this series as a comedy, I feel that it is more of a drama than a comedy because of how the show deals with conflict. That’s okay, though, as the moments of both humor and drama provide us insight into the characters without watering down the story.

In conclusion, this show did a great job of managing a large cast of characters and building upon complexity throughout the series. I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a good superhero series that is among other solid anime series such as Tiger & Bunny. All in all, a must watch.