Another winner from Christopher Moore. Pocket's raunchy good humor pervades the text, leaving you laughing amidst the mayhem of the tragedy in progresAnother winner from Christopher Moore. Pocket's raunchy good humor pervades the text, leaving you laughing amidst the mayhem of the tragedy in progress. There's very much a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead feel, if Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had been aware of what was going on....more
Before I get started, I want to preface this by saying that it's a review for the series rather than this particular volume, and, as such, may containBefore I get started, I want to preface this by saying that it's a review for the series rather than this particular volume, and, as such, may contain slight spoilers. Nothing that you don't learn fairly quickly, though.
Nominally based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West, and ostensibly set in seventh century China, this magnificent jumble of a series bridges the lines between typical action manga and anarchist head-scratcher.
The best elements include the strong philosophical current of self-reliance that manifests in several ways, tempered with the idea of teamwork when absolutely required; the theme of personal choice: you do what you do because you choose to, not because anyone or anything forces you; the complex interactions of various characters—the downright civil fights with the main group of antagonists contrasts nicely with the vicious squabbling amongst the protagonists, for example; and the textures of motivation and perspective that are still unfolding.
While I like it intensely, I downgrade to three stars for a handful of reasons. 1) It's an action manga; better than many, but still prone to splash pages of confusing B&W line art with untranslated sound effects that imply something is happening, but it's really hard to follow what that something may be. 2) Since it's published in traditional comic book style, i.e. one issue a month, the story can be a bit jerky as previous events are recapped or time jumps are made. 3) This is more of a personal taste issue, but I don't really care for the "bonus" chapters that feature the characters in completely different contexts and serve only to show off new costumes.
Saiyuki follows the journey of Genjyo Sanzo and his three companions (and Hakuuryu, a pet dragon that transforms into a Jeep—remember that "ostensibly" thing): Son Goku, Sha Gojyo, and Cho Hakkai. They're travelling under the orders of Kanzeon to recover the stolen sutras traditionally guarded by Sanzo priests that are being used in the resurrection of the Ox-King Gyomao, an ancient youkai. The mingling of magic and science in the resurrection effort has resulted in the Minus Wave, a negative energy that's had the effect of driving all youkai insane.
Confused yet? Just wait, it gets worse.
Sanzo was the youngest priest to be granted the title—immediately before his master, and adoptive father, was murdered before his eyes, with him powerless to stop anything. He's grown into a chain-smoking, hard-drinking young man with a quick trigger finger and absolutely no patience for fools and those who refuse to help themselves. At some point in the years between his master's death and the current plot, he found and rescued Goku from his prison in the mountains—just so he could tell the boy to shut up, as Goku's voice had been ringing in his head with constant complaints of "I'm hungry" and "I'm cold" and "I'm lonely."
Goku, for his part, is the Seiten Taisei of legend, a being neither youkai nor deity, and more powerful than almost all of either stripe. He doesn't remember what he did to deserve being locked away for five hundred years, but he's intensely loyal to Sanzo for having freed him, and puts up with any amount of abuse with good humor, some whining, and a virtually bottomless stomach. Most of the time, he's affable, cooperative, and playful, but if he loses his power limiter for any reason he'll go on an bloodthirsty rampage against everyone in his path, friend or foe.
Gojyo has little on his mind beyond his next drink, smoke, or pretty woman, which is a pretty effective front for his share of traumatic past. Born from an affair between his youkai father and human mother, his hair and eyes are a distinctive blood red: a constant reminder to the mother who raised him of his father's infidelity. When she graduates from abuse to attempted murder, Gojyo's older brother kills their mother in order to save him, then takes off in his guilt, leaving young Gojyo to fend for himself.
Hakkai is, at first glance, the most normal of the bunch. He's a quiet, unassuming, well-mannered gentleman, and the only unarmed one in the lot. He's also a man who gained youkai powers by slaughtering a thousand of them with his bare hands after his fiancée was kidnapped. Gojyo found him dying in the road after the fact and nursed him back to health, and the two have been inseparable ever since. The two met Sanzo and Goku when Sanzo was given the task of tracking down the mass murderer.
The unlikely quartet battle their way westward through maddened youkai, murderous humans, assassins sent to stop them, and a variety of traps set by an old enemy, with hints dropped of their previous lives and the occasional epic game of Mahjong for good measure. Yeah, it's that kind of mix....more
An action-packed sequel to the original, this was a lovely little book. The artwork is gorgeous, and the plot remains intriguing, with excellent, realAn action-packed sequel to the original, this was a lovely little book. The artwork is gorgeous, and the plot remains intriguing, with excellent, realistic characters....more
Jack the Ripper is out in London, and he's not the only one. Unfortunately, he is the only one trying to stop the be-tentacled Elder Gods from comingJack the Ripper is out in London, and he's not the only one. Unfortunately, he is the only one trying to stop the be-tentacled Elder Gods from coming out and destroying the world. Well, him and his loyal guard dog: Snuff. Narrated from Snuff's point of view, and sprinkled with delightfully twisted illustrations, this is a hilarious, charming, and utterly wonderful romp through a month like no other....more
It's a fun read, but the conceit wears thin after the first few chapters. It's been long enough since I've read Pride and Prejudice that I enjoyed theIt's a fun read, but the conceit wears thin after the first few chapters. It's been long enough since I've read Pride and Prejudice that I enjoyed the book for the base story considerably more than I did for the additions. There's something wonderful about the very English attitude toward the zombies, or, rather, the victims of the Strange Plague, which was actually dimmed for me by the emphasis on Japan- or China-based martial arts. All in all, a fun read, but not so great as I'd ever bother reading it again—unlike the original....more
I'd like to review this in the style of an internet meme:
At first I was like :D But then I was like D: And then I was like :-\ And finally I was like :-|I'd like to review this in the style of an internet meme:
At first I was like :D But then I was like D: And then I was like :-\ And finally I was like :-|
The very premise of the book—a sci-fi magitech near future with a cyborg bodyguard for a rock star elf—is relevant to my interests and I wish to subscribe to the newsletter. Too bad that it rapidly devolved into some kind of schlocky romance with the awesomesauce cyborg chick wangsting over her existance and mooning over her charge. There's only so much "I hate elves/he's hot" that I can take before feeling the urge to discreetly vomit.
The plot takes an upswing after Mr. Moodypants Rockstar gets himself captured, but then the awful characterization of Lila kicks into high gear as she plays ill-timed games of Boff-an-Elf. It's as if the author realized she was at least halfway through a book and hadn't squeezed in a sex scene.
The resolution was distinctly lacking in resolve and, while I know this is the first of a series, there's no excuse for so many loose ends still dangling about, unused. Chekhov's Gun was not employed in this one....more
As with all story collections, there's a variance in enjoyment from one to the next. Overall, I found the writing darkly lyrical and the sentiments juAs with all story collections, there's a variance in enjoyment from one to the next. Overall, I found the writing darkly lyrical and the sentiments just a few degrees skewed. The first story in the book is the one that made the biggest impression on me, evoking the feel of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" with its jubilant celebration and human darkness intertwined, but there were others that were just bizarre and, so far as I could interpret, largely pointless....more
Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is composed of one part serious historical fiction, one part supernatural horror, one part fanservice, and five parts uKuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is composed of one part serious historical fiction, one part supernatural horror, one part fanservice, and five parts uncut crack.
Twelve-year-old Ciel Phantomhive is the last of his line, and the Earl of Phantomhive, following the death of his parents in the fire that claimed the family mansion. He lives alone, but for his servants: one whom doesn't do much of anything, three whom fail at everything they attempt, and the titular butler, Sebastian. In his own words, Sebastian is "one hell of a butler."
Literally. Sebastian is a demon, contracted to Ciel to serve him until Ciel meets his goal: the death of all who conspired to kidnap him and murder his family. Until that time, Sebastian is happy to serve his master in any manner required, whether it be shining the tea service, hunting down murder suspects, or ever-so-politely eliminating all threats to Ciel...other than himself.
The art can be gorgeous, even if it occasionally descends into chibi, the relationship between Sebastian and Ciel is a beautiful study of loyalty and sadism in equal measures, and the plots careen wildly between deadly serious (like a Jack the Ripper arc) and dreadfully frivolous (pretty much anything to do with Ciel's cousin/fiancée, Elizabeth), and occasionally both at the same time.
If you don't mind mental whiplash and a few gratuitous art pieces of Ciel and Sebastian in...suggestive poses and attire, this is definitely a series worth trying....more