Some Quick Anime, Movie, and Book Reviews

Right now, I’m in wait mode on the Spring issue; the proofs ought to be showing up any day now.

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching some movies and anime and reading some books:

Freaks (2018)

On one hand, Freaks is definitely an indie art-film take on X-Men. On the other hand, it’s a better X-Men movie than most of the last half-dozen X-Men movies.

It’s basically “What if we told the story of seven-year-old Jean Grey from her point of view, filmed it like a horror movie, and instead of professor X/magneto, she has a creepy, foul-mouthed grampa who drives an ice-cream truck.

It was worth watching.

March Lion [3 Gatsu no Lion / March Comes In Like a Lion]

My GF started this, but I ended up binging it without her.

The main character is kind of a loser and the least interesting part of the show, but I really want to know how things pan out with middle-sister-chan, ulcer-sensei, and the main’s best friend who thinks he’s the protagonist in a shonen anime.

It’s a little floating world, and it doesn’t end in a super great place [not quite Genji, where the author keels over mid-scene, and you’re left going “AND?!”]; still crossing my fingers for a 3rd season.

Makes me torn between wanting to take up Shogi and staying very far away from it.

Carole & Tuesday

This show was bad and should feel bad.

It’s kind of funny how it plays into the self-importance of musicians; while the hackerman and the investigative journalist beat the villain, the musicians play a “we are the world” song and everyone’s like “a miracle happened…”

It has beautiful animation and is ostensibly set in the Cowboy Bebop universe, but its story is dull and vapid, and the music in it is terrible.

The strawman villain’s position is the entirely reasonable “Mars can’t sustain a large number of illegal refugee migrants BECAUSE IT IS FUCKING MARS, so I’ll convince this presidential candidate to support legislation to deport illegal earth migrants back to earth.”

Rob Kroese’s Rise of the Demon Prince + The Book of the Dead

Catching up on Rob’s Counterfeit Sorcerer series, having just finished Book of the Dead over the weekend.

It’s been a really good, solid series so far. Small spoilers, I was hoping Boland turned out to be a righteous dude, cuz I kind of liked him from afar with what hints were given. One of the fellowship was pretty much given a too-stupid-to-live death from a face-heel turn that, while an explanation was given, still felt a bit out of character.

Overall, I’m still enjoying it and have started on the 4th book.

My main qualms with the series is that Rob is printing them with Matte paper covers, and good lord, those feel gross on the fingers, and the print versions of the cover art are just dark blurry messes. Not much I can complain about for the story itself, other than it may have fallen into a predictable pattern of ::beat villain:: -> “Oh, noes, here’s the real/next villain, time to stop him in the next book!” I actually think Boland turning out to be a solid good-guy would’ve been a more surprising twist than “Now I’m taking over what the bad guy was doing cuz I’m gonna do it better!”

 

Review of Rob Kroese’s The Brand of the Warlock: Counterfeit Sorcerer Book 1

brand of the warlockI’ve been a fan of Kroese for a few years now, mostly having read his Starship Grifters books. In those, his strong writing ability is able to carry the story while overcoming my usual hatred of spoofy comedy writing, which often plunges into the realms of twee.

The Counterfeit Sorcerer series is a bit more serious and less silly in tone, but Kroese’s writing style makes it a fun an entertaining read. While it lacks whimsy and eloquence of Jack Vance, it has a charming wry humor and sense of irony throughout that belies the tragedy the hero is endlessly confronted with.

Counterfeit Sorcerer is very much a serial, and The Brand of the Warlock is very much a first chapter; it’s very much akin to Nine Princes in Amber in this regard–the first book simply sets up further books, abruptly ending and on a somewhat grim note. It does not satisfactorily stand on its own in the way that the Starship Grifters books do, but the ride is an enjoyable one, and having pre-ordered the entire series, I plan on seeing them through to the end.

Do you dig fantasy adventure? Or stories like the ones Rob Kroese writes? We don’t have any Rob Kroese stories, but since a)we enjoy Rob Kroese stories and b)we publish stories we enjoy, you might enjoy the stories in our magazine if you enjoy Rob Kroese! Our Fall issue is out now!