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Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#21
BOOK 20

My Hero Academia: Vigilantes volume 1 by Hideyuki Furuhashi and Betten Court, from the original manga by Kohei Horikoshi.


I have to admit, the manga series My Hero Academia is one of my firm favourites in recent times. So, when I heard about the spinoff series Vigilantes, I was cautiously optimistic. But would that be rewarded?

In a world where 80% of the populace have some sort of superhuman ability, superheroes are a profession, no, a vocation. But there are those who, even if they are not Villains, break the law while using their abilities. Koichi Haimawari never made it as a Hero, and even using his Quirk to do some good deeds can get punished. But an encounter with some thugs bring him into contact with two people who will shape his destiny. The first is the itinerant pop-idol Pop Step, and the second is the brutal Quirkless Vigilante known as Knuckleduster. Now, roped into their circle, Koichi, now known as Crawler, finds himself embroiled in a conflict involved the Quirk-enhancing drug known as Trigger…

I’ll be honest, this series hasn’t grabbed me as much as it should. The main characters aren’t as interesting as those in the main series, with Koichi being somewhat bland, Pop Step being an annoying tsundere, and Knuckleduster being a parody of the edgy anti-hero that was popular in the 90s. They’re not particularly bad as much as just not as engaging as they should be.

That being said, the concept of examining the seedier side of the world of My Hero Academia is actually a sound one, and the plot and ideas are actually quite good. Although explicitly inspired by the likes of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, this series doesn’t go as deeply into the deconstructive territory that those two works go into, and it’s to its benefit. And it doesn’t lose the trademark humour of the parent series.

Overall, while not as good as it could have been, the first volume of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes was a good start. Here’s hoping it gets better…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#22
BOOK 21

Lethbridge-Stewart: The Forgotten Son, by Andy Franklin-Allen.

Doctor Who has had a number of spin-offs over the years, but a curiously recent one has been the Lethbridge-Stewart books. Set in the time period before Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart became the Brigadier, this much beloved character has gotten his own series, using him and other characters created by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln. But would the opening book prove to be an enjoyable one?

In the aftermath of the Great Intelligence’s attack on London, Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart could be forgiven for thinking he earned a rest. But he’s involved with gradually allowing people back into the evacuated London, and before long, complications ensue. Staff-Sergeant Arnold, the puppet of the Great Intelligence, disappears from the morgue, and Lethibridge-Stewart’s mother disappears. All of which leads back to the Cornish village of Bledoe. But what links the Great Intelligence, a haunted house, and a brother Lethbridge-Stewart seems to have forgotten about?

I had to admit, some elements of the story didn’t do it for me. Many of the characters didn’t stand out to me, and the backstory of the Great Intelligence was even further tangled up by this novel than it already was by the TV series. Not to mention some elements of the story felt formulaic, and I hate how they had to write around the Doctor, even if he didn’t make an appearance.

However, it’s nice to see Lethbridge-Stewart getting a chance to shine, especially when he’s seen to be in charge rather than the Watson of the Doctor. We also get to see how the logistics of dealing with the aftermath of something like the events of The Web of Fear goes. In addition, the elaboration of his family tree, while including some clichés (like a forgotten brother), is intriguing, and it’s nice to see the Great Intelligence and the Yeti, underutilised monsters in the classic series (though the new series revived the former at least), get a chance to shine.

Overall, while not as great as it could have been, The Forgotten Son was a promising debut for the Lethbridge-Stewart series. I’ll see if I can continue the series…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#23
BOOK 22

Übel Blatt volume 1, by Etorouji Shiono.

After a shaky but promising beginning, I came back to the dark fantasy series Übel Blatt. This tale of revenge is in many ways like Berserk, and in many ways unlike it. But how would the second omnibus volume fare?

Köinzell rushes to where the Seven Heroes, in truth a septet of traitors who turned on him and his comrades two decades ago, are waiting. However, not only is the reborn swordman formerly known as Ascheriit powerless against Glenn, but he soon realises that the Seven Heroes have too much support from the people. This revelation throws him into deep despair, and more darkness is to come. After all, Princess Aht has her own desire for revenge against Köinzell for killing her mutated brother, and Köinzell, in his despair, may just let her kill him…

Once more, Übel Blatt, like Berserk, shows a disturbing preoccupation with transgressive themes. Horrific violence and disquieting sex scenes, to say nothing of a predilection for putting younger female characters into unnecessarily skimpy clothes, they don’t help matters. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

However, we finally get some movement on the plot proper, even if it’s somewhat too slow for my liking. Köinzell still remains a rather compelling protagonist, and his doubts about his mission for revenge, as well as his conflict with Aht, give the plot some needed complexity and depth. Peepi is adorable, especially once she gets proper clothes, and we have the thuggish, but surprisingly decent, Geranpen, and the beginnings of Köinzell’s attack on Schtemwölech.

Overall, the second omnibus volume of Übel Blatt was a good one. While not for the faint of heart, it’s proving to be engrossing…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#24
BOOK 23

My Hero Academia: School Briefs volume 1: 1-A Parents’ Day by Anri Yoshi, from the original manga by Kohei Horikoshi.

The My Hero Academia series has become one of my favourite manga series, but it has a number of spinoffs. One of them is a light novel series called School Briefs. But would this spin-off grab me?

Shortly after the capture of Stain and the League of Villains’ attack on Hosu, the class gets an announcement: Parents’ Day is fast approaching. But before then, the students of Class 1-A get some time off, where they get caught up in some misadventures. Little do they know that Parents’ Day will turn out to be at the centre of a plot that will rope in their parents…

I have to admit, this was mildly disappointing. It was little more than a series of loosely-connected short stories bookended by the Parents’ Day plot. That reeks of so much wasted potential, really, and I really wanted a more substantial and interesting plot set in this fictional world. Instead, the stories are kind of generic and forgettable.

That being said, the stories themselves are good, both being heartwarming and funny. The story involving the staff members preparing for the hostage situation and discussing various stories is interesting, and the theme park section with four of the students was nice and heartwarming in the end, as was Todoroki visiting his mother. I just wish there was more.

Overall, while nowhere near as good as it could have been, this spinoff of My Hero Academia was good enough for what it was.

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#25
BOOK 24

Akame ga Kill! Volume 2, by Takahiro and Tetsuya Tashiro.

Having read the first volume of Akame ga Kill!, I was raring to go for the second volume when I obtained it. But how well would this dark fantasy series compare to its debut instalment? Let’s find out…

Night Raid are recruited to deal with a deranged former executioner known as Zanku, now a serial killer wielding a Teigu, one of 48 ancient weapons, a number of which are in Night Raid’s possession. But even if they can beat Zanku, Night Raid’s actions are stirring up trouble. The young Emperor and his puppetmaster Honest have recalled one of their top generals, Esdeath, from her subjugation mission in the north. And Seryu Ubiquitous, a delusional protégé of corrupt police officer Ogre, wants revenge for the murder of her mentor, intent on inflicting her own delusional form of justice on Night Raid, along with her Teigu, Coro…

Okay, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. Akame ga Kill! does seem to go out of its way to be unnecessarily dark and edgy for the type of story it is. Sheele’s death also seems like it was done mostly for the shock factor, especially so soon after her origin was discussed, and Seryu Ubiquitous just seems like a cartoon caricature when she could have been more, and sadly, she is far from the only one here.

Still, the story is a fun one, despite the violence. We get some much-needed exposition on the Teigu and their history, as well as hints to Akame’s past, and the advent of one of the most infamous characters in the series, Esdeath. There’s some enjoyable fight scenes, particularly in the showdown with Seryu on one side with her Coro Teigu, and Sheele and Mine on the other side.

Overall, while not an improvement on the previous volume, the second volume of Akame ga Kill! was at least an entertaining one…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#26
BOOK 25

Sword Art Online: Progressive volume 1 by Reki Kawahara.

In many regards, the first light novel volume of Sword Art Online was a rushed affair, jumping to the more climactic part of the Aincrad arc all too quickly. But while the second volume helped fill in the gaps, as did the anime adaptation, you have to wonder what else went on during the two years the various players were stuck in Aincrad. Reki Kawahara, to that end, began the Progressive rewrite of the Aincrad arc…but would it be a mistake?

A month has passed since the insane games developer Akihiko Kayaba trapped thousands of players within Sword Art Online. Two thousand people are dead already, victims of the game Kayaba made real enough to kill. Kirito continues his own solo adventures to get stronger, only to stumble across a girl called Asuna, whose despair has reached its limits. Meanwhile, a glimmer of hope has come forth, that the first floor’s boss has been found, but resentment and tensions are reaching breaking point, particularly towards beta testers, whom many blame unfairly for what has happened. And the battle against the first floor boss may prove to be a flashpoint…

While it is nice to go for a more detailed look at Kirito and Asuna’s misadventures in the Aincrad arc, I do feel that the very concept of Progressive, showing floor-by-floor progress, is a flawed one by nature, having the potential to swiftly get very boring. In addition, aside from the continuity problems of dealing with Kirito and Asuna, stated to be acquaintances for a long time during the original novel, it doesn’t feel particularly innovative, instead feeling like a cashgrab for a series that, while controversial, is still popular. Plus, Argo isn’t in it as often as such an intriguing character should be, and Kirito, despite his lack of social graces, should have some more than he shows.

Still, it’s nice to have stuff that expands on the lore of the world of the series. In addition, the storylines themselves are fine enough, with the short interlude segment on how Argo got her whiskers being the best, and the weapon upgrading scam in the second act of the book adding an interesting twist to matters. There’s even hints and foreshadowing of story arcs to come.

Overall, while disappointing in many areas, the first volume of Sword Art Online: Progressive was enjoyable enough.


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#27
BOOK 26

Tokyo Ghoul: re Volume 7, by Sui Ishida.

It’s honestly been a while since I read Tokyo Ghoul: re, despite having later volumes in the series in my possession. I left off at a key story point. Still, the time has come for me to revisit what is the best horror manga I have ever read…

Eto, under her pen-name of Sen Takatsuki, has published a new novel, King Bileygr, just as she has been captured by the CCG. The Aogiri Tree leader’s book, in being sympathetic to Ghouls and uncovering uncomfortable questions about the CCG and their leaders, has made a splash. And events are coming to a head. Aogiri Tree and Ken Kaneki’s former associates are planning on a raid of Cochlea, the Ghoul prison. But Kaneki, having regained his memories, is planning his own action against Cochlea. He intends to free Hinami, and he does not intend to survive the act…

Tokyo Ghoul: re is certainly not for the faint of heart, and there are times where I think they do cross the line for gratuitous rather than holistic horror, as with Torso’s treatment of Mitsuki and the latter’s past. In addition, Nimura is rather annoying, in both his actions (which should be funny, but aren’t) and his enigmatic nature. I was also hoping for a somewhat more involved reunion for Kaneki, Hinami and Touka.

However, there are relatively minor quibbles. Finally, it feels like the plot is getting somewhere, with some hints of Eto’s plan, as well as her trolling Nimura and helping Kaneki. And the reunions we do get with Kaneki and those he cherishes is done well, despite being frustratingly brief, and Kaneki’s intentions are heart-breaking.

Overall, this volume of Tokyo Ghoul: re is an enjoyable one, and I look forward to the next one…

****½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#28
BOOK 27

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey- Behind the Scenes of the Award-Winning Production by Jody Revenson.

When Harry Potter and the Cursed Child made it to stages, its reception was mixed. However, while I have little desire to watch the play or read the script, a book about the production of the play piqued my curiosity. But would it be worth my time?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey is a making-of book behind the stage play based on the famous book franchise. From conception to production, this book looks at the stages of creating this play. With fascinating backstage pictures and concept drawings, this book has so much for people to read up on this play…

I’ll be perfectly honest, while I have some interest in the Potterverse, I have little interest in watching this stage play, and this book hasn’t exactly gotten me to change my mind. And books like this, as I often say, are triumphs of style over substance. I thought there might be more to it, especially given the RRP, but frankly, I was disappointed.

That being said, what is there is enjoyable and actually quite fascinating. Despite my lack of desire to see the stage play, the anecdotes about how it came to be and the particulars of bringing to life the Potterverse on stage was interesting. And this book is still pretty damn well presented.

Overall, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey was an interesting look at the famous stage production. I just wish there was more to it…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#29
BOOK 28

Tokyo Ghoul: re Volume 8, by Sui Ishida.

So, here I am, about to continue on with the eighth volume of Tokyo Ghoul: re. But would it do well after the heights of the previous volume? Let’s find out…

In the depths of Cochlea, Ken Kaneki engages in a battle to the death against Kishou Arima, his mentor in the CCG. But he doesn’t want to kill Arima, though Arima has a secret of his own. So too does Nimura Furuta when he is confronted by a rampaging Eto. And so too does the enigmatic Washu clan that runs the CCG, only, some of their underlings have found out. A veritable mess is about to spring forth, and not everyone will survive…

Okay, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. I feel that, instead of the holistic nature of the horror being examined in previous volumes, some elements are there for shock value. This includes stuff like Mutsuki’s past and what Mutsuki does to Torso, as well as Kurona’s rather grotesque fusion with Nashiro. It just feels more gratuitous than anything truly advancing the story and its characters.

That being said, it still maintains the general high standards that have marked the series since the beginning. The revelations about Kishou Arima and Eto’s collaboration and plan are a brilliant bombshell, as is Furuta’s new abilities and the true nature of the Washu. Plus, we have some real emotional moments, especially when Arima dies, and Kaneki mourns him.

Overall, while not quite at the level of the previous volume, this volume of Tokyo Ghoul: re still manages to be a good one. Here’s hoping the future ones are even better…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#30
BOOK 29

Restaurant to Another World volume 1 by Junpei Inuzaka.

Another book, another isekai series. This one, I had some hopes for, as it didn’t promise silly humour or lewdness. But how would Restaurant to Another World fare?

There’s a restaurant in Tokyo, the Western Cuisine Nekoya. On weekends, it closes its doors…to the usual customer. But every Saturday, it opens its doors to another world. From humble adventurers to millennia-old dragons, this restaurant caters to all who step through the door to this magical restaurant…

Okay, there’s a major sticking point here, and it’s the complete and utter lack of actual plot. All this book comprises of is a series of short stories about the latest fantasy character to end up in the titular restaurant, and the different dishes thereof. Plus, some elements are still kind of clichéd, and irritatingly so.

Still, for what it is, it’s pretty good. It’s nice to have a story where there’s little actual conflict (save for arguing over food), and the stories are heartwarming, funny, or both. Plus, I have to admit, the worldbuilding is halfway decent, and there’s a sense of history behind the restaurant, a backstory that is only gradually being filled in.

Overall, while certainly not complex or substantial, and lacking something, Restaurant to Another World is a welcome change of pace. I just wish there was a plot aside from ‘feeding different fantasy characters’, but hey, it’s not too bad despite this…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#31
BOOK 30

John Constantine: Hellblazer volume 1: Original Sins by Jamie Delano and Rick Veitch.

One of the most iconic comic book series has been the Hellblazer series. This occult detective series focused on John Constantine, who had been introduced in DC’s horror series Swamp Thing. But how would this horror series grab me?

John Constantine is an occult detective in a dark and dangerous world, where sometimes, he has to do the wrong thing to save humanity. Dealing with a demon that consumes all in its path is one thing, but there’s all sorts of problems, like dangerous organisations belonging to both sides of the Heaven and Hell divide, Devil yuppies making a killing on the soul stock exchange, and dealing with the Swamp Thing. And it may be that a deal with a devil is far from the worst thing to happen to him…

To be honest, Hellblazer is not for the faint of heart. It is a horror series after all, and there’s a lot of shocking images, too much of it seeming rather gratuitous. Plus, I had a touch of trouble following what was going on, and the moral ambiguity of this series may put some who weren’t scared away by the horror off.

Still, for what it is, it was enjoyable in an attempt to do some morally ambiguous stories that ask pointed questions that resonate even today. Constantine is an interesting character, someone who is compelling, despite his morally ambiguous actions. You can see where this inspired later urban fantasy works, and for all its grotesque images, it’s still an engrossing read.

Overall, this first volume of Hellblazer, while somewhat offputting, nonetheless was enjoyable enough. Time will tell if the next volume grabs me better…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#32
BOOK 31

Harley Quinn: Mad Love by Paul Dini and Pat Cadigan.

Harley Quinn was originally a one-off character created for Batman: The Animated Series, but she soon proved to have a life of her own, becoming one of the most popular of Batman’s rogues gallery. Her origin was eventually revealed by Paul Dini, her co-creator, in a comic story called Mad Love, which was adapted later as an episode of that series, as well as a novelisation. But would this novelisation be enjoyable?

Harleen Quinzel didn’t exactly have a normal childhood. When she was seven, seeing the police, people she thought to be the good guys, arresting her con-artist father, and attacked by her father’s associates, she found the nature of society to be wrong. Becoming a psychiatrist, she tries to cure the ills that plague society, especially those in Gotham, and its infamous Arkham Asylum. But this leads her to a fateful encounter with the criminal known only as the Joker. But has he ensnared her in his web, or has she willingly walked into it?

Okay, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. There’s a bit of an inconsistency here with the story, partly due to the fact that it’s an expansion of an existing one. The pacing feels a bit strange because of that. In addition, I feel there’s a bit more to the story that could have been told, but hadn’t been. It makes it disappointing.

But these are relatively minor quibbles. Writing Harleen’s descent into Harley, while not quite as good as it could have been, is still well done all the same, probably thanks in part to her co-creator being one of the writers of this book. She certainly comes to life as a complex character, despite her later insanity, showing where her traits and abilities as Harley Quinn come from.

Overall, this was a pretty good book, looking at the origins of a popular Batman villain. I just feel it could have been a touch better…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#33
BOOK 32

Berserk volume 13, by Kentaro Miura.

Until recently, I have been reading Berserk via the recently-released omnibus volumes. But my impatience to get to one of the pivotal, if grotesque, parts of the story led me to reading the next volume along early. But how would the conclusion of the Eclipse go down with me?

Griffith, manipulated by the Godhand to this moment, has made his choice: to sacrifice the Band of the Hawk to power his diabolical apotheosis. The Apostles tear apart the soldiers whom he once led, with Guts and Casca soon proving to be the only survivors. But when he finishes his transformation, Griffith, now the Godhand member Femto, has one spiteful card to play against Guts and Casca, one that will scar them for the rest of their lives…which in this hell, may not be very long…

Okay, let’s face it, for newcomers to the series, this is clearly not the place to begin. There’s so much gore, to say nothing of what Femto does to Casca, that it would turn so many people off in disgust and horror. There’s little plot, and I wish that Kentaro Miura didn’t veto the publication of one of the serialised chapters that actually had some interesting plot, where Griffith has a conversation with the entity dubbed the Idea of Evil.

However, as shocking and disgusting as it is, this volume, sadly, is necessary, as the capping stone to the Golden Age arc. The emotions felt during these as characters we’ve known and followed are subjected to horrible fates are palpable, as well as necessary to show why Guts is the way he is in the first few volumes. The aftermath of the Eclipse is particularly heartbreaking, and while the violence may seem gratuitous, the impact is very real, and treated as such.

Overall, while rather overly heavy on violence and lighter on plot, this volume of Berserk marks the end of an era for the series. Just don’t go in expecting anything less than darkness…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#34
BOOK 33

How NOT to Get Eaten by Ewoks and Other Galactic Survival Skills by Christian Blauvelt.


I have to admit, I’m not that much of a Star Wars fan. But I still indulge in the franchise from time to time. But how would this rather facetious guide work out?

The Galaxy is a very dangerous place, and you need a good guide to survive it. How NOT to Get Eaten by Ewoks and Other Galactic Survival Skills show you how. From dangerous beasts to dangerous people, this guide is for the discerning traveller in the Galaxy far, far away…

Okay, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. Considering how big the Star Wars franchise is, even with the Disney continuity reboot, I feel like this guide could easily have been much longer without sacrificing tone or pacing. In fact, it feels too heavily abridged, and it also feels like it can’t decide between facetiousness and seriousness in tone at times. In short, there’s a lot of wasted potential.

Still, for what it is, it’s quite entertaining. The humour certainly would appeal not just to hardcore Star Wars fans, but also those who are more casual viewers of the franchise. And it’s certainly well-presented.

This book, then, was something of a disappointment. I just wish there was more in this brief but entertaining book…

***
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#35
BOOK 34

Berserk volume 14, by Kentaro Miura.

The previous volume of Berserk, dealing as it did with the traumatic events of the Eclipse, elicited mixed feelings from me. So I hoped things would get back to the plot before too long. And so, here I am with the fourteenth volume of the dark fantasy manga, where one era ends, and another begins…

Still reeling from the aftermath of the Eclipse, Guts is at a loss for what to do, even as Casca gives birth to a misshapen creature that was once their child, corrupted by Femto’s seed. But soon, he decides on revenge, unaware that forces from the Holy See have stumbled across the aftermath of the Eclipse, and have begun their search for him. Two years later, accompanied by the Elf known as Puck, Guts stumbles across a girl called Jill, who had fled her abusive father. Puck elicits a strange reaction in her, for her village lives in fear of the Elves of Misty Valley…but as Guts learns, these so-called Elves are anything but…

Okay, so, Berserk does continue its rather heavy focus on rather grotesque violence and horror, with Casca giving birth to the demon child being one of the more egregious examples. In addition, Zepek seems like he was put there purely to give Jill a hard home life, a plot device more than a real character. And the Berserk Prototype at the end of the volume, while having intriguing elements, nonetheless is far less polished than what it developed into.

Still, we’re finally getting to the plot. We see the last few events that turned Guts into the Black Swordsman that we saw in the first few volumes, and as good as it was, it’s also about time that the Golden Age Arc finally came to an end. We also see Guts becoming a little more human and compassionate, despite himself, albeit in the smallest hints, refining him into the hero he really should be, as well as intriguing plotlines for the present and future arcs.

Overall, this volume of Berserk, while certainly not for everyone, certainly is an excellent continuation of the series. I look forward to more of them…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#36
BOOK 35

Planet of the Apes: The Evolution of a Legend by Joe Fordham and Jeff Bond.


I have to admit, I have never watched any of the Planet of the Apes films. Not the ones from the Sixties and Seventies, nor the Tim Burton reimagining, nor the very recent reboot. But they remain enough of a bastion of science fiction that I decided to read this book about the series…

Planet of the Apes: The Evolution of a Legend looks at the famous science fiction film franchise inspired by Pierre Boulle’s novel. From the first film’s troubled genesis, all the way to the most recent films showing Caesar’s rise to power, this book examines the trials and travails behind the films. And it also looks at how the series influenced pop-culture, even to this day…

I say it often enough, but books like these are often triumphs of style over substance, and there’s precious little substance here. The authors cram information about eight films into a very small space, concentrating mostly on the first film, and the first two reboot films, and this is to the book’s detriment, as I know for a fact that there is a book by JW Rinzler on the making of the original film, meaning there is potentially more to it. The fact that the Tim Burton film, divisive though it is, is glossed over is a bit annoying too.

Still, for what it is, it was a moderately enjoyable read. It was informative enough about the films and their development for me to get some enjoyment out of it, and it was well-presented. It was certainly diverting and interesting.

Overall, while nowhere near as good as it could have been, and certainly lacking in information, this book was an intriguing look at a famous science fiction franchise. I just wish there was more to it…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#37
BOOK 36

Tokyo Ghoul: re Volume 9, by Sui Ishida.

So, here I am with the next volume of Tokyo Ghoul: re. But how well would this volume do? Let’s find out…

The CCG’s actions against the Ghouls of Aogiri Tree and their unexpected allies continue. Seido Takizawa makes an unexpected intervention to save his former comrades from Tatara, but he receives no gratitude, just condemnation. But even as he slaughters them, Akira Mado is saved by a surprising arrival: Kotaro Amon, who has been turned into a part-Ghoul. Meanwhile, other conflicts arise as Ken Kaneki’s former comrades save the remnants of Aogiri Tree…but why?

Okay, this volume is somewhat disappointing, to say the least. Most of it seems to be filled with fights that do little to advance the characters or plot. Takizawa’s attempt to help out the CCG also seems like too much of a swerve, given his attacks on other agents in prior instalments, and the truth about Kuro and Shiro’s fusion just seems…unnecessary and even puerile.

That being said, the fight scenes are well done and enjoyable. The looks at Takizawa’s past being a lab rat is heartbreaking. And the final twist at the end is a startling one that sets up more for the future.

Overall, this volume of Tokyo Ghoul: re wasn’t quite at the standard the series normally holds itself to. But maybe that will change in the future…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#38
BOOK 37

Sword Art Online: Progressive volume 2 by Reki Kawahara.

So, here I am with the second volume of Sword Art Online: Progressive. But how well would it do compared to the first instalment? Let’s find out…

Upon reaching the third floor, Kirito and Asuna have embarked on a floor-spanning campaign that involves two warring factions of elves. But things have changed since the beta test, as the Dark Elf they side with, Kizmel, survives when she is meant to die. What’s more, she seems to be acting as more than just another AI. But that’s not the only thing that’s concerning. A mysterious player known as Morte seems to be playing both sides of the rising guilds, and he has an agenda of his own…

I brought up in my review of the first volume of Sword Art Online: Progressive that part of the problem with this iteration of the franchise is getting bogged down unnecessarily in the day-to-day progress of Aincrad, and this still applies here. In addition, I have to admit, Asuna’s character is being somewhat mishandled, with her devolving into a one-note tsundere character, not helped by Kirito’s idiocy and somewhat thoughtless remarks. Plus, there’s less of the excitement from the original, with a lot of it seeming mundane by comparison, with only Morte’s schemes livening it up.

That being said, there is much to commend it too. Kizmel is an intriguing character whom I wish ended up in the canon series. The story structure is also considerably better than the previous volume, which felt more disjointed, and we have the beginnings of a greater story arc, even if I feel that it might get fatigued as time goes on.

Overall, while it could have been better, there is much to find in the second volume of Sword Art Online: Progressive. I’m not sure I will continue with the series for much longer, though…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#39
BOOK 38

Akame ga Kill! Volume 3, by Takahiro and Tetsuya Tashiro.

So, here I am, about to embark on the third volume of the dark fantasy manga Akame ga Kill! But how would I enjoy it? Let’s find out…

Night Raid’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by the Empire and its corrupt leaders. The infamously sadistic General Esdeath, recalled from a campaign of subjugation, sets her top lieutenants onto dealing with the matter, while forming a new unit filled with elite Teigu users. Meanwhile, Tatsumi, struggling with his place in Night Raid, soon learns there is more to the stoic Akame than he thought. But Esdeath’s underlings have begun to frame Night Raid, culminating in a confrontation on a ship that not everyone will walk away from…

Once more, one of the major problems with this series is that the violence and horror seem more than a little gratuitous. Certainly, Nyau’s hobby and Esdeath’s lecturing her torturers seem a little out of place even in this manga, and I have to wonder why Liver stays with them, his desire to see Honest pay notwithstanding. And the plot proper seems to just be almost absent, with it being given over to a number of fights.

However, the fights themselves are rather good. In addition, unlike Sheele’s death from the previous volume, Bulat’s death seems more natural, as a mentor passing on the torch to his student. And we’re beginning to see more of Esdeath’s character, which is surprisingly intriguing, despite her extreme sadism.

Overall, while certainly not for everyone, this volume of Akame ga Kill! was an enjoyable one for me. I will try to continue with the series, before too long…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,487
26
2,850
#40
BOOK 39

RWBY: After the Fall by EC Myers, from a story by Kerry Shawcross and Miles Luna.

The internet series RWBY has spawned a number of spinoffs, and this included a novel set after the Fall of Beacon. Focusing on Team CFVY, relatively secondary characters to RWBY and JNPR, this novel would offer further insight into the world of Remnant. But how well would it do?

The land of Vacuo is a harsh and unforgiving one, but Team CFVY have made it their home since the Fall of Beacon. However, a tough task is ahead of them when they are besought to protect a group of refugees. Dealing with another group of Huntsmen may be problematic, but something is causing the emotions of the group to run wild, a dangerous thing in the desert, especially as the Grimm are attracted to negative emotion…

There isn’t much of a substantial plot to this story, I have to say. And the new characters…I didn’t quite feel invested enough in. Plus, I’m sure that some RWBY fans would be disappointed that this book wasn’t looking at the titular Team RWBY, or Team JNPR.

Still, it’s an intriguing look at Team CFVY and the trials and travails they went through. There’s some interesting flashbacks, and these four characters are further fleshed out than they were in the series, which is a good thing. The book itself was also enjoyable, despite the lack of substantial plot.

Overall, this book was a good look at another side to the world of RWBY. I just had hoped for more…

****
 

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Good Omens

"Pratchett’s wackiness collaborates with Gaiman’s morbid humour; the result is a humanist delight to be savoured and read again and again."

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