Anyway: I enjoyed it a lot! Excellent airplane read, except for the part when we hit turbulence and I could not stop myself from thinking, "well, if this plane crashes and I am found with a Kindle frozen to a werewolf sex scene clutched in my cold dead hands, I suppose that will be some kind of karmic justice for my life as I have chosen to lead it."
Laura's Wolf, first in the series WEREWOLF MARINES (does what it says on the tin!) is about a werewolf veteran named Roy with PTSD and an ex-con-artist named Laura with different PTSD. When Laura meets Roy, he is on the run from a shady government agency, has been homeless for a few months, and is living in her dad's garage cabin.
LAURA: So ... you're a werewolf. Any ... irresistible compulsions to bay at the moon or go savage young ladies in the woods at night ....?
ROY: Actually, the biggest problem right now is that I don't seem to be able to tolerate bright lights and loud noises and light-up screens anymore, which makes me SUPER UNEMPLOYABLE. :(
I loved this! I love that the werewolf stuff is as much about disability and access concerns as it is about magic werewolf superpowers, and is really well tied into Roy's PTSD and the fact that reintegrating into civilian life was always going to be hard anyway, werewolf stuff or not. (There are definitely some magic werewolf superpowers involved too, of course.)
In general I enjoy the majority of the werewolf mythology stuff in the novel, which is clearly chosen to emphasize TEAMS and FRIENDSHIP and AVOID SKETCHY GENDER STUFF LIKE THE PLAGUE. I feel like it's been so long since I've read a werewolf story that didn't instantly put my hackles up! And I like the relationship, which as it builds becomes very much about mutual liking and respect and earned trust.
In fact I only have two real quibbles. The first is just generally a frequent romance novel quibble of mine, which is the thing with INSTANT SUPER MEGA ATTRACTION BETWEEN TWO HOT PEOPLE. (Laura is plus-sized and therefore less conventionally hot to outside eyes perhaps -- which is a fact I appreciate, by the way! -- but the first time Roy sees her he is still like "OH WOW WHAT A HOTTIE I WISH WE COULD MAKE OUT RIGHT AWAY," so the point still stands.) But this is such a requirement of the genre that I can't really complain about it, even though my personal preference is ALWAYS for romance where the participants first look at their Designated Love Interest and are like "...uh, they're OK, I guess?"
The only other thing is that -- with apologies to the author -- I just cannot believe that any human being naturally smells like lemon meringue pie.
I went into the series thinking Ran was trans based on the description, but she seems to regard herself as a woman who has to live like a man to achieve her goals. (Other's probably interpret it differently?) Despite this, Ran is consistently drawn like a shoujo bishounen, is very tall, and has broad shoulders and is fairly muscular by shoujo standards. There are also numerous chapter pages depicting her in traditional "hot shoujo hero" poses, and her and Sei in conventional romantic poses. The mangaka, Nishikata Mai, also includes Sei's fiance, Ibara, to try to convince us that they're totally straight despite all that and multiple dramatic speeches about their eternal devotion to each other and how Ran will stay by Sei's side FOREVER to help her achieve her goals for the Ohtori organization. The engagement is for business purposes and arranged by their fathers, but Ibara and Sei appear to be casual friends at the start of the series, but become closer as it progresses. Ibara also learns that Ran is a girl early on, and decides that the uptight but funny knight is uptight and funny and totally hot.
There is, pleasantly, absolutely no triangle to speak of there. In volume 2, Ibara starts making "But you're a girl, and I'm a man, and I should protect you!" noises and I started to fear that this would be like the other manga of Nishikata's that I read, Venus Capriccio in that it had a really good first volume that subverted a lot of shoujo tropes, and then everything went south from there. Thankfully, Ran informs him that "THAT IS NOT HAPPENING, SIR (and if you continue in this vein and progress to trying to interfere with my work and/or keep me from dueling, I shall punch you out and never ever forgive you)", reads him in on the situation, and says he should shape up and help Sei by behaving better and helping them watch for attacks on Sei. So he does, and apparently not to impress Ran, but because he thinks she's right and wants to help. He has more "me man, you woman" moments in the series, but they tend to be milder after the first set down, and he gets over them. Late in the series, Ran has to fight a duel that she's in considerable emotional turmoil over, and against an opponent who might be physically more skilled than her, but instead of attempting (too hard) to interfere, he believes in her and her belief that she can handle it, and goes off to take care of his own business. When another guy in love with Ran shows up and tries the " you are a girl and I and a man and I should protect you" bit (and is given the same setdown) he also tries to claim that Ibara is interfering and not letting Ran do her thing, and which point Ibara essentially informs him that there's a difference between supporting and interfering. And also that he likes his teeth right where they are. (Ok, he doesn't say the last, but he was thinking it.)
The Revolutionary Girl Utena references are numerous (and also, as you may have noted, there are a few Arthuriana references scattered throughout) and she doesn't even try to hide it. I mean, the title translated into English as something close to "The Flower Knight," it has a genderbending heroine who is constantly being challenged to duels to maintain her position as the second female lead's protector, and Sei's family name is even "Ohtori." It might as well be called "My Love Letter To Revolutionary Girl Utena."
It's far from perfect-it regularly starts skirting close to "romance will cure Ran of her unwomanly ways" and "absolute heteronormativity is how all things must eventually go," even though it almost always safely bounces back. In addition, while it has the common shoujo and shounen trope of portraying charcter growth and having the protagonist gain confidence and a greater sense of self through friendships, all those friendships are male. While there are a couple of minor female antagonists early one, every major character other than Sei and Ran is male. Despite that, though, I feel it does much better in the endgame than many genderbender manga do, despite the romance angles, it always prioritizes Sei and Ran's goals and desires over romance and the male characters, and I really really really liked it.
Sachi is 17 and has never had a boyfriend, so she goes to a goukon (dating party) with her friends, where she meets Yuki, who claims to be awkward with girls, who he doesn't spend much time with, going to an all-boys school. The next day, her friend Akemi tells her that Yuki is a playboy who uses girls. Sachi decides to follow Akemi's advice about Yuki, but ends up running into him several times.
Unlike most shoujo, it isn't clear from the start that Yuki will mend his bad boy ways and he and Sachi will sail off into the figurative sunset after a few angsty bumps, but it's less clear here. Yuki (who really isn't much of a bad boy, though he does try at times) is very much in love with someone else, a relationship that ends up affecting pretty much every character, and carries an enormous-and not always emotionally healthy-baggage, and after a couple volume, it seems Sachi might be much better off with Yuki's friend, Akahoshi (Who is something of a tsundere and prone to snarking. One of my favorite things in the series is when he gets upset because Sachi doesn't snark back at him, but instead ends up with important realizations or going off to have deep thinky thoughts.)
I will spoi that everything works out largely satisfyingly, though I spent many chapters going "Everyone likes/is with the wrong person! Fix it!" without really being quite sure how I thought things should be. (If shoujo series got fandoms the way shounen series tend to, the fandom for this series likely would have been...very dramatic. Though apparently the fan letters Karuho got had some drama.)
While Kimi Ni Todoke often relies of misunderstandings and lack of communication for conflict (Well, in earlier volumes. Less so once volumes reach the double digits.) Crazy For You has complicated and messy relationships, and all the drama that goes with them, thought how the problems are dealt with is sometimes similar. Sachi is also at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Sawako, and a character I feel would normally be a supporting character. she has curly hair, is actively seeking a boyfriend, prone to gullibility, and endlessly cheerful and energetic, which is a type I feel is usually reserved for the shoujo heroine's friends, not the heroine herself. (Not that Sawako is particularly conventional heroine herself, though I feel she's closer to it than Sachi, once you strip away the "looks like the girl from The Ring!" element.
Unrelated note: I am traveling a lot this weekend and so reading a lot of manga in the car. I am also testing how I do with regular interneting with only my tablet for a couple days, before doing it for a whole week come WisCon. Utterly random words are likely cases of my not catching autocorrect doing things like changing "manga" to "manta," and I'm sure I missed even more typos than usual.
And, as always happens with the nonfiction books that I put off reading because I'm lazy, it was incredibly fascinating. As the title indicates, the book focuses on the four years in Cuban history right after the Spanish-American War, when the U.S. was still occupying Cuba but an all-Cuban government was on the horizon.
Marial Iglesias Utset is deliberately focusing her attention, not on major or dramatic events, but rather on how the everyday things that ordinary people do take on enormous political and ideological significance in times of cultural shift -- like, what music do you dance to and how do you dance to it, what cafes do you eat at and what are they serving, when and how and where do you display the national flag? What holidays are state-sanctioned, and what holidays do people take anyway even if the government has not formally declared them a day off? What chotchkes are being sold at the store?
(There's a great passage quoting an ad that appeared in the magazine Patria, under the heading "Long Live a Free Cuba! Independence or Death!" which then went on to advertise commemmorative pins, brooches, buttons, belts, painted plates, portraits of Jose Marti ... because everyone should support the Fatherland and be a patriot! PEOPLE ARE SO MUCH PEOPLE.)
Anyway this is the kind of history that I'm always wanting to see more of -- not who killed what in which battle, but how people live their lives through and in and around and after those battles. HISTORY IS SO INTERESTING. Why don't I read more history? (Because I'm lazy, and there are so many terrible novels out there -- but I should read more history!)
The plot kicks off thusly:
MAGICAL EX-PREACHER OUTLAW: I feel like this lifestyle of riding around with my homicidal gunslinger boyfriend and our merry outlaw band, committing heinous magical felonies and murdering anyone who makes homophobic slurs in our direction, is probably not sustainable in the long-term.
AN AZTEC GODDESS: I could help with that.
*several instances of human sacrifice, one impending apocalypse, one non-consensual deification and an extremely messy breakup later*
MAGICAL EX-PREACHER OUTLAW: .... it's possible I may have made some poor life choices.
HIS NOW-DIVINE HOMICIDAL GUNSLINGER NOW-EX BOYFRIEND: YOU THINK????
The books take place just post-Civil War in a universe in which some people have magic, and magical people ... can't hang out together because they will accidentally murder each other trying to eat each other's magic, except when they manage to get round it by making out a lot instead? I wasn't entirely clear on the exact rules there. Also, magic is ... illegal? Socially frowned-upon? Allan Pinkerton is trying to recruit magic users for his Pinkerton agency, anyway. Pinkertons are highly relevant. After a magical accident, Allan Pinkerton also at one point swells up to the size of a house and starts biting people's heads off, which should give you something of a sense for the plotting style.
My feelings about the series as a whole are pretty mixed. First of all, I would be A-OK with placing a firm moratorium on fantasy novels about Aztec gods demanding human sacrifice. Why is it that nobody ever writes about Aztecs (or Mayans, for that matter) doing ANYTHING except performing human sacrifice and playing handball with intent to lead to human sacrifice? Presumably SOME PEOPLE in these VAST EMPIRES occasionally did ... other things ... with their time ...
I mean the racial politics of the books in general are not -- well, okay, that's not quite what I want to say. The racial politics are clearly very well-meant. The cast includes many characters who are not white, the Trail of Tears and the one-drop rule and the Nativist attitudes of the Bowery B'hoys are all name-checked; at one point someone delivers a speech about how if the world is going to be saved, it's because of the gays and the Chinese and the Indians and the secret Jews, so suck on that, Mr. Pinkerton!
So, like, there is plenty of representation, it is the method of it that ( often really did not work for me )
I mean I guess what it boils down to is that much of the time the series can't decide whether it's subverting and critiquing all the wildest tropes of the WEIRD WEST GUNSLINGER genre or gleefully embracing them, and so it's like "BOTH!" but sometimes I do not think it's possible to have your cake and eat it too in quite that way.
But, I mean, I say all this, but ... I read the whole thing! I did not have to, but I did; it was compelling and very more-ish, and I did very much appreciate the fact that many of the seemingly casual deaths ended up having consequences and mattering later. So there you go. IDFIC GALORE. If "homicidal gay gunslingers sarcastically recite the Bible, seduce Pinkertons, bring about and/or avert magical apocalypse in an extremely gory fashion" sounds like it's the kind of idfic that would appeal, then maybe check it out? I don't know, other people who have more unalloyed enthusiasm about these books, please feel free to chime in and make your pitch, I'm sort of stuck at "...well, I did read the whole thing!"
1. Twice in the last 2 weeks, I have been accused by coworkers of having no sense of humor. The first was a case of the guy sitting beside me answering the questions I was asking a customer, because distracting coworker's while they're trying to work is funny, I guess. (This is one of those people who thinks making semi-obnoxious but largely harmless comments at random-usually directed towards someone doing something else-is the pinnacle of humor and must be acknowledged, but he's usually less intrusive about it.) The second was yesterday at lunch, when a coworker asked if I'd seen a plant pollen joke, then saying she'd show me and shoving her phone at me. It was a lolcat type thing with a joke along the lines of "if plants emit pollen that we inhale without knowing it, are plants raping us every day?" I made a noncommittal noise (keep in mind, I had food in my mouth) and when she pressed me, I commented that I didn't find things that used rape as the punchline to be funny. She appeared to find that offensive and said i couldn't take a joke.
2. i was going to sign up for flight rising, but I missed the window. If anyone plays Hay Day, though, I've been playing it way too much lately.
3. By which I mean to say that I've been neglecting reading, wiscon media binging and RareWomen fic for it. Whoops?
4 Both the sageuk and wuxia panels are short one member, but will hopefully make the cut. (As has been mentioned elsewhere, the lineups as they currently stand should be about like a live version of DW comment threads. Possibly along the lines of oyceter and I almost turning the Anime/Manga 101 panel last year into randomly throwing out various Kaori Yuki plotlines.) I also volunteered for the Lit in Anime and Manga panel, so we'll see on that one. MUst get other wuxia panelists to read Legend of the White-Haired Demoness before the con, though.
5. Make all the "Zombie Jesus" jokes you want, you know you love Easter for the cheap candy that'll be everywhere on Monday.
Have the OP:
Black Bullet ep 1: A virus has forced mankind to live within cities called "monoliths," but the cities aren't able to completely block out the virus. When it infects someone, they turn into monsters and "Promoter," who use special bullets, are brought in to fight them along with their partners, young girls called "Initiators" who were infected by the virus while still fetuses and have superpowers, and are regarded as being "cursed children." So far, the main character, Rentaro, appears to be the only major male character, with the others being his childhood friend/employer, Kisara, his Initiator, Enju, and a rather morbid coroner whose name I didn't catch. Though Enju regards herself as Rentaro's fiance (Enju appears to be about 7-8 and Rentaro appears to have her pretty firmly in the "little sister" category) it doesn't look likely to turn into a harem-type setup. Rentaro and Kisara have a shared angsty past involving the death of her parents, but it will probably end up focusing on Rentaro, because he's a boy and the main character, but it also looks like it'll have a lot of focus on the nature and treatment of the cursed children.
It has the potential to end up one of those series with a lot of potential that end up disappointing in the end, but I have hopes for now.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure eps 1-2. My only previous experience with JJBA is reading the first arc ages ago, back in the Scans Daily days. (I can't recall if I actually read JJBA on SD, but establishing the timeframe and all...) I enjoyed it, but the series was way too daunting to even think about reading all of it on my computer. As far as the anime goes, I understand this is the most popular plotline by far. On the one hand, I see why it's popular and the art direction is certainly interesting, but it's taking "sea of men" to the extreme and what women there are exist to fawn over and be insulted by JoJo (including his mother). Except the one who dies to help JoJo learn as lesson about Stands. There's also enough manly posing to give any other shounen action series secondhand embarrassment.
I may just read the one arc of the manga with a female lead and skip the rest unless that blows me away.
Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san ep 1: Shoujo Ai short about a girl named Inugami who likes and acts like a cat, and a girl named Nekoyama who likes dogs. I decided to give it a try because I like Tonari no Seki-kun, the only short series i've watched before this. It was cute and i'll watch more. (I attempted to watch Mangaka-san to Assistant-san, too, but will be passing on it.)
The World is Still Beautiful eps 1-2. Three years ago, the Sun King took over his kingdom, and he's taken over most of the known world since. Shocking everyone, he proposes an alliance with a small kingdom whose royal family is rumored to be able to influence the weather, in exchange for having one of the king's four daughters sent to him as a bride. As the Sun King is rumored to be a lecherous, one eyed ogre, none of the daughters are thrilled with the prospect, but one princess, Nike, is chosen because she loses a battle of rock-paper-scissors with her sisters. Travelling incognito through the Sun Kingdom before her appointment at the royal palace, Nike is surprised to learn that, despite rumors, the kingdom doesn't appear to be oppressed, and has a thriving economy. She's even more surprised to learn that the king, Livius, is a teenager a few years younger then her.
Lots of economics, lots of politics, kidnappings and assassination attempts already, and a lot of Livius being a very intelligent brat and Nike yelling at him to get over himself already and oh, act like a kid already. (Presumably, they'll eventually be love interests. Right now, though, Nike treats him more like an annoying little brother she just acquired, and who she needs to shake some sense into.) I've seen a few people comment that Nike appears to be modeled after Nausicaa, and I agree, but don't think it's a bad thing. (Not that I've seen anyone say it as a negative thing.)
Also, the OD for this one is....odd. Yes, odd.
I'm watching Mushishi of course, which is about like reading the manga, but with sound and color, and I'm still enjoying Tonari no Seki-kun a lot. I'm very behind on Nisekoi, which is drifting away from being a fake-dating romcom and looks to be turning into more of a straightforward harem series with lots of fanservice. I dunno.
I watched bits of a few other first eps, but wasn't grabbed by them. (Sadly, not even the one with the evil unicorn and the girl who drags along a coffin filled with guns.) I might try Baby Love again. I actually liked the bit I saw, especially the protagonist's obsessive notetaking, but it looked to be too Sea of Men to me.
The Hidden Island; or, the Eyebrows of Fate, The Lost Heir - Phoebe Marlowe
"I may," he added, "have the moral fiber of a ravening wolf, but I lack the talent to display it in greenery."
Even before I read the fic I guessed that rymenhild had written it, which meant I had exceedingly high expectations that were NOT AT ALL disappointed. For those of you who remember, The Lost Heir is the novel that causes all the trouble in Heyer's Sylvester; this is the story of what happens when a BEAUTIFUL YOUNG LADY is stranded on EVIL COUNT UGOLINO'S ISLAND, and it is beautiful and perfect and subverts expectations in the best possible way.
First Steps Past the End of the World, Millie Goes to School/Revolutionary Girl Utena
The shadows around Nanami were apt to take on odd shapes as various students bent mirrors or disingenuously brushed against lamp-shades in her presence, and whispers of witchly weirdness found their ways to her on the breeze.
Then Nanami's omelet turned back into an egg one morning at breakfast, and the school realised that something greater than a caper was afoot.
I gave out such a shriek of delight when I found this my inbox; THE PERSON WHO WROTE THIS IS A GENIUS. Nanami Goes to School! Merry pranksters and good-natured abound, except that Nanami came from Ohtori and therefore everything is AWFUL and WEIRD until Nanami is helped by the power of BELIEF and FEMSLASH. I love Nanami so much. I love this fic so much.
Millie Goes On a Date, Millie Goes to School
It didn't matter, in the end, that Millie had received a perfect score on her maths prep, or how many delicious crumpets with lashings of jam had been at breakfast, or how utterly scrumptious Lydia Worthington was when she cornered Millie behind the Infant School dormitories. It only mattered that tonight was the full moon, and last Saturday, Millie had been bitten by a werewolf.
SPEAKING OF FEMSLASH, if what you are looking for is adorable magical boarding school girls going on adorable dates with each other (while combating unfortunate accidental werewolfing) -- and let's be real, who among us is not looking for that -- then this is certainly the ficlet for you. So adorable! I would read SO MUCH of this.
Eating Cookies, Les Mousserables
Look, you're a very selfish monster
Because you don't act fair!
And just for the delightful cherry on my Invisible Ficathon sundae, someone took Sesame Street's Les Mis parody (which is here, if anyone hasn't seen it and would like to) and wrote me a themed ... to Sondheim's "Barcelona." From Company. I'M SORRY, I'M STILL DEAD OF LAUGHTER.
So those were my gifts, and they were all perfect, but there was also a ton of other stuff worth reading in the ficathon. The other great thing about this ficathon is because it's all based around stuff that doesn't exist anyway, in many cases (though not all) zero 'canon' ... metacanon? supercanon? ... knowledge is required.
( More recs below the cut! )
So that was ... like half the ficathon I just linked. I'M SORRY, it was all really good! Also, for completion's sake, I also wrote a thing: Gifts for the Adon, a short Dalemark mythology story about Manialiabrid of the Undying and her uncle. Mostly what happened is I accidentally gave myself Opinions about Manaliabrid's personality while writing it, which I had never particularly had before...
Anyway I had a ton of fun with the whole thing; I hope it happens again next year!
I haven't been playing it as much lately, but I am having fun collecting assorted pretty dragons and scavenging and opening treasure chests. I'm Oyceter there as well, and this is my lair (id: 35180).
Also, a few of us show off our dragons and complain about site downtime (it's getting better!) at flight_rising.
I found tips and tricks for beginners, tips and tricks for beginners 2, and an unofficial FAQ really helpful.
Lemme know if you have questions! Also if anyone joins, I have some dragons if you want ^_^.
Noragami eps 8-12: I started this one out of curiosity, not really expecting much, but it ended up being my favorite, mostly out of my love for the main characters and a lot of the supporting cast, but also because the plot was soemwhat different from the norm. However...
( spoilers )
The Pilot's Love Song eps 8-13: So, when I said that episode seven was the show deciding that it was time for the obligatory death of a lovable supporting character, what I really meant was that episode seven was a warning that proceeding past that point meant signing up for the emotional equivalent of being repeatedly punched in the gut. (And literally punched in the gut a lot, if you're Kal.)
The ending appears to be fairly obvious sequel bait, but I'm not sure Inumura Koroko would see it that way. Mind you, I know it's set up to be a multimedia, ongoing franchise, so the ending probably was deliberate sequel bait. But, like with Remembrances for A Certain Pilot/The Princess and the Pilot, the personal conflicts and issues that drove the plot were resolved, as was the core plot in the events that took place. The fact that what was going on with these characters was only a small part of the whole conflict and that the main conflict in their world still going on is secondary, and things don't get wrapped up in a nice bow because you sorted out your issues and achieved a goal. Which, if that is Inumura's outlook, is perfectly reasonable, though not necessarily a stance that a number of devourers of fiction will want for the end of their canon.
( spoilers )
I know that the series is mostly getting compared to Last Exile, and that's understandable and even fairly appropriate, but I think that both thematically and in tone, it's more in tune with Allison and Lillia. Which I now want to rewatch.
Silver Spoon: Season 2 eps 7-11: Where did all this angst come from? This was supposed to be my funny adorable culture clash series with a side of economics. Not that I object to the angst, I just wasn't quite prepared for it, even with the buildup in the first half of the season. This season was less with the humor and more with the economics and life choices in general, which is totally cool, just a bit of a change from the first season. Also, I cannot remember the last time I watched a show with this many in-canon shippers.
Now to start the new series. When I'm not binge watching kdramas for WisCon.