Media Month in Review – June 2014

I use this post to go over all the media consumed/experienced over the past month, with 2-4 sentences per item. A way to give short thoughts on each topic.

Books/Comics:

  • The Human Division, by John Scalzi – The 5th book in The Old Man’s War. You can definitely see some similarities to certain story-threads from Agent to the Stars and The Android’s Dream by Scalzi, who are also quite similar to one another. Each story was published to stand on its own, as each chapter had been released as a stand-alone ebook, and they do so well. I’ve enjoyed it, a very easy and enjoyable read. It does end in a way that simply demands a continuation, however, and I don’t think one had been announced to be in the works yet

  • Spice and Wolf book 5 – I’ve read this one immediately after reading The Human Division. It was quite a shock. Reading light novels while blasting through them is one thing, but going from well-written in English to stilted sentences, amateurish storytelling and characterization, it was just hard. Dunno if I can keep at it.
  • Definitely Maybe, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – This is a short book. It’s more an exploration of an idea – what if there was something that wanted to oppose advancement, of a race, of the universe? How would such a principle manifest? It’s often trippy, and it’s very “Jewish”, in how it deals with ideas, how it questions, how it self-reflects, and fears, and decides. Not a lot “happens”, and it’s not a very exciting book, even if it’s quite interesting. I still have two of the brothers’ most notable works on hand – Roadside Picnic and Hard to Be a God.
  • Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks,  first half – Decided to re-read Iain M. Banks The Culture novels, and read the ones I hadn’t read yet. Consider Phlebas is the first one written (though it’s suggested you start with The Player of Games, which was written second). A kicking space-opera. Good stuff.
  • Chihayafuru manga chapter 131 – Reading manga one chapter at a time, especially when it’s such a slow release is suffering, it truly is.

Movies:

  • The Matrix Trilogy – In preparation for watching The Animatrix, and because it’s been far too long, I’ve watched the entirety of The Matrix trilogy again. I was curious how I’d feel about it now. The movies are very well done, the lows aren’t as low since I am not in the throes of hype, and because I’ve read more information about some scenes. The highs aren’t as high either. What The Matrix truly lacks to become an eternal franchise is good acting – there’s very little of it. It’s pretty, and it has interesting ideas, and it has kickass fights – and it’s more than what most films have, but it’s not enough to stand at the top.
  • The Animatrix – This is a collection of anime short films in the world of The Matrix. They’re usually light in terms of story, being shorts, but try to raise a question or two here and there, or explore how life in the world of The Matrix is affected by it. The quality isn’t always even, but as a whole? It’s quite good. You can read my notes on it here.
  • Despicable Me 2 – This movie had enough story to fit into a thimblespoon, and mostly coasted on gag jokes, minion humor… and I enjoyed it. It was fun, and it was silly, and it didn’t try to be anything else.

Anime:

  • Kaiba Episodes 1-3 – This is weird. It’s as trippy as the rotoscope version of A Scanner Darkly. I can’t say it grabbed me yet. Unsure whether I’ll finish it.
  • Ergo Proxy Episodes 1-4 – This is interesting, it’s like someone took Psycho-Pass/Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and bred it with Texhnolyze, with a dash of Serial Experiments Lain. “Who am I?” is the big question thus far, and it revolves around finding your place and affecting change in a dystopia that will not allow it. More than a tad pretentious, and adds some gore as extra interest, but I’m interested, at least.
  • Paranoia Agent Episodes 1-9 – This series is weird. Is it about distance and closeness in modern culture? About how rumors and urban legends form? It’s very Satoshi Kon, and it also reminds me of the great Dennou Coil. I should’ve finished it already, will likely do so in the next couple of days.
  • Claymore Episodes 5-10 – Sometimes I rewatch an episode or a sequence of one I really like. I usually don’t mention it. But 6 episodes? Yup. The Theresa arc of Claymore, the best part of the series, if you ask me.
  • And for the currently running shows: Black Bullet 9-11, Fairy Tail (2014) 10-13, Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess) 9-11, Isshuukan Friends (One Week Friends) 9-12, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure S2 10-13, Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei 10, Mekakucity Actors 9-10, Mushishi S2 8-10, No Game, No Life 9-12, Ping Pong the Animation 9-11, and Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia) 8-11.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve watched 57 full length episodes this month, compared to 130 last month, and around 70 most months. I’m behind on numerous shows, which I hope to fix this week before the new season begins in earnest tomorrow and next week. Weird mood ahoy!

Television:

 

  • The Legend of Korra Book 3: Change Episodes 1-3 – The premier! I don’t think I can tell you how objectively good/bad it’s been, but I’ve enjoyed it a whole lot, even as not that much happened just yet.
  • Pushing Daisies Episode 5 – I watch an episode now and then. Very charming.
  • The Big Bang Theory Season 6 Episode 4 – I managed to get through this episode! Yeah, I think unless I sit down and power through them, I might be done with The Big Bang Theory. The charm of the earlier seasons (specifically 1-2) is mostly gone.

Games:

  • Child of Light (PC) – I’ve actually played this in May but forgot to note it. I love the rhymes and fairy-tale atmosphere, and I also like the water-colour look. The actual gameplay is pretty simple and even simplistic, but it feels it’s more about the experience.
  • Android: Netrunner Living Card Game (card game) – Didn’t get to play it much. Plan to install the online version this month and play more. Definitely very interesting. A completely asymmetric strategy card game (not like Orcs vs. Humans in Warcraft, but more like Game Master versus Players). Everything is shiny and new!
  • Nidhogg (PC) – Got a gift of this! It’s interesting. Definitely got stuff you can master. It’s like a harder and more complicated Divekick. I’m not yet ready to play against other people. But I’ve got some moves, while not being very good in general.
  • Transistor (PC) – Purchased this during the Steam Summer Sale. Played the whole game through in one day, over roughly 10 hours. Already began the new game+ today. I like Bastion better, probably. The music is great, the voice acting is hit or miss (even with only 3 real voice actors), and the gameplay is solid. The story is again a bit lacking – more that it feels like it’s not enough, as if it could’ve been considerably lengthier quite easily. But I liked what’s there, a good game.
  • Pixel Piracy (PC, “beta”) – “Beta” because the official final release should be this week. Terraria meets rogue-like? When my team died early, it kept dying. But now I’ve had a team for about 2+ hours. But some moves are insta-death, even to my 400 hp OP team :( So I re-load saves when it happens. Addictive, but less than pure rogue-likes or pure Terraria.
  • Dead Man’s Draw (PC) –
  • XBlaze Code Embryo Demo (PS3) – A visual novel in the world of BlazBlue, before the world became a mess. It’s pretty, acting is solid, but the way to progress which is based on which articles you read or don’t is wonky – cause if you don’t read them all you get a bad ending. Should finish the demo. Will likely buy on sale.
  • BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma (PS3) – I like this game, but naturally, after playing it, I got the desire to try other fighting games, so I played less of it… but I came back to it, because it gives me what I like, and the other have stuff that I like less.
  • Divekick (PC) – A game of yomi (reading the enemy). Actually not bad.
  • More fighting games: Persona 4 Arena (PS3), Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition (PC/PS3), Skullgirls (PC/PS3), Soul Calibur 5 (PS3) – Persona 4’s continuation got me excited, and it’s adding a lot of content. Skullgirls has a good tutorial mode and great music, and Soul Calibur 5? 2 was my favourite, and I really enjoyed 4, but 2 doesn’t do it for me as much. I also like the backgrounds and such less.
  • LUFTRAUSERS – As always, firing it now and then for some action-time.
  • Dead Man’s Draw (PC) – I just wasted a lot of hours on it. Mostly a card-counting trick-taking card-game. I like it. It’s stupid, and a way to waste some time. It should really have a multiplayer, though.

So, anything from the past month you’d like to speak more of? A play, a book, something not necessarily anime-related, or which you hadn’t blogged about?

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