Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book Review: Deadman Wonderland Vol. 2

Review:  #734
Title:  Deadman Wonderland Vol. 2
Series:  Deadman Wonderland - 2nd volume
Author:  Jinsei Kataoka & Kazuma Kondou
Read Before:  no
Comments:  Continuing on the plight of Ganta as he is thrown into the prison attraction Deadman Wonderland.  More of its secrets is shown here and as Ganta succinctly puts it at the end of the volume, it’s all insane.  With that said, we do learn a bit more about Ganta’s powers and his nemesis, as well as the hidden facets of the prison.  It takes on a gorier side towards the end which isn’t to everyone’s tastes.  Shiro is also a mysterious character whose past (and her extraordinary strength) remains hidden.  Towards the end of the volume, it is starting to become a little bit too generic though and the unique hook of the plot just isn’t as strong as it should be.
Rating:  6/10

Friday, March 30, 2018

Easy A (2010)

Easy A stars the charismatic Emma Stone as high school student Olive.  Olive, before her life spiralled out of control, was a normal smart girl who never stood out.  However, a lie that is overheard by someone, quickly fueled the rumor that spread like wildfire around school and she built an infamous reputation of becoming a prostitute.  The unfortunate thing is that each lie keeps building, and she is lying to help the reputations of people and improve their social standing.  This fact allows the viewers to stand behind Olive and believe in her even though everyone else in the film thinks she is horrible.  Easy A is marketed as a comedy although the humor is more subtle and evenly spaced, focusing on quality rather than quantity.  Towards the end of the film, you wonder how the problem is going to be resolved since the lie is so big now, that it is near impossible to dispel it.  The resolution was a tad bit disappointing, and we never got closure in terms of what happened to some of the other people.  Overall, Easy A has a surprisingly good story, although filled with some very cringe-worthy scenes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Is the Order a Rabbit?? (2015)

Is the Order a Rabbit?? (two question marks) is the second season based on the 4-panel manga of the same name, once again spanning 12 episodes.  It continues the story of Cocoa, Chino and Rize, who all works at Rabbit House, a (semi) rabbit themed cafe.  The anime is set in a fiction city with design cues inspired by French cities and apparently has rabbits running around on the street.  Cocoa, the protagonist, is clumsy, goofy and an airhead.  She still hasn't given up on being everyone's big sister.  Rize is outgoing, harboring an interest in soldiers and armaments.

While Chino is reserved and has Tippy, a rabbit that is little more than a ball of fluff (and is very cute).  Tippy has her grandfather's soul/mind embedded into it and can talk, but everyone else thinks that it is Chino practicing ventriloquism.  Tippy remains as charming as ever, he/she usually rests on top of Chino's head to the point that Chino feels uncomfortable and loses a little bit of confidence whenever Tippy is not there.  Rounding out the cast are Syaro (unique trait being getting drunk of caffeine), and Chiya who goes to the same school as Cocoa, is equally an airhead and between the two of them, the misunderstandings are hilarious.

There are more appearances by Chino's friends Megu and Maya, ascending from the supporting characters that only appear once or twice.  They turn up to get help at drawing, preparing a dance recital and going on adventures with everyone else.  One of the more significant events that occur in this season is Cocoa's sister, Mocha, who decides to come to stay for a few days.  Through her, we can see what causes Cocoa's inspirations to be a big sister, with very similar quirks.  It is funny when other characters point this out.  Mocha is a lot more capable though, not clumsy or airheaded at all.  However, even Mocha has her weakness and that is Cocoa.

Cocoa still has her sister complex, wanting to act as the big sister not only to Chino but to everyone else as well (although it is mainly Chino).  Yet, Cocoa manages to succeed more frequently in this aspect now.  It should be noted that the cuteness is dialed up to the extreme in this second season.  There's no real objective or direction in the plot except for the slice-of-life type of episode structure.  Each episode has around two main story arcs.  They can follow even the most mundane of things, such as spending half an episode on the characters handwashing their clothes.

Some of the later episodes' scenarios are great, such as the one with characters trailing each other, oblivious that if you take a step back and see who's trailing who, it comes full circle and each are waiting for the party in front to move, causing a stalemate.  It also explores a little bit about their friendships and how they managed to become such a close knitted group despite going to various different schools, being in different classes and working in different places.

Unfortunately, the anime seemed to have stopped the plot point of Chino's grandfather's spirit inhibiting Tippy.  The history behind it is not mentioned anymore, ever since we got their minor flashback in the first season that it somehow involves Cocoa, it doesn't make any effort to clarify it.  The season is finished off with a classic outdoor overnight adventure trip and a treasure hunt which allowed it to end on a high note.  Overall, Is the Order a Rabbit?? is exceedingly cute and manages to even make the most mundane of activities interesting enough to keep watching.


For other anime reviews, have a look at this page.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Book Review: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

Review:  #733
Title:  Life and Death:  Twilight Reimagined
Series:  Twilight - companion book
Author:  Stephenie Meyer
Read Before:  no
Comments:  At first glance, Life and Death is a lazy redux of Twilight but with all characters gender-swapped.  It still feels like that for most of the novel, however, the author has put in a little bit more effort and improved some of the wording, the structure and other tidbits to make it suit more for a male lead.  At its core, it is still the same story and all the events are still the same.  Unfortunately, the gender-swapped characters don’t work well all of the time.  Despite the author being adamant that the story would work no matter the gender, Beau (the male version of Bella) just comes off as pathetic and weak.  He doesn’t manage to sell the clumsiness of the character, or the pale delicate nature that requires Edythe (female version of Edward) to protect and save him.  It actually gets really confusing at times thanks to the author’s tendency to use abnormal/uncommon names for ALL the characters such as McKayla (Mike), Jessamine (Jasper) and Jules (Jacob).  If you manage to overcome your initial resistance, it does become better and the ending was adapted well all in all and provided a neat refreshing twist to the formula.  Life and Death is worthwhile if you haven’t read Twilight in a while or you are a huge fan, since it doesn’t add much new and can feel superficial during many of its sections.
Rating:  6.5/10

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Power of the Primes Swoop

Review:  #438
Name:  Swoop
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Generations - Power of the Primes
Year of Release:  2018
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 1)
Mold Status:  new


Swoop transforms into a robotic pteranodon.  True to his G1 self, he has a fairly big backpack.

You can see that the bits right above his feet is hollow.  Otherwise, this is a pretty good mode.

As part of the Power of the Primes line, Swoop comes with a card.

A neat effect is that his robot head is transparent plastic but has gold painted on the inside, so it has the same layered look as the G1 toy.

Alternatively, Swoop can stand upright, and his wings have enough joints to fold in like a vampire's.

Size-wise, he is a little bit small in this mode, above is a comparison against Age of Extinction Scorn.

In line with the current trends (and major cost cutting), the chest detailing are stickers, which is unfortunate.

His robot weapons, being a sword and combiner fist, can peg underneath the head and on his back respectively.

A good alternate mode and to be fair, you can't really stuff this mode up.


As Swoop can also form a combiner limb, he has a fairly simple transformation.  Thankfully, it is not a carbon copy of the ones from Combiner Wars so he is a little bit more interesting.  Still, it's basic and pretty uninspiring.  The backpack unfolds to become the robot legs, the arms unpeg from the sides and the dinosaur head folds into his chest to form the torso and reveal the head.


Swoop's robot mode is once again fairly accurate to his G1 incarnation, the major difference being the pteranondon legs on his shins.

There is no kibble which is surprising and quite impressive.  You can see the combiner port on his back.

The headsculpt is really good, although the head can effectively only turn from side to side.

Size-wise, he is around the same height as a typical Deluxe, but a bit less substantial due to even more hollow parts and seemingly lighter plastics used.

Swoop has the standard articulation with hinges and swivels for his shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.

The wings are also adjustable to your liking, with enough joints to angle it or open them up for a wider wingspan.

Swoop's weapons are a red sword and the combiner fist.

Swoop can wear the combiner fist as chest armor.  The two thumbs tab onto his chest.  As far as tacky armor goes, it can be worse.

The sword is much better as a weapon.

A better use of the combiner fist is as a shield pegged onto his forearm.

You can also take out the clear part (where a Prime Master, Titan Master or Enigma of Combination can plug in) to be held in his hand as it is molded as a small handgun.  Officially, he also holds the combiner fist as some sort of handheld weapon although it looks extremely ridiculous.

A solid robot mode, despite the obvious further cost cutting.


Swoop is a good if uninspiring figure.  He doesn't do anything new and is quite simple considering the balance of complexity and simplicity of the Titans Return line.  Nevertheless, he looks great in both modes and is is fantastic to get new renditions of the G1 Dinobots.


For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

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Power of the Primes brings back the gimmick of all Deluxes being able to form limbs for the Voyager class.

Swoop himself is a part of Volcanicus, usually forming the right arm.  Arm mode is effectively the robot mode with the wings pegged in.

Leg mode is the robot mode but with the thighs collapsed.

The difference in this line compared to Combiner Wars is that the Deluxes comes with combiner fists, while the Voyagers come with two feet.  Gone are the days where the pieces can double as hand and foot.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale Blu-Ray Limited Edition (Australian Version)

Sword Art Online The Movie:  Ordinal Scale was released in Australia in February 2018, a year after the Japanese theatrical release, distributed by Madman.  Like their other recent anime movie releases, a Limited Edition was released and Ordinal Scale comes with the blu-ray, four art cards and a 60 page booklet.


The packaging is comprised of a cardboard box and a unique cover art.

The back contains the typical details such as a summary, extras and screen caps.

However, the back is just a sheet of glossy paper attached via weak glue made to be removed.  Removing it reveals artwork of the new characters Eiji and Yuna.

Lastly, the package is in a nice slipcase for easy access.

The Movie and Special Features:

For a review of the movie, refer to this page.  The copy of the movie is inside a normal blu-ray case with full sized artworks on the front and back, although this means the title of the film isn't see anywhere.

The special features include:
- various Japanese and English trailers
- audio commentary from the Director and voice actors of Kirito and Asuna
- animated short Sword Art OFFline -Ordinal Scale-

The Japanese and English trailers are what they are but the audio commentary is pretty good.  It's quite funny and goes in-depth at the Director's challenges and the thoughts of the voice actors.  It's interesting to note that at the time of the movie's production, the second season of the anime had already concluded two years ago but the voice actors continued to work with each other via the games instead.  The 14 minute Sword Art OFFline short is similar to the other ones for the anime, featuring simplistic animation and super deformed characters.  It has Asuna, Kirito, Yui and Yuna turn up and talk about the movie, usually with humorous reactions.  They will show clips from the movie and comment on the mechanics or some other backstory, which can be insightful.

Art Cards:

There are four included art cards and each one contains a key promotional artwork for the film.

They are printed on high gloss paper and looks very nice.


The Limited Edition comes with a 60 page booklet.  It covers off a wide variety of content.  Firstly it quickly recaps the first two seasons of the anime (i.e. the first eight light novels) before it explores the Augma, the new AR device in the movie.  It goes into a lot more backstory than the movie covers, including the setting for the game, the game mechanics and more details about the new characters.  There are draft sketches of character designs and their clothing, illustrations of the boss monsters in the movie and screencaps.  Throughout it all is commentary which is a surprising amount of effort.  It moves onto the next arc, being Alicization and the arc for the third season before finally showcasing various official promotional artwork for the movie.  The artbook actually feels like effort was put into it and is quite enjoyable as a result.

Below are some low-quality samples of the booklet.


Sword Art Online The Movie:  Ordinal Scale is a fun film and a definite must-watch for fans of the series.  The special features are nice and the extras from the Limited Edition are pretty solid.


For reviews of other things, have a look at this page.
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