Dec 272011
 
 December 27, 2011  Posted by at 11:04 am Reviews Tagged with:  1 Response »

Ok for the sake of ease, I’ll be abbreviating the title to Sekakoi.  Coz I can!

Before I begin, I wanted to state that I really liked Junjou Romantica – by the same mangaka, and I liked the beginnings of Sekakoi for similar reasons.  The artwork was sweet, the fluffiness adorable.  The characters were cute and angsty enough to keep me interested because, lets face it, I like cute and angsty.

But perhaps it was Junjou that ruined my capacity for the problems of Sekakoi.  So, there are a few points I want to address regarding this anime.  These points were inspired by the following links (thanks Precious for showing them to me).

http://gargarstegosaurus.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/worlds-worst-first-love/

http://www.thatanimeblog.com/index.php/2011/04/sekai-ichi-hatsukoi-post/

Both of these posts address the incidence of rape=love in yaoi, and I have to agree that in some cases, yaoi is feeding our rape culture but that’s not the reason I’m writing this ‘review’.  The two rather good blogs linked do that well enough already, and I recommend the read.

Rather, I wanted to address the point that made me stop watching Sekaikoi for now (I think I got most of the way through the first season before it got too much – perhaps one of you guys can tell me if it gets better).  That point is this:

I really really really wanted the two main characters to just get over themselves already.

Come to my place for cheese and rape.

The main premise of the story is that the two main guys met and fell in love in high school and dated for a while.  Due to a misunderstanding, they split up and never saw each other for years.  Much later, they meet again.  Much angst ensues (we like angst).  The problem is that even after it comes to light why each of the characters is upset with the other, neither of them makes any kind of move to reconcile, apologise or even try to understand. (We like angst to eventually be resolved, comprendez?)

It’s like they’re still teenagers – too stubborn to get over themselves, too set in being ‘right’ and in being the one who was most wronged, as if this was some kind of game.  And the winner would get what?  Black eye-liner and a lip ring to prove what emos they are?

I mean, I fancied myself in love in high school, but if I saw that person now in the street I probably wouldn’t fall to pieces over it.  I certainly wouldn’t a) avoid him at all costs or b) try to rape him.  Instead, like the grown up person I am (who no longer thinks like the teenager I used to be) I would walk over and say hello.  We would talk, catch up, make small talk for a few minutes, get a bit nostalgic and then probably part ways amicably, like mature adults.

Why?  Because in the X years since we have left high school, we have learned that grown-ups don’t cling to perceived insults.  In fact, we would make an effort to understand the other person’s point of view.  Discuss things, get it all out in the open, and hopefully merely agree to disagree and put the past behind us.  Possibly start over, or if not, get on with life no worse for the wear having not ‘won’ our argument.

The adults in Sekakoi could not get over their perceived insults.  Instead, one tries to avoid the the other to the point of madness.  The other becomes creepy, raping, stalker.  Even after the reasons they were hurt come to light, neither tries to discuss it with the other, they merely continue their path, clinging to their self-righteous, misguided stupidity, in a bid to win the Emo Of The Year Award.

So instead of getting over it, they fester and rot, like two kiddies throwing a tantrum.

And yes, the incidence of rape=love in yaoi is rediculous, as those two blogs detail.  I dislike it, and I think the yaoi fangirl’s propensity to forgive it is rediculous.  But I think the yaoi fangirl’s propensity to overlook idiocy in main characters is the root of all these evils.

As a yaoi fangirl, I am probably also guilty of this sin.  No, I don’t watch yaoi for realism, I watch it for escapism.  However, even I can only suspend my disbelief so far before getting annoyed at the flimsy plot that just never gets resolved.

Or possibly, I’m just impatient for resolution of angst.

The other couples in Sekaikoi are much easier to understand and enjoy.  For them, I recommend this anime, but be prepared to tolerate stupidity by the main two.

Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi the manga is available at MangaFox.   Or you can watch it on Crunchyroll and Aarinfantasy.

Nov 262011
 
 November 26, 2011  Posted by at 9:29 pm Featured Articles, Reviews No Responses »

Review by Parow/WantSome, Originally Published on SocialInfection

Star Rating: 4/5
Author Website: Mira Grant
Available at: Our Store (there is a print or kindle version, I think)
Read the First Chapter Online

OK, after I wrote this review I realised how friggin wordy it is. So –
Tl;dr: Not your average zombie fare, highly recommended, part 1 in the Newsflesh Trilogy

The Premise:

In 2014, two completely antonymous groups of scientists were working on projects to cure the common cold and cancer, respectively. Through a series of unfortunate events these two cures somehow broke out, escaped, and merged to form an even more unfortunate super virus called Kellis-Amberly – KA for short. Soon after that, the first reports of the dead rising from their graves to chew on their living friends began to spread like wild-fire.

The story of FEED takes place in 2035, 25 years after The Rising. It centres around Georgia and her brother Shaun who grew up in a Post-Rising world where civilisation, albeit much reduced and confined, still thrives regardless of the constant threat from the dead. This threat is brought home to you from the beginning, when the first chapter opens showing Shaun poking a zombie with a stick to get a reaction for video to go on their blog, leading to a hair-raising scene of escape. Of course they escape in the first chapter! Otherwise this would be a very short novel and it isn’t.

There are a few things that set this novel apart from your average Zombie fare.

First, total annihilation of civilisation does not factor in here. People survived, the government and authorities took action (late, but enough) to preserve life and society. Now people live in safe neighbourhoods in cities and towns carefully fenced and guarded by the military. It means that moving between safe zones and not-so-safe zones requires a blood test, a sterilisation, and very careful logging of all movements to prevent an outbreak. It also means they still have electricity and internet, which is convenient considering our heroes are bloggers – spreading news of their adventures and discoveries through their website After The End Times. The fact that society did not collapse and people are not living without power and running water and heating is explained so simply, and seems so obvious, that it left me wondering why so many other zombie novels/movies/games work on the premise that there has been a total apocalypse. In this story life, only slightly different, goes on.

Second, everyone is infected. In fact, not just everyone, but every mammal over 40 pounds in weight is infected. The science behind this novel is very carefully researched and explained easily and believably through small snippets of information scattered liberally throughout the story. It works like this (without giving too much away) – the virus lies dormant in your body until you die and ‘go into amplification’ where the dormant virus goes live and re-animates your corpse, or you get bitten by an infected thing and the live-state virus is introduced to your bloodstream. Both ways, live-state virus = Zombie. The good news is this virus also kills all other viruses (good-bye common cold and AIDS) as well as mutated cells (bye-bye cancer). The bad news is, you will eventually become a zombie. You can only hope that you have someone who loves you enough to shoot you in the head when you die the first time.

Third, zombies are not the only thing that can kill you, and they’re not the only ones who might want you dead.

The Story:
Mira Grant tells the story through the eyes of Georgia, a news-oriented blogger, who travels with her brother Shaun, an adventure-oriented blogger, through the USA on the presidential-election campaign trail. The cover boasts the RSS Feed logo on the cover – so we’re talking about more than one sort of ‘feeding’ going on… The small team of bloggers sets out to tell the truth, delivering the news as they see it from the campaign trail. Unfortunately they stumble across a few rather enormous lies that they set about unravelling, making few friends and several enemies on the way.

Although this is a zombie novel, Mira hasn’t forgotten human nature, which, it seems, hasn’t changed much since The Rising. Her character building is superb, taking a slow and steady approach, and letting you make up your own mind about the cast as you go along. She keeps you on your toes, with liberal, heart-stopping action sequences, dotted with sudden background information just to change the pace and build the tension. I found myself screaming ‘JEEZ JUST GET ON WITH IT I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT’ several times throughout the novel.

That is possibly the only area in which I can fault this novel. Much of the science was very interesting, but didn’t need large sections of text to explain. The rest of the novel was enough to help me suspend my disbelief to the extent that I didn’t need to be further convinced by science that this world could be real. I have, on the other hand, found myself reading other books that don’t have enough focus on the why’s and wherefores of the story, making it hard to believe and thus hard to care about the outcome for the characters. I guess there’s just no pleasing me in this respect.

Overall, this book makes it so easy to live the story with the characters and feel for them as intensely as if you were there, and just when I was starting to get comfortable, Ms Grant threw in some totally unpredictable plot twists that had me reeling. I highly recommend anyone who enjoys reading novels that are meaty in plot and characters, heavy in action and tension, and page-turningly addictive. The story can stand alone but is actually the first part in a trilogy. I have already read and enjoyed part two, Deadline, and can’t wait for the third part which is out next year.

If you ever read it, let us all know what you think here, and also tell me: Do you like the idea of a different-but-still-in-tact society post-apocalypse such as this novel poses, or are you more a fan of the total-annihilation-of-life-as-we-know-it scenario posed by media such as Zombie Land and The Walking Dead?

~Parow

Note: Myra Grant is a pseudonym for Seanan McGuire

Mar 252011
 
 March 25, 2011  Posted by at 5:01 pm Reviews Tagged with: , , , , ,  No Responses »

Carol Lynn’s Cattle Valley

Well, I figured since I fell in love with these books (and several others) not long ago, I should make a little review and tantalise you guys with something delicious I discovered recently.

Best title for a mansexy novel ever

All Play, No Work - Cattle Valley Book 1

Cattle Valley is in fact a series of gay novels (over 20 ebooks now) by Carol Lynne centring around a fictional town called, you guessed it, Cattle Valley.  The town was started by a man who was a bazillionaire, who’s son was killed in a hate-crime many years ago for being gay.  This man bought land from the government, and created a town where people of all sexual orientations could live and love without judgement or prejudice. 

This, of course, neatly puts tons of hot gays and lesbians into one location.  Ever read a book, fiction or RP where EVERYONE is gay and it just doesn’t feel natural?  Well, this is how Carol deals with the co-incidence of having a town populated by almost exclusively gay, lesbian and bi-sexual couples (and one transvestite who appears as a side character in a later book.  I don’t know if she makes more of this character in subsequent stories because they’re not out yet).

So, what’s good about it?

As the name suggests, Cattle Valley revolves around a small town in a valley, surrounded by cattle farms.  So yes, this means cowboys.  Hot, sweaty cowboys in tight, worn and faded jeans man-handling enormous cows and bulls all over the shop, while flexing their lovely muscles and accidentally-on-purpose revealing their ripped six packs.  I like the gays, I like the cowboys, and so it follows that I like the gay cowboys.  It’s a win-win situation.  My inner yaoi fangirl squees when I see a new book is out in this series. 

Carol also deals with different styles of relationship.  Traditional gay couples, less-than-traditional d/s couples, and several threesomes are scattered around her novels, at least one of them involving a woman with two men, but most of them between three guys.  (A note on threesomes – in these books they are committed relationships that happen to contain three men.  Sometimes when I say ‘threesome’ it has the connotation of a one off encounter but not so with Carol’s books usually).

She also carefully and touchingly deals with the challenges all these lovely men face in their lives.  One of her characters is paralysed from the waist down, another novel’s main character has AIDS and another is diagnosed with Manic-Depression.  Another is a pastor who must deal with his faith and the community who was betrayed by their previous preacher.  Army veterans with PTSD, chefs with attitude problems, abusive exes, rodeo riders, sheriffs, surfers, fire-fighters *nosebleed*, divorced dads, the members of the town each have their story throughout the 20+ novels. 

One of my pet peeves is how a novel will sometimes start off with a character faced by these challenges and how somehow they all go away once the character has fallen in love and had mad mansexy timez.  Although we like to think mansex cures all ills, it just doesn’t.  In Cattle Valley, however, the characters usually still have a lot of issues by the end of the books.  They aren’t miraculously walking, or cured of AIDS, or over the trauma of war.  These things don’t just go away on their own in real life and they don’t just go away on their own in Cattle Valley.  Which makes the struggles you see the characters face all the more real and believable.  (And, for me, I love these guys even better than I might have if they weren’t so three dimensional).

What’s even better is, as the series continues, characters who you fell in love with don’t just disappear.  They are the friends, colleagues, family of the people in books to come, and their relationships are so neatly woven it took me a while to realise how cleverly knit together the series was as a whole.

You’d also think after 20 books Carol would have run out of new ways to have smexy timez.  She doesn’t.  It’s still hot and steamy but then, I find all mansex hot and steamy so maybe I’m just easy to please in this arena.  (Oh, and I don’t think she ever forgets the lube and condoms.  Gotta love a modern woman!)

Warning (or maybe Advertising): There’s girlsex!

Well, Cattle Valley doesn’t just cater to gay men.  It also caters to the ladies who like ladies.  And since we’re all about free loving on this website, I had to mention this.  Carol Lynn does not write the books centred around the lesbian couples (and I haven’t read them because I’m just not into girls so I can’t pass judgement) they are written by Jenna Byrd for the series.  And these smexy ladies make appearances in the other Cattle Valley books that I have read.  If you like girlsex, read them, I say.

Like, Girlsexy Stuff

Truth Or Dare by Jenna Byrd

What’s not so amazing about Cattle Valley?

Um, I really struggle to think what sucks about this series coz nothing does.  It’s easy, sexy reading and I love it.  If you’re after a vocabulary lesson or a deep philosophical discussion on life, the universe, and everything, perhaps these novels aren’t for you.

I suppose if I had to pin down one tiny thing then it’s how Carol likes to tease us at the end of each book with a glimpse of what will happen in the next book – or rather, WHO will happen in the next book.  She has this seamless way of weaving character interactions together that you don’t even realise you’re desperate for THAT GUY’S story until that last chapter when she hints he’ll be the focus of the next book.  It makes me want to scream at her for teasing me!  Um, I guess that’s a bad thing?  Actually it isn’t, but in one or two these glimpses are less natural and more shoe-horned in so they’re a bit jarring at the end.

Also the books are usually less than 100 pages long and I prefer longer novels.

Tl;dr version?

In a nutshell, I recommend you try the books.  Even the first one is worth the effort and once you read that I’m pretty sure that most of you will enjoy it and want to read more.


Carol Lynne doesn’t just write Cattle Valley, she has several other series and stand alone books are available at http://www.carol-lynne.net/ (for a shorter series I recommend her Poker Night series – very enjoyable)
All the Cattle Valley books are at http://www.cattlevalley.net (including the girlsexy Jenna Byrd ones).


This review is my honest opinion. I don’t know Carol Lynne, and she doesn’t know I worship her from afar.

Dec 022010
 
 December 2, 2010  Posted by at 3:07 pm General, Reviews Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »

My favourite illegal movie site (tvshack) died a while back upon being seized by the US government for piracy.  So I haven’t really been keeping up at all.  This weekend I found out that it didn’t die, it merely changed its name because the government, in their wisdom, seized the domain NAME and not the LINKS which is how the site operates.  (Yay! Now I can catch up on Supernatural and recommence dreaming I’m married to Dean and his hot car)

Anyway, the new tvshack still has everything that the old one did (although now it’s a tad slower and has loads of pop-ups – the fact is it’s free so I can deal with closing the occasional window offering me Tibetan wives and help with my erectile dysfunction).  (I’m a girl).

A few years ago, I went to Spain on holiday, and at the airport on the way there I bought Twilight the book.  I loved it so damn much but it got stolen (along with my passport and ipod) before I could finish it, and the whole thing led to me buying the entire series in one go upon my return home from that gin-soaked-but-twilightless holiday.  And I read all books in a week or something.  I loved it.  I loved all of it.  However, when I finally watched the movie, having loved the books so much, I was so thoroughly disappointed I swore off all things Twilight related, sparkly vampires or not.  I couldn’t take how awful it was.  I still think it was pretty awful and not at all like what I pictured when reading the books. So I refused to finish the movie and didn’t watch the others – my version of throwing a ‘you didn’t do it right I hate you’ tantrum.

But when was that, 2008/9?  Anyway, I realised upon finding tvshack hadn’t died but merely changed it’s name slightly, that I was over my disappointment and ready to give the other Twilight movies a chance.  So I watched them all in order last weekend when I should have been studying.  No, they didn’t get much better but at least I didn’t feel like gouging out my own eyes or anything.  And I will probably actually pay to watch the next one all legal and aboveboard like a good little girl who deserves to have a werewolf boyfriend (who is hot and well hung, maybe).

Unlike Bella who is a sap.

And yes, I really meant all of the above as my little intro to the fact that I am now firmly TEAM JACOB entrenched.

Jacob Black played by Taylor Lautna

Yummy Wolfy

*waves pompoms*

What really made the ultimate decision, though, was not Jacob’s hotness (although I confess there were some drool-worthy moments and I had to disagree with Edward when he made a comment about all the shirtless scenes.  Run around shirtless, I say.  Good doggie) (yes, this makes me a pedo pervert coz he’s like 12).  What actually decided me to be Team Jacob (huzzah!) was Edwards NOT hotness.

He’s a big wet girl’s blouse.  Lord.  Didn’t someone tell him that emo is only hot if you DON’T actually cry all the damn time?  And that genuine emotion is much hotter than ‘I’m so tortured and my emotions are better and more intense than yours coz I’m pretty’.  Jeez, go write in your diary, dude, and talk to me when you get over your damn self in, maybe, another 200 years.  I found myself rolling my eyes whenever he was on the scene.  He also has a squeaky voice and I want to poke his eyes out with chopsticks to give him something to really cry over.

I also want to tell Bella to just fade away coz she’s such a non-entity.

What’s truly sad is that I’d take Edward and his soppiness and Jacob and his hotness and meld them together in a big mansexy yaoi-infused orgy.  Throw in Emmet in a dress and you got me hooked.  Yeah – I guess that would improve the movies as a whole.  But we can leave the books as they are since they’re pretty good as is.

In other news:  I don’t actually have anything to say on Tiramisu, I just like things in threes and that was the first thing with a T that I could think of.  Probably coz I want desert.

Edit:  It seems the government are smart – they’ve siezed the new tvshack too!  Go FEDS!

Sep 222010
 

I went to a Framing Hanley gig in Birmingham on Thursday last week. Yes, it’s been a week and I’m only writing about it now. So shoot me.

It was a long two hour drive up there during which time I listened to their first album The Moment from start to finish over and over to get me in the mood (no, I didn’t get tired of it!). And it worked a charm! The gig was fantastic! Both bands I saw (I was late so missed the first one, sorry Brooke, I’ll catch you guys when you’re in the UK next time, maybe) were energetic and the crowd ate them up. Framing Hanley in particular.

The other band was called Just Surrender, and they were excellent too. I bought their CD and I’m definitely a newly converted fan. Dynamic, various, a very good listen. Their style is a little rough but all the more attractive to me for that, especially their faster paced numbers which had me bouncing around in the seat of my car – not a good plan at 90mph on the motorway!

Framing Hanley were brilliant live! Totally worth the long drive. Between numorous junk touches, and his new habit of lifting his shirt, Kenneth Nixon entertained us from behind a thick fringe of hair with a charismatic style, and seemed to occupy every corner of the stage at once. The whole band was on point the whole way through except for one bad note by Luke who got the mickey taken out of him afterwards to the enjoyment of the crowd. (I love Luke, he seems so crazy in love with the music).  Chris on the drums was like a dynamo.  That guy don’t quit!

The first single to be released in the UK is called Back to Go Again off their second album, and it’s much lighter, more polished than anything on their previous album. The new album, Promise to Burn, is much more polished in general. A smoother sound, a little less aggressive but no less passionate. Not what I expected at all.

I listened to the new album all the way back home again – having bought it at the gig – and I love it! It’s NOT the Framing Hanley that we know and love. It’s a different, grown up, Framing Hanley. Their tone has mellowed, their message has become more varied as if they have more to sing about now. They’re a lot more sing along than the previous album, too, and much lighter and more mainstream – perhaps to appeal to a wider audience.

Whether this move is strategic or part of their natural development is a moot point because, whatever the reason, the sound is good. But it left me totally confused! Somehow, simultaneously, I find myself missing the old stuff, and wanting more of the new.

Verdict? Buy both albums, it’s like two different bands, anyway. And if you have a chance to see Framing Hanely live, do it!

Jul 112010
 
 July 11, 2010  Posted by at 4:23 pm Featured Articles, Reviews Tagged with: , ,  2 Responses »

Well, I just finished watching Kirepapa.  Two OVAs involving a father and son and their lovers.  Gay – obviously!!  😉

A kiss!

The story of the animation (I’m told there is more to the manga) deals with Chisato, he unbelievably young-looking, gorgeous, 30-something year old father of the extremely cute Riju, and his antics in keeping Riju safe from the nefarious attentions of his young school friends.  His efforts are in vein though, when it comes to one Shinsuke, Riju’s most persistent friend.  But it’s not Riju that Shinsuke is truly pursuing.

I must say it was cute.  The animation was pretty, and clean which I like.  The characters all your average bishounen which I also like. There were plenty of chuckles along the way although I won’t say I had any deep belly laughs.  But sweet, none-the-less.  And fluffy, if that’s your style (it is mine!).

I wasn’t too impressed with the over use of chibbi-kitty style for the main character, although I liked it in the first OVA, two OVAs back to back made it just a smidge too much.  Perhaps if I hadn’t watched them together, but left some time between, I would not have noticed.

All in all I give it, maybe, 6 out of ten.  I would have liked to see more development of the characters, and a lot more smexy timez! But over all, it’s worth a watch.

If you’ve seen it, why not tell us what you thought of it?

Thanks Trixilein for this information:
As it turns out the manga of Kirepapa by Takagi-sensei is licenced.  Which means the incomplete scanlation might never be finished.  We can only hope and pray!

Until then, you can read the incomplete manga here.  And I know the OVAs are available for download via torrent from aarinfantasy.com/forums