My 2019 anime guide

Pretty thin season, like usual. Of those currently airing, I’m only really watching two: Kakegurui XX and Boogiepop and Others.

The second season of Kakegurui is business as usual, with a twist that we’re seeing an unusual amount of new content, original to the anime only. The Tower of Doors arc got cut (but, mysteriously, there’s an anime poster for it… hmm) so we’re derived of the lesbian fall into a field of white lilies–I’m being literal, two girls fall into a field of white lilies after confessing their love, sort of–but we’re treated to the anime-original character, Batsubami Rei, a butch lesbian who’s been turning girls’ heads and who is just a massive walking tower of gay. She’s good and a much-needed addition to Kakegurui’s yuri bait: the only butch in either show or manga, and the only girl period to wear the academy’s boy uniform. Mmm, gay. The anime also seems to be setting up the Vice President and Saotome Mary as a ship in a big way that I don’t recall being in the manga. Mmm, very gay. Sayaka also comes really close to tasing a man to death for the crime of invading the president’s personal space so there’s hope yet that the anime will go ahead with confirming them as a couple.

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Guest post: A Few of the Little Red Reviewer’s Favorite Things

Today I’ve got Andrea over from The Little Red Reviewer! She’s a superb reviewer, smart, and all around a lovely person, and today she’s here to tell you about her new Kickstarter project. Without further ado…

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These are a few of my favorite things

When The Little Red Reviewer first started, the books I reviewed came from my bookshelf or from the library.  I’d scan the “new” shelf at the library and see what caught my eye.  Guilty as charged: I was mostly reading popular books from big publishers, as at the time, those were the books that were easiest to find. So, it’s 2010, 2011, and my blog is chugging along nicely. The books I was reading were fun and all, but I felt like I was reading the same story over and over and over again.  There had to be more out there, the universe couldn’t possibly be this small.

And then around 2012 / 2013 two events occurred that changed my world:  I read my first Clockwork Phoenix anthology from Mike Allen, and I attended a small science fiction-fantasy convention in Ohio. Mike has now put out 5 volumes of the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies, and that first one that I read was a watershed moment for me.  I had struggled with anthologies for what felt like forever, and this was the first time I felt like an anthology worked for me.   I thought I didn’t like short stories, I thought I didn’t like anthologies. Little did I realize that what I was really saying was “I’ve not yet found an anthology that works for me”.

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Tops Things I Liked in 2018

Kamen Rider Amazons is the franchise’s first ever foray into something made for adults, and is not made explicitly to sell toys. It’s very dark, as in literally there’s a gray filter, and quite satisfying. Fantastic acting in general, barring a few weak links. I want more Kamen Rider like this.

Miss Sherlock is probably the only take on Sherlock Holmes I’ll ever care for. Just read my review.

ผลการค้นหารูปภาพสำหรับ golden kamuy anime

Golden Kamuy! What an amazing show: come for the cooking segments, stay for the surprisingly poignant tear-jerkers, sweet dogs, Ainu lessons, and homoeroticism that reaches its peak in a sauna wrestling session that looks and sounds indistinguishable from a gay orgy. It’d be nice if the cast had a bit more female presence, but the female characters are broadly quite good. Worth noting, the author raves quite a bit on the beauty of the naked male body.

The beautiful nudity of men. I want to keep drawing the naked bodies of men, be they pot-bellied or with thick chest hair.

ผลการค้นหารูปภาพสำหรับ double decker kirill

Double Decker Doug and Kirill is easily the best anime I’ve watched in ages. Canon lesbians who are neither tragic nor fetishized? Got it; see the blonde and the white-haired albino. A fictional America-alike city where there’s a very decent presence of characters of color (Latinx, black, and others)? Yup. Fanservice? Not a goddamn chance. It’s wholesome, hilarious, dramatic, unique, and just absolutely joyous: as much an earnest story of its own as a parody of cop buddy tropes. It’s not unproblematic and the way it treats Kirill’s sibling pretty weirdly. On the whole though, I recommend this one heartily.

Short stories

Ruin’s Cure by Vajra Chandrasekera is, technically, a time-travel story but obviously it’s more than that. Playful, striking, tragic and really weird, as to be expected of a Vajra story. I love it.

The Ghost Stories We Tell Around Photon Fires by Cassandra Khaw. So originally I picked another story from Cass I read this year but remembered this one. This is a reprint but new to me, and I described when I first read it as ‘Gorgeous, like fractal ice’. It’s a love story and a loss story, and demonstrates a perfection of form I rarely find anywhere else.

Books

Not all of these came out in 2018 but I read them this year, so.

The Devourers by Indrapramit Das
An Unkindness of Ghosts by River Solomon
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar

My Stuff

I did my first podcast ever! Here’s an interview with me and my co-author, J. Moufawad-Paul, hosted on PoliTreks and a discussion on the book we wrote together, Methods Devour Themselves hosted on Revolutionary Left Radio.  The book came out in August this year and, as of this writing, very cheap on Amazon. It contains what I think is a pretty unusual interplay of fiction and critical engagement; from me there are two original stories, ‘Krungthep is an Onomatopoeia’ and ‘That Rough-Hewn Sun’, the latter being a (quite long!) prequel novelette to Winterglass.

Whose sequel, Mirrorstrike, was announced a few months ago. Slated for late next year, and which I’m pretty chuffed about. It’s longer, more, and I went into it with a great deal more ambition.

Short fiction-wise, this year I spent a lot of time working on… well, other things, one of them Mirrorstrike, yes. (You’d think writing a short novel shouldn’t take that long and for some writers I’m sure it would have been completed within a month. I’m not one of those writers. Also it took me multiple drafts. Ridiculous.)

The Five Secret Truths of Demonkind in Big Echo. The earth is cursed; humans are doomed to become monsters. A demon breaches virtue’s fortress in search of God.

‘Red as Water, White as Ruin’ in Mythic Delirium. An expedition journeys to a land devastated by an unknown apocalypse, navigating an impossible curse and an impossible survivor. Secondary-world horror/dark fantasy.

‘The Owls of Juttshatan’.On a cold world of slow-moving terns, a child grows in the shadow of her mother the war hero. She is a creature of peace, raised in quiet among maps and dreams and owls. But she can be more, if she chooses. A space opera novelette of brutal bildungsroman. Prequel to ‘Autodidact’.

MIRRORSTRIKE announced!

Winterglass now officially has a sequel! Official post on Apex:

With her mother’s blood fresh on her hands, Nuawa has learned that to overthrow the tyrant Winter Queen she must be as exact as a bullet … and as pitiless.

In the greatest city of winter, a revolt has broken out and General Lussadh has arrived to suppress it. She’s no stranger to treason, for this city is her home where she slaughtered her own family for the Winter Queen.

Accompanying the general to prove her loyalty, Nuawa confronts a rebel who once worked to end the queen’s reign and who now holds secrets that will cement the queen’s rule. But this is not Nuawa’s only predicament. A relentless killer has emerged and he means to hunt down anyone who holds in their heart a shard of the queen’s mirror. Like the general. Like Nuawa herself.

On these fields of tumult and shattered history, the queen’s purposes will at last be revealed, and both Lussadh and Nuawa tested to their limits.

One to wake. Two to bind. These are the laws that govern those of the glass.

Mirrorstrike is scheduled for late 2019. I’m, obviously, very excited about this. The sequel will be a good bit longer than book one, the stakes are higher, everything will be more. To celebrate the occasion, here is an illustration of the Winter Queen by  the fantastically talented Thai artist Moga.

winterqueen

‘Whatever Remains, However Improable, Must be the Truth’ (Miss Sherlock, 2018)

There must be something compelling about the Sherlock Holmes canon that has spawned what is, by now, its own sub-genre — a billion retellings, as it were, seemingly as prevalent as (if not more) than retellings of Grimm’s fairytales. I’ve never been particularly interested, and anyway procedurals and mysteries aren’t my kind of thing.

Miss Sherlock stands out not just because this time around both Sherlock Holmes and Watson are Japanese women, but by how they’re handled. Modern incarnations of Sherlock Holmes tend toward the antisocial, asshole genius and that’s all well and good, but what if the antisocial, asshole genius is a woman? Probably she was traumatized; probably she will be threatened with rape at least once during the cause of the show, if not some sort of suggestively filmed violence.

Not this one.

Tachibana Wato — Wato-san, you see, a bilingual pun so bad it’s good— is a volunteer medic who’s just returned from Syria; at the airport, she meets her mentor, whose stomach promptly explodes (fridged men casualty count: 1) and demonstrates that the show doesn’t shy away from gore. Enter Sherlock (who has a real name but which goes unmentioned in the show), a consulting detective the police call in when they encounter unsolvable cases. You know the drill. The hotel at which Wato stays goes up in fire by the end of episode one, forcing her to co-habit with the gorgeous, impeccably dressed detective, and if you’ve read that fanfiction before…

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Kamen Rider Amazons

I never thought I’d compare a Kamen Rider title to Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan, but here we are. The show itself contains considerable amounts of gore, especially in the second season, some of which looks rather fake and some of which looks realistic enough to potentially nauesate. Spoiler warnings for season two, which isn’t available on English-language Amazon yet.

Kamen Rider Amazons is the franchise’s first experiment with making something that aims for an audience a little older than ten to twelve. The result is very interesting, unusual for this property, and while it’s not all great there’s a lot to recommend. The first thing to address is probably that, while this is a Darker and Grittier… side-reboot?, it abstains from the usual excess of sexual assault and so forth that accompanies the idea of dark-and-grit; when your main franchise is for selling children’s toys you don’t want that associated with onscreen graphic rape. The second thing is that, okay, there’s no nice way to put it: newer Kamen Rider titles look like shit. I’ve tried to watch post-Kabuto titles and there’s no perceptible improvement in CGI between Kamen Rider Kabuto (2006-2007) and Kamen Rider Build (2017-2018). Arguably the fight choreography is worse. Certainly the actors are far, far worse. I don’t know what happened here, whether it’s a budget issue or if they just churned these out quickly with the sole intention of selling merch and assuming that children don’t know any better. I’m pretty sure ten-year-olds these days recognize and complain about bad CGI, though.

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