Culture Consumption December 2016

Posted January 2, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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What I've Posted

What I've Read

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu: As I was chatting with a friend about YOI, she recommended Check, Please! as a thing to read. I, uh, may have devoured it in an evening whilst waiting for the season finale of Yuri!!! On Ice to air. (I made it too! By the skin of my teeth and only thanks to simulcast delays.) Bitty is the most adorable. I did constantly worry that I was missing bits of narrative, though. I don’t think I was? I checked. Which is a shame because I would really have liked to feel like what I read fit together more tightly narratively. But that aside I really enjoyed it. It’s very sweet, upbeat and positive. I really liked the friendships between all the characters. (And Bitty. Let’s be honest, I read the whole webcomic because Bitty is the most adorable.) Would happily recommend if you’ve not read it yet and need more happy queer skating in your life. Also if you don’t need more happy queer skating in your life. Read if you just need something warm, fuzzy and positive to wrap around you like a fleece blanket on a cold evening.

Crystal Shrouded Goddess by Megan Cutler: This was a pretty interesting read. It’s not wowed me just yet and I’m not entirely sold on the way the narrative uses mythology. Or the writing style. (I’m picky, sorry not sorry. The writing style could do with a fair bit more polish.) But it’s a quick, fun introduction to the setting and the conflict and it does a pretty good job at reading like “episode 1 of a magical girl series”. I’m curious to see what happens next, but I’m not in a hurry to find out either.

Hurricane Heels by Isabel Yap: I wasn’t as wowed by this as I’d hoped to be. I really, really liked the concept of following a group of magical girls when they’re adults and seeing how their lives have been affected. I really liked that Yap wove the past narratives through to the present because it means we also get the origin story. But I felt the way many of the scenes switched to be sudden and the copy I had had some major issues. (Notably, one of the stories had been repeated. And not in an “Oh, we’re in a timeloop, things are going to play out differently” way. In an “Oh, I accidentally pasted this story in twice” kind of way”.) I also felt that, though the story hits most beats of a magical girl series, it misses out on a crucial one: why is this character the central character in the narrative? And, admittedly, I felt the general present-time plot to be predictable and wished Yap had brought the same level of nuance to it that was present in the rest of the text: from the characters and their reactions, to the way it deals with PTSD, to the diversity present in the cast itself, to the female friendships formed and celebrated in the story, to the way the story tries to interrogate the concept that love and faith are all a magical girl needs to save the world.

Tales from the Outer Lands by Shira Glassman: This contains two shorter stories set in Glassman’s Mangoverse setting. The first deals with Rivka rescuing an asexual woman from being sold off into marriage, which was lovely. I really liked how Glassman handled the fact that Rivka and Stella couldn’t speak the same language and how they found a way to communicate anyway. The second deals with Aviva getting abducted by aliens. The strong SF elements felt a little out of place given the rest of the setting in the books, but there’s no denying it’s a fun little piece about the importance of family and our loved ones.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland: A historical f/f YA with a happy ending! Well, predominantly happy ending. It’s not quite what the narrator wanted. I wasn’t sure what to expect of this. It was a little more predictable than I’d wanted in some ways, not dark enough in others, but it was a satisfying read all the same. Plus, did I mention the happy ending yet? Because I really appreciated the fact that love did not end tragically. I enjoyed this and would definitely recommend it to people, especially if they’re looking for an f/f historical romance that doesn’t end in tragedy. It’s a quick read too. ^_^

Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra by Kevin Panetta: I really, really loved the first two issues of the comic when I read them and I finally got a chance to read the other two! Yes! Unfortunately, when I read them I was cranky and tired and my ability to parse comics was even lower than normal. It meant that, while I really enjoyed the backstory of the villain, I felt that she was perhaps not as well-built up as she could have been. Still, the art is bright and colourful and the narrative is a powerful one. It’s a fairly straight-forward take, apart from the villain, and it doesn’t contain too many surprises, but it’s a little delight to read. From the details in the artwork to the narrative itself, it just exudes love for the genre and fun.

What I'm Reading

HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt: Yep. Still reading this one. Slowly. I swear, I hate this book more with every page I read, but I’m determined to finish the bilingual read-through project. It just won’t be as quickly as I was anticipating when I got started.

What I've Played

Chroma Squad: This is… interesting? I’m not very far into the game yet, though. So far the narrative is very subpar and the gameplay isn’t too exciting, but it’s an enjoyable way to spend the time even so. Because I’m me and don’t care about spoilers most of the time, I have some idea of what’s coming, so I’m hopeful that the story is going to pick up too. Plus, it gets props for letting me make an all-girl Super Sentai team or an “All-girls except for the moral support characters” team, if I want to. (I did want to.) I just wish that the subpar narrative at the start felt like it was supposed to be subpar.

Torment: Tides of Numenora Beta: I played through part of the beta very briefly a while back, just to see if I’d like it. With the release day having been announced, I thought I’d play through the rest of the beta. It’s a lot of fun! You may find the setting a little hard to adjust to. It’s very strongly science fantasy and, unlike most science fantasy stories I’m familiar with, aims for a balance between the two rather than strongly leaning to one side with underpinnings of the other. I find it delicious once you’ve settled into it properly and I’ve found the gameplay quite rewarding, especially the way pretty much every quest or crisis (read: combat) has multiple solutions. I’m looking forward to whenever I get to play the full version of the game!

What I've Watched

Fune wo Amu: Because we all need more stories about dictionary-making in our lives. I’ve actually found the timeline pretty disorienting. The anime covers a lot of time and it doesn’t really announce when they’re skipping ahead. For example, in one episode, Majime confesses his feelings to Kaguya. In the next, you get a very casual mention of the fact that they’re married. I get that the show isn’t telling us the story of Majime’s life, but wow that was dissonant for me because it was so unexpected and sudden. (I don’t want or need to see a big wedding. I just would’ve liked a little more warning than a throwaway line.) Maybe that’s just me and I missed some vital clue in how the anime treats time passing. :/

Sera Myu: Amour Eternal: My livetweet reaction is here. This was so cute! I do think it was the weakest of the recent revival musicals narratively, though. The story struggled to balance its narratives effectively because there’s just too many characters and plotlines to flesh out in the time available. That’s a shame because the cast is having as much fun as ever with the storyline and the narrative between Usagi and Nehelennia is really nicely done. But as fun as this arc in the narrative is, it’s also always been one of the weakest in Sailor Moon, with its sudden and unexpected expansion of how the past!Earth kingdom used to work and the restraints of having to tell the story in a single musical length piece really don’t do it any favours either. It’s fun if you know the story and the characters and the actresses are all a delight to watch, but it’s not up there with the previous three because the narratives just get too muddled and they never have a chance to flesh out properly.

Yuri!!! On Ice: MY HEART. I will do my best not to all-caps at you all, but MY HEART. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been this enthused over a show (no, the Sailor Moon revivals don’t count; I already know how those are going to go) or this caught up in them. I loved it. I adored it. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to study storytelling because this story is just SO layered and carefully constructed. It’s gorgeous. I look forward to rewatching the show (and the finale) a few more times to tease more out of the narrative. At first glance, episode 12 seems less tied to the rest emotionally, but I don’t think it really is. It’s just a much subtler twist to notice. Really hoping that there’ll be a season 2 as well. I’d love to see them explore Victor’s conflicted feelings more and to see Yuuri and Yurio grow as people. (Also, I need a spinoff show that focuses on a production of The King and the Skater starring Phichit. Who ropes all his friends into performing the show along with him. With hamster costumes.)

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