Monday, 14 November 2011

First Look Reviews Vol 2. Incredibly Vague Job Descriptions and Sword-wielding Maniacs

MANGA
Berserk - Berserk is one of those things I desperately try to like, but cannot really bring myself to do so, except when I'm in the right kind of mood. Simply put, I think this one would really benefit more from a re-read. The art is beautifully ugly, and the story is quite unique and delightfully misanthropic. The view of God as a being created out of the unfulfilled desires of man amuses me quite a lot, and I'm sure there are a hell of a lot more good things about Berserk. But as it stands, I'm either not in the right mood for it, or I'm not ready yet for something like this. As for the antinatalist take on things, there is really so much there. Gone are those ignorant 'good will always prevail', 'things will work out in the end' tropes, replaced by crazed continuous evil.
Claymore - Claymore is generally said to be a manga very like Berserk - in that it is probably one of the only so-called 'Dark Fantasy' type manga available. I'm not sure I really agree with that. While the visuals in both are stunning, and terrifying at the same time, Claymore isn't really much of a critique on anything at all, or at least, if it is, it's too deep for me to get. Not that there's anything wrong with Claymore for being this way, au contraire, it stands on its own two feet as a great manga without doing that. A warning however - it does really take a while to get into. It gets so much better, but you really do have to wait until it does. 
Hunter x Hunter - I began into this knowing of a few good reviews, somewhat hoping they were wrong, due to the sheer absurdity and vagueness of the premise. People who find rare things? Who cares, right? But as it turned out, a couple of chapters in, I was pretty damn captivated to say the least. It's one of those unique feelings that are quite unexplainable to onlookers - the bare bones of the manga is typical shounen fare. There are a lot of entertaining deviations from this, enough I'd say to place it as a quite a good manga, but there isn't actually enough bulk there to back it up. Of course, that's what it seems like from a rather harsh, critical viewpoint. The minimalism present, however, I find adds quite well to the setting, and even though the backstory isn't as adequately fleshed out as one would like, it doesn't have to be. It certainly goes towards proving that. Every shounen anime or manga I have fixed my eyes upon has had some sort of gimmick to both draw you in in the short term, and to addict you to in the long term. Hunter x Hunter, for me, as far as I have read, doesn't actually seem to have that. I really cannot pinpoint anything in it that I find particularly addicting, but still, the whole thing as it stands, is. This is in contrast to Berserk, which has many things within it that I adore, but that I do not, at the moment, like.

BOOKS
Speaker for the Dead - Ender's Game was by far the best science fiction novel I have ever read. Now it isn't like I'm exactly the go-to guy for that kind of thing, considering my relative inexperience with, uh, everything. But keeping that first statement in mind, I had really high hopes for this book. Now I wouldn't say they were dashed to the ground or anything, but I was a little, just a little, bit disappointed. I just think that the setting overall was a bad idea. Small catholic colony? Kind of boring, sorry. It took me such a long time to actually give a crap about anything going on that the first part of the book was just a blur for me. But now that I'm in the middle, I can judge this properly, and I can say that it's a good book, definitely, it's a well-thought out book, but it's not one of the best books.

3 comments:

  1. There was a significant amount of time where Speaker for the Dead was my favorite book.

    Avoid Card's more recent stuff, though. He went pretty crazy around the new millennium.

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  2. I was really surprised when I discovered that Card is actually quite a staunch Mormon. But even though Ender's Game doesn't really have anything remotely Mormon in it, with Speaker for the Dead I'm starting to see that some of the bashing of the Catholic morality probably, not as I first thought, isn't anything to do with Card being secular or anything like that, but it's simply a byproduct of his Mormon faith. Not that I really mind that he's a bit of a homophobe, and a really strong natalist, it's just that it's kind of like learning to read. You can never just appreciate the shapes of letters without reading them. As for his other works, I am really looking forward to reading the Shadow series, simply because I found the parts focussing on Ender's siblings and their rise to power probably the best part of Ender's game, not that I care to admit it.

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  3. Don't even get me started on Card. He is one of the most homophobic, misogynistic assholes out there. He thinks the only reason people don't turn gay is because it's a social taboo. I'm not one to throw around insinuations of closeted homosexuality lightly, but seriously. If you take one look at his description of how pequeninos reproduce, you know the guy has some major issues in the sex department. IIRC, there are also several religious couples practicing celibate marriages and little boys running around naked at Ender's military school while being trained to become killing machines. Total fucked-upness. I even found him disturbing when I was a Mormon and trying really hard to feel proud of my fellow member who achieved national notoriety. No offense to your literary tastes, though, guys. His writing is pretty good, aside from the morbid plots.

    Speaking for the dead may have something to do with baptisms for the dead, though I never finished Speaker to make sure the parallels were there. The image of babies gnawing their way out of their mother's uterus kind of put a damper on my enjoyment of the book. Plus, I was really worried about becoming pregnant when I read it because elective abortion is a no-no if you're a Mormon, so that image certainly didn't help.

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