Manga Review: Noragami: The Stray God vol.1

 

Synopsis:

DIVINE INTERVENTION FOR SALE

Yato is a homeless god. He doesn’t even have a shrine, not to mention worshippers! So to achieve his ambitious goals, he’s set up a service to help those in need (for a small fee), hoping he’ll eventually raise enough money to build himself the lavish temple of his dreams. Of course, he can’t afford to be picky, so Yato accepts all kinds of jobs, from finding lost kittens to helping a student overcome bullies at school.

What I First Thought:

I watched the anime last year right before a set of finals and I was hooked. It isn’t your typical story and the characters aren’t what they first appear as. I had a coupon for Barnes & Noble one day so I decided to grab the first few volumes of the manga while I waited for the second season to hit the US.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

3/5

It never ceases to amaze me how different it is to read the manga vs. the anime, either the characters don’t sound like you imagined or the tone is completely different than expected. The humor reads a lot differently than in the anime. For the manga, some of the humor as it travels across the world, through translation and due to our standards of comedy. On the page some of the humor just losses its impact or is harder to pick up, it’s almost like how British humor can go over Americans’ heads. If you have an ear and taste for it, you’ll probably laugh as much as you should, if not it just looks confusing. For me, it a hit or miss, though I hope there were hits than misses.

A lot of the manga that I’ve read before spend a good chunk of the first volume to set up the premise of the story, going into some details about the world/setting to get the readers comfortable and on task. Noragami, however, does most of the set up in the first chapter and then subtly sketches out a rough outline of how the story will go. It’s a simple plot and definitely not completely unique in concept, but I think it’s the story telling that will make it stand out from others like it. It’s about gods and demons and wayward souls; it’s about some of the darker parts of humanity and where it might come from. It’s nothing new, but the characters are different than what they first appear and they have a depth that I can already tell will only go deeper as the story progresses. The first volume only gives you a taste of the main characters, but it makes you care enough to want to read further.

Overall, it’s a good start of a story. The plot is a little rough looking, but I’ll cut the writer some slack since it’s their first time actually writing the story. I can already tell that this will be a different kind of manga than I’m use to and I’m looking forward to continuing on!

Details:

Title: Noragami  (Vol. 1)

Chapters: 1-3

Written by: Adachitoka

Artist:  Adachitoka

Translation/Adaptation: Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley

Publisher:  Kodansha Comics

Published:  September 2nd, 2014

Pages: 200

Genre: Manga, Shonen, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythology

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Short Story Review: The Murdered Cousin (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Murdered Cousin (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Sheridan Le Fanu

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Gothic

Pages: 20 (142-161)

Thoughts:

For the life of me I could not finish this short story. It took me days to try to read it and I only got about six pages in before I just couldn’t do it anymore. At first I wanted to give myself a little break because while on their own not many of these stories scared me, but when mixed together they can be quite frightening. My brain decided to do just that and I had a rather disturbing nightmare that convinced me to take a short break from the short stories, especially since this one was titled The Murdered Cousin, which one can assume is scary. Honestly, I don’t know if it is a frightening tale because six pages in and the actually story is starting to unfold.

The first few pages of the story is nothing but backstory as to why the main character is going to the location of the story. It’s not that long of a back story, but the writing is so dreadfully convoluted that it takes forever for the author to say anything. I’ve read old stories and normally there’s a little bit of a grace period for me to switch from current writing to something older, but I just couldn’t do it with this one.

The sentence structure is terrible, while grammatically correct they can run on for lines and lines and lines at a time being separated by semicolons instead of periods. There’s no variance in the sentence structure either, their either long with multiple thoughts or they’re really short. The paragraphs are much the same way, really short or half the page. I think the longest sentence that I found was one of three in a single paragraph, it took up several lines and had about six or seven semicolons. That all bothers me because my brain just can’t stay focused on a style like that. Many times I found myself yawning and fighting sleep in the middle of the day while reading this.

Rating:

Did not finish. So I can’t actually give this a rating, but I can give a list as to why I couldn’t finish.

  • Impossibly long sentences, but actually grammatically correct, they just aren’t done anymore.
  • 6 pages in and we’re just getting to the start of the actual story.
  • 6 pages of nothing but back ground, but not a whole lot of back ground to cover, just a lot of thoughts that take up several pages.
  • After several pages I know more about the non-perspective main character than the main character telling the actually story.
  • There’s some intrigue to keep me reading, but not enough to endure the writing style.
  • Paragraphs are either short with impossibly long sentences or long with a mixture of short and long sentences.
  • Really just feels like word vomit sometimes.
  • I couldn’t stay awake enough to keep me invested in the story. A minute after putting it down, I would stop yawning and feel a hundred times more awake.

The biggest problem for me was the author’s writing style, it was not something I could enjoy even with a bit of effort. But if it’s something that doesn’t bother you I would give The Murdered Cousin a try, the idea and premise sounded interesting enough.

Graphic Novel Review: Thor vol.2 Who Holds the Hammer?

Synopsis:

The Odinson pops the question: Who is the new Thor?

The Odinson wants Mjolnir back−and that means uncovering the identity of the new heroine holding the hammer! As he narrows down the list of suspects, tensions continue to flare between the All-Mother and All-Father. As Malekith the Dark Elf forges his most dangerous pact yet, the new Thor prepares to face her greatest challenge: the unstoppable machine of death and destruction that is…the Destroyer! While the battle for Mjolnir rages on an unexpected character makes a shocking return−and the new Thor’s identity is revealed at last! Plus: Young Thor enters a drinking competition! The new Thor takes on a surprising foe! In the future, King Thor’s granddaughters quest to find him the perfect birthday gift! And more!

First Thought:

After reading the last volume in this series I immediately rushed to purchase this one. I really wanted to find out who the new Thor is and if my suspicions are true! And after the fantastic job that was the previous volume, I’m more than excited to continue reading.

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

This one wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The main story is just three action packed issues, while the rest appear to be three short stories and a release of an issue from the 70s. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how to rate this one so bear with me on this review!

I really enjoyed the main story; there was a lot of action, plot advancements, and character development. In just three issues you get a really cool action-packed fight scene with the Destroyer. Normally I hate it when an action sequence is spread out too long, it reminds me of Dragon Ball Z and similar works with impossibly long battles that drag on forever. However, this one didn’t bug me because it was a really interesting battle. You get to see more of Thor’s personality as she fights the Destroyer, you see her get her lights knocked out and dragged through the dirt. You get to see what drives her to be Thor, why she won’t just give up. And in this fight you get to see other characters come into play as they help her defeat the Destroyer. It’s not because she’s a woman that they help her, but they want to see just what this new Thor is made of and to figure out just what kind of hero she’ll be. Aside from the main fight, we also get to see more of what the future story will hold as Malekith continues with his deadly plan!

The short stories from Thor Annual #1 were mostly interesting. The King Thor story was a bit depressing for me because it’s set in a really grim time in the future and there seems to be very little hope. The story is also a bit strange because it doesn’t give any hints as to what happened to make the future thus and the characters are rather lack lustered. The art for that story is really dark and a bit bland, fitting the mood of the tale, I guess. I really enjoyed the short story of the new Thor and the Warriors Three. It’s a quick read full of shenanigans, bonding, and discovery. The last in the Annual is just a simple comedic story of Thor’s legendary drinking skill. It’s set before Thor is a great, mighty hero and he has to prove his worth to Mjolnir, so he does various tasks to prove he is worthy. This short story involved a drinking contest with the devil and high-jinx ensues. It’s a cute little story, though the art while comedic was a little off putting. Overall, the King Thor story was my least favorite of the three while new Thor had the best story and art.

The last story in this volume is a What If from 1977, where the Watcher shows readers what the world would be like if {blank} happened. In issue 10, it’s what if Jane Foster found the hammer and became Thordis. It’s a weird story and I was a bit lost at times because I’m not very familiar with the early history of Thor. I also found some of the dialogue to be boring or just plain repetitive as the characters sometimes spoke a loud what they were doing as it happened. The art was fine, and I really enjoyed the coloring. Overall, it was alright and I understand why they included it in this volume but you can totally skip it if you don’t have a strong interest to read a ‘what if ’story.

Ratings:

Note: Since this volume includes work outside of the actually series I’m only rating issues 6-8, while making mentions of the extra content. This time the extra content will hold no sway over the ratings.

Art: 5

Nothing has really changed, I really love the art work in this story! Those an attention to detail that doesn’t draw you away from the story and is affected by the practicality of it in each scene. For instance, like in real life the further you are from the subject the less detailed it is. Another example is the added details that lend to the magical quality of a particular scene over another. Though I wish there was a little less detail in some of the gorier scenes. There were times when I shock in disgust and had to skim over the panel because it was too much. The coloring was also really nice and well balanced. The brightness of the colors really lent to the mood of the scenes, or helped in contrast to bring attention to certain details. It’s nice to see foreshadowing being displayed through shadow and color. I think my favorite part of the art in this volume are the facial expressions. They were so expressive and conveyed so much detail that didn’t need dialogue, and that’s fantastic in my books! Also, some Odinson’s expressions were just priceless.

Story: 5

I feel like the story in this volume is much improved than the last. Normally I don’t like battles that last more than one issue, but I feel like this one was done quite well. There’s a lot of character development in the fight scene and it opens up possible side adventures with other characters. The battle really does a lot to flesh out Thor and it also helps draw a line with some of the other characters in this story, especially where they stand on larger issues. There are a few places in the story that needed a bit more background and some of them note previous Thor issues (that I don’t have access to), but most don’t. So if you’re up to date with everything then you’ll be fine, if you’re just starting to read Thor after the switch you might get a little lost. Finally, the big question is answered as Thor’s identity is revealed at the end, but it may not be who you think it is. I’m actually quite happy with the choice and it’s extremely plausible, giving more depth and humility to the character of Thor.

Overall: 4.5

This volume really helps to set up the tone for the rest of the story, when or wherever they decide to continue it. The artwork is fantastic, the character development is wonderful, and for once I really enjoyed a stretched out fight scene. The one weakness to this volume are the extra stories. While some of them are really good, they may throw a lot of people off or confuse some readers. Honestly, I only enjoyed two of the four and only one of them I loved all around. I still high recommend this volume of Thor, but maybe skim the Annual and the What if.

Details:

Title: Thor: Who Holds the Hammer?

Volume: 2

Issue(s): 6-8, Thor Annual #1, What if? (1977) #10

Publisher: Marvel

Creator(s): Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

Writer(s): Jason Aaron

Illustrator: Russell Dauterman

Colors: Matthew Wilson

Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino

Released Date: July 21st, 2015

Pages: 136

Genre(s): Super hero, Fantasy, Action

 

Anthology Review: Thing in the Bucket (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: Thing in the Bucket (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Eric Esser

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Paranormal, Historical fiction

Pages: 8 (134-142)

Thoughts:

The more I sit on this story, the more I realize that the Thing in the Bucket is creepy on several levels. First, it’s set in a time when blood-letting was considered a viable cure for various diseases and foul moods. The sight or description of blood doesn’t bother me, unless it’s my own, but the concept of blood-letting just makes me shiver because it’s such a gruesome technique that people willingly participated in. Second, after going back and thinking about some of the events that occurred they seem a bit surreal, impossible to have actually occurred naturally. Therefore, there was a subtle shift into the paranormal that may catch some readers off guard, like myself. Thirdly, there was a delicate transformation of the main character that isn’t overly apparent until the very end when the metaphor in the story was realized.

While the story’s diction doesn’t really allude to a past time, the events and various superstitions of the people described hint at an older time long gone. If there was more dialogue I would have preferred for the author to try and use older words and meaning to give this story more authenticity, but the time wasn’t the main focus of this story. Instead, it is the inner workings of one character’s mind and motives and how they change due to their choices. While there is gore within this story, it isn’t overtly described, just enough to paint a decent picture. Overall, this was a thoroughly creepy and interesting story that I’m sure some high school teacher would love to have their students dissect for hidden meanings.

Rating:

4/5

Thing in the Bucket is an odd kind of horror story. Nothing jumps out and screams ‘Boo!’ Instead Esser invokes a niggling sense of unease in the back of the mind that grows the more you think over the story. Not everyone will find this story chilling, but those who do may find it increasingly more enjoyable than others. If you’re not a fan of blood I wouldn’t give this story a read.

Anthology Review: A Game of Conquest (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: A Game of Conquest (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: David A. Elsensobn

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Paranormal, Historical fiction

Pages: 6 (128-133)

Thoughts:

A Game of Conquest is a simple paranormal tale that doesn’t contain much action. However it is still a strong story because of the imagination and details the author weaves into it. He turns a simple game into another story, one that reveals the true nature of each player and the conclusion of the tale. I can’t really say much more without giving anything away, but the author found an interesting way to portray his characters to the reader, giving them much about their pasts but still keeping the story interesting.

Set in the 1840s, the author tries to emulate the language and mannerisms of the time to help immerse the readers into the story. Elsensobn writes poetry with his descriptions, making them vivid and simple, but with a flare of the time through choice wording. Overall a brilliant and imaginative telling of a simple enough idea that is less than original.

Rating:

5/5

A Game of Conquest is a quick, fast paced read for anyone who wants a brief moment in a paranormal past! The language, while older, is still rather easy to understand and doesn’t hinder the pacing of the story. Anyone who wants a good, vivid read will enjoy this short story. The only people I doubt will like this one is anyone who isn’t a fan of historical fiction.

Anthology Review: Leonora (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: Leonora (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Elise Forier Edie

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Paranormal, Historical fiction

Pages: 6 (122-127)

Thoughts:

Leonora was not what I was expecting when I started reading. At first, I thought I was going to read another boring story, but better written than the last one. Then the author started throwing out little hints to the direction the story would go. If you’re familiar with the mythology the author was playing with, then you would have known right away. However, if you’re like me and wasn’t aware, then you quickly and shockingly get turned on your head by the surprise. Eide uses that shock to change the tone of her story and to add to the overall emotion of the climax.

The author’s voice is spectacular in Leonora. The language and diction definitely gives off an older feel to the story, helping to transport you back in time. For those well versed in history you may be able to guess the time period this story was aiming for, but if not it doesn’t really hinder the appeal of the story. The descriptions are very deliberate, the author choosing what things to focus on to add to the experience and mood of the reader. Overall, it’s a fantastic short story that both horrifies and intrigues.

Rating:

5/5

Leonora is a fabulous, quick and easy read for most readers. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone who is uncomfortable with gore, while the scene is brief it did make me a little queasy reading it. If you love mythology, gore, or want a good shock then I recommend this highly!

Anthology Review: In Search of a New Wilhelm (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: In Search of a New Wilhelm (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: John H. Dromey

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Science Fiction

Pages: 5 (117-121)

Thoughts:

In Search of a New Wilhelm is a less impressive rip off of Alien. It’s five pages of awkward, barely realistic dialogue between one unbearable individual and another. The beginning makes little sense, the characters just sort of appear in a place together and the author tries to string together an excuse for how they got there. The author gives little descriptive information outside of the dialogue. In fact, the author does very little outside of the long diarrhea of chatter between the two characters, with one doing more talking than the other. There is absolutely no emotion in this piece. None. I hate bugs and Alien freaks me the hell out, but this story only makes me feel revulsion that one of these sick bastards is sicker than the other.

This short story barely makes any sense. I can barely call it science fiction because while it does deal with extra ordinary creatures they aren’t described, none of the tech is described, and there’s a brief mention of a top secret organization that barely plays a role in this story. The author’s voice is barely present. The description in nonexistent. While I don’t mind a lot of dialogue and I understand some stories must be driven by it, the dialogue here is just so awkward and robotic that it’s not very enjoyable.

Rating:

1/5

In Search of Wilhelm was a major miss for me. While the idea has some value, if you like the concept of Alien, the delivery was lackluster. Some people may enjoy this short story, and I would only recommend this story to people who like bugs or the Alien series. If you don’t like either of those things, then I highly suggest you skip this one all together.