Sunday, July 26, 2020


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Non-manga-based anime about a girl named Michiru who awakes one day as a tanuki beastwoman, and gets embroiled in several events such as war with the humans that disdain the beastman. Definitely one of my favorites, for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Scribbly Man

The Scribbly Man by Terry Goodkind 

This first entry of a series of novellas bridging the gap between Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth saga and The Nicci Chronicles opens with a man named Nolo wanting Richard, the Lord Rahl, to surrender the world to him, claiming to come in the name of an entity known as the Golden Goddess. Naturally, Richard and his wife, Mother Confessor Kahlan, are suspicious, and the latter unleashes her powers upon Nolo whilst interrogating him. Dead animals begin to appear on graves of the deceased, around which time a sorceress named Shale comes and offers the loyalty of the Northern Waste to Lord Rahl and the D’Haran Empire.

Shale’s people too have suffered mysterious deaths, and the eponymous “scribbly man,” whom Kahlan saw when unleashing her Confessor power on Nolo, imperils her, the ending revealing the meaning behind the sequel series’ name. Having enjoyed The Sword of Truth novels, I enjoyed diving back into Goodkind’s world, and in fact had waited for all entries of The Children of D’Hara series to come out before reading them. I definitely don’t regret my decision, and while there are occasional incongruities in the text such as a reference to six Mord-Sith and only five of them named, and the punctuation errors sometimes left by Goodkind’s editor, I would recommend this story to fans of its precursors.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Castlevania (TV series)

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Netflix series based on the (likely-defunct) Konami videogame series of the same name, largely borrowing from the third game for the NES, with Trevor Belmont and Dracula's dhampir son Adrian Tepes, or Alucard, battling against the vampire and his minions. Definitely one of the much better videogame adaptations.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Earth Alone

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This first entry of author Daniel Arenson’s Earthrise series opens with the main alien antagonists, colloquially called the “scum,” precipitating from the skies above Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with protagonist Marco, a preteen then, a witness. When he turns eighteen, he’s drafted into the Human Defense Force (HDF) alongside millions of other youths, his girlfriend Kemi going to a military academy. Marco initially lives in an apartment above the city library with his father, along with an adopted sister, Addy, whose parents met their deaths in the scum’s attack on Toronto.

Once in service, Marco befriends the female cadet Lailani Marita de la Rosa, who becomes his new love interest, with Kemi having told him he could move on. Fifty years before the main events of the novel, the scum, their full scientific name the scolopendra titaniae, a predatory alien race from the Scorpius system, launched a surprise attack against Earth, and scientists have studied them for the half century since then. Marco and his fellow soldiers receive introduction to the weaponry designed to fight the scum, and endure the rigors of basic training.

Many of Marco’s fellow recruits have their quirks, such as one nicknamed Elvis for his long sideburns and musical leanings, and Hope “Jackass” Harris, who has an asinine demeanor. Marco eventually has a reunion with Kemi, although they both have moved on, and his adopted sister has ultimately been drafted into the HDF. An attack by the scum eventually comes, with a few casualties among the HDF, and the book concluding with the fresh recruits going into space for war. Overall, I definitely enjoyed this story, although a pseudonym for the aliens other than “the scum” would have sounded better.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Aristocats


Watched this as sort of a celebration of Bastille Day (the film takes place in and around Paris, France). Essentially Lady and the Tramp with cats as the main stars, and it has Disney luminaries such as Eva Gabor and Phil Harris voicing the female and male feline leads. Fairly enjoyable with good music, although the plot point of Duchess' owner leaving her inheritance to cats is a bit asinine.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Tales of the Firebirds

Tales of the Firebirds by Kyell Gold 

Author Kyell Gold assures this collection of short stories set in the universe of his Out of Position / Dev and Lee books is enjoyable without first reading them.

“Off the Cuff” – The fox Lee talks about a sexual encounter with an otter masquerading as a policeman.

“The Wallet Story” – A look into the life of the tiger Dev before the Out of Position books.

“Halftime Entertainment” – Gold notes this wasn’t originally an Out of Position story, and it looks into the footballer Jay Cornwall.

“Blessed” – Gold describes the story’s narrator Colin Smith as a “villain” in the universe of his series, although he’s far from a bad person, given his Christian faith.

“Sinful” – Narrated by Colin’s wife Penny, who is somewhat less chaste than her husband and has an interest in fornication.

“Slowing Down” – Focuses on one of Dev’s coaches, Coach Samuelson, parallel to the novels.

“False Dawn” – Focuses on the life of Lee when he was with his former spotted skunk boyfriend Brian.

“Heart” – Focuses on the journalist Hal and delves into how he formulates his sports stories.

“Getting to Sleep” – Lee’s father Brenly describes how sleep can be elusive for some.

“Rest Stop” – Trucker Argonne is interested in sexual activity.

“More Than a Game” – Gerrard wants financial security for his family.

“Contents Under Pressure” – I think Kodi is a bear, might be an athlete.

All in all, fans of the novels will enjoy this collection, although one can find difficult keeping track of the species of the various characters, and it is a bit inaccessible to those unfamiliar with the characters of the Out of Position books.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Akio's House / Return to New York

Akio's House by Todd Aldrington

The third Todd and Colton book starts with the respective raccoon and fox couple on a road trip, with the two invited to the titular abode in San Francisco of a gay senior citizen wolf named Akio, to whom Todd’s deceased uncle Deke was once a boyfriend. Akio makes revelations about Deke, with Todd himself reminiscing of a physical where his physician discusses fetishes. The main novella ends with Akio giving Todd a special gift as a reminder of his late uncle. The main story was alright, though the real-world setting and references certainly won’t appeal to all.

After the main novella is a shorter one narrated from Colton’s perspective, where he tells of his homecoming to New York City, where he once pondered suicide from the Brooklyn Bridge, and meets his former boyfriend Obie, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The shorter story ends with Colton talking with his father, and is like Akio’s house a short and semi-sweet tale, although again, the author could have certainly created a more fictitious setting, and both tales ultimately have niche appeal. Furries in particular would be likely to get the most out of the collection.

An autism-related article I really relate to...

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TV series)

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Rewatched this entire series due to the additional final season, with a great emphasis on General Anakin Skywalker and his Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano, with the supplemental season ending a little after the eponymous Clone Wars. Definitely enjoyed it, since it somewhat fills in a few of the holes that the films admittedly leave, and there's pretty good fanservice at times.

Thursday, July 9, 2020


Titles by Kyell Gold 

The sixth entry of author Kyell Gold’s Out of Position / Dev and Lee series opens with a two-part prologue, narrated respectively by the tiger Dev and fox Lee, the former training for the current football season and the latter at his divorced father’s marriage to another woman. Dev worries if Lee is bored with their relationship, even when the couple makes love, and has in the approximate decade since the previous book established a foundation for troubled LGBT youth. Dev will have to separate from Lee for several weeks training for a championship football game.

While Dev is away from his boyfriend, Lee himself is offered a position in a place called Cansez, which I assume is the Forrester Universe’s equivalent of Kansas, with the sixth installment being slightly less shy about its obvious American setting, with occasional references to the political spectrum, and the issue of Nativism frequently raised throughout the story, Dev himself a target due to his Siberian ancestry. Dev at some points clashes with fellow footballer Colin, given his homophobic leanings. The championship tournament for which Dev trains ultimately comes, its outcome occupying the last few chapters.

All in all, I found the sixth entry to be a slight step above its precursor in the series, especially given that the author doesn’t devote an afterward to ranting about politics, although he still injects the topic into the latest entry at times, which somewhat spoils the hypothetical escapism of the furry fandom, and makes even more restrictive its appeal. The illustrations, however, are good, with some being explicit, and a different anthro artist handling them this time. The book definitely has its issues, but sometimes makes good points; regardless, like its precursors, it definitely has a niche audience.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Muramasa Rebirth

Muramasa Rebirth Box Front


In 1999, Japanese videogame developer George Kamitani developed Princess Crown, which would remain untranslated, for the Sega Saturn, founding a company called Puraguru three years later. He eventually changed the name of his company to Vanillaware, creating successor projects such as Odin Sphere for the PlayStation 2, which, while more refined than Princess Crown, suffered technical issues like slowdown on the system. Afterward came Muramasa: The Demon Blade for the Nintendo Wii, which would see a port to the PlayStation Vita entitled Muramasa Rebirth, which could very well be the portable system’s killer app.

Muramasa occurs on the main island of the Japanese archipelago, Honshu, its style and setting drawing heavily upon Japanese folklore and mythology. The primary playable protagonists are Momohime, whose body a deceased warrior possesses, and Kisuke, an amnesiac ninja. The narrative is generally enjoyable, aside from the slightly-derivative JRPG trope of amnesia, with an interesting style where, before and after boss battles, either character can converse with antagonistic parties. Both characters’ stories are well-developed, and the superb translation job from Aksys Games, which is largely flawless, and somewhat pushes the game’s T rating to its limit, definitely helps.

Fortunately, solid gameplay accompanies the narrative, with Momohime and Kisuke each able to equip up to three blades forgeable through Soul Power and spirit obtained from fighting and eating special dishes either at restaurants or made through recipes with certain ingredients. Each character has a fullness gauge limiting how much food they can consume or health recovery foods they can eat in battle (although fortunately, medicines exist to restore health without affecting their fullness meters, which can really help in the more challenging battles). Throughout the game, each protagonist acquires color-coded blades that can break colored barriers impeding progress.

The game wisely limits the number of blades each character can forge, new ones only forgeable after acquiring the aforementioned colored swords. As either advances through the various side-scrolling two-dimensional areas, they may occasionally encounter enemies they need to defeat to advance, the screen sometimes locking in place and other times not. Both characters can string extensive combos against their adversaries, the player also able to aim their attacks using the Vita’s left joystick, with plentiful freedom in this regard. Level-ups occur frequently, oftentimes in the middle of battle, and afterward, additional experience the game rewards based on combat performance.

Each character can also find gauntlet challenges in barrier-protected caves that reward special accessories. From battle, players also obtain money that they can use at shops to purchase new accessories (each character only able to equip one at a time), consumable items, cooking ingredients, maps of various areas (where unvisited parts of each region are grayed out, the game otherwise and mercifully tracking where the player has been), and recipe books. Boss battles necessary to advance the central storyline sporadically come, with each having several life bars, although they tend to be fast-paced affairs, with even the endgame battles going swiftly.

As players battle, the sword that either character is using at the moment gradually wears down, until it breaks, and while the player can continue fighting with the broken blade, changing to an unbroken sword, with a transitive sequence damaging all enemies on the screen, is a good idea in this case. Broken and sheathed blades recover as fights go on, with spirit acquirable in and out of battle recovering them until they’re whole again. Two different difficulty settings, one for casual players that leaves plentiful room for error (although there are still some daunting fights), and one for more skilled players, are sure to pacify most gaming audiences, and combat is far more than refined, and whatever difficulty there may be doesn’t feel artificial at all.

Control also serves the game well, with crystal-clear direction on how to advance each character’s storyline, maps for each region, easy menus, fairly-spaced save points (and luckily, dying restarts the chosen character at the beginning of the area where they died), in-game tracking of time, and a pseudo-Metroidvania exploration formula in the color-coded barrier-breaking swords. While there are occasional places where the player can seek rapid conveyance between certain regions, fast-travel doesn’t become available until players complete each character’s quest. Even so, Muramasa very well interfaces with players.

Composing duo Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata, along a few others, provide the soundtrack, another of the game’s high points, with plenty of oriental music, and while there is a slight dearth of central themes, no tune is ever out of place. The localization team also kept the voicework in Japanese, which sounds superb for the most part and gives the game an authentic Japanese feel, saving the translators money and sparing foreign audiences the horror of miscast non-ethnic actors portraying the obviously-Asian characters, with everyone sounding as they should. In the end, the aurals of Muramasa are definitely a delight to the ears.

The port is a delight to glimpse as well, with Vanillaware executing their beautiful two-dimensional visual style, with character and enemy models containing good anatomy, along with pretty environments, fluid animation, great battle effects, and the like. There are occasional reskinned enemies, but otherwise, Muramasa is easily eye candy.

Finally, each character’s quest takes somewhere from six to nine hours to complete, with things such as trophies, the sealed cavern trials, post-game content, different endings depending upon blades used, and such, providing plentiful lasting appeal.

Overall, Muramasa Rebirth is a great port that hits the right notes in regards to all its aspects, such as its smooth combat system, excellent control, great narrative, largely-spotless and mature translation, superb sound, pretty visuals, and plentiful reasons to come back for more. Whatever issues it may have are negligible at best, and I can confidently say that this game has pretty much been one of the high points of my videogaming career, highly recommending it to those in search of a great action RPG. I very much look forward to trying out the game’s Genroku Legends DLC.

The Good:
+Refined combat with adjustable difficulty.
+Great control.
+Excellent narratives and localization.
+Superb sound with Japanese voicework intact.
+Pretty visuals.
+Plentiful lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Limited fast-travel until post-game.

The Bottom Line:
A Vanillaware masterpiece.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Mechanics: 10/10
Controls: 9.5/10
Story: 9.5/10
Localization: 9.5/10
Music/Sound: 9.5/10
Graphics: 9.5/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 6-9 Hours per Character

Overall: 10/10

Monday, July 6, 2020

Out on the Highway

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The second installment of Todd Aldrington’s Todd and Colton series, narrated by the author himself posing as a blue raccoon like its precursor, opens with Todd indicating that it’s hard to keep his love for Colton the fox secret, and he thus comes out to his family. Consequentially, his father Oran kicks him out of the house, and he stays with Colton, whom he attempts to get to overcome his fear of swimming pools due to an accident by a relative. A fire at a farm owned by the cervine Tarbucks family plays part in some of the book’s events.

Also significant to the story’s events is an accident Todd’s trucker father has that lands him in the hospital, which leads to a revelation about a forgotten relative. Overall, this was a decent sequel, with politics kept minimal, and a general cool attitude towards religion, but there’s a bit of profane slurs, and minor mention of there being humans in the narrative’s universe. One can also find it difficult to keep track of the species of the various characters aside from Todd and Colton, and a list of dramatis personae would have been welcome. The audience for this book is niche like its predecessor.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Over Time

Over Time by Kyell Gold

The fifth entry of Kyell Gold’s Out of Position, or Dev and Lee, series, opens with a bit of an off-putting dedication, followed by the protagonists’ explanation of football from an animalian perspective. As with its precursors, this entry shows where the cities serving as the book’s various settings would be in the real-life United States, although references to things throughout the story such as Harry Potter somewhat spoil the fictional anthropomorphic milieu. Preceding the main text is a short story about a trucker who wants to “bag” Devlin Miski, which doesn’t have much relevance to the central storyline.

Like its predecessors, the book alternates between the perspectives of the tiger Dev and the fox Lee, the two starting off with make-up fornication, the former indicating troubles with his somewhat-bigoted brother Gregory, who, like Lee’s mother, hooked up with the religious group Families United and espouses their rhetoric on occasion, this setup playing a part in later events in the story. Dev’s fellow tiger and footballer Fisher continues to experience the consequences of his concussion, with a suicide attempt in the latter portion leaving him mute and necessitating he communicate through writing.

A marriage proposal on Lee’s part ends the storyline, along with the author espousing his dogma regarding the United States Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, which very much mars the escapist nature of the plot and the furry fandom in general. That Dev and Lee have pretty much done things those wishing to marry are supposed to look forward to, such as living together and intercourse, somewhat spoils the point of them marrying in the first place, and they demonstrate a fair bit of sexual irresponsibility, such as not using protection or getting tested. Non-heterosexual furries are likely to get the most out of this story, but its audience is niche at best.