Ru by Kim Thúy follows the life story of a young Vietnamese girl as she escapes with her family from a dangerous land into a Malaysian refugee camp and then moves onto a new life in Quebec. As an adult she has new problems as she has two children, one of which was born with autism. The novel is written as a series of vignettes which cover different aspects of her life, jumping from the past back to the present to the more distant past. Each vignette flows into the next creating a cohesive story out of a series of fragments.
Ru was originally written in French but was translated into English by Sheila Fischman. I don’t know French that well so I don’t know how good the translation is, but from reading this book I know that the meaning behind Thúy’s words did not change much if at all between languages. As a fictionalized memoir/reflection it helped to shed some light on a period of history I did not know much about because it wasn’t covered in any of my Canadian history classes, as well as the impact cultural differences have on people when they are suddenly introduced to immigrants.
If you want to learn more about what happened in Vietnam read this book. This is an incredible novel that is heartbreaking at times but heartwarming at other times, though there is a chance that you may not like it because of the way its structured.
Final Rating – 48/50
Tetsuo Takahashi is your typical high school biology teacher, except for one thing. That is his fascination with “demihumans”, people who were born as the creatures of myth and legend from human parents. He wants to interview a demihuman but that is incredibly difficult to do since they are so rare. Then he discovers that in the new school year there are now three students consisting of a vampire, a dullahan, and a snow woman, as well as a new teacher who is a succubus. Now he finally gets to interview some demihumans. This is a series that explores the lives of these demihumans and explores the ways people can be the same despite obvious differences.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this series. The characters are well written, and how the abilities the demihumans have are all described in a scientific way that’s also easy to understand. Not that any of these abilities are actually possible of course. The themes of getting along despite differences and taking care of others with disadvantages in life are also well explored. In one of the earlier episodes one of the characters says something that I found pretty profound and describes what is going on in the series as a whole. This was a good series with both cute and profound moments that I hope will be getting a second season.
I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys anime that are set in high schools with cute characters and interesting single episode plotlines. This is a series I know that most people should be able to enjoy, just remember that this is also a slice of life series where not many serious things happen.
Final Rating – 45/50
During this past Summer 2017 anime season there were several amazing series which were released. Many of these series I have yet to watch because of several weeks away from Crunchy Roll because of school in the summer, but I have watched Fastest Finger First, an interesting anime about a kid who gets into quiz bowl at the urging of his senpai. This wasn’t the greatest anime and its characters barely changed throughout its plot, but what I think is the greatest strike against Fastest Finger First is the fact that Akira Sonohara was an important part of the plot at all.
Akira is a mischievous character and exists just to make problems for the other more serious characters. From his second appearance in the series it is clear that he is mainly there for comedic effect because how boring is a quiz bowl meet without shenanigans. However since he wasn’t a part of the first quiz bowl meet in the series is is obvious that he is not needed to fill this role. You could also argue that he is there to help develop the other characters or to act as a foil to the serious Shiki Koshiyama, but he isn’t even good at doing this. The characters don’t go through a whole lot of character development anyways, and Koshiyama’s foil is arguably Chisato Mikuriya. I say this of course because of the reasons why these two characters gather knowledge. Koshiyama reads and learns things for fun while Mikuriya reads and learns things in order to get better at quiz bowl.
Oftentimes characters like Akira are added to a story in order to add a comedy element to the plot, but the writer does this because they aren’t sure if their story will be well received due to the themes it explores, the setting and concept, or even the seriousness of the story. Because of this they add characters who serve little to no purpose. In the end the story is better off without such characters.
A while back I was looking at random anime on Crunchyroll and I found a series called Erin. This was an anime about a young girl named Erin who lives with her mother in a village. The worldbuilding was amazing, the characters were great, and everything that happened either had a strong connection to both the past and future of the series but also explored themes such as the connections between humans and animals, and animal cruelty. I loved this series up until it became clear that two annoying characters were going nowhere.
You see, Erin is a highly serious anime. It focuses on telling the story of Erin and nothing else until these two characters are introduced. Their names are Nukku and Mokku and they are not only annoying but they also serve no purpose after their second encounter with Erin. After this they end up living with Erin and following her on her life journey. To make matters worse they get an entire episode focused on them later in the series where they go into town to run some errands and lose the money they were given to do so because Mokku had it under his hat and because physics is a thing it ended up falling off his head. They then get a job to regain the money because they don’t want to return empty handed. This episode was the last straw for me and while I didn’t end up dropping the series I did end up taking a prolonged break which will end soon because of my Crunchyroll queue cleanup.
So what makes these two characters annoying? Id say its for a similar reason to why Akira is annoying. Akira is annoying because his goals are so different from everyone else’s goals. He wants to have fun and doesn’t care at all about winning while everyone else actually wants to win at quiz bowl. Nukku and Mokku are also different from all the other characters in Erin. Except they a different to a much higher degree. Their character designs are significantly less realistic than those of the other characters. They seem to only do things in order to either make things harder for other characters or to add a comedic effect which is unneeded. They fall in love with a 10 year old girl after the second time they meet despite the fact that they have to be in their 20’s. Also Erin and all the other characters in the series treats them like children because of their distinct lack of common sense.
There is a reason why such annoying characters are added to a story, but this reason is not good enough. Do not add characters for the sole purpose acting at the comedy relief unless the genre of the story happens to be comedy. Such characters do more harm than good. They will not attract new viewers but rather they will oftentimes scare off current viewers.
For this I’ll be focusing on two websites you can use to help you build your world. There are many more out there, and there are even more cellphone apps with the sole purpose of helping you build your worlds. Search world building in your app store to find some of these. I actually used one in the past and it worked pretty well, it was just on my phone which I didn’t like much. You can also just google world building apps.
The first website I’ll be writing about is Inkarnate. You can use this website to make maps for your world. It is really easy to use though if you want a realistic looking world you will need some practise. The maps made on Inkarnate look really good and there is now a commercial license you can get if you want to use inkarnate maps in books and games. Just a quick warning, don’t make a map and leave it without finishing it. There are occasionally changes which can make it so you can never finish your maps. These changes are related to the format of maps.
The other website is Notebook.ai. This is a website you can use to organize all your worldbuilding. It gives you a bunch of things you can add to your world such as characters, locations, items, magic, and religion. You can make a universe and connect all these things to that universe. When you click on a universe it brings you to a page with everything you have created for that universe. It’s really easy to use and you can use it’s Premium version for free all through October, but it’s online so you may not want to keep all your world building on it. Also I wish you could change the pictures used to differentiate between each category.
Today I finished writing the second plot summary for A Faerie Alone. To be honest I didn’t finish the character sheets before I started, but the thing is that I was at an airport alone on Saturday without a cellphone because mine had died and I decided to change my plans to make it less awkward to write in a public place. You see when I come up with a character’s name for a fantasy story I tend to go to Google Translate and type in words with a meaning I want this character to represent then when I find a word that is “name-like” I change the word into another word which will be the name of that character. I didn’t want to do that where other people could see my screen. At least with the plot summary I could zoom the Microsoft Word window out and still understand what I was writing.
Anyways by writing this plot summary I saw how much the plot had been developed just by creating sheets for those two characters. I was also able to point out a few areas of the plot where it seems like basically nothing is going on. I could ignore the fact that nothing is going on, but I can’t because of both the fact that these areas are filled with travel scenes and I don’t want the characters to get to their destination within a short scene, and also because I want to focus on the friendship between two of the characters which is something that will require a lot of character development that should go in these areas. Oh well I still have a lot of planning to do before November so maybe things will start happening in those areas soon.
The Chain Chronicle is a book within which everything that is currently happening and has happened in the past is written. The people of Yggd had always believed that there was nothing past their borders until they learned that there were other nations out there. Peace was kept in this world until the Black Army led by the Lord of Black arrived taking over the and entire kingdom and chasing after the bearer of the Chain Chronicle, the princess of the kingdom. The Volunteer Army led by Yuri comes to defeat the Lord of Black, but they fail losing half of the Chain Chronicle and causing Yuri to lose all hope of saving the world. That is until a new ally reveals himself, inspiring Yuri to not give up. But the blackness is spreading affecting the lives of commoners and tainting those who fight against the Black Army. How will the Volunteer Army defeat such a powerful individual?
This is your typical high fantasy series complete with mages, elves, and evil power. It is also a series based on an RPG which can easily be seen whenever the characters perform chain attacks. The characters are interesting though they are generic fantasy characters with a roguish character, an honourable warrior character, and a villain who appears at first glance as a truly evil being. The plot though is weak at times and I personally think that the people who wrote the subtitles should have used another term to describe the blackness. I think that the word taint would have worked so much better because that is what it does, it taints the land and the people in it.
I do recommend this series if you want to watch it. Chain Chronicle is not a bad series, but it also isn’t that great. This is just another mediocre attempt to make an adaptation of a video game.
Final Rating – 32/50
I would count faeries, angels, demons, yokai, and any other spiritual creature as otherworldly creatures. Otherworldly creatures tend to not understand a lot of things that go on in human society because in their own worlds those things either didn’t happen at all or were done in a completely different way. An example of this is the exchange of this is money. An otherworldly creature may not know what it is at first and will probably continue not understanding it even after they’ve learned what it is because there was no such thing in their own world.
They don’t have to literally be from an entirely different world, they can be otherworldly in a more metaphorical sense. For instance a moose with human intelligence could technically be classified as otherworldly because it would understand nothing about human society.
One thing to remember when writing otherworldly creatures into your world is that you should be respectful of the cultures of other people while you do it. Also do your research if you’re using creatures that already exist because it may give you inspiration.