Posts tagged Review

Victorian Smut (Book) Reviews: Venus in Furs and Monsieur Venus

So I said I was going to review Venus in Furs at some point when I wrote my review of the film version of the play that came out fairly recently, but since then I’ve also come across another great find, Monsieur Venus.

Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

I’m not quite sure what made me read this book. It was probably my disgust at the terrible taste of the masses that got off to the 50 Shades series. Subject matter aside, what I’ve read of that trash was just so terribly written. You could find better smut fanfics written online, FOR FREE. But I think I also wanted something victorian. Banned books are always alluring (though they can turn out to be crap), and taboo Victorian things are also kind of alluring. Venus in Furs happened to be both of those things.

The story centers around the masochist (the word actually comes from the author’s name, as a result of this book) Severin von Kusiemski. He’s so infatuated (he calls it love) with his neighbor, a young widow, Wanda von Dunajew that if he cannot be her husband, he’d be more than happy to be her slave. His biggest turn on being dominant women in fur. They start a courtship of starts, and Wanda has no desire to get married, so eventually they come to an agreement where Severin will be her slave. As time passes she gets crueler and crueler, and he claims to want to love and worship her more and more for it, but eventually he starts to dislike it, while liking it at the same time (I was a bit confused by it). The ending isn’t exactly a happy one (I won’t spoil it), and basically ends with the sentiment that because society doesn’t allow women education and other rights, they can never truly be equal to men, or superior to them.

I’ll say it was beautifully written, like a lot of victorian novels tend to be. It’s way more than just smut, it was filled with references, usually of dominant women, in famous pieces of art, Greek and Roman mythology, as well as other biblical refrences. It really delves into how society affects the relationships between men and women, and the power held in relationships. It served as a bit of a history lesson too, and you’ll learn the names of lots of animals that made popular fur items back in the day. Seriously, all this damn guy does is go on and on about his fur fetish.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This…

  • I got some fedora vibes at times. It seemed like Severin had this idealized vision of the perfect woman in his mind, and that he was compelling Wanda to be that way to please him rather than for her to be that way for her own enjoyment. I could possibly see him sending some straight white boy texts in today’s time. Particularly one of those guys just asking any pretty girl to be his mistress, or if she likes submissive guys before even getting to know her.
  • The ending wasn’t satisfying. Though I do get that it ended the way it did because the author wasn’t happy with the way society was treating women.
  • I’m not a fan of fur.

Overall, I’d say that this book is definitely worth reading. And you can read it online, FOR FREE. I read it here, though it is available on numerous other websites. Sadly it’s not easy to find at libraries or book stores for some reason.

Monsieur Venus by Rachilde, or Marguerite Vallette-Eymery

A while after reading Venus in Furs, I really wanted something similar, but written by a woman (to avoid the fedora problems the former novel had) or in the female gaze, I searched and eventually saw someone on a message board recommend Monsieur Venus. They warned that it was violent, and that the ending was disturbing, but that it was a great read otherwise. Sadly I couldn’t find it online for free in English, only in the original French. I caved and bought it off of amazon, if you plan on getting it, make sure you get this version, as it’s the only English translation of the non-censored edition available.

The story centers around a very bold (and unusual) French noblewoman, Raoule de Vénérande. While commissioning a grown for an event she falls for a poor artist, Jacques Silvert. But she doesn’t love him as a woman loves a man, she loves him as a man loves a woman, with herself being the man and Jacques being the woman. They start a relationship, and as time goes on she breaks down his masculinity and makes him her mistress. She goes to great lengths to dress as a man and has him dress as a woman. The relationship does get abusive, as Raoule often gets jealous. They do marry,  and I won’t reveal too much more. But I will say, I knew the ending was going to be messed up, but it was not what I was expecting at all. I could never have fathomed the ending on my own. “Fucked up, but heavily symbolic and powerful” is how I’d describe it.

It was well written but a very heavy read. I’m actually going to go back and read it a second time because I don’t think it’s all quite sunk in. There’s a lot of philosophy about how gender roles aren’t natural or normal, and neither is traditional heterosexual sexual intercourse for that matter. The novel upset a lot of people, later versions were censored. A Belgian court sentenced the author to two years in prison for pornographic content (it’s not pornographic by today’s standards though). Unfortunately it somehow faded into obscurity, and it seems to be practically unknown outside of genderstudies circles.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This…

  • It faded into obscurity (along with the author) when they should not have.
  • The ending was sad. There was so much symbolism in the ending though.

This is probably the most unique book I’ve ever read in my life. I fully recommend it. ALSO, if you’ve read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey, you should be familiar with the infamous “yellow book” that corrupted Dorian’s mind. I did some reading about the life of Rachilde, it turns out she and Wilde were friends and that he was a huge fan of Monsieur Venus (SOURCE), having read it before he wrote Dorian Grey. It’s very likely that the yellow book was Monsieur Venus, it may have even helped to corrupt Oscar Wilde himself. I’m completely in love with the fact that it was the work of a (genderqueer) woman that did it.

If you’ve read Dorian Grey and enjoyed it, I think you’re morally obligated to read Monsieur Venus. It’s made me want to go back and read Dorian Grey again. Although I will say, Dorian Grey is a PG-rated family friendly story for all ages when compared to Monsieur Venus.. which would probably be a heavy R at minimum.

DO IT, READ THE YELLOW BOOK!!!

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Game Review: Pokemon Shuffle

I’m almost hesitant to call this a game review.. I’ll explain in a bit.

Pokemon Shuffle, is a free downloadable title from the Nintendo e-shop for any member of the Nintendo 3DS family. It came out in February, but I put of getting it  (or touching videogames in general) until this past weekend because I didn’t need anymore distractions from schoolwork before my midterms.

By matching like pokemon together you do damage to the opponent, and if you clear the stage you get a chance to catch the pokemon. If you have more moves leftover at the end, your chance of catching it increases. There are also special timed stages, if you have extra time at the end your chances of winning go up. In general the game plays a lot like candy crush, aka it’s a free to play, pay to win game.

Just by playing through the game you’ll get some coins, which you can use to buy temporary bonuses and upgrades in the game. You’ll also get jewels far less often which you can use to buy more coins, or more hearts. You need one heart to play one round, you max out at 5 hearts, and it takes 30minutes for each heart to recharge.

There’s also a streetpass feature. It doesn’t really do anything besides letting you see the playtime and number of pokemon other players have caught. You sometimes get hearts, jewels and coins for getting streetpasses. And there are also special stages that are only up for a limited time that you can download each day, they usually give you coins for doing that also.

And now that I’ve described the game, let’s get to…

Why You Shouldn’t Like This

  • I never thought Nintendo would put out free to play, pay to win nonsense. I’d like if this game had a free version, and a version you could pay $30 or so for and have unlimited life.
  • I want to be able to unwind and play this game for an hour but I cannot because I’m too cheap. Why the hell is Nintendo trying to be like King or Zynga?? I expect better of them. Hell, they’re already being like EA with all that Hyrule Warriors DLC… (I’ll rant on that another time)
  • I think this is just Nintendo using us as guinea pigs to test out what games they’ll be putting on smart phones, aka more of this pay to win nonsense that doesn’t have the option of buying a full version.
  • The tutorials at the start of the game are kind of annoying.
  • It’s impossible to clear many of the special limited stages early on when you haven’t caught stronger pokemon yet. And it’s not like you can play for an hour straight and get the strong pokemon you need to because of the pay to win bullshit they have going.
  • I looked through the pokemon list, in addition to seeing everything you’ve caught, you can see silhouettes of what you have not caught. There does not appear to be a silhouette of wooper or quagsire. Games that came out before Gold/Silver are the only games that should not contain wooper and quagsire. I might be more angry about this game not having wooper in it than I am about the pay to win nonsense. If you find wooper in the game feel free to correct me, but for now I’ll stay pissed about it.

Overall, this game is enjoyable except for your lives needing to recharge and the pay to win nonsense in general. Get it if you want a free game with pokemon in it. But let Nintendo know we don’t want them to be like King or Zynga. Don’t waste any of your e-shop balance on jewels. WE EXPECT BETTER FROM YOU NINTENDO!!! YOU ARE ABOVE THIS!!!

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Review: Ramen-Ya

I needed to celebrate being done with midterms this weekend. It was either going to be ramen or trekking to NJ for Mitsuwa. We didn’t want to go to Sapporo again (I’ll write them a review eventually) since we’d been there a bunch of times, and didn’t feel like going to Jersey, so we decided to try Ramen-Ya, a new place we read about somewhere online, or maybe a friend posted pictures of their food on facebook and it made me hungry, I’m not that sure now…

Shio Black with Chicken

Shio Black with Chicken

I got the Shio Black with chicken, and Scott got the Shio Spicy with pork. We also had some tofu vegetable gyoza but we were too hungry at the time to remember to take a picture. The gyoza were probably the best vegetable gyoza I’ve had, granted I haven’t had vegetable gyoza from too many other places. The edamame in them was especially nice. But let’s get back to the ramen.

Shin Spicy with Pork

Shio Spicy with Pork

We both opted for Shio because Scott said he heard good things about it. The pork version comes with thin noodles, the chicken version comes with thick egg noodles. The thick noodles that came with mine were really good, the broth was also really flavorful and good. The only topping I wasn’t crazy about is the egg, but I’ve never been a fan of hard boiled/poached eggs in ramen anyway. I also wish it came with bamboo shoots and that you didn’t have to pay extra for them. I also wasn’t exactly full when I finished my ramen, Scott was good though. I can’t talk about his noodles since I didn’t try them, but I did try some of his broth, it was too spicy for me. I also tried some of his pork chasu, it was nice and tender, and easily fell apart, but doesn’t beat Sapporo’s in my opinion.  I almost wish I opted for the pork version since I liked it better than the chicken chasu I got. I just wish there was some way I could get thick noodles with pork. Maybe if I overcome some of my social awkwardnesses I’ll be able to ask when we go back sometime. Scott said he loved his choice overall, that the broth wasn’t too salty, and that he loved how tender the pork was.

As far as the location goes, it was pretty small. We got there shortly after they opened so it wasn’t too crowded, but can see it getting pretty cramped when they’re busy. Still can’t wait to go back there again for another relaxed quiet ramen date 🙂

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Anime Review: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (Binan Kōkō Chikyū Bōei-bu Love!)

Since the name of this show is long, I have dubbed it Mahou Shounen, or Magical Boys.

When I first saw the artwork, before a description was up, I thought it was going to be another weird reverse harem or otome anime with really effeminate guys. Then I found out that this show was about magical boys, I had to watch it. I was expecting it to be really funny, or really gay, or some combination of both. In the end, this anime turned out to be far better than anything I expected. It got better and better as the weeks went by.

The plot is very contrived, a bunch of bros are forced by a talking pink alien wombat to become magical boys, or “Battle Lovers” and fight the forces of evil, with the power of love. Later we get to meet the bad guys, who have a green talking alien hedgehog helping them out. But the plot isn’t even that important, you don’t watch Mahou Shounen the plot, you watch it because it is the best parody of the magical girl genre ever.

magicalboys2

You know how you may have wondered, and still probably wonder how no one knew Usagi/Serena was Sailor Moon when all she does is change her damn outfit? Well, Mahou Shounen explains that. The wombat’s alien technology disguises their faces and their voices to everyone but themselves, as seen above. There are plenty of other instances of things like this happening.

Also, contrary to what I was expecting, Mahou Shounen wasn’t that gay while being totally gay at the same time. Think of it as being about a bunch of bromances, you know, those relationships guys have that are gay and not gay at the same time. Following this theme, there was not a single female character in the show ever. Not even in the background. Every character in this show, background or otherwise, was a guy. Anyway, not it’s time for…

Why You Shouldn’t Like This

  • When you finish this show it will leave a void in you that can never be filled
  • I missed my chance to preorder keychains of the characters on amiami, there also don’t seem to be figures out yet.
  • This show is one of those rare gems seldom found in anime land. It is the kind of show that raises your standards,  but once that happens it’s easier for you to see what shit everything else is *sigh*

That’s about it. I really don’t have anything bad to say about Magical Boys… it is one of those rare unique shows you can’t help but love and appreciate. I really hope we get a few more seasons, or a movie, even though the ending did conclude everything. It even filled a plot hole they could have simply ignored. It is truly a rare gem, possibly one that is too good and pure for this world.

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Game Review: Child of Light

A friend was kind enough to give me some Nintendo e-shop credit for my birthday, and now that I’m on break I decided to buy a new game instead of taking on my backlog like any logical person would *sigh*

Eliminating the need for me to get out my credit card or buy an actual card at Gamestop, I finally decided to buy Child of Light. I think I first heard about this game from a gif-set on tumblr, or it may have been E3 or a Nintendo direct. I don’t remember. But I do remember thinking it looked absolutely beautiful, and I learned from tumblr that the *entire* game rhymed. I knew I’d play it eventually.

child_of_light

The story takes place in the 1800s and revolves around Princess Aurora (of Austria presumably). She’s fallen ill and believed to be dead, soon after her father, the king falls ill as well. However, it seems that Aurora hasn’t died, but has woken up in the land of Lemuria. She wants to get back home to her father, knowing he’ll die without her, but finds out she’ll have to take care of some things in Lemuria first. As the game progresses other characters join the party in typical RPG fashion, and you find out more about how the land is suffering since an evil queen came into power. But that’s enough of a summary, now I’ll talk about what I liked most about this game before getting to why you shouldn’t like it.

The Art: This game is beautiful. Everything looks like a well illustrated fairy tale book, but slightly darker than the ones you may have had as a kid. I really loved the use of color. In a way it reminds me of romantic era work (color wise, not style wise) The screencaps really speak for themselves.

childoflight

This game is wallpaper material

Child of Light_20140501202317

really, if you want some wallpapers, just google image search “child of light”

child_of_light_close-up_header

I even love how the design of certain characters reflects who they are. Aurora is another word for sunrise, and Princess Aurora’s flaming red hair and bright golden gown capture that. I’d say the same about villains, and describe some more, but I’m not getting into spoiler territory now.

Strong Female Characters: I knew from the start that the main character was a small princess, but that didn’t really influence my purchase. I’m used to playing as a guy, but it was really fun to play a game that actually centers around a girl for once. There are even other female characters that join the party, and no one in the game is sexualized at all. I’d love to see more fantasy games like this. The narrator and all of the major villains are female, not just our heroine! It’s really only women calling the major shots in this game from the beginning. It would’ve been nice if there was some actual (human) racial diversity in this game too, but I’m still really happy with all of the girl power vibes I got from this game.  I know I would have loved playing this game as a kid.

The Gameplay: Usually I’m not into turn based RPGs and having to grind. But the way the timer works in this game is a little bit different from what I was used to with old Final Fantasies. Character move along the timer bar at the bottom, when you get to the red part you take time casting your attack, you can get interrupted if you’re not defending though. Different attacks have different speeds, as do characters, but I’m not so great at describing it so here’s another pretty screencap.

Even the battles make beautiful wallpaper

Even the battles make beautiful wallpaper

The Rhymes: The entire game rhymes. The entire game. If one character says a line that doesn’t rhyme on it’s own, someone else will chime in to make it rhyme. It’s wonderful.

The Music: I really liked it. You can listen to all of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93h-8MKG48s

And now….

Why You Shouldn’t Like This

  • The game could have been longer, or have had a bit more depth to the story. Even so it was nice for what it was.
  • There are certain times the game “forces” you to go into an area because a party member will leave and refuse to rejoin you until you go there. Or they’ll just straight up leave for a while when you wanted to go exploring for more hidden items. You do get to go back to every location eventually though.
  • This game would probably play more smoothly with a second player to control your firefly and illuminate dark areas, or aid you during battle. There’s a lot of stopping if you’re only playing on the wii u game pad.
  • I somehow missed a side quest and I don’t see how given it was impossible for me to miss the others with party members refusing to help me until I did them.

In conclusion, this is a beautiful game and everyone should play it. If Child of Light doesn’t win any awards for 2014, everything is wrong with the world, and EA is paying everyone off.

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Anime Reviews: MM! and Kamisama Kiss

I really need to force myself to write these up more often, anyway…

MM!

This is not the type of anime I’d normally watch (as it looked like harem trash), but a friend of mine recommended it and I decided to give it a try while being all anti-social this winter break. It’s about this guy named Taro, who’s a super masochist and wants to get rid of his masochism so he can have a normal life. The blonde girl, Mio decides the best way to fix that is by beating him senseless, which he loves.  The other girl, Yuuno, also tries to help him, but she’s afraid of men because of an abusive relationship she was with and involuntarily assaults any man who touches her. Taro’s best bro is also a cross dresser who developed a princess complex when he’s in drag. There are a few other girls, but they were annoying so I’ll talk about them later.

MM! had it’s moments, I really liked the relationship between Yuuno and Taro. Long story short, she treated him like her dog (sadly she never walked him on a leash but we’ll forget that for now) so she wouldn’t be afraid of him. But now let’s get to….

Why you shouldn’t like this

  • It’s harem trash
  • Taro’s not really a convincing masochist, he’s much too eccentric. It works for the sake of comedy, but more realistically he’d be a bit more humble and subtle about it.I would have liked something a bit more serious with comedy thrown in.
  • It’s not really that unique.
  • It’s harem trash.
  • For whatever reason, Taro’s mom and sister are in love with him. This was more creepy than funny and it made no sense at all to me, but this was harem trash so…
  • There was also a perverted nurse who only liked taking pictures of girls, it would have been funnier if she liked taking suggestive photos of everyone, especially during the episode Taro was accidentally made gay by hypnosis.
  • The end, which I won’t spoil, had too many December birthday feels for me to handle. You’ll only understand if your birthday is in December.
  • It’s harem trash.

For my final note I’d say, if you are a guy that likes harem trash, you’ll probably like this. If you are looking for an anime with a spash of femdom you’ll also probably enjoy this a little. But overall, not really worth watching.

Kamisama Kiss

This also wasn’t an anime I was immediately interested in, but I saw the second season was airing now and decided to give this a try after reading the description. It’s about a girl, Nanami, who finds herself homeless after her dad ditches her and their house is repossessed to pay off his gambling debts. Soon after, she accidentally becomes a god. When she gets to her shrine, a fox spirit familiar, Tomoe, is there, but he’s still emo about the last god vanishing for over 20 years. Eventually Nanami finds out if she kisses Tomoe, that will seal the contract making him her familiar, and she can then get him to do anything she wants. She forces that contract on him so he’ll help her not get killed by a demon, much to his disappointment.  The rest of the anime is about her learning to be a god, Tomoe getting annoyed humans are so frail and that he has to protect her, and a bunch of other youkai that find their way into the story. It’s a little bit reverse haremy but it’s obvious Nanami really only has feelings for Tomoe not too far into the series.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This

  • I saw this series subbed, and then I found out J. Michael Tatum voices Tomoe in the dub. I am sad no one told me this and that I did not see the dub to begin with as I may have liked Tomoe more because Tatum’s voice is sex.
  • Nanami is too nice at times, and really doesn’t order Tomoe around as much as I would in her situation.
  • She also should have just dropped out of school and focused full time on being a god, but she’s still in school for no reason.
  • A few of the other spirits are absolute jerks for no reason.
  • I think there were other plot holes I’m forgetting.

My final words would be, if you’re looking for a cute romantic comedy and if you like Japanese folklore you’ll probably like Kamisama Kiss. At times it reminded me of Okami and Spice and Wolf (but it was no where near as amazing as either of those titles). This anime was worth watching, but I’m not sure if it’s worth watching a second time to hear Tatum voice Tomoe.

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Review: The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a retelling of a traditional Japanese folk tale, sometimes called The Bamboo-Cutter’s Daughter, in the wonderful way only Studio Ghibli can do.

I remember first hearing about the folk tale on an episode of Ancient Alines, which prompted me to look up and read the actual story. It starts when a bamboo-cutter finds a glowing stalk of bamboo. He decided to cut it and found a miniature girl inside, since he and his wife weren’t able to have children they saw her as a blessing and raised her as their own. The bamboo-cutter finds more glowing stalks of bamboo that have small gold nuggets inside them, and uses the money to provide for her. As she grows older she gets extremely beautiful, and even though they try to keep her sheltered in the mountains, word of her beauty spreads and five princes show up at once to propose. She sends all of them on “impossible” tasks to delay getting married. Then at some point she gets depressed and finally reveals she remembers she was from the Moon and sent to Earth as a punishment, or for some other purpose. What comes next differs in different versions of the myth, sometimes she would have married one of the suitors, and gives him a potion for immortality before she’s taken back to the Moon by her people and forgets her time on Earth. The prince burns it because he’d rather die than live without her. They say the smoke can still be seen today (Mt. Fuji was more active back in the day). In other versions she didn’t want to marry anyone and leaves after both her parents die because she was sent to take care of them. And in other versions despite her parents trying to protect her, she is taken back to the Moon against her will leaving her parents in tears.

I learned they were making a movie after reading the myth, and couldn’t wait to see it. Then I was informed that it would be premiering on October 17th at a booth in NYCC, so Scott and I decided to get tickets for that Friday 🙂

I won’t say which version Studio Ghibli adhered most strongly too, but I will say that I was happy they didn’t Disneyfy the ending. They gave Princess Kaguya a personality along with hopes and dreams that made her relate-able as an almost real person, but that’s exactly what anyone should expect from Studio Ghibli. They did have her parents choose to make her a princess instead of keeping her sheltered, like in most versions I’ve read of the myth, because they believe it’s what’s best for her and what will bring her happiness. But she’d rather be free than confined to the life of a Japanese noblewoman. The artwork got noticeably different when her emotions become more intense, and it added a lot to the film. Movies like this are what animation as an art form is meant to be. I won’t say much more as I don’t want to spoil the ending, but this is definitely worth seeing, even if you have to trek into some special indie theater. And now reasons…

Why You Shouldn’t Like This

  • I had travel into the land of hipsters to see it.
  • It was kind of expensive because I was in the land of hipsters
  • One of her childhood friends turns out to be kind of a huge jerk later in the story. (Spoiler)Basically he’s willing to abandon all of his responsibilities (his own child included) for Kaguya.
  • The sense of mystery towards the end was frustrating, but the myth is like that too, so the movie can’t really be blamed.

But those reasons really aren’t much, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it if you want to see something different that’s beautiful and makes you feel.

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