Fullmetal Alchemist volume 2 (after chapter 6) — Not very good battle/technique analysis, but the confrontation with Scar was nevertheless exciting action and drama. Also, regardless of how I complained before about Lust and Gluttony showing up too early, the writer has done a very good job, during this part of the story, making a mystery of what the plan of the evil organization can possibly be.

Unbound — I got stuck on TVTropes looking for a name for the phenomenon I wanted to mention… well, that’s what I went there for in the first place, anyway; it turned into reading the entire page for the Quest for Glory series and outclicking links to any tropes I wasn’t immediately familiar with.

Aaaaanyway, I finished up this book, and I wanted to mention a thing I really like that it did well: when a character sets up something that will be used later, and the narration cuts away from that setup scene purely for the sake of allowing it to be a surprise later. The characters know what happened, and from their perspective there’s no mystery at all; it’s purely a trick of the narration that doesn’t allow the reader in on it until later.

Sometimes it’s blatant and the reader goes, Oh, my gosh, what just happened? How is this going to come into play later?? I’m so curious!!! Sometimes it’s more subtle, where the reader is given only a hint that something is being set up but very few details, and the action moves on so quickly that the moment is soon forgotten… until later when the reveal happens and the reader’s like, OH THAT’S WHAT THAT WAS!! Either way, I love this trope when it’s well done, and there should be a TVTropes name for it, dammit.

And I really enjoyed it here. The head-exploding automatons were lots of fun and a good, clever idea that fit into the story very well and made sense and also were super cool :D I was very happy with the ending of this book in general, in fact.

I liked that Meridiana was destroyed (as far as we know) offpage by secondary characters. It’s nice to depart, sometimes, from tradition in that way, not only because it is a departure from tradition and therefore a bit of a novelty, but also because I like the uncertainty of a villain possibly still being around.

I hate to say that an element in a book is “a nice touch of realism” or something like that, because I don’t like the resulting implication that the rest of the book is unrealistic… but, to be honest, most art is unrealistic to a certain extent because most reality is unartistic to a certain extent. While experiencing art, we always have the awareness in the back of our heads that this has all been deliberately arranged to what the creator hopes is optimal effect. And we allow for that, because we understand how art works; it’s a type of suspension of disbelief.

But because we get so used to the methods by which some semblance of reality is wrangled into a more artistically pleasing arrangement — storytelling tropes, in other words — sometimes just a slight departure from those tropes makes for a huge shock.

In reality, the Big Bad isn’t always neatly and climactically finished off at the end of a great battle by the major players after they’ve defeated all her minions in order of least to most dangerous. Sometimes she’s confronted multiple frustrating times to little avail, then done away with (possibly) by some seemingly irrelevant party somewhere else and nobody even captures it on video, and there’s a long period of messy cleanup afterward. And it’s nice to see that reflected in storytelling every now and again.

Sailor Moon Crystal episodes 37-38 — I swear to Poe, if Sailor Moon shouts, “Uranus! Neptune! Pluto!” one more fucking time…

Speaking of some of them, despite how much I enjoyed the Uranus/Neptune ending theme, there hasn’t been nearly as strong a sense of their beautiful love in this series as in the previous… and they’re one of the main reasons I care about watching. Of course, one big big problem with this series all along has been that very little character or relationship development has taken place.

Flashback-as-padding is an anime staple, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used as egregiously as in this one. In this episode we’re even flashing back to literally twenty seconds before. It’s embarrassing.

*sigh* And then another Sailor-Moon-gathers-her-courage sequence. And then everyone gapes in unison. This nonsense just drags on and on and on, and now there’s an entire episode to go that I assume is going to be about shouting each other’s names, posturing, flashing back, announcing that the world is about to end, and not getting anything accomplished before a thirty-second resolution.

OK, let’s do this.

It’s about time we had a music video, but… it’s bad. And barely anything happens. It’s like they just wanted to get the music video segment out of the way, and then move on to the actual action. And why the same song we just barely heard? I know, I know, I’m never satisfied.

Um, Pluto, could you have done that door thing all along? Or did you have to be reminded by Saturn? ‘Cause that seemed… fairly effective.

*sigh* And then Sailor Moon FIXES EVERYTHING because then we don’t have to deal with the rest of the world we’re supposedly so interested in protecting.

And the whole thing ends before the commercials. I don’t like this format of wrapping up the action halfway through the episode in order to make the second half the hook for the next season. It seems gimmicky, and breaks up the story in weird ways.

Buuuut at least they recognized the supreme importance of the love between Haruka and Michiru and gave us the proper ending theme. Though I wouldn’t have complained about that lethally adorable Chibi-Usa song either.

And the really hilarious thing is that I’m going to keep watching. I’m so curious to see how they’ll do the SuperS and Stars storylines (which were my favorite parts of the original series) that I’m still completely dedicated to this fairly horrible show -__-

The Moor — If A Letter of Mary was the book in this series that I remembered the most hazily going into it, The Moor is the book I remember making the least sense. I think perhaps I only read it once before? And I recall having no idea what actually happened.

So I went into it this time with this attitude, “I’m damn well going to understand everything!!” Which is really quite funny, considering the perfectly comprehensible and straightforward nature of the book. I don’t use any mild-altering substances, but I still kinda feel like I must have been drunk or high the last time I read it… because it was not difficult to understand.

Apart from that, what I very much enjoyed about this book was the way King set up Baring-Gould’s character and Mary’s relationship with him. I, at least, shared Mary’s feelings for the man pretty closely throughout, which is a testament to King’s writing: at first I found him obnoxious and of dubious value as an acquaintance, and I wondered why on Earth his “case” should be so important to Holmes; but gradually I, like Mary, gained a new opinion of him — not a total reversal, as might occur in a lesser, shallower work, but an appreciation of the human being with his good and bad points.

In fact, the book read very much like a celebration of the real man through the fictional medium. There are other spots in this series (at least I remember there being) where the names of historic figures are dropped like product placement in a movie, but Baring-Gould’s inclusion in this installment felt very organic and satisfying. I enjoyed it along with every other aspect of the book; definitely a solid entry in the series.

No.6 episode 1 — The opening theme has a very strange sound to it that I have a feeling is going to be thematically appropriate. Also, resisting making Agent Smith jokes.

So here we have the Isn’t everything perfect? setup for a realization that it isn’t after not too long, and even the score is somewhat creepily happy. The little hints of Shion’s not being entirely comfortable with everything being so perfect are well dropped, too.

I’m liking his characterization so far. I love to see true nerdy enthusiasts that allow a love of learning and interest in new information to override other impulses that might be considered more important at times (such as self-preservation XD). No wonder bloody guy was kinda charmed by him!

(Also, either that grandma was doing a type of knitting I’ve never seen before, or the animators have never watched anyone knitting in real life. These options seem equally possible.)

The Princess and Curdie — I’m pretty sure I’ve read this book only half as often as I have The Princess and the Goblin, on account of having obtained it later when I was a kid and having obtained the audiobook later as an adult. And I had entirely forgotten the incredibly pretentious and very boring intro where MacDonald feels the need to “tell us what mountains are.” Yikes. I know this book gets into more serious and moralizing territory, but that’s no reason to abandon your previous tone, Mac!

(Though I have to admit that it was an interesting change of metaphorical pace to establish the world’s water as its breath and the oceans as its lungs.)

Pokémon GO — I heard about catching Pokémon in the real world and thought it sounded like the best idea EVAR, but I didn’t follow closely enough to realize IT WAS AN ANDROID GAME. I kinda freaked out when I discovered I didn’t have to buy some handheld gaming device I didn’t already own in order to play it.

I don’t really have any profound artistic criticism of this game at this time (which is not to imply that anything I say around here is profound XD), so I’ll just mention that the idea is genius, I’ve walked more since I started playing than on any previous weekend for probably years, and it’s fun as shit. Well done those designers.