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Sunday Shōjo: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (anime)

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun)
Episodes: 12
AnimeStatus: Finished
MangaStatus: Ongoing

Sakura Chiyo (sort-of) confesses her love to Nozaki Umetaro, a guy who is pretty much clueless about everything except the manga he is writing (he’s a bit clueless about that, too). This ends up by Chiyo becoming his beta and getting entangled with the intricate process of writing manga. Soon enough, a bunch of colourful and interesting characters emerge as a part of said process, and the result is one of the funniest animes I have ever watched.

The romantic part is on the sidelines, worming its way into funny situations and misunderstandings. If you don’t mind laughing your ass off while enjoying a bit of romance, you’ll love Gekkan Shojo. I’d liken it to Ouran High School Host Club – if you liked that one, I’m pretty sure you’ll love Gekkan-shojo.

Credits:
Featured image by 区宇(くう)@原稿中 taken over from zerochan.net
Image 1 by 白夜ReKi taken over from zerochan.net.
Image 2 by 三本王wallace taken over from zerochan.net.
Image 3 by ☆★☆ taken over from zerochan.net.

Reader’s Dilemma

Miss Larkin’s writing is like a puppy’s first confrontation with a flight of stairs. It’s very awkward, but it’s so cute you have to smile and hope it will succeed. While the puppy eventually masters the stairs, Miss Larkin never fully masters writing. At least not in The Earl’s Dilemma.

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She keeps stumbling over the same words – lack of synonyms in her vocabulary and the lack of thesaurus in her home library become apparent very soon. I could not resist so I counted, cruel courtesy of modern technology. Using the word throat 52 times and the word cheek 92 times would not be a big problem if both words were not used in relation the same character almost invariably. The same goes for frown (101 times).

As much as I tried to like Artemis for subjective reasons, I tried to dislike Earl’s Dilemma for objective reasons. It is badly written. Really. And I loved it. I enjoyed the simple love story, even though it was riddled with detailed descriptions of drapery, upholstery, linen and other types of cloth. I liked the characters, even though they were all frowns, eyebrows, throat and cheek.

I doubt I will ever read another book by Miss Larkin, but I’ll be forever thankful for putting a smile on my face when I desperately needed it.

Have you ever really liked a book that was poorly written? This actually happened to me once before, more than 10 year ago when I read Man on Fire.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Annual reviews are not among my favourite things. I’ve done two of them so far (work-related) and frankly, I’ve had enough. However, reviewing a year in terms of books and my activity in the blogosphere (poor as it was) in the end proved to be relaxing and not taxing.

I have, once again, failed to meet my reading challenge (24/31). Still, I am quite pleased with the two per month average and the catching up I’ve managed to do in November and December.

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How did you fare?

There have been ups and downs last year, not only in terms of personal and professional life, but also in terms of books. I was sorely disappointed by Andy Weir’s Artemis, however The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz proved to be the biggest disappointment of 2017. It so happens when you expect a lot, and get only a smidgen (again, true in personal and professional life as well).

Pleasant surprise of 2017 (alongside Logan in the movie department, Hajime no Ippo and Haikyuu in the anime department) was certainly Mary Balogh’s A Summer to Remember.

I wrote about the Cheap Thrill of 2017 extensively, however, if you care to know more of the Guilty Pleasure of 2017, you’ll have to wait for me to complete the Captive Prince Trilogy. Hint – the first two instalments feel like reading an anime (might sound silly, but it’s true).

Note: I have updated the “About (Hello There!)” section to include better explanation of the main categories (Cheap Thrills, Guilty Pleasures & Personal Edification):

In 2018 I will once again try to read 31 books. I will also endeavor to be more attentive to the digital sanctuary that is my blog. I’ll do my best to include entries in each of the categories that have developed during the years, which will make me focus more on my interests and things that make me go *grin* in the night.

May 2018 bring you many Cheap Thrills. Indulge in Guilty Pleasures as much as you can, and don’t forget that there is Personal Edification in everything, if you approach it with a critical mind.

Thank you for stopping by and reading.

This post is about Hajime no Ippo, it really is. Mostly.

This is going to be a really long post. So, here’s an executive summary for you: Hajime no Ippo is one of the best animes I’ve ever seen. Now look at the pretty pictures and then go watch Hajime no Ippo. Oh yeah, also, you should watch Haikyuu!

I’ve been watching anime since 2004. I’ve chosen this year somewhat arbitrarily because it’s the year I’ve started to differentiate anime from other forms of animation. In 2004 I’ve seen the ever amazing Escaflowne, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Rurouni Kenshin Reminiscence and Berserk. These five are still  my favourites.

I’ve dabbled in most genres, but I have never ever made an attempt at sports anime. The idea of watching +25 episodes in which dudes reach bankai in football or tennis sounded as appealing as, well, as this:

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However, I’m not hardcore (in some cases this is bad, in this case it’s good). So, under the influence of Tumblr people, once it came to choosing a sports anime to watch (not my idea), I’ve suggested Kuroko no Basuke, which turned out to be your typical shounen ai with “level-up” available in almost every episode.

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It was cute and fun to watch, even though it was too intense (yes, there is such a thing). The fact that a single game spanned through four or five episodes was really just a little too much.

The real epiphany hit with Hajime no Ippo which is now a proud member of “The 2004 Club” (it’s my club, it does not need to make sense to you). The idea that an anime about boxing could even apply for membership has never crossed my mind. But the perfection of Hajime no Ippo is indisputable.

It kept me at the edge of my seat during every single match. At one point I was yelling angrily at the television and Ippo. Ok, more like at ten points, and more like at Ippo, Takamura, Kimura, Miyata and Date. Even Aoki.

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I loved every single character and the fact that each one gets enough screen time and attention. The relationships between them are developed with care and love. There are no fillers, and once the fight is announced it happens within an episode or two. What you would call a filler in a “normal” anime cannot be called a filler in Hajime no Ippo, because trust me – you’ll watch it with the same interest and be as engaged as if you were watching the main event.

Yes, they do defy the laws of physics but somehow the fact that everything gets explained on the sidelines makes the gravity-defying fighting spirit – convincing.

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Hajime no Ippo is like every other anime, but yet it is unlike most. It takes all your usual tenets like the importance of friends and family, dedication, practice and spirit but it never goes too far. It doesn’t even go near the edge – it doesn’t really need to because it’s got you on the edge.

Now let’s review some stellar moments in Hajime no Ippo which are only marginally related to boxing.

Like crazy karaoke.

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Encouragement through di*k references.

Oh this is truly a pun contest.

Fishy talk.

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Now, you thought that was it, did you? Well, if you’ve come this far, kouhai, let’s touch upon yet another sports anime which I heartily recommend (as heartily as I recommended Hajime no Ippo).

This time it’s Haikyuu! an anime about volleyball.

Yes, I know. Who cares, right? Well you should. Because this one comes very close to Hajime no Ippo with animation, character development and plot.

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I loved the fact that, even more than Hajime no Ippo, Haikyuu is not an anime about one talented person with god-like tenacity and dedication. It is not even about the members of one team, it is primarily about volleyball, about the importance of team work and about how a team can become more than the sum of its members’ strengths and weaknesses.

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Even though Hajime no Ippo is without a doubt superior, Haikyuu! resonated with me more because growing up I loved team sports, and I have dabbled in handball for five or so years. I was reminded of the sense of purpose and focus you have as a part of a team working to achieve a common goal. Being prepared to shed and spill blood, with wanton disregard of personal well-being – only to get there. I also remembered the unequivocal and heartbreaking realisation that, sometimes, all you’ve got is not enough when faced with a superior opponent. However, you sure can have a lot of fun trying.

One of the reasons I loved Haikyuu! is because the character development is awesome, and it resulted in one of my favourite anime scenes ever – and this is a side-character we’re talking about.

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P.S. Neither Hajime no Ippo nor Haikyuu! are completed and the fact that they are awesome nonetheless speaks volumes.

Sorry for this crazy post. It’s been more than two years since I’ve last written a post about anime (or manga), which means that it has been two years since I’ve have been enthusiastic about an anime (or manga).

I thought about condensing the post and making it readable to someone other than me, but when it comes to anime and my emotional response to it, it’s almost impossible to control.

 

How to Read the Bedwyn Saga

If I’ve ever wondered if there is such a thing as too much historical romance (I didn’t) I know the answer. There is. Really. I’ve read six and a half Bedwyn Saga books in a span of one month. It’s really difficult to say at which point I started feeling slightly mad.

If, at any point, you were (or are) interested in giving the Bedwyns a go, I will not dissuade you. I think that, if historical romance is your cup of tea, you really should. I had loads of fun, right until the moment I overdosed. And now, after going cold turkey a week ago, I am getting the shakes.

I am wiser now, though, and here I share my wisdom with you on how to read the Bedwyn saga:

  1. Read A Summer to Remember (#0.6) regardless of your interest/disinterest in the Bedwyns. It’s great. It really is. It’s true.
  2. Then go on to read Slightly Scandalous (#03)
  3. Take a break, breathe. Wear sunscreen.
  4. Go back to the Slightly Married (#01)
  5. At this point, if you’re not interested in Wulfric Bedwyn you should stop reading. If you are, jump to Slightly Dangerous (#06)
  6. If you’re feeling slightly bored, you might go on to read Slightly Wicked (#02) – it’s fun, although irritating at times.
  7. If you have developed any interest for Morgan (WOW!) go read Slightly Scandalous (#04) and if you actually managed to get “a feel” of Alleyne as a character (DOUBLE WOW!) you might (not sure, though – I’ve put it on hiatus) enjoy Slightly Tempted (#05).

I do wish I haven’t gone on this crazy binge because maybe, just maybe, I could have appreciated the series more. Actually, I’m almost convinced that would be the case.

Jason Bourne or David Webb?

Driving in a car.
Matt Damon without a shirt.
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Fight. Anguished Matt Damon/flashback.
JESUS CHRIST IT’S JULIA STILES.
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Computer mumbo jumbo.
Fight. Fast walking.
Some conversation. Driving in a car.
Fight. Fast walking. Flashback.
The Greek love Molotov cocktails.
Computer mumbo jumbo.
Fight.
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Matt Damon without a shirt.
High speed chase.
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Fight.
CIA is useless. It’s not even clear how they keep on existing.
High speed chase.
Tommy Lee Jones looking old and bored.
Fight.
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Attempt at raising the issue of privacy vs security. Failing.
Creative use of weaponry.

A boring, never-ending high speed chase which finally gives you an opportunity to think about the movie and realise Jason Bourne is not much of a movie. It really isn’t. The plot, non-existent as it is, is flimsy, unnecessarily sappy and very convenient. They invested minimum effort in the story.

Jason Bourne is a wild ride (no pun intended, but still – that’s what she said). Until the very end, It doesn’t let you think about the plot and about what’s actually happening. Until that car chase which seems even worse than the one in the Dawn of Justice (yaaaaaaaaawn).

Still, if you expect nothing more than a movie with Matt Damon in it, you’re not gonna be disappointed.

I Cannot Bitch

Expect the unexpected is not exactly what comes to mind when you’re looking for a frivolous summer read. It most certainly is not something you expect to be applicable to a book titled Lord of Scoundrels with such a cover (urgh).

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And yet… Mind. Blown. My mind is also blown by the fact that my mind was blown. So, Mind Blown Squared.

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Lord of Scoundrels (praise the Lord, it’s not Lord of Rakes!) is 171 pages long (short?) and on each page shit happened which I did not see coming. I’ve never read a romance which felt like a thriller – the suspense was killing me because I just could not foresee how things would unfold.

I’m still shocked by this book. It’s fun, intelligent and witty, well-written with awesome protagonists who just go around doing stuff protagonists in a book of this sort are not supposed to do.

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I have nothing to bitch about. I cannot bitch about Jessica Trent’s ineptness. I cannot bitch about idiotic and unnecessary sex scenes. I can hardly bitch about long-winded descriptions of characters’ appearance and/or attire. I cannot bitch about dimwitted dialogue nor rudimentary language skills. I could try to bitch about the presence of an actual plot, but in truth the only thing I can bitch about it the fact there is nothing to bitch about.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go and find out if this book is an aberration of cosmic proportions or something Loretta Chase does as a matter of course.

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