Book Review: Pluto, Vol 5 by Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 5     

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 15, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci-Fi Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Sometimes life is ironic. Like now, when Inspector Gesicht is taxed with protecting the man who wants to kill him, because he killed that man’s brother. At the same time, Adolf has been instructed to kill Gesicht, and he’s been told where to find the weapon to do it with.  Gesicht reunites Adolf with his family, and Adolf has to tell his wife the whole story of what is going on. She has no real sympathy for the dead brother, and doesn’t blame Gesicht.

Hercules and Epsilon are protecting Professor Hoffman until he is taken to safety, unaware that he knows that they have been fiddling with Gesicht internally. After he is gone, they feel a strange electromagnetic wave approaching. Hercules remembers a robot he fought alongside of in the war, one who couldn’t or wouldn’t stop washing his hands, as if trying to cleanse himself of guilt. Hercules decides to battle whatever is coming and tells Epsilon to observe. Most of the battle is below the water but when the combatants emerge, Epsilon sees a damaged Hercules clinging to what appears to be horns… and he seems to know who his opponent is.

Epison realizes Gesicht is the only one authorized to arrest the guilty party, but he can’t seem to raise him on his comm. Adolf attempts to carry out his instructions, but he soon realizes that the powers that be intend to kill him and his family as well. He begs Gesicht to protect his wife and son.

At Uran’s school, people have noticed a change in Uran. Not surprising since her brother Atom  just died. Even in her sadness, Uran feels someone else’s sorrow and searches for it. First she finds a kitten, and then a little boy who has been bullied. She leaves the kitten with the boy and goes on to help other creatures who are sad. Eventually she arrives at the grave site of Tobio Tenma.

When Dr. Tenma arrives to say his good-byes to Atom, they tell him Atom isn’t really dead but they haven’t been able to bring him back online. They want Tenma to help them. At first he refuses, but then he finds himself trying all the same. Gesicht goes to visit the deposed Persian ruler, and then Epsilon gives him what he recovered from what was left of Hercules. Can this image be Pluto?

Omg, how much more must we endure before we reach the truth? Will Gesicht be the last of the super robots? Another one gone now. Just horrible. We get some back story here, including Dr. Tenma and his son Tobio, as well as war memories. Just watching and waiting to see what happens, and crossing my fingers for Gesicht!

Wednesday Briefs: June 29, 2022

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Ninety-six by Cia Nordwell
 

“You do seem to get in even more trouble now than you did when we were in training.” Ases sank into one of the chairs. He curled up, sitting sideways. “It’s weird none of these chairs have arm rests.”  

“Not really. What are they going to do, put two of them on each side? It’d be like a restraint device.” I could always rest my upper pair of arms along the cushioned back of the couch if I wanted, but the chairs were open. “Besides, Bouncer likes it so he can sit close.”  

Well, when he wasn’t tucked into a

 
 
 

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Film Review: Mojin: The Lost Legend

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Mojin: The Lost Legend

In ancient times, a Chinese emperor who was strapped for cash allowed for the formation of the Mojin Xiaowei, official tomb raiders who would enter tombs to “borrow” gold for the use of the emperor. The practice has carried into modern times.  One group consists of Hu Bayi (Kun Chen), Wang Kaixuan (Bo Huang) and Shirley Yang (Shu Qi). Twenty years previously, Hu and Wang and another partner, Ding (Angelababy) found themselves in a tomb with their fellow party members. The three wished to leave the tomb but the others foolishly decided to destroy the statuary, which did not end well and brought about the death of Ding, whom both men were in love with. Twenty years later, another bad scenario causes Hu, Wang, and Shirley to leave China for New York City, but life is not good and Hu decides to quit.

 

Wang tries to carry on, but it’s not easy when you’re only one person out of three. However, he is 

enlisted to go to China to search for the Equinox Flower – the same flower that was involved with the death of Ding. He tells Hu, who says he isn’t interested, so Wang goes on, hoping Hu will follow, which he and Shirley do. Leading this new group is Sister Hong (Xiaoqing Liu), head of a global corporation who is determined to find the flower for altruistic purposes. The Mojin trio find themselves in the same tomb where Ding lost her life, Is history about to repeat itself? Can the ghosts of the past truly be laid to rest?

 

This was a fun movie to watch, reminding me of Raiders of the Lost Ark but with even deeper roots in Chinese history. I loved the dynamics between the main characters, and the love/hate relationship between Hu and Shirley. You just knew that when push came to shove, neither would abandon the other one. Same with Hu and Wang, longtime friends. I watched one of the bonus selections about Kun Chen in which they dealt humorously with their relationship and suggested the actors were together. The movie was exciting and action-packed and did not actually delve into the realm of disbelief – it all made sense. I understand, unfortunately, that the Mojin Worm Valley did not fare so well, being not exactly a sequel or a prequel and having been recast for some unknown reason. The reviews are really bad, so I’ll pass on that. I do recommend watching the Lost Legend, and I’ll give it a solid 4 Stars.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 65 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 65       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 3, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The Quincies have managed to lay Zaraki low, intending to finish him off in his weakened state, which would be catastrophic for the Soul Reapers. So of course the others have to help. Shinji and Hinamori quickly arrive to lend their support. Shinji directs Momo to heal Kenpachi. Rukia and Byakuya are also hurrying to aid in the battle when they suddenly feel another spiritual pressure, followed by the long-anticipated appearance of Ichigo! Huzzah, the cavalry has arrived!

Ichigo finds himself face to face with four female Quincies, one of whom is highly indignant that he has covered her in dust! When Ichigo wounds one of the four, she turns to another one to heal her, but admonishes her not to use her blood. Turns out that this particular Quincy, whose name is Gigi, can create zombies with her blood! But she reminds the other girl that doesn’t work on fellow Quincies unless they are dead.

Quincy Bazz-B shows up to take over the fight against Ichigo in order to claim the glory for himself. But he isn’t the only Quincy to have that idea, as he learns to his dismay when four others also arrive, suggesting they all share the glory. Ichigo is surprised to hear the voice of Yhwach thanking him for leading them into the light. What does that even mean? Unfortunately, it means his actions will now allow them entrance into Reiokyu!

Ichigo is dismayed to find Uryu by Yhwach’s side, as are Chad and Orihime. Yhwach asks if Uryu has said his good-byes as they will be eternal. Ichigo demands answers but none are forthcoming. Chad tries to tell Ichigo that they still have a job to do, but Ichigo wants to follow Uryu. “I’ll smack him and bring him back.”  Uruhara arrives, “a step too late”, and asks Ichigo if he wants to book a trip to Reiokyu. Turns out Kurotsuchi has been building a replica of the Shiba family cannon beneath the barracks of Squad 12 because he is that kind of genius, although it isn’t a perfect replica. But they need more energy. Luckily Orihime arrives just then, but what in the world is she wearing?

Kurotsuchi, meanwhile, is having an interesting discussion with Gigi, intrigued by her zombies. But when she produces zombies she created from fallen Soul Reapers, he confesses he cannot fight them so leaves that to others, namely the Arrancars, who have no emotional ties to them. Unfortunately, Gigi has an ace up her sleeve in the form of one particular Soul Reaper she has zombified! Say it isn’t so!

The battle between the Quincies and the Soul Reapers is heating up, but at least Ichigo is back in the fray, which has to mean it must be the beginning of the end. But at what price? And when he succeeds in defeating Yhwach and his nefarious cohorts, what will remain of what once was? So many lost already. And now we face the horror of a former favorite captain who has been turned into a mindless zombie. Can that end any way but badly? Dreading but looking forward to the next volume!

Saturday is Horror Day #67 – Gretel & Hansel, Rec

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Gretel & Hansel

Forced from their house by an uncaring mother, siblings Gretel (Sophia Lillis) and Hansel (Samuel Leakey) are left to fend for themselves in the dark and forbidding woods. Almost immediately they find themselves in trouble, rescued through the intervention of a kind hunter (Charles Babalola). But their peace is short-lived for he tells them they must make their own way.

 

The hungry children come upon some mushrooms, but before Gretel will allow Hansel to eat them, she insists on talking to them first. Apparently the mushrooms tell her to eat them, so they do. Continuing their journey, they come upon an isolated house. Hansel insists the house smells of cake and wants to go in. Gretel peeks through the window and sees a veritable feast has been laid out. She reluctantly helps Hansel to enter the house through a window, and he begins to check out the cornucopia before him. Too late, Gretel sees that he is not alone. An older woman (Alice Krige) comes to the door and beckons Gretel to come in as well. But can they trust her?

 

This version of the familiar children’s story is more like the original dark Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Everything about this place is foreboding,  with the emphasis being on finding your own way, telling your own story. The children have grown up on the story of the beautiful baby, but now they learn that what they thought was the truth was a lie. And the reality is much uglier than the fantasy. Very dark and brooding, don’t expect your childhood story in anyway. I think it was well done. I’ll give it 4 Stars.

Rec

Angela (Manuela Velasco) is a young TV reporter who covers the night beat with a show called While You Sleep. Tonight she is going to spend some time at a local fire station as her camera man, Pablo (Pablo Rosso) films. She hopes they will get a call so they can see some action.

Be careful what you wish for…

 

 

After a period of inactivity, during which the firefighters are seen eating, then getting some sleep, a call finally comes through and Angela and Pablo accompany them to an apartment building. Once inside they learn from the residents, who are massed in the lobby, that they heard screams. A police offer named Joven (Jorge-Yamam Serrano) tries to prevent them from filming, but Angela won’t be deterred. Going up to the woman’s apartment, they find her screaming and covered in blood. They try to calm her down so they can get her into an ambulance so she can be treated, but she unexpectedly attacks and bites one of the firemen.

 

 

 

The situation goes from bad to worse when they attempt to leave and find that they are not permitted to do so! What is going on here? Joven tells them to calm down and everybody stay downstairs, as he is in charge, but he isn’t really helping the situation with his boss mentality. Something is definitely not right here. No matter how they try to leave, they are blocked at every turn. Things begin to come to light… such as the little girl has tonsillitis, and her dog is sick at the vet. The Japanese woman has a father sick in bed up stairs. There is a penthouse, but no one lives there. And then they find that the building has been sealed and no one is getting out, while inside, things are heating up in the worst possible way.

 

Rec is a Spanish found footage film from directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza. It holds your interest from the beginning as the bizarre tale slowly unravels before your eyes and you begin to realize just what is going on. I think the writing is good, and so is the acting, and it will keep you wondering what’s going on up until the very end. A must-see film if you enjoy found footage movies. The good news is that there are sequels, and I’ve already requested the next one! I give this film 4.5 Stars!

Wednesday Briefs: June 22, 2022

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Ninety-six by Cia Nordwell
 

Maybe he had a point about Bouncer. But that was just because we were his pack and he spent so much time with people instead of animals. Garjah just snorted.  

“Eat your food, you took it after all. And we’re not going back to the party.” I looked at Garjah. “Right?”  

“No. My staff can finish up there. I’m more needed to question the man Bouncer just caught. Zeekah, go back and get Ases. We need his mech.”  

“Yes, sir.” The officer behind me saluted, then rushed off. I guess I didn’t need him if I was sticking with Garjah

 
 

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 64 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 64   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 7, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Isane and Yachiru seem to be facing an invisible foe. He turns out to be Stern Ritter V – “Vanishing Point” Gwenael Lee. He tells them he can’t be seen, felt… or remembered. That doesn’t deter Yachiru, who continues to fight, with surprising results. Another Stern Ritter appears unexpectedly, claiming Lee is just a product of his imagination. His name is Gremmy Thoumeaux, and he manipulates what people imagine into reality. Having noticed Yachiru’s spiritual pressure is down, Kenpachi makes an appearance. This is the first time they have been together since he fought with Unohana.  He finds himself facing what appears to be a little kid.

Gremmy seems to be impressed by the idea that Kenpachi is now the Kenpachi from Zaraki, and thinks he needs a grand stage so he erects a large block of stone for that purpose. Gremmy then boasts that he will kill Zaraki without lifting a finger, just by using what’s in his head. Kenpachi tells Yachiru to flee but she doesn’t move. Gremmy says it’s because he’s made her think her bones are made of chocolate chip cookies and will break if she moves.

Some of the other Stern Ritter believe that Gremmy should not have been released, the guy is far too unstable. And he proves them right by unleashing a meteor that is headed right toward them through the use of his imagination. But the meteor is real enough! Can Kenpachi handle this thing or is everyone doomed?

Most of the action in this volume centers around Kenpachi and Yachiru, and I, for one, am happy to see that. Especially Yachiru who is a great character but gets little story time. She and Kenny make a great pair! It’s always great to see the big guy in action.  These Stern Ritter really get on my nerves. I will be so glad to see the last of them.  Fun volume, looking forward to the next one, and biting my nails!

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 16 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 16     

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 1, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke begin their training with Gyomei, the Stone Hashira. The regimen consists of three parts – training under the waterfall, carrying three thick logs, and pushing a large boulder one cho (about 110 meters).  The training is grueling but the three demon slayers push through it as best they can. Inosuke is happy, convinced that Gyomei is the strongest member of the Demon Slayer Corps. Tanjiro passes the first two parts, but is having difficulty in pushing the boulder. He feels as though it is pushing back at him. Meanwhile, Muzan is very intent on finding both Nezuko and Kagaya.

When Genya arrives, he and Tanjiro discuss the training, and he opens Tanjiro’s eyes to trying another technique. Following Genya’s advice, Tanjiro is able to push the boulder, finishing his training before either Zenitsu or Inosuke. Genya is impressed by Tanjiro, both for his accomplishments in training as for what he did for the Swordsmith village. Tanjiro modestly claims it was due to Nezuko, not him, thus earning more respect for his honesty. Now Tanjiro is ready to move on to his next training, with Tomioka.

Tanjiro finds Tomioka battling with Sanemi, the Wind Hashira who is also Genya’s brother. When Tanjiro asks if they are really fighting over candy, Sanemi becomes offended and attacks. In the meantime, Muzan has found Kagaya, who is in very bad shape! They have a long discussion during which Muzan attempts to justify what he is doing based on past grievances. This encounter does not end well.

When the Demon Slayers receive the news, they rush to their Master’s side, alas too late, and vow to end the existence of Muzan once and for all.

This was a very hard volume to read. It’s always hard to lose characters you come to love, and this was no exception, but neither was it the first time in this series. The Hashira have been struck a mighty blow, but at the same time the death of the Master has only strengthened their resolve to destroy Muzan. Tanjiro is becoming even stronger than ever, and I’m sure Zenitsu and Inosuke will be close behind. No Nezuko this volume, hope she’s doing well and we will see her again soon. I can only hope they will make Muzan suffer horribly before they kill him. The back stories are interesting and informative, as usual.

Good volume, looking forward to the next one.

Saturday is Horror Day #66 – Freaks (2018), The Conspiracy

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Freaks (2018)

 

Chloe (Lexy Kolker) is seven, but she’s never been beyond her front door, kept inside by her vigilant and paranoid father (Emile Hirsch). He cautiously schools her on what to say if someone asks her who she is and what she likes, even though that isn’t her name at all. Chloe longs to go outside. Her mother is dead, and all she has is her father. He tells her that when the time comes she will go across the street to live with the neighbors, and Nancy will be her new mother. Chloe wants a mother more than anything, and that day can’t come fast enough.

 

Chloe peeps outside when her dad is sleeping, although he tries to stay awake as long as possible, saying he can’t protect her when he’s asleep. She spots an ice cream truck, and she really really really wants an ice cream. The older man in the truck (Bruce Dern) looks her way and smiles at her. One day Chloe sees the girl across the street getting ice cream and she tells her in her mind to bring her one, and she does. Then the man himself shows up and takes her to his truck, saying they’re going for a ride. The odd thing is he has a photograph in his truck. When Chloe asks who that is, he says it’s her mother… his daughter. And they have to rescue her. But her mother is dead, so how can that be?

 

Freaks is set at a time when some members of the population have developed certain powers which set 

them apart from the others, and they have been labeled as freaks by the rest, who are terrified of them and what they can. Scientists predict that each generation of freaks is stronger than the last. Chloe’s mother Mary (Amanda Crew) single-handedly destroyed the city of Dallas. Chloe’s father works to keep her safe, but his powers only work when he’s awake.

 

Chloe has some astonishing powers of her own. She can get into people’s heads and make them do things. Grandpa is positive he can use her to rescue her mother. The concept reminds me of the TV series The Gifted, but they were ore of an offshoot from the X-Men universe  and these are just ordinary people with extraordinary powers.

 

I was really glad Bruce Dern turned out not to be the neighborhood pervert. He seems at odds with Chloe’s father but eventually they decide to work together for the common good. The movie is well done, the story is great, and so is the acting. But at the same time, it’s bleak and harsh, and not something I would choose to watch again. Look for Grace Park as an FBI agent, last seen on Hawaii 5-0. I’ll give this movie 4.5 Stars.

The Conspiracy

Two filmmakers, Aaron (Aaron Poole) and Jim (James Gilbert) are making a documentary about conspiracy theorists, particularly Terrance (A.C. Peterson). But in the middle of filming, Terrance disappears, his apartment ransacked, the multitude of clippings he had tacked to his walls torn down. 

 

 

Aaron and Jim pursue their investigation, which leads them to the existence of a secret society known as the Tarsus Club. They discover an informant, Mark Tucker (Bruce Clayton), who helps them gain entrance to the club, which is holding some sort of meeting in someone’s expensive home in the middle of nowhere. The club is populated by obviously wealthy, established members of society. Jim and Aaron and welcomed as new members, and told to enjoy The Hunt.

 

The two young men find themselves in over their heads, continuing to film as the hunt begins.

My first problem with this film is that it always felt like a film, never a documentary. If you’re going to 

say it’s a documentary, it should feel like one. I understand the filmmakers are making a point about conspiracies and getting to the truth of the question of who is in charge, who pulls the strings. But I found my attention wandering early on, and I found it hard to maintain interest, or even to care about these guys and their so-called documentary.

Is the Tarsus Club just a stand-in for the Masons or the Illuminati or some other group of the week? Personally, I believe the wealthy control everything, but I don’t think they all hang out together and plan what’s going to happen. I believe they have their own spheres of influence and control things accordingly.

 

At the end of the film, the film goes horribly wrong for the two young men in a way they hadn’t anticipated, and then one disappears. Just not a lot of meat to this story, and I think it was just not worth filming. I’ll give it 1.5 Stars.

Film Review: Sanjuro

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Sanjuro

 

Iori Izaka (Yuzo Kayama) is the nephew of the chamberlain, Mutsuta (Yunosuke Ito). He hopes to enlist his uncle’s aid in making much needed reforms in the village, but his uncle doesn’t seem interested. The superintendent, Kikui (Masao Shimizu) is very interested, and tells Iori to gather his friends quickly so he can speak to them. As the young men discuss their plans, they are startled to discover that they have been overheard by a ronin sleeping in the next room. Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune) is quick to tell them why they are wrong and, without even knowing either the superintendent or the chamberlain, he can describe them to a tee. Too late, he realizes the meeting is to take place at the spot where they are. And actually they are already surrounded. If they are to survive, they must listen to Sanjuro.

 

Sanjuro bluffs his way out of the situation with the men, and garners an invitation from vice-chamberlain Muroto to work for him. They learn that Iori’s uncle has been kidnapped and his wife and daughter are being held. The young men protest when Sanjuro tells them they need to rescue the women first,claiming that they must save the chamberlain. But common sense prevails when Sanjuro reminds them they don’t even know where he is being held, and perhaps the women have overheard something. Through the use of Sanjuro’s crafty plan, they rescue the women. Mutsuta’s wife (Takako Irie) is grateful but serene. She advocates that they not use so much violence, but that isn’t always possible. Especially when the young men don’t listen to Sanjuro and attempt to carry out their own plans.

 

They hide in one of the young men’s homes, which just happens to be next to the home of Kurofuji, one of Kikui’s allies. Who would look for someone under their very noses? The enemy is cunning too and lead them on wild goose chases because the young ones are so quick to react. They just might ruin one plan too many!

 

Sanjuro is the sequel to Yojimbo, with Toshiro Mifune once again playing the titular character, a wandering ronin. I liked this film as much as I liked Yojimbo. It definitely made me laugh at times.  I loved the interplay between Mutsuta’s wife and Sanjuro. I think he would prefer not to kill either, but sometimes he is pushed into a situation where it is inevitable. She is a great character, and so is her daughter Chidori (Reiko Dan). Once again, the cinematography and direction are excellent, as is the soundtrack. Definitely worth watching. I give this film 5 Stars.