Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: BEASTARS: Vol. 1 by Paru Itagaki

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*No Major Spoilers*

At this high school, instead of jocks and nerds, the students are divided into predators and prey.

At a high school where the students are literally divided into predators and prey, it’s personal relationships that maintain the fragile peace. Who among them is a Beastar—an academic and social role model destined to become a leader in a society naturally rife with mistrust?

Last night at Cherryton Academy, an herbivore student was killed and eaten. Among the members of the drama club, the herbivores’ suspicions naturally turn to their carnivore classmates… The prime suspect? Legosi, a large wolf. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly—or would he? And will dwarf rabbit Haru bring out the beast in him? Or are his feelings for her…something else?

BEASTARS has been a series I’ve been wanting to get into, however, since the world has ADHD it’s taken me a bit longer than it should have to give this manga a chance. Now with season one of BEASTARS on Netflix, I feel like now is the time to check this exciting series out.

First off, the art style is interesting. It looks like it was painted in watercolors (but of course it’s in black and white). There’s so much detail in each and every character I found it beautiful even though I’m not a fan of watercolor-like styles. The artist definitely took his time to study each animal the characters are based on.

This story touches similar themes that Zootopia touches on, racism in the fact that the carnivores are segregated from the herbivores. Now in Zootopia, they put this in an easy to understand way for children to follow and understand. BEASTARS discusses this in a more grown-up and blatant way. There’s even segregation amongst the carnivores themselves. I like stories that take on social issues, without it taking over the entire story.

Legosi is a character I can relate to an extent. He’s awkward and introverted. He is mourning the loss of his friend while everyone is secretly suspecting him of the crime because he is a wolf. This affects his emotions throughout the story.

The title Beastar is something that is given to one of the animals, much like a class president except it encompasses a whole generation of students. So there’s this popular student, Louis, and everyone is expecting him to become the Beastar. Watching him struggle to rehearse for the play that the drama club is about to put on after an injury makes you realize just how much is at stake in his world.

Overall, I really enjoyed BEASTARS. The story is well written, the art is beautiful to look at, and I can’t wait to continue this series in the future. I will also be reviewing BEASTARS on Netflix soon, so stay tuned for that!

I would recommend this series who love animals, societal issues, low-key mysteries, a slice of life, and looking for something new to read.

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Posted in Movie/TV Reviews

My Latest Netflix Binge: Rilakkuma and Kaoru

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If you are looking for a relaxed, adorable anime look no further! Rilakkuma and Kaoru is a Japanese animation about two adorable stuffed bears and a little baby bird.

The official summary goes like this:

Her life might be a little mundane, but Kaoru gets to go home to Rilakkuma, her endearingly lazy roommate who happens to be a fuzzy toy bear. -Netfix

I know it’s not much to go on, but trust me you will be getting all the cute feelings from how the characters interact with each other. I’m not familiar with the famous Japanese pop icon Rilakkuma, so I called him “Big Brown Bear” and the other bear “Vanilla Bear”.

From Wikipedia:

Rilakkuma’s name is a combination of リラックス rirakkusu, a Japanese transliteration of the English word “relax”, and クマ(熊)kuma, the Japanese word for “bear”. He is a soft, toy-like bear whose interests are mostly limited to sleeping and eating, although these traits are portrayed positively, with fans and consumers encouraged to, at least sometimes, emulate Rilakkuma as sort of cure or treatment for stress.

Now enough backstory and explaining. Let’s get into what I liked, and what I didn’t like about Rilakkuma and Kaoru!

I loved all of the characters, the bears, Kaoru, and even the neighbor kid who brings a child-like perspective to the bears’ lives. There’s funny moments, heartwarming ones, and there’s at least one episode everyone can relate with.

My favorite episode is the Rainy Season. It’s Typhoon season in Tokyo, and even though Kaoru has a difficult trip to her little office job, it’s not as crazy as what’s going on in the bears’ apartment! Hilarity ensues and it’s a good reminder on not to do too much lazing about.

Another thing I loved about the show is how each episode ends with an inspirational quote. They’re always positive, and I found it was a nice way to end an episode. It was kind of like a “what did we learn today?” kind of ending.

There really wasn’t anything major I had an issue with, mostly just nitpicks and minor things that don’t affect my overall feeling for the show.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this anime, it held my attention, and it gave me a good laugh and heartwarming feelings. I hope Netflix will invest in a second season! I will be looking forward to a new adventure with these loveable characters.

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Little Hero Vol. 1 by Wakasa

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*No Major Spoilers*

One day after school, fifth-grader Sawa is suddenly enveloped by a bright light, and moments later an unfamiliar landscape straight from a fantasy novel stretches out before her. With no way to return to Earth, she’s forced to accept the role of the “Dawn Hero” and save the world from being devoured by the Witch’s mist.

Sawa quickly learns no one goes by their name in this new world–only by their role in life. From then onward, she is known only as Hero. She is accompanied by Servant, Dagger, and Lady Knight on her adventure to fulfill her role as the hero who will save the world! Will this little hero be able to live up to the role forced upon her? Will she ever return home?

I was intrigued by the premise of this book. A fifth-grader sent to save an unfamiliar world? This book definitely delivered. With dangerous turns at every corner, how can Hero defend herself?

I liked the character development in this manga. Each character has depth and their own personal reason for doing what they do. For example, Hero begins as a shy person questioning the things around her only to grow and become better to protect her friends as the story progresses.

My favorite character, besides Hero, was Dagger. He starts off as a pickpocketing street urchin and becomes part of something greater, he’s one of those pretender types where he plays as a punk, but in reality, he’s just a big softy.

I really liked this book and I’m sure if you’re into Fantasy manga with a unique take on a story, then this is a great book for you!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

ARC REVIEW: Isabella’s Painting by Ellen Butler

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*Spoilers*

*Thanks to Power to the Pen for giving me the chance to read this novel early*

This novel follows Karina Cardinal as she’s living as a lobbyist in D.C. and dating one of the most desired bachelors, Patrick Dunne. The Dunne family is one of the most famous and wealthiest families in D.C. Martin Dunne working for a contracting company and Patrick following in his father’s footsteps.

Karina accidentally discovers a stolen painting in Martin’s study during a family Christmas party. Curiosity gets to Karina as she starts to research the hidden painting and realizes Martin is dealing with a mafia-tied mystery.

Desperate to help those she cares about, she returns the painting to the rightful owners. However, she ends up being hunted for revenge. Will she survive long enough to solve the mystery and help the ones she loves?

I was enjoying this book for the first few chapters. Stolen painting, classic art, mafia ties, how could you get more suspense? Then when Karina goes to Colorado for a family emergency and her boyfriend, Patrick, shows up soon afterward. As soon as they revealed this, I knew where it was going. Patrick ends up proposing, you know the rest.

The book started dragging with the romance drama. I wanted to get back to the mystery! I don’t want this relationship drama in my mystery books! (Stephanie Plum is the only exception to this rule) About 3/4s of the way through the book the mystery picked back up and I was binging this book as much as I could!

Overall, I thought this book was alright. Interesting premise. I’m all for women sleuths or women detectives, but the deep-seeded romance took what could have been an awesome story into a melodrama.

I didn’t particularly like any of the characters. Karina is not very interesting, she felt dull and not very strong. Patrick is a jerk and so is Martin. If you’re looking for deep characters you won’t find them here.

I would recommend this if you want a cheesy romance with some light mystery. It’s alright if you like this kind of thing. It’s just not my cup of tea.

Order it on Amazon