Sunday, November 30, 2008

Review: Code Geass - Lelouch of the Rebellion (2006-2008)

Code Geass is a Japanese science fiction mecha anime set in an alternate universe. The storyline chronicles the epic journey of Lelouch vi Britannia who leads a rebellion as the masked hero, Zero, to seek revenge on the death of his mother and create a new world order with the power of Geass ("Power of Kings"). It premiered in June 2006 and finished in September 2008 with 50 episodes total. I will cover both seasons (Code Geass and Code Geass R2).

The Holy Empire of Britannia conquered the Japanese country with their robotic mechas called Knightmare frames. In the aftermath, the Japanese people lost their freedom and their rights. The country was renamed Area 11 of the Britannian Empire. The Japanese people, also renamed as Elevens, lived in unsafe, squalor neighborhoods while the Britannian people lived in settlements in excellent condition. Rebel groups and organizations gradually emerge to protest the Britannian government and to reclaim Japanese independence.

After his father, the Emperor of Britannia, failed to prevent the assassination of his imperial mother, an attack which also left his sister, Nunally, blind and crippled, the young prince Lelouch vowed to his childhood friend, Suzaku, that he would destroy the empire. Seven years later, with a new identity as Lelouch Lamperouge attending an elite private high school, he accidentally becomes mixed up with "terrorists" in Area 11. He stumbles upon a military secret and encounters a mysterious young girl named C.C., who grants him the power of Geass. With it, he finally has the power that he needs to defeat Britannia and fulfill his two wishes: to seek revenge for his mother and to construct a world in which his beloved sister can live happily. While Suzaku, who is of Japanese descent, is a soldier in the Britannian task force and secretly made the pilot of Britannia's new prototype Knightmare, Lancelot, Lelouch becomes the masked Zero of the Black Rebellion to destroy Britannia and create a new world of peace for his disabled sister.

After the failure of the Black Rebellion to overthrow the Britannian forces, the empire assigned Area 11 on a "correctional education" status where the Japanese people are made an example with brute force to suppress rebellious thoughts and uprisings. Lelouch, who lost his memories as Zero a year ago, stumbles upon C.C. (who is immortal) who reveals his forgotten purpose. With his memories and Geass in tact again, he resumes his role as Zero and sets out to finish what he started with the Black Rebellion. The story line and battles becomes more complex as Lelouch learns new enemies, confronts his father, and endures betrayal to achieve his ultimate goal.

I must say this was a GREAT EPIC anime series. I watched all 50 episodes for an entire year, and I am very glad I stayed loyal even though there were some bad pacing and inexplicable moments in the second season. This season incorporates a lot of themes from Irish and Norse mythology. Geass is a corruption of geas/geis, a term for a magical contract in Irish mythology. Ragnarok means "final destiny of the gods" which becomes a central theme in the second season when Lelouch confronts his father in the realm of Geass. Area 11/Japan is a major battleground scene with mechas. The "Holy Empire of Britannia" takes its name from how Great Britain was able to conquer one-fourth of the world in the early 20th century. Although he learns the truth about his mother in the later half of the second season, Lelouch fulfilled his promise to Nunally by sacrificing himself to create a better world.

The ending was so ambigious that people still debate whether Lelouch is still alive or dead. If he achieved the Power of Kings, he also became immortal. If you have watched Death Note, there are similarities between Kira/Lighto and Zero/Lelouch: they are masterminds who have a srong sense of justice and desire to change the world through magical abilities. Some fans may wonder did so many people in this series have to die for Lelouch's dream to come true. While I do believe Lelouch did not want some people to die (i.e. Euphemia and Shirley), he made sure their deaths were not in vain. Lelouch also helps C.C. fulfill her wish in the last episode.

This was a very good popular show. The OSTs are also excellent, particularly the songs ("Innocent Days", "Stories", and "Boku wa, Tori ni Naru") by hitomi. Both seasons have been licensed for release in the United States. You can learn more information on Adult Swim and the English official version of Code Geass R2. I highly recommend this series.

Code Geass 1st Season ED2: Mozaiku Kakera by Sunset

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Phantom of the Opera" by Sarah Brightman

I am a fan of soprano singer and actress, Sarah Brightman. She is the original Christine of the Broadway musical hit, The Phantom of the Opera. She is also the only singer to successfully perform hits on both the Classical and Dance music charts. The first video is "A Whiter Shade of Pale" from her 2000 album, La Luna. It's officially the holidays and it's starting to look like winter (snow) outside my window. It is so beautiful and mystical. The second video is a Nightwish version of Phantom of the Opera with Sarah Brightman in Vienna, Austria. It has a more gothic symphony rock style. Enjoy!

Sarah Brightman - A Whiter Shade of Pale

Sarah Brightman feat. Nightwish - The Phantom of the Opera

[Update: I had to remove the Nightwish video because it became unavailable. The man singing in this version is Michael Crawford.]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Updates: True Blood 2nd Season, 9th Sookie Stackhouse Novel, New Fantasy Series by Yasmine Galenorn

First, I have more updates about Charlaine Harris' projects.

The ninth novel, "Dead and Gone," of the Southern Vampire series will be available for purchase in May 2009. I cannot wait to review more Sookie Stackhouse's adventures with the supernatural. In the meantime, I will continue to post reviews on books 6-8 (Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, and From Dead to Worse) in the upcoming months. You can learn more about the TV show and book series on this site by clicking on the "harris" label on the right-hand column.

The first season of True Blood has finished. The final episode was definitely the best. The ending was shocking and briefly introduced some new characters. It is following the order of the novels faithfully (you can probably guess who got killed in the end.) This show is so popular that HBO counted almost 6.4 million viewers! The second season of True Blood will premiere in Summer 2009. There will be more characters in the cast to reflect the Southern Vampire series.

Second, I am starting a new supernatural novel series called the Sisters of the Moon by Yasmine Galenorn. A good friend recommended the author, and it looks good. It chronicles the lives of the three D'Artigo sisters: Camille (witch), Delilah (werecat), and Menolly (vampire). I should have a review of the first novel (Camille) in December 2008.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: Forever Knight (1992-1996)

Forever Knight (1992-1996) was a cult supernatural and contemporary TV drama centered around the vampire protagonist, Nick Knight and his quest for redemption. It aired on the USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel. There were 3 seasons (70 episodes total). It is now available for purchase on DVD. (Click on the link below to see the trailer in this post.)

Nicolas de Brabant is a 13th-century European vampire who has endured a lifetime of struggle and guilt. He feels tortured with who he is (a superhuman monster who preys on humans, a predator who feeds off blood for his own survival) and seeks his unending journey to become human again. He moves to Toronto, Ontario with a new identity (Nick Knight) to become a homicide police detective permanently on the night shift. In this role, he would pay society for his sins by doing good deeds. Dr. Natalie Lambert, a crime-scene medical examiner, accidentally discovers Nicolas' true nature and vows to help him. He distances himself from the vampire community to retain his mortal feelings and thoughts. She is the presence that helps him retain his humanity and sense of justice. Natalie presents a medical report to the police captain, Joe Reese, that he suffers a severe allergy to sunlight. Nicholas and Natalie gradually develop a forbidden love complicated by Nicolas' always present vampire family hiding in the shadows. Throughout the show, the audience witnesses flashbacks of Nicolas' past experiences over 700 years ago.

Janette du Charme has a very powerful influence Nicolas. They share an eternal love for one another and are bounded by the same master who created them. He can indulge in his vampiric urges and share a deep history (both originally came from France) of companionship together. The most powerful force in his life is Lucien LaCroix, the ancient and mysterious vampire master who brought both Nicolas and Jeannette across as immortals. Nicolas has a love-hate relationship with Lucien for bringing him into the darkness but also providing an important father figure in his conflicted journey. While Jeannette is amused by Nicolas' desire for mortality, Lucien derides the idea and loves him as his own son. It becomes even more complicated when Nicolas learns how Lucien was brought across as a vampire: known as Lucius, he was a decorated Roman general with a desire to live during the eruption of Vesuvius in Pompeii.

At the police station, Nicolas' partner is Don Schanke, whose happy-go-lucky and charming personality helps Nicolas develop his mortal character. Schanke provides comedy relief and reassurance to Nicolas' often depressed and conflicted life as a vampire.When Schanke is killed in the end of the second season, Nicolas inherits a new female partner, Terry Vetter, who finds herself secretly exploring the world of vampires. She does not discover Nicolas is a vampire until her own violent death. In the last episode of the third season, Natalie asks Nicolas to turn her into a vampire so they could live together as lovers for all eternity. He refuses initially, but obliges to drink from her neck slowly as a way to cure his vampirism. As he bites her, a flash of memories from all of his past experiences engulf him, and he is unable to stop drinking from her. Lucien arrives at the scene of the dying Natalie and gives Nicholas two choices: turn her or leave her. Nicholas refuses and gives him a wooden stake. Lucien questions his view of life, but Nicholas already chooses his fate. He raises the stake behind Nicholas as he kneels down next to Natalie and damns him, clearly resenting Nicholas's decision. This ending implied that Lucien killed Nicholas and Natalie dies from loss of blood.


Fan-Made Trailer for "Forever Knight"

Forever Knight has truly become a cult classic. It was one of the first shows that introduced me to vampires and other supernatural creatures of the night. You could empathize with Nick Knight through his struggle and desire to regain mortality again. In the end, the audience learns there is no cure for vampirism. His journey is not a success but he was able to die with the one he loves (Natalie) rather than walk life for all eternity alone and tormented. I really loved this series because of the alternating themes. Oddly enough, all his partners notice the odd behavior, such as allergy to the sun, lack of appetite, superior strength, and other abnormal traits, but they never actually learn his true identity. I also see parallels between Nick Knight and Bill Compton. A former Confederate soldier, Bill Compton of True Blood also wants to resume his mortal life and retain his mortal feelings but he also must live with the rules of the vampire community.

There is still strong interest to resume the TV series on television. Click here for more information on the Save the Knight petition.

If you have not heard of Forever Knight, rent or buy it today!

I have also decided I will review the three novels based on the Forever Knight TV series: A Stirring of Dust, Intimations of Mortality, and These Our Revels. All books are from different authors so it will take me a while to figure out and rate which book is the best. I am a Forever Knight fan for life!

Stay tuned for these book reviews in 2009.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review: Bite Me If You Can (Argeneau Vampires #6)

But until they stop a renegade bloodsucker from destroying the human race, passion wil have to wait!

Bite Me If You Can, by Lynsay Sands, is the sixth novel in the Argeneau Vampire series. The story begins in Kansas City with bar-owner and Harvard graduate, Leigh Gerard. She fled an abusive relationship and decided to make a fresh start in her new hometown. Leigh considers hereself very independent and self-sufficient. In th early hours of the morning, she is attacked, kidnapped and turned by a renegade, powerful vampire named Morgan on her way home. Her life as a human has forever been altered. The turning is quite painful. Meanwhile, three hunters who terminate rogue vampires come to her rescue.

Lucian Argeneau, the leader of the hunters, is handsome, stern and strategic. As one of the oldest-living vampires in the world, he is responsible for enforcing the ancient rules that keeps other immortals from exploiting the human population. The nanos keeps his body healthy and attacks anything that harms him. Sunlight increases the need for more blood to repair additional damage. He must destroy any immortals who turns humans recklessly for their own reasons.

Having lost his wife and young children nearly 2000 years ago, there is little in life to excite him. He walks immortality as dull, arrogant and grumpy. When Lucian rescues Leigh and brings her to his sister-in-law's house in Toronto, Ontario, he faces some new challenges. He cannot read her thoughts and becomes her unofficial, unwilling tutor on vampire traits. Worse, he left all of his important belongings, such as credit cards and cell phone, back in Kansas City and must take care of the family dog, Julian. His Argeneau vampires are either absent, on vacation, or refuse to help him with Leigh's turning. Lucian has never had so much responsibility dropped on him all at once!

When Lucian realizes he's falling in love with Leigh, life suddenly seems brighter and merrier. He takes interest in her ideas and hobbies. He finds everything around him more meaningful. He's even eating and drinking coffee and thinking about sex! Finally, he cannot read her mind. Does this mean she is his lifemate, the one who he will spend eternity as husband and wife? Lucian must figure out how to become the right man for Leigh and protect her from Morgan, who still remains at large. Leigh will also discover why she is so special to Morgan.

It has been a while since I have last read Lynsay Sands' novels. I was so happy to find this book in my local library. I wanted to continue the series before I get further behind. Almost 400 pages in length, this book is similar to Love Bites where the new vampire must learn to live with her status and get to know her male vampire hero. I was sure there would be plenty of romance, comedy and action to satisfy me. I couldn't wait to read about Lucian's story. The alpha male of the Argeneau family, he would have so much wisdom and power as a 2000+ year old immortal.

This novel can be very slow to read. It it took me a while to get to the more interesting sections. Both characters have problems with long-term commitments. There was definitely more focus on the light-hearted romance than the vampire characters in previous books. The main characters already sense they are meant to be together so there's little suspense and not much plot development. Morgan does not reappear until the very end, and the action was brief which disappointed me. Lucian might be detached from the rest of society, but I thought he was ridiculed too much for his unawareness of modern living and lack of a sex life.

I believe this novel would be among the least memorable in the series. I still recommend it but don't have high expectations if you're already a Sands fan.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Argeneau Vampire series, The Accidental Vampire.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New TV Series: Legend of the Seeker (2008)

There is a new epic fantasy series on the CWTV called Legend of the Seeker. It is based on the The Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind. It is similar to the Lord of the Rings franchise. Sam Raimi, producer of Hercules: The Legend Continues, Xena: Warrior Princess, and the blockbuster Spiderman movie franchise, is directing this series. Here is the synopsis below:

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher's forest sanctuary seeking help...and more. His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence. In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword-to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed...or that their time has run out. This is the beginning. One story. One Rule. Witness the birth of a legend.

I discovered this TV series through a friend referral. I watched the first two episodes, and I am hooked. The actors are great, and the storyline is very good. It has magic, wizards, and adventure. This is what I currently know about the series:

  • It consists of 22 episodes total.
  • It runs from November 2008 to July 2009.
  • Each episode is 42 minutes long.
  • It airs weekly every Saturday at 8:00pm Eastern Time.

I will have a full review in summer 2009. In the meantime, check out the trailer below.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Novel Fall 2009: "Dark Road Rising" (Vampire Files #12)

Jack Fleming's got his hands full with his wounded partner in the hospital and girlfriend Bobbi falling for the siren call of Hollywood. Jack is dodging the cops, two mob torpedoes out for his blood, running Gordy's operation, AND keeping track of a dangerously unstable vampire!

I am proud to announce that the 12th novel, Dark Road Rising, of the Vampire Files series will be officially available for purchase as a trade paperback in Fall 2009! This is very exciting news. I am a major fan of P.N. Elrod's work, and I cannot wait to read more about vampire detective Jack Fleming's adventures in 1930s Depression-era Chicago. If you have not heard of the series, click on the "elrod" label on this site to learn more about her novels. I currently review the Jonathan Barrett Gentleman Vampire and Vampire Files series. Stay tuned for more information in 2009.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Night of the Raven" by Magic Affair

Remember the 2003 radio smash hit, "Fly Away?" Here is another great song, "Night of the Raven (1997)," from the same band. Magic Affair is a German-based Eurodance group (founded in 1994 by producer, Mike Staab) whose music is reminiscent of 1990s dance/techno music. The vocalist is Anita Davis, and the rapper is Raz-Ma-Taz. I am an avid fan of Eurodance music. I love the special effects and imagery in this video, especially the raven bird sounds. The singer has a very powerful and amazing voice. She currently lives in London. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Review: Devil Hunter Yohko (1990-1995)

Devil Hunter Yohko (1990-1995) is a fantasy Japanese TV show (6 OVAs total) about a high school girl, Yohko Mano, who discovers she is the 108th-generation successor to a line of ancient powerful warriors who fight and banish demons and evil spirits from earth. As Yohko tries to balance school life and martial arts training, she will face her ultimate test when she meets the demon who started it all. She is voiced by the beautiful and legendary Japanese seiyuu (voice actress), Ayu Hamasaki.

For centuries, the Mano family has been responsible for slaying demons. Yohko's grandmother, Madoka, is the 107th warrior. Her mother, Sayoko, could not fulfill the role because devil hunters ("mamonos") must be a virgin when the secrets are revealed to take on the power and responsibility. Yohko is a typical teen girl: sixteen years old, athletic and crazy about boys. When she is attacked by an underwater demon at her school's pool, a burst of energy releases from her soul and defeats the creature. She learns from her grandmother that her power has been manifesting as she grew up to become the next Devil Hunter.

This is an old series (early 1990s), and it was one of the first anime shows I've ever seen since I was a child. It reminds me of Sailor Moon. When Yohko transform into her Devil Hunter attire (tradtional Oriental dress that emphasizes her bosom and long legs), she is sexy and can kick major demon ass. I can still remember the music from Ayu Hamasaki and other seiyuus. It's cute and catchy. The only negative I have about this show is that there is no real ending. The producers made six episodic original animation videos (OAVs) because of its popularity at the time. Six episodes doesn't exactly allow room for much plot and character development either. The sixth OVA was supposed to relaunch the series, but it failed to do so.

Nevertheless, I recommend this show for classic anime fans and newbies who are just exploring the world of Japanese animation for a few short hours. You might be able to find some songs and albums on websites such as and Nipponsei. The fourth OVA is actually a collection of music videos.

  • Episode 1 End Theme: "Go, Go! Love Coup" by Aya Hisakawa

  • Episode 2 End Theme: "Not So Fast, Sexy Girl" by Kaori Honma

  • Episode 3 End Theme: "So Bad Boy" by Aya Hisakawa

  • Episode 5 End Theme: "I Like the Way I Don't Give Up on Myself (Ganbaru Watashi ga Suki") by Aya Hisakawa

  • Episode 6 End Theme: "Touch My Heart" by Aya Hisakawa

"Touch My Heart" by Ayu Hamasaki


"Full Moon Light" by Ayu Hamasaki

Bad Boy by Aya Hisakawa

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Review: Fire in the Blood (Vampire Files #5)

A vampire’s got to do what a vampire’s got to do.

Even the dead have to work for a living. This time, a priceless heirloom bracelet’s been stolen from the wealthy Sebastian Pierce. And guess who’s been hired to find it? I’ll give you a hint: Me."

Fire in the Blood, the fifth novel in the Vampire Files series, begins with Jack Fleming, vampire detective, typing a fictional prose on his typewriter in the basement. Charles Escott, Chicago’s finest British-born private agent, consistently calls for his attention. Fleming has resided with Escott ever since his death on the Lake Michigan beach (read first novel, Bloodlist) because the basement provides a cozier environment than his temporary hotel room. They have a new case: wealthy Chicago socialite, Sebastian Pierce, has had a diamond bracelet stolen, which belonged to his daughter, Marian. He wants them to find it immediately without stirring any trouble.

The possible suspects are Kitty Donovan, Stan McAlister, Marian Pierce and her boyfriend, Harry Summers. Kitty has a decent trust fund left by her parents to indulge in her own interests. Stan is a gambler who despises getting a real job. Harry is a man of common background who loves Marian very much; he just has a terrible temper. Nonetheless, Jack had other things on his mind: meeting his girlfriend, Bobbi, at the hip club, Top Hat. When he arrives, unfortunately, he meets Pierce’s daughter, Marian, who intentionally flirts with him. He offers to buy her a drink since he needs critical case information.

Meanwhile, Harry Summers, rushes and snatches Jack from his seat and what a brawl it turned out. Jack, Marian and Harry had to leave the clubhouse quickly, but Jack shares valuable information with Charles. They traveled to Stan McAlister’s hotel room to search for clues only to discover his girlfriend, Kitty. Unfortunately, everyone walks into Kitty’s kitchen in horror: Stan lies on the floor stabbed to death. Kitty only stays briefly as she escapes before Jack could even track her down. Lieutenant Blair and his police troops surround him as she disappears into the night. Jack stays by the hotel and notices one of Stan’s friends, Doreen Gray, a pornography photographer with her bags ready to leave after the police raided the place. Jack then pays a visit to bookie, Leadfoot Sam, to whom McAlister owed a significant debt. Sam has prepared a few surprises for Jack's arrival.

Since Jack is a vampire with supernatural strength, he makes certain to leave a lasting impression on Leadfoot Sam when he leaves the place. He returns back to Doreen Grey’s place, to find her alone in the dark with a pistol in her hands. While Jack calms her down, he has an insatiable hunger about her he cannot resist. He gently caresses her neck and drinks a little from her vein, but releases his hold so that he doesn’t drain her completely.

Fleming takes Doreen to a midnight bar to find answers on Stan. With no luck, he takes her back home only to find Leadfoot Sam wanting his revenge. We know how Jack reacts. Once again, the poor man is left behind traumatized and horrified. Later, some goons spot Jack and request that he come with them. There, he meets crimelord, Vaughn Kyler, who took over and expanded Frank Paco’s (he was a major character in the novel, Bloodlist) establishment. They ask for Doreen, but Jack left her behind. Unfortunately, there was a news bulletin that that the body of Doreen Grey was found with bullets in her body. Jack and Charles rush to the hospital where they confirmed her identity. Who wanted Doreen Gray and Stan McAlister dead?

It’s time for Jack Fleming and Charles Escott to finish this case once and for all. Too many deaths are happening on the streets of Chicago. In addition, Jack wants his revenge for what he had to endure that fateful night. Being a vampire is not easy. After all, he has a “night job [he] can really sink [his] teeth into.”

Note: You may also buy this book in the Vampire Files, Volume 2 edition.

Stay tuned for my next review on the sixth book of the Vampire Series, Blood on the Water.