Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Shikabane Hime (2008-2009)

Shikabane Hime ~Corpse Princesse~ (2008-2009) is a dark Japanese action anime series about an undead girl, Hoshimura Makina, who must hunt down 108 undead corpses in order to gain entry into heaven. A secret society of anti-corpse Buddhist priests assist her efforts; her ultimate goal is destroying the ones who that murdered her family. Its English translation is "Corpse Princess." It contains 25 episodes (1st season, Aka: 13 episodes; 2nd season, Kuro: 12 episodes).

Makina turns into a living corpse (shikabane) after she is mysteriously murdered. Tagami Keisei, a Buddhist priest, rescues and brings her to the Kougun Sect, a secret society who monitors and fights the living dead (corpses). After extensive training, Keisei becomes her contractor and becomes a Shikabane Hime: she receives Ingram MAC-11 machine guns to fight them. Shikabanes exist because they either died a tragic death or had a huge regret/obsession in life. They also usually have superhuman strength and human intelligence. However, if her contractor becomes injures or deceases, she also suffers the same fate (corpses lack runes, or life energy) or becomes a shikabane (curse driven by madness).

Meanwhile, Kagami Ouri, a normal high school boy who lives with Keisei in a loving foster home, becomes drawn to the darkness of the shikabane world. When he follows a mysterious black cat, he seems to appear where the corpses are an meets Makina for the first time. Do the two share a destiny together? Can they both defeat the Seven Stars (Shischisei), the destructive shikabane who murdered Makina's family?

Shikabane Hime series is full of action, drama and suspense. It is always a plus to learn more about Japanese mythology. Makina is an isolated character who gradually warms up to those close around her. I never understood the point of Ouri until he becomes her contractor in the second season. The series ends on a cliffhanger where no one knows if Makina and the Shikabane Himes truly destroyed the Seven Stars. Unfortunately, I never saw the 13th episode of the series. The producers decided to make the 13th episode available via DVD only. No one has bothered to buy and sub the episode into English.

Nevertheless, I am not one who focuses on zombies a.k.a. the undead or girls-with-guns plos (with the exception of Resident Evil franchise), but this is an excellent story worth watching. It is currently available to buy and rent on DVD.

Opening Song: "Beautiful FIghter" by angela


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Review: Blood Bank (Vickie Nelson #6)

Blood Bank, by Tanya Huff, is a collection of short stories based on the Blood novel series about Victoria "Vicki" Nelson and Henry Fitzroy. Most of the short stories take place around Blood Pact and Blood Debt. Some stories are historical, chronicling Henry's journeys as a vampire. The collection also includes the TV screenplay for the Blood Ties' episode, "Stone Cold."

This Town Ain't Big Enough: Vicki Nelson, private investigator-turned-vampire must deal with a new vampire encroaching in her territory (Toronto). Can she defeat the elder vampire without sacrificing her life?

What Manner of Man: Set in the early 1800s, Henry tries to track down a spy before their departure to France. (I really enjoyed this story because the previous books did not focus much on Henry's past as a vampire living in Europe.)

The Cards Also Say: A psychic warns Vicki a fanatic wants to kill her. Vicki must find who he is before he stakes her.

Other short stories include...

"The Vengeful Spirit of Lake Nepeakea"
"Someone to Share the Night"
"Another Fine Nest" *
"Critical Analysis" *
"So This Is Christmas"

Tanya Huff officially stated on her blog that there will be no more Blood stories. It also looks like the Blood Ties TV series will not resume either. You can still watch full episodes online or purchase the DVD on Amazon.

I know this review is long overdue. If you are a fan of Vicki Nelson and Henry Fitzroy, I highly recommend the Smoke series about young wizard-in-training, Tony Foster. He was a reoccurring minor character in the Blood books. In the Smoke series, he has a major role. You can read more about Henry and his new life with Tony in Vancouver, British Columbia. I also hope Tanya writes more Smoke novels. Overall, it was a pleasure to read Tanya Huff's novels over the decade, and she will remain one of my favorite paranormal authors of all time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Music Video: "Opheliac" by Emilie Autumn

I realized it has been over a year since I posted a song by Emilie Autumn. This song is part of her Opheliac (2006) album, her third full-featured album to receive full distribution around the world. Her music is typically a mixture of neo-classical, medieval and electronica. She writes, performs and produces most of her songs. If you listen to her other songs, she is very gifted on the violin and her lyrics can be very dark and emotional. Nonetheless, I think she is great and recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of music.

"Opheliac" by Emilie Autumn

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Supernatural 6th Season Premieres September 24, 2010

The sixth season of Supernatural will air on Fridays at 9:00 pm ET in the United States on the CWTV Channel and will premiere on September 24, 2010.

From the CWTV website:
Season 6 will be a season of mystery and shadow. Heaven and Hell have been left in complete disarray since the apocalyptic events of Season 5. And now, monsters, angels and demons roam across a lawless and chaotic landscape. And so Dean Winchester, who has retired from hunting and sworn never to return, finds himself being pulled back into his old life -- pulled back by none other than Sam Winchester, who has escaped from Hell. The two reunite to beat back the rising tide of creatures and demon-spawn, but they quickly realize that neither are who they used to be, their relationship isn't what it used to be, and that nothing is what it seems.

I can hardly wait. Mark your calendars and stay tuned!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New York Man Survives 39-Story Fall from Apartment

Some people are wondering whether divine intervention played a role in this miraculous story. A New York man, 22, survived a 39-story fall from an apartment complex after he tried to commit suicide. He landed on a parked car where he broke his legs. Meanwhile, the owner of the parked car admitted he rarely parks in that zone. He wonders if the rosary beads in his car saved the man's life.