Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: Mermaid Forest (2003)

Mermaid Forest (2003) is a historical Japanese anime centered around Japanese mythology on mermaids. It is originally based on Rumiko Takahaski's "Mermaid" manga series. It spans 13 episodes (11 aired + 2 DVD only).

According to an ancient legend, eating mermaid flesh can grant one immortality. However, it only happens to a small percentage of people; the rest either die or become deformed monsters (Lost Souls). Yuta, the protagonist, is one of the lucky ones who has lived for over 500 years as he travels across Japan. During his journeys, he has also met others who lives have been ruined by mermaid flesh.

It is the year, 1936. When he finds a mermaid, he finds a human girl, Mana, in her home. Mermaids must eat young human girls to maintain their youthful appearances. Although he had to kill the mermaids to rescue Mana, they become close travel companions. He also discovers that Mana also consumed mermaid flesh and became immortal. Together, they embark on several investigative journeys hoping to become normal human beings again.

I originally saw the OAVs, Mermaid Forest (1991) and Mermaid Scar (1993). When I heard they were going to remake the series, I was ecstatic. The Mermaid saga is one of my favorite dark fantasy anime series. People worry so much about youth and longevity; this series illustrate the consequences of vanity and immortality. It also exposes our darkest secrets. In the end, be happy for who you are; otherwise, your life may end up as lonely as Yuta, who watches the people in his life come and go because he cannot age nor die.

The show also has excellent music. I have the opening and ending songs below:

OP: "Like an Angel" by Chiaki Ishikawa

ED: "Mizu tamari (Water Puddle)" by kayoko

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5)

...Mercy Thompson is smart enough to realize that when it comes to the magical fae, the less you know, the better. But you can't always get what you want. When she attempts to return a powerful fae book she previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down.

It seems the book contains secretes -- and the fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn't take enough of Mercy's attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side -- leaving Mercy to cover for him lest his own father declare Smauel's life forfeit..."

Silver Borne, by Patricia Briggs, is the fifth novel in the Mercy Thompson series. Mechanic and coyote shapeshifter, Mercy Thompson, continues to experience more drama and danger as the plot switches from vampires to evil fairies (fae). There are three subplots—1) Mercy's attempt to return a magical, powerful book to a missing fae, 2) her difficulties integrating into Adam's pack, and 3) Samuel's deep misery over being a lone Alpha. It seems the book contains secret knowledge that the fae doesn't want anyone to know. Before Mercy can return the book, some members within Adam's pack wants her dead and gone. Meanwhile, Samuel is so overcome with suicidal depression that his wolf-side takes over, and Mercy must watch him before he goes berserk.

It seems her life has become more risky and dangerous that there is no turning back in this contemporary dark fantasy. She must rescue her friend, Phin, from the evil fae who want the missing book, and calm down the overly tense wolf pack from rebelling against her mate and pack leader, Adam. She also uncovers more facts about the supernatural than she can fully grasp. Her new adventure is full of love, mystery, action and betrayal. If she is not more careful, will she have the tenacity to survive against the odds?

Briggs continues to amaze me with her great character development and creative narration. She combines several subplots into one seamless story. In each book, Mercy experiences new adventures that challenge her personal beliefs and social interactions with others at deeper levels. She cares deeply for others, and is willing to risk her safety for the greater good. Although I believe Mercy wants a stable life, the supernatural continues to pull her into the unknown. This novel did not disappoint; I highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for the next book in the Mercy Thompson series, River Marked

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)

The Queen is dead and the Moroi world will never be the same. Now, with Rose awaiting wrongful execution and Lissa in a deadly struggle for the royal throne, the girls find themselves forced to rely upon enemies and to question those they thought they could trust...

But what what if true freedom means sacrificing the most important thing of all? Each other.

Last Sacrifice, by Richelle Mead, is the sixth and final novel in the Vampire Academy series. Before Rose can rejoice and realize Dmitri has returned from the darkness, who will save her? It continues from the previous book, where Rose finds herself indicted for a crime she never committed: the death of the late Queen Tatiana. This tradegy has turned the entire Moroi world upside down. If found guilty, the sentence is death by execution. Rose also receives a mysterious note from the late queen, which reveals Lissa has a younger sibling. This can be the key to Rose's innocence and force the Moroi royalty to recognize a new candidate for the throne: Vasilia (Lissa) Dragomir.

Time is running out, and Rose must act fast. With the help of her friends, she escapes the claustrophobic prison and leaves the Court unexpectedly with Sydney and Dmitri, who vows to protect her under Lissa's orders. All they can do is wait until the Court chooses another king or queen. Rose does not like sitting around; she is all about action and investigation. When she reveals the shocking news to Dmitri and Sydney, they reluctantly decide to search for the missing sibling. During their adventure, they experience possibly the most difficult tests in their lives, which will test their most innermost feelings.

I finished this book (~600 pages) in one day. Literally. It was packed with all sorts of emotions (love, jealousy, fear, and hope). Mead is a very gifted author whose prose flows very well for young adult audiences. That's how much I loved this series.

I am very glad I gave this series a chance. The protagonist, Rosemarie (Rose) Hathaway, is very easy to like, relate and sympathize. Although she can act impulsive and irrational, he cares very much for her friends. Essentially, she is an independent free spirit who willing to sacrifice herself for good deeds. I am also delighted that she was able to find true love and happiness in the end.

Although I am no longer a teenager, Last Sacrifice energized me with its suspense, humor and romance. I am also glad she ended this series at six books. I thought it ended appropriately with an ending that will please everyone. I hope Mead continues to write short stories about the characters. I highly recommend the Vampire Academy series!

I have more exciting news: I recently attended the local book signing for Richelle Mead. Over 300 fans showed up to see her in person! She signed my copy of Last Sacrifice. It was such a mesmerizing experience. This is what I learned:

- Mead will continue the series under a different name, Bloodlines. Rose will no longer be the protagonist, but fans will recognize most of the characters. The expected published date is August 2011.

- Preger Entertainment brought the movie rights to the Vampire Academy series. I can honestly say this is definitely an heir to the Twilight mania.

- For more information about the film and casting, join the Facebook page, Official Vampire Academy Movie You can share ideas for casting there.

- Last month, produced a video interview with Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy) and Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse). Both are among my favorite authors. Watch the video here.