Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review: Jigoku Shoujo (2005-2009) Shoujo ~Hell Girl~ (2005-2009) is a Japanese horror anime based in contemporary Japan. It spanned three seasons with a total of 78 episodes.

Season 1 - Hell Girl (2005-2006) 
The show focuses on the existence of a supernatural justice system that allows people to take revenge on the perpetrators through the Hotline to Hell (a website that can only be accessed at midnight) of the mysterious "jigoku shoujo" (literal translation: hell girl). Rumor has it that if you post a grudge there, the Jigoku Shoujo will appear and drag whoever torments you into the inferno. However, those who have the Hell Girl execute their vengeance will also go to Hell when they die. Very little is known about the girl—all we know for sure is that she lives with her equally enigmatic grandmother, that three magical straw dolls accompany and serve her. Shibata Hajime, a freelance journalist, begins to investigate these claims out of curiosity. Not only does he find out that the rumors are true, but he learns his daughter, Tsugume, has a strange connection to Enma Ai, the Hell Girl. Together, they try to end the operation.

Season 2 - Hell Girl: Two Mirrors (2006-2007) 
Ai Enma, her real name, once again returns as the Jigoku Shoujo, who uses the online service, Hotline to Hell, to allow people to post their grudges on their tormentors, sending them straight to Hell. In exchange, the users of the website will end up in Hell after they die. Meanwhile, a mysterious girl with purple eyes called Kikuri appears and seems to have strange intentions towards Ai and the entire online operation.

Season 3 - Hell Girl: Three Vessels (2008-2009) 
After Ai Enma's supposed death, her three helpers, Ichimoku Ren, Wanyuudou and Hone-Onna live out their lives in relative peace. This is suddenly shattered when Kikuri returns to recruit them. Meanwhile, Ai mysteriously reappears from the dead and uses the body of a young schoolgirl, Yuzuki Mikage, to continue the online operation.

Jigoku Shoujo was a popular anime series in the last decade. Revenge, injustice, hatred, and the nature of human emotions are common themes throughout the series. The show also incorporated Japanese mythology and elements of horror. The show was scary enough to frighten me on several occasions, and set the stage to seriously discuss human nature through our desire for vengeance. The sequels would later focus on Enma Ai’s motivations and background. It received such a cult following that a live-action version was produced in Japan. Thus, Jigoku Shoujo has become a must-see classic for anime horror fans.

This anime is available to rent and buy on DVD.

Opening Theme: " Sakasama No Chou ~The Upside Down Butterfly ~" by Snow

Ending Theme: ""Karinui" (かりぬい; "Basting/ Temporary Sewing") by Mamiko Noto

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Review: Biting Cold (Chicagoland Vampires #6)

But Merit is also the prey. An enemy of Chicagoland is hunting her, and he'll stop at nothing to get the artifact for himself. No mercy allowed. NO rules apply. No lives spared. The race is on.

Biting Cold, by Chloe Neill, is the sixth novel in the Chicagoland Vampire series. Merit, a 28-year-old vampire turned against her will, has become acclimated to Chicago's vampire underground. In less than a year, she has become Sentinel (A soldier or guard whose job is to stand and keep watch) for Cadogan House, one of three officially-recognized Chicago vampire residences. As she walks knee-deep into the supernatural community, she discovers more dark--and terrifying--secrets. 

Right before her eyes, her master and lover, Ethan, returns from the dead. Her sweet joy is short-lived when her best friend, Mallory, rogue a witch addicted to black magic, is on the prowl to steal an ancient artifact, Maleficium, that could unleash catastrophic evil and destruction. Both Ethan and Merit must race across the American Midwest before anyone else touches it first. Furthermore, Merit discovers another old enemy is hunting her, and she must do whatever it takes to protect Chicago--and the world--from his uncontrollable vigilante justice.

It has been a while since I have read a Chicagoland Vampires novel. The waiting period was totally worth it. Merit and I are around the same age, so I can relate to her personality. Less than 350 pages, this novel was packed with action, suspense, romance, and sexual intimacy. It was very easy to read, and the plot kept me very engaged. Neill has an excellent young adult novel series that I look forward to reading. The reference to different landmarks also keeps me updated with my undergraduate memories in Chicago. I was disappointed to have finished this novel so soon, but I can't wait for the next release in winter 2013!

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Chicagoland Vampire series, House Rules.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: Grave Peril (The Dresden Files #3)

Harry Dresden -- Wizard: Lost items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher, is the third novel in the Dresden Files series. Harry Dreseden is the only professional wizard in Chicago. He has faced some pretty terrifying foes in his career so far -- giant scorpions, crazy vampires, and psychotic werewolves. Despite the dangers in his job, he has always managed to defeat the enemies.

A new case has him searching all over the city, and he has no clue what is the cause behind it. The spirit world has gone postal! Ghosts all over Chicago are causing trouble, and it takes more than simple exorcism spells to defeat these lost souls. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone--or something--is wreaking havoc across the city.

To make matters worse, his fae godmother has re-entered his life. She wants Harry to fulfill his end of the deal: his soul in the Nevernever land. However, too much trouble is happening for Harry to leave behihnd his friends and the love of his life. When his colleagues become victims to this deadly magic, Harry will need all the help he can get before his soul is taken for good. He will face former and powerful enemies who don't mind preparing an early grave -- with his name attached to a tombstone.

This is one of the longer novels in the Dresden Files series, but I enjoyed the plot very much. It was a perfect Halloween treat. It contained every supernatural element you could imagine -- ghosts, fae, vampires, you name it. Butcher introduces a new main character whom I hope to read more in future novels. While Harry tries to play the hero figure, he is not entirely successful when the person he loves falls victim to the supernatural. Torn by his love and profession as a wizard, he will spend the next cases trying to find a cure so that she can return by his side. This is a sad cliffhanger, but it forces Harry to take his job seriously. This series continues to keep me on the edge, and I cannot wait to pick up the next novel.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Dresden Files series, Summer Knight.