Hooked on Light Novels: The Amazon USED Blind-Buy Game! | Cafe Talk

Hey all,

I’m back with another “Cafe Talk” (woohoo it returns!), which is, for all my newcomers as of late, a free-flowing, comment-welcome segment that tends to lean towards anime “happenings,” or perhaps loose conversations related to my life and what’s new.

Today I wanted to discuss something that I’ve really been hammering down on in my updates (no, not my Danganronpa obsession). It’s reading, yup, I’ve gotten back into poppin’ open books and inhaling the words off of the pages. Specifically speaking, I’ve been getting into light novels more, partially to get to know them better (what they are, why they are so popular), but more so because I’ve been craving some light, short reads featuring our favorite anime characters. And what do you know? That’s exactly what a light novel is!

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I do not own this image.

Now, I have those couple series that I’ve been following on my own (Monogatari, Sword Art Online), but I was in search of something different at the time, a fresh tale featuring beautiful characters and all their cool adventures and mishaps. So I turned over to Twitter as a tool (and not just a place to retweet Yuri!!! On ICE artwork) to find out the kinds of light novels you guys are into right now. This way, I could also incorporate my Twitter with my blog more. Thank you to all who replied—it was very helpful, as I think I found some great contenders!

BEFORE I tell you the titles I plan to read, I want to let you know a bit about me: I’m a collector, a buyer of books, movies, and everything in between. This tends to put me at odds with libraries, as I find myself unable to simply rent/check out my entertainment—I NEED TO OWN IT, to hold it knowing that it’s MINE. Isn’t this terrible!? Gosh, I’m the worst, haha, but I might’ve found a remedy to my dilemma . . .

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Through Amazon’s USED books system (or eBay), if the volume I desire is available for, say, around $5 (shipping included), I’ll buy it, and hopefully review it, too! Doesn’t it kinda sound like fun? The idea just sorta came to me, and so long as I can get the books for cheap and have time to read them, well then, the more used literature, the better!

(I will ALSO be taking recommendations for single-volume/very short manga stories!)

AND SO, after weeding out the ones that didn’t intrigue me via synopsis, I present you with the following titles I picked up and the wonderful people who recommended them to me:

MelSeraph of the End—Guren Ichinose: Catastrophe at Sixteen

Simply GeeBook Girl and the Suicidal Mime

Lethargic RamblingsThe Empty Box and Zeroth Maria

MoonlitasteriaHarmony

MyselfA Certain Magical Index

As of right this moment, November 16, I’ve yet to actually purchase Guren Ichinose or The Empty Box, but I WILL, I promise!!

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So what do you guys think? Is this a great way to interact with the community, read the works that excite some of you, and give used books a nice home, or is it a terrible waste of money and a poor way to pick up new novels? You ought to let me know! If you see any improvements to this “game” that I can make, let me know those, too. And lastly, if you have a little spare cash, I encourage you to join in on the madness!

Should all of this go smoothly, look out for another spontaneous Twitter call, as I could end up reading one of YOUR favorites so long as it is daring enough to meet the requirements of the game! ‘Till next time, everyone!

– Takuto, your host

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Filling the Danganronpa Void | End of October Update 11/5/17

Hey everyone, what’s up? Another Spooktober has come and gone and very little blogging has been done. But where there’s a lack of writing there has been an influx in watching—just as much as last month, if not more!

As for school, first year of college is still smooth sailin’. With midterms out of the way, it’s now a barren wasteland until Fall break is over, after which the bomb that is “finals week” will be dropped. But until then, I’ve been trying to read more—and it’s been successful! Now if only I could feel motivated to write about it all . . .

Anyway, let’s take a look at what I’ve read/watched this past “spoop month” and see my desperate attempts at filling the Danganronpa 3 void end in utter failure. (And yes, the itch still has yet to be scratched.)

RECENTLY FINISHED:

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Tsuredure Children—My GOD, what I would have given for a continuation of this mess of high school romances. It’s not even that good, which is why I’m so confused as to how I became so addicted to it all. Maybe the 12-min per episode run-time was a key part, or that I streamed it dubbed via Funimation Now as my weekly comedy. Either way, I’m sad that it’s over—and just when it was getting sooo good! Likely won’t review, as I don’t have much to say, but it ends just as cute as it begins, which is enough for me.

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Knight’s & Magic—I should’ve taken the warnings on this one. No joke, it kinda sucked. I didn’t care for any of the characters (nor do I really remember any of them), and the story gave up on my interests. I wanted to continue learning more about the interactions and affects of combining giant mecha knights with magical forces, but instead it turned into a show “save the kingdom from the enemy evil blah blah blah.” I won’t review this either because of how little I have to say about it, though I’m glad that I did finish it.

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The Dragon Dentist—Another hyped show that turned into disappointment . . . sort of. A 2-episode (40 min each) short from Studio Khara (Rebuild of Evangelion) with Hidaeki Anno somewhere behind the desks, I was STOKED for this show. Only putting his name on two titles since Eva 3.33, this and Shin Godzilla, I was eager to see how this one played out in his journey to Eva‘s end. While episode one was quite pleasant, episode 2 unfortunately became, well, I’m not honestly sure what. It definitely had similar ideas that the OG Eva did, but didn’t have the same strong execution due to the short run-time. Eva is a big story to tell, after all, so you can’t just throw in a similar ending and call it so. Sentai Filmworks just released it with a dub, so maybe if it goes on sale I’ll pick it up and give it another go.

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SHIMONETA—AHAHAHA S-O-X, S-O-X, S-O-X!!! Funimation Peep Show host Cookie Stratford hooked me up with this little title after previewing it at last year’s Naka-kon. FINALLY it went on sale, so bought the blu-ray! (I did stream the dub in its entirety just to double-check that it was worth the money—in which it absolutely was.) I’m ecstatic to have some more “fun” titles on my shelf, as a majority of shows that I do own require you to basically analyze your existence in the universe, and that’s just no fun when I want to fool around on a late Friday night. So here it is, cock, balls, and all! And you know what? I enjoyed every second of it.

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Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls (PS Vita)—Don’t be fooled by the listing of this game title on my list, as there’s no way I have the money for a Vita right now, let alone the 20+ hours it’d take to complete this massive part of the franchise. Originally, I was watching walkthroughs of it via YT, living vicariously through the silent player as they traversed the game’s ins and outs. After making it a bit over half-way in, I realized that I COULD NOT wait any longer to watch Danganronpa 3, so talked it over with the Twitter fam (thx Gigi) and was directed to some “Recapitations” of the game’s story on the YT. WHAT A LIFE-SAVER, as Ultra Despair Girls just isn’t as neat as the rest of the franchise’s entries. It is still pretty cool though—soon after finishing the recap, I quickly found myself going back to the walkthroughs to watch the “animated” portions of the end, another 5+ hrs of video, but who cares—it was still a thrill ride! I then watched a recap for Danganronpa Zero and was all set for the ultimate despair: Danganronpa 3.

Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School—The viewing of this crazy third season(s) is as follows: Future Arc episode one, Despair Arc episode one, Future Arc episode two, Despair Arc episode two, so on and so forth. As such, here are my individual thoughts on each arc:

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Despair Arc—Starting with this one because it end before Future does, Despair Arc was basically everything that I wanted from a Danganronpa prequel and more. And much, much, much more. With the knowledge of Zero (an unlicensed light novel—you can find a 20-min recap of this on YT too, bless), Despair Arc combs together all of the grittiness, backstabbing, and betrayal of the viewer’s trust that we’ve come to know and love. Simply put, it’s a story of hope that ends in despair, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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Future Arc—Though wildly unimpressed throughout a good majority of the GREAT Danganronpa‘s supposed “end,” once episode eight hit it was balls-to-the-walls insanity. Seriously, if there’s ever been an incredible comeback mid-season, Future Arc is where it’s at! I rushed to the end, eagerly anticipating each wild episode of this chase against the clock until series’ grand finale . . .

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Hope Arc—I won’t lie, it was kinda anticlimactic, hahaha, but I still love this show too much to complain, goddammit! Such a rewarding finale for all the blood that was shed, all the darkness that was traversed, and while I would have asked for another end-all situation, what we got was still excellent. It’s a shame that I’d be spending the next month or two trying to fill the void left by this show alone, but hey, it’s an opportunity to explore new shows, right? (plz send Danganronpa recs plz send Danganronpa recs)

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Chivalry of a Failed Knight—No joke, the only reason I watched this show (on YOUTUBE NO LESS BAHAHAHA) was because Luci Christian was the English voice of Stella, the female lead. I was expecting it’d be a harem story about a hero of zero somehow defeating the number one ace . . . and sure enough, that’s exactly what I got. Nothing to write home about, but I have no regrets watching, either. High production quality on the animation front, not to mention that it had a kickass OP and ED!

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Riddle Story of DevilDanganronpa knock-off #1 presents itself in this game of assassins killing each other just to off a single girl—Haru Ichinose. “Why her” remains the big question behind the game itself, and though it sounds like the perfect formula for a DR follow-up, it couldn’t have been worse. Seriously, each death is foreshadowed by that character getting the episode’s spotlight (a reoccurring problem with a currently airing title which I’ll discuss soon), leaving no fun in determining who would live or die. At least the dub was good. Morgan Berry needs to be the MC more often. Also, Jamie Marchi always plays best girl. Always.

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The Perfect Insider—Alright, we’re getting somewhere with this one. Recommended by our pal, the Otaku Judge (thanks man!), this one’s a locked-room murder in which a rag-tag group of individuals must piece together the puzzles. I remember it being a big hit when it aired a couple years back, and while I wanted to follow it, time got the better of me. Guess this was a good thing, because I got to save it for future me when I needed it most, and boy, Judge, did this one get me closer to hitting the mark! Though a bit confusing (and towards the end a bit contrived), it seeks a more philosophical, slow-burning case vs. DR‘s fast-paced madness. Both can be appreciated for their own merits, but yes, this one is worth seeing, and hopefully I’ll get to review it soon!

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Blade Runner: Black Out 2022—The last prequel short film in a trilogy designed to fill in and expand upon the world of the latest Hollywood hit, Blade Runner 2049Black Out is unique because it is the only “anime” part of the franchise, the rest being live action. Feeling an inkling to revisit the cluttered and damp world of the 2017 Ghost in the ShellBlade Runner 2049 instantly became a must, and I set aside my DR hunt to revel in the OG Blade Runner and it’s 2049 prequel trilogy. Black Out was not only epic, but absolutely stunning on the animation front. It’s no wonder considering that Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe was invited to direct this short film, as Blade Runner was his biggest inspiration for creating sci-fi during his younger days. Before I knew it, I found myself with my dad in the theaters on the last day of showing, and we had a blast. Such an incredible franchise with wondrous world-building that’ll leave you in utter awe and terror of the near future. Still thinking about this one now . . .

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Devil Survivor 2 The Animation—Aaaannnnd we’re back to Danganronpa hunting, this time for a game-turned-anime series about kids fighting against a mysterious alien force and time itself before their world reaches its end. Very cool premise, but ruined NOT due to the short runtime, but IMO because of the game’s gimmick—each of the 12 or so characters possess a smart phone that allows them to summon demons to fight against the aliens. I think it would’ve been much more enjoyable had the characters fought the aliens themselves somehow (special skills, weapons, whatever) because the demon-fighting thing just wasn’t doing it for me. Now, I realize that it defeats the entire premise of the game this way—I know—but with the demons out of the way, there would have been more room for character interaction, and the motives for survival would’ve been all the more crushing when they met their fate on the battlefield. Not a complete wreck of a show, but it EASILY could’ve been made better. Excellent animation, BTW, with a great OP and chilling ED to beat!

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Harmony—The second Project Itoh film, Harmony is set in a world where good health is king, and the hospital basically runs government. Everyone is consumed with medicine to the point where it becomes their ruler, not the other way around. People have lost their sense of identity, what with having perfect health and nothing to complain about. Tuan, a high-ranking military officer is sickened by everyone’s kindness in this age of monotony, of perfect harmony. And just when she thought she couldn’t hate it enough, a blast from her past causes mayhem in the present, as systematic killings and mass suicides suddenly take over the world. Out on a mission to stop the one robbing everyone of their utopian futures, Tuan comes to understand why she thinks the way she does, as well as what being human means to her. It’s a grossly underrated film, and though the CG action at the beginning can be a bit jarring, what is in store for the viewer far usurps any awkward animation sequences. Do not let the “meh” community rating stop you from trying out this film—it requires a bit of thinking, but it’s well worth the watch for any fans of dystopian fiction i.e. Huxley’s Brave New World. Might review!

CURRENTLY WATCHING:

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Welome to the Ballroom—Not much to say, as I’m a bit behind on this seasonal title. The addition of the new girl throws some chaos into the mix, but I think it’s slowly helping the show all things considered. Also, I’ve come to appreciate the new OP, so that helps. Looking forward to it!

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Juni Taisen: Zodiac War—Five episodes in and all I can PRAY is that it stops doing that formula thing I mentioned earlier. One of the novel’s (OG source) biggest complaints is that this formulaic system of deaths does continue as a prominent force, so I hope the finale at least has some shock saved for us. And I swear, if Rat wins, I will jump off a cliff.

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Electromagnetic Girlfriend—Ahh yes, continuing the DR hunt. Rated highly as a short 2-episode (40 min each) horror mystery show, I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this series. Probably due to the lack of localization. Anyway, I’ve watched one of two episodes and I can say that, while short, it does have some decent twists and turns in it. Not quite scary [yet], but engaging and will likely end with a decent rating from me. And the background art is incredible, holy shit. The anime follows a delinquent teen and his little stalker friend, a mysterious girl with long black hair claiming to be his knight from another lifetime. Interesting . . .

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Ergo Proxy—In my final efforts to secure a decent sci-fi mystery show, I’ve settled on this classic anime that has sat on my shelf untouched for a good while now. Though drab in terms of color scheme and quite on the slooooow side, I can already feel Ergo Proxy shaping up to be a much better show than half the entries on this list! It almost reminds me of a crossover between Star Wars‘s setting and Avatar the Last Airbender‘s humor. IDK why, it JUST DOES. An unraveling story of what is likely to be self-discovery in a dark future without much individual identity, Ergo Proxy manages to keep me interested by leading me on with new elements to the world at every turn. It’s also a bit of a cop/detective story, much like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Overall, I like what I’m getting, I only wish it were a bit more, hmm, thrilling.

CURRENTLY READING:

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A Certain Magical Index Light Novel Volume One—This was one of those late-night Amazon pick-ups, but like I mentioned last update I’ve been in the mood for some light novels, particularly to understand how and why they are written, as well as to take advantage of what they are—fairly cheap and disposable fiction meant to be read on a whim; you follow the stories you like, and drop the ones you don’t. Having already watched both seasons of the anime, I’m glad Index continues to be interesting even in novel format, and I’m eager to pick up the second volume soon! Also, did you hear the fantastic news?? INDEX 3 IS COMING IN 2018, REJOICE~!!!!! It’s just ironic that I started reading the original source now after all these years. Oh well.

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Murder on the Orient Express—BOI, you already know. Fall’s been mystery season for me, clearly, and what a better bang to end it on than with classic Christie and her film adaptation of the same name. I’M. SO. EXCITED. FOR. THIS. FILM. Having just rewatched bits of Hyouka (and my guy Oreki bringing up Christie in a case of his), my inspiration to check out the actual book from the library shot up, and now here I am. About 1/3 into the book with no serious evidence given yet, my blind guess for the killer is . . . the maid, cause it’s always the maid LOL. I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!


BLOGGING PROJECTS:

In regards to last month’s update, I DID not only end up reviewing Death Parade, but I used it as the focal point in my October OWLS post, WOOHOO! Such a neat show, it came just at the right time to match the month’s theme! If you want to read my thoughts, click below!

Also, prior to OWLS I FINALLY put together my thoughts on Shin Godzilla in post that has surprisingly gotten a decent amount of traffic, appreciation, and EVEN a feature on another cool person’s blog (thank you all so much)!! It was really hard putting that one together, not gonna lie, so it’s nice to see the payoff. In case you missed it, here ya go!


 

The End of Spooky Season

GOODNESS ME, that’s a lot of titles, no? And to think, I’ve also been rewatching Hyouka, Gosick, School Live, and Paprika as a part of the spoopy holidays! October has become a favorite holiday of mine, which is odd considering that I used to hate it. The cool weather and downtime have allowed me to explore reading and watching much more, and hopefully they’ll bring me back to the blogosphere soon. I’ve got two little nominations to attend to, plus a new Cafe Talk in the works, so look forward to, YES, learning even more about me!

How did you spend your Halloween season? Also, any good manga/light novel you’ve been reading lately? I want to know! Also, and last call (maybe), if you know a anime, game, or book that’s even remotely like Danganronpa (whodunnit mystery thriller survival game), PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!! I’m in quite rut, and the obsession has grown so large that I’ll even be cosplaying a male version of a certain “despairing” character in March, upupuPUPUPU!!! ‘Till next time everyone!

– Takuto, your host