This week on Grimms Notes, Reina, Ex, Tao and Shane find themselves in a desert when Aladdin shows up to offer them some water. As you would expect, he also helps himself to Reina’s book and so they hunt him down so that Reina can deliver a suitable slap to the thief.
Aladdin’s story is more or less what you would expect at this point given the way Grimms Notes has been unfolding. He found the magic lamp as his book of fate told him but then it was stolen from him and he was kicked out of the city. Determined to get things back on track they start crossing the desert but are soon attacked by villains and this is where something unexpected happens.
In the midst of battle, Aladdin steps in between a villain and a weakened Reina, and takes a lethal blow. With the main character dead you would think the story would be over and the story zone would collapse on the spot, but instead they point out that when they tune the world another person, similar enough, will just take his place. Wow, talk about disposable.
The more I learn about story tellers and story zones, the more I think we should let Loki and the other chaos tellers just have their way. There seems little advantage to anyone in maintaining the status quo. Then again, there’s probably still something we haven’t heard yet about some kind of major consequence if we do in fact just let the bad guys win, but it makes it hard to get behind Reina’s tears as she tunes the world this episode. Part of me just wondered if perhaps things would be better if she didn’t.
This series remains that little bit interesting, a lot confusing when it comes to what is driving the characters, and mostly I wonder how many episodes it has and whether we’ll get to an end point. Are the ‘villains’ making their move and if yes, why did it take them this long? What have they been waiting for? What move are they making? And do I actually want the ‘heroes’ to stop them?
It is always great when a story remains consistently this great and volume 11 of Natsume’s Book of Friends maintains everything that has been good about the series so far. While we move away from the exorcists to focus more on Natsume’s growing group of human friends and to face Natsume’s past, this volume continues to be a compelling read and fleshes out Natsume’s character and that of his friends Taki and Tanuma.
Chatpers 42 and 43: Sealed
The first story deals with Tanuma and Natsume arriving at Taki’s home during a rain shower. After some pleasantries they end up assisting her in cleaning out a store room and in the process Natsume accidentally breaks a seal on a yokai that Taki’s grandfather accidentally imprisoned. It isn’t exactly looking for a pleasant conversation.
This was great because it does put the three of these human characters together in a way that hasn’t really been done previously. Natsume is friends with Tanuma and friends with Taki, but previously the two of them have had little interaction. As the two characters who know the most about Natsume it is great to see them together here and trying to help Natsume as he is dealing with the yokai.
We also learn more about Taki’s grandfather and the way the yokai responded to him. While he couldn’t see yokai as Natsume can, he was very much obsessed with them and gather quite a crowd around him during his life. These yokai ultimately decide to help out in this story and that saves the day. Taki thanking them was an adorable moment even though she also can’t see them without the aid of the circle and generally speaking they aren’t willing to step in it.
Chapters 44 – 46: Long Way Home
Any of the stories that give us more insight into Natsume’s lonely childhood are really fantastic and this story gives us a double hit. Firstly we see another family he stayed with previously and how well that went… And we also see Natsume dealing with the sale of his family home and his final goodbye to it. Throw in a yokai that tormented him as a child and you have a really great story.
What really sells this is how much readers have come to love Natsume over the previous en volumes. If this story had come in earlier, it may not have had the impact it does here. But with Natsume where he is on his character journey, this seemed like the perfect moment for some reflection and facing the past and it was handled beautifully.
Nyanko-Sensei is of course along for the ride and so we get a little more of the relationship between Nyanko and Natsume, but the focus is unmistakably on Natsume’s growth.
All and all, volume 11 did not disappoint and I am read to sink my teeth into volume 12.
The party are all doing their own thing in this volume and in the end we get small vignettes of characters living in this world.
While the first three Goblin Slayer books have jumped around a little bit between adventures and quests and some slice of life stuff, the fourth volume really does feel more like a collection of short stories loosely connected via the setting and the cast. Expect no epic goblin slaying antics in this one, as we follow Rookie Warrior and Apprentice Priestess into the sewers (a story that appeared in the anime much earlier on in the timeline), Goblin Slayer doing his solo goblin slaying thing, some shopping, drinking and other mundane tasks, and the defeat of a necromancer.
If that all seems horribly unfocused (and it didn’t even cover everything) then you have a fair idea of the reading experience. I found this volume worked best when I read a chapter (or story) and then stopped for the day, picking it up later to read another story. There was no real flow or connection between sections but each story on its own was kind of interesting enough.
While Goblin Slayer features in a number of the stories, there are plenty of moments for other characters, both major ones like Priestess and High Elf Archer, and more background characters like Heavy Knight, get some time to be developed as characters. It all adds to the sense that this is a world, real and whole and these characters don’t just cease to exist when their adventures end. Their lives continue off-screen or off-page so to speak and this volume very much feels like a glimpse at some of that down time (and not so down time when you see what Goblin Slayer is still getting up to).
Now, when you get the end and read the afterward, the scattered feeling of the book really makes sense as the author explains that this collection of stories take place largely between volumes 1 and 2 or volumes 2 and 3. So at least that disconnected feel was deliberate.
This one I’d recommend if you are really into the setting of Goblin Slayer and would love more of the support cast. However, if you are wanting the grand adventure, I would simply skip this one and head to volume 5 (review coming soon) because honestly it is a much stronger narrative and one that is really exciting to read (can’t wait to review it). I had fun with this because I do really enjoy the world of Goblin Slayer but again, this wasn’t the greatest of reads as a whole.
That said, I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve read this one, and there are definitely some fun stories in here, so if you enjoy sharp, short stories featuring these characters this one will probably entertain.
Fur balls and exorcists, Volume 9 of Natsume’s Book of Friends is a great read.
It kind of took away some of the fun of finding a theme for this volume when it is explained at the end of the book that Yuki Midorikawa was focusing on herds and groups. The two stories in the volume both clearly explore this idea and it makes for some interesting speculation about the structure of the yokai world and for how exorcists operate.
In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, the cover art on these volumes is gorgeous (as are the chapter title pages) and it just gets better each volume. Chapter 35 in particular featuring Matoba is really nicely done this time around and while I couldn’t find a nice full picture of it, here’s a bit of a look.
Chapters 32 and 33: Little One
This two part story starts as normal for Natsume with him rushing in to rescue what he thinks is a kitten (and who else loves Natsume for wanting to save a kitten) and he ends up getting involved with a fur ball of a yokai. Things would be fine except that another yokai accuses Natsume of stealing a ring and it turns out the ring ended up caught in the fur ball’s hair and so complications follow.
This story didn’t have all that much impact in the anime. It worked well enough but seemed just another monster of the week story. Reading it I got far more of a sense that this story is about Natsume’s growing connection with the yokai world as his ‘friends’ help him track down the fur ball and his group in order to retrieve the ring. It’s an idea that will be repeated in the second story of this volume. Natsume is getting really drawn into the yokai world to the point where he barely even hesitates now to get involved whereas earlier he was wary of yokai or getting too caught up in their actions.
I ended up really enjoying reading this, far more than I enjoyed watching it in the anime. Really great fun.
Chapters 34 – 36: The Eastern Forest
Despite Natsume’s growing attachment to the yokai world he’s still pretty determined to keep his human friends out of it. This becomes much harder when a group of masked yokai ambush him at school. Needless to say, that doesn’t exactly set the tone for a great relationship between Natsume and the newly introduced yokai who kidnap him and demand he hand over the book of friends.
What follows is an interesting story that I absolutely loved in the anime and really enjoyed seeing in the manga form as we get our clearest look at Matoba yet as he hunts the yokai in the Eastern Forest and naturally Natsume gets caught up in it.
There’s a really powerful scene where Matoba is talking to Natsume about his family and I absolutely love how this plays out here. It comes right at the end of one chapter so of course makes you just get straight into the next one. It is very rare that someone other than yokai talk to Natsume about Reiko and I’m really very curious to find out if Matoba knows more than what he says here. Hopefully we’ll find out more in future volumes but this was a great reading experience.
I really can’t recommend this series enough and I’ll be getting onto reviewing the next book very soon.
To say this is the best episode so far isn’t really saying much given the dull mess the first two episodes were in. Yet despite this episode explaining some things, like filling in Ex’s background and giving the audience some insight into what it means to have a blank book of fate, other things are still very vague. You know, the whole creation of story zone things where characters are assigned roles and play out the same stories over and over again. Why would such a thing exist and why do people in the zones placidly follow their books of fate particularly those who are suffering, know in advance they are going to suffer, and could probably find a way around it given they are pre-warned?
Maybe they’ll get around to an explanation that justifies it but mostly this just feels like poor world building. Someone wanted characters to move between different stories and came up with the idea of story zones but then didn’t really think about what that would mean for the people living in them and how insane it sounds. It’s episode three; it might yet be justified but so far the reality here is not selling itself which makes it difficult to care.
Still, they did at least get me a bit more interested in Ex this episode. Without a role he was kind of an outcast and so he found his own path. He decided to help a friend get to their happily ever after and that was enough to keep him going. However, on the eve of his friend, Cinderella, going to the ball, Ex is left wondering just what he can do next (because clearly nobody in the universe ever thinks about the future given it is all preordained).
Fortunately for Ex, or unfortunately I guess, the story zone is attacked and he meets Reina who gives him the magic bookmark thing and he transforms into some unnamed hero. But they realise Cinderella is probably the centre of the story and that she’s going to be targeted and race to save her as the episode ends. I’m going to assume they succeed next week all things considered and then Ex goes on a journey with Reina, but none of that explains why people want the stories to continue on their path and why there are people messing with them. Or what anybody stands to gain from saving or destroying a story zone.
I did mention though that this was the best episode so far so it kind of feels like this might find its feet even if I never get anything resembling a satisfactory explanation for why any of this exists.
More levelling up and beating monsters than ever before!
This volume is definitely dividing its time between the spider in the labyrinth and the prince in peril. Honestly, it is hard to know who has it tougher in this book. While the spider has been levelling themselves up, they still face threat after threat and every day is a fight to live, fortunately they’ve got enough tricks and skills now to make a good showing of it. You wouldn’t think the prince’s life would be that hard except for the part where his older brother died and he suddenly found himself lumped with the ‘hero’ title that only one person can get. Not only dealing with the death of someone but also given a position that will probably get you kills isn’t exactly easy.
So the plot continues to bubble along in So I’m a Spider So What? and I’m getting more and more suspicions that they are deliberately blurring the timeline in this story. It will be interesting to see if I’m right or not when I finally get on to the next book
That aside, it is the characters who are driving this story. Mostly because events in the novel mostly consist of characters getting attacked by monsters or political conspiracies and escape attempts so while it works it honestly gets a little repetitive. However, some fairly solid first person narration with different characters narrating appropriate parts keeps this whole thing rolling along and largely keeps it pretty amusing and entertaining. There’s also enough twists and weird moments thrown in to keep the plot from ever becoming stale.
What has gotten stale, and I mentioned this in my review of volume 2, are the pages of stats. This book isn’t as bad as the second volume but it doesn’t take much page flicking to find an entire page covered in stat listings and levels. Why on earth would anyone want to read that? Just tell us the levels we need to know to understand why the character is freaking out because they are about to die and leave it at that. This is just padding and incredibly dull padding that gets a little bit more dull every time we see it.
However, I’ve had far too much fun with the dungeon roaming spider at this point to give up the story, and the new hero is actually kind of interesting and I’d love to see how his character progresses (assuming someone doesn’t kill him). Also, the fight scene at the end of this book was pretty impressive to read (I’d love to see it animated actually) so I’m on board for another volume of this series. It isn’t the best, but it has enough quirky ideas and personality to keep me going.
There’s a definite sense of excitement when I see so many of my posts from last year coming together into a single form.
For the second year in a row I’ve compiled an ebook with the content from my blog though this time I’m selling direct via PayPal. You have your choice of PDF, EPUB or MOBI formats and you will receive your copy via email after payment. Patrons, if you haven’t already got your copy, go to this post on Patreon and it should allow you to download the version you want – if it doesn’t work let me know ASAP and I will email you a copy.
Thoughts on Anime 2018 ebook
Collection of reviews, features, and top 5’s from the blog in 2018 including reviews completed for patrons only. Available in EPUB, MOBI, or PDF forms.
Buying the ebook helps support the work I do on 100 Word Anime and hopefully I’ll be able to continue to grow the blog and produce content people would like to read. Though I would like to take this moment to ask that you consider becoming a patron.
Now before we get too much further I do need to do a major shout out to all of my wonderful patrons and to those who have donated to 100 Word Anime during 2018. In particular I’d like to give a special thank you to:
Well, almost all my Top 5’s from 2018, including my best of 2018 Top 5 lists that technically haven’t finished coming out on my blog just yet with my top 5 males and top 5 anime of the year still to be published.
Almost all of my Features are included.
Now if you are wondering why some Top 5’s and some Features have been left out part of that is because the book was starting to clock up a massive word count, and the other part is that occasionally I write a feature directly related to something happening during a particular week and it really isn’t relevant to anyone a month later. Also, a handful of my Top 5’s last year were on horror movies rather than anime so they thematically didn’t fit.
As for series reviews:
Cells at Work (Summer)
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens (Winter)
March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 (Winter)
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (Autumn)
DamePri Anime Caravan (Winter)
Goblin Slayer (Autumn)
How Not To Summon a Demon Lord (Summer)
How to Keep a Mummy (Winter)
Lostorage Conflated Wixoss (Spring)
Phantom in the Twilight (Summer)
ReLIFE Final Arc (Winter)
Rokuhoudou Yostuiro Biyori (Spring)
School Babysitters (Winter)
Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San (Autumn)
Space Battleship Tiramisu (Spring)
Spiritpact – Bond of the Underworld (Winter)
Steins;Gate 0 (Summer)
Tada Doesn’t Fall in Love (Spring)
The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Winter)
Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary (Autumn)
100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams (Summer)
3D Kanojo: Real Girl (Spring)
A.I.C.O Incarnate (Winter)
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion (Summer)
B the Beginning (Winter)
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card (Spring)
Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss (Spring)
Darling in the Franxx (Spring)
Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody (Winter)
Devilman Crybaby (Winter)
Jingai-San no Yome (Autumn)
Junji Ito Collection (Winter)
Libra of Nil Admirari (Spring)
Record of Grancrest War (Spring)
Release the Spyce (Autumn)
Sanrio Boys (Winter)
Devils’ Line (Spring)
The Master of Ragnarok (Summer)
Tokyo Ghoul RE (Spring)
Well, there’s just a few series reviews. Also episode reviews are included in the appendices for a large number of shows covered last year and all patron only episode reviews are included. Plus, episode reviews of Dakaichi and Goblin Slayer that I never published on the blog because I was reviewing after every four episodes with Arthifis so I just wrote up my episode thoughts for the book.
Hopefully the contents page works in all formats so you should be able to easily navigate between sections and reviews are arranged alphabetically by season. Obviously if you have any issues with the ebook or the format, please contact me and I’ll send you another copy or a different version. This is my first attempt at doing this alone so it may not have worked out perfectly. However, I’m fairly confident I’ve got it.
But, if $6 is seeming a little too much for a year’s content (actually I get it, we’re all working on a budget), I have a slimmer version of the book available.
Short Thoughts on Anime 2018 ebook
Smaller selection of features, top 5's and reviews from 2018 on the blog. Available in EPUB, MOBI, or PDF forms. No images.
For the price of a ko-fi you can get the short version of the ebook. The only episode reviews included in the short version are for anime series that were reviewed exclusively for patrons or did not appear on my blog at all. A number of series reviews were removed as were a handful of top 5’s and features.
Basically instead of 220,000+ words that you get in the whole ebook, you only get 130,000+ words. It still makes for a pretty good read if I do say so myself, but it is definitely the trim version.
This is a one-off way of supporting 100 Word Anime throughout 2019. I’d really love to see this blog grow and I am continuing to work on producing content for people to enjoy. Consider lending a hand and getting a compilation of the 2018 content.
By the way, if you can’t make up your mind, or can’t right now but think you might want to buy the book later, it is available in the bookshop which you can access via the sidebar.