Are Destiny and Fate Really All Just Written?

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Grimms Notes Episode 4 Review

I have to wonder if the source material for this, which is apparently a game, if the player gets to decide whether they want to set the stories back on track or let them fall into chaos? Or is it all just mandated that of course these story worlds will endlessly repeat and you have to be apart of maintaining a status quo so that character lives never change beyond what is written on the pages of their books? It is a little sad to think about really and it is probably the one thing that really bothers me about this anime.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Tao

Episode one wasn’t great but it did enough to make me want to watch. Episode two was just kind of there and feels more and more filler like so I’m wondering about its placement. Three and four though give us Ex’s backstory and they did a great job of establishing his character and his personal motive for helping restore Cinderella’s story and really I wish this anime had started here. And yet, despite the character being interesting, the conflict personal and understandable, it does nothing to relieve the overall worry that this story seems to be all about making people play their role, whether they want to or not.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Ex

Sure, we’re only four episodes in and maybe it will get to fleshing out some of these points and ideas and it might even explore them a bit, but so far we’re supposed to be behind the group that come in from outside and essentially force things back onto their predetermined path. For once the crazy villain’s speech about hope and liberation didn’t seem to crazy because I could actually see exactly where he was coming from and at least the characters were offered a choice.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Loki

Then the heroes tune the world and everyone forgets what has happened. Not only is their choice undone but they are robbed even of the memory of anything outside of their books. It’s kind of hard to get behind that.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Shane

Still, in the hope that eventually these ideas will be pursued and explored I’m watching on. These last two episodes were at least a little compelling and far better handled than the opening episode and little bits and pieces about their powers and the like are being revealed each episode. Still, I’m hardly jumping up and down to recommend this one.

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Karandi James
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GRIMMS NOTES VISUAL BOOK
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Cinder Book Review: Can a Cyberpunk Take on Classic Fairy Tale Work?

Overview:

Cinder is a gifted mechanic and cyborg is new Beijing, a city literally falling apart with an ill king, political enemies, and a plague tearing through the population. However, when she finds herself increasingly entangled with the Prince, she is going to have to start making some hard choices.

Cinder is the first book from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

Review:

There’s something comforting about fairy tale reworkings. Mostly because, regardless of the trapping, the plot is going to follow a certain series of events until you get to what might be a twist at the end to give it a new spin. So cue the wicked stepmother (though in this case neglectful or abusive may be the better descriptor), the Prince falling in love seemingly at first sight, and the eventual ball in the final act. However, when you throw in plagues, Moon Queens and political alliances, while the story is familiar enough you won’t be feeling like you’ve read this version of it before.

There’s a lot to like it this gritty tale of romance and betrayal. Certainly the fact that the conflict extends beyond a single kingdom makes the scope of the story far more impressive from the get go. In most versions of the story there is very little known of how the Kingdom sits in relation to other countries/kingdoms so the Prince’s choice to marry a girl far beneath his social class has little overall impact other than to allow us to believe love conquers all obstacles. Even Ever After, barely addressed the issue even though technically the Prince there was betrothed to the Princess of Spain and they simply made his near wedding a comedic scene where that Princess pulled out of the ceremony, thus saving France from suffering any real consequence of the headstrong Prince’s choice.

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However, Cinder is different as Kai’s choices are going to have some fairly major consequences further down the line and you definitely wonder whether you should be supporting the two getting together or not given how terribly that could work out for the Kingdom and the people. I really liked this aspect of it as it made the entire situation of a commoner and a Prince coming together seem far more grounded in reality than such a romance usually is, and yet still allowed us to get swept along as the two interacted. We always knew it wasn’t going to be so easy so the ending of this book is not exactly a let down, but it makes for a more impressive story.

I also genuinely like Prince Kai as a character. He’s young and uncertain about some things, stuck in a horrible situation, suffering from the loss of his father, and he is having to make some really tough choices. In his shoes I probably would lock myself in my room and hope it all went away (okay, maybe not, but I’d certainly want to). Yet, despite a few choice moments, Kai deals with it admirably. He may not manage to wave his and magically make things better fairy godmother style, but he’s certainly trying to find the best path through the thorns and all things considered he isn’t doing too bad a job.

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Despite that, Cinder is a little bit harder to take seriously in this story. We’ve seen Cinderella in Disney form where she’s just too sweet for words. We’ve seen the sassy modern takes on Cinderella with Drew Barrymore in Ever After or even Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. We get that Cinderella doesn’t need to wait around for the guy and can make decisions on her own (but if the guy shows up and its on her terms then go for the romantic and happy ending).

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But in Marissa Meyer’s take on Cinderella, we have a girl who is dejected and has all but surrendered herself to the awfulness that surrounds her. It is understandable, but it hard to get behind her as a character. Almost all of her plans and schemes are motivated entirely by self-interest and quite a few of her problems come about because she just doesn’t pay enough attention to those around her as she seems oblivious to the problems of others. By the time she decides to make a noble gesture and attempt to save Prince Kai at the ball it is very hard to care particularly for Cinder as a character and by this stage you know how badly that rescue is going to go so you mostly just sit back and wait to read how it all fell apart.

Which leads me to my other issue with the story. While it is a fast read (a day or two at most to read depending on distractions) and its relatively easy and flowing to read with a more young adult audience in mind, the writing is pretty ordinary. By that I do not mean it is bad. It flows well and moves you along. The world building is fine and you can visualise what is being described. What I mean by ordinary is that I got to the end of the book and couldn’t recall a single line of note. Not one description that I just loved and wanted to read again. Even while reading, there were no passages that made me pause after reading them and want to go back just to take in a good turn of phrase. So maybe ordinary isn’t the right word. The writing is unobtrusive, but that also makes it fairly unremarkable.

That said, the plot is pretty addictive and I am desperate to know what happens next for our cyborg mechanic and the Prince so I will be hitting the book depository sooner rather than later to pick up the next book in the series.

If you’ve had a read of Cinder, I’d love to know your thoughts.


Thanks for reading.

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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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