Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reviews: Wild Ones, Gemini Lost, and Powers by Ursula Leguin

Wild Ones

I read volumes 4-9. It's a vaguely pleasant manga, with characters that aren't insanely gripping, but interesting enough. Sachie is a pleasantly interesting protagonist-dense, yet hardworking and loyal. Rakuto has a mysterious past out of central casting, with the requisite selfish mother and kind father, who only wants to be a good dad, but is hamstrung by obstacles that would not be viewed as an adequate excuse for a mother not to see her child. I also enjoyed the fact that the obstacles to lurve weren't eliminated after the first volume or so, like some manga I have seen. Instead of folding at the first sign of TRUE LURVE, Azuma stays in the running, making determined attempts to catch Sachie's eye. Likewise Chigusa Sensei doesn't just drop out of the story after his arc is completed. Wild Ones is competent shoujo- the illustrations are better suited for paging through quickly than detailed study, and the plot is pretty weak, mostly relying on one shots of people nearly finding out the TERRIBLE SECRET that Sachie lives in a Yakuza family or Sachie's big mouth getting Rakuto and Azuma into situations in which the kind and gentle Yakuza who never extort money, give anyone an injury worse than a bruise or do anything that could be remotely construed as illegal, help innocent and hardworking people out. Basically, I'm glad I got this from the library. I would have been mad if I spent money on it.

Gemini Lost
A well produced game with brightly colored graphics. You click and drag your little people to cut wood, mine stones, do research,etc. I liked that the game incorporated its Zodiac theme in that only characters with 'preferred' Zodiac signs can marry[and near automatically produce children] One game mechanic that I was annoyed with was that the children are fairly useless until they are 18. In an agrarian society, you'd think they'd at least be able to fish or do something in the garden. Some may complain about the lack of innovation, which is a consistent problem with casual games, probably because they come out so fast, and are meant to be light entertainment, much like the arcade games of long ago.

Powers by Ursula LeGuin

Yet again, Ursula LeGuin manages to write a book that is amazing and an instant classic,etc. I think my favorite part of her writing is that people live in the cultures they are born with, not the cultures that we would prefer them to live in. In a society based on slavery, our protagonists are not the lone voices against slavery who bravely resist. Instead, they very humanly believe that the way the world is is the only way the world can be. I also liked the depiction of the lives of the Marsh people, especially the observation that city people may have thought of their lives as simple, but their culture was really rich and complex. I also liked that Gav was not the sort of person who automatically fit into radically different societies at a blink like many fantasy protagonists, and I liked how the theme that Gav must learn to see the sexual violence against women in his society was subtle, yet powerful. With his sister, the women of the forest, and little Melle, everytime he is unable to really see what the true circumstances of the women in his lives are, tragedy follows, but when he is able to see them for what they are, things improve.

I also like how the 1st two books were swept into this one- not over obviously, but beautifully all the same.

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