How I got into Monster Musume

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Konbanwa! ^^/

Monster Musume is currently one of my favourite manga; as soon as I read the first volume I loved it at first sight. XD

At the time I decided to read the first chapter from the manga; A Centaur’s Life.[1] It has a very unique story and having human girls with animal body parts is certainly a gap in the market. Seven Seas seem to have recognised this and have taken advantage of that gap. Unfortunately I didn’t connect with the story. It wasn’t boring but I didn’t really have the urge to read more. With that I browsed the A Centaur’s Life information page on MyAnimeList[2] to read other fans’ reviews on the series. That was when I traced my eyes along the User Recommendations section and there I discovered a similar manga; Monster Musume.

I saw this picture of a girl affectionately embracing a young boy…but with her snake half of the body. Girls that are half women and half snake tend to have bad reputations probably stemming from old folk tales but she was hugging him very lovingly, I thought that was very sweet and she looked very cute. After reading the synopsis I had an inkling that despite the similarities with A Centaur’s Life I was going to connect with Monster Musume straight away. I read the first five chapters in no time and I literally couldn’t stop laughing and smiling.

I connected especially with the characters. Some of the situations and personalities that are shown are somewhat cliché but those clichés were not necessarily used in a traditional sense. Why? Because we’re not talking about normal human girls but girls with animalistic body parts! The main characters comprise of a Lamia, a Harpy and a Centaur.

Most people who I spoke to about the female characters in Monster Musume instantly thought that they were ugly. Of course, most of their opinions stem from folktales such as Medusa and sirens. Whilst it’s not nice to judge a book by its cover, I can understand where they’re coming from. However, when I showed them the characters images their opinions quickly changed.

Miia, the Lamia, is extremely cute. Sure you could say that her eyes are scary but she is more snake then human. So having snake like eyes is appropriate for Miia, in real life snakes are generally harmless (not every single one of course) unless you corner them/put them in danger. In this story Miia is very shy of humans but has treated the main character male with nothing but affection because of how kindly he treated her.

This is why I love Monster Musume. Whilst the visuals and character designs are beautiful and the story is good there is a good message behind this. Inner beauty. The monster girls are living and breathing just like humans and the subsidiary plot of the story is for the monster girls to co-exist peacefully with humans. So far, the girls are off to a good start and I’m rooting for them. =D

I always yearned to draw/write my own story that involves cat-girls, snake-girls, mermaids and have them all meet and go on adventures with humans. I dropped this idea as I felt that other people would not take kindly to this story- since it’s never really happened before. But yet Monster Musume is selling excellently. In the New York Times best Manga sellers it actually went straight to number one upon its first release! And it stayed there for two weeks. Even a couple of weeks ago the second volume reached number two, losing out to Naruto volume 64.

So really Monster Musume rekindled and inspired my interest to continue on with my own story that involves monster girls. So really I owe a lot to Monster Musume and Okayado (the author) both as an avid fan and as a fellow author.

Next time I’m going to give a full review on Monster Musume Volume One. I’m very much looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all. =D

Sayonara.^^/

Ryan.


[1] A Centaur’s Life is the English name for Centaur no Nayami.

[2] MyAnimeList is one of the world’s largest Anime database.

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Completing Second Draft of my Story. =)

Illustration of a Hand Writing with a Quill Pen

Good Tidings. ^^/

I mentioned in passing that my short term goal was to complete the second draft of my story. I am pleased to announce that I successfully completed the second draft. Happy days! =)

Whilst I enjoy writing stories I feel uncomfortable sharing them publicly. I have always shared them with my family and close friends. It’s only the past year or two that I decided that I’m comfortable enough to share my imagination with the world. Hopefully that will come when I get my book published.

My new short term goal now is to start and complete the third draft of my story. I’m not ready to tell you what the story is about just yet but I’m comfortable to tell you that it involves animals and is aimed at children. I haven’t decided 100% just yet but I’m thinking of aiming it for children 5 to 7 years. =)

Before starting the third draft I feel that it might be appropriate to read some children’s stories of a similar nature, no other reason then to compare it with my current story. I’ve got nothing to lose.

Reading is a very good thing although admittedly I’m not a strong reader myself. I can read words and sentences ok but I struggle to process them. Instead of power reading through the sentences I read the sentences word by word. Because of this struggle I find it hard to get into a book. The only books I read and enjoyed are Thomas the Tank Engine, Harry Potter, Cup Final Kid and Tim and the Hidden People.

Having said all that though I am a keen reader of manga but of course it’s a manga so reading the text is easy. Especially since it has plenty of illustrations. Haha.

My journey as an author is still a long way ahead but I’m enjoying walking down that road. =)

See you soon! ^^/
Ryan

My First Film Review – King of the Railway

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Peep, Peep Tidings! ^^/

 

I’ve been writing these blogs for the past two months and I must say that I’m rather enjoying it. In that time though, I noticed, I’ve neglected to mention about a certain fictional character who I treasure dearly- Thomas the Tank Engine.

 

Some of you may be aware that some Autistic people hold a special bond with certain things, and a lot of Autistic people I know treasure Thomas. I’m no different in this regard

 

When I was much younger I didn’t like anything and I didn’t like anyone, I just wanted seclusion and to be alone. I was severely Autistic back then. Then one day Thomas came into my life. My earliest memory I think was playing with a Thomas the Tank Engine play mat. Whenever I sought solitude, I  played with my Thomas trains and watched the Thomas videos. Thomas was all I could think about. Then gradually, although it took a lot of time; I started to interact with my family and other people through the medium of Thomas the Tank Engine and trains.

 

One day I will explain in thorough detail about my relationship with Thomas. The only reason I’m not is because, knowing me, I’ll go on a long tangent and not stick with the original purpose of this blog. XD!

 

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I must be honest when I say that I had very low expectations for this film. I didn’t raise my expectations even after learning that the writer is Andrew Brenner. Andrew Brenner wrote some of the classic stories for the Thomas the Tank Engine comics. Some of them were adapted for TV. They were very good, especially Henry’s Forest from season 3.

 

Image (This snapshot is from Season Three; Episode Nine; Henry’s Forest)

 

For those who are not aware Thomas the Tank Engine was adapted from The Railway Series books, written by Rev W. Awdry. It had a good number of characters in the books but it was decided that Thomas would be the headliner, thus he became the main character of the TV series.

 

The train characters were showed in the form of live railway models, with the eyes on the face moving via digital control. I grew up loving this type of animation as I loved Thomas as a toy model.

 

A few years ago Thomas changed from a model into CGI animation. Admittedly I was very sceptical and shocked when I first learnt this. I thought this was going to ruin Thomas and my childhood. But I’m honest when I say that converting Thomas from model into CGI animation was actually a positive move. It has many advantages.

 

To name a few; the sceneries look more realistic, there are more opportunities to experiment with camera angles, you can see facial expressions on the characters and perhaps the best advantage of all, animating the people and animals. Before human and animals were lifeless models that couldn’t move unless you used camera tricks. Apart from anything else the modern times are very different compared to the 1980s and CGI animation is a big hit nowadays. I whole heartedly approve of this but of course I will always prefer model Thomas any day because I grew up in the model era. =)

 
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(These snapshots are from Season One, Episode One, Thomas and Gordon.)

 

 

 

 

 

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(These snapshots are from Season Fourteen; Episode One; Thomas’ Tall Friend)

 

 

 

 

The writing and stories that weren’t written by Rev. Awdry or his son Christopher Awdry does concern me. As a writer I can sympathise with the daunting task of writing a story, especially when they would try to capture the charm of Thomas like Rev. Awdry was able to. I don’t think anyone could write a Thomas story as good as the original author, apart from Christopher of course. Naturally it is difficult to write Thomas as good as the original Author so HiT Entertainment rely on their own strengths and style of writing as they conjure up their own style of stories and plotlines.

 

The consistency of past plots and Railway Series logic doesn’t appear to be necessary these days. In the original Railway books the Fat Controller said to Gordon (that timeline was around the 60’s) that steam engines were very rare. In real life steam locomotives were dying out in favour of diesel locomotives. Since HiT entertainment owned Thomas at least 10-15 steam locomotives have been introduced as new characters to the show. This tells me that consistency and logic does not need to apply when writing the new style of Thomas stories.

 

I feel that I need to say, before I go further, that the last season I have seen is series 14. So whatever happens after series 14 may or may not contradict my thoughts. =)

 

Ahem-

 

I notice a big difference in characters lie with Edward and Toby. In the new Thomas era Edward is not as wise and Toby lacks a lot of self-confidence. When I see these new traits in Edward and Toby I just always think that they’re out of character.

 

In the episode, Charlie and Eddie, from Season 14, Edward took offense when Charlie said that he was too old to have fun. To me this was out of character because Edward (the classic Edward character) doesn’t entertain this sort of quip. Back in season 2 he said to Trevor ‘People say I’m old-fashioned but I don’t care, the Fat Controller says that I’m a really useful engine’. So the episode of Charlie and Eddie I immediately associated with Edward being out of character. I’m not necessarily criticising Edward’s new development but I do prefer the classic Edward since I grew up with his classic persona.^^

 

I propose that the writers gave Edward and Toby more specific personality traits so that the young viewers can identify their traits more clearly. Edward and Toby are quite similar in nature of being old and wise. Toby is not very strong since he’s a tram engine so this could have been identified as a trait of being self-conscious.

 

I’m not cross with the new developments in Edward and Toby because I can see why these new developments have been made. However, I do think that the classic Edward and classic Toby would fit in nicely with the new Thomas era. Just because when I was little I was able to deduce the differences between Edward and Toby.^^’

 

Now, onto the film…

 

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To my amazement it was a lot better than I anticipated. I always find though that it’s better to watch shows with low/neutral expectations. That way you won’t end up with a bad taste in your mouth by the end of it. When I watched this film, I felt really happy. It is definitely my favourite Thomas episode/movie since the end of Britt Allcroft’s era.

I don’t have any reason except that it felt like classic Thomas. I loved the part when Gordon asks about Henry needing new coal and Toby told him that that was fixed years ago! XD I really loved that reference. It was like the show was acknowledging what happened in the classic Thomas stories. It’s not often that occurs and I put that down immediately to the writer, Andrew Brenner.

 

I liked how the plot involved the history of Sodor. The history of Sodor and Godred was part of Rev Awdry’s vision but it was never elaborated on in the Railway Series. It was however, mentioned in detail in the Railway Series’ information book. Once again this is acknowledging Rev Awdry’s original work. Ulfstead was even mentioned. =D In the information book there was a person called Sir Richard Robert Norramby who was also an Earl. I anticipate that the writer based the character, Sir Robert Norramby, on him.

 

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(These snapshots are Sir Robert Norramby; from the Thomas movie; King of the Railway)

 

 

 

The story as a whole had the right balance. It was not repetitive but it was not too complicated to understand. It was very humorous too! Ulfstead Castle/Station was a marvellous design. Seeing trains go in and out of a castle was quite fascinating. When I build my train room I’m looking to create a station similar to Ulfstead Castle!

 

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(These snapshots are the arial point of view of Ulfstead

Castle/Station.)

 

 

 

I don’t normally connect with the human characters of the Thomas show but I really liked Sir Robert Norramby! (Norramby is another reference to Sodor, since Norramby is a town in Sodor). He’s like a mad scientist. The first part of the movie really made me laugh. The Fat Controller prepared a big celebration for him and when he arrived he didn’t stop and left straight away! I thought that was just hilarious. He appreciated the party being for him but he kept to his own personal arrangements and went straight to Ulfstead to meet with Millie. XD!

 

Then came the introduction of Stephen- the Stephenson’s Rocket! I felt that this was a very risky move. It’s not often that a real train appears in Thomas. The only real trains appeared and mentioned in the previous Thomas seasons were the City of Truro, Stepney and the Flying Scotsman. They all also originally appeared in The Railway Series books. But, introducing Stephen in this film sold me greatly. His character was just about right. Wise, enthusiastic but perhaps not as capable as he once was back in his heyday.

 

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(These snapshots are a comparision of the character Stephen and the real life locomotive; Stephenson’s Rocket)

 

 

 

We have more new additions to the series, high speed steamliners; Connor and Caitlin. Interesting characters though I’m not really sure how I feel about the names, they feel a bit too modern for Thomas.

 

When Thomas told Stephen about the surprise, I expected Sir Robert to get cross with him and Thomas vowed to ‘put things right’. But this didn’t happen. Thomas told Stephen about the job in order to cheer him up. In a way this seems like a mature thing to do since most of us will abide by this rule. Sir Robert also didn’t get cross, at all. And Thomas did vow to make things right but he did that by finding Stephen. He didn’t get told off by human characters like the Fat Controller but by the other engines like Gordon. =D

 

My Conclusion…

 

This was a very good film which blew away my previous expectations. It also came to my attention at the end of this blog that Andrew Brenner was going to become the Head Writer for Thomas the Tank Engine from Season 17 onwards. I’m most certainly looking forward to that!

 

Andrew did an excellent job here! Mark Mollaghan was decent as narrator too! I recognised immediately that he was not Michael Angelis. Did Michael decide to stop his role as main narrator? If he has then I wish him very good luck. ^^/

 

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From now on I’m going to review films/games/programmes, give you my thoughts and rate them. I’m going to rate them in my own way.

 

If I don’t like what I saw I give a thumb’s down, like so;

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If I thought something was enjoyable enough to watch, I give it a thumb’s up;

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If I absolutely loved it, I will give it two thumbs up!

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With that being said I’m going to give the King of the Railway two thumbs up! =D

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That is it for now about Thomas and the film. Even though I call this a review I see this more as me sharing my thoughts about the film itself. I was nervous about writing this but I actually ended up enjoying writing this and I hope you enjoy reading it. =D

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Choo, choo for now. ^^/

Ryan

Manga Entertainment Licenses High School DxD

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Konbanwa. ^^/

 

Once again I’m dedicating this blog to High School DxD. =D

 

I learned that Yen Press has licensed High School DxD but now I come to learn that the Anime has been licensed by UK Company Manga Entertainment. =D I’m not sure when the Blu-Ray or DVDs are released but the manga is definitely going to go on my Birthday list. =D

 

I’m pleased to see that the series is doing very well, especially outside of Japan. The sequel to High School DxD, High School DxD New (yes that is the actual title ;-)) has especially been a big hit.

 

This is, in fact one of my favourite Anime. It has severe cheeky moments. But I honestly feel that there is more to the show then the severe cheeky moments. It has an underlining strong meaning behind the plot of the show. I dare say that the show doesn’t need to have ‘stimulating’ and cheeky situations because the story is very good. But it does have those kinds of situations because it is part of the charm of that show.

 

Apparently the author of the Light Novel said that he couldn’t add any more erotic and stimulating situations in the story since he would have to change the age restrictions. I personally find the story itself charming and I like the type of characters in it and how angels and demons are portrayed. I also like how some of the demons represent chess pieces. I originally had this idea in mind for a story but evidently High School DxD beat me to it. I especially liked the choreography of the fights. It’s not as predictable as one might assume. At least not for me.^^

 

Here is a quick summary of the show, in my own words, in case you fancy watching it…

 

A high school student called Issei, dreams of having his own harem full of beautiful girls. He goes on his very first date with an enchanting girl but it didn’t end so well…the girl, soon revealed to be a fallen angel, brutally attacks and kills him. All is not lost as he is later reincarnated as a devil by his beautiful red-haired upperclassman. She later proclaims that she is also a devil and so becomes his master. His normal life has gone and he is now part of the battle between the devils and angels. Who will come out triumphant?

 

…I did myself proud there being as brief as possible! I always thought that capability was beyond me! XD.

 

I would recommend this Anime to anyone, unless I know that you’re really not going to enjoy it. 😉 I’m looking forward to the release of the Manga and the Anime. Speaking of which, I’m going to share with you my first review next week on the Thomas film, King of the Railway. Be sure to check it out. =)

 

Ahem-

 

2014 is going to be a fantastic year for High School DxD and I will eventually review this in more detail.

 

Sayonara! ^^/

Ryan.