Reviews Video Games

Knives Out Review

“This is a twisted web, and we are not finished untangling it, not yet.”

I adore a good mystery, so between a strong cast and a playfully intriguing trailer I was really excited for Knives Out. And a damn good mystery is exactly what I got.

I’m going to say pretty much nothing in terms of details to avoid spoiling the ride, but this was a compelling journey that I didn’t quite know what to make of until it was done. I cannot overstate what an important and truly wonderful quality that in a mystery/suspense story.

It’s not quite as madcap as the trailer makes it look (when I first saw the trailer I actually thought it was a Clue remake), but that’s not a criticism. There’s just the right touches of quirkiness, as it tweaks and pokes fun at the genre as much as it embraces it to wonderful effect. Sly touches of satire and commentary along with a phelthora of pitch-perfect performances all fully support and flesh out, rather than detract from, the unfolding drama.

Simply put, Knives Out was fantastic.

Manga Reviews

The Girl from the Other Side Volume 7 Review

The past will not be forgotten…

This is an intense, fast paced volume that revolves around the confrontations hinted at by the end of the last one. The way things unfold and the level of palpable dread maintained is incredible.

Desperation once again leads to extreme action, but with a gripping and needed twist this time around. The underlying conflict of wanting to live in peace and needing to deal with unfortunate realities resonates. There are a lot of significant implications to the developments of this volume, both regarding the past and future, and the building narrative continues to evolve in a natural way without ever losing any momentum.

Of course we end on another cliffhanger, and with even more ambiguity than usual to this one it’s going to be a really rough six month wait for the next installment.

Manga Reviews

The Girl from the Other Side Volume 6 Review

Facing an adversary who won’t be deterred, Teacher makes a choice…

Under dire circumstances, an interesting new direction is taken. There’s a touch of hope in the new journey which is needed and again speaks to the excellent balance maintained as the story grows and progresses.

As the manga goes on it’s really interesting how consequences, both of the characters’ own actions and decisions and of others’ influence, interact and come into play. The storytelling in this volume is particularly well done, with brilliant intertwining of escalating danger and important character developments.

I love the scope and pacing, and while slightly more frequency to the fleeting glimpses of the larger world would be appreciated the current focus on what’s going on outside with a core group of characters is pitch perfect.

Another tense, ominous end leads perfectly into the next volume. The Girl from the Other Side continues to be an excellent series.

Manga Reviews

Kalyx Volume 1 Review

“It’s easier to live, when you don’t think or feel anything.”

In 2050, amid the vast dessert that was once Japan, Soshi Sawamura became a soldier for one of the four nations that wars over food in order to stay fed himself. One day he meets one of the mysterious “Flower Girls” by chance, and the true nature of her condition might just change his life.

I’ve enjoyed manga in the past dealing with some of the more everyday aspects of life among war filled, post-apocalyptic settings, so the cover and a quick read of the premise intrigued me enough to check this out.

And a quick sense of the premise was certainly all I retained, as this one takes some odd turns I was totally unprepared for. The affliction plaguing the Flowers Girls and the way it manifests is WEIRD, and the consequences that arise naturally from the premise are quite grim. So far though it’s all well utilized and capitalized on, with appropriate emotional weight being given to the situation, no matter how absurd the initial idea.

The world building is interesting, and the dessert ravaged Japan our leads inhabit feels lived in and relatable despite it’s fantastical nature. The dessert world also heavily ties into the themes of the manga that relating to the flower aspect of Nadeko’s condition.

Several individual elements here have been done before, but this is a decent spin that pushes the tropes a bit in slightly new directions. Given the romantic themes of the manga and Soshi being an adult soldier I do wish Nadeko had been made a bit older (say at the very least late teens rather than early), but so far the execution has been fine and there are thematic reasons for her youth.

Soshi’s lack of ambition and drive is a perhaps obvious and cliched choice, but it works as a baseline since he can’t continue to be apathetic as Nadeko’s partner. There’s a real darkness simmering beneath the surface as the Flower Girls know exactly what awaits them in exchange for certain choices, and Nadeko and Soshi both having to face these realities in different ways seems a strong central plot anchor going forward.

All in all this is a decent start to a nicely character driven story in a well realized dystopian setting. I’m definitely curious enough to read more.

Manga Reviews

The Promised Neverland Volume 7 Review

“My family is not useless!”

The Promised Neverland features an overarching story with a terrible, previously revealed underlying secret. Best to start reading with volume 1.

Volume 6 ended with the first major step towards the escapees larger goal of unraveling the mystery left by Minerva, which has now become the central focus of the manga, and here the realities of what they find in the shelter take center stage.

The story progresses nicely and continues to excel in character driven conflict while taking a little bit of a breath here to give fleeting glimpses of lighter things in middle of their struggle. The children’s reaction to being aggressively confronted with a conflicting viewpoint allows for needed affirmation / exploration their own as the harsh world wears on them.

This is a solid installment in The Promised Neverland’s larger story that serves mostly as setup for what’s to come, and by the end things are rapidly escalating again.

Manga Reviews

The Girl from the Other Side Volume 5 Review

The depths of the curse’s true horrors hit home.

The mythology of The Girl from the Other Side’s world is gradually building, and it’s continuing to be a wonderful ride. There are more mysteries than answers, but in a constantly shifting manner and enough information is provided to keep the reader’s attention. It’s masterfully done. The more that’s revealed about the curse and its horrors the more questions about Teacher and Shiva arise. Of particular interest is the follow up to last volume’s cliffhanger and the contents of the long referred to revelation, which will have major ramifications going forward.

Parts of this manga are admittedly getting harder and harder to read. Desperation and terror leads to horrors in the name of survival, which is understandable and extremely important to the story and themes, but the repeated interactions of characters pleading uselessly against blind hatred or prejudice is emotionally exhausting.

Teacher (justifiably) worries constantly about his decisions and their effect on Shiva, and the consequences of those decisions is a big focus here. It’s well done and really resonates as an authentic feeling exchange between people with legitimate, different views on a situation leading to conflict. In a similar vein on those themes, Teacher being repeatedly forced into action is another great, intriguing aspect of the ongoing story.

Another strong volume in an excellent series.

Manga Reviews

The Girl from the Other Side Volume 4 Review

Shiva’s choices seem to have had disastrous effects, and Teacher learns more about both the horrors of the curse and Shiva’s tragic past.

Back outside with Teacher, Shiva eases into a new status quo while being haunted by the events of last volume.

As the full effects of the curse start to be experienced and revealed, the reasons behind Inside’s rash actions become clearer. Nothing excuses them, but a deep and complex web of people’s very real fears emerges entangled with the seeming machinations of greater beings. There are a lot of heavy themes and happenings, and it’s all done so well. The pacing and balance exquisite, with the author knowing when to pause and let emotions sit for a minute and when to keep up the pressure and tension.

As I mentioned before the art does make it a little hard to follow certain things, but overall the gist is usually clear and the incredible atmosphere enhanced by the art style is worth the occasional bit of confusion in my opinion.

There’s definitely something lurking beneath the surface of this story, beyond the things the reader can see thus far. It gives a nice building sense of unease. Many things here could be as they seem… or not. As always I’m eager to find out.