Anime, Shows

Meet Your Friendly Neighborhood Bathroom Ghost

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun Season 1

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Intro

My friend recommended this anime to me. I was skeptical at first, especially since she is not usually a fan of anime, but I am happy to say that Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun far exceeded my expectations.

Background

Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun, also know as Jibaku Shounen Hanako-Kun is an anime based on a manga series by Iro Aida. It falls into the genres of Comedy and Fantasy.

Season 1 was released in 2020, and it is likely there will be a Season 2 due to the show’s popularity.

You can watch Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun on Hulu or Funimation.

Summary

Yashiro Nene, a high-schooler at Kamome Academy, investigates a rumor about a wish-granting ghost named Hanako who resides in the girl’s bathroom. Nene seeks romance, and is in for a surprise when her wish gets her into deep trouble.

Pros

  • Intriguing story
  • Compelling characters
  • Unique art style
  • Superb animation
  • Balance of humor, tension, and sorrow
  • Quirky intro and outro
  • Contrasting yet fitting music

Cons

  • A couple episodes are incredibly bizarre and creepy
  • Inappropriate choice of language

Review

Story

The storyline is unique and follows the attempts of Hanako and Nene to maintain the delicate relationship between the natural and supernatural at Kamome Academy. Each episode deepens the conflict between the forces of evil seeking to corrupt the spirits at the school and the forces of good, led by Hanako.

Occasionally episodes veer toward the creepy, especially with the Misaki Stairs segment.

Characters

Yashiro Nene is a romance-obsessed high schooler who is willing to do whatever it takes to find love. This gets her into stupid situations sometimes. She annoys me occasionally with her poor decision-making, but overall she is a kindhearted and appealing character.

Hanako is a ghost with a dark past. He has a great sense of humor and a playful personality. Even though he can be a bit thoughtless at times, he genuinely cares for other people.

Kou Minamoto comes from a long line of exorcists. He has a brash personality and frequently acts on impulse. His personality is also selfless, and he truly wants to do what’s right, even if that means exorcising Hanako.

Sousuke Mitsuba is a spirit who appears midway through the anime. He is quick to jump to conclusions, confident, and foul-mouthed. He calls Kou “Lame-Ass Traffic Earring,” for instance. He has a surprisingly complex personality that I definitely appreciate.

Style and Animation

The art style is beautiful, taking advantage of pale pastels as well as brighter colors. Their treatment of light, seen above, is especially stunning. The characters’ eyes are made up of rich hues that make them seem even more expressive.

Humor

There is a balance in this show when it comes to humor, tension, and sorrow that makes it impactful.

Much of the humor in this anime comes from Hanako’s playful personality, Nene’s fruitless attempts at romance, and Kou’s exorcist antics.

There is a running joke about Nene’s legs being like daikons (a type of radish), and she is extremely self-conscious about her appearance.

I can’t say much about the tension and sorrow without giving away details of the plot, but I will say that this anime did make me tear up at one point.

Intro and Outro

The intro is beautiful and impressive, with kaleidoscopic and at times almost retro colors. It foreshadows future episodes without giving anything away.

The outro is not as good when it comes to art, but the theme is attractive.

Music

The music is quirky, with unique little tunes for transitions between scenes and different music to create different moods.

I like the music of the intro best because of its catchiness, but the calmer song of the outro is also very appealing.

Language

Occasionally the language verges on the inappropriate, such as when Hanako demands Nene’s “body” in return for a wish. What he really wants is for her to work as his assistant, but the way he said it was very suggestive and uncomfortable

Title

The title of the anime, since it uses the word toilet, kind of put me off. I wouldn’t have chosen to watch it if it hadn’t been suggested to me. I usually associate the word toilet with potty humor, which tends to just annoy me. Luckily, that’s not the sort of humor this anime employs. But I feel like the title would intrigue some people, so I didn’t list it as a con.

Conclusion

Even if the title doesn’t sound appealing to you, I would recommend you give this anime a try. It would be best for an audience of ages 13 and up. If you’ve watched it or decide to give a try, let me know in the comments!

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Movies

If You Haven’t Watched This Classic Fantasy Movie, You Should

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) - IMDb

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Rating: 9.7 out of 10 stars

Intro

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is an old favorite of mine. I had the privilege of watching it recently with one of my sisters who had never seen it before.

Getting to watch the movie was a bit of an adventure. My dad, who I sometimes call “Tech Support,” tried to get our Xbox One to play the DVD, but the Xbox gave up on life and showed the black screen of death instead. We then tried to find it on Netflix and to see if it was included for free on Amazon Prime, to no avail. Finally, we hooked up the PS3, which we never use, and used it to play the DVD.

Background

One ring | Mythology wiki | Fandom

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 2001. It stars Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), John Rhys-Davies (Gimli), Sean Bean (Boromir), Billy Boyd (Pippin Took) and Dominic Monaghen (Merry Brandybuck).

It was directed by Peter Jackson. The film falls into the genres of Fantasy and Adventure.

Summary

Sauron - Wikipedia

The entire plot of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is based around a ring. Nine rings were once forged and given to various rulers of the dominant kingdoms. Then an evil being named Sauron made a single ring that was more powerful than any of the others.

After a pivotal battle, the ring was lost and claimed by a human, and then was lost again. It was found by Gollum and then stolen by Bilbo, a hobbit, who would pass it on to Frodo.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring follows Frodo’s journey and that of others who seek to undermine Sauron’s power by destroying the ring.

Pros

  • Begins with low storytelling voice that encourages close listening
  • Gorgeous landscapes
  • Ornate architecture fitting the culture of each town
  • Phenomenal musical scores
  • Strong message of hope, courage, and purpose
  • Attractive and fitting costume design
  • Fascinating, insightful dialogue
  • Innovative CGI
  • Realistic orcs with prosthetics and make-up
  • Tolkien’s spoken elfin language is convincingly like a natural language
  • The written language on the ring is foreign and unique
  • Does not veer much from the book
  • Frodo, Boromir, and Aragorn have strong character development
  • Camera angles and movement increases immersion into the story

Cons

  • One scene with Galadriel is over-dramatic and looks fake
  • A lot of characters, but not much character development for most of them

Review

Beginning

The beginning of the movie starts with a low female voice telling the story of how the rings were created and the one ring came into existence. The voice is soft enough that I was tempted to listen closely, on the edge of my seat. It was a storyteller’s voice–one that promised a powerful, gripping, simple yet complex tale.

Setting

Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring | Film Locations

The landscapes of New Zealand where the movie was filmed were beautiful. Every landscape they traversed was stunning, like something out of a travel brochure. All the scenes of travel that made the movie longer were worth it because of the charming, idyllic land.

LOTR, Landscape and Settings, All Works on RowlingTolkienLewis ... | Lord  of the rings, Middle earth, Background images

The makers of the film paid great attention to detail, especially for architecture. This made settings like Rivendell not only attractive but also unique to the culture they represent.

Places of Fancy: Where Is Rivendell in 'The Lord of the Rings'?

Music

Fotrcd-cover.jpg

The music was composed by Howard Shore. In my opinion, the best song out of the lot is “Concerning Hobbits.” The music of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is both iconic and epic.

If you want to learn why the music of The Lord of the Rings has the power to captivate listeners, listen for yourself.

Message

The message is one of hope, courage, and purpose. This movie shows how there can be hope even in the darkest times and that courage can prevail against the powers of darkness. The story follows ordinary people who show tremendous bravery in the face of adversity.

Gandalf affirms that the ring that was found by Bilbo and passed on to Frodo did not fall into their hands by accident. All things happen for a reason, he insists. This gives the heroes a sense of purpose.

Costumes

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring | George Eastman Museum

The costumes are well-made and fit the character. For the hobbits, capes and clothes perfect for work and relaxation–peasant clothes. For Gandalf, an old man who does not care much about appearance, a simple cloak and a hat that has much character. For others, clothes befitting their status and positions are used. The clothes do not look tacky.

Dialogue

Gandalf | The One Wiki to Rule Them All | Fandom

The dialogue of the movie is rich and includes many quotable moments. For instance, when the value of a character’s life is questioned, Gandalf says:

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?”

Gandalf

CGI

What do you think of Peter Jackson's depiction of the Balrog in Fellowship  of the Ring? - Quora

The CGI, especially for the Balrog and Gollum, was innovative for its time and has stood the test of time. True, it’s only 19 years old, but there are plenty of films from around that time that would look contrived and poorly done by today’s standards.

Language

The elfin language used in the movie sounds natural and flowing. It is not like the made-up languages in many movies and books that are usually based on English or Latin. It is unique.

The written languages also appear to be authentic and realistic.

Likeness to the Book

Most changes from the book were made to save time, such as removing the whole Tom Bombadil scene that was in in the book. The movie was very faithful to the book.

Character Development

Fellowship of the Ring (group) | The One Wiki to Rule Them All | Fandom

Frodo is a character who seems nondescript but is capable of great bravery when the situation requires it. He feels a responsibility for what happens in the world, even though he wants nothing more than to go back to the Shire.

Boromir is a character who desires the power of the ring but nonetheless is an honorable character. Throughout the course of the story, he makes mistakes and changes as a result.

Aragorn’s initial reluctance to take his rightful place on Gondor’s throne affects who he is as a character. He is noble, and his actions show that he is worthy of being a king even when he doubts himself. His romance with Arwen is also a testament to his worth as a character–she is willing to give up immortality for him.

Most of the other characters are not well-developed, however. The movie suffers slightly from having too many characters.

Camera Tricks

The crew for this movie used various tricks with the camera. For instance, they used fast camera motions to make the battle scenes seem more frenzied. They also made horse riding scenes seem quick through other camera movements. The angle of the camera made it seem like sometimes we were seeing from the character’s point of view, and sometimes we were seeing the action from a perspective outside of any character.

Galadriel Scene

History Reading 06: Graphics. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of… | by  David Mellitt | Medium

This scene looked contrived and overly flashy, looking more like it belonged in a film depiction of a campfire horror story than a Lord of the Rings movie. A minor con, but worth noting.

Conclusion

I must say, the trouble it took to set up was well worth it. The movie is very nearly three hours, clocking in at 178 minutes, but it is a movie in which every second counts and adds to the whole. If you haven’t watched it, you’re missing out!

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Shows

This Fairy Tale Retelling Shouldn’t Be Rated PG

Once Upon a Time Season 1.jpg

Spoiler-Free Show Review:

Once Upon A Time Season 1

Rating: 9.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

I watched Once Upon A Time for the first time with my sisters, and it was so good I was happy to watch it a second time with my roommate and suitemate. Most fairy tale retellings don’t impress me, but Once Upon A Time, especially Season 1, was able to tell the stories in a way that celebrated the old and emphasized the new.

After watching several episodes, I was shocked that anyone would rate this show PG. It is not appropriate for children–read on to find out why.

Background

Season 1 of Once Upon A Time first aired in 2011 and concluded in 2012. It was created by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, and is an ABC television series now offered on Disney Plus.

Season 1 stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Raphael Sbarge, Jamie Dornan, Robert Carlyle, and Eion Bailey.

Summary

On her 28th birthday, Emma Swan is unexpectedly reunited with the 10-year-old son she had given up for adoption. After driving him back to his adoptive mother in Storybrooke, Maine, Emma’s concern for him makes her hesitant to leave.

Her son, Henry Mills, believes that the stories in his book of fairy tales are real. He thinks that the people of Storybrooke are fairy tale characters trapped by a curse and have lost their memories of their past lives.

Henry tells Emma that she is their only hope for breaking the curse, but Emma does not believe him.

Season 1 tells the stories of various characters, alternating between their pasts in a fairy tale world and their current lives in Storybrooke. It also follows the struggles of Emma and Henry against Regina, Henry’s manipulative adoptive mother.

Pros

  • Clever foreshadowing
  • Consistent, well-crafted structure
  • Great acting
  • Subverting viewer expectations
  • Clever ways of connecting various fairy tales
  • Likeable, realistic characters
  • Impressive character development
  • In-depth backstories
  • Character names in Storybrooke chosen for meaning
  • Costume design reflects character personality

Cons

  • Occasionally overdramatic
  • The graphics in Wonderland were shoddy

Review

Foreshadowing

The title sequences always has a different shadowy sneak peak of what the episode is going to be about. Look for dark woods in the title screen to see the foreshadowing.

Structure

The structure of each episode includes flashbacks to a character’s past in the fairy tale world as well as glimpses of the character’s present-day life in Storybrooke.

The story that has happened in the past is usually linked strongly to what is happening in the present in any given episode.

Viewer Expectations

Viewers have certain expectations based on their knowledge of the fairy tales. However, the creators of Once Upon A Time use this to their advantage by making stories seem familiar before repeatedly subverting viewer expectations.

These are not the bedtime stories kids everywhere grew up with. These are new, refurbished, refined and stunning.

The way that fairy tales intertwine is particularly clever, especially the way the Beauty and the Beast tale works.

Characters

Red Riding Hood | Once Upon a Time Wiki | Fandom

Almost every single character has an in-depth back story, and many begin in Season 1. The story of Snow White and Prince Charming take center stage, but my personal favorite is the story of Red Riding Hood.

The characters develop both in the past and in the present. The most development is seen in Emma Swan, Mary Margaret Blanchard, and David Nolan.

The characters act realistically considering their personalities, and even though it is dramatic, the reactions of the characters are often reasonable considering their circumstances.

Once Upon a Time Favorite Character Moments: Snow White/Mary Margaret  Blanchard | The Girly Nerd

Character names in present-day Maine were chosen carefully for their meaning. For example, the name Mary Margaret Blanchard was chosen for Snow White because Blanchard is a French name meaning “white” and Mary and Margaret were names Snow used in her fairy tale past to conceal her identity.

Costume Design

7 Easy Halloween Costumes from Once Upon a Time | Once Upon A Time

The costume design fits the characters’ personalities perfectly. For example, Regina’s hair styles and costumes particularly reflect her flamboyant style and dark personality.

Drama

The drama is reasonable and understandable most of the time, but sometimes it is over-the-top. For example, when something terrible happens, the camera will often switch rapidly from shocked expression to expression in a way that seems overly contrived. People can be shocked, but not every character needs a close-up.

Conclusion

Overall, I really enjoyed Season 1 of Once Upon A Time. I would recommend this series for teens and adults.

Despite its PG rating, I would not recommend Once Upon A Time for children due to violence, suggestive content, and dark themes. Seriously. Hearts get ripped out and crushed, there is an affair, people get turned into animals and stepped on, a person is mauled and eaten, etc.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Books

Book Review: Artemis Fowl

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Rank: 9.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

In my book reviews, I consider the literary merit of the book by examining aspects such as character development, world-building, illustrations, and storytelling.

Just as a precaution before you delve in – my opinion and preferences have an impact on the rating. When it comes to judging literature, it is impossible not to let personal biases interfere.

I will, however, honestly evaluate the aspects of the book to the best of my ability so my review can help you determine if it sounds like it’s the book for you.

If you happen to disagree with my evaluation for any reason, feel free to describe your point of view in the comments.

Background

Artemis Fowl was written by Eoin Colfer and published in 2001. It has been translated into 40 languages and was named a Puffin Modern Classic.

The titular character, Artemis Fowl, is a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind. Artemis Fowl wants to expand his family fortune by getting his hands on fairy gold.

To do so, he seeks out and finds a book of fairy secrets that he uses to exploit the People (a name for fairykind). He kidnaps a fairy officer named Holly Short to use as leverage.

Along with his bodyguard Butler and Butler’s sister Juliet, Artemis attempts to pull off the amazing feat of separating fairies from their gold, which few have managed to achieve before.

Pros

  • Fantastic storytelling
  • Complex worldbuilding
  • Well-developed and intriguing characters

Cons

  • The translation from Gnommish to perfectly rhymed English is unrealistic.

Review

Storytelling

Eoin Colfer knows how to tell a story. This story is told in third person omniscient, but focuses primarily on the characters Artemis and Holly. Keeping it omniscient is an effective choice because it reveals the way the characters think. If first person point of view had been used, so much of the narrative voice would have been lost.

Colfer’s book has a strong connection to setting. Whether it is a wedding party in Italy, a meeting with a contact in Ho Chi Minh City, or Fowl Manor in Ireland, Colfer makes sure the story is not existing in blank space.

He does his research. He lives in Ireland and uses Ireland as the main setting for his story, but does not let that stop him from using places he is less familiar with and doing it well.

For example, he is specific.

“They [Artemis and Butler] were sitting outside a curbside cafe on Dong Khai Street, watching the local teenagers circle the square on mopeds.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The language he uses also contributes to his storytelling. Rather than saying that Artemis’s bodyguard Butler is armed and dangerous, Colfer cleverly uses a detailed list.

“…a Sig Sauer in his shoulder holster. two shrike-throwing knives in his boots, a derringer two-shot up his sleeve, garrotte wire in his watch, and three stun grenades in various pockets.”

Artemis Fowl to Nguyen in the book Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

This list not only makes Butler seem even more dangerous, it also paints a precise picture. Even not knowing what the items look like does not take away from the sense that Butler is a skilled bodyguard with an in-depth knowledge of weaponry.

I had to look up most of these items to know what they looked like, but I don’t think that is a problem because Colfer’s imaginative storytelling compelled me to do so.

Garrotte wire, for example, is used for strangulation.

There are so many advanced vocabulary words in this book that Vocabulary.com has a list of difficult words just for Artemis Fowl. I believe that this does not take away from the storytelling, because Colfer uses precise words that convey a specific meaning.

World-building

The world-building is phenomenal. Colfer bases it partially on Irish fairy tales, but with a sci-fi twist.

LEPrecon basically refers to police officers and their commanders in the fairy world. Get it? Leprechaun? The LEP stands for Lower Elements police.

Like in Irish mythology, “fairy” is a catch-all term that includes elves, pixies, dwarfs, trolls, etc.

Fairies live underground and use magma flows and pods to reach the surface. There is technology such as iris-cams and finger darts.

The finger darts are hilarious. They meld to slip on, look exactly like your finger, and do not feel unusual. This has led to the incapacitation of some officers who forgot they were wearing them and picked their nose, setting off the dart.

Character Development

Colfer’s strong point is definitely his characters.

Artemis Fowl is not your ordinary twelve-year-old. He’s a criminal mastermind. One who looks as pale as a vampire in sunlight because of long periods of time spent in front of a computer, hiding away indoors.

Artemis exhibits both the qualities of a child and an adult. According to Colfer,

“He still retained a childlike belief in magic, tempered by an adult determination to exploit it.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

When he does something out of character, his own thoughts let readers know that it is unusual. For instance, he makes a joke twice (not very funny ones because he is unpracticed) and it is more amusing in that he had the inclination toward a sense of humor for once. He even notes this himself.

Butler is loyal to Artemis, but occasionally is disapproving of Artemis’s more dangerous plans, especially when he puts Butler’s sister Juliet in danger.

Colfer doesn’t just tell us Butler is dangerous, he shows it. The “man mountain” carries an assortment of weapons and demonstrates his martial prowess against shielded fairies. Even he can be caught off guard – but those times are comparatively few.

Holly Short is stubborn and resentful. She is a rule-breaker with both a temper and a compassionate side.

Her superior Commander Root is a short-tempered fairy who cares for his officers and despite being blatantly rude and domineering toward them.

Foaly is a centaur who is witty and intelligent. He is indispensible to the LEPrecon team because he rigged up a lot of their technology and is basically the resident genius on the team, so no matter how many snarky remarks he makes, Commander Root can’t afford to fire him.

There are an assortment of other characters who are well-developed and intriguing, but I won’t go into more detail here. Read the book for yourself

A side note

By the way, this is completely out of context, but my favorite line in the entire book is this:

“I don’t like lollipops.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

It just made me crack up. To see why, read the book.

Translation Issues

My only complaint in this book is that when Artemis translates the Book that is written in Gnommish, it becomes perfectly rhymed English.

Anyone who has ever tried to translate anything from one language to another knows that something is lost in translation, and this is especially true of poetry.

Words that rhyme in one language rarely do in another. And why would a language whose closest kin is Egyptian show such remarkable resemblance to English by being translated into perfectly rhymed poetry?

Another thing is he had Gnommish written on the bottom of the pages that could be translated letter by letter with English. That was completely different from the way it was described in writing, where it was like an almost unbreakable code.

Conclusion

I would recommend this book both for a young adult audience and for adults.

If you like Fantasy or Sci-fi, or have a penchant for fairy tales, or just want to be immersed in a good story, I fully recommend this book.

Links