Animating Halloween | Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! Review

Plot: The Scooby gang enjoys Halloween while doing what they do best – solving mysteries. However, things get a little complicated when a local pumpkin patch turns into monstrous creatures bent on destroying the town of Crystal Cove and turning everyone into jack-o-lantern creatures.

Breakdown: Modern day Scooby-Doo is a weird area to venture into. I mean, granted, Scooby-Doo has always been kinda weird, but the way that the franchise has changed over the years, for better or worse, is both difficult to watch and kinda welcome at the same time.

Scooby-Doo tends to be very meta nowadays, and they’re constantly using self-referential humor. They also try to keep themselves modern as much as possible in their writing, which, again, sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

They also just tend to run with the idea that Scooby-Doo can crossover with pretty much anything. They’ve had crossover events with the WWE, Lego, Batman, Supernatural (I still can’t believe they pulled that off) and even, I’m not lying, an entire movie with Bobby Flay as a main character called Scooby-Doo! And the Gourmet Ghost….

Speaking of Batman, I really forget sometimes that actual Batman is a part of the Scooby-Doo universe, and what better way to remind me of that fact than by having the villain of the opening scene being Scarecrow….in his Scarecrow outfit….while wearing a different Scarecrow costume on top of that?

And this isn’t just a flippant fly-by cameo either. He’s a significant part of the entire movie….So are Bill Nye and Elvira, but that’s besides the point.

Now, I’m not saying them upping the weird ante is bad. Sometimes, the dialogue is a little cringey, but I actually tend to enjoy myself a lot whenever I watch a modern Scooby-Doo production, whether it be TV shows or movies….although I did hear Scoob! sucked……Anyway, they always tend to have snappy writing, good jokes, fun moments, good character interactions (And I like how they’ve changed the characters over time.), decent animation, good music, and even legitimate scares. All of those apply in Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!

Even if most of the movie is a big chase scene, it’s a fun and exciting chase scene that seems to have real stakes.

Although, I do have to say that the ending reveal didn’t make a lot of sense.

I’m not going to mention who the culprit was to avoid total spoilers, but Velma was actually right. Despite seeing many real monsters and supernatural events over the years, she refused to believe the living jack-o-lanterns attacking the city were real. And they weren’t. They were just drones. How they never managed to find that out for themselves, I have no idea. They smashed so many of those jack-o-lanterns, there’s no way they didn’t discover a drone or parts within some of them. They just squish like any other pumpkin.

Also, unless the culprit managed to sneak a drone in every pumpkin and jack-o-lantern in town, there’s no way they should have been shown turning into the jack-o-lantern creatures. The pumpkins literally carved themselves and the jack-o-lanterns just sprang to life.

Secondly, she says the way that the ‘alpha’ jack-o-lantern could drain the power from electronic devices when it got close to them was because it had an EMP inside of it, which also doesn’t make any sense because some electronic devices were completely unaffected, most notably the other lesser jack-o-lantern drones.

I might just be splitting hairs there, but in a series meant to be about using logic to solve mysteries I think it’s appropriate to nitpick sometimes, even if it is Scooby-Doo.

Overall, this was a blast to watch, and it really got me into a Scooby mood and a Halloweeny mood. My biggest complaint is that, yeah, some of the dialogue and jokes, especially where Daphne is concerned, are kinda cringey. I mean ‘torch-splaining’? Using ‘Mary Sue’ as if it’s a compliment? Saying “friendship is OP.”? Come on.

If you’re a Scooby-Doo fan, this is a great watch around Halloween, and I really recommend it.

Rating: 8.5/10


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Doubt (Manga) Review

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Rating: 7/10

Plot: There’s a new game called ‘Rabbit Doubt’ in which a bunch of people, connected by cell phone, take the role of a rabbit with one person being ‘the wolf.’ As the game goes on, rabbits start dying, purely in the game of course, and the remaining rabbits have to figure out who the wolf is.

As a group of friends who play Rabbit Doubt enjoy a day of fun, they suddenly find themselves trapped in a weird warehouse with barcodes tattooed on their necks that open one door each. That’s not all; one of their own is found to be murdered, and they realize that Rabbit Doubt has turned into a real game. But who’s the wolf?

Breakdown: I was honestly conflicted about my feelings for this manga for a while. On one hand, I was really getting into it and enjoying it quite a bit. Like many of you might know by now, I do enjoy ‘death game’ stories as they usually have nice mysteries, strong characters, good stories and some creative premises. This isn’t the most creative premise in the world, but it still a pretty good one.

They know from the get-go that one of them is ‘the wolf’, so the group, despite being friends, are pretty paranoid of each other and that paranoia only gets worse as clues to the wolf’s identity are strewn about and more people get killed.

The characters themselves are pretty decent, though none are horribly memorable, especially the main main two of Yuu and Mitsuki who basically encapsulate every average nice guy and gentle childhood friend/love interest/person Yuu swears to protect couple ever.

Now, obviously the meat of this story is the ending as it will reveal who the wolf is and what their motivations are. The ending, however, is the weakest part of this story to me.

Jump down to the Bottomline to remain ending-spoiler-free.

Now, noticeably, they put a lot of focus on talking about this girl named Rei before the actual game ever starts. Yuu and the others meet her as they’re hanging out, and Yuu recognizes her as a psychic hypnotist who used to be on TV but fell from grace when she was accused of being a fake. They spend an inordinate amount of time talking about her and more than one conversation arises about her before the game starts. It really makes you think that either she’s the wolf or she’s a gigantic red herring. She even carries around a rabbit doll.

When the group are all knocked out and brought to the warehouse, the first person found dead, before anyone even wakes up mind you, is Rei. For anyone taking this story as a mystery, which it should be, or has read or watched plenty of stories like this before, you’re likely confused at this point yet still focused on Rei. Why was she killed at the very beginning before the actual ‘game’ ever starts? Why have a game if you’re not going to give one of the players a chance? Why did we spend so much time focusing on Rei before the game started if she was going to be superfluous by chapter three?

Here’s the thing, I tend to jump to conclusions when it comes to first suspects in stories like these, but when a character is found dead I typically just accept that they’re dead unless I have reason to suspect otherwise. This leaves Rei as just being a dead body in a room for much of the manga and not really paying it much mind outside of how they’re going to use her barcode key and what she had to do with the big web of crime and lies that is revealed at the end.

Another character that seems like a big red herring is Mitsuki as she doesn’t play Rabbit Doubt. She was merely hanging out with the group since Yuu was playing. Her presence and the fact that files are found with profiles on everyone, Mitsuki included despite her not meaning to be there, put a lot of suspicion on Mitsuki near the middle.

And it does turn out that Mitsuki was one of the wolves…

Yes, you heard me, one of the wolves.

There are technically three wolves for this game; a man they find watching the security monitors, Mitsuki and someone I’ll reveal later. Now having the man be one of the wolves is fine since he’s really just someone helping things along and not the real wolf. He’s not the alpha, so to speak.

However, Mitsuki being a wolf and having another character be another wolf means that the structure of the mystery is ruined for the reader. If we’re meant to take the rules of the game as gospel and have no given reason to think that there’s a mastermind’s mastermind, then it seems like you’re ‘cheating’ us out of figuring it out for ourselves.

The reason Mitsuki is doing this is actually pretty dumb. She loved two people in this world; her father and Yuu. Her father was scammed out of his money by some people and he tried to kill himself by hanging. He lived through the hanging, and after a week went by she wanted to talk to Yuu about it. However, he said he couldn’t do it right then as he was told to go home early and not make any stops along the way.

Mitsuki later saw Yuu hanging out with a girl named Kei, who isn’t a part of the group. Thinking they’re dating and realizing Yuu kinda lied to her, Mitsuki essentially lost the only two people in the world that she loved. So she decided to murder Kei for her ‘betrayal’ and create the game to punish liars since everyone in the group, in one way or another, was a liar.

However, she purposely refused to give a barcode to Yuu. Supposedly this was to protect him and give him a chance to tell her the truth, giving him a bit of an out. However, him not having a barcode when everyone else did just threw all of the suspicion on Yuu. In fact, when Mitsuki is called out as a suspect, they suspect Yuu too since he brought her there and has no barcode.

Since he never fessed up to Mitsuki, didn’t even remember what he lied to her about, Mitsuki decided he needed to die too. It’s not until Mitsuki shows him photos of Kei’s body that she reveals what he lied about it, and Yuu counter-reveals that he wasn’t dating Kei at all. Kei was a good friend of Mitsuki’s and she was helping him pick out a great gift for her birthday, which he was keeping in his pocket but lost somewhere during the game.

Without the gift as proof, Mitsuki doesn’t believe him so she tries to kill him again only to end up getting badly wounded by accident. Yuu attempts to free them from the building with Mitsuki’s barcode which should open every door since she’s the wolf, but is baffled when it’s shown that a door won’t open when her barcode is scanned.

As footsteps approach, the real alpha wolf is shown to be none other than Rei.

Now this just raises all sorts of questions. Why didn’t they check her pulse to ensure she was really dead? They checked up on her body a few times, did she just sit insanely still for hours while still somehow orchestrating this game? How is she connected to the man and Mitsuki?

Well, prepare for a very weird ending that is only unpredictable because it’s just so silly.

Remember that Rei was a hypnotist? Well, when the rumor spread that she was a fake, she was bullied pretty harshly and her parents were even harassed quite a bit. It got so bad that her parents entered into a murder-suicide pact that included Rei against her will. They rammed their car into a tree and died instantly while Rei was left alive.

Yup instead of just laying low and waiting until no one gave a crap about some TV hypnotist girl anymore or trying to prove that she actually has psychic hypnotism powers or moving away or transferring her to a different school or some other logical thing, they decide murder-suicide, with their young child, is the best option. Especially using such an iffy method as a car accident. Dumbasses.

Now left an orphan, Rei wanted revenge on all liars in the world, so she created Rabbit Doubt and spread her hypnotism through one last TV broadcast. I don’t know why she’d get another TV broadcast when she’s been so firmly labeled as a fake, but there ya go. She specifically sought out people who had lost loved ones recently, and Mitsuki actually had her father die that week instead of just being in a coma like Mitsuki believed under the hypnotism. That coupled with her devastation over losing Yuu made her a great candidate to be hypnotized and made into a wolf.

On one hand, this is a pretty decent twist since you really never suspect Rei since she was ‘dead’ the whole time. On the other hand, this is really too big of a pill to swallow.

The wolf is really someone with magical hypnotism powers. And I don’t care that Rei outright says it’s not magic; she’s controlling people through hypnotism, through the TV and cell phone tones no less, to partake in a death game. No, she can’t make anyone kill another person, supposedly, but she can manipulate their minds and memories to the point where they’d be pretty okay in doing so.

It’s clever in that, despite being told of these abilities beforehand, you’d never expect that this is what’s going on…..but the reason you don’t suspect that this is what’s going on is 1) It’s never proven before the game that Rei was actually some psychic hypnotist, thus the reader has no idea that her ‘powers’ or ‘abilities’ are real, and 2) Jumping to what is essentially a supernatural conclusion when absolutely no indication of there being any such abilities or powers being used in this universe at all is a big hurdle to jump for any mystery reader.

I’m not going to say it’s unfair to the reader who wants to figure it out on their own since they did say she was a hypnotist and they did spend a lot of time giving her focus, but it just seems….underhanded to bring this up so late in the game.

Everything that is revealed to us at the end is either something we had no clue or indication to prior to the reveal, thus giving us no opportunity to solve that particular mystery, or it resorted to quasi-supernatural means that weren’t properly established, thus making us feel foolish if we said ‘Oh it’s Rei. We know she’s dead, but she was a hypnotist, so she’s probably pulling the strings and making them believe she’s dead.’

By the way, Mitsuki is the only one in the group who is hypnotized, so Rei’s not making the group think she’s dead with hypnotism. She was just laying about in realistic death effects for hours on end.

I’m not going to go so far as to reveal the actual solidified ending here, because there’s not much else wrong in that part that isn’t just a reflection of what’s wrong here just on a slightly bigger and even less believable scale.

Bottomline: The ending has quite a few problems. The first wolf turns out to be someone who is seemingly a red herring, while the alpha wolf turns out to be an even bigger seemingly red herring made into the bad guy through somewhat ridiculous means that you really wouldn’t be able to predict unless you’re fine with breaking the laws of reality within an established realistic world.

The story is pretty good outside of that, and the characters are decent enough, though Eiji is a bit abrasive. The horror aspect has some good ambiance to it, and you care about the characters enough to worry about them, especially since both the wolf and the rabbits may be threats to them. You’re never really worried that the rabbits will actually kill each other, but they lock each other in rooms that only the wolf has access to, and they leave them unguarded half the time leaving them as wide open targets.

Art wise, it’s pretty nice. They get really nicely detailed on closeups and splash pages, and I especially like the designs of the rabbit heads.

Overall, this is a pretty good ‘death game’ manga. Maybe a bit too cheap with the ending, but an enjoyable and suspenseful ride the whole way through.

Additional Information and Notes: Doubt was written and illustrated by Yoshiki Tonogai and it was published in Square Enix’s Monthly Shounen Gangan. In the US, it was published by Yen Press. Doubt has two spiritual successor manga called Judge and Secret.

Volume: 4

Year: 2007-2009

Recommended Audience: The manga is essentially self-censored, leaving disembodied heads and hanged people slightly blacked out, but there is quite a bit of violence, blood and mild to moderate gore. No nudity, no swearing or sex, though. 13+

Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek Review

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Rating: 8/10

Plot: There’s a rumor going around that, late at night, in a certain part of the city, you can follow mysterious lit signs that read o-to-ko-yo. One sign for each symbol, leading children through the streets to play a game of hide and seek. Six children gather at the designated area wearing fox masks and start the game. Some say demons appear to take the children away, and some kids have indeed disappeared. In this game of hide and seek, who is ‘It’?

Breakdown: I’ll admit, this is an Animating Halloween leftover. I started watching it for the series and just never got around to watching the rest until now.

Shame, because this is a pretty interesting little horror anime. It’s not the scariest thing in the world, but it’s fairly creepy and has numerous creative aspects to it.

The movie itself is merely a 26 minute long short, including credits, so there’s not a lot of time to flesh out characters. However, you do get to know a decent amount of their personalities at least.

It isn’t quite enough for me to feel too emotional when we get to the ending and several of them meet their fates, especially not the twins who I could swear were demons themselves with their glowing red eyes.

Really the only ones you have to worry about are Hikora and Yaimao. Hikora wanted to play the game because his sister, Sorincha, supposedly played the game a while back and has been missing ever since. Yaimao is his best friend, determined to help him find her.

While the big twist is indeed very creative and interesting, I can’t help but note that the rough idea of the end game was predictable. It’s obvious there’s something up with that girl. They even noted that there was seven people when there are only meant to be six. I won’t say anything beyond that, but it is a bit too easy to see where they’re going.

The absolute ending was more sad to me than scary, plus these kids are really stupid to keep pursuing this mysterious game when kids are legitimately going missing. I know some are looking for their loved ones, like Hikora, but most are just curious.

The designs, and particularly sounds, of the demons were very creative and well-made. None were particularly horrifying, but they served their purposes well enough.

The art and animation are done in cel-shaded CGI, which takes a little bit to grow on you, but I believe it works pretty well given the environment they’re in. I think it helps that all of the characters are wearing masks for the entirety of the movie, so we don’t have to see the usual odd CGI facial designs. I did enjoy the various versions of the fox mask as well.

The music is very well done, adding plenty of ambiance to the story.

Voice acting, Japanese, is very well done. Everyone emoted really well and were very fitting for their roles. I especially enjoyed ‘Sorincha’s voice work.

Bottomline: It’s an enjoyable little horror story that could easily be told around a campfire. It’s a tad on the predictable side, but it has a creative and unsettling enough ending to make up for it.

Additional Information and Notes: Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek was written and directed by Shuhei Morita, who also directed Coicent and Tokyo Ghoul. It was produced by Comix Wave Films, and is available in English dub by Central Park Media.

Runtime: 26 minutes

Year: 2005

Recommended Audience: Children do die, but in very non-graphic ways. That’s about it. 10+

Manhole (Manga) Review

Rating: 9/10

Plot: After a strange man wanders into a street naked while crazily babbling to the people around him, he accidentally ends up dead. When his body is examined, they discover that the reason for his crazed behavior was actually an illness caused filaria which is usually transmitted through mosquitoes in Botswana. However, they’re in Japan and it’s the middle of winter, making the likelihood of mosquito bites extremely low. Someone is purposely breeding the disease in Japan and spreading it throughout the city, setting to make a complete outbreak over the country. But what is the true nature of filaria, and why is someone spreading it across the city?

Breakdown: Manhole is basically a mystery or thriller manga involving the strange case of filaria that is spreading throughout the town. Explaining what filaria is might be a spoiler in itself, but let’s just say that it’s not really a lethal disease if you have enough willpower. It will take only your right eye if you do, but if you don’t you could easily end up dead.

The case takes a lot of interesting twists and turns as we follow our investigators and subsequent main characters of Inoue and Mizoguchi, a somewhat rookie and veteran cop respectively. These two bounce off of each other very well and while we get really no backstory on them whatsoever, their characters really seem real and are both really likable in their own respects. Inoue took a bit of time for me to actually get into liking her character, but she was never annoying or unlikable to me.

The story is very intriguing. While it really seems like bio-terrorism from the getgo, the actual purpose behind the spread of the disease is equal parts tragic, sad and creepy. Basically a biological version of Saw, in a way.

The art is gorgeously detailed in both environments and character designs, though I do have to say that there are some instances where the art looks like it kinda doesn’t blend in quite well like with Inoue’s facial design. Everyone is drawn to look very realistic yet Inoue’s design leans a bit more toward traditional anime style. The angles and shading choices are spot on, and it’s also one of the few books to have such disgustingly detailed artwork, meant in a complimentary way I assure you, to actually make me cringe and get goosebumps. It is some deliciously grotesque artwork sometimes.

Bottomline: This is a fantastic mystery, and an intriguing case with a great focus, characters and even antagonists. The artwork is superb in even the tiniest of details, and while it’s not particularly scary it will likely give you the chills a few times with the nature of the disease/parasite. It’s also at a great length, though it does occasionally feel like it’s dragging a small bit. I’d recommend it to anyone with a love of crime dramas, creepy visuals and antagonists with legit stories.

Additional Information and Notes:

Manhole was written and illustrated by Tetsuya Tsutsui.

Volumes: 3

Chapters: 29

Year: 2004 – 2006

Recommended Audience: There is some seriously gross imagery here, both in terms of the effects of the disease and gore. There’s also self-harm/suicide, swearing, hinted animal abuse-ish-kinda, and several instances of non-sexual nudity though there is sexual language as well as mentions of rape. 17+

The Bride of Deimos Review

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Based on a manga of the same name, The Bride of Deimos is a one-shot OVA chronicling one story of the manga – the story of a brother and sister who grow beautiful and rare orchids out in the middle of nowhere. However, anyone who visits their house seems to vanish suspiciously. What is the secret of this orchid house?

Breakdown: This rating is meant for people who view this as a standalone OVA, which, if you haven’t read the manga, you will. This OVA feels like it’s one episode out of the middle of a longer show. Since it’s portraying one story from a semi-long manga, that makes sense. Because of this, however, you’re left feeling very confused.

The basic idea is that a woman named Minako has been chosen by the demon, Deimos, to be the new vessel for his dying lover. However, she has to agree to the process before the transfer can start, and she refuses to do so. This really doesn’t have any bearing on the story at hand, though.

The actual story is that her friend, Hisamatsu, is a bit of a flower enthusiast who brings her to a flower competition. He points out that it’s pointless to enter in these competitions because a woman simply named Tohko always wins and never shows up. In this particular contest, she has presented a Blue Lady Orchid, said to be nearly impossible to grow.

Enamored by her work, Hisamatsu goes off to speak with Tohko and is never heard from again. Minako goes off to Tohko’s house to investigate. Despite Tohko’s brother’s insistence that no one has been to the house in years, Minako spots Hisamatsu’s notebook on the ground and decides to get a police escort and come back later.

The rest of the episode unravels the mystery around Tohko and her brother, Kaname, as well as what happened to Hisamatsu.

I would say this is a mystery as a whole, but it’s really not. We know the instant we see Tohko and Kaname that they must’ve done something with Hisamatsu, most likely killed him. The only question is why and what’s the story behind these two? That is plenty to hold one episode out of a full fledged series, and even a short OVA, but the fact that it draws attention to the fact that there’s a main plot of which this story has nothing to do with makes it feel unsatisfying in the end.

Art and Animation: The art is reminiscent of Vampire Hunter D without so much pointyness. It’s okay, and the animation is fair.

Music: The music is dated, but okay.

Voice Acting: Japanese – Very good, but sometimes a little boring in their performances.

Bottomline: I will admit that the story is creepy and very interesting, though there are some confusing aspects and plot holes, but the problem is that it feels like an episode you’d find in the middle of an anime. It gives off an episodic show feeling, doesn’t resolve anything in the main plot, introduces characters and plotlines like you’re already meant to know them and just seems unsatisfactory. I know this was probably meant as a promotional OVA for the manga or something, but why not start at the beginning instead of slapping us in the middle?

If you have intent to read the manga or already have, then this might be a good and short watch for you. However, if you don’t intend on reading the manga, prepare to be unsatisfied in regards to the main plot.

Additional Information and Notes: The Bride of Deimos was based on a manga written by Etsuko Ikeda and illustrated by Yuko Ashibe.

The OVA was animated by Madhouse and directed by Rintaro, who also directed Galaxy Express 999, The Dagger of Kamui, Reign: The Conqueror and Metropolis. There is currently no English dub available.

Runtime: 30 Minutes

Year: 1988

Recommended Audience: No nudity, no sex, no real gore, but several people are Robin Hooded to death. Scary imagery?…….10+

13 Club (Manga) Review

Rating: 7/10

Plot: The 13 Club is a website run by a mysterious man named Kudan and his associate Kasuka. The website is dedicated to exploring and spreading weird stories from true events to urban legends to possibly supernatural tales. The manga is a collection of various stories making up a sort of anthology.

Breakdown: While I did really enjoy this series both for its intriguing stories and the plot twists, I do have have to say that it felt very disjointed.

The first chapter, for example, is much more detailed in in its art style. It goes for a much more realistic look only shifting to a more traditional anime style when it came to the girls. It was also most notably fully shaded, offering a feeling of great depth and detail in the scenes that I adored.

However, after that, the realistic style and deep shading were gone and we shifted back to a more traditional style, which isn’t that bad considering that the manga is still very detailed, but why make the first chapter so beautiful when other chapters weren’t going to stand out as much?

Next, while this is an anthology of sorts, the third story goes on for way too long in my opinion. It spans over six chapters in this 11 chapter long series – over half the series is just this one story. It’s a good story, but it definitely didn’t need to go on as long as it did.

Finally, there’s no real theme with the stories. Some are supernatural based though we’re given no explanation as to what is going on with the stories, magic-wise, some are merely urban legends, and one’s a murder mystery. I guess that fits with the fact that their website covers all of these, but reading the stories in succession makes for a slightly weird read.

All of these factors made it sometimes feel like I was reading a different manga. For instance, the final story feels so much more different, almost a Zekkyou Gakkyuu vibe over the murder mystery.

I also don’t know who or what Kudan and Kasuka really are. They obviously have some form of supernatural capabilities, but they’re not explored at all.

Those complaints out of the way, as an anthology/short story lover, these stories do have a lot going for them on their own. Kudan is a pretty interesting character that I wish we got to see more of, and while the twists for some of the stories were predictable, they were still really fun rides. Even if the execution could use some work and I feel like it should’ve gone on for longer, especially since there’s no real ending, it’s still a fairly short and pretty cool read that I’d recommend to pretty much anyone.

Additional Notes and Information: 

13 Club was written and drawn by Tatsuya Shihira and it was published by Ultra Jump.

Volumes: 2

Year: 2008-2009

Recommended Audience: There’s some brief nudity and some pretty damn freaky concepts. One little tidbit by Kudan actually made me pause my reading to cringe….Uegh….god, why did he have to say that?

There’s some mentions of sex, but none actually shown. The language is also a bit coarse. 14+

30DAC – Day 9: Favorite Anime Villain

This one was difficult not because I had too many choices but because I feel like my pool of villains that I like is surprisingly low. If a villain is good at their job, then you’re basically supposed to hate them. If you have a villain that is too sympathetic, it’s difficult to leave them with the moniker of ‘villain’. And then you have my pool of possible candidates, which mostly amounts to bad guys who eventually went good, so that kinda blew up in my face. I needed a villain who was evil, yet likable, funny, yet not stupid. And then I remembered Danganronpa the Animation and the delightfully evil little teddy bear known as Monobear.

A little background on the anime/game that he originates from, Danganronpa is about twelve students who are all exceptional at something. They get recruited into a supposedly prestigious academy called Hope’s Peak, but it turns out that the school is merely a front for a deadly survival ‘game’. The goal of the game is to get away with murder. If you do, you’re allowed to ‘graduate’ and leave the school. If you don’t or end up choosing the wrong suspect as a group during a murder investigation, you get killed.

The host of this little game and the principal of the school is a psychotic robotic teddy bear that is half white and ‘good’ while the other half is black and seemingly evil. Monobear brings a lot of twisted humor to the table in this show. He gets really irritated when a murder has not occurred in an extended period of time and he loves to taunt the crap out of the students with incentives to murder their classmates.

He also DRINKS IN SCHOOL! The fiend!

He’s also perfectly fine with killing people when prompted. In fact, he seems to enjoy it quite a bit while creating ironic deaths for the students who lose the game. If you attack him, you’ll also be horrifically murdered in some way.

Monobear is not just villainous and crazy, but he’s also the funniest character on the show. And he’s such a cuddly psychopath. Just look at him do his wittle dance.

*enter CanCan music here*

This one can be seen as cheating a little bit because Monobear is not the one actually pulling the strings. Another person is controlling him, but I see Monobear and this specific person as two completely different entities. Plus, it is hinted that Monobear just might be sentient, so who knows.

Monobear is insane, hilarious and as evil as villains get, as he deserves the title of my favorite anime villain.

Besides, if I didn’t give him the spot, he’d just keep beating up fish.

The salmon run was quite odd this year.

Book Club (Manhwa) Review

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: Eun Sae has a crush on a boy named Kyung Do, but he is only interested in books. As a way to get closer to him, she agrees to clean up and take care of the school’s horribly disorganized and creepy library. As they spend time in the library, Kyung Do finds a creepy old book and becomes enveloped by it. However, there is much more to that book than meets the eye and it only brings bloodshed to every reader.

Breakdown: This series really surprised me because it’s somewhat uninspired in the first few chapters and even comes off as a bit of a shoujo with Eun Sae’s attraction to Kyung Do, but this definitely was a pleasant surprise in terms of horror and story.

There are several very creepy visuals as the two get more ensnared by the powers of the book, and the ending was handled extremely well and resulted in several plot twists that I never saw coming.

I really enjoyed how they made every single character integral to the plot in some way. Sure, some were seemingly just bodies to add to the pile, but most of them were pieces to the puzzle and important aspects to the story.

The ending was sad, though that’s to be expected from the horror genre. I sorta wish the series had ended a few pages earlier, mostly because the ending was just somber mixed with hopeful before those last few pages then we had to go and kill someone else off.

I guess the issues I had with this series was that the main characters weren’t horribly interesting in terms of personality. Eun Sae likes Kyung Do, she’s kind and doesn’t ditch him when things involving the book get bad. Kyung Do’s definitely more concerned/obsessed with the book and books in general than he seems to treasure any connection with Eun Sae. If anything, the two detectives were more interesting in that regard. The pasts of Eun Sae and Kyung Do are very interesting, but they don’t have very strong personalities to back it up much.

Art: The art is very well done. There are several visuals that, while not being horribly original, are still very creepy, especially towards the ending. The details on the characters are pretty well done, even if proportions seemed off sometimes.

Bottomline: It’s a very enjoyable and pretty original horror manhwa with likable characters, interesting plot twists, creepy atmosphere and plenty of suspense. It’s not groundbreaking, but certainly worth a read.

Recommended Readers: There are many instances of death, references to killing and torture, and some instances of gore. Being a supernatural horror story, there are also various visuals that wouldn’t be advised for young readers either way. No sex, no nudity that I recall, and minor swearing if any. 14+