STUFF TO DO:
Communications business! This is a hands on course cause its summer, I’ll be actually doing work rather than just studying–calls and emails, that sorta thing.
B- day. On the plus side, aside from going out to eat at Olive Garden, I played a lot of “The Sound of Fireworks” on Steam. On the minus side, talking with my friends, I made some mistakes with the Dragonar stuff that ended up inconveniencing them. They can handle it, but still, I feel bad ;-;
A- day, did a bit of reading but mostly just puttered about the house.
Same as monday, A-.
Solid A day, same as the other two but I got some nice stuff from Amazon 😀 😀
A- day. Decent day at work, went home and read.
No work, but did send some emails off, go out to Giancarlo’s, and putter around. A-.
Read, had some burger king, went out for dinner, chilled at home. A-
GENERAL WEEK RANK:
A-. Not a bad week.
THINGS I HAD TO FINISH THIS WEEK:
Reports for the college credit side of my internships. Managed to get the sixth one done.
THINGS I HAVE TO DO NEXT WEEK:
More reports D:
The Sound of Fireworks: The Haiku. This is a very cute anime style kinetic novel (i.e just a visual novel without branching routes or choices, the only thing differentiating it from a straight up short story/novella being the anime art, voices, and music). It’s entirely, 100% SFW, it’s not one of those sexy VNs, and it centers around the eighteen-year-old Amimi Imai, who’s starting her first day at a brand new school, as she attempts to make friends and have a better experience than she did in middle school. Much of that quest revolves around an initially annoying but eventually quite charming student who’s also new there, Uta Shibata, as he attempts to reach out to Amimi when they end up paired together in the literature club and have to work on the titular haiku as a project.
This isn’t like Muv-Luv or any of the bigger professional VNs. There is some voice acting, but not a whole lot, there are some basic classroom, bedroom, etc. backgrounds, but not that many, the cast isn’t huge, and there are about a dozen or so songs, but not a full soundtrack. However, the game only costs 5 bucks, which makes it VERY worth it, IMO. I say it a lot, but this is one of those games that’s just full of SOUL, i.e you can tell it was a passion project for its creators. I’m not usually into standard fiction, I’m almost always more drawn to scifi, fantasy, or horror. Despite that, though, I couldn’t help but fall head-long into Amimi and Uta, or “Hanabi and Shibby’s,” burgeoning relationship. The art is a strong point, it’s not the best ever but it’s better than average and it’s very cute and well done for what it is. The dialogue is easily the best part of the story, though. Uta, Amimi, and the rest of the cast feel like they could be real people, and the way the story progresses is surprisingly well done for apparently an amateur author (thatdiesel, the writer for this kinetic novel). At first, I found myself annoyed by Amimi’s personality and awkwardness, but as the story went on, well, I won’t spoil it, but you’ll see she really does have a believable reason for being hesitant about reaching out to others, and the way she and Uta work through it is so realistic and engagingly done that I found I couldn’t put the story down (metaphorically, since this is a steam game).
As other reviewers have noticed, it’s a little unpolished, there are a few spelling errors and bugs here and there; I had to restart from the beginning at one point since the backgrounds got locked. It’s also not that long, at only around 40K words. Even so, thatdiesel, hesketts (the artist for the game and VA for Amimi), and the other folks who helped out a bit on this kinetic novel put so much effort and soul into this I can’t help but recommend it, especially when it’s only 5 bucks! I really wish this got more attention, at such a price for the quality it deserves a 100 reviews IMO.
Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi. The story centers around Jamie, who at first glance seems to be a drunken loser that keeps falling off the wagon. However, it turns out he actually has some very good reasons to be as messed up as he is, which we learn about after he has to return to his dilapidated farm in West Virginia after his mother dies and leaves his mentally challenged brother, Dennis, all alone. This brings back terrible memories of his childhood, as he, his brother, and two friends of his, all of whom were outcasts in their town, fall under the spell of a predator known only as “The Magician,” who, it is revealed, may have access to something much more supernatural than a few mere sleights of hand. It’s been twenty years since they last saw him, and now they have to band together as adults to prevent him from preying on even more children.
I really enjoyed this book, though I did have some minor caveats. First, for the most part, it’s told from Jamie’s first person perspective, but does shift to third-person at times, like when the story is going to his other childhood friends, Mia and Clay, and later on an antagonist I don’t want to spoil. The first time this happens, there’s a framing device, where Jamie says “While I was doing X, Mia was…” and so on, but after the beginning the framing is seemingly just forgotten and the story just jumps from first to third person. I’m not sure if that was intentional or a mistake, but I thought it was a wee bit odd.
Second, in some ways this story is very derivative of Stephen King’s IT. Not just in the broadest sense (a bunch of misfit kids come together as adults to deal with an evil posing as a fun entertainer to prey on children), but several plot beats. Again, no spoilers, but there’s one part that REALLY reminded me of Henry Bowers in the second half of IT. That’s all I’ll say about that.
So aside from those, this was a really cool novel. First, Jamie’s characterization, and those of his friends, is very well done; while the overall plot may be somewhat reminisicent of IT, the characters themselves aren’t. With Malfi’s distinctively “literary” style–I don’t mean he’s pretentious or verbose, but he places a lot of emphasis on his characters’ inner dialogue and mental states, which makes you identify with them much more strongly–Jamie, Clay, Mia, and Dennis seem like real people you’re very happy have gotten back together and very happy you’ve gotten to know. With Jamie, in particular, you’re really invested in his struggle against the drink and it was immensely satisfying to watch him overcome it while beating the bad guy (at least so it seems) by the end of the story.
The way the plot unfolds is also masterful. In classic Malfi fashion, there’s some ambiguity about whether or not it was all a ‘mundane’ murderer causing havoc or if there really was something supernatural going on, though in this case IMO I lean towards the latter–no spoilers though, that’s just my opinion. But Malfi kept interweaving the story of how the kids first encountered the Magician with the plot going on in the present day, laying out more and more tantalizing hints about the Magician’s goals, and then bringing it all together in an amazing, CRAZY final showdown that I don’t want to spoil and can only say that it REALLY was a perfect payoff to Jamie and Dennis’ journey across the novel (and also incorporates a bit of cosmic horror, more than I was expecting). Also, as you might be able to tell, the true nature of the Magician as well as how they worked towards the final showdown was definitely its own thing, pure Malfi that was very distinct from the plot progression of King’s IT, so that was a big help in keeping the story feeling like a fresh new take on IT rather than just a redux. Kept me glued to the edge of my seat the whole time! Definitely very happy I got this novel. 5 stars!
Nothin much this week.
BUCKET LIST PROGRESS
1: Finish up a second big project – About halfway done with this, actually
2: Get Dragonar onto its BDs-Done for the most part with my stuff at least.
3: Maybe finish up a 3rd big project related to Berserk-This will be on hold for a loooong time while Mori-sensei finishes it up.
4: Maybe do something with Wayward Son I’ve wanted to do for a while, but also extra. Very close to done with this actually.
5: Obviously, get all my affairs in order–will, etc.
6: Finish a FOURTH big project I’ve had thoughts about for a while. Won’t say much more about it other than it involves Visual Novels.
7: *maybe* finish up a fic I’ve always wanted to put out. But this is really extra.
8: Read the end of Girl Genius. At least I got to see Lucrezia kicked out of Agatha’s mind, so that’s something.
9: Play Front Mission 5.
10: Play Brigandine: Grand Edition. I think I’ll work on these emulation related things when I get a new computer–a new deskie, I mean.
Onto the next…August is gonna be a very tough month. Ah, well, this break was good enough.