Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beast Player Erin, ep. 36-41, spoilers

So, it's time for next post. I hoped for things to speed up a little, and they did. This post will cover six episodes and then next one will about last few episodes.

Episode 36 is one of those relaxed episode that lead main theme further, but with no unexpected twists. Lilan and Eku are now an item, and Eku is staying at Kazalm. Also, Lilan is pregnant, which makes Esal wonder should this be reported to the Queen or not. After consideration with other school stuff, she decides to report it, but to leave Erin outside of this report. Queen is naturally delighted to her this news.

Also, a time for graduation exam is close, so Erin has to find balance between caring for Lilan and Eku and studying. It's important for her to be a valedictorian, because that is a condition if she wants to stay at Kazalm as teacher. Of course, she succeeds, as everybody else passes. So, it time for separation with old friends, who leave to become a beastenarians in their own places.

In next episode we see a new generation of students at Kazalm. This is one of rare anomalies in series: there was no mention generations between Erin's and this. There were few older students, of Tomura's age, but no younger ones (except maybe when Erin starts learning a Kazalm; there was that one scene with beast lords' excrement).

Anyway, new students are here and Erin for the first time has to teach somebody. She has no problems, except with one girl-student: Shiron. Shiron is quite problematic for her, because she is not a bad student, but quite the opposite. She is quite smart and well read, but she thinks everything worthy is written in books. Also, she has personal problems: her father is a famous teacher at capital, and her older brothers took their father's path. Shiron would also do it, but her father didn't approve woman as teachers (or everything else than housewives, apparently). So Shiron came to Kazalm because that's the only place they accept women-students. And she is jealous at Erin because she already a teacher and takes it for granted. She has few conflicts with Erin, but Erin manages to reach to her while Lilan's delivery. After that, Shiron becomes an admirer of Erin. At the end of the episode, there is news that Queen will visit Kazalm. Also, she blesses the baby beast-lord and names it Owl.

Although this episode doesn't make new revelations, except Lilan's baby, it describes their world in more details. Until then, I wasn't aware of gender-issue, especially since only women are rulers of country, there's a women principal, etc... It only shows how things in Holon-part of the country are not so glorious and pure as these citizens like to think.

Next episode starts with making of plans for Queen's visit to Kazalm at capital. Daimaya influences them to go there by land, and get back down the river (it immediately made me suspicious). At Kazalm, they decide to hide Erin during the visit. And at Wajyaku part of country, Grand Duke is bedridden and not happy for Queen being so foolish to go road-tripping during these sensitive times.

Queen arrives to Kazalm and receives a great reception. But, of course that she wants to see beast-lords from close, so she goes seeing Lilan, Eku and Owl. Possible disaster is stopped by Erin, who calms them using her harp. Queen, Daimaya and some guy from Lazal (beast-lords care center at capital) are all shocked for Erin's refusal of mute-whistle.

Queen is later discouraged to visit Erin, but Daimaya made it secretly (before that he with meets Kiriku). There she tries to force himself on Erin, and also to pry her secrets, using stick-and carrot method. Erin refuses him, but is quite shaken. Thankfully, Queen comes to visit beast-lords before leaving and catches him in act. He is reprimanded but there are no consequences for him.

Queen talks with Erin about beast lords and reveals that she doesn't like the mute-whistle, after which she encourages Erin to try to raise more beast-lords with her methods. Erin and Esal are shocked with this, because they realize that Queen is not aware of secret history of her ancestors. Queen then leaves to Sir Kazalm's property (some kind of local feudal lord), and Erin and Esal discuss what they should and can do.

There is a brief contact between Erin and Ial in this episode, but nothing important. This again implies that Daimaya is the bad-guy, but still no proves.

In episode 39, teachers manage to get permission to take students to field trip, although that is just a pretense so they can watch Queen's ship passing by. At Grand Duke's quarter, Ngan comes back from battlefield and takes hold of his sword while watching his sleeping and bedridden father, but then Shunan enters the room. The brothers then go outside to talk about military issues and their Shunan tells him to keep Touda-riders low-profile for a while, while Queen is outside the capital.

While they are traveling the river, just in front Kazalm's teachers and students, Queen's ships are attacked by fearsome Touda-riders. Sezans try to make resistance, but they are in deep problems. Erin realizes what she should do: she goes for Lilan and they fly to attack these Touda (Kiriku tries to stop her, for her own sake, but fails). But Lilan enters berserk and Lilan can't control her. She kills all Touda and their rides, and of course, all this is seen by too many witnesses. Episode ends with two of them, full of dead Touda and people.

Although there are many death's in this episode, violence is quite mild, comparing it to some other shows. But still, Erin's and rest's horror is showed quite feasible.

Episode 40 starts with review of the dead; survivors are just now coming to their senses. Erin leaves Lilan at ship and starts helping to the wounded. Then she is called to the Queen, who is unconscious because of the hit in the head, acquired when ship was rocking because of Touda. Erin does what she can for Daimaya and Queen, then goes to help Ial. Ial refuses her help, telling her first to go to his men, although his wound is poisoned with Touda saliva, which could be fatal for his arm, even for himself.

During that time, she notices that these dead Touda don't have crest on their tail, meaning they don't belong to Grand Duke. This closes the plot with Touda egg-poachers.

Wounded are brought back to castle of Sir Kazalm, where Erin arrives with antidote for Ial, although she can't find him at first, because he is still doing his duties (in this case, being blamed for attack). So she proceeds with helping the rest of his wounded men. When they meet, she cleans his wounds and they have a long talk (with Kiriku eavesdropping behind the door). She reveals him facts about lack of Touda crests and then tells him rest of her story. Although Ial is supposed to be unemotional, it's obvious that he has some feelings for Erin, and he warns her to be careful, before she leaves.

In next episode, 41, Queen has awoken and she invites Erin to meet with her. There, she gives Erin a small present and invites her to come to capital with Lilan, to be her guardian. Daimaya is thrilled with this option, because he saw the potential behind just one beast-lord and what power could that brought to him. When Erin refuses (because of her fears of repeat of events from destroyed kingdom), Queen and Daimaya are offended. But Erin uses Queen's offer to be granted a favor and asks Queen to have a private conversation, with only Ial present. There is a brief interlude where Seimiya refuses gifts from Shunan, because believe them guilty for the attack on Queen.

During conversation, Erin reveals to the Queen her secret history, about Beast Lord Imperatives, etc. Queen is of course in shock, realizing she doesn't descend from God, but from a criminal and runaway. She is aggravated that this truth failed to be passed to her, because of Saigamul's attack on her grandmother and mother. Erin tells her how she won't submit Lilan to human codes, but if they two bring to another catastrophe, she will then take her life before anything happens. Queen admires Erin and withdraws her request, then gives leave to Erin, with promise to meet again in future. Ial then proceeds to inform the Queen about his investigations about persons behind this attack.

Next day, everything looks fine to Erin, but then the bad news arrives: Queen died from bleeding in her head!

These few episodes fastened the plot quite much and from now, I presume dark times will come for Erin's country. Ial is only one with influence who now knows the truth, Erin is in bad postion in Daimaya's eyes, and he had an influence on Seimiya. These last few episodes will be thrilling to watch.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Public Enemies, movie review, no spoilers

At Saturday I watched "Public Enemies", with Johnny Depp ( It is a last year film, with good reviews and few minor award nominations. It depicts later life of famous bank-robber John Dilliner and his gang, when they were already notorious, and attempts of their catching by FBI.

This post will be quite short, because film failed to interest me and I don't remember much of it. Maybe acting is good and theme is interesting, but this movie just didn't work for me. Too much of the film was just shooting (and I don't know was it just my version, but shooting was too loud, and talk too quiet). Also, I don't remember that there was some introduction to gang history or elaboration of their motivation (greed, boredom, etc.). It probably presumes that viewer is already familiar with Dillinger's life.

Best part of the movie for me was depiction of J. E. Hoover as media-manipulator, although he was just a side character, showed few times in whole movie. For some reason I found it very funny.

Anyway, it not a movie I wouldn't recommend to anybody, since there are tons of movies more grateful and pleasurable for watching than this. I presume it could be interesting to those people who are interested in deeper aspect of filming (acting or production), but I am not one of those, so I can' be sure.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Beast Player Erin, ep. 31-35, spoiler

In contrast to last five episodes, these five are full of action and happenings.

As mention in my last post, episode 30 announced a new teacher coming to Kazalm. So, the beginning of episode 31 shows a short scene of Touda egg-poachers meeting with one of anti-Sezans (guys in masks), after which they get poisoned. Immediately after is shown a violent death by poisoning of husband and wife, while some kid is watching them. That kid is now a new teacher at Kazalm, Kirin. It's also suggested that he is agent of Saigamul or anti-Sezans, put there to make some chaos. It's starting to look like anti-Sezans and Saigamul are not on the same side necessarily.

Erin is now older, as are the rest of students. Kirin is introduced to her and other students and he wanders around Kazalm, giving candies to all, which I find suspiciously. Maybe he is giving them some latent poison. I forgot to mention that he teaches poisons at academy.

At the end of episode the most exciting thing happens. While playing with Erin, Lilan falls with her over the cliff, but she saves them with flying!

In next episode, they are still flying, far away from Kazalm. Erin sees some light flashing in woods and tolds Lilan to land, where he is immediately put to sleep by mute whistle. And the one who blow it is of the Mist-people, same guy who was Soyon's betrothed and looked after Erin. He then told Erin a story of long ago.

Story explains why Mist people keep their secret: somewhere over the mountains, there was a kingdom that used Touda in war. Their king became so obsessed with conquering neighboring countries that his followers deposed him. While he was escaping them, he met people who lived with beast-lords and flew on them. They saved him and he stayed living with them. He explained that his ultimate reasons were actually good and he wanted only peace and prosper for his people. He convinced these people (who had gold hair and eyes) to breed more beast-lord and help him regain his throne, by scaring his people with beast-lord's ability to freeze Touda. And they accepted.

Ten years lasted while they waited for beast-lord to breed enough. And then it ended in disaster: Touda and beast-lords became berserk, were impossible to control and resulted in destruction of kingdom and gold-eyes people. Only great priestess escaped on beast-lord, and became first Queen. That is the reason why Mist-people keep knowledge about Touda and beast-lords a secret and keep their numbers low.

Erin is told that her mother actually poisoned the Touda in her care, because of Mist-people's code. She is also told to keep Lilan from flying or they both will be killed. After she is left alone, Erin decides not to listen to this Mist-people guy and that she will act in Lilan's best interests, meaning she will encourage her to fly.

Next episode doesn't bring any new momentum to story; it shows Erin trying to teach Lilan to fly at her command. She has problems at first because she is afraid of getting on her back, but she gets over it. Interesting, it also shows that Kirin is not completely evil person, which make him more real. His animosity toward Wajyaku was result of mistreatment in childhood, and poisoning of his sister by her stepmother (or maybe their landlord, I'm not sure of their relationship).

In episode 34, Ial is back and action is on high. Eku is a wild beast-lord that was wounded and brought to Kazalm for treating. During night, Kirin poisons him with chici-mimic, which is a poison that was used on girl from Erin's village, somewhere in first episodes. Erin knows the antidote, but is not sure can she find it in this part of country. So she, with Nukku and Mukku, goes to capital.

At same time, a Princess' servant is poisoned with same plant, whole actual target is Princess (Seimiyah-sama). Together, she, Shunan, Ial and Queen concludes that it is attempt to make look like Saigamul again attacked Queen. Ial with his Sezan-friends start looking for antidote.

Of course, he and Erin met in herbalist shack, and also surprise one of anti-Sezans, who was trying to get rid of antidote. He gets caught and Erin and Ial manage to save Eku and servant.

This episode also means that things are not static in country, so I expect more information on this in next episodes. Also, it reveals some connection between anti-Sezans and Daimaya-sama, as Kirin receives poison for Eku in box full of flowers Daimaya is constantly playing with.

Episode 35 shows Erin trying to put Eku to peace and healing his wound. During this episode Erin confesses her meeting with Mist-people and they warning to Esal, who tells Erin she also had similar warning in past. After healing, Eku is left to wander Kazalm grounds, where he meets Lilan. Lilan was already aware of him and showed some peculiar changes, like her feathers getting pink. And at the end of this episode, they two mate and fly off in sunset (actually not in sunset, but it's more poetic like that).

As I said, this was full of action. I enjoyed the story told to Erin about history. It explained a lot and gave more "meat" to this imagined world. I always liked a complex world-building. I appreciate that this show is not linear; almost every episode was a surprise for me. I would like more of Ial's part of story, and maybe more about court situation; and what about Duke and his sons... But, I can't complaint, show is definitely not boring.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Beast Player Erin, ep. 26-30, spoiler

Because of work commitments, I have much less time for anime, so it lasted long to finish next five episodes.

Episode 26 doesn't bring any new moments to story. First part of episode describes Erin's problems with studying, as she devotes most of her time for taking care of Lilan. But, after reprimands from Esal and help from rest of students, she passes her exams. Then it's already a summer break, so Erin stays alone at Kazalm academy. Important part is where she realizes that she doesn't need her harp anymore to control Lilan: he understands some of her words and gestures. It also shows that he grew attached to Erin and sees a motherly figure in her.

Erin is quite adult in this episode: she realizes that Lilan growing attachment could be bad for him, because he will be unaccustomed to other beast-lords and will be too dependent on humans. She relives her fears to Esal, who told her that this is not the issue, since Lilan will in any case stay with humans, and he will not return to wild for long as he lives.

Next two episodes, 27 and 28, are very personal for Erin. In first, she is having some nightmares, where her mother is sent to Hikara (their version of Hell) because of her sins. Erin is also tired because of her care for Lilan and lack of sleeping, so when she hears some scary stories, it all combines in one great nightmare. In her dream, she meets her mother Soyon, and her foster-dad, Jone, and realizes that this nightmare is just a reflection of her on fears and insecurities. Talking with them in the dream, she overcomes her problems.

But in next episodes, she receives another blow: Jone dies of heart disease. She is of course devastated, but she doesn't want to admit it. She forces herself to be strong so it won't affect Lilan, but it doesn't work: she's lethargic and cries sometimes. So principal Esal decides to take her to trip to her and Jone's "secret-base", from when they were both students. They share their stories and memories of Jone and both get better for it.

Episode 29 is also very important. First, we realize that Lilan is actually a girl. It wasn't specifically mentioned, but impression was that Lilan is a boy. Anyway, students come back from summer vacation and all are thrilled with Erin's and Lilan's relationship. But, an accident occurs: while Erin is rubbing Lilan's feathers, she unintentionally touches Lilan's old wound and she bites Erin. Wound is not big, but trauma is: Erin is now scared of coming closer to Lilan. She even ponders over using a mute whistle. A mute whistle is a high-frequency whistle that can paralyze beast-lords and Touda, so beastenarians use them as precaution. Erin's mother used it, but reluctantly, so Erin swore never to use it. But, again she overcomes her fears and decides to try a relationship with animals based on love, and not on fear.

Next episode is again a recap episode. It is told from point of Elsa and academy's maid (I can't remember her name) and only new revelation is announcement of new teacher at Kazalm.

So, about my impressions. These four episodes were nice and relaxed, but with no new plots or revelations. They showed slices of Erin's life and made her look more real as a person. Again, I have to stress characterization and character development as best points of this series. Wajyuku/Holon plot was suspended here, but I expect that new episodes will reveal more of it. I'm looking forward to watching them, and will probably make a new post after five episodes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beast Player Erin, ep. 14-25, spoiler

I had first 25 episodes released by Static Subs in one large package. I had more time than planned, so I finished watching these episodes I had. And now I have to wait few days do get next releases.

As I mentioned before, episode 14 is a recap episode, told from point of one of the Mist-people, Erin mother's friend/betrothed. I also reveals that Mist-people have some plans for Erin, maybe devised much before. There's no more mention of Mist people in next 11 episodes.

In next few episodes, we learn that Jone (the honey man), is actually former teacher and principal from capital, who was exiled because of his refusing to be bribed. He offers Erin a choice of her future, and she decides to became a beastenarian. Jone helps by writing a recommendation to school and they began to cram for entrance exam.

Next two episodes deals with internal problems of kingdom where Erin lives. Kingdom is separated in two regions: Queen's, where people live in peace and prosperity, and Grand Duke's, which is in long and bloody war with neighboring kingdom. Symbol of Queen's part is a beast-lord, whom has some mythic/symbolical significance to people, and it's connected with Queen's status. In Duke's part, they revere the Touda (Erin comes from this part of kingdom) and also use them for war. Problem is that people from Queen's part thing about Duke's People (Wajyaku) as barbarians and simpletons, while they consider Queen's people (Holon) weak cowards.

Focus is put on Ial, young Sezan (elite warrior) who we met in earlier episodes (he gave Erin his harp), and who is struggled between his soft and hard sides. Now, he has to kill his former teacher, who became a traitor and joined Saigamul, rebellious group that fights to get rid of the Queen, and to put Duke on the throne (although the current Duke doesn't want it). We also meet the Grand Duke, his sons Shunan and Nugan and members of the Royal Family. Shounan is older and smarter (or maybe better said wiser) son, who realizes that kingdom's problems can't be solved by Saigamul's methods, or by getting rid of them. And Nugan, is under influence of Daimayah (Queen's nephew), who is probably behind kingdoms internal struggles. It must be notices that Nugan is not stupid (although his main feature is physical strength) or malicious, but he is doing what he think is right, even when this leads him to fight his older and formerly revered older brother. So characters are not just one-sided, they are deep and have conflict and motivations.

As of Daimayah, although I said that he influences Nugan, I can't be sure yet. Daimayah is showed as sneaky, but that can also be interpreted as careless or naïve. I one scene, he sends flowers to Duke's wounded soldiers. That can be seen as intentional offence, but it can also be seen as nice, but senseless gesture. Although I still think that he is evil behind everything.

Queen is not showed much, but it looks like she benevolent to her people, but too isolated from them. Her granddaughter, Seimiyah, is still a teen and don't have much influence. There is celebration of Queen's birthday, when they all met. And some kind of anti-Sezan, tries to assassinate the Queen, although he is thwarted by Ial. After that, Shunan contacts Seimiyah and suggest they work together to bring kingdom closer and she probably start falling in love with him.

Meanwhile, Erin was studying and preparing for entrance exam to Kazalm, an academy where beastenarians learn they trade and took care of old beast-lords. Of course, Erin passes with flying colors and is left there to live and study, while Jone goes back to his family. She at first has some problems with living in community. If she was a boy, I would expect our hero to find his arch-enemy there and live through his first fights. But, since Erin is a girl, she makes new friends and starts to fit in.
At Kazalms also ended Lilan, a young beast-lord that was wounded during attempt on Queen. That and trauma of separation from his mother left him in state where he refuse to eat or move. That leaves principal Esal and student Tomura (he takes care of Lilan) in despair. So, Esal decides to give Erin a chance. At first she doesn't have any success, but later finds out that Lilan react to sound of her harp, because they remind him on his mother. After some modifications to harp, Erin succeeds in bringing Lilan back from lethargy. Also, she gets respect of Tomura and other students. Teacher and Esal decide to keep Erins success a secret, because it could be used by Saigamuls or others. That is because beast-lord is a symbol of the Queen, and only she is allowed to command beast-lords (although she can't, really).

There are few scenes that show development of situation in kingdom: Ial investigation of attempt and fight with anti-Sezans, quarrel between Shugan and Nugan, etc.

Last episode feature Nukku and Mukku, two comic side-characters. They are not irritating as this type of characters can be; they actually quite nice to watch.

After second dozen of episodes, I must somewhat revise my opinion of this anime. Although I still think it appropriate for children (because of lack of violence, cursing, etc.), most kids would have problems with tracking this long plot and understanding all characters and their actions. There are not many characters, but they are deep, and have complex connection to other characters. I still didn't have moment when I would think something is illogical or poorly imagined.

I look forward to watching next episodes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Beast Player Erin, ep. 1-13

Beast Player Erin (in original Kemono no Souja Erin) falls in fantasy and tragedy categories at AniDB ( and has 50 episodes. Currently, it has a good rating of 8.69. I'm watching Static Subs ( release, in 1280x720 resolution. I've put it on my wish list few months ago and now decided to watch it.

I was on vacation since Christmas, so I had more time for anime. I watched these first 13 episodes in last few days. For now, I think this series can be watched by viewers of every age. It has no graphical violence, cursing or anything inappropriate for kids. On the other hand, it looks it has some deeper and more complex plot-elements, so it should be interesting for older audience.

Visually, it looks nice. Nothing spectacular, not many special effects, but not much is done wrong. I could mention design of side-characters, whom are done with less enthusiasm or creativity. Main characters don't suffer from these problems; they are done uniquely. Also, there is lot of repetition, during action or memory scenes. Sounds and music are nice. There were three songs during actual screen time, although all were kid's songs.

First 5 episodes are introductory and world-building. We meet Erin, who has some 10 years at the beginning of series, her mother and other villagers. World is medieval-like, with no magic, but with some special creatures. There are the "Touda", who are some big lizards, used for war. And in last few episodes I watched, a bird-like "beast-lords" are introduced. There are mist-people, who live isolated and maybe have some mystical powers over animals (or just better skills). In one episode we see some special warriors, but they just have better training. I got impression that there is more about this world and that is even more complex than revealed for now.

In next few episodes, Erin violently loses her mother because of some still unsolved mystery. She ends up living with some lonely "honey man" (honey man as in making honey and bees), who teaches her about bees at first, but later includes reading and herbal and medical knowledge.

There are also glimpses of strange happenings at royal court and how mist-people look after Erin.

Episode 14 is a recap episode. Next week I start to work again, so I will have less time for watching. I plan to make next post after I watch 26 or so episodes.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Avatar, without spoilers

I usually watch movies on my PC, but yesterday I went to cinema with my girlfriend and couple of friends to watch Avatar.

I was previously introduced with this movie, via Internet and friend's comments. So I knew about story in general, that it is the most expensive movie ever and about animation parts.

The movie is about two and a half hours long. There are 3D projections available, but I watched it in 2D (limitation of cinema).

I like the movie, and my friends do, too. It's enjoyable, special effects are spectacular in their quality and quantity, and sound effects support the experience. There are no long sad parts (which I in general don't like) and there are few funny parts (and not to childish, too).

The biggest flaw of the film for me was it's predictability. I think that most viewers will be able to see what's coming next: introduction -> training -> meeting aliens.... Also, there were no surprises or character development: big, bad marine commander is big and bad during the whole film; clumsy scientist is clumsy scientist. No unexpected side-switching, also (well, except the expected).

But other than that, I would recommend it to anybody and I hope to see a sequel.


Hello to all!

On this blog I plan to write about books I read, anime and movies I watch. I don't watch TV shows or read manga often, but I will put that too, if I see something interesting.

Now about my references and preferences. I read mostly fantasy now, and prefer epic and high fantasy. My favorite author and series are Robert Jordan and Wheel of Time. Slightly behind them are George R. R. Martin with A Song of Ice and Fire, and Steven Erikson with Malazan Book of the Fallen. Then there are Joe Abercrombie with The First Law Trilogy, Glen Cook with Black Company, Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson, Guy Gavriel Kay...

Before, I've read science fiction much. I like Lois McMaster Bujold' Vorkosigan Saga, Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos and Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. I've read Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov and many others. I don't read SF much anymore simply because I don't have enough time. I don't mind historical novels once in a while, and I have read other genres as a kid.

My AniDB profile says I have watched 158 anime, in 3516 episodes and have wasted 60 days and 2 hours, so far. I don't have any specific taste here, except that I'm not a fan of mecha-anime. Some of my favorites are Monster, Lovely Complex, Hellsing, GTO, Berserk, Basilisk, Elfen Lied, Nana, School Rumble...

Watching anime is my second hobby, and I watch it when I don't have any books to read. I usually buy one book per month. Occasionally I do a re-read of particular series, especially when it was long ago that I got the previous part. Movies I watch irregularly and don't have specific genre that I like.

English is not my primary language, so there will probably be mistakes in grammar or expression. Feel free to correct me.

New posts will be made in no regular timetable. Posts will most probably include spoilers, so be careful.