In an alternate 1914, Darwinists have perfected genetic engineering, and Clankers have sophisticated mecha. England’s Leviathan is a giant flying jellyfish that is both a complete self-contained ecosystem and a warship. One of its middies is Deryn, a girl disguised as a boy so she can serve. Alek, a prince from Clanker Austria, has been piloting mechs since he was a child, but when he has to flee after his parents are assassinated, he’s completely discombobulated by the flechette bats, messenger lizards, and other native fauna of the Leviathan.

In Behemoth, the Leviathan comes to cosmopolitan, multicultural Istanbul, where mech technology is nearly as cool as the biotech of the Darwinists: ghettoes guarded by iron golems, an immense ornate statue that mimics the movements of the sultan seated beneath, and mechanical elephants!

Alek, Deryn, and the crew of the Leviathan become entangled in politics: England has refused to turn over a warship and its accompanying bioengineered behemoth which the Ottoman Empire already paid for, Germany is maneuvering to be the power that pulls Istanbul’s strings, and a number of factions within Istanbul are jockeying for power or plotting revolution. It looks like a world war is about to begin. In the middle of all this, Dr. Barlow’s mysterious eggs hatch, Alek and Deryn have several hilarious conversations in which Alek fails to discern the existence of subtext, Deryn has an underwater mission, and several cool revolutionaries are introduced. Also, there is a taxi chase, a foreign correspondent with a recording bullfrog, and a Tesla cannon, not to mention the kitchen sink.

It’s all a great deal of fun, and the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. If you liked book one, you will probably like this; if you were bit underwhelmed by book one, this is a significant improvement. Westerfeld does a particularly nice twist on the old “girl disguised as a boy likes boy, boy doesn’t realize his buddy is a girl and disses girls to her, beautiful second girl shows up for added complications.”

No major plot spoilers, but relationship spoilers for the love triangle.

Spoilers are beautifully illustrated )

Leviathan

Behemoth (Leviathan)
rachelmanija: (Bleach: Parakeet of DOOM)
( Apr. 7th, 2010 10:29 am)
I am dog-sitting at the moment and, incidentally, also parakeet-sitting. The parakeets, however, already had their food and water filled up so I basically just ignore them.

A few minutes ago I saw a blue streak flutter past, low to the floor. Simultaneously the dogs (mellow chihuahua, hysterical mini dachshund currently in Elizabethan collar) went berserk, yapping and pursuing the escaped blue parakeet.

Once when I pet-sat for these same people their lizard (which they had forgotten to tell me had seemed lethargic) dropped dead on the first night. How much worse would it be to inform them that their dogs ate their parakeet?

I pursued the dogs, which pursued the parakeet, around and around the living room. Finally I hustled the dogs into their crate (very much against their will) and pursued the parakeet by myself. It bit me. Hard. Twice. And would not let go, even when I put it back into its cage. I had to pry its beak open. OW.

I then saw that the cage door had not been left open, and there was no obvious escape route. Odd!

Upon releasing the hounds, I quickly saw what must have happened, as the fiendish dachshund, which has a back injury and is not supposed to jump, leaped up to the bird cage, popping the lever and snapping the door open! Irritatingly, the cage is too big to move to another room.

I have now constructed a giant barricade around the cage (two chairs, six pillows, one giant bean bag. The mini dachshund has been hurling herself against it and whining for the entire time it took to write this entry.

I think I may stick the dogs back in the crate and go to Starbucks.

ETA: Forgot to mention: the cage door isn't the only problem. The parakeets get hysterical if she jumps against it, and I'm worried that even if she can't release them, they'll have heart attacks. The cage, unfortunately, is in the living room.

ETA II: Decided cage wasn't too big to move and crammed it into another room. Dachshund now hurling herself against closed door and howling.

...that dog has lived with these same birds for four years but NOW they're interesting.
The art is still gorgeous. The incest is still disturbingly hot, and there was a surprise heterosexual and as far as we know now, non-incestuous affair that was both hot and sweet. The plot, which featured an evil hand and crystal wings of demonic D00M, is so deliciously insane that I ended up live-blogging them to [livejournal.com profile] oyceter over email.

Click here to buy or feast your eyes on the exquisite cover art: Cantarella Volume 5 (Cantarella (Graphic Novel)) (v. 5)

Cantarella Volume 6 (Cantarella (Graphic Novel)) (v. 6)

Cesare: (as Volpe attempts to lick the blood off his chest wound) You'll die. My blood is poisonous. [...] Volpe: If that is so, then I have already been violated by the poison that is you. The sweet poison that is you. My life and my death belong to you! )
These are preliminary notes. I have only read the first three volumes, so please do not spoil me.

Gorgeous, gorgeous art and bishounen Cesare Borgia would probably be enough to addict me to this awesome quasi-historical manga; however, it also has accurate historical details interspersed with actual historical myths presented as facts, or at least I think it was a real legend that Cesare Borgia's father sold his son's soul to Satan so he (Borgia Senior) could become Pope. Oh, and it has an evil Pope! And Niccolo Machiavelli as a talking moth with a human head, or, as I like to call him, Mothiavelli.

And that's not all! There is incestuous longing between Cesare and his angelic blonde sister Lucrezia! (Yes, that Lucrezia Borgia.) Cesare's blood is a deadly poison! He has an extremely slashy relationship with the extremely pretty and surprisingly sweet boy Chiaro, who has a possibly magic mask which turns him into the deadly assassin Michelotto! Double-crossing, poisons, assassinations, and demonic magic abounds!

And by the end of volume 3...!!! )

Really, there are not enough exclamation points for this series. And I'm told that it gets even better.

Click here to buy it from Amazon: Cantarella Volume 1 (Cantarella (Graphic Novel)) (v. 1)
Just when I think I'm inured to the insanity of manga, something like Reiko Shimizu's Moon Child comes along.

This remarkable work combines total freaking insanity with gorgeously surreal images and an astounding amount of plot for a first volume-- concluding with the mangaka's explanation that volume 1 is just a prologue, and the story really gets started in volume 2! I can't wait!

Jimmy is a blonde amnesiac child living in New York City with Art, an abusive, washed-up Broadway dancer who may or may not have a heart of gold. But unbeknownst to either of them, Jimmy is actually Benjamin, the beautiful daughter of the Little Mermaid, who was one of a race of alien mermaids who must return to Earth to spawn by mating with each other and laying eggs!

There are identical twins or clones or creepy illusions of Jimmy, backstage drama, poltergeist activity, telekinesis, demons biting people's heads, giant catfish swimming through the air above Time Square, and dialogue like "Space is like an ocean. I can swim there. That's how I got here, to the Planet Asgard. I was just a hatchling back then, so it took several hundred years."

It reminded me a bit of Please Save My Earth, only with extra bonus insanity.

Warning: the leader of the mermaids is drawn as a bizarrely stereotyped African woman. This is especially unfortunate as Shimizu manages to include other black characters who are not your typical manga stereotypes (a doctor, random mermaids), thus lulling me into a false sense of security.

A complete and hilarious review, with pictures.
rachelmanija: (Anime is serious)
( Apr. 18th, 2008 05:25 pm)
I stalled out on Gravitation ages ago, but tried picking it up again to see if I wanted to keep the books or give them away.

Okay, I realize that it's a cracktastic manga regardless, but what I want to know is this: did I forget where I was and start in the wrong place, or is this a dream or fantasy sequence, or does it actually really happen in canon that Read more... ) And if that actually did happen... how shall I phrase this... why?
I finished this series a while ago, but was unable to write it up because every time I attempted a thoughtful, coherent analysis, the content I was trying to analyze was so deliciously demented, so carefully foreshadowed yet totally insane, that my head exploded.

So I will not analyze. Perhaps someone else can analyze in comments. I will merely provide a highlight reel. And, in case this persuades others to persevere beyond the awful and incoherent first volume, this is the kind of series where it's not all that spoilery to mention that a fleet of flying cannibal zombie angel embryos is sent out to destroy the universe. Also, the art is jaw-droppingly beautiful, especially on the covers.

Setsuna escapes on the back of a flying whale. )
Note: please do not spoil me in comments for developments occurring after disc 4 of Escaflowne.

Oyce and I also watched a randomly selected episode of Wolf's Rain to mock the horrible subtitling that translated "Paradise" as "amusement park." The episode we picked actually translated it as "Fairyland." It also used randomly selected Chinese pronunciations of the characters' names, so every time they yelled, "Toboe! Look out!" it came out "Lanhu! Missing!" A character named Darcia was alternately called that, Xorsha, and Jinhei. This made watching the series very confusing, when I watched the whole thing off of the awful bootleg version so many years ago.

So many years, in fact (probably two) that I had completely forgotten that the randomly selected episode contained a giant talking flying walrus. In fact, the whole episode was about the wolves battling a talking flying walrus the size of the Staples Center.

"I had forgotten about the giant walrus," I explained to Oyce.

"That can happen with anime," she assured me. This was because earlier we had watched a disc of Escaflowne in which there was a brief appearance by a mermaid.

"Mermaid!" I shrieked.

"Oh, yeah," said Oyce. "I forgot about the mermaid."

"Talking mouse with a fez!" I shrieked, a moment later.

"Him too."

Insane Dilandau theories, farting guymelefs, random mermaids, and the Escaflowne drinking game. SPOILERS. )
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