Aug. 16th, 2020 05:13 pm
shadowfireflame: (Jaejoong rainbow music)
Welcome to my journal! I mainly use this journal to review and recommend great stories and anime. My favorite fandoms are BBC Sherlock, Harry Potter, White Collar, Kpop, and anime.

You may be interested in my recommendations for:

[Harry Potter] [Sherlock] [Kpop] [Anime] [White Collar] [Cabin Pressure] [Other Fandoms]

Onto the Recs! )

Please also use the tags to the left to find other reviews. I'm always updating my lists, and I love to chat, so please also comment and feel free to friend me. Thank you!

shadowfireflame: (Default)
So I really didn't enjoy the first Guardians of the Galaxy (see ranting here), but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? I totally loved and would recommend. Go figure.

Cut for Spoilers )
shadowfireflame: (Kuroshitsuji)
Anime Rec: Spiritpact

This 10-episode shounen-ai anime is the Japanese edit and dub of the Chinese anime Ling Qi (Soul Contract).

In it, a young You Keika is living in poverty as a fortune-teller when he is hit by a bus and killed. In death, he chooses to become contracted to the human demon-hunter Tanmoku Ki as his spirit shadow, a partner to protect Tanmoku and give him strength. Unbeknownst to both of them, they are connected more deeply than they realized. Along with Tanmoku’s ignored fiancée Shin Shiyou, the three team up to uncover the sinister plot going on at Tanmoku’s family home.

The anime packs a lot into its 10 episodes with lots of supernatural hurt/comfort elements and a gentle shounen-ai between You and Tanmoku, with some humor and very pretty art and character designs as well.

While the supernatural elements are a bit stereotypical and aren’t explained well, and the characterizations are a bit one-note, it’s interesting to see the different motivations of the characters, particularly the “evil” ones who are all vying for power behind the scenes and constantly testing Tanmoku and You’s relationship.

Tanmoku is difficult to read as a typical tsundere, but You makes for an appealing lead with his innocence and occasional frustration with his situation. I felt really bad for Tanmoku’s fiancée, Shiyou. Her character is actually fleshed out but it’s still hard to determine her reasons for sticking around when Tanmoku overlooks her constantly. She seems to have more meaningful interactions with You than with her fiancée.

Where the anime really shines, though, is in the evolving relationship and powerplays between Tanmoku and You. The two have great chemistry and it’s wonderful to see how they slowly get to know one another and how they react to seeing each other in danger. Towards the end I loved seeing how they had evolved into a team.

Unfortunately, after just 10 episodes it feels like it’s just getting into the good content when it ends. Would love to see more!

More anime recs can be found here.
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
I've been attempting to cope with the U.S. 2016 election results by going on a movie binge this week!

So Doctor Strange was enjoyable--not my favorite ever, but pretty good and visually lovely (and not just because of Benedict and Mads!). Same with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for me. I had been hoping to enjoy both of them more than I did, but it’s all right because…

The movie Arrival, with the aliens? Fantastic! It's what Interstellar could have been with more humanity. Highly recommended, particularly for linguists (?!).

Also enjoying the new HBO show Westworld, South Park (as always), Fresh Off the Boat, Samantha Bee, and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.

I hope all Americans have a happy upcoming Thanksgiving, and a special shout-out to people who have loud, unavoidable relatives who voted for the new president-elect (*shudder*). I salute you all.

The bright spot is that in January at least there will be new Sherlock.
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Anime list continued from (Anime Recs Part 1)

My ratings, from best to worst:
—One of my favorites!
—Very good, almost a favorite.
—Very good.
—Enjoyable, but not one of my favorites.
—You might like it, but it’s not for me.

Click Here for My Anime List! )

<— (Anime Recs, Part 1)
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Anime rec: Akatsuki no Yona / Yona of the Dawn

“This group just keeps getting weirder.” This is the story of how the band gets together. In this historical fantasy anime, Princess Yona leads a happily sheltered life in the capital city with her father (the king) and two male childhood friends, never knowing the world outside her safe existence. But one terrible evening, everything comes crashing down and she is forced to flee everything she has ever known.

Despite some occasional plot holes and coincidences, what first appears like only a shallow reverse harem becomes something very special indeed, gaining darkness, depth, and complexity with each of Yona’s new discoveries outside the capital. All of the characters are appealingly drawn, each with an interesting back story (Yona’s bodyguard, Hak, is a special favorite of mine, but each of the dragons are unique). Yona’s journey, both physical and mental, is increasingly complex as she takes more agency over her life, and I loved seeing her grow from a spoiled princess to a self-sufficient and worthy ruler.

More anime recs here!
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Anime Rec: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica

Madoka Kaname is a timid middle school girl whose life changes when she encounters the mysterious new transfer student Homura Akemi and the magical animal Kyuubey, who offers Madoka a wish and seemingly limitless power.

The hype is well-deserved with this one. Clever and deeply psychological storytelling, haunting music, great voice acting, and an immersive, highly unusual art style combine to make something very dark and special indeed. The title sequence is particularly delicious.

This is a magical girl anime. But it is also not a magical girl anime. Truly, the less you know about the show going into it, the better. Just know that nothing is as it seems.

More anime recs here!
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
This is a really intelligent piece of writing by Matt Taibbi on the upcoming 2016 American election. I recommend reading to the end:

Matt Taibbi on the Fury and Failure of Donald Trump
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
It’s been a great summer of books for me, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites:

-- The Oliver & Jack series by Christina E. Piltz (starts with Fagin’s Boy)
After I finished C.S. Pacat’s astounding Captive Prince series, I was desperate for something to fill the gap, and this series did it for me. Yes, it’s basically a continuation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist novels but with a very, very slow-building romantic relationship between Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger (Jack Dawkins here). Absolutely incredible, meticulously researched historical m/m that has a lot to say about life in the Dickensian era and class-based hardship. The fifth novel in the series has just been released. The parts in the workhouse reminded me of one of my favorite Sherlock fanfics, Chryse’s brilliant The Frost is All Over.

--The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (who also helped found AO3 and writes great fanfic, which is how I found out about this series!)
I very much liked her novel Uprooted, but I just adored this series and its two adorable main characters to pieces. This is an alternate history set in the early 1800s in which the British are fighting Napoleon…via exciting aerial combat on specially trained dragons! Will Laurence is a stiff and proper navy man, captain of his ship, when they engage in battle with the French and capture a precious dragon egg. When it hatches onboard, Laurence names the dragon Temeraire, and they form a special lifelong bond (the dragon talks!). This series just flew by: the world-building is rich and the action scenes are thrilling, but it’s really the three-dimensional characters that make the world come alive. There is a little het romance (because there are awesomely badass female dragon riders), but the novel focuses more deeply on the bonds of friendship, community, and duty, and the deep relationship between Laurence and Temeraire. Fans of the Horatio Hornblower miniseries will love this! I’ve been told I should tackle Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey & Maturin series after this, so it’s on my to-read list. EDIT November 2016: I'm reading this series now and totally loving it!

--We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
All is not what it seems in this suspenseful family drama featuring four teen friends from a wealthy family and the summer everything went wrong. Cadence (Cady) Sinclair, her cousins Mirren and Johnny, and her boyfriend Gat form the “Liars,” a tight-knit group that meets every summer on a private island off Martha’s Vineyard owned by Cady’s grandfather. While Cady’s narration is often strange and stilted, it’s worth fighting through it for the realistic portrayals of old-money problems (the horrors of racism, secrets, and masks for the preservation of the family’s “image”), the foreboding atmosphere, and the devastating ending (worthy of Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief) that brilliantly ties everything together.
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play) by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Read more )
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
One of my favorite men singing one of my favorite songs!

shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
IT'S OUT!!!!!!!!!!! Hillywood is a Youtube channel that does mind-boggling parody videos of different fandoms, and this Sherlock one is a must-see. The sets and the lighting and just sheer attention to detail are amazing. Also you may recognize some of the actors! Like Harry Potter's Percy Weasley plays Mycroft!

Moffat and his son even show up at the end!!
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
There looks like so many things going on! So excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Mrs. Hudson, whoaaa!

shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Just watched the long BBC Shakespearian series "The Hollow Crown," which covers the buildup to the War of the Roses period in British history:

--the weak-willed King Richard II (played by Ben Whishaw)
--the military usurper King Henry IV (played by Rory Kinnear, then Jeremy Irons)
--his playboy son, King Henry V (played by Tom Hiddleston)
--his morally righteous son, King Henry VI, who married Queen Margaret (brilliantly played by Sophie Okonedo) who became a crazy military powerhouse
--the person who took the crown back from him, King Edward IV
--and his brother King Richard III (wonderfully played by Benedict Cumberbatch), who had a hunchback and killed lots of people to become king, including his two young nephews in the Tower of London
--ending with the rising of King Henry VII (who is the father of the famous Henry VIII)

Those who supported the original line of Richard II were the house of York (white rose), and those who supported the usurper line were the house of Lancaster (red rose).

The whole series was excellent, each one building on the last. The last two were particularly great episodes, and Benedict of course stole the show with his evil campaign to become king. The Richard III episode was tonally different from the rest and much more exciting. In the Shakespearian play, Richard III is so evil, and here he's played so well with lots of winks and soliloquies directed to the camera that you start actually rooting for him and wanting to see what horrible thing he will do next. It's brilliant and highly recommended!

P.S. Andrew Scott is also (briefly) in the series!
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Spoiler-free thoughts about the new movie Captain America: Civil War! In short: really great!

It's from the same directors who made the excellent Captain America: the Winter Soldier (the Russo brothers), and it shows: in this superhero movie, the themes, characterizations, and motivations are both complex and subtle. The villain is especially great. The Russo brothers are also slated to direct the next two Avengers movies, so I'm happy about that.

The movie effectively explores some of the implications for the current state of global military affairs, like American intervention in foreign affairs and all of the collateral damage that ensues from "saving the world." The Vision character has very interesting statistics about the causality between the rise of super-powered heroes and the rise of super-powered villains (and the ensuing world chaos) that was explored well.

Also, Martin Freeman is in this movie (briefly)! He steals scenes as no-nonsense American interrogator Everett K. Ross.

Oh, and the slashiness here is off the charts. It's enough to make anyone ship Steve with Bucky (or Sam, or Natasha, or even Tony).

Very much recommended, as with The Winter Soldier.
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
I've really been enjoying this Youtube video series by Sherlock fan Rebekah ( on tumblr) and highly recommend for anyone who loves shipping John and Sherlock in the show!

Rebekah TJLC Explained Channel

The videos are also very handy for showing to people outside the fandom who don't want to read long meta explanations of The JohnLock Conspiracy (TJLC) but are still interested in the show--I can vouch that my husband has been enjoying them as well and is excited to see where the show will go. :)


Mar. 13th, 2016 07:45 pm
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Oh my god, the animated Disney movie Zootopia is so good, you guys! A really effective allegory for sexism, racism, the politics of fear and how the media can amplify it, the role of the police force, and how working together to solve problems is the only true path forward. Animation can be so great at exploring these ideas, and this movie about a mammals-only city works to prove that. Highly recommended!
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Movie Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Tina Fey is wonderful in this adaptation of the book The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Barker, which I read beforehand in preparation for the movie, about a war correspondent in Kabul.

The movie unfortunately loses much of the nuance and gallows humor of the book (including cutting Pakistan out entirely to focus on Afghanistan), while also failing to show the evolution of Afghanistan and how foreign intervention into the country has caused untold damage without producing any positive results. However, it does capture the humanity of the Afghan people, the callousness and shallow nature of media companies, and how being in a warzone can cause adrenaline junkies.

Fey really shines in her role (as Kim Baker, instead of Barker), instantly charming and helming the intelligent social commentaries. And yay, Martin Freeman has a big role—third billing and the romantic lead, as such. He dons an over-the-top Scottish accent (!) to play a flirtatious asshole character, Iain MacKelpie, who is morally grey, like many of the other war correspondents in the movie.

Another standout for me was Christopher Abbott as Kim’s translator, Fahim Ahmadzai. While it is depressing that an Afghan was not cast in the role, Abbott did bring out the spirit of the character from the books. And Billy Bob Thornton and Margot Robbie slip naturally into their roles as a U.S. Marine general and fellow war correspondent, respectively.

So even though it can’t match the book, I’d definitely recommended the movie!

More reviews of Martin Freeman’s work: here!
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Anime Rec: Sidonia no Kishi / Knights of Sidonia

This is Netflix’s first licensed anime series, and it’s great! After Earth has been destroyed, the seed ship Sidonia makes its way through the galaxy, protecting itself from difficult-to-kill, creepily-morphing tentacle space monsters called Gauna. Enter Tanikaze, who has been living with his grandfather underground, and who becomes an ace pilot of the Gardes (fighting mecha).

The show-don’t-tell world-building here is fascinating, from the genetically engineered human photosynthesis and third gender, gravity festivals, robot fights, and onboard “sea.” The episodes are so exciting that for me they just flew by—aided perhaps by Netflix’s penchant for releasing all episodes at once and then having evil cliffhangers that make it impossible to stop watching. I loved Tanikaze and found him adorable with his constant cluelessness and his penchant for getting seriously injured.

However, unlike Attack on Titan (to which Knights of Sidonia is being justly compared), this universe feels much more sterile, with more technology and fewer colors, relationships, and characterizations. The character designs for the cadets in particular are extremely similar, almost clones of one another (11 are sisters who all look like twins), which makes it difficult to keep track of many of the cadets except poor Tanikaze and his rival, Kunato. A possible jealousy-laden love quadrangle between the four leads (Hoshijiro, Izana, and Midorikawa) feels a bit contrived.

But the world-building and space battles are definitely gorgeous, fun, and meaningful, and I hope a third season is in the works!

More anime recs here!
shadowfireflame: (Sherlock in Molly's lab)
Anime Review: Meganebu!

In this anime of humorous absurdity, the megane (glasses-wearing) club, a tight-knit group of five high-school boys, is on a mission of extreme importance: to create x-ray vision glasses…so that they can look at hot women naked without their consent. Once you get past that…rather creepy premise, this anime is incredibly sweet with the mock-serious way the characters treat their lives as glasses-wearers, under the direction of their leader Akira, who is determined to make the world a better place for everyone with glasses.

There are almost no female characters, but the relationships between all the boys are adorable (particularly all the brotherly relationships), and the slashiness is off the charts. The animation is brightly colorful and cutely stylized: any non-glasses wearing secondary characters (i.e., the other students) aren’t even animated, they’re just literal stick figures in uniforms, which is very funny.

Other than Akira, I liked the mechanical genius Yukiya and the spacey cream-puff loving Takuma; the jealous rivalry between the other two members (Mitsuki and Hayato) was a bit too spiteful for me (though I love the line “I’m not dead, but I’m only a provisional member”). Also, I guarantee that you will have “We are meganebu~” stuck in your head for days.

More anime reviews here!

May 2017

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