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Book Review: Hetalia: Axis Powers by Hidekaz Himaruya (series, #1) (manga)

August 22, 2011 1 comment

Three manga characters.Summary:
The nations involved in WWII and the events leading up to it are personified as over-the-top manga characters and through manga-style scenarios the historic events leading up to WWII are explored.

Review:
One of my good friends loaned this to me informing me that I would love it.  I DID. I REALLY DID.  I haven’t seen WWII this funny since Hogan’s Heroes was a mild obsession of mine in middle school, only this is historically accurate.

Each nation’s stereotypes (that are partly true) are blown over the top for the manga characters.  France is proud and snobby but pathetically weak.  The UK acts like a put-upon uncle who really just wants everyone to start acting their age.  Japan is impatient with Germany for including Italy in their alliance.  Italy is really short and loves pasta.  The US can’t stop eating hamburgers long enough to speak with his mouth empty.  It just goes on and on from there.  Every page or two depicts a different historic event that set the scene for WWII to explode across the globe, complete with footnotes to clarify anything that might not be entirely clear from the manga-style interaction.

I was a History major in undergrad, and WWII was “my war.”  (Every History major has a favorite war.  My close second was the Revolutionary War, but I digress).  In any case, I have a lot of knowledge about WWII, and Himaruya clearly knows his stuff, but he also gets the irony and funny aspects of different cultures clashing, and that’s what makes Hetalia so incredible. It felt like reading nonfiction in an incredibly entertaining way.  It reminds me of back when the History Channel was amazingly cool.

I can’t wait to swap this for the next book in the series from my friend.  I’m incredibly curious as to how Himaruya will handle the more serious topics such as the Bataan Death March and the Holocaust in the future entries.

While I loved this book, I primarily recommend it to fans of humorous manga and WWII buffs primarily.  I have the feeling others might not “get it.”

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Borrowed

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Movie Review: Scream 4 (2011)

April 20, 2011 4 comments

GhostfaceSummary:
Sidney has returned to Woodsborough to kick off her book tour–a book all about overcoming being a victim.  Dewey is the sheriff and married to Gale.  Naturally on the eve of the anniversary of the original ghostface murders, new murders start occurring, and the townsfolk are not blind to the intense metaness of the whole thing.

Review:
The two words that best describe this movie are: hilarious slash-fest.  And it knows it too.  The insider jokes, the characters’ comments about how meta the whole thing is, movies within movies within movies, and the internet being worked into the plot all work together to make for a deliciously self-aware series that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I have to say, I yet again did not figure out who Ghostface was, which is a huge plus in a franchise that has had to reinvent a similar theme over and over again.  The blood and gore was still at a shocking level.  They definitely kicked it up to the next notch.  Plus the editing and story keeps everything fast-paced.  As my friend who saw it with me pointed out, she didn’t look at the clock once, and that’s rare in a movie nowadays.

Could it have been better?  Yes.  If the ending had been taken a different direction, it would have gone from better than expected to reawakens the franchise.  Alas, they didn’t take that step.  It, however, is still an awesome sequel, particularly when Hollywood isn’t exactly known for generating good ones.

I highly recommend it to fans of the Scream franchise.  You won’t be disappointed.  You may even be surprised.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: theater

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