Tag Archives: reviews

Mixed Motifs and a Multitude of Guns: Alex Watches RWBY

Ruby Rose

RWBY is a show (web-series, rather, by Rooster Teeth) that runs on a fuel of pure awesome. I’m just going to put that out there now because that, I have to say, is the big pull for me. It lacks a lot of originality in terms of story and the concept of pitting young people against monsters is certainly nothing new, but it has a tremendous amount of adorable, stylised, anime-esque fairy tale-y let’s-bond-on-field-trips-where-we-shank-demons-in-the-face-in-the-coolest-way-possible fun with itself.

RWBY takes its name from the team of aspiring ‘huntresses’ that it centres around; the prodigal but awkward and eager Ruby, the well-studied, suitably stuck-up and (sometimes literally) icy Weiss, quiet and mysterious badass Blake and happy-go-lucky cool big sister to all Yang. There are a bunch of other characters also attending Beacon Academy for Future Fantasy Badasses, who get attention of their own when we’re not watching the heroines. This can leave characters feeling sidelined and undeveloped, but the series is brand-sparkling new so it still has a lot to cover and develop as it gets up and running. Despite its many flaws and rough patches, so far it’s certainly garnered a huge following, if that tells you anything.

Of its rather clichéd nature you can say “Oh but it’s an amateur production” and I can reply yes, well, but the lack of experience of creators in a field and the budget they have is no measure of their inherent creativity or skills. Granted, a lot of writers and animators get better as their work progresses and they do more of it, because that’s how that works unless they’re some sort of divinely gifted genius. Which the RWBY team, I have to say, is not, but never let it be said that they haven’t made a darn good and fun series that will no doubt get gooder and funner as it goes along. Continue reading


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Sink or Swim: Alex Watches Free!

Free! Promo art

And gets unexpectedly attached to a group of animated swimmers with girly names

Free! is an animated TV show about boys who swim. Actually, it’s about the power of friendship and the importance of letting go of the past (and how the two strongly intertwine), and the sport that forms the backdrop could be anything, really. Though the constant connection with water does lead to lots of lovely symbolism and scenery (and the question of what else Kyoto Animation could have bought with their season budget, e.g. Belgium).

I mused upon this show at its beginning, and now it’s time to talk about it looking back. Here we go, guys. I’m a little late to the party, but it’s review time. Continue reading


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Cool Cool Cool: Alex Watches Community

The cast of Community

Community is my kind of humour, laden with pop culture references and parodies that are not so intricate that they’re not funny if you don’t get them—at the same time, not entirely relying on them and the attached stigmas of the people who get them to be entertaining (cough).

For the as yet unawares to the inner workings of this show, it follows the antics of a group of students at the fictitious Greendale Community College, the audience walked into the midst of it by Jeff Winger, a suave and stylish lawyer who not only eerily reminds me of someone I went to school with but has been debarred recently upon the discovery that his degree was forged. So tasked with getting a legitimate American university diploma, he seeks out the laziest route and enrols at Greendale planning to breeze through four years of his life with just enough credits to escape and be cool again, and possibly get laid along the way.

Things change for him, however, when in an attempt to follow his latter plan by using his impeccable charms on high-school-drop-out activist-of-everything sometime-hipster-photographer Britta Perry, Jeff finds himself in a study group with six other misplaced misfits who, without his intention, become a tight-knit group of friends. And the adventure begins, as Abed would say. Continue reading


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Ghosts are Cute and Friendship is Magic: Alex Watches Anohana

I’ve never reviewed an anime series on here before, so let’s break the champagne bottle on a worthy boat, a short series with a lot of heart, a meaningful message and ludicrously long title.

The cast of AnoHana

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, literally translated to We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day and blissfully shortened to Anohana for all intents and purposes across the fan world, introduces us to Jinta Yadomi, a somewhat apathetic and angsty teenaged shut-in who spends his days cutting classes to surf the net and game at home, only going out if entirely necessary and doing so in disguise. His routine is, naturally, interrupted when he begins seeing what he assumes are visions of his dead childhood friend, Meiko “Menma” Honma, hanging around his house and demanding his attention.

Soon enough he realises that Menma isn’t a stress-induced hallucination but a ghost, shown up out of the ether to play with him and the rest of their friends again, only to discover that the tight-knit and carefree group that they had as children have grown apart since her untimely death. Deciding that she must have reappeared on this plane of existence for a reason, Menma declares that “Jin-tan” must grant her a wish and help her to move on to Heaven. She can’t, however, remember what her wish might have been. Continue reading


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Done to Undeath: Alex watches Being Human

Being Human

Vampires, werewolves, ghosts! You’ve seen it all a million and one times before. And Toby Whithouse knows this, and how to make it work.

Being Human offers virtually no explanation of the supernatural creatures it stars and deals with, because it knows that we’ve seen it all before. I was surprised, watching it, that the first episode introduces the characters and explains who is what in a very brief opening segment and then launches straight into the story. No explanation of how werewolves work, or vampire lore, or ghost physics, because it’s so ingrained in our popular culture that it’s assumed knowledge.

Now, what if we put them all together into one house in Bristol? It’s like a roommate dom-com but with one of the buds howling at the moon every month, one fighting his addiction to blood and one trying to figure out what her unfinished business is and making lots of tea that she can’t drink. Continue reading


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Rollercoaster That Only Goes Up: Alex Reads John Green

John GreenThe tempest may have passed now, but a few months ago you couldn’t move very far on the intertubes without catching some whiff of John Green. Aside from the YouTube show he shares with his brother, his name was very present about the place mostly due to the fact that he’d recently torn the hearts out of over 150 000 young people.

His most recent, most ambitious and in my opinion best novel is The Fault in Our Stars, and it’s responsible for the aforementioned 150 000 tear-stained faces. Now that may be enough to put you off — generally speaking, people don’t like to be sad. I was reluctant to open the book for this reason but I’m glad I did, and that’s lucky, because from the first page I was whisked into the little world he’s created with no escape in sight. Continue reading


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Young Minds on Paper: Alex Reads Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson

I sometimes wonder what is more difficult; creating a fantasy world and making it feel real, or writing about reality and making it believable.

Jacqueline Wilson is sort of passing out of the public spotlight (I have a hard time finding her in bookshops, anyway) and that makes me sad, frankly, since she’s such a stellar addition to the world of YA and children’s literature. You read her writing and it is one of those rare, beautiful and slightly shocking instances where you forget that you’re reading a work of fiction. It feels real, unprocessed and unvarnished.

She’s got a knack, that’s what it is, a critically acclaimed knack. You read the stories her characters are telling you and it’s not the words of an adult writer that enter your consciousness but the words of the characters themselves, whether they’re fifteen or nine, rowdy or introverted, or whatever wonderfully written hell they’re going through. Continue reading

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The Game is Afoot: A Sherlock Review

I found this really great fanfic… it’s like a modern AU of Sherlock Holmes? And it’s on TV. And it’s amazing.

Sherlock season 1 cover

As someone mystified by the Holmesian universe but never quite in possession of the mental energy it takes to chew through the stories, Sherlock seemed to be sent from Fiction Heaven itself (though the nature of its creators, Mark Gattiss and Steven Moffatt, also known for tormenting avid watchers of Doctor Who, would be argued by some fans to be less than angelic).

The richness of the original is there and the characters that so many people have known and loved over the century are as fascinating and delicious as they have always been, with the modern day setting only a light, satisfying tang over the top.

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