Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson became one of my favorite authors. I consider the Mistborn trilogy to be masterpieces of fantasy literature. I’ve recently read Warbreaker, and this is not one of his best works. Does that mean Warbreaker is a bad book? Well, let’s find out!


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The story is political and colorful. Though there’s something missing in this book. I know I should treat every book as its individual thing, especially since Warbreaker is a stand-alone work, even though it shares the Cosmere.

The book itself is more character-driven. We have a few descriptions of the world of Nalthis. The events happen in mostly in the kingdom of Hallandren, where the Returned (people that came back from the dead and are revered as gods). We explore a few points of the conflict between Hallandren and the country of Idris (where our protagonists, daughters of the King Dedelin are from). And though it is interesting how the story develops around it, we don’t really see much of it.

Warbreaker is a character-driven story. We have our focus on three characters in a third-person point of view:

  • Sisirinah, she is the reckless daughter of King Dedelin. Siri is sent too Hallandren to marry the God King instead of her sister. Her father thought it would be better to send her impulsive, hasty, disobedient daughter, while keeping his pride; the eldest daugher, Vivenna in Idris. And as for her character, we see a Siri that doesn’t change the attitude much, but unlike what some of her acquaintances might have thought of her, she is very smart; her forced relationship with the God King has a little twist after a few funny (or perhaps uncomfortable) performances to fool some priests.
  • Vivenna, the eldest daughter of Dedelin, she was originally meant to marry the God King. Her manners, education, and intelligence, made her the best candidate to represent Idris. Her father couldn’t let her go, Siri replaced her as the God King’s wife. When Siri was sent to Hallandren, Vivenna felt responsible for it, and believed that her sister was getting between a dangerous plot, so she went to the kingdom to rescue her. This is where the character has to deal with different problems; I have to say she’s got an interesting development, because we see that her royal training and education is not enough, not even close, to deal with the intern conflicts the kingdom and her country are dealing with.
  • Lightsong, and to me, the most interesting character among the protagonists. He is a Returned, revered as the God of Bravery. We see this character not taking anything as seriously as he should. In fact, he insists so much that he is useless, doubting his own divinity all the time. This is the most unpredictable character, in my opinion; his mocking attitude and his self-proclaimed ineptitude made him a box of surprises.

The other characters are good, but nothing special; it is hard for me to see anyone else standout, perhaps the little twist with the God King’s personality.

The thing that have personally disappointing me is the magic. This is where I am going to feel a little bit guilty, because I don’t see appropriate to make comparisons; but this magic system, based on breath and colors is very interesting, I really liked it. Unfortunately, we don’t explore enough of it. We know how it works, but we see it put into good practice until the second half, perhaps close to the end, of the book. After reading Mistborn, is hard not to take this magic into account; we know that Sanderson is an expert creating magic systems in his stories.

The book was supposed to be a stand-alone novel, taking that into account, the ending is kinda abrupt, in my opinion. It wasn’t satisfying. Today we know that Sanderson has confirmed a sequel in the future, so I guess I should not be mention it now.

Would I recommend this book to anyone? Definitely, it is a good fantasy story with good protagonists and a few twists that are going to make you feel excited. It is a quick page turner; it is indeed hard to put down once you start reading it. However, if you’re a fan of Sanderson works, perhaps you will find this just a little disappointing.


Have you read the book? Feel free to share your thoughts.

The Name’s Boogiepop

Boogiepop and Others cover

Promotional image of the anime adaptation

Boogiepop and the Others is a difficult thing to describe. First things first, I need to warn you: the anime is slow. And when I say slow, I really mean it. Its opening might give you the wrong idea of the show, so I advice you to just enjoy the music, but don’t judge it by its opening theme video. Boogiepop is a slow phased show, and if you’re looking for big, spectacular, bombastic fights; or, if you’re looking for horror and supernatural things to be thrown at your face directly, look away. This show is not for everyone, that must be said.

Let’s start with the opening. It is performed by MYTH & ROID, also known for working on other openings, like Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World, among other anime series. Boogiepop’s opening is deceiving, as I have mentioned; it is really good, its visuals will make you pay attention and get interest in what is about to come. The problem is, when you watch it without clue of what you’re getting yourself into, then you’re going to be expecting an action packed series, an adrenaline rush full of fights and explosions. Let me tell you: it’s totally the opposite. The only true thing about the opening is the little hint of the arcs and protagonist. That’s it.

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So, am I telling you that Boogiepop and Others is bad? No, it is a great show, actually.

What should you expect from the series?

Boogiepop, putting my own words, I would describe it as a supernatural, psychological horror, drama. Its slow phased way to tell things makes the tense emphasizes with the events that occur.

The mystery, as the series goes on, gets bigger. And as one episode introduces you  to certain characters, and their point of view of the things that are happening, the episode ends to start the next with a different place and different characters and their own dilemmas. Always living life from the same event, until the arc is solved.

To summarize: there are mini-arcs consisting in three to four episodes. Each of them showing a different side of a same square.

Someone called Boogiepop

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The first episode begins when Takeda, a high school student, is worried about his girlfriend. He was walking on the street, and then a figure wearing a black cloak and a weird hat. The figure helped a strange, decaying, man with long white hair; it questioned the passing civilians if they didn’t feel bad for not helping someone in need. Takeda recognized that figure as his girlfriend, Touka.

He finds her, standing on the rooftop of the school building. Takeda asks her what’s going on, if she’d been messing with him. Touka, or at least the person that looks like her, tells him he is not his girlfriend.

“First of all, I’m not Miyashita Touka. Right now, I’m Boogiepop.”

This is where we get out first revelation. Boogiepop is a being that took the body of Touka Miyashita Touka. A split personality, as “he” explains to the boy.

A horror that is disguised with the daily lives

As the story goes on, you notice that there’s something wrong, and not only supernatural beings. These forces are there to follow orders from the Towa Organization, a shadow group which goals are not very clear; the anime’s first season doesn’t talk much about it, but we can assume that this organization has the purpose to get control of the world. Maybe the Illuminati is a close comparison.

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This is the creepiest thing that happens, and it lasts one second

The story as, it goes, tells you the problems that the characters have to deal day by day. Some of them don’t even know if normal is a good thing. Others believe that they will never be normal enough to fit. While some characters have to deal with acceptance (or resignation) of what they are meant to be. Depression, fear, angst, loneliness, and other feelings that, deep down, are taking over mentally. These creatures created by the organization take advantage of these issues.

“Everyone needs some help when they’re suffering.”

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These monster brought to life by the Towa Organization is what Boogiepop calls “enemies of the world”. As soon as they appear, Boogiepop automatically rises to the surface, taking control of Touka.

Its looks

Visually, I don’t have any complaints; to me the anime looks very smooth, and they add some blurry parts to add to the eerie atmosphere. The animation is not top notch, but it does the job very well.

In conclusion

The series involve a greater mystery that is told by the different students, points of view, for us to watch from every perspective of the events that happen in the episodes.

Unfortunately, this show is not for everyone. Boogiepop and Others doesn’t want to tell you everything, you have to put some pieces together, and learn how these entities, and Boogiepop itself, partly represents an issue that most teenagers and adults have to deal with day after day.

If you believe the opening and its action sequences are part of the show, look away. This anime is not for you.

However, if you like slow phased series that invite you to pay attention, and follow the story with hints told by different characters that aren’t directly related to the others, this is definitely an interesting anime to watch.


The anime consists in 18 episodes. It is available for you to watch on Crunchyroll.

Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll

After watching the anime Violet Evergarden, I was excited when I saw on Facebook that Konnichiwa Festival brought the movie to Latin American theaters. Of course, as I live just across the border from Juarez, I didn’t give a second thought, got my ticket and went to Cinépolis (the biggest and most popular theater in Mexico) really excited. As you can read on my previous post about Violet Evergarden, you know that I loved the anime.

Another thing. Though I don’t think a clarification is necessary here, Konnischiwa Fest made the movie available for three days only: February 14th, 15th, and 16th. I went on Saturday 15th, so you know this post had been scheduled.


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An experienced Violet

This movie shows an experienced Violet. She hasn’t changed much, though, we have the same girl that we loved in the anime. Only now you can tell that she’d learned a lot from her past duties as a Memory Doll. Her social skills improved.

What is the meaning of friendship?

Isabella York is a young noble that was sent to a girl Academy to learn how to be a proper woman. Then Violet is hired to do a different job: help Isabella to become what she’s meant to be, a proper lady. This time there’s no letter to write, but CH Postal Company made an exception because the request came directly from the royalty.

During her stay at the Academy, Isabella starts as a hostile person towards Violet. Isabella felt a bit useless because her temporary servant, Violet, knows better about manners. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a more experienced Doll; doesn’t take much, though, for Isabella to trust her. She began to feel comfortable with the company.

Their bonds grow stronger. Violet gained Isabella’s trust. She tells her about her past as a poor girl and her “sister”.

Bonds that grew stronger

The second half of the movie focuses on Isabella’s “sister”, Taylor Bartlett. After certain events that came from the Academy and Violet’s friendship with Isabella, Taylor travels to find the CH Postal Company for work.

The bonds that were tied grew stronger, they’d extended to other places to the point that two adoptive sisters that, for twists of fate, ended up cutting a distance from each other.

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Conclusion

Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll focuses on friendship. The bonds that we make and how their strength could make us reach others. Never forgetting that the distance is insignificant when the feeling is real.


I really wish I could speak more about the movie. However, it isn’t long, and I’d spoiler something. This is definitely a movie you should watch if you like anime. It is not necessary to watch the anime on Netflix to understand what’s going on here. I STRONGLY recommend you do that, though! The story of the protagonist, her purpose, and how she starts gaining experience as a Memory Doll is beautiful.

Violet Evergarden

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Violet Evergarden is an anime available on Netflix. It is also based on a Japanese light novel of the same name written by Kana Akatsuki and published by Kyoto Animation on December 25th, 2015.

An anime adaptation is available on Netflix since 2018, consisting in 13 episodes and an original video animation (OVA).


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Where it begins

The story starts with our protagonist, Violet Evergarden, whom has been raised as a weapon and used in war as such. She was literally a war machine—a child that had not known nothing but to follow military orders. There was nothing but chaos in her life, and her feelings were nothing. Violet was a robot-like creature.

Everything changes for her when the Major, Gilbert Bougainvillea, adopts her. Or more specifically, was given to him as a gift from his brother to use her as a weapon. Gilbert, though, didn’t see a weapon; he saw a starving child that needed something more. To be treated as a human being, not a murdering object.

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Their bonds gathered a sweet strength when both our protagonist and the Major were walking in a market. He wanted her to buy a dress, something that makes her feel like the girl Violet is. Then she saw an emerald and picked it up. Violet told Gilbert that it looks like his eyes; that, of course, touched deep in his heart.

We also see images of war, and how Violet ruined went straight into the battlefield without hesitation. Gilbert realized why she’d been considered a weapon only, but he didn’t let that obscure his perception of the girl. For him, that was a signal that she needed humanity. Love.

Before everything had ended, Violet and Gilbert were gravely injured. The girl lost both arms and she was unable to drag the Major out of the castle, and he asked her to stop. And gave her an order, a dying wish:

“Live… and be free. From the bottom of my heart, I love you.” —Gilbert Bougainvillea

And with those words, the story starts.

The power of words

Words move the world. The words that had been written tell a story, or the feelings of thousands. This is exactly the job of our protagonist now—After the war, Violet is hired as a Memory Doll, and her job description indicates that she has to write letters in the name of the employer. That employer could be anyone, from a single woman trying to reach her brother’s soul, to a big company that needs to close a deal.

Violet Evergarden accepted the job as a doll. Not to follow orders this time; the main purpose of joining is to find the meaning of “I love you”. But before that happens, her coworkers noticed that all her letters are too straightforward, and even though sincerity is a good thing, it is not the right way to do things. There are many ways to build words to cause an impression. And that’s what Violet learns in the beginning.

A linked journey

“I will run as fast as I can to wherever my customer desires. I am the Auto Memories Doll, Violet Evergarden.” —Violet Evergarden

Every customer has a story to tell. Every customer is a new emotion added to Violet’s experiences. As the story progresses, she grows emotionally, becoming more and more into a girl her age. Someone that was hurt by war, but maturing at the same time while accepting she was never a weapon; that she’s worth as any other person.

Conclusion

This is definitely one of the best anime series available on Netflix. If you’re looking for a good drama, do yourself a favor and watch it.

Vambrace: Cold Soul

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I played Vambrace: Cold Soul on PS4. The influence it took from Darkest Dungeon is clear. However, I have no more references than that; I haven’t played Darkest Dungeon so take my opinion as someone that only knows this game.

The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, XBox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.

A dark place

The game takes place in a frozen city that has been suffering a curse inside its walls. Life is just getting harder and harder, and people have lost hope.

I must say that the atmosphere in this game is really good. I was expecting a few mentions of the world but not something very substantial. To me it was just a place covered in ice, but as you progress and talk to the the folks, is when you realize something is very wrong, and that you actually need to help them;the NEED help, even though some have already given up, and others are have lost their minds already.

The gameplay is easy to understand. You are alone, and as any dungeon crawler, you’re going to need to explore dangerous places, so you better go and recruit party members. There’s a specific place on the map and as you get near you get the indication.

Recruitment

When you recruit your party members, you’re going to find different type of adventurers with different abilities, ready to help you in your journey. Be prepared because if they die, THEY STAY DEAD.

Battle mode

During your exploration, there are many dangers that you will find: the first and obvious are the enemies. These will come at random encounters while walking–you’ll fight them in a battle mode, your party fave to face against an enemy party. And depending on your companions, the fights can be easy or very hard, so take with you whomever you think will be more helpful. A healer is strongly recommended, but they are not always available, so make a good balance between their abilities and yours in order to get buffs for the team and debuffs for enemies.

Even when you have a good balanced team you should remember that the enemies have different attacks that might kill you immediately, or at least leave you with a stat that will affect combat or exploration. A lot of precautions are never enough here. The difficulty varies, and doesn’t help that you have a Fear (green) meter that will increase as you walk into another room or rest. There’s yellow bar that indicates your vigor, and once this reaches zero (this drains way faster when the fear meter is full), you’ll die instantly, unless you’ve been taking some breaks camping doing bonfires in the rooms that allow it; but every time you rest at a bonfire, your fear meter increases. You have to be well-prepared for that situation, explore and go straight to your goal. Do not be afraid to give up if you see there’s no way you could make it to the end of your mission. You’d have to start the dungeon from the very beginning, but at least you learned from the previous experience.

Whenever you return to a dungeon, though, it will be completely different. It randomizes. And the problem with it, is that all the traps that you had avoided, reset in different locations. In other words: you have to walk through the same but different rooms if you decide to go back and continue later.

The traps aren’t a real problem if you have a party member with good Awareness points (three or four points) in front. Dwarves are highly recommended to avoid traps, they have a good probability to get rid of them and keep walking without getting a negative status.

If you fall into a trap, you’ll get a negative status, from a broken bone, to a blurry vision (which reduces that probability to avoid traps), bleed, and some others that’ll make your journey through that dungeon more difficult. And believe me, you don’t want to make the game harder than it could be if you’re not careful.

While you walk in a dungeon, sooner or later you’ll end up triggering an event. From finding anything suspicious, from gas pipes or weird ghosts. You can pass some of these events, but others are unavoidable. Once this happens, you’ll get to choose one of your companions to do it. I believe it doesn’t matter which part member does it, the result is randomized, so I believe this was unnecessary in the first place. I guess the developers tried to add luck to increase the difficulty a little bit more, because hard isn’t enough nowadays.

Seriously, I looked and couldn’t find if the result depended on something else than luck.

If you fail, you’re going to get a negative stat, lose health or vigor, or increase your fear meter. If you succeed, you get an item, a little more health or vigor, or a buff.

Side activities

There are side quests in the game. Some of them are interesting and some of them are not. Some of them expands the story a little more, and some others are simple. These are entertaining, I’m not going to lie; and most of these are completed while you explore the dungeons, so you can get the side quest item, “give up” the dungeon and return to the city to deliver the item. You won’t get punished for abandoning the dungeon before finishing it. You have to repeat, as I mentioned, the same but different dungeon with the enemies, traps and random events reset.

For each side quest you complete, you won’t get experience or very important items. These aren’t meaningful, to be honest. And I bet this is the main reason this has been called Darkest Dungeon: Waifu Version. And as you can see in the photos, the characters are very good-looking, especially the female characters. So, after completing a side-quest, you get a different outfit for Lyric.

Dressing room, only shows what you’ve already unlocked

I am not going to lie, they are cool. Some of them look great, some of them look sexy, and some of them are less interesting (in my opinion). This is a good addition that, if you look at other games, they’d cost $5 dollars each. So let’s appreciate our rewards.

Final impressions

If you’ve played Darkest Dungeon before, you might not find something new here, or maybe interesting.

But, if you haven’t played Darkest Dungeon (like me), then this is an interesting dungeon crawler that makes you dive into its atmosphere if you pay attention to everything that’s happening. Your protagonist, Lyric, is charismatic, and your party members have a few dialogs, too, to help you believe they are actually living being and not just soulless bodies that you control during your journey.

The game has replay value. Not the kind of replay value where you want to start immediately after the credits; believe me, you’re going to need a good break before you even think on coming back because the game is punishing at times. But you have costumes to unlock, different decisions to make to see a different conclusion. Of course, the game is not for everyone, but if you enjoy a good dungeon crawler with a hard difficulty and a dark and sad world, then I recommend you give it a try.

El Camino

El Camino

The wait is over, Jesse Pinkman’s fate is finally revealed. El Camino, a movie that’s made as a sequel of the now classic TV show that was originally aired on AMC, and directed by Vince Gilligan, a decade ago. The show from the very first episode to the last was an unique experience. It wasn’t just about the drugs, cartels, and all that topic–it was the story of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher that is having a bad time; A REAL BAD TIME. By now, most people know about his journey, turning from a morally weakened Walter White to the most feared capo, Heisenberg. So there’s one question that remained at the end:

What happened to Jesse Pinkman? The last we knew about him is that he finally escaped from the Nazis, leaving Walter White behind, triumphant based on his expression. And that’s it. After that we got back to look one last time at the dying Walter. The end.

Two questions:

Do I need to watch Better Call Saul before El Camino? Nope!

Do I need to watch Breaking Bad before El Camino? Yes, you must!

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The movie starts right after the final episode of Breaking Bad. This time, we focus on Jesse Pinkman, a now former cook and former drug dealer. He though he’d finally escaped his–literal–cage. Finally breaking any tie with Heisenberg. The thing is, “it’s impossible to escape once you enter the business.” Right? There’s an opportunity here. He believes that.

Jesse’s tired and traumatized due recent events that led him to that point. He goes straight to see two of his old friends and they give ’em something to remain hidden. A few flashback will take place in-between the events of the final season of Breaking Bad to add to the nostalgia. Just don’t be surprised if you remember the characters differently; remember the show ended 10+ years ago.

From this point, I don’t think there’s much to say about the movie without giving any spoiler. It is too soon for that.

Is the movie worth watching? If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad, definitely! Though I wouldn’t expect much out of it. It is a huge fan service, and we love it, admit it or not. All these years we were wondering about Pinkman’s whereabouts, and now we got it. A good way to describe the movie is that two episodes where missing, and after a decade, the studio found them and sold them to Netflix for a good amount of money and our hearts.

If you haven’t watched the show, then the answer is: stay away from this! It is a movie exclusively for fans of the show. You won’t know what’s going on and you won’t even care about the protagonist. Same goes for the people that didn’t like the it in the first place.

Remember what we all believe Jesse deserves. That’s all I’m saying.


Personal note: I am glad this was released. Yes, I am glad to know what happens the Jesse, but it also means all the theories about him becoming a zombie during the events of The Walking Dead will be gone forever. Seriously, I know it’s fun to come up with crazy ideas for your favorite shows–I do that, too–but taking them so seriously?

Don’t expect our favorite lawyer, Saul Goodman, to be in the show. If you want to know more about him, you need to watch Better Call Saul, I am sure we’re going to get all the answers we need about him once his show ends. I’m excited for the 5th season.

 

Alien

Movie Poster

It all starts with a commercial spacecraft called the Nostromo, and its seven passengers. Mother awakens the crew when it receives a distress signal from an unknown planet. But, what they don’t know, is that the distress signal is nothing more than a call for a new danger; something really unexpected. The main protagonist, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), along with the other members, have to face something unwilling to reason. Alien starts as a science fiction movie. However, you’ll notice that after a part of the movie, it suddenly starts to change to horror. Though it never loses its sci-fi elements.

At first, you can see a relaxed atmosphere within the movie. Nothing is suspected, so the audience can actually feel what they do. A friendly talk with co-workers as if it was another normal day for anyone. The ambience in space is really well done. However, at this time you may notice is obviously part of the special effects instead of really feeling like you’re traveling out of the planet. The call they receive by Mother really starts changing the mood. What’s happening in that planet? Is it just a need for an evacuation? And, if it is the reason, what are they evacuating for?

The planet effects are different. It is really dark, and you as a spectator can notice that something’s wrong in that place… something really happened, and long ago. And that’s where the mood changes completely. No more friendly talk, everyone is worried about the circumstances. At any moment everything is going to get bad.

The other half part of the movie focuses in the ship. Nothing’s out there anymore. The real danger is inside and there’s no way they can escape from it since the ship has a schedule and speed limit. And claustrophobia, along with the danger that’s watching from the darkest corners of the ship make you feel tension as the crew members do.

From a sci-fi movie, it is really hard to make it feel like a horror movie; from the beginning you’re not expecting something normal from the galaxy out there. However, Alien is an exception from its time. The creature is so mysterious, is silent, and you never expect his moves until is too late to run or scream for help.

In the other hand, you wonder why they’re lacking for defense equipment. Flamethrowers are not even good enough for long distance encounters. Being out of space, traveling into the unknown should have been a good excuse to give the crew members a better equipment for them to work in case of something, like that creature they found. Of course, this is digging too much into a fictional movie.

The changes of mood along the 117 minutes of the movie, make the environment very realistic within the genre, of course. The crew members are really human beings trapped. And you can see the fear, sweat, and tears flowing when they encounter that dangerous and mysterious being. A great combination of science fiction and horror was made into a movie with excellent direction by the hands of Ridley Scott.