Lenni Reviews: “Remina” by Junji Ito

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Set in future Japan, a new planet is discovered and the scientist names the planet after his daughter, Remina. While uncomfortable being in the spotlight, Remina slowly accepts her newfound fame. But the tide turns against her when it’s revealed planet Remina is moving closer to Earth.

I remember this story from one of Ito’s previous collections I’ve read. This edition is really nice, though.

Much like the planet bearing her name, Remina just sort of drifts along without much agency of her own. As everyone around her descends into homicidal chaos, one would think she would say or do… Something? Other than crying and apologizing for being a bother?

Anyway, this is a story highlighting the worst of humanity as it’s railing against it’s certain destruction. The art is classic Ito greatness but the story didn’t grab me. Remina is just so blah and everyone around her is either dead or terrible for most of the book. It’s more dull and hopeless than scary. 2.9 out of 5 for me.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Dollhouse Family” by Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Vince Locke & Chris Peter

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Through generations of a family, a dollhouse with mysterious powers manipulates people right up to six year old Alice. She receives the house from an estranged aunt and voices inside help her deal with her rapidly degrading family life. But Alice resists the promises of the house as it is clear even as she grows to adulthood, the house has sinister intentions.

Basically this is a Lovecraftian story of how a curse follows a family for generations until Alice fights to end it. I love the creature designs and I was hooked watching Alice grow up. The backstory with the family is revealed in-between Alice growing up and the time jumps were a little jarring, I’ll admit. But you get used to them as you read.  I hope there’s a sequel to this because it is clearly set up for one. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Crow: Lethe” by Tim Seeley, Ilias Kyriazis, Katrina Mae Hao, Samuel Murray, Meredith Laxton & Will Cook

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In this comic, we get two stories continuing The Crow mythos.  The first is Null Narcos, a sideshow performer with no memory of who he is. The second is the story of Brandi, getting revenge on those who murdered her and her father.

If The Crow was to be continued, I like the idea of showcasing different people in the role. I am one of the few who enjoyed The Crow: City of Angels but the tv show was a disaster. I don’t think anything can capture the magic of the original (which I’d bet money would never get made today… The 90’s were a special time) but the stories in this are good and the art style suits each story and their completely different tones. If you’re curious to see what other writers would do with this property, I’d give it a shot. It’s short but decent. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Prey of Gods” by Nicky Drayden

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Set in a futuristic South Africa where everyone has a personal robot and designer drugs are a frequent past time; we have a seemingly unconnected cast of characters slowly drawn into what could be a cataclysmic series of events.

I really can’t say too much more about the plot without spoiling the experience of how a young man named Muzi, his layabout friend, Elkin, a nail technician named Sydney, a superstar singer named Riya, a politician named Sydney, and a young girl named Nomvula are all connected to the end of the human race. You just need to read this. It’s ruthlessly creative, character-driven, thrilling, and almost perfect except for some aspects of the ending I didn’t like; which I won’t spoil. I loved it and highly recommend it if you’d like some futuristic sci-fi in a unique setting. 5 out of 5 and I hope there is more to come.

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Lenni Reviews: “Blood on the Tracks” Vol. 1, by Shūzō Oshimi

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Seiichi seems like a normal teenage boy with nice friends and a girl that likes him. He does well in school and has a good family life. Except for his mother Seiko, who is strangely overprotective of him; culminating in a dark, life changing event.

Even putting aside my familiarity with this manga-ka and the synopsis of the volume, Seiko is creepy from the start. I spent the whole volume waiting for her to snap. I believe it’s Oshimi’s art that – while lovely – telegraphs she’s demented and about to do something terrible. There’s still a terrible tension to it because you really don’t expect the form it takes and it is shocking. You’re left to wonder what the heck is going to happen from here. If you like creeping horror, this is great. 4.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Irena: Book Two: Children of the Ghetto” by Jean-David Morvan

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

In a switch up in form, this volume starts with Oliwka, one of the children Irena saved, telling her story to her own daughter before an event where Irena speaks to continue from where the first volume left off. Irena is saved from prison and immediately goes back to helping people escape.

Much like the first, I found this to be beautifully and tastefully done. If you want to introduce someone to Irena’s story and work, I think this is a great primer for further research. The art may be simple but it gets the point across as to the horrors of this point in history. If you like historical graphic novels, this is a great read. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Medium-Sized Book of Zim Scripts: Vol. 1: Pigs ’n’ Waffles: The stories, and the stories behind the stories of your favorite Invader” by Rikki Simons, Eric Trueheart & Aaron Alexovich

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* This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

This book is a collection of not only scripts but behind the scenes stories. I knew I would love this book from the introduction, which has all the wit and humor once comes to expect from a show like Invader Zim. I’m not even one for digging into the background goings-on of a show I like; tending to just enjoy my chosen media and move on (or watch repeatedly). Despite this, I had a great time with the backstories and inspirations for the plots in the episodes.

This book brings even more fun to the original show and has me wanting to binge the entire thing all over again to see the fruits of such interesting labors. And these side stories are fantastically written. You get the feeling of being there with the emotions expressed and interactions of everybody – especially towards the end with the show’s cancellation. It isn’t accurate to say I can’t know what it would be like to work with these people because this book showed me and I am delighted to have read it. I encourage fans of the show to give this a try.

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Lenni Reviews: “Fangirl” Vol 1, by Rainbow Rowell

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*This book has been given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Embarking on her freshman year of college, reserved and shy Cath would rather stay neck deep in her fanfiction of Simon Snow than indulge in the typical freshman experience like her twin sister, Wren. But despite her most sincere wishes to be left alone, her audacious roommate and her boyfriend open her eyes to something more than solitary fandom.

I found this unbearably adorable. I thought Cath would have this super catty roommate that bullied her and her roommate’s boyfriend would have ill intentions but this is amazingly pure and I adore it. It’s almost too pure since I remember college and while I was a good girl and went to class (yes… I was that lame) I saw some shit. It’s sweet that Cath has some decent people around her having her back; even her twin, Wren. Wren wants her own life but it’s not like she just tosses her sister to the wolves. Although, this ends on a cliffhanger so we’ll see how that holds up. 

I haven’t read the original novel this is based on, (but I will) so I can’t speak to accuracy but I liked this. Got me all nostalgic and everything! 4 out of 5

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Lenni Reviews: “Ice Cream Man: Hopscotch Melange” Vol 3 by W. Maxwell Prince, Martín Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran

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This volume gives us some background to where The Ice Cream Man came from before we get into the more vignette style the pervious volumes had. One story is set in Mexico on The Day of the Dead and is completely in Spanish with a translation later in the volume; which was interesting. Even having to bounce between the translation and the story, I was still eft with a more authentic feeling than if they just used carrots or asterisks to visually tell us it’s another language.

But the big deal here is getting some info on our demonic Rick and why Caleb is hunting him. They’re really going off the wall with this one and I’m interested to see where it goes. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Aggretsuko: Metal to the Max” by Daniel Barnes, Brenda Hickey; Jarrett Williams, D.J. Kirkland, CJ Cannon, Sarah Stern

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This is a collection of three stories:

  1. Down With the Sickness – in which everyone comes down with a cold in the office.
  2. Mall Madness – where Retsuko is forced to go shopping with Tsunoda
  3. The Visitor – when Karen from Canada comes to the office to evaluate the team.

To address something I see people saying as a criticism of the first story being tactless due to COVID, I have to disagree with those people. The title is a play on Disturbed’s song, the story has a zombie theme, so naming the virus in the story the C-Virus seems to me like a play from Resident Evil (called Biohazard in Japan) where the first virus used to make the zombies was called the T-virus. It’s very likely the name was picked without knowing about COVID and it became too late to change it but, sorry. Can’t jump on that bandwagon, guys. I believe this is an unfortunate coincidence. And coming from a person who works in an office setting where people get sick and refuse to stay home (or can’t stay home), I get how it feels to watch a cold/flu go around the staff.

That being said, this is a cute volume that is likely useless to anyone not familiar with the original show. The second story had a massive upgrade in art and the third had the most depth story wise. If I were to rate them in order, it would be 3, 2, then 1. The third story gives Retsuko an ally that I feel she really needed. 3.5 out of 5.

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