Gloomy Reviews:- Frankenstein

So, here we are. It’s Christmas Eve. It’s only right then that I review something connected to the holiday. Yes, we are going to review Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.

What, it has a lot to do with Christmas. Don’t you remember that part where Dr Frankenstein …er… when he…

(Several Minutes Later)

Okay, I admit it. This has nothing to do with Christmas. But I’m reviewing it anyway.

The Plot

You all know the basics of how this starts. We have Victor Frankenstein, a scientist, and he decides to work on how to create life. He does so and creates his monster. Said monster is horrifying and later tries to destroy his life.

Actually, Frankenstein abandoned the monster and it was forced to life a wretched life where it was shunned by all. It amuses me to consider how the efforts by the writer to point out neglect and suffering was a good part of why monster became what it was have been so ignored by popular culture. Well, there is season 1 of Penny Dreadful. That has a good Frankenstein plot in it. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend it.

Well, Frankenstein abandons his research after creating the monster. He abandons the creature too and it is forced to live in the world alone. Frankenstein also suffers a nervous breakdown. He does recover from that and slowly starts living his life again. However, an incident happens that ruins this happiness and the monster also reappears in his life, demanding that Frankenstein create a mate for him.

The plot, in my opinion, is a strength of the tale. Thanks to well written first person narration, the path that lead Frankenstein to creating the monster, the torment he suffered from seeing what he had done and his struggles to deal with the aftermath of the monster’s creation on his life and mind are conveyed in excellent detail. The same applies to the suffering of the monster when it narrates the misery of it’s existence. Both terror inspired by the monster’s appearance and it’s actions and sympathy in regards to it’s miserable life can be found in this book.

The Characters

The complexities of both of Frankenstein and his monster are superbly conveyed to the reader. Both grasped at my interest and didn’t let go. In that respect, the book does well. However, the other characters are just there, serving their designated roles. They aren’t bad, but I’ll never remember any of them outside of their roles. Frankenstein’s love interest will always just be that person who Frankenstein loved to be, nothing more. The book does convey enough to show why Frankenstein cares about these people, but there’s not much to them beyond that. His best friend does have a bit beyond that, but it is just told to us by Frankenstein. What we have shown via scenes really of most of the other characters is not that interesting.

Overall Opinion

While I had trouble starting it, I’ve been suffering from a bout of depression and so everything has been hard to start. So, I can’t say it will be like that for others. But It did keep my interest once I had, which given my current disinterest in most things, certainly deserves praise. In my opinion, it certainly deserves it’s place as a classic work of fiction.

Gloomy Reviews:- Monokuma Plush

So, this is a review of something I ordered about two weeks ago and received two days ago. I’ve had an interest in plush toys and the like that are connected to series I like and this is the first one I’ve ever purchased. So, first, let me introduce you to the character of Monokuma, from the game series Danganronpa and it’s anime adaptation. This was sold by costanime, though I’m not sure who make it.

Anyway, this is Monokuma.

And here is a picture of what I’ve purchased.


Amazon Link

Now, this was created as merchandise for the animation. This version is not the only one out there, though the other version costs more. Presumably, it is of a higher quality, though my funds are limited and I have no problems with the quality of what I have in this plush. Admittedly, I have no experience with these, but I can’t see any flaws in how it is made.

Now, the torso has no stuffing in it, apart from some paper that’s in it. This can be easily and cheaply fixed. The back has a zip in the form of it’s tail, which allows you to open Monokuma up and put some stuffing in him, if you wish. I had some cheap cotton balls I had bought ages ago and I used those to fill up his torso. Obviously, what you do about that is up to you. So, there is a deficiency to this plush in comparison to his more expensive duplicate. Yet it is one that is easily solved.

Now, one thing to note is a loop on the back of Monokuma’s head, presumably so you can hang him if you wish. A nice little touch in my opinion, even if it is something I personally will not use with mine.

Anyway, here is my overall opinion. Those interested in the Danganronpa franchise will get a somewhat more affordable option to other Monokuma with an easily fixed flaw that will leave you with a lovely plush once sorted out. As for any who just like the appearance of this guy, it would be harder to recommend this to such people. The flaw in this is certainly easier to overlook when it is a plush of a character you like and at a cheaper price than alternatives. Though one more thing to note is that it’s price does fluctuate, so there there are times where it might be better financially to go with other versions of Monokuma. Just be sure to check on the prices of the versions available to you before you buy one.

Gloomy Reviews:- Another

So, here is a review for Halloween. Yes, I actually have something for Halloween and this is not just something I’ve meant to review for a few weeks that I decided to get completed for this holidays. That would be utterly absurd and I have no idea where anyone would get such a ridiculous idea. Anyway, we are looking at Another, a novel by Yukito Ayatsuji. The author actually has a fair amount of acclaim, having also written a number of other works, thought it is for this and the manga and anime adaptations of this book for which he is best known for.

Now, on with the review.

The Plot

Now, this book starts with the transfer of our main character, Koichi Sakakibara, to a new school, Yomimaya North Middle School. He finds that the students there are generally friendly, but at the same time there is something odd about how they are acting around him, as though he is something to be concerned about and not in a way that concerns his health problems. Rather, it is as if he is regarded as an ill omen. Next, he encounters a rather mysterious and strange student by the name of Mei Misaki, who he stumbles upon at times when he is alone. This leads to him doing some research and he finds out there is a story about a student called Misaki who died twenty six years ago year and the students in his or her class decided to carry on acting as though they were alive. Naturally, he keeps on digging for more information.

However, a horrific accidental death suddenly occurs that puts everyone on edge. You see, there have been a number of inexplicable deaths, occurring on certain years for one of the classes inYomimaya. Since he is the protagonist, it’s naturally the class that Sakakibara is in that these deaths always occur. His class, Class 3, is cursed. At times, the student count of the class is more than it should be by one and no one can figure out who the extra student is. During such times, there are always inexplicable deaths, either amongst the students, the school faculty or someone else, though they are always connected to Class 3. This is again the case and people are dying in mysterious ways, one every month as this curse is meant to do. There is also a student called Mei Misaki who can apparently only be seen by Sakakibara. So, he decides he is going to get to the bottom of what is going on, no matter what.

The Characters

The two characters really of note are Koichi Sakakibara and Mei Misaki. Sakakibara, the main character, is mainly the typical male protagonist you get in Japanese School settings. However, there are some features worth. First, he has an interest in horror and one of his friendships is even based on a mutual interest in that sort of thing. Next, he has a medical condition that afflicts his lungs, which is both the reason why he is transferring in to Yomimaya and something that affects the story at points. His father is working abroad in India while his mother is dead, meaning that the number of people he can talk about what he is dealing with is reduced. Plus, there is his surname, which is associated with a cruel death and thus unnerving to others. It’s something he has learned to deal with, though it does cause some tension between him and the other students.

It is worth noting that this book is written in the first person form of prose, so we have access to Sakakibara’s thoughts as the tale roles on, helping his portrayal, though focusing the story firmly on him. This naturally means less ability to give similar development to other characters.

Next, there is Mei Misaki. As one firmly connected to the mysteries of the book, she gets a fair amount of attention. However, it is more as a tool for exposition and driving the plot forward, than as a character. She does get some development and background and I would say her interactions are enjoyable enough. However, there is not that much substance to her and it would be somewhat difficult to describe her.

Apart from that, the other characters are not really noteworthy. There is Ms. Mizuno, who the protagonist knows from time he spent in the hospital due to his condition. She is fairly likeable and she also serves to advance the plot. She also gets a decent amount of interaction with the protagonist, thus enabling me to remember her. Apart from that, I really can’t say anyone else is distinctive. Thankfully, this means that none of them are distinctive for being typical horror genre douches. Yet it is hard to feel much about the deaths of some of the characters, due to how unmemorable they are.

Overall Opinion

So, here is my opinion of this book. I’d say it is above average and a decent read for those aver a bit of horror, though it certainly has some flaws. As mentioned, there is the flawed handling of characters other than our main one. But the premise and the mystery of what is going on are both interesting and the deaths are gruesome enough to instil some terror in readers in spite of the lack of attachment you’ll feel to many of those being killed.

Gloomy Reviews:- Everybody Talks About The Weather…. We Don’t

So, here is another review. Again, it is of a non-fiction book, though one that is very different from the one in my previous review. For this review, we are looking at Everybody Talks About The Weather…. We Don’t, a collection of essays by radical left wing writer Ulrike Meinhof.

Ulrike Meinhof, the writer of this book, is also notable and infamous for having been a member of the Red Army Faction (RAF), a radical left wing terrorist group and for using her writing at that point for production of propaganda for the group. However, she started off writing elsewhere and had a promising career as a journalist. Many of her essays, those before her disaffection with the way Germany was being run led to her joining the RAF, contain valuable and interesting insights in regards to the events of the time. Many issues connected to these events, such as Israel or use of security fears to reduce the rights of citizens, persist to this day.

Thanks to her decision to join the RAF and write for them, she is a controversial figure and there are many who overlook her pre-RAF essays. In these, we see a different shade to her politics, though it is possible to see the signs of where she’d end up, with her frustration with the situation in Germany evident as you go further through her works and as events decreased her hopes for the kind of radical progressive change she hoped for. Yet she still offered insightful critique of many policies that are unfortunately practised to this day, even if I do not agree with the solution she eventually chose.

So, my opinion is that it is an interesting read, though I will say now that this is certainly affected by my own radical left political beliefs and my interest in historical events in periods like her own. While there are essays that still have relevancy, there are many in this collection that are firmly linked to the events of the time and do not have much relevancy to current politics. Also, as stated, she writes in a biased way and thus may not be of much interest to those with very different political views.

Gloomy Reviews:- The Highly Sensitive Person

So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted anything. I’ve decided to change that by finally writing a review of a book I’ve had for about two weeks. We are looking at The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron. The writer herself is both a psychologist and a highly sensitive person, thus writing in part from her own experiences in addition to utilising research to corroborate her ideas and find those of others regarding this psychological idea.

Now, let us begin. This book looks at highly sensitive people, as you can guess from the title. A highly sensitive person, as defined by the book, is someone with a nervous system that is more sensitive than then norm. So, a highly sensitive person is more perceptive of external stimuli, such as sounds, lights or movement. This heightened perceptiveness is such that it means that a highly sensitive person is potentially at risk of being overwhelmed by stimuli. As a result, such people often try to avoid situations where they have to deal with lots of stimuli that could overwhelm their senses. This then leads on to them being perceived as shy, timid, vulnerable and in other negative ways.

Yet, as the book strives to show, highly sensitive people have a lot to offer. They often perceive things in the world, in ideas and in others that are generally missed. They also tend to think more before taking action, which means they are more likely to spot problems and think of solutions, especially with their ability to perceive more and potentially gain more information as they observe the world. They also have rich imaginations, from which all sorts of creative ideas may take form. Also, their ability to perceive can potentially aid with empathy and understanding others.

The trait of being highly sensitive does bring one into conflict with social expectations, primarily those in the west where the negative traits are considered especially bad and the positives, such as a more thoughtful and perceptive outlook, are undervalued. So, this book was written. Both the highly sensitive and those who live with them have to deal with the effects of a lack of knowledge on this matter. The writer tries to aid both in this. The highly sensitive reader is given more information on what it means to be such, plus ideas on both how to deal with likely problems from the past and those they face in the present and future. Such people are potentially likely to have problems caused by their sensitivity during their childhood. There is also the job market and the expectations of society that go against the nature of a highly sensitive person and can force them to develop mentally in an unhealthy manner. The writer does her best to provide understanding and help the reader accept these problems, while giving suggestions on how to better cope with their flaws and make use of their substantial strengths.

For the non-highly sensitive reader, this books offers an insight into how highly sensitive people think and why they act the way they do. They also are give suggestions on how to better deal with highly sensitive people in the future. For example, the book gives plenty of advice in regards to highly sensitive children. Such children can either turn out wonderfully or poorly based on how much a parent understands and properly deals with the traits that come with being highly sensitive. A highly sensitive person, as mentioned already, is highly sensitive to stimuli and what a child deals with when young will impact their development. So, a parent who respects the needs of such a child while offering careful support and encouragement when it comes to dealing with stressful or overwhelming stimuli to them can make a world of difference. Failing to do so can potentially cause problems for the child that will last for many years.

My opinion of this book is that it offers some very interesting information that could be quite helpful, even if you are not highly sensitive person. The amount of highly sensitive people around is put at 15-20 percent of the population. So, the odds of having to interact with a highly sensitive person are hardly extraordinary and this book can provide hints on how to better handle such an encounter. For those who are highly sensitive or suspect they are, it again provides plenty of helpful information and I say that as someone who suspects they are highly sensitive.

Gloomy Reviews:- Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni (Trial version)

So, here is another review that concerns a visual novel. This time, I am looking at a trial version of a visual novel by the same writer who wrote Higurashi. Now, I am instead looking at a small part of the third visual novel by this writer, Ryukishi07. This is quite a bit different from the other two though, those being Higurashi and Umineko. It has a different focus and a very different way of telling it’s narrative. So, this is quite an interesting experience, at least for me.

Well, here is my review of Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni (Trial version).

The Plot

So, this novel is divided into a number of short stories. We start with once centred on an abusive Teacher, Kanamori, and the student he abuses, Marie Moriya. She is a person who’s whole life has been dominated by the effects of her timidness, her lack of self-esteem and how easily she is pushed around by others. So when found her as one of the students in his class, he finally found a solution to his own problem, that of a feeling that he lacked suitable rewards and status for his hard work. Namely, he had a person he could dominate and abuse as he wishes, someone he could be utterly superior to.

This is something he readily and horrifically makes use of, utterly degrading her with his abuse. Marie surrenders to this meekly, justifying it to herself via the small gestures that the Teacher does for her, such as deal with people who bully her. Besides, she knows of no one who would help her, not even her family members. But it soon comes to the thoughts of Kanamori that he cannot ensure total control over Marie for ever. Furthermore, she has the power to destroy him if she were to ever reveal his crimes. So, he starts to consider a solution to this problem. Namely, that he should kill Marie. After all, he has enough control over her that he can do this in an untraceable way. No one would be able to figure out who it was and he’d be able to continue his hard-working life.

But Marie in her despair is desperate for revenge. For her, it’s either this or suicide. But a third option appears. That is in the form of one of the school’s yokai, Higanbana, which offers her a chance to become a yokai and gain the power to inflict revenge on her teacher. For those reading who do not know, the name Yokai is used for a wide group of supernatural creatures in Japanese folklore. This includes the creatures that inhabit the school in this story, which feed off the souls of humans to survive and interact with humans for various reasons, ranging from their need for souls to a desire to find entertainment.

So, the trial version has three stories, each at the same school. All of the stories are set there, with some of them connected to each other by certain characters. The school Yokai are a presence in all the stories and one in particular, Higanbana, appears in all of three shown so far.

All involve differing elements of horror in regards to the school and the students in it, with different human elements looked at in each story. For example, some of the things that the first story looks at are abuse of children, inferiority issues and failing to either stand up for yourself or rely on friends and family when in need. Then one of the themes of the second is truth and what it means to have a truth either remembered or forgotten by others. The supernatural element is also looked at. The Yokai are the other element apart from the setting that connect the stories. These add other ideas to look at, such as the afterlife, death, spirits and various kinds of ideas that can only be explored via these demons and their world.

The Visuals and Music

The visuals again have the distinctive watercolour backgrounds that I find likeable in their own way. However, the sprites are in the particular style used by the writer. Here is an example.


While they do not ruin or harm the visual novel in any way, I personally do not like it. I prefer the higher quality sprites used in updated versions of his novels. The style used in this is cruder and looks odd to me.

However, the music is very good already, definitely adding to the mood of the scenes they are in. Whether it’s for a happy everyday scene, a horror scene or a highly emotional sad scene, the music fits well. This is to be expected though, since I’ve had that experience with all of Ryushaki’s works. Though I will say that I have more pieces that I’d like to re-listen to from this than from the first chapter of Higurashi. Here are a few bits.

Overall Opinion

So, my opinion so far is that this offers quite a bit in terms of horror. However, this looses the mystery and depth that the other previous works, Higurashi and Umineko had. However, it does have it’s own charm. I admit that a move away from the large cast of Umineko, even though I liked many of the characters, is certainly a beneficial move.

The stories all have effective horror elements. For example Kanamorie is both quite disgusting and horrifying, while his behaviour does have an effective explanation other than him being evil. These stories rely on ideas that have a lot of potential, plus effective writing, to work as horror pieces. While there is the potential for it to use overused horror cliches, such as jump scares, it does not do so. Instead, the writing brings both the Yokai and some very horrifying people and situations to life in a very effective and chilling way. Plus the people in these stories and their problems and struggles are portrayed in a very understanding way, which is part of what makes the stories effective. Both those who are generally good and scum like Kanamori have their thoughts and feelings put forward fully to the reader and we can understand them fully, even if we hate them.

So, while this is a limited trial version, I’d say it was very enjoyable. Even if it lacks the complexity and depth of the writer’s previous works, it certainly is worth a read. In fact, while the main version is very hard to obtain currently, here is a link to the trial version.

Higanbana (Trial Version)

Well, that is it for this review. I’m not sure what I’ll review next, but there will be something else up here sometime this week.

Gloomy Reviews:- The History of the Habsburg Empire 1526-1918

So, here is a review of another history book. This time, we are look at The History of the Habsburg Empire 1526-1918 by Robert Kann. This book is one I decided to read upon seeing it mentioned by another and my own interest in the Habsburgs led me to give it a try. I admit though that it is a book that I had not done much research on, nor any on it’s author.

Well, let”s move on with the review.

This book serves to detail the history of what this book refers to as the Habsburg Empire, but which is more commonly known as the Austrian Empire and which was known in the final decades of it’s existence as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Starting from the early years, where these territories were a collection of territories owned by the Habsburgs, it begins by detailing their formation into a single political entity. From there, it moves on to the rise of the Empire to being one of the Great Powers of Europe, detailing it’s glory days and then it’s eventual decline and collapse.

As both a multi-national empire and one that had a significant role on the European stage, the Habsburg Empire is rather interesting. The way that the various national groups interacted with each other and dealt with the central authority of the Habsburgs is quite interesting. Of particular note are the Hungarians and the Czechs, who both were hostile to efforts by the German Austrians to dominate them and the efforts by thick headed members of the Habsburgs to start religious persecution and take away rights from them did much to aggravate tensions. However, there were also capable people in the Habsburg camp who did much to make the multi-national state function effectively.

Also, there is the matter of it’s relations with other powers and it’s wars and disputes with them. The Turks were a prominent enemy through most of the history of the enemy of the Empire, with the threat posed by them doing much to unite the Empire. There is also Austria’s main rival, Prussia, who frequently opposed the Habsburgs in the German states. France also often serves as a threat.

The history of the Habsburg Empire is quite rich in terms of historical events, dynastic disputes and developments in culture and religion. This book looks at these as well as the history of the Habsburg dynasty itself and describes it all in an interesting and engaging way.

Now, there is the matter of notes and the book’s bibliography. The book does not have much in terms of notes, though it does have a small appendix and a fairly sizeable bibliography. However, it is worth noting that the book does occasionally make use of another work by the author as a reference.

Now for my overall opinion. The Austrian Empire, as the main rival to Prussia and the child of the Holy Roman Empire, has always been of interest to me. So, this book did not have to do much to catch my interest. The writer also is capable at making the material enjoyable to read. However, I do have a slight concern about the quality of research done for the book. Yet my limited knowledge of books concerning the history of this Empire seems to indicate that this is one of the better options available.