The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper is a collection of seven short stories written by A. J. Fitzwater centred around Cinrak, a lesbian, capybara pirate. It has a couple of strong elements as well as several weak points. I struggled with my thoughts as I read it and, in the end, I would say that, overall, I found it frustrating.
I will start this review briefly talking about politics. It might seem like an unusual starting point but the introduction makes clear that the book is political and it touches on several hot button issues.
Come for handsome, huggable Cinrak in a dapper three-piece, stay for her becoming a house-ship Mother to an enormous found family, the ethical polyamory, trans boy chinchilla, genderqueer rat mentor, fairy, and whale, drag queen mer, democratic monarchy, socialist pirates, and strong unionization.
What I do like about the way politics is handled in this book, is that it is not set up as a conflict between opposing ideologies; the book presents its favoured way of seeing the world and just leaves it as that. Even the religious character (and there is a fascinating take on religion inside) is played off sympathetically. However, by taking the stances it does, the book is also going to be, though it has no regrets about it, alienating for certain readers. If you can not tolerate a heavy emphasis on, and I quote, LGBTQIA characters, then this book is definitely not for you and you may as well stop here. On the other hand, if that’s what you crave, it may be exactly what you want and you should read further.
A great many people only experience science fiction by what my mother and millions of others referred to as "monster movies". From Frankenstein to Aliens and beyond, the unknown and the unexplored are often our undoing. Bleak Horizons, edited by Tarl Hoch, is a wonderful collection of 15 stories that mix SF and Horror with various levels of anthropomorphic settings and characters. And, full disclosure, one of those stories is mine. Happily, the mix includes more than just blood thirsty monsters and end of the universe scenarios.
Overall my favorite stories in this anthology are Hardwire, Pentangle, and The Ouroboros Plate. My least favorites are 4/13/2060 and Not Like Us. Below is a short review of all the pieces. I think you should snag a copy, if only to read my favorites and have a taste for this genre. However, I also really enjoyed Carmen Miranda's Ghost Is Haunting Space Station 3 so you have every right to question my taste.
Animal Crackers (trailer) is a 94-minute computer-animated children's movie. The brainchild of Scott Sava, it caught the early attention of furry fandom at least as far back as 2015. Concept animation showed a guy haphazardly munching on animal-shaped cookies that turned him into the animals. As time went on, Sava brought in financial backers, a co-director (Tony Bancroft, who'd worked on several Disney movies), and a co-writer (Dean Lorey). The finished product premiered at the Annecy Film Festival in 2017... and then vanished.
It turns out that Sava had made the mistake of not securing a distributor ahead of time. With very little bargaining power, it eventually got shown in China in 2018, and some other countries in 2019.
After the bumper here, the review will get into spoiler territory. I will say that if you are a Sonic fan this movie will give you a sense of pride as it is far better than it should have had any right in being. Taking the franchise’s lore and resetting it to tell its own story, but retaining the strong characterization and quip heavy personalities of Sonic and Robotnik that makes their rivalry such a strong one. It also keeps the first entry simple with the hedgehog and doctor being the only two characters from the universe being in the film. This makes the story stronger since it can develop those two far more and not have to worry about any other kind of side character fan service for now.
Hey, at least now Sonic fans can brag to Mario ones that Mario may still be the king of games, but Sonic blew the plumber’s cinematic pieces out of the water. Not that that was a high bar I suppose. Then again, having better quality games than Sonic these days isn’t one either (the author quips while using a quote from Sonic Forces for his review’s headline).
In the video game Sonic the Hedgehog, timing is everything. While at the heart of the game is a fast paced platformer, its foundation has always been learning the layout of a level and timing your actions appropriately. In a twist, the timing of this film and its release had quite a bit of impact on my view of it.
On Wednesday, May 1, 2019, Flayrah contributor 2cross2affliction wrote in the article 'Sonic the Hedgehog' ... the movie ... the trailer:
Fun fact: no movie directly adapted from a video game has ever scored as "fresh" on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. [...] But, a new challenger approaches! [...] The question of whether this movie is going to be any good, perhaps unfairly, has mostly already been answered by the Internet. The answer so far has been no. No. Just no. Okay, maybe Jim Carrey? But otherwise, why? Why the human teeth? Why ten times?
Underdog (언더독, trailer) is a South Korean animated film from 2018, written and directed by Oh Sung-yoon at Odoltogi Studio, and co-directed by Lee Chun-baek who previously directed Leafie, A Hen into the Wild.
The main character is Moongchi, a dog who loves and trusts his owners, so he's understandably confused when he's deliberately left behind in the woods. Luckily he soon meets a group of other abandoned dogs who take him in, surviving in an empty slum on the edge of the nearby town.
While his fellow strays beg and scrounge to survive, Moongchi is still figuring things out. Wandering up the mountain into the forest, he meets a small group of wild dogs and wants to impress one of them, a female named Bami. Trouble is brewing for both groups, and soon they must unite and find a new place to live.
Cats is such a bizarre phenomenon, I don't really know where to even start.
It's not just the movie. That a stage play based on a series of children's nonsense poems would not only be made, period, but that it would go on to be one of the most popular plays in some of the biggest venues is one of those things that make people say things like "well, it was the 80s" and "cocaine is a hell of a drug". Heck, there isn't even a lot of anecdotal evidence that drugs were involved any more than usual, if at all.
But, of all the inexplicable things, I'd like to point out the original tagline of the movie, which is so generic for such a weird property, stood out to me. "You Will Believe".
I will believe what, exactly? Neither the poems, play nor, it turns out, this feature length film has much in the way of thematic content, other than maybe "cats". Certainly, questions of faith or belief are not addressed. You could say the "jellicle cats" are a sort of feline cult to the moon, but there is no interest in the philosophy or theology of this possible cult. Certainly, I didn't come away believing there is some "Heaviside Layer" that would grant cats an extra life if they sing a song really good. Furthermore, I don't think the movie was trying very hard to make me a "believer".
So let's actually talk about the movie. The very first shots are set at a human level, as a canvas bag with a cat inside that we will learn is named Victoria (Francesca Hayward) is thrown out the window of a moving vehicle, apparently abandoned by her human owners, who we never see. This departure from the stage play, where we are given a point of view character who is new to the world of movie to have stuff explained to, is a welcome addition.
It's also the only thing the opening scene gets right.
As previously covered here on Flayrah, a furry known by his fursona name of Bucktown Tiger had made The Tournament of Champions on Jeopardy. He participated in the Thursday night quarterfinals game against some very heavy hitters. But little could he have known that his greatest enemy would not be the contestants before him that night, but a Final Jeopardy question that would be presented before the contestants on the following game Friday night.
A question whose answer was: “Who is Shere Khan?”
So how could this have happened where a furry fan, whose favorite animal species is the tiger, end up being torn up by the most infamous of all anthropomorphic tigers? Let’s break it down.
So, the premise of the movie is that there is a fox who really wants to be a dog. I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble understanding who thought this was a good idea.
In case you don't want to read a whole different review on top of this one, I'll just spoil that one for you and say that I did not like Spark very much. But, Aaron Woodley now has the unique distinction of having directed two fully furry movies, featuring fully-anthropomorphic animal characters without any humans, theatrically released to American cinemas. That's a notable achievement. We now seem to have a mainstream director who specializes in furry movies. That's good!
Pity about the movies.
After nine years, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has finally drawn to a close. How did the final season stack up? Incredibly well! Nearly every episode was good, and personally I thought that half of them were excellent. What follows are brief reviews of each episode, ranked in order, from what I considered to be the weakest to the best. Spoilers will follow!
Can I Pet Your Werewolf? is a 160-page comics anthology that came out in 2017, after a successful kickstarter by Kel McDonald. Recently there was a second kickstarter to make a new print run, so I got in on the PDF version, and my hardcopy should be shipping pretty soon.
The project is described as "A light-hearted anthology featuring tales of friendship, family, and romance shared between those who get hairy under a full moon. Just because they have sharp teeth and claws doesn't mean they have to be a monster out for blood."
There are 13 stories, black and white, from mostly women cartoonists of many backgrounds and art styles. They're short popcorn tales, ranging from 8 to 19 pages in length. Not a lot of time for deep world-building, but in each one you're seeing a personal little snippet of a larger setting.
Klace, a pink canine character with colorful locks, and his studio Tall Tail Studios has released a successor to his Ursa Major winning visual novel Major/Minor. Winds of Change is not a sequel, it is a self contained adventure that requires no experience with the former to play and enjoy. There are a few Easter eggs that seem to allude to the older game, but nothing that shapes your ability to comprehend the world before you.
So given that is this game worth your time? In short if you love visual novels and enjoyed Major/Minor you will love this game even more as it is better in every regard. If you despise the genre obviously, you may want to pass.
I would say even if you disliked Major/Minor due to its quality, you should give this one a shot. The difference between the two games are night and day. I’ll be covering mechanics over story in this, mostly to avoid narrative spoilers. There are however a spoiler for Mass Effect 2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
The 2000s were not an easy time for those who were furry or gay. The mainstream media was still hyper-focused on the sexual aspects of fandom expression in a freak-show style of coverage, instead of the overall complexity of the community. The ability to marry individuals of the same sex was still not federally recognized in the United States and wouldn’t be until the early 2010s. It was in that era that one furry artist named Rukus took their own life at the end of 2008.
Now, just over a decade later, someone who knew this artist on a personal level has finished a documentary covering the life of their lost friend and their interlude with fandom. That director, Brett Hanover, contacted me and gave me the opportunity to view a screening of the film.
The show releases on Vimeo and their own website today and can be viewed there. You can choose to watch before I go over the details and review below. Though the review may help understand some of the nuances of the film.
An interesting new comic from Oni Press we found out about through Previews: Ghost Hog by Joey Weiser. “A new graphic novel from the Eisner Award-nominated creator of Mermin that deftly navigates loss, vengeance, and acceptance! Truff is the ghost of a young boar, fueled by fury towards the hunter who shot her down. She has a lot to learn about her new afterlife, and thankfully the forest spirits Claude and Stanley are there to guide her! However, they soon find that her parents, along with their fellow animal villagers, have been kidnapped by the malicious mountain demon Mava! Truff wants to help, but… the hunter is finally within her grasp, and if she lets him go, she may never get her revenge!” Check out the detailed review over at Comics Beat.
Aggretsuko has launched its second season on Netflix. The first season won an Ursa Major, and the show has become a hit among the fandom with its theme of worklife in the modern era. Will the second season be able to retain its title?
In short, I personally found the second season to be a bit tamer than the first as far as content goes. The red panda, Retsuko, seems to have adapted more to her stresses in life and the duality of her underlying rage seems to have been numbed a bit. When she did do a scream-fest, it seemed more forced and circumstantial than prepared and thought out. It also looks to be that the season focuses on the social obligations outside the workplace this season. Items such as friendship, family, and the future of Retsuko’s life outside of work seem to be the focus of her stresses.
Given this, those that like the first season may have differing feelings of the direction of this one. My thoughts are a bit complicated. I think the first season was far punchier and excellently paced, whereas the second had good moments but also some questionable decisions on character usage.