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Book reviews: 'Mistmantle Chronicles' and 'Mouseheart'

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

Mistmantle Chronicles With temperatures down, and entertainment options becoming more and more—homegrown, let's say—it's a good time to catch up on that new-to-you material that aligns with your interests. Here are two of those lesser-known but deserving properties, marketed toward youth. For those of you who were sold on The Secret of NIMH, Redwall, and everything in between, at first view.

Mistmantle Chronicles

The Mistmantle Chronicles by M.I. McAllister has jacket flaps that compare it to The Wind In The Willows and Watership Down, although as you can see from the first installment's cover, there's much more of a Redwall yen in this series. As they say, though, DON'T judge a book by its cover, as the experiences of brave squirrel Urchin on the titular island carry their own identity. This flies in the face of origins that speak to many favorite role-playing games, as he evolves from his discovery on an empty beach to his eventual destiny in foiling a royal coup.

Camaraderie and species characteristics also run heavy in this, as in Redwall, however there is a noticeable amount of personification of reactive emotion and atmosphere as well, where dread and evil are given concrete outlines. Given my frequent mention of the property in the paragraph, you can gather the audience to which Mistmantle speaks. Dig on into this if you're part of that audience, since Miramax has purchased movie rights [albeit in 2004], and some sort of photo-play is probably not far off.

Super Animal Royale - A 2D Fortnite for the furry

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

SAR.png

It is well known to many Flayrah readers that there is at least one of our contributors that has a habit surrounding a game by the name of Fortnite. They usually write reviews for movies and not games, so this is no big deal. That third person battle royale shooter was a spin off of its inspiration PUBG: Battlegrounds. Given its more stylized graphics and quirky building mechanics, Fortnite became a powerhouse and caught on in the consumer markets much to the chagrin of those who like the more realistic and rough stylings of PUBG.

But if it’s anything that the battle royale genre teaches you, it is that just because you’re the first to hit the ground, doesn’t mean you’ll be the last one standing.

Regardless, if there is one thing for sure most of this site’s target audience can agree on is that neither of those games is really “furry”. Sure there are skins in Fortnite that let you dress up and you can write an article listing them out for the fur-curious gamers playing it, if you really want to. But it is very certain that the characters fighting it out in the battle in these games are very much homosapiens. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Luckily for furs in 2021, a new battle royale game was released officially that may appeal more toward the anthro enthusiast. Super Animal Royale is a game of genetically modified animal folks fighting it out in a dilapidated Disney-esque amusement park called Super Animal World to try and be the best of up to 64 contestants thrown into this battle of the death by being the last animal standing.

Review: 'Sing 2'

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (12 votes)

sing2.jpgSing 2 opens with the cast and crew of Moon’s Theater putting on a pop-musical stage adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Alice is played by the elephant Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), the Mad Hatter is played by the gorilla Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), and the Cheshire Cat is played by a pig named Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), which seems like a bit of miscasting to me. This performance is particularly important, because in the audience is a talent scout, a saluki dog named Suki (voiced by Chelsea Peretti) who could get them an audition to perform at even bigger venues.

Anyway, she leaves about halfway through the first act.

The theater’s owner and director, the koala Mr. Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), tries to stop her, asking her what she thought of the show. She replies that it’s fine, really good local children’s theater production, but just not what they’re looking for. When Moon implores her to tell him, really honestly, what she thinks, Suki sighs and asks him if he really wants to know.

Because the honest truth, she says, is they’re just not good enough.

Death's Door - Turns out death is actually a great adventure

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (12 votes)

DeathsDoor.jpgDeath’s Door is a game where you play as a crow who has been tasked with reaping a soul. However, things become complicated as someone rips one of your assigned souls from your grasp. This leaves you on a quest to hunt down some monstrous beings who are doing everything they can to stall their egress from the world of the living.

Gameplay-wise it has the exploration and dungeon crawling elements of a Zelda game. However, the large boss fights are punishing and far more difficult than the Nintendo faire. They seem closer to Dark Souls boss fights in terms scale— but not quite as brutal, a nice moderate difficulty.

I honestly hope this one wins the Ursa Major award for gaming in 2021.

Usually, I don’t have a horse in these races, as most of the games I get an opportunity to play are in a backlog from prior years. Luckily, as a furry, I don’t ever feel compelled to keep up with the Joneses of the world and consume the latest titles. Instead I play anthro games as my audience votes on which one they would like to see me play. So it is rare that I get to play a game in the year it came out.

This treat of a game was published in July of this year, developed by Acid Nerve and published by Devolver Digital. It is available on PC and XBox consoles. And this October the voters decided this would be a good game to play. You know, death is spooky. However, the game is not of the horror genre.

A new sort of animal: 'Lady into Fox', by David Garnett

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (16 votes)

I don't feel the need to justify bringing up David "Bunny" Garnett's 1922 short novel Lady into Fox in a furry context. As the title suggests, the story involves a lady who turns into a fox. Technically, it is not a story about an anthropomorphic animal, and is in fact about the direct opposite of that, a zoomorphic human. Of course, this is a nitpick. I doubt anyone cares.

Sylvia Tebrick as a fox merrily chasing ducks in a cute little dress, from Lady into Fox

On the point of genre, however, there is one area where I would like to make a rather more controversial "take" on the subject matter. Though the novel was a bit unclassifiable when it was first introduced, with H.G. Wells (an author known for his use of anthropomorphic animals) praising it as "a new creation, a new sort of animal, let us say, suddenly running about in the world," a phrase that I imagine had him enthusiastically punching the air at his own cleverness.

More modern takes tend to classify it as a "contemporary fantasy". However, I find it to be entirely different: it seems nothing more (or less) than a tale of the supernatural; a ghost story whose 'ghost' merely requires a few scare quotes - or, put another way, a horror story.

Streaming review: 'My Little Pony: A New Generation'

Your rating: None Average: 3.1 (14 votes)

'My Little Pony: A New Generation' movie poster And so it begins. Again.

The long running My Little Pony is introducing its latest toyline "generation" with what was supposed to be a theatrical movie. Due to the whole "ongoing pandemic" thing, that was mostly canceled (it was released theatrically in a few regions) and the whole thing moved to the streaming service Netflix, where any further spin-offs will also be held. My Little Pony: A New Generation is directed by Robert Cullen and José Luis Ucha with co-director Mark Fattibene, and has been available on Netflix since September 24 in most regions.

Not to beat around the bush, but the last time My Little Pony launched, it was kind of a thing. I'm sure the vast majority of Flayrah's readership is well aware of the "brony" subculture, but if you somehow missed it, or would just like a refresher, this Ursa Major-nominated video by YouTuber Jenny Nicholson is recommended – though you could always troll through Flayrah's "My Little Pony" tag. The upshot: there are higher expectations attached to this series relaunch than usual.

Review: 'Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts Of Vader's Castle #2'

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

'Ghosts of Vader's Castle' A-cover, by Francesco Francavilla 'Ghosts of Vader's Castle' B-cover, by Derek Charm

Kismet on a recent outing brought me into contact with an issue of this Star Wars offshoot, published by IDW Comics, which advertises itself in that usual, effective way.

Ghosts Of Vader's Castle #2, which offers a choice of subtitles between "Attack Of The 50-Foot Wookie" and "The Wicked Wookie", is a diversion of a diversion that hit distribution in September. It comes from regular writer Cavan Scott and is illustrated by mainstays Francesco Francavilla and Derek Charm. Permit me to guess your thoughts; no, Disney has NOT purchased Bucky O' Hare.

Culturally F'd enters The Bone Zone

Your rating: None Average: 3.2 (15 votes)

Meet Rattles: Lives in bones, eats bad movies, pukes acid, vulture.The Bone Zone.

Our new Vulturally F'd host Rattles has a unique appetite. He eats terrible movies, looking for that juicy, so-bad-it's-good fermentation of cheesy old cinema. The lair he calls home is the Bone Zone, a hollowed-out corpse of a once mighty beast, nesting in an old video rental store.

With nothing but an old TV to keep him company, he shares his favourite meals with you, and warns you to steer clear of certain buffet items strewn about the floor of his cave. In proper Culturally F'd fashion, all the films Rattles will be reviewing feature anthropomorphic characters at their core. (Show trailer)

'The Suicide Squad' Review

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (8 votes)

thesuicidesquad.jpgFlayrah Mission Control: You have been chosen for your unique abilities to take on a mission of utmost importance. You must describe and evaluate James Gunn's The Suicide Squad for this website's audience of furries.

Okay, I can do that. Fine. I'm not sure if my "abilities" are that unique, though. And since when have we had a "mission control"?

FMC: What are you talking about? We've always been here, monitoring your activities. Waiting for the moment when the world most needs your skillset. Which is right now. Articles about superhero movies with marginal to minor furry elements. Avengers: Infinity Wars. Avengers: Endgame. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. That's the unique skillset we're talking about. Those last two are even by the same director as The Suicide Squad's. So what's the problem?

Furries might enjoy The Suicide Squad, a movie about super-powered criminals being forced to work as a secret government "Task Force X", which features an anthropomorphic shark and a team member who talks to rats (there's also a Weasel, but the less said about him, the better). It's showing in movie theaters now, and is also available to stream with an ad-free subscription to the HBO Max for the next month.

FMC: That's a description. Half the mission is done. But what we need is an evaluation.

But I didn't even like this movie that much. In fact, I liked the universally panned 2016 Suicide Squad more, and I'm not sure I really want to defend that position.

FMC: Sounds like a problem. But it's your problem. Complete the mission. Or we'll totally blow up your head.

So that's it? What? This some kinda ... The Suicide Squad review?

Game review: 'Changed'

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (7 votes)

Changed, originally released in April 2018, is a surprisingly-difficult, action, puzzle game made by DragonSnow with background music composed by Shizi. While not overtly sexual, this game is certainly risqué with plenty of fetish undertones as, instead of deaths, your failures result in your transformation into a latex furry. Since June 2020, buying Changed will also give you access to English version of Changed-Special, the still-unfinished reworking of the original game which contains new rooms, transformations and some updated graphics.

Movie review: 'Space Jam: A New Legacy'

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (7 votes)

spacejamnewlegacylola.jpgThere’s a problem comparing Space Jam: A New Legacy to the original Space Jam. I could say the new movie lives up to old one; but the thing is, despite its popularity over the last quarter century, the verdict of whether or not it’s any good is still very much undecided.

That’s always been a bit of a mystery to me, however, because the original Space Jam is fine. It’s a movie for kids, and I was actually a bit old for it when it first came out, but I remember smaller kids than me absolutely loved it, so instant pass right there. Target audience likes it, you win. I rewatched it last year while binging a bunch of Looney Tunes stuff while in pandemic lockdown. I enjoyed it. Lots of the jokes held up. You’re a comedy. You make me laugh. There’s another instant pass. It’s fine. That’s my mini stealth review of the original Space Jam in my Space Jam: A New Legacy review. So you got two Space Jam reviews for the price of one. You’re welcome.

The movie Space Jam: A New Legacy is about LeBron James (charmingly credited as “Himself”) playing basketball with a bunch of Looney Tunes. It is a mixture of live action, CGI animation and hand drawn animation, directed by Malcolm D. Lee. It is playing in theaters now, or is available to stream until August 15 on HBO Max for those with a subscription to that service. It is also fine.

This is the part of the review where I should say which Space Jam is better, but actually if you get the HBO Max subscription, they also have the original to stream, plus a decent collection of the original shorts, some of the more modern iterations of the property, including the The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, The Looney Tunes Show, New Looney Tunes (a.k.a. Wabbit!), the HBO Max original Looney Tunes Cartoons and even something called Baby Looney Tunes: Musical Adventures – which I don't think shares a common target audience with Flayrah, but if that's your jam, you do you. So I'd recommend doing that.

Movie review: 'A Whisker Away' (2020)

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (14 votes)

A Whisker Away (trailer) is an anime film about a young Japanese teenager who gains the ability to turn into a cat. Released in the summer of 2020, it was written by Mari Okada, directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama, and animated by Studio Colorido. Its original title is Nakitai Watashi wa Neko o Kaburu, which translates to "Wanting to cry, I pretend to be a cat".

The main protagonist is a girl in her early teens, nicknamed Muge. She's madly in love with Hinode, a boy in her class who doesn't appreciate her advances. One night, she encounters a mysterious anthropomorphic feline who offers to sell her a magical mask. With it, Muge can turn into a cat and spend time with Hinode, getting to know him better. As she switches back and forth, she begins to wonder if she'd prefer to be a cat, rather than a human - but doesn't know what it might cost her.

Keep on rockin' in the furry world: 'Rock Dog 2: Rock around the Park'

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (10 votes)

rockdog2.jpg2017’s Rock Dog probably will never make lists of acknowledged “cult movies” published by the more “mainstream” movie press, but you could argue that just helps its cult movie street cred. Once a movie has become known enough to be catalogued and categorized, is it still really a cult object? Rock Dog, I predict, will continue to be largely forgotten in the annals of cinema, or even animation. Only the true, blue fans will remember.

Of course, those true, blue fans are furries. Rock Dog is a cult movie within the furry fandom. Put it another way, yeah, furries like Zootopia. On one hand, it makes sense furries would like it, but on the other hand it’s a beloved movie that was hailed as a classic by plenty of non-furries from it’s release. You can like Zootopia without joining the furry fandom pretty easily, but if you even saw Rock Dog and decided you liked it, you might want to check this furry thing out.

Which is not to say if you didn’t like the original, you have to turn in your conbadge. First of all, that would be gatekeeping, and that’s wrong. But second of all, Rock Dog is by no means a perfect movie. I loved it, but the sequel, Rock Dog 2: Rock around the Park, going to the 2020s equivalent of straight to video (it technically went to various streaming platforms first) makes sense.

Five Nights at Freddy and Systems of Systemic Fear

Your rating: None Average: 3 (10 votes)

5Nights.jpgAs it turns out, Flayrah never reviewed Five Nights at Freddy’s when it was released to much fanfare in 2014. But to be fair it never won an Ursa Major, getting beat by a Pokemon remaster in 2014 and Undertale in 2015. What a bullet the furries dodged on that one, huh?

You see, in recent days, the independent creator of the franchise, Steven Cawthon, had his sizable political contributions to members of the Trumpian Brigade(™) picked up by Social Media. The candidates in said brigade typically speak about the subversion of American Values and see people who are outside those “Values” as an enemy. They use this fear to get people to donate money to them.

To highlight this, we see Cawthon’s statement in response to this revelation. "I felt [Trump] was the best man to fuel a strong economy and stand up to America's enemies abroad, of which there are many" he goes onto indicate that he prioritizes the need for this foreign defense over the issues of American citizens' treatment by their own government with, "even if there were candidates who had better things to say to the LGBT community directly, and bigger promises to make, I believed that their stances on other issues would have ended up doing much greater harm to those communities than good"

Basically he is noting that we should fear foreign governments more than we should our domestic one. Which is usually a position that people who are generally left alone by their own government can comfortably have.

Interestingly it is this quote that made me think of the story of Five Nights at Freddy’s in a whole new way. So let’s go down this Bonny hole— metaphorically, you freakin’ furrys!

Game review: 'Backbone' (2021)

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (8 votes)

Backbone (trailer) is a 2D adventure game by EggNut, released on Steam on June 8, 2021, after a five-year development period. I contributed to their Kickstarter.

The style is heavily influenced by noir detective stories, with a dash of science-fiction. Set in a dystopian Vancouver, British Columbia, all the characters are anthropomorphic mammals. You play as Howard Lotor, a raccoon private investigator, trying to find evidence of an affair. To say things do not go as planned would be a vast understatement.

The game is surprisingly short, you can finish it in around four to five hours. After playing it, it felt like it had so much potential, but didn't deliver as much as it could have.