fbpx

Books

IRL: A Graphic Novel About Economics and Video Games

Back in High School, I came across a graphic novel titled IN REAL LIFE and it was one of the best original stories I have ever read. You also did read the title of the article correctly….A graphic novel about video games and economics has been one of the best graphic novels I have ever read. I am here to tell you more about IN REAL LIFE!

Overview

The story follows Anda Bridge, a coding student. She learns about a game called Coarsegold, which is a massive multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG), from a guest. The guest is the leader of a clan in Coarsegold. All of the players are females. As Anda plays more she becomes friends with another player named Sarge and discovers the world of gold farming.

That is all I can really say without going into too much into the plot itself. I love the writing by Cory Doctorow. Not one part of the writing feels forced or out of character. Every single line is perfect for each character. The art is done by Jen Wang. Every single character looks distinctive and the art is great to look at as well. The writing and art just work in tandem with each other creating these wonderful and colorful characters. I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed this book and I hope other readers enjoy it too. If you want to see economics and video games work hand in hand, check out IN REAL LIFE!


Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Need coverage? Please send an email to pr@allagesofgeek.com

New D&D Sourcebook On The Way

A new Dungeons an Dragons sourcebook has been announced. The location? Ravenloft, the setting for Curse of Strahd. Where sourcebooks like Mythic Odysseys of Theros focused on a Greek Mythology-esque adventures, Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft is good old fashioned horror. Besides a new setting, there are new backgrounds, character lineages, and subclasses. Also instructions on making your own domains. Note: All that is written is Unearthed Arcana, which means it is unofficial, so it can change to the official release of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.

Some of the lineages are: dhampir, hexblood, and reborn. Dhampir are basically stuck between death and life, and have hungers, like vampires. You also get to put a +2 and +1 to any stat you want, as long as it does not go above 20. They can also speak Common and one language of your choice, with DM’s approval of course.

Hexblood were infused with eldritch, fey, or even witchcraft. With hexblood, hags often want to get their hands on hexbloods, mainly because hags can cause hexblood to exist. Much like dhampir, the player get to put a +2 and +1 into any stat, as long as it doesn’t go over 20. Hexblood also get Dark Vision, Fey Resilience (advantage on being charmed), Hex Magic (can cast disguise self and hex magic) and you get a magic token. With the magic token, you can do a verity of interesting abilities like being able to send telepathic messages to someone holding the token.

Reborn are already dead, or they are stitched together by magic or science. Reborn get at +2 or +1 to any stat as long as it does not go over 20. Reborn do not have to eat, drink, breathe or sleep, have advantage on diseases or being poisoned and get poison resistance. Reborn also get advantage on death saving throws. Also, magic cannot put Reborn to sleep, and Reborn get at long rest in 4 hours. They also use knowledge from a past life (1d6 bonus to skill check) and resets once per long rest.

Two new subclasses are College of Spirits Bard and Pact of Undead Warlock. The College of Spirits Bard is more or less D&D Spirit Mediums. They have a spell casting focus of a candle, crystal ball, talking board, tarokka deck, or skull. Bardic Inspiration works a bit different. The Inspiration die roll is a different story. For example, if you roll a five it is a story about an avenger which means that for 1 minute, whenever a creature the target can see within 30 feet of it is damaged by a creature, the target can use its reaction to deal force damage equal to a roll of your Bardic Inspiration die to the attacker. They also get Spiritual Session at 6th level, which allows to learn one spell from any list, and must match your character’s level. At 17th level, they get to use a Bardic Inspiration, without spending it.

In closing, I think this would be perfect for a gothic horror story TTRPG campaign. The book is now available for preorder. Personally, I can’t wait to see what unique characters people will make.

2nd and Charles

I went into a 2nd & Charles for the first time this year looking for a birthday present. I had never heard of this store so naturally I decided to take a look. I was completely shocked at what I found. It was like a time portal. I go in looking for a birthday present but then my focus shifts on buying everything I saw. If you never heard of 2nd & Charles I highly suggest you go there right now to have your minds blown. You can trade in your used books, movies, music and video games for cash or store credit.

2nd & Charles was started in 2010 by Books-A-Million as a unique store concept. The store of course offers books just like Books-A-Million but that’s not what it’s about. The first thing I saw was all of the Funko Pops. After the Funko Pops I saw their video game selection. The video games they had for sale were amazing. 2nd & Charles sells Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Playstation, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Nintendo 64 and other old such video games. Of course they are all used but the point is that there is a retail store that sells these video games. It made me feel like I was back in the 1990s browsing a Blockbuster.

Beyond video games are the comic books and action figures. It was like being at a Toys R Us and my local comic book store. It was fun to browse and fun to choose what to buy. I hate that 2nd & Charles has so much to choose from because before I knew it I was already filling my cart up ready to spend my whole pay check but it was worth it!

DVDs and Blu-Ray were of course at 2nd & Charles. If you are like me you don’t buy physical media but its still to browse them and think about if you do need to buy them. Game of Thrones is one physical media purchase I’m still glad I own and 2nd & Charles of course has it!

After browsing the DVDs and Blu-Ray I look over on the nearest wall and see guitars hanging off the wall. There were actually guitars in this store! What the heck kind of store is this? This is awesome! I did not expect guitars to be here. By the guitars were books on bands, musicians and anything related to music which was a nice touch to this section of the store. Not too far from this section of the store was a wall of shirts like Hot Topic display their shirts.

2nd & Charles Locations

2nd & Charles has one or more states in the following states. Hopefully 2nd & Charles will expand to more states in the near future!

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia

2nd & Charles is one of the most unique retail stores around. I highly suggest you go there and check it out.

The End of the Titan Era: AoT Manga comes to a close

On September 9th, 2009, the world was given a grave reminder of the world they were transported into. Now, 11 years later, that reminder will come to an end. On April 9th, 2021, the final chapter will be released, with the final volume having a release date on June 9th, 2021. Along with the manga arriving at its conclusion, the final season (currently on a short break) is currently airing, so the fanbase will have plenty of Attack on Titan content for a while during this year (and perhaps early next year).

It’s honestly hard to believe that Attack on Titan is going to have an actual ending. We’ll have to wait and see what happens to determine if it’ll be a happy or grim ending. Given how things are currently going in the manga, there are definitely death flags popping up for a few characters. Looking back, I can still remember when I first saw advertisements for the first volume. They would occasionally pop up in the final pages of manga that I would read (where they would advertise other manga series). My first thoughts were that it was going to be a science fiction fantasy series that takes place on Titan (one of Saturn’s moons), where humanity fights these monsters. Looking back, my guess wasn’t too far off, but I’m more than satisfied that I’m still following this fascinating series (even if there were parts I didn’t care for).

So who is emotionally ready for Attack on Titan to reach its bloody conclusion? I for one am not. I’m terrified for the characters and who might end up biting the dust. However, whatever the conclusion might be, I want to thank someone. Thank you Hajime Isayama, thank you for creating such an incredible world and all of these amazing characters that we have grown to cherish. Characters that have survived and died. Characters that we love and hate. Thank you for everything and we look forward to what you have in store for us. To those that have been reading this article: who is currently your favorite character? How did you get into this series? Did you start with the manga or the anime? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments below (try to keep them free of spoilers for those that aren’t caught up). Until then, this is Tracy Preston/CuriousCat-13: signing off.

Through The Moon Sets Up the Fourth Season Of The Dragon Prince

With the production of the upcoming fourth season of the Netflix animated series The Dragon Prince underway, fans don’t have to wait to revisit the world of Xadia. The series has expanded into comics with its graphic novel Through the Moon. This publication gave more of a backstory that led to the events of the first season while setting up a new story arc that will take place in the new season.

The novel was released earlier this year to keep fans invested in the story of The Dragon Prince as the production on the new season is underway. The graphic novel was made by the show’s creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond to bridge the gap between season three and four while also digging deep into the history of Xadia. With the Kingdom finally at peace after Lord Viren’s defeat, there are still questions that linger Rayla’s mind. She suspects that Viren may not actually be dead after not being able to locate his body after the final battle. Rayla sets out on another quest with King Ezren and her beloved Callum to find out the truth about her parents.

In the graphic novel, Callum performs an ancient ritual in order to open the Moon Nexus that connects both the living and the dead. We get to see this part of the story testing Callum and Rayla’s relationship as they both face some hurdles. Rayla is agitated by the mystery of her parents’ disappearance and her mentor Runaan while Callum is still holding a grudge against the Moonshadow Elves for killing his stepfather and putting the Kingdom in danger. As the story concludes, it seems like the couple patch things up, but Rayla decides to leave the group to explore the rest of Xadia on her own to uncover the truth. 

With Rayla leaving without saying goodbye to Callum, it looks like this may be where season four will start. When Rayla got to see what lies on the other side of the Moon Nexus, she was unable to locate her parents or her teacher, suggesting that these three may actually be alive somewhere in Xadia. Not only that, but Rayla also catches a glimpse of an unforeseen vision of Lord Viren as well. In that vision, Rayla saw Viren emerging out of a crystallized cocoon, showing him coming back to life. To confirm her suspicions, she confides in Soren as he too thinks that his father may be alive as he struck him with his sword, only to reveal that it was an illusion. 

Through the Moon may have just set the stage for what we can expect in the fourth season since this is considered canon to the series. It’s possible we’ll see those close to Rayla making an appearance. We also see that the connection between Viren and Aaravos runs far deeper as these two men are about to have some sort of metamorphosis metaphorically and physically. As we know, season three ended with Viren’s daughter Claudia using dark magic to resurrect him as the evil Startouch elf Aaravos who teamed up with Viren to take over Xadia has cocooned himself. We shall know more once the fourth season drops on Netflix soon.

All Ages of Star Wars #4: The Original “Episode VII” Is Being Turned Into an Animated Series

For so many Star Wars fans, Heir To The Empire represents the Episode VII they grew up with. To many more, it represents the sequel they never saw on the screen. But now they can! And you can, too!

“It’s Alive!” – The Different Forms of Frankenstein

To me, there is nothing like Fall. The temperature is near perfect, prime sweatshirt weather, the changing leaves, apple cider, etc. I could go on, but I want to focus on what makes Fall special: Halloween. Some people like to binge Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, or even the Saw franchise. Me personally, I watch the old black and white horror movies. One that is on my favorites list is 1931’s Frankenstein. Frankenstein (the book) has been around for 202 years. For two centuries people have known the story of Victor Frankenstein and what happens when he decided to play God. However, what is interesting, and at times odd, is the forms it has had in all sorts of media

Let’s go to the year 1818. In this year Mary Shelly published the book Frankenstein. Some critics loved the book, and others hated it, calling the author (who they assumed was male) a “mad man” and “not as mad as the main character”. Jump ahead a couple years, 1823 to be exact, and there is already a musical about it. Seriously! A man by the name of H.M. Milner beat the 2009 musical by 186 years! Called The Demon of Switzerland, the musical portrays Victor not as a university student, but as a doctor who is already quite accomplished and wants to make further medical discoveries.

As times changed and evolved, so did the Monster. On March 18th, 1910 the very first Frankenstein movie was shown called Frankenstein. It was a silent film and was only fifteen minutes long. The next big movie of Frankenstein would be in 1931 with Universal’s Frankenstein with Boris Karloff as the Monster. What this movie did was something we always associate with Frankenstein nowadays. The famous bolt of lightning that brought the Monster to life? That started here, since the book never says HOW Victor brought the Monster to life. Igor also started in this film. In the book, Victor was a recluse while making the Monster. After this movie, it got a sequel called The Bride of Frankenstein. Eventually, some of the Frankenstein movies got absurd. There is a 1966 movie called Jesse James meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. I am not even joking. It is pitched as: “Roaring Guns Against a Roaring Monster”.

Now, the big screen isn’t the only place Frankenstein thrived. Frankenstein’s Monster, or Frankenstein like Monsters have been in shows like: The Addams Family, The Munsters, X-Files, Once Upon a Time. Even comedians Bud Abbot and Lou Costello, they did the Who’s on First skit, had a run in with the Monster. Frankenstein and his Monster was still apparent in theaters with films like Young Frankenstein and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

There are some depictions of Frankenstein and his Monster that have been…unique to say the least. There have been several X Rated Frankenstein movies. I will not go into more detail, (this is ALL ages of geeks after all) however, if it could not get weirder, it does. A director for one of these movies was Andy Worhal. Yes, the painter Andy Worhal made an X rated Frankenstein movie.

A more innocent version of Frankenstein also exists. Hana-Barbara made a Frankenstein cartoon called Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles. In this version Frankenstein (the Monster) was a robot that would fight supervillains. There is also the times it has appeared in Scooby-Doo several times, since it (Frankenstein) is public domain. There is also the Frankenberry cereal that comes out around October every year. Then there’s the Monster High dolls which has a Frankenstein teen girl, named Frankie Stein, as one of the characters. Then there’s the live action and stop motion versions of Frankenweenie, where a boy reanimates his dog. Frankenstein has also become a pop culture icon with action figures, models, video games, comics, stamps, been on the cover of the 89th issue of MAD, and has even been available in Lego form.

In closing, I think there is a reason people have been fascinated with Frankenstein for so long. We like the idea of reanimating the dead and the story, for some reason, has stuck with people for so long. Who knew we’d get all of this from a story made in 1818?

Moriarty the Patriot Volume One Review

Greetings fellow manga fans, CuriousCat-13 (Tracy) here with a special review article. I’ll be sharing with you my thoughts on the first volume of the Moriarty the Patriot and what you can expect from the story and series as a whole. This will be a spoiler-free review, so expect some vagueness in certain parts.

The Main Plot

The story starts in the year 1866 in London, England, and follows the story of one William James Moriarty, along with his younger brother Louis James Moriarty and older brother Albert James Moriarty. Raised in an orphanage, William and Louis are discovered by their soon-to-be older brother Albert, who immediately recognizes William’s remarkable level of intelligence at his age (both could also read and write). He also takes them in to help the younger brother with his illness (a weak heart from the looks of it). While both are immensely grateful for being taken into a comfortable life, things aren’t like that behind the manor’s closed doors. Despite being taken in, the rest of the family, including the servants, never truly acknowledged the brothers as members of both the family and the high class of society. Due to an unforeseen “tragedy,” the Moriarty manor burned to the ground, leaving the three brothers being the sole survivors and Albert (being the eldest son) as the head of the family.

Fast forward about thirteen years and Moriarty (William), Louis, and Albert are adults living in their own manor (in the countryside of Durham), which includes a nice area of land surrounding it. Moriarty teaches mathematics at Durham’s University and works a side job as a private consultant. So far, this is what the manga mainly revolves around. Throughout the manga, Moriarty helps those, mainly in the poor working class, in need. These cases involve a variety of different crimes committed towards the poor that are just trying to get by. At the end of each case, Moriarty personally makes sure that the criminal receives their appropriate punishment. Just a fair warning, the “punishments” the criminals go through can be pretty brutal but are, at the same time, made to look like an accident.

The Characters

While this is only the first volume, the characters are written in a way the made me want to know more about then. They held my attention with how they interact with the other characters and their overall personality. An obvious example of this is our main character: William James Moriarty. Even though we already know him as the main villain of the Sherlock Holmes stories, it’s still enjoyable to see things from his point of view, as he tries to fix the unfair class system during the 19th-century era of London. What makes things interesting and tense, is the fact that even though Moriarty, in a way, is the leader of this “group” and movement, he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. It makes you wonder if, in this story, he’s a hero or a villain, or even an anti-hero. While he and his younger brother were raised in an orphanage, they were quick with learning the mannerisms of high-class civilians soon after their adoption. Speaking of Moriarty’s younger brother: I can’t wait for more of his character development. The writing does show that Louis does have a level of intelligence, although not as high as Moriarty’s, and that he is more than willing to help his brother should the need arise. When he’s not doing that, Louis takes care of the land and the manor, making sure that everything is in order. Again, I can’t wait for any character development with Louis. The same goes for the eldest brother: Albert. While he’s been in London serving in the British Military as a lieutenant colonel, he still looks out for his brothers. Out of everyone in the Moriarty family, Albert was the only one that saw them as equals and treated as such. With him as the third member of their “official” group, the three brothers make a terrifying bond as partners in crime.

VIZ | The Official Website for Moriarty the Patriot
Moriarty (blond with the cane) with the members of his “inner circle.”
(Photo from viz.com)

Although they were introduced in the third and final chapter of volume one, Moran and Fred are two new main(ish) characters that were quick to pique my interest. A colonel in, what I’m assuming is, the British Military, Moran is the roguish sharpshooter of the group. While there isn’t much revealed, at the time, about his backstory or how he met the Moriartys, I eagerly await the release of future volumes to learn more about him. The same goes for Fred, the gardener of the Moriarty family. Quiet and uses few facial expressions, Fred is skilled in the art of disguises. With what has been shown so far, I can’t wait to see what other disguises he can pull off. From what I can see, there are still a handful of people from Moriarty’s inner circle that have yet to be revealed. Heck, we still haven’t seen the famous Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. John Watson.

The Art Style

One of the first things that came to mind when I started reading, was how much some of the characters reminded me of Psycho-Pass. Sure enough, with some research, including the article that Tatiana Stec wrote, my hunch was proven correct. If you’re a fan of the art-style of the anime and manga Psycho-Pass, you’ll without a doubt enjoy the art of Moriarty the Patriot. With Ryosuke Takeuchi and Hikaru Miyoshi collaborating this murder mystery, you’re going to get a wonderful combination of beautiful landscape shots and people from various backgrounds of life. The every day, slice-of-life kind of moments are sweet (with the occasional drama), while the tense mystery scenes keep you on your toes and aren’t afraid to show the violent side of society. Even the various expressions of the characters have this way of drawing you in. Sure, there are some expressions that are drawn in a way that you see in other manga, but when things get intense, that’s when the artists really go the extra mile. A perfect example of this are some of the scenes involving Moriarty. Although Moriarty wears this almost constant serene expression, it almost terrifies me, especially when he has the suspects cornered. It’s not just his face, the eyes alone are drawn in such a powerful way that they can express a wide variety of emotions. When those moments play out, he becomes the hunter that has caught his prey and it’s terrifyingly beautiful. Whenever I good back to read those scenes again, I feel a chill run down my spine when he gives them that look. Whether it’s from looking into his eyes or taking in his whole face, I feel like I’ve been transported into the criminal’s shoes. Like I’m the one that’s been cornered and will soon be facing judgment. If an artist and story-teller are able to affect their reader and viewer to such a degree, they’re doing their job correctly.

Moriarty The Patriot' Makes A Hero Of Holme's Ruthless Rival
(Photo from forbes.com)

Conclusion

I can say without a doubt that I’m looking forward to the release of this series. It’s hard to believe that the 6th of October is just around the corner. If it has me this excited and intrigued just from reading the first volume, I can’t wait to see what the future volumes have in store for both myself and future readers. The story’s writing maintains a hold on my attention and the artwork on each page guarantees that I’ll be re-reading the series. With the anime adaptation recently announced, you can bet that I’ll be watching it. Speaking of the anime, I’ll be writing a brief article about the trailer and what I’m looking forward to, so keep an eye out for that. So tell me, are any of you looking forward to October 6th? Did anything in my review pique your interest? What are you looking forward to the most with the series? As always, feel free to write your thoughts down in the comments. Until then, this is CuriousCat-13 (Tracy): signing off.

Moriarty the Patriot, Vol. 1 (1): Takeuchi, Ryosuke, Miyoshi, Hikaru,  Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: 9781974717156: Amazon.com: Books
Photo for the thumbnail

International Dot Day

Today is International Dot Day. The team at All Ages of Geek will be participating in International Dot Day this year and would love to see you participate too! Before we find out how to participate let’s look at the history of International Dot Day.

What is International Dot Day?

International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009.

The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.

And each year on International Dot Day – with the help of people just like you –the inspiration continues. What started as a story in the pages of a book is transforming teaching and learning around the world as people of all ages re-discover the power and potential of creativity in all they do.”

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

How do I take part in International Dot Day?

“There is more than one way to celebrate International Dot Day. Here are some simple ideas and great examples from past International Dot Day participants. Feel free to borrow an idea or generate an idea of your own. All it takes is a little creativity!

Read: International Dot Day is named for the classic Peter H. Reynolds storybook The Dot. Available in English and many other languages, the book shares the story of a girl who begins a journey of self-discovery after a caring teacher challenges her to “make her mark.”

Create: Sign up and download the free Educator’s Handbook for International Dot Day. Here you will find suggestions and tools, including some great activities created by Peter H. Reynolds, to help you celebrate creativity in your classroom.

Find more about how to participate HERE

Examples of how you can participate in International Dot Day

Richard Colosi and his classroom got creative with The Dot Project, and even created this great video
Creating Dot Backgrounds in Photoshop!
Image
@mrsfrank1st
It is #InternationalDotDay and we are celebrating by reading @peterhreynolds
The Dot and making our very own dots! #makeyourmark
Image
@MrsOliverArt
All framed in swirly gold! #DotDay2020 #InternationalDotDay

All Ages of Geek & International Dot Day

We want to see you get creative during this exciting day! Send us your artwork by tagging us on Twitter and Instagram and by using the hashtag #AAOGDOTDAY #InternationalDotday so we can share your work! It is time to make your mark!

Manga Review – Venus In the Blind Spot

Legendary horror mangaka Junji Ito is best known for acclaimed series such as Tomie, Uzumaki, and Gyo. However, his newest release, Venus In the Blind Spot, offers a collection of several short works from across the writer and illustrator’s renowned career. Ten stories are featured, including seven original pieces from Ito and three adaptations. I will continue by giving a short description and my personal rating of each story.

Billions Alone

The first story in the collection is perhaps the best, and easily the most disturbing. Michio is a young man who hasn’t left his bedroom since the 7th grade. After years of isolation, he is finally brought out of his room when an old love interest shows up at his door and encourages him to attend their class reunion. But meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose targeting large groups and gatherings of people. The killer’s work is easily identifiable: they sew all their victims’ corpses together in large, grotesque displays. The threat of the killer begins to loom over the entire city, and gathering in groups of any size becomes too dangerous. Despite constant encouragement to “come together” by the mysterious Billions Alone Club, the majority of people choose to live in isolation like Michio. “Billions Alone” becomes eerily similar to today’s COVID landscape, replacing an invisible killer disease with a sadistic serial killer who goes unseen and leaves no trace of evidence behind.

Rating – 5/5

The Human Chair

The second tale is an adaptation of Japanese author Edogawa Ranpo’s classic short story of the same name. It tells the story of a woman haunted by a man living inside the chair in her home’s study. She is written off as delirious by her loveless husband, as it appears as though she is the only one to notice the man in the chair. “The Human Chair” is a discomforting, yet thought-provoking story of what it means to be loving and affectionate.

Rating – 4/5

An Unearthly Love

Another adaptation of one of Ranpo’s short stories; Kyoko falls in love with and eventually marries Kadono, who she finds very handsome but is rumored to be an emotionally cold man. Despite this, Kadono appears to show a deep adoration of Kyoko, almost to the point of embellishment. When he begins to sneak off and disappear into the storehouse in the middle of the night, Kyoko suspects that he may be having an affair with another woman—the one he considers his true love. 

Rating – 3.5/5

Venus In the Blind Spot

from Reddit

The title story from the collection centers around a UFO enthusiasts club headed by Mariko. Mariko is the only girl in the club, and all the boys are madly in love with her. There’s just one problem: Mariko disappears before every one of their eyes whenever they get close to her. After finding scars on the back of their heads, the boys believe they were abducted and experimented on by aliens. This hysteria combined with their inability to see their “Venus” drives them insane, leading to the downfall of any who dare lay eyes on Mariko.

Rating – 4/5

The Licking Woman

The fifth story follows a community that is terrorized by a ghastly woman with a giant, venomous tongue who licks unsuspecting passersby. Miko, whose fiance and dog were killed by this Licking Woman, makes it her mission to track down and kill the monster before it claims more lives. She captures the woman with the help of a neighborhood watch, but she is merely sent to a psych ward after no proof is found linking her to any murder, and is released after several years. Upon her return, Miko aims to eliminate the Licking Woman to ensure she kills no others, but also for retribution. “The Licking Woman” is a unique monster story with a plethora of creepy, yet fun illustrations. 

Rating – 5/5

Master Umezz and Me

“Master Umezz and Me” serves as something of an intermission between all the terrifying stories filling the collection. It is an autobiographical account of how Junji Ito became interested in horror manga as a boy through the works of Kazuo Umezo until he eventually begins to follow in his idol’s footsteps as an adult. Ito recounts how his two older sisters introduced him to Umezo through their love of horror manga, and how he quickly developed an obsession for the author and his writing. There are no real frightening moments in this story, but Ito depicts his boyhood self as gross and malformed at times in his illustrations. In fact, it is actually a relatively comical piece in Ito’s otherwise dark realm of imagination.

Rating – 4/5

How Love Came to Professor Kirida

An adaptation of “How Love Came to Professor Guildea”, the classic short story originally written by English writer Robert Hitchens. Professor Kirida is a celebrated writer who detests love in any way, form, or fashion. He decides to consult the opinion of a priest about a novel he is writing on Christianity. The two quickly begin discussing the role of love in the prosperity of mankind, and whether or not it is beneficial or detrimental. Despite his brilliance, Professor Kirida believes that his hatred for others has led to his success, and believes hate is what pushes humans into the future. Meanwhile, one of his writing students, Hayama, admires Kirida for his writing and seeks his approval and support to no avail. Hayama is withered by Kirida’s disdain for her and decides to take otherworldly measures to make love reach his soul. 

Rating – 3.5/5

The Enigma of Amigara Fault

My personal favorite of the collection, this story centers around an unexplained phenomenon where holes shaped like human silhouettes appear on the side of a mountain. Many hike to see for themselves, but others arrive with the suspicion that there is a specific hole for them in the fault. Owaki is a young man who meets Yoshida, a young woman who believes she saw her silhouette in the fault during the news coverage. Owaki begins having foreboding nightmares about the holes, while Yoshido tries to keep her sanity after finding a hole she believes to be shaped like her. Before long people begin crawling into their “assigned” holes, fitting perfectly into the fault and never to be seen again. As pandemonium sweeps the mountainside, the allure of the Amigara Fault becomes stronger and stronger.

Rating – 5/5

The Sad Tale of the Principal Post

By far the shortest story in the collection at just four pages, it tells an odd and unwelcoming story of a family having dinner in their new house. After realizing their patriarch is missing, they begin hearing his cries for help from within the crawlspace. There they discover the grisly truth surrounding the principal support post holding up their grand new home. 

Rating – 3/5

Keepsake

The final story begins with the discovery of a crying baby in the grave of a woman who died while pregnant. It is decided that the baby belongs to the woman’s widower, Toyoji, who has since remarried and had another child with his mistress, O-Mitsu. The mistress disapproves but must take the child into their home for the sake of appearances. The boy, named Manjuro, grows up to become sickly and deformed and scares the other children while they play, becoming an outcast. He is also hated with a severe passion by O-Mistu, who constantly berates him and ties him to a post. Soon Manjuro’s true origins are revealed, and O-Mitsu must face the consequences of her inglorious decisions. 

Rating – 4/5

Conclusion

Venus In the Blind Spot has several standout moments, and even the comparatively lackluster entries are still compelling. The collection in its entirety is a superb showcase for Ito’s talents as not merely a storyteller, but as a writer who can conjure tense, nerve-racking, and sometimes downright unsettling scenes that are brought to life by his intricate illustrations.

from Viz Media