Voice Actor Profile: Paku Romi

Let’s take a moment to talk about voice actors. I usually mention them when talking about the quality of the acting in a specific work, but I don’t really dedicate too much time to talking about them in general. So, I thought I’d try something a bit different and write up a short piece on a major anime voice actor. I thought that Hayashibara Megumi would be too obvious a choice for me to start with, so instead, let’s talk about Paku Romi.

Paku Romi is an interesting actress. A lot of people know her best from her roles as teenage boys and young men: Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, Tao Ren in Shaman King, Ueki in The Law of Ueki, Syrup in Yes Precure 5 GoGo, Switzerland in Hetalia, Hitsugaya in Bleach & Turtle in Rainbow to name a few. It’s a role type she’s good at and she’s given us a lot of good performances, but some people forget that she’s also good at playing women too. Zoë in Shingeki no Kyojin, Angelina in Kuroshitsuji, Naoto in Persona, Falis in Murder Princess, Pharah in Overwatch & Teresa in Claymore to name some prominent examples. Her roles as teenage boys just tend to be in more well known anime.

Whatever type of role she’s in, she usually does a really good job. So, I’m going to list her top five performances in anime I’ve reviewed. But it’s me and I have to be a bit critical, so I’ll also list her weakest three performances in anime I’ve reviewed. This is subject to change since she’s been in a lot of series I haven’t seen and some I’ve seen but haven’t done proper reviews of. Let’s start with the negativity with the three weakest roles. Just to be clear, these are ranked by the performance and not the writing for the characters.

3. Kanan Gimmes: Brain Powerd
Don’t you just love anime where the actors only need to demonstrate a few emotions? That’s the trouble with Brain Powerd. They got good actors, like Paku Romi, and gave them nothing to work with. She doesn’t sound bad in this, you’d be hard pressed to find something where the direction is that bad. She just sounds like she doesn’t care.

2. Tsubasa Yuuki: Mawaru Penguindrum
The trouble with the acting here is that the series has extreme tonal issues and shifts from extremely over exaggerated lines to really downplayed ones. Paku Romi voices a minor character, a really hammy actress. So, her lines tend to be among the more exaggerated in the series. Which isn’t exactly conducive to a tolerable performance.

1. Ragyou Kiryuuin: Kill La Kill
Speaking of characters who suffer from exaggerated lines, we have the big bad of Kill La Kill, an anime that’s all bout the characters being absurdly over the top at all times. Which definitely makes for the worst acted role I’ve heard her in.

Now that we’ve been a bit negative, let’s look at her good roles. This one was tougher to decide, because I’ve reviewed very few anime where she had roles that were weak but I’ve looked at a lot where she was fantastic. So, let’s quickly go through my picks for her strongest roles from anime I’ve reviewed. To be clear again, these are ranked by the strength of the performance and not the character writing.

5. Tamayo Kataoka: Rideback
Rideback
was one of my early reviews In that series, Paku Romi voices a Rideback champion who starts out as a relatively friendly rival to the protagonist and becomes a sort of mentor to her. A lot of what makes Rideback work as a series is that the characters have verisimilitude, and that’s certainly aided by the acting.

4. Hange Zoë: Shingeki no Kyojin
Zoë is a scientist in an apocalyptic landscape. Her most memorable facet is her love of studying the titans, but there’s more to the character than that. She gets strongly emotional when it comes to her work, but she’s also clever and can present ideas in a very calm, collected way.

3. Edward Elric: Fullmetal Alchemist/ Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Edward is a really well acted character. Our auto-mail wielding protagonist has his serious moments, his comedic moments, traumatic moments, triumphant moments. Basically, he runs the full gamut of human emotion and it’s all portrayed really strongly by our lead actress.

2. Falis: Murder Princess
You wouldn’t expect much in terms of subtlety from a series called Murder Princess. However, it’s a series where you do get it. Paku Romi essentially voices two different characters in this. The princess who flees an invasion and the bounty hunter who switches bodies with her. She also has to convey the emerging romantic feelings between the two as they get to know one another without it coming across as narcissistic.

1. Noboru Maeda “Turtle”: Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
There’s a lot of good acting in Rainbow. Paku Romi’s role is no different. This is a role where her character gets kicked around by life but still manages to maintain a lot of positivity. It’s a role that requires a lot of subtlety and a lot of care when breaching certain sensitive topics and she delivers brilliantly.

There’s my quick discussion of Paku Romi and some of her best and worst roles. I’ll do this again at some point with a different voice actor who I’ve encountered a lot. If you have some favourite roles of Paku Romi’s, feel free to leave a post about it.  

Upotte: fetish series

Continuing on with girls with guns month, Upotte is an ongoing manga that started in ’09. Written by Tennouji Kitsune. In 2012, Xebec, the studio behind Bakuretsu Hunters, Bottle Fairy, Mnemosyne & Rinne no Lagrange, to name a few, released a ten episode ONA based on the manga. I have no idea what to expect from it. So let’s just take a look and see how it compares to their other works. At the very least, it’s probably better than Mnemosyne but that isn’t saying much.

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Story:

Our tale takes place in Seishou Academy, a school where all the students are guns who can wield their more literal forms. Our protagonists are FNC (nicknamed Funko,) L85A1 (Eru,) SG550 (Shigu,) & M16A4 (Ichiroku.) Things get strange for them when they get a human teacher who doesn’t know much about guns or what to expect. Shenanigans ensue.

Let’s start with the big flaw with the series. It comes across as someone’s fetish project. There’s a lot of heavily sexualised stuff based around the girls being guns. And by a lot, I mean that this anime is almost on the level of Strike Witches. Which is odd both because the girls are guns and because the main cast is in middle school. I’d kind of like to converse with Tennouji to hear them try to justify themselves. But I also don’t because I get the feeling they’re the type who breathes heavily and drools for no discernible reason. Another issue with the series is that there are a bunch of segments that just talk about gun specs. Which is going to be boring unless you happen to have a major gun fetish like Tennouji. The humour itself is pretty lacklustre. While it has some funny moments, they’re over-shadowed by a lot of dumb, predictable jokes. Like FNC shooting at her teacher because he mentions her undergarments. Which he kind of deserves since no teacher should be fixated on that to any degree.

About the best I can say about the series is that it has its aforementioned funny moments. It also has some nice, cute moments here and there. Usually involving Shigu and her feelings towards Funko.

Characters:

There’s not much to say about the cast. In spite of the “twist” of them being guns, they’re a blatantly bog-standard batch for a slice of life series. The interactions with the teacher do get annoying quickly, and the interactions in general aren’t as good for comedic purposes as certain better written slice of life works though.

Art:

To its credit, the character designs are pretty distinct and there’s a lot of detail put into the guns. Unfortunately, it also suffers from a lot of excessive, tasteless shots of the girls in a state of undress and shots that put the focus firmly on their bums and bosoms. Learn how to have class, Xebec. The backgrounds also gravitate towards lazy.

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Sound:

The voice acting is pretty average. They aren’t brilliant, but they aren’t bad either. Which may be more the result of the characters being archetypes without much to them than the actresses themselves. The music was handled by Hashimoto Yukari, who also worked on the composition of Yuri Kuma Arashi, Mawaru Penguindrum & Strike Witches. All in all, it’s decent enough.

Ho-yay:

There is quite a bit. Shigu is heavily implied to have romantic feelings for Funko, Ichiroku gropes other girls. There are several other girls who are shown to have romantic interest in other girls including Galil AR towards AR18 & both AUGA1 and SAKO RK95 towards Funko.

Final Thoughts:

So, how does Upotte ultimately hold up? Not particularly well. It suffers from a lot of tasteless, sleazy moments. The comedy is pretty weak. The characters are stock. Ultimately, there’s just not much to recommend it. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Next week I’ll finish girls with guns month with a look at El Cazador de la Bruja.

Noir: Assassins and the power of yuri

Noir is an original Bee Train series written by Tsukimura Ryoe. It’s also the first part of their “girls with guns” trilogy of unconnected anime that are thematically similar. Those of you who are familiar with my previous reviews may know Bee Train as one of the studios that did the main production for Murder Princess, Phantom Requiem & Shinrei Tantei Yakumo. All of which were pretty solid works earning 8, 8 & 7 from me, respectively. Let’s see if Noir can continue that tradition of quality.

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Story:

We open with a young lady, Mireille, receiving a strange email asking her to take a journey to the past with the sender. Something about the message piques Mireille’s curiosity and she tracks down the sender, Kirika. After an altercation with some suits, Mireille agrees to help Kirika track down her past on the condition that, when it’s over, she’ll kill her. Kirika agrees and begins helping Mireille with her assassination work. They call themselves “Noir” and eventually uncover information about a strange organisation called “Soldats” an organisation which may very well hold the key to Kirka’s past. If the pair can unravel its mystery and survive the experience.

The biggest story problem with the series is that the questions are more compelling than the answers turn out to be. The whole mystery of Kirika’s missing memory is interesting, but the ultimate answer you get for it is kind of weak. The twist that comes with her regained memory is pretty good but the answer to how she lost them is weak. The mystery surrounding the Soldats organisation is interesting as well but the actual explanation for its origins is pretty generic.

That being said, the narrative leading up to those reveals is compelling and well done, even with the weak pay-offs. The ending itself is fantastic. The romance sub-plot with our leading ladies is nicely done, developing over time and ending up as an endearing element for the series. The pacing is good as well. There are some slow, tense scenes. Some fast, intense sequences and the underlying narrative slowly and effectively builds. The early episodes start by giving you small pieces of the underlying plot while Kirika and Mireille take on missions and, from there, the episodes start to have more and more to do with Soldats and the mystery thereof until the story reaches the home stretch and becomes all about it.

Characters:

The only real issue with the characters is that a particular character undergoes a heel shift for no adequately explored reason and then returns to normal pretty easily. Aside from that, the characters are phenomenal. They have personalities with verisimilitude, clear motivations, some of which shift as a natural result of character development and superb interactions. That doesn’t just hold true for the main heroines either. The antagonists are the same way. I particularly like Chloe. What makes her really interesting is that she’s an antagonist but not much of one. She likes the heroines, particularly Kirika and even aids them at times. She’s actually quite the sweet heart, wanting to be on friendly terms with Mireille and more than friends with Kirika. What ultimately puts her at odds with Kirika and Mireille is her loyalty to her superior within Soldats and some jealousy over the dynamic they share. I suggest polyamory as a solution.

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Art:

The art is pretty good. It’s not among the best out there, and it does suffer some from Bee Train’s propensity for strange angles without any reason. But the character designs are distinct. The action sequences are nicely done and the backgrounds have some nice detailing to them.

Sound:

The acting is fantastic. The best performances coming from our main heroines voiced by Kuwashima Houko & Mitsuishi Kotono and our adorable little antagonist voiced by Hisakawa Aya (who also came up in my review of Gunsmith Cats last week). The music, handled by Furukawa Masayoshi, Kaida Yuriko & Kajiura Yuki, is really good as well. The opening theme is really catchy and will be in your head for a while, but it’s really good so you won’t mind. It was performed by ALI Project, who also performed songs for Code Geass, Another & Phantom Requiem to name a few.

Ho-yay:

A lot of the major character dynamics are driven by les-yay. In addition to the budding romance betwixt Mireille & Kirika, there’s Chloe’s interest in Kirika.

Final Thoughts:

And there we have Noir. How well does it hold up? Well, the narrative build up is compelling and leads to both strong moments and some weak pay-offs. The characters and their dynamics are fantastic. The art is good. The acting is excellent. Overall, it is a great series. My final rating is going to stand at an 8/10. Next week I’ll continue girls with guns month with Upotte.

Gunsmith Cats: Car Chases, Explosions and Obvious Plot Points

It’s January and time to begin girls with guns month. Gunsmith Cats was a manga written by Sonoda Kenichi that ran from ’91 to ’97. In ’95, OLM, Inc. released a three episode OVA. Incidentally, OLM also worked on Steel Angel Kurumi 2, Berserk and the anime that never ends or changes, Pokemon. So, let’s take a look at the OVA and see if it’s worth the three episodes.

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Story:

Rally Vincent & Minnie-May Hopkins are bounty hunters who also work as gunsmiths. After a mission, they’re approached by agent too much hair oil of the ATF. He coerces them into working for him, using the gun shop as leverage because Rally, apparently, couldn’t be bothered to get a proper license. Someone is sabotaging the ATF’s operation to find the mastermind behind the man they just captured and several other illicit arms dealers. Little do they realise, the case is going to be more difficult and dangerous than it appears.

The biggest issue with the OVA is just that it’s really formulaic. The ultimate antagonist and person behind sabotaging the investigation are both obvious from the first moment you see them. The narrative has no real surprises behind it. Which isn’t exactly conducive to getting you invested in the action. The only thing the series really does differently is that it’s very deliberate and absurd with how over the top it can get. It doesn’t take itself particularly seriously, which definitely leads to its strongest moments.

Characters:

The bulk of characters in this are tropes played pretty straight. The sleazy cop. The helpful friend. The corrupt politician. The cold-hearted assassin. They’re all here. The only two characters who don’t quite fit neatly into standard tropes are Rally and May. And the big thing that elevates them above that is the way they interact with one another. These two play off of one another really well, and not just for comedic purposes. They manage when things get more serious as well.

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Art:

The artwork and animation are pretty good. Dated, but still solid. The biggest issue is the way the series shamelessly uses fan-service. We’re talking close calls that conveniently tear shirts in order to show off the bosom shameless. The character expressions are definitely the best element of the artwork. These characters are highly expressive and they do different things with expressions for different characters. May’s mischievous grin isn’t the same as Rally’s more wry smile and they’re both distinct from hair oil’s faeces consuming grin. The action scenes are pretty good. The car chase in particular.

Sound:

I’ll give OLM full credit for their casting. Our dynamic duo are voiced by Neya Michiko (Riza Hawkeye) and Araki Kae (ChibiUsa). Not only do they both do really well in their roles, but they work well together. I’m not sure if they were ever in the same room while recording their lines, but the direction is good enough that it maintains that illusion. There are some good actors in more minor roles as well, notably Hisakawa Aya, but their performances come across as a bit lacklustre since none of the other characters are particularly strongly written. The score isn’t brilliant, but it does suit the OVA well and it has some good pieces. The best being the tracks played during intense action sequences.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any. The closest you get is Rally offering to buy her trustworthy friend, Becky, dinner in exchange for her help. And that definitely doesn’t come across as a date.

Final Thoughts:

That’s Gunsmith Cats. Ultimately, it’s a predictable, clichéd action work. The only aspects that save it from true mediocrity are the dynamic betwixt Rally and May and its sense of humour. If you don’t mind the tropes and you really love the genre, you may very well enjoy it more than I did. If you want something more original or aren’t a fan of this type of thing, it’s not going to change your mind. For myself, it was decent enough. My rating is going to be a 6/10. Next week we’ll continue girls with guns month with a look at Noir.

December Bonus Reviews: Transformers

For those of you who have just arrived on Earth from the distant planet, Vulcan, Transformers is a toy line that became a franchise about two factions of giant transforming robots battling against each  other. And this is a franchise with a tonne of stuff in it. There are the toy lines, multiple comic book lines from different companies, around a dozen different television series, video games, novels, animated films terrible live action films. They’ve had it all. So, let’s take a look at the first television series. It ran from ’84 to ’87 and was brought top us by the combined efforts  of Marvel, Toei, AKOM & Sunbow.

Transformers2.png

Story:

A long time ago, a fire fight above Earth resulted in two crashed ships. One containing the heroic Autobots. The other containing the evil Decepticons. In the modern day, for when this was written, circumstances caused the robots within to come out of their long sleep. They resume their war on Earth.

I’m not going to criticise the series for being about a war but never showing anyone seriously injured or destroyed, remember I’m not reviewing the animated film  where there was a lot of that. There’s only so much they were allowed to show in a children’s cartoon. But I will say that the set up is odd. Why not have  the robots just crash in the 80s? There’s really no narrative reason for them to be asleep for a million years. If anything it detracts since the impetus behind them leaving their home-world  of Cybertron is  that they’re running out of energy and yet they contact Cybertron later on and the robots left behind are somehow still going. I mean, they’ve only been waiting for energy for a million years.

But the biggest issue is with the episodes that spend a lot of time with the human characters. What’s entertaining about the series is watching the robots scheme and battle one another. The humans are borderline useless sidekicks. No one wants to see more of them. We also  get several episodes  that introduce love interests of all things. Some of them are female robots. Which is odd since we see that these characters replenish their ranks by building more. You wouldn’t think they’d have multiple genders or even gender as a concept. We also get a human who falls for one of the Autobots and a humanoid alien who falls for another. Even assuming these robots have vestigial genitals of some kind, you wouldn’t think they’d look at our soft fleshy bodies and be interested. But maybe I’m just over-thinking the biology of giant robots.

That being said, those are the vast minority of episodes. Most of the series involves the Decepticons trying some scheme to gain a tactical advantage. Possibly gaining something from it, possibly not and battle ensuing between them and the Autobots. It’s simple and a bit repetitive, but it’s a children’s show. It’s allowed to be, legally. And I can’t deny that it is fun to watch.

Characters:

The characters in this are pretty much tropes. A part of that is just that they’re constantly introducing new characters and having them play big roles in an episode or two before they get relegated to the background. Another part of it is just that it’s a children’s cartoon and children don’t exactly need deep complex characters to get attached to them. Instead, the series goes for making the characters endearing in their execution. Which does work in some cases. I honestly found Soundwave to be a really charming character.

Why Soundwave in particular? Well, way back when I talked about Steel Angel Kurumi 2 I  briefly touched on the idea of something being stupid, but simultaneously awesome. Soundwave as a character really highlights that idea. He’s a giant robot who turns into a tiny cassette player and he keeps a whole slew of cassette robots, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage & Ratbat, in his chest compartment to be deployed when he needs them. That’s such a ridiculous concept that it would take a lot of failure in execution for it to not be charming.

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Art:

The artwork and animation are pretty undeniably dated. That being said, they still hold up pretty well. You can tell that a lot of time and effort went into hand drawing everything and into making the action sequences look good. The character designs are actually really impressive. There are a few characters who look similar, but most of them are distinct.

Sound:

The acting in this series is really mixed. You have some characters like Optimus Prime, Soundwave, Stormer… I  mean Arcee, who have strong performances behind them. In contrast you have characters like Blurr, Seaspray, Wheelie and Tracks who sound really annoying. But most of the voice acting is fine. The music, on the other hand, is great and the series uses sound effects really effectively.

Final Thoughts:

So, how well does the first Transformers hold up? Honestly, it’s quite  good and I’m not just saying that because I don’t want to be harsh on a series made for children. Even speaking as a cranky codger, it’s a fun series that manages to have plenty of endearing characters. It’s easy to see why it became such a big franchise. My final rating is going to be a 7.7/10.

On the month ahead:

On another note, I will definitely have December bonus reviews again next year. I may even start doing one bonus review every month throughout the year. I can’t do them every single Sunday in perpetuity since I’m doing this as a hobby, but I think once a month, except in December when it is every week, is completely possible.

As for January and girls with guns month, I’m going to review Gunsmith Cats on Wednesday. I also plan on reviewing Noir, El Cazador de la Bruja and I haven’t decided on the final thing. Maybe one  of the Dirty Pair OVAs or the second series of Black Lagoon or Upotte. Whatever the case, I’ll review it between Noir and El Cazador because I don’t want to do two Bee Train works in a row.

Coppelion: How to tell a bird from a bomber?

Coppelion was a science fiction manga written by Inoue Tomonori from 2008 to the beginning of this year. In late 2013, before the manga had actually ended, there was an anime adaptation by GoHands. Now, I’ve never seen a GoHands anime before, so all I know about Coppelion is what I heard from the young lady who requested that I review it. She called it “hilariously bad.” I don’t know if that’s going to sum up my own feelings on it. So, let’s take a look and see if it is, indeed, hilariously bad.

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Story:

After a nuclear accident, Tokyo’s been left a smouldering wreck. Twenty years after the incident, a group of students, genetically engineered to resist radiation, are sent into the ruins to find survivors and clean the area. These students are the titular Coppelion.

Let’s begin by talking about the flaws with the series, and there are some major ones. First of all, the message of the series. You know how Miyazaki films tend to contain subtle, eloquent environmental messages? Well, Coppelion does the opposite. It has a loud, sanctimonious and ill-conceived message about how terrible radioactive waste build up is and we’re ruining everything. While it is a message that I can get behind, in theory, the presentation here is just really inept. The series also suffers from narrative disconnect with the characters. Supposedly these girls have been trained for this all their lives but they come across as completely and grossly unprepared for the situation. Almost like they’re ordinary teenage girls who were tossed into it after all of a weekend of preparation. It’s also odd that these girls have superhuman abilities, but in the case of one of them they deliberately handicap those. Why would you engineer her to have super powers if you don’t want her to use them? Another of our protagonists doesn’t know how to use hers. You’d think that would be the number one item on the list of training necessities. Show them how to use the super powers they were designed to have. What’s the point of giving them these abilities if they don’t know how to use them? The back story we’re given simply doesn’t mesh with the action on screen. The series also suffers from its share of dumb moments. We’re talking the characters thinking a bomber is a bird and an “epic” chase sequence using paddle boats shaped like swans. 

The sad part about all this is that the premise itself does have potential. I would be really interested in a competently written series about a group of genetically engineered characters with super powers exploring a radioactive wasteland to achieve a goal. Unfortunately, we didn’t get competence.

Characters:

I’ve talked about the incongruity between the back story these characters are given and what we see of them on screen. Let me talk about what we see of them specifically for a moment. Our main characters are Ibara, Aoi & Taeko. All three of them are very quick to cry and become emotionally distraught. Which is pretty annoying. So, let me get this straight, the government sent these girls into the field after training them their entire lives, but they couldn’t be bothered to help them build up any mental toughness? They didn’t think they’d encounter anything tragic or potentially upsetting in the radioactive wasteland? They thought it was all going to be rainbows, sunshine and the magic of friendship? Aoi isn’t even aware of what her special powers are, forget about being trained in their use. Taeko has heightened senses and glasses designed to dull her super vision. There are also a couple of antagonistic coppelion with weak motivations. So weak that the ending entirely negates them. It doesn’t help that the characters have no real complexity.

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Art:

The art is one area where I’ll give the series some credit. The backgrounds are really well drawn. The character designs aren’t distinctive, but they look just fine. The biggest problem with the art is that the backgrounds can be really static. There are points where it looks like the characters are standing in front of a static image, albeit a really nice static image. It’s like there are points where GoHands animated the characters and their actions and then put in the same background image for the entirety of the sequence.

Sound:

They did get some strong actresses for this. Hanazawa Kana, Tomatsu Haruka, Horie Yui & Sakamoto Maaya all have roles as major protagonists or antagonists. The trouble is that their characters really don’t have much to them. The amount of time the main characters spend whining also really hurts the performances. Which results in acting that’s pretty sub-par. The composer for this series was Endo Mikio and he did a decent job. It’s not a particularly good soundtrack, but it’s okay.

Ho-yay:

The three major girls cuddle up to one another in the opening theme, but there’s no indication within the series proper that they have any romantic feelings towards one another.

Final Thoughts:

So, that was Coppelion. Is it bad? It’s not one of the worst anime I’ve seen, but yeah. It’s pretty bad. Is it hilarious? Not really. It has some scenes that are pretty funny in their stupidity. The paddle boat chase is really funny in its absurdity. The characters being too thick to tell a bomber from a bird is pretty funny. But aside from those two specific scenes, it’s not really funny. It’s just bad. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Next week will be the first review of January and you know what that means. Every review is going to follow a specific theme. We’ve had Hayashibara Megumi, yuri, Ghibli, magical girl and sequel months. This year, it’s all about girls with guns. Next week we’ll kick that off with a look at Gunsmith Cats.

December Bonus Reviews: Hyperion

Hyperion is a Dan Simmons  novel that was published in 1989. It was the first of four novels which are collectively known as the Hyperion Cantos. The novel also won a  Hugo award. So, how well does it hold up?

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Story:

The Hegemony of man has carefully created a vast society on multiple worlds. Bringing many colonies in through various methods. Their biggest competition are the Ousters. Another group of humans that they’ve been fighting skirmishes with for a long time. In the midst of their conflict, one final group of pilgrims are being permitted to travel to Hyperion, a strange world that’s known for unexplained temporal phenomena, for the Shrike pilgrimage. We open with the Consul being asked to join the pilgrims but being warned. There’s an Ouster spy somewhere in the group.

One notable thing about the story is that it’s stylistically similar to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  Both stories focus on a small group of pilgrims telling their individual tales as they approach their destination. Both stories also refer to their pilgrims by title. That being said, there are major differences. The pilgrims in Hyperion are making their way through danger. There are considerably fewer of them. They have real names beyond their titles, although we never learn the Consul’s. Hyperion also has the characters telling their own stories about what connects them personally to the planet Hyperion. Which introduces the element of narrator reliability and serves to provide insight into what the various characters hope to accomplish. There’s also the important distinction that Hyperion gives you a mystery to solve. You know that one of these people is a spy and you’re paying attention to their stories for clues that will help you figure out which one it is. Although the mystery does ultimately end in an anti-climax. That’s not even bringing the setting or genre differences into account. The story also has a fixation on the poet John Keats. He becomes something of an ongoing motif.

The narrative itself is really interesting. Finding out how the characters got to this point serves a dual purpose. Both giving you character insight and helping to build this sci-fi world. The world building in this is absolutely phenomenal. As you progress in the story and hear the various characters talk about their histories, you gain insight into the various sci-fi technologies being employed, the way society works in this world, the conflicts among different factions and Hyperion’s mysteries. All of which is presented as a natural part of the pilgrims’ stories.

Characters:

The characters in this are well fleshed out, mostly. The Templar is pretty under-developed. Partially because you don’t hear his story and partially because he consistently leaves the other six pilgrims on their own to do things that may come up in the sequels but don’t here. The ending is also a bit abrupt with how much our main six pilgrims forget their personality conflicts and come together.

Those issues aside, the six major characters are really interesting. We get a lot of insight into them from not only their stories but from how they tell their stories, with each one being told in the character’s unique voice. Their interactions and how they handle setbacks during their journey also serve to flesh them out as characters.

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s Dan Simmons’ Hyperion. I won’t lie. It’s a fantastic book. The world building is phenomenal. The characters are largely well developed. The story excels at keeping you invested. Overall, it’s a compelling, well told story. My final rating is going to be a 9/10. Honestly, I’m going to check out the sequels and read those. For New Years Eve, I’ll give you guys one final bonus review with Transformers. The 80s cartoon, not the rubbish Bay film loosely based on the 80s cartoon. So, I hope you all enjoy that. For today, have/ I hope you had a happy Hearth’s Warming, Hogswatch, Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Christmas, or whatever other holiday.