Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cinderella: The Swashbuckling Action TV Show?

A review of the TV show Cinderella.

The Story: After her father, an ambassador, leaves on a long journey, Cinderella is turned into a servant by her cruel stepmother. As her two spoiled stepsisters fight over who will get to marry the prince of their kingdom, Cinderella befriends a boy who she doesn’t know is the prince in disguise. Meanwhile, an evil duke sets out to take over the kingdom by any means necessary.

My Thoughts: This obscure animated TV show has a surprising amount of depth. It expands the fairy tale of Cinderella into an episodic adventure with swordfights, villains, and occasional fantasy interludes. Some of the episodes are duds, but most are well-written, with colorful animation that looks like living illustrations for a fairy tale.

The only notable flaw in the series is Cinderella herself, because she occasionally lets herself be pushed around by the bad people in her life. The story is trying to show that she’s really kind, but sometimes her actions appear to be more from weakness than kindness. This is especially true in the later episodes. Still, everything works out in the end, so her occasional instances of inexplicably passive behavior certainly don’t ruin the show.

Adult animation fans are likely to find Cinderella pleasant to watch due to the good animation, depth, and action. Children may especially like it, boys included, since the prince is involved in numerous swordfights. Cinderella is definitely above average for a children’s animated TV show.

Content Overview: Mild violence.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Red Rain Returns in the Short Story “Project 74”

The Story: In this prequel to Red Rain, a young and brilliant scientist is brought to Mars to work on a secret project. Once he learns the dark truth about the project, he has to decide whether to go along with it or put himself at risk by trying to stop it.

My Thoughts: The most important thing to know about this lengthy short story is that it is inseparable from the book Red Rain. Anyone who has read and enjoyed Red Rain is sure to also enjoy “Project 74.” The story deepened my understanding of characters from that book, and I liked getting to see more of characters who didn’t get much “screen time” in Red Rain.

For those who have yet to read Red Rain, it is probably helpful to know in advance that “Project 74” functions as a prequel to that book. I would not consider it a self-contained story, although fortunately you can quickly find out what happens next by getting Red Rain. If you are planning to read Red Rain, you might want to start with “Project 74,” an option that did not exist before, but which is the ideal place to start now.

Content Overview: A small amount of mild violence.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Redwall Fans Will Love The Mistmantle Chronicles by M. I. McAllister

The Story: On a wondrous island kingdom where a variety of anthropomorphic animals live together in peace, dangers in many forms threaten the island, but the good animals there always work together to battle evildoers and protect the innocent. The series contains five books: Urchin of the Riding Stars, Urchin and the Heartstone, The Heir of Mistmantle, Urchin and the Raven War, and Urchin and the Rage Tide.

My Thoughts: After being intrigued by this series for a long time, I finally picked up the first book and started reading. I quickly discovered that The Mistmantle Chronicles is an excellent anthropomorphic animal series in the tradition of the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Although it is not as bold or colorful as the early books in the Redwall series, it has a lot to offer.

As with Redwall, the vivid characters are a big part of what makes it so readable. And unlike Redwall, the books follow the same characters as they grow and have many adventures together. Even though the Redwall series is much longer, the world The Mistmantle Chronicles is set in is more thoroughly developed.

One of my favorite things about The Mistmantle Chronicles is that it is filled with Christian symbolism and ideas. Characters pray, show the value of faith, and even learn fairly complex theological lessons, all in a series that was released by a secular publisher. I highly recommend this series to fans of anthropomorphic animal fantasy and fans of good fantasy novels in general.

Content Overview: Mild violence.