Posted in What I Read

Heartbreak Formula by Mpur Chan: Formula To Heal The Broken Heart

This afternoon at 6:45 on Harry’s 18th birthday, I jump into a car to kill myself.
Harry … the man I trust and always there for me, has changed since we entered high school.
He is no longer around me, even when I’m at the lowest point of my life.
“I think I have an answer for your problem,” Doctor Cornell said, lowering his voice. “My research team is experimenting with a formula to make people forget the bad things from their past. It’s Olvidelo Formula,”
A new door seemed to open before me.
The formula may be the answer. The thing is, I do not know if that formula will save me … or not

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This novel is written by Indonesia writer, Mpur Chan.

First time I know this book is from my sister, because she’s Mpur Chan’s junior when she studying Korean Language in Bandung. Attracted by the sci-fi theme presented in the blurb, I decided to join pre-order. When it arrived, I was excited to read.

“After my first suicide attempt, whenever I felt my burden was too heavy and it seemed unbearable, my mind could not be separated from death.”

To be honest, reading this book is hard. Not because of the story, nor the character, but how the author describes the state of each character. Maybe because I suffer from depression and have trauma with teaching activities, there are several times I have to close this book. There are few pages that triggered a panic attack, but luckily I was able to calm down and finish it.

The plot itself is very simple. From beginning to end the author focuses on Summer’s journey as one of the experimental subjects. There is no conflict of interest, something that very common in sci-fi genre stories.

Although the story is simple for sci-fi genre, the Heartbreak Formula is perfect to read when you feel sad, or you can read it as a reminder that there is hope to recover from mental illness.

 

For Indonesia version, click here

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Posted in What I Play

{GAMES REVIEW} Wanderlust: What Lies Beneath

You’ve been hired by a shadowy businessman to investigate the appearance of a pyramid in the Amazonian jungle. And by ‘appearance,’ he means the entire thing literally popped up out of the ground overnight! As a seasoned archaeologist, you know immediately that you’re in for a strange adventure. But nothing could’ve prepared you for what you find when you arrive – not only is this pyramid like nothing you’ve ever seen, but you’re now racing against your own sister for bragging rights to the find.

Wanderlust - What Lies Beneath

The Story:

For first time in my life, I got something more than ‘saving your loved ones’. It started as archeology investigation, then it become competition once you find out there’s another person arrived at same site, lastly, it become rescue mission when you realize the enemy is someone that had been missing for years.

The storyline of Wanderlust: What Lies Beneath is mixed archeology, fantasy, and science-fiction. These brand-new formula is something I need from HOPA industry. And Mad Head Games once again, was successfully delivers HOPA into the new level.

The Visual Production:

Mad Head Games did it again. The stunning and dreamy vibes create spectacular scenery and high-quality graphic. I really admire their voice-overs, and now they make it perfect with smooth animation. You know the annoying part in HOPA? It’s when the character standing like lifeless doll. Seeing they’re animated will make the whole scene looks lively. And that’s what Mad Head Games do.

The Gameplay:

Each HOS and puzzles are integrated with storyline. They even add new feature to help us finish mundane task. The feature is archeology kit that contains hatchet, brush and glyph book which is very helpful when we encounters runes. Although the puzzles are mostly easy and not require brain-work, but it still enjoyable.

Conclusion:

Mad Head Games once again prove they’re on the top of HOPA industry. With their creative minds, we can safely say that Wanderlust: What Lies Beneath will be the next briliant HOPA series that you can’t missed

 

Developer       : Mad Head Games

Released Date: March 2, 2018

 

Posted in What I Read

Silence by Akiyoshi Rikako

 Why can’t I get out of this island?

Miyuki was raised in Yuki-no-Shima, a remote island protected by Shimatama-san, the island’s guard deity. Miyuki who dreams of becoming an artist finally gets out of the island and lives in Tokyo, despite being opposed by her parents.
After a long absence home, finally this year Miyuki will go home together with Toshiaki, her lover. Although Miyuki did not realize it at first, but it seems Shimatama-san knows there’s something wrong with Toshiaki.

Whatever happens, Shimatama-san must be protecting her, right?

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What are the similarities between Girls In The Dark, The Dead Returns, Scheduled Suicide Days and Holy Mother? The answer is that these four books have teenage characters. The conflict are mostly focused on teenager problem. Although Holy Mother present adults POV as the main story, but there are some scenes involving teenagers as well.

What about Silence?

Silence’s opening scene is similar to Holy Mother. For half a chapter, readers introduced to the world named ‘Yuki No Shima’ from Miyuki POV. We can see what kind of person Miyuki when she was a child, her dream and her present life. Until in the middle of the chapter, the reader are introduced to Miyuki as adult.
“The most important thing is, whether he will marry you or not. No matter how loyal he is to you, is it matter if he doesn’t marry you? “- (p. 33)
This is what distinguishes Silence from four previous books. Silence feels more ‘heavy’ because it focused on marriage and family. Miyuki and Toshiaki’s love story doesn’t feel as sweet as the common love story we read in book. Through Silence, Akiyoshi-sensei presents reality of how marriage is not only about unite the two hearts. There are more complex things like parental blessing and relatives reaction. For some reason, Miyuki family remind me when my sister got married. I guess that’s why I can understand Miyuki’s mindset when facing her relatives.

Again, I was dazzled by Akiyoshi-sensei. She not only created a small island called Yuki-no-Shima, but also gave details of the people’s traditions, the atmosphere of the island and the tradition of the Japanese New Year. Reading Silence is like studying the cultural differences between rural and urban in Japan. This cultural difference also becomes a conflict in Miyuki and Toshiaki relationships.

To be honest, at first I was resentful of Toshiaki’s attitude. But when I opened the next chapter, I changed my mind.

“Why does she not care about his feelings? Why did she enter the house by herself, leaving him alone? Who exactly begs to marry, who wants to come to this house to meet? “(p. 75)

Human nature basically can’t be divided into black and white, even most humans have both. On the one hand, we may sympathize with Miyuki and hate Toshiaki, but on the other hand, Miyuki also has the same mistake as Toshiaki. This description of character traits is actually a little frustrating, let alone some misunderstandings due to lack of communication among these characters.

But, the biggest question here…is it Shimatama-san really exists?
Or just a personification of the selfishness of Yuki-no-Shima’s population?

 

The Indonesia version is part of blogtour, arranged by Penerbit Haru.

Click here to read.

Posted in What I Read

Holy Mother by Akiyoshi Rikako: Mother’s Sacrifice

There was a boy murdered in the town where Honami lived. The victim was even raped after being killed.

The news made Honami worry about her only daughter. The police can not even believe it.

What will she do to protect her only daughter?

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Holy Mother could be the only book that can make the reader cursing. At least one word, especially when the reader reaches the ending. Same thing happen to me.

At the beginning, readers are introduced to a mother with her little daughter and her struggle to bear a child at her not-so-young age a.k.a 40 years old. Every detail takes us into a protective figure of Honami. Just read one chapter, I feel like I was there, watching Honami’s life with my own eyes.

The plot is kinda remind me with Criminal Minds series. In the series, the audience is first shown the culprit and made the audience wondering how the police arrested him. The most important thing is why the culprit do that and what his motive is.

Because of that, I feel comfortable reading Holy Mother. Every time I watch the series, I always think, “Why can he be so cruel? Is he traumatized? “, Because by knowing their background, at least I understand what makes them so cruel. When I found out the real reason for the offender in this book, I spontaneously shouted,

“KAMPRET!”

Whops. Sorry for my French.

The plot twist in this book deceive my eyes. I mean, that’s not something big. It may even be visible from the dialogue, the description of the body language, but it turns out … Oh..I was a fool-_-)

And lately I realized why it happen. -_____-)

Compared to Akiyoshi-sensei’s earlier work, this book exceeds my expectations. In fact it feels more sadistic than Girls in The Dark.

 

For Indonesia version, click here

Posted in What I Read

Girls In The Dark by Akiyoshi Rikako: The Truth or Lie?

What did she want to say …?

The girl is dead.

The President of the Literature Club, Shiraishi Itsumi, died.
A lily in her arms.

Murder? Suicide?
No one knows.
One of six girls, member of the Literature Club, is rumored to be the murderer of the beautiful, charismatic girl.

A week later, the club held a meeting. They want to remember Shiraishi with a short story. But apparently, the short story they make is their respective analysis of who the real killer is. The six girls took turns reading their analysis, but ….

Do you … ever thought wanting to kill someone?

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Incredible.

This word seems appropriate to describe this book. Akyoshi-sensei is known as a writer who likes to slip a plot-twist and surprises her readers. But that’s not what makes me call it incredible.

Before writing this review, I got the information from Haru’s social media (the publisher who translated the novel) that Akiyoshi-sensei was originally a humanities writer.  No wonder her writing style in this book is different than The Dead Returns and Scheduled Suicide Day. I read the translated version, but the translation feels more standard/formal than other Akiyoshi-sensei works. Probably it because the setting is a private religious school. But again that’s not what makes me call it incredible.

So what makes me call the word “Incredible”?

Her knowledge.

Akiyoshi-sensei seems to do some research first when writing. Just look when she describes a small village in Bulgaria, explaining the literature related to medicine and culinary, everything feels natural.

Akiyoshi-sensei is also able to divide the “voice” of her seven main characters. Making two different POV is already quite difficult for most writers, let alone seven. Akiyoshi-sensei is amazing.

The ending was unexpected. While reading, I had expected there would be a big secret after all the members had finished reading the manuscript. But I was wrong. There’s one more secret. The cover is so dramatic, just how Akiyoshi-sensei describe Hisumi’s beauty: Dramatic. Absolutely perfect cover.

Compared to the two books I’ve read before, Girls In The Dark is the best. This book presents a deeper tension than The Dead Returns and no childlike figures like Scheduled Suicide Day. Somehow, this book reminds me of college. One class is dominated by female, making the class like jungle. There’s no one you can really trust. That’s the most horrible part of this book. Hate, admiration and fear, is a typical class / school atmosphere that is dominated by a sensitive creature called a woman.

This book is perfect for fans of mystery stories. The plot, the portrayal of her character and the ending is remarkable.

Oh, and all the characters are in “gray zone”. So, don’t be confused to determine which protagonist and antagonist. Because in here, everyone is same.

 

For Indonesia version, click here

 

Posted in What I Read

The Dead Returns by Akiyoshi Rikako: The Switched Body

One night, I was pushed down from a cliff. Fortunately I survived.

However, as I opened my eyes and looked in the mirror,
I no longer looked at myself.
My body changed with the figure of a handsome young man who was about to help me.

With my new body, I was determined to find my killer.

The suspect, classmate. Total 35 people. One of them is my killer.

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This is the second Akiyoshi-sensei work I read. It tells the story of Koyama Nobuo who is ‘trapped’ in the body of Takahashi Shinji, after almost killed by someone. When reading the synopsis, I was curious and couldn’t wait to read it. But apparently, this book is more difficult to read.

Why?

First, The Dead Returns’s plot is a bit slow. We spend more time understanding inside Nobuo’s mind, his views on his surroundings. It more like a drama genre, not a thriller.

Second, because the theme of this novel is “exchange”, there is a lot of awkwardness going on when Nobuo has to interact with the original Shinji’s friends and family. This is actually a personal reason. I’ve had enough of awkwardness when I interact with others, so I often avoid the same thing when reading a book or watching a movie.

Still, I tried to finish this book, and I was quite surprised. Shocked and sad. I came to think, “This is why I hate misunderstanding,”. A small misunderstanding can cause a great tragedy. And that’s what happens in this book. I’m sad when reading the last pages, but happy with Nobuo who mature face reality.

Just like Scheduled Suicide Days, The Dead Returns gives a deep message to the reader. Through Nobuo, we might feel annoyed with his way of thinking. However,he got a point. People often have a “standard”, and when we do not fit the “standard”, people will labeling us as “weird”. But sometime, someone use this way of thinking to “justify” a themselves. Because society considers “weird”, then unconsciously, we will “defend” ourselves and blame society. Sometimes, that mistake is within ourselves. We do not realize it, because we are busy looking for “who” we can blame.

If Scheduled Suicide Days is more like a teen detective game, then The Dead Returns is like a Japanese school drama. But that does not mean this book is bad, it’s just that if you expect something tense, The Dead Returns is not the right book for you.

The Dead Returns are more suitable for Japanese drama lovers, and certainly fans of Akiyoshi-sensei

Posted in What I Watch

Gakuen Babysitters: Learning How To Take Care Kids

After the sudden death of their parents, two young brothers named Ryuichi Kashima (a freshman in high school) and his younger brother Kotaro (a preschooler) are left orphaned and having no place to call home. The school’s chairwoman of the prestigious Morinomiya Academy offers to take the boys into her care, giving them a new house and a free school tuition, on the condition that Ryuichi helps out with the school’s daycare center and work there as a babysitter while also attending normal classes during school hours.

Gakuen Babysitters

The Story:

Among the anime releases on the winter this year, only Gakuen Babysitters did not include fanservice elements. This is certainly fresh air for anime lovers, especially for those who less fond of fanservice. The Gakuen Babysitters story centers on Ryuichi’s life as a babysitter for teachers’ children. Along with Usaida (school’s babysitter) and Kamitani (Ryuichi’s classmate), they’re taking care and learn how to see world from child’s perspective.

Each episode has two story that revolves around Ryuichi’s life. Each story usually has different main subject, for example: In episode 2, the first story is tells Ryuichi’s first day as student of Morinomiya Academy. Then the second story is tells the field trip to zoo with children and their’s mother.

I love how we can learn how different each mother on teaching their kids. Like Kamitani and Taka’s mother who often hits her oldest son’s head for his misbehave. Even Ryuichi who seems the most kindest among all adult character, made mistake as well. In episode 1, when Taka announce Kotaro will play as monster, suddenly Ryuichi step in, to protect his brother. He shouldn’t do that. Let him play! Or, if he scares Kotaro will get hurt, let him speak his opinion. Kotaro’s quiet behavior was caused by Ryuichi’s overprotective behavior. It’s good, but in long terms, it doesn’t good for child’s development.

But overall, the storyline is sweet and pure, no fanservices, no sappy romance scenes or anythings that similar with that.

The Characters:

I can’t pick favorite. Every characters in Gakuen Babysitters is lovable, even the arogant-looking Inomata, who turns out suffer from loneliness because her studying habit. I also notice each child is represent their parent’s personality. For example, Mamizuka-sensei and her husband. They have twins, Kazuma and Takuma. Takuma tends to smile brightly every single day while Kazuma is crybaby. I notice that Takuma like Mamizuka-sensei who always smile, while Kazuma like Kousuke, their father who always look timid and being dramatic. Another example is Kamitani Hayato who often hits his brother’s head. Later I found where he get the habit. Turns out, Kamitani-sensei has similar habit.

Conclusion:

If you looking for sweet story without dramatic romance scene and has no fanservices, then Gakuen Babysitters is all you need.

 

Author               : Hari Tokeino

Studio                : Brain’s Base

Released Date : January 7 – March 25, 2018