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After School Nightmare with gender questions explored…

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

This month’s Manga Movable Feast centers on After School Nightmare published in the U.S. under Go! Comi, which is a manga company that is clearly disappearing. This is one of the few titles I have read from this publisher, and it was Eisner nominated.

Mashiro Ichijo is a student at a school, where you have to go through a trial to graduate. He is definitely a character with secrets, that is unlike Asuka from Otomen. He is actually a she or is she a he? Mashiro is the one of the few characters I have read or seen outside of hentai titles that is actually mentioned as a hermaphrodite, so by the top he is a male, but on the bottom he is a girl. I have not seen the artist draw an artistic representation of his bottom, so what to say other than from what the other characters mention, and the real self that he/she portrays in the nightmare world. If they ever show him naked, he would be totally like a Ken doll  – assexual as I seen on Snow Sakura and Japanese censorship laws placated.

There are self-gender identity questions raised in this series. Is he going to be a manly man with a cute girlfriend, or would he be a female, and give into Sou- a darker classmate of his. I just see this as a continual love triangle between the three, as it is exemplify on the book covers of this series.

My personal preference is to see Mashiro end up with Sou. After a couple of weeks of reading a lot of shoujo titles, I really really am quite happy to see the “bl” scenes that Mashiro has. Can you call them bl scenes? I just see two guys going at at, and to me, my heart started to sigh.. and I can only say “yay!” But then mentally “boo” while Mashiro refuses Sou’s affections.

Warning this title also has incest issues, so please don’t read if you don’t like that. The series makes for a good suspenseful, mystery read though. Probably other read alike would be Future Diary or Deadman Wonderland. There are relationship issues, secrets, betrayals. I cannot truly confirm if this is a gender bender type series, since it is not the lead character either concealing her gender or cross dressing. Yet the self-questioning identity crisis and  gender disassociation type manga title read a-likes would probably be for some readers some comparison to MW or Revolutionary Girl Utena.

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Hir@gana Times

August 31, 2010 2 comments

Now I first noticed this Hir@gana Times on Jlist.com, but then I started to find it at NYC’s Kinokuniya, so where do you think I purchase it now? Mostly at Kinokuniya, since I can always run in, and occasionally find a copy there. It is pretty cheap to get, at about $7 to $8 an issue.

Contemplating on whether or not I should put a subscription for it. It has some interesting articles, but it is fun for a Japanese learner – who knows how to read hirgana and still want to know what exactly the articles are about. In Japanese and vice-versa. There are articles on Japanese living, places… ads and while mostly aimed for foreigners living in Japan with advertisements directed at them. There are interesting Japanese living articles.

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Yotsuba&! – throwing in Chi as well ^_^

August 30, 2010 5 comments

Since I skipped last month’s MMF with Paradise Kiss – coming back with August MMF. This time the book chosen is on Yotsuba&! from Yen Press, and other related blog posts will be hosted here.  I will be talking about a bit of Yotsuba and then going onto another title for general manga reading.

Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma is a slice of life story about a little girl who move into a new house – and this is about her discovery, as with her interactions with her single father and three next door neighbors. This is a manga that is aimed for people of all ages… and has had a history of being translated in the United States by two publishers, the now defunct ADV Press and then picked up by Yen Press.

As a frequent patron of the New York Public Library, they have two different copies of volume 1 of this title.  It is a popular title as it should – since it was created by the mangaka for Azumanga Daioh and with its interesting release history in the United States. Yotsuba&! has won awards, so it is a very good title to recommend for young readers.

So far, I have only read volume 1 and decided to stop and drop this title. Manga reading is always dependent on taste, and Yotsuba&! is a title I didn’t want to pursue, based on a personal reason of taste. For the more plot driven adult readers there’s Bunny Drop that is a better title, which is also carried by Yen Press.

But that is not the aim of this MMF at all so with aspect of mentioning – Yotsuba&! and another child-friendly title. I will bring my pick and love for what is an all about general age graphic novel for kids young and old.

Chi’s Sweet Home, by Konami Kanata released in the United States by Vertical Press.

There are currently seven volumes out in Japan, and currently at the time of this post written – two books in English. There’s two anime seasons, I believe, maybe one or two seasons that is available on Crunchy Roll.

Did I have to mention that as a feverent feline lover – that Chi’s protagonist is a kitten? The manga is about Chi’s adventures with Yohei, her young owner – and her discovery of the world from a growing cat’s perspective. She enjoys life, gets into trouble – but is a fantastic discover of the world around her. Very natural!

This is a fantastic series that is adult friendly as well. I love this series, since I am a cat owner and can find relevance with how my cat grew up as well. Plus Chi is all about cute as can be! Kids can find relevance with Yohei… so as with all manga reading – it is an enjoyable read! The other day I read a comic strip, about Yohei and Chi facing Kuro Neko, that I though was very impressive and cute. Used it on my mom to only have her, only to have her snap back – that’s she’s not an animal, and should kick the heck out of me…cues my sister break out in laughter.

The Japanese manga is easy reading for Japanese learners – as it is a manga with nothing but hirigana, for the cat sounds that Chi makes, but in the fact that things happen to her, so this little kitty is thinking. When I say there are seven manga so far in Japanese, that’s how much I collected of the Japanese one.

This is my 100% choice for kids to know, read and fall in love with, so definitely read Chi’s Sweet Home – no matter what!

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[Manga] Kingyo Used Books Vol 1

July 1, 2010 Leave a comment

I was excited when I received this in the mail. I pre-ordered this book a while ago from Book Depository. People can read chapters of this books online for free, from ikki. Nothing for me beats the physical feel of a book though. So what to say about this series, it is a treasure trove of learning for readers who want to learn about popular manga titles from the land of the rising sun.

Japan has an manga industry that publishes more than the United States so far has, and mostly the United States gets its publications from translations of Korean or Japanese older titles. Still, my opinion is that getting the chance to read about works within a work is an interesting way to learn about history.

For each manga title mentioned, there is a bit of a history at the end of each chapter in terms of the ikki version or at the back of each book in the print version. Dr. Slump, Sarusuberi, Moretsu Ataro, Billy Puck, Blueberry, The Chizumi and Fujiomi-kun series, and Magnolia Sho are titles mentioned. With the exception of Dr. Slump, none of the other manga titles are translated in English, so reading these descriptions can whet the appetite for trying to learn Japanese to read some of these book titles.

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To Terra..

May 29, 2010 2 comments

As Manga Moveble Feast is underway with this month’s selection, To Terra. Anyone can check for links to the other participants here. It is a feeling of mixed bag of nuts and bolts as I revisit the world of the Mu and the Terran. On one aspect, it has all the conflicts and rage of a serious human confrontation as one can see on X-Men or Matrix, or it can be as simple as a school yard conflict with two opposing sides. I would say a song of “Kumbaya” is probably going to be regarded with a huge wave of distaste, so I can only move on, as I try to probe into this work that is To Terra.

This manga is considered to be a classic title, and for that reason, there are fans, and appreciators. My personal feeling is one of appreciation and befuddlement. Appreciation for the nuances that the series is, and befuddlement for why couldn’t the characters in this book be resolving their issues? That is pretty similar to nearly every conflict that has ended with groups wrecking genocide on the other or vice versa. There were so much extremes in this series, that it felt quite gloomy for the most part. I can see for desperate times calls for desperate measures for some people.

Art, I do agree with other MMF’s that the drawings were an art of its times, and that I grew up thinking To Terra’s art seriously looked like the read along fairy tales that I grew up in the 80’s seeing at the Chinese bookstore.

I was very surprised that this work was written by a female. That’s probably a whack to the head, but for the most part, and my lack of knowledge that I write this, since there just isn’t enough graphic novels of this scope to be translated as of yet into English or what I have read to really justify this series as being strong in my list. Volume 2 was definitely not something I really liked, I have considered moments of dropping this series, but for the sake that I read this book before this MMF, I can say that it was a one time read, that would make it justifiable.

Some character thoughts, I was annoyed with Physis’s character, from when she released Keith in the second volume, to the ending when the Terrans mentioned on letting them hold her strange hand. I was thinking whoa… hypocrisy and iconography. I can only mention that times should change from when this book was written.

One of the relatively few scenes that stood out for me int his book, was this scene.

The concept of the earth as a marble/plaything of a higher being is pretty significant. Men in Black or The Hitchker’s Guide to the Galaxy are two movie examples. I find that the series in spit of all its mostly down point, this gave a final hope, that there should be a paradox, that what is viewed as a world, maybe someone’s play thing.

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Mushishi

April 27, 2010 2 comments

Mushishi are the tales of Ginko, a man after mushi, a micro-organism that can either hurt or help humans. They are always there, but it is the luck or the ill fortune of humans who get involved. Always something life changing occurs. Ginko can never stay in one place too long, since he would be attracting mushi, like swarms. But various stories take place in a rural world of an agricultural based homely Japan, and each story can take place with the premises of years or across seasons.

Memorable stories for me is when Ginko visits a place where the deceased are reborn from mushis. Or when a mushi brings prophetic dreams for a man that would result in tragedy. Or what about when a mushi consumes a human’s short term memory. Then what about when a mushi lures a girl from the sky like shoe string, but she survives. Or what about when a mushi acts as a letter carrier?

If I were to say what are things I like about this manga, it is for the subtle entertainment value. Mushishi is very slice of life, as well as a life experiences. Something to get use to reading. It is definitely easy to read the book in one sitting, but to then reflect on messages of certain stories, makes for an interesting outlook. As a reader, one would always read to entertain one self, or draw similarities or whatifs. Mushishi is something that can appeal to both genders. I also do enjoy reading the various folk lore references that is explained toward the back of the story, where there are explanations of translations.

Mushishi is by Yuki Urushibara. There is an English release of the manga by Del Rey, as well there is an 26-episode anime, and a movie. Both the movie and the anime series are licensed by Funimation.

This blog post is a response to April’s Manga Moveable Fest hosted by Ed Sizemore.

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Manga Review: Crown of Love

April 18, 2010 1 comment

Hisayoshi Tajima is an aloof, yet very attractive 16 year old honor student. He has a princely persona, that has many females in his school admiring him. However, what happens if he falls for teen idol Rima Fujio. Then he gets the opportunity to become an idol like Rima? They meet, and then he learns that she sees him as a rival and pretty much dislikes him?

I was surprised as to how this story was developed in the first volume. I had my fears that this manga would be a typical shoujo manga, that would be filled with plenty of sappy parts to read through. Yet this book may prove me wrong in quickly judging a book just by the cover.  While reading this book definitely does not make me do a turnabout for what my prior fears are about the shoujo genre. This book is unique enough for me to say that this is definitely something new to experience or read. This story has a male at the center of being the main character, where normally the female would be. The story explores from the perception of the male on what happens if he attracts the attentions of more than one female.

The personalities and perspectives of the character in this manga are very personable and realistic. That under the exterior of every pretty face or perfect family, there is always a different or maybe darker imperfect side. Similar to the Loveless, another series of Yun Kouga, Crown of Love is very character driven, and an exploration into the journey of loving a celebrity. I will look into reading the second volume of this series.

Crown of Love is actually a revised work from an earlier work of Yun Kouga. One of the things I appreciate about a manga, are the author notes often found at the end of a volume. They would develop and introduce the author/artist to fans, though the note might be dated- it is still an interesting look into the feelings of a creative individual.

Crown of Love was a courtesy gift from Kris of Girl G33k who I met from Daniella via All About Manga. This review is going to be part of the Manga Blogger Exchange.

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Review on Ode to Kirihito: Volume 1

April 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Written by Osamu Tezuka
Translation by Camellia Nieh
Published by Vertical Press
ISBN 978-1-932234-64-0
$24.95 US
Review copy provided by the publisher.

If anyone knew about the possibility of a disease to cause a human to looking like a dog, there are a couple of appropriate reactions.  Should they keep it under wraps not tell others, warn others of this danger or should they exploit it? This is a conflict in Ode to Kirihito, when there is a growing outbreak of the Monmow Disease. Doctor Kirihito Osanai was sent by his hospital’s director, Dr. Tatsugaura to explore causes at the remote village of Doggoddale. Things would not turn out good for him, and Kirihito begins his quest to return back to the hospital.

Ode to Kirihito is Osamu Tezuka’s two-volume, medical thriller. I happen to think of Tezuka as a realistic and stark writer, and in my opinion, the plot to Ode was quite good. I have yet to read the second volume at this point, but the first volume is sure to appeal new and old readers of the Japanese god of manga’s work. There are some aspects that made my eyebrow rose.

With this book being rated 16, the age rating is appropriated for an experienced reader, but questionable, since there is mention of rape and human slavery. The appropriateness of this book is an individual decision though. This book can still appeal to teen readers who could view Kirihito as a suffering and persevering character.

Another aspect is the lack of translations for the Chinese writing that was in the book. As a non-reader of kanji/Chinese characters, if it is not translated then the reader will just see it as gibberish, and have to look at the other panels for clues. Is that nitpicking? Probably, but knowing what things are being said is better than being left in the dark. Also there is usually no fault I can see with Vertical releases, so nit pick it is. Will the publisher hear the opinions of reviewers, probably.

This is also one of the first times, I have seen a story travel as much as any other manga I have read so far. Travel, meaning geographical locations mentioned. As a geography fan, I usually find it quite interesting to notice this aspect. Usually a manga can take place in one location, or set in a fantasy world, but with the mention of Japan, Taiwan or South Africa. Ode to Kirihito shows a globalizing attitude, that no matter how different the location is, human are humans, and there are similarities, so this is a good lesson to learn.

Originally published in the 1970’s, Ode to Kirihito is timeless. Tezuka is well known for his other titles of Astro Boy, Black Jack, and Buddha. Many of these works are translated in English by Vertical Press, and are critically recommended as graphic novels to be read. My review is slightly late since I am still currently on a trip, and writing this review, so hopefully this makes a late entry for what I have been reading on Twitter as Tezuka’s Month.

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