Real Neat Blog Award

Thanks to Tiny Ugly Animal for the award! I’m still just getting myself set-up here, so it’s nice to hear someone appreciates the effort.

The rules:real-neat-award-1

  • Display the award logo.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
  • Answer the questions of the one who nominated you.
  • Nominate 5-10 bloggers.
  • Ask them 7 questions.

Tiny Ugly Animal’s questions:

So, what are your thoughts on…

  1. potatoes?
  2. shoes?
  3. the color purple?
  4. flying pigs?
  5. Tom Hiddleston?
  6. big hands?
  7. gasoline?

Now, I’ll admit, I was debating whether I should participate in this or not. My blog is essentially about my reading life (and its closely associated hobbies) and these questions seem a bit off topic for me. But, then again, just because I was asked about “potatoes” doesn’t mean I can’t also find a way to keep it on topic…or, try to, anyways.

So, here are my answers!

My Thoughts on Potatoes

yakiimoIt’s a traditional street food in Autumn in Japan. Sweet Potatoes grilled over dry heat, called yakiimo (焼き芋). This is one of the first foods that intrigued me about Japan, and one I still have yet to try. I remember the scene came from one of the Sailor Moon movies… or, was it in the opening credits? Usagi and Chibiusa attempt to eat a very hot potato. I can’t remember exactly where it happened, but since watching it I’ve been wanting to try roasting a Japanese sweet potato this way. The only problem is that it’s been impossible to find ‘Japanese’ sweet potatoes in my city. I guess next time I visit Japan I should plan to go in the Autumn!

My Thoughts on Shoes

slam dunk 1I’ve read a TON of manga, but never a title where the shoes take centre stage. They rarely do more for the character than act as mere decoration.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of 2 pairs of shoes that are explicitly discussed in manga. The first are in “Slam Dunk” where Sakuragi has to actually go to the store and pick out a pair of sneakers appropriate for the basketball court. And the other, is in “High School Debut” where Yoh states his mortification at Haruna’s choice of clothing (and rightly so!).

I think that shoes basically get forgotten in most series simply because they don’t contribute to the overall story. It’s the character and their actions that tend to be important. Close up shots of faces and hands are what are used to express action and emotion. Shoes just don’t seem to really matter for the most part – except that it would look strange if characters were constantly wandering around bare footed.

*since writing the above, I’ve been informed that the title “The Garden of Words” features a character who wants to design shoes. So, I guess there is a “shoe” manga after all. I haven’t read it though, so I don’t know how much it is actually discussed.

My Thoughts on The Colour Purple

Purple… is very purpley! Here are a selection of “purple” manga from my collection:purple manga2

My Thoughts on Flying Pigs

porco rosso

The only “flying pig” I can think of is the ace pilot in Hayao Miyazaki’s Porco Rosso. I saw the film years ago, and even then it was just once. Despite being part of the Studio Ghibli cannon, it is somewhat surprising that there isn’t more Porco Rosso merchandise out there. I’ve been to the Ghibli museum, and I don’t even remember seeing him represented in any of the installations… But, I guess as a film it is missing Miyazaki’s trademark young female protagonist, and all of the “cutesy” elements that fans love. Maybe people are just less interested in a story featuring a middle-aged pig. He’s certainly not as “cute” as Totoro. I do actually remember enjoying the film (much more than expected), and think it might be time for a re-watch.

My Thoughts on Tom Hiddleston

Who? Uhhh… I don’t know who this is… Ohhhh… Well, thank you Google. So, thoughts: ummm…

Considering that he plays a ‘Norse’ god in what I’m assuming is his most famous role (because it’s the only one I recognize), I would recommend he read “Vinland Saga” by Makoto Yukimura. There is certainly a sad showing for manga featuring Norse mythology!

My Thoughts on Big Hands

demon love spell 1They say that hands are the most difficult thing to draw. And no one seems to have a harder time of it than Mayu Shinjo. As popular as her series tend to be, she is terrible at drawing human proportions, especially in her male characters. Sometimes they’ll have too small of a head, too large of a chest, and most especially gargantuan over-sized hands that would look more at home on a gorilla. You could almost call this her “trademark” artistic style (which would then make these bizarre proportions excusable), except that her proportions on a single character also change drastically from panel to panel. I don’t know if she thinks this adds to her manga, or if she’s just sloppy, but it is certainly distracting.

My Thoughts on Gasoline

initial dI guess we’ll go back to Japan and discuss Japanese Gas Pumps. The gas pump is one of the most “culture shock” things I encountered in Japan. They are manned by young people in cosplay (i.e. uniform) who furiously clean both inside and outside of your car, and then bow to you when you leave. It’s a bizarre experience. Especially considering that I always pump my own gas at a station.

In Canada, there is usually 2 pumps on the right-hand side that are designated for assistants. I avoid those pumps if at all possible. I like to do it myself. I don’t want to talk to other humans. And I pay at the pump. It’s quick and uncomplicated. And, I like it that way.

The idea of this high level of customer service is unnerving! If you ever pick up the manga “Skip Beat!” or “Initial D”, especially in the early volumes for both series, you will get a glimpse of what I’m talking about.

 


I Nominate:

*Don’t feel bad if you don’t want to participate. I’ve never participated in one of these award/tags before so I’m still not entirely sure what the blogger etiquette is.

My Questions:

  1. What was the first manga you read?
  2. What was the last manga you read?
  3. Do you finish a volume of manga in 1 sitting, or will you take a break in the middle?
  4. Do you have a specific place that you like to read?
  5. Have you ever started a new hobby because of your interest in anime/manga?
  6. Recommend a non-manga comic book or graphic novel.
  7. What is your favourite novel?

*I’m also looking to follow more bloggers who talk about manga! If you have any recommendations, I would love to hear about it!

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Valentine’s Day Manga #MangaMonday Recommendations

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

This week’s #MangaMonday Recommendations topic is about Valentine’s day, I of course could do nothing else but recommend *shōjo manga. I’m following up from last week where I recommended short shōnen manga, by including short shōjo series in this post!

Besides being extra short, these series also feature the cutest pure-love-type boy-girl relationships. Whether you’re in love, or not, these series are sure to make your heart go doki doki!

Several of these titles are out of print, so might be a bit harder to locate. But, since they are short, shouldn’t take much to complete!

 

The Heiress and the Chauffeur, volume 1-2 by Keiko Ishihara

Set in Taisho era Japan, an heiress and her servant must never cross the boundaries of their station in life. They can never touch. And they certainly can never fall in love!

Backstage Prince, volume 1-2 by Kanoko Sakurakoji

I personally think Sakurakoji is better in her shortest series. Akari gets mixed up with Ryusei the socially anxious and demanding kabuki prodigy when she accidentally injures him before a performance.

Wanted by Matsuri Hino

If you love the “Princess Bride,” but wish it was even more piratey, you’ll want to read this title! Armeria’s first love Luce has been kidnapped by pirates! Several years later she has set herself on a mission, has disguised herself as a boy, with the intent to rescue Luce from the dread pirate Skulls! From the “lovely” and “fluffy” imagination of Matsuri Hino.

Miss Me? by Tomoko Taniguchi

miss me

I’m personally a huge fan of Tomoko Taniguchi, and have everything she’s got published in English. She’s one of (if not the) first shōjo mangaka published in English.

Most of the stories cross-over with each other, so you see familiar faces from other titles in each one (especially in Popcorn Romance, Call Me Princess, Just a Girl, and Let’s Stay Together Forever). I wish more manga did this – I love it! Plus, these are so exceptionally cute, I want someone else to love them as much as I do!

Miss Me? follows a stylish high schooler who has fallen in love with the lead singer of a heavy metal band. But, he doesn’t seem very interested… so, maybe she should just date his desperate band mate instead!?

Stolen Hearts, volumes 1-2 by Miku Sakamoto

6556613Stolen Hearts is actually an incomplete manga. Or, it was in publication when CMX went defunct. But, is actually on of those manga that ends relatively well, and is still well worth checking out!

This is similar in plot to Backstage Prince (above), meek Shinobu accidentally damages an antique Kimono that the scary Miharu is carrying around in his school bag. He demands reparations… which turn out to be working at his grandmother’s kimono store.

What’s this?! Now she gets to wear all of the cute kimono she could ever desire! Perhaps Miharu isn’t as mean and scary as she thought!

Punch!, volume 1-3 by Rie Takada

Rie Takada is one of my all-time favourite shoujo mangaka! Her female characters are so fun, and quirky — with huge personalities.

Punch! is about Elle who lives with her grandfather at his boxing gym. She hates boxing, and wants nothing to do with it… especially not to marry her betrothed, who is himself an up-and-coming boxer. She spends her time looking for a normal boyfriend. But when none of them can stand up to her jealous fiance, she gets help from a scrappy street fighter.

Beast Master, volume 1-2 by Kyousuke Motomi

The covers of this manga are scary, but this is anything but. Yuiko Kubozuka loves animals… she loves them so much that she always scares them away. But, then a mysterious student comes to class with his glowing animal-like eyes… just maybe she’s found an animal who will love her back!?

 

That’s it for my recommendations this week! Have you read any of these titles? Will you be reading shōjo manga this Valentine’s Day?

 


*shōjo manga is a marketing demographic for manga. It means that it was originally published in a magazine who’s target readership is girls (children through teens). Unlike shōnen manga which tends to be more of a “catch-all” or “everybody” demographic, shōjo manga tends to be more of a “niche” demographic. But more on that in a future post.

If you would like to participate in #mangamonday recommendations on your blog or YouTube (or wherever), check out the instructions and future topics, here: https://mangahoarder.com/mangamonday-recommendations/

 

 

 

 

Light Novel Review : Genshiken : Return of the Otaku / by Iida Kazutoshi & Kio Shimoku

genshikenGenshiken : Return of the Otaku / by Iida Kazutoshi & Kio Shimoku

Based on the manga by Kio Shimoku

Translated from the Japanese by Katy Bridges, 2010.

Del Rey Manga/Kodansha Trade Paperback Edition, 2010

Originally published in Japan as Genshiken : Hairu Ranto no Yabo~Return of the Otaku, 2008

223 pages

978-0345516275

Stars: ★ / 5


From GoodReads:

The deafening whack-whack-whack of a helicopter above campus is the first indication that the balmy tranquility of the Genshiken Club is about to be disturbed. The chopper brings handsome Ranto Hairu: transfer student, scion of a powerful Japanese conglomerate, and newly named chairman of the on-campus club organization committee.

Hairu has strong ideas about the kind of clubs that deserve to survive (earnest, industrious) and the kind that don’t (arty, frivolous), and he’s a big fan of brute force. For Madarame, Kousaka, Ohno, and the others, the idea of losing their cherished club is the ultimate nightmare—but it’s only the first of many.
 
Fortunately, the Genshiken boys and girls have a few tricks of their own, including a certain swordfighter summoned from ancient times who could prove very handy


Unfortunately, the summary is probably the best writing you’ll get with this title. I certainly didn’t have high expectations of this work, but I thought I’d end up laying the blame primarily on the translator. That the story and writing themselves couldn’t be that bad. I’ve heard so often how the translations of these early light novels were horrible… but, there’s more to it than this!

Actually, I don’t think the translator is at fault at all. I won’t believe that they are this poor of a writer. Mostly, I am left feeling sorry for them, since they obviously had NOTHING to work with. For example:

p. 100 [Sasahara] looked around for a vending machine where he could buy something to get the taste out of his mouth. There were several vending machines on the street, but all were sold out of everything. Finally, he found a vending machine with something that wasn’t sold out…

Primarily the text reads like, “He did this. Then he did this. Then this did happen.” It’s just lists of action, with very little description or motive to carry between one sentence and the next. I could go to any page, and point out similar issues, like this one:

p.20 […] The father was an obstetrician, the mother a midwife. 

The murder took place at the clinic while the mother and father were away at a medical conference.

The perpetrator was a twenty-two-year-old student who had failed his college exams. He had hope to become the obstetrician who would take over the clinic when the time came.

The murder victim was his nineteen-year-old sister, who was in her last month of pregnancy.

These breaks between sentences are the actual paragraph breaks. Most of which are begun using the same passive voice, with the same word choices. This selection at least has an excuse for its dull prose by using the heading, “Summary of the Incident.” But, this only excuses the single page. It doesn’t excuse the remaining “novel.”

Now, you may be thinking that I should give more allowance to the writing in a light novel. Light novels are known for their low standard. But, I promise, I have more objections than just the composition of prose!

Objection number two, is the story. 

There are about three elements to make up this story. First, there is a mysterious video game that is possessing its players. Second, there is a demon-possessed jizo statue looking for his sister half. And Third, there is a bored student clubs president who has been tasked with cleaning up the morality of the school.

The Genshiken are in trouble from both the game, which seems to have captured some members, and the new student club president who wants to shut them down. The latter issue, about being shut down, is a tired idea. This has already been done in the manga. There were so many other places a story about the Genshiken could have gone.

The first two “magical” or “supernatural” elements are completely out of place in this story. As much as the Japanese culture is infused with spirituality, the original Genshiken manga itself, which this book is supposed to be based off of, is a story of a college club of otaku. The story is about the day-to-day concerns of interacting with each other, buying the latest merchandise, and finding someone with a working computer for playing erotic video games.

It’s not a story that works with magical elements. Unless maybe those elements are the fantasy discussed by the characters in one of their club meetings.

My third objection, has to do with the characters.

As this “novel” is, I’m assuming, purely fan-fiction the only people who should be reading it are fans. If you are coming to this novel outside of watching the anime or reading the manga, you are not going to know who is who, why they act a certain way, and why it’s important that someone said that particular “something” to that other someone.

The author did not, for a second, consider that anyone other than Genshiken otaku would be reading this. And, even as a Genshiken otaku, I found the characters completely lacking! These are weak, paper-thin characters which is in complete contrast to how they are portrayed in the manga.

There’s actually about a three page discussion between Madarame and Sasahara about the virtues of writing a novel after the manga or anime. They talk about how it gives the fan an insight into the actual minds of the characters, the inner monologue, that they normally wouldn’t get to see.

Maybe this is true. But that’s only if the inner monologue needs revealing. When Sasahara is looking for a vending machine because he wants to wash the bad taste out of his mouth, I don’t need him to think, “I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth” so that I’ll understand. It’s just as easy to read it through the actions he takes in the manga. This novel does nothing more for revealing a character through thoughts than the manga could have done… and MUCH better.

And, if the manga could have done the job better, the novel has no reason for existing! It actually feels like an insult to the fans who love the work, and the author who created it.

A shining light!

I guess the best thing about this title, is that there are some original drawings by Kio Shimoku in it. But…ummm… they’re not enough (in my opinion) to buy the book, and certainly no reason to read it. Okay, that’s not much to go on.

Luckily, this title is long out of print, so less people will have access to it. I heartily don’t recommend this work, and actually may have been completely turned off from trying another light novel… at least until next year!

Manga Reading Wrap-Up | Jan 2018

In an attempt to find some balance between YouTube and Blogging, I’ve decided to move my monthly wrap-ups here.

I have or will be talking about most of these books on either this blog or on my YouTube channel, so I’m not actually going to describe any of them in these “wrap-ups”. This is really just an attempt to keep track at least in part the titles that I’m reading throughout the month.

I’m arranging the books by my star rating. It’s not necessarily a useful way to share books since ratings really only mean something to the person making them. But, if you’re curious about how I decide ratings (it actually only applies to manga) I do have a video talking about that on my channel.

 


★★★★★ 5 Star Reads:

 


 

★★★★ 4 Star Reads:

 

 

 


★★★ 3 Star Reads:

 

 

 


★★ 2 Star Reads:

 

 

February Novel TBR (To Be Read)

I’m attempting to read at least 20 novels this year (that’s my goal). Every 2 months, I’m randomly selecting novels to add to my TBR list. I’ve wrapped all of my TBR books in wrapping paper, so I don’t know what they are before the month begins!

My intention is to read at least half of what I select. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, but I also want to encourage myself to ACTUALLY pick up the books I’ve had on my shelf since forever.

February’s Picks Are:

I’ve already begun reading Genshiken: Return of the Otaku by Iida Kazutoshi. I want to make sure I finish reading that one in particular because it will count towards my manga reading challenge #readmanga18 for the category of reading a light novel. To give you a hint of how it’s going… I’m not sure that I will be inspired to pick up another light novel ever again. It’s pretty bad. I feel sorry for the translator who had to work on this.

I’ve also barely begun The Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe which is a Gothic romance novel from 1791. I think I received it for my birthday last year – and I REALLY want to read it. It’s the novel famously mentioned in “Emma” by her friend Harriette Smith. Yup, I’m a Jane Austen fan. This is a really dense novel, so I’m not entirely sure I’ll be finishing it in the month, but I’ll give it a good try.

Paradise Lost by John Milton. I really want to find a good audio book of this. Since it is entirely written in verse, it just seems like it will work better if someone reads it aloud to me. I’ve found a few, but they were all incredibly “angry” or “stuffy” readings. I’ll keep looking, hopefully I’ll find something soon.

The last novel I picked was Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I picked this up at a 2nd hand sale because it’s mentioned in a terrible movie with John Cusack, called Serendipity. I don’t really know what it’s about… I’ve never read anything by the author… and, I’m not sure I’m in the mood for it either… so, we’ll see if I actually decide to read it.

What are you planning to read in February?

Project Learn Japanese | Update no.1 | Jan 2018

I’d mentioned earlier that I’m hoping to learn Japanese this year. I’m going to be doing periodic updates on my progress; mostly to keep me motivated but also, some of you might be interested… (If you’re not, just ignore me.)

So, January hasn’t been as productive as I had originally hoped. I was originally planning to have started into the Leitner Box method, with daily vocabulary review. I was also planning to have finished reviewing my first intro level text book. Unfortunately, I just haven’t had time to do what I’d planned.

But, I did do a few things:

First. I have FINALLY begun scripting my “essay” for Japanese school. Our “final project” assignment is to write a short essay about any topic and present it to the class. It’s of course best to use the grammar we’ve been learning all along. I’m struggling to fit some of these grammar points into my essay. But, maybe we haven’t learned enough grammar yet? I’m also not decided on my topic. I’d like to talk about manga, because I have no lack of words when I talk about manga. But I’m still wondering how “nerdy” I should make it. Unlike just about anywhere else, I feel weird talking about how much I like manga at Japanese school…

51OBMkbzS1LSecond. I have begun going through my N4/N5 Japanese vocabulary book. I’m mostly transcribing the vocabulary and some phrases into my note book. I’m not using any English at this point in my notebook; I’m not sure how long I will be able to manage doing this. At this moment, I’m hoping to avoid English as much as possible. I’ll be using these same words when I finally get into constructing my Leitner Box – anything I can’t recall when I review will go on a flashcard.

Besides being busy, the reason I haven’t started my flash card/Leitner box plan is that I wasn’t able to buy the word cards or flash cards I was interested in. I think I’m going to have to place an order on Rakuten – since Amazon.jp wasn’t letting me buy from them. I have a bit leftover of my old stock, but I’ll need to buy more soon if I don’t want to run out.

Speaking of Amazon.jp, I did pick up some other new things. Mostly new study materials. Or, what I am hoping will be study materials. Because buying study materials is always a good idea… especially when you’re not actually studying… [this is me being sarcastic].

I ended up picking up two new N5 study guides:

 

They’re not the prettiest, but they both look really useful. They seem to be mostly JLPT practice tests and study techniques. The first one (日本語能力試験 完全模試N5) on the left concentrates a lot on listening skills since that is a big part of the exam, and comes with 3 CDs. The second book (合格できる日本語能力試験N4・N5) is primarily practice and review problems, and includes notes like “study these phrases” and “know this verb conjugation” etc. I think they’ll both be really good.

I also experimented by buying a few “cute” looking study books. Or…maybe not so “study” and more so “just for fun”, but I wanted to give them a try:

The first two are activity books – mostly word games. I had thought they were going to be all crosswords, but there are lots of different kinds of activities in them. I’m not sure they’re entirely intuitive to a non-Japanese person, so this will be interesting trying to figure them out. The last book on the right is entirely crossword (or similar) games focusing on grades 1-3 kanji. It is divided by grade level. By July, I have grand ambitions to be at least able to read grade 3 kanji, so I’m hoping that a few activities like these will help. I was trying to complete the first grade 1 crossword in the kanji book, and I was able to get a few of the answers before even studying (or looking anything up in a dictionary), so I’m super happy about that!! These are going to make studying so much more fun!

71W9Tww0MjL

小学全漢字おぼえるカード  9784053046741

 

The last thing I bought was a grade-school level kanji study “book”. I’ve since discovered that it is actually a book of flashcards that you rip-out. It comes complete with key rings. The flashcards seem to be really instructive in how to remember how to write the different kanji. I actually think this will be really invaluable to me. I’ve been wondering how I was going to study kanji.

I’ve got a handful more books and activities on their way. But, at this point, I really just need to clear a space on my desk for “studying” and get down to work!

がんばろう

#ReadManga18 | Update no.1 | Jan 2018

So, if you haven’t heard, I created a manga reading challenge for 2018. It’s not too late to join in, if you’re interested. Actually, you could probably join until December, if you wanted! Click the “challenges” link in the menu above to find out how to participate.

I think, I’m going to attempt to post updates every month(ish) to tell you which prompts I’ve completed over the course of the year. I’ll be spreading these updates a bit further apart on YouTube (if you’re also following me over there).

At any rate… the challenges…

One thing you may notice is that I’m attempting to read a whole series, or as much of the series as I possibly can before I count it towards my #readmanga18 challenge. In the instructions you can use a single volume of manga to count towards as many challenges as you want. I read a LOT of manga in the year, so I wanted to encourage myself to read full series. I haven’t done a lot of that in the last 2 years.


 

 

 

I completed Challenge #32 : A manga that features a female main character with  Complex Age, volumes 1-6 / by Yui Sakuma. This is the complete series, which finished publishing last year. I was so impressed with this manga! It is essentially the story of a “young” female cosplayer as she starts to come to terms that she’s not quite as “young” as she used to be, and maybe she’s getting too “old” for her hobby. This concept is compounded by the experiences of at least a half dozen other women in various aspects of fandom and their individual responses to the aging process.

This was soooooooooo relate-able. As someone in her late 30s, I can’t believe I’ve found a manga that has resonated with me so much. I am “old” compared to the majority of the people in fandom. I’ve had to get over my own insecurities of being into something “childish,” and I’ve had to make conscious decision about what my life in fandom will continue to be. I certainly interact VERY different with my hobby than it ever did in my youth. Not everyone has to give up their hobby, but everyone needs to make the decision for them self. What will you make of yourself? How important is this hobby to you?

I would absolutely recommend this manga, but especially if you’re a woman in your late 20s (or older).

someday's dreamersChallenge Number 37 : A manga by 2+ authors was satisfied by the 2 volume series, Someday’s Dreamers / by Norie Yamada and Kumichi Yoshizuki. This was an older release by TokyoPop, but I’ve recently been informed that OverDrive has a digital license to lend out this manga. If your library has OverDrive, but they haven’t picked up this title yet, you should definitely request it from them!!

This is a very sweet, quiet, slice-of-life type manga about a country girl who has moved to the bustling city of Tokyo to begin her magic apprenticeship. She’s had a few issues in the past, which has made her shy and insecure but through this new experience has a chance to change.

I picked this title up because I was looking for short shonen manga to recommend for my #mangamonday recommendations post earlier in the month. I haven’t read it in years, and was glad to try it again. Though it’s not my favourite series, and there are certainly some flaws with the storytelling and translation, overall this is a cute and emotionally impactful series. It will encourage you to leave the past behind!

clockwork appleFor Challenge Number 44 : A collection of short stories I read Clockwork Apple / by Osamu Tezuka. Again, a title I was very pleasantly surprised by. I actually didn’t realize this was going to be short stories when I picked it up. I chose this to read because it was part of my “shelf challenge” project that I’m doing on YouTube.

I’m continually impressed with Osamu Tezuka’s stories. I don’t know why, but I always drag my feet before picking up any of his works… but then fly through them because they are so engaging. I have yet to read a Tezuka title I didn’t like.

This was certainly “different”. There are a number of stories in this which mostly had a science fiction/mystery bent to them. They actually reminded me a lot of watching “The Outer Limits” or the “Twilight Zone.” There was just something so strange and bizarre, and also somewhat disturbing about most of them.

The title that most sticks in my head is a WW2 story. An ex-German officer is about to be executed for his crimes in the war, but he’s not worried because he’s stolen a secret weapon from one of his Jewish prisoners that should help him escape. The result is downright disturbing. This is definitely not for children.

I would recommend this. But, it does look like DMP titles might be increasingly difficult to pick up after this latest news of their impending demise. Good luck on your hunt!

chocolat 1The title I read was for Challenge number 48 : A manhwa/manhua title. Chocolat, volumes 1-8 / by Shin JiSang and Geo is a Korean comic book series or manhwa. It was published by Danbi, which again I think has gone defunct. (…I think)

This was such a cute title!! It’s basically about a girl who is a super-fan of a popular KPop group. She is head-over-heals in love with them. And, she accidentally gets mixed up with their rivals; including getting forced to become the leader of their fan club.

Of course, romance ensues with some of the band. There are two strong candidates for love in this triangle — but, this is one series where you don’t know who she’s going to end up with. I can’t remember the last time this has happened to me!

Korean titles definitely have a different pacing and art style than shoujo manga. But, if you are a big fan of “girls’ comics”/and KPop then you should really check this out. I think it’ll give you a new perspective on the genre.

Warning: there are quite a few scenes of bullying including physical abuse in this title. If those are things that bother you, you might want to avoid this one.

51DRg3abQ5LAnd the final book I read was for the category Number 51, A comic/graphic novel from another country.  Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason was the book I chose for the category. According to the book flap, Jason is a Scandinavian artist working in France.

I’ve actually already read quite a few comic books and graphic novels (that were from other countries) this year. It’s something I have been enjoying a lot lately. And will definitely be doing more of.

Werewolves of Montpellier is a bizarre graphic novella. In fact all of Jason’s work are bizarre. But, there’s some quality of his work that I have yet to put my finger on to describe what it is… and why I like them so much.

This story is about a young man who is bored in his present life, and so pretends to be a werewolf to do some cat-burglarizing… until some real werewolves catch-on to his scheme and want to stop him. But mostly, nothing really happens. It’s just subtle characterizations of people weaved through an illusive stream-of-consciousness story.

Something in this works for me. And indeed, in all of Jason’s works that I’ve read so far. I’m still investigating European comics (I’m especially going to be focused on French comics this year) and what they’re about. So maybe after some more exploration in this area, I’ll have a better grasp as to why I liked this so much.


So. Not a bad month. I’ve read other things this month as well, which I’ll hopefully be able to talk about in a future post/video.

Any bloggers out there participating in the 2018 Manga Reading Challenge?

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Most Anticipated Manga – Winter 2017/2018

These are my top 10 most anticipated new manga releasing in Winter 2017/2018 (or from December 2017 to March 2018). At this point, I don’t know how many of these I will be able to collect, but these are certainly the ones I am most eager to pick up!

 

 

Takane & Hana by Yuki Shiwasu. I’ve already got this title pre-ordered. I don’t know much about it, except that a few people I follow on twitter were excited about the release announcement. I don’t actually want to know what this is about before I read it. But, I’ll let you know what I think, when I get to it.

Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card by Clamp. Pretty excited about this new installment in the Cardcaptor Sakura series. I’ve had a chance to flip through this at Chapters, and the art has definitely been updated for this new series (I’m not sure yet how I feel about that). This title is already out, but I’m going to hold out for a bit to see if my sister won’t pick this up instead.

Cutie Honey a Go! Go! by Go Nagai & Anno Hideaki. A lot of my anticipated releases come high on nostalgia. Cutie Honey is one of those. I’ve still never read a title by Go Nagai, so I’m really curious what he has to offer. But more importantly, Cutie Honey is just one of those series that reminds me of my university days and my blossoming obsession with anime.

Saint Seiya : Saintia Sho by Chimaki Kuori. Yes. This! I can’t believe this is something that exists! I am so excited about reading this new Saint Seiya title. Again, a title bursting with nostalgia, but coming at the story or world from a completely new angle. I don’t know what to expect with this series, but I can’t wait to read it!

Voices of a Distant Star by Makoto Shinkai and Mizu Sahara. Again. Nostalgia takes hold! Voices of a Distant Star was a film that I saw over a decade ago. Later, I remember seeing the manga in stores when it was published by Tokyopop and thinking to myself that I would collect it later. Unfortunately later never came. I am so excited that this renewed interest in Makoto Shinkai’s work means that I have a second opportunity to add this to my collection. You can be assured, that this time I won’t miss out!

 

Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa.  I believe this is a slice-of-life series by the author of Fullmetal Alchemist. I think my most controversial opinion regarding manga, is that I don’t like Fullmetal Alchemist. I can see the appeal, but I just really hate the themes, setting, magic, and characters in it. I’m sorry. It’s just all of the things I don’t like in manga merged into one series. But, I’m still interested in finding out more about the author. I don’t like her penultimate work — but maybe I’ll like this one? I’ve been interested in picking this up since I heard of it’s existence several years ago. Crossing my fingers that this is a title by Arakawa that I’ll actually like!

Red Colored Elegy by Seiichi Hayashi. This is a reprint of a title that I read, again, probably about a decade ago. I had borrowed if from the library when I was fairly new at reading manga. It is different than anything I had read up until that point. And frankly, I was not ready for it. Now, I have quite a bit more experience reading alternative, and gekiga manga. I think it’s time to revisit this title. I had actually recently borrowed this from the library thinking that it was never going to get published, because I know my sister has had this on pre-order for years. Can’t wait to chow down on this!

Orange: Future by Ichigo Takano. I believe this is a companion story to the popular 5 volume (or 2 omnibus) Orange. I don’t know if it follows the same characters, or is a continuation of the same story, but what I do know is that Orange is a beautiful series. And I can’t wait to read more from the same “world.” I hope it is as impactful as the original series.

Kaguya-sama : Love is War by Aka Akasaka. This is my “wild card” in this list. Again, I title I don’t know too much about. I don’t actually research much before I try new series. I like the cover, the title is intriguing, and the short synopsis I’ve read has put this into my anticipated titles. From what I can tell this is a shoujo manga where the guy and girl are in love with each other, but because they are competing or fighting they are resisting telling each other. Sort of like, “the first person who confesses, loses.” If this is actually what this manga is about, I will be completely sold on the story. It sounds really fun and unique, and can’t wait to give it a try!

Perfect Blue : Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. This last title that I’m interested in is actually a prose novel, and not manga. It is the title that inspired the Satoshi Kon film of the same name. I’m currently trying to be really discerning with the novels I buy this year (because last year felt like such a waste of money), but this is a top contender for when I get to splurge a little. I’ve read a few Japanese novels which have been the inspiration for various manga or anime, and have really enjoyed the experience. And despite it only being January 2018, I already am starting to think about what I want to do with my reading in 2019. I have a feeling that I’m going to give myself permission to read a lot of Japanese novels next year! I’d like this to be one of them!

 

What about you? What new releases are on your radar for the Winter season??

Short Shōnen Manga #MangaMonday Recommendations

I’ve mentioned in my previous #MangaMonday Recommendations post that this is going to be a regular feature: every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, I am going to recommend you manga based on a specific theme. I had also asked if anyone was interested to participate with me and recommend manga using the same themes through their own social media channels. I had enough replies that I’ve posted the upcoming topics on my blog. You can find them under the “challenges” menu at the top of any page, or go to: https://mangahoarder.com/mangamonday-recommendations/

Please join us!

 


Today’s #MangaMonday Recommendation is for short *shōnen manga series and standalones. This topic was inspired by a comment I received on one of my YouTube videos recently. (If you have any other suggestions for future topics, please feel free to leave a comment below!)

When you think about shōnen manga, what series comes to mind?

I am willing to bet that most of you would tell me about some long “battle” or “sports” series that you’ve read. It has 20+ volumes. And might even be published by a ‘little known’ magazine called Shonen Jump… Was I close?

 

These long, action-packed series are the show-piece of the demographic. There is a reason that they’re popular – with their strong characters, epic battles and engaging stories. They are fun to read. And personally they are some of the first series I would recommend to you if you wanted to try shōnen manga for the first time.

But, despite how long these series are, they are actually more of the exception than the rule! Japan publishes many more short series than they do these sweeping epics. But we have more exposure to these series because they are so popular, and (mostly) because the publishers of these ‘little known’ magazines have a working relationship with English-language publishers! It’s just what’s been primarily available to us.

But, even so, there are a few very short series that I think are worth reading – that have fortunately been published in English!

 

Cowa! by Akira Toriyama

If you only pick one thing to read from this list I would want it to be Cowa! by Akira Toriyama. This is a children’s manga (probably more geared towards grade-schoolers than teenagers), but I would easily recommend it to any reader! It’s about a young half-vampire/half-koala (or COWAla) and his ghost-friend Paifu who travel to find the medicine needed to save their village from the monster-flu. It’s a fun adventure with delightful characters, a great message (about not judging people by their appearance), a satisfying story, and charming art. Plus, the first chapter of this is printed in full colour! Well worth reading (and collecting)!

Jaco: The Galactic Patrolman and Sandland by Akira Toriyama

Akira Toriyama is most famous for his Dragon Ball or Dr. Slump series. He definitely knows what he’s doing when he’s writing manga. Whether it is one of those 20+ long series or a single volume like these, they are worth your time! You will definitely notice a parallel with these to Cowa! and the original Dragon Ball series. They all feature a young protagonist who is on a quest/adventure and aided in his journey by a reclusive and lonely older man. The characters are engaging, the adventures are fun, and everyone learns a heartwarming lesson. Plus, if you’re already familiar with, and like, Dragon Ball Z (in particular) you will love Jaco! His story takes place in the Dragon Ball Z universe, and even crosses-over some familiar time-lines.

1435390 Gon by Masashi Tanaka (any volume)

When I was originally trying to construct my list I wanted to only share with you series that were 3 traditional volumes/digests of manga or less. Gon is a 7 volume series. But, I’ve included it here because you don’t need to read all of it to enjoy it!

The story follows a small T-Rex who lives in the natural world. It is a completely wordless (devoid of both text and sound effects) and follows a small animal doing what you’d expect animals to do. Sometimes he is helping other animals, sometimes he is fighting other animals, but mostly he is just trying to enjoy his life. Despite the lack of text, this is an engaging “read.” The art is highly expressive and articulated — and a pleasure to look at! Plus, since this is essentially a compilation of short stories, you really only need to read and buy the volumes you’re interested in.

Switching gears a little…

1526304

Someday’s Dreamers by Norie Yamada and Kumichi Yoshizuki

This is a two-volume shōnen manga about a young magic-user in training. She leaves her quiet town to go to Tokyo and take up an apprenticeship. This apprenticeship is a stage she needs to pass in order to get her license, and make magic her career.

Don’t let the cover of this fool you. This is shōnen manga. It definitely has a different feel to the battle and sports series you might be used to: more similar to A Silent Voice than to One Piece.

This series seems more interested in getting into the minds of its characters than in plotting a complicated story. And at only two-volumes does a surprisingly good job of this.

It is out of print, so it will be a bit harder to locate. But, if this is the type of manga you like, you’ll find it worthwhile adding to your collection. I would urge you though, to avoid reading the description on the back of the book. Or at least, don’t believe everything it says. Someone compared this manga to Sailor Moon + Harry Potter. If you go into this manga thinking that you’ll get the flavour of either of these, you will be incredibly disappointed in it!

If you like this, there’s also a 5 volume follow-up series called Someday’s Dreamers Spellbound – and an anime adaptation that’s worth checking out, as well!

 

 


*shōnen manga is a marketing demographic for manga. It means that it was originally published in a magazine who’s target readership is boys (children through teens). Now, shōnen tends to be considered more of a “catch-all” or “everybody” demographic. But more on that in a future post.

MANGA GIVEAWAY CHALLENGE

MANGA THUMBHello kiddos! I’m hosting a manga giveaway (until February 18 12:59PM MST) where you can guess which manga I’m giving away. If you guess correctly, you could win up to 10 volumes of the manga you guessed!

It’s a bit of a complicated giveaway, but I thought it would be a fun way to distribute my doubles and also ensure that they went to people who actually wanted them!

Follow the link to find out how to enter!

http://www.mangahoarder.com/manga-giveaway-challenge