Graphic Novel Review: Just So Happens / by Fumio Obata

Just So HappensJust So Happens

by Fumio Obata

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this comic, but I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. It’s quiet, melancholic and introspective… The art is beautiful and delicate, and colour is applied with purpose (which is something I always appreciate). The story is relatively without, and I guess you could say, incomplete, but this isn’t about a story, or solving problems — this comic is about opening up conversation on important topics.

What do you feel when you don’t belong home anymore? — returning to a place where you’ve rejected the cultural ideals and expectations that everyone has of you? — living in a new place where you’re in the minority, rather than the majority?

Plus, it always helps to add all of these familiar settings: I’ve attended a Buddhist Funeral in Japan, I’ve watched Noh theatre, I’ve sat in that exact place where Yumiko and her mother have tea… I always love to be able to point at pictures and say, “I’ve been there”. So, even if I don’t quite understand what Yumiko is going through — at least I can understand where she is.

Overall, I really enjoyed this comic.


Novel Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin' (Dumplin', #1)Dumplin’

by Julie Murphy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It was cute. Somehow relate-able — but also, completely predictable. It doesn’t have that impact that I expected from a book like this (and especially after hearing friends rave about it). It just kind of fizzled out at the end. And, I found it strange that everyone in this book has the same “stress” response of chewing on their thumb. Anyone else notice this?

Manga Review: Yokai Watch / by Konishi Noriyuki

Yokai Watch vol. 01 (Yokai Watch, #1)Yokai Watch vol. 01

by Konishi Noriyuki

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A funny and cute children’s manga series about an ordinary boy who saves a ghost-shaped yokai who in turn gives him a special “yo-kai” watch which he can use to collect yokai friends, and later call on them to help him collect more yokai. It’s a fun series with an extremely predictable and repetitive plot that would probably remind most people of Pokemon. Except that the yokai aren’t being used to deliberately “battle” other yokai while the owner stands back. It actually reminds me a bit more of “Cardcaptor Sakura”… but, maybe intended for an even younger audience. It is fun, and I probably laughed out loud once or twice, accompanied with the phrase “this is so dumb”. I certainly could picture it as being a fun series for children, but probably not super interesting for adults, or even teens.

I will say, that I had one major issue with the series that will keep me from reading further. I don’t know who makes these translations decisions! …but, to rename “Keita” as “Nate Adams”!!! I don’t understand why children couldn’t handle or even relate to a Japanese character? Why are we censoring this? Do we seriously think that keeping the Japanese names intact is a barrier to children’s understanding of a simple comic book? I do not understand. Actually, I would argue that part of the fun of reading manga is that it is “Japanese”. Why are we trying to take the “Japanese” characters out of the series??

— English translation is the source of most of my current pet peeves!

And, to make matters more confusing to my little mind… they didn’t even bother to alter or replace the Japanese word “yokai”. The entire series is based on the premise of a “Japanese” theme… and yet, the main character was given an English name.

Or, flip the comic to read left-to-right! Wouldn’t you think they would flip the comic so that it could be read in the “English” direction if it was necessary to make the character “English”.

ARGGHH! *Why is this happening??? Who is making this decision??? And, How do we make them stop???*

Manga Review: QQ Sweeper / by Kyousuke Motomi

QQ Sweeper 1 (QQ Sweeper, #1)QQ Sweeper 1

by Kyousuke Motomi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a cute series — and I (and you) will probably enjoy reading the entire thing.

However, it just feels like something I’ve already read before. There’s nothing new here. Her characters are a rehash of characters she’s used in her other series. And the general premise (about “cleaning” out peoples “hearts/heads”) has been done so often in shoujo manga, it’s getting old.

It does seem like she’s giving the clean-up a new spin — using brooms/and not magic. But, I was expecting something “more”. She’s given “more” before. I hope and expect that the “more” I’m expecting will come in future volumes.

Otherwise… I will never stop yawning.