Tetris: The Games People Play / by Box Brown

Tetris: The Games People PlayTetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was okay. My opinion of it might be suffering for the fact that I just read a corporate history graphic novel that I enjoyed exponentially more about a month ago. It was too easy to compare the two.

I enjoyed the story well enough. But there wasn’t very much story to be had. If you had taken the first 50 pages, the last 10 and thrown in a few in the middle for good measure, you would have had your story.

But, then there were all of the other pages. Filled with rights negotiations… It’s not that this wasn’t important or interesting. But, it was just written in a way that made more sense in a report. This wasn’t supposed to just be facts with pictures. This was supposed to say something. Make me feel something. Like a good story should.

It was like facts were acquired. They were calculated to amount to a certain value. And then spewed out in sequence without vetting or embellishment. There was story to be had. I don’t even think that the content that existed was bad. It’s just that it was the skeletal information that a good story could have been built upon.

Obviously. I felt like the story was missing.

The art satisfied the report-style writing. It was okay. Cute enough. There were a few times when I got confused which character I was reading about and had to flip back to the pages they were introduced to figure it out.

I really liked the yellow/black pallette. Usually a harsh combination, but I found rather fun.

Overall, this was a quick read. I finished it in about an hour. I thought this was interesting and informative, if lacking in finesse and feeling. If you’re interested in the history of Tetris, or maybe the history of business partnerships between foreign-countries and Russia you might enjoy picking this up.

I didn’t mind Box Brown’s style — and am very curious in trying out his history of ‘Andre The Giant’ some time.

MANGA BOOKSHELF 12 TOUR | + manga review (DRAGON VOICE)

 

This video is the beginning of a challenge that I’ve posed to myself of sharing my manga collection. I’m randomly choosing shelves in my collection and doing more in depth discussion of the titles that are on it. I’m still planning on doing a full collection tour at some point later this year, but that will be a tour without any real discussion.

This is from shelf 12, or more appropriately books D to E. We’ve shifted our collection around so these titles are now sitting on a different shelf, but am planning on getting to all of the titles at some point.

 

Manga mentioned in this video:

  • Dragon Knights by Mineko Ohkami
  • Dragon Voice by Yuriko Nishiyama
  • Dramacon by Stvelana Chmakova
  • Dream Saga by Megumi Tachikawa
  • The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu
  • Drug & Drop by CLAMP
  • Dr. Slump by Akira Toriyama
  • Duck Prince by Ai Morinaga
  • ES (Eternal Sabbath) by Fuyumi Soryo
  • DVD by Kye Young Chon
  • Earthian by Yun Kouga
  • Eerie Queerie by Shuri Shiozu
  • Erica Sakurazawa (short stories)
  • Eternity by Park Jin-Ryong and Shin Yong-Gwan
  • Eureka 7 by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou

#DIVERSEATHON wrap-up

Oops. A bit late to wrap-up… you put it off one day and all of a sudden it’s a week later. So, anyways.

I participated in #Diverseathon. This was a challenge to read as much own voices literature from diverse authors. As you may know, I decided to pick graphic novels written by Indigenous authors born in Canada.

I’m not sure I learned too much. Maybe because there are several Indigenous groups that live very closely… or, because so much of my degree was focused on the history and culture of these groups. It was pretty much as expected.

What seemed unfortunate is that the titles each had a heavy-handed focus on reclaiming the “old ways”. I take this to be because they were written for the group that they were written about, and because most of them were supported with grants from the Government of Canada… so of course would have a particular agenda. It’s not a bad position, just that 1. it is incredibly disheartening that a group needs to have this message repeated over-and-over in their own literature and 2. the repetition gets a little tiring.

I placed holds on a number of titles, but these are the ones that arrived in time, which I read during the readathon.

☆☆☆/5 Ak Skim Aan (Hunter) / Marshall Leigh George was probably the most unique comic in the pile. It was a very short story of an Indigenous Father in a dystopian future who can’t provide for his family until…he discovers the “old ways”. It was essentially posed photographs with a textured overlay to give it a science fiction feel. I personally was surprised with how much I enjoyed this short story. Plus, it was a bilingual comic in Blackfoot with English subtitles which is such a unique thing to read.

☆☆/5 A Blanket of Butterflies / Richard van Camp again is a very short story. This one was nominated for an Eisner award in 2016. It wasn’t “that” awesome unfortunately. I think the nomination made me have higher expectations. This was about a Japanese man who came to Canada to reclaim his family sword that was being held hostage by an out-of-control Indigenous man until he rediscovers the “old ways”. I didn’t find this one as meaningful. There was an emotional finale, but the connection between characters was awkward. It was just much much too short.

There was an interesting attempt at connecting the Denne culture with Japanese culture that was hinted at… I would love to see that explored more in a future comic.

☆☆☆☆/5 Moonshot: The Indigenous Collection this is a beautiful and professional production of short stories by Indigenous authors edited by Hope Nicholson. This title is worth picking up if only for the first short graphic novel/brilliant work of art “Vision Quest: Echo / David Mack” about a deaf Cherokee girl and the love of her father. Visually stunning, and beautifully moving. YES!! This story!! If I could buy pages of this to hang on my walls I would…

I wasn’t terribly interested in the rest of the compilation. But, the first title…

☆☆☆/5 The Outside Circle / Patti Laboucane-Benson is a story of a young Indigenous man surround by gangs, drugs and violence is sent to prison after fighting with his mother’s boyfriend and eventually finding his way to healing through an Indigenous rehabilitation program.

Again, a heavy-handed approach to rediscovering the “old ways” — but I think actually done to the best effect. In the end, this was thought-provoking, but also incredibly depressing. At the end one man finds reclamation but is just one man in a seeming never-ending cycle of destruction.

There is so much hurt in these cultures that it can’t help but being reflected in their literature. It’s a bit overwhelming to read over-and-over, but it is a reflection of something significant, complex, and seemingly insurmountable.  Compared to the experience of just reading about it, how much more overwhelming to live with?!

Top Manga of 2016!

A little late to post this, but this is a very quick run-down of all of the new manga published in English in 2016 that I also read in 2016!

What were your favourite manga last year?

New Manga I read in 2016:

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Cells at Work
  • Cigarette Girl
  • Complex Age
  • Giganto Maxia
  • The God’s Lie
  • Heiress and the Chauffer
  • Honey So Sweet
  • Kitaro the Birth
  • Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear
  • Kuroko’s Basketball
  • Liselotte & Witch’s Forest
  • My Monster Secret
  • My Pathetic Vampire Life
  • Nekogahara Stray Cat Samurai
  • Platinum End
  • The Prince and His Dark Days
  • School Judgment
  • Shuriken and Pleats
  • That Wolf Boy is Mine
  • The Tipping Point
  • Wandering Island

I also read “Yona of the Dawn” this year, but forgot to mention it in my video. I gave it a nice solid 3 stars!

We Were There, vol 1-16 / Yuuki Obata

We Were There, Vol. 1We Were There, Vol. 1 by Yuuki Obata

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this series because I’d been recommended it so often, and also because I own the series, and I owe it to my money to read the manga I buy.

Unfortunately it’s not the series I had hoped it could be. Every time you were left with a hanging question about where the story would go, I predicted the outcome. It was NEVER the outcome I’d hoped for. The outcome was always convenient. Always expected. And never profound.

The characters are weak. I think this is the overall problem I have with the series. Not weak in character, but just weak characters. They weren’t developed enough — and their relationship wasn’t believable enough for me to buy into it. Actually I was thinking their relationship was more toxic than romantic, there were moments where I thought the author was aware of it too — but if she was, she certainly didn’t do anything about it!

The story itself is fine, if a little slow and predictable. The art in it is suitable (if occasionally inconsistent).

There was a surprise thrown into this series that made the beginning worth reading. It comes at the middle of the series, around volume 11. High school is over. Yano is gone. And, Nanami hasn’t seen him in 5 years.

It’s from this point onward that the series gets interesting. And it’s at this point onward that you get SOME of the much desired character development. I’m not going to say it’s a lot — and I’m not going to say it isn’t completely predictable, but I will say that you do start to have some feelings for Yano and Nanami as characters.

Unfortunately these feelings didn’t come soon enough. I’m a person who is normally easily moved. I felt stone cold-hearted reading to the end.

But, do I recommend this series?!

Maybe. I would say try the series. If you don’t buy into the characters relationship right at the beginning it’s probably not worth reading until the end. But, if you completely get behind Yano and Nanami’s relationship (if their love moves you), this will probably be one of the best shoujo dramas you’ll ever read!

It all boils down to the characters…

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October Manga Reading Wrap-Up

My wrap-up for reading in October. I read a lot. I finally am starting to feel like I’m getting my regular reading pace back. In previous years I would read twice as much in a month. It’s hard to get back to that pace.

I would say that I’ll be back to my old reading self soon, but November will be significantly leaner – it’s been a hard month. Which means I’m spending my time doing other things besides reading.

Plus, my sister has decided that she & I should start a second channel together, dedicated to our second favourite thing: crafting. Actually, mostly “planning”. So, looking at that is also taking up a significant portion of my time.

I probably won’t be doing full wrap-ups starting next year. This is just too long. When you go to the video (if you go the video) I’ve time stamped all of the manga I talk about in the video in the description box on Youtube which you can use to only hear me talk about specific titles. Hopefully that will help. I’ve read quite a variety of things (old and new + various demographic reads). Enjoy.

 

Manga I talk about in this video:

  • Start with a Happy Ending, 1 / Risa Motoyama
  • Behind the Scenes, 2 / Bisco Hatori
  • Classical Medley, 1-2 / Sanae Kana
  • Color of Rage / Seisako Kano & Kazuo Koike
  • Flower in a Storm, 1-2 / Shigoyoshi Takagi
  • Flowers & Bees, 1-2 / Moyocco Anno
  • Fragments of Horror / Junji Ito
  • Hell Baby / Hideshi Hino (horror)
  • I Am a Hero, 1 / Kengo Hanazawa
  • Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear, 1 / Masume Yoshimoto
  • Lycanthrope Leo, 1 / Kenjo Kaji
  • Maid War Chronicle, 1-2 / Ran
  • Meteor Prince, 1-2 / Meca Tanaka
  • Naruto, 1-15 / Masashi Kishimoto
  • Oh, My Brother!, 1-2 / Ken Saito
  • Papillon, 1-6 / Miwa Ueda
  • Skip Beat!, 37 / Yoshiki Nakamura
  • St. Lunatic High School, 1-2 / Majiko!
  • Sweet & Sensitive, 1-2 / Park Eun-Ah
  • The World I Create, 1 / Ayami Kazuma
  • Until the Full Moon / Sanami Mato

Platinum End / by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

Platinum End, Vol. 1Platinum End, Vol. 1 by Tsugumi Ohba

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A depressed youth is saved by a morally ambiguous angel who gives him supernatural gifts that he must use as a candidate to become the next “god”.

Platinum End has a pretty epic start but I’m not entirely confident in it’s future. At this point it may decide to go straight into battle fantasy manga, rather than really focus on the story, and that would be a shame. But, we won’t know for at least 2 volumes.

There was quite a bit of explanation on how this fantasy system works and what the rules of the competition are, so it doesn’t have as much impact or flow as smoothly as you’d hope from a first volume.

It feels a little bit like a re-imagining of death note. [A comparison that they can’t escape.] What if Light didn’t go on a killing spree? What kind of world would he create then? I think it’s an intelligent re-working of a fan favourite. And will create a different enough story from Death Note.

The concept bases itself in an idea that there are several candidates to become the next “god” and they must battle each other to find out who will be chosen. It is a pretty usual one that you’d see in shonen (fantasy battle) series like Shaman King, Hoshin Engi, Gestalt, and many others. So, if you liked any of these series, this might be for you.

However, as far as mood it might be a little darker than death note in terms of imagery, and it does deal with abuse, depression and suicide so if those are things that bother you, you might want to avoid this title.

Overall I enjoyed it! And, I’m crossing my fingers for the rest of the series.

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Blood Sucker: the Legend of Zipangu / by Saki Okuse and Aki Shimizu

Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu, Volume 2Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu, Volume 2 by Saki Okuse

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

At this point in the series the only thing saving it is the action sequences and art drawn by Aki Shimizu. Shimizu is a great artist, it’s such a shame that only 1 of his series actually got a complete release in English.

As for the story, it is quite confusing. I don’t think that’s entirely the author’s fault though. There were quite a few times where I was questioning the translation decision. I don’t have the original Japanese so I can’t compare, but there was something off about quite a number of phrases. They just didn’t feel authentic.

This volume is basically an introduction of characters. There are short vignettes, some as short as a page, to introduce characters and situations. It has a feeling that all will be revealed and relative at one point in time. But, it is difficult to wait for any sort of clarity.

Then on top of the confusion, my particular volume has a printing error. A block of missing pages, and some duplicate pages. But, the fact that you don’t notice that there is something missing right away is a pretty good illustration of how jumpy the actual story is.

I’m going to keep reading since I have the rest of the volumes. And, at the very least, I believe I should read all of the manga I buy. But, I’m also not really able to recommend this title to anyone either (at least, not yet). And, I haven’t even gotten to the biggest blot on the series that happens at volume 7 when the series finished releasing incomplete.

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Color of Rage by Kazuo Koike and Seisaku Kano

Color of RageColor of Rage by Kazuo Koike

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this one expecting it to be a thriller. It wasn’t. But, it was a brilliant read and I can’t wait to get a chance to pick this up again.

This is about George, a Japanese man and King, an African man who’ve escaped from a slave ship and are now in a “historical” 18th century Japan trying to find a place to live in peace. Don’t expect an accurate depiction of history, this is more of a backdrop to a discussion on the ideas of slavery.

Through the story by Kazuo Koike attempts to illustrate the confinement of Japanese society through comparison of slavery in America. In it George is often explaining to King how they should act to get along in society. This basically requires them to humble themselves, prostrate themselves, and degrade themselves in a subservient manner to people who may be less than worthy. And, King making pointed observations about the problems with this.

There were a few moments which were pretty cringey, but there were also moments that were so beautiful and poignant…let’s just say, it gave me some significant “feels”.

This is the first time I’ve read a manga illustrated by Kano, who is a brilliant artist. There were so many gorgeous scenes, human figures, background scenes that I kept stopping just to absorb the art.

Highly recommended. (mature readers)

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