The Bibliophile’s Journal VI

Well, now that I’m mostly moved into a new apartment, I’ve had some more time to read. Part of my newfound free time has gone into resuming my study of Japanese, as well as my usual mix of film and anime, but on the literary front here’s what I’ve been up to:

I finally, finally finished Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. For the patient reader, the narrator’s frequent asides, long descriptions, and multitude of characters and plot threads can be quite entertaining. I enjoyed them for a couple hundred pages, but as the book dragged on and on I began losing interest. By the halfway point, I really only cared about Pip’s relationship with Estella, and that’s partly because I can identify a little with his feelings in a hopeless, one-sided romance.

I started Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, by Kishiro Yukito, in Kodansha’s recently released omnibus of the first two volumes. I loved the original series, but fear that I may simply be tired of the overall story. It’s still early, of course, but so far I just don’t care much about what’s going on, even though I can’t point to anything specifically wrong with it. I will say, though, that Kishiro’s art is excellent; he noticeably refined his style in the time between the original Alita and the sequel.

The third omnibus (vols. 7-9) of Sadamoto Yoshiyuki’s Neon Genesis Evangelion continues as a prime example of how I like to see adaptations handled. Sadamoto has followed the general outline of Evangelion’s plot and characterisations so that it’s still recognizably Eva, but deviates just enough to let the comic stand on its own. He does scale back on some of the original’s starker moments; whether that’s good or bad depends on how one feels about the original. Eva’s portrayal of Shinji’s depression, for example, is both a strength and a barrier for many fans. Here, the characterisations are a little softer, and the characters appear a little more relatable for more people.

Though, then again, there’s also a scene where Kaworu gratuitously crushes a stray cat to death, so maybe it’s not that much softer.

Finally, there’s the eighth volume of Unita Yumi’s Bunny Drop, which is still solid but also has me concerned. I began the series knowing that many fans loved the early volumes but hated the ending. With this entry, my idea of how it ends is looking uncomfortably probable. I’ll save a long review for when it finishes, but will say that up to now I haven’t cared for the character Kouki; he’s not a bad character, I just don’t have a lot of patience for bratty children like he was for most of the early volumes. My feelings about him changed radically to sympathy, though, in just one panel towards the end of this volume as he makes the same realisation I have about where Rin’s story is probably going. I’ve changed my opinion on characters in fiction before, but I can’t think of any examples where an author brought about such a change in just one short moment.

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