Category: graphic novels

Early Impressions of Bunny Drop (v. 1-2)

Bunny Drop, by Unita Yumi, is one of those comics I’ve been meaning to read for a long time now, even before the anime adaptation came out, but I only recently got in the first couple volumes. So far, it’s about as good as I’ve heard.

The premise is that a thirty-year-old bachelor, Daikichi, goes to his grandfather’s funeral and there learns, with the rest of his family, that Grandfather has a six-year-old daughter, Rin. The mother is nowhere to be found, and nobody wants to take the girl in. Irritated by his relatives’ callousness, Daikichi decides to take care of Rin himself.…

Read More Early Impressions of Bunny Drop (v. 1-2)

Maynguh Memories of the Dropsies

I’m sure we’ve all met the type of comics fan who’s determined to finish every series he begins, no matter how long it goes, no matter how silly or overly convoluted the plot gets, no matter how bad the art deteriorates; he’s started this comic, and nothing will stop him from finishing. I can’t help but respect the completionists’ determination, but I can never count myself as one of them. Though money is sometimes of little object to me, time is too valuable for me to spend hours on something I no longer enjoy.

Sometimes, that line of when to drop a series is clear enough. For example, I read the first four volumes of MariaHolic, and though not outright bad, they weren’t very good, either; the jokes, art, and plot were all competent, but just barely. I don’t even know how long the series is, but when something hovers around that C- or D+ range, I feel comfortable just not bothering to seek out anything more of it.

A little more difficult are those disappointing series that start off strong. Very soon after I first started following anime and comics, I came across recommendations for KareKano. Most of the enthusiasm was for the anime adaptation, but a couple years ago roughly I came across the first volume of Tsuda Masami’s original comic and decided to check it out. I didn’t care much for the art, but the characters and humour drew me in and gave me high hopes for the rest of the series. As it happened, a local Half Price Books had a bunch of volumes available, so I bought a bunch of them – up through the ninth.…

Read More Maynguh Memories of the Dropsies

The Bibliophile’s Journal II

First, a programming note – over the next couple months, I’ll be finishing up my web design certification, and I’ve just begun a Biblical studies programme, so I’ll be busier than usual. I’ll continue to blog and update every Sunday, but expect more short posts like this for a little while.

With that out of the way, I’ve gone through a few graphic novels over the past couple weeks. I talked about Gunslinger Girl volumes 11-12 in the previous post, but here are the others:…

Read More The Bibliophile’s Journal II

Is Gunslinger Girl Running Out of Steam?

Gunslinger Girl is one of the only stories I know where it does not constitute a spoiler to reveal that this or that character dies. Artist Aida Yu makes it clear very early that every cyborg-assassin girl is going to die, probably horribly. At its best, Gunslinger Girl uses the constant presence of death to its advantage, for example with Triela’s story and her relationship with Hilshire. Sometimes, though, Aida overplays his hand, and especially in Seven Seas’ most recent omnibus volume (volumes 11-12) his writing gets tiring and predictable.…

Read More Is Gunslinger Girl Running Out of Steam?

Maynguh Memories of a College-Age Delinquent

In the first Maynguh Memories post, I mentioned that I’ve long been more a comics than an anime fan, initially because I found graphic novels more affordable. Besides that, though, anime also consumed a lot more time, whether in finding a two-hour block of time for a film, or stringing together a series of times for a TV production. I could read a volume of a graphic novel, though, in about half an hour, and read it more discreetly than I could watch an anime. That was important because of a confession I have to make.

You see, at university, I was a juvenile grown-up delinquent.

Well, maybe not quite, but I did occasionally skip classes I didn’t enjoy, and like any other delinquent I’d hang out at Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books, or the library. There, I’d often buy two or three volumes of comics, and read through them before going to work or to a class I cared about. I wouldn’t recommend doing that for those who care about their grades, and I didn’t skip class too often, but oddly enough some of the most enjoyable time I had in my college years was spent in a corner of the library or in the cafeteria reading through the latest volume of some comic.…

Read More Maynguh Memories of a College-Age Delinquent

The Bibliophile’s Journal

It’s been a while since I’ve done a round-up post, but I’ve of course continued to read quite a bit. Here’s the highlight reel.

The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien – I’ve been meaning to re-read The Lord of the Rings, since I haven’t read it since shortly before the film trilogy came out ten years ago. I tend to approach long books reluctantly, though, so it’s taken me a long time to get around to it. I’m about 2/3 through, though, and loving it. Tolkien does a fine job easing the reader into the world of Middle Earth, avoiding long infodumps by giving the reader just enough information to make each place feel real, and incorporating explanations into dialogue whenever possible. The hobbits work well as our innocents abroad. He also walks a fine line in his prose style, which is generally straightforward but not too plain.

Twenty Prose Poems by Charles Baudelaire – I just finished this one. It’s the first book I’ve read in French, though I should note that it’s fairly short and a parallel text edition. I wouldn’t call it profound, but I always enjoy reading Baudelaire’s dark, dry humour combined with some fine individual lines.

X by CLAMP – I just finished the recently-released third omnibus volume of the comic. The art looks excellent, as most of CLAMP’s work does, though a few times they get a little carried away with unusual panel layouts, but I’ll confess I have barely a clue as to what’s going on. All the talk about the protagonist deciding the fate of the world has gotten rather tiresome, and I suspect that half the characters could fairly easily have been left out, though of course I can’t say for sure midway through the story. The generous gore has lost some of its effect by volume three. I do own a copy of the film, and plan to watch that… well, it’s in the backlog, so I’ll get around to it at some point.…

Read More The Bibliophile’s Journal

Impressions of Dororororo- er, Dororo

This past week I finished reading Tezuka Osamu’s Dororo. I’ve read a few of Tezuka’s other works, including Apollo’s Song, Black Jack, and Ode to Kirihito, but I haven’t written about any of them partly because I can’t shake the feeling of audacity in passing judgment on someone of his stature (it’s for similar reasons I haven’t written about, say, Shakespeare). I’ll just shake off that feeling for now, though, and share my impressions of this one.

Dororo‘s art is clean and relatively simple, if not rather cartoony. As a result, the action is always clear and the characters expressive. Though the cartoony style does aid in suspension of disbelief, which is especially helpful in the first couple chapters, it also clashes with the story’s darker and more violent moments. Now, this is Tezuka’s standard art style, and I wouldn’t go so far as to call it outright inappropriate, but I can’t help suspecting that a more realistic style would have served this story better. Tezuka also has a couple idiosyncracies that show up occasionally, namely reusing character designs from his older works and fourth-wall jokes. Though long-time fans may appreciate the cameos and the fourth-wall jokes are amusing enough, these distract from the main story without really adding anything significant, so again they may have best been left out.…

Read More Impressions of Dororororo- er, Dororo

Maynguh Memories: In the Very Beginning

As I mentioned in my Anime Autobiography series, when I first became interested in anime in high school, I couldn’t really afford much of it. However, I could afford the graphic novel versions of these shows. Since this was 2005/6, Tokyopop had standardised the $10 price point, so for the cost of one anime DVD, I could get two or three volumes of the graphic novels.

Once again, I’m not sure how I first encountered this stuff; I’ve always been an avid reader, though, so I probably stumbled on the ‘Manga’ section of a bookstore, and went from there. In any case, one of the first books I picked up, around spring 2004, was Megatokyo, by Fred Gallagher and (for the first couple volumes) Rodney Caston. Yes, I know it’s not Japanese and thus outside the scope of my retrospective here, but it is a starting point for me. After reading the dead-tree version, I started following the online updates. From there, I joined the forum in November after lurking for a while, where I still post occasionally as ‘Wavebird_Ocelot’, and it was in that forum that I started reading about what shows and comics were popular.…

Read More Maynguh Memories: In the Very Beginning

FLCL – Ueda Style

FLCL colour illustration by UedaDark Horse just released Ueda Hajime’s comic adaptation of FLCL in omnibus form, and though I already own Tokyopop’s old two-volume release I went ahead and double-dipped on this. The comic holds some nostalgic value for me, since I actually read it long before I saw Gainax’s original anime version. Dark Horse did include some extras to make it worthwhile, and it’s a unique enough comic that it’s well worth the purchase.

The most noticeable thing about Ueda’s adaptation is the art, which doesn’t quite resemble any other comic I own. Most of it seems to have been done with a pen in sharp, straight strokes. So, character outlines are unusually dark and, except for the faces, angular. Backgrounds don’t have much detail, which forces the reader’s focus exclusively onto the characters. Between that and the small panel sizes, the comic nearly induces feelings of claustrophobia, which isn’t necessarily a fault on the author’s part since some of the characters feel trapped in a town “where nothing interesting ever happens.” It doesn’t make for pleasant reading, though.…

Read More FLCL – Ueda Style

Oh, My Goddess! Vol. 41 – Kinda Sucks

Okay, “sucks” may be a bit strong, but Fujishima Kosuke’s Oh, My Goddess! volume 41… it’s still not very good. Neither were the last couple volumes.

I hate saying that, too, because I’ve really loved this franchise since I started reading in 2009. Nowhere near its 1994 American debut, but still longer than any other comic I follow (a couple webcomics excepted). The series’ basic premise, a young man living with a beautiful goddess, is pretty blatant wish-fulfillment fiction, but the characters are likable enough that I can forgive it that. There have been some slow points in the over twenty years and forty volumes of publication, of course, but coming in late to the party has allowed me to just rush through those rough patches quickly, and dwell more on the highlights.

I think that’s the key to why this current “Hell takeover” story arc beats me down so much. Most of it bores me, but I can’t just skim through it, and with a few months between releases I’ve had to just stew in it, hoping Fujishima wraps it up in the next volume and moves on to a style of storytelling he’s good at.…

Read More Oh, My Goddess! Vol. 41 – Kinda Sucks