Tag: manga

ToraDora vol. 7 (75 Books – XLIII)

I wrote about the first two volumes of Zekkyo’s comic adaptation of ToraDora way back in July 2011, and volume three a few months later. Since then, each volume has continued to follow the anime fairly closely (I haven’t read the original novels, so I can’t make a comparison there), and my opinion of it has remained consistent from volume to volume. The character art is good, the jokes generally work, the drama is, perhaps, a bit melodramatic at times, but that’s just part of the style. It does have a high school setting, which I almost always dislike, but I’ll give it a pass since I’ve been following the story for so long.

The things I’ve complained about previously are still around; background art is rather plain, it’s a bit wordy, and there are a few annoying localisation choices. Too much saying “like” and “totally,” and using kaicho instead of “class president,” which is especially distracting because one moment you have a character talking like a stereotypical valley girl, then they’ll throw in the obviously Japanese kaicho. Again, though, it’s not too bad, and the translation does a decent job overall at giving each character a distinct voice.

So overall, it is a solid enough adaptation. The fact that I’m seven volumes in, four years after starting the series, is proof enough that Zekkyo’s doing something right. The strength of the original story shines through, so while it’s not a must-read by any means, if you’re a fan of the anime and want more of this story, by all means check it out.…

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Gyo (75 Books – XXIX)

If you enjoyed Uzumaki but didn’t think it was gross enough, have I got a comic for you. Whereas in Uzumaki artist Ito Junji only gradually ratcheted up the grotesque horror, in Gyo we encounter a rotting fish whose mechanical legs are powered by farts (not in those exact words, but it’s gas released from the animal’s orifices) within the first several pages. Really, most of what I have to say about Gyo is the same as what I thought of some of the later chapters of Uzumaki.

So, again, the art is detailed and could be gorgeous if it weren’t depicting so many rotting fish (and later, other animals).

The plot is intriguingly absurd, centering around masses of dead fish with mechanical legs coming ashore. Obviously, Ito isn’t taking himself too seriously, but there’s no winking at the audience, and I’m impressed at his ability to create a full graphic novel out of such off-the-wall concepts. One thing Ito doesn’t do in his stories, though, is explain much of anything. Where did these fish come from? There’s a hint, but nothing at all in the way of a full answer. This also holds for the two short stories included in Viz’s (very nice) omnibus edition, though whether this is a problem or not is largely a matter of personal preference.

My main criticism is that Gyo just isn’t very scary. It’s certainly gross, and does have some tense moments that make it serviceable as a horror story, but if you’re interested in reading Ito’s work I’d definitely start with Uzumaki and only move on to this if you really feel like you need more.…

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A Decade’s Worth of Serial Experiments

I did make sure to put on my bear cap before writing.
This post was written with my bear cap on.

I got my first job in late October 2004; it was only as a temporary hire for a one-week special event, but for me that first pay cheque was an absolute fortune. I don’t remember what all I got with it, but do remember the one thing that mattered – a copy of serial experiments lain, which I count as my first anime.

Perhaps it technically wasn’t my first; like most everyone my age I’d been a huge Pokémon fan. I’m afraid to even guess how many hours I spent with the games, and of course I got into the TV show as well. I wouldn’t count it as a “first” anime, though, because even though I was aware that it was Japanese, I didn’t attach any significance to that fact.

Similar for Spirited Away, which I saw in theatre. Thanks to the DVD special features I even learned who Miyazaki Hayao is, and though I had a mild interest in seeing more of his work, and perhaps anime in general, I didn’t pursue that until a couple years later, in Spring 2004, when I stumbled into the manga aisle of a bookstore. That interest in Japanese comics prompted a greater interest in its animated cousin. I’m not sure how I first heard about lain specifically; probably through the forums for the webcomic Megatokyo. I didn’t know much about it going in, either, except that it was vaguely cyberpunk-ish, but then as now I don’t require much more than a few interesting screencaps and a strong recommendation to pique my interest.…

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Maynguh Memories of Japanese Japanese Comics

clampSo, say you’ve started taking Japanese classes. What do you want to do, especially if you’re a bibliophile like me? Start reading, right? Novels and poetry are pretty tough, though, so you go to the next best thing – comics, which you’ve just discovered are not mayn-guhs but manga. I mean, hey, they’ve got pictures and stuff to help you out, so they’ll be easy, right?

I won’t say “wrong,” but they’re not really “easy,” either. Unsurprisingly, I suppose, it depends on which series you have the fortune (or misfortune) of picking out. My experience with Japanese comics in the original language started inauspiciously with the first two volumes of CLAMP’s X, which I found at a Half Price Books. It may as well have been printed in Mandalay, for all I could get out of it; a few years later I got an English edition, which only improved matters slightly but did show me that the density is not a bug but a feature, so I needn’t feel too bad about getting totally lost in the Japanese volume.

As a general point, though, already knowing the story does help immensely in following these comics. I fared much better with another CLAMP series, Cardcaptor Sakura, which I’d read in English not too long before. Being written at a generally lower level helps, too.…

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Maynguh Memories of a Long, Long, Long Time

belldandyBack in high school, ten dollars for a volume of manga (or mayn-guh, as I and many unfortunately pronounced it) was a pretty good deal for my precious allowance money. I could certainly afford more of it than I could American graphic novels, and it was also cheaper per volume than anime DVD’s. However, manga did have one drawback in that they could get very, very long.

I remember looking at the first volume of Ranma 1/2 in a Bookstop outlet, knowing it was popular and liking the first couple chapters I read in the store, and hey – I could buy two or three volumes at a time! At that rate, I’d finish the whole thing  in about a year, and spend over three hundred dollars. For that money, I could buy a new game console, and some games to go with it!…

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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:…

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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.…

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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.…

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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.…

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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.…

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