Everything is Oll Korrect!

An eclectic bibliophile's journal…

Tag: X

The Bibliophile’s Journal VII: Advent Children

Yeah, I’m classing it down this time with a rather silly subtitle. Couldn’t resist, for some reason.

Anyway, as you may guess from my last few posts I’m back to my usual self, devouring one book after another. Of course, there’s always a trade-off, so recently I’ve been watching fewer anime and movies than usual. There are several interesting-looking shows coming up this season, though, so perhaps my reading schedule will collapse again in a week or two. In the meantime, besides Haruhi and The Sea, here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

X (fifth omnibus), by CLAMP – I went in expecting I could summarise it much like the previous volumes: “I don’t get it.” That wouldn’t be fair, though, since at this point I’ve gotten used the huge cast of characters and their various backstories and plot threads. I’m still not totally invested, perhaps because it took so long for me to settle into the story, but I’m enjoying it enough that I’m not reading just for the art anymore.…

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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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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.…

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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.…

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