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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in momiji_mii's LiveJournal:

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    Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
    1:11 pm
    Movie review: Inception
    I posted a different article about Inception yesterday, which is friends only because of the incrediblly silly writing. But I wanted to put up a review for whoever may stumble upon it. It's still rather silly, though. This is a very spoilery review, so if you're already planning on watching Inception, read no more before you've seen the film. It works so much better if you're unspoiled about the story. If you're still on the fence or already watched the movie, read on.
    Here there be spoilersCollapse )

    Current Mood: cheerful
    Monday, March 1st, 2010
    2:00 pm
    First Look: Durarara!!
    Durarara!!I haven't really bothered to check out any new anime lately, but when I heard that Durarara!!, which started airing in Japan a short while ago, takes place in my favourite place in Tokyo, Ikebukuro, I couldn't help but give it a try.

    It's not an incredibly original story for those who have already read or watched Boogiepop, which happens to be the light novel series that kickstarted the whole trend with Dengeki bunko getting hip anime adaptions. Durarara!! is from time to time pretty similar in storytelling, characters and feel to Boogiepop, but it counters the similarities with a better character design, a fitting soundtrack which really makes me remember the music you'd hear streaming while walking around in Ikebukuro, and a couple of references to Irish mythology.

    On top of having a semi-interesting story, there's also a lot of intersting characters. I'm guessing we'll see at least a couple of doujinshi based on Masaomi/Mikado and Shizuo/Izaya before long (unless there already are some floating around somewhere). There's a girl involved with the younger guys (M&M), but she's a pretty obvious beard, probably written in by the author to prevent the fujoshi from going to wild while (re)interpreting the series canon.

    Anyways, since I'm somewhat of a seiyuu buff, I couldn't help but notice that Kuroshitsujis Sebastian Michaelis (Shizuo) seems to have a beef with Natsume from Natsume's Book of Friends (Izaya). That's a really interesting combination of voice talent. I doubt anything can top the voice actors in Nabari no Oh, but I wouldn't mind being pleasantly surprised. ^^

    The homepage can be found here by the way. There's a bunch of trailers and artwork there for those who want to check out the feel of the story before diving in.

    Current Mood: satisfied
    Thursday, August 13th, 2009
    2:37 pm
    My shopping list from Japan '09
    I forgot to post what I brought back home from Japan during my trip earlier this summer.

    Cut to long listCollapse )

    181 volumes in all, avarage cost 270 yen/volume. I spent 50,000 yen in all on books and manga.

    Current Mood: happy
    Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
    2:27 am
    Souko Masaki writes a continuation for Bisexual
    BisexualOh my god! I can't belive it! Checking out the homepage for The Desert Magazine, I just discovered that Souko Masaki is writing a continuation for her one-shot josei manga Bisexual, which just happenes to be one of the best gay love stories I ever read. The main character of the manga also shows up in another work, Boys Este, which she wrote after completing Bisexual. Boys Este was also adapted into a J-dorama with major plot changes made to the Bisexual characters (you can find some reviews/summaries of the somewhat inferior dorama-version in earlier posts in my blog). I'm not sure if Bisexual II takes place before or after the completion of Boys Este According to the cover art of the previous The Desert Magazine, this story takes place while the main characters are still in High School. I'm sure going to check out the new manga when I go to Japan next month! The timeskip between Bisexual and Boys Este sure left a lot of things unexplained...

    Anyways, this is some of the best manga news since Akino Matsuri decided to continue Pet Shop of Horrors years ago... It seems like a lot of manga I've enjoyed has gotten continuations lately... Kusatta Kyoushi no Houteishiki (as Renai Houteishiki), Fake (as Fake II), Petshop of Horrors (as Shin Petshop of Horrors) and now this... I can't believe my luck! ^^ Maybe the authors just haven't been able to create that many new hits? ^^;; I'd like to think that they're just nostalgic...

    Current Mood: happy
    Thursday, May 14th, 2009
    7:14 pm
    George R.R. Martin is not your bitch
    Midnight sunTopic is from Neil Gaiman's blog. ^^ For those of you who read longer works, like manga, fantasy or similar stuff, I have a couple of thoughts about the subject of waiting for a favourite author to turn out her/his next work. Ok, not just thoughts. Prepare for a rant under the cut. ^^

    Hear me rant.Collapse )

    Current Mood: cheerful
    Thursday, May 7th, 2009
    4:11 pm
    Why do people on LJ have to be so nasty?
    Is there some unwritten rule about LJ I don't understand? I looked at my friends list two days ago, found a bunch of people who had me listed as their friend and figured I might return the favour for those who looked like they'd be interested in the kind of stuff I write about. One girl had even commented on some of my old manga reviews, so I added her as a friend. And what happens? I get a really nasty email from her about how she hates being added by people she doesn't know and that she banned me. I couldn't even send her an email and explain the situation because of the ban. So, what could I do but return the favour and ban her?

    It's the first time I EVER banned someone from my LJ. Noone on LJ has EVER been so impolite to me before. I hardly ever even block people on MSN. I ENJOY talking to people, even if I don't know them very well. And believe me, I get a lot of emails, messages and phone calls from people who just want to chat, ask about manga or life in Japan. I find it interesting to talk about it. Once, I even talked for 10-15 minutes to a telemarketing guy who had an interest in Japan and wanted to chat about it when he realized (by the name) that my partner is from there (usually I just hang up the second I realize it's telemarketing).

    I wish I could just shake off things like this, but she really ruined my afternoon, which had been fine up until I read her email. Why the need to be so nasty? She could have just explained and asked if she knew me from somewhere. Didn't she even notice that she had added me as a friend herself? I obviously don't get something about LJ, because I thought the act of adding someone as a friend means you actually want to read that person's LJ.

    I'm making this message open for all, just to say: 

    Feel free to add me as a friend! I don't bite. I'm just happy if people want to read what I write. The reviews are usually open to all readers, but sometimes I post things as "friends only" just in case. If I don't add you back, it doesn't mean that I don't want to be your friend, but that I just don't check my friends list very often. Send me an emain or comment in one of my open-to-all posts and I'll be happy to add you! And if you comment on what I write, even the old stuff, it'd make me really happy!

    Current Mood: annoyed
    Saturday, March 14th, 2009
    1:03 am
    Watching the Watchmen
    I pretty much considered this blog dead, but I just have to write about Watchmen.

    I'm not going to compare it to the comic; any such comparison would be pretty redundant since the two mediums are completely different. But the movie did have a lot of scenes with so much impact that I doubt I will forget the feelings they ewoked in me for a long time. I can't even talk about my favourite scenes, since they were so crucial to the story that I'd totally spoil the movie if I talked about them.

    I'm glad I read the comic first (almost 10 years ago by now...), but I liked how the movie was able to make me feel so much for these characters, all over again. Especially Rorschach... The fighting scenes were great as well. Quick and dirty. 

    As for the actors, the guy playing Rorschach nailed his character completely. When I rewatch this movie it'll be to be able to see his performance again. It was totally electric! The voice, the way he held his body, his dirty fighting.... Wow! 

    I really recommend all of you to go watch this movie! And read the comic of course! I'm going to buy it and reread it as fast as I can. 
    Friday, December 26th, 2008
    11:38 am
    TV-series review: Merlin
    Seventh sealI've had a blast watching the first season of Merlin this christmas. It's a BBC Entertainment family fantasy drama, based losely on the myths about King Arthur and Merlin, only this time they're both teenagers.

    It might be interesting to compare with the myths and countless books written about King Arthur, but I'd have to say that in order to fully appriciate the series, without getting annoyed with all the countless changes to the characters and events, the viewer might prefer to interpret it as a story that takes place in a parallell universe or different dimension. 

    Some thoughts about the first season and the character development, slightly spoilerishCollapse )

    Current Mood: excited
    Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008
    11:00 am
    Book Review: Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite
    Lost Souls

    Lost Souls and a lost reader
    After spending too much time reading manga lately, I've finally switched back to reading books again. The latest book to be finished was Lost Souls, by Poppy Z Brite. It's a book that had been standing in my bookshelf for more than 3 years now, since I bought it in a shopping spree a few summers ago. It never felt like the right time to read it, especially not since the cover art is rather horrible, so I sort of forgot I even owned it. But a few days ago, when I was looking for a new and preferrably stand-alone novel to read, it was the perfect thing to sink my teeth in, no pun intended.

    Read more about my most recent vampire experienceCollapse )

    Current Mood: satisfied
    Saturday, November 8th, 2008
    12:35 am
    Movie Review: Let the Right One In aka Låt den rätte komma in
    (This review contains a slight spoiler for one single scene early on in the movie)

    Ok, seriously. I've just seen the scariest movie I'll probably ever see in my whole life. Scary Clowns who live in the sewers? I can deal with it. Cool-looking guys who pose too much to even be remotely scary? Description tells it all. Zombies being chopped up with a chainsaw? Hate it, but it doesn't scare me much. Dark alley filmed from a distance, with a man reaching out to help a young child who claims to be too hurt to even stand up, only to attack him while still standing in the shadows, impossible to be seen clearly to the viewer? Hell YES, that scared the SHIT out of me! And that wasn't even remotely the scariest scene in the movie, no, THAT one was much, much worse!

    Yes, that last description was from Let the Right One In (, a Swedish vampire movie based on the book with the same name, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the script). I had the pleasure of meeting him on a book signing at the Swedish Book Fair in Gothenburg a few months back. I hadn't read his books yet, but planned to since a couple of friends, whose taste I trust, recommended them. So I asked him what book I should start out with, and he asked me if I was easily scared. Hell yes, I answered, and he told me not to start with Let the Right One In. I got another book signed instead. He seemed like a really nice guy, and after a while I convinced myself that it couldn't be that scary, after all. So I went to see the movie, and I realised that I had been wrong. Completely.

    Apparently the movie has only gotten a limited release in the U.S., but for those of you who have a chance to watch it, do it! You don't like scary movies? Neither do I. This is much more than a scary movie. It's one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen, scary as hell, yes, but beautiful. It's challenging and simple at the same time. The sound work is terrific and enhances every single scene. And the child actors are just incredible. The movie portrays growing-up problems, not-growing-up problems, bullying, friendship and first love in a realistic and touching way I've never seen before. And the cinematography is to die for! Watch the trailer here:

    I'd better stop myself before this post becomes ridicculously long, but I just can't praise this movie enough. I rate it 9 out of 10, at least right now after just coming home from after watching the movie.

    Current Mood: scared
    Saturday, October 11th, 2008
    12:14 pm
    Game review: Zelda Twilight Princess - Wii version (Contains spoilers for the whole game)
    One of the first games I bought in Japan after finally getting a Wii was Zelda: Twilight Princess. But I felt that my Japanese wasn't good enough in order to understand the game itself, so it took me until now to actually play it. I finished it a couple of days ago, and what a lovely game it was!

    Thoughts (extremely spoilerish) after playing Zelda Twilight Princess (Wii version): Collapse )

    Current Mood: satisfied
    Saturday, August 16th, 2008
    2:23 pm
    J-dorama review: Koko wa Greenwood aka Here is Greenwood #3-6
    The TV-series is still following the manga pretty closely. So far they've used the sports festival, the summer at the dormitory, the cultural festival and the kidnappning storyline.

    Episode 3:
    Sportsfestival. An ok episode but nothing special. The acting reached it's worst low so far.

    Episode 4:
    A pretty good episode about summer in the dormitory. This episode was mostly made to flesh out the characters and introduces Shinobu's girlfriend/fiancé.

    Episode 5:
    Mitsuru in drag in episode 5 (cultural festival) was pretty horrible (especially since he turned out beautiful in the manga), but Shinobu turned out better than expected so I was pretty happy with the episode anyway.

    Episode 6:
    The kidnapping in episode 6 was pretty fun as well. The actress who played Nagisa had her good and bad moments. Fans of Shinobu and Mitsuru as a couple will enjoy it, since the TV-series seems to be taking that approach in a more obvious way than the manga (which was only teasing at best). But all in all, this was the best episode so far, and made me want to watch the rest as well.

    About Shinobu and Mitsuru as a couple (spoilers for the manga at least):
    Since the TV-series seem to put more focus on this, it's interesting enough to talk a little bit more in depth about it. I do support them as a couple of course, but I liked how the manga depicted it with more delicacy and left room for interpretion. Shinobu's feelings might be purely platonic or romantic depending on how much you read into them, but his feelings for Mitsuru is at the very least much more complicated than just calling it "romantic love". I interpreted the manga like this: Mitsuru, the first and only person that Shinobu has ever connected to, is pretty much the only thing that keeps Shinobu on the right side of good and evil. This also makes more sense since the manga is a story about growing up and making friends for life. Shinobu doesn't try to "own" Mitsuru openly and never really opposes to Mitsuru's affections for Suka-chan. He's content with staying by Mitsuru's side (kind of like Riff and Cain in Kaori Yuki's Cain-saga). Actually, the author of Greenwood, Yuki Nasu, later went on to write a bunch of BL-stories in a real BL-anthology, but they unfortunately lacked the same subtility that the characters in Greenwood had.

    Well, since I've made it this far I'm pretty sure I'll actually keep watching the series. It's light hearted fluff and fun, but in a way, so was the wonderful manga it's based on as well.

    Current Mood: amused
    Friday, August 15th, 2008
    4:22 pm
    J-dorama review: Koko wa Greenwood aka Here is Greenwood #1-2

    Just thought I'd mention that I'm casually following the Greenwood TV-series lately. It's a bit like Yamada Taro turned out: Not everything in the TV-adaption is perfect, but it leaves you in a good mood after watching an episode or two.

    Main characters:
    Greenwood has managed to cast the 4 main characters surprisingly good. The manga focuses on these 4 pretty much most of the time, so it must have been easy for the actors to get a feel for their characters. I especially like Tezuka and Mitsuru's actors. They've managed to capture the essence of the character more than the looks. Suka-chan and Shun-chan aren't really all there yet but I suspect they will be soon.

    Supporting cast:
    The suporting cast isn't very good at all, with the possible exception for Suka-chans older brother. But I expected as much. Lots of Greenwood characters are very flat and one-dimensional since they only fill one function in the story (after that they tend to become background characters). When they decided to cast a lot of (supposedly) young idoru etc who longs to be in the spotlight, they all seem to end up overdoing their sole appearance in a scene or participation in a dialogue in order to be noticed. The result is that all scenes with other actors than the main guys tend to become pretty jarring.

    Silly but fun seems to be the best way to turn a comedy manga into a TV-series. The catchy Greenwood intro promises some sentai-show stuff later on (for the fantasy storyline), which I look forward to. It'll fit perfectly into the Greenwood story atmosphere! Burning swords? Yay!

    Update: The acting seems to be getting worse later on, especially Shun-chan. I think the problem is that some of these young actors sound like they're reading right out of the script, as well as the fact that they act by posing their body or waving their hands around. I much preferred the cast in Nodame Cantabile and Last Friends, where the actors were experienced enough to realize that you act from the inside and out so to speak, not the other way around. But the story is still fun, so I'll keep watching a little bit more.

    Actors: 6
    Story: 6
    Happy feelings: 7
    All in all: 6

    Current Mood: amused
    Tuesday, August 5th, 2008
    12:47 am
    Manga review: Hakushaku Cain Perfect Collection 1: Shonen no Fukasuru Oto

    I read part of this manga a long time ago as scanlation, but this time I read the perfect edition that I bought 2006 while I was still living in Japan. I don't regret paying 1200 yen for each volume. It's more than worth the money! All the colour art has been restored and the presentation and printing makes this book a joy to read (and own!). Much better than the old edition, which I used to own before (sold it off before moving to Japan). Each volume is pretty heavy to hold though, but that's a minor complaint.

    The story takes place before the events in the more well-known sequel God Child introduces Cain, his butler Riff and all the other important characters that later become important in the Hakushaku Caine universe. I recommend reading from the beginning instead of skipping directly to God Child like a lot of publishers tend to do. It's much easier to build up sympathy towards Cain if you've read these older stories about him and how he grew up. Yes, the art in God Child is amazing, but the art here is only a litte weird in the first chapter. After that it gradually gets better and better and definitely has its own charm compared to the polished art in God Child.

    The best story in this first volume is the four-part story "Kafka" that ends this first collection, but it just doesn't work as well when you read it for the second time. Therefore I felt that reading the previous stories which are only one chapter long each was much more rewarding this time. Having read (or rather "looked at the pretty pictures and read as much as I could understand at the time while reading story summaries") all the way to the end, I enjoyed looking at the clues about things to come, that Kaori Yuki has written into even these earlier stories.

    Despite the early writing found here not being as good as later works by Kaori Yuki, I still feel that Hakushaku Cain is a manga that I will return to from time to time. I'm going to read the second perfect edition volume next, Akai hitsuji no kokuin, and then continue with God Child, the conclusion to Hakushaku Cain. I remember how much I loved the ending when I followed it in the Hana to Yume magazine, so it'll be interesting to see how I experience it this time around.

    Art: 7
    Story: 7
    Weird Kaori Yuki stuff: 8
    Most obvious word used in the story that definitely didn't exist in the 19th century vocabulary: "Skinhead"
    Overall grade: 7

    Current Mood: content
    Saturday, July 26th, 2008
    11:47 pm
    New anime 2007-2008: What to watch and what to avoid
    For the first time since 2004 and 2006 I've actually been keeping up with what's new in Japan. None of the following has been licensed for R1 or R2 release yet, but I hope that some of the best stuff will be released some day.

    - A story that looks more like Osamu Tezuka's stuff than modern anime. The story is about memories and love, and has managed to amaze me more than anything I've watched before. Main character Kaiba wakes up with no memories and a big hole in his chest. He escapes into space when he's attacked by memory eating things, and ends up transfering his memories to a female body. Together with a pretty dirty guy who insists on coming along as "her" travel partner Kaiba travels around the universe. In this work memories can be modified and then transferred to other bodies if you have money enough to afford it. Kaiba encounters people and planets where memories mean everything. This has got to be the most romantic Sci-fi anime made, like ever! It also deals with questions about gender to some extent. Grade: 10

    Nabari no Oh
    (also known as Nabari no Ou) - Beautifully animated and ambitious story dealing with modern day ninja being integrated in the Japanese society. The main character has chosen to distance himself from pretty much everyone, but he finds himself gradually beginning to care for a soul mate who like himself carries much sought after hidden powers. At heart, Nabari no Oh is a story about wanting to be alive and finding a reason to live on. And it has an exciting, kick-ass story about ninja to accompany this as well! I just can't recommend this anime enough. I've been touched by pretty much all characters' backstories and their character growth so far. Grade: 10

    Soul Eater
    - Shonen anime done right. Lots of influences from our Western traditions and media like old Italian churces, Twin Peaks, Excalibur, Tim Burton-esque designs makes this one of the coolest shonen anime I've ever seen! The main characters, Soul Eater and Maka Albarn (named after a certain britpop singer I suppose) are interesting enough on their own, but it's while they're fighting together that they really shine! Also features frog witches, zombies, mad scientists and a womanizing single dad trying (but mostly failing) to be a good father to his daughter. Grade: 9

    Shugo Chara
    - Magical girl anime that rivals Card Captor Sakura in cuteness at time. It gives me the same feeling I used to experience while watching CCS when I was still new to anime. A wonderful story about finding yourself and dealing with the troubles one experiences while growing up. Grade: 8

    Macross Frontier
    - The story is really exciting, and there's a lot of pretty characters as well. The only real problem so far is that this anime tries too hard to please all kinds of viewers by making every character a fetich. We have bishounen, biseinen, bishoujo, moe girl, moe boy, scarred warrior, office lady, girls with glasses, etc etc. Good thing the space fights is so beautiful it makes me forget all of this! The music is actually pretty good since it's written by veteran Yoko Kanno. Grade: 7

    Antique Bakery
    - Starts out weak but gets better after a while. The manga is still far superior though, so I recommend reading it first. Grade: 6

    The not so good stuff:

    Vampire Knight
    - Not bad per se. The anime is probably better than the manga in my opinion. But I lost interest pretty quickly. Too many genre clichés. Grade: 5

    Himitsu the Top Secret
    - One of the best manga ever created turned into a parody that trashed everything I loved about the manga. Avoid at all costs! Grade: 1

    And one licensed show to look forward to in a DVD-box:

    Ookiku Furikabutte
    (Big Windup! is the official English title) - Really good sports anime that both takes the time to explain the sport to beginners like me, but also introduces lots of great characters that offer good interaction and lots of fun and touching moments. The main character struggles to build up his self confidence. I've made a longer blog post further down in the blog where I talk about it in detail. Highly recommended! A-

    Current Mood: cheerful
    Thursday, July 24th, 2008
    2:13 pm
    Manwha review: Island (Complete series)

    Story: In-Wan Youn
    Art: Kyung-Il Yang

    Island is (unfortunately) an out of print Korean manwha that was translated and released in English by Tokyopop. It was their first manwha and one of their first titles to be released in the "manga wave" they created (which later crushed them but that's another story). The editing is pretty bad at times, but the translation picks up in the 3d volume when an experienced rewriter starts working on the script (and he does it really well). The printing is incredibly bad, which is a shame.

    Island introduces the headstrong young woman Miho Won, a woman who alternates between being a real bitch to being just übercool and brilliant. She's the only daughter of one of Korea's most successful companies and is said in the book to have as much power as the president's children. She's been shipped off to a small island called Cheyu Island, where she works as a teacher at day and fends off Burning desire demons (who are attracted to her sexual powers) by night.

    Fortunately (or perhaps not), a mysterious serial killer named Pan makes a contract with her: He kills all burning desire demons before they can get to her and she pays him heaps of money for every demon head he brings to her (usually by throwing them in her lap because he's just that kind of guy...).

    Pan uses a ritual knife in his slayings and that's just the beginning of the mystery when it comes to him. He actually does murder people as Miho finds out, but it later becomes clear that there is probably a reason behind the killings that only Pan knows about. He keeps his relation with Miho strictly business and doesn't even try to hit on her or anything. Miho herself obviously can't decide whether that is a good thing or not...

    Later on, the story also introduces John, a young catholic who was born in Korea and adopted by an American couple. The adoptive parents then took his body organs, put them in their own child and gave John to the church to take care of. The church raised John and taught him how to deal with extremely powerful demons and spirits. John then goes to Korea in order to search for his parents, but ends up staying with Miho instead. He's a pretty good character that alternates between being goofy and deadly serious. He later meets a Japanese black magician, Kyoichi, that he strikes up a really interesting hate/love friendship with. The two of them facing off with their catholic and black magic powers on the roof of a building is one of the coolest scenes in the whole series!

    The story of Island contains a lot of fun but perhaps a bit standard stuff (nowadays at least, when there's tons of other manga available). But while the story does have its problems, there's still a lot of things that it gets right. It manages to portray Miho as a very 3-dimensional character and her dislike slash attraction for Pan is well balanced as well and brings tension to the story. The story also contains crossdressing, HBT-characters and a lot of story twists related to these. I wouldn't call them all that well-portrayed, but it certainly works for the story being told here. I think the author just has a lot of things he wants to do with this story, and ends up overdoing a thing or two. But in a way, that's what makes Island so fun. ;)

    Arwise there is a little too much use of super-deformed characters and jokes that clash with the serious story and art. I'm just not very fond of comic relief like that. It works in Tezuka's stories but not in Island. The art itself gets really good as it goes on and by the last volume its just beautiful. The artist claims to dislike drawing action scenes, but damn he's good at it! He draws pretty awesome demons as well, and his character designs are good as well.

    All in all, the story of Island always seem to balance between chaotic and creepy to well-told and supercool. I think most of the problems with the story is things that the author and artist pair will manage to work on as they get more experienced.

    Island is 7 volumes long and pretty much ends just as it starts getting really good. The authors hint of wanting to continue the manga later, but it ended in 2001 because they wanted to work on Shin Angyo Onshi in Japan, so later has come and gone again I suppose. I'd love to read more though.There was also a novel based on what happened later in the story of Island released in both Japan and Korea. It's written and illustrated by the same artist-writer pair that did the manga. I think I'll just have to track that one down some day.

    The same writer and artist completed a 17 volume manga in 2007 published simultaneously in Korea and Japan, called Shin Angyo Onshi. It was also animated as the movie Blade of the Phantom Master ( Maybe I'll give that one a shot as well later on. It's probably not that unlikely that it'll show up in English one day.

    Korean publisher: Daiwon C.I.
    American publisher: Tokyopop
    Japanese publisher: Beam Comics
    German publisher: Planet Manwha
    French publisher: Génération Comics and Panini Comics

    Story: 6
    Art: 7
    Creepy demons: 8
    Cool characters: 8
    All in all: 7
    Monday, July 14th, 2008
    1:28 am
    Re-reading stuff: What didn't work the second time?
    Sometimes I like re-reading stuff I read before, instead of reading all those new and shiny books (as well as those who used to be new and shiny before they started collecting dust, forgotten on my shelves for years). Some are just as good, some even better than I rememebered, and some just plain suck. I mostly re-read BL stuff because they tend to be 1 volume or at least very short, and even more important: Good BL is rare and hard to come by (and I hardly bought any new BL the last 2-3 years). Here's the yays and nays.

    Hageshii ame - What did I really see in this plain story? And to think I used to love it so much, and found it marvellously romantic. Nay.

    Switch #1 (Naked Ape) - Still as bad. Still can't convince myself to sell it since I payed such an over price to buy volume 1-3 once upon a time. Still a nay though. Very much so.

    Renai Hoteishiki #1 - Even better than I remembered it! I really want to read the last volume some day. And isn't this an excellent motivation to re-read Kusatta Kyoushi no Houteishiki, considering I bought the bunko version and all? Double yay!

    Eyed Soul #1 - Despite the unfortunate lack of any real BL action, I really love this first volume of Udoh Shinohara's series about animals who can turn into humans a lot. It's like she heard about the idé in Sex Pistols (the manga, not the band...) and made a story to her liking about it. The characters are intense and sexy, and the main character might just end up in a threesome if he doesn't watch out (or maybe I just want him to do that?). Yay!

    Alley of First Love (Hatsukoi Yokochou) - Since this will soon be released in English, I recommended it to friends and ended up re-reading it. Still wonderfully romantic, and edgier than Elle Mamahara usually is. I love reading BL where the characters mutually desire each other (I can't deal with non-con(ish) material at all), and Mamahara-sensei is the right author to look for that. Yay!

    Baseball Paradise (Yakkyuu Tengoku) - More Mamahara, more passion and sports. Cameo from Esaka in Rakuen Café (which I also adore). But did he ever get the man of his dream? The story doesn't really tell... :( Still, very much yay!

    Rakuen made ato mou chotto #1-3 (end). I love Ichiko Ima to death, and this is still a superb comic. But I found myself noticing the pacing problems a little bit more this time around. But as for the humour, the romance, and the absurdity of it all? Still top notch! Definitely Yay!

    B-kyuu Gourmet Club #1-2. A silly premise with wonderful characters and a great depiction of two gay men trying to share their life and favourite food with each other. Throw some work related problems and crazy family members in the mix, and you've got a great romantic comedy that warms the heart and makes you believe in love at second sight. Yay, especially for the second volume and can't wait for the 3d!

    And one from last year's summer:
    X/1999 #1-8. I love it to death, and it was interesting to read it in Japanese. I thought the American version had good localisation, but it was still interesting to see how the characters spoke to each other in Japanese this time. I'll re-read the rest of it this summer perhaps. Yay!

    I've probably re-read more stuff than this during the year, but this is all I can remember for now. I'm pretty sure there some stuff I forgot (probably "nay"-stuff). Glad to see that there is more keepers in my collection than I remembered.

    Current Mood: satisfied
    Saturday, July 12th, 2008
    10:00 am
    Book review: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

    I picked Little Brother up on a whim; I wanted to read a stand-alone novel, and I'd seen Neil Gaiman review it in his blog, giving it a lot of praise. They'd even put some quotes from that blog on the front and back cover of Little Brother, that's how much he praised it. ;)

    The story is written for a young adult audience, which basically means that just about anyone can read it I figure. The main character is a young hacker at 17, and he lives in a world that is just filled with Big Brothers everywhere. Cameras that identify you by your walking pattern, internet filters, programs running in the background of your school computer to register what websites you check out, etc etc. This isn't necessarily Science Fiction though; I don't live in the US, but I wouldn't doubt that they have more cameras in their schools than they ever had in mine (mind that that was more than 10 years ago though) from what "insight" I get through media, television etc. But it sure is scary to realize all those cameras that surround me in my daily life (by the ATM, on the tram, in the clothing store, etc). Just how much surveillance do I encounter, just by going out to shop a T-shirt?

    Well, Marcus, the main character in Little Brother has figured out a way to beat the system. He's not the only one of course: A lot of other hackers has done the same. One day, he cuts classes early and goes with his friends to play a kind of roleplaying game for hackers, that involves looking for clues around town, and that's when a big explosion happens in town. Panic ensues, and one of Marcus friends gets stabbed in a panicked crowd. Trying to get an ambulance for him, they all get picked up by the military and treated very rough. Then begins the questions, and the quest for answers. Marcus and his friends are suspected to be terrorists, and once they finally get realeased again, the world has changed into a much harscher, much more surveilled place that treats everyone as a possible enemy.

    LIttle Brother raised a lot of questions in me, and at the same time opened my eyes to a lot of things I hadn't really been aware of before. Like Internet security, surveillance, etc. It draws parallells to the protests against the Vietnam war, only this time the protests take place on X-net, a new network that has been created in the story. I've never been a hacker, but this story made it all feel very exciting (and scary as well). I suppose this is 1984 for a new generation of readers.

    Anyways, it's not a perfect book (it sometimes makes some characters a little too evil, but compared to Harry Potter it definitely wasn't that bad), but I recommend it a lot. Its both entertaining and educating, and pretty exciting. A bit like William Gibson, only not so hard to wrap your head around. And for fans of all things Japanese, there's enough references to doujinshi, Goth Loli etc to pique your interest.

    Current Mood: content
    Sunday, July 6th, 2008
    12:00 am
    Antique Bakery anime version
    Just watched the first episode. Not extremely bad, but definitely not what I'd call good. Looks like someone who can't really draw very well animated it. And the main character, who had a pretty unique look for a bishie in the manga, looks like one of those random characters that walks by in the background in other anime. But he did look himself when he went all SD on Ono (who had just told him about his devlish gay charm).

    And all over, people are starting to complain that it's not marked as "yaoi", and that they watched it and it hurt their eyes. Not that Antique Bakery is either published as yaoi, but a gay character among the main cast and half an episode taking place in 2-choume is obviously seen as such. Still, the anime makers seem to have focused on the BL-vibes of the manga for the first episode, so I can see how people might think it's BL if they're not familiar with the original. And in the manga, it was made clear that Tachibana is really not interested in Ono in a way that didn't come across very well in the anime.

    All in all, an ok first episode I guess. But I really think it could have been done so much better. :(

    Current Mood: disappointed
    Tuesday, July 1st, 2008
    2:33 am
    Ai Yazawa's Kagen no Tsuki - Last Quarter (complete series review)

    I've had Kagen no Tsuki sitting on my shelf for a long time now. I even bought it twice: First the original 3 volume long softcover edition and then the 2 volume long hardcover edition released when the story was made into a movie (with a horrible actor playing Eve, therefore I didn't watch it). The manga is written and drawn by Ai Yazawa, of Nana and Paradise Kiss fame. And yes, it's really good.

    The story takes place in Tokyo. A young girl named Mizuki meets a guitarplaying English man named Adam. Mostly on a whim, she leaves her family and her job, in order to stay with him in an old mansion that he's borrowing from a friend. After two weeks, he disappears, then phones her and asks her to leave with him. She packs her passport, takes a taxi to Shibuya and waits for him. But when he appears on the other side of the street, she runs to him and gets hit by a car. A young girl, who's also been hit by a car and spent some time in the hospital, searchs for her cat and enters an old mansion. There, she meets a young woman, who plays the piano and who claims to be unable to leave her house. The only thing she can remember is that she wants to meet Adam. The young girl recognizes the song she plays on her piano as the same song she heard on MTV the same morning. She recruits 3 of her friends from elementary school to help her help the woman in the mansion. It turns out to be more complicated than they could have ever imagined...

    Kagen no Tsuki is a really good story, with lots of feelings and an interesting mix of problems relating to young children as well as young adults. It's a story that never looks down on children's worries, whether it's a beloved cat that has gone missing, or parents who never has time for theim. The main characters are the children, and their quest to solve the mystery and help the young woman is a bit like a detective story. After a while, the story gets darker and even a little eerie from time to time. But despite this, the friendships, romance and daughter-mother relationships make this a warm and pleasurable read. The best part of Kagen no Tsuki is the first chapter, that sets the stage for the whole story, as well as the latter half of the series, when the pieces of the puzzle finally falls i place, piece after piece. The structure of the series is pretty much perfect for such a short manga. It never gets boring, and the tension is kept from beginning to end.

    The art is not quite as good as Nana or Paradise Kiss, but not far from. Black and white in an interesting mix (and much lighter drawings when the children take over after the first chapter), blurred photographs in the background, whispy lines and beautiful character designs. It may not be a typical Ai Yazawa manga storywize, but noone could mistake her characteristic art. Artistically, I liked the first chapter the best. It's also the part of the story that feels the most mature artwise. But the art direction in the rest of the series is really good as well!

    So far, Kagen no Tsuki is not available in English yet, but there is both a French and a German edition I believe. Recommended!

    Art: 8
    Story: 7
    Romance: 9
    Detective story: 7
    Eerie stuff: 4
    Overall: 7

    Current Mood: satisfied
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