cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)

Tezuka Osamu: Phoenix vol. 3: Yamato/Space, and Phoenix vol. 5: Resurrection
(the latter in particular is kind of sticking with me. The former was surprisingly creepy.

Tangent: one of the two and a half panels I attended at Anime Boston was The Absolute Worst of Osamu Tezuka, which featured some entertainingly bad stuff, and some stuff that was actually really good. The intro to Phoenix 27somethingsomething, for instance: the female robot who turns into all sorts of random mecha shit in a sexually charged sequence--it's certainly weird as hell and laden with all kinds of...of...things, but it's gorgeously choreographed and animated, and there's a real sense of intent there; I'd love to see it unpacked. Or the massive box-office flop that was Cleopatra--I'd love, love, love to see it with some decent subtitles, by the way--yes, the rotoscoping was hideous and ill-concieved, but the opening past sequence was one of the most lush, colorful, energized pieces of 70s animation I've seen in awhile. And, so, Caesar was blue and there were anachronistic bathroom jokes. This is Tezuka. You're surprised? That was how Tezuka rolled, bitch).

Tezuka Osamu: Black Jack vols. 2-3
(dingos did not eat his kidneys!).

Yamamoto Naoki: Dance Till Tomorrow vols. 3-5
(fuck, VIZ did great work way back in the day; this is such a cool title, the likes of which you don't see anymore--silly, sexy, adult characters with a peculiar blend of cleverness and manipulativeness and heart that always makes me think of the 80s, and that surprising undercurrent genuine emotion that makes it as affectingly romantic as the sweetest, sincerest shoujo. The translation in this thing thrills me--it's so very funny and clever and engrossing. It reminds me of the experience of reading Ranma 1/2 and Maison Ikkoku; witty language to match the witty art. I miss that. I wish it wasn't so unfashionable now to actually fucking adapt a translation so that it can convey the spirit of the material along with the literal meaning. Speaking of which,)

Otsuka Eiji, writer, Yamazaki Housui, artist: Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service vol. 8
(I don't want to downplay the fundamental merits of this title, which are numerous, but it occurred to me during the con, as I pawed through the library's thousand+ books, more than half of which I'd probably hand-picked, that one of the great pleasures of Kurosagi is the quality of the translation: it's witty and lively and the English is the natural, conversational English of fluent native speakers. That's so uncommon as to really stand out, and I think that's a large part of its appeal. Dark Horse, Carl Gustav Horn, I love your work).

Yozaburo Kanari, story, Sato Fumiya, art: The Kindaichi Case Files: The Mummy's Curse
(OMG [livejournal.com profile] retsuko, you're right, this is the most absurd revenge plot imaginable. Just...just shoot them, Jesus Christ, stab them, poison them, garrote them. Hell, hack them up with an ax; it'd be more straightforward.

By the way, at the Edogawa Ranpo panel at Anime Boston, the panelist, who clearly knew his stuff otherwise, thought the Kindaichi Case Files were actually adaptations of Kosuke Kindaichi stories. Presumably, he hadn't read them, since I think they have even more tenuous a connection to the original Kindaichi than The Beekeeper's Apprentice has to Sherlock Holmes. Not that this matters in the slightest. It was a decent panel, although I knew the subject well enough that I didn't learn much that was new to me, and the audience--a particularly stereotypical crowd of male otaku, all six of them, one of whom repeatedly derailed the panel by sharing his obsession with Nazis--were a little creepy. And dammit, they stank. I felt genuinely uncomfortable in the room because of them).

Nakamura: Skip*Beat vols. 16-17
(I already gushed in [livejournal.com profile] meganbmoore's journal about these. You know, the art in these things is nothing to write home about, and the pacing is too slow--less happens in a whole volume than in a single chapter of Nana--but by god, Kyoko is one of the best female characters I've ever run across in manga. The author permits her a really unique kind of inner strength, something I'm just not used to seeing in manga--a sharpness that, once exposed, isn't dulled for anything, not even for the object of admiration).

Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 16
(but, thanks to an overly enthusiastic scanlations-reading fan, I am now spoiled for a certain major event beyond this volume. Dammit. Oh well, I can't claim I saw it coming, but I can't claim to be surprised, either.

Speculate in the comments on what that spoiler might be, and I will eat your kidneys like a ravenous dingo.

I'm also spoiled for every major character death in Naruto in the last twenty volumes, which also ticks me off, but I admit that being 20 volumes behind the English adaptation and all, I haven't got much grounds for complaint there).

Kye Young Chon: DVD vol. 1
(I hadn't realized this was only volume 1. I'd been meaning to get around to it ever since I bought it for the library last year...a year and a half of the build-up of anticipation did not serve it well. It's okay, I guess? Not my favorite manwha of the year).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
I have to post once a week on a discussion board for my not-really-cataloging class; the first week, I posted about the weird, fragmentary way graphic novels get classified and shelved in public libraries. I also posted about having retagged hundreds of back entries in this journal once I started focusing so much on reading graphic novels. The professor now knows me as "Margaret, who likes graphic novels." I should have mentioned that I tag food related posts with "101 things to stuff with goat cheese," and all poetry related posts with "april is national poetry month."

Graphic novels:

Kelso, Megan: The Squirrel Mother Stories.

Campbell, Eddie: The Fate of the Artist.

Sala, Richard: The Grave Robber's Daughter.

Giardino, Vittorio: No Pasaran! vol. 1
(ComicsLit. I was thinking that this was the shortest damn spy story I'd ever read until I got the end and realized it was only volume 1. The spine tag covered that bit up, and I had no idea when I started it wasn't a complete work).

Kuper, Peter: Speechless
(not actually a graphic novel, but an artbook and collection of sketches. Kuper impresses me even more now than he did before; he's quite a stunning artist, with a fiery political spirit. I had no idea how prolific his work was, but after looking at the magazine cover selections, I realized I must have seen his work dozens of times before I picked up Sticks and Stones).


Kanari Yozaburo, story, Sato Fumiya, art: Kindaichi Case Files: Kindaichi the Killer Part 1, Kindaichi Case Files; Kindaichi the Killer Part 2
(I think I have the answer to the Saki #2 question. A slightly more inclusive character guide at the beginning of these books would have eliminated the question, though.

Damn, I love Akechi. I'm inclined to think he never seriously thought Kindaichi was guilty, but was just running with it because Akechi loves fucking with Kindaichi).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Several of these books are really excellent, thought-provoking works, and I kept putting off this post in the hopes of being able to do them justice, but with the semester in full swing, I just don't have time. Anything marked with a star is a stand-out work deserving of critical attention.

Novels/prose books:

Heyer, Georgette: Arabella.

Heyer, Georgette: Penhallow*
(this is something a departure for Heyer: a truly grim murder myster. The ending is brooding and unoptimistic; the mood is oppressive, and there are no sympathetic characters at all. Heyer novels always contain Austen-esque, sharp-edged observations of human foibles, vanities, and failings, but those observations are normally softened with a good-humored, laughing sense of acceptance. Here, they stand as bleak, hopeless summaries of the way people destroy themselves and fail each other. It's probably the best novel she wrote).

Graphic novels:

Abel, Jessica: La Perdita.*

Baker, Kyle: Nat Turner.*

Robinson, Alex: Box Office Poison.*


Mori Kaoru: Shirley vol. 1.

Kanari Yozaburo, story, Sato Fumiya, art: Kindaichi Case Files: The Undying Butterflies.

Ohtsuka Eiji, story, Yamazaki Hosui, art: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service vol. 7.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Gibson, William: Neuromancer
(the man has no sense of humor. After being so bored by the lack of even a glimmer of a sense of humor in this book on the T ride to work that I spent the whole time staring out the window at the black concrete walls, I actually bought another book at work to have something to read on the ride home. Needless to say, I did not finish this. Sad, since I like cyperpunk, and Gibson's the granddaddy of it. But he has no sense of humor!).

Kipling, Rudyard: Just So Stories
(a man of infinite resource and sagacity will never forget his suspenders).

Graphic novels:

Rich, Jamie S, and Joelle Jones: 12 Reasons Why I Love Her
(I can't say any of the reasons convinced me. Oni Press).

Klein, Grady: The Lost Colony Book 1: The Snodgrass Conspiracy
(I have never been so happy to finish a book, look back the cover, and see "Book 1"--not because it ends on a cliffhanger, but because the experience of reading it was so delightful that I am thrilled to think they'll be more. First Second puts out a nice book, oh but they do).


Kanari Yozaburo, story, Sato Fumiya, art: Kindaichi Case Files: The Opera House Murders
(it felt even more formulaic than the others. I think that's because this is the first one, and therefore the one that establishes the formula, and so it lacks any of the ornamental flourishes that the others use to distinguish themselves. And of course, no Akechi. I enjoyed it, though. I now enjoy Kindaichi Case Files enough that I can't make fun of it for being popcorn--it's just too reliably entertaining!--and enough to be wicked depressed that Tokyopop's dropping it).


Schade, Susan, and Jon Buller: The Fog Mound Book 1: Travels of Thelonious
Now here's a graphic novel that can honestly claim to be like a comic book, but with more words... )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (seeking the hand of god)
Graphic novels:

Goscinny, Rene, author, Albert Udezo, artist: Asterix vol. 3: Asterix and the Goths.

Herge: The Adventures of Tintin vol. 4: Red Rackham's Treasure, The Seven Crystal Balls, Prisoners of the Sun.

Sfar, Joann: The Rabbi's Cat
(Until now, I've only casually enjoyed Sfar's work, but this took my breath away. No wonder people were making such a fuss about it, a few years back! Such a gorgeous work, so mature and natural and kind, and so clever!

I want to study the Kabbala, i tell him. No, he answers. You're ignorant. You don't understand a thing. You have to start at the beginning.

Dammit, Sfar, you make me feel as humble and human as the cat isn't. God, I loved this book. Highly, highly recommended).


Kanari Yozaburo, story, Sato Fumiya, art: Kindaichi Case Files: The Magical Express
(plenty of Akechi to keep me happy!).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels:

Goscinny, Rene, writer, Albert Uderzo, illustrater: Asterix vol. 1: Asterix The Gaul, Asterix vol. 2: Asterix and the Golden Sickle
(badass, man. It's just as fun as I was led to believe. And my local library has lots!).


Kirishima Takeru: Kanna vol. 1
(despite some fairly nice art, a solid premise and mix of humor, drama, and gore, this so failed to keep my attention that it took me three nights to read it, because I kept drifting off. I don't think I'll hold out for vol. 2).

Kanari Yozaburo, story, Sato Fumiya, art: Kindaichi Case Files: Smoke and Mirrors
(eeeee! This creeped me the fuck out, and not just because I read it at 3am when I couldn't sleep. It may just be familiarity--I mean, if anything, I'm working backwards through the books, not that they have any arc outside their own plots--but I felt rather fonder of both Kindaichi and Miyuki in this book than I have in any other volumes. I think Akechi would have improved the book a bit, but then, I always do. He snarks on Kindaichi, and until the other stock detective guy, Akechi is actually a good detective and therefore a good rival to Kindaichi. But this was a fun read anyway).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels:

Shaffer, Neal, author, Daniel Krall, artist: One Plus One
(Oni Press. Honestly, I was underwhelmed. The three male main characters are all black-haired white guys, and I could barely tell them apart. There are two significant female characters, both blonde and white, and I could barely tell them apart. Everything was stiff and ugly, and the plot was simultaneously depressing and inane.)


Mizuno Tokho: Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time vol. 1
(I definitely prefer the Watase version of this story. It's funnier, more dramatic, more romantic, and much better drawn).

Kanari Yozaburo, story, Sato Fumiya, art: The Kindaichi Case Files: The Graveyard Isle
(I am so confused about the Saki character. A character exactly like this one--same name, same design, same camera--was killed off in The Santa Slayings, which was #7 in the numbering sequence assigned by Tokyopop; this is #15. I wouldn't even have noticed this, however, had they not referred to him several times at "Saki#2." Is this a running gag, or otherwise an indication that the different stories are not actually supposed to take place in any kind of timeline at all?)

Mihara Mitsukazu: Haunted House
(it's like The Wallflower in reverse! I love this author. She's a kick in the pants. I think Sabato actually had a valid complaint--his family really was sabotaging his life by pulling pranks on him--but they were quite right in not taking his girlfriends seriously, since Sabato's only criteria was whether or not the girl would say yes to a date).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels:

Delisle, Guy: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea
(competing with MW for most disturbing thing I have read this week. MW has more dismemberment, but North Korea is a real-life Orwellian nightmare, which I think pushes it ahead just a tad).

Steinberger, Aimee Major: Japan Ai
(and now, for something completely different as a travel memoir. It's adorable and it's happy, and man, Go! Comi makes a nice book worth your money).


Tezuka Osamu: MW
(this is so, so fucked up. I think it's even more fucked up than Ode to Kirihito.

I liked the bit with the journalist lady who refused to print the photos because she said they weren't interesting. I suspect a real-life tabloid reporter wouldn't have her scruples, but who knows? And it's a nice thought).

Kanari Yozaburo, story, Sato Fumiya, art: Kindaichi Case Files: The Santa Slayings
(nom nom literary popcorn.

I love Akechi and only a little bit because he's pretty. Also, for the first time, I warmed up to Kindaichi himself, I think because he was so depressed about his friend. The tiny scraps of character development, we take them when we can get them).

Hirano Kohta: Hellsing vol. 2.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Heyer, Georgette: Footsteps in the Dark
(English. Mystery. Witty! Georgette Heyer. This one reads a bit like a Nancy Drew or a Hardy Boys novel for adults, and I think I mean that in a good way).

Graphic novels:

Spiegelman, Art: Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began
(Spiegelman really knows his way around a visual metaphor).

Various: Graphic Classics: Mark Twain
(it's good and it's fun, and Rick Geary always rocks my socks, but the main thing I get from this book is a renewed desire to read Twain as prose. Also, I felt that some of these adaptations were a little short on illustration. As I can read Twain's prose whenever I want to, I felt a bit cheated on that score).

Geary, Rick: A Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Mystery of Mary Rogers
(Geary does not fail to rock my socks with this.

I am unsatisfied over not having an answer to the mystery, but unsolved mysteries are par for the course here--it's not a fault of Geary's presentation of the material. It just so happens that I hadn't heard of this mystery before reading the book, so I had no existing sense of the mythology that sprang up around Mary Rogers' murder. I did already know some of mythologies of Lizzie Borden and of Jack the Ripper when I read Geary's books on them, so I was already anticipating those non-resolutions.

I really don't know why I can enjoy graphic novel true crime stories when the prose kind generally leave me loathing every part of the process. I think maybe because the kinds of true crime stories that make it into contemporary comics tend to be historical, and often the stuff of legend? To me, writing stories based on enduring cultural lore does not feel so sickeningly dehumanizing as what crowds the true crime shelves in bookstores...some of the motivation is the same (we thrill to the gruesome details of the crime, the intense emotion, the extremes of personality), but it's a little more...I don't know...processed. Passed off to history, with the families no longer around to be injured. Like fiction, there's no longer anything really at stake, and no one to be hurt. It's why historical fiction doesn't bug me when RPF does.

And a great deal of the appeal specifically of these Geary works is that the murders ARE unsolved and can almost certainly never BE solved, making them a sort of intellectual exercise, like mental chewing gum).


Mashima Hiro: Fairy Tail vol. 2.

Kanari Yozaburo, author, Sato Fumiya, artist: The Kindaichi Case Files: Treasure Isle
(called it. Sort of).

Nakazawa Keiji: Barefoot Gen vols. 1-2
(the introduction is by Art Spiegelman. You know, it's hard to say which of these WWII-related works is more depressing, Maus or this.

I strongly recommend this manga to anyone feeling dissatisfied with works like Grave of the Fireflies or Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms for not discussing Japanese culpability in WWII. The author's father was anti-war, and the manga is a fictionalized version of the author's own life--by pure chance, he survived the atomic blast at Hiroshima, lost most of his family at that time, and struggled to survive afterwards--and his father's (and presumably the family's as a whole) anti-war stance is laid out loud and clear, as are the dire social consequences of not supporting the war (among other unpleasant things, not being able to borrow food from neighbors when your pregnant wife and five children are slowly starving to death). The manga also firmly acknowledges Japanese racism and mistreatment of Korean and Chinese laborers; this is discussed in the context of the family's friendship with a Korean neighbor, who repays their open support and friendship with food he can barely spare.

Reading this is like a reading a weird hybrid of The Drifting Classroom and something by Tezuka: unrelenting horror and death in a blasted landscape, as written by a humanist who over and over and over again calls for peace and human friendship, infused with childlike optimism, energy, and the moral depth and clarity that only a wise adult can really possess. It's humanism from someone who has literally seen with his own eyes absolutely the worst that people can do to each other, and who still believes that we can be better than that, and who can show you both.

Highly recommended, but expect it to hurt).

Taniguchi Tomo: Aquarium
(I am slowly working my way through all the works reviewed in the shoujo issue of The Comics Journal!).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (the covers of this book are too far apar)

Watase Yuu: Ceres: Celestial Maiden vol. 3
(this is the only major Yuu Watase work I never made any progress on, and I'd really like to finish it, even though [livejournal.com profile] m00nface says it broke her heart and ripped it into shreds and then taped the shreds back together and ripped them up again and stomped all over them for good measure, or words to that effect. I just can't help it; I'm a Yuu Watase fangirl, and I will be until I die.

This manga is more frighteningly violent than I remember it being. I think when I read the first two volumes, several years ago, I took this level of violence in comics a little bit more for granted. There's a deep sense of menace in the regular, eerie, spontaneous combustions, helicopter attacks, mind-controlled assaults, and telekinetic attacks. Aya's naive in trying to live a normal life despite everything that's been revealed to her, but it's the disruption of normality that makes this violence so scary, the way trustworthy elements of her daily life are gradually revealed to be corrupted. Coupled with that is the way her family has been destroyed--all Aya has left of that is her brother, who is in the hands of her enemy--this is not something she can really run away from.

Even though Watase's famous, or so I have been told, for reviving epic fantasy shoujo, this is a recurring motif in her works--no matter how far you go, or where you travel, there's no running away from danger. It always, always comes home to you in the end, and that's where you have to fight it. Watase's battles are always domestic, and that makes them rather horrible.

Speaking of Aya's brother, I really like the kid, and that fills me with forboding, because another recurring motif in Watase's manga is the loved, trusted, dear friend who is loyal and well-meaning, but becomes corrupted and turns into a deadly enemy. I can feel my heart getting ready to break already.

The art, as always, is spectacular. Watase excels at creating the impact page, visually interesting and emotionally evocative, although I tend to need to take a break after an action sequence, or I stop being able to absorb what I'm reading.

Side note: I love Suzumi, who is a neat-o character all around, but I am constantly distracted by the fact that she looks exactly like Count D from Matsuri Akino's Petshop of Horrors in a kimono).

Kanari Yozaburo, author, Sato Fumiya, artist: Kindaichi Case Files: House of Wax
(this was no less ridiculous than the other volumes of Kindaichi Case Files I've read, but I enjoyed it more, I think because Akechi figures prominently in this one.

Read more... )

The murder methods were also engagingly gruesome, which of course never fails to entertain).

Ohba Tsugami, author, Obata Takeshi, artist: Death Note vol. 1
(reread. I just wanted to refresh myself with the manga so I could compare it better with the godawful movie, and as I replied to a comment in a different entry, it's a much better execution of the concept (and not just because it originated the story).

It is a problematic work. )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Christie, Agatha: The A.B.C. Murders: A Hercule Poirot Mystery
(I liked Roger Ackroyd better, but this was pretty good).

Graphic novels/comics/cartoon collections:

Barron's editors: Barron's Book of Cartoons.

Addams, Charles: The Groaning Board.

Spiegelman, Art: Maus I: My Father Bleeds History
(yes, it's everything it's cracked up to be. I am having an Eisner moment, where I have the rare experience of reading a classic work that has been so highly praised so universally that I've begun to doubt it can live up to my expectations...but it does.

Maus is such a personal, specific work about people with distinct personalities that it's in no danger of feeling generic, no matter how much other material exists on the same subject. It's both the story of Spiegelman's father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor, and the story of Spiegelman hearing the story from Vladek. There's a bit early on, after Vladek has described an early love affair that predated his marriage to Spiegelman's mother, Anja, when Vladek asks Spiegelman not to put that part in his work. Spiegelman replies, no, that it's good material, and it will help to make the rest of the story more real.

He's absolutely right. It's the context of his parents' lives that make the story worth telling, and not just a stock rendering of historically recorded atrocities. Knowing about Vladek's textile business, his love affairs, the post-partum depression suffered by Anja after the birth of the elder brother that Spiegelman himself never met--this is the stuff makes them people.

Thinking about this helped me to finally make sense of something I'd read about while researching a paper on oral history for class this semester--the life narrative as a form of oral history. I'd dismissed it as being of little importance to my focus, which was the historical value of oral history as a source, but I realize now I made a mistake. Oral history as testimony on the recent past gives you focus on the historical events, which is useful and helps to bypass some of the issues with evaluation and reliability. But life narrative is about contextualizing history within individual people's lives. When you take any history, including historical atrocities, out of the context of people's lives, it loses power. Maus--which is, among other things, Vladek's life narrative as told to his son--has power because it places the overwhelming historical events of the Holocaust--events so massive and horrific they create a narrative that eats up everything else--within the context of Vladek's entire life. It is not the story of how Vladek survived the Holocaust, it is the story of Vladek. History is lived by people. That's important.)


Kanari, Yozaburo, author, Fumiya Sato, artist: Kindaichi Case Files: The Legend of Lake Hiren
(Kindaichi Case Files are like popcorn--pre-popped popcorn from supermarket with the greasy bad cheese on it; not that good, but you keep eating it anyway).

Tamaki Chihiro: Walkin' Butterfly vol. 2.

Miki, Tori: Anywhere But Here
(I only wish I were smart enough to get these. I got maybe one out of ten, I think?)

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