cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (books)
Higuri You: Angel's Coffin
(I bought this without even bothering to flip through it, because it's You Higuri! And I love her! I have to remember not to do that any more).


Higuri You: Cantarella vol. 10
(annnnny time you feel like finishing this, Higuri...

Please?).


Tezuka Osamu: Dororo vol. 3
(not much of finish to the series, but the ride is entirely too enjoyable to for me to want to complain).


Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 7
(C'mon, what the fuck happened to Kenji, man? AAAARGH I need the rest of this series yesterday).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:
Bierce, Ambrose: Fantastic Fables
(hmm. Lots to be said. Aesop's Fables, as written by a sophisticated late 19th century cynic; cynicism palls really, really fast. It's interesting, but at least from my perspective, not entertaining).


Romance:
Heyer, Georgette: The Talisman Ring
(I liked it! As I generally do with Heyer. She's very good, you know).

Sutherland, Peg: Queen of the Dixie Drive-In
(When [livejournal.com profile] telophase shipped this to me lo those many months ago, I meant to do an in-depth snarky review of it in lieu of payment. But I never got around to it, and then school happened. I think it was mostly okay? The prose didn't send me screaming and it wasn't hugely misogynistic or anything).


YA:
Jones, Diana Wynne:
The Game (way too short, but a good read. Loved the bit with the pork chop, and also how well the reveal worked with the prior characterizations; Jones always does that kind of thing well. There's a little part of me that keeps waiting for her to do some kind of truly pan-mythic story, but maybe that's not fair, especially at this point; she's a basically Western Civ gal, and I know that. And she does pretty good stuff with Greco-Roman/Western European/British Isles mythology; it's not as if she's stagnated with it).
The Spellcoats (reread),
Conrad's Fate (reread),
House of Many Ways (reread),
--totally meant to go on in more detail about all these rereads, but, as I said, school happened.


Light novels:
Ono Fuyumi:
The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow
(I wanted to love this, and Yoko, as much as [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe did, but I didn't. I felt better about that after I went back and reread her post on it, and her comments about why she identified so strongly with Yoko--identifying with a character is always YMMV, and I'm not that person. But I totally get the bit about it subverting fantasy tropes. It's fascinating for that, and the more I go back and look at it, the more I like the structure and plot. The prose of the translation is unimpressive, but the story is good).

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind
(awww baby kirin. And, while reading this book, I found myself suddenly hugely in love with the entire universe--reading the second book made me love the first more, and made me desperately want more of the entire world, and all the characters. I begin to get used to Ono's mind, and I like it).


Graphic novels:
Foglio, Phil and Kaja: Girl Genius book four: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams (holds up well on a reread).

Warren, Adam: Empowered vol. 5 (awwwwww fuckity.
But I'm relieved. I expected to cry a hell of a lot more than I did. I am simply grateful that I didn't cry more than I did. I think this series will eventually rip my beating heart from my chest and set it on fire, because that's what Adam Warren does to your heart. And you then say, "thank you sir, may I have another? Because I adore your clever writing, even though you obviously want to hurt me.")


Manga:

Akino Matsuri:
Genju no Seiza vols. 6-7 (was that another PSOH ref with the kirin? Say it's so, Akino!).
Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 5

Mori Kaoru: Emma vols. 8-9 (oh shit the Meredith bedroom scene was so hot! There is no sex, although there is sexiness, but the intimacy--emotional and physical--is so pure and tangible I kept having to put the book down and go oof).

Ninomiya Tomoko: Nodame Cantabile vols. 15-16.

Otsuka Eiji, writer, Yamazaki Housui, artist: Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service vol. 9

Takaya Natsuki: Fruits Basket vol. 22

Umino Chica: Honey & Clover vol. 4.

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 5 (and here I'd just boasted to my LCS guy that I knew everything that was gonna happen because I didn't see Urasawa deviating from the basic structure of the plot as outlined in Tezuka's The Greatest Robot on Earth. So far, he hasn't, but this is fucking Urasawa, man. He's a master of suspense. He will surprise you, and he will make you hang. And he'll do it well. It's why he's awesome and we love him.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 4

Watanabe Taeko;
Kaze Hikaru vol. 11
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
News! Noah Berlatsky of The Hooded Utilitarian has kindly invited me to be a guest blogger at HU for a few weeks while Bill Randall is on vacation. I'll start next week. I'd tell you what I'm planning to write about, but at this very moment, I haven't decided. Probably manga, but who knows.


Prose books:

Mystery:


Stout, Rex: Prisoner's Base
(wow, one of the best Stouts yet. There are a couple of great moments along with the standard snappy voice and the wit--one genuinely creepy, which is not standard Stout, and one where something gets under Archie's skin enough that it bleeds over into his narrative voice. Also, a very nice twist on the normal Wolfe/Goodwin standard operating procedures).

Stout, Rex: Death of a Doxy
(this features one of Stout's best female characters, in my mind, and I generally quite enjoy the way he writes women to begin with, especially the witty ones who go dancing with Archie.

I was bummed when I finished Prisoner's Base, because it's the last Stout in my local library, and I now have to wait for my library network holds to arrive. Yesterday, I was looking around the library for something as portable as a Bantam paperback and as engaging as a Nero Wolfe mystery to take with me to work, and finding zilch. Sometimes I underrate authors like Stout and Heyer, who are pretty fluffy genre authors--fluffy they are, but they're thecreme de la creme of genre fluff, and it's surprisingly hard to find work that good that hits the right notes. I'm picky about my narrative voices, at least when it comes to light entertainment, and Stout and Heyer have exactly the kind I like. That's harder to find than a decently written plot, says I).


Graphic novels/comics:

El Rassi, Toufic: Arab in America
(Last Gasp. Holy shit, was this ever depressing. I had a hard time getting through it, because every page just drained the energy out of me. It's not that the difficulties and indignities, profound and petty, of being a member of an unpopular minority group are so surprising to me, but being reminded of them is still a major downer even when you are intellectually aware of them.

The form itself is nothing exciting, kind of stiff and distant. Like a lot of non-fiction, though, it gets an additional weight from the knowledge that the experiences El Rassi relates really happened to him, and not so long ago, or so distantly. Also, there's something about the way he draws himself that crawls into my heart, a little--dark-eyed, withdrawn, reserved, sometimes with fear, sometimes with anger and alienation, trudging through the trials of his life, confused and aching.

He's got it way more together than the image of himself in the book, though--he couldn't have put this together if all that confusion and aching hadn't produced a lot of insight).


Katchor, Ben: Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District
(This one, I gave up on. It's mildly interesting, but although I can enjoy its brand of ironic absurdity in small doses, an endless stream of it is just boring. It doesn't build on itself in any way that I could see--I don't really see why it needed to be a book).


Manga:

Tezuka Osamu: Astro Boy vol. 5.

Hiwatari Saki: Tower of the Future vols. 6-7
(I shoul read more than a volume of this every six months, because I keep losing the plot, and Hiwatari's twisty plots are part of her appeal).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Manga/manwha


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 (chiaki)
I'm really going to need to see this: a live action version of Tezuka's MW, starring my adored, the talented and charismatic Hiroshi Tamaki (aka, the swoonworthy Chiaki from the live-action Nodame Cantabile. Hiroshi charmed equally with sex appeal and by his willingness to make the most ridiculous and undignified faces known to man when his character goofed around with the titular Nodame, played by the equally charming Ueno Juri). I think it very likely that Hiroshi will be just as deliciously watchable as a charming, murderous sociopath as he was as a grumpy conducting student haunted by an uncouth piano student. And he'll be wearing sexy glasses and a nice suit! It's Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow all over again, folks--I'm a lost cause.

Which reminds me, one of these days, I need to get my hands on the Nodame Cantabile live action DVDs, preferably with English subtitles and in a format my DVD player can handle. That series was incomparably fun, and good enough to rewatch.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (moonlight)
I know I said this already, but...

PLUTO. GOD.

I had this whole evening planned out, and it did not involve recreational reading. In fact, it involved Patrick Wilson, an annotation, and constructing many practice Dewey Decimal Classification numbers.

Once again, Naoki Urasawa has derailed me. Curses!
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (nana at the window)
I've whined before about the lack of good manga reviewing, which is tangentially related to a lack of serious criticism, so it behooves me to link to a few of the fantastic pieces of manga criticism I've read in the last week or so. This was originally one post with the YKK thing to follow, but it was getting long, so I split 'em.


The House Next Door: Comics Column #5: Pluto, Scott Pilgrim, Watchmen
Link from Journalista. The comments on Watchmen and Scott Pilgrim (one I've read, one I know only from reading snippets and the ravings of fans, although I've read other O'Malley work, and liked it) are definitely worth reading, but if you want, you can just scroll down for the Pluto segment. I really shouldn't have read it, because I still haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of Pluto yet, curses, but I couldn't help it.

A little tangential bit that made me smile, because the process and product of adaptation in fiction and media fascinates me (which I credit to having read a lot of mythology as a child--as in, multiple versions of the same story, and sometimes, I wondered why they weren't the same):

I've kept far away from "spoilers" for the volumes of Pluto to follow, something I rarely do when it comes to comics (Scott Pilgrim is another notable exception). For me, personally, it's one of the most exciting comics in ages. And part of that comes back to the reaction to seeing the human-looking Atom. I know how the story "ends," as I've read the original Astro Boy tale. And this is, of course, why people still get excited by film adaptations of comics, by remakes, by re-imaginings and retcons, dissections and distillations. We want to see what they're going to do with these ideas, what they're going to bring to the original.

Apropos of that, I've been dying to read Pluto for YEARS, ever since I first encountered it, as it combines four of my great loves in one--Tezuka, Urasawa, manga, and adapted work. I'd be in a tizzy over it being backordered, were I not also mostly unconcerned with spoilers.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (the sky is bleak and lovely)
It's the holidays! Lots of family members that I love and miss and rarely see are en route to visit me and my sister for the holidays, for the first time since we moved Boston. It's very exciting! Too bad the horrible/picturesque winter storms have stranded and delayed 'em all.


Graphic novels/comics/picture books:

Hernandez, Gilbert: Chance in Hell
(I adore this man).

Giardino, Vittorio: No Pasaran vol. 3
(a little anti-climactic, but far from disappointing).

Tudor, Tasha: Corgiville Faire
(a friend saw this and spontaneously bought it for me and sent it to me, along with the news that she's decided to take classes in my library program next semester. I don't know what thrilled me more, the happy news, or the happy dogs).


Manga:

Tezuka Osamu: Dororo vol. 2.


I've not been reading a lot lately. For some reason, whenever I'm not baking (purely for fun! I just made a honey cake. Why not? To buy the honey for it, I only had to tramp a mile through snow, slush, sleet and hail--yes, all of those; the temperature is in flux right now. I got some fennel while I was at it. Normal people buy toilet paper and milk in preparation for bad storms; I buy fennel and brussel sprouts), I'm doing crossword puzzles. Got me why.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Gillespie, Tarleton: Wired Shut: copyright and the shape of digital culture
(I read this for a paper, but it's worth reading for its own sake: this is the most insightful book about DRM, aka Digital Rights Management, that I've ever read, and I've read a few. Gillespie's a scholar of communications, which means the whole model is right up my alley, but I think it's quite readable even if you didn't major in communications).


Graphic novels/comics:

Bechdel, Alison: The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For
(the fantastic review in the NYT that prompted me to go out and buy this the very day I read it, described this as "Doonesbury with more references to sex toys." I think that this is not inaccurate. I'm at a loss as how to expand on that review, so I'll settle for endorsing this as an excellent trade for $25. Every single time I read something--anything--by Bechdel, I'm ever more impressed with her as a creator).

Cooke, Darwyn: The Spirit, vol. 1
(Cooke is one of the only comics creators around right now who evidently gets it. Cooke's distinctive retro style--in both tone and art--is the perfect match for Eisner's creation, without being any kind of aping of Eisner.).

Simmonds, Posy: Tamara Drewe
(this has a lot in common with Gemma Bovary, and that's not a complaint. I love Simmonds' books; they're beautifully written, and she really makes that prose/illustration/comics panels mix work. It's so smooth that it never even occurs to me how easily it could go awry).

Towle, Ben: Midnight Sun
(unspectacular, but a good read).


Manga:

Hayashi Seiichi: Red-Colored Elegy
(Dammit, I was all set to lift my eyebrows at this being considered a classic work of its era, but somewhere after page 85 or so, it got to me. Semi-coherent, yes, dated, yes, but oh my god, those double-page spreads stunned me, and I had to stop and stare at them. I didn't entirely connect with it, but I want prints of those pages on my wall anyway.).

Mizushiro Setona: After School Nightmare vols. 5-7
(captivating, as usual. The gorgeous art, the weird atmosphere, the premise, which feels strange and unsettling even for manga--yes, manga, the holy source of pure cracktastic oddity--the touching moments of human connection).

Takahashi Rumiko: One Pound Gospel vols. 3-4
(this must be the most concise romance Takahashi's ever written. There's nothing particularly about the formula that begs a quick resolution--she could easily have stretched this out for another eight or twelve volumes, and it would have been no worse the wear for it than my beloved Maison Ikkoku--so I'm guessing that it just got canceled. I would have been happy to read more, but this is fine, too; it doesn't come across as unduly rushed).

Tezuka Osamu: Black Jack vol. 1
(Christ, this is awesome. I knew it would be, because Shaenon Garrity said so, and she's always right about this kind of thing.).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (such a change from doing crosswords)
Kate Bush has been awesome since the 1980s, but I only just realized this. I'm sometimes slow. Yes, this is all I've read (cover to cover) since last time. But I've done a hell of a lot of crossword puzzles.

Novels/prose books:

Snicket, Lemony: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning.


Graphic novels:

Kibuishi, Kazu, editor: Flight, vol. 5.


Manga:

Tsukaba Sakura: Penguin Revolution vol. 6
(The cross-dressing is still implausibly successful, and there is something weird and awesome about all of these actor characters playing their parents and managers and whatnot in their silly movie).

Tanaka Meca: Omukae Desu. vol. 5
(I dig the anti-climactic finale. I think this is maybe one of the more consistently low-key enjoyable things I've read this year).

Takaya Natsuki: Fruits Basket vol. 21
(why is everybody getting along so freakishly well? What happened to the death threats and people getting beaten up and traumatized? And why is it, that when everybody is getting along so freakishly well, everybody is still so miserable?).

Urushibara Yuki: Mushishi vol. 5.

Tezuka Osamu: Dororo vol. 1
(As always, it's cool to be able to recognize in Tezuka the precursors to all kinds of shit I've read in manga over the years).


Shiratori Chikao, editor: Secret Comics Japan
Jason Thompson, Carl Gustav, et al, had great taste in comics eight years ago, too. Big surprise. )


Nakamura Yoshiki: Skip*Beat vol. 15
Boo! Where has my unfazeable Kyoko gone? )


Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 13
Uh. )
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).


Manga:

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.

January 2017

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