the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘manga

another mangaAnother, by Yukito Ayatsuji (story) and Hiro Kiyohara (artwork)

first English printing October 2013

where I got it: purchased new

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To help him recover from a lung disorder, Sakakibara moves in with his maternal grandparents in a quiet idyllic town. His Aunt Reiko lives with them too.  Raised by his travelling salesman father, Sakakibara is thankful for the quiet stability, but wishes his father would call him more often. This is the town Sakakibara’s mother grew up in, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to learn more about her, as she passed away shortly after he was born. His Mom and Aunt even attended the same school he has transferred into, and Aunt Reiko tells him, among other things, that the most important thing at this school is to go along with whatever his class decides. If one ever wanted to go it alone, or be a square peg in a round hole, this is not the time.

 

Due to his breathing disorder, Sakakibara has to spend a few days in the hospital. He’s visited by some new classmates, who ask him some very strange questions, and he sees another girl from his school, Misaki Mei, wandering around the basement. The conversation he has with Misaki is so odd that he wonders if he’s met a ghost.  School begins, and Misaki is in his class. She’s got to be some kind of ghost, as no one else but him can see her.

 

Sakakibara makes new friends quickly, and they all seem to want to tell him something, but no one can seem to find the right moment, or get the words out when they do.

 

And then people start dying, in horrible, gruesome ways.  One student trips down a flight of stairs while carrying an umbrella, and lands face down on the tip of the umbrella. the sister of another student is killed when the elevator she’s in plummets to the ground. Car accidents, heart attacks, drownings. You’d think they were just natural accidents, except they are happening constantly.  And only to the families of students in Class 3.

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no book reviews or interviews ready.

So you get photos instead.  Here be book pr0n.

Broken Kingdoms Jemisinoh hell yeah! As a tease I had it sitting on my desk at work.  SO wanted to start reading it, but had to, like, work.  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the  only Jemisin I’ve read so far, and thanks to that book I will forever buy anything with her name on it.

Defenders McIntoshWill McIntosh has a new book coming out soon in May from Orbit!  Creative cover design of Love Minus Eighty and the unusual binding of this ARC leads me to wonder what incredible cover design is in store for the finished copy of Defenders?  And speaking of Defenders, I also have

asimovs april may 2014Which features McIntosh’s short story Scout, which is connected to Defenders. Also? I fucking love Robert Reed. I have an e-arc of The Memory of Sky which I can’t wait to start reading! And by the way, Scout made me cry at the end.

Hollow World sullivan

I’ve never read any Michael Sullivan, what does every one think of him writing scifi? This baby comes out from Tachyon in April.

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Hubby and I spent the weekend away and had a delightfully nerdy and book-wonderful weekend.

Saturday was a board gaming party, where much Vegas Casino building, nun chasing, alien blasting and monster slashing fun was had by all. Also pies. I never realized there was such a thing as too much pie.

Sunday we found ourselves on the outskirts of Michigan State University. Had someone told me the MSU campus was that lovely, I’d have ended up there instead of my alma mater. so many brick buildings! We went to Curious Books, where I picked up a Steven Brust, some Cordwainer Smith, some Neal Asher, a Peter Watts, and a few other goodies. Great bookstore. if you are in Lansing, hit up Curious Books. Nicely organized store, friendly and helpful staff, and half the basement was old scifi magazines and anthologies, how sweet is that?  North edge of campus, down the street from the super awesome bubble tea place and the very strange looking art museum, you can’t miss it.

After Curious, we hit up Schuler’s books and music. not much of a scifi section, and very much with the vibe of a chain bookstore, this isn’t my usual hangout.  Ahhh, but this afternoon at Schuler’s was so very different.  they bring in plenty of authors, but the woman they brought in this past Sunday, is someone very special and dear to my heart. Her books have held my heart in their pages, have caressed my face with their imagery, and they usually make me cry at the end. tears of agony, tears of happiness, tears of beauty, sometimes all at the same time. She’s an amazing author, and a friendly, funny, snarky, darkly brilliant person.

here’s a hint:

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not only was yesterday National Buy a Book Day, but I also had it as a vacation day from work. Which meant hubby and I had plenty of time to make it to two bookstores and the library before realizing that maybe we had indeed picked up enough books to hold us for a little while.  sleeping in + buying tons of books? Sounds like the perfect day to me!

here’s what we got:

Diviner, by Melanie Rawn – looks like an epic fantasy that doesn’t take place in fantasy-Europe. Sign me up!

Fool Moon, by Jim Butcher – hubby really liked the first book, and i’m interested in reading more in this famous serious too.

Embassytown, by China Mieville – one of my favorites is finally in paperback!  I’d hoped Embassytown would take the Hugo for best novel, but alas it wasn’t to be.

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I don’t always read manga, but when I do, it’s usually Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa. I got my first taste of this way back in the early 2000’s, and I’ve been following it ever since.

Ten years and 27 volumes later, two anime series, a movie and more t-shirts and fake tattoos than I want to think about, my journey with the Elric Brothers has come to an end.  Nearly my entire adult life, a small part of my mind has constantly been revolving around this series: waiting for the next issue, getting frustrated when the story moved too fast or too slow, masochistically smiling when every issue ended in a cliffhanger and I had to wait 6 months (at least!) for the next one, my shifting character crushes, losing my squeamishness towards prosthetics and amputation, etc. And unlike the jerk at the grocery store who insisted on telling me what happens at the end even though I asked him not to, this post has no spoilers. Just lots and lots of background.

More than you ever wanted to know about:

The Story

Once upon a time, there were two brothers, the elder named Edward and the younger named Alphonse. They lived with their mother and were happy. Sometimes she got this sad look on her face, especially when she thought about their father, who had abandoned them. The two brothers would do anything to make their mother smile. They studied the alchemy book their father left behind, using their new found science based magic to fix things around the house, make new toys, and make their mother smile. Alchemical transmutation was so easy, all you needed was the parts of the whole – a broken toy, a bowl of sand, a lump of metal, and you could make anything of equal element and mass – a fixed toy, a piece of glass, a new frying pan.

And then she got sick. And when she died, the brothers blamed her illness on their absent father. If only he had been there, they could have afforded a better doctor. If only he had been there, her sadness and loneliness wouldn’t have led to illness.  In the alchemy books of their father was the secret and dangerous answer. Human transmutation: take all the elements and pieces of a human body, salt and carbon and phosphorus and blood and water and everything else, and transmute the pieces into the whole. Bring their mother back, see her smile again.

But there is a reason human transmutation is forbidden, a reason it is hidden in code words and secret symbols in the alchemy texts.  Edward and Alphonse were too naive to realize why it should never be attempted. I won’t go into the details of the disaster, but the alchemical accident left Edward missing an arm and a leg, and left Alphonse as nothing but a soul attached by blood rune to a suit of armor.

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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, by Ranmaru Kotone

published in 2009

where I got it: purchased new

why I read it: loved the movie

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Makoto is a relatively normal high school girl, she gets decent grades, she helps her Mom and her Aunty, she hangs out with her friends after school.  Too bad she’s got the worst sense of timing ever. She burns food in cooking class and does badly on an exam because she can’t figure out how much time is remaining to finish the questions.

while helping to clean up a classroom one afternoon, she thinks she sees a flash of light in the next room. But of course, it was nothing. On the way home, she loses control of her bicycle and falls into the path of an oncoming train.

And then wakes up as if nothing happened.

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I’d gotten interested in the Anime BECK for one reason: the anime was directed by Osamu Kobayashi, who also directed my favorite anime series ever: Paradise Kiss. Yes, Paradise Kiss was a manga first (reviewed here), created Ai Yazawa, and it was her characters plus Kobayashi’s graphic detail style that made the Paradise Kiss anime better than anyone could have expected. Kobayashi has this habit of putting in buckets of detail at the right moments, things like funny bumper stickers on cars, funny t-shirts, unexpected sound effects, and excellent intro and end credit sequences.

confused? don’t be. Just know that if Osamu Kobayashi has anything to do with it, I want to see it.

Thus, BECK went on the netflix queue, with me knowing nothing about it except it’s about a bunch of high schoolers who start a band, and it’s directed by Kobayashi. Just for kicks, I got the first few manga (known as Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad) out of the library as well.

A coming of age story in a working class town, Beck stars Koyuke, a bored and uninspired 14 year old. Not the best student in the world, the only thing Koyuke likes about school is that he gets to talk to the girl he has a crush on, Izumi. Most of these interactions go horribly wrong, thanks to Koyuke’s buddy Tanabe, who doesn’t understand that peeping at girls at swim practice isn’t a great way to make friends with them. Hilariously awkward, to say the least. Koyuke and Tanabe’s after school activities tend to be hitting up the arcade and avoiding the bullies who hang out in the rough neighborhoods around the school. and Koyuke can never seem to avoid the bullies, both on school property and off.

So many Japanese stories starring teenagers focus on their obsession on getting into a good college and exams and grades and such. Not this one. it was quite refreshing.

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Time for something completely different!  Work has been nuts lately, so I read something quick and easy. it had lots of pictures.

Oishinbo, volume 1, by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki

Where did I get it: the library

I’d been hearing about this title for a while “The manga that’s all about food!”,  “a bestseller in Japan!”, “everybody is reading this!”, so when I saw it at the library, of course I had to get it.  The title, Oishinbo, means Gourmet, so this had to be for a food lover like me!

The first few pages of Oishinbo are character profiles, and with a large cast, you will want to take the time to read these. The main characters are Yamaoto Shiro, a young man who was trained in the traditional culinary arts and now works at a news agency, and his father Kaibara, one of the city’s foremost experts in traditional cooking techniques.Yamaoto had originally trained at his fathers school, but the two had a falling out and are now barely on speaking terms. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Yamaoto’s friends and co-workers, and Kaibara’s business associates.

Yamaoto’s newspaper is working on an “Ultimate Menu”, and each chapter in Oishinbo covers a different aspect of traditional Japanese cooking from Dashi, the chopsticks, to the basics of sushi, to knife use and treatment to tea ceremony to the connection between environment and meal enjoyment.  This isn’t so much a plot centered story as it is a discussion of the beauty of Japanese food culture. The food culture and culinary traditions of Japan focus around presentation, and the time, energy, and love that went into creating and preparing the food, the utensils used to eat it, the plates it is served on, even the environment it is served in.

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I can’t believe it’s the end of November!!  When did that happen?

It happened sometime after we talked about over 20 graphic novel and manga series here on the Little Red. twenty series? more than 25 posts?  Personally, I think that’s pretty cool. And it sure blew up the words “manga” and “graphic novel” in my word cloud. I wonder how long it’ll take everything else to catch up. 

Does that mean this is the end of graphic novels and manga here on Little Red?  Hell to the no!  Thanks to discussing graphic novels with other bloggers,  I’ve got copies of Maus II, Blankets, Persepolis and a bucket of other goodies screaming READ ME!!  And they will be read! I’ve got more Phil Foglio and Ai Yazawa to publicly drool over!   I’m just not going to torture you with  it every day. Links to discussions of graphic novels, comics, manga, and all things visual will always be able to be found under the Manga/Graphic Novels tab at the top of the page.

As much as I love graphic novels and all their iterations . . .  I am very excited to back to the business of novels. scifi, fantasy, steampunk, weird stuff, speculative stuff, more weird stuff. You know, the good stuff.  Reading a quicky graphic novel nearly every day in November actually freed me up to read more speculative fiction, so I’ve got some treats lined up for you!  In the next week or so you can look forward to reviews of novels by Lavie Tidhar, Joe Abercrombie, George R R Martin, Mary Doria Russell, Ursula K LeGuin and more. 

December is gonna be an awesome month.

How about you? 

What did you think of Graphic Novel November?  success? epic fail? somewhere in the middle? 

What reading goodies have you got on deck for December?

At first glance, I wasn’t sure what to make of Masahiro Totsuka’s Bamboo Blade. An abnoxious, impulsive, selfish Kendo coach? A diminutive high school girl who beats up bullies? Slapstick comedy? Sports? 

Was this going to work for me? Talk about genre mixing! 

Welcome to the manga genre called “Slice of Life”. We do it in American comics and literature too, but maybe not to the same extent. Slice of Life manga usually follow the day to day lives of young adults. Sometimes there is comedy, sometimes drama, sometimes relationships, sometimes all or none of the above. They are typically modern day pieces, with emphasis on everyday Japanese culture. Slice of Life stories push the boundaries of shonen (manga designed for a male audience) and shojo (manga designed for a female audience), and are often appreciated by a wider audience. 

When Kojiro was high school, he was a Kendo star (Kendo is a Japanese sport, somewhat similar to fencing. The sword is made of bamboo. Kendo is very popular with young adults). These days, he barely makes ends meet as a high school teacher. He runs the laxest after school Kendo club in the country, lives on instant Ramen, and dreams of his glory days. The members of the club barely show up, and when they do, they are usually beaten up by the two school bullies, who are also in the Kendo club. Sounds a little serious, but this is pretty much a slapstick comedy.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.