the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Manga’ Category

Brides Story 5 6 coverWith much thanks to Orbit and Yen Press for providing review copies of A Bride’s Story, our joint review series continues! And by joint review series, I mean who better to review a series about getting married than two love fools (that would be my husband and I), and by continues, I mean check out our review of volumes 1 and 2 here, and volumes 3 and 4 here.

Quick sum up for those of you just joining the fun: A Bride’s Story is a gorgeous manga series by Kaoru Mori (creator of Emma and Shirley). The story takes place in Central Asia in the early 1900s, and follows young women who have either just gotten married, are about to get married, or need/want to get married.  The artwork is amazing, the story is compelling the characters have depth, and there’s plenty going on behind the scenes too.  The title of the series directly translates to “Brides’ Stories”, but to avoid confusion, i’ll be referring to it as the translated title “A Bride’s Story“, so you know exactly what you’re looking for at the bookstore.  ;)

As we’ve done before with this series, the review is a discussion between my husband Michael and myself. We both wanted to focus on different things that caught our attention, so our review is basically us peppering each other with questions.  Let’s get to it!

the equally lovely back covers of the Manga

the equally lovely back covers of the Manga

Michael: So this time we are reviewing two very different volumes.  Volume 5 is the twin’s wedding and associated hijinks, while volume 6 is back to Amir and Karluk and a more dramatic, thoughtful story.

Andrea: Yeah, volumes 5 and 6 don’t really go together, because they are so different! Poor planning on my part! The twins wedding does have some laugh out loud moments, but I was really happy to get back to Amir, because she’s my favorite character. Not only is she awesome, but she’s got the best clothes!

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My husband reads a lot of manga, and lately he’s really been talking up A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori. I kept bugging him to write me a guest post about it, but he wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it.  To help him out, I gave him some guided questions to get the conversation and the review going. (and don’t tell anyone, but this is an exercise I do with myself any time I’m stuck on how to review something!)

BRIDE story volume _1

Andrea: What is the plot of A Bride’s Story?

Michael: A Bride’s Story is a manga about the lives and marriages of several women along the Silk Road in the late 19th century. Amir Halgal is the first ‘bride’ and is interesting as she comes from a semi-nomadic clan but marries into a settled clan living in a relatively modern town.

bride's story vol 2

Andrea: How did A Bride’s Story come to your attention? What made you interested in reading this?

Michael: A Bride’s Story was recommended by a reviewer I follow. I am a historian so anything about a past time and in an unusual place will catch my attention. I had heard of Kaoru Mori’s earlier manga Emma so I new the author was interested in detailed, accurate historical fiction.

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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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attack on titan 1AAttack on Titan, volume 1, by Hajime Isayama

published in 2012

where I got it: purchased new

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It’s been ages since I reviewed a Manga.  Been watching plenty of anime lately (or to be honest, half-watching. Other than Eccentric Family and Silver Spoon, much of what my household watches doesn’t interest me. But that’s a totally different blog post), but I haven’t read much new manga.

One of the animes that caught my eye recently was Attack on Titan. I had some issues with the pacing of the anime, but because I like the overall storyline I decided to give the Manga a try. One of the major reasons the anime didn’t work so well for me was the uneven pacing. Scenes that felt important to me were quickly over, and overdramatic scenes were drawn out too long.  By reading the manga, I can set my own pace. I can spend as much (or as little) time as I want studying each page and conversation.  The scripts of the manga and anime are pretty much identical, but I did much better with the manga because I controlled the pacing.

Attack on Titan takes place on what can be described as a post-apocalyptic Earth, but this isn’t an apocalypse caused by nuclear war, or smog, or an asteroid hitting. This is a monster apocalypse.  About a hundred years ago, humanity started being attacked by giant humanoid creatures, called Titans. The size of a small  building, the Titans destroy homes and cities, and often eat any humans they come across.  Humanity came up with plans to survive, which mostly included retreating behind tall stone walls.   The designs of the walled cities lure the Titans into attacking the more outlying parts of the walled complex, so they won’t be interested in the less defended areas. Pretty shitty deal for the people living in those outlying areas.

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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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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.