I sometimes suffer from compulsions to do things like brush my hair exactly a hundred strokes, or make sure all the blinds are pointing the same direction, or build simple structures out of my macaroons, or reread manga that I just read a week ago because I want to memorize the dialog and panel layouts of all my favorite scenes because I love them so very much.
At the moment, this last applies to Please Save My Earth. Do you know why I love this manga? THIS SCENE IS WHY I LOVE THIS MANGA. (No spoilers.)
Continue reading I CANNOT BE STOPPED
For some reason I thought this was the last volume… I guess I’m happy it’s not?
But I’m disappointed by the sense I’m getting that, in the long run, no shounen manga dares stand in the way of the almighty Shounen Jump formula. For one thing, the formula seems to require that the female characters either stop getting fight scenes, or make them the froofy passive-looking metaphysical kind.
For another, there seems to have been an executive decision that Soul Eater lose his hat, acquire a hairstyle somewhere between present-day-Ichigo’s* and Edward Elric’s, and completely change the shape of his face and eyes. Because it’s not okay to have a protagonist who doesn’t look exactly like every other protagonist?
Also, Black ★ Star has suddenly become the number-one angstiest member of the cast? The guy who pronounces a little star in the middle of his name to emphasize how special he is? The one who was introduced as a parody of Naruto!? Yet he is now More Special Sasuke! It’s like the manga’s IQ is progressively getting lower.
If Patty ends up getting angst, too, I’m just going to retreat into writing fanfic where everyone’s an adorable moron again.
* Hey, remember the good old days when Kubo Tite actually had a recognizable personal style? Whatever happened to those days? THE SHOUNEN JUMP FORMULA HAPPENED TO THOSE DAYS. If Mizuno Junko ran a manga in Shounen Jump, within twelve months it would become a story about a fourteen-year-old boy overcoming his rocky relationship with his dad through montage-intensive training to become the best evil naked zombie drug dealer gigolo nurse.
** I just checked and Soul Eater actually runs in Shounen Gangan, not Shounen Jump. Close enough!
1) When I am the villain, my minions’ uniforms will involve full-face masks of an easy-to-duplicate design, just to make it that much more convenient for the good guys to infiltrate my secret lair.
2) When I am a manga artist drawing a wacky shounen comedy series, just before the final battle I will suddenly introduce a whole bunch of new characters no one cares about. They will then proceed to have earnest romantic troubles.
3) Also, my art will get sloppy, I will decline to clear up at least two subplots, and two characters’ personalities will change completely with neither explanation nor buildup.
(The first six volumes were so great! Why does the manga want to hurt me now?)
ETA: 4) Also, my scanlators will consistently transliterate the two nerds’ names as “Ox Fold” and “Harvar,” possibly because they’re from a DC comics alternate universe where schools don’t exist because of something Lex Luthor did.
What just happened? Why do I find the horrible romantic lead likable?
I like how it’s mentioned on one page in the second volume that all these people are about three inches tall, and then that’s never brought up again. It’s irrelevant! Doomed reincarnated alien love is relevant.
(My ability to get through the whole series so quickly is related to that fact that I’ve got a cold and an extreme reluctance to get out of bed.)
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords manga. Four Swords is the one where Link gets split into five Links with different-colored hats, and the one in the black hat is evil! In the game, they basically just fight, but the manga felt that this situation would be improved by a little Linkslash. I guess Link/Link is officially canon now? There’s also Link/Link/Link(?)/Zelda if you own goggles.
You guys should read it, it’s pretty crazy.
Please everyone thank thegeekgene for pointing out to me that it had actually been licensed. For some reason I had thought the eventuality unlikely.
Neither Darkover Nor Manga
- Fool Moon (Dresden Files 1), Jim Butcher
I heard somewhere that Jim Butcher and the Ah! My Goddess guy can combine to form a bigger misogynist.
- Dawn (Xenogenesis 1), Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler punches you repeatedly in the stomach.
- Adulthood Rites and Imago (Xenogenesis 2, 3), Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler punches you in the stomach more lightly, provides gender-bendy but oddly heteronormative tentacle sex utopia, repeats.
- The Spell Sword, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Guy from earth lands on the planet of the red-haired sorceresses and goes native (he doesn’t turn into a red-haired sorceress, ’cause that would be, like, weird). Disney could make the movie of this without changing it too much.
- The Forbidden Tower, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Guy from earth’s adjustment to his new psychic family life is hampered by his wife’s psychic powers accidentally zapping his testicles and his attraction to his sister- and brother-in-law. Maybe orgies will solve these problems?
- Heritage of Hastur, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Being gay is wrong and bad, but Regis Hastur thinks he might be gay! Betraying the Comyn is wrong and bad, but Lew Alton thinks he might betray the Comyn! OH NOES
(I would argue that “OH NOES” does not constitute a sentence.)
- Stormqueen!, Marion Zimmer Bradley
People have terrifying uncontrollable psychic powers that may destroy them and EVERYONE THEY LOVE, and pregnancy is TERRIFYING, and everyone’s family is trying to KILL THEM, and so is the WEATHER.
A professor I had described the difference between Western and Eastern culture this way: Western culture believes that history points forwards. It is bringing itself towards some end point, honing itself into something purer and in some way perfect – though perfection may mean destruction. Our world is a story, and we are certain that it will end, the way all stories do, with a new sort of equilibrium established.
History is different in Eastern culture, he said. Once there was a golden age, but it is over now; and things deteriorate. They are continuing to deteriorate, often gracefully, and beautiful things are found in the ruins, and at times some facsimile of the golden age is established for a while. But it always falls apart again, and each time it returns a little coarser. There is no endpoint in sight, only a constant tumbling of the pieces of that perfect civilization, thinning out. Time seems to be getting wider. It’s not going anywhere.
Continue reading Why Bad Things Happen To Cute People: rambling Tezuka-Urasawa essay
I spent a lot of Flame of Recca going, “Man, I would be enjoying this fight scene so much more if Nobuyuki Anzai had not spilled his sexual hang-ups all over it.” Now I know what happens when he doesn’t spill his sexual hang-ups all over things! He makes manga that is kind of perfunctory, with characters he doesn’t really seem to care about. Okay, Anzai, you can have your sexual predators and dominatrices back.
(Not the pedophiles or the thing with the peeing, though. I’m drawing a line there.)
For me the main value of this manga is the knowledge that (spoilers for chapter 107, plus the end of Flame of Recca) Continue reading Having completed MÄR.
Hey! Nobuyuki Anzai! Can we please go like two chapters in a row without your problems with women making themselves visible! Because that would be nice! Thank you!
Also, scanlators. Listen. You know I love you, but for the love of Christ. This guy‘s name is Hamelin. You are making me very crazy.
Man, Kurei, no. You do not break the alternate dimension by punching it really hard.
I mean, there are narrative conventions that need to be observed here. When you are in the alternate dimension, you do metaphysical battle with your soul – or, you know, somebody’s soul, given as how there’s times you may not necessarily have a soul, due to reasons – while solving some kind of riddle. You don’t just punch. There’s a time and a place for punching, just like there’s a time and place for casually disposing of a complaining minion with a small gesture of one hand in the lower right-hand corner of an otherwise empty panel, and a time and place for unexpected shows of vulnerability under a tree branch or a source of thin light.
We’ve got standards in this community, Kurei. Uphold them.
I’m reading Flame of Recca. It’s strangely addictive! Though the art, writing, and gender issues are all unbelievably terrible.
I think the Avatar guys must have read it, because villain #1, Kurei, is (minor spoilers for both)
Continue reading Flame of Recca is so bad.
To publishers of translated manga: You get what you pay for. I’ve heard industry people attribute declines in sales to any number of factors, but never to the quality of their own product. We’re both professionals, so let’s not mince words.
Your product sucks.
He is also accurate.
I re-read Del Rey’s translations of Mushishi and Sugar Sugar Rune recently. I remember being excited when Del Rey announced their manga line, because they’re an established Real Publisher, and I had the idea that the fact that they published prose books would make them a little more sensitive to, you know, prose style. Apparently not!
For the edification of the masses, I am going to assault a page from this scene in volume 3 of Sugar Sugar Rune: 1, 2, 3.
(It contains some spoilers, so don’t go any further if you’re keeping yourself pure.)
Continue reading Matt Thorn is harsh.
This is the manga where various countries are anthropomorphized.
Hungary and Liechtenstein are the only girls. Yeah, I don’t know. The author’s notes are like this:
This is a matter of no importance, but I like to make England speak using typical Tsundere words. “Don’t misunderstand! The pound is high for my sake!”
I appreciate the shoujo-manga absurdity of this conversation between the Holy Roman Empire and Italy. I showed it to Mom. “…who’s “grandpa”?” “The Roman Empire.” “No!” (whole storyline here)
It is basically deeply inappropriate in every way. In what I’ve read, the only Muslim country to show up is Turkey, who is coincidentally also the only non-cute country. Bah. Egypt was there for like one panel at one point, and neither the rest of Africa nor South America have appeared yet. You’d think
she he (!) could at least work Brazil in there…
This is the best manga ever you guys. The title means Alexander the Great – The Kingdom of Heaven! The exclamation point is strongly implied.
It’s all froofy angsty old-school-style shoujo manga where Alexander and Hephaistion look like twelve-year-old girls. Alexander gets ambushed and clutches his sword and thinks “Hephaistion!” And Hephaistion is twenty miles away and goes “The Prince – the Prince is calling me!” “Prince – whenever you need me, only say my name in your heart, and I will be there… to protect you!” Hephaistion is also telekinetic.
And Alexander flies into sudden violent rages and kills his own men, and Hephaistion looks fearfully into the distance, his hair blowing in the wind, narrating about how he is feeling a sense of deep forboding.
Oh! And Queen Olympias is draped in snakes all the time.
This manga is fabulous.
A mercenary captain with one of those special manga helmets that covers your whole face but still apparently allows you to see to whup somebody shows up and challenges Alexander to a duel, but it’s only to test Alexander to see if he is fit to be King of Rhodes! He offers Alexander his sword, and takes off his helmet, and he’s a girl! Who looks like Hephaistion but with curly hair and eyelashes, and she spends a whole flowery-screentone-bedecked page declaring herself “Saanu of Rhodes.”
Alexander is immediately enamored of her; Hephaistion feels a deep forboding. Later Alexander and Saanu will wear matching helmets, except his is white and hers is black, and they consummate their union with sprays of blood out of their enemies’ shoulders and rainbows, though unfortunately not simultaneously.
In short, this manga is so great and I wish I’d bought more than just the first volume.
So there’s anime and video game merchandise and advertising all over Japan, like you’d expect, and a lot of it I recognize. There’s Pokemon, Fullmetal Alchemist, D. Grey Man, Dragon Ball, Dragon Quest, Gundam 00, Evangelion, Naruto, and Final Fantasy stuff all over the place. There’s a fair amount of Moyashimon, Phoenix Wright, and Naoki Urasawa stuff, which surprised me for some reason – I’d somehow thought those would be more niche concerns. Apparently Beyblade still exists in the public consciousness here. I haven’t seen many Vampire Knight keychains and stuff, but the new volumes and issues of its magazine are always prominently displayed.
Still, most of the stuff I’m really majorly obsessed with – say, Claymore and Kaoru Mori and Moyoco Anno – does not get out much. Today I saw a girl on the train reading Otomen, and was startled because I actually knew what that was.
Continue reading There are kids on my LAWN.
Please, aid me in my endeavor, citizens of the internet!
That’s the literal Satan, now! It cannot be just a nickname for a bad dude – I am not putting the complete works of Georgette Heyer on my list! And Judeo-Christian-Islamic Satans only, please! Maohs and Enmas do not count.
- The Black Jewels Trilogy, by Anne Bishop. (duh)
- Angel Sanctuary, by Kaori Yuki. (duh)
- 666 Satan / O-Parts Hunter, by Seishi Kishimoto. (Seishi Kishimoto is Masashi Kishimoto the Naruto dude’s twin brother, and the plot and art of the two are pretty nearly identical at the beginning. Except that instead of the hero being a fox demon in the form of a little boy who gets in trouble a lot, the hero is Satan, in the form of a little boy who gets in trouble a lot. Shounen Satan Sample Dialog: “It’s… cold… What’s this intensity? Th…that kid… His hair and eyes have changed… And that forehead… The Number of the Beast, 666!”)
- Phantom-Thief Jeanne/Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, by Tanemura Arina. (Shoujo Satan Sample Dialog: “But then Satan pretended to save you and got you in his grasp. Do you want to be used by such a terrible person?!” “Don’t speak ill of Satan!”)
- Akuma no Eros, by Shinjo Mayu. (Shoujo Satan Sample Dialog: “I want to use these hands to ruin your pureness!” “Pure… pureness!? Me!? This childish face and childlike body!? If Kai wasn’t Satan… if I didn’t have an agreement with him, maybe I would had agreed with him…” (I can’t honestly encourage anyone to read this one, actually. It’s decidedly non-feminist Satanic romance.))
- Being A Green Mother and For Love of Evil, Piers Anthony. (via cerusee)
I’m convinced I’m missing an incredibly obvious one, but I’ve been sitting here trying to pin it down for like ten minutes now.
All the way up to chapter 97! It is now 3:28 in the morning.
Continue reading Catching up on Fullmetal Alchemist.