oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
For [personal profile] wychwood, who asked, "What would you recommend as a good starting point for someone interested in reading some manga? Coming from a Western comics background, mostly superheroes, some indies etc."

First, yay! I'm always glad when more people are thinking of getting into manga! So the following have what I tend to think of when I think about superhero comics; namely, a large cast of characters, a lot of plot, and a lot of action.

Manga by Urasawa Naoki, especially 20th Century Boys. 20th Century Boys is definitely my favorite of his works, even though it's not necessarily the most comprehensible... it's got hidden bases and shounen/boys' manga tropes and time skips and a ragtag group of people fighting against large forces, and it's incredibly fun. Monster is also good, although it's more of a thriller, and Pluto is Urasawa's take on a famous episode from Tezuka Osamu's Astro Boy. Pluto is very SF, with the protagonist for most of it being a police robot. These are actually the only three series of his I've read, and all of them are finished, which is nice.

Claymore by Yagi Norihiro is the rare shounen manga that has a nearly all female cast. The Claymores of the manga are basically a monster-human hybrid created to fight monsters, kind of like Slayers. It's a pretty dark series, with a lot of gore, but I find the worldbuilding really cool, especially as a kind of very, very twisted version of Buffy in which the Watchers are totally evil. I haven't caught up with it for a while, so I'm not sure how the past few volumes have been, and it is an unfinished series.

Fullmetal Alchemist by Arakawa Hiromu is really good. It's about two brothers, one of whom is a disembodied spirit residing in a suit of armor and the other being an alchemist who's lost an arm and a leg. All the body part loss happened when they were very young and tried to bring their mother back to life via alchemy, and the story starts with them trying to find a way to get Al's body back. I also haven't finished reading this, although the series is finished. I love this for the scope of the worldbuilding and the way it doesn't flinch from consequences of actions, and it actually talks about things like state militarization and genocide in a not-stupid way.

7 Seeds by Tamura Yumi is a post-apocalyptic story about the few survivors of humanity. It unfortunately hasn't been licensed, but it's being scanlated if you're okay with that. This is my new favorite series! Tamura is amazing at juggling a huge cast of characters, and this has a Hunger Games-esque part with teens getting pitted against each other, survival against giant insects, stories of what happens to people right before the apocalypse hits, and zany hijinks. It is the BEST. There are so many awesome characters, and Tamura regularly breaks my heart.

Okay, this is not an action manga whatsoever, but it's probably a pretty good gen thing if you aren't opposed to cute kids. Kiyohiko Azuma's Yotsuba& is a slice-of-life manga based on the exploits of 5-year-old Yotsuba, who does stuff like paint her hands blue or get confused by air conditioner. I find it incredibly charming without being twee, and it's one of the things I always read when I'm down because it invariably cheers me up.

Reading Wednesday

Wed, Aug. 28th, 2013 01:31 pm
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
Woe, it's been a while since I've had a Reading Wednesday post.

What I've read: I thought I had already made a post about reading Meljean Brook's Guardian Demon, but apparently not! Anyway, I'm hoping to write this one up in more detail. Like many of the other books in the Guardian series, I don't completely buy the romance and the plot doesn't always make sense, but somehow the books are greater than the sum of their parts. Possibly it's Brook's clear affection for worldbuilding along with romance. And of course, after I finished, I went on to reread bits and pieces of various other Guardian books.

I did not read for another week or so after that, but then I got the Kobo Aura HD, and I have now resumed reading 7 Seeds (currently in the middle of volume 14? 13?). It continues to be awesome, and I am especially glad to see certain characters reappearing.

I also caught up on the latest Skip Beat chapters! I think I am withholding judgement until I see what happens next. Also, the translation for some of them is terrible.

And I skimmed The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance, most of which I cannot remember, save the Victoria Janssen short story that I liked a lot. POC hero AND heroine! And a relatively unused romance time period (for the genre, not for the author) with a lot of period detail.

What I'm reading now: Finally found my places again in Spillover and Feed after uploading them to the new ereader, but I haven't made much progress in either. Also in the middle of a 7 Seeds volume. Also I am a few pages into Samit Basu's Gameworld trilogy book 1, but I don't count that as officially reading it yet.

Random book-shaped space: I miss reading manga! Being able to do it on the ereader is awesome, and the new one's larger screen makes them so much more legible. Anyway, I got Silver Spoon and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou to read, but I feel like I'm completely behind on stuff, especially shoujo manga. Any good new shoujo series around?

... also, I should grab whatever Yuki Kaori is working on now.

Reading Wednesday

Wed, Jun. 19th, 2013 10:23 am
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
What I've read: As people have probably noticed, I have read a fair amount of Tamura Yumi's 7 Seeds! It's a great post-apocalypse story about people trying to survive, and while it's extremely harrowing, I love a lot of the characters. I also like that it makes it clear that the will to survive doesn't have to strip you of your humanity or compassion. I would especially rec it to people who are not getting what they want from the current trend of YA SF dystopias (a la [personal profile] rachelmanija, "X is banned, and the government controls Y!").

What I'm reading: Still in the middle of 7 Seeds volume 11, since it has now been banned as before-bedtime reading.

What I'm going to read: Volume 12? Also, hopefully, volume 2 of Wandering Son, since it's very overdue at the library.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Note to self: Do not read this before going to bed, as it has narrative drive like whoa, and you will also be afraid to go to sleep for fear of APOCALYPSE.

Mildly spoilery note about amount of bug content )

Spoilers will see you in the future )

Anyway, if people couldn't tell, I am very much into this now and rec it for those of you looking for good post-apocalyptic stories! I think people who want something like the Hunger Games could just read volumes 7-9, though of course I encourage reading everything. It's not light and fluffy reading by any means, but as apocalypses go, this one is very good.

Does anyone else have links to 7 Seeds reviews? Hook me up!
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
In lieu of Reading Wednesday, since this is basically what I read. I am so sad that I have to actually make myself sit and read manga again. *shakes fist at casual computer games*

16-year-old Natsu remembers eating dinner with her family, then wakes up to find herself on a raft with seven other people, none of whom she knows. They all have a little in terms of supplies, but it's clear they will soon have to forage and find water.

Later, we find that as insurance against a catastrophic meteorite hit, various governments have selected teams of people to be cryogenically frozen, only to be woken if the environment is once again habitable for humans. The series follows the five Japanese teams after an unspecified amount of time has passed from the presumed meteorite hit.

I wasn't particularly drawn in by the first volume, largely due to Natsu, who is terrified of everything. I feel kind of bad about this, since on an intellectual level, I actually appreciate having a character in a post-apocalyptic universe who is too embarrassed to ask people to stop so she can go to the bathroom. That is probably who I would be in those circumstances, as opposed to the survivalist characters who quickly learn to deal with lack of material comforts and killing things. Some of it is that her primary relationships with fellow team members are romantic/sexual in nature; she has a crush on teenager Arashi, who just wants to see his girlfriend again, and jerk Semimaru keeps sexually harassing her.

But! We are introduced to more characters later on, one of whom I already adore.

Spoilers I guess? Mostly for who is on another team )

I hadn't picked up Tamura Yumi prior to this, despite the praise that 7 Seeds and Basara get, mostly because her artwork is much older in style. I think I'm getting less put off by that in general, as I very much liked the art in Hagio Moto's The Heart of Thomas after I got used to it. And Skip Beat's art is a bit retro as well, though the recent volumes look more modern. Maybe it's the line work? Or the tones? Who knows. But I find myself really loving the giant sparkly eyes in 7 Seeds, especially when contrasted with the monster bugs.

Warning: there are a lot of monster bugs. They aren't rendered in nearly the same loving detail as in Black Rose Alice, but they're still pretty realistic and gross. Also, there are gross bug details that would have been even grosser if I hadn't already read a fair amount about parasites and insects and the creepy things they do.

... I like reading about them! But reading is a little different from seeing it illustrated!

Aside from the giant insects, I like the setting, especially once they get to the ruins of civilization. The look of skyscrapers overgrown with moss and trees reminds me a lot of the post-apocalyptic visions in X, and now I'm wondering if the same imagery appears in English language post-apocalyptic SF? Most of what I've read has been more along the line of barren landscapes and civilization buried under dirt, as opposed to drowned cities covered in greenery, but I don't know how much I've read.

I'm not at the "OMG LOVE!" stage, but I am very much anticipating getting to know the other teams, as well as watching interpersonal dynamics and more scenes of post-apocalyptic Japan.

Reading Wednesday

Wed, Apr. 24th, 2013 10:10 am
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
Sigh, I have been reading (and posting) much less of late.

What I've just read: I feel like I haven't had much brain the past few weeks. Anyway, I finally figured out how to split up a single epub file into several so I can split up several compilations I have—they mess with my series numbering! And I hate it when a compilation of romance novellas has novellas in several series I'm keeping track of, so I don't know which series to count it as. My quest for book organization perfection will never end... This is the long way to say that in the course of splitting up novellas, I came across Sharon Shinn's "Nocturne" in Angels of Darkness, reread it, and was struck by a desire to reread some of her Samaria books. And lo, I was down in South Bay over the weekend and found my copy of Jovah's Angel.

"Nocturne" is a light, enjoyable read that doesn't feature issues about faith. This is good, because I feel the Samaria series overall doesn't do very well with those. I like the first-person voice, and the fact that the heroine is past thirty (iirc). There's a bit of "hey disabled person, stop moping around," as the heroine finds a recently blinded angel, but I liked how they found a way for him to fly again.

Jovah's Angel was less light and less enjoyable, alas, and it reminded me of why I am not a Samaria fan. I vaguely remembered it having more engineering stuff and more crises of faith and was sad to find that this was not so. Anyway, this is the one where Alleluia discovers that their god Jovah is actually the orbiting spaceship Jehovah. I didn't remember the subplot regarding former Archangel Delilah at all. Overall, I like that there are two female Archangels here, and that they aren't pitted against each other, but I would have liked seeing them together more. I also didn't quite buy how quickly the Alleluia/Caleb romance progressed, and of course, I still want more deconstruction of the whole Jovah-picking-your-perfect-mate thing. Overall, the book isn't enough of a romance to satisfy, and it's not enough of sf to satisfy on that front as well.

I also read volume 1 of 7 Seeds. So far, I am unimpressed by the heroine, though I am sure I would be the extremely frightened and nervous one if I randomly found myself in a boat with strangers and no memory of how I got there. Plus, she probably develops into a badass later on, so I am content to wait and watch. On a more random note, EW BUGS. I'm glad Tamura doesn't draw them in great detail.

What I'm reading: Just started Lilith in preparation for Wiscon, which hopefully I will continue. I am feeling rather meh lately, and the dystopic situation weirdly makes me feel better.

What I'm reading next: If I am being optimistic, more Xenogenesis! Also, more of 7 Seeds. Though I am tempted to start on a Fruits Basket reread because CB has just started on the anime. And I just got Yes, Chef from the library, which has POC author + food + easy reading in its favor.

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