oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2013-09-04 17:08

Tamura Yumi - 7 Seeds, vol. 11-23

SO MANY FEELS!

Not listing out the trigger warnings, because they are a little spoilery, but assume a lot of triggers. PM or comment if you want to know more!

Spoilers are traumatized )
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
2013-06-19 10:23

Reading Wednesday

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)
2013-06-17 09:32

Tamura Yumi - 7 Seeds, vol. 04-11

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)
2013-06-12 10:26

Tamura Yumi - 7 Seeds, vol. 01-03

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.
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
2013-04-17 10:50

Reading Wednesday

What I've read: Finally finished review copy of Tokyo Demons and reviewed it! And because last week, I was craving fantasy + romance, I naturally blazed through Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo's Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art. It's a fun book about how con man John Drewe got artist John Myatt to forge hundreds of paintings. The difference in this con, though, isn't the techniques used to make the canvases pass scrutiny, but rather how Drewe created the provenance of each painting—the record of ownership, sales, location, and etc. of a painting. Since it can be difficult to tell a forgery via art style, dealers and auctioneers and buyers rely on a dependable provenance, and Drewe took advantage of this to sell off some paintings that would otherwise never have passed as real.

Drewe isn't a con man that I'm secretly rooting for; instead, even if Salisbury and Sujo's description of his compulsive lying and his terrible treatment of his common-law wife hadn't been there, I would have hated him just for sneaking into all those archives and doctoring so many documents. My morals, somewhat subjective...

And of course, now I want to read fast-paced non-fiction about cons or robberies or other elaborate schemes, which I am sure I will take recs for and them promptly be in a different mood in about two days. (I like the recs! Please keep it up! I might not get to them soon, but I do take note.)

I also read the latest chapter of Skip Beat, minor spoilers )

What I'm reading: I started Sherwood Smith's Once a Princess—good lord, she's published a lot lately! I didn't realize she had so much self-pubbed/small press stuff out; I hope it's going well for her. Lost some interest once it hit the secondary world due to not having enough processing power for worldbuilding. I'm also in the middle of Martha Wells' Wheel of the Infinite, which I am enjoying but cheated on with an art con book. And I started my Con or Bust review book. I got a few chapters in Bruce Schneier's Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive after reading Provenance, but then decided it was too research-y and less narrative than I was looking for.

What I'm reading next: A genre I have not talked about in this post? Hopefully I will keep going on Con or Bust book, along with starting a reread of Octavia E. Butler's Xenogenesis in preparation for Wiscon.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2013-03-26 11:55

Nakamura Yoshiki - Skip Beat, vol. 24-31

Oh man, much as I am sad about not reading a lot of manga in the past few years, it does mean that binge catch ups are very fun!

This reading spree also included a reread of volumes 12-23, all prompted by CB starting to watch the Skip Beat anime. I really wish they would animate more of the manga!

Anyway, the series consistently cracks me up, and it was really fun tearing through so many volumes at once.

Spoilers must regain their precious human emotions! )
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2011-04-06 17:40

Midorikawa Yuki - Natsume's Book of Friends, vol. 01-04 (Eng. trans.)

(original title: 夏目友人帳/Natsume Yuujinchou)

(OMG posting about BOOKS YAY!!!)

Natsume Takashi has always been able to see strange things, and because of this, people think he's lying, and he's been passed around from foster family to foster family. Currently, he's been living happily with his distant relatives the Fujiwaras, but because of that, he doesn't want to let people know about his spirit-seeing abilities and get kicked out yet again. Unfortunately, he's recently found a book of names. Apparently, his grandmother Reiko was also a bit of an outcast because of her spiritual abilities; to compensate, she basically enslaved spirits by writing their names in her book.

So far, I like this series, but I'm not in love with it. I like Natsume and the looks at his distance from everyone else, and I find Nyanko-sensei particularly amusing, but I keep comparing this to Mushishi, which is a bit more otherworldly, though Ginko is less sympathetic. I suspect things will improve once we stop getting a "This is what the Book of Friends is!" every. single. chapter.

Also, unsurprisingly, I wish there were more girls and women, especially since the one major female character (Reiko) is both dead and not a great model, given that whole enslaving of spirits thing.

That said, I really like the looks at Natsume slowly reaching out to people, and unlike Mushishi, I very much like that the spirits of the week aren't just cases to be solved. I also like that Natsume seems to have more of a connection with the spiritual world than the human one, and I especially like his sympathy toward the spirits, particularly when contrasted with the other exorcist guy.

Pretty, and I will keep reading it, but it is not on my best-of list yet.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2011-02-01 21:21

Chmakova, Svetlana - Nightschool: The Weirn Books, vol. 03-04

This series makes much more sense if you read all four volumes straight through, instead of waiting six months for each one.

So this concludes the Weirn Books arc, although Chmakova states that she's planning on continuing in the universe. This would be nice, since the four volumes of the Weirn Books give only a tiny glimpse into a world I would love to spend more time in and characters I'd really love to see developed further. I especially love the play of Hunters vs. night things vs. humans, and how here, the night things we see tend to be fairly normal and cheerful while it's the Hunters who have angsty, fight-filled lives. I, unsurprisingly, heart the Hunters the best, particularly Teresa.

(Also, OMG, do you know what this title and subseries thing is doing to my categorization scheme? ARGH.)

The problem with volume four is that it really should be volumes four through ten; there's enough plot and action crammed in there to last for probably twenty Shounen Jump volumes. Unfortunately, because Chmakova is trying to tie things up so quickly, the ending reads a bit deus ex machina, and it resets things a bit too easily for my taste. Come to think of it, despite the visual style of this series being very shoujo manga, the plot reminds me most of X-Men and superhero comics: the way the giant cast of characters only get small bits of development, and the way nothing really changes by the ending. Unfortunately, these are the bits of superhero comics that I like the least.

Spoilers )

I like Chmakova's art a lot, and I especially like how she has a very multiracial and multicultural world without any of the characters feeling like tokens, but the pacing of the final volume is terrible. That said, want more!
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2010-11-22 13:28

Takaya Natsuki - Phantom Dream, vol. 03-05 (Eng. trans.)

Oh manga, how I have missed reading you!

I read vols. 1 and 2 of this over a year ago, so I was worried I would not be able to follow the plot at all. However, looking at how confused I was even back then, I suspect having read 1 and 2 more recently wouldn't have helped that much anyway!

Surprisingly, the quick summaries provided at the beginning of each volume proved sufficient in terms of plot memory, and I suspect Takaya's pacing improved as well, as the jumble of characters and terminology and whatnot that I remember from the first two volumes was nowhere present in these three volumes. Instead, the secondary characters I vaguely remember from the first two volumes get much more depth, and Eiji ended up being my favorite of the bunch.

I also found it useful to think of the series as "Takaya Natsuki does X," although the resolution of the series very much foreshadows the work and themes of Fruits Basket.

(Hopefully this spoiler cut text is not spoilery, considering the comparison to X. Also, small spoilers for X.)
Spoilers are reincarnated, have heroic sacrifices, and pine a lot, but do not have disturbing entirely-too-Freudian scenes with swords )

Overall, this series ends much, much better than it begins, and it's especially interesting to chart how Takaya starts by taking cues from the epic fantasy shoujo of the mid-1990s, then suddenly deciding halfway through that while the epic-fantasy-ness is great for creating angst and conflict, she could really just take the elements of abusive parents and pariah children and not have to worry that much about the worldbuilding.
oyceter: (honey and clover - beach)
2010-10-22 15:52

Ashihara Hinako - Sand Chronicles, vol. 06-09 (Eng. trans.)

(I feel H&C is the most fitting of my icons for this series.)

Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged about this. I think Sand Chronicles makes a jump from shoujo content to josei content in these volumes, although because it's still published in a shoujo magazine, I continue to classify it as "shoujo." (See also: Nana) Manga magazines, you wreak havoc with my attempting to define a genre in manga!

Also, much like Emma, the primary story of the series ends in volume 8, with 9 and 10 (not yet released in the US) containing several side stories set in the same universe.

Spoilers are strong )
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2010-10-01 17:43

Hagio Moto - A Drunken Dream and Other Stories

Whoo, Hagio Moto!

For people who don't know, Hagio Moto is one of the big names of shoujo manga who rose to prominence during the 1970s, when female mangaka began to take over from male creators in shoujo manga. She was also one of the first people to write shounen ai. Also, ever since writing my undergrad thesis on shoujo manga, I have been dying to read more of her, but it's hard to get hold of her stuff outside of Japan, much less translated into English.

This is a sampling of her short stories throughout her career: the stories range from 1975 to 2008. They're translated by Matt Thorn, and the book includes an introduction to her work by Matt Thorn and an interview that were both previously published in the special Comic Journal issue on shoujo.

Normally I don't pay that much attention to the physical bits of the book, but the production values on this one are really spectacular (thankfully, given the $25 price tag). Blown up comic panels introduce each short story, one short is entirely in color, and there are lovely color excerpts of Hagio's work in the interview. The one thing I am a little sad about is that it is too big to be shelved next to all my other manga, but that's really a minor nitpick.

I have had a problem getting into older manga before because of the art style. Although that held a little for this collection, it wasn't as big of an issue as I thought it might be, possibly because I was reading Rose of Versailles and started Hagio's "November Gymnasium" prior to this.

As expected, the short stories from the early part of her career are more cliched and have less depth to them. Even so, the art style of "Girl on Porch with Puppy" read more indie-style and less shoujo to me. And several of Hagio's shorts have little twists to them or are about subjects that are not expected. I particularly liked how she dealt with the love triangle in "Marie, Ten Years Later."

My favorites were probably "A Drunken Dream," which is a gorgeous fantasy/sf story of love and reincarnation (reincarnation! I was so there!); "The Willow Tree," a lovely, melancholy short that is nearly all image and very little dialogue; and "Iguana Girl," which hits rather close to home with its topic of a mother who thinks her daughter is an iguana. "Iguana Girl" in particular does a great job at making metaphor real.

I am more on the fence with "Hanshin: Half-God," which I think is one of Hagio's more famous shorts. On the one hand, the ending is great. On the other, I feel I've seen the use of conjoined twins in fiction before to demonstrate that divide between beauty and brains, in which one twin is physically and physiologically supporting the other. I was going to say that I dislike the use of conjoined twins as metaphor, but on thinking about it, I'm not sure how much of it is metaphor. And yet, I'm still very uncomfortable with the what I've seen of conjoined twins in fiction. So... YMMV.

All this said, the collection makes me want more of Hagio's full-length work even more. I'm not the best audience for short stories in general; I usually want longer work and find that a lot of short stories go over my head. I'd especially love more of her sf/fantasy, since the bits I loved most in the collection usually had a fantastical or sfnal bent to them.

... and now I am regretting not snatching up even more of her stuff when I was in Japan, even though it probably wouldn't have fit in my suitcase!

In conclusion: gorgeous book, some shorts I really liked, please put out more!
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2010-08-10 00:20

Mizushiro Setona - Black Rose Alice, vol. 01-03 (Chi. trans.)

In 1908 Vienna, opera singer Dmitri [I can't figure out how to transliterate his last name レヴァンドフスキ] is a bit in love with his best friend Theo's fiance, the angelically beautiful Agnieska. Unfortunately, he gets run over by a carriage and unknowingly turned into a vampire. One hundred years later, Kikukawa Azusa is a teacher being romanced by her student (why, manga, why?!)...

I am not entirely sure how much plot to give away, since the first volume and a half or so feel like set up. However, what I thought was going to eventually be the plot (Alice living with four vampires in fun domestic bliss) is... not quite the plot. Or at least, it's less of a set piece than I thought, and much more dark, which suits the tone of the set up much more.

Also, leave it to Mizushiro to come up with a very new take on the vampire mythology. In this, vampires are called 吸血樹 (pronounced the same, but with the final kanji changed to the kanji for "tree" instead of "ghost/monster"). So I am not sure if I should call them "vampire trees"? I hope this gets licensed just so I can see how the translator and adaptor figure that out! The vampires' bodies are shells for the tree/plant-like-organism, even though they retain memories and etc. I am not exactly sure how becoming a tree affects the person's psyche; so far, it doesn't seem to much. However, the tree lives off of human blood and dead flesh, so really, it is kind of a vampire/zombie hybrid tree. Also, these vampires don't have fangs—instead, they house a variety of insects, including giant tarantulas, inside of themselves. When they feed, the insects climb out of their mouths to feed for them, then return. Tarantulas are best for providing nutrients and energy, but the vampires can also heal and enspell people with assorted other bugs.

And yes, Mizushiro draws the bugs—especially the tarantulas—in extreme detail, which I found disturbing, to say the least. Reading about spiders crawling from a romance heroine's mouth? Fun! Actually seeing it drawn in great detail? Gross!

That said, no matter how bizarre the worldbuilding sounds, Mizushiro makes it extremely compelling and not at all hilarious (except when I read "vampire tree," I still laugh to myself). Her vampires are driven by the need to reproduce and plant their seed in someone, but just like many insects, they die as soon as the deed is done. Thankfully, this is played out in the manga as extremely disturbing, which is how I managed to make it through several scenes that were very non-consensual. Mizushiro still comes closer to excusing it than me, but I'm glad that the overall tone of the manga is creepy and disturbing. Her vampires are very much not sexy and hot, and no matter how good they look, you're reminded of that pretty much anytime bugs crawl out of their mouths.

Spoilers! )

In conclusion: well worth reading, very compelling and disturbing, and much like After School Nightmare, I can see how this can go terribly wrong, but I also have no idea if it will. If After School Nightmare serves as an example, I hope Mizushiro will continue to surprise and not do the expected.
oyceter: (godchild evil parrot of DOOM)
2010-08-07 00:04

Yuki Kaori - Grand Guignol Orchestra, vol. 03 (Chi. trans.)

I am kind of amazed at the relative lack of genderfail in this series so far (relative as compared to some of Yuki Kaori's other series), though given Yuki Kaori's track record, I expect this to change at any second.

Spoilers (though I feel you can never truly be spoiled for Yuki Kaori) )
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2010-03-20 23:19

Shiina Karuho - Kimi ni Todoke, vol. 01-03

I feel like it's been so long since I've read manga! How weird!

Kuronuma Sawako terrifies people at school because she looks like Sadako from The Ring. But no one knows that she really just wants to be a normal, cute girl! That is, until Kazehaya Shota starts talking to her. Suddenly, Sawako is making friends with people and maybe even getting a crush.

This is so cute. So cute! It is quintessential high school shoujo, and it reminds me why I am so fond of the genre. Sawako is absolutely adorable as she learns how to socialize with people—every small gesture of friendship has her overcome with joy—and she is naive about... pretty much everything! Also, it doesn't hurt that Kazehaya is equally adorable. I get so tired of the aloof, cool hero in shoujo, and Kazehaya is about as different as that as you can get. He likes everyone, is always nice to Sawako, and in general makes me want to hug him and pinch his cheeks every time he shows up and smiles. And together, they are even more adorable! Especially when they are being terribly awkward around each other!

I also love that although the blossoming romance between Kazehaya and Sawako is a large part of the story, it's still only a piece of Sawako learning how to socialize. Yano, rumored to be a party girl, and Yoshida, rumored to be a former Yankee, both decide to befriend Sawako as well, and many of my favorite parts of the manga to date are the two of them scheming to get Sawako and Kazehaya together, or just to get Sawako out a little more. Volume 2 focuses mainly on a misunderstanding among the three of them, and while the plot is fueled by some assumptions and second-guessing, it's also nice to see how they manage to work things out without too much trouble.

Volume 3 progresses to sports festival planning, and I have no doubt that the rest of the series will go through assorted school festivals, examination hell, and all the other staples of high school shoujo. I have to say, even though I roll my eyes at the festivals sometimes, I actually like them much better than the usual "Who are you asking to homecoming and/or prom?!" that's in most US high school YA romances. Some of this is no doubt because the high school shoujo tropes are much closer to my own high school experience—even though we had prom and school dances at my school in Taiwan, reading about them in Sweet Valley or whatnot always felt so foreign—but some is because I like the focus on the class as a whole.

Alas, volume 3 also hints at some romantic rivalry. I do hope that the series keeps its sweet and sometimes silly tone instead of going off into romantic-manipulation land; I would much rather read more about Sawako befriending other people in her school than people fighting over Kazehaya. Also, why is it always girls fighting in underhanded ways for the guy?

Still, this is incredibly cute, and reading it always makes me laugh.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
2010-01-15 16:13

Takeuchi Naoko - Sailor Moon, vol. 01-10 (Chi. trans.)

(transliterations taken from Wiki, as doing the Chinese-to-Japanese-to-English transliteration is a bit beyond me)

Do I even need to do a plot summary for this? Anyway. Tsukino Usagi is your normal 14-year-old girl: perpetually late for school, not too studious, and a bit of a klutz. Until one day she finds a talking cat, who then informs her that she is Sailor Moon, defender of love and justice, or some such.

I read bits of this back in eighth grade in the dentist's office when I was getting my braces tightened; the dentist only had pieces of the series, so all I remember is picking up whatever volume had the prettiest cover and reading it that way. I also used to watch episodes when they were on right after school. Even though my sister and I made terrible fun of the Chinese dub, how much of a cry baby Usagi was, and how boring the monsters of the week were, there was still enough to it to make me look up fanfiction back in high school.

Now that I've read the entire thing, I think it is a flawed series, but I can also see why it had such a following. The characterization is nearly non-existent; the inner guardian sailors outside of Usagi and Chibi Usagi are basically collections of random traits. Ami is smart and likes blue, Makoto loves baking, and etc. When we meet the outer guardians, things are much more interesting, although they still don't get as much time as I remember them getting in the anime.

And yet. Takeuchi has created an extremely compelling world and not fully filled it in (which is why I think it is so great for fic). There's reincarnation and flash forwards, and each additional story arc continues to expand the universe, both in terms of what we know of the past and what will happen in the future. I also forget how female-centric the series is when I'm reading; there are extremely few male characters, so much so that you don't even notice how female-centric it is because female is so much the default. There's also remarkably little about romance and much, much more about wanting to protect your most important people and the world.

Spoilers for the first three arcs of the anime and the manga even though I feel a bit silly spoiler protecting for something this well known )

Overall, the series is both cool and frustrating; cool for all the ideas and concepts, and frustrating because I keep wanting characters and situations to be explored much more than they are.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2010-01-12 02:47

Nakamura Yoshiki - Skip Beat, vol. 21-23 (Chi. trans.)

Spoilers )

Overall, an enjoyable three volumes that are a slight comedown from the high of vol. 20, but building up a new arc.
oyceter: (godchild evil parrot of DOOM)
2009-12-28 20:35

Yuki Kaori - Grand Guignol Orchestra, vol. 02 (Chi. trans.)

(note: all names taken from the Wiki article because figuring out the Chinese transliteration of the Japanese transliteration of names is beyond me)

I am so happy there is a new Yuki Kaori series! Also, much like Cain Saga, this seems to start with individual mysteries of the week (only involving nuns and deadly zombie dolls and court intrigue!) but will probably end with a ton of angst, backstory, and more zombies. I love it already!

Also, it helps that it is already 100 times more comprehensible than Fairy Cube.

Here, we get more of Lucille's backstory, in which we discover he is the most beautiful, talented person EVAR. It also involves a Trio of DOOM, a cold-hearted queen (I love her already), a deadly cousin, and a lot of love and hate for your sibling. It's not quite incest, but pretty close.

And did I mention that the queen is dressed in loligoth Victorian kimono?

Then, there is an individual mystery which involves a villain in a cat mask wielding a giant tuning fork (!), a nun who dies via crucifix impaling (!!), swords hidden in a giant organ (the keyboard-and-pipes kind, not the kind Jezebel Disraeli keeps in jars) (!!!), secret staircases (!!!!), revived zombie nuns (!!!!!), and a flower called something like "the Madonna's tears" which is also deadly poison (♥♥♥). It is awesomesauce!

Also, Lucille crossdresses as a nun. Of course.

Also also, there's some nice development of the Lucille-Eles relationship.

Spoilers are the only ones who can touch your scars! )

In conclusion: ILU YUKI KAORI, ILU!



Also also also, in a moment of strange real life coincidence, after I read this and shoved awesome Yuki Kaori art featuring a girl stepping on an angel in Rachel's face and cackled loudly about the entire nun story, we ate lunch with a giant group of people... in which Rachel was seated next to what we thought were two nuns! (They were Mormon missionaries.) It was particularly awkward, as they asked Rachel where she grew up, and she desperately tried to avoid any discussion of religion while I giggled helplessly in my soup. Rachel elbowed me under the table to try and get me to stop, unsuccessfully.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
2009-11-16 17:47

Chmakova, Svetlana - Nightschool: The Weirn Books, vol. 01-02

Admin note: Still v. behind on everything. Am reading things, but haven't had a lot of energy to follow closely or comment or reply to people, apologies.

Alex's sister Sarah works at the Nightschool, a school for witches, vampires, and assorted other supernatural beings that exists in the same place as a normal public school. When something starts acting up at the school, Alex ends up enrolling to try and get to the bottom of things.

This is an extremely bad summary of the series. Alex is a witch, as far as I can tell, with an inky familiar (called an astral) who can shapeshift. And for some reason, she's involved in some rather dire prophecies. There are also Hunters in this world who I think target supernatural creatures even though some of them may also have powers. And then, of course, there are the kids in the Nightschool, all of whom Alex is slowly meeting. I still have very little idea who is who and how the world works; Chmakova introduces an extremely large cast in volume 1, and most of the people are on different sides.

Still, I've been really enjoying the two volumes. Chmakova's chibis are, as always, absolutely adorable, and the series often makes me laugh. The very meta sequence in volume 2 was especially awesome. And although Alex is white (I think), Chmakova has a very diverse world without making anyone a token so far. I do wish more of the characters of color had depth to them, but since even Alex is a little lacking in that aspect due to the large cast, I think it'll come with time. I already have some favorites from the snippets of hobbies and personalities Chmakova's shown us.

While the concept of the Nightschool isn't exceptional in and of itself, Chmakova's putting some new twists in there. Nothing is absolutely jaw-dropping so far, but the feel I get is that she's taking a while to set up the very complicated world. And given that I like many of the characters, the art, and the worldbuilding, I'm definitely hanging around for more.