oyceter: (saiyuki four)
Icon for the wrong series, but right mangaka at least...?

Volume four is the continuing adventures of Tokitoh and Kubota, in which Tokitoh gets jealous and Kubota is scary.

Spoilers )
oyceter: (gaiden tenpou don't mess)
Yay! New Minekura that I haven't read before! Well, I've flipped through the Japanese version, but I have a hard time with Minekura's Japanese.

This is also the volume that had me and [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija very confused over the seemingly random sexy ear-biting that happened in the middle of a gun fight.

Tokitoh and Kubota continue to haphazardly look for clues about the drug Wild Adapter and hints of Tokitoh's past, and they end up attempting to infiltrate a religious cult. They don't infiltrate very successfully; they're both too cynical and sarcastic for that. Plot happens.

It feels rather useless describing the plot -- I'm sure it's fine plot, but what I'm really interested in is how Minekura uses MotW plots to reveal bits and pieces about her protagonists, as she does so well in Saiyuki. The real story isn't the chase for WA (and I can't really see Tokitoh and Kubota ever resolving it), but rather, how this rather uncivilized man Kubota found on a street seems to be slowly making Kubota more human. I love how this volume ends and begins: Tokitoh and Kubota lazing around on the sofa, talking.

I also love the little short at the end.

No real spoilers under the cut, but I figured I'd just cut in case people wanted to be surprised by some bits.

Favorite moments )

It's been so long since I've read new Minekura that I'd forgotten how much I love her snark and her subtext, how the most important things happen in the smallest of moments.
oyceter: (gaiden tenpou don't mess)
Kubota Makoto is the leader of a youth group for the Izumo yakuza gang in Yokohama. He is supposedly a high school student (?!), though he looks and acts more like he's in his late twenties or early thirties at the very least. He likes animals but not people, and he is perfectly fine with killing people in cold blood.

Like Nana, vol. 1 of Wild Adapter is more a prologue than the actual start of the series. It covers Kubota's time with Izumo and the emergence of a mysterious drug called Wild Adapter, which ends up killing its users and leaving animalistic corpses (i.e. the people somehow grow claws and fur and look like werewolf rejects). Kubota doesn't meet up with Tokito Minoru until the very end.

Tokito has a right hand that is mysteriously clawed and furred, a la Wild Adapter corpses, except a) he's not dead and b) he has nearly no memories of his past.

It's sort of hard describing the plot of this because so far, there is no real plot. Kubota and Tokito work together and live together and have a very interesting relationship, and every so often, tidbits about Wild Adapter pop up.

When I read this for the first time, I was rather disconcerted because of the lack of plot and because Kubota and Tokito seem like reincarnations of Hakkai and Gojyo, only even more screwed up (and I didn't think that was possible!). Now they feel like themselves, odd and un-angstily dysfunctional by themselves and strangely functional when together.

I'm also happy because there's actually a female character in vol. 2 who does things! Granted, not that many things, but at least we get to see her POV. I hope she comes back -- I rather enjoy seeing Tokito and Kubota's relationship from an outside POV.

Also also, I love the art of Wild Adapter so much. It's like the best Saiyuki art, before the faces got a little too angular. And the nice thing about the Tokyopop versions is that they keep the lovely color plates in the beginning. Yay!

And finally, vol. 2 has the two introducing themselves as "the lovely Kubota and the beautiful Tokito" (I need to go home and look up the exact quote).
oyceter: (sanzo ikkou)
It's rather odd writing these up, as this is the third time I've read them -- I read the raws first, then the Japanese tankubon, then finally the TokyoPop translations. It's nice to finally be able to understand everything!

Spoilers for both volumes )

Prior write ups here and here (spoilers through vol. 7 for both).
oyceter: (gaiden tenpou don't mess)
Tokyopop calls this the pilot edition; it's the first volume of Bus Gamer plus some additional chapters that never quite got collected. Apparently Minekura does intend to keep going, just after she finishes everything else on her plate.

[livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink was also nice enough to let me know that "bus gamer" is apparently pronounced "biz gamer," thereby alleviating much confusion about why games might be played on buses and why one would ever want to do that.

So. Bus gamer = business gamer.

There are apparently giant real-time, in-person games being run to steal corporate data; each corporation is represented by a three-person team. This team is supposed to either steal a certain disk or to protect it, depending on what side they're on.

Toki, Nobuto and Kazuo make up the AAA team, currently undefeated. And since I talked to Mely about this before I read it, I couldn't help but read them as reincarnations of Saiyuki characters. I spent most of the time trying to decide if Toki were more of a Hakkai-type or a Sanzo-type.

I feel like it's much too early to say anything about the manga yet; I'm sure that each character has tragic backstory by the ton. We already know that they're all there for the money and that the game is getting more dangerous than anticipated. And knowing Minekura, there will be much angstiness hidden under very casual talk.

Aka, not hooked yet, but I have no doubt that I will be if she ever continues it.

Also, I so want to see Goku grown up now.

(no subject)

Fri, Aug. 4th, 2006 09:42 pm
oyceter: (Saiyuki: Goku live live live)
EEEEEE!!!!! I have Saiyuki Reload 7, volume of awesomeness and angst and viney goodness EEEEEEEEE!!!!

Nevermind that I cannot read half of it!

Viney goodness!!!!!!!
oyceter: (sanzo ikkou)
These are more random notes than anything else, given that I've already read it before in the Chinese trans. and written it up elsewhere (also as random notes).

Spoilers for Reload 4 )

And now, I go off into my long, convoluted thoughts on Saiyuki and race and how it could be read as a commentary on race (have absolutely no idea if Minekura intended it and seriously doubt that she did).

Still spoilers up till Reload 4!

So.. In which I am heavy-handed:

Saiyuki and Race )
oyceter: (sanzo ikkou)
I read the TokyoPop translation of vol. 3 (eeeeeee!!!! Good translation of the Burial arc!), got vols. 4-5 from the Chinese manga rental store, promptly went out to Kinokuniya and bought 6 in Japanese, and then spent a few hours getting the raws of the remaining chapters because EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where is chapter 21??!?! Is it out?! MUST READ!

Spoilers for all of Saiyuki and Reload and Gaiden )
oyceter: (sanzo ikkou)
Really, this is just an excuse to use my shiny new icon! Yay ikkou love! Yay Sanzo waving a gun around!

I noticed more random and fun things this time around! I adore Minekura and how she sneaks these little things in.

Spoilers )

Oh man, this is bad. I now want to make everyone else talk about Saiyuki as well, or write fic, or something, because I am just that hooked.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (kenren tenpou saiyuki gaiden)
As Elliott on Scrubs would say: Frick. Frick frick frick.

I thought I could not possibly be more obsessed than, oh say, two hours ago, but then [livejournal.com profile] rilina sent me the raws and text of ch. 18-20 of Gaiden and OMG TEH ANGST!

I think the last time I felt like this, I was reading Dunnett.

Spoilers )

I swear, this LJ will return to coherency sometime in the near future, but right now, must find more! Why is it not licensed here?
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
Go me! I read the whole thing in Japanese without the help of my trusty electronic dictionary!

This would probably be more impressive if I chose to do it without my trusty electronic dictionary because my Japanese was so wonderful. Alas, it is actually because I have misplaced my trusty electronic dictionary. I guess that makes it my not-so-trusty occasionally-lost electronic dictionary.

This is a companion piece to Minekura's Saiyuki and Saiyuki Reload. It's not a sequel. Instead, it tells the story of Hakkai, Sanzo and Gojyo's previous incarnations -- Tenpou Gensui, Konzen Douji and Kenren Taisho (respectively). Note that "Gensui" and "Taisho" are actually Tenpou and Kenren's ranks, so I'm assuming "Douji" is a rank as well. Goku is still Goku.

Instead of being in quasi-modern, quasi-historical China replete with youkai, Gaiden is set in Heaven (Tenkai, literally "Sky/heaven world"). Not traditional Heaven, but the sort of dwelling place of the ancient gods of China Heaven. This made me very happy, since this is where the beginning chunks of Journey to the West are set. Tenpou is a marshal of heaven and Kenren is one of the generals reporting to him. Konzen is the nephew or something of Kanzeon Bosatsu. The entire story basically gets started when Kanzeon passes off a strange, golden-eyed animal to Konzen for some reason -- and thus, past-Sanzo and Goku are together!

Herein ends all the rational explanation, because now I'm going into spoiler-land and mostly just squeeing incoherently.

Spoilers ahoy! )

In conclusion, everyone should read this so that I can squee to other people about the wonderfulness of the series and of Minekura in general and how hot and wonderful all the characters are.

2005 book round up

Fri, Jan. 6th, 2006 07:03 pm
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
I read less than last year by a bit, probably by a lot volume-wise, because so much of this year was manga, which I read much faster. I am too lazy to separate out my manga read, and so I just count a volume as a book. I also still haven't figured out how to do LJ entries on manga -- sometimes I do entries on a chunk of volumes, sometimes I do overviews after I finish a series, sometimes I just hold off on writing anything until I've completed the whole thing. I dunno. I'll figure something out, I guess.

I didn't get quite as excited over what I read this year as well, which makes doing this difficult. I don't know if it's because I was concentrating on other things, like re-picking up knitting or having a better social life, or if it's just what I read. Last year it was tough just picking ten books out of all the good stuff I had read; this year, I'm sort of struggling to fill it. It's not that what I read wasn't good, it's that not as much hit quite as hard.

Anyhow, here are my ten favorite books of the year, alphabetically by author. I don't pick books written this year, but books read this year. And my definition of favorite is very fuzzy. Basically, it's anything that left a lasting impression on me, or anything that I smile at when I go over the list of books read. While I generally don't include rereads on the list, I also reserve the right to cheat horribly.

I've blogged all of these except some of the manga, for reasons explained above. You can find everything in my books memories. I am too lazy to link all 149 books.

  1. Loretta Chase, Lord of the Scoundrels

    This is a sort of placeholder for all the Loretta Chase books I read this year (Miss Wonderful, Mr. Impossible, and The Last Hellion). I loved all of them, though Lord of the Scoundrels is hands down my favorite. Loretta Chase is very good at taking some fairly boring and standard romance tropes, most of which I dislike, and inserting a proactive heroine, a hero who is completely ok with falling in love, and a plot that generally ends up enabling the heroine. LotS also subverts one of the romance tropes that I most dislike, that of the alpha bastard hero who treats everyone, particularly women, abominably because he had a rotten childhood. Chase writes about people who like each other while they're falling in love, which is all too rare in romance.

  2. Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

    This is a small, unambitious book that nonetheless made me happier than Gaiman's latest books. While the comedy relies on the awkwardness of the protagonist, there's a sense that Gaiman loves and identifies with Fat Nancy; the awkwardness isn't embarrassing, but rather, endearing. And in the end, it is, like Sandman, a story about the stories we tell ourselves and how stories shape our lives.

  3. Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

    Hornbacher's memoir is a stark, no-holds-barred look at the damage that eating disorders can wreak on a life; her descriptions of her ordeal are visceral and stunning. It's a painful read of someone who has dedicated her formidable intellect and willpower to destroying her own body.

  4. Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle

    Technically, this is a reread, but I remember vaguely not getting the book the first time I read it. This time, I loved it to pieces, from the decidedly imperfect characters to the wry narrative voice. The best part is that despite the moving castle and attempts to foil the Witch of the Waste's plans, the book is about the characters growing up and growing into themselves, while remaining crotchety and flawed. Jones never tries to make anyone in the book a straight-up hero, and that's why it works so well for me.

  5. Rosemary Kirstein, Steerswoman series

    Kirstein's Steerswoman series made me realize how much I missed traditional science fiction; her books are about knowledge and the scientific method, discovery and logic. She also does this without making the characters mere talking heads; rather, the process and not the results of uncovering knowledge and analyzing drives the main character. There's also a wonderfully rendered friendship between two women who are very different and yet respect each other.

    The series is yet unfinished and consists of The Steerswoman, The Outskirter's Secret, The Lost Steersman, and The Language of Power.

  6. Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want

    Knapp's book is also somewhat biographical, like Marya Hornbacher's, but rather than describing the experience of eating disorders, Knapp attempts to analyze the whys and hows of them. She talks of deprivation of both the body and the mind, of the complex factors that feed into eating disorders and problems with body image. Sympathetic and compassionate, Knapp never loses sight of the human in search of the universal.

  7. Peter D. Kramer, Against Depression

    A deeply compassionate and very compelling argument on the destructiveness of depression. Kramer looks at how depression affects the people who suffer from it and the people in their lives; he gathers data on how much depression costs in terms of physical health and lost productivity. I would give this book to anyone who argued that depression wasn't a serious disease or wasn't a disease at all, as well as to anyone who argues that getting rid of depression would somehow tampers with the human condition.

  8. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki (spoilers in second half)

    Minekura's gorgeous art, sharp and sinewy, and the snarky, angsty, fallible characters are hard to resist. Sanzo, Goku, Hakkai and Gojyo are all wonderful, well-rounded characters in their own right; but I love them best as a group. They're all broken people who have found each other; they're all trying to recover from their pasts, and I love how they help each other even while they snark and bitch and moan and look incredibly sexy.

  9. Simon Singh, The Code Book

    One of the fun pieces of non-fiction I read this year. The book is deceptively simple until you realize how difficult some of the concepts that Singh is explaining. The invisible prose and effortless explanation make it an educational experience, but it isn't just a book on hows and whys. Singh never fails to show the reader how exciting he finds cryptography and code-breaking.

  10. Scott Westerfeld, Peeps

  11. This book made me go on a giant Scott Westerfeld binge that has yet to stop. Like the Steerswoman series, Peeps reminds me of why I love science fiction. Much of it lies in how enthusiastic Westerfeld is about parasites and the way they work, so much so that I didn't mind reading about gory deaths and biological details at all. Peeps takes the vampire novel, which I was getting bored of, and turns it into something else all together.

Also recommended: Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses; Rachel Manija Brown, All the Fishes Come Home to Roost; Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls; Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever; Teresa Edgerton, Goblin Moon; Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Laura Kinsale, Seize the Fire; J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; and Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano.

Hrm, looks like there was a lot of non-fiction this year, particularly in the realm of eating disorders and depression. Why is this not a surprise to me? ;)

2004 book round up

Total read: 149 (6 rereads)

All books read )
oyceter: (utena hush)
I started reading this because many people were talking about a) how good it was, b) how good the art was, and c) how good it was.

I actually wasn't particularly impressed with vols. 1-3. It took a while to get used to Minekura's art, which is very different from most shoujo and shounen art. The eyes are slantier and tend to swoop downward, the linework is much finer and more detailed, and only Goku has big, sparkly eyes. Sort of.

Saiyuki is a take on the Chinese classic Journey to the West ("sai" in Japanese can either mean written as "west" or "extreme," depending on which kanji is used... so Saiyuki is technically "Journey to the Extreme"), and a very loose (and cool) one at that.

Basically, something has driven all the youkai (demons, but not necessarily evil) crazy, and they've been rampaging around. Genjyo Sanzo, Buddhist priest extraoridinaire, has been ordered by Kanzeon Bosatsu (the bodhisattva Kuan-Yin) to go around with Goku (Monkey), Hakkai, and Gojyo, all youkai who haven't been affected to stop it. Or... find scriptures. Or... find scriptures to stop it.

To be honest, I actually forgot what the plot was! There's a whole other thing in which a mirror group of youkai are attempting to resurrect a demon king for assorted Oedipal reasons, and both groups fight a lot.

The first few volumes aren't all that interesting because the story is very episodic, as opposed to epic (much like Journey to the West). But then Minekura starts getting into the characters' backstory, and hooboy!!! Angst galore! Angst and pretty characters and then I melted into a little puddle and wibbled a whole lot.

The grand arc doesn't get concluded by the end of the nine-volume series and is being continued in Saiyuki Reload (someone -- Rachel? Mely? -- told me that the arc got split up because of a change of publishers or something). But honestly, the arc doesn't matter all that much to me; it's merely a vehicle to let me spend more time with the characters, who all have deep, dark, tortured pasts. Also, I adore the dynamics among Sanzo, Gojyo, Hakkai and Goku (*wibble*HakkaiGojyo*wibble*).

Racing through Saiyuki Reload now, as well as Saiyuki Gaiden, a look at past incarnations of the characters.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanjia had mentioned that I should get the books themselves because the translations were really good, but I didn't really take note until some point in vol. 4, where Gojyo is yelling something like, "Frickkin' argh!" Then I sort of stopped and realized that they sounded natural, not stilted at all. The translators also manage to make it so that the characters' voices are all very distinctive, which is nifty! I really want to check out the original and compare it to the translation for fun...

Really, I don't want to write up some objective thing at all! I just want to squee madly about all the characters and the art and the characters and their angst and the art and the characters!


Me on Saiyuki and Journey to the West

Any other links would be highly, highly appreciated!
oyceter: (utena hush)
Gah, just finished Saiyuki. Want more! Wah!!!!!!

And since I am lazy, am propitiating LJ folk for fic recs -- Hakkai/Kanan, Hakkai/Gojyo, Goku/Sanzo, gen fic of all four of them being friends, anything else, all happy.

Just.. the angst! But my favorite bit is how Sanzo, Goku, Gojyo and Hakkai all interact with each other. Well, that and Hakkai's angst. Man he has a lot of angst. And he is still so nice! *wibbles*

Will write up more coherent thoughts tomorrow, when hopefully I have stopped wibbling so much over Hakkai and his Angst of Doom.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
Note: So far I have only read up to Saiyuki vol. 4. Spoil me and die. Or, er, get virtually glared at an awful lot. *virtually glares*

My mom was super nice and gave in to my repeated requests (aka, annoying whining on the phone) to buy me all of Minekura Kazuya's Saiyuki in Chinese and mail it to me. Joy! It's very interesting rereading it in Chinese -- I read vols. 1-3 in English while sitting in Borders, but I don't remember much of it. Also, I find that reading them in Chinese makes me read much, much slower, so I actually have time to digest the images and the words at the proper pace.

The bad thing is that when I get tired, I start skimming and not realizing that I didn't understand, oh say, the last third of the book.

In which I digress and talk about translations )

As you know, Bob-people, Saiyuki is based on Journey to the West. And by "based on," I mean Minekura retells it like she's a fanfic writer who decided to create an AU by naming all the characters the same and keeping the same skeleton plot but otherwise completely doing what she wants. Not that this is a bad thing, because I am entertained! And by that, I mean in a good way, not a snicker and roll my eyes way. Er. Not that I would ever do that. Er. Yes.

Note: I used to read Journey to the West in English translation so long ago that I don't even know who translated it. I also have vague memories of my mom reading aloud a comic book form to me and my sister. I haven't read it for years and years so my memory is very, very fuzzy.

I am, of course, very amused that Genjo Sanzo is a gun-toting Buddhist priest of sorts, as opposed to the all-too-holy Triptaka that I remember. I used to get very annoyed with Triptaka because he'd always lecture Monkey, Sandy and Pig (Goku, Gojo and Hakkai equivalents) and just flail around and be saved by them like a damsel in distress. What actually surprised me the most were the personality transplants for Gojo and Hakkai.

Originally the Gojo character was a fearsome river demon who had lots of skulls around his neck and was fierce and scary. I don't actually remember much about him, but I do think that he cleaned up fairly nicely once Triptaka/Sanzo got him aboard the sutra mission. But Hakkai! The "Cho" of "Cho Hakkai" is "pig," and in Chinese, Cho Hakkai (pronounced "Zhu Bajie") is used as a way to call someone a dirty slob (or it might be more insulting, I am not sure). The character was greedy and always chasing after women and never was quite as good a disciple as Monkey (way powerful) or Sandy (way nicer) were. So I am very amused that Gojo turns out to be the drinking womanizer while Hakkai is the nice polite guy who never seems to say too much but always seems to be hiding something.

Also, am curious as to why Hakkai calls himself Hakkai instead of his past name "Gonou." Checked Wiki and found that Gonou was indeed the Buddhist name that Triptaka gave to the character in Journey to the West. Plus, Goku and Gojo are both using their Buddhist names, so why does Hakkai deny his and insist on people calling him "Hakkai"? I wonder if "Cho Hakkai" is used as a synonym for slob in Japanese like it is in Chinese. Hrm hrm.

I was also sad to find that Goku is very not a main character! I mean, he is, but Monkey is the star of Journey to the West! I mean, the book starts with him being born and everything! I liked Monkey a lot too -- he was this great trickster character like Anansi or Coyote who was always getting the better of people but would always get caught some way or the other. So the childlike Goku is a bit odd as well, although I do like that they hint about his relationship with Sanzo going back somehow. I also looked up Journey to the West on Wikipedia and was amused to discover that Goku's youkai inhibitor headband was actually something Triptaka gave to Monkey to keep in him control, as Triptaka could tighten it and give Monkey horrid headaches.

Was also happy to find that what is translated as "Shangri La" in the published version is actually "Tougenkyou" (Tao yuan xiang) or "Spring/source of the peaches" which probably no one cares about but me. Lalala. Anyway, "Tao/tou" is "peach," "yuan/gen" is "water's source" and "xiang/kyou" is "hometown or village." Anyhow, it looks a lot like "tao hua yuan xiang" (peach blossom land), which is this sort of utopian paradise -- some guy wrote about it way back and told a story of a fisherman who accidentally sailed into Peach Blossom Land and found people living in harmoney, but then could never find it again (alas, I cannot remember the author! But I remember I had to memorize it!). So it amused me that this was used as the demon/human Shangri-La. Plus, I draw even more wacky connections because the whole reason why Monkey was imprisoned in that rock for Triptaka to find was becaus he wreaked havoc in heaven and ate the peaches in the Jade Emperor's peach orchard. Anyhow. The peaches, they are important! I swear! Well, at least in the stories they are peaches of immortality.

And while having the bodhisatva Kanzeon (aka Kuan-Yin/Guan-Yin/Kannon) be a hermaphrodite is sort of shocking and fun, it also makes sense in a wonky sort of way... I think the original figure of the bodhisatva was male in the sutras, but since s/he was the bodhisatva of compassion, the Chinese eventually made him/her out to be a female figure. Hee.

Also cheered when I saw Nataku/Nezha in the story, as he is one of the main people sent to battle Monkey when Monkey was wreaking havoc in heaven. I wonder if this Nataku and Goku have some sort of hidden history.

No ideas about Gyuumaou, except that in Chinese, his name means "Demon Cow Lord"! This amuses me.

Am also amused by the random bits and pieces that Minekura decided to stick in, like the spider demon ladies and Goku's collapsible metal rod of doom! (Monkey stole it from a dragon. I'm not sure where Goku got his.)

Wish I remembered more of Journey to the West, because I'm sure there are a whole bunch of injokes or something that I'm completely not getting =(.

Want to see an episode of Goku and the banana leaf fan! I only vaguely remember that story, but I remember it involved a whole bunch of fire and that I liked it.


oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

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