meganbmoore: (tnkk: get off me i'm reading)
The Ancient Magus' Bride is a shoujo series about a young woman named Chise who has a past of abuse and neglect due to her ability to see supernatural things. through a sequence of events, Chise ends up being taken to England to be auctioned off as a slave to a magician. However, the Magician who buys her, Elias (who happens to be very tall and have an elongated animal skull for a head) tells her that he has actually bought her to be his apprentice (he initially neglects to inform her that he ALSO bought her to be his eventual bride) and that he intends to save her from absorbing too much magic, as she's likely to die within a few years without intervention. from there, they go on a series of adventures involving a variety of mythical creatures, tied in with a conspiracy involving other magicians, as Chise also tries to find out just what Elias actually is, as he isn't human, and isn't like other magicians.

I thought the first volume, though good ,was somewhat stiff and awkward in a lot of places, but it smoothed out the edges in the second volume. I like Chise, Elias and their friends, and find the various plot points interesting, but I'm not really fond of the fact that I'm meant to view Chise and Elias as a slow burn romance, in large part because the relationship comes across primarily as paternal to me so far. There's also the power imbalance and the fact that Chise's emotional issues make that imbalance even bigger, but the series is aware of and handling that aspect pretty well, regardless of the context of the relationship.

There's apparently a prequel OVA series coming out later this year which will come out with later volumes of the manga in japan. I wish it was an adaptatio of the manga plot (Maybe that'll come later? But I imagine the OVAs will be pretty limited in what they can do.) but maybe that will come later.
meganbmoore: (gnsk: sakura reads)
I have no idea what to make of this. Chikage Deguchi is a 31 year old office worker who has never had a boyfriend and doesn't have a social life. She feels pathetic and depressed after a high school reunion, and attempts suicide. One of her classmates saves her, and after hearing her woes, tells her that he's working on a potion that can deage people, and the version he currently has will work for several hours, so she can take the potion and become 15 again, as long as she gives him feedback and lets him monitor her vital signs.

As if we weren't far enough into "WTF??" territory, as a teenager, Chikage, becomes an idol and ends up working with a boy who looks exactly like the guy she had a crush on in high school. He starts to develop a crush on her, which, you know, whatever, but she seems to be reciprocating instead of going "ABORT ABORT!! He is 16 years younger than you at a point in your lives where that makes him less than 1/2 your age!!" To make sure we have a triangle, her other love interest is the high school friend who gave her the deaging potion. Who has a girlfriend already, and almost kisses Chikage while she's asleep and thinks about how cute she is as a 15 year old.

In the afterword, Tanemura says she was asked to make a Magical Girl series for adults, and to hold back on her normal visual flourishes. So, I mean, I guess she succeeded? I'll probably read more if my library gets it just to see if it actually does turn into a trainwreck, but yeesh.

If anyone has read this and has read Tanemura's DYING OF THROAT CANCER series, I'd be interested in hearing how they compare. I understand that one also involves the heroine's age changing and becoming an idol.
meganbmoore: (too many books)
I want to say I'll be better at doing this more regularly this year, but realistically, probably not.

What are you currently reading

Chronicles of the Grim Peddler by Lee Jeong-A. A fairy tale manhwa about a peddler ( and his shapechanging cat) who goes around setting up fairy tales. It's one of those series that thinks Disney really, really got it wrong when they started adapting fairy tales, and makes up for it by going as far in the other direction as it can, though sometimes they end up nicer and cuter while things are getting even more messed up. I mean, it doesn't reach the "OMG WHAT" levels of that one Kaori Yuki series, but I can't fault it for trying. I'm not invested because I'm only mildly interested in the peddler and a little more so in his cat, but am not attached to either, and there aren't any other regular characters. I like it, though.

What did you recently finish reading?

Maia Chance: Snow White Red-Handed & Cinderella Six Feet Under. The first two books in a fairy tale-themed mystery series. Ophelia and Prue are Victorian-era actresses who con their way (well, Ophelia does most of the conning) into become servants to a rich family when out of work and unable to pay their boat fare. It turns out that the family is a set of rather unpleasant fairy tale fanatics who think they've found Snow White's cottage, and hopefully a gold mine to go with it. Both book feature Prue getting targetted by the fairy tale fanatics because of her fairy tale princess looks, and Ophelia running around (with her obligatory rich English love interest) trying to solve murder and rescue Prue from whatever mess she's in at the time, while Prue just tries really really hard not to end up dead or in jail. It's certainly a little bit different for the "cozy mystery" genre, and I look forward to the next book in the series.

Mark Waid & Terry Dodson: Princess Leia 1-5. This miniseries takes place literally as A New Hope ends, and focuses primarily on Leia dealing with losing Alderaan (something the movie itself spent one whole shout on), and her trying to save the remaining citizens of Alderaan who are scattered on other planets when Palpatine issues an extermination order, accompanied by Evaan, another woman from Alderaan who joined the Rebellion. I do feel that Waid touched on the idea of soceity expecting women to display certain emotions and only cope with grief a certain way, and then judge them when they don't, but he largely limited it to people labelling her an ice princess for not being visibly sad enough, instead of running with the theme. Like the other tie in books I've read the last few months dealing with the OT (specifically Moving Target and Shattered Empire) a lot of this seems to be rightly thinking that Leia really needed more women to interact with, and so it has her almost exclusively interact with other women. This probably displaced Shattered Empire as my favorite of the recent tie ins, but I do have plenty left to go.

Victoria Thompson: Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue. Book-whatever in Thompson's long running mystery series set in later 19th century New York. This book is best summed up as The Sidekicks Show, as the main characters are away. Maeve, teenaged nursemaid to Sarah Brandt's daughter and former conartist, decides to help a woman whose daughter may have been falsely accused of murdering her husband. Along the way she recruits Frank's sidekick/her own semi-love interest, Gino, and Sarah's parents to help, and decides that Frank is opening a detective agency when he gets back. At one point, Sarah's extremely proper and very busy businessman father ends up volunteering to play bodyguard for the teenaged nursemaid, and doesn't seem entirely certain how that happened. I mostly really loved this book. "Mostly" because sometimes hompson tends to have issues with making beautiful women who aren't Sarah or her mother be manipulative and unpleasant. It doesn't happen in all or even the majority of the books (I think this is the 4th time that it's been a plot point in almost 20 books), but has happened often enough that I sigh when the books start talking about another woman's incredibly beauty.

Nakamura Yoshiki: Skip Beat Vol 31-35

spoilers )

GoHands and GoRa: K: Countdown Chapters 1-8. A bunch of one shots about the K character set between Missing Kings and Return of Kings. I enjoyed the chapters about the various characters getting used to their current lives a lot more than the ones directly building up to Return of Kings.

Clamp: Gate 7 Vol 1-4. A very, very Clamp series about a slightly highstrung boy who is somehow SPECIAL running into warriors who are reincarnations of historical figures involved in the Battle of Sekigahara. No one has a jaw-droppingly angsty and dramatic past yet and no one has lost an eye, but the most Clamp aspect of the series is that it was put on indefitie hiatus just as things were really kicking into high gear. It's fun if you like Clamp (I do) but doesn't have a lot going on that sets it apart from other Clamp series. The most mindbendy thing it has going for it is that it has a charcter named Sakura who is a very tall and strapping and apparently promiscuous young man. Clamp has a lot of characters named Sakura, but all the others are sweet girls with short brown hair who satisfy Clamp's cosplay needs. It was quite jarring.

Django Wexler: The Forbidden Library & The Mad Apprentice. The First two books about a girl named Alice who goes to live with a relative after her father's death, only to learn that the relative-and now, she-is a magician. Which is a fairly standard setup, but in this case, the magicians have labyrinthine libraries, and go into books to make the monsters in them their familiars. There are also talking cats that are both petulant and snarky, and Alice have a Revenge Quest going over her father's death. Not the most amazing thing ever, but fun.

What do you think you'll read next?

The rest of Chronicles of the Grim Peddler and Homefires by Julie Summers. I'm also waiting for the library to get more Star Wars comics in for me.
meganbmoore: (too many books)
I only went 2 weeks between installments of this this time instead of months. Go me?

What are you currently reading

The Debs of Bletchley Park by Michael Smith. Nonfiction about the women who worked in Bletchley Park during WWII. This one doesn't have a lot yet (I'm about 1/3 through it) about politics and codebreaking, and is instead focusing on how and why various women were recruited, and how they dealt with the everyday life end of things. One story involved a woman being told she was being stationed somewhere else, and when she got there, she sat in a room while the officers discussed whether she should be blindfolded or just transported in a covered car. She ended up being left a the Bletchley Park gates with no knowledge of where she was and no pass. Another story involved two women getting in a catfight over lunch, each shouting that their mutual lover had told her more secrets than he had the other. They didn't stay very long after that. One of the interesting things is that there were so many people that recruitment went from "why hello there, well educated, literate friend of an official who wants to help with the war effort, you come with great recommendations!" to "Hi, you're smart, can keep your mouth shut, and need a job. Sign this document here."

Anytime I read nonfiction about Bletchley Park, or read or watch fiction in which the OSA plays a part (which most certainly does not include TV shows in which the protagonist blithely violates the OSA and reveals BP secrets to the agents of a foreign government in a show of poor codebreaking in what is apparently meant to be a Moment of Cool*) i'm amazed not only by the scope of the OSA, but also by the fact that it actually worked. You had people working together for years, sharing boarding house rooms, spending their free time together, etc, and they NEVER said a single word about their work. Not only that, but this app;ied to family members, and people who married other people who worked at BP or remained lifelong friends after, and they just...never said a word about it for decades.

Getting back on topic, the books isn't lightweight, but is less dense than a lot of WWII nonfiction. It does, though, assume the reader has a general knowledge of Bletchley Park and the OSA. It's a good read, so far, and would probably be liked by most interested in the subject.

What did you recently finish reading?
K: Stray Dog by GoRa and Gohands. A prequel to the first season of the K Project about Kuroh. It's mostly Kuroh having various adventures (including a Shounen Cooking Battle) while looking for the new 7th King. The first few chapters are pretty "LOLs that Kuroh..." but it turns more serious towards the end as it catches up with the anime. Based on the content and art, I thought this was shoujo, but it's apparently categorized as seinen.

Star Wars: Skywalker Strikes by Jason Aaron & John Cassaday. TPB collecting the first 6 issues of the current Star Wars series from Marvel, which takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The first few issues feature Luke, Han Leia and Chewie sabotaging one of the Empire's plants when Vader shows up and makes things go terribly wrong (Lots of "Anakin! Stop trying to kill your kids!" from over here, while also approving of Leia ordering that her father be shot down.) In the last couple issues in the collection, Luke goes off to do some angsty soul searching stuff while Han and Leia go off on a separate mission.

spoilers )
I enjoyed this more than I expected to. I remember that when I was still reading a lot of superhero comics, I recognized that John Cassaday's art was good and warranted the praise he got, but just couldn't get into it myself, but I liked it a lot here. i do have some issues with Leia's characterization,though. At one point, Leia makes a decision that, while understandable, we know will go very very wrong. Thatin and of itself was fine because of what it was, but it's framed as if she should have just listened to Han in a way that made me uncomfortable. In another scene, it comes across as if she tends to badger Luke into going on missions, which I don't think fits at all.

Kamisama Kiss vol 14-19 by Julietta Suzuki.

spoilers )
A Dance With Danger by Jeannie Lin. One of Jeannie Lin's Tang Dynasty series. In a previous book that I haven't read, the male lead attempted to assassinate a warlord and is now on the run. He goes to a magistrate friend of his and ends up in a compromising situation with the magistrate's daughter, and they have to get married. At this point, I was very confused because I had really liked Lin's first few books (haven't read the last few before this one yet) and this was reading like a Regency Romance with the numbers filed off, and the cover blurb had given me the same impression. Then the magistrate tries to have him assassinated because having a wanted criminal in the family doesn't actually appeal to him a lot. At this point, I girded my loins, my experience many many 80s and 90s romance novels telling me to expect vengeful abduction and accusations.

Instead, Our Hero goes "welp, I actually was starting to really like her and think we might have cute kids, but she actually is way better off without me, and I do need to warn some people about the angry warlord hunting me down..." and takes off. Our Heroine, for her part, figures out what happened and decides that she is TOTALLY NOT OK with her father trying to assassinate her husband and runs away from home, finagling her way aboard our Hero's ship.

His pirate captain ex-girlfriend finds all this incredibly entertaining.

A lot of the plot is a carryover from the previous book, with a bit of setting up for future books, but I wasn't lost with the plot despite the heavy reliance on the earlier book. Despite a less than great start, I ended up liking it a lot.

What do you think you'll read next?

More manga and Star Wars comics, library books.

*Not, I'm not over that one episode of Agent Carter yet, WHY DO YOU ASK?
meganbmoore: (too many books)
What are you currently reading

Still about halfway through Star Wars: A New Dawn, as I haven't had much time to read it since mentioning it the other day.

What did you recently finish reading?

Mizuho Kusanagi: Akatsuki no Yona Vol 9-11: A bit odd to be reading these volumes while watching the anime, which is far, far behind the manga, of course (and unless there's a second season, the anime won't get to this point)

spoilers )

Joyce and Jim Lavene: Wicked Weaves, Ghastly Glass, Deadly Daggers and Harrowing Hats: This is a very fun mystery novel series set at a Renaissance Faire. The main character, Jessie, is a professor who spends her summers at the Faire, which is permatently situated at an old airforce base that's been renovated. Every once in a while, the series slips into "those RenFaire folks are kinda weird," but it's mostly "those RenFaire people who live there year round get a little bit caught up in the things they love sometimes." It's pretty fun, though, and I give it kudos for being one of the few "cozy mysteries" series where dead bodies turning up a lot actually does affect people's willingness to go to a place.

Gauntlet by Ellery Prime and T2A: The first Sparkler Monthly offering for me to complete! This is one of their prose offerings. Clio has recently moved to the big city and is striking out on her own for the first time. One day, she's harassed on the street and is offered a refuge of sorts buy two men named Jack. The "refuge" ends up being a prison called The Gauntlet, where Clio and others are hunted by people who want to perform experiments on them. I was really into the first half, but less so the second, which is set in a different part of The Gauntlet, and had a different setting. It was good, but ended feeling more like part one as opposed to the full story. We never learn the true nature of The Gauntlet, and we're teased with subplots and following up on the fates of certain characters, but they aren't actually followed through. I'll read a sequel, or anything else the writers produce for the webzine, though.

Windrose by kosen, ch 1-4: Windrose was my favorite of the Sparkler Monthly first chapters I read in their sampler several months ago. Danielle is a young Spanish woman who travels to France in search of her missing father. Along the way she meets a dashing pair of siblings, Angeline and Leon, who are considerably less kind and honorable than they initially appear to be, and she soon learns that there's a lot more to her father's disappearance than she thought. It's pretty much a straight-up swashbuckling adventure, written for and mostly about women.

Well Read, Then Dead by Terri Farley Moran. First book in a mystery series that decides to combine bookstore/bookclub lady detective with cooking mysteries to have a protagonist who owns a book-themed cafe. Very enjoyable, though I don't really have anything to say about it.

Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams. The first book in another mystery series, this one set at a resort for book lovers. The protagonist, Jane, decides to have a murder mystery weekend, only to have the winner of her scavenger hunt end up dead. Then she learns that her family are the super secret custodians of hundreds of rare and unknown manuscripts, and have been for centuries. It's just that no one thought to tell her this until she was in her 30s. This is apparently also a very very very dangerous job, because the family librarian informs her that it's time to learn martial arts and archery and all about the secret passages in the manor house. And that she has to get the Super Sekrit Secret Society tattoo. A booklover's Id ran wild with this one, but I see no reason to object.

What do you think you'll read next?

I'm guessing more sparkler monthly and mystery novels.
meganbmoore: (7 seeds: matsuri/ryo)
When I saw Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun on the list of upcoming anime around the middle of last year, I wasn't sure whether to expect something awful, or something wonderfully hilarious. Sakura Chiyo has a crush on her classmate, Nozaki. When she confesses her crush, she words it as being his fan, so he gives her a signature for another name altogether. Later, he asks her back to his apartment and has her work on backgrounds for manga pages. When she gets home, she realizes that the signature he gave her is that of a popular mangaka, and she soon becomes one of his many assistants, while still trying to figure out how to get across that she has a crush on him. (Her second attempt at confessing goes about the same as the first.)

The series COULD be about Sakura endlessly pining over a guy who doesn't notice her, and there is some of that (at one point, Nozaki asks Sakura to describe the guy she likes and she does, explaining that he seems to find her useful and convenient more than anything else. The clueless Nozaki is EXTREMELY unimpressed with her description, and clearly thinks she could do much better) but it's mostly about making a manga and what Nozaki gets his inspirations from, the peskiness of having reality intrude when it comes to manga tropes (darn bicycle laws ruined such important ones...), and Sakura befriending Nozaki's other assistants, who become many of the characters in Nozaki's manga.

The rest of the cast are:

Mikoto Mikoshiba, nicknamed Mikorin, who is another of Nozaki's assistants. Mikorin used to be very, very shy around girls, so he decided to get over it by playing far, far too many dating sims. Now, he makes dramatic, flowery comments and then almost literally dies of embarrassment, and so has even worse problems when it comes to communicating with girls, even though he can technically talk to them now. When he isn't doing this, he's putting on his very best Tsundere face. Mikorin ships Sakura/Nozaki. A lot. Possibly more than Sakura, and he is very invested in finding out whether or not Nozaki reciprocates her feelings, but has been thwarted so far. Mikorin is also the inspiration for most of Nozaki's heroines, which gets rather interesting at times, given the inspiration for some of his other characters. Sakura is one of only two girls he can mostly communicate with normally, and the one he goes to for help when his antics get him trapped in various embarrassing-to-him situations.

Kashima Yu is the other girl Mikorin can talk to. Kashima is a tall, androgynous young woman with a shoujo "prince" personality. Kashima and Mikorin are BFF4evah and considered themselves rivals during their first year of high school, even though Kashima was clearly far superior in all things academic. She's also rather dense when it comes to anything not academic. She's a member of the drama club and is always cast and the male lead, much to the delight of all the drama club's female fans. She's also head over heals in love with Hori, the president of the drama club, though she has yet to identify her feelings as romantic at all. She has no idea about Nozaki's secret identity, or that some of her friends are his assistants, which leads to some...interesting incidents.
Hori Masayuki is the president of the drama club, and another of Nozaki's assistants. In exchange for his manga work, he has Nozaki writes plays for him. The plays always have Kashima in mind as the main protagonist, who is always a prince character. Kashima is entirely unaware that Hori has plays written JUST FOR HER (and he wants to keep it that way forever). Hori used to want to be an actor, but stopped trying out for roles because he's too short to get the roles he wants. He generally seems to prefer being behind the scenes, though. He is frequently EXTREMELY put out over Kashima's antics (which tend to include things like distracting all the girls who are supposed to be working on props with her princely charm, or thinking he wants to be treated like a princess when she finds Nozaki's manga in his schoolbag) but probably returns her interest.

Wakamatsu Hirotaka, nicknamed "Waka", is a first year student, and the last of Nozaki's assistants. He is very sweet and naive and constantly tormented by that antics of Seo, a rude and brash upperclassman who he (obliviously) has a crush on and loses sleep over. He can only sleep to the music of "Lorelei," a member of the Glee club. Waka has never met Lorelei, but claims to be in love with her, and believes she is sweet and kind and calm and perfect.

Seo Yuzuki is one of Sakura's best friends, and the bane of both Nozaki and Waka's lives. She's rude and brash and oblivious to social clues, and is frequently asked to help out various clubs. Unknown to Seo, she isn't asked to help out because of her talents (which she does have), but so that the players can learn how to deal with selfish and unreasonable players. She is also Lorelei of the Glee club, and finds Waka's tendency to compare her to the Lorelei in his head hilarious, Unlike Waka, she's at least somewhat aware that they're interested in each other, and gets extreme pleasure from toying with him. Nozaki adds a genderswapped version of Seo and Waka to his manga, and is OUTRAGED when his readers start wanting him to have them get together, because he very, very strongly anti-ships his characters' prototypes.
There's also Miyako, Nozaki's upstairs neighbor who is a college student and a more popular mangaka than Nozaki. They and Sakura sometimes meeting in cafes and have conversations that confuse Miyako's eavesdropping classmates, who think Miyako is dating Nozaki, who is dumping her for Sakura, and they're all cheerful about it. Miyako's editor is Maeno, a narcissist who is obsessed with himself, tanuki (which he forces Miyako to include in her manga as much as possible) and his personal blog. Maeno used to be Nozaki's editor, but Nozaki is now under a new editor named Ken. Nozaki thinks Ken is an amazing and cool adult and tends to fanboy him. Ken thinks Nozaki is dense, utterly oblivious about the subject matter that he chooses for his manga, and somewhat annoying. He also appears to think Nozaki's manga is terrible despite his popularity. Ken is right on pretty much all accounts.
I've watched all the anime and read the first 5 volumes of the manga, and love it. It's very much an "it is what it is" series, but it does what it does well. Between the anime and the manga, I prefer the anime, but that's more because pure comedy and antics works better for me in anime form than in manga form, as opposed to one being better than the other.
meganbmoore: (Default)
What are you currently reading

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

What did you recently finish reading?

The Foundling, and Other Tales of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Several short stories set in the world of the Chronicles of Prydain, but before the main series. Mostly backstories about characters in the series and stories that were told during it, all pretty enjoyable. My favorite was the story about Eilonwy's mother.

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal. The fourth Maggie Hope mystery, and one with a title which only relates to about the last 50 or so pages of the book. Centered around the days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, this one was a bit odd. MacNeal's audience is primarily American, as far as I know, so Pearl Harbor takes a fair bit of narrative priority in this one. The mystery that Maggie is involved in is almost perfunctory (I would have rather spent the time dealing with her PTSD after the previous book, and her Baby Spies seeing her as a demonic taskmaster) and most of the rest is setting things up for future installments, which look to be changing things up some. Not a bad or disappointing book, but a bit different from what I was expecting.

X-Men: Battle of the Atom. It's been long enough since I read a superhero crossover event that I had forgotten how inconsistent characterization and costuming can be with them. Errr...I was mostly confused by this. If I were caught up with X-stuff in general, I think I would have been into it, but as it is, I was mostly left with irritation at "Jubilee will grow up to be just like Woverine! But angrier and shriekier and irrational. I mean, she is a girl."

X-Men: Muertas by Brian Wood and Terry Dodson. I followed this one more easily than I did Primer and Battle of the Atom, mostly because most of the events were directly related to events in those two volumes, though I have no idea where Rogue went off too. I'm glad there was a mini Gen-X reunion this quickly into my dipping my toes back into superhero comics after years away, but wish there had been more Jubilee/Monet interaction.

Toradora vol 1-4 by Yuyuko Takemiya. Romantic comedy light novel series about a boy who looks like a scary gangster but is actually a sweet and harmless pacifist addicted to cleaning, and a tiny cute girl who's actually extremely rude and violent. They have crushes on the other's respective best friend, and join forces to help the other out. What I've read is entertaining and usually cute, but I don't see myself reading another 6 books about it, especially since it's starting to veer into fanservice territory and having an increasing "cute and helpless" aspect to the heroine ,despite her forceful personality. I do think I'll watch the anime, though.

Coffin Hill Vol 1 by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda. Eve Coffin is a police officer who returns to her hometown after being shot and leaving the force. The catch is that Eve comes from a long line of dark witches, and a monster she let loose as a teenager is back and abducting teenagers in the woods. I thought it was a minseries when I picked it up an the library, but it's an ongiong series. It's a bit bloody for my taste, but I like Eve and the mythology, and am interested in seeing what happens next.

Ao Haru Ride/Blue Spring Ride Vo l1-4 by Io Sakisaka. Enjoyable but sometimes frustrating shoujo who meets her junior high crush in high school, only to find him with an entirely different personality. for the most part, it's very enjoyable with lots of friendshipping with Futaba (the heroine) and the other girls who join her in the student council. The romance is...also enjoyable, but also irritating. A lot of it is sustained by "something is about to happen, but isn't yet" and Futaba's love interest, Kou, is prone to "standoffish shoujo jerk moments. He's far from the worst about that, but a bit of a disappointment after Ren from Strobe Edge, who was really refreshing in that regard, and there's at least one time when his treatment of Futaba made me angry. I've heard some things about future volumes that make me leery, but I've enjoyed it so far, so I'm sticking with it. The anime adapts the first 4 volumes of the manga, minus the last chapter of volume 4, and is extremely faithful. The OAD is about Kou and Futaba's quasi-relationship in junior high, but only the last few minutes has anything significant that wasn't covered in flashbacks in the main anime/manga.

Barakamon Vol 1-2 by Satsuki Yoshino. Handa Seishu is a young calligrapher who gets exiled to an island by his father after he punches the curator of an exhibition for saying Seishu's work is boring. On the island, he constantly gets caught up in the goings on of the locals, particularly the local children and teenagers, when he's supposed to be working on making his calligraphy not-boring. And learning how to not punch old men for offering criticism. He very quickly becomes that guy who sits down to work after lunch and goes out to get a toy out of a tree so the local kids will stop yelling, and then suddenly it's getting dark and he didn't notice because the kids kept him that busy. The main local he interacts with is Naru, a 7 year old girl, and one of the children who used Seishu's house as a hangout while it was abandoned. (The youths collectively decide that occupation is no deterrent.) I find it a sad commentary on a lot of anime that there was zero sexualization of of a young girl being overly attached to the much older male protagonist. It's a very entertaining series. The first 5 or so episodes follow the first two volumes of the manga pretty faithfully, though some events are moved around a bit, based on my recollection of early anime episodes, and a few scenes didn't get animated.

And I think that's everything that i haven't posted on separately since I last did this.

What do you think you'll read next?.

The rest of Magic Breaks, probably start reading Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
Akatsuki no Yona is an ongiong (not-yet-licensed in the US, manga series with a currently-airing anime adaptation. There are currently 14 volumes of the manga, but only the first 8 currently have scanslations.

Set in a fantasy version of ancient Korea, AnY is about Yona, a pamper and shelter princess who is in love with her cousin, Soo-Won. Her father detests violence, and has a reputation as a weak king because of it. Yona and Soo-won grew up little different from siblings,a long with Yon's bodyguard, Hak. This is angsty epic shoujo, so of course Hak is in love with Yona, but has apparently never considered expressing it, considering soo-won to be the better match for Yona. The only problems in Yona's life are her red hair (which she hates) and the fact that her father disapproves of her interest in Soo-Won . (He completes approves of Hak, of course, because the mangaka wants to make sure we know what pairing to root for from the start.) That changes one night when she witnesses Soo-Won murder her father, and is forced to flee the palace with Hak.

While on the run, Yona and Hak meet a priest who tells them about the legend of a redhaired king who was served by the four dragon gods, and that the descendants of the dragons still exist, and are waiting for the king to be reborn so they can serve him and help him save the kingdom. Yona decides that a redhaired princess will do just as well, and she and Hak set out to find the descendants, along with the priest's adopted son, Yoon, a self-proclaimed Pretty Boy who serves as den mother for the protagonists, providing all the food, cleaning, medical ministrations, and lectures for the group. (Yoon is also the youngest character. Yoon is very long suffering, and justifiably makes sure everyone knows it.)

Most of the translated volumes are Yona seeking out the descendants of the dragons and winning them over (this ranges from "YOU HAVE RED HAIR. I SHALL SERVE YOU FOREVER." to "Look. I literally fled the country to get out of this destiny thing. THERE SHALL BE NO DESTINED SERVITUDE." She also learned that while her father may have been beloved to her, he may not have been a very good king, making little effort to ensure laws were enforced outside the palace, and providing little defense against attacks from other countries. Before she flees the palace, Soo-Won also tells her that her father had murdered Soo-Won's father years before. I'm operating under the assumption that, having spent more time away from the palace than Hak and Yona, Soo-won had been much more aware of the problems in the kingdom than they were, but hadn't decided how to act until learning about the fratricide. Yona now finds herself in the opposing position: her father was beloved to her, but the country might be better off with Soo-Won as king, and she doesn't actually know much about ruling or politics herself, only having concerned herself with frivolous things before Soo-won's betrayal. She set out on a quest to find the dragons' descendants, but without an actual goal in mind after that. (Hak is having an easier time with the "Soo-Won betrayed us and hurt and killed people I love. I shall kill Soo-won" mentality. Much easier.)

All of this is interspersed with numerous adorable flashbacks of Yona, Soo-Won and Hak growing up together and being adorable babies. And some less-cheery flashbacks for Yona's followers. The anime also frames the first two episodes with flashforwards of Yona and her followers going to war. The last time I got into a manga series this much this quickly was 7 Seeds about a year and a half ago. The only issues I have with it is that it has a very dire case of "Only One Woman." There was an elderly female pirate captain for one arc, but she doesn't seem likely to return, and the only other female character who looks like she may actually shows up from time to time is the wife of a general who Soo-won wins over. Aside from the flashforwards, the first three episodes of the anime are pretty faithful to the first several chapters of the manga. The flashforwards give me hope that the anime intends to actually have a conclusion, as opposed to following the ever increasing trend of just adapting a series to the end of a certain arc and then stopping without resolving a significant amount of the plot.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
What are you currently reading

I'm going to be trying out Sparkler Monthly (which I hadn't actually heard of until a couple weeks-or at least, I hadn't noticed people talking about it) which is a monthly online magazine with fem-focused content, much of which appears to be shoujo-esque. In preparation, I downloaded their sampler, which has the first chapter of various works, (and is free) and am working my way through it.

Off*Beat is something I've actually seen some people refer to a few times. The setpu is...basically a boy who starts stlking the boy who moved in across the street. MC boy is extra bright-seems to think he's smarter than everyone else, TBH-and the other boy is mostly introverted and hopefully aware that he's being stlaked. I...have no opinion so far, really.

Windrose is another comic. Set in the 17th century, Danielle is a young Spanish lady who receives a letter from her merchant father that goes along the lines of "I'm sending you this MYSTERIOUS OBJECT in a SECRET COMPARTMENT and you must hide it until someone comes along with the SECRET CODE and then give it to them. Oh, and I might be dead by the time you read this. Love, Dad." danielle, of course takes this to mean she must leave for France to look for him IMMEDIATELY. On the ship to Marseilles, she metts a pair of dashing "siblings"-a swordswoman named DAnielle, and her hunky brother, Leon, who may not be as wholesome and chivalrous as they initally appear. I'm really not thrilled that it falls into the common narrative trope of "the absentee father is beloved and admired but the mother who stays with the child and has to actually DEAL WITH the child is resitrictive and just doesn't understand," but I think the narrative, at least, doesn't idealize Danielle's father as much as she does, so I have hopes that maybe it won't go the normal routes. Anyway, I'm easy when it comes to this stuff, so I loved it.

Tokyo Demons: A novel about various kids with troubled backgrounds (some moreso than others) starting at a new school. This first chapter was largely introductions, but it drew me in, and i'm interested in seeing where it's going.

Awake: This is a transcript of an audio drama (the audio file is also included in the sampler, I think, but I haven't checked the audio files out yet.) it's a science fiction series about ships sent out to colonize other worlds. Each ship has thousands of people who are cryogenically frozen. To help pay for passage for themselves and loved ones, certain people are woken up for "shifts" that last several years, but are never awake at the same time as their loved ones. I wasn't very into it (most likely mostly because I was reading a transcript) until it had an interesting plot twist at the end.

I've read a couple pages of Dead Endings, about a girl who's a ghost magnet, but not enough to form and opinion of it yet.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Nancy Drew Scrapbook by Karen Plunkett-Powell. Light but entertaining non-fiction book about Nancy Drew. A lot of the material is a slimmed down (and so, to me, less interesting) accounting of the same material as Melanie Rehak's Girl Sleuth, but if you want the basics of Nancy Drew's publishing history and the changes in it but don't want to go through over 300 pages worth of information about the Stratemeyer Syndicate and all things related to it and Nancy Drew's publication, you might prefer this. Unlike Rehak's book, though, this one does get a bit into changes in characterizations and character interactions over the decades, which I enjoyed, and has a very entertaining account of all Nancy's automobile accidents (though, sadly, doesn't really get into the significance and liberation represented by a teenaged girl in the 30s who owns and drives her own car) presented in the form or a rejected car insurance application. I also didn't know, until this book, that there was going to be a TV series in the 80s that brought Nancy's mother back, and Margot Kidder was going to pla Nancy's mother, with her real life daughter playing Nancy. Apparently, Kidder was injured while they were still filming the pilot, and by the time she could work again, the network wasn't interested anymore. i feel a bit robbed.

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan Mcguire. about a ghost named Rose, who died on her prom night in the 50s. Rose is a hitchhiker ghost, and sometimes accompanies people who are destined to die so that they won't be alone, and can go home one last time, while also trying to avoid another road spirit who wants to take her soul. It's told non-linearly, and parts of various stories overlap with others. Very enjoyable, though not easy reading in a few places. My favorite part is how Rose's story gets told and retold and keeps changing, and ho other urban legends get folded into hers. Meta about storytelling within stories can go very badly (or it can be like the bit in that one water movie by M. Night Shyamalan and be THE DULLEST THING EVER) but when it works, it really works.

X-Men: Primer by Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel. I feel rather awkward reading this after some of the stuff that came out about Wood a few months ago, but was promised Jubilee/Kitty interactions without the narrative having a "who's the better sidekick?" tone to it. Which I did get, but not very much of it. I enjoyed it, even though most of the plot revolved around events that I'm not familiar with. (Aside from "Jubilee becomes a vampire" and some Jubilee/X-23 stuff, the only X-stuff from recent years that I know is by fandom osmosis.

spoiler )
Bride of the Water God Vol 15 by Mi-Kyung Yun. I'm still reading for the pretty, and to see what Drama the manhwaga comes up with next. (Sadly, the current main drama is uninteresting love...triangle...shape....things. I think she sat down and watched a lot of late 90s/early 2000s kdramas while writing this part. But other ,much more interesting Drama things are going on on the side.)

What do you think you'll read next?.

The rest of the Sparkler Monthly sampler, more chapters of certain things depending on when I get my trial going, more One Piece and A Certain Magical Index. Whatever else I have from the library.
meganbmoore: (loch: rong +jade stick)
Twin Knights is the sequel to Osamu Tezuka's Princess Knight, and is about Princess Sapphire's twin children, Princess Violetta and Prince Daisy. Mostly Princess Violetta, though. With only one volume, it's shorter than its predecessor. For better or worse, it's also much less prone to random sidetrips, and so also much more comprehensible.  I am not using a spoiler cut because I'm assuming no one actually cares about spoilers.

The kingdom is in an uproar because everyone is feuding over which royal twin should be heir. Now-Queen Sapphire and King Franz pray to God for help, but God is on vacation, and left an angel in charge. The angel in question is Tink, the angel responsible for the whole mess in Princess Knight, because nothing says "qualified to run the universe for a week" like total incompetence. In a show of extreme wisdom and competence, Tink writes "Prince" and "Princess" on the ground and drops his bow to determine which twin is the future ruler, and Prince Daisy is the lucky baby.

When word gets out, a "supporter" of Violetta kidnaps the prince and dumps him in a cursed forest. Fearing civil war, Sapphire and Franz decide to raise Violetta as both herself AND Daisy. One day she's the prince, and the next, she's the princess. For 15 years, exactly one person questions why the twins are never seen together (They're being raised separately! In the same castle!) or why no one ever sees both on the same day at all. There are also a pair of brothers named Prince White and Prince Black. You only get one guess at which is Violetta's dashing love inetrest, and which is the villainous bully.

Violetta and Prince White's romance goes about like this:

PRINCE WHITE: Prince Daisy, you are so wonderful and amazing and I want to spend all my time with you. Also, I'm straight and so completely not into you, but you'd be a totally gorgeous girl. Do you have a sister, by any chance?
VIOLETTA: As a matter of fact, I do.
PRINCE WHITE: Does she look like you?
VIOLETTA: Well, we are twins...
PRINCE WHITE: I am totally and completely and eternally in love with your sister even though we've never met, purely because she looks like you. BTW, I'm still straight.
PRINCE WHITE: *gets injured*
VIOLETTA: Hello, here I am at your sickbed as a girl. In a dress. Meeting you for the first time.
PRINCE WHITE: You are obviously the twin of my precious and beloved Prince Daisy, for whom my love is completely platonic! I am in love with you.
VIOLETTA: I'm ok with this.

Eventually, there's a rebellion and Violetta and her parents get locked in a tower. Somewhere in there, she learns that she actually DOES have a brother named Daisy (because apparently no one ever bothered to tell her why she had to be a boy every other day) and sets out to find him. Along the way, she joins a band of gypsies and becomes a masked swashbuckler named Knight Ribbon, and has various adventures with the gypsy princess, Emerald, who is in love with her.

Daisy, meanwhile, becomes a Disney Princess, after being found in the woods by a deer named Papi. Papi asks a goddess to turn her into a human so she can raise Daisy properly, and is allowed to become human at night only, with the condition that she'll die if Daisy ever learns the truth about her.  There's no particularly logical reason for the YOU WILL DIE, it just is.  And so Daisy grows up in the woods with only his "sister" for company, and is forbidden to leave the cottage during the day. After Daisy's inevitably tragic origin story-complete with all the forest animals loving him and tending to his wounds even though he's a hunter-ends, Daisy ends up back at the palace, being forced to impersonate himself while Violetta is off having all the adventures.

It's less frustrating than Princess Knight in its gender essentialism (though there's still plenty of that) and has a pretty straightforward story that you can actually follow, and keep track of the plot developments. But if you think the person raised and trained to rule for fifteen years will become the ruler instead of the guy raised by a deer, think again. I mean,the angel flipped a coin, after all. Also, the series totally does not end with a romantic splash page of Violetta tenderly adjusting the necklace of flowers that Daisy is wearing for some reason or another as he stares adoringly at her.
meganbmoore: (Default)
I believe this is my first time doing this since just before WisCon. Oops? I blame Flight Rising.

What are you currently reading

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. Third book in a GN series about a girl who ends up stranded in deep space with the Pied Piper, a giant mouse, an battle-mad robot and a giant...blob...thing and saves the universe a lot. Sadly, this is apparently also the last book in the series.

I've started reading the A Certain Magical Index novels, having run out of anime. I should say something substantial about the series sometime soon.

What did you recently finish reading?
The Foundling by Georgette Heyer. This is the book I read on the plane to WisCon. IIRC, I found it very entertaining-the basics of the plot are that an over-protected young duke really really really wishes people would let him stand on his own feet and has a series of misadventures when he goes undercover to help extricate a cousin from a lawsuit-but also frustrating due to,well, the lack of women. The hero's love interest is in about 15 pages, maybe, while the main female character-the titular foundling-is in it more, but isn't respected by anyone involved, including Heyer.

One Piece though volume 10 by Eiichiro Oda. I dunno, do I even need to explain the plot to anyone with even a passing familiarity with anime and manga? This is very entertaining, but frustrating due to the fact that, 10 volumes in, we have a whole one regular female character, and one who's pretty much given a supporting role in the plotline dealing with her own origin story. And Nami's great and all, but most shounen manages to do btter than this. It's especially odd since i checked it out knowing that Hiro Mashima was extremely heavily influenced by his time as Oda's assistant (and boy is it obvious) and within a couple volumes, Fairy Tail was all "here's an avalanche of female characters and most of them are background now, but we have 2 central ones and these others are being introduced in a way that says yes, they will be important later" (which is not to say FT is anywhere near perfect, but, you know...) Surprising no one, my favorites so far are Nami (and i'm vaguely curious about what the big Nami ships are) and Zoro (though I spend way too much time wondering how Zoro fights without lopping off his hand. I wonder if his and that dude from RuroKen who keeps an urumi wrapped around his bare waist trade "how not to kill yourself with your somewhat realistic-for-shounen weaponry" tips. i'm very amused with how, so far, the plotlines go vaguely like this:

LUFFY: HELLO! I want you to join my pirate crew!
Z/N/S: Dude, I said no. I hate pirates. Also, I'm not entirely convinced you understand just what a pirate is.
ACTUAL PIRATEY TYPES: We are here to pillage and raid and kick puppies!
LUFFY: New crewmember! Let's go whomp the bad pirates and show what good pirates with the power of nakama are like!
Z/N/S: Dude, I'm not joining your crew. But I'm down with the whomping.
WHOMPING: *happens with much drama and fanfare and speechifying*
Z/N/S: How did I end up-ok, fine, I guess I joined.
LUFFY: Toldja!
Z/N/S: You're really hard to break up with, aren't you.

(And then there's Usopp, who showed up at the harbor with his bags and tried not to look like he was begging to be asked to come along.)

Five Weapons: Making the Grade by Jimmie Robinson. Tyler Shainline is the 13-year-old son of a famous assassin, who is sent to The School of Five Weapons, a school where the children of bodyguards and assassins go to train for their future careers. All students join one of the weapons clubs, and everyone is eager to see which Tyler will join. The problem is, Tyler is actually Enrique, the son of Shainline's butler, who grew up with the real Tyler. Sent as a decoy by Shainline because an old enemy is hunting for him, Enrique doesn't actually know how to use any weapons, and is actually forbidden to learn how to use any. Fortunately, he has a childhood of playing with an assassin-in-training behind him and a very slippery mind, and sets to outwitting the various students who want to challenge him, as well as trying to solve the mystery of the school's shady principal. Very fun.

Tokyo Crazy Paradise Vol 1-10 by Yoshiki Nakamura. AKA, "The very cracktastic scifi mafia series Yoshiki Nakamura did before Skip-Beat. The basic concept is that Tsukasa, the daughter of two police officers, who was raised as a boy (because women are more likely to be victims of violence than men) becomes the bodyguard of her classmate, Ryuji, after her parents die and she and her brothers end up on the street. (I'm not entirely sure whether Tsukasa identifies as male or female, or has even but a lot of thought into it, but the manga refers to her as a girl.) Ryuji, who has been in classes with Tsukasa for several years, has known that Tsukasa is biologically female for some time, but never let her know, and is Secretly In Love with her. And...hijinks? Tsukasa, Ryuji, and Ryuji's fiance, Asago, are all supposed to be 14, but everything-personality, how they interact with others, appearance, etc-all works much better if you ignore that and pretend they're all in the 16-18 range. I like it a lot, but also get frustrated by some things, like how not only are Asago and Tsukasa the only female characters, but they can't stand each other. Part of that is because of Skip-Beat, and how Kyoko pretty much makes ALL her rivals, professional or otherwise, fall for her. And things keep happening that make me think Tsukasa and Asago might start becoming friends, and then it doesn't happening. I aware of some later plot developments, and am more interested in getting to those than the "things happen to challenge Ryuji's leadership/Asago's standing as his fiancee, and they have to find out what's up with this latest drug, but Tsukasa will bash everything into obedience" which is what's happened a few times.

Princeless vol 1 by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin. First volume in a series about a princess (the 6th of 7) who's confined to a tower by her father until a princess strong enough to rule the kingdom rescues her from the dragon hired to guard her. She decides she's tired of boring princes who don't last 5 minutes against the dragon, escapes the tower, and sets off with the dragon to resuce her 6 sister's from their respective towers. Said princess happens to also be black, and possibly lesbian. It can be a bit heavy handed in its "wtf, fairy tales?" moments and th bit where the princess and her future girlfriend go on about women's fantasy armor keeps going after the point has been made until it's almost beating you over the head with it (uhm...maybe less so on that front if you haven't had many long and detailed discussions of the topic itself) but this was extremely enjoyable.

The Bughouse Affair and The Spook Lights Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. The first 2 books in a mystery series about Sabina Carpenter, and former Pinkerton agent, and John Quincannon, a former Secret Service Agent, who now run a detective agency in 1890s San Francisco. largely solid and enjoyable, though they don't offer anything hugely new to the genre. I'm also annoyed by the romantic subplot. Not because it exists-normally I'd enjoy it-but because so far, it's Sabina being very firm about refusing to become romantically involved with her business partner, and John being convinced that if he just keeps hinting hitting on her and openly mooning, she'll miraculously change her mind, even though she keeps telling him to knock it off. I'm pretty sure we're meant to see it as Sabina being stubborn and trying to not give in to the inevitable, as opposed to John ignoring her her repeatedly stated and reinforced choices and wishes.

What do you think you'll read next?.

More Index and One Piece.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
It's been a while since I did this, and I posted separately on a lot of what I read since the last time i did this, but I think this is everything else since then.

What are you currently reading

Shion no Ou. A seinen manga that's probably best summed up as "mute girl becomes professional shogi player to find her parents' killer," which is both technically accurate and a misrepresentation. i'll say a lot more when i'm finished, probably, but I'm enjoying it a lot.

What did you recently finish reading?

Bride of the Water God vol 14 by Mi-Kyung Yun. So much drama (some of which I find hilarious, though that's not the mahwaga's intention)! So much pretty! Sadly, I am not well versed enough in Korean mythology to completely following all the celestial shenanigans.

Kimi ni Todoke by Karuho Shiina Vol 17-18. Adorable awkward misfits manga is still adorable.

brief spoilers )

Dogs: Bullets & Carnage Vol 8 by Shirow Miwa. it's too long between volumes for me to keep track of all the genetic experimentation reveals and 30 or so people named Naoto running around straight in my head, but I'm ok with that, because the entertainment level is high. I'm also pretty sure the main point of this volume was to make sure all the readers shipped main!Naoto/Heine.

Strobe Edge Vol 1-10 by Io Sakisaka. A very cute and sweet shoujo manga about Ninako a girl who, like most of the other girls in her school, likes a classmate name Ren. Through a sequence of events, the two become friends, but Ren has a girlfriend who he's devoted to. Rather than chase after him or be jealous, Ninako decides to just be friends with Ren, and see where life takes her. Ren, thankfully, is not a cold aloof jerk like so many school "princes" in shoujo manga are, though some characters who haven't bothered to actually interact with him assume he will be. It becomes more conventional in the later volumes, but largely manages to avoid falling into some of the more irritating pitfalls other shoujo romances do, despite later volumes getting somewhat bogged down in "I cannot let the person I like know I like them because this other person likes them, even though the person I like has not implicated by word or deed that they have any interest in this other person."

Hero by Alethea Kontis. Sequel to Enchanted, and about the 6th sister of the family, Saturday, who is abducted by a witch's Raven who mistakes her for her heroic older brother, Jack, and taken to the witch's mountain, where she meets a prince who was enchanted by the witch's daughter to take her place. It has fun with the almost literal genderswapping, but doesn't seem quite sure what it wants to say about gender conformity. It's a more cohesive whole than
meganbmoore: (proper ladies deliver justice via flying)
Kurono Ran's older brother was the "First Knight," (aka, bodyguard/butler) to Ohtori Sei, heir to the Ohtori empire. When he died protecting Sei, Ran decided to live her life as a man (because girls can't be knights) and be Sei's First Knight. As the main part of the series begins, Ran and Sei enter high school which is also their testing ground. The enemies of the Ohtori's also attend the school, and are permitted to make attempts on Sei's life. In addition, there are 11 other Ohtori knights who can challenge Ran for her position as Sei's First Knight. They do this in a dueling arena called Avalon that just happens to be on the school grounds. After the first duel, no one in the school finds it odd at all for students to carry around swords, challenge each other to duels, or dash off to the arena to try to kill each other. But only lazy weirdos skip class to read manga on the roof.

I went into the series thinking Ran was trans based on the description, but she seems to regard herself as a woman who has to live like a man to achieve her goals. (Other's probably interpret it differently?) Despite this, Ran is consistently drawn like a shoujo bishounen, is very tall, and has broad shoulders and is fairly muscular by shoujo standards. There are also numerous chapter pages depicting her in traditional "hot shoujo hero" poses, and her and Sei in conventional romantic poses. The mangaka, Nishikata Mai, also includes Sei's fiance, Ibara, to try to convince us that they're totally straight despite all that and multiple dramatic speeches about their eternal devotion to each other and how Ran will stay by Sei's side FOREVER to help her achieve her goals for the Ohtori organization. The engagement is for business purposes and arranged by their fathers, but Ibara and Sei appear to be casual friends at the start of the series, but become closer as it progresses. Ibara also learns that Ran is a girl early on, and decides that the uptight but funny knight is uptight and funny and totally hot.

There is, pleasantly, absolutely no triangle to speak of there. In volume 2, Ibara starts making "But you're a girl, and I'm a man, and I should protect you!" noises and I started to fear that this would be like the other manga of Nishikata's that I read, Venus Capriccio in that it had a really good first volume that subverted a lot of shoujo tropes, and then everything went south from there. Thankfully, Ran informs him that "THAT IS NOT HAPPENING, SIR (and if you continue in this vein and progress to trying to interfere with my work and/or keep me from dueling, I shall punch you out and never ever forgive you)", reads him in on the situation, and says he should shape up and help Sei by behaving better and helping them watch for attacks on Sei. So he does, and apparently not to impress Ran, but because he thinks she's right and wants to help. He has more "me man, you woman" moments in the series, but they tend to be milder after the first set down, and he gets over them. Late in the series, Ran has to fight a duel that she's in considerable emotional turmoil over, and against an opponent who might be physically more skilled than her, but instead of attempting (too hard) to interfere, he believes in her and her belief that she can handle it, and goes off to take care of his own business. When another guy in love with Ran shows up and tries the " you are a girl and I and a man and I should protect you" bit (and is given the same setdown) he also tries to claim that Ibara is interfering and not letting Ran do her thing, and which point Ibara essentially informs him that there's a difference between supporting and interfering. And also that he likes his teeth right where they are. (Ok, he doesn't say the last, but he was thinking it.)

The Revolutionary Girl Utena references are numerous (and also, as you may have noted, there are a few Arthuriana references scattered throughout) and she doesn't even try to hide it. I mean, the title translated into English as something close to "The Flower Knight," it has a genderbending heroine who is constantly being challenged to duels to maintain her position as the second female lead's protector, and Sei's family name is even "Ohtori." It might as well be called "My Love Letter To Revolutionary Girl Utena."

It's far from perfect-it regularly starts skirting close to "romance will cure Ran of her unwomanly ways" and "absolute heteronormativity is how all things must eventually go," even though it almost always safely bounces back. In addition, while it has the common shoujo and shounen trope of portraying charcter growth and having the protagonist gain confidence and a greater sense of self through friendships, all those friendships are male. While there are a couple of minor female antagonists early one, every major character other than Sei and Ran is male. Despite that, though, I feel it does much better in the endgame than many genderbender manga do, despite the romance angles, it always prioritizes Sei and Ran's goals and desires over romance and the male characters, and I really really really liked it.
meganbmoore: (dichen lachman)
This is a six volume series by Karuho Shiina, the creator of Kimi ni Todoke.

Sachi is 17 and has never had a boyfriend, so she goes to a goukon (dating party) with her friends, where she meets Yuki, who claims to be awkward with girls, who he doesn't spend much time with, going to an all-boys school. The next day, her friend Akemi tells her that Yuki is a playboy who uses girls. Sachi decides to follow Akemi's advice about Yuki, but ends up running into him several times.

Unlike most shoujo, it isn't clear from the start that Yuki will mend his bad boy ways and he and Sachi will sail off into the figurative sunset after a few angsty bumps, but it's less clear here. Yuki (who really isn't much of a bad boy, though he does try at times) is very much in love with someone else, a relationship that ends up affecting pretty much every character, and carries an enormous-and not always emotionally healthy-baggage, and after a couple volume, it seems Sachi might be much better off with Yuki's friend, Akahoshi (Who is something of a tsundere and prone to snarking. One of my favorite things in the series is when he gets upset because Sachi doesn't snark back at him, but instead ends up with important realizations or going off to have deep thinky thoughts.)

I will spoi that everything works out largely satisfyingly, though I spent many chapters going "Everyone likes/is with the wrong person! Fix it!" without really being quite sure how I thought things should be.  (If shoujo series got fandoms the way shounen series tend to, the fandom for this series likely would have been...very dramatic.  Though apparently the fan letters Karuho got had some drama.)

While Kimi Ni Todoke often relies of misunderstandings and lack of communication for conflict (Well, in earlier volumes.  Less so once volumes reach the double digits.) Crazy For You has complicated and messy relationships, and all the drama that goes with them, thought how the problems are dealt with is sometimes similar.  Sachi is also at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Sawako, and a character I feel would normally be a supporting character.  she has curly hair, is actively seeking a boyfriend, prone to gullibility, and endlessly cheerful and energetic, which is a type I feel is usually reserved for the shoujo heroine's friends, not the heroine herself.  (Not that Sawako is particularly conventional heroine herself, though I feel she's closer to it than Sachi, once you strip away the "looks like the girl from The Ring!" element.

Unrelated note: I am traveling a lot this weekend and so reading a lot of manga in the car.  I am also testing how I do with regular interneting with only my tablet for a couple days, before doing it for a whole week come WisCon.  Utterly random words are likely cases of my not catching autocorrect doing things like changing "manga" to "manta," and I'm sure I missed even more typos than usual.

meganbmoore: (red data girl: goddess)
Akuma no Riddle eps 1-2: This is the series about the all-girls boarding school where 12 members of a class of 13 are trained assassins and in a contest to assassinate the 11th, Haru, a girls with scars on her body and a mysterious past. The assassins get only one attempt each, cannot interfere with each other's attempts, and cannot involve outsiders. One of the assassins, Tokaku falls in insta-love with Haru decides to protect Haru instead, and goes to war with her classmates. Everyone has a mysterious past (mostly angsty, of course) and this series is so incredibly into its concept (and as a result, I think it's played some of its cards too early) that I half expect a narrator to pop up squealing with glee at times.

Have the OP:

Black Bullet ep 1: A virus has forced mankind to live within cities called "monoliths," but the cities aren't able to completely block out the virus. When it infects someone, they turn into monsters and "Promoter," who use special bullets, are brought in to fight them along with their partners, young girls called "Initiators" who were infected by the virus while still fetuses and have superpowers, and are regarded as being "cursed children." So far, the main character, Rentaro, appears to be the only major male character, with the others being his childhood friend/employer, Kisara, his Initiator, Enju, and a rather morbid coroner whose name I didn't catch. Though Enju regards herself as Rentaro's fiance (Enju appears to be about 7-8 and Rentaro appears to have her pretty firmly in the "little sister" category) it doesn't look likely to turn into a harem-type setup. Rentaro and Kisara have a shared angsty past involving the death of her parents, but it will probably end up focusing on Rentaro, because he's a boy and the main character, but it also looks like it'll have a lot of focus on the nature and treatment of the cursed children.

It has the potential to end up one of those series with a lot of potential that end up disappointing in the end, but I have hopes for now.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure eps 1-2. My only previous experience with JJBA is reading the first arc ages ago, back in the Scans Daily days. (I can't recall if I actually read JJBA on SD, but establishing the timeframe and all...) I enjoyed it, but the series was way too daunting to even think about reading all of it on my computer. As far as the anime goes, I understand this is the most popular plotline by far. On the one hand, I see why it's popular and the art direction is certainly interesting, but it's taking "sea of men" to the extreme and what women there are exist to fawn over and be insulted by JoJo (including his mother). Except the one who dies to help JoJo learn as lesson about Stands. There's also enough manly posing to give any other shounen action series secondhand embarrassment.

I may just read the one arc of the manga with a female lead and skip the rest unless that blows me away.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san ep 1: Shoujo Ai short about a girl named Inugami who likes and acts like a cat, and a girl named Nekoyama who likes dogs. I decided to give it a try because I like Tonari no Seki-kun, the only short series i've watched before this. It was cute and i'll watch more. (I attempted to watch Mangaka-san to Assistant-san, too, but will be passing on it.)

The World is Still Beautiful eps 1-2. Three years ago, the Sun King took over his kingdom, and he's taken over most of the known world since. Shocking everyone, he proposes an alliance with a small kingdom whose royal family is rumored to be able to influence the weather, in exchange for having one of the king's four daughters sent to him as a bride. As the Sun King is rumored to be a lecherous, one eyed ogre, none of the daughters are thrilled with the prospect, but one princess, Nike, is chosen because she loses a battle of rock-paper-scissors with her sisters. Travelling incognito through the Sun Kingdom before her appointment at the royal palace, Nike is surprised to learn that, despite rumors, the kingdom doesn't appear to be oppressed, and has a thriving economy. She's even more surprised to learn that the king, Livius, is a teenager a few years younger then her.

Lots of economics, lots of politics, kidnappings and assassination attempts already, and a lot of Livius being a very intelligent brat and Nike yelling at him to get over himself already and oh, act like a kid already. (Presumably, they'll eventually be love interests. Right now, though, Nike treats him more like an annoying little brother she just acquired, and who she needs to shake some sense into.) I've seen a few people comment that Nike appears to be modeled after Nausicaa, and I agree, but don't think it's a bad thing. (Not that I've seen anyone say it as a negative thing.)

Also, the OD for this one is....odd.  Yes, odd.

I'm watching Mushishi of course, which is about like reading the manga, but with sound and color, and I'm still enjoying Tonari no Seki-kun a lot. I'm very behind on Nisekoi, which is drifting away from being a fake-dating romcom and looks to be turning into more of a straightforward harem series with lots of fanservice. I dunno.

I watched bits of a few other first eps, but wasn't grabbed by them. (Sadly, not even the one with the evil unicorn and the girl who drags along a coffin filled with guns.)  I might try Baby Love again.  I actually liked the bit I saw, especially the protagonist's obsessive notetaking, but it looked to be too Sea of Men to me.
meganbmoore: (shoujo height difference)
Unless there's a volume that's out in the US that I don't know of, I am now caught up with the US releases. WHAT TO DO!

Spoilers were squealing and then that One Thing happened )

Maybe I should finally watch the anime and/or TWDrama?
meganbmoore: (7 seeds: hana/natsu)
[personal profile] chaila : Mangas that you would recommend to people interested in trying manga for the first time (asking for a friend).

(Further probing revealed that ladies and Sci-Fi are preferred.)

So, the Sci-fi part is a bit hard. Generally speaking, I watch a fair bit of Sci-Fi, but I don't read much. This applies to Japanese output as much as US output. I've seen a fair number of Sci-Fi anime, but haven't read as much manga in that genre. That said:

These first two are series that I only fairly recently discovered, and so actually have decent writeups of that I don't feel the need to revisit and see if I said anything about them that I wouldn't say now. (Not that I revisited posts on the others. Just saying.)

Karakuri Odette: A relatively short and absolutely adorable series about a teenaged girl who is actually a robot, and who goes to high school. Very very little actual science, but lots of adorableness with Odette making friends and learning about humans and human interactions and becoming obsessed with cute things.

7 Seeds: The only series I'm recommending here that isn't licensed in the
US, and probably never will be. This is a post-apocalyptic series about 5 groups of youths who were cryogenically frozen as a last ditch effort to save some of humanity from a meteor that was expected to wipe out most if not all human life. (My favorite team is the team of "rejects" who were only sent along just in case the teams made up of more prestigious members of society ended up being a bit too precious to survive post-apocalyptic Japan.) The various teams' pods were meant to only release them when environmental conditions were once again safe for humanity, but it's possible that they actually simply broke down. There's a huge variety of characters, both male and female, and a big emphasis that no one type of person or set of skills is better than the other. There are four main narrators, two male and two female, but the male narrators have less POV focus after their respective teams' backstories are told. There are parts that are thoroughly depressing and several volumes made me think I might gnaw my fingers off from fretting, and it is wonderful.

Basara: This is a post-apocalyptic manga by, Yumi Tamura, the genius who is also the creator of 7 Seeds, and it's ALSO a post-apocalyptic series with lots of female characters, but one that is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT IN EVERY WAY. (Except that with Tamura's huge casts, she ends up reusing basic character designs, which can get a tad confusing.) While 7 Seeds is very psychological and is about survival, Basara is a somewhat more conventional adventure/romance in structure. The apocalypse came and went and Japan is now a somewhat feudal society, built on the remains of the old, and there's the standard of the ruthless royal family with various members ruling over parts of Japan. The main character, Sarasa, lives in the Red King's kingdom. Her twin brother, Tatara, is the chosen one" who is supposed to overthrow the royal family, and so the Red King has her village attacked and Tatara is killed. So Sarasa hacks off her hair and pretends to be Tatara, claiming that it was actually Sarasa who was killed in the attack. Then Sarasa sets off to build an army and destroy the royal family. As one does. Along the way she meets and falls in love with a young man named Shuri, who, whoops, turns out to actually be the Red King, who also hates his family and is plotting to overthrow them, and thinks Tara is a dangerous force who will only end up hurting the kingdom. This inevitable angstorama reveal actually doesn't come into play for ages and ages, and much of the series is the two running around post-apocalyptic Japan (sometimes together, often not) finding allies and preparing to go to war with each other and having internal monologues about how they must destroy their enemy both for the people and to create a better world for THEIR ONE TRUE LOVE (aka, Secretly the Enemy). They also exchange messages via adorable messenger owls. Among the myriad of allies, the ABSOLUTE BEST are the pirate queen, the inventor/spy girl, and the flamboyantly crossdressing angsty actor. Like 7 Seeds, the array of women who are TOTALLY COOL YUMI TAMURA DOESN'T CARE IF THIS IS CONVENTIONALLY A COOL TYPE is pretty vast, and there are a variety of interesting relationships, with romantic relationships not always being prioritized over the others.

As you can probably tell, I'm not completely rational about the series, as it's one of the earlier series I fell madly for, and it's been one of my favorites for years and years. The series is licensed in the US, but some volumes are out of print. The publisher, Viz Media, has it available in digital format, though, and it can probably also be acquired through the library system.

Claymore: This one is fantasy, though there are some sci-fi elements going on off screen, and this is the only series here whose target audience isn't female. Claymore is an action series about part-demon women who go around their country slaying demons who pray on people. And then things go fubar and the organization they work for may or may not be evil and there may be rebellions and teams of swordswomen in black leather that make the entire fandom swoon. The warriors are all raised to be stoic loners with no personal connections, and so when we meet them, most have only had one or two important personal connections since childhood, if that. It's part of the shounen action genre, in which "we fight and yell at each other a couple times and then are BFF" is A Thing, and so its more reserved approach to the protagonists making personal connections is rather different from most shounen manga, and its primarily female cast is pretty unique. As a warning, it really is a very violent series, and body parts tend to go flying a lot.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: A much lighter series than any of the above save for Karakuri Odette. This is about a girl who discovers that she's the reincarnation of the moon princess, and has to find the reincarnations of her guardians, who are all named after planets. This is one of the big classics of the Magical Girl genre, and rightly so. The characterization can be rather basic, but in a good way if that makes sense, and the series just assumes that it's perfectly natural for all the destined guardians of the universe to be female (eventually, there are so many that you literally lose count, and it's glorious. Rather like Claymore, but with hearts and sparkles instead of flying bodyparts). And while there's a central romance, it never really takes attention away from all the girls and their friendships, and the boy in question has a habit of getting abducted, brainwashed, and poisoned, sometimes in combination.

Skip-Beat: This one actually has no sff elements at all, and I'm including it because I would feel like I was committing a crime against my soul if I didn't. Skip-Beat is about Kyoko, a veryveryvery traditional and obedient girl who quits school and goes to Tokyo with her boyfriend to support him in his career as a rising ambition. Except it turns out that said boyfriend is actually running around with other girls while she's cooking for him and working to keep his rent paid, and brought her along to be a housekeeper. point, it gets good because then she swears she will get EPIC REVENGE by...becoming a more famous idol than he is and sets off with singleminded, vengeful ambition. Except then it turns out that, well, she's actually GOOD at acting, and enjoys the work. Kyoko can be ruthlessly singleminded and analytical and vengeful one second and then squeeing over something cute the next. She also possesses the superpower of turning every single one of her rivals into her reluctant fangirls, and pretty openly platonically (or so we're told) crushes on the first of them, Kanae, who sometimes finds herself internally warring with her pride vs Kyoko's expected enjoyment of something cute and girly. it sometimes gets sidetracked by the (fairly reasonable) angst of the male lead/Kyoko's love interest, Ren, but never for too long, and is better than many series about not forgetting about her when that happens.
meganbmoore: (a royal affair: reading)
I don't think I've done this since mid-December, but i also posted separately on most of what I read for a while though, so this is just for what I've read in January, but not posted on separately.

What are you currently reading

The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn. Fluffy and entertaining Regency Romance. Like most Quinn books, I'm enjoying it, but will probably have forgotten half the details a week after having finished. At about 1/3 of the way through, the best bit has been the angsty, math genius hero very seriously debating the existence of unicorns with an eleven year old. (Spoiler: the eleven year old wins.)

Legend of the Condor Heroes by Jin Jong. I'm still in the first chapter, which is and Guo Jing and Yang Kang's fathers. It's fine so far, but I don't think i'll actually get into it until Huang Rong shows up.

What did you recently finish reading?

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. YA fantasy than has the conventional framework of "orphaned waif learns s/he is secretly of the magic upper class and is whisked away from humble beginnings (and no-longer-socially-appropriate childhood BFF) to court," except this Special Orphan is a girl, and her powers/supposed destiny aren't necessarily what we're led to believe. Loosely based on Russian history, the book isn't strikingly original in any description, it's just much better done than most of its type, which makes it feel much fresher. It also managed to feature a YA romantic triangle that didn't annoy me, which doesn't happen often.

"Hmm...I appear to be in love with my best friend, who might now be dead, and who I don't think was actually that interested in me to start with. But he's been gone for a while and this other guy is nice to me and is kinda hot is that dark and mysterious way-no, wait. He's actually an evil sociopath. No more of that. And it turns out my friend is still alive WE JUST MYSTERIOUSLY NEVER GOT EACH OTHER'S LETTERS. I think I'll force a sit down and we'll discuss this like intelligent, rational people. After everyone else stops trying to imprison and/or kill us."

Bronze no Tenshi Vol 1-3 by Chiho Saitou. Shoujo manga about Alexander Pushkin and his wife, Natalia Goncharov. It's 7 volumes total and I've enjoyed what I've read, but it was starting to drag a bit for me, so I'll get back to it later.

Remembrances for A Certain Pilot by Inumura Koroko. This is the basis for the anime movie The Princess and the Pilot, and the prequel to the books the airing anime The Pilot's Love Song is based on. This is an adventure novel about a young pilot in a world similar to early 20th century Europe* who is hired to secretly escort the prince's fiancee through several thousand miles of enemy airspace. For the large part, what you expect to have happen happens, and I was enjoying it in a rather relaxed way until i got to the end and realized I'd gotten invested without realizing it. I look forward to watching both the movie and the series.

*(Has anyone ever actually sat down and pondered the popularity of this kind of thing in japan? Not that i'm complaining at all, I just find it interesting.)

Pandora Hearts Vol 9-13 by Jun Mochizuki. These volumes were pretty backstory heavy (and I don't think mochizuki is anywhere near done with that yet), and also significantly darker than earlier volumes. Also about 50x as heavy with the "Alice in Wonderland" references. I am enjoying this series a lot, but wish there was more Ada and Alice, and less Vincent. I think there are several more volumes out in English, but the library don't have them yet.

What do you think you'll read next?

Probably another romance novel, or some YA.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
This series is by Suzuki Julietta, the mangaka of Kamisama Kiss, but the two series don't have much in common.

Karakuri Odette is about Odette, a robot who looks like a teenaged girl. Whether by accident or design (it isn't clear which) Odette is an extremely curious robot, and decides she wants to go to high school to learn what "real girls" are like (as compared to girls in TV dramas, not as compared to Odette herself). Her creator, professor Yoshizawa, agrees, and then spends the rest of the series clearly wondering if it's actually harder to be the parent of robotic teenagers than human teenagers, especially once Odette becomes obsessed with "cute" things.

Odette quickly makes friends at school, who find her quirky instead of outright weird. (Note: Odette is outright weird by human teen terms. In a very endearing way.) The majority of the plotlines involve Odette wondering at various human antics and trying to figure out why people do things and how those things apply to her. She's soon joined by Chris, an android created to be a suicide bomb sent after Yoshizawa, but he finds himself unable to explode because he wants to play with Odette. FOREVER. It's possible he has an android crush on Odette, given his reactions to other guys hanging around Odette (He hates them. Hates. FOREVER.) but it can also be easily interpreted as brotherly dependence. Odette herself appears to have a crush on the school delinquent (who in turn has a crush on one of Odette's friends, Youko) but is oblivious to it. Despite the fact that there are a number of unrequited crushes and possible crushes running around (There's also a younger delinquent running around who has a crush on Odette and then boy Youko likes and...well, they're teenagers. Normal hormonal teenagers.) this is actually a very low-drama series, both for relationships and otherwise.

The science is virtually nonexistent, the only information into how Odette and Chris actually work or what went into making them being that they regularly have to recharge their batteries. Sometimes Yoshizawa has to do repairs on them, but we're not told what he actually does. Instead it's all about Odette learning about humans and her friendships and her maybe having feelings but not knowing what they are. Which may not be the most original plot ever, but it's done in a very endearing way that makes me generally want to squish Odette with whatever other character she happens to be in a scene with.
meganbmoore: (kyoko moko)
Fourteen-year-old Tsubasa and Arisa are twins who were very close as children, but who haven't seen each other in three years because of their parents' divorce, though they kept in touch through frequent and detailed letters, and they eventually decide to meet. ( never actually explained why they didn't see each other for three years as they both lived in Tokyo and no visitation ban was ever mentioned, but logic isn't overly important in this series.) Arisa is a model student with a supposedly perfect boyfriend, and is her class's representative, while Tsubasa is often considered a delinquent because she dyes her hair blonde and has rough manners.

When they meet, Arisa suggests that they impersonate each other for a day, and sends Tsubasa to her school in her place. Tsubasa enjoys the exchange day and when she finds a letter in Arisa's locker, she assumes it's a love letter from a secret admirer and takes it to Arisa. When Arisa reads the letter, she attempts to kill herself by jumping out the window, leaving her in a coma. When Tsubasa reads the letter, she finds that it contains nothing but the statement that Arisa is a traitor, and she decides to impersonate Arisa full time.

Arisa's class, it turns out, has access to a secret chatroom where they can send one wish to a mysterious figure named "The King" a week, and one student's wish will be granted. The wishes started small, but as they kept being granted, they escalated to wishing people would disappear, or be punished for slights, real or imagined. If someone rejects The King, or questions the wishes that are granted, they're labeled traitors and bullied unti they drop out or attempt suicide.

This is where things get a bit ludicrous. The King is pretty much the dernged spawn of Gossip Girl and A from Pretty Little Liars, expect that instead of taunting and/or tormenting the recipients of the amazingly omniscient texts, The King makes the recipients hir loyal sycophants, and the things The King gets away with, or gets the students to go along with, really stretch belief, and it doesn't help that the majority of the students don't even have names, much less personalities, and so most of the class really does just come across as a sycophantic mob. Tsubasa spends most of the series trying to learn who The King is, assuming that The King is responsible for Arisa's suicide attempt, and trying to figure out what was really going on in Arisa's life, as she learns that the Arisa that her sister presented to both her and the world was very different from the real Arisa.

The suspense plot of absurd, but a kind of absurd that I enjoy as long as it comes with characters I like doing interesting things, as is the case here. It was aldo refreshingly light on romantic shenanigans and drama. While Tsubasa has an apparent love interest (not, thankfully, her sister's boyfriend) it never progresses (Within the series, at least. Post-series is likely another matter.) beyond implied mutual interest, and the focus on their relationship is that of investigative partners. Arisa's relationship with her boyfriend plays an important role, but the real love story and most important relationship in the series is the relationship between Arisa and Tsubasa, even if one does spend much of the series in a coma.

The series is by Natsumi Ando, who has had several series licensed in the US. I read her Zodiac P.I. and Ultra Maniac back when they were first released stateside and enjoyed them at the time, but don't recall either well, save that both were Magical Girl series (Well, I know Ultra Maniac was, and I think Zodiac P.I. was too) and that that Ultra Maniac had the BFF relationship between the two female leads pretty central. Arisa is licensed in the US by Kodansha. The first 11 volumes are out, and the final volume is due out near the end of January.


meganbmoore: (Default)

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