martes, 10 de septiembre de 2013

Prunus girl

Today was a bad manga day. There are only two days left of my summer holiday and I wanted to make the most of the free time and read a bunch of stuff. Yesterday was ok; I started Slam Dunk and another manga called Banana bread no pudding that I might make a review about. Anyway, so today I was in the mood for something short and not very profound, so I picked up some one-shots. After reading Complex Love my mood became grim, but as I was lurking through the manga-updates forums in search of a good recommendation, somebody mentioned Prunus girl. I thought “great, let’s have a doses of gender bender” and started reading it. Anybody who had walked into my room after two chapters would have seen a black aura in the corner of my bed as I muttered how I hated the world (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here).
The main character, Maki, meets a girl while he’s off to look at his school marks. The first day of school however, the girl he met turns out to be a student from his class and she also claims to be a boy, despite him wearing the girl’s uniform. So then they become friends and stuff happens.
As a genderqueer, I found Prunus girl very disturbing. There were comments in there that offended me and it seems like the whole manga revolved around her being a girl or a boy. Nearly every five pages Aikawa-san has to say "do you think I'm male or female?", and the next four pages revolve around what Maki-kun thinks she might be. What I like about the gender-bender genre is that the characters blur the lines between the different sexes and genders and make great pink and blue pies that nobody would understand unless they were reading the manga themselves. I don’t like stereotypes. I don’t like having to hear “boys do this”, or “all I can see is a girl”, or “you must be a boy because you said this or that”. And there was too much of that in this manga.
But as a non-sentimental manga gobbling monster, I think the story itself could have led to some funny situations and the art was ok too (not great, but ok). Still I had to leave it. If you couldn’t care less about stereotypes or have a binary way of thinking, I think this manga can be enjoyable, but if not I think there are better gender-bender manga out there (like Ouran high school Host Club!).
Average rating from Manga-updates: 8.3 / 10
My rating: 5 / 10

martes, 20 de agosto de 2013

Voices of love (Ai no koe)

I have been wanting to read this manga for a long time because I  see the picture from the cover everywhere. It has been on my list for a long time and two days ago I said “right, it’s about time I read this.” So here I am. It actually disappointed me quite a lot. The cover is the best this about the manga, in my opinion.
It turns out there are five one-shots and only one volume.
Pretty much all of the stories are the same; a love story about a girl and a boy. There're the typical teacher-student relationship and some best-friend-wants-more-than-to-be-friends stories. The end is very predictable and the characters aren't that likeable. Actually, the boys are all hookers that spend their days sleeping with any/every girl they can get their hands on, while the girls just sit in a corner and cry and never ever think it might be a possibility for them to stand up for themselves. But the pictures are ok-ish. I don’t recommend you read this manga for the pleasure of reading, but if what you want is to expand your manga-knowledge, then I would say you can read it. It’s bound to come up somewhere when you search for “manga” on google.
Average rating from Manga-updates: 6.7 / 10
My rating: 5.3 / 10

viernes, 2 de agosto de 2013

Cat street

Cat Street is a manga of eight volumes from the mangaka Youko Kamio.
It’s basically about a girl (Keito Aoyama) that is a childhood actress, but due to her weakness she fails and becomes a shut-in. Then she comes out to the realworld and has to deal with life.
I thought it was a great manga, especially after a long time of not reading any proper shoujo. The story’s main focus isn’t the romance either, but more “finding oneself” and “getting ahead in life”. The main character wouldn’t be what you call stupid, but I think she still could do with some extra screws to get into my cool-female-character list.
I was disappointed to hear that the same mangaka also did Hana Yori dango (which I didn’t like AT ALL), but the series have little in common, apart from the pictures.
All in all (I still love this city), it’s worth checking out if you don’t get too frustrated with manga sometimes. Oh, and Momiji wears some great dresses that are interesting and give you ideas if you like to draw.
Average rating from Manga-updates: 8.9 / 10
My rating: 7 / 10
By the way, did anyone get the Kiki’s delivery service quote in here?

martes, 23 de julio de 2013

Oneshot Wonders

When I don't feel like starting an everlasting series, but rather prefer something quick to read, I look up oneshots or manga with very few chapters that I can finish on the same day. Here are my favourite oneshots and oneshot collections, in no particular order.

Beautiful People by Mitsukazu Mihara is a one volume manga with six stories. The best is the last, but all of them are great and profound stories. Each of them can touch you in some way or another.
Le théâtre de A, from Asumiko Nakamura, has a different art style than most manga, but in a good way. They are very different stories, but all beautiful. A manga that has made me smile after a very long time of not doing so with a manga in my hand.
Natsukashi Machi's Rozione Sumomo Yumeka presents four charming, melancholy chapters that explore the trickling of time and the machinations of the heart.
If you prefer shounen-ai, Cello Mello is one of the best of it's genre. Six stories from Tohru Tagura that are very well drawn (I kept more than one image for my collection of favourite pictures) that leave you wishing for more.
Read Hotel if you prefer sci-fi. In my opinion, the first story is the best, but all of them are interconnected somehow. The stories are what you call thought-provoking.
Akazukin to Yasashii Ookami is great also. There are no words, only pictures, and it keeps surprising you when you figure out what's happening. It really leaves you empty at the end.

jueves, 18 de julio de 2013

Spirited away

I found this very interesting text on tumblr about the kanji from the bathouse that come out in the movie Spirited away.

" I always wondered why the symbol “ゆ” (said “yu”) was on the door to the bath house. I asked my Japanese teacher, and he wasn’t sure so I did a little research.
The symbol is used on the entrance to 温泉 (onsen) and 銭湯 (sento), or Japanese bath houses. The word “yu” is translated to “hot water”. So, makes sense to be on a bath house, yes?
Then I did more reading. During the Edo period, these public baths became popular for men because of women who worked at these communal baths, and functioned as prostitutes as well as bath attendants. These bath houses were called “yuna baro”. The woman were known as 湯女, or “yuna”. This directly translates to “hot water woman”. Guess what the woman who ran this bath house would be called?
Yubaba. (translates directly to “hot water old woman”)
Yubaba is the name of the woman who runs the bath house in Spirited Away. If you watch Spirited Away in Japanese, the female workers are referred to as yuna.
Chihiro was forced to change her name to Sen. Kinda like how strippers get names like “Candy”.
カオナシ(No-Face) keeps offering Chihiro money. He “wants her”.
THEN I read interviews with Miyazaki. This was all put in intentionally. Miyazaki’s stories are filled with underlying themes and metaphors. He said he was tackling the issue of the sex industry rapidly growing in Japan, and that he felt children being exposed to it at such early ages was a problem. 
This can be frustrating because so much gets lost in translation, and people see it as this cute children’s movie and this “masterpiece of animation” (which it definitely is) instead of understanding the deeper meaning behind it. "

Knowing how creative the Japanese can get with their kanji, you'd expect a whole new story behind every name of the characters as well. I would like to add also the hidden meaning behind the names Yubaba and Zeniba. As already said above, Yubaba is spelt with the kanji 湯婆婆 (yu-ba-ba), baba meaning old woman and the yu appearing at the bathouse entrance. The first kanji of Zeniba's name, 銭婆 (zeni-ba) means "yen cent", but it used to have the meaning "archaic, ancient", therefore her name meaning "old witch". If you join the first kanji from Zeniba's name (銭) with the first of Yubaba's name (湯), you get a whole new word: sentô, meaning "public bath". And voilà, that's another bathouse for you.
There are many other interesting kanji in Spirited away. The name Chihiro literally means "a thousand fathoms", therefore mentioning water, implying the first meeting between haku and her.
Yubaba's baby's shirt is similar to the one Kintarô, from a popular Japanese folklore, is wearing. Kintarô has the first kanji of his name written on his shirt (kin), while Bô, Yubaba's baby has the same shirt, plus the kanji of his own name.


viernes, 12 de julio de 2013


Enigma is a shounen jump manga brought to us by Kenji Sakaki. A group of teens get chosen by what looks like a jaw and they have to find some passwords and get out of there school in a time limit, or else. I found this manga after finishing Kamisama ni Iutoori, wanting something similar. But it's not as good. As somebody once said before: "Imagine a boy with weird hair (but really well drawn) standing in a path of sunlight, with an index finger pointing forward bravely, saying "I will save everyone!". That's the definition of what the story is.
BUT I still liked it. The mysteries weren't hard to solve, but they were interesting. All of the characters are very different people, which you rarely see in a manga by the same author, as people usually have a limit to character creativeness. It is well drawn and well explained. It simply isn't deep.

Average rating from Manga-updates: 7.4 / 10
My rating: 7.7 / 10

Yaoi: Yay or nay?

I have nothing against yaoi. Actually there was once a time when I passed my days hidden away in my room and I would search the internet and read any that I could get my hands on, but luckily those days are over. Why, you might ask? Because there are very few manga that I find good enough to bother mentioning once I'm finished with them. Usually there is the violent/possessive/sadist seme that spends the whole manga finding a way to torture "his" uke, who does nothing more but cry. I really don't understand how he can permit his companion to do such evil things and get away with it. A perfect example of this is Sex pistols and You're my loveprize in viewfinder, two yaoi that I couldn't even finish, but for some reason are popular now between the fans of this genre.
Anyway, that said, there are a few yaoi or shounen-ai that are brilliant, to the point to make their way into my top 15 list of all time. I'm talking about Slow Starter (Ichikawa Kei), Let Dai, Seven Days and Acid Town.
Slow Starter is plain cute. Two boys meet each other and become friends. Then they realise that what they want is more than just being friends. Cliché, but lovely. Plus one of the characters has one of my favourite names: Ino.
Seven Days is similar to Slow Starter, in the sense that it's another shounen-ai that makes you think love is a beautiful thing.
Leaving the innocence behind, Acid town is a yaoi from one of the best mangakas out there. I find it hard to describe what it's about, if I don't want to give out any spoilers, but to make a long story short, a boy has to protect himself and his little brother from the dark side of a world much worse than ours. The only problem is that it's still airing; therefore it's best to wait until it's completed or you'll miss a whole lot of small details. It's a story that makes you think "what the hell is going to happen?". While you're waiting for the series to be completed, I recommend the other mangas that Kyuugou has done.
Last, but definitely not least, is Let Dai. It's not really a manga, as it's from Korea, but it's still a great piece of artwork. Jaehee, the main character, saves a girl in a back alley from being robbed and beaten up. Because of this, he finds himself swallowed into the world of gansters. But not just any gansters; Korean ones. The worse after the Chinese mafia.
Dai is actually very similar to Rei from Mars (both in character and looks), but much much more cruel. I'm seriously scared of him. And he's just a picture.
The only not-so-good point I found while reading Let Dai was that the names are in Korean (duh) and I'm not used to Korean names. I still don't even know how to pronounce Jaehee.
Other good yaoi and shounen-ai are the works of Ogura Muku. Sweet one-shots and well-drawn.

domingo, 26 de junio de 2011

CLAMP school detectives

CLAMP school detectives, or Clamp Gakuen Tanteidan in Japanese, is a shoujo manga (and anime) from the well known mangakas that call themselves CLAMP. It only has 12 chapters, three volums, therefore it's a fast read.
Today I'm talking about this series because it is one of the first anime I watched, when I was a kid. It is my favourite work out of all the CLAMP series, pretty much by a long way.
The story is about three boys - Akira, Suoh and Nokoru - who make a detective club to save and help all ladies in distress. Okay, so the plot isn't that interesting or profound, and it doesn't manage to keep you addicted to it, but during the whole manga you have a smile on your face.
Plus it's got lovely bi-shounen boys ;) .
I recommend watching a few episodes of the anime and reading the manga at the same time.

Average rating from Manga-updates: 6.8 / 10
My rating: 8 / 10