In Japanese, manga, Yoshihiro Tatsumi on 2011/12/30 at 09:54
Did you know that someone (a certain Eric Khoo of Singapore) made an animated film about Tatsumi? And that he called it Tatsumi? And that it premiered at Cannes this past spring? And that it made its Tokyo debut in October when I just happened to be in said city? At this point, you’re probably expecting me to mention casually how I got invited to the Japanese premiere, but no. (Insert sad sigh here.) I did meet Tatsumi and his wife a couple weeks after the premiere, and so in the email back-and-forth leading up to that meeting, I strongly hinted that I would like to be invited, but it was not meant to be. Instead, when we met for lunch at a dark cafe in Jimbocho, he slid this collection of stories from the movie across the table, complete with beautiful illustration on the inside cover and the inscription “To Dear Allen” above it. I love this so sincerely and completely without a hint of irony.
The book itself is also lovely with a cinematic cover, all fade out to black. The lonely figure depicted in the centre of that fade-out pretty much sets the tone for the stories inside (beautifully laid out on pages edged in black, a nice touch that makes each page reminiscent of a movie frame). All of the stories are from around the seventies (or as I like to call it the bleakest time in Tatsumi’s career), and I’ve read them all before in other collections. Read the rest of this entry »
In Anthologies, English, Fiction, Japanese on 2011/12/16 at 10:14
I tend to write a lot about Japanese books because, well, I read a lot of Japanese books. For work, for pleasure, for study. At least half of the shelves in my house are crammed full of books written in Japanese. And a lot of them end up being challenged by my brain right here. But if you don’t read Japanese, you’ll won’t have the chance to see if what I am saying is total garbage or not. You’ll never see all the fresh new awesome that is popping up in the world of books in Japan. Until now! Thanks to Monkey Business!
This slim volume is, the cover claims, an anthology of “new writing from Japan”, and the pages are crammed with some really interesting stuff, from tanka poems to a lengthy interview by novelist Hideo Furukawa with J-Lit superstar Haruki Murakami to a manga interpretation of a Kafka story by Nishioka Kyodai, a brother-sister team that consistently produces some of the most interesting manga work out there. So basically, something for everyone in these pages. Pages which are actually culled from the Japanese version and translated just for you into English. The Japanese version is quarterly and it seems like the English is going to be annual, so we are missing a lot of new and interesting work from Japanese authors, but still, we were missing so much more before. Read the rest of this entry »
In Japanese, Kaoru Mori, manga on 2011/12/09 at 10:15
Here is a thing you maybe don’t know about me: I like clothes. More specifically, I like fabric. I am the kind of person who gets excited when she is given a ticket to the Textile Museum of Canada (Thanks, K.!). And I’m not talking about clothes as in fashion (although I do enjoy fashion), I’m talking about clothes as art, fabric as a thing of beauty to enjoy and caress. (There is nothing wrong with caressing a particularly beautiful piece of fabric. Or a particularly beautiful book for that matter. It is a natural expression of love for an inanimate object. Quit laughing.) I grew up around fabric. My mom made all our clothes when we were kids, and I spent a lot of time just watching her. For Christmas when I was nine, I got my first sewing machine, a thing I had spent months begging my parents for. There has never been a time in my life where a stack of fabric wasn’t threatening to topple over from at least one shelf.
So with all this new knowledge about me and my brain in mind, it should come as absolutely no surprise that I picked up Otoyomegatari. I had been reading about it here and there before and after its publication in English as A Bride’s Story, but to be honest, I wasn’t really that interested. It sounded fine, probably a decent read, but the mountain of books waiting to be read by me is approaching Everest-like heights, and new candidates have to really wow me if they have even a hope of being added to the top. And the story of a twenty-year-old woman married off to a twelve-year-old boy in 19th-century central Asia did not sound like a wow-me kind of thing. Read the rest of this entry »
In Boys' Love, est em, Japanese, manga on 2011/12/02 at 10:14
The buttload of manga you’re seeing here these days? You have my recent trip to Japan and my inability to leave a book unbought to thank for that. It literally pains me to leave an interesting book on the shelf in a bookshop. Before I can leave the store, I have to stroke it gently and tell it I’ll come back for it. And when a book remains unbought due to circumstances (like going through security too soon at the airport. I’ll get you next time, Book 3 of A Bride’s Story!), it haunts me, popping up at inopportune moments to make me wonder what might have been read.
Happy End Apartment almost ended up being one of those unbought books. I ran across it when I was killing time before a meeting at a newly discovered treasure of a bookstore on the walk from Nakano to Shinjuku. There it was, the new est em. And as I’m sure we all know by now, she just happens to be one of my favourite manga artists these days, BL or otherwise. I probably stood in front of the lovely display for ten minutes, chewing my lip and weighing the pros and cons. I didn’t want to add to my already weighty bag before heading out to my meeting, but I couldn’t bear to leave it there unbought and unread. My aching shoulder muscles won that day, but fortunately, my brain was all dog with a bone, and I was back in the shop the next day, picking up this treasure (along with a stack of other lovelies I had had my eye on). Read the rest of this entry »