In Japanese, manga, NIshioka on 2013/05/17 at 09:00
After the madness and delight that was TCAF, I am essentially in hermit mode, recovering and reading and pondering the many wonderful moments from that time. In case you were wondering, Taiyo Matsumoto is even nicer than he led me to believe when we first met. And he stayed overtime at every signing he had, reluctant to disappoint those fans who had waited so long to meet him. I also managed, in the five free minutes I had, to pick up books by David B., Frederick Peeters, and Glyn Dillon, artists who in some weird constellation of coincidences were all sitting next to each other when I sought them out. So naturally, I had them sign books for me assembly-line style. (And they all drew the most beautiful things for me! Seek them out if you have the chance at some local comic fest!)
And normally, after an intensive Japanese experience like this weekend, I retreat into English books (and I have now, although you’ll hear about that later), but for some reason, Kami no Kodomo caught my eye, after lingering on the shelf of unread books for some months now. And once I started reading it, I realized that although I have expressed my love for the sister-brother Nishioka team on more than one occasion, I have never devoted any space to one of their books. Which is clearly a mistake because their long-form work is even more intriguing than their short stories. Read the rest of this entry »
In Asumiko Nakamura, Boys' Love, Japanese, manga on 2013/05/10 at 09:00
Given that I will be sitting next to Taiyo Matsumoto being his English voice when this is posted (come see us at TCAF!), I feel like I should be writing about another of his books here, especially given that in the last couple of months, I have read basically all of them. And they are all good and worth writing about, but it is sort of a masculine overdose. I am not at all opposed to work with male protagonists and characters, but when I read too many books without women in them, I am forced to wonder what kind of weird procreation systems the worlds in these books are equipped with. And when I start fleshing out those systems in my head myself, I know it is time to read something with more of a female perspective.
So it is kind of hilarious that I reached for Bara no Iro no Ho no Koro to give me that perspective, considering there are literally two women in its nearly two hundred pages. But you know, it’s Boys’ Love or walking that line at least, by a lady creator who has created some fine lady characters (one day, we’ll talk about Utsubora), and maybe, like any good fujoshi, what I was really looking for was some poignant boy-on-boy action. Something Bara Iro has in spades. Although no actual boy loving, which prompted one Japanese blogger (forgive me, I can’t find the link again) to categorize it as “Boys’ Love (?)”. Read the rest of this entry »
In Bilingual, English, Japanese, manga, Taiyo Matsumoto on 2013/05/03 at 09:38
I don’t know if you know about this thing called TCAF? It is where loads of awesome people gather near the beginning of May? This year, the main exhibition days are May 11 and 12, but there is lots of stuff happening in the week before and after, and the whole month in fact. Like this art show at a beer factory. Art + beer = Sign me up. You should totally come and check it out. But if you need another reason to check it out, how about insanely talented Japanese artist Taiyo Matsumoto? You know, the guy who wrote Ping Pong? And Tekkon Kinkreet? And so, so much more? TCAF is putting on a big show of his work, the first of its kind in North America and not much to compare with it even in his native Japan. So it is kind of a big deal.
And in my capacity as “Japanese guest liaison” for the festival (I love this title, makes me feel like I am always wearing sleek black suits with my hair pulled back into tight buns), I will be escorting Mr. Matsumoto around town and making sure something in English happens at his speaking events. He is pretty good at handling the Japanese part; hopefully, I will be equally good at handling the English. Because I really want people to fall in love with him like I have. Not only because he is a super-nice, super-sweet guy (because he is), but also because his work just grows more and more compelling and interesting. Read the rest of this entry »
In Japanese, manga, Usamaru Furuya on 2013/04/05 at 09:27
Years and years ago, when my Japanese was very much not up to the attempt, I read Osamu Dazai’s Ningen Shikkaku. And it took what felt like months to read this slim novel, months I spent looking up every other word in my crappy paper dictionary, because electronic dictionaries were way out of my price range and I did not have a computer. (And even if I had, I lived in such a remote area, I couldn’t have gotten an Internet connection in my apartment.) I didn’t put all this effort in because I am a sucker for punishment. (Although I can be.) It was Yozo Oba, the novel’s very troubled protagonist, that kept me going. I related to him in so many ways. He seemed like a reflection of my own worries and fears about life.
Oba is constantly playing a part, fearful of humanity and the ways of the people around him. This eventually leads him down a dark, dark path to some serious mental problems, alcoholism, and sure, why not, some drug addiction too. (In fact, this is one of the parts of the novel that remains most firm in my memory: the local chemist offering him heroin to help him kick his addiction to alcohol. Um… It was the forties. They still thought heroin could save the day, I guess.) Read the rest of this entry »
In Biography, Japanese, manga, Naoto Yamakawa on 2013/03/29 at 09:08
I am not much of a believer in coincidences, but sometimes things overlap in an oddly perfect way. Like this month’s Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by the always interesting Otaku Champloo, being on historical manga just as I was gearing up to finish this autobiography on Ryunosuke Akutagawa. In my head, Khursten and I were somehow momentarily telepathically connected and when I was contemplating the shelf of unread books and what I should read next, her thoughts on history nudged my hand towards Chokodoshujin. Although really, given that Chokodoshujin was sitting between the latest volumes of Natsume Ono’s Tsura Tsura Waraji and Kaoru Mori’s A Bride’s Tale, I suppose it was inevitable that I would read something historical next. But I’m still going to credit this one to psychic powers.
So! Continuing with Naoto Yamakawa’s retelling of famed author Akutagawa’s life and last days! Biographies are such weird things to me. I mean, if you’re interested enough to pick it up, you probably already know the basic story: the subject’s big accomplishments, how/when they died. Read the rest of this entry »
In est em, Japanese, manga on 2013/03/22 at 09:52
Wow, it sure has been a long time since I raved about something est em wrote. How could I be so remiss and deny you the pleasure of my gushing about yet another minimalist piece full of rich characters and thoughtful stories? Good thing I am here to make things right today.
Yeah, Ippo is everything you’d expect from est em. So if you don’t already like her, this book is probably not going to change your mind. But if you don’t already like her, that probably means that you’ve never read her because how could you not like her if you had? And Ippo is a pretty good place to start! Unless you’re looking for BL, in which case I’d turn you towards equus, mostly because wow, centaur sex. It exists on the printed page. If you’re not into equine-related BL, Tableau No. 20 is pretty good too. (Full disclosure: I translated that so of course I think it is pretty good.)
I am so glad editors are finally giving em a chance with longer form stories, first with Golondrina and now with Ippo. Obviously, I am a fan of her short stories, but with a whole book and more to tell a single story, she gets to stay with the same characters and really dig deep, revealing their personalities and their lives all onion-peeling style. Read the rest of this entry »
In Japanese, Keiko Takemiya, manga on 2013/03/15 at 09:31
By now, it should be well established that I am in love with the incredible amount of over-the-top drama Keiko Takemiya has managed to cram into her classic series Kaze to Ki no Uta. I love every angsty minute of every angsty page as Serge and Gilbert struggle with their unbelievably traumatic pasts, the homophobic and racist society around them, and their own self-hatred. Basically, I love that this is pretty much what being a teenager is like. Everything! Is! Life! Or! Death! (Or was that just me?)
So in the spirit of a new look at my love for this series, I decided to live blog my reading of Book Eight. Come, see these classic pages in a new way: through my eyes! And in the spirit of classic TV sitcoms, this live blog was prerecorded in front of a live audience (mostly my sister) because I don’t actually have several hours in the middle of a work day to sit and read manga and hang out online to ramble about it. But in the spirit of actually live live blogs, I’ll be posting bits and pieces every few minutes and hanging out on Twitter, so really, it’ll be just like a non-prerecorded live blog.
And warning: As with my other posts on this series, there are spoilers in these bits and pieces. Click through if you dare! Read the rest of this entry »
In Anthologies, Boys' Love, est em, Japanese, manga on 2013/02/15 at 09:51
When your day job is translating Boys’ Love manga, you get to see a laht of BL. You see the many, many insane scenarios dreamed up by BL authors and you wonder just who is into this uke/seme pairing, whether you want to or not. Like the one where the uke was a municipal tax collector and the seme was his adopted brother. (That one both squicked me out and bored me to tears. A tax agent? Really?) Or the one where the seme is a muscle-bound pervy play on a children’s story and the uke is his fawning acolyte. (This one was very, very funny.)
So when my eye happened upon the anothology Dame BL, I grabbed it immediately. After all I’ve seen, I found it hard to believe that there were actually any BL stories or pairings that were off-limits. After reading the whole thing cover to cover, I can now say with some authority, yes, yes, there are limits to what is acceptable in BL. For instance, if your story is set in a Nazi concentration camp. Yeah. That’s in here. (And surprisingly well done too, by ZIN.) Read the rest of this entry »
In French, Japanese, manga, Taiyo Matsumoto on 2013/02/01 at 10:51
When I started reading Ping Pong, I had no intention of actually writing about it. Because it is a five-book series about high school boys playing ping pong. Okay, fine, table tennis, if you want to be a snot about it. Either way, I am not particularly interested. I only picked the series up because of my job, which is sometimes very, very dull (days of Excel spreadsheets about human resources issues, sound effects for porn manga) and other days very, very much the best thing ever (short story by one of my favourite authors, dinner interview with one of my favourite artists). And in the very much the best thing ever category, I will be following Taiyo Matsumoto around for a week or so in May.
If you have been hiding under a rock (and maybe you have been deeply hungover, in which case, that rock belly is probably the most comfortable place you can be, free from noise and light) (but probably crawling with wriggly things with too many legs, so I’d still abandon the rock and suffer the light and noise), Taiyo Matsumoto is a featured guest at TCAF this year. (As is famed gay artist Gengoroh Tagame and French artist David B.) (And many other talented creators. I always feel bad just singling out a couple. They’re all incredible!) And as usual, to make sure I am ready for what his fans throw at him, I am (re)reading as much of his oeuvre as I can get my hands on.
Read the rest of this entry »
In Japanese, manga, Natusme Ono on 2013/01/25 at 10:35
The shelf of unread books is a mysterious place. For one thing, it’s no longer just one shelf. The many, many books that I buy cannot be contained by one shelf any longer and have slowly but steadily been dribbling down to the shelf below, so that now the unread books occupy two shelves, along with the tops of all the books on the other shelves. Yes, I have one of those bookcases so stuffed with books you’re afraid to get near it for fear that it might choose that moment to collapse under the combined weight of those pages and injure you in the process.
The real mystery of the shelf of unread books, though, is that some books will languish there for years, while others are plucked up again almost as soon as they are put down, read quickly and sent to their new home on a more permanent shelf or to the give-away box. Some of the books that languish are ones that I really do want to read right away, but can’t for various reasons, like Neal Stephenson’s Reamde which is jammed onto the shelf of unread books due to its sheer length. I know once I start it, I’ll have to read it non-stop and I have to read a bunch of other things for work, leaving me sadly without the luxury of dedicating a couple weeks to a single book. Some day… Read the rest of this entry »