Category: Haruko Kumota

Random Anniversary 4: My Brain

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Almost two years to the day since my brain last celebrated the end of a journal, a sign that me and my brain need to work on spending more time with our journal and less time on Twitter. But the gratification from Twitter is instant, while the journal is more of a slow burn, and present me always needs cookies right now, all too often to the detriment of future me.

What happened in these two years documented in a little purple notebook that I got in Singapore? Who knows?? The notebook in question is tucked away in my Toronto apartment, while my brain and I are here in Tokyo. Recent happenings that are most certainly included in the journal include interpreting at TIFF in September and for author Hideo Furukawa last month (reasons why posting here has been especially light), but further back than that, and my poor memory grows hazy. I was in Japan a lot last year? Maybe? I lectured a bunch of hapless university students in America about gender in translation? I had some birthdays and my body continued its relentless march towards our inevitable decline? (more…)

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Nobara: Haruko Kumota

nobaraBy the time you are reading this, I am busy making friends with some cats on an island in sweaty, summery Japan, hopefully with a cheap, trashy Chu-Hi in hand. But while I am writing it, I am in full panic mode, scribbling notes to myself about things I need to do before I leave and piling random foodies and gifts (okay, mostly quinoa for me) on top of a suitcase to be packed in theory in a thoughtful, careful manner several days before I leave, but in reality, to be crammed together the night before I set out on my journey as I weep at all the things I still need to do before getting on the plane. I am not the best traveller, you guys.

But if there’s anything that will distract me in times of panic, it’s ridiculous puns and in-jokes that are funny to no one but me. Which is of course why I could not stop myself from tweeting the chapter end pages in Nobara as I read it. Each one features the young girl of the cover, Mone, in scene with one character or another from the main story, “Nobara”, or one of the other two shorter stories accompanying it in this volume, “Mimi-kun” or “Lullaby of Birdland”. That in and of itself is not particularly funny; in fact, it’s more adorable than anything. If it weren’t for the caption! I don’t know if Kumota speaks English and so chose that caption deliberately, but I am going to pretend that she does and did (even as I highly doubt that this is the case). (more…)

Boys Loving!

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Happy 801, fellow fujos! Posting has been light around here as I try to get myself sorted for my annual pilgrimage to Japan (this year involves cats, an island, and fruit trees!), but I would be deeply remiss were I to overlook this the greatest and perviest of holidays, a day when we who love boys who love boys for our voyeuristic pleasure remember just what a pleasure it is and just what voyeurs we are.  (more…)

Itoshi No Nekokke: Haruko Kumota

Itoshi no Nekokke

I’m not going to pull any punches here: I loooooooove this series. I love it like I love cuddling kittens. I love it like I love my sister’s dog Rex, who is basically the best dog in the world and deserves some kind of dog-bone medal or something. Uncomplicatedly. Unreservedly. I love it in the most uncynical way, with every sincere bone in my body (admittedly, there are not many of those, but still). These are the books I turn to when I come home full of despair at the awfulness of the world, at how horrible people are, at all the terrible, terrible things that happen outside the confines of the panels of manga.

Which is pretty much why I figured I’d never write about them. Although I almost always like the things my brain battles on these pages, I try not to be so unabashedly fangirl about it. But some books just utterly and completely win me over. And Nekokke definitely falls into this category. It is the story of Kei-chan and Mii-kun and their perfect, wonderful, charming, adorable love. (Did I mention I love this series?) When somewhat sullen, dark-haired Mii moves from Tokyo to Hokkaido in grade school, he meets and falls in love with the sunny, blond Kei. They grow up together and then Mii moves back to Tokyo once they graduate from high school. But not before he tells Kei that he’s actually been in love with him his whole life and asks Kei to be his boyfriend. Kei’s not gay, but he is infinitely agreeable and loves Mii more than anyone in the whole world. So he agrees. (I’m tagging him for the bi team.) They then spend three years apart, Mii in Tokyo and Kei in Hokkaido, until Kei moves to the big city to be with Mii. And this is where the first book in the series actually starts.  (more…)

Fubin BL: Miho Kigoshi, Keiko Fukumoto (eds.)

Fubin BL

I’m not going to lie to you: I grabbed Fubin BL on one of my many book shopping trips in Tokyo because of the “The Latest BL from Takako Shimura” splashed across the obi in enormous letters. Shimura is always one of those artists I just enjoy reading, even though I rarely go out of my way to hunt her stuff down. But I love the perspective on sexuality and gender she brings to pretty much all of her work (like in Wandering Son, which I think is her only work in English) and the thought of a new BL piece from her after she has spent all this time really honing her gender-coloured storytelling seemed like too spectacular a gift from the BL gods to pass up. 

On first glance, I also thought the title was Furin BL (Adulterous BL), which made it sound like something along the lines of the Dame BL anthology. So all the way home, I was wondering to myself just what exactly adulterous BL was, only to discover when I pulled it out of the bag that it was actually Fubin BL (Compassionate BL). (The characters actually don’t look that much alike; I just wasn’t paying that much attention.) The idea of compassionate BL deflated my balloon a little, but either way, the collection does still have Takako Shimura and Haruko Kumota, another favourite, so I decided to give it a chance and learn what makes BL compassionate. (more…)

Rakugo Shinju: Haruko Kumota

Rakugo ShinchuI think I might be getting into rakugo? Maybe? I don’t know. I keep getting involved in it not on purpose. It’s like rakugo is really going out of its way to make me love it. First, it was my friend/former student inviting me to come see him perform rakugo. (He is very good and cracked me up even when I could only understand half of what he was saying.) Then it was the Beguiling asking me to read this new Tatsumi book, a collection of manga adaptations of rakugo stories. And they were pretty great. And I ended up translating them into English, so I had to do a lot of studying about rakugo. I even got lessons from my friend and went to see more performances to get a better feel for the tempo of the whole thing, so that I could do Tatsumi’s work justice.

And now Haruko Kumota has taken a break from the world of BL to draw a very nioi-kei series about rakugo. I feel like by the time the series is finished, she will have convinced me to go hang out in a rakugo hall for the day. She is really showing off the charms of  this traditional storytelling, a kind of behind-the-scenes feel, even including little lessons on how rakugo performances work and how to get tickets in a couple books in the series (up to number four with volume five currently serialized in ITAN). She is bringing rakugo to the BL generation.  (more…)