Random Anniversary 6: My Brain


These random anniversaries have a way of slapping me in the face with the extremely twisty road that is my life, and this anniversary is perhaps slappier than most. Over the course of this particular journal–a smart spring-green affair that was a gift from one of my favourite people–I went from running through the streets of London to buying extremely mislabelled “vegan” food in the night markets of Taipei to a narrow escape from a burgeoning plague in Tokyo to an actual pandemic in Toronto, where I have now been locked up in my apartment for the last three months using my sewing skills to craft masks for all my friends and family, only scurrying out for groceries and beer. It is honestly overwhelming to step back and take a real look at how life used to be and how it is now, especially because my science brain is only too well aware that the normalcy of the Before Times is probably never coming back.

And that’s a good thing in a lot of ways! The plague is certainly laying bare all the ways capitalism has failed us, and so many people suddenly have nothing to do but reassess the way we live in this world and discover the need to burn it all to the ground and rebuild a society that supports all of us, especially the most vulnerable among us, instead of a bunch of venture capitalists and tech bros and the general class of rich white people. Plus, we’re all expert handwashers now! And we have a new fashion possibility in the face mask. Continue reading “Random Anniversary 6: My Brain”

Random Anniversary 4: My Brain


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? Continue reading “Random Anniversary 4: My Brain”

Mirror Ball Flashing Magic: Tomoko Yamashita

Mirror Ball_YamashitaYears ago, before I ended up translating comics for a living, I was a teacher at this girls’ high school, a middle-of-the-road kind of school. So the girls I taught were expected to go onto university, but not necessarily a great university, and they would probably just find a husband there and never bother going into the workforce. They were nice and well behaved, even if not all of them understood the meaning of the word “plagiarism”, and I didn’t have to deal with all the crap the Japanese teachers did because I was a white girl and thus, could not actually be held seriously responsible for the well-being of my students. So basically, it was an easy job.

And I met this woman there who worked in the office, and we have been friends ever since. We are very different in a lot of ways, the most notable of which is that she does not read manga, while I (as you may have guessed from reading these pages) devour it. But she is extremely thoughtful and intelligent and amazing in general, so when she declared with some urgency that she needed to show me an author, I followed her without hesitation to the nearest bookstore. She would never lead me astray. The author was Tomoko Yamashita, and that was my first encounter with her. Continue reading “Mirror Ball Flashing Magic: Tomoko Yamashita”

Doujinshi Round-up: 2016 Edition

AlenzyasAlthough I bought and read all these doujinshi in 2015, I’m still calling it the 2016 edition because, like last year, I am writing about them in 2016 and it feels plain weird to call it the 2015 edition. Plus, there is already a 2015 edition from last year when I wrote about doujinshi I bought in 2014. And so, like the centuries and the years they contain, I will always be one number off in the rounding up of doujinshi. I apologize for the confusion.

What’s done is done, however, so let’s just get to the books.

Despite the fact that I was in Japan for a really long time last year (almost five months!), I spent a large part of that time on Cat Island. And Cat Island does not have doujinshi fairs. Unless the elderly farmers that populate the island were keeping something from me. (And now that I’ve thought of it, I hope they were! I love the idea of secret elderly farmer doujinshi!) And once I got to Tokyo, I was busy as usual with the horde of Canadians that descended upon the city to show their wares at the Tokyo International Comic Festival and Design Festa. Not to mention meetings with people to convince them to keep hiring me to read books and all those books they’ve already hired me for! So I didn’t really get to dig around in the world of doujinshis as much as I would have liked to. (I missed J Garden, for instance.) But the goods I did get are full of awesome, so I’m chalking this one up in the win column.

Continue reading “Doujinshi Round-up: 2016 Edition”

White Note Pad: Tomoko Yamashita

White Note Pad_YamashitaThis is Tomoko Yamashita’s year, my friends. Ten years ago, she made her professional debut as a manga artist, and the powers-that-be are taking advantage of this tidy round number to shove her in our faces in any way possible. Reissuing her old BL, collecting all the bits of ephemera from the many pamphlets and free inserts into the various editions of her books, putting out a book of interviews and conversations she’s had with other BL artists (including brain favourite est em!). There was even an art show (Complete with limited edition goods!) (Yes, I bought them.) (Don’t judge me!) at a weird building that is half grade school, half art center. All of which means that it is a very good time to be a fan in Japan.

But it also means that her latest serialisation—the first volume of which was released at the beginning of the month—get a little lost in all the noise. There’s just so much Yamashita to revel in! Fortunately, bookstores know their business, and they have White Note Pad prominently faced in the new books section to remind us Yamashita fans that she actually has a new book out that we can enjoy while we look back on and celebrate her ten years of keeping us lost in her dreamy worlds. Continue reading “White Note Pad: Tomoko Yamashita”