Soil: Atsushi Kaneko

I’ve been reading this series since I happened across Volume 1 on the shelf of a bookstore that stocked a lot of off-the-beaten-path manga way back in 2004. I was poking around looking for something else published by Beam Comix and the cover caught my eye. I hadn’t read Kaneko’s previous series BAMBi, but there was something about how the faces were simultaneously attractive and somehow grotesque. And the obi promised me a “twisted mystery”. So obviously I had to buy it.

After reading the first book, I realized that yes, the mystery was twisted and yes, if I followed it as it was serialized, I would go crazy with the waiting for how it all ends. So I bought subsequent volumes and let them sit on my shelf, waiting patiently for the series to end so I could devour it in one gulp. That end finally came with Volume 11 this January. For those who could get the book, a thing I was having trouble doing. But finally, two weeks ago, it was in my hands, the end, the answers to all the questions. (more…)

I Am a Hero: Kengo Hanazawa

Let’s talk about zombies, shall we? I mean, everyone else is. The CDC even released their zombie apocalypse survival guidelines. It seems like the time is finally nigh for my brain to devote itself to the topic.

But my brain and I are scaredy-cats and don’t really go in for real-life zombie apocalypses. We prefer to stay firmly ensconced in our hidey-hole and read about zombie apocalypses. In manga form, if possible. And we can, thanks to Kengo Hanazawa!

Maybe some of you are rolling your eyes: seen one zombie apocalypse, seen them all. And it’s true that there is inevitably some overlap if only because zombies, well, they have to act like zombies, no matter who is writing the story. What really drew me into I Am a Hero is protagonist Hideo Suzuki. The story starts with him cautiously entering his Tokyo apartment. Very cautiously. In a city known for its remarkably low crime rate, this young manga artist has a security system and several impenetrable-looking locks on his front door. When he enters his apartment and the story, he does a kind of paranoia dance that is so perfectly scripted and depicted, you would swear he’s actually moving. And this dance starts with one of the things that I love in this series: a full page devoted to a moment, Hideo thrusting a hand into the air Saturday Night Fever style. (more…)

A Note on Scanlation

Dear person who found my blog by searching for “Saraiya Goyou scanlated”,

Please buy the book. It is called House of Five Leaves in English and it is only $12.99. That is not so steep for such a quality book. And the translation is top notch!

But I understand only all too well that sometimes, a person just does not have $12.99. That is a hard place for a book lover to be, but there is hope! It is a thing called a library and you can read books there for free! Incredible! If they do not have House of Five Leaves at your local library, you can ask them to get it for you. Most libraries take requests and are glad to hear from patrons about what they would like to see on the shelves.

So you know, you have options that would support the artist who made this terrific book, Natsume Ono, so that she can keep making terrific books.



Trixie Belden: Julie Campbell/Kathryn Kenny

My brain is just cocky enough that it has decided to talk about a book it has not read in over twenty years. What is wrong with you, brain?? But this lump of neurons and axons has a stubborn streak and so here we are, talking about Trixie Belden.

I am sure many of you have never heard of Trixie, and I am equally sure that those of you who have are rabid fans. Unless you made a brief detour from Nancy Drew town and in the end decided you loved your rich white lady more. In which case, boo to you! Trixie Belden doesn’t need money or a red Fiat or whatever the hell it is Nancy Drew drives. Trixie Belden doesn’t even have a horse. That’s how hardcore she is.

I was so in love with this fictional heroine that I named my hamster after her when I was nine. My boy hamster. Although I didn’t know he was a boy at the time I named him. Why did Trixie captivate me so? What was this spell she cast? (more…)

How to Start Your Own Country: Erwin S. Strauss

In case you weren’t aware, part of my brain is occupied with ruling a small country. With an iron glove. That part of my brain has no mercy and is hellbent on taking over the world. Normally, it takes what it wants by force, but since the force method has still not resulted in me taking over the world, it seemed prudent to take a look at other approaches.

Enter How to Start Your Own Country. My dictatorial self was roadblocked in a way, with so many obstacles blocking her path to world domination. But Erwin Strauss opened up some previously unconsidered options. For that alone, this book was worth the cost. And it was a gift! So it basically paid me! Triple win! (more…)

Nigeru Otoko: Natsume Ono

41WNhBB2teLLuckily for me, my friend M. flew in from Tokyo last week, right before I melt my brain interpreting for Natsume Ono at TCAF this weekend (you should come! Say hi!), and with her came the latest from Ono (released only three short weeks ago!). Which lets me get a sense of the direction of her work before I accompany her to press interviews and fan mobbings. And I have to say, I really wish the fans would be mobbing her about this.

Just a quick look at the cover will tell you that she has something different in store for her readers with Nigero Otoko: almost entirely black with the grey contours of trees pushing out of the gloom, a shadowed man downcast in front. This striking image immediately yanked me away from everything else I’m reading, insisting that this was the book to read now.   (more…)

1Q84: Haruki Murakami (Book Two)

Finish line in sight! Or at least, the end of the book I am currently reading (Book Three) will actually be the end of the book. What a delight. Having recently finished Book Two of this entirely too long novel, I have some thoughts. Perhaps you will enjoy reading them. Perhaps not. Either way, spoilers ahoy!

The thing I realized/decided approaching the end of Book Two was no matter how this monstrosity ends, I will not be reading another Murakami book. I was entirely disappointed with his previous offering After Dark, but I have loved too much of his work for too long to just abandon him on the basis of one book. “It’s just a blip,” I thought. “His next work will be better,” I thought. But the fact is this book is not better. Or rather, it is better (I really didn’t like After Dark), but it is not better enough. There are just so many things about 1Q84 that I really dislike, that really bother me, and the book is not enough to bring me back into the fold. (more…)