I absolutely love libraries. Sometimes they’ll randomly get the most exciting things! I’ve been following the manga/anime series Wandering Son (Japanese title Hourou Musuko) for many months now, but I never expected my local library here in Brisbane, Australia to order not one, but multiple copies of the first two volumes! As such, I was finally able to sink my teeth into this series, which has been hailed in Japan and abroad as being a heartfelt and honest coming-of-age story that tackles issues surrounding gender identity.
I don’t post about manga nearly enough on this blog, and that needs to be rectified! What better way to do so then by writing up some thoughts on a recent title I’ve read? I’ve always been a fan of Arina Tanemura’s iconic style, but have never gone the extra step and picked up a copy of one of her titles. Lucky for me the local library had volumes one through four of her latest series, The Legend of Sakura Hime!
The Legend of Sakura Hime is an ongoing shōjo manga currently being serialized in the monthly manga anthology Ribon in Japan. The story follows Sakura, a teenage girl who’s been engaged to the prince Oura ever since she was a child. Trouble is, it turns out she’s also a descendant of the demon Princess Kaguya. It’s up to her to fulfill her role by wielding the mythical sword Chizakura and destroying all demons that threaten to harm the world she knows and loves. Upon learning her true identity, however, certain forces, including Prince Oura, would rather see her killed!
|Lots of awesome action shots, including blood and even death, which is pushing the
envelope for a girls’ anthology like Ribon!
If you can’t tell, I am rubbish when it comes to writing plot summaries. The Legend of Sakura Hime is pretty standard shōjo fare, but with gorgeous illustrations, more action and darker themes than usually seen in manga aimed at teenage girls, and ample romance, I definitely recommend it to anyone who has a penchant for shōjo. That said, I’m happy I didn’t purchase it – it’s great for a light-hearted read and had a number of cute scenes that reminded me of that giddy feeling I get when a kiss or embrace is drawn both beautifully and evocatively, but in the end the whole thing feels a tad shallow and run-of-the-mill plot-wise, which probably won’t do much to impress more discerning eyes.
|Prince Oura’s brother? Cousin? So memorable I’ve already forgotten.
He hides his true feelings for Sakura under an easy-going facade.
Let it be known that I have a weakness for playboy male characters.
I’m not trying to knock the series – The Legend of Sakura Hime is chock-full of romance, intrigue, and action, and is a great way to spend an afternoon for fans of shōjo and magical girls. I wouldn’t place it on any top ten lists, and I probably won’t remember much about it in 3 years, but there’s no harm in that.
Hello hello! I’m writing from my snazzy new apartment while sitting in my snazzy new sofa… Everything is so snazzy! We were finally able to put up our holiday decorations (including a mini fake IKEA tree), so I’m finally able to get in a festive mood.
That aside, I’d like to take the opportunity to announce my very first published manga translation! Tweeting Love Birds is a boys’ love manga about a guy who loves baseball… It was a bit of a pain to translate, considering I don’t know baseball terminology in English, let alone Japanese, but it was still a blast to do! And the story isn’t so centered around the sport that people who aren’t interested in it (like me) can’t enjoy it. It’s quite funny! I’m not nearly so eloquent, so here’s the summary my awesome editor whipped up:
“Ohtaka is pissed! University baseball is not what he expected, and it’s all because of Tweetie, the odd little person who blithely chirps and constantly circles in his tall shadow. Everything Tweetie does only deepens Ohtaka’s scowl. His irritation skyrockets when Tweetie demands Ohtaka stay in the baseball club for his sake and steals Ohtaka’s first kiss!
When two people from Tweetie’s past are thrown in Ohtaka’s face, his agitation suddenly turns territorial–and he’s not sure why…
Will Ohtaka figure out this unfamiliar game that plays for keeps? Get ready for a fast pitch of romantic comedy and surprising love in Tweeting Love Birds!”
For a bit of a festive treat, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank both the regular frequenters of Chic Pixel and any newcomers for taking the time to read what I have to say by offering a little giveaway contest. I really appreciate any and all comments and just knowing a handful of you read all the way through my posts makes it worthwhile.
- Leave a comment on this entry stating which prize pack you’d most like to win (entrants are only eligible to win one or the other). Remember to leave a way for me to contact you!
- For an additional entry, promote this contest and/or my blog via Twitter, Facebook, or however you’d like! Just leave a comment every time you tweet/post about it so I can keep track of your entries! (maximum of 5 additional entries)
- Contest is open to anyone in the world and closes promptly on Friday, December 9th at 9 pm EST
I was surprised and delighted to find that this month’s Manga Movable Feast was to feature one of my favorite artists, Natsume Ono. If you haven’t yet heard of the Manga Movable Feast, it’s basically a week-long virtual book club held by manga bloggers once a month. Some great content has been contributed so far this week, and I’m excited to dip toes in the water and join the party!
Natsume Ono is most famous in the West for House of Five Leaves and Ristorante Paradiso, two enthralling and expertly-crafted manga series. Little known outside of Japan and her ardent international fans, however, is her work under the pen name Basso (sometimes written BASSO). While some manga artists might choose a pen name to hide their identity, Natsume Ono’s style is so distinct that one would be hard-pressed not to recognize her (though there is a noticeable difference in the style she employs as Basso). To the contrary, I see Basso as a way for Natsume Ono to clue her readers in on the content of the manga before they read a single page. For you see, Natsume Ono’s pen name Basso is exclusive to her boys’ love titles.
As basso, Natsume Ono has published a plethora of boys’ love manga, but today I would like to focus on one of my favorite collections of BL short stories, which happens to be basso’s Kuma to Interi (“The Bear and the Intellectual“). Kuma to Interi is a collection of short, interconnected stories that all share a few common themes: Italy, men, suits, glasses, politicians, and gelato. One of the most delightful segments of the book is the section devoted to stories centered around the theme of gelato –– they’re short but sweet, with a hint of melancholy, just like the iconic Italian dessert they were inspired by.
You won’t find any traditional BL in Kuma to Interi, much like the rest of Basso/Natsume Ono’s works. Her characters range from grey-haired politicians to gangly waiters, and the erotic content is much more fluid and real than most BL. An interesting example of this is the first story, Conte, which contains a “reversible” couple –– BL is so set in the seme/uke (top/bottom) dichotomy that they actually have a word from when a relationship deviates from that stereotype. Kuma to Interi is refreshing in its raw, non-idealized look at life and relationships, and is one of the most satisfying BL short story collections you can read.
|Probably my favorite page in the whole manga.|
Or could read, if it were localized in English! I’d argue that above all of Basso’s BL titles available, Kuma to Interi would be the best place to start for any publisher looking to jump into Natsume Ono’s BL manga library. Fans of her work will undoubtedly be delighted to see that she gives the same depth and care to her BL stories as she does her more mainstream work, and BL manga aficionados looking for a change from the overwhelming bishonen fare now available in English will both find much to like about Kuma to Interi.
I know I’m not the first person to put out the call for Basso’s works to be localized into English, so somebody make it happen! I’d love to see more people read this collection. For now, I’ll tantalize you with gorgeous pages like this:
Lately I’ve been doing so much consuming of various forms of media, I thought I’d just list some of it and hopefully delve into my thoughts on a couple of them. I’ll post a more cohesive blog update later this week, which will most likely be my review of the English otome game X-Note (I’m going to review that game by the end of the week, I swear).
So, Shaun and I went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes on Saturday. Besides having an unnecessarily long title, it was actually pretty good! Even if you could care less about Planet of the Apes (which is pretty much me), the film is a fun Sci-Fi flick with a strong emphasis on characters, and it’s probably the first of the “summer blockbusters” that I’d say is worth going to see.
Besides having a pretty uninspiring female girlfriend character, that is. When all the characters are actually rather thoughtfully rendered, including an ape doctor who almost instantaneously becomes the “grounding girlfriend” is a little disappointing. I suppose you can’t have everyone be the star, but I suppose you’re also going to have to have me pick on a film when it can’t have any well-developed female characters (what can I say, it’s my nature). Either way, it’s still heaps better than that awful Tim Burton rendition of a few years back… Plus, the animation is gorgeous, and any film that can make you care for a character that is 100% animated deserves some respect.
Also, Shaun and I both agree that we like James Franco, so having him in the film was a plus (I’m not sure why we do… are we the only ones?)… I liked him as the son of the Green Goblin, anyway.
We’re also going to watch Dinner for Schmucks on DVD, which comes very highly recommended from my parents! I hope it’s good.
I don’t talk about manga very often here, but I finally picked up a few volumes of Loveless at the library the other day because the art is, in my opinion, pretty gorgeous.
The story is a little weird, though, which has kept me away from it until now, and though I’m enjoying it well enough, I think the only reason I’ve really stuck with it for 4 volumes is the art and the way it plays with gender norms, but even then I’m not sure where it’s going with that. I probably won’t seek out the rest of the volumes now that Tokyopop, the English distributor, has gone under, unless my library happens to have them already.
I always have a weird relationship with games: I seem to write more about them than I actually play them!
I did start Patapon the other day, because Shaun was playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on the PS3, and it’s been sitting expectantly on the shelf for a couple of weeks now
The gameplay is fun, but I’m finding that it’s getting a little repetitive to tell my troops to move forward over and over again, especially when you were fighting an enemy who just ran away. But I’ve still only played a couple of missions so far, so I hope things change up a bit after I play a couple more. I’m not that rhythmically inclined, though, so I have to focus all my energy in playing the game and not getting distracted by whatever Shaun’s doing beside me. Hah!
So, what are you all playing/reading/watching these days? I’m all ears!