salinea: Emma Frost, sitting comfortably (chill)
I caught up with volume 6 of Ooku, and while it continues being very good; it does feel like the big edge and quality of the manga faded out after the first two or three volumes. The point of the gender reversal in the setting is less prominent and it becomes a lot of political & some romantic intrigues with too many characters that it is hard to keep track of.

I've also caught up with vol 4-6 of Black Rose Alice, and while I love, it is very very id ficcy.

I also read the second volume of Brides Story, and it's still ridiculously good and gorgeous. Lots of wonderful silent panels that are so expressive and they went and OMG the scenes about the embroidery motives transmitted through generation *GUSH* I kind of love that the author sort of apologises in the annex about fan service. Oh, Kaoru Mori, here, you have my express permission to put in as many female naked bodies in anything you do as you want. Srsly she draws the best naked female bodies ever.

Inanna's Tears
It's a decent story (though the person who decided on the font of the first few pages should be shot), but not as good as what I was hoping. It lacks something, I dunno, some sort of twist to truly make it a story. It's all too predictable.

So I did go a read Stumptown (it's shorter than Q&G), at least the first one (is the second a mini too? I think I'll wait for it to be over to read it); and it's brilliant. Don't have much to say beyond that ^^

Did I mention reading the recently finished run of New Mutants yet? I don't see it in this thread so I assume not. I remember the first time I tried it, while I was starting to get into Marvel, and I was confused and had a hard time getting into it. Man, it is so much better when you already know and like the characters!! Wells' run overall is excellent, very strong and focussed and epic. DnA's has a much more hazier sense of plot and characterisation although it does also have good moments (at least they did try to develop Cypher past bringing him back even if some of those development were weird and still lacking the answer to the question "did anybody bother telling his parents he's not longer dead?"). Some very random shipping though.

Also I read the first volume of Peter Madsens' Valhalla which is... hmm, less good than I was expecting? A bit too much of the sort of humour I don't care much for; but still good and funny.

Iron Man - Armor Wars
Solid enough story, but not very engaging. I think I might just have to give up on Iron Man and stick to fanfics when it comes to him.

Himitsu: the Revelation v5-9
So long since I'm catching up with this one. As always the stories are very good in all their dark & morbid glories (and the storytelling so much more understated than the animated adaptation, what a relief!), with some very fine tension and horror. I'm struck by how much more slashy than I remembered it is though. And somewhat surprised that I don't remember any of the stories from the anime, I guess they made up quite a few.

Also Captain America & Black Widow which was pretty good, if a little bit... quick? I dunno, not everything was, but sometimes it skipped forward in time in a way that felt a bit off. Anyway good characterizations and good use of alternate universe and alternate characters.
I think I ended up shipping evil!Natasha with the person she was working for ^^

Emperor Doom, brilliant in a tragi-comic way and loads of fun.

Super Villain team-up 1-4 (The one with Namor & Doom)
Loads of fun! Those two are so cute together.

Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment
Holy shit that was good. Gorgeous art, gorgeous storytelling, brilliant characterisation. A beautiful bittersweet tragedy lacking the usual comedic tone that Doom's usually got but without trading them for lack of clarity.
The only thing I disliked was the way all the multicultural magicians were made to look like fools and then fawning all over Strange.
Anyway I ended up posting some scans & commentary of this one on tumblr if anyone's interested:
salinea: (smug)
I never properly most of the manga I read. I justify this to myself by saying I don't like reviewing little bits of stories, but I don't even when I suddenly devour a huge chunk or even complete series - so, yeah. Let's try to remedy that.

Natsume Yuujin Chou - titled the "le Pacte des Yokai" in the French translation - is an episodic shoujo series about a highschool boy, Natsume, who has the gift of seeing spirits and monsters; and which has always considered this as a curse - being seen as weird by his classmates, and being passed on from adoptive families to adoptive families. His grandmother had the same power and used it to bully spirits into forming many a "pact of friendships" which she collected in a book which is now in Natsume's possession. This brings Natsume a lot of unwanted attentions from yokais which want to steal the book for their own advantage, or to be released from their pacts of friendship. Natsume forms an agreement with one such powerful feeling - Nyanko Sensei - which takes the form of a Maneki Neko to be his bodyguard against the other spirits, and in exchange will inherit the book of pacts once Natsume dies. Meanwhile Natsume will try to release as many yokai from the pacts as he can.
I've started hearing about the anime adaption of this series - mostly in good - a lot lately. There's three volumes of the manga translated in French so far, and it is very good. The art is very thin, delicate and expressive in a way that suits perfectly the sensitive and melancholy nature of the stories. There's also a lot of natural landscapes adding to the lovely poetic atmosphere. The characters and their relationship (Nyanko Sensei is a rather snarky trickster mentor) is well depicted. Despite their very episodic nature, the stories are well developped and usually quite touching, articulated around themes of loneliness, friendship and the difficult of connections between the human world and the spirit world.

Hyakki Yakou Shou - "le cortège des cents démons" in the French translation - is a series with a very similar summary : Ijima Ritsu is the grandson of horror stories writer and medium and has had the same power to see spirits and monsters since he was a little kid. Before his death his grandfather set spirit Aoarashi to protect Ritsu from other monsters - and to possess the just recently dead body of Ritsu's father. Follow episodic stories of Ritsu dealing with some kind of supernatural happenstances, being (snarkily) protected by Aorarashi and bemoaning about his power.
Despite the similarity of formula, Hyakki Yakou Shou has a very different mood from Natsume Yujin Chou, being more truely horror, with a touch of dark humour, and less focussed on feelings, and targetted to a slightly older audience. It's slightly less epsiodic in nature too, having a larger cast of regular characters, including two of Ritsu's (female) cousins who also have some medium powers if less powerful ones. It's just as high quality, though, very intriguing and compelling stories.
Sadly the translation was discontinued after the 6th volume due to lack of money (the series is still ongoing in Japan); and the scanlations available don't reach this point yet.

To keep going on with traditionnal Japanese supernatural stories, Onmyouji is an adaption from famous Baku Yumemakura novel which also had two movies adapted from it; about legendary onmyouji Abe no Seimei solving supernatural cases during the Heian era along with his friend court noble Hiromasa who plays The Watson to Seimei's Sherlock.
This is a gorgeous manga, with exquisite and detailed art (although I occasionnaly have trouble telling characters apart but I blame the Heian fashion - all those hats) and great storytelling. The stories are subtle, complex, sometimes creepy, sometimes touching. Seimei's character is awesome, mischevious and charismatic, and play up to Hirosama's earnest, clumsy and kind personnality with a lot of humour and chemistry. The French adaptation is also extremely well done, with several coloured pages, and annexes going into depth about historical, geographical and esoteric details. There's three volumes translated so far out of a total of 12.

Now for something completely different, Kami no Shizuku - "Les Gouttes de Dieu" in French - is a seinen manga about wine. More specifically, when a famous oenologist dies, his testament determines that the one to inherit his impressive wine collection will be, between his son, Shizuku Kanzaki, who's never tasted wine in his life so disgusted was he with his father's extantricities, and his adoptive son another oenologist; a contest in identifying 12 great wines from descriptions. In order to be his father's inheritor, Shizuku will have to learn all about wine very quickly, with the help of apprentice sommelière Shinohara Miyaba.
One of the thing I love about manga is the capacity to pick any random subject a tell a great story out of it. This is the case here : the art is beautiful, the characters are endearing, and the story is actually very compelling... Sure, it's far-fetched that Shizuku keeps on falling onto situations which his growing knowledge of wine helps solve and lets him develop his knowledge at the same time; and, sure, the way wine is described through full panel landscapes is a ridiculously case of what do you mean it is not awesome... but it works. It makes the idea of wine tasting as something cool, plot carrying and full of imagery accessible, and, also, it's hysterical. Characters both main and secondary and very well developed and plays in and out of the story showing a great mastery of storytelling. I've read up to volume 4 so far, and the plot develops, slowly but surely, with a lot of suspense, humour and entertainment. If this manga doesn't make you into an alcoholic, you have no heart.

That's it, I'm done making you drool about the stuff that gets translated into French for today.

old mangas

2 Oct 2008 08:28 pm
salinea: (Default)
Back home from my parents'. New year feasting went well. There were some interesting discussions.

While at was at my parents', I took advantage of my old library to re-read two manga series : Please Save My Earth and RG Veda.

Please Save My Earth is a late 80's shoujo manga involving a cast of seven high school characters realising that they are all the reincarnation of a group of aliens who used to study the Earth from a post of observation set on the moon. The past lives set of characters have convoluted and passionate relationships involving triangles, rivalry-friendship and one-sided loves which the real time sets of characters struggle with as they progressively remember them (if you think being a teenager wasn't confusing enough by itself, try being a young guy whose past lives was a woman who was in love with the guy whose current life is your male best friend) ; and to complicate matters one of them is reincarnated in a much younger 8 year boy, Ring, who seems to have a plot involving using the Tokyo Tower (what else? :) to contact the observation base still existing on the moon, and blackmailing/threatening/manipulating various people in order to do so.
PSME mostly focus on people's relationships, with a great flair for both the (melo)dramatic, the subtle and the heartbreaking. It's also got Psi-powers-based fighting scenes; volumes-spanning flashbacks, and a plot which ends up not being much at the end.
It's an old school manga, and it's got quite the silly idiosyncrasies. Our main female character, Alice, whom I adore nonetheless, is sadly not very proactive on the plot. And there's a face-palming inducing rape story which makes me ashamed of enjoying the male character involved anyway. The art hasn't always aged well (to say the least), and some cultural references haven't either (random saint seya references FTW!); and there's this hilarious use of dinosaurs as a motif... At the same time it manages juggling with an impressively large cast of characters (both lives of characters + secondary characters they interact with + other people getting involved in Ring's plot) and two timelines quite dexterously and continues being riveting and intense through a relatively (for a shoujo) long run of 21 volumes. I'm particularly fond of the characterisation - especially Alice and Ring and their past lives; but many other characters like Haruhiko, Tamura, Mikuro, Issei...
PSME was one of the first epic contemporary fantasy shoujo series I read some ten years ago along with Ayashi no Ceres and Basara, and one of my favourite ones. Upon re-read, despite all the silliness and idiosyncrasies; it still rings emotionally true to me, pushing the right buttons, and being a good story overall.

RG Veda is CLAMP's first professional manga, featuring a Hindu mythology inspired fantasy world where the rule of the Heaven has been overturned when Taishaku-Ten murdered the Emperor and the warrior god Ashura-Ou some 300 years ago; and where a prophecy about the being the destroyer of Heavens spurs Yasha-Ou, a young guardian god to find and protect Ashura, the child of Ashura-Ou, and revolt against Taishaku-Ten. Progressively, and in accordance with that prophecy, he is joined by several other gods who have their own reason to fight Taishaku-Ten.
RV Vega shows its age in its style of lavish, baroque, kinda of over the top art; yet i cannot help but find it gorgeous. The characters are very intriguing, likeable and amusing - I think they don't have quite the finesse or depth of characterisation that other CLAMP works show; but are still very appealing nevertheless. Thematically and relationship-wise this is definitely CLAMP's testing ground, showing their much-loved themes of fate, duality, the ties between people, eros/thanatos and strength. It is very much a tragedy, saved from melodrama only by the cheerfulness and grace typical of CLAMP characters. In terms of pacing it is slightly uneven, with several chapters without very much happening to Yasha, Ashura and co.
RG Veda is a manga I like comparing to X, for obviously thematic parallels : they're both tales of the prophecy of a world ending, except one's set in our modern world and the other in a fantasy world. The characters of Yasha and Ashura always reminded me a lot of Fuuma and Kamui; to which I sometimes like adding a parallel between Arashi and Karura. Upon reread, I was also struck with some parallels with latter arcs of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, and not only the parts about Fay and Ceres.
RG Veda was the first CLAMP I read which I really fell in love with - I had read several manga by them before (suki dakara suki, wish, 20 masks please, Magic Knight Rayearth and of course Card Captor Sakura), by impressions ranged from "meh" to "cute but not entrancing"; so along with Tokyo Babylon and X which I read a couple of months after RG Veda, it's one of the work responsible for my fangirlism of CLAMP overall. Upon reread I find it more uneven, but I still love it, and find myself extremely amused, especially at characters like Kendappa, or the villains like Shashi and Taishaku-Ten (Shashi is hilarious because she's so unredeemable, ruthlessly, unabashedly evil and power hungry and i guess the fact that she's easy on the eyes also help). Kujaku's still my favourite character, utterly adorable and cheerfully/teasingly mysterious, and the one I find the most heartbreaking. Kendappa/Souma's love story is still my favourite couple (they're also, sadly, CLAMP's only two sided femslash romance featured as prominently and as canonically). Ashura himself is adorable, and so is Yasha when he interacts with Ashura.
salinea: (Default)
Okay, first I'm feeling much better since yesterday. Hoping it'll hold. Thank you so much to everyone on my flist for being such darlings and comforting me. You guys are the best! ♥ Especially since I know I'm not half as good as you at comforting you when you're feeling down >_>; I'm sorry for that.

Second, I finally got my hands on Pet Shop of Horror (yes, took my sweet time, but it is difficult to find scans of, and it's never been released in France and I don't usually order manga from the US cuz that's kinda expensive) which was indeed as awesome as I was led to believe. Love (as I always do) the whole morality fables / creepy fairy tales / contemporary occult atmosphere and how it mixes domestic comedy. The characters are very much darlings, and the stories are very tight. Of the manga I've read set in the US, I thought it was the most self aware of cultural subtleties and I found the way it lampshades as well as uses (and abuses!) Asia as mysterious/female/magical/suspicious was hilarious. And I really loved the ending, what a perfect fanfic fodder!

Of course as soon as I was finished I was hitting [ profile] rexluscus's tags to find fics and recs (haven't left comments anywhere yet : you know it's funny I never mind leaving comments on old fics but I hate doing it in fandoms which I'm not familiar with yet) and it was midway to reading a (very nice, very much fluffier than what I usually like but still wonderful) fic that it was kinda hit by how much those characters are similar to Damien and Tarrant. At which point I felt stupid because they're very very similar. Like okay Damien's slightly smarter, and Gerald's slightly less gender-ambiguous. Very slightly. Their relationship's different, not domestic at all, and much more bonding over religion and Biblic jokes which, yeah, not so much with Leon/D. Oh, and all the slashy subtext in Coldfire is unintentional *snorts* And now I feel guilty about not having passed the prologue+first chapter of the big Coldfire reread over at [ profile] hunters_forest (althought the discussion appears to be quite lively without me so at least there's that).

And now it's 4am and I should get up early tomorrow to go touring the Marais and then watch anime; and the day after that I have to go to my parents to celebrate the Rosh Hashanah, and at some point between all this I need to find the time to download and watch the last Code Geass episode - AND I DON'T FEEL LIKE SLEEPING, like not at all.

I could talk about the movies I've watched lately. Would you want me to do that?

Oh and I'm vaguely considering trying to do NaNoWriMo this year, hoping it would help curing myself of that dryspell of inspiration.

And I need to get train tickets for the Utopiales which got a very drool inducing list of invited writers. There's Richard Morgan too, I've got half of a mind of taking one of those books he recced to me to have him sign to see if he gets mad or laugh because I'm an ass ; and there's Ellen Kushner (although I already have an autograph of her via the lovely [ profile] generalblossom but now I can get one of her books signed, yay!); and Robin Hobb and Hal Duncan (guess that means I must get off my lazy ass and read Ink).

Actually with that list of writers I hope they're going to at least do one panel about gay and gender queer characters in SFF novels. Would be interesting to see Richard Morgan faced to people like Hal Duncan and Ellen Kushner, especially given how much talks I've seen about The Steel Remains as bold and daring for being a fantasy novel with OMG gay characters and a long and hard graphic gay sex scene, and people asking if it was difficult for him as a straight male to write that. (If so I will totally have to ask Kushner and Duncan if it's difficult for them write heterosexual characters and straight sex!!)

Gahh, I'm so hyper and it's 4am30. When am I gonna be able to sleep? ;_;

I have too many firefox windows opened right now.
salinea: fem!Loki is snerking (lol)
I never post about the manga I read. Some for once I'm going to.

so many manga )
salinea: (Default)
Sometimes I hate my mum. Like when she barges in my room at 8:15 am, yelling at me at the top of my lung for about 3 minutes about how much of a failure I am and I should do this and this and that when I haven't slept 5 hours yet and I have a cold.

Granted, I understand why she's upset right now, both for herself and for me, but it's still not my favourite way to wake up.

Yesterday we went to the movie theater with my cousin. The movie was pretty much forgettable (Garden State, decent, overuse of good music for cheap pathos, a few couple of ideas stretched up to superficiality, and very much a gerationnal movie) but Ihad the most amazing of talk with her. It's funny, having someone who's family yet not close family allows you to tell them things you could not tell anyone else. At some point we both laughed and admited we hadn't ever told those kind of things to anyone before and it felt weird saying them aloud. We also talked about my uncle and my grand mother's death which happened two years ago.
My cousin's a very sweet person, she's adorable.

Meant to do a post about all the books I bought last tuesday. I snapped and suddenly spent a lot of money, though I have to blame a lot of it on synchronicity. Like, it was my fault that the Kiseki 3 magazine was out the same day the new volume of Fables was out, so I HAD to buy them, and since the chess board was finally out too I might as well get it, right ? And it's not my fault i found out about this only after I had found 4 volumes of Combination and the first one of Count Cain at a bargain sale, plus the Stress of her Look by Tim Powers in a very old edition for 3€ and then figured out i might as well get that Sarah Ash first volume book because i'd never find it at a cheap price like that... *big breath* Errr, yeah.
Read more... )


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