the usagi incidents

20050630

Gokujou Seitokai: Pucchan no Yabou (Mini Drama)

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Summary: Pucchan wants to be a sneaky icky ecchi by taking a bath with Rino, secretly wanting/planning to see Kanade-Kaichou's "great body" in the process.

Review: Ewww pervy Pucchan. XD But he's a puppet? o_o I don't want my puppets spying me in the bath. o_o At least he was totally thwarted in the process!

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Ikari Shinji Ikusei Keikaku 1

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Summary: (from evamonkey.com) The manga begins in a manner quite similar to the alternate universe of episode 26 of the TV series, as well as the Girlfriend of Steel 2 manga.

Review: This is the newest project to come out of the Eva franchise since the annoucement of the live action film (now on hold) in 2003. I like how they've done this in accordance to the alternate universe but STILL kept in the Human Instrumentality Project in the plotline - and rearranging character relationships to do so. It's pretty awesome so far, and I'd like to see more.

Volume 1: 2 3 4

Evangelion: After the End Drama (from ADDITIONS OST)

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Summary: A comedy drama track from the ADDITIONS OST, taking place after the End of Evangelion. The entire cast pokes fun at itself in character over the runaway success of Evangelion, and try out other plots the show could take...

Review: Turning the show into a Sentai show was the part where I laughed the most. I love how they included everyone, including Touji and Kaoru. I wish they'd done more drama CDs. They could have done more with the franchise. :(

Loveless OST

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Kajira Yuki is known for work on anime shows, and many consider her fair game when contrasting her to Kanno Yoko, the goddess of soundtrack scores for everything (not just anime) as masters of soundtrack in the Japanese music world.

The soundtrack for LOVELESS finally, in my opinion, qualifies her as such.

This is truly an amazing work. There were only two or three tracks out of 17 that I did not like, or had a hard time listening. All of the music was completely perfect for the series, and now I find myself rereading the manga and listening to the soundtrack at the same time, marvelling at how well it all ties in.

Kajira Yuki, you did LOVELESS proud. A gold star for you.


Related:
Loveless (anime)
Loveless (anime)
Loveless: Manga Drama CD (drama audio)
Loveless: Anime Drama CD (drama audio)

Loveless 5

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Summary: After much beating around the bush, it turns out that Nanatsu no Tsuki, from the prime members themselves, did not kill Seimei. Or so they say. Apparently, Seimei is alive! A man with long dark hair comes to consult Fearless, a new pair, to "punish" Soubi, while Ritsuka comes home and gets graphically abused by his mother. After a phone call from "Seimei", Ritsuka and Soubi fight Fearless and win easily - all a cover for the Long Dark-Haired Man coming to the Aoyagi home calling himself "Seimei" and killing Ritsuka's mother after she refuses to kill Ritsuka for him...

Review: Next to volume four, my favourite book in the series. There didn't need to be nearly as much beating around the bush as there was about this, and Soubi didn't say a word. Which means, Soubi knows that Seimei was angry. Or something. All I can say is, I had to put down the manga for about an hour after I finished it to let things process. Jesus, what a mindfuck this volume was. I'm all caught up now and waiting for more chapters to finish the Sacrifice Arc (I have the first few of the next arc, the Birth Arc), or volume 6 to come out - whichever comes first). Needless to say, this "Seimei" had very long hair and no ears. o_o But it did look like him @__@ So...what? I'm confused but dying for more.

Merupuri Drama CD (LaLa 25th Anniversary Memorial Drama Album)

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Summary: Adult!Aram continually kicks his older brother's ass while changing off and on into Kid!Aram and telling the audience of the story of Merupuri so far, all while both are declaring their love for Airi...and fighting over her all over again.

Review: Ahahahaha. Adult!Aram kicking his brother's ass repeatedly for the first 5 minutes was priceless. Otherwise, I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more substance. I was hoping that there would be a seperate story, much like Loveless and Marimite and other series have done so far. It was light and fun for what it was, but there could have been so much more done with this album. It feels like Hino Matsuri wasted a chance here. ><

20050629

Gokinjo Monogatari 7

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Summary: Ruriko's three months pregnant, and gets back together with Papa! Mikako decides to go to London. Tsutomu jealously warns Seiji to leave Mikako alone in London, with Seiji telling him he don't like girls. Akindo have their last flea market, and the story fast-forwards to six months later, Mikako is sketching baby clothes in London, while Body-ko breaks up again with Shuu-chan because she can't forget Yuusuke, and Tsutomu begs Papa to take him with him when he goes to London for work...

Review: Excellent ending. I love how Yazawa just hinted at Mikako's pregnancy, though said outright that Ruriko was - who will later be Miwako, one of the main kids in Paradise Kiss. Must have wigged Mikako out that she was going to have a sister 18 years younger than her. o_o It just seemed so well done. Paradise Kiss is the sequel, though very quietly incorporates the characters and scenery from Gokinjo without interfering with the Paradise Kiss gang's own personal stories. I would like to see a third version done, if not to continue the Mikako family story. But since Nana is Yazawa's main project now, I don't see anything like that in the near future. One can hope.

This story made me rethink relationships in regards to others (whereas Evangelion made me rethink relationships in terms of myself and my own internal workings - more on that later). It makes me wonder now if I can finally go and retry my hand at more intimate relationships...

Final Rating: A

Gokinjo Monogatari 6

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Summary: Mikako wins the Gran Prix with her dress design, beating out everyone else by a mile - and the oppertunity to go to London with Seiji to study! Tsutomu and Mikako finally have sex, Body-ko mourns the loss of her relationship with Yuusuke and gets back together with childhood friend Shuu-chan. Mikako considers her future in fashion and with Tsutomu, begging him to beg her not to go...

Reivew: Body-ko is back. -__-; At least she's not a big character here. And finally Tsutomu and Mikako doing it! The sexual tension there was killing me. And yay Seiji getting bigger parts in the story. This is so great. :D

20050628

Gokinjo Monogatari 5

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Summary: Mikako gets slowly used to Seiji being in their home, while final preps for the school's fashion festival kick into high gear. Body-ko and Yuusuke get cozy, only for her to tell him she's dropping out of school and moving back to Yokohama?! Also, A plan from Hama-sensei and Seiji about studying abroad will change Mikako's life forever...

Review: YAY NO MORE BODY-KO. D:< I hope. -___- Knowing Yazawa's work, she'll find a way to sneak her back in there.

Loveless 11

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Summary: (from bishounen.com)Kio shows up at Katsuko-sensei's office and reports on his worry about Soubi's behavior. He reports following Soubi, as Soubi followed Ritsuka, Yuiko, Yayoi, and Hitomi-sensei on a trip to Yokohama. They went to an amusement park, and it appeared that Ritsuka was kissing Yuiko in the ferris wheel car. Soubi runs over to take him on the ferris wheel himself, and Ritsuka gets furious that he's even there. Next we hear the tale from Hitomi's point of view. Her whole worry is that she's seeing Soubi everywhere. When they went to Chinatown (which isn't far from the amusement park in Yokohama) Soubi was finally nice to her and she was happy. At last we get the tale from Ritsuka's perspective. It turns out he and Yuiko were just trying to catch a butterfly, and she stumbled. Later, when they rode the boat to Chinatown, Kio told Ritsuka that he hadn't liked Seimei's effect on Soubi, but that Ritsuka seemed to be good for him. In Chinatown, Ritsuka had such a good time with everyone that he forgot to take pictures. He finally learned how to accept being liked, and liking others.

Review: The end of this episode reminded me heavily of the last two episodes of Evangelion (non-movie versions), where Shinji learns to accept himself and the affection of others. It just really struck me hard there. There's an alternate version of this story for the first anime drama album with Breathless and an onsen instead of just Yokohama, but I rather like this one better. I like how Ritsuka's therapy is finally working. One more episode left~!

Loveless 10

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Summary: (from bishounen.com) Yamato comes to Ritsuka's school and talks him into going for coffee with her by talking about Seimei, who she says it's good Ritsuka is not like. He spills coffee on her. She jumps up, and then goes to clean it off. While there, we see flashbacks of her early time with Kouya, and there is an interspersed phonecall between Soubi and Ritsu-sensei. This collectively reveals (to the viewer) that the zero girls defeated the boys by temporarily switching Sacrifices, and that Yamato was willing to use such reckless tactics because the zero mark is fading from her chest due to genetic engineering bugs. On their way to the fight that evening, Ritsuka tells Soubi he thinks Yamato can feel pain, and to use that in the fight. Eventually Soubi does cause Yamato to cry out, revealing to Kouya that Yamato's zero qualities are fading. Soubi tries to finish them off but Ritsuka stops him. Kouya abandons the battle, ending her role as a fighting unit. The girls decide not to die, but to start a new llife together. Meanwhile, Ritsuka wonders more about what Seimei was like as Soubi's master.

Review: Intensely faithful to the manga. I'm shocked at how fluidly they've adapted things. An extremely good episode, and Kouya/Yamato is still ultimately, next to Ritsuka/Soubi, my favourite pairing. Since the manga hasn't ended yet, I really hope they do a second season like they did with Marimite. ;_; Either that, or the forthcoming drama albums will help make up for things not in the anime.

Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend) 4



Summary: Meet Night's new love rival! Night manages to book a hotel room (for real!) for Riiko, and they are about to spend a lovey dovey night together when Riiko meets a dashing guy with the same name as her childhood crush, Toshiki. Nevertheless, Riiko decides that childhood crushes are all in the past... but Toshiki apparently doesn't think so. He sweeps Riiko off her feet with a sudden kiss, and insists on meeting her for 'a talk'. Innocent Riiko is fooled by his seeming sincerity, only to fall into a devious trap! The next day, Soshi shows her a recent photo of the real Toshiki- who looks nothing like the newcomer! What on earth is going on...?

Review: Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Why can't Riiko and Night just be happy together?!?!?!? a;dsjfalksdjfasl;dfja;sidfoa'sidhfj;askdfj

Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend) 3



Summary: A kiss from a customer sends Night's function reverting back to a frenzied default! If something "more fanciful" than a kiss were to take place, Night will automatically become that person's Nightly Lover! Riiko has to do all she can to get Night back before something of that scale happens, as she might risk losing Night forever. Riiko risks her life, and she does so literally, by climbing onto a balcony and trying to 'spiderwoman' across to the ledge, only to slip and fall out of safety's reach. Will Night be able to refocus and go to Riiko's rescue...?

Review: So much went on in this volume. @___@ Stupid Riiko's father! They should have had sex in that hotel! DAMMIT! D:<

Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend) 2




Summary: Upon the expiry of Night's 3 day trial period, Riiko was shot with the startling truth of not being ablt to return Night, so she was forced to purchase him! And what an extravagant fee she would have to fork out! Eventually Gaku decided to be generous, and agreed to a deduction, but only if they abide by his condition...that Riiko collects essential information on the emotional makeup of women, for the purpose of improving the current model and developing the future Nightly Lover series. Night's wanting to go to school causes a madhouse when the girls start falling all over him, with some forming a fanclub in his honour! Even Mika wants a slice of him... how far will she go, in order to make Night hers?

Review: @__@ A lot goes down in this volume. Crazy Shifty Mika Hobbitses! Crazy Shifty Crazy Fanclub Hobbitses~! Nice offer though, by Salesman guy. I bet Night's been collecting some GOOD info! I wish they'd let us see it.

Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend) 1



Summary: Riiko has just received her most rejection, this time from a long-term crush! The devastated girl then decided to take the plunge by visiting a 'top-secret' website via a link provided by a wacko salesman. And guess what? The website was advertising made-to-order lovers! Absurd, you think? Riiko thought so too... and this resulted in a crazy, unbelievable aftermath! Her life changes as soon as she unwraps her purchase... Will she still be able to tell what's real?

Review: After reading the first translated chapter in Shoujo Beat (Viz has done surprisingly good translations on their titles for the new magazine so far), I wanted more. Luckily I managed to scratch some stuff up, and here we are. Nice gimmick she has going here, most definitely. Some have called this "a Chobits for girls", and I can kind of see the similarities as both Chii and Night are sexbots. But still, very enjoyable, and nice for summer reading - light, funny, and easy on the reading palate.

2 3 4 5 6 (final)

Prime



Summary: Two years after the opening of Liquor, New Orleans chefs Rickey and G-man are immersed in the life of their restaurant, enjoying a loyal cast of diners, and cooking great booze-laced food. All’s well until a bad review in a local paper not-so-subtly hints that their “silent” backer, celebrity chef Lenny Duveteaux, has ulterior motives. When Lenny is accused of serious criminal activity by eccentric D.A. Placide Treat, Rickey and G-man realize it may be time to end their dependence on him. When Rickey is offered a plum consulting job at a Dallas restaurant, it seems the perfect way to beef up their bank account. But taking the gig will mean a reunion with Cooper Stark, the older chef with whom Rickey shared an unsettling cocaine-fueled encounter back in culinary school, as well as dealing with gung-ho Texas businessman/restaurateur Frank Firestone. At G-man’s urging, Rickey finally accepts the offer and revamps Firestone’s menu to rave reviews. Home in New Orleans, Rickey has just settled back into his daily kitchen routine when he receives disturbing information that forces his return to Dallas. As Placide Treat’s machinations grow ever more bizarre, G-man learns that there’s more to the story—and that Rickey is in Texas-size danger.


Review: The second in the Liquor series. Again, fabulous work on Brite's part, but I have some questions still. Why does Rickey always need saving? What the hell was Treat really trying to do concerning Lenny - I mean, aside from the backing of Oscar and the comped meal? According to Brite's LJ, the third novel, "Soul Kitchen" (working title), is still in the works and has "passed the 300-page mark" as of today. I hope she finishes it soon - I can't WAIT to read it. I also, eventually, need to get my hands on "The Value of X" - the prequel to all of this. @___@

Final Review: A


Related:
The Value of X (prequel)
Liquor (prequel)
Soul Kitchen (sequel)

20050627

Billion Girl 1

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Summary: For heroine Ooba Kanoko, life is not much fun. Her family runs a small restaurant where she slaves and is horribly mistreated by her two sisters, parents, and grandparent. (Not to mention the fact that her name said aloud as "Oobaka no ko" = "stupid kid"!) Poor Kanoko cooks, cleans, and takes the blame when things go wrong. However, her life takes an unusual turn when her family suddenly loses what little money it had, and everything they own is about to be reposessed -- and along comes a ragged looking, tall stranger with an interesting proposition that will turn Kanoko into a billion dollar Cinderella! At a price to Kanoko...

Review: I usually really dig Cinderella-remakes but this one put me to sleep at the third page. I don't know why - it seemed to have all of the right elements according to the summary, but something just didn't click enough to keep my interest. So, unfortunately, I'm dropping this title.

Love Celeb 1

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Summary: Shinjo Mayu's newest leading lady is an idol, and the leading man is... a future prime minister!? Just what is a "Love Celeb"? Nakazono Kirara is an aspiring starlet. She used to think she'd do whatever it took to get a starring role in a drama and have a CD. But her manager, Hanamaki, proves her wrong when he sends her into a room full of horny producers to sleep her way into a role! Kirara wants no part of it! She's a virgin, and these guys are scary!! Especially the silver-haired one named Gin... He seems to be in charge. But he lets Kirara leave the party with her virginity and his phone number, and it seems like nothing lost, nothing gained... until Kirara is suddenly the most famous new starlet for no apparent reason!?


Review: A refreshing look at how we all know any large entertainment industry works internally. I like that someone is finally trying to tell the truth - at least in Hollywood, this is how things work - the casting couch. This is my first exposure to mega-popular Shinjo Mayu's work, and she seems to hit all the right notes with me. It makes me want to explore more of her works.


2 3

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles 82

Summary: The race continues to the second checkpoint, the DragonTube - Fye gets disqualified, and Oujirou makes fun of him! Sakura is in 15th place, and at least she got her badge. There are 15 people left - who will win the final race? Will Sakura finally be able to catch one of her own feathers?

Review: WRYYYYYY. WRY MUST WE HAVE YET ANOTHER RACE CHAPTER. [bashes head against wall] I love CLAMP and I love Tsubasa, but this is fucking stupid. The race better end next chapter. T___T That DragonTube made me dizzy though, just from looking at the illustrations for it. @__@ It looked like something from Raging Waters or Six Flags.

20050626

Gravel Kingdom

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Summary: Kirameki is the young hero of this story, and he is the heir to the throne of a kingdom in the middle of the desert. You see, the desert people and the humans have been at war for awhile now, and Kira's kingdom could be attacked at any moment, even if it is protected by the water goddess.

Review: Oh jeez. This is the first and only Kaori Yuki work to bore the living hell out of me in the first five pages. I just couldn't read it. .__.

Ludwig Kakumei

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Summary: A rewriting of various famous old fairytales, including Snow White.

Review: Seductive loli Snow White? Red Riding Hood with a shotgun? This is going on my "to buy" list for sure. So well done. So, so well done. I can barely stand it. @__@ An automatic favourite, let's hope it gets picked up for distro here in the states.

Final Review: A+

Boys Next Door

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Summary: Adrian is a confused murderer. He is gentle at heart and a well respected school teacher, but his mental condition has led him to kill numerous young boys. The manga starts with his killings being discovered and him being arrested. However, the story takes place before this happens. It's the story of him and the boy who he fell in love with.

Review: Good story. Kinda reminded me of Poppy Z. Brite's "Exquisite Corpse", except much gentler and sweeter rather than two killers feeding off of each other and killing more. @__@ Still very good. Lawrence dying at the end made me sad. :(

Cruel Fairytales

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Summary: Luccia and 2 other girls arrive at Julian's house, each of them prospective candidates for his long lost sister. Strange things start to happen though as the girls disappear one by one and the dolls in the house start to come alive...

Review: Another Kaori Yuki classic. She just loves to make classic fairytales into serious mindfucks that can give nightmares afterwards. Regardless, a good story. I think she should make a fairy tale series and just put all of these one-volume works in there, instead of publishing them randomly. :/

Final Review: B-

Bloodhound

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Summary: It looks like there have been some mysterious vampire-like murders going on, and who else does hyperactive, loud-mouthed Rion suspect but Suou, a devishly handsome worker of a male host club. (Well, along with everyone else working at the club.)

Review: O_O SO GOOD. Why did it only have to be a one-volume? ;askdjflasdf ;___; I want to know what happens next. Is Rion that other chick? What? No. I am so confused...:(

Final Review: A

Ouran Koukou Host Club 2

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Summary: The yearly school physical exams are here! Will Haruhi be found out by the doctors as to her true gender? Also, the twins are bored and that can't be good. All they do is fight - over Haruhi! Also Suo has daydreams of a girly!Haruhi, it must be spring on its way...


Review: LOL TWINCEST. I love how the author makes fun of yaoi and twincest in the genre itself. It pisses me off sometimes that things like this "can't be laughed at" - just because you joke about it, doesn't mean you hate it or it's bad. Being able to laugh at oneself is a precious gift in life - and the author here really makes that clear in this volume.

Sakuran

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Summary: A poor peasant girl was sold to a brothel in Edo. Her new life started from the day when she had her first full-bowl of rice. After many struggles, she became a cultivated Oiran. While her beauty never failed, her hope for freedom faded with the passing seasons. Yoshiwara of Edo was a man's heaven, but a woman's hell: all was sakuran.

Review: I LOVE Anno's stuff. This is just awesome. I wish she'd made a series of this (so far, only one volume out). I'm also really interested in the mizu shoubai, and this worked really well for me. Everything was correct, there were no glaring and awful confusion between Oiran, Tayu, and Geisha. I hope that this does turn into a series. That would make me really happy. ;__;

Final Review: A

Allegro Agitato

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Summary: Shouko is still a virgin, and hasn't met a man yet who lives up to her standards. Her friends look up to her -- and would in truth like to give her more than just their respect -- but the only one Shouko looks up to is her famous actress mother, for whom no man is good enough to dedicate herself to. That's when Shouko meets the rumor and reality of her mother's new boyfriend, Ujou. Ujou is different from the others -- an aloof college student 17 years younger than Shouko's mother. The passion that Shouko sees between them becomes what Shouko desires for herself, but while forbidden fruit may be sweeter... it is also more deadly.

Review: Reviewing both volumes in one shot again. Wow, this story was a mindfuck. Why all of a sudden was I reminded of Matsuda Seiko and her daughter, SAYAKA? Jeez. >_< What is it with mother-daughter star relationships where they just get all fucked up over little things like that? IMO, the end sidestory didn't really belong in the series as it had nothing to do with it. And it was kinda shitty. But Allegro Agitato was quite good. If you like betrayal and familial issues, go for this series.

Final Review: A-

Ouran Koukou Host Club 1

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Summary :In this sharp-witted romantic comedy about the clash of the classes (of all kinds), a poor girl at a rich kids' school ends up working at the school's toniest club, and gets mistaken for a boy! One day, Haruhi, a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School, breaks an $80,000 vase that belongs to the "Host Club," a mysterious campus group consisting of six super-rich (and gorgeous) guys. To pay back the damages, she is forced to work for the club, and it's there that she discovers just how wealthy the boys are and how different they are from everybody else.


Review: I was hearing a lot of hype about this, and I wasn't sure I was going to like it. But it won me over by the second chapter. I'm a sucker for girls-as-boys stories, and this is one of the best. With Hanakimi, I got bored, but this one has more of a punch. She's not falling in love, she's just working as a host. And that aspect of girls-as-boys shoujo titles is extremely refreshing.


2 3 4

Kaine

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Summary: Shinogu wakes up from a coma to find that everyone thinks he is his twin rock-star brother, Kaine. Unfortunately, Kaine had many enemies, and one of them wants Kaine (Shinogu) dead.

Review: Interesting stuff. Poor Shinogu! Good it was only one volume - it was just enough to really draw out the story without getting too droning or annoying. I like twin and mistaken identity stories, so this was good for me. Also the suicides - has a very Jisatsu Circle-esque feel, but this manga came first. It seems like Kaori Yuki always knows just how to pique my interest - and for that I love her. ;__;

Final Review: B

Passion 1 (translated)



Summary: Student and teacher. Man and... man. Taboo upon taboo is what Hikaru and Shima have to overcome if they want to pursue their feelings for one another. Uikaru, a second year high school student, is obsessed with Shima, a male teacher. Surprisingly, Shima is not averse to the boy's affections. He even convinces Hikaru to study hard so that when he graduates, they would openly become lovers. However, Amamiya, an ex-lover of Shima, steps into the picture and tries to win him back. Will Hikaru and Shima's passion prove great enough to hurdle all the obstacles stacked against them?

Review: Ahahaha these are like crack. -__- Why do reading these feel like reading Gay Pulp novels from the 60's? Same shit, I guess, different decade. Still, very fun to read. I still think that Only the Ring Finger Knows is best, but this was enjoyable in a perverse way. I'll get to reading the final volume, eventually.

2

World End Fairytale 1

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Summary: Like a broken stage effect/ Standing in continuous snowfall/ The girl told me... / This is the last winter / A quiet ending../ It is the World End... So begins Worldend Fairytale, a series with great art, and even more so, Maki Hakoda's distinctive style in both story and presentation.

Review: I'm not sure if I'll continue this manga, as it bears an unsettling resemblance to/copying of X. Interesting in the "snow" aspect, (maybe signalling nuclear stuff?) , but otherwise pretty underwhelming. I'll put it on hold until further notice, since I really don't have time to be messing with uninteresting stuff right now. .__.

2 3 4

Arcana

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Summary: This manga is from the same author of Anne Freaks, Murakami and Nakabayashi are detectives in the police's homicide section who arrested the serial school-bomber. But they couldn't have done it without the help of a girl they call Maki, who can't remember her name because of amnesia but has the power to see spirits. This is the beginning of the story of the strange and unusual duo.

Review: Reviewing both volumes here. A true classic - though the finish of the second volume (the final volume, that is) doesn't really feel final. I kind of wish for a sequel, if only to resolve what the hell happened to Natsu/Minoru/Maki's spirit bodies and real bodies. I can't remember if it's been licensed here or not, but if anyone manages to catch it, I highly reccomend it.

Final Review: A-

20050622

Shinshi Doumei Cross 1

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Summary: Otomiya Haine, a cheerful daughter of a failing furniture business, is attending the Imperial Academy, where she falls in love with an old crush. Her crush, Touguu Shizumasa, is from one of the most prestigious families around, and Haine would do anything to be near him. One day, under strange circumstances, she's given the opportunity to help him. What strange events will plague them now?

Review: I love stories that take place around seitokai. >_< It's going to be interesting to see where all of this goes - especially with him kissing the other guy and Haine walking in on them. o_o This is the first Tanemura Arina manga that mentions that outright. Go her for being progressive. ;)


2

20050621

Tales of the Otori 1: Across the Nightingale Floor



Summary: Seventeen-year-old Tomasu lives in a remote mountain village, some of whose residents—including his mother—are members of the Hidden, a clandestine, peaceful religious sect. He has never met his father. One day, while Tomasu is out collecting mushrooms, a band of Tohan warriors descends upon and massacres the village. Tomasu confronts the warriors, but is rescued by the mysterious Lord Otori, who changes the boy’s name to Takeo, and wants to adopt him. As Takeo learns to read, and to fight with sword and pole, on and off horseback, he does not realize that he is the center of a bloody intrigue . . . until it is almost too late.

Review: I'd read this a few years ago, and only managed to get the entire trilogy recently. Even though it's pure fiction and fantasy about what Hearn THINKS is Feudal Japan, it's still a great novel. I hope she continues after book three, even though everyone is saying the third book is the finale to the trilogy. :(


2: Grass for His Pillow
3: The Brilliance of the Moon

Shimotsuma Monogatari ("Kamikaze Girls") US sub Premiere: Los Angeles Film Festival, June 20 2005


Shimotsuma Monogatari/Kamikaze Girls
Distro by Viz Media, inc.
Los Angeles Film Festival 2005 Foreign Film entry
Los Angeles Film Festival 2005 @ Lemmle Theatre Sunset 5
Hollywood, California

Yes, I know I've already done a review of the movie itself, raw, but I felt a good critique of the pending US release was needed.

Went with Aki to the LA Film Festival showing of Shimotsuma Monogatari (being released here as "Kamikaze Girls", for some fucking reason or another) - located in Hollywood at the Lammle Sunset 5 on Sunset Blvd. I was the only one dressed in GL. As for the movie itself, it looked a bit like a rush subbing job (since there was only two months' time to get it out subbed after announcing licensing and entering the LAFF), puns weren't translated, and some stuff omitted due to fast speaking - in other words, kind of a beta release of the movie, but the translation itself was pretty good and got across what it needed to. Granted, some of the puns just couldn't translate over into english ("Atai no machine ga yofukuze/youfukuzee"), so there's not much to do about that. It needs to be reedited for some awkward meanings and connectors (and most likely will), but the best translation of the movie was when Ichigo was like "Nee-san, Douzo." which Viz made it something like, "My Lady, your chariot awaits." That was FUCKING PERFECT and it exactly captured the original meaning of what Ichigo was saying. Anyway they announced before showing the film that it was going into wider release (most likely the bigger cities - LA, SF, Chicago, NY) later this year - which confirms my beliefs that they're going to do some reedits, and actual better subtitles that don't fade into the background whenever there's white in the scene.

Regardless of the beta-testing of the LAFF filmgoers, Viz has won my trust with working with the movie. I hope it wins the LAFF foreign award. I really do.

Now I'm worried now on how they're going to be working with the book - they have plenty of time (February 2006 is the preliminary release date) and they will most definitely need it as it is one of the most difficult modern books out there at the moment. It's a hard book since Takemoto is so goddamn flowery with both language and grammar usage - not a bad thing, just difficult to translate competently. I hope to god they've gotten someone good to work on it. If they got the same guy who did the BR novel for them, that'll be fine. I'm definitely not worried about the manga - even I could translate that, now, and it's nicely adapted yet much simpler to read and understand. If they fuck up the book by just rush-jobbing it as they have with their general manga releases as of late, there will be hell to pay.

All in all, a wonderful day. I'm sad that I won't be here when it's finally released into theatres, but seeing it on the big screen was totally worth it.


Related:
Shimotsuma Monogatari (movie)
Shimotsuma Monogatari (manga)

Fairy Cube 2

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Summary: Ian has been murdered by his father? But as he floats in the underworld - he sees Tokage taking over his body - and no one notices the sign of the Tokage on his face! Tokage finally takes his revenge on Ian since they have been together, even before birth into this world. The truth behind the "Fairy Murders" is revealed, and Tokage beats the shit out of Ian's father for trying to kill him. He manages to float to Kaito's antique shop, where he offers to help Ian get his revenge against the Changeling Tokage, while the doll that's always been in the shop comes to life as the gorgeous fairy Ainsel...

Review: @__@ Why is Tokage so fucked up? He could have taken over someone else's body. But obviously he hates Ian so much that he did it. But still. ;__; Poor Ian. And stupid Rin - she doesn't even notice the difference. -__-;

20050620

Fairy Cube 1

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Summary: Ian was born from a mother he swore was a fairy with a mark of butterfly wings on his back, and has lived with a spirit double named Tokage for as long as he could remember. But telling others has just fuelled his father's obsession over his mother's "flying away" from the family, and has punished him brutally ever since - earning him the nickname "Liar Ian". When he meets his childhood friend Rin once more, all of the memories come back, as well as the accelleration of cases known as the "Fairy Murders"...

Review: Not since God Child have I been so addicted to a Kaori Yuki story! WOW. I wish more scans were available (1 and 2 have been put up by piyo-piyo.org, but apparently we're up to chapter 5 now), so I'll just bide my time until either more are available or until the first tankoubon comes out. Regardless, I love stories with fairies and I'm totally hooked.

Volume 1: 2 3 4 5

20050619

Silk



Summary: The prequel to Murder of Angels. At the center of this modern gothic horror story is Spyder Baxter, a deeply troubled young woman haunted by terrifying memories of childhood and her insane, abusive father. But his transgressions were so heinous that the demons aren't just in her head anymore; they've taken on a life of their own and are taking over Spyder's house, crawling out of the basement and into everything and everyone she cares about. Caught in Spyder's web of bad karma are a motley crew of disenfranchised Gen Xers all living on the edge and trying to heal various psychic wounds of their own.

Review: Another horror find in sixth grade, and I've loved Kiernan's work ever since. She's friends with Poppy Z. Brite - no surprises there. I would love to get my hands on the book they did together. I was kind of knocked off my ass by her raw prose. Brite elaborates more, I've noticed, while Kiernan just kind of punches you in the face with her words. It was so refreshing and delightful. It's hard to find her work, so I get what I can. Hopefully I can read more by her soon.

Related:
Murder of Angels (sequel)

Triads (co-written with Faust)



Summary: In 1937, two boys, lovers, escape the Peking Opera, only to find that life within it, though cruel, was also too sheltered to prepare them for the brutal streets of Hong Kong, on which they are nearly killed on their first night of freedom. Fortunately, a wealthy playboy rescues them, and they briefly enjoy luxury before the Japanese bomb China, dealing the lovers an unendurable blow. Cut to Hollywood in 1945; to Nan, a tough lesbian writer in love with a beautiful, straight starlet; and to a tragic, bloody murder. Why is that stuntman--the Chinese guy, Jimmy-- so intent on helping Nan? Finally, nearer the present, meet gorgeous, outrageously talented Jake Ryan, terrified that the studio will discover he is gay, who keeps seeing the ghost of an old Chinese guy. Brite and Faust's trio of bright, edgy, seemingly discrete stories are actually interwoven by red threads of passion and violence and the spirit of one quiet Chinese man.

Review: Brite Fest 2005 continues. I just couldn't get into this book. It didn't feel like Brite's work at ALL. It felt strange and dry, and just..no. >_> I gave it three tries, and it still didn't work. I couldn't get past the second chapter. It felt awful. >_< How did this crap get published?

Guilty but Insane



Summary: Poppy Z. Brite is nothing if not wacky and witty. Best known as the author of four novels (Lost Souls; Drawing Blood, etc.), she again proves her skill for provocative, meditative writing in her current collection of short nonfiction essays, Guilty but Insane. These brief pieces cover a variety of subjects, including decadence, the genre of horror writing, William S. Burroughs and her fantasy of an inspired love affair between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Although her readers know that Brite loves to toy with them, her ability to do so candidly and immodestly will please her current fans and should attract new ones, particularly among a literary Gen X crowd.

Review: Obviously taking a page from Stephen King on Writing, this book is quite funny for non-fiction. She's a really creative gal, and this was just a fun read. You can kind of see where her brain was when she wrote this, though she's changed now in terms of plots and whatnot.

Final Review: B

Exquisite Corpse



Summary: Blood-soaked sheets, cannibalism, rotting, half-dissected corpses: this gruesome psychological horror novel has all the grue a reader might or might notwant. Brite (Drawing Blood, 1993), the reigning queen of Generation-X splatterpunks, pulls out the stops in this ghastly tale of two serial killers who find true love over the body of a murdered and mutilated boy in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans. Londoner Andrew Compton, imprisoned for the necrophiliac slayings of 23 young men, escapes from prison by (rather unbelievably) faking his own death and killing the coroners gathered to autopsy his body. Fleeing to Louisiana, he hooks up with Jay Byrne, slacker scion of a wealthy old family, a man whose murders are even more fiendish than Compton's own. Brite is a highly competent stylist with a knack for depicting convincing, if monstrous, characters. Her plot development rests too heavily on coincidence, however, and on an excess of details drawn from the life of real-world serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. Though Brite shifts point of view throughout, she always returns to Compton's first person. This technique gives the narrative rhythm and emotional force but also seems aimed toward intimating the reader in Compton's acts of dehumanization ("the aesthetics of dismemberment") and depravity. And so what Brite really presents here is, ultimately, yet another crimson leaf in the literature of the pornography of violence.

Review: This was pretty gross, but it kept my interest. You can see here that she's starting to depart a little way from horror by the end of the novel, though you can't tell unless you go through many readings. She published two other chapters on her site that were pretty pornographic but totally awesome. Google Brite, read from her site. Though if you can't handle gay sex and serial murderers, I wouldn't if I were you.

Wormwood: A collection of short stories



Summary: The name of Poppy Z. Brite is well known to most horror fans. What some do not know, though, is that Brite hit the ground running as a fiction writer, and some of her best work so far is right here in this collection of a dozen tales (originally published as Swamp Foetus) she wrote between ages 18 and 24. The exigencies of long plot development and evolving characters that sometimes bog her down in the novels are absent from the short story form, where Brite's extraordinary talent for compressed, redolent imagery combines with her keen sense of narrative structure to create perfect little objets d'art. Stories like "His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood," "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves," and "The Sixth Sentinel," are too exquisite to be missed.

Review: Good shit, but the best stories involved Lost Souls' Steve and Ghost. There was more background given there, and I was grateful for it. I read this after Lost Souls, and it gave me more to work with when deconstructing said text. I wish I could have gotten the chapbook when it was available, but alas.

Final Review: B

Lost Souls



Summary: Launching the Abyss imprint for Delacorte, this stylishly written, daringly provocative first novel plays on the appeal of vampires as romantic antiheroes. Three bloodsuckers who might pass for rock stars roll into New Orleans for Mardi Gras and then disappear again, but only after their handsome leader, Zillah, has impregnated an adolescent girl. Fifteen years later, their offspring, who calls himself Nothing, is living with adoptive parents in the suburbs and wondering, like many other teenagers, why he feels so different. In this case the answer is that he's really a vampire, a fact he discovers when he runs away from home and meets up with none other than Zillah, accompanied by sidekicks Molochai and Twig. Together they seek out Nothing's favorite band, Lost Souls, for an explosive meeting that leads to a bloody, somewhat overdone climax back in New Orleans. Brite creates a convincing, evocative atmosphere in which youthful alienation meets gothic horror, but her prose sometimes turns purplish (for example, both sperm and the liqueur Chartreuse are likened to altars). More regrettably, the story lacks a moral center: neither terrifyingly malevolent supernatural creatures nor (like Anne Rice's protagonists) tortured souls torn between good and evil, these vampires simply add blood-drinking to the amoral panoply of drug abuse, problem drinking and empty sex practiced by their human counterparts. Rather than horror, Lost Souls prompts disgust mixed with morbid titillation, but it will surely be devoured by genre aficionados.

Review: This was the first Poppy Z. Brite novel I ever read - and I was in sixth grade. I've read it maybe fifty times since, and will always be my favourite and number one in my book out of all of her novels so far (though the Liquor series is getting up there). Like most of the other fans, I've wished for a sequel, a prequel, something. But Brite says she's done with that universe, so I'll take her at her word. Whenever I'm down I sink my teeth into this book and it gives me a little breathing room.

Final Review: A+

Barefoot Gen 1 (translated)



Summary: (from Publisher's weekly) The reissue of this classic manga's first volume has impeccable timing. It recounts the bombing of Hiroshima from the perspective of a young boy, Gen, and his family. But the book's themes (the physical and psychological damage ordinary people suffer from war's realities) ring chillingly true today. Gen and his family have long been struggling without much food, money or medicine, but despite hardships, they try to maintain a semblance of normal life. The adults are exhausted and near despair; the children take air raids and starvation more or less in stride. Nakazawa, a Hiroshima survivor, effectively portrays the strain of living in this environment and shows how efforts to stay upbeat in dire circumstances sometimes manifest as manic, irrational humor. The story offers some optimism: characters perform acts of self-sacrifice for the sake of neighbors and loved ones (e.g., when Gen's pregnant mother becomes ill from malnutrition, he and his brother pose as orphans and perform in the streets, throwing the money over the walls of their home so they won't get caught). Underneath this can-do attitude are the parents' deep guilt and sense of helplessness. When the children clamor ecstatically over a scrap of food, the parents dissolve in shame and grief. The art is sharply drawn and expressive, and the narrative has such a natural rhythm, it's easy to get pulled into the family's life, making the cataclysm readers know awaits them all the more real, intimate and difficult to take. Despite its harrowing nature, this work is invaluable for the lessons it offers in history, humanity and compassion.

Review: I was given a recommendation from my favourite professor to try this series out a year ago in one of her courses, since we were studying the title itself in the class. It took me this long to manage to find it. They only reissued this series in english from late last year (October, I think it was), so before then it was hard to find anywhere. People ask me why I read things like this, and I can answer: because I don't want to forget, and I want to be able to forgive my own country for doing this to Japan (though they weren't innocent either - with the ianfu/comfort women, labor camps, Manchuria Incident, etc). It fills me with shame, but also comforts me in that if the message gets out enough, maybe it won't happen again for awhile. Then again, that's my optimism going haywire. Humanity is never so simple, or so wise.

2 3 4

Salyu - Landmark



The wait is over - Salyu's first solo album (though with the same producer from the Lily Chou-Chou project) is out. And it was everything that I hoped and prayed for.

Along with the released single tracks "Suisei", "Valon-1", "Peaty", and "Dialogue", there are other tracks that make this album an instant buy in that it manages to keep the balance between genres. One really can't peg down Salyu in one genre, since she dabbles in so many styles. But we see a really nice comeback of her ethereal side, along with the pop, rock, etc. The first track, the title track of the album, brought me to tears when I first heard it. I'm still amazed that Salyu can, just with a few lyrics can bring me to tears. The only other artists that can really get this out of me are Shiina Ringo/Tokyo Jihen and Nine Inch Nails. That's not many, so this is very high praise from me.

If you want ethereal, try "Landmark" and "Dramatic Irony", if pop try "Suisei" and "Peaty", and if you want something that's light rock, try "Dialogue". My only complaint is that they didn't include the original Valon track she did with Ilmari which was officially her first solo single from last year. Valon-1 is the track without Ilmari's vocals; still good but Ilmari is still apart of that song and it feels like something's missing without it.

I've been really saving money since I'm off to study for the year at ICU starting on 7/3, but you can bet that I'm blowing the 30 bucks I have in paypal right now that's not been transfered yet on this album as soon as I get there. Just amazing. If she has lives this summer, you can bet that I'll try to go to each one like I would with the above other three mentioned.

Final Review: A

Favourite track(s) from this album:
-I am
-Valon-1
-Dialogue
-Dramatic Irony
-Landmark
-Taion

related:
Salyu - Suisei
Salyu - Peaty

Sugar Sugar Rune 2

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Summary: Chocolat almost has her heart taken by Pierre, who she really has come to like deeply! In shame and wonder at finding out that he's an Ogre through Duke the Frog, she goes back to the Witches' World to get more information, only to find out a horrible secret about her best friend Vanilla, the secret history of the Witches' World, and gets a new tool from Queen Candy herself that will give her an advantage in stealing hearts...

Review: Oh my. Well, now that we know Vanilla's an Ogre things are going to be different. Pierre approached her and everything. ~___~ But did she know herself that she's an Ogre? I've got so many questions yet to be answered. Also makes me wonder how they're going to be translating this into film for the anime premiering next month. It makes me sad to see Vanilla and Chocolat going into enemy mode, though, for the seat of Queen. :(

Liquor



Summary: As much a love letter to the Big Easy as it is to the demanding (and sometimes debauched) lifestyle of a chef, horror maven Brite's (Lost Souls) first foray into the trendy genre of foodie lit is a winsome entree. New Orleans natives and lovers John Rickey and Gary "G-man" Stubbs, affable characters from Brite's recent coming-of-age/coming-out tale The Value of X, decide to capitalize on Rickey's brainchild of opening a restaurant with a "whole menu based on liquor." Word passes through the gossipy Nola restaurant scene that two up-and-comers have a hot concept but no money, and soon enough, Rickey and G-man find themselves backed by celebrity chef Lenny Duveteaux, known as "the Nixon of the New Orleans restaurant world" for his habit of taping his phone conversations. At first doubtful of Lenny's motives, the two come to regard him as a mentor even as they question some of his choices. In one of the many conflicts that Brite embroils her main characters (all of which are fun but not too convincing), the yats (colloquial for natives) have to fend off increasingly threatening actions from Rickey's former boss, cokehead Mike Mouton, while experimenting with dishes like white rum–laced fettuccine Alfredo and veal kidneys à la liégeoise.

Review: I wasn't expecting this book to be so good. I love all of Brite's horror works, and I was a bit wary when I heard she was writing in a new genre. She proved me wrong and left me wanting more. I definitely have to read the sequel, Prime, and the prequel, The Value of X, ASAP. I hope the LA libraries have it. :/


Related:
The Value of X (prequel)
Prime (sequel)
Soul Kitchen (sequel)