Mon, 25 May 2009
I came across this article in The Houston Chronicle today and thought it was hilarious:
TOKYO — In a country where ghosts are traditionally believed to hide in the loo, a Japanese company is advertising a new literary experience — a horror story printed on toilet paper.
Each roll carries several copies of a new nine-chapter novella written by Koji Suzuki, the Japanese author of the horror story "Ring," which has been made into movies in both Japan and Hollywood.
"Drop," set in a public restroom, takes up about three feet (90 centimeters) of a roll and can be read in just a few minutes, according to the manufacturer, Hayashi Paper.
The company promotes the toilet paper, which will sell for 210 yen ($2.20) a roll, as "a horror experience in the toilet."
Toilets in Japan were traditionally tucked away in a dark corner of the house due to religious beliefs. Parents would tease children that a hairy hand might pull them down into the dark pool below.
(Article written by Associated Press)
I'm sure this will be a big seller in Japan. I could go with all kinds of scatalogical comments about this story, but you know what?, I'm above that sort of thing! I'll leave that to you. But what if you really like the story? Do you call up your friends and say "Hey, I was wiping my butt the other day and I came across this really cool story....", or "Hey, I read a really cool story on the toilet the other day, and I saved it for you. Don't worry about the smell." Like I said, I'm above making tasteless comments like that. It seems like I've heard a news story like this before. There's probably already been manga printed on toilet paper. It's just not something I scour the internet for.
Here's the link to the original article:
Mon, 25 May 2009
Anime review of episodes 5-8 of The Familiar of Zero Box Set, published by Geneon, List Price: $59.98, Rated 13+. Directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki (Best Student Council, Hayate the Combat Butler). Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka (Elfen Lied, Dears).
Louise is getting nervous. Why? The annual Familiar Exhibition is about to take place at the Institute. It's like a show-off contest where aspiring Magi put their familiars on display for the school elders in an effort to show whose is best. All Louise has to show is Saito, who has never been able to reactivate his excellent sword fighting skills that he showed in defeating a noble a couple of episodes back. In fact, he has trouble just LIFTING his sword, much less putting on a display. To add to Louise's anxiety, Lady Henrietta, Princess of Tristein, is personally going to attend the Exhibition! Things should go a little smoother since Henrietta grew up with Louise...or actually it might make her even more embarrassed and stressed. Henrietta's visit to the Institute also coencides with the arrival of Fouquet the Sculptor, a mysterious thief that has been stealing magical artifacts. Fouquet intends to break into the school while everybody is busy attending to the princess and steal "The Staff of Destruction".
I was a little worried after the first disk of this set that The Familiar of Zero could very easily devolve into a heavy fan service harem comedy, what with all the girls around and a semi-horny dude in the midst of them. But, thankfully, that isn't what has happened. We get some nice surprises and characterization in this second group of episodes. Besides Kirche throwing her boobs everywhere, the romance here has an almost decidedly shojo tone of wistful love. Saito and Siesta, a maid, share some charming moments in a bath that Saito rigs up from a large kitchen basin. Even though both of them are naked in the water and in the dark, the writers stay away from the cheap eroticism of bleeding noses. Instead we get the first really tentative conversations of two people that like each other. But at this point, we don't know who Saito really likes. He seems to be closest to Siesta in a romantic way, while he sees Louise as a little sister, and Kirche as an always open avenue to sex. I feel he would be better off with Siesta, but the opening credits of the anime show Saito and Louise kissing with the theme song cranking out lyrics about love which leave me hardpressed to see any other outcome. The animation and character designs are above average and the writers are able to get in all kinds of messages about equal rights and discrimination.
My Grade: B+
Hear my podcast review of Episodes 1-4 at this link:
Wed, 20 May 2009
Well, it's official, Shojo Beat is dead as far as the anthology magazine side of it goes. The manga imprint is going to carry on though. It has been reported that the July 2009 issue will be its last.
I was kinda taken aback. I thought the magazine was doing well. I always saw it right next to Shonen Jump and saw them as the perfect couple. I was first introduced to the mag when Animerica was cancelled halfway through my subscription and they offered to replace it with Shojo Beat. I said "what the hell" and received the first six issues. I couldn't really get into any of the titles. I wasn't very openminded about shojo series back then, and also, I don't take to anthologies very well. They make me think of literature textbooks that I had to read in college. But I really like Yen+.
Speaking of, I wonder how that magazine is doing for Yen? It must be doing allright or they wouldn't have released the first volumes of some of the manga series that are serialized in it. I'm way behind on it. I've bought every issue as it came out all the way to the present (but I've only read the first two issues!)
Magazines seem to be a dying breed. First, Animerica, Newtype, PIQ, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and now Shojo Beat. It's been about half a year or so since I saw an issue of Protoculture Addicts at my local book or comic store. What about Otaku USA? I remember a couple of months ago, they were going to go monthly, but scrapped those plans without a word. Anime Insider? Even though it sucked, a sucky anime/manga magazine is better than NO magazine at all.
Wed, 20 May 2009
Manga review of xxxHolic Volume 5 by CLAMP. Translated and adapted by William Flanagan. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Del Rey, $10.95, Rated 13+.
It's White Day, which in Japan means a guy has to give some sort of "white" gift to the girl that gave him chocolate on Valentine's Day. That is, if he likes her back. Watanuki not only has to satisfy Yuko (she made him a gift of the chocolate that HE made!) but also has to think of a gift to give to a pretty spirit that gave him chocolate. But a job comes up to interrupt all this contemplation. An "Ame-Warashi", a rain making spirit, comes to Yuko's shop to borrow Watanuki for a rescue mission she says only he can take on. Domeki, his rival and pain in the rear, decides to tag along as well. Naruto fans will get a kick out of the fact that the Ame-Warashi gives Yuko a nine-tailed fox spirit as payment for the services of Watanuki. The fox spirit in xxxHolic is not a force for evil, though. In fact, it seems to have an affection for Watanuki, and ends up saving his life.
I wasn't impressed with the last volume of xxxHolic. The stories were ordinary, if not mediocre, and failed to capture the feeling of strangeness that plays to the strengths of the series. Volume 5 was a return to top form by CLAMP. First, the art is gorgeous, beautiful, and even sublime at times. CLAMP are one of a few artists today that never shrink from turning their panels into epic canvases with very wide shots which at times take up two pages. The bigger the panels, the more detail CLAMP adds to the art. There isn't any blank white space or cluttered screen tones thrown onto these super panels either. In fact, CLAMP seem to reserve their best work for them. I'm still trying to figure out how they make Yuko look so sexy, even with her bony figure and totally anti-photorealistic design. As for the story, some parts of this book made my skin crawl, because the creators succeeded in a sorta Lovecraftian way of letting us glimpse a spirit world where human life doesn't amount to a hill of beans. There are immortal spirits all around us that see humans as nuisances at best, and as not worthy of survival at worst and have no desire to interact with mankind unless it serves their own purposes. You get tiny hints of Heaven and Hell in Volume 5 which speaks volumes to the range of CLAMP.
My Grade: A+
Sun, 10 May 2009
Podcast manga review of Naruto Volume 31: Final Battle by Masashi Kishimoto. Translated by Kyoko Shapiro. Adapted by Ian Reid. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha. Published in US by Viz Shonen Jump, $7.95, Rated T for Teen.
From the back cover:
Naruto and his fellow ninja engage in deadly conflict with the enemy. If any of them makes the wrong decision, it could be one of Naruto's closest friends who pays the ultimate price.
My Grade: A+