I’ve been very quiet on the internet lately, which is rare for me, but my life is a whirlwind of work, writing, reading, & viewing. The work has been stressful, and the writing has been slow, so it’s best if I focus here on the fun parts of that: reading & viewing. Mostly reading.
Serious consumers of Japanese pop culture will find my current reading and viewing to be extremely old news, but since I’m playing catch-up in a very big way, here’s what I’ve been reading in the past couple of weeks:
Fullmetal Alchemist (Volumes 9-12): We have finally purchased through volume 14, and I’ve paused after volume 12 in the interest of savoring what is currently available. Volume 15 is due out in December (I believe), and I’m sure I will be pulling my hair out in anticipation. This series just gets better and better with every volume and has, for me, so far surpassed the anime at this point that I can no longer compare them. If you have any idea how much I loved the anime, this is saying a *lot*. I read volume 9 on the plane to Nashville, and it completely gutted me. Fortunately I had the healing power of volume 10 saved for the trip back, when I truly needed it. Hiromu Arakawa, I continue to worship you.
Banana Fish (Volume 1): I picked this up (along with the next on the list) while looking for series that had been described as “classics” and it did not disappoint. I’ve done a lot of stumbling in my search for shojo manga that I can enjoy, and this was obviously the key. It’s interesting to read a manga where most of the characters are American, and I feel like there is a western sensibility reflected in the art as well. The setting makes the violence feel more realistic than I’m used to, which was jarring in some ways, but appreciated. The main characters grab the same part of my heart as “The Outsiders” did when I was a teenager, only this actually has much more potential to keep my attention as an adult. This was extremely compelling, and I look forward to more!
Maison Ikkoku (Volume 1): On a completely different, but similarly “classic” note, Maison Ikkoku is simply and utterly charming. It has an adult feel without being remotely sleezy, and I love an author who can make me adore a character as hapless and immature as Yusaku Godai. There are times when nothing will do like a romantic comedy, and this is the perfect series for that purpose. I read something in, I think, Jason Thompson’s blog (or perhaps an article quoting him?) about someone telling Rumiko Takahashi that he loved Maison Ikkoku because it was so realistic, to which she replied that she considered it a fantasy. For what it’s worth, I completely agree with her, but that’s what makes it so much fun. Definitely looking forward to more of this.
Bleach (Volumes 1&2): Paul and I have been essentially gobbling up the Bleach anime (oh, *so* much love), but we’re buying up the manga slowly, simply due to expense. I’m very happy we’ve started this manga, however, because though the anime deviates very little from it (at least at the point I’ve read to), the dialogue in the manga is definitely superior (in my mind), and it would be a tragedy to miss it. I’m curious about the smaller changes they’ve made (like Orihime’s crush on Ichigo in the manga which I haven’t seen at all in the anime). In any case, I definitely will continue to read the manga series. These characters have captured my heart in a way I never expected, and I relish the opportunity to spend more time with them.
I think that’s my manga roundup for the recent past. Perhaps tomorrow or so I’ll find the time to write about my love for the Bleach anime. We’re up to episode 59 (I think), and the tension is high!