May. 31st, 2017

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As I mentioned yesterday, I actually got a lot of stuff read over this last week. I started and finished:

Novels:

WAYPOINT KANGAROO by Curtis C. Chen. The finish was as good as the start, IMHO. Kangaroo is a combination of deep space science fiction and James Bond spy thriller, only if James Bond was a little more like a real person, albeit a real person with a superpower (the ability to open a "storage pocket" into an alternate universe.) Generally, I found WAYPOINT KANGAROO to be a fast and fun read.

Manga:

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (Volumes 1-4) by Izumi Tsubaki. As I said before, I loved this anime. (I loved it enough that I actually wrote het fan fic for it as a treat for Yuletide last year.) The story is very cute. Our heroine Chiyo Sakura has harbored a crush on Umetarou Nozaki since middle school. She finally works up the nerve to make her love confession and blurts out, "I'm your number one fan." Nozaki takes this in a weird sort of stride and... gives her his autograph. Sakura later discovers that Nozaki has been writing a very popular girl's romance under a female pseudonym. When I try to explain the humor here to people less familiar with manga, I say, "It's about gender stereotypes. It's like finding out that the captain of the high school football team is secretly writing lurid romance novels for Harlequin. And, even though he acts like a total meathead, he's super good at it, Nora Roberts level!" Part of the charm of Nozaki-kun is that Nozaki is kind of a meatball. He's the Japanese equivalent, anyway. He seems to over-think every romantic situation with the eye of a romance mangaka, but he misses the true point EVERY TIME. I can not recommend this series strong enough, though if you don't read a lot of manga, I would the anime because it's complete at one season.

Then I read the first three volumes of Behind the Scenes!! by Bisco Hatori. Hatori-sensei is most well known for her series Ouran High School Host Club which I attempted to watch, dubbed, several years ago and bounced out of. It's SO FAMOUS, however, that every once and a while I thumb through the tankobon at the library and think, "I should read this." Well, I never did, but now I've read Behind the Scenes!! which has a similar start in that our hero, Ranmaru, really just wants to get through college with the least amount of notice. He's been keeping his head down until he accidentally crashes the science fiction film club's zombie movie set and ruins the scene. Of course they're under tight deadline, so the Art Squad (those responsible for props and make-up and the support for all the film clubs on campus) gang-press him into service as an apology/retribution. Ranmaru, who come from humble fisher folk, discovers a hidden talent to make the most out of limited supplies, a skill that the perpetually broke Art Squad desperately needs. I found the first three volumes passably entertaining. I'm somewhat confused by the "negative personality" trope that Ranmaru fits in--there is a lot of weeping and feeling helpless that I find vaguely off-putting, but like Ouran, there is a large, quirky cast of supporting characters that I like a whole lot better.

Netsuai by Naono Bohra, a single volume yaoi, about two step-brothers who fall in lust/love. The only thing this one has going for it is that it's short and smutty. There's an attempt at a storyline involving a rich, traditional family, but that was mostly an excuse to break the brothers up so that they could run back to each other's arms. I'm not a big fan of these kinds of incest/pseudo-incest storylines, but no kink shaming from me. You do you. And, for my own part, this one squicked me less because even though the younger brother constantly calls his elder step-brother 'nii-san' they aren't related by blood. Their father married the elder's mother, but that's the only connection. We see a scene of the elder brother arriving in-tow.

Deadlock by Aida Saki/Takashina Yuu. I read all the available chapters of this on-going... well, technically it popped up under "yaoi" on Mangago, but there's way more romantic tension than there is actual smut, I'd be tempted to call it a prison-themed boy's love manga. Actually, if you've always wanted to know what yaoi is like but you're super-turned off by all the NSFW sex? You could consider checking out Deadlock, because there isn't even an on-screen kiss in all the eight or so chapters available on-line, yet it's very much set up like one of the more plot-heavy yaoi. The story is of a Japanese-American (I love when Japanese writers try to write Americans, btw... and this whole thing takes place in a California prison) who was a DEA investigator, Yuuto Lenex, who is framed for his partner's murder. The FBI approach him with a deal--they commute part of his sentence if Yuuto can find the mysterious prison boss going by the name 'Corvus.' All Yuuto knows about 'Corvus' is that he's a white guy with a burn scar on his back. Cue entrance of hottie white guy cellmate, Dick. I kind of feel like there should be a joke here, but Deadlock takes Dick very seriously (despite an utter lack of lowercase dick.) I enjoyed it the way you do when you're looking for prison yaoi, but I don't know that i could recommend it to anyone who wasn't at least curious about what yaoi was like....

Last night I read Princess Jellyfish (Volume 4, 2-in-1) by Ahiho Higashimura, which continues the story of the female-only otaku commune and one crossdresser's valiant attempt to save the commune from demolition by developers. You know, the plot did not advance all that much, given how many pages I read (355.) In fact, I would bet that the story has not yet advanced beyond what is shown in the anime (at least from what I can glean from Wikipedia's episode synopses.) Probably the most interesting developments are Read more... )


EDITED TO ADD: I knew I'd read so much that I'd likely forget something!  I also read all of "As the Crow Flies" a webcomic by Melanie Gilliman, which was recommended to me by Naomi and which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to you.  It's actually pretty easy to catch up. I managed it in one day.  The link will take you to the last panel, but you can either go to the archives and start at the beginning or used the big arrow to take you back to the first one.  "As the Crow Flies" is the story of Charlie, a young African-American girl, who has been drawn to attend a women-only Bible retreat. She not your typical Bible thumper, and neither is this retreat, but Charlie deals a lot with the underlying racism in the idea of 'purifying' as 'whitening' and generally wrestling with being a feminist (queer?) and a Christian.  It's a very pretty webcomic, too, with colored pencil art.  Absolutely worth checking out.


Okay, I think that's everything. I suspect next week will be much more sparse. Not only am I working both tonight and tomorrow afternoon, I'm also desperately trying to finish up this proposal package AND our friend John Jackson is coming to stay with us over the weekend. I think I'll be lucky to read a few short one-chapter yaoi!

But the books I have in my I-would-if-I-find-the-time pile:

LAST YEAR by Robert Charles Wilson (novel)
READER: Book One of Sea of Ink and Gold by Traci Chee
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (vols. 6 & 7) --I'm waiting on 5 from St. Paul Library (manga)
Invisible Boy by Hotaru Odagiri (yaoi/manga)

I also put in a request at the St. Paul Library for Haikyuu! because I saw they had them and that's another one where I enjoyed the anime, but have never read the manga.


How about you? Read anything good over the last week?

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