meteordust: (kujaku)
In March, I went to the second ever Room 801, a yaoi and yuri convention, held this time in Parramatta. I had an awesome time last year, and this year did not disappoint.

Highlights included:

* Informative panel sessions on acquiring yaoi and yuri content legally, making your own visual novel using the Ren'Py engine, and how to get into publishing ebooks.

* Interesting panel discussions about sports manga (overreading meaning onto text, and emotional declarations like "I will protect you!" and "I will stay by your side forever!"), texts that might be fujoshi bait (need tangible characters and deep emotional connections between them, not just appealing on a superficial level), and yuri (ships based on canon and ships based on subtext inspire different feelings, and the forbidden feeling of doujinshi makes it more enticing).

* A Let's Play of a gay dating sim called Coming Out On Top, about a young college guy who decides to come out to his housemates, and then begins the big adventure of dating. Charming and hilarious.

* The Saturday night swap meet. A relaxing place to hang out, while the AMV screening played.

I came home with the comic "Yuri Reversal" by Kittyhawk, an adorable Boxfox by Mamath, and a whole bunch of recs for series to check out.

I also bought a copy of Coming Out On Top and spent the next week obsessively playing it. I haven't really played a visual novel before, and it was surprisingly addictive, especially trying to get all the endings (good, bad, and bizarre). The characters were delightful and the illustrations were hot.
meteordust: (kujaku)
This is what I picked up yesterday:

Cover image cut for size )

The classic shounen ai manga by the legendary Moto Hagio. Officially translated into English for the first time by Matt Thorn.

I never expected to get to read this story. I was thrilled when I learned about this translation.

An absolutely gorgeous edition. A hardcover volume, with a lovely matt cover, and hefty at over 500 pages. Fantagraphics has outdone themselves on this.

I know what I'm doing this long weekend.

To Juli, one last time.
This is my love.
This is the sound of
my heart. Surely
You must understand.
meteordust: (Default)
In 2010, I read 45 volumes of graphic novels.

Series I continued to enjoy:

Fullmetal Alchemist
Hikaru no Go
Yotsuba&!

Series I rediscovered:

From Eroica With Love

Series I discovered for the first time:

Otomen

Standalones I enjoyed:

Calamity Jack
Colour Bleach+: Bleach Official Bootleg
meteordust: (Default)
I have been following this manga for over six years. Today I finished reading the final chapter. The story is now complete at 27 volumes.

I'm not even sure what I want to say about it. I just feel like I should stop and acknowledge the moment. It's a story that has awed me with its intricate and farsighted plotting, its magnificent ensemble of characters, its unflinching willingness to go into the dark places, and its powerful emphasis on love and friendship and loyalty and sacrifice.

One of my favourite series of all time, no doubt.

The conclusion has been a long time coming. And it was the perfect ending in every way.
meteordust: (Default)
A couple of weeks ago, I went to hear Tetsu Kariya, author of the classic food manga Oishinbo, speak at the Japan Foundation.

I never realised before that he lives in Sydney. He has done so for over 20 years. He moved overseas because he didn't want his four children to have to endure the Japanese education system, and he decided on Sydney because it had a good fish market and a good Chinatown.

He talked about growing up with his dad after World War 2, when food was hard to come by, and how his dad did the best he could, and instilled in him a love of food and cooking.

He talked about his clashes with the big food corporations, since he was uncompromising in the criticisms he put in his manga. (Which annoyed them, and resulted in the animated series only lasting one season.) He would assert that soy sauce made with the crushed remains of soybeans was inferior to that made with whole soybeans, and that Japanese milk could be stored forever in the cupboard "because this milk is already dead!" Nowadays, soy sauce manufacturers advertise that their soy sauce is made with "whole soybeans", and milk manufacturers advertise that their milk is "natural milk". ("And who was responsible for that?" he asks.)

He has met his collaborator on Oishinbo, the artist Akira Hanasaki, only seven times in 28 years. But because each script he sends is like a letter, it's like they know each other well.

He visited friends in the tsunami disaster area recently, and was moved by what he saw. He will be putting some of his experiences into a future chapter of Oishinbo, called "People Never Give Up".

He sees food as a tool for conveying his thoughts about the world. He said that you can read an article in a newspaper or magazine and soon forget about it, but manga lasts. There are kids today picking up the first volume, who were not yet born when it originally came out.
meteordust: (kujaku)
Normally I never buy manga I already own in another edition.

But the new CLOVER omnibus published by Dark Horse was just too pretty to resist.

Feast your eyes on this! )

Years ago, Tokyopop published CLOVER in English. I already had the whole series in Chinese, so I only picked up the first Tokyopop volume out of curiosity.

It was a disappointing experience. Although Tokyopop did reproduce the translucent dustjacket and colour illustrations, the translation was sometimes awkward, the text was in an unattractive serif font, and the artwork was flipped so the pages read left to right - remember those days? - which had odd results since one character had an artificial hand.

I wish I still had it for comparison, but I ended up donating it to the library. I didn't even know that edition had gone out of print.

Anyway, Dark Horse has done a fine job with this omnibus. The paper is good quality stock, the images are crisp, the font is standard, and the artwork has been kept in its original orientation. And I've only browsed it so far, but the translation seems for the most part to be smooth and accurate. (I have nitpicks about a few names, but I suppose romanisation is a judgment call.)

But the real lure is in the colour illustrations: not only the cover art and splash pages are included, but also a bonus gallery of seventeen gorgeous images, most likely sourced from CLAMP's various artbooks.

If you've never read CLOVER before, this is a beautiful way to start.

More pics )

Spoilerish nitpicking )

SMASH! 2008

Aug. 7th, 2008 12:33 am
meteordust: (Default)
So SMASH! is in its sophomore year, and showing no signs of slump. Very healthy turnout when I went on Saturday, hordes of cosplayers and artists and enthusiastic young folk and even a good swathe of the old crowd. Sometimes it's good just to hang out and let the carnival swirl around you.

There was one event I had to check out though - the interview with guest of honour Hidenobu Kiuchi, the first Japanese seiyuu to attend a convention on these shores. The interviewer seemed inexperienced with bilingual interviewing and did a few awkward things, like ask questions using long and convoluted sentences, and engage in patter aimed primarily at the audience, which made things hard for the translator. But it kind of smoothed out towards the end. The questions were mostly general - how did you get your start, what's the recording process like, etc - but the audience was enthusiastic and the mood positive.

The interview was followed by a live dubbing session, in which Kiuchi performed his lines as various scenes from his anime were played. It was interesting to witness the differences between the roles and how he modulated his voice for each one. Plus bonus audience participation in the supporting roles, which was entertaining.

I went easy on the shopping this time - just picked up some cute Bleach bookmarks and an even cuter postcard with two lovely guys kissing and the caption "The closet is for clothes."

The day seemed to pass too quickly, and I wonder if SMASH! will eventually become a full weekend event. In any case, I'm sure it will be back next year, and all the fans with it.
meteordust: (kujaku)
X was the first CLAMP manga I ever read. When I started reading it, 1999 was in the future.

I'd never even heard of CLAMP back then. But it was the cover that caught my attention. You know the one. Glossy black, with that picture of Kamui standing under Tokyo Tower in the moonlight, huge eyes and wavy hair and blood red sakura wafting past. Totally Clampesque, and completely different from all the shounen and seinen manga on the shelves in those days.

I remember being intrigued and picking it up and putting it down again, because back then I was a poor uni student and $30 AUD was a lot to go drop on a graphic novel. (Yes, they cost that much then. Insert obligatory "Kids these days!" comment.)

But in the end, I circled back for it, and although I didn't warm to the story straight away - remember back when Kamui was a cold little bastard instead of the fragile ball of angst we know so well? - it intrigued me enough to keep going. After all, there really was nothing else like it then. Viz's collection Four Shojo Stories had only come out a few months earlier, and that had been a revelation in itself. ("Japanese comics from a uniquely female perspective!" the cover said. "It's Not Just Girls' Stuff Anymore.")

So yeah, Dragons of Heaven and Dragons of Earth and mystic swords and duelling prophecies and starcrossed lovers and bucketloads of angst, and a movie and a TV series and a billion volumes of other CLAMP manga later, and wow, cats in the cradle, we're just around the corner from 2009. Which is a good time for the [livejournal.com profile] x2009 fanfiction challenge, 'Ten Years Later'. Sign ups are open now, for anyone else feeling the nostalgia.

X was the first CLAMP manga I ever read. Which makes it kind of funny that I still haven't finished reading it. Here's hoping they pick it up again before 1999 falls even further into the past.

(Though I suppose they're still doing better than Minami Ozaki, whose Bronze: Zetsuai Since 1989 is still crawling along. By all rights, Koji and Izumi should be pushing forty by now.)
meteordust: (Default)
Supanova is the one convention I never miss. Highlights this year were the talks by Nicholas Brendon and Lani Tupu, and the amazing Tsubasa cosplay group. Got to catch up with friends, and also picked up a bunch of comics from Artists' Alley. My absolute favourite is Jessica McLeod's Ghost Farm, the story of a lonely vampire who goes to a ghost farm to obtain a companion. Simply adorable.
meteordust: (Default)
I remember that day, ten years ago, in that packed out classroom in the Quadrangle Building, when these three guys stood up in front of us and proposed to start an anime club. In years to come, they would be known as the Founders, and the club as AnimeUNSW.

Memories )

SMASH!

Aug. 20th, 2007 11:33 pm
meteordust: (Default)
Went to SMASH! on the weekend - the first con I've been to in nearly a year. It had a pretty good turnout - hundreds of people, it seemed - and it was affirming to see so many fans gathered together and having a good time. It was also kind of nostalgic being back at UNSW and hanging at the Roundhouse. I caught a couple of the events, but for the most part I was content to relax and enjoy catching up with friends. I ended up doing a bit more shopping than I originally intended, and came away with a swag of comics and stuff. (I have to mention RAE's Cabin Boys, which is quite possibly *the* best title ever for a yaoi comic, especially when you factor in the barechested pirates on the cover.)
meteordust: (kujaku)
One month from today, it will be the 10th anniversary of the founding of AnimeUNSW.

Its official name is the Anime and Manga Society of the University of New South Wales, but nobody calls it that. To me personally, it will always be 'the club'. It was a big part of my life for a long time - through it, I made some wonderful friends, and had some amazing experiences, and of course watched lots of anime, which I was hugely passionate about.

Back then, the only other anime clubs in Sydney were JAUWS and SAS - the one based out west, and the other a small group of friends. The next closest club was down in Wollongong. SUAnime, Anime@UTS, AnimeMQ - none of these clubs yet existed. So AnimeUNSW became the main social hub for anime fans in metropolitan Sydney, its Friday night screenings regularly drawing not only uni students but high schoolers and fulltime workers - all come together to share their love of Japanese animation.

Kids these days! aka Uphill! Both ways! In the snow! )
meteordust: (hikaru)
In honour of Hikago Day yesterday.

I didn't get into it when it was wildly popular. It wasn't until a long time after, when I stumbled upon the first few volumes at the library. After that, I went out and bought every single volume that had been translated. Problem was, that was only 5 out of 23, with Viz releasing new volumes on an achingly slow schedule. So getting hold of the rest of the series was a saga in itself, trekking to hole-in-the-wall manga rental places, hunting down sketchy online summaries, and pulling out my extremely rusty translation skills.

But it was worth it.

Spoilers for the series - this means you, Mr Tang )
meteordust: (hikaru)
I was going to post this on Hikago Day - the 5th of May, a significant day in the Hikaru no Go universe - but I lost that post. So here we go again: my Hikaru no Go fic recs, five categories of five faves each.

Many of these stories are set after the series ends and contain spoilers. Some also feature *cough* extrapolation of canonical relationships. A few may not be worksafe. Please note the warnings within each individual story.

Let's go! )
meteordust: (hikaru)
From another Anime News Network review of Hikaru no Go:

The great thing about shounen manga these days is that it can be written about pretty much anything without ever breaking from its quirky, inimitable style. You know what I'm talking about. All the one-on-one showdowns, and overwrought speeches on power and skill levels. The funky special techniques. How all the world's problems will inevitably be solved by engaging in some epic duel with the local ideologue. This all used to be pretty well limited to titles centered on martial arts or other similar forms of violence, back in the day. All at once, however, the entire industry seemingly picked up a volume of Dragonball or Hokuto no Ken and decided it would all work just as well without the punching.

They're right, of course. The appeal lies in the means, rather than the end. Diversity is inherently interesting.

And so, there are now shounen action series being written about everything. Somewhere in the depths of a Tokyo manga café there even exists one such series about... baking bread. I don’t remember the name, or how I came across it. None of that is important. What is important is the idea behind such an odd creation--the notion that one could take this premise, and, with enough belief in the process, find a way to leave the reader breathless. Who will win? Can our hero pull through? Watch the bread rise! On the surface, nothing could be more stupid. And yet, it is charming. All because of the unmistakably Japanese thought process that might lead a character to shout, in amazement, "I HAVE NEVER SEEN A YEAST SUCH AS THIS!"

That is shounen manga.
meteordust: (hikaru)
I've been trying for days to work out how to post about this without sounding completely insane. But maybe that's impossible. So I'll just have to tell it straight. If you're wondering where I've been for the past month and a half, I've been immersed in another world. The world of Hikaru no Go.

What is Hikaru no Go? It is 23 volumes of manga. It is also 75 episodes of anime. But most of all, it is one brilliant, absorbing, wonderful story.

Half of you are probably thinking, "Um, yeah, where were you three years ago? Under a rock?" And the other half of you are probably thinking, "What's so fascinating about Go? Isn't it, like, a board game?"

For those who aren't already familiar with the story, this review at the Anime News Network provides an excellent summary. I'm going to quote from it:

I will not try to hide my unabashed love for Hikaru no Go, the story of a young boy, Hikaru Shindo, whose mind becomes the home for a Go-playing ghost named Sai. Set free when Hikaru stumbles upon the Go board in which he had been inhabiting, Sai is a master Go player whose love for the game, and desire to play the "divine move" has kept him in the world for over 1000 years. Sai’s enthusiasm for the game slowly draws the hitherto uninterested Hikaru into the exciting world of Go.

Volume One quickly establishes what will become the central conflict of the series, the rivalry between Hikaru and the young prodigy Akira Toya. Akira is the son of the best Go player in the world, and even though he is only a sixth grader, he can compete with many professionals. Hikaru stumbles into a Go salon in order to indulge Sai, and picks out Akira for a match since he is the only kid around. Although Hikaru says he never has played before, aided by Sai he defeats Akira. Akira is shocked, not believing he could be beat by the likes of Hikaru who cannot even hold the pieces correctly. Akira demands a rematch which Sai wins, but seeing Akira's passion for the game sparks a similar feeling in Hikaru's heart...


To quote [livejournal.com profile] supacat, apparently also one of Those Who Came In Late, "I really feel like the last one to arrive at the party with this fandom, sort of like if I just read Harry Potter for the first time yesterday and wanted to run around telling everyone how great it was, and everyone was like, look we told you to read it like two years ago, come on."

***

Touya, how can you be so intense...?

Is Go more than just a game...?

Are you trying to play 'the Divine Move' just like Sai...?


- Hikaru, Chapter 6
meteordust: (Default)
Yesterday, I went to Magic Casements, an SF writing festival held at the NSW Writers' Centre in Rozelle. Like the first one, which took place in September last year, the panels featured local SF authors, artists, publishers, and critics. Most of the ones I attended were pretty good, with lively and interesting speakers. I also managed to catch up with some people I knew.

By the end of the day, I felt all energised and motivated again. Just being surrounded by people who are out there doing stuff, and being told all those things you already know but still need to hear regularly - it's really good for giving you a kickstart.

Afterwards, I dropped by the city and picked up the latest volume of Demon Diary and the first volume of a Hong Kong comic called The Four Constables.

There's a lot of interesting stuff coming out soon - Tokyopop starts releasing the Angel Sanctuary manga later this month, and the first volume of Tokyo Babylon is due next month. Two series I never imagined seeing in English one day. Mmm...

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