Manga Review: Stand Alone Complex vol. 4

Manga Review: Stand Alone Complex vol. 4

<!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> G&G readers (and anyone else who knows me) are aware of my feelings on Ghost in the Shell. Some years ago I remember reading that there was a Stand Alone Complex manga coming out in Japan. But in the years since I’d completely forgotten this exciting fact. Until, a couple weeks ago, my husband called from the local comic shop to tell me he was holding in his hands the Stand Alone Complex manga, volume 4. Did I want it? Well, yes. A little research told me that each manga volume was a self-contained story, so I could read volume 4 with no fear of being lost. I was disappointed to find that volume 4 is just a paper version of the season one episode, YES (the actual title is spelled with a yen symbol, a pound sterling symbol and a dollar sign, but…silly keyboard). It’s pretty much a shot-for shot adaptation, with a couple minor changes. I won’t summarize the story since most of you have probably seen the episode, but it involves a bad rich man, a female assassin with a good reason to want to kill him, and amusingly, Section 9 pretending to be trash collectors. The story includes a little more background on Fem, the assassin, but otherwise there is nothing new here. The kinetic action that is such a big part of the TV series doesn’t translate well to the page. Besides this, the art is solid- the cover made me a little nervous, but the interior art is very similar to the show, and is serviceable...
Manga Review: Men of Tattoos (Yaoi + Spoilers Alert!)

Manga Review: Men of Tattoos (Yaoi + Spoilers Alert!)

<!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –> Men of Tattoos would’t be so bad if the mangaka hadn’t fallen into a mindset that seems disturbingly common among yaoi writers: that distasteful, even offensive material can be made up for with a few vaguely-outlined penises. It’s not that I’m easily offended; just the opposite. And I wouldn’t mind a story about prison gang rape or sexual violence if it was handled with thought and care. But Men of Tattoos is as flippant about potential HIV infection as it is possible to be. As the title indicates, Men of Tattos is about the Yakuza (except for one odd, unconnected college love story) and focuses on two gay couples. In the first story, Kubota and Katagi are childhood friends who grew apart, met up again as young men and became lovers. Katagi is pretty extensively tattooed, despite being a mere Yakuza underling, and is so dim-witted he doesn’t realize that Kubota is a cop looking to bust him- which he does after a drippy sex scene. As they wait for the squad cars, Kubota cheerfully tells Katagi to be good so he can get an early release and they can be together. It’s not clear how long Kubota aims to be together with Katagi, post-incarceration, before he puts his stupid ass back in jail again. The second story focuses on a new couple. Mutou is the devoted retainer of the son of a powerful Yazuka boss. Teenaged Arima is a whiz on the stock market, so his evil father keeps him imprisoned in his room, making money...
February Review Blitz: The Crazed

February Review Blitz: The Crazed

Ha Jin is one of those writers; the guy you love or hate. You’ll find his stories, all set in Communist China, to be either utterly fascinating or completely boring. I’d already read Waiting and War Trash when I started The Crazed; based on my experience, I’d have to say The Crazed is not a good Jin novel to start out with, but if you’re already familiar with his work, it’s thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking. Jian Wan is a graduate student of classical literature at a small Chinese university in the 1980’s. His teacher/advisor, Mr. Yang, has been felled by a stroke, and the Communist party official in charge of his department has decreed that Jian is to sit with his teacher every afternoon, because there are only enough nurses at the hospital to look after Mr. Yang at night. Jian doesn’t mind, at first- Mr. Yang is not only a beloved and respected teacher, but also Jian’s future father-in-law. But Mr. Yang’s stroke has completely changed the strict but encouraging teacher. Much of the time he is utterly loony tunes, his brain sometimes in the present but more often in the past, reliving his life: from his ravings and snatches of relived conversation, Jian learns of Mr. Yang’s life as an intellectual, a father and a husband. During the Cultural Revolution he was humiliated, beaten and eventually sent to a labor camp; since then, he’s become a respected scholar of poetry. But his ranting shows Jian that Mr. Yang is not content with his lot, with his career, with what’s become of his country. Jian learns of marital...
February Review Blitz: Nightmare Inspector

February Review Blitz: Nightmare Inspector

Nightmare Inspector wants to be The Twilight Zone so badly that it hurts. It also wants to be Pet Shop of Horrors. It’s a noble effort and it’s an entertaining little series, but it’s simply not as good as what it aspires to be. The setting is the Silver Star Teahouse in pre-WWII Japan, in the 1920’s (the setting might be confusing to some, but one story mentions the Great Kanto Earthquake as happening a few years previous, so there you are). The proprietors of the teahouse are a young woman named Mizuki, and the baku (a spirit that devours dreams) named Hiruko. Baku are traditionally depicted as looking like tapirs, but this one looks like a regular guy- well, as regular as any manga character looks. After all, if he was a tapir he couldn’t be dressed in a ridiculous ensemble dripping with buckles, right? The Teahouse for some reason serves mainly coffee, but no one comes there for hot beverages anyway, so whatever. They come to see Hiruko, to ask him if he can help them get rid of their nightmares. He usually does, and the only payment he asks is to eat the nightmare afterwards, so it’s a pretty sweet deal. Each chapter is a story revolving around a new customer, and with few exceptions the stories are only a chapter long. In volume 1, the clients include a servant who dreams of his mistress’ death, a man so obsessed with a popular actress that he can’t bear seeing her character die in her latest movie, a girl who’s sick of her daily routine, and a...
February Review Blitz: Forbidden Dance

February Review Blitz: Forbidden Dance

Forbidden Dance is a manga about a high school girl who has to work hard to achieve her dreams and get with the incredibly hot and perfect guy she loves. Because, you know, no manga has ever done that exact storyline before. Even worse, Forbidden Dance indulges in every tired cliché of the genre; the gorgeous ex-girlfriend, the mean girl(s) who pick on the heroine, the apparently arrogant and cruel dude who turns out to have a sad, sad past…it’s enough to make you gag. Aya is a high school kid and devoted ballet student. She’s the pride of her ballet school, until she chokes up at a competition and falls off the stage. After that she can’t bring herself to dance in front of an audience, despite the encouragement of her teachers and best friend, second-rate ballerina Nachan. This makes Yoshino, her main dancing rival, very happy. Then one day Aya is chilling in the park and a random guy gives her a free ticket to a performance by a small ballet company called COOL (he’s actually not that random, turns out he’s a classmate/fellow dancer she just noticed before). She attends the show and is blown away by the athletic performances of the dancers, especially the lead dancer, Akira, who is apparently unbelievably attractive. Aya decides that the only way on God’s green Earth that she will ever ever ever be able to dance again is if she can dance with unbelievably attractive Akira. She approaches him after the show and asks to be allowed to join COOL. Unfortunately, she was so obsessed with Akira that she...
February Review Blitz: China: Land of Dragons and Emperors

February Review Blitz: China: Land of Dragons and Emperors

[sws_overlay src=”http://geekyandgenki.imaginaryexercise.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2011/02/102246791-e1353771663780.jpg” title=”China – Land of Dragons and Emperors” subtitle=”” description=”” thumb_width=”200″ thumb_height=”300″ icon=”black” Align=”sws_overlay_right”] [/sws_overlay] If you are reading China: Land of Dragons and Emperors by Adeline Yen Mah, you are A) a teenager who needs cool facts for a report or B) one of those people with the attention span of a goldfish. China was written with young adults in mind, as the many, many sidebars and little boxes full of trivia and the attention to the most lurid details of Chinese history prove. Mah begins at the beginning, a very good place to start: the ancient time before recorded history. There are half a dozen little sections that lay out the basics of Chinese mythology, the history of silk production, the importance of colors in Chinese culture, and other interesting but ultimately unsatisfying little facts. Chapter Two moves on to the First Emperor- you know, the guy from Hero– and a brief history of his (short) dynasty, inevitably including a box about the terracotta army. Next is the Han dynasty, which demands a longer chapter since it lasted 420 years (See? Facts, facts everywhere). Along with the in-fighting an betrayals, there are boxes with information on Confucius (OCD, misogynist), the major religions of China, and lots of information on how awesome the Chinese were at inventing stuff, like paper and seismographs. Moving right along, we come to the Tang dynasty, chock-full of more betrayal, in-fighting, much murder and women being bitchy and awesome, along with the invention of printing. Next up are the Song, who had it even worse and deprive women of the freedom they’...