Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aurora's best of Manga! Volume 1 - The World God Only Knows

And so the journey begins!

#1 - The World God Only Knows (TWGOK)

I was first introduced to this title as an anime, streaming its way through Crunchyroll, and was immediately taken. The brash character of Katsuragi Keima, the protagonist known as “the capturing god”, is easily the most unlikeable likable character I’ve ever watched or read. With a catchy opening theme, a bumbling idiot savant sidekick, and a new take on an old premise, this was a show I kept my eye on.

At this point, you’re saying “but isn’t this on your MANGA list?” Yes, it is! I mentioned that this was how I was introduced to the series; I was so taken I needed my TWGOK fix faster than the episodes were coming out. I quickly looked online for the original manga, and found it was not available yet this side of the pond. In order to follow the story, I had to be sneaky, and visit a scanlation site (this would be where fans take their spare time scanning, translating, and editing the works directly from Japan). I found a good source, and as soon as it is licensed over here you can be sure that I will add it to my collection! The anime has been green-lit for North American distribution, so I’m hoping the manga is soon to follow.

You probably want to know why I like it, huh? Well, let’s start with the premise, and then it should become pretty clear. Keima is known in the online world as the “capturing god”, stating that he is able to capture the heart of any female, no matter the situation. The Demons of “New Hell” – a kinder, gentler kind of Hell – is looking for a way to capture rogue/escaped souls that have rooted themselves in the hearts of humans. Keima receives a request through his website to help capture hearts, and of course he accepts. What was not communicated was that Keima’s expertise had an addendum: he can capture the heart of any two-dimensional female, within the dating sim, or “gal game”, dimension.

Without the information being known, a cute young-looking girl falls from the sky and introduces herself as Elsie, a demon of “New Hell”. She is there as his case worker to help capture the hearts of real girls. The plan is essentially to take that space in the girl’s heart currently occupied by the renegade evil soul, and fill it instead with love (“an honest kiss should be enough”), thereby evicting the ethereal baddie. Simple, yes? Sadly, for all of Keima’s genius in the gaming world, he has zero tact or desire when live, three-dimensional girls are involved. It takes a threat of death under contract for him to kick into gear, and be able to put a show, episode after episode, where he puts his knowledge of situations in gameplay into real world practice. It’s like an anime version of meta fiction – or, metagaming I suppose? Look at me, inventing words!

I think one of the other appeals is the idea that this is a harem genre without the bumbling male lead. He is callous, arrogant, stubborn, and completely self-centred, and yet somehow, by recreating the situations in the games he plays, he is able to get girl after girl fall for him. Astounding, really.

Thus, my first manga recommendation is, um… recommended? Tomorrow, entry number one for ANIME!!

Ja nai!

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Job, New Blog Series!

As I begin a new venture, I want to strive to keep up my new blog schedule. While I will continue to write longer articles and link them here, I want to do something else, too. In order to do that I have constructed a new series about my personal favourites! People often ask me what I recommend in terms of anime to watch and manga to read, and I always find myself flummoxed. Fortunately, having my collection evaluated for study has forced me to prioritize my titles and preferences.

I took some time at the end of my work day today, and wrote down the first fifteen anime that came to mind as ones I love, and then did the same for manga. Obviously, I haven't watched or read everything that's out there, so the list has changed as a discover new gems. For now, however, I will stick to the list I've written up. I will go through it in no particular order, if only because I can't bring myself to rate them in any sort of order. It equates to a parent picking his or her favourite child - you just don't ask someone to do it.

Starting tomorrow I will count out the top 15 manga and 15 anime, one at a time, and help you all fill out your own collections, or at least your viewing repertoire. Feel free to share your own opinions of my faves, since I will not begrudge anyone for their own feelings.

I feel prompted now to ask: What's your number 1? Is it as hard for you to pick as it is for me? Do you prefer to watch or read? That's probably enough questions for you all. ;)

Until tomorrow!
Matta ne!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This Damn Article!! Grrrrrrr...

So, the mecha article that I am currently writing is taking waaaay longer than I thought it would. Although I am finally wrapping it up, I have to wait for the publication notice from my publishing site. I figured, in its place, I would give you all a bit of a teaser!

Here you go!

"The three titles I am currently watching span the reaches of near space, distant space, and the backyard of Tokyo. What is really amusing is the fact that two out of the three of these series take place within their future, but our past. Patlabor: The TV Series takes place in an alternate 1989 (the year after it was originally released) where large robot-like vehicles, called labors, were created mostly for the construction industry. What is really amusing is that after every ending credit they state that the story is completely fictional, “but in ten years… who knows?” Contrary to the man-made mechs of Patlabor, Macross’s initial incident involves the crashing of a large space ship onto on island off the coast of Japan. According to the anime, this happened in 1999, and “now”, ten years later, aliens known as the Zentradi are attacking, after having followed said starship. I must admit, I think I missed that article in the paper … Each one of these titles has something that makes it unique: the love stories in Macross, the politics in Gundam, and the humour and realism in Patlabor."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Why Naruto?

I was trolling for ideas to write about today, and one of my closest friends said: “Well, with all this stuff you write about One Piece, why do you still like Naruto better? That’s something I’d like to read.” I shall, henceforth, fulfill said desire!

Yes, lately I have been writing a lot about One Piece, the super-franchise that has taken Japan by storm and is now making its way westward. Before I was introduced to the pirates of East Blue, I was an honorary citizen of Konohagakure – the Village Hidden in the Leaves – where Naruto was known as the number one knucklehead ninja! As silly as it sound, the level of serious drama that lines the pages keep it from being considered ridiculous (as I imagined One Piece was), but has a humour that seems a perfect balance of silly and clever. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that the title character is really the only one who is lacking in the intelligence department, and he actually learns as he progresses through the trials and tribulations before him. I think the other big difference between Naruto and his shonen compatriots is that he genuinely works hard to improve himself. We watch him train, figure out how to do things, and get frustrated when he doesn’t understand. We've all been there, trying hard to be better, to be who we want to be, and finding nothing but hurdles and dissenters along the way.

I could go on and on, and probably will at a later time. For now, I leave you with this.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lights. Sound. Live-Action!

I've had a few people ask me what I think about the current Hollywood project to make a live-action version of Akira. To be perfectly honest, I'm excited! Everyone else seems appalled, but let's think about this rationally.

Firstly, we haven't seen the script or the storyboards, so we don't know if they are doing an accurate recreation or simply an interpretation to represent Western culture. Gary Oldman seems to like the script, and he's picked some big winners in the past. Who are we to argue with Commissioner Gordon?

Secondly, the cast has still to be finalized, so all of this speculation about how "it's gonna suck if Bella is in the damn thing," is just that: speculation. It looks like they are approaching a lot of greenhorns for some of the major roles, and that can be equally good as it can be bad. All in all, if Twitch is reporting accurately, then I think WB seems to be heading in the right direction in terms of casting, but again, NOTHING is finalized, so quit your griping.

My third point: Akira is an awesome piece of sci-fi history! I mean, it is one of the only anime titles to be so well known, to the point where some classify it as sci-fi first, then mention it is anime. While Hollywood has an exceptional knack for ruining awesome stories, sometimes they get it right, and we shouldn't be so quick to judge. With the current political and economic climate I think this is the right time to revisit the post-apocalyptic world depicted in Akira. I think that we need stronger sci-fi representation in film these days, and this might be the adaptation to do it.

All in all, I'm happy anytime anime and/or manga are brought to the forefront in North America, since it needs more promotion over here if we want to keep the industry going. Think of it this way: if the WB version of Akira does bite it big time as a movie, it will just encourage people to pick up the original! So, as stated at the beginning, I am excited for the new live-action Akira, if only so that I can pass judgement on it when it comes out, and not before-hand.

Ja nai!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lolly-gagging again...

Look at that! As soon as I say: "Oh, this is just to post until I finish writing the article," I find myself laying my writing responsibility by the wayside. Again, not for lack of things to say, just finding myself a bit lethargic these days. Looking for work and not having a structured day leads one only to procrastination!

I started writing a preface to the article I was writing, and found that it was actually better suited for the actual article, so am now thinking back to what I've written, read, and watched. Still watching One Piece, but there are 78 episodes to get through, so it might take a while. I've started watching Honey and Clover, which I've been reading since the summer. Both through reading and watching it is very obvious that this is a shojo title. It is not apparent only in the story, but also in the artistic treatment. The poetic language partnered with abstract imagery spins on the screen as Takamoto falls in love and for some odd reason remembers riding a bicycle as a kid and philosophically thinking about how far he can go without looking back. What does that have to do with the plot? Absolutely nothing. Is it artsy and trite? Of course! Does it work within the context of this story of love triangles within love triangles within love triangles (I suppose it is more of a love dodecahedron...)? Darn tootin'!

I got completely absorbed into the manga over the summer, and was stopped only by immediate availability. The wash of greys in the manga translate gorgeously into the colour of the anime. The big question now is whether I will get ahead faster on screen or will I finish it on paper first?

Any thoughts?

Mata ne!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Trying to finish and article I'm writing about the mecha trifecta. Hopefully will have it done by end of day today (Sunday). Consider this a placeholder until then!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Finally watching One Piece

Today I had another box arrive, but this time it was a big one!! It's one I've been looking forward to, and was happily surprised at its early arrival! I now finally have my first two volumes of the Blue Exorcist manga, season 1 of Honey and Clover, Sora no Woto (Sound of the Sky) complete series, and....
...drum roll....


One Piece Collection One!!!! I've had Collection two on my shelf for about a month now, so having the first 26 episodes is beyond exciting! For those who haven't read my article in (Cult)ure Magazine, I became completely obsessed with the manga after Anime North 2011. Now that I'm all caught up with the manga, I am ecstatic about being able to watch the anime! I remember clearly stating in my conversation with the article's title character - Charlie - that my original revulsion for the show came from the horrible job that 4Kids! Entertainment did for it first, and that my half-asleep impression of it was: "Wow, this is stupid."

With my newly refurbished interest in this show about pirates (ninjas still rule) I have placed disc one within my DVD player, enjoying its "new DVD smell" and all! I can already tell that the first airing of the show in Japan was a while ago, simply from the animation and art quality. Fortunately, my FAVOURITE SEIYUU OF ALL TIME, KAZUYA NAKAI, does the voice for Zoro, who has recently become one of my FAVOURITE CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME!!!! Yes, I am happy to be watching this, and listening to it.

I was about to say: "Hey! I'll let you know how it is after I've watched it a bit", but lets be honest... Kazyua Nakai + Zoro = happy camper. It could be garbage, and I wouldn't care. I'm going to return to my TV now, and watch Zoro wield some awesome swords.

Ja nai!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sailor Moon

I love it when I'm at home and there is a knock on my door between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.. It means that there is a package for me (more than likely, anyhow)! Today is one of those days!

As I look lovingly at the brown, cardboard rectangle that clearly says "" on its front, I already know what's inside. I grab the little tab and pull across carefully, opening the make-shift box. I notice how incredibly large the two volumes of manga are, and then flip them over: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Vol. 2 and Codename Sailor V Vol. 2.


I do a little dance and pet them, my new acquisitions. I sigh happily and put them down, suddenly realizing that I am behind in my reading, since I haven't finished Sailor V vol 1 yet, and have been putting off the first volume of Sailor Moon. I think I'm a little scared, since it has been so long! I have a select few of the "original" volumes released in the 1990s by Mixx, but they are the wrong way around, and poorly translated, and mostly there for collection purposes. Trying to read them is painful. I think this might be why I hesitate with the new volumes, despite the new translation and original "right-to-left" orientation.

How's this: I promise once I've read them to give you guys the full scoop, okay? For now, I shall return to admiring the cover of volume 2... Ami is so pretty as Sailor Mercury...

Mata na!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Floating in Limbo

As I mentioned in yesterday's post I am finding it difficult to decide what to write about. I started writing about my recent "mecha" phase, but realized that I have an entire article I am working on about that topic. I thought about writing about the Berserk manga, since I am still reading it almost non-stop, but am hesitant, since I just wrote about the anime the other day.

I mean, it is not as though I am lacking subjects. I am currently also in the middle of Bakuman vol 7, Clamp's Gate 7 vol 1, I have recently watched Night Raid 1931 (which is AWESOME), Le Portrait de Petite Cossette (which is as surreal as they come), and started watching the new title Tales from the Abyss (meh...). So now I must ask myself, is it because I have too much to talk about? Is it because I have too much to say about each title? I'm not sure... Maybe I'm just tired. I am even having trouble deciding what to put into the DVD player to fill the two spots that are now empty.

I've had a request to write about the Vocaloid phenomenon known as Hatsune Miku, but I have to admit, it does not interest me in the slightest. It is a Japanese, digital version of the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys (at least in my opinion - sorry Sabs...).

I guess for now I'll just have to keep on writing and see what comes out upon the page. Hopefully tomorrow will bring a bit more inspiration.

Thanks for sticking with me!
Ja nai!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Subject of study

As I was sitting at Starbucks today, waiting for company, I was trying to decide what to write about next. Since I didn't write an entry yesterday, I have to do one today, right? I came up with the following list:

  • been watching Blue Exorcist vol. 1, but it is very shonen... not really in the mood for that
  • maybe talk about Catholic iconography in anime and its depiction?
  • watched Le Portrait de Petite Cossette last night while falling asleep, and it is MESSED UP!! One of the most surreal stories I've even watched (and that is saying a lot)!
Once one of my companions arrived, I realized: write about the fact that my collection is actually worthy of study! With a completely sober tone, I can tell you how a friend of mine, who is studying museology (museum studies) at UQAM, has selected my anime collection as the topic of her major project in one of her graduate classes. That's right! There is a grad paper being written about my personal (and very extensive) collection! I had to pick out my top 15 items and everything! Fortunately (for her) I actually already have a spreadsheet detailing all of the current titles in my collection, including year of release, version, number of discs, languages available, studio and distributor, and genres. I do feel sorry for her having to go through all 380+ entries, though... (that's how many articles are on my shelves - I'll share pictures soon)

Now, this paper has me asking one very important question: "Does this make my collection cool, or just sad?" I'm still on the fence about how to answer. The geek in me is beyond proud and is jumping up and down! The rest of me feels a sense of shame at the other part's exuberance.

What do you guys think? Cool or sad? Validated or exposed? I mean, it doesn't even include my manga or my figurines!

I'll let you guys figure it out... it's giving me a headache...

So, for now, 
Mata ne!

PS. Did I say that 380+ didn't include manga and figurines... ha... haaaa...........haaaaaaaaaaa..................oh. Forget I mentioned that...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

If Life Were a Shojou Manga

Jeez! I'm just pumping them out! But seriously, what if life were a shojou manga? Do you think you would be happy or annoyed?

Me? Not really sure... probably just not want to be the protagonist. ^_^

Going Berserk for Berserk

There are so many people out there who don't know about anime. These are the people who usually say that "if it's animated, it must be for kids." To those people, I recommend you watch Berserk - just be prepared.

Although there are many anime out there with lots of blood and violence, I can only think of one or two off the top of my head that even come close to the trials of Guts. Yes, the protagonist's name is Guts. That should give you an idea, right off the top, what you're in for. Be ready to see a lot of blood, and dismemberment, and  beheadings. What I found astounding is that the director did such a great job at keeping the bloody and grotesque themes, but still toning it down from what is portrayed in the manga (I kid you not!).

The opening of the series gives the viewer the impression that this series will be about a disgruntled man who has honed his body to kill demon apostles. What we soon learn is that this is the end of the story, and we venture back to how Guts became the Black Swordsman - a warrior of mythological proportions. We learn how he lived his life as part of the legendary Band of the Hawk, under Griffith, one of the most charismatic characters I've ever watched.

As the story continues (and I will do my best not to give anything away) you can almost forget what you've seen at the beginning as Guts is developing bonds, succeeding in battles, and becoming a legend. It makes the fall at the end all the more poignant.

Anyhow, loved it, reading the manga, and already 24 volumes (yes, VOLUMES, not chapters) in. Kentaro Muira, you are genius.

Ja nai!

Friday, November 11, 2011

CLAMP made me cry again!

For those of you not in the know, CLAMP is a very prolific and successful group of mangaka (manga writers and artists) whose works include titles like Cardcaptor Sakura, xxxHolic, Magic Knight Rayearth, and on, and on, and on...

The latest anime adaptation of one of their works is the heart-warming Kobato. At first I was worried that it was going to be a bit too light for me, saying that it was about a girl who has come to heal people's broken hearts (*puke*). I mean seriously, I'm still surprised I picked it up with a description like that. Despite the trite and familiar synopsis, my love for CLAMP's work won out, and the purchase was made.

Thank the heavens for my devotion to CLAMP! Yes, at times it was sickeningly sweet, and many of the usual tropes were there, but dag-nabbit if I wasn't completely hooked! I thought I knew where it was going, and for some aspects I was right on, but for others, I was thrown for a loop. By the end of it, I was crying buckets! I wish there was more!

I guess I'll just have to wait for the manga to arrive at the end of the year... :(

Next time, I'll tell you about my Berserk experience! Whoa!!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ok - So here's the thing...

Yes, I have been neglecting the blog. No, I have not forgotten it. No, I have not (as in REALLY NOT) stopped watching anime or reading manga.

I have decided to take a new approach to this blog-thingy-maddoo: I will continue to link to articles/reviews I write once they are published, just as I have been doing. In addition to said linking, I am also going to attempt to write as often as possible (hopefully 2 out of every 3 days) about what I am reading, my initial or continuing thoughts about such, and what is currently peaking my interest.

How does that sound to everyone? Too banal? Too frequent? Not frequent enough? Exactly what you were hoping I'd do?

I just... well, I've hit a roadblock and need to build myself a Monster Truck to drive over it. I figured this is the best way.

As always, please feel free to share, click on the ads, comment, click on the ads, tell your friends, and maybe click on some ads.

Love you all who have been sticking by me, and looking forward to new readers!! (maybe? hopefully?)

For now, I sign off.
Mata ashita!