Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Aurora's best of Manga! Volume 2 - Fairy Tail

So do you know what it means to have glue, glitter, and chocolate under your finger nails? It means you are bad for neglecting your blog! At least, that's what it means for me. Sumimasen!

And, let's move on...

#1 - The World God Only Knows
#2 - Fairy Tail

While twiddling my thumbs between jobs I would stroll along the information highway looking for new things. One of my many stumbles was this fantastically typical shonen title: magical battles between macho guys and large-breasted women, sprinkled with humour. The thing is, Mashima Hiro sensei has created characters with such a strong sense of loyalty, friendship, and integrity, that it is easy finding yourself liking each and everyone of the members of this guild of magic users.

That being said, none of these characters are without flaws, sometimes many: Natsu is hot-headed and quick tempered, Lucy is a bit naive, Gray is competitive, and for some reason always stripping... but never-the-less, they are good people with beautiful hearts. I should also add that their beautiful bodies don't really hurt, either. At one of my previous jobs, a co-worker was telling me how her son is an avid fan of manga and anime, and that the only thing that really bothered her was the sexual depiction of women. She then pointed to the cover of my volume of Fairy Tail that I had. I then flipped through the tankoubon and came to a page with Gray, and his former sempai, Lyon, both with their shirts off, displaying their incredibly toned bodies and rippling abs. My coworker, being her wonderful self, then decided that if it was even, it was ok. We laughed, and smiled, and all was good.

I love this series, hands down. It is already over 250 chapters, with as many as 17 volumes available in North America through Kodansha Comics (Volumes 1-12 available through Del Rey). It may be formulaic, but it is a formula that works!

Now, lets hope I don't get too distracted by Christmas gift crafting again...

Matta ne!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Aurora's Awesome Anime List! Episode 1 - Howl's Moving Castle

Yesterday started the Manga recommendations, so today must be anime! Again, the selections are presented in a completely random order. We're starting off with Japan's answer to (and in my opinion, better version of) Walt Disney - Hayao Miyazaki, and his work Howl's Moving Castle.

Anime #1 - Howl’s Moving Castle

Oddly enough, this is the only work on my list by the famous and prolific Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. I love his other works, like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, but the list can only be so long. I selected this one because it really is my favourite of all his works. While Spirited Away is like the epitome of the Japanese fairy tale, Howl’s Moving Castle is like Miyazakai’s interpretation of the Western fairy tale. Witches, curses, mysterious heroes, wizards, and princes all populate a village that has a very industrial European feel.

It goes without saying that it is a good movie, since it is by Hayao Miyazaki, and contains many of his usual messages surrounding environment, war, and repentance. We follow Sophie, a young lady who is leading a simple life, until one day when she overhears the Wicked Witch of the Waste talk about something she wasn’t supposed to hear. The Witch curses Sophie, aging her 60 years and rendering her physically unable to speak about how it happened. She ends up eventually in the magical home of Howl, the wizard. In Howl’s home she meets magical characters like Calcifer, the spirit in the fire. It has everything a fairy tale needs!

This film also happens to be one of the only titles I will also recommend with the English dub! Really! Once Disney stepped in to license the Miyazaki films they were able to get big names to do the dubbing. In the case of Howl’s Moving Castle we have the likes of Christian Bale as Howl, Billy Crystal as the fiery Calcifer, Jean Simmons as the cursed “Grandma” Sophie, and Lauren Bacall as the wonderfully wretched Wicked Witch of the Waste.

And so, one evening, sit down with the kids, or nieces and nephews, or friends’ kids, or just your adult friends, and put on this incredibly moving piece. If you’ve never discovered the world of Miyazaki, let this one start you on your journey.

What’s your favourite Miyazaki film? Often a good debate, so I’d love to hear your votes!

Matta ashita!

Robots! Giant Robots! Fighting! in Space!

What's this? The article is finally published? How wonderful! Would love to know if you think I'm missing a cornerstone or two...

Read it first, then let me know what you think!