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Tell Me What to Review Next!

I shall soon be finished with the massive thing wot I have been writing, and it's been far too long since I've reviewed anything. Please help me decide what I should review!

What Shall I Review Next?

Hikaru no Go (manga series)
Afterschool Nightmare (manga series)
Samurai Deeper Kyo (manga; vol. 30)
Bleach (manga; vols. 21-24)
Mushishi (manga; vols. 3-5)
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (manga; vols. 4-7)
Strong Poison/ Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers (mysteries)
The Lies of Locke Lamora. by Scott Lynch (fantasy)
Dead Until Dark / Living Dead in Dallas, by Charlaine Harris (vampires)
Hellburner, by C.J. Cherryh (not so much a review as an analysis of why it's important to me)
Something else you know I've been reading (tell me what in your comments)



( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 17th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
I'd like to read your reviews about all the series, actually.
Oct. 20th, 2008 01:33 am (UTC)

Well, I imagine I'll get to most of them eventually! Thanks ... .

Oct. 17th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
I think I've seen you mention Dokebu Bride, Bride of the Water God, and Antique Gift Shop...
Oct. 20th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)

Oh, yes, all the other manhwa!

I could do Dokebi Bride and Gift Shop some time soon, but I don't really consider that I've read enough of the other one yet. Continuing series take a while to get up full steam.

Oct. 20th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
BTW, Ithink you're kinda lucky, coming into manga only recently. Maybe it's just what was available locally at the time (I had not yet discovered the glories of online shopping) but when I started, there were a few good ones (BTW, if you can find demon diary, you'd probably like it) but most of them seemed pretty bad. There seems to be a mch better selection out the last few years. I only started reading it again last year with Land of Silver Rain and Dokebi Bride.

Bride of the Water God, is rather light on the plot, isn't it?
Oct. 20th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)

I wonder, though, whether it's like the SF&F thing - when you're looking back over years of a genre, you have the entire body of work to consider, and the ones that are still available (other than through used book vendors) are the ones that have stood the text of time. When you're reading what's coming out now, it's a smaller number of items, and so it seems that very few are any good. Even though the percentage of decent work is the same from year to year, it will seem that SF&F was much better in times past.

And, with manga, there's the added factor of which series are being picked up for translation.

Bride of the Water God is pretty and fluffy, and I wish they'd hurry up and tell us more about the ethically ambiguous trickster types.

Oct. 20th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
I've thought about that, actually (partly because, anything I encountered and bounced off of in college, I've tried to give a second chance now, as stress levels and such are obviously very different) but most of them still rub me wrong or bore me. Many even more now that I have more of my brain available to look at them. (Manga and some SF&F has fared better.) Most of the ones I'm enjoying now, or that have been recced to me, weren't licensed until after I gave up on it.

ETA: Another thing that I think we tend to forget sometimes with anime and manga is that, unlike SF&F, mystery, romance, etc, we get an extremely limited amount of what's actually put out, and most publishers tend to stick to a few specific types. Most of the diversity we get is from the smaller publishers.

Edited at 2008-10-20 05:52 pm (UTC)
Oct. 21st, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
Yeah, on the one hand I'm thrilled to see so much more manga being translated -- but it's really disappointing how little variety there is overall. Not very many josei titles seem to be translated, shojo is heavy on the modern stuff but older titles are harder to find, especially stuff from the 70s which was a real golden age for shojo -- there are some really hugely influential and popular series that haven't been licensed in the US, stuff like Rose of Versailles, most of Moto Hagio's books, some of the seminal early shonen-ai like Heart of Thomas or Song of Wind and Trees...really, is anybody doing much with 70s shojo besides CMX? And I hardly ever see their titles actually on store shelves. BL, well, "modern" yaoi stuff from the 90s onward you can find a fair bit, but there's a real dearth of the earlier tanbi and shonen-ai titles I'd really kill to see. And even with all the shonen and seinen series that have been picked up, that barely seems to be scratching the surface and older books, or quirkier titles, are relatively few and far between -- they don't get picked up at all, or like Ginga Legend Weed they get picked up and then dropped in an eyeblink. It really seems like if a series is older than 1990s at most, isn't in some popular sub-genre (shojo high-school romance, shonen cast-of-thousands fighting teens, gritty historical seinen) and/or isn't by a really big-name mangaka, the odds of licensing are relatively low, and the odds you'll even find it, once licensed, on store shelves between all the endless volumes of big sellers like Bleach and Fruits Basket and Naruto are even slimmer...
Oct. 21st, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
Del Rey started out sticking to slightly-more-diverse stuff, with Clamp and Ken Akamatsu to line their pockets. They're still being fairly diverse with their acquisitions, at least as compared to Viz and Tokyopop, but it's new stuff. Dark Horse is an old hand at it, though with a darker bent, but still only new stuff. Net Comics seems to be getting at least 80s and 90s stuff a bit, but that's manhwa. Go!Comi and Yen both seem to be trying for more diverse lineups (though Go!Comi seems to be focusing on a few specific mangaka) but are also mostly sticking to the late-90s and onward. So, yeah, mostly CMX, which I rarely see here, either.

And you know, I've been reading and enjoying a lot of shoujo this year, but aside from Clamp and Kaori Yuki stuff, most of the best ones aren't from Viz and Tokyopop. (In fact, one of Viz's "It" titles may have killed the buzz for giving new titles a try last week...)
Oct. 21st, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
Dark Horse has some older 70s/80s seinen, at least -- they seem to pretty much have the lock on Kazuo Koike titles and they started out with Lone Wolf and Cub, which is 1970s, back when the current manga boom was just getting started. I don't tend to see a lot of those on the shelves at my usual bookstores, though -- they seem to usually have a few volumes of LW&C and maybe Color of Rage, since it's the most recent of his book's they've brought out. And Viz has Golgo 13, another violent exploitation seinen which has been running continuously since the 1970s, and the anime was one of the earlier ones available domestically in the early 90s boom...but they only brought out 13 volumes compared to eleventy-squillion originals, and I hardly ever see them on store shelves either. Ditto for Lupin III, TokyoPop had licenses for a couple of the runs of the manga but dropped the second one unfinished. Stuff like that is why I live in fear of CMX just throwing in the towel before they're done with Eroica...

Mostly, the shelves of the regular bookstores here (comics specialty shops are a different story) seem to be primarily a sea of Tokyopop and Viz, with a little smattering of Dark Horse (mostly I've noticed the odd Koike titles and all the VHD novels, and the new manga adaptation), a bunch of the Del Rey CLAMP titles, and a few odds and ends from smaller lines like CMX and Broccoli and DMP and the rest. But even with the big publishers, if I'm looking for some of the more obscure TokyoPop or Viz titles, or even some of the earlier books in ongoing series, I often wind up having to mail-order.

Manhwa other than a handful of titles (Les Bijoux, Bride of the Water God, etc.) seems fairly scarce on the shelves around here too...which seems particularly short-sighted since this part of Northern Virginia has a pretty large Korean population, and I can go into any number of little stationery shops in the malls and find chara goods for stuff like Audition, but I can't find the original books unless I special order them.
Oct. 21st, 2008 03:05 am (UTC)
(Oh, Les Bijoux...would you believe the first volume of that is the first manga/manhwa I ever bought, before I even knew there was any interest at all? Though, if it weren't for Blade of the Immortal, I might have just read that series and never looked at the genre again. I'm actually surprised it's still around.)

I almost never see anything I actually read on the shelves here, except for right after some come out, but thatwill be 1-2 copies that sell quickly and don't get restocked. I'm just happy I discovered rightstuf.com last year. While it does require relatively careful planning and tracking the sales and deciding whether to preorder everything or fall behind in purchases and wait between sales, it provides a relatively cheap way to get the titles I'm interested in, most of which don't show up here.
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Oct. 17th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
I just got The Lies of Locke Lamora but haven't started it yet, would love to know what you think.
Oct. 20th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)

It looks like I'll be doing the Sayers first, but I'll do LLL eventually, simply because I feel opinionated about it. If you want a really quick take on it sooner than that, it was our "Babbling Books" selection for October on Shejidan, here, and I offered a quick opinion about halfway down the page.

Oct. 17th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
I'd like to change my vote to Sayers, actually.
Oct. 20th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)

Understood, and noted! It looks like I will indeed be doing that first ... now I need to wrap my big fic.

Oct. 18th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
Well, foodle, no option for "all of the above" so I went with the Sayers. But I am particularly interested in hearing more from the Mushishi manga, which I finally picked up but haven't started on, Kurosagi (which I'd love to borrow at some point), and HnG which I've seen some serialized chapters of and found intriguing. Also I'm curious to see what you think about Sookie on a second glance.

(Further datapoints for the uber-girliness being a deliberate characterization choice rather than something meant to be idealized -- I've now read a handful of volumes apiece from two of Harris' other, non-supernatural mystery series, and the heroines are all very, very different. Aurora Teagarden is a well-educated, upper-middle to upper-class (more middle-class by upbringing, but she comes into some serious money from inheritances later in life), middle-aged widowed librarian; she pays a bit of attention to clothes and makeup, but isn't nearly as fixated on it as Sookie, mostly seeming to be focused on looking conventionally well-groomed and respectable. Lily Bard is closer to Sookie in age, but seems a little better-off economically and educationally -- she's a college graduate, owns her own modest home and is self-employed, running a cleaning business -- she's also a bit of a snarky, brittle loner, and a serious student of martial arts, so at times she's a bit more of an action heroine than Aurora or Sookie. Lily, between her work and hobby, rarely even bothers with makeup unless she's having to dress up for a funeral or other such formal occasion, and her main interest in her own clothes is sturdiness and ease of motion. Judging by the way Lily and Aurora react to some more flashily-styled women they come across in their books, they'd both probably think Sookie's usual look is a bit cheap and trashy...)
Oct. 20th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)

> no option for "all of the above"<

Ah ha ha ha! Sorry, but that was deliberate - I'm trying to make a decision!

I will write up Sookie eventually - you know there's a TV series based on the books now? And you saw the earlier writeup for Mushishi 1 and 2? I also mean to write up Hikaru no Go seomtime because it's not a series I thought I'd like, but I do.

That's interesting, about Harris' other characters.

Oct. 20th, 2008 03:23 am (UTC)
Yep -- haven't seen it myself since with as little I watch TV, I'm too cheap to spring for HBO; I'll probably check out some clips online or rent it when it inevitably hits DVD, or maybe just catch it in syndication, knowing the way my viewing backlog goes. I've been seeing mixed reviews from folks, apparently there have been a lot of changes to minor characters in particular; but I'm not particularly deeply invested in this universe, so I think as long as the major characters are pretty true to themselves, I won't mind the adaptation.

Must check the archives -- I know I've seen some past reviews of the Mushishi manga but I can't recall if they were yours or Oyce or one of the other usual suspects. That's definitely another one worth adding to a video night, though, I saw the first half-dozen or so at Katsu and it's absolutely gorgeous animated. And I'm curious about HnG, high-school-competition series don't usually do anything for me but I keep hearing that there's a lot more to this one from folks whose tastes line up a lot with mine. The Heian-ghost angle definitely is interesting!

The funny thing with the Harris books -- out of all the characters, Lily is the one I think who's the most like me in general personality, very prickly and snarky and doesn't suffer fools well; Aurora, as a book lover closer to my age, is the one I'd probably find the easiest and most pleasant to have a casual conversation with...but I still like Sookie best as a character, even though I don't deeply identify with her or think we'd particularly get along well? She's just the most vivid -- she feels more like a real living, breathing person to me than the others, and there's just something I find rather appealing about her uneasy mix of snark and vulnerability and stubborn, defiant pride. The others aren't badly written, but Sookie's voice just somehow has a little extra ooomph to me.
Oct. 20th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)

I haven't seen the show either ... I rarely watch the tube. But I'm so used to the idea that everyone else does ... !

Yes, from what I understand, Mushishi is one of those rare series where the anime and the manga are both at the tops of their respective classes. And there's a live-action movie version as well.

Oct. 21st, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
I'm much more a reader than a viewer -- I have to be in the right mood to sit down and watch something, movies I'd rather see in a theater with friends if at all possible, and even with the handful of shows I do catch on the small screen, I almost always have to be doing something else with my hands, beading or cleaning or peeling vegetables or doing a manicure, etc., while I watch; I tend to get itchy if I'm just sitting watching alone and not multitasking, somehow, it's a very very rare thing that makes me put everything aside and give it my full attention. And I probably wouldn't even watch half as much of what little I do see if not for DVRs -- I almost never watch things live, and while I did timeshift some stuff via tape back in the VCR days, the hassle of buying and storing videotape and setting up the recording and making sure there was enough space was always a disincentive to tape more than a handful of real favorites. The DVR makes it so much easier to gamble on recording something that sounds like it might be interesting, or waste space on disposable stuff like Law and Order reruns that I'll halfway listen to and watch from the corner of my eye while housecleaning, that sort of thing...I'm not one who likes to keep the tube on randomly for background noise at all hours, that drives me INSANE, but I do like to have something that I'm actually interested in going to divert my brain while I'm doing mindless, repetitive manual chores.
Oct. 23rd, 2008 01:55 am (UTC)


I used to do my homework while watching TV. And we all know I don't like to watch stuff without friends!

I like music with which I can sing along when I'm doing mindless stuff.

Oct. 23rd, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
The satellite-radio music channels are the closest I get to TV-as-background-noise, and that's essentially more like "radio, but better since there's no commercials and you can look up and see useful stuff like the artist and song title if you dodn't recognize it". ;)

But, maybe this is that bodily-kinesthetic side coming into play again, music tends to be a better background for me when I'm doing something fairly brainless-physical on my feet, because it tends to make me want to *move* -- so it's fine if I start to break into a two-step pushing a broom around, but not so good when I'm sitting down and trying to be still and focus on some sort of fine handwork. For that, I seem to do best if there's something more verbal-plotty-left-brain going that I can listen to and glance at occasionally, while the right brain burbles along doing its thing driving the hands. It seems to work better for me than music in silencing distracting thoughts, which makes it easier for me to get in a groove where I can focus on beading or crocheting or whatever without my mind racing away with itself. (Unfotunately that trick doesn't work for me with writing -- too much distraction, it would be nice if I could shut off the inner critic there but it's more of a blended right/left brain activity for me so I need to be actively using the same part of my mind that sort of works against me if I'm not careful. So that's the main place where I use music as background for creative work, but I have to be really, really careful about what music I use -- the sound needs to fit the mood of what I'm trying to write, the tempo can't be too too energetic and dancey, and it can't be too distracting otherwise -- so I go for a lot of instrumentals or songs that aren't in English, lest I start to fixate on the words; and I'll keep the volume down fairly low, too, so it's there but not as attention-grabbing as my usual listening levels. And it's best if it's something familiar, too -- this is definitely one place where I will put together a small, limited playlist from my own collection and put it on endless repeat, rather than going for a music channel, because I don't need to be distracted by sitting up to take notice of an intriguing new song I've never heard before. (The constant repetition does have the somewhat interesting side effect of leaving me with some very strong scene-and-song associations after the fact -- I can never hear Oceania's "Haera Ra" now without getting a very, very visceral image of a pensive Hakkai watching a blissed-out, naked Gojyo dozing on his lap...)
Oct. 28th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)

Interesting. I mostly haven't been using music when I write fic, because it's often late at night and people are going to bed, or the Young Lady is already playing something right behind me, but the instrumental or non-English stuff is mostly what I want when I'm at work, as well. Except that, for non-fiction work, I can definitely put my brain onto another track and sing along with the lyrics while I'm working - as long as it's something I know really well!

>> a very, very visceral image of a pensive Hakkai watching a blissed-out, naked Gojyo dozing on his lap...<<

Hmmm ... have I read this?

Oct. 28th, 2008 07:59 am (UTC)
Hee, yep -- it's the angsty Hakkai-POV hair-fetish kinkmeme one. :) I pretty much had Oceania's first album on constant repeat when I wrote that, but this song in particular just had the perfect melancholy note of longing -- something about the interplay between that yearning violin and the aching tenderness in Hinewehi Mohi's voice. This YouTube clip has the song and the fully lyrics (in Maori and English) -- I just doublechecked my CD and they are accurate to what's in the liner notes, although there are points where the way she sings it aren't precisely as it's printed -- lots of lines are repeated and rearranged.
Oct. 29th, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)

Hmmm ... I assumed that was it, but I couldn't make an ID between a particular part of the story text and your description. Actually, you passed that song on in that world music mix you sent me! The insect ones (The Moth and The Cicada) are perfect for my breathing exercises.

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(no subject) - chomiji - Nov. 1st, 2008 01:15 am (UTC) - Expand
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