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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)



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.
Oct. 21st, 2008 03:58 am (UTC)
How is LB? I keep seeing ads for it in the back of older books and occasionally flipping through the odd volume that turns up on the shelves wondering if it's worth a shot; the art's awfully pretty...

There are some surprisingly large manga sections in a few of my usual non-comics bookstores, and I often have in-store coupons and am in the neighborhood already so I spend a lot of time scouring the shelves looking for something I don't already have. It really leaves me boggling a bit at some of the stock decisions -- the only places I've ever found Eroica stocked locally are one very small Waldenbooks in a big mall and a very badly disorganized Books-A-Million in my neighborhood, both of which have otherwise fairly small, mediocre manga sections. And of the three Borders stores that I hit regularly, the one with the biggest, most diverse manga section is the one in a downtown business district with what seems like the oldest clientele; I never see more than one other person browsing the manga aisles, even on weekends or when there's a big sale. Meanwhile the one in a huge regional mall that's right on a Metro stop (and thus friendly for even high school kids without licenses), the one that's always got a clot of teenagers and twentysomethings blocking the manga aisle and, judging by the gaps on the shelves, does really brisk business selling the stuff? Has the smallest, least diverse selection of the three. If that one weren't the closest to my place and in the neighborhood of a bunch of other stores I have reason to visit regularly, I'd never go there except as a last resort.

If not for occasional loaners and hand-me-downs from friends, scans, and especially lots of prowling on BookMooch, I'd definitely be picking up a lot fewer new-to-me titles. I want to at least look through an early volume or two before I blow the budget, and if nobody local has the series to look through, or only has a couple of random recent volumes, that really doesn't inspire me to run out and gamble on mail order...
Oct. 21st, 2008 04:18 am (UTC)
LB is...interesting. In many ways, it probably isn't very good, objectively (I've actually had a yen to reread it recently, since learning the artist's Tarot Cafe had been completed, but it's one of several series that were in a box that went missing when I moved.) It isn't a genderbender so much as a gender-*word omitted*, and honestly goes well beyond my comfort zone on many levels(rather like Elizabeth Bear's books, in a way, though at least with Bear, I know that it's the how of it that keeps me from edging away). The main character in both a man and a woman, though not in the hermaphrodite sense. More accurately, it's two people living in one body, with the body changing depending on who's in charge. The male is the "dominant" personality, and essentially grows up hidden away and sheltered because of his nature, while the female is a secret, and never allowed to have any life prior to the main story because of it, and the characters are essentially what the same person would be, were their experiences different. When things happen, he goes the "angry vengeance" route, whereas she, as is rather fitting with her extremely sheltered and limited life, gets caught up in the romantic aspect (while still aware that it's wrong, and tries to act accordingly) and they both suffer for it. They're aware of each other and their actions, but unable to do anything about it. It's...err...obviously fairly hard to explain, but pretty interesting. And pretty.

I only really have 2 bookstores here, Waldenbooks and Hastings (Hastings is actually general entertainment, but their book section is bigger than the Waldenbooks store.) Hastings's manga section is larger, but Waldenbooks's is a little more diverse. Hastings, though, also buys and sells used books, and that's helped me to get into a few things I might not have checked out otherwise. Though they recently moved stores, and are reopening this week, so who knows what it'll be like now.

If I can't look at it in the store, I tend to hunt down scanslations or positive f-list reviews of something before getting it. Reading a few chapters in scans helps weed out the clunkers, though it isn't completely successful.
Oct. 21st, 2008 04:49 am (UTC)
*nods* Yeah, and the split/shared personalities and gender blurring and all sound like it could be very, very much up my alley -- and I'm enough of an art-ho that I can be a bit more inclined to forgive a bit of weakness in the writing if it's pretty enough to look at.

I'm pretty lucky being in a major metropolitan area with a ton of bookstore options -- there are multiple large Borders, Books-A-Million, & Barnes & Noble stores that are all fairly easy for me to get to, some dinkier little in-mall places like Karibu and Waldenbooks, and a small local chain that's particularly good for more literary fiction; and that's not counting used bookstores, smaller indies, big department stores or warehouse clubs like Target or Costco that have a book section, or comics stores -- there are a couple of new comic book shops that have opened downtown this year that I haven't had a chance to check out yet, and I was very amused to recently discover that the big gay bookstore in Dupont Circle has started carrying a fairly nice little selection of yaoi titles. But outside of the less-conveniently-located comic shops, Borders generally seems to have the best local manga selection; but even their best-stocked stores on my usual list are good but not great as far as title diversity and depth of back catalog goes. So if I'm looking for something specific, even with all those options it often winds up feeling like the bookstore equivalent of 57-channels-and-nothing's-on...
Oct. 21st, 2008 05:01 am (UTC)
Well, it's only 5 volumes, so even if it isn't quite great for you, it's no huge investment. I remember there also being a lot of consequences for actions, which I liked the handling of (though they were dark and violent in certain respects.) I hear you on the art, though. In general, I rate visual storytelling ability well above prettiness, but Sang-Sun Park's art is amazing. Storytelling ability isn't bad, either. (It's...err...all that's really worthwhile about the first volume of Tarot Cafe, though the second is an improvement. From what I've read so far, you might like that one, too.

The two used bookstores here are pretty decent, but mostly I have to be extremely aggressive in hunting down online deals, or stalking local places for used things and sales.
Oct. 22nd, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
Ha...and speaking of finding something new that isn't such a predictable cookie-cutter clone of a million other titles...just made a very odd find browsing for random stuff at Borders the other day. Take a look at this cover: Wild Butterfly. Even without the "June Yaoi Manga" imprint on the cover, I think anyone who's been into manga for more than a week could probably glance at it and figure that it's being marketed as BL -- girly title; front cover of two bishies in rumpled clothes all up in each other's personal space; back cover of yet more smoldering guys, one bishie and one older and long-haired; back cover blurb talking about one male character being "increasingly drawn" to another "charismatic" male character; no mention or depiction of women anywhere on cover art or blurbs...totally yaoi, right?

Except...it's not. It's an anthology of five short pieces, and while they all are focused on relationships between male characters, only one has any sort of overt BL content at all, and even that one is overall more of a splattery horror mood piece that just happens to feature a gay couple. The rest are totally platonic, and a couple of them actually have one of the characters being married (yes, to women, who actually appear briefly in the stories). Except for the title story, which is an anti-war historical drama, they're mostly supernatural/horror tales (vampires, humans transformed into youkai, magical time travel, magicians and fortune tellers and Taoist masters struggling with evil spirits and the undead), and the male relationships they focus on are almost entirely platonic -- it's mostly friendship and mentoring and a sort of mutual admiration, where a younger man or boy really looks up to and is inspired by a cool older guy, and the older man in turn is sometimes changed for the better by the younger one's idealism and friendship. Folks who like stories about male friendships might like this a lot, but the average yaoi fangirl looking for romance or flat-out smut is going to be sorely disappointed.

The marketing isn't totally random -- apparently the mangaka's more recent works are flatout yaoi and DMP has licensed one of those two, so this is trying to pick up completist fangirls who want to see her earlier work. But if not for that association, this could really almost have been marketed just as easily as a seinen horror/supernatural adventure sort of book instead.

Oh, and Cho, do I remember rightly that you were fond of Ichigo's dad in Bleach? If so, you might appreciate this for eyecandy alone, even before you get to the quirky stories -- the mangaka clearly has a major, major thing for hot oyaji-type older men, typically with beautiful long hair, eyeglasses, and neatly-trimmed beards. (I'd say to think Kambei from Samurai 7, but you've probably never seen that. Ah well, this random image I just found poking at her blog definitely gets the idea across...)
Oct. 22nd, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
I hear you on the deceptive covers. A few of the anthologies I have on hand look/sound like shounen-ai, but (on the whole) aren't. For that matter, both Seimaden and Cantarella (and I'm sure other Higuri You works I haven't read yet, though she does have straight yaoi too) look it at a glance. Cantarella...well...the lead is canonically bisexual, in love with both a man and a woman, and carrying on with a few people. it goes every which way, there. The main plot of Seimaden is the het romance (though it isn't actually a straight romance..."relationship/his love/goals for her" is probably more accurate) but there's a m/m secondary pairing, and the hero has spent a millenia or so experimenting in all sorts of deviant behavior. I count that along the lines of what Joss Whedon supposedly once said when asked about Angel and Spike in Buffy, which was along the lines of "those two spent over a century experimenting in every deviant behavior they could. And people wonder if they ever tried that out?" (As in, it's so tame compared to everything else they've probably been up to, it was probably a warmup.)

*looks at second pic*

Well, that's pretty much 5 stages/versions of Kambei there...
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Oct. 22nd, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 22nd, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)

See, but Isshin is in no way bishie, and despite their little scruffy beards, these guys are. It has a lot to do with the jawline:

He looks male and mature, even without considering the beard stubble ... under the beards, those guys are androgynous. They're very pretty, but they don't do for me what Kurosaki Papa does!

(no subject) - smillaraaq - Oct. 22nd, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Oct. 28th, 2008 08:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Oct. 29th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Scanned! - smillaraaq - Oct. 23rd, 2008 10:27 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: Scanned! - chomiji - Nov. 1st, 2008 02:16 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: Scanned! - chomiji - Nov. 6th, 2008 03:34 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: Scanned! - chomiji - Nov. 13th, 2008 04:02 am (UTC) - Expand


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