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Even Even Even More Shoujo Manga!

Found an old post of manga reviews, mostly Shoujo, that I typed up back in the day but never posted. I've reviewed a couple of these again since - I read one twice and reviewed it twice, and thought I'd forgotten to review the other one when I read it. Whoops. Marked those with (x) below.

Here we go though, five old reviews and a couple new ones at the bottom... you'll find the previous shoujo manga post right here.

Fullmetal Alchemist (x)

You already know this one right? It's the story of Alphonse and Edward, two brothers who lose their mother at a young age, but make the mistake of trying to bring her back with alchemy, resulting in a far more tragic loss. Ed loses an leg, Al loses his entire body, and Ed sacrifices an additional arm to bind Alphonse's soul to a full suit of armor they happen to have nearby.

Years later it's time to embark on a search for the ultimate truth, and a way to get his body back, all the while working as government alchemists, and in time uncovering a strange organization working in the shadows; maybe sitting on those ultimate secrets they wish to find...

I've seen the anime, but this is my first dive into the manga, and I need more now. This was just the one book. Need to get my hands on the remaining 27.

Rans Magiska Värld

I haven't read anything this imaginative in way too long! It's the kind of book you can get lost within the images of.

The details are impressive, but it's the fluidity and charm of it that's the greatest appeal. It's just so fun to look at. It's the kind of world you might've had in your mind when you were smaller, and reading this makes me want to bring it back. To start imagining again. To make the stuff of dreams the world that surrounds me.

Also just read one book here, but it was a real pleasure. An innocent, fun, charming and dreamy surprise. There's a story too... somewhat. Of Ran (a little girl who becomes an adult when she puts on her shoes) and of magic.

Wonder what lurks beyond the gate. Wonder how Ran might grow up. Because she's not really grown-up yet you know...

The title translates to: Ran's Magical World.

Nana (x)

Here's the story of two girls with the same name, who happen to run into each other a few times and decide to become roommates. One's in a punk rock band and the other one's a normal and kind girl... but they're both kind, really. This is the story of their trials and tribulations, and relations, and everything that goes on in the somewhat adjoined life of theirs.

I'm really not the target audience here. Focus: romance. Girl stuff. But the comedy, and characters, and the way they express themselves... I think this one has me hooked after all. Gotta read the rest of these too.

The style's quite different from similar manga too, and though it took a chapter or two to get used to it I end up loving it. It's just so expressive.

Apart from being fun, but also at times tragic and overly dramatic, the story also seems to shed some light on a foreign element: the female mind.

You'd think any Shoujo manga would, but this just really puts things in perspective somehow. It make you go "aha". Little bits of wisdom. Little bits of revelation. Personality traits, relationships... it's like it's both a soap opera and a 101 guide. I feel like I'll learn things if I keep reading this...

Don't get me wrong now. I'm not totally oblivious as to the differences between genders. But this was surprisingly clear-sighted. That, the expression, and character charm, are what make NANA really stand out.

Demon Diary

Here's a manthwa for a change. A Korean manga. It's about a Demon Heir who's all too kind to be a demon heir, who doesn't feel like killing humans and what-not, and ends up keeping a couple as companions instead.

The idea's not bad, but the comedy feels somewhat predictable, and just not strong enough to make you laugh. Maybe it's the wording. Maybe it's a fault in translation.

I also feel like the drawing style's all too basic, the exceptions being occasional backgrounds, and the story overall, and plot progression... it's basic.

Even if there are girls involved it also almost has a yaoi-like vibe to it, which had me a bit skeptical during the first chapters, and I guess I still am.

Not sure I'd enjoy reading this all the way through. Maybe I should, but first impressions aren't so great I'd want to get the rest of the books for $$$. Not my style.

Make Love & Peace

Wasn't expecting to stumble into a dose of softcore porn for the ladies amidst this particular bundle of Shoujo Manga books. There's a particular genre for this apparently, named Josei, and this is a part of it.

It's the first release within this particular genre aimed at a US audience, and considering the whole book's like a superficial soap opera with an abundance of sex scenes to bridge any other events... I wonder how it went. Is this what females like, really? There's no depth. No twists. No continuity regarding the story.

A cop (the guy) and an eighteen year old girl meet, she falls in love with him, and here we go. He's at work, she's worrying, and then they have sex, and then she gets attacked, and he saves the day, and then they have sex.

I wouldn't think I'd ever say this but: there's too much sex. It breaks the build-up. The chemistry feels superficial and lacking because of it.

Maybe it's also the drawing style that's all too soft and plain, but whatever it is this kind of content just doesn't turn me on at all, and the story quickly feels plain and unnecessary. They're just not getting anywhere... there's some fun, some exciting bits, but it has that feeling like it was just made to sell. Like it lacks soul and substance. Hopefully it's not a valid representation of the genre after all...

.hack - Legend of the Twilight

It's the third and final part of the trilogy! I'm pretty sure I read the first part earlier... or one of the parts at least, but not this one. Or maybe I was just skimming through this same book earlier...

Either way it's the story of two siblings who venture into an online VR multiplayer game world (Ready Player One inspired by this maybe?) and get in trouble with the system administrators, but they make friends and meet people and it seems almost like the world has a mind of its own, because the admins can't delete them even if they want to.

It's a story full of turmoil and happy/emotional moments, and though it feels a bit too childish sometimes, and weird with the so close sibling bond and all, it's a feelgood story... not bad after all.

The after-text bits were so small I could barely read them though. Might need to do something about that.

Chrono Crusade

Just read the four first books of this one and daaaamn I need to read more!

It's the story about a demon, Chrono, and an exorcist, Rosette. Only they have a contract, where every time he uses his power it saps a bit of her soul, and shortens her life.

It's a story all about time. Using time to the fullest. Taking each day that comes your way as the best thing ever - and though Chrono's a somewhat melancholy kind, Rosette fully embraces that style of life.

It's fun, it's crazy, it's sad, sometimes. It mixes the elements in a great way, captivates and entertains and keeps you going.

Naruto was exciting too, but this one kept me up a bit too late sometimes... it's that kind of reading material. Perfect for a long night.

Can't wait to get the rest of these books. Also this one's probably Shounen. And I guess .hack was too, and Ran...? Also FMA. The title seems a bit misleading now but there you go. That's the latest of what I've been reading now.

I'm done with Naruto too. It was great. I'm not sure it needs to be reviewed at all. The Wallflower though, up next...

Even Even More Shoujo Manga!

Been reading even more of this stuff! More quick impressions...

Nana

I apparently missed this one in the earlier post, though I'd read it then.

Similar to Skip Beat and Princess Ai it's the story of a girl in the music biz, though here without any supernatural or vengeful twist. It's a girl in the music biz. Plain and simple. No frills but her character. Music, love and friendship... those are the main themes.

You could say it's a bit like a Shoujo version of Beck, with milder characters/setting overall, but a much more punk-rock MAIN character. And it's not bad! Charming, fun...

I wouldn't mind reading more of this one too. So far I've only gone through book four.

Emma

Here's the story of a maid in old England.

She works for an old lady, who's strict but considerate, and though she lives sparsely, with little possessions or freedoms of her own, she lives well. One day the heir of a rich family comes to visit, it's love at first sight, and her whole world changes. Sort of.

It's an impossible romance though, both of them know, and when the old lady dies Emma is forced to go... she inherits enough for a train ticket, packs her bags and heads home... and that's as far as I've read so far. Books one and two here.

Looking forward to reading the rest of them though.

Not only does the story take place in an unusual time and setting for a manga, but the backgrounds are intricate, the authenticity of the world just as much so, and the character interactions are refreshingly mild in their emotional ranges.

They convey feelings via their actions rather than with their reactions, and sometimes via their lack of actions too. It's just a fascinating style, as well an ode to a bygone era where this was how they did things. It's artful, charismatic, and almost magic how easy it is to read and understand. Intuition through drawing. Almost.

After reading a couple books the title itself makes so much more sense. Intricate in its simplicity too. But I really didn't think this would be a story I'd get hooked to. Want to read the rest before I lose the trail.

Black Butler

Here's a similarly unconventional series, starring a boy and his butler, working under the Queen in that same country as above, living seemingly in a dream but... the boy and the butler have a pact. He sold his soul to the devil for the butler's services, and it takes a while before you get to the point where this is revealed. What a turn it takes when it is!

The surrounding cast seems a bit more superficial, but it's a fascinating tale otherwise, with more violence than you'd assume from the clean-cut covers. And that's part of what makes it fascinating. The contrasts. The clash between fine-dine aristocrat society and the underbelly of London, grim reapers and all that entails.

I like that civilized veil of it all too. Class, with all the more dark undertones. It's fascinating at its most fundamental. Read books one to three here. Wouldn't mind more.

Time Stranger Kyoko

Just got one book of this one. The second.

It's about a girl, who can steer the way of time, who's on a quest to find guardians with similar powers to ultimately wake up her sister that's supposed to take the throne.

Of course there's also a darker side to the story. A threat a lurking.

But mostly it's an airy, romantic/comedy-type tale that's both pleasant and entertaining to read through, starring a bright yet melancholy main character, with charming sidekicks.

Not bad, but not one of the ones that stand out the most.

Fushigi Yuugi however, of which I just have the first book so far, is a more traditional but all the more magical/charming tale of a high school girl who, through a book, is warped into a world where her apparition is one of destiny.

She runs into a totally non-interested dude, and an emperor so beautiful she thinks she's a girl at first, and they get into all sorts of adventures and dramatic twists and... I could keep going with this.

It reminds me a bit of Ranmna 1/2, but with a more serious undertone. Also reminds me of Planet Ladder, what with the shift between worlds, and how the main character seems destined for something greater. Come to think of it though there sure are a lot of tales with similar premise...

Yurara

Just got one book of this one too, the second again.

It's the seemingly standard tale of a high school girl and two high school guys (potential romances there), but with a twist: She has an alternative personality which can vanquish demons.

It's refreshingly dark sometimes, and emotional, and well-drawn. It had some moments that'll stick in mind - in particular the self-sacrificing teacher that dove off a rooftop together with a lonely kid.

Needless to say I wouldn't mind reading more of this one too.

I also read through the fourth book of Angel Sanctuary, and daaaaamn here's one that stands out!

It's the story of an angel cast down from heaven, who's lived through reincarnation after reincarnation, and is currently in love with his sister.

Their incestuous relationship doesn't go unpunished though, and when she's killed - or rather sacrifices herself to save him - his powers awaken and he blows up Tokyo.

Then Adam appears, while God lies dormant, and stops time so that our unconventional main character can journey into Hades to rescue her...

It's such an unconventional and legacy-like journey that I couldn't put down the book once I'd picked it up. Nothing seems off limits. The angels torture each other in heaven, forming their own allegiances to lead, while fate seems to have it that our main character journeys to the netherworld to find allegiance there instead, possibly turning the whole divine order upside down.

Are demons really bad? Is God really flawless? What about incest? What about all that we hold true and conventional? I love how even in the first book I pick up this story just flips it all around.

The characters are likable too, and the drawing's grim and detailed. Hope to read more of this.

In other news I've been getting into The Wallflower and Naruto again. The Wallflower's new. Bought the entire series so it'll take some time to read through (26 books I think), and Naruto's not the shortest franchise either. Stay tuned for future reviews...

Musicalish #293

El Diablo. Full album... almost. Late but better than never, here we go...

(more…)

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

Tarantino can make movies! Holy shit he can make movies.

The build up's the big thing. That and the moments. How they all add up and coincide - all to the backdrop of glimpses from a time I was never a part of - with hippies and cigarettes and shimmering music you just can't replicate with our modern day crispness.

The screenplay's not all that advanced, but the acting most definitely is. The young Asian girl and Mike Moh (who placed Bruce Lee) are two major favorites.

Not that I feel Bruce Lee was handled justly - childhood hero of mine as he is - but he was depicted beautifully, and the way Tarantino surrounds himself with controversy and themes most people wouldn't dare put in their blockbuster movie - like snoring ladies, cigarette commercials and hippie killing - is one of the reasons you enjoy him. You never know what to expect. Well, you know THAT is what you should expect. That's the great thing about him. Predictable unpredictability and lack of self-censorship..

Having Brad Pitt (wonder if he had a stunt double for any of his scenes here) and Di Caprio as the two lead roles is of course the most awesome part. Huge fan of both. But there's not a bad actor around them either. Everyone's amazing.

I miss a bit of Al Pacino's old tough guy crudeness, but he does have just the right movie biz charisma otherwise too...

It's nothing amazing, all in all, like most of Tarantino's movies. But it has amazing moments. Some grotesque. Some crazy. Some so impeccably coordinated or slice-of-life-like that you can't help smile simply at how well it all goes together, even if sometimes there doesn't seem to be anything special to it. Maybe it's similar to how life is all about those individual moments? They bring it all together. They're the reason for all.

And that's the mastery, isn't it? That's what sets Tarantino movies apart from others. He makes mundane scenes stand out. He makes the moments memorable. He makes making movies seem like the easiest thing in the world - though in this particular case some of the behind the scene scenes (making movies within the movie) were pretty brutal. You feel for the actors too. In the movie. As the people they act. It's not all sunshine and roses.

And I do wonder who that little girl prodigy really was...

Bravo, Tarantino. I really enjoyed this. Would've hoped you'd never stop.

 rated 5/5: friggin awesome

Parasyte: Part 2 (2015)

Parasyte: Part 2 (2015)

The bridge between the first and second was the darkest part really.

It picks up again with the raid, and the moment with the baby, and the rooftop... yet somehow I'm not as overwhelmed as I was with the first part.

Maybe it's the increase of special effects. Maybe it's how certain elements seem skipped - like how the girl suddenly seems to know all about Migi as well - no need for explanations. It goes too fast, but in the end... it's another segment definitely worth seeing.

And I believe I leave a bit more hopeful than I did the anime. Or maybe that's just because I know how it'll end already. The fate of humankind... that's what it all comes down to here.

 rated 4.5/5: almost awesome

Parasyte: Part 1 (2014)

Parasyte: Part 1 (2014)

Watching a movie about a strange blade-wielding parasite taking over people's bodies with the intent of killing all humankind, while the corona pandemic sweeps over the globe? Why not.

I can't say if the similarities to the anime (and before that manga) on which it was based are all there, but I did recognize most of it, and the emotional moments still strike you hard. Maybe not as much as in the anime though.

At first Migi (the friendly mutant right hand - as seen above) almost seems like a comical sidekick - but maybe he did there too.

It's an epic and bizarre journey, though, where the regular high school student Shin'ichi is faced against foe after foe - each more dangerous than the last - and along the way he loses his mother and almost his girl.

There's just one thing that bothers me. Scene after they jump out the building. Way too much shaky came.

I don't know why I'm speaking like a machine. It comes with the territory maybe. Unintentional movie inspirations. But Parasyte certainly puts humanity at its edge, and really asks the question: Who are we, and what are we doing with our lives?

I wonder if those questions at all get answered in part 2... the anime was bleak and despairing. Maybe this will be the same.

 rated 5/5: friggin awesome

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