I always saw Nodame Cantabile in the comics section at the bookstore but I thought it was the usual shoujo romance, and frankly, I was more interestedI always saw Nodame Cantabile in the comics section at the bookstore but I thought it was the usual shoujo romance, and frankly, I was more interested then in reading about corpse delivery services and reformed Bakumatsu swordsmen.
I haven't read manga in a while so I thought I'd go with an atypical choice this time, since that seems to have worked out a fair bit this year. I wasn't disappointed. For starters, Nodame Cantabile is more josei than shoujo which means that we are at least spared the melodramatic romances and androgynous pretty boys to an extent. Also, its protagonists are thankfully older. It's surprising how little you are still interested in 14 year olds saving the world/exorcising pure evil/ handling the quirks of school life when you're no longer that age. Of course it isn't completely free of the usual manga tropes: conventionally talented hero with a shadow over his soul, "cute" child-like heroine who crashes into his life and his heart, tough-talking guy from incongruous background with more raw talent than technique and how they form one odd partnership. And since this is manga, there's something utterly bewildering and bizarre: in this case, a fart dance, but I have read enough manga to know that it could have been much worse.
However, the characters are deeper than apparent. Chiaki does grow by the end of the last chapter to realise his own self-fuelled angst and Nodame is more than just a ditz; it will be interesting to see how her character develops in the following volumes. Mine of course, is stereotypical good fun.
So far as the art is concerned, I'm grateful for a distinct lack of ubermascara-ed bug eyes. It's clean-cut but I feel that it lacks the energy required to match the passion of the characters. In any case, I will reserve my judgement until I've read a few more volumes....more
Gin no Saji is one of those series which make you realize that manga is honestly much more than 'comics'. The only other work by Hiromu Arakawa that IGin no Saji is one of those series which make you realize that manga is honestly much more than 'comics'. The only other work by Hiromu Arakawa that I am familiar with is her Fullmetal Alchemist series (although I've only watched it and haven't read the manga yet), and so this completely different subject - life in an agricultural school - piqued my interest.
I have somewhat romantic views on rural life so I looked forward to this manga but was happy to note that Ms. Arakawa doesn't stick to the sunshiny-golden-fields, down-home stereotype of agricultural life. From the very beginning, she drives home the point that like nature, it is both harsh and beautiful. So you have this wonderful scene where Hachiken experiences the wonder of a sunset as seen from atop a horse but you also see his shock at finding out how eggs are laid (suffice it to say that I don't blame him for losing his appetite).
The artwork is simple and pleasant. It's not wildly original but it's well-suited to the tone and subject of the story. I'm not sure about the design of the riding club teacher with his incongruous Buddha-inspired head but overall, the characters are distinct and likable.
Anyway, this is a series I will definitely be following in the future and I think it has all the makings of an honest and absorbing story. ...more
When I first started to learn Japanese, the language seemed so stark to me and yet, capable of conveying so much in a syllable's worth of sound. It inWhen I first started to learn Japanese, the language seemed so stark to me and yet, capable of conveying so much in a syllable's worth of sound. It intrigued me that words like "ma" or "sa" could change the tone of a sentence, mean more than just one simple thing.
This book made me feel something of the same. The cleanliness of Kazuo Ishiguro's prose tells a story with layers of meaning and draws up such vivid scenes. One of these is the protagonist's confrontation with his father over his art and the scene with his mother, conversing in the dark of an ill-lighted house from the early part of the last century. The meeting with his master that follows many years later is interestingly analogous. I liked the themes of memory and its fallibility, of honour and ideologies, of the changing meaning of good and evil and of simple change itself. Masuji Ono makes for a gently engaging protagonist. You never truly find out if Ono's past is dark or light, and his inner duality conforms to the duality of the world outside - when is war "good" and when is it "bad"? When do patriots become war criminals? Should art and politics, such disparate worlds, ever meet? All the different layers in this book merit more than one read.
When I first found this book, I bought it because of the title, hoping to read more about ukiyo-e and Japanese art. The book doesn't go into details, but uses art as a contrast or complement to the life of the artist. As it turns out, the floating world here is not one of Edo tea houses and geisha and kabuki actors but of buildings arising from the rubble and war-scarred young men and the blurring of ideals. Not a world of evanescent beauty, but one of an ephemeral morality perhaps. ...more