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Strip 815, Volume 5, Page 70

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< Piro >

"manga curl-up, part 1"

Wednesday - January 11, 2006

[Piro] - 18:58:00 - [link here]

It's nice to be feeling better. I tell you, being sick for three days almost resulted in me blowing all my 2006 goals, but somehow i managed to pull through without too much damage :P Luckily it wasn't the kinda cold that made me feel like I wanted to die or anything, It just made me move around in an almost comedic slow-mo and desire nothing more than curling up in my chair with a backlog of manga to read. So that's what i did. :P

It helped that i had just picked up a bunch on saturday when Seraphim and I went out shopping... a trip which, as usual, involved hitting a lot of bookstores ^^;; (it seems we were spotted by a reader, too - no idea what store you spotted us in, Rhandir. You coulda said hi, i don't bite usually ^^;;) I'm a big fan of grabbing at random titles to see if i find something new that interests me. For a long time, even with the ever increasing selection of manga in bookstores, it was still pretty much mostly stuff i was either aware of, wanted to read, or wanted to avoid like the plague. One of the nice things about saturation is that we're starting to see a lot of things i've never heard of... and i like that :)

That's not an elitist comment, btw... most manga fans know about what's worth reading out there, the big names, the titles we all love (or hate). Heaven knows the publishers promote the stuff pretty thoroughly :P And, well... it is kinda my job to keep up with what's worth reading. You can never have enough inspiration. I'll also say it for the 1000th time - i am not fluent in Japanese. I know just enough to make it very frustrating to page through and struggle with untranslated manga grasping only the barest edges of it. I have much better understanding of the language of the art than i do the language. :)

Anyways, lemme review what i've read recently, in all that time i should have been working on the comic. :P

One of the best little gems i discovered in the past year is an unusual little title called Chikyu Misaki by Iwahara Yuji. It's an older work, dating back to 2001 for the original japanese release, but for some reason i just love the subtle odd cuteness of it. Very good conveyance of emotions, and a wide range of them in this oddly good little story. It has a serious edge, but there's a little wimsical lightheartedness in there too. That and after picking up the 2nd volume on Saturday... Tokuko is seriously t3h awesome. The way she reacted to the 'country yokel' attack made me laugh myself into a headache (this was probably more due to my head cold than it actually being THAT funny) :P Still, after the ice maiden front you saw in volume one, Tokuko in vol 2 is awesome. Just be sure to keep her away from Olfa blades -- for the bear's sake.

(this is why i don't review stuff often. I sound like the lamest dorkwad fanboy in the world. Well, what the hell, you can laugh at my review style if you like...)

Another thing we picked up is Viz's large format edition of Nausicaa of the
Valley of Wind
. I've had the original flipped (and well flipped through) version of this classic Miyazaki work, but these very very nice editions are printed right to left, in a larger format in a kind of off-brown ink that much more of a pleasure to read. Nausicaa is a very immersive read for me, and i've gone through it several times. It is one of my favorite titles, and has had a great influence on me over the years. Kudos to Viz for printing it in this format. (i have a whole rant devoted to why you won't

I'm still waiting patiently for CPM to release more World of Narue manga. Yes, now that it's January i have been looking for vol 5 each time i hit the stores. Not there yet, sadly :( I have most of The World of Narue in Japanese already (i stole them from dom) but the translated versions are required for full understanding :P It's a quirky and somewhat bizarre story (i mean, come on, in the first few pages Narue clubs a small animal into the pavement with a baseball bat :P The author admits to not having a clue where the story is going most of the time, he makes it up as he goes. Sounds kinda familiar... ^^;;;;) Still, its a cute story, and i cant wait till we get to the volume where Rin sprouts wings for some bizzare reason :P

I've been reading Ultra Maniac for a variety of reasons, mostly because i'm such a big fan of Marmalade Boy (both are done by Yoshizumi Wataru) and Ayu is cute as a bell. I can deal with wanting to beat the male characters to death with an old Daisywheel printer (thats a normal reaction to Yoshizumi's work, tho for Namura i always wanted something more satisfying, like a few cement trucks :) The problem with Ultra Maniac is that the delivery of this story does not have any of the feeling that Marmalade Boy had. I dont know, the characters explain themselves too much, and it seems way too topical. That and the whole magic-user-in-training thing has been done to death :P Yet for some reason, i like it enough to keep reading it.

I love Hellsing. I don't know why. But whenever Dark Horse sends me a new volume, i'm happy. People accuse ME of dragging things out - come on, at least Hirano-san is able to do it in 30 page chunks and not one at a time :P Yet i still love it :P The whole thing is just SO over the top i can't help but chuckle at it. The Crossfire extras are great too, with Yumiko actually showing up in the Hellsing story this time. Gotta love homicidal nuns with with swords.

One thing i did last saturday was pick up a whole bunch of (ok, i'm gonna use the term even though i don't like it) Original English Language manga. Honestly, there's nothing better for the future of this stuff than to see more examples of OEL stuff surfacing in stores (in fact, i was impressed by the fact that the 2006 TokyoPop calendar was all OEL titles, and i've been similarly impressed by the number of offerings by Seven Seas) Next rant i'll give a quick review of what i liked the most.

< Dom >

Everybody have fun tonight!

"Everybody banh chung tonight"

Monday - January 23, 2006

[Dom] - 10:00:00 - [link here]

My mother is a compulsive feeder.

That doesn't mean she eats compulsively--far from it, the woman weighs something like eighty pounds. No, she has this compulsive urge to feed everyone who comes into her household, or indeed, has ever been into her household. To support this compulsion, she also has a long memory for people she's fed, including their weight at last visit and what their dietary habits are. An example: my best friend from high school, Victor, recently made a visit for the holidays, after a good 6-year while he attended Georgetown and wandered the earth like Caine from Kung Fu. And she immediately pulled me aside and told me (in Vietnamese, so he wouldn't know her shame) that she didn't know if we had anything vegetarian for Victor to eat--and he looked so skinny, he needed to eat more!

That's what I have to live with when I'm at home, too.

"Have you gotten a little fatter? Here, have some nice light foods."

"Oh, you're so skinny! Sit down, eat!"

It's enough to give a guy a complex, sometimes. It gets worse when the woman has more food than she knows what to do with, too. Anyone who has a fruit tree in their yard can sympathize with this: when that fruit tree is in season, you'd have to be a small family of baboons to be able to eat all of its fruit before they go bad. So, inevitably, you start giving fruit away by the bag, the box, the armful, whatever you can.

"Hey, want some lemonade? Good, want to take some home? We've got gallons."

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away, you know. And you should be set for the next month, here, take some off the tree, too."

She has in the yard a persimmon tree, an apple tree, two grape vines, a lemon tree, and that's just to the side of the house. No time is safe to come over, really, something will always be in season and you'll leave with a bag full of it. God help you if you visit in persimmon season, she'll make sure you come out with at least five pounds in persimmons.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, the lunar new year (Tet, Chinese New Year, whatever you want to call it) rings in this weekend, and she's been giddy with preparation, since the new year means visiting old friends and giving them food.

So, for the past week and a half, my parents have been feverishly at work making traditional banh chung and banh gio, which isn't traditional for the new year, but is just more food for her to make, wrap in leaves, and give away to old friends.

This means that, a week before the new year, her house is already full to bursting with various rice/meat treats. And apparently, I'm half of her distribution network. Last week, I was enlisted to distribute some of her goodstuffs. So, even though it isn't Tet yet, I spent some time running around dropping off miscellaneous foodstuffs at the houses of relatives like I were some sort of Vietnamese Santa Claus, filling the doorstops of good aunts and uncles with pork-based pastries (note that pork-based pastries are often more welcomed than christmas presents among my family, especially if bacon is involved).

So if you see me on your door with a bag full of leaf-wrapped somethings, run. Trust me. It's better this way. The moment you accept food from my mother is like when you invite a vampire into your home, except with slightly more fruit.

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