skygiants: Izumi and Sig Curtis from Fullmetal Alchemist embracing in front of a giant heart (curtises!)
I was supposed to do five favorite anime/manga for [personal profile] cinaed on the 14th, a full week behind on my December meme posts! I am shamed. :( ALSO this is a hard question to answer. Five? Only five?!

OK, I can muster up a pretty clear top five, but I refuse to rank them! REFUSE. Here goes:

- Revolutionary Girl Utena was not actually my first anime (that was Evangelion, about which I have now forgotten most of everything) but it was definitely one of my most ... confusingly formative. And it's so good! So often inexplicable, but so good! Just such an amazingly incisive and scathing condemnation of everything that is toxic about gender roles and savior complexes, wrapped in twelve layers of metaphor and boxing kangaroos.

- and Princess Tutu was my fourth anime! I started out strong, well done self. Perhaps part of the reason I love it so much is because it is in direct conversation with Utena, and not arguing with it exactly but providing a different slant -- a less brutal but no less incisive look at the kind of stories that shape people, and how they do it. Also it's SO ADORABLE. EVERYTHING IS ADORABLE.

- meanwhile Fullmetal Alchemist, in a different category, is emphatically my favorite shonen. It's a theoretically straightforward quest story, which is actually a nuanced exploration of sacrifice, responsibility and loss, dealing solidly along the way with issues of genocide and national guilt and national healing. Also, Hiromu Arakawa is one of the most charming mangaka that exists IN THIS WORLD.

- rivaled only perhaps by Yumi Tamura, author of 7 Seeds! I am a little bit obsessed with 7 Seeds, a post-apocalyptic manga that manages to be incredibly brutal and incredibly optimistic and INCREDIBLY HILARIOUS all at once, because Yumi Tamura's character development is a beautiful, complex thing and Yumi Tamura's plotting and worldbuilding are like Jurassic Park on crack. "And then we found these things in the desert and poured water on them and it turned out they were DEHYDRATED DINOSAURS!"

- I don't actually know enough about Naoki Urasawa himself to know if he is charming? Anyway, 20th Century Boys is my other all-time favorite manga, about ... a bunch of people running around to thwart the apocalypse! This wasn't an intentional theme. Anyway what it's really about is the way that the things that absorb you as a child do and don't continue to affect you as you grow up, and the power of things like music and stories, for good and for ill (also perhaps a theme running through this list, OK, I never said I wasn't predictable.)

OK THERE THAT'S FIVE. Honorable mentions go to Baccano!, Gokusen and the first 200 or so chapters of Skip Beat! as well probably as several other things I am forgetting. (I can safely leave Twelve Kingdoms off the list though because I like it best as a light novel series. SO THERE.)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (hahaha!)
First post for that December requested posts thing!

So [personal profile] bookblather asked me about my favorite crime-fighting duos, and the one that always jumps first into my head is not actually really much of a crime-fighting duo at all, except for one or two glorious episodes: Olive Snook and Emerson Cod from Pushing Daisies.

If you do not remember Pushing Daisies, it was that Brian Fuller show about a singing ex-jockey pie waitress and a cynical knitting detective who made pop-up books, and also a dude who raised people from the dead and his star-crossed love affair, I guess. I mean, look, we all loved Ned and Chuck, and I also loved Ned and Chuck, but would I have been just as happy -- or perhaps even happier -- with the Olive And Emerson Detective Agency Show? YES. YES I WOULD HAVE. And was I secretly enraged that the hasty wrap-up when the show was cancelled made it canonical that Olive did . . . something that I can't remember but that tragically was not partnering up with Emerson for the Olive And Emerson Detective Agency Show? YES. YES I WAS. Sorry, Brian Fuller, but your vision was INFERIOR.

Ummmm. What other crime-fighting duos do I love? I am not gonna talk about Elementary's Holmes and Watson because I feel like that's too obvious, and also though I still love Elementary I'm currently cranky at it for spending way too much time on Holmes Brother Drama that I don't care about. I just did a search for 'together they fight crime!' in my gmail to see what comes up, and I get:

Kyoko and Kanna from 20th Century Boys, who didn't actually do much crime-fighting together either, but whom I would desperately love to see fight crime together in future

Scar and Marcoh from Fullmetal Alchemist, who do not fight crime so much as fight . . . genocide . . . after Marcoh helped to commit it . . . and then tried to commit suicide-by-Scar and had his face melted instead . . . AND YES I DO WANT TO READ ABOUT THEIR CRIME-FIGHTING ADVENTURES, THANK YOU

Eva and Dieter from Monster, who I had totally forgotten until just now fought crime together for one SHINING MOMENT

Livia Levesque and Abishag Shaw from the Benjamin January books, who are never actually a crime-fighting duo in the Benjamin January books yet, but if they were it would be my FAVORITE Benjamin January book

Molly and Mohinder from Heroes, which, aww, sometimes I forget that once I cared about that tragically-canceled-after-a-first-season show

Harth Fray and Mary Lennox . . . about which it is probably better not to ask
skygiants: Koizumi Kyoko from Twentieth Century Boys making her signature SHOCKED AND HORRIFIED face (wtf is this)
It turns out that while I have been steadily reading Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys since 2009 (!!!) I haven't actually talked about it much on here since 2011, which clearly makes it time and long past - especially since a.) I just completed a high-speed reread of the whole thing and b.) it remains my favorite Urasawa manga and also one of my favorite mangas in general, HANDS DOWN.

So 20th Century Boys is about a group of plucky kids who come up with a plan to save the world from evil!

. . . well, except now it's thirty years later, and Our Hero Kenji is instead spending his time running a failing convenience store and taking care of his missing sister's baby, AND THAT'S FINE.

. . . except that a mysterious cult leader has started using the symbol that Kenji and his friends made up for their secret clubhouse evil-fighting league, and somebody seems to be doing their level best to transform the fantasy of WORLD-DESTROYING EVIL that Kenji & Co. came up into a reality. Which means that Kenji and his friends might be the only people who know what's going on with enough warning to stop it!

. . . except that that was MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS AGO and how much does anybody actually remember of the stuff that happened when they were eleven? NOT MUCH.

This is where the story begins; it goes many, many places from there, paying loving homage to all kinds of sci-fi and spaghetti western and shounen manga tropes along the way. (There is a whole extended sequence in the desert where half the cast is wearing ponchos and cowboy hats. Why? BECAUSE SERGIO LEONE, THAT'S WHY. At another point the bad guys all get in a huge generational fight about their world-destroying robot: the older guys want their evil robot to be remote-controlled a la Tetsujin 28, and the younger dudes want it to have a pilot like the Gundams do! Meanwhile, the actual robotics engineer they have kidnapped is just weeping into his hands in despair because ACTUAL ROBOTS DON'T WORK THAT WAY.)

All the trope-dipping is there for a reason: 20th Century Boys is, at its heart, a story about what shapes you as a kid, and the choices you make then, and how they do and don't define who you are as an adult. It's about memory and nostalgia, and the ways you can get stuck there. So of course Urasawa has to take a meandering path through his own nostalgia, in order to get there.

And, I mean, of course I love this story; it's about manga and how that can shape you, and music and how that can save you. Kenji is a frankly awful singer whose signature song is called "Bob Lennon" because it's ripped off from Bob Dylan and the Beatles in equal measure; his music helps save the world. At one point an army of hippies turns up and accidentally takes down an evil government outpost. My favorite character, Koizumi Kyoko, spends most of her time obsessing over a totally ridiculous visual kei band; she is, in fact, so obsessed that the evil cult completely fails at brainwashing her, which both saves her life and makes her a major player in the story.

. . . but it's also a story about an EVIL CULT that's trying to DESTROY THE WORLD based on a plan written by an eleven-year-old, so you know. Fair warning for some DEEPLY IMPLAUSIBLE STUFF.

Other fair warnings: there are a ton of awesome female characters who have independent relationships, but for the first few volumes it's pretty much a boy's club with the exception of one token badass lady (SORRY YUKIJI I love you Yukiji I just wish you weren't basically the only one in Volumes 1-4!); there are sympathetic trans characters but I could wish they were handled a lot better than they are; every so often Urasawa wanders off on a tangent and sort of has to yank himself back (seriously, we did not need to spend alll that pagetime on ANGSTY SHOGUN IN THAILAND); there are FIVE MILLION CHARACTERS. FIVE MILLION. One of these days I may do a primer to the ladies, because I love them, but most of the dudes are also great and for those y'all are on their own.

(Also, speaking of ladies: [personal profile] springgreen's story 20th Century Girls is also super worth checking out, for an awesome and much-needed take on the same themes from the perspective of girl groups and shoujo manga.)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (ooooh)
[livejournal.com profile] kd7sov asked me for my top five 'most awesome relatively-underpowered characters.' As I said when I was talking about bulletproof tropes: I LOVE underpowered characters. I especially love underpowered characters when the narrative allows them to be awesome despite the fact that they're the only one not shooting laser bullets with their mind, although sadly this doesn't happen nearly as often in fiction as I would like. But whenever it does, I'M THERE SO FAST, guys. SO FAST.

Cut for images and babbling! )

Talk to me about your favorite underpowered characters, flist!
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
[profile] moonyazu9 asked me for my Top Five Sidekicks.

. . . which turned out to be harder than I thought. I mean - what exactly defines a sidekick? If you're talking about superheroes it's easy enough, but after that things get foggy. In a way, I think 'sidekick' is more of a headspace than anything else. If you have a character who thinks of themselves, their primary role, as follower/helper to another character, okay, they're a sidekick. But the stories I tend to have the most respect for are the ones where you can tell that everyone's a protagonist in their own head - you know, the way most people are.

So for this one I've tried to pick characters where their sidekick status is both pretty incontestable, and says something interesting about the trope.

This is cut for length. )

So those are some of my thoughts on sidekicks! I would be extremely interested to hear any of your thoughts on the topic.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (ooooh)
Three posts in one day! WHAT IS THIS MADNESS. But [personal profile] gramarye1971 has instructed me to post the photoshopped romance novel book cover she purchased from me for [community profile] help_japan, and I am not one to ignore Shannon's dictates.


Below the cut! )
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (wrapped up in books)
I have been reading a reasonable amount of manga and comics recently! (This year's list has already more than doubled last year's, which more than doubled 2008's. If this trend continues, by the time the year 2020 comes around I will be reading approximately enough volumes of graphic stuff that if it was piled up in a row it would reach the moon.)

20th Century Boys, Volume 11: Probably crypic spoilery comments! )

Ouran High School Host Club, Volumes 4-8: I think mostly what I have gotten out of these volumes - aside from a ton of enjoyment, obviously, because, I mean, it's Ouran - is that Kyouya was clearly the animator's favorite. They devoted whole extended episodes to Kyouya's Adventures In the Shopping Mall and Kyouya's Dramatic Backstory with Tamaki, both of which I was surprised to see did not actually get as much attention in the manga! I mean I am not really complaining about the animators' partiality, seeing as Kyouya is also totally my favorite. I did love the author's note where Bisco Hatori cheerfully explains that she and her assistants spend a lot of time imagining Kyouya in undignified situations to cheer themselves up. Kyouya trips and falls! HILARIOUS. Kyouya forgets his cell phone at home! THE FUNNIEST THING. I find this excellent and may adopt this method of entertaining myself in dull situations myself.

Conversely, Mori makes me laugh even more in the manga than he did in the anime. HE THOUGHT HE WAS THE MORAL ONE, GUYS. And when he's sleepy he gets bizarrely talkative! <3Mori<3 I also always forget how much I love the Kasanoda arc until I see it and then I start giggling all over again. I am pretty sure I was getting looks on the subway due to cackling.

I am almost halfway through the manga now! STRANGE TO THINK. And have covered I think just about everything that was animated, so it should be mostly new territory from here.

After School Nightmare, Volume 1: I grabbed this because I was in the library and running out of stuff to read on the subway for that day, and it was the first first-volume I saw that I remembered having vaguely heard of. I. Okay! So Mashiro is a boy from the waist up and a girl from the waist down, but NOBODY KNOWS and everyone thinks he's a boy, and he identifies as a boy and wants to be a boy except that now he's getting his period and everything's awkward. Then a mysterious teacher pulls him aside and tells him now he has to attend NIGHTMARE CLASS after school if he wants to graduate, in which everyone looks like their true (often-creepy; one's a pile of twisting hands, another a girl without a face or a heart) selves and compete against each other for self-knowledge, or something, which often involves painful dream-death. Kureha, one of the other girls in the class who's suffered lots of serious trauma, likes Mashiro because he's only half a boy and therefore doesn't trigger her issues; Mashiro is all "I WILL PROTECT YOU KUREHA," and they start dating. Except Sou, our resident playboy jerkface, has a creepy obsession with Mashiro and has therefore decided to make him be a girl by . . . making out with him? Mashiro DOES NOT APPROVE. (Neither Mashiro or Sou seem to consider the possibility that that just might make Sou or Mashiro dudes who make out with dudes, but this is I guess understandable as they are gender-confused Japanese teenagers.)

Basically I have no idea how I feel about any of this . . . but I may have to read more volumes to find out???

Bayou, Volume 1: Not actually manga! Also: GORGEOUS. Bayou (originally a webcomic) is the first volume of a story by Jeremy Love, set in Mississippi in 1933. Monsters live in the bayou, but only Lee, a sharecropper's daughter, knows it - and that's only because she's the one who had to go fish out Billy's body after he was lynched. But when Lee's white friend Lily gets taken by one of the monsters, and Lee's father is blamed, she has to venture into the bayou anyway to bring her back before it's too late.

The world of the bayou is incredibly rich and detailed and creepy, and, in the best tradition of Worlds Underground, most creepy of all in the way the dynamics below echo and grimly parody the dynamics above. But what really makes the story is fierce, determined, brave Lee; I'd follow her anywhere.
skygiants: Pique, Duck and Lilie, from Princess Tutu.  HUGS FOR EVERYONE (group hug!)
I have not forgotten about my Top Fives! [livejournal.com profile] littledust asked me for my Top Five BFF moments in fiction, which is a NIGH-IMPOSSIBLE REQUEST. So, fair warning: I am going to blatantly cheat. I am also going to babble a lot about dorky feelings. Stoic types who are embarrassed by this may wish to turn back here! I won't hold it against you.

Top five totally platonic BFF moments in fiction! And then a few more. Because I can. HUGE SPOILERS for Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Great Escape, Kamikaze Girls, Otherland, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Twelve Kingdoms; minor spoilers for The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Princess Tutu, Twentieth Century Boys, Chronicles of Chrestomanci )

And wow, that was the longest meme-answer ever. SORRY EVERYONE.

Anyway, while I am on the topic of memes, and also friendship, and also ~feelings~ - I never remember to do or check anonymeme things! So I was shocked and astounded to find my name up at meloukhia's anonymous love meme. To whoever those people were, thank you; I am beaming all over my stupid face right now. I MAY NEVER STOP.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (EAT YOUR HEAD (with love!))
I don't know if I have anything much to say about volume 10 of 20th Century Boys except that I continue to love this series with a great and fiery passion. *____* It is kind of hard to believe that I'm less than halfway through the series; everything is already so epic! I love everybody, but Koizumi Kyoko is rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters of all time. Spoiler! )

In other news, it's been long enough since I rewatched Ouran High School Host Club that I can now actually read the manga without feeling like I'm going back over material I just saw. I'm now through volume 3, which means I've covered the intro, the Christmas party, Renge's introduction, the physical exams, Hikaru and Kaoru's fight, the pool, the beach, the Zuka Club's introduction, and a Halloween episode that I don't think was in the anime, and am in the middle of the club's visit to Haruhi's house.

A few miscellaneous notes:
- Tamaki comes across much more as a traditional high school jerkass playboy in the first chapter; it's a lot of fun seeing the character rapidly be reconceived as the overenthusiastic walking golden retriever that we all know and love.
- every time Mori has a line of dialogue, I laugh. Because it's SO RARE.
- Bisco Hatori clearly really, really enjoys herself drawing the characters in ridiculously overelaborate outfits. And who am I to complain?
- the translation is a bit odd sometimes, especially in the first volume - the weirdest is probably the decision to translate Haruhi's joke that she'll refer to herself as 'ore' (super-masculine pronoun) as "maybe I'll start calling myself *@#$*#*" without further explanation, giving the impression that she's about to start referring to herself as "shithead."
- in the cross-dressing episode of the show, Mori is the only one who doesn't crossdress; in the manga chapter, the twins and Honey are the only ones who do. I wonder if this is because Tamaki and Kyouya are being set up more as romantic leads? (I'm connecting this in my head to Disney's Mulan, in which Shang is also the only male character who doesn't cross-dress.)
- I kind of love the cheerfully casual treatment of Haruhi's dad's bisexuality so far
- the youngest member of the Zuka Club's last name is Tsuwabuki. Between this and the Ohtori family, there more than ever needs to be an Ouran/Utena crossover. The path before us has been prepared!
skygiants: Koizumi Kyoko from Twentieth Century Boys making her signature SHOCKED AND HORRIFIED face (wtf is this)
I just read Volume 9 of Twentieth Century Boys, and a.) I think volumes 8 and 9 may be my favorite yet despite the tragic general lack of Kenji; b.) HOW IS IT TWO MONTHS BEFORE ANOTHER VOLUME COMES OUT.

First and most importantly: I LOVE KOIZUMI KYOKO. Partly just because she makes the most epic shocked faces in the world (see icon.) But also, dude, I am pretty sure that Urasawa put her in just to make me happy. She's a slacker teenager with stealth common sense who spends most of her time cutting school to listen to terrible music; she gets caught up in the EPIC completely by accident, and subsequently stomps around making YOU ARE ALL WEIRDOS faces at everyone involved. She's too normal to be brainwashed! The bad guys try, and she is mostly just extremely grumpy that they took away her iPod. Bending spoons does not impress her, and neither do terrorists/revolutionaries and their terrible bowl haircuts, SHE JUST WANTS TO GO HOME, OKAY. She had better come back and be awesome after [spoiler], that is all I have to say!

Other things that reduce me to incoherent flailings of joy: Mild spoilers! )

In other comics news: I have also read volumes 4-6 of Bone. I continue to enjoy it a lot! HOWEVER, Jeff Smith, I would just like to say - if your series is already as charming and good at tugging at the heartstrings as Bone is, it kind of unfair to then go on and load the dice with an army of tiny plucky orphaned baby animals. I've got my eye on you!

In other awesome ladies news: I would very much like to participate in the Awesome Ladies ficathon (on LJ and dreamwidth), but every time I go over there I just kind of stare at the sheer number of awesome prompts and awesome ficlets in overwhelmed panic and then run away. (Also I still owe a ton of drabbles from the last request post I did, so those take priority anyway.) All the same, it makes me so very happy that it exists! Between this and the glorious zombie tennis match commentary that everyone has already seen (and if by some chance you have not: go there now, scroll down to 4:05 in the liveblog, and REJOICE IN LULZ FOREVER), my heart is full of love for the world.
skygiants: Bunny-suit Kenji from 20th Century Boys saying 'this is the defender of justice who's gonna save the world from danger' (love and peace are on hold)
I finished Pluto a week or so back - I've been waiting to post on it until I could also get my hands on the original Astro Boy story "The Greatest Robot on Earth" to compare/contrast. My deep thoughts, let me show you them!

1. VERY IMPORTANT POINT - in "The Greatest Robot on Earth," Gesicht/Gerhardt SPARKLES. When he showed up covered in gold alloy, all "I HAVE COME TO PUT THE TROUBLEMAKER BEHIND BARS," I pretty much fell over laughing and could not take anything seriously for the next twenty pages. This was an unanticipated consequence of reading Pluto first!

2. Atom and Uran look much more like robots in the original - the entire theme of the difficulty of distinguishing between robot and human seems to be something that Urasawa was a lot more interested in playing up - but they act much more like normal children, headstrong and bickering and bratty, than the preturnaturally compassionate and wise Atom and Uran of Pluto. Uran also plays a much larger thematic role in the story than she does in Pluto, although that's also partly because the story has a smaller scope. But I wish she'd gotten more to do than she did at the end of Pluto.

3. Epsilon is probably the character who translates most directly from the original story across to Pluto, not to mention one of the most surprisingly complex characters in the original. (Also I guess I can't twit Urasawa too much for his hordes of non-individualized small children, given that they come straight out of Tezuka.)

4. Spoiler )

5. More spoiler! )

Speaking of Urasawa, I have also now watched through the first five episodes of Yawara: A Fashionable Judo Girl. And it is extremely bizarre transitioning from the EPIC GLOBAL THEMES of Urasawa's other work to a cheerful teenage sports comedy! It is especially weird because generally Urasawa's big on exploring psychological motivations and the consequences of actions, and while Yawara is relatively realistic for Japanese comedy, it is still totally over-the-top by Urasawa standards - Yawara's grandfather wanders around kidnapping people and throwing them into lockers and staging getting hit by trucks so that Yawara will have to compete, Sayaka BEATS UP EVERYONE and goes into HISTRIONIC FITS because she is THE RIVAL, Matsuda lurks in bushes and around corners and gets tossed out of buses . . .

Anyway, I kind of hate Yawara's grandfather, but besides that it is entertaining! I do not think that all the judo guys perving on Yawara is as funny as the animators think it is. Predictably, I think Sayaka is awesome. I like Matsuda despite his creepy-stalker behavior on the bus, I think mostly because his character design reminds me of Kenji. I pretty much died when Kazamatsuri was posing on the balcony in his terrifyingly tiny briefs, so I will be okay with him too as long as the animators continue to take him as seriously as they have been, which is to say: not at all.
skygiants: Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender peers through an eyeglass (*peers*)
I only have one volume to go in Pluto now! I am still kind of boggled by this. Anyway, as of Volume 6 and 7, the series has reeeeeally ramped up the emotional impact, good lord. Will I be swinging by the bookstore today to purchase Volume 8? MAYBE.

Spoilery thoughts )

I have to say, though - one drawback of reading so much Urasawa in a short time is that I am really starting to notice how much Naoki Urasawa loves using small children as a device to make us feel sad. Either it's horrible things happening to small children, or small children reacting in sorrow to the death of someone they care about - and don't get me wrong, it's certainly effective. But sometimes I can't help but feel that it's sort of a cheap shot. Of course we feel nervous for Brando and Epsilon; they have large groups of non-individualized small children depending on them!

Monster does this a lot too - I mean, in a lot of ways Monster focuses on the abuse of children much more than it focuses on children themselves, and that's a major theme of the series so I can't complain too much. But again in Monster, 'hordes of children' are often used as shorthand to tell us how we're supposed to feel - there's a bunch of kids who like Grimmer and are worried about him, and therefore we like Grimmer and are worried about him! Monster and Pluto kids never dislike a sympathetic character, and they never act like total brats, either. Sometimes they're damaged, and sometimes they're damaged beyond repair (thanks, Johan) but they aren't flawed. In some ways, Dieter is an exception to this - and you know how much I love Dieter, and I give him a pass because he's awesome - but his preturnaturally good judgment is used as shorthand for the rest of us as much as any other Urasawa kid. (Johan is the other exception. But Johan is a special case.)

I think this is one of the reasons 20th Century Boys continues to be my favorite, actually. Because the kids in 20th Century Boys aren't there to engage our shock by having horrible things done to them, and they aren't there to serve as angst-magnifying accessories to the adults' storylines. They're flawed, endearing, hilarious and non-idealized kids with their own personalities - you can even see that in the way that they're drawn; the 20th Century Boys children's faces are very individualized and not always traditionally 'cute', while you'll never come across a kid in Monster who doesn't have the same big eyes and round cheeks - and I love that ridiculously.

And hey, while I'm speaking of milking kids for angst . . . the robot children plotline is very sad, it is true, but I keep getting stuck on Fridge Logic here. What is up with the robot children? Robots don't grow! Do they get more parts added onto them as they age? Does their consciousness get transferred into larger bodies? And if so, what's the point of making the tiny bodies? Is it just so adult robots can have fake families? Does any of this get explained?
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (extraordinary machine)
I am now through volume 4 of Pluto, which I think puts me halfway through? (Note: it is SO BIZARRE to be halfway through an Urasawa series after only 4 volumes.) So far it has not yet made me cry, but hey, there's still four volumes left.

Some disconnected vaguely non-spoilery thoughts:
- it took me forever to realize that Epsilon was the character [livejournal.com profile] elspeth_vimes had been warning me about who looked freakily like Johan. This is because I spent the first volume after Epsilon appeared totally convinced he was a girl. (Which . . . is not OOC for Johan either, but I digress.) I am kind of disappointed he isn't a girl (or whatever defines female for a robot); one of the top 7 robots should be!
- that being said, Uran may not be officially one of the Seven Greatest Robots, but she is totally awesome. On the other hand . . . Uran is apparently so hyper-sensitive to distress that she can pick up a lost puppy from twenty blocks away. And Uran lives in TOKYO. It kind of boggles me that Uran is not running off to fix domestic arguments and comfort small children who have dropped their ice cream every other second. (Also, what defines a Greatest Robot? Because it seems like Uran should totally qualify.)
- good lord, some of the parallels here are unsubtle (United States of Thracia? Anti-robot KKK? Really?) However, while I was rolling my eyes at the Robot KKK story to begin with, I am totally fascinated by the way in which it's developing, so . . . all right, Urasawa, you win again!

Some disconnected vaguely spoilery thoughts )

Also, while I am on the topic of Urasawa - [livejournal.com profile] gramarye1971, I got the Yawara and Read or Die DVDs! I AM EXCITED. :D Thanks for sending them!
skygiants: Bunny-suit Kenji from 20th Century Boys saying 'this is the defender of justice who's gonna save the world from danger' (love and peace are on hold)
Okay, so between yesterday and today I have read Volume 7 of 20th Century Boys and Volume 1 of Pluto, which makes this Let's Talk About Naoki Urasawa Day over here.

In news that is unsurprising to anyone, Twentieth Century Boys continues to be my favorite Urasawa series. (Whyyyy is there only one volume every two months ;_; My life, it is tragic.) This volume did not make me shriek quite as much as the last one, but the story is pretty clearly continuing to build to awesome! More spoilery thoughts. )

The first volume of Pluto I just finished on the subway this morning, and I am a.) really fascinated by the worldbuilding and interested to see where it is going and b.) really, really torn about whether to stop and go read the Astro Boy story it's based on, or, alternately, read all of Pluto, go find the Astro Boy story, and then read Pluto again! (It's only eight volumes or so . . . so it won't take that much time! Um.) So far, the story as I read it - completely unspoilered by any context - appears to be about a mysterious killer who is taking out famous/influential robots, and the robot detective who is investigating the case. The part that fascinates me is the range of robots we see and their integration into society - some of them look completely human and some of them don't at all, but regardless of their appearance they can marry, hold paid jobs, adopt children. (I kind of loved Prizefighter Robot and his five million adopted kids, I'm not going to lie.)

It does keep throwing me, I'll admit, how similar the character designs are to some of the designs in Monster. I don't have this problem with the art in 20th Century Boys - while it's totally recognizable Urasawa and there is some overlap in character designs (Kanna and Nina, anyone?) most of the main cast look different enough that I'm not jarred - but with Pluto I keep forgetting that I'm reading a totally non-Monster story and being like "HEY AN UNDERGROUND JAPANESE DOCTOR IS THAT - no. No, that's definitely not." It doesn't help that it's set in Germany. Though I do love the thought that Urasawa puts into drawing his futuristic cities. And also, into everything, because, let's face it, it's Naoki Urasawa.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (barrel of a gun)
. . . so I just finished Monster.

Man.

Spoilers, obviously, below. )

As for the rest, as I said, I am still processing; I am also processing the fact that now there is no more. D: (Except - what is it called, Another Monster? Has anyone read it? What is the deal with that?)

Unrelated and unspoilery: you know what I keep thinking, randomly? What would a genderswapped Monster look like? Brilliant lady doctor, remorseless lady cop, angelic charismatic killer little girl and her innocent brother, the totally hardcore little girl that the doctor rescues from abuse and the naive lady Czech detective and the genial former police officer lady psychiatrist . . . I don't know. I'm not saying that I am dissatisfied with Monster as is; Eva and Anna are awesome characters. But it would be really interesting.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (wrapped up in books)
I have now read through volume 13 of Monster. I have five volumes left. Five volumes is a lot of space . . . and yet there is so much going on that I keep finding myself wondering how on earth Urasawa is going to tie it all up in time!

(I am also wondering if I can fit all five of the final volumes in my suitcase when I go home next weekend. The answer to this question is 'probably not', but . . . . maybe this is a case for two suitcases?)


Reaction spoilers! )
skygiants: Bunny-suit Kenji from 20th Century Boys saying 'this is the defender of justice who's gonna save the world from danger' (love and peace are on hold)
Okay, so while I do love Monster more and more with every volume I read . . . whenever I get new 20th Century Boys I am reminded why it is indeed the ULTIMATE URASAWA MANGA OF MY HEART.

(Out of . . . the two I have read . . . shut up.)

Spoilers for Volume 6 of 20th Century Boys! )

How is it two months until the next volume!
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (barrel of a gun)
I have now read through Volume 10 of Monster! And damn you, Naoko Urasawa, because I am getting more and more invested with each installment of the manga. (I am now more than halfway through! I cannot decide whether this fills me with joy - I want to know what happens! - or sorrow - because then it will be all gone and I will have to go back to wrestling with my willpower over the online translations of 20th Century Boys.)

SPOILERY REACTIONS AHOY )

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