Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women's Day 2016

Today is International Women's Day (for some of you the day is over) but I honored this a few years ago about talking about some of the most female empowering novels I had read, The Sevenwaters Series by Juliet Marillier, and Black Jewels by Anne Bishop (seriously go read that). This time I want to talk about another series, this time in the world of manga: Dengeki Daisy by Kyousuke Motomi.

Now if I wanna be blunt, manga is very sexist. Women are usually scantily clad and look beyond fake. They're quiet, and reserved, or wild and crazy. Rarely are they realistic. They seem to be more for fanservice or simply to show that only good girls get ahead in life. They always smile, and are happy go lucky, and girls with real feelings are evil or bad, or straight up nuts. If they act more like you, a normal girl, they are more for fan service that anything else. It's ridiculous.

I've been to several panels where female voice actors talk about how frustrating it is. They rarely play a character who has any depth to them unless they're playing the opposite gender. Now you can argue about how it's because it's comics, but it really isn't. Ever watch a Kung Fu movie? Check out The Forbidden Kingdom, or even Hero. Female characters with depth in Asian media usually are crazy. The good ones are silent and smile and are always poise. Sure, they can fight, but they aren't allowed to feel. Catching Tiger Hidden Dragon is much better at it, but most manga fails.

This one does NOT.

At first it seems to be. Teru's older brother and parents are all dead and since apparently it's fine for a teenager to live on their own there (yeah it's illegal in my state at least) she lives alone. But she does have a cell phone her brother gave her before he died with the number to text a guy named Daisy who'll protect her.

Cliche, I know. Even the email is all happy-go-lucky. Then he moves the phone, and you see what Daisy knows is really going on. She's not "fine" and school isn't "fun". She's currently being sprayed with a water hose by the student body president while protecting her friend. She's lying to Daisy.

Teru is realistic. She's trying to hide that she hates school, her only friends are losers, and she's beyond lonely. Like most kids, she thinks she can  handle it on her own (she can't). She cries, and gets angry, and cusses. She gets into trouble and her friend aren't all amazing. They're good people, but they have sex and drink sometimes and make really stupid decisions. They pass and fail tests, and aren't always happy or bouncing from one high to a low. They're teenagers. They're real.

Then Motomi ups the stakes to keep it interesting. Her brother had some program and he and Daisy used to be computer hackers. An enemy murdered her brother and a program he died for is probably in her phone. She faces down guns and criminals, and ends up kidnapped more than once.

Sure she could fight them off, but that would feel fake. She cries, she screams, and while she doesn't know any martial arts (neither do I) she eventually learns how to fight back. Yes, most of the time she's rescued, but I recall her taking a pipe or shovel to the back of someone's head to get away. She gets beat up, and has to move from her apartment, and her friends get caught up in it, but Teru isn't holier than thou, trying to be a hero. She runs for help, and protects people in turn.

Basically, she's the most realistic girl I've seen in a manga. EVER. And I read a LOT. She falls in love, and tells Kurosaki (the male lead) to go bald. She gets angry and hold grudges and doesn't forgive easily. I love her. It's beautiful and doesn't teach girls they need to stay positive as much as they need to stay strong. It doesn't say you need a guy to save you, it says you need your friends and family to save you sometimes, and sometimes you're the one doing the saving.

Another super female power comic is Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and others.

Ms. Marvel follows Kamala Khan, a Muslim American from New Jersey (and NO they didn't celebrate 9/11, if you believe that GO AWAY). When she sneaks out to a popular kids party a mist gives her powers and suddenly she's Captain Marvel back when she was just Ms. Marvel. Once she gets more control she goes by Ms. Marvel and saves her family, classmates, and fellow New Jersians from everything including aliens, giant robots, mad scientists, and even the END. It's awesome. 

And it's awesome because she's a fangirling nerd with strict parents trying to be cool while also having superpowers. It's normal comic book stuff, it just so happens her parents from Pakistan, and she goes to a youth group at the local mosque instead of a church. Her friend wears a hijab, she doesn't. Her brother want to be a priest, her dad wants him to get a job. Her mom wants her to wear longer sleeves, she wants to try sleeveless.

It's real and shows better than almost anything else I can think of what it's like to a Muslim American. THEY'RE NORMAL. I adore the story, and can't wait to read volume 6. It's beautifully done and I think her fangirling when she fights alongside every superhero she used to write fanfiction over is HILARIOUS. 

I love both of these series and I'm sad there's no more Teru, but excited for more Kamala. Here's to all the ladies all over the world, whether their American, Muslim, Japanese, or whatever. Ladies, you can rock it anyway you want to (so long as it doesn't hurt people).

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

January 2016 Monthly Wrap Up

Yay! I'm onto this year! Now I'm only 2 months behind!!! BUT! If I can get through this quickly that means that I move onto Feb and as it's the beginning of March I'LL BE CAUGHT UP! (On here at least.)

Now a few things:

A) I am doing NO challenges whatsoever this year. At all. Ever. I have done 1 readalong for one book. That was all so far, and I don't know if I'll be doing anything else this year, because I burned myself out last year and the year before that. I did say I was

B) I have given myself a little challenge to read at least 3 giant books. I read one, ONE all year last year because I was so worried about numbers. Well I'm not now. I'm reading lots of graphic novels like last year (I'll have my year wrap up posted soon, I promise) because I'm picking up a giant book in between. It may take me all year to read these big books but I can do it!!!

C) Year of Valdamar - No longer happening this year. I'm too burned out. I did too much. So I will tackle that started in 2017. Yup. It was a last minute thing but I've enjoyed picking up whatever the heck I felt like. I started on Star Wars and Manga and now Batman is in charge. *shrugs* I kinda love it. Valdamar will happen, I swear. I'm not buying 400 books for nothing (okay there's like 50 of them not 400 but STILL)

Now onto to what I read! After the last two months, you'll see what I meant by burnt out.

From Far Away Vols 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 by Kyoko Hikawa


I finished up From Far Away at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. I really enjoyed rereading one of my favorite romance manga. I just enjoy this series and think if you want to try Shojo, something light, fluffy, but with plenty of action and fantasy, try this series.

Kanan: The Last Padawan Volume 1 by Greg Weisman, Pepe Larraz, and Mark Brooks


In case you missed me last year and the year before where I made it clear not only am I a big Star Wars fan, but a big Clone Wars, and now Rebels fan, I am. I was obsessed with Clone Wars after I stumbled upon an episode where some bounty hunters took on Anakin and Obi-Wan, and then there was Count Dooku, and it was phenomenal.

Basically the show does what the prequel series couldn't--makes the characters real. The banter is hilarious. Seriously, go pick it up. Clone Wars is on Netflix, so if you can, WATCH IT. It's so good.

In the behind the scenes for Rebels they mentioned this comic, and I found it on Amazon and bought it, right then, then finished watching the video (all on YouTube). Rebels follows Ezra, a force-sensitive teen who runs into a group of rebels know as the Ghost Crew back before the official Rebel Alliance, who are led by a female Twi'lek pilot named Hera, and Kanan, who is a surviving Jedi Padewan.

How he survived is unclear, but the comic explores his past, as well as some adventures that we may or may not see in the show. Among the shows creator is a person whose title is Keeper of the Holocron, aka the person is knows all of the Star Wars stories, canon as well as Legends, so they won't contradict each other (like Clone Wars did over and over again).

Ezra's Gamble by Ryder Windham


Ezra's Gamble is an odd book. It's supposed to be canon and it's not. It doesn't fit with the show, and it doesn't fit with the novelization of the first two episodes of the show. It's an adventure that Ezra supposedly goes on the two days before he meets the Ghost Crew. It's odd, doesn't fit very well, and is rather blah. As a big fan of other Star Wars kids novellas, and several written by Ryder Windham, this is definitely the worst so far. I have read around 60 of these kinds of Star Wars books, and seriously, not impressed.

The Rebellion Begins by Michael Kogge


The Rebellion Begins is the novelization of the first two episodes of Star Wars Rebels, and as you can see, was more along the lines of what I expect from Star Wars novellas for kids. It matched the episode brilliantly, and even added in some scenes we don't get to see by sticking with Ezra during this time. It starts before the episode ends, and includes the bonus scene at the end. I do like it, and recommend Rebels fans pick it up.

A Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori


I originally started A Bride's Story several years ago (somewhere during the period of unemployment that's rather a blur to me) but DNF'd it (for those unfamiliar with the term, it means Did Not Finish) because there's nudity. But I saw an online review and decided to try it again (mostly cause I forgot).

This time I fell in love with the story and artwork and culture and just did my old trick from Elf Quest - blocked it with my hand. DO NOT READ THIS AT WORK, I don't y'all getting in trouble or something. Now there are some volumes that don't have nudity, but this one does. So if you don't care or can handle it, read this.

This follows the story of Amir, a bride in her late twenties who was married to a 12 year old boy. How they're relationship works is awesome, because he's not a kid to her, he's her husband, and it doesn't feel creepy.

This takes place in Asia, around Mongolia. I love learning about different cultures, and the details of the different cultures this manga portrays is awesome.

Grayson by Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Stephen Mooney, and Jeromy Cox


Grayson picks up after Nightwing volumes 1-5 and Justice League Trinity War, but basically everyone thinks Dick Grayson is dead, and only Batman knows otherwise. Rather than stand around twiddling his thumbs in some foreign country he has gone undercover in Spiral at Batman's request, to see just what these guys are up to. Neither Batman nor Dick are sure what they're up to.

I enjoyed this and the flash forward that goes like 15 years in advance was really interesting. Hopefully my library will pick up the next volumes!


A Bride's Story Volumes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 by Kaoru Mori


In the next six volumes the story has expanded to include 5 more brides and their individual stories along side Amir's.

First we have Amir's brother and cousins ordered to drag her back home to marry her off to an abusive family for money for her clan. It's an interesting story and while I didn't want the guys to win, it is obvious they're caught in the middle and don't really want to bother Amir or her new family.

Then the European explorer takes off and meets a lovely lady in volume 3, who has been married multiple times, and they fall in love. While it's a tragedy, it's still brilliantly done.

Volumes 4 and 5 follow a pair of twins round I think India, who are determined to be married. They're adorable and they're husbands end up being perfect for them, absolutely lovely.

Volume 6 goes back to Amir, and her father is bound and determined to get his daughter away from her husband, even though they're in love. Her brother Azel turns out to be a great hero and he and her cousin do their best to keep her safe while upholding the family honor. It's my favorite yet, and I would love to see more of him!

The last volume I read in Jan is my least favorite. It takes place in Iraq, almost entirely in a bathhouse. What I was able to read was alright but it was just too much. So it only gets a 2 out of 5 from me. I enjoyed when it turned to the last bride who's house was destroyed in the conflict between her town and Amir's clan. That was the best part, really.

All in all, when I reached the end of the chapters I could read, I got depressed. This series is so good!

Deadpool Volume 1 by Daniel Way and Paco Medina


With the Deadpool movie coming out, I decided I needed to learn more about this character. While I won't see the movie until it comes out on cable (it's rated R and I try not to watch them, as you can tell with the nudity issue and stuff), I thought about the comics which bleep out most of the cussing.

I wasn't disappointed. It was great. I enjoyed it, but while this is the beginning of Deadpool, the place to start for newcomers, it's still not much of an introduction to the Marvel universe and since I'm a newbie I was lost at first. This felt more like 52 which isn't where I would recommend newbies to DC start (start with Modern, check out my video about that HERE).

That being said, obviously I enjoyed this as that only knocked it down 1 star rather than 2 or 3. It's really well done.

Tsubasa: WoRLD CHRoNiCLE volume 2 by CLAMP


The second volume of World Chronicle where the trio is in Narai Kanai and have to save it from the dead taking over and destroying both worlds gets creepier and creepier. The fact that only Tsubasa can see the people of both worlds clearly adds to the creep factor. I am really enjoying it, and can't wait to see more of this odd world!

And that's everything I read in January! (Told you it was a lot less than December. That post was HUGE) Thank you guys so much for reading, and I hope you had a good beginning to the year.

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