Monday, December 9, 2019

Fruits Basket Another volume 3 is a fun conclusion to a fun side story (Manga Review)

A high-school boy in a school uniform stands proud and confident but warmly so
Fruits Basket Another vol. 3 - 7.5/10

Let's be clear, Fruits Basket Another is meant for fans of the original Fruits Basket manga. It certainly could stand on its own, but the depth that comes from unpacking the relationships between the characters and their parents, and who those parents are from the original Fruits Basket series, is at least half the fun.

With volume 3, Fruits Basket Another  (Yen Press) wraps up in a satisfying way. And the journey to do so is filled with all the pathos and internal suffering we'd expect from Natsuki Takaya. Thankfully, it also balances the kindness, humor, and fun of the early Fruits Basket chapters in this cute next-generation story.

Sowa Mitoma is the only daughter of a single mother who is frequently away for weeks-on-end with work and who is mercilessly (but usually passive aggressively) cruel to her daughter when she does come home. In this volume, we also find out why Sowa's elementary school friends rejected her, and it definitely connects some dots. Like most of Takaya-sensei's best work, this one concerns a lot of parental rejection of children. I can only wonder, imagine, and perhaps pray for Takaya-sensei. To write so much about parental rejection, I wonder what she may have been through in her own life and I hope her works are therapeutic for her.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Still Sick volume 1 is a welcome adult yuri/LGBTQ manga (Manga Review)

two adult women at work, one sitting, the other standing, papers fluttering around
Still Sick vol. 1 - 7/10

I'm really split on yuri manga as a genre. On one hand, I love the really great ones where there are deep, complex feelings between girls, where the gazes and blushes are filled with so much sub-text. The best of them speak to me on so many levels.

But on the other hand, some yuri is geared more towards a male gaze and audience (and is often just gross). And somewhere in the middle, is the yuri that just fails to commit itself to same-sex relationships at all, feeling more like queer-baiting than anything else. Add to that, a lot of yuri is focused on school girls and sometimes I just want actual adults in my manga. Overall it can get a bit hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in yuri.

So I'm always on the lookout for yuri involving adult women, and even more so for manga that might actually represent these women as lesbians, true LGBTQ+ representation. While not a perfect first volume by any stretch, Still Sick vol. 1 (Tokyopop), is promising enough in both regards to be well worth a read and with room to grow in authenticity as the story progresses.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Missed it Monday - Tales from Earthsea (Anime Review)

A young man opens his arms to a large dragon at sunrise
Missed it Monday is the ongoing column where I review anime/manga that I didn't watch/read when they first came out.

Tales from Earthsea (anime) - 5.5/10

I put off watching Tales from Earthsea (Studio Ghibli) for a looooooong time. I am a huge Studio Ghibli fan. And even though Hayao Miyazaki is undeniably a genius, my favorite Studio Ghibli movie is actually From Up On Poppy Hill which was directed by his son, Goro.

Goro also directed a Tales from Earthsea and the reviews at the time were not kind. Coupled with the fact that I have read and reread the original Earthsea trilogy (now 5 books) by Ursula Le Guin countless times, it just didn't seem like I should tarnish my thoughts of Earthsea by watching the movie.

Finally though, I felt I could watch it and not have it affect my love for the books. I'm sad to say that it isn't a very good Earthsea movie. It also isn't a telling of the stories from the novels. But more so, it isn't really a very good movie in its own right. That being said, it also isn't a bad movie, so long as one does not try and compare it to the books, and the world those books describe.