Monday, June 20, 2011

If you read "Black Bird", then try...


Her Majesty's Dog
A teenage girl is attacked by ghosts in a school after hours. To her surprise the only person who has a clue about why she's been targeted is the most bullied girl in the school. While the bullied girl is not unattractive, her classmates are disgusted by Amane's show of affection for her boyfriend/bodyguard Hyoue. As it turns out, Amane is no ordinary girl and Hyoue is no ordinary boyfriend. Hyoue-Kun is actually a demon bound to Amane by choice to protect her at all costs. When he transforms Hyoue becomes a massive and glowing dog, ready to do Amane's bidding whatever it might be. At this moment, Amane's command involves protected this human girl who, while she never bullied Amane herself, she never did anything to stop the bullying.

Where Black Bird is concerned, Her Majesty's Dog has far less content sexually, but more violence. Also there are moments when gender lines blur, particularly when Hyoue encounters a fellow demon from his past who could be either male or female. Even Hyoue was never sure. From the very first volume I fell madly in love with the characters. Despite Amane's infuriating propensity to ignore Hyoue's obvious love for her and her insistence on thinking of him as merely a pet. Thank goodness for a happy ending!


Alice in the Country of Hearts
In this crazy story Alice is literally kidnapped by Peter White a.k.a. The White Rabbit and taken to Wonderland against her will. Once there, Peter forces her to drink a potion (through a kiss) which will prevent her leaving Wonderland until the vial which contained the potion magically refills as she encounters different people and adventures. Alice finds herself repulsed by Peter White, who rhymes everything he says, strangely drawn to the malevolent Blood Dupre a.k.a. The Mad Hatter who is also a mob boss, and thoroughly confused by every individual she meets. The thing that terrifies her the most? One of the side effects of her living in Wonderland is that every male within those borders falls in love with her, from Peter White to Blood Dupre to Julian the clock maker.

Concerns about the translation from Japanese to English are valid for this series. Sometimes the dialogue is awkward and the story doesn't have a decent sense of continuity. Which you would think would work for an Alice in Wonderland tale, but it just adds to the confusion. However, the characters are engaging. I can see why Alice likes the Hatter against her will. There's something magnetic about him. Again, this story has less sexual content than Black Bird and more violence. However, it does stay in keeping with sexual innuendo because all the men, deadly or harmless, adore Alice. I guess we English-reading fans will never know the outcome except through scanlations unless a new publisher picks it up from Tokyopop.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Brideshead Revisited

Anthony Andrews & Jeremy Irons in Brideshead Revisited
Have you ever noticed how authors will name their characters something significantly similar to their personality? Dickens was notorious for his use of names. So too it seems was Evelyn Waugh. I'm about 3/4 of the way through Brideshead Revisited (a remarkable feat considering I started it less than a week ago). He couldn't have chosen a better surname for Sebastian than Flyte. He spends nearly the entire book either running away from his troubles (real or imagined) and/or drowning his sorrows in drink.

A more flighty young man I've never met. And yet he doesn't frustrate me for some reason. Rather, I pity him. He has such pathetic misconceptions about life and his place in the world. Sebastian's devoutly Catholic roots seem to haunt him. He learns to despise people once they meet his parents. Take Charles, for instance. For years those two were almost literally joined at the hip. It is possible that their relationship was far less than healthy (in fact, that's most likely the case), and yet the two needed each other, Sebastian most of all. But once he introduced Charles to his family (not really his idea), their relationship faltered. All Sebastian's mother needed to do was draw Charles into the intimate workings of the family and Sebastian started distancing himself from his friend.

Why would Sebastian feel that Charles was tainted somehow by liking his family? I just can't quite grasp his reasoning. Charles is the same man that he was when they first met, even after having encountered the dreaded family members. Why should anything change? I suppose it really had nothing to do with the family and everything to do with Charles' approaching maturity. It's one thing for young men to meet at the age of 19 and behave ridiculously together. It's another thing for one of them to reach the age of 21 and start thinking seriously about life and its goals while the other still prefers deep bouts of drinking ad partying. I do believe Sebastian felt that Charles left him behind.

It's sad really, when friendships start as childhood chums but can't develop into adult relationships too. Charles' fondness and adoration for Sebastian is unsurpassed. Even after their relationship shatters. But Sebastian becomes such a pitiable creature that you can no longer love him, only weep for the life that is being drunk away. Sebastian is one of those charming characters that draw you towards them. There's something magnetic in their personality. You can't help liking them. Poor chap. I just know this book must end in his death. There's no other alternative since he sees no use in changing his lifestyle.

I've only the 3rd section to go and then I'm on to the miniseries with Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons. I know, I know, there's a newer version, but I'd rather see two of my favorite actors in these pitiable roles than ones I'm unfamiliar with. It will make me sympathize with them more.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

JDrama - Flower Shop Without Roses

Flower Shop Without Roses
My newest Jdrama is called Flower Shop Without Roses and the main character is a single father. Mom died in childbirth and he's had to raise his daughter alone. Which he does, gladly, because he adores her. But you can see the emptiness and loneliness in his eyes. That loneliness is made even worse when his 6-year-old daughter starts wearing a mask, both around the house, and at school. She says it's because she loves this particular puppet master that her mask is based off. The real issue is that she doesn't want to cause her father pain. This sweet child looks so much like her mother. And as dearly as Eiji loves his daughter, he can't easily hide the sadness he feels when he sees her mother's face looking at him out of Shizuku's eyes. She knows this and so she wears the mask to spare her father more pain.

How does it feel to be a single parent? Which is easier? To be a single mom or a single dad? What does it feel like to raise a child when your spouse is dead? I don't know the answer. All I know is that I see the struggle in Eiji's eyes. There are times when I almost feel like he could give up, if not for his daughter. When he looks at her, the world becomes a little brighter. Needless to say, Eiji finds the right words to help his daughter understand that as much as it might pain him to see how she resembles her mom, it hurts more to not see her face. I was so proud of him for finding just the right story for just the right moment to help her understand.

I'm almost afraid to finish the drama. I'm 4 episodes in and it's been about a week since I've watched the show. I just, I have this suspicion that his heart might get broken again. Let's just say that his wife's father is being a menace and meddling in other people's affairs. A new woman has entered Eiji's life, a blind lady who he genuinely likes, but she's not what she seems. Not all of these dramas end well and some tend to decline over the last two episodes. So I'm reticent to risk it, at least right away. Now watch, having posted about it I'll have to finish the show. All I know is that this isn't my typical Jdrama (yes, apparently, I have a "type" and that "type" is high school drama) but it's about as inspiring as The Wallflower, which made me cry more than I ever imagined. There were dozens of damp tissues over that show. So I shall persevere and not let the fear of a sad ending keep my from finishing Flower Shop Without Roses.
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