Manga or Anime? – Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

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What is it about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku that keeps drawing me back? So far I’ve probably watched the anime about three times now all the way through. I’ve also picked up all three US volumes (6 Japanese volumes) of the manga and have read through all of those at least twice. I’ve reviewed the anime before on this blog, and I stick by my assessment that it’s a genuinely great series about nerdy people falling in love. It’s an anime I think we really needed with its energy, comedy, and healthy older relationships. So after the anime ended I felt the need to pick up the manga and see what other content there was, and I have to say that the anime is a fairly faithful adaptation with some minor changes to pacing and story. Like a lot of other adaptations, there are advantages to each medium whether it be animation or comics, and I find myself enjoying both the anime and the manga almost equally. However, there are a few notable differences between the two that I’d like to touch on more below. Continue reading

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The Delinquent Housewife Volume 1 First Impressions

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The Delinquent Housewife was something I picked up on a whim when I was out picking up some manga that had just come out. It was new, so far there is only one volume published in the US, and the artwork seemed interesting enough, so I thought why not. I had a feeling that the content might not be that great since from the title and the back-cover copy, the story was going to follow a woman learning how to become a housewife, but I was willing to try considering it seemed perfect for the blog. In some ways I was right, and in other ways I found myself strangely enjoying this manga. Nemu Yoko has a great art style that gives the manga a great feel with some traditional shoujo styling and some great work on expressions. The story itself uses some traditional and semi-annoying plot devices and character tropes, but looking at it through the lens of comedy, I did find myself enjoying it as like a fluffy, sit-com read.

The story follows ex-biker gang member Komugi and her husband-to-be Tohru Komukai who have just decided to move back in with his family until they can look for a place of their own. Or that was the plan until Tohru gets called away on a business trip overseas, leaving Komugi stranded at her in-laws place. While Komugi appears to be an ideal housewife, the real truth is that she can’t do anything without Tohru. She doesn’t know how to do her own laundry, fry an egg, or do any sort of housework. The only person to catch on to both her secret past as a biker gang member and her inability to perform housework is her brother-in-law Dai. But it won’t be long until the rest of the family finds out, so Tohru enlists Dai and her biker gang buddies’ help to learn how to be a housewife before that time comes. Continue reading

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Manga Volume 2 Review

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I’m approaching 30 and am two years out from getting married, so it’s safe to say that I’m not really the target audience for Tokyo Tarareba Girls, but I do feel like I know enough people like the women in this manga to feel a connection to their story. They’re thirty year old women who have been told over and over again by society that they might as well be washed-up has-beens if they’re not married and living comfortably by now. This manga is simultaneously a depressing and entertaining look at how society–Japanese society in particular–enforces ideals of marriage, success, and love on women throughout their lives while setting an arbitrary cut-off date for these things at 30 years old. Akiko Higashimura continues to use a sharp sense of wit, a dynamic art style, and a keen understanding of society to create a truly entertaining manga for thirty-somethings and those of us approaching that arbitrary milestone age.

Volume two of Tokyo Tarareba Girls picks up right where volume one left off, with the fallout over Rinko drunkenly sleeping with the famous model Key. After finding herself alone the morning after, Rinko heads back home by herself feeling like it’s becoming ever more apparent she’s going to be alone for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, her friends Kaori and Koyuki are feeling like they’ve found a small bit of bliss while hooking up with a married man and an unavailable ex-boyfriend respectively. However, even these two begin to see that sex isn’t everything and the same old “what-if’s” begin to pop up again as they all have to face up against younger and fitter women. Continue reading

Water Dragon’s Bride Manga Volume 1 First Impressions

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A couple months ago I posted on Twitter asking for opinions on what manga I should buy if I could only buy one volume, and this manga, Water Dragon’s Bride, was one of the suggestions I got. I’ve been trying to branch out from some of the longer running series I’ve been reading, trying out new stories and manga that look interesting, so I figured why not give this one a shot. I honestly wasn’t sure what my opinion of the story might be going in, but I was a little worried that I probably wouldn’t like this one or that it would have some problematic age-related romance in it that I usually steer clear of. And in some ways this manga surprised me, but in others it also confused me. I can see the appeal of the story and what the mangaka might have been going for in this first volume, but in all honesty, I’m not sure this manga is for me.

The Water Dragon’s Bride is a shoujo manga created by mangaka Rei Toma who has also created Dawn of Arcana. It’s a story about a young girl who is completely spoiled by her parents that gets transported to another world through a small pond in her backyard. The girl, Asahi, has no idea where she is and everything and everyone in this world is so strange and old-fashioned, totally different from the bustle of modern Tokyo she just left. She soon meets a young boy named Subaru who offers to shelter her while they look for a way to get her back to her parents. But Asahi’s strange clothes and way of speaking scare the other members of his village, and they begin to think that maybe she would be a suitable sacrifice to the god that lives in the lake. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Kuchisake-Onna, or What Happens When Ghost Stories Get Too Real

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You’re walking down a dark street at night. Mist is starting to cover the ground making the road ahead of you hard to see. Suddenly you see the shadow of a woman step out of the mist and walk towards you. She looks like a fairly normal Japanese woman and is wearing a surgical mask to cover her face. That in and of itself isn’t weird as many people in Japan wear masks when they are sick or for various other reasons. The woman continues to walk towards you, and when she is close enough for you to see her face clearly, she asks, “Am I beautiful?” Not wanting to be rude, you answer “Yes”. The woman takes hold of her mask, pulling it down to reveal a mouth that has been slit open ear-to-ear, and asks, “Even now?” You have just met the Kuchisake-onna, how do you answer? Be careful, if you answer wrong, you could end up looking like her. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Gashadokuro, the Hungriest of Ghosts

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Japan is known for its hungry ghosts, yurei who come back to haunt those who have wronged them or come back to fulfill some unfulfilled purpose before they can move on. In the last post, we had the Manekute no Yurie or the beckoning hand that appears sticking out of empty rooms, and will only go away once its wants are fulfilled or someone reads it some sutras. However, the the Manekute no Yurei is a fairly benevolent ghost despite its hunger. Hunger can be an extremely powerful force especially when put into the perspective of starvation and famine, and that’s where tonight’s ghostly story comes from. The Gashadokuro is the hungriest ghost of all and one of the most dangerous of the yurei who walk the darkened streets of Japan. You definitely don’t want to meet this one, but if you do there’s only one thing you can do…..run. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: The Disembodied Hands of Legend

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I’m sure you’ve noticed just how much I’ve been talking about XXXHolic, and it’s not just because it’s that time of year when I want to read slightly spooky or mystical stories. The content of XXXHolic hits on a lot of humanity’s biggest fears and insecurities, including the ones from legends and folklore. In chapter 26 of the manga, Watanuki keeps running into a disembodied hand on his way home from buying groceries. A hand sticking out of a cherry blossom tree. A hand lying behind a sandwich sign. At first he brushes it off as a mannequin hand, but when he makes it to the park, the hand is there again sticking straight up out of the ground. As he watches, a small petal falls onto its palm, the fingers close and reopen. The petal is gone. When some kids get too close, Watanuki loses his grocery bag to the hand and it drags it back into the earth where suspicious crunching noises are heard.

Stumbling into this short encounter while reading XXXHolic had me wondering what other kinds of myths were out there concerning disembodied hands, and is this one related to any in particular. I realize it might be a strange thought to have, but hear me out and join me as I go down this rabbit hole. I promise I’ll try and keep it short this time. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Jorogumo/Tsuchigumo and Indigenous History

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Japan Powered recounts one story about a curious thing that happened to a logger out in the forest: “One day a logger was going about his work. Since logging is an exhausting business, seeing as how this was Edo period Japan and the chainsaw hadn’t been invented yet, the man decides to take a short break. He hears the crash of a waterfall nearby, and decides that sitting on the stream bank and watching the waterfall would be a pleasant way to spend his lunch break. However, no sooner has the man settled himself and unpacked his food than a strange something attaches itself to his foot! Puzzled, the man pulls the sticky substance off. He sees that it is something like spider silk. He sticks the stuff to a nearby log. A moment later, the log goes zipping across the stream bank, only to disappear beneath the churning waters of the waterfall. Not a little spooked, our logger decides it’s best to take his lunch break elsewhere and he beats a hasty retreat back into the woods.” Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Homunculi and Alchemy

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The creation of artificial human life has long been connected to alchemy and can be traced back to the first recorded recipe for creating a Homunculus in an Arabic work titled The Book of the Cow. So what does an aspiring alchemist need in order to create artificial life? Well, according to this book you’ll need: magician semen, a sunstone, a cow or ewe, sulfur, a magnet, green tutia, and a large glass or lead vessel. Robert Lamb from How Stuff Works goes on to lay out the step-by-step instructions, and you can read those for yourself, but it says that after the cow or ewe is inseminated and fed exclusively on the blood of another animal it will give birth to some “unknown substance”. After being transferred to the large vessel with the before mentioned chemicals, it will start to form human skin and develop slowly into a small human.

At which point, alchemists thought these tiny creatures could be used in a variety of ways, some of which were: “The first type of Homunculus may be used to make the full moon appear on the last day of the month, allow a person to take the form of a cow, a sheep or even  an ape, allow one to walk on water and know things that are happening far away. The second type of Homunculus can be used to enable a person to see demons and spirits, as well as to converse with them, whilst the last type of Homunculus can be used to summon rain at unseasonable times and produce extremely poisonous snakes.” Continue reading

October Mythology Special: The Legends Surrounding Sun Showers

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A.B. Mitford’s Tales of Old Japan has in it an enchanting story of a very particular wedding, a fox’s wedding. He tells of two young, white foxes here: “Now it happened that in a famous old family of foxes there was a beautiful young lady-fox, with such lovely fur that the fame of her jewel-like charms was spread far and wide. The young white fox, who had heard of this, was bent on making her his wife, and a meeting was arranged between them. There was not a fault to be found on either side; so the preliminaries were settled, and the wedding presents sent from the bridegroom to the bride’s house, with congratulatory speeches from the messenger, which were duly acknowledged by the person deputed to receive the gifts; the bearers, of course, received the customary fee in copper cash.

“When the ceremonies had been concluded, an auspicious day was chosen for the bride to go to her husband’s house, and she was carried off in solemn procession during a shower of rain, the sun shining all the while. After the ceremonies of drinking wine had been gone through, the bride changed her dress, and the wedding was concluded, without let or hindrance, amid singing and dancing and merry-making.” Continue reading