Summer Reading: Hilda and The Midnight Giant (English)

August 1st, 2014

hamgIt’s about midsummer here, and the weather has been unnaturally pleasant, so I’ve been outside playing, rather than curling up in the A/C. As a result I’m hugely behind on my reading, but…no regrets. Getting to take long walks in the Northeast woodlands of the USA is as good for my soul as reading comics. ^_^

But, when I get a chance to read a really unique, fun, kid-friendly,  girl-friendly comic, you just know I have to share it with you!  Thanks to the fantastic Tucker Stone at Nobrow Press, I had the chance to read the delightful Hilda and the Midnight Giant.

Hilda and her Mom live outside the town. They seem to have a comfortable relationship, and Hilda is studious and dedicated. When it turns out that she and her mother are living in the middle of a civilization of small, invisible people, Hilda has to figure out how to make peace between her and and entire race of beings that consider her their enemy.

As Hilda wrestles with the politics of her neighbors, she also discovers a giant occupying the same valley. Her inquiries take her from the mayor of the local town through which she and her mother have been walking to the king of the civilization, while she tracks down the giant who comes by at night.

The adventure is, in a word, strange.

You could make a case for it being an allegory about people sharing space on the planet, but that’s not really what it’s about at all. ^_^ Hilda learns about bureaucracy and how being in the right place at the right time is as good as dedicated effort. It’s a life lesson that would serve many a young person well and for that reason alone, I’m inclined to recommend this book. But more importantly, it’s a rollicking, rattingly tale of little people and giants and has a wholly unexpected end. Really unexpected.

Luke Pearson’s writing is great. Hilda is a smart kid, she asks a lot of questions, but mostly the right questions…and she really processes the answers, to  come up with well thought out solutions. Mom speaks to Hilda like she’s a smart kid, so there’s none of that creepy condescending tone with which adults so often address kids. The art is, for lack of a better word “cartoony.” The giant is a tall, hairy column, the little people are small capsule-shaped creatures.  There’s no complex artistic rendering here, just straightforward, simple comic art. It’s the story that carries you along.

If you know a young comics reader, or a a child that you’d like to turn into a comics reader – especially if they love fairy-tale-like stories – this would be a great place to start them. Hilda isn’t a superhero, but she sure saves the day.

Ratings:

Art – 6
Story – 9
Character – 8

Overall – A solid 8 and I hope to be able to read some of the other Hilda books in the future.





Marine Corps Yumi Manga, Volume 2 (まりんこゆみ)

July 31st, 2014

Volume 2 of Marine Corps Yumi, (まりんこゆみ) written by our dear friend Ana Moreno, with art by Nogami Takeshi, picks up where Volume 1 left off, with Nipponian high school grad Yumi deep in the middle of boot camp to become a Marine in her quest to become President of the United States of Amerigo.

Boot camp is a series of painful, exhausting, mind-fucking, embarrassing and demeaning tasks. Sounds like loads of fun, doesn’t it? ^_^

The first half of the volume details the hundred different ways recruits have their minds and bodies beaten and bruised, but it’s in the second part of the volume that we see who stands tall at the end.

The final part of the manga details the three-day “crucible”, the world’s toughest final exam that no “tough mudder” race can ever truly approach in intensity. Everything the recruits have learned in the last three months is tested, while they themselves are pushed to breaking.

Rita Fernandez is, of course, born to be a Marine. Donna King turns out to pretty smart, despite all her best effort at hiding it, Linda Crawford is a solid team player. Yumi isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, but she’s got “gambare” and persists though everything. And, in the end, as the sun rises on our team and they pass the final trial, there must have been something in the ink, or maybe my allergies were acting up, because my eyes just kept on being kind of teary.

Ana has been all over media recently. Nico Nico Douga did a broadcast with her and Nogami-sensei and it was awesome to hear her talking about her experiences as a comic artist, Marine and author on the Deconstructing Comics podcast. I really recommend listening to this, to get an idea of her process and what to expect in Volume 3. And, of course, you can read this comic for free online in Japanese or English. (Catch up now in English and get those hankies ready for the end of the crucible!)

For those of us here, who love stories of women teaming up, getting stronger and succeeding against great odds, this is probably the most realistic story we’re going to read that actually has those qualities that we love so much in our fiction. I want to take one last moment to note again that Marine Corp Yumi is the most racially diverse manga (without scrunchy-making stereotypes) I’ve ever read. And there’s plenty of stupid physical gags to keep us laughing. (And, if you ask her nicely, maybe Ana’ll add in a lesbian Yuri-lover to counter Donna’s scrunchy-making stereotypical BL fujoshi-ness. ^_^)

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8 How about the dust in here, my eyes just won’t stop weeping
Characters – 8
Yuri – 0 (so far)
Service – 4 There’s definitely some service in those hills

Overall – 8

I’m reading the Japanese comic online, so I know what’s coming, but I can’t wait for Volume 3! I’m definitely one of the military otaku this comic targets and that makes me a little uncomfortable. ^_^; Next life, I’m going to be a Marine, dammit.

Many, many, many thanks to Ana for this review copies and extras that went out to some lucky folks with the last contest!





Pure Yuri Anthology Hirari to Cease Publication

July 30th, 2014

Volume 14 of Pure Yuri Anthology Hirari is the final volume of the magazine.

According to Comic Natalie’s report, a few additional collected volumes will be released after suspension, including Morishima Akiko’s “Seijun Shoujo Paradigm” (聖純少女パラダイム) and Kari Sumako’s “Watashi no Iyana Tomodachi” (私の嫌いなおともだち(仮)).

Currently on sale from Hirari Comics is Takasaki Hiromi’s Obentou to Kaze-san. (おべんとうと加瀬さん。) and Kazama Ayami’s Hoshi wo Futari de (星をふたりで)。

There’s a sense of creeping irony here for me, as I just recently pronounced it apparently stable. After 13 volumes, I finally relaxed and expected it to be sustainable for a bit. Still 5 and half years and 14 volumes is a good run and everyone who worked on it should be proud of their work.

Now we’re back to just one Yuri manga and there’s definitely room for more in the market. A number of my favorite manga artists are shifting back to doujinshi work. I hope someone will step up and start another Yuri magazine. I’m available, if they need help. ^_^





Kokome Futeiten Manga (ここめ不定点)

July 29th, 2014

When you pick up a manga by Takemoto Izumi, you can be sure of several things: The girls will be cute, the guys nice; the lead character will be odd, but charming, and; there will be cosplay, however thinly veiled the reason. The one thing you cannot be sure of is…a plot.

And so it is with Kokome Futeiten (ここめ不定点), a slice-of-life story set in a high school, starring Mugihatake Kokome, an unusually petite first-year, who is constantly mistaken for an elementary school student, and her friends Yukari, who looks positively adult next to Kokome, and the manga club president who actually is an elementary school age student in high school, Mimika.

Days pass quickly in this school, with many dress up scenes, visits to Comiket, and various club and school activities, as long as they afford opportunities for silly gags and cosplay. These include the spreading of memes and trends among the middle schoolers, the short-lived trend of calling Kokome “Kokome-sama”, and settling on “O-kome-chan,” and Kokome’s fame as a voice in the anime club’s hand-made anime.

Yuri pops up late in the manga when Mimika starts kissing her friends hello, apparently after the fashion of a classmate who is a Russian transfer student. Kokome looks forward to her kiss the next day and is bummed when Mimika says the teacher put the kibosh on the habit.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 5
Characters – 7
Yuri – 1
Service – 1

Overall – 7

There’s nothing here that you couldn’t show an 11-year old, but also it’d be a rare 11-year old that found it amusing….this kind of comic is the purview of adults looking back with sienna-tinted nostalgia on school life.





Yuri Network News (百合ネットワークニュース) – July 25, 2014

July 26th, 2014

YNN_MariKLots of stuff happening these convention days! If there’s a bunch of announcements later this weekend, I’ll do a follow-up post.

Sailor Moon News

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the new Sailor Moon anime as much as I have. ^_^ If you are, ANN mentioned the first new Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal Visual Book (美少女戦士セーラームーン Crystal 公式ファーストビジュアルブック) out from Toei Animation, and I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love the lyrics to the OP, Moon Pride (out on CD and Blu-Ray or CD only. I’m planning on/hoping to pick it up when I’m in Japan.) Here’s the Moon Pride music video/OP for your viewing pleasure.

San Diego Comic Con is in full swing this weekend and already we’re getting some Sailor Moon sign there, as well. Check out this Mary Sue report by Victoria McNally with all of the S.H. Figuarts Senshi figurines (except Pluto, since she’s not out yet)!

Speaking of which, the Sailor Uranus figurine is finally up for pre-order on Amazon. (Not yet on TRSI. I’ll get you that link as soon as I see it there.) It’s slated for release in January 2015. Sailor Neptune is expected in March 2015. Arrgh, so long to wait!

Viz is getting into the Sailor Moon swing of things, with a clip of the new, much improved, dub.

Don’t know if you’ve seen these, but there is a lovely line of Inner Senshi-themed accessory rings, as well. I sob at the thought of the amount of money I am going to spend in Japan this October.

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Yuri Manga

Comic Natalie reports that digital comic magazine Comic Meteor‘s Yuri comedy series Buchou ni Igen ha~, is coming to an end with Volume 3. ( Here are links for Volume 1 and Volume 2)

Seven Seas’ English edition of Gakuen Polizi, Volume 2 by Morinaga Milk-sensei is up for pre-order, with a long lead time before it’s April 2015 release date.

Kämpfer Volume 1 is also available now in the Kindle Store.

Quick reminder that Whispered Words, Volume 2 Pre-order is up on Amazon, not yet on TRSI, with a release date in November 2014. I can assure you that the quality is much improved from Volume 1.

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Random Things of Interest

More info on Japan’s most famous badass female warrior, Tomoe Gozen, with a nice collection of art and media.

A comic about gender roles that is basically exactly what I hear in my head. Thank you, Holly Robin, for expressing my confusion about people’s confusion.

Check out this series from The Mary Sue on “Princess” Tropes in media.

ANN has a link to the second Official Rose of Versailles Trivia Exam.

Heidi MacDonald has a really interesting discussion of women comic readers in the days before, during and after The Comics Code in The Secret of Comics History That People On The Internet Don’t Want You to Know!

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Live Action Yuri

Yet another girl group, Nogizaka46, has a long music video/short movie that has a light Yuri frisson. Here’s Muguchi na Lion (Silent Lion).

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That’s a wrap for this week! Become a Yuri Network Correspondent by sending me any Yuri-related news you find. Emails go to anilesbocon01 at hotmail dot com. Not to the comments here, please, or they might be forgotten or missed. There’s a reason for this madness. This way I know you are a real human, not Anonymous (which I do not encourage – stand by your words with your name!) and I can send you a YNN correspondent’s badge. Thanks to all of you – you make this a great Yuri Network!