Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Saturday, October 11, 2014

One Shot Manga's and 3 You Should Put in Your TBR Pile Now!

In the world of Manga, series are "the norm", with some series going on for 10 or more years with over 40 volumes. But do we really want to get involved with a series that's on book 35?! And do we always want to read a series? There is another choices of Manga called One Shots. One Shots are just that - one full complete story in one book. Usually, these One Shots start out in a Manga magazine, running 40 - 60 pages.  If the story proves popular, then it possibly will be turned into a series. There are many popular series that started out as One Shots such as Naruto, Bleach, and Death Note. If we are lucky enough, One Shots that are popular are published as a book and made available here in the States (for us Manga readers who don't read the Manga magazines). Here are 3 One Shots you should check out...

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno  ...What impact did World War II and the dropping of the atomic bomb have on the common people of Japan? Through the eyes of an average woman living in 1955, Japanese artist Fumiyo Kouno answers these questions. This award-winning manga appears in an English translation for the first time. Fumiyo Kouno's light, free style of drawing evokes a tender reflection of this difficult period in Hiroshima's postwar past. As the characters continue with everyday life, the shadow of the war and the atomic bombing linger ghostlike in the background. Kouno's beautiful storytelling touches the reader's heart but is never overly sentimental. A widely embraced best seller in Japan, where the work was also controversial, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is the winner of several prestigious awards including Grand Prize at the 8th Japan Media Arts Festival (2004), New Life Award at the 9th Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prizes (2005). Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is made up of interconnected short stories; the first is a love story entitled Town of Evening Calm; followed by the two-part story Country of Cherry Blossoms 

A story collection that is suppose to be and heart wrenching and thought provoking. Many good reviews and recommendations on this collection. I liked the artwork from what I sampled. It is expressive and flowing. It should be interesting how Fumiyo Kouno weaves the story of the present, or in the case of the first story, 10 years after the bomb, with the subtle reminders of the bomb just hovering in the background.

All My Darling Daughters by Fumi Yoshinaga ... From Goodreads: By the Eisner-winning author of Antique Bakery and Ôoku. R to L (Japanese Style). Yukiko, a salarywoman in her thirties, still lives with her mother Mari. But their relationship suffers a sudden change when Mari announces that she’s getting married—to an ex-host and aspiring actor who’s younger than Yukiko. Yukiko, convinced he’s out to fleece her mom, can’t stand to stay in the house and decides to move in with her boyfriend. Fumi Yoshinaga weaves together the lives of Yukiko, a thirty something salary woman, and her friends in five short stories, exploring the various relationships women have with all the skill and elegance she is known for.

I have read 2 of the 5 stories. The first story introduces us to Yukiko and Mari, and their relationship as mother and daughter. The story hit the mark with how mother/daughter relationships can be. The end of the story, the last panel, hit an emotional note that left me wanting more. Story 2 was strange to say the least. All the stories have the thread of Yukiko and story 2 is about an acquaintance who was the victim of sexual harassment with a strange twist. I'm hoping the stories return to Yukiko and her mother because Fumi Yoshinaga seems to be able to translate what can be a very complicated relationship into words and drawings that bleed understanding.

Sexy Voice and Robo by Iou Kuroda... She calls herself Sexy Voice. To most of the world, she's just Hayashi Niko, an ordinary schoolgirl - but when time permits, she lives a double life as a hired investigator/spy. To help her, she has recruited the rather unlikely assistant she calls Robo, a geeky lump of a man who doesn't really know why he feels the need to do everything she tells him to. He just does it. Together, the odd team solve a number of cases for Sexy Voice's employer, an aging gangster.

I read the first story in this One Shot Manga and just loved the smart dialogue and the story. The artwork is nice too, almost looking like woodcuts. It's a fun story, with Hayashi (Sexy Voice) having the skills to investigate because of her experience as a telephone operator (a.k.a. sex phone operator). She knows what makes people tick (very helpful in both her jobs). The first story introduces the 3 main characters, Sexy Voice, Robo, and the aging gangster, and lays the foundation of how they start to investigate cases together. Love this so far!

As we wrap up Manga Week on Chick with Books, I hope you've found some great reading. Manga can be fun & lighthearted or serious & thought-provoking. For me, it's an escape from what I normally read. And the silly outrageous stories I've found always make me smile. What makes you smile? Are you ready to try some Manga now?!

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