Archive for all posts in 2007


Aim High(er) Dept. 2007-12-28 16:10:33

I have a character I play intermittently in my Japan-themed RPG environment -- a Buddhist nun, tiny and blind and lame since birth, who memorized the Buddhist canon by hearing it read aloud to her.  She lives in self-imposed austerity,...

Eastbound Dept. 2007-12-28 02:19:32

One of the things that arrived shortly after I got back home from Christmas festivities was a book called Rice Bowl Women: Writings By And About The Women of China and Japan.  I confess that I cut right to the...

A Christmas Note 2007-12-26 19:49:07

Maureen Dowd's Op-Ed column in today's Times is about Christmas.Like many other people I'm dismayed at the way Christmas is always such a commercial enterprise in every respect -- if for no other reason than the way it is pushed...

Pay Up Dept. 2007-12-26 18:17:54

Here's a library in Queens that has an idea that will either have you applauding or recoiling: They refer library late fees to a collection agency. For bigger library systems that lend out things like musical scores and CDs, being...

X Mass Dept. 2007-12-26 01:40:22

I spent Christmas up at my in-laws' place, surrounded by some terrific people - most interesting of all being mom-in-law's deacon, one of those people who really does talk the talk and walk the walk.  We got to chatting and...

Rough Road Dept. 2007-12-22 19:43:56

A couple of friends had some bad news for me -- one disheartening, and the other catastrophic.  I won't go into either of them here, for the sake of privacy, but let's say they cast a serious pall over not...

HB2M Dept. 2007-12-19 05:50:09

I turned 36 today. The festivities were myself and the missus in NYC, meeting my parents for a really lavish lunch, and relaxing at home afterwards. Most of the actual gift-giving will probably happen around Christmastime (that's usually the case...

Kill Your Fandom Dept. 2007-12-18 07:03:06

I had a rather glum conversation earlier with a friend who was, with some reluctance but also no small sense of frustration, withdrawing from the anime club that he had given a good deal of time and attention to over...

Old Boy Vol. #8 2007-12-13 15:20:23

It’s over. The English-language translation of Old Boy, the manga that served as the inspiration for one of the best movies of recent years, has run its course at last. That said, the book and movie diverged broadly enough that...

Shinjuku Shark (Arimasa Osawa) 2007-12-13 04:58:44

There was a time when a record label—like Motown, Stax, or Atlantic—represented a certain taste and aesthetic that you couldn’t confuse with anyone else. Records were one major way this sort of thing surfaced, but books, too: an imprint like...

Tokyo Majin Volume 1: Dark Arts: Dragon 2007-12-13 01:35:37

I’m a pretty tough anime customer. I like it best when a show gets me to think a bit (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), or shows me something I’ve never seen before (Mushi-shi). But every now and then,...

Venus Versus Virus Volume 1: Outbreak 2007-12-13 01:34:33

I’ll start with the easy praise first: Venus Versus Virus is one of the best titles I’ve ever heard for an anime. VVV (see? it even abbreviates nicely!) is of course the animated adaptation of the manga series currently being...

Witchblade Vol. #2 2007-12-13 01:33:24

Shocked I was, to discover that the anime adaptation of Top Cow’s Witchblade was not junk at all (I was fearing the worst, honestly)—in fact, it was quite good. And I was pleased to see the second DVD of the...

The Wallflower: Lesson 1: My Fair Bishonen 2007-12-12 18:10:26

The Wallflower is the Satanic speed metal of shojo anime. It’s an exercise in gleefully wretched audience-assaulting excess on every possible front, just like one of director Shinichiro Watanabe’s most infamous earlier productions,Excel Saga. Then again, Excel Saga was adapted...

Mushi-shi Vol. #4 2007-12-12 18:09:23

How tempting it is to tell people to skip my review of Mushi-shi Vol. 4 and just urge them to go buy it. If you want to see the most thoughtful and beautiful anime out on the market right now,...

Hell Girl Vol. #2: Puddle 2007-12-12 18:08:38

The second volume of Hell Girl has started to correct, however tentatively, my biggest complaint about the series: they spent entirely too much time just running through the core premise of the show without expanding on it. Now that they’ve...

Guin Saga: The Seven Magi Graphic Novel 1 2007-12-12 15:27:42

I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma when it comes to The Seven Magi. Do I urge people to dive into this book now, or do I recommend they pick up at least the first book in the outstanding...

Gin Tama Vol. #3 2007-12-12 15:26:47

Sometimes you just can’t explain what makes you laugh. I’ve gone in circles trying to explain to people what it is about Gin Tama that kicks my funnybone harder than most anything else I’ve read lately, and in the end...

Gyo Vol. #2 2007-12-12 15:24:50

Across both volumes of Gyo I kept asking myself: Where on earth is Junji Ito leading us with all of this? The creator of Uzumaki had spun out one fascinating and hallucinatory (and often depraved) variation after another on his...

Uzumaki Vol. #3 2007-12-12 15:24:01

And now we come to the concluding volume of Uzumaki, which closes the series off with a boom and also gives us something remarkable for a horror story. It not only includes the usual generous amounts of terror and aghast...

Old Boy Vol. #7 2007-12-12 15:21:12

The seventh volume of Old Boy pushes us incredibly close to the secret of why the rich and powerful “Dojima” locked up the ordinary salaryman Goto for ten years. But you won’t get the answer just yet—the story’s been constructed...

Witchblade Vol. #1 2007-12-12 05:16:11

How’s this for a shock? Witchblade may well be one of the better anime I’ve seen this year. It’s not just a cash-in on a name property, but a story that works entirely on its own terms, and works very...

Special Summerworld End O' The Year Blowout Sale! 2007-11-28 14:24:38

My loss is your gain! I'm selling at a discount all my remaining in-house copies of Summerworld, signed by me, for $15 -- that's $5 off the usual price for a signed copy! I needed to do some winter cleaning...

Gunsmith Cats: Burst Vol. #2 2007-11-12 02:33:29

Now that I’ve finished with the second volume of the new adventures of Rally Vincent and Minnie-May Hopkins, I think I’ve finally worked out the filing category for Gunsmith Cats: Burst. “Manga that take place in the United States” was...

Black Sun, Silver Moon Vol. #1 2007-11-12 02:32:16

Gamers use the term nerfed to describe something that used to have impact but for whatever reason has been watered down. Black Sun, Silver Moon feels like a horror story that got nerfed—or maybe it’s a cute story with some...

The Guin Saga: Book One: The Leopard Mask [2nd ed.] 2007-11-12 02:30:38

I used to hate epic fantasy -- or rather, I hated what epic fantasy had devolved into: cynical assembly-line knock-offs of the Tolkien estate designed to sell a series, rather than any one book. The Wheel of Time cycle turned...

MPD-Psycho Volume 3 2007-11-12 02:29:34

I’ll probably grouse forever about the shady illogic that underpins the central premise of MPD Psycho, but I also know it’s not going away. Last time around I wrote about how the central character was being treated like a clown...

Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man Vol. #5 2007-11-12 02:28:31

And so at last we come to the fifth and final volume of Banya: The Explosive Deliveryman—although at this point we might as well call the series Banya: The Explosive Berserker. We’d started with a character who was instantly likeable...

Berserk Vol. #8 2007-11-12 02:27:16

Lady Anne: Villain, thou know’st no law of God nor man:No beast so fierce knows but a touch of pity.Gloucester: But I know none, and therefore am no beast.—Shakespeare, Richard III Those words were tailor-made to describe Griffith, possibly the...

MPD Psycho Vol. 2 2007-11-12 02:16:07

The second volume of MPD-Psycho does one thing right and another thing (still) somewhat wrong. On the good side, it tones down the often-gratuitous helpings of pathologically explicit gore that justified Dark Horse jacketing this gruesome little item in shrinkwrap...

Now You're One of Us (Asa Nonami) 2007-11-12 01:34:18

At first, Asa Nonami’s Now You’re One of Us ambles along like one of Yasujiro Ozu’s movies about Japanese home life, a drama of manners about marriage and extended families. Then it reveals its real subject by degrees—how a cult...

Glass Fleet -La Legende du Vent de L'Universe- Vol. #1 2007-11-11 23:00:49

The first episode of Glass Fleet throws so much at you, and explains so little of it, that I dreaded what else awaited me on that disc. It was like bolting a whole box of bonbons at once: space battles,...

Time 2007-11-11 21:55:58

Time is the latest film from Korea’s Ki-duk Kim, he of several genuinely great movies (The Isle and 3-Iron) and a few that aim for something that we can’t even see from here and miss completely (The Coast Guard and...

Dharma (Merzbow) 2007-11-11 17:28:10

Most people would probably find an unintentional laugh in me saying that some Merzbow albums are nowhere nearly as interesting as others. It does have the makings of a comedy sketch: you have someone listening to one long blur of...

Pumpkin Scissors Vol. #1: Honor and Blood 2007-11-11 06:07:04

With a title like Pumpkin Scissors, I half-expected some goofy puff pastry about kids pulling pranks at Halloween. The show is anything but, though—in fact, it’s one of the more intriguing new offerings for the end of 2007, a strong...

Hell Girl Vol. #1: Butterfly 2007-11-11 06:05:54

Ghostly urban legends are all the rage in Japan right now, and they tie nicely into that country’s general appetite for supernatural weirdness. The things that fascinate them are almost quaint compared to the kinds of urban legends that fly...

Paprika 2007-11-11 06:04:22

A grotesque parade of dolls, household appliances, and stuffed animals bustles through the city streets, turning everyone in its path into dream monsters. People dive in and out of paintings, billboards and movie screens. Girls sprout wings, only to be...

Mushi-shi Vol. #3 2007-11-11 05:58:39

I remained as spellbound during the third disc of Mushi-shi as I did for the first two. Isn’t it around this point in the lifecycle (as it were) of most any anime series that things begin to drop off? Not...

Bride of the Water God #1 2007-11-11 05:19:24

Bride of the Water God is the first sunjeong, or shojo-style comic from Korea, that I’ve read so far. What surprises me is not how different it is, but how familiar: if you’ve already had some exposure to the tropes...

Manga: The Complete Guide 2007-11-11 05:18:23

When I looked at an early galley draft of Manga: The Complete Guide earlier this year, I wrote “It promises to be just the sort of buying and critical guide that English-language manga readers need now, more than ever.” Now...

Hikaru no Go Vol. #11: Hikaru Vs. Ochi 2007-11-11 05:17:19

Once, when I lived in New York City, I watched two speed-chess players doing their thing a couple of tables down from me at the Wendy’s in Times Square. They set up their board and drilled their way through something...

Parasyte Graphic Novel 2 2007-11-11 05:17:09

It’s always a pleasure to pick up the second volume of a series you’ve had great expectations for and not feel like you’ve had the rug jerked out from under you. The first volume of Parasyte kicked off what promised...

DOA: Dead or Alive 2007-11-11 05:12:45

You could do a lot worse than DOA: Dead or Alive, believe me. Is it any good? No, not really. Is it fun? Yeah, sort of, in the splashy, stupid way the videogame it’s based on is also fun, and...

Live at InRoads (Borbetomagus) 2007-10-22 04:19:50

I have to admit, about half the time I’ve picked up a record just because the name of the band wouldn’t leave my head—and who can forget a name like Borbetomagus? Those of you who are historically-inclined will remember that...

Pre-NaNo Jitters 2007-10-17 23:16:36

Like many of you, I've signed up for NaNoWriMo 2007, and I'm already a bit fidgety about what's going to happen. And a lot of that is due to the fact that the story I'm planning, Vajra, is in some...

Scrap Heaven 2007-10-13 01:50:05

Scrap Heaven is one of those movies that should be more interesting than it actually is. It contains the kind of antisocial mayhem pioneered (if that’s the right word) in movies like Fight Club—and also, unfortunately, the same kind of...

The Woods 2007-10-11 01:28:44

The Woods sat around unreleased for three years, and I can see why. It’s one of those movies that earns the term lackluster, a word I generally avoid, but here it’s all too appropriate. There’s a premise just waiting to...

The Fountain 2007-10-10 22:27:27

Why, I asked myself as The Fountain unfolded, does this movie inspire more irritation and impatience from me than anything else? It should work; all the pieces are there. And yet somehow those pieces have not been deployed in ways...

Real/Fake Princess #2 2007-10-10 19:45:15

The second volume of Real/Fake Princess continues to deliver admirably on the premise set up in the first volume. What if you were secretly a member of the royal family in hiding, but when it came time to be reinstated...

Gyo #1 2007-10-10 19:41:18

Across both volumes of Gyo I kept asking myself: Where on earth is Junji Ito leading is with all of this? The creator of Uzumaki had spun out one fascinating and hallucinatory (and often depraved) variation after another on his...

Kurohime #2 2007-10-10 19:39:41

I find myself facing a bit of a dilemma with volume 2 of Kurohime. It’s essentially the same as the first volume in the series, and I suspect a lot of that is due to outside factors—for one, the comic...

Real/Fake Princess #1 2007-10-10 19:39:01

Here’s a historical romance that actually gives the genre a good name. I know some people reading this are automatically going to assume “historical romance” and “quality” don’t belong in the same sentence (let alone the same lexicon). Trust me,...

Lunar Legend Tsukihime #2 2007-10-10 19:38:18

Fight the monsters at your own peril, lest you become one. It’s an old adage, and a terribly true one, as Shiki Tohno has discovered in volume 2 of Lunar Legend Tsukihime. His power to destroy things and kill living...

Lunar Legend Tsukihime #3 2007-10-10 19:36:39

The third volume of Tsukihime brings Arcueid and Tohno back together for another round of wrestling with the supernatural. This time, it’s not vampires but zombies—or rather, zombie minions of sorts created by vampires from unsuspecting innocents. They’re not the...

Lunar Legend Tsukihime #4 2007-10-10 19:35:34

The fourth volume of Lunar Legend Tsukihime answers a few of the sticky questions that opened up in the previous volume, but it also leaves us with about as many new ones. The more we learn about Shiki Tohno and...

Real/Fake Princess #3 2007-10-10 19:33:43

I had a conversation with a friend earlier today about the way labels keep people from picking up things they might actually enjoy enormously. Historical romance is one of those labels—it’s a deal-killer for some people. And that’s a shame,...

Oldboy #5 2007-10-10 19:32:49

It’s not about the answers. It’s about how you ask the questions. That’s the feeling I get from Oldboy, and it becomes all the clearer with each passing volume. It’s not really about why the man who goes by the...

The Accidental Tourist 2007-10-10 18:35:46

Ever since his son’s murder in one of those random bits of violence that make gloomy headlines, Macon Leary (William Hurt) has been slowly dying inside. He won’t admit to it—he’s the sort of man who can bury himself...

The Yagyū Ninja Scrolls: Revenge of the Hori Clan Vol. #1 2007-10-10 15:52:14

I’ll start with a fact, one which will probably make no one reading this except me bounce up and down with joy: The Yagyū Ninja Scrolls is the newest of Del Rey’s offerings derived from the works of Fūtaro Yamada....

The Art of Naruto: Uzumaki 2007-10-10 15:50:42

Let me put people’s fears to rest as quickly as possible. Viz’s localization of Uzumaki: The Art of Naruto is at least as good as the Japanese edition of the same work—if not better by dint of being in English...

Hayate the Combat Butler Vol. #5 2007-10-10 15:49:24

A title like Hayate the Combat Butler just drips with promise, I tell you. I had images in my mind of a mustachioed, veddy British fellow with a tie and tails, fending off four-armed monsters when they have the temerity...

Uzumaki Vol. #2 (2nd Edition) 2007-10-10 05:32:25

The second volume of Uzumaki spirals outwards—sorry, I had to say it—from its original premise to encompass one truly bizarre extension of the “spiral curse” after another. Some of them have only the most tenuous connection to the basic concept—what...

Uzumaki Vol. #1 (2nd Edition) 2007-10-10 05:30:32

Junji Ito’s Uzumaki is the only horror manga I’ve read so far that had me doing double-takes at my surroundings for days after I was done with it. That reflects nicely on its ability to mess with people’s heads—which is,...

MW 2007-10-10 05:28:38

The other day I was trying to describe to someone how both prolific and talented Osamu Tezuka was, and for lack of any better way to express it I said, “He left behind masterpieces as freely as a tree gave...

Monster Vol. #5 2007-10-10 05:26:31

“You and your bookworm theories,” the killer growls to the forensic psychologist. “I’m telling you a real monster exists.” That monster’s name is Johan, and while he doesn’t appear once in the pages Monster Volume 5, he casts a shadow...

Real/Fake Princess Volume 4 2007-10-10 05:24:46

Never underestimate the power of a durable cliché. That goes double for romances, although I’m learning that in a few cases—as with Real/Fake Princess—if the cliché is done well, it’s perfectly enjoyable. Here we have the Girl (Zhi Li), who...

This Heat (This Heat) 2007-10-10 04:57:16

I’m fond of quoting Jacques Barzun’s statement about “experimental art”—that if one considers a certain work of art to be experimental, one must also concede that there is the possibility that the experiment has failed. I’ve since expanded my thinking...

Backtrackin' 2007-10-01 01:54:35

I spent last Saturday at WickedFaire Labyrinth, where I had a nice time selling my book and getting to know the folks in the adjoining booths. I ought to be back next year (come February) if my budget can manage...

Mushi-shi Vol. #1 2007-09-13 00:19:38

Most shows are about stuff like whether or not a given villain will be defeated, or whether or not the guy will get the girl. Mushi-shi takes place on a wholly different plane—it’s not about a hero or a violent...

Out and About Again! 2007-09-12 17:25:26

At the end of the month I'll be taking a quick jaunt into Jersey to be at Jeff Mach's Labyrinth (he and I are, like, tight from way back), and will be at the Author's Alcove with copies of Summerworld for all and...

Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society 2007-09-12 03:35:24

What a joy it is to see the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex mythology capped off so exuberantly and intelligently—at least, for now. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society (which has easily the longest...

The Guin Saga, Book Two: Warrior in the Wilderness (Kaoru Kurimoto) [HARDCOVER] 2007-09-10 03:32:27

Here’s where the going gets (slightly) grimmer. The second book in the Guin Saga series doesn’t quite have the same propulsive energy as the first, if only because it’s essentially a transitional story: it deals with what happens immediately after...

×××HOLiC Vol. #10 (CLAMP) 2007-09-10 03:26:01

The girls of CLAMP have been serving up a heady brew named ×××HOLiC (typically just pronounced “holic”) for some time now, and it’s one of those series that gets almost incredibly unfairly dismissed. First there’s the bizarre name—although you get...

Andromeda Stories Graphic Novel 1 (Keiko Takemiya) 2007-09-10 03:24:50

After the fascinating “shojo space opera” of To Terra… (also adapted into a TV series now licensed by Bandai Entertainment for us lucky folks in the West), Vertical Publishing picked up another of Keiko Takemiya’s works for English publication. Andromeda...

Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Vol. 3 (Kenichi Sonoda) 2007-09-10 03:22:26

Every time I crack the spine to another Gunsmith Cats omnibus collection (this is #3 out of 4), I end up with the same lopsided smile. Female bounty hunters, prostitutes turned explosives experts, drivers-for-hire, criminals, cops, and assorted underworld scum—it’s...

Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White: All in One (Taiyo Matsumoto) 2007-09-10 03:01:32

It’s difficult to write about Tekkonkinkreet: Black and White without explicitly comparing it to the movie that it inspired. I was actually worried the book might not measure up, since Tekkonkinkreet so far outpaced any other animated production I’ve seen...

The Guin Saga, Book Three: The Battle of Nospherus (Kaoru Kurimoto) [HARDCOVER] 2007-09-10 01:58:27

Now this is a bit more like it, although I’m starting to see how even a series that runs to maybe fifty thousand words a book could withstand a bit of editing. The third book in the ongoing Guin Saga,...

Kurohime #1 2007-09-09 23:37:37

The diabolically sexy anti-heroine of Kurohime leers out at us from the cover of volume one, skintight outfit stretched over acres of curves. Then you open the book and find out she spends most of her time looking absolutely nothing...

Gin Tama Vol. #2 2007-09-09 23:35:44

The second volume of Gin Tama cracked me up in a way that hadn’t happened since, well, the first volume of Gin Tama. I chalk this up to GT being a truly whacked-out original; it’s got the goony glee of...

Muhyo & Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation Vol. #1 2007-09-09 23:34:45

Muhyo and Roji couldn’t be a more mismatched pair. Roji is a tall, light-haired fellow with the minimal skill set and the can-do attitude of many a shonen hero. Muhyo’s a short, morbidly-grinning little imp who looks like a chibi...

Claymore Vol. 10 2007-09-09 23:33:49

Norihiro Yagi’s Claymore’s been dismissed as “Berserk lite,” but I don’t think that’s a fair description of what is one of the better new manga I’ve come across lately. It’s got some of the same elements of Berserk—a medieval setting...

Naruto Vol. 18 2007-09-09 23:33:03

Even a “slow” volume of Naruto is still a good one. The amount of action in Volume 18 is relatively minimal compared to the last time we checked in, but that only allows the other things that are so good...

Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man Vol. #3 2007-09-09 21:18:36

What a day. One minute Banya’s being chased by toothy sandworms that eat anything slightly more tasty than rocks, and the next he’s slathering himself in dragon droppings to keep from being sniffed out by yet another kind of monster....

The Mystery of Rampo 2007-09-09 17:52:15

The Mystery of Rampo is a rare creature: a truly original movie, blessed with a fearless imagination and a delirious visual style. It helps somewhat to know from where the film has mined its imagery and inspirations, but I don’t...

Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man Vol. #4 2007-09-09 17:09:08

For its first three or so volumes, Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man had set up a good, regular groove, and seemed to be thriving in it. The premise was nifty and creative: Postal worker in grim, vaguely post-apocalyptic setting braves...

Oldboy Vol. #4 2007-09-09 17:07:39

So why would someone kidnap a total stranger off the street, lock him in a custom prison cell for ten years for no apparent reason, and then just as blithely let him back out again? The fourth volume of Oldboy...

Berserk Vol. #7 2007-09-09 15:24:14

There’s what we do, and then there’s what we say we do. It’s all too easy to say you didn’t do something out of guilt or foolish pride, when the things you have done speak far louder. No one, not...

Vampire Hunter D: Mysterious Journey to the North Sea, Part Two (Hideyuki Kikuchi) 2007-09-09 05:36:20

When I received the first installment of Mysterious Journey to the North Sea, I had to wonder: How would the nominally fleet-on-its-feet Vampire Hunter D deal with suddenly having twice as much room to tell its story? This is a...

Boy (Takeshi Kitano) 2007-09-09 05:11:44

Terms like genius and renaissance man get thrown around so casually these days, it’s a bit of a shock to run into the real thing. I’m hard-pressed to think of a better example offhand than Takeshi Kitano, the Japanese multi-hyphenate—writer,...

Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy TV Series Season 2 Volume 1: Everyone has Wings 2007-09-09 05:09:41

The second season of the Ah! My Goddess TV series is a little like having a reunion with an old friend who hasn’t changed at all over the years. You won’t get any real surprises, but you also won’t be...

Mushi-shi Vol. #2 2007-09-09 05:08:16

The second volume of Mushi-shi continues the same magical atmosphere conjured up so wonderfully on the first disc, and that atmosphere was a big part of the reason for watching this show in the first place. And now that the...

Tekkonkinkreet 2007-09-09 05:01:11

And once again I run the risk of devolving into blathering fandom. Tekkonkinkreet is the sort of thing where you set any and all criticism aside and just let the movie happen to you. If every anime was this visually...

Red Garden Vol. #1: Live to Kill 2007-09-07 19:48:01

You have no idea how many gaskets I popped—out of sheer jealousy—when Adam Beck, that lucky dog, got to review Black Lagoon #1 for AMN Anime. Not just because the series kicks about sixteen hectares of butt, that’s a given,...

Our Triumphant Return! 2007-09-04 23:14:56

I'm back from AnimeFest, which was wonderful (here's the full rundown), and sold quite a few of the copies of Summerworld I got in stock before I left! To that end, we've got about half left of what I originally...

Out in Public! 2007-08-31 17:12:31

I'm at AnimeFest this week, with copies of Summerworld in tow along with print copies of the four-chapter samplers. In fact, I've already sold copies of the book and the sampler right as I was posting this! (Check my main...

6 x 9 Is Here! 2007-08-23 22:53:09

The new 6 x 9 edition of Summerworld is in stock! However -- don't expect to be able to buy signed copies from me until after AnimeFest! In the meantime, you can always get them direct......

6 x 9 Version Now On Sale! 2007-08-22 04:36:37

The new 6 x 9 edition of Summerworld is available now for direct purchase! We still have a couple of copies of the older 4 x 6 paperback -- grab one before they're gone forever!...

Limited Edition's Limits 2007-08-19 00:50:19

My current printing of Summerworld is almost completely sold out once again.  We have only two copies left in stock!  What's more, when these copies are gone, this printing will be deleted forever. That's right -- after this, we're going...

Blade of the Immortal Vol. #1: Blood of a Thousand 2007-08-09 04:09:06

The problem with being immortal is that it’s a package deal from hell. Yes, you get to live forever, but it usually comes at a drastic cost—like, for instance, the fact that while you might get to live forever, anyone...

Avalon (Roxy Music) 2007-08-09 03:47:08

The total number of records I have in my collection that I can play straight through without skipping tracks, I could probably count on one hand. Godflesh’s Pure; maybe one of Keiji Haino’s live sets. Yoko Kanno’s Ghost in the...

The Host 2007-08-09 00:03:24

The Host is another great example of what I love most about Korean movies: it’s a creature-feature, a family drama, a snotty satire and a thrill ride, all at the same time. It’s hard enough to make a movie in...

Tanpenshu Vol. #1 2007-08-08 23:45:15

"You should buy this book immediately. If necessary, you should also spend the cab fare needed to get to the nearest bookstore. You should do this because this is a book that knows perfectly well that you are seething inside."...

Kaze Hikaru Vol. #6 2007-08-08 23:44:44

It’s always an interesting experience to see Japanese history treated in manga form—in fact, a fairly major subgenre of manga there (which hasn’t seen much in the way of translation here) are retellings of history from as far back as...

Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man Vol. #2 2007-08-08 23:44:09

The current crop of reviews for The Bourne Ultimatum describe it as one big non-stop chase scene. That’s kind of how Banya: the Explosive Deliveryman plays out, too. Take our hero (Banya, the “Postman of the Wasteland”), give him a...

Kekkaishi Vol. #9 2007-08-08 23:43:41

Volume 9 of Kekkaishi confirmed what I’d suspected before: what we have here is a good series that feels like a hybrid of tropes from Bleach and Naruto, and falls somewhat short of both of them. It doesn’t stand far...

Hoshin Engi Vol. #2 2007-08-08 23:43:15

The second volume of Hoshin Engi continues everything that got started in the first volume: a fast-moving and wildly colorful story based, however loosely, on a Ming-era Chinese classic novel. There’s been any number of manga adaptations of classic Chinese...

Monster Vol. #4 2007-08-08 23:42:35

Early on in volume four of Monster, Dr. Tenma pulls a gun on a bar full of neo-Nazi skinheads and growls, “Watch it, I have enough bullets for all of you”—not long after he’s threatened to shove a ballpoint pen...

Oldboy Vol. #3 2007-08-08 23:42:05

When my fellow reviewer Michael Bartholow looked at the first two volumes of the Oldboy manga, he gave it fairly low marks but admitted that it was mostly due to the movie just being far more to his taste. I...

Berserk Vol. #6 2007-08-08 23:39:44

“Tell me—do I need a reason each time I put myself in harm’s way for your sake?” The sixth volume of Berserk opens with those words, spoken by Griffith—words startling to Guts in the extreme since he’s never had anyone...

Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Vol. #2 2007-08-08 23:38:43

It’s amazing how educational some manga can be. By the time I finished the second volume ofGunsmith Cats: Revised Edition, I knew how to take out an antitank gun (aim for the ammo box), outfox a police roadblock at the...

if.... 2007-08-08 20:50:38

Most people get it all wrong. if.... is not a story about a British boy’s school that begins with conformity and ends in anarchy, because the anarchy was always there in plain sight. It’s just slipped in so casually at...

The Art of Yasushi Suzuki (Yasushi Suzuki) 2007-08-08 20:06:45

The name Yasushi Suzuki probably doesn’t ring a bell with you yet, but if The Art of Yasushi Suzukiis any kind of harbinger, he’s bound to become a household name before long. Nominally a concept designer for video games (he’s...

Space Pinchy (Tony Takezaki) 2007-08-08 17:07:30

Calling Space Pinchy a guilty pleasure would be a grand disservice to all the guilty pleasures I’ve ever known. It’s awesomely, condescendingly dumb—I felt my brain cells leaping to their deaths by the millions as I turned the pages. It...

Berserk Vol. #5 2007-08-08 16:28:12

“Man wields the sword so that he might die smiling.” Those words cover most of one page in the fifth volume of Berserk, right as the heroes of the story—Guts, Griffith, Casca, and the rest of the Hawks—all prepare to...

The Guin Saga, Book One: The Leopard Mask (Kaoru Kurimoto) [HARDCOVER] 2007-08-08 04:44:51

The first copy I bought of The Guin Saga, Book One: The Leopard Mask ended up in the garbage, but not because it deserved to be there: the copy I’d ended up with somehow had a good chunk of the...

Low-Stocked! 2007-08-06 15:51:02

Signed copies of Summerworld are in very limited supply!  They have been going fast since they came back in stock. Also, this is the last printing of the priced-down version.  After this, I will be issuing a new trade paperback...

Restocked! 2007-07-28 04:36:57

Signed copies of Summerworld are back in stock! Go get 'em!...

Fresh Supply... 2007-07-10 03:30:21

I know it's been a bit since I had any news, but here's what I've got. First of all, a HUGE thank you to Gloria Oliver for her feedback and support -- she's a massively talented writer herself and deserves...

Pan's Labyrinth 2007-07-08 01:11:46

The fairy tales of yore were not sanitized little moral fables, but stories of dread and blood and fire. People have described Pan’s Labyrinth as “a fairytale for grown-ups”, and they are right in more ways than one. Yes, it’s...

Mark Pistel 2007-07-07 21:15:54

You’ve probably had this happen a few times: you hear a song by an artist you’ve not heard much of (if anything); you buy the record the song is on; you get disappointed and throw the album back into the...

Kinamand (Chinaman) 2007-07-07 20:36:11

The plumber Keld has been sweating joints and replacing U-traps for decades, approaching his job in the same unthinking, plodding manner as his 25-year marriage. When his wife Rie (Charlotte Fich) can’t even draw his attention to a cruise brochure,...

Berserk Vol. #4 2007-07-07 16:29:42

Here begins the greatest section in what is one of the greatest manga yet created—the story of how Guts, the Black Swordsman, came to be the man we were introduced to in volumes 1, 2 and 3 ofBerserk. This arc,...

Apollo's Song 2007-07-07 14:52:35

Most people think of an erotic story as something with explicit sex, or at least a great deal of skin. Apollo’s Song rarely shows anything more than a deep kiss (although it has plenty of skin)—but it’s one of the...

Kiki's Delivery Service (Eiko Kadono) 2007-07-07 04:58:32

The very first book I remember reading on my own was James and the Giant Peach, and according to my mother, she read me the first few chapters and I simply took it from there on my own. If a...

Gin Tama Vol. #1 2007-07-07 04:23:54

Gin’s a sleepy-eyed fellow with a shock of silver hair and a mouth that looks like it was designed to say nothing but insults, which is not far from the truth. The occupation on his business card reads Odd Jobs,...

While Supplies Last 2007-06-08 14:42:42

I'm down to my last two copies, in-house, of Summerworld.  When these are out there will be a delay of at least a couple of weeks while I order more. One thing I learned: selling the books directly barely puts...

Ashura 2007-06-07 03:03:17

Finally, a live-action fantasy from Japan that doesn’t look better on the back of the DVD box than it does on the screen! That was the problem with Shinobi and Azumi, which looked great in theory but were terribly leaden...

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On 2007-06-07 01:46:58

The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On belongs in the same category as movies like Gates of Heaven and The Thin Blue Line—a true story that is so staggering in its details that you would never be believed if you...

The Last King of Scotland 2007-06-07 01:41:00

“My son Campbell would love that T-shirt,” says the Ugandan military dictator to the Scottish doctor. So begins as unlikely relationship as any that could be dreamed up between Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a young and whey-faced fellow who...

Sansho the Bailiff 2007-06-06 20:35:59

Here is another of Japan’s loveliest and most sorrowful of films, restored to life and freed from the patina of decades of damage that hid its beauty. Sansho the Bailiff was one of the first Japanese movies I rented as...

Berserk Vol. #3 2007-06-06 16:30:52

Volume 3 of Berserk is the end of the beginning of Kenta Miura’s self-professed life’s work—the final installment in our introduction to Guts, the first true delineation of the universe he inhabits, and the first chapter of the next part...

Merzbuddha (Merzbow) 2007-06-06 04:07:28

I’ve long felt that the big difference between Merzbow and almost every other “noise artist”, whether from Japan or anywhere else, was that Merzbow was at least as interested in the art as he was the noise. Sure, you can...

Back on the Ground! 2007-06-04 05:34:34

A-KON was a blast!  The release party for Summerworld ended up being very small -- I only sold a few copies -- but the "ashcan" version (the four-chapter sampler) blew off the shelf, and this also means I now have...

Hot Off the Press 2007-05-29 22:29:01

My first printing of Summerworld has arrived!  And it looks great! Most of these will probably vanish when I sell them at A-KON, but I'll keep people posted on how many I have left when I get back.  If you...

Summerworld Is Out Now! 2007-05-21 00:14:50

The first printing of Summerworld has been released to the public! This first printing, which is only being made available through Lulu.com, does not yet have an ISBN or other retail-ready sales features; it's a direct-sales edition only.  However, later...

Proof Copy, 2nd Try 2007-05-17 21:40:12

The second proof copy of Summerworld arrived.  Everything's perfect! The book goes out to the printers tomorrow night come hell of high water. Look forward to seeing some kind of official availability announcement here befoe the end of the month....

Dreamtime Cinema and Late-Breaking Updates 2007-05-14 19:38:28

Last time I posted here, the book was finished, and anticipation was running very high.  Here's what's happened since. The proof copies of the book have come back from the printers, but there are serious issues with the internal formatting. ...

Performance 2007-05-06 03:48:49

Performance is much ado about too little. It engendered a massive scandal at the time it was made, due to a lot of onscreen decadence which is mostly tame today; Warner Brothers panicked when they saw it and more...

Waves: Two Short Novels (Masuji Ibuse) 2007-05-06 03:12:28

Masuji Ibuse is not one of Japan’s better known writers in the West, which is another way of saying that a country’s greatest literary treasures often remain too long undiscovered and underappreciated from the outside. He was responsible for one...

The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai 2007-05-06 01:43:06

The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai doesn’t seem to know when it has it good. It starts off promisingly, and then gets sidetracked in things that are so much less interesting than its original premise—and, worst of all, aren’t particularly...

Gunsmith Cats: Burst Vol. #1 (Kenichi Sonoda) 2007-05-06 01:37:10

There’s something weirdly fascinating about seeing any manga set not in Japan or in some fantasyland, but in the United States. Granted,Gunsmith Cats isn’t meant to be remotely serious, of course. The story is half gun-happy action movie, half modern-day...

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Volume 2: Revenge of the Cold Machines 2007-05-06 01:35:51

The second Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex book is actually a collection of three novellas, or maybe lengthy short stories. As with the other GITS:SAC novels (The Lost Memory and White Maze), any one of these could have...

Dora-heita 2007-05-05 22:28:22

Dora-heita wastes two things, both hard to come by: a potentially great story and a truly great performance. The truly great performance is by Kōji Yakusho, one of Japan’s most dependable male actors, nominally called upon by director Kiyoshi Kurosawa...

Berserk Vol. #2 2007-05-05 16:31:59

The second volume of Berserk does three things at once, all of them well. It pushes us farther into the plot that was tentatively established in the first volume; it establishes a key component of the Berserk mythology, and it...

Vampire Hunter D: Mysterious Journey to the North Sea, Pt. 1 (Hideyuki Kikuchi) 2007-05-05 15:35:07

With the English-language release of Mysterious Journey to the North Sea (originally written in 1988), the Vampire Hunter D series begins to get that much more ambitious. And, I have to admit, I had mixed feelings: the VHD series worked...

Children of Men 2007-05-05 06:24:42

Children of Men gives you such a total experience of a hellish future that it almost forgets to tell a story about it. Maybe, in a way, a story would just be a distraction from the real purpose of the...

Train Man (Densha Otoko) 2007-05-05 04:37:05

Here’s the kind of movie that’s meant to be goofy and charming, and would be more so if they hadn’t worked so hard to make it that way. It’s a movie adaptation of a novel, which was itself a “based...

Dark Spring (Unica Zürn) 2007-05-05 04:19:50

One of the things that always troubled me about the fascination with madness and the intertwined eroticism and death that always pervaded the Romantic and Surrealistic sensibilities was that they were almost always expressed by people who seemed to be...

Milestone Day 2007-05-03 23:13:03

As of today, Summerworld is complete!  The draft has been edited all the way through twice by yours truly.  I am happy to say that it is everything that I hoped it would be, and then some. So what's next? ...

Grass Labyrinth 2007-04-17 03:26:44

Shuji Terayama is one of many Japanese filmmakers who remains almost wholly unrepresented in the West, much to our detriment. He created both experimental and “mainstream” cinema, the former best known through movies like Throw Away Your Books, Let’s...

Half Machine Lip Moves (Chrome) 2007-04-05 02:23:51

Funny how the most passing, inconsequential mention of a band can inspire the most ferocious curiosity on my part. In 1991 I’d picked up the then-new CD reissue of the first two Suicide albums, and after not being able to...

Limbo 2007-04-04 22:19:52

John Sayles’s Limbo begins in a place that for many people would be the middle of nowhere—Port Henry, Alaska—and ends as literally as possible in the middle of nowhere, the better to live up to its themes. If you have...

Moon over Tao 2007-04-04 21:42:54

Moon over Tao is one of those movies where the idea should have yielded something really awesome, but what they ended up with was only okay. It’s one of a very small number of “hybrid fantasy” movies from Japan, where...

No Longer Human (Osamu Dazai) 2007-04-04 18:26:46

In the fifteen or so years that I’ve been reading literature from Japan, there are maybe two or three books from that whole oeuvre that I’ve come back to again and again and discovered more in each time. One was...

Berserk Vol. #1 2007-04-04 16:32:59

There was once a movie called The Wild Bunch, a Western that did what no other Western before it had done: it made the West look like a horrible and violent place, not a breeding ground for heroes or men...

The King of Fighters 2003: The Comic, Volume 1 2007-04-04 16:31:56

Tie-ins—comics created as an adjunct to a video game or a movie—are typically for fans only. One such example: The King of Fighters 2003: The Comic is absolutely and unabashedly for the fans of the game—a vehicle for SNK’s characters...

Tun-Huang (Yasushi Inoue) 2007-04-04 04:41:00

How is it that a gigantic hoard of Buddhist literature came to be concealed in the Thousand Buddha Caves near Tun-Huang, in the northwest of China, and remained undiscovered for almost a thousand years? The explanation provided by Tun-Huang is...

The Edukators 2007-04-04 04:25:41

The premise for The Edukators made me cringe, I admit it: Three young anti-globalist agitators make a name for themselves by breaking into rich people’s houses, rearranging the furniture, and leaving notes like “YOUR DAYS OF PLENTY ARE NUMBERED.”...

Progress report! 2007-03-28 18:25:47

I got past the roughly 40% mark in the 2nd round of Summerworld edits last night.  (The first round was entirely on paper; the 2nd is my collected on-paper edits plus cleaning up the draft directly.)  I'm actually fairly far...

Casino Royale 2007-03-22 05:23:07

This is the Bond movie they should have made all along. Casino Royale brings the James Bond franchise to where it always needed to be; it's to Bond what Batman Begins (or perhaps Batman: Year One) was to that comic-book...

Round 1 of edits is complete! 2007-03-17 22:18:20

Earlier today I finished the first round of edits on Summerworld -- correcting typos, grammar, etc., but also making extensive notes for the second draft.  That I will begin working on in the coming week, and ideally it should be...

Welcome to Summerworld! 2007-03-06 19:55:20

Well, it's finally up and running - the official website for Summerworld, my most recent work of fiction (and a National Novel Writing Month 2006 winner, but that's scarcely the most important thing about it). The site is in something...

Kaidohmaru 2007-03-04 04:40:57

Before there was Otogi-zoshi, there was Kaidohmaru, a 50-minute feature that is to the longer series what Kurosawa’s Kagemusha was to his later Ran: a “dress rehearsal” of sorts. Both Otogi-zoshi and Kaidohmaru hail from the same animation house (the...

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs 2007-03-04 03:39:02

There is a moment near the end of When a Woman Ascends the Stairs when the main character, Keiko (Hideko Takamine), a Tokyo bar hostess, is asked if she loves someone, and her response is: “I neither love him nor...

Pure (Godflesh) 2007-03-03 23:23:29

Someone once said that trying to write a criticism of a favorite thing is a little like assembling a rational explanation of why you love your wife. That’s the central problem of criticism: you’re trying to find logical, dispassionate ways...

Baian the Assassin 2007-03-03 19:09:37

Baian the Assassin is an above-average example of the sort of TV fare that’s popular in Japan but not an animated production, which is what most American audiences are used to as far as such Japanese imports go. It’s...

Pretty Maniacs, Vol. 1 (Shinsuke Kurahashi) 2007-03-03 17:16:04

Despite what most people here might think, not everyone in Japan’s a manga fan. Or at least they’re not fans to the extent that somepeople are fans—it’s a little like the difference between a casual TV watcher and a die-hard...

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: White Maze (Junichi Fujisaku) 2007-03-03 17:15:14

So what’s the future really going to be like? If you ask me, it’s going to be exactly what we have right now—and, at the same time, nothing like what we have right now. When Roger Ebert reviewed Blade Runner,...

To Terra ... Vol. 1 (Keiko Takemiya) 2007-03-03 17:13:17

Shojo manga’s a growing market right now, and one of the nice side effects of that boom is how we’re starting to see comics that might otherwise never have shown up domestically. I’m still waiting for a domestic edition of...

Rainbow Kids 2007-02-03 04:37:40

Rainbow Kids, directed by Kihachi Okamoto, is one of those movies that sounds like it can’t miss, but for some reason it does. It’s a Japanese version of a plot we’ve seen a few times: a gang of kidnappers...

The Red Spectacles 2007-02-03 03:18:20

The Red Spectacles is a little like what you might get if you took a screenplay for one of Jean-Pierre Melville’s movies (Le Samouraï) and gave it to F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu). That doesn’t mean it’s any good, though. Here, the...

Harmagedon (Genma Taisen) 2007-02-02 23:03:27

Harmagedon is an endearing combination of massive ambitions and goofy end results. It’s grand in scope, full of wonder, and thoroughly over-the-top, all of which are things I can admire on the right day. To some people it’ll come off...

Last Quarter 2007-02-02 21:44:47

Well, it sure looks good. That’s what I kept saying to myself throughout Last Quarter: it’s a lush, digitally-photographed movie that’s been art-directed and lit to within an inch of its life. And since it stars the gorgeously androgynous J-rocker...

Merzbeat (Merzbow) 2007-02-02 20:16:46

You might not ever have guessed it from listening to most of his records, but Masami Akita, a/k/a, Merzbow, harbors a love of jazz and progressive rock that comes out through his own music in the oddest ways. Before he...

3 (Final) 2007-02-02 19:17:08

In the entire time I’ve been following Justin Broadrick’s career, he alone has assumed as many side-project identities as each member of any given band have released solo albums. Nominally, Broadrick is known for his longstanding band Godflesh (about which...

Blind Beast Vs. Killer Dwarf 2007-01-29 20:39:41

There's little that's more frustrating than a great idea badly executed.The great idea in this case is to take two tales of horror and mystery by Japan's venerable author Edogawa Rampo and fuse them into one film: Blind Beast andKiller...

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust 2007-01-02 04:18:40

Now here’s something I would never have expected: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, the animated movie version of one of the lesser novels in the Vampire Hunter D series, is not only better than the original book but in some ways...

Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims 2007-01-02 04:16:59

I’m not sure whether to review a movie like this or explain it. Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims, an outré genre-busting comedy from Japan, gets most of its yuks by turning samurai movie conventions upside-down and inside-out, and then...

Black Lizard / Beast in the Shadows (Edogawa Rampo) 2007-01-02 03:58:41

When Kōji Suzuki’s novel Ring, the basis for whole franchises of movies on both side of the Pacific, was published in English not long ago, I commented to a friend that English-speaking audiences are now finally seeing the literary side...

Vampire Hunter D: Pilgrimage of the Sacred and the Profane (Hideyuki Kikuchi) 2007-01-02 03:42:47

Pilgrimage of the Sacred and Profane is the Vampire Hunter D novel I was hoping to read since this series got started. It takes all the best elements of the series as a whole—the otherworldly / futuristic setting, the grotesques...

Message at the Depth (DJ Krush) 2007-01-01 21:59:57

Slowly, although probably a good deal more slowly than I’d like, a good deal of genuinely excellent Japanese popular music is making headway outside of Japan. This doesn’t just include “J-prefix” (i.e., J-rock, J-pop) talents like T.M. Revolution and Puffy...

The Kouga Ninja Scrolls (Futaro Yamada) 2007-01-01 05:29:06

More than anyone else I could name, Futaro Yamada is responsible for the fantasy mythology of the ninja as expressed in popular culture. Certainly more than anyone else who has yet been translated into English, and now that The Kouga...

Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Edogawa Rampo) 2007-01-01 05:07:06

A man who builds himself a chair inside which he hides, the better to seduce a woman without her ever knowing it; a man who commits the “perfect” crime and discovers all too late he’s been a little too perfect...

See previous posts from 2006

See future posts from 2008