All posts by Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is the writer and reviewer for the manga blog, Manga Xanadu. She also keeps a personal blog at Fangirl Xanadu, and a writing blog at Muse of Xanadu. She contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. As the mother of two teen daughters, she needs all the escape she can get, which reading and writing about manga gives her.

Cross Stitch Geekery

While bouncing around Google, I stumbled on Anime Stitching, a site for cross stitch patterns for anime characters.  This site is dedicated to patterns of sprites, SD-like characterizations of anime characters that can be animated or static.  And they’re really cute!  If you’ve wanted to cross stitch actual, licensed manga characters, these fan created patterns are as close as you are going to get.

This site also has links to other sites that include patterns for other geeky interests such as video games and comics, and one site, by Littlemojo, has some great pokemon patterns and another site with some really nice Fullmetal Alchemist patterns.  I really liked the Hohenheim of the Light pattern.  The 1337xstitch site also has a forum for talking about works in progress and completed, as well as patterns you’re looking for.  These sites are some great resouces. Check them out!

Shonen Jump December 2009

SJ 84_largeThis issue of Shonen Jump is the preparation issue for the One Piece speed up.  Just like with the Naruto jumps, there is a dedicated section the gives short descriptions of the arcs to be covered in the volume releases.  That’s right.  I said arcs.  Unlike with Naruto, which could give summary of each of the volumes, One Piece has too many volumes coming out to cover them all, so they just described the arcs, what volumes they cover and what villains the Straw Hat Pirates would be facing.  There are 4 arcs to be covered, with the next arc, “Skypieda”, being 10 volumes long!  This is a whole lot to take in.  I really hope Viz knows what they’re doing and aren’t dooming One Piece.  This property, which should have been as big or even bigger than Naruto has been mishandled by so many, I really don’t want to see it happen any more.

Continue reading Shonen Jump December 2009

This Week in Manga 11/7-11/14/09

Do Comics Need Age Ratings?

I’ve already ranted and raved about the Kentucky library workers and their attempts at censorship.  But the comments on this article at The Beat goes into an interesting debate over a universal age rating for comics. While it’s brought up that no one is calling for age ratings for prose books (which I wouldn’t mind as a parent), comics and manga are a visual medium like movies, TV and video games.  Those all have rating systems, so why not comics?  I certainly wouldn’t mind one.  Even among manga, where there are age ratings, it’s far from universal, and could certainly do to be refined.  And as a parent, it would help to at least have an idea what the suggested age for books should be.  There have been times when I’ve looked at a title, and just couldn’t be sure if it was at appropriate for ages under 13 or not.  It wouldn’t hurt publishers to help out parents, since it’s their kids that will be their future audience.

Continue reading This Week in Manga 11/7-11/14/09

DIY E-Reader

Not sure you want a dedicated e-reader?  Can’t wait for the Asus E-reader?  Want more options in your e-book selection?  Like to tinker with computers and install your own software?  Well, there may be a way to do all these things and more!

Amazon, proving they’re in the e-book reader game more for the books that the hardware, has released the beta version of  software Kindle for PC.  Reviews have been mixed about it’s usefulness, and granted, it is still in beta, so there may be more changes in store for it.  But, for now, it allows you to sync with your kindle, view your kindle library (only the books you’ve bought though), and buy and read e-books from the Kindle store.

So, what’s the big deal?  The whole point of  the Kindle and other e-readers is to NOT be tied to a computer.  It’s to be light and portable.  But the Kindle device is very limited beyond reading the books they offer.  What if I want to surf the web, read RSS feeds and blogs for free, and have access to more than just what Amazon offers?  That’s where this article comes in!  Make your own E-reader.  You’re not really building anything, as it uses a PC tablet, a device that never really caught on as a PC, but as a portable web and e-book reader?  Yeah, I could go for that.  PC Tablets are plentiful on places like eBay, and there is a lot of open source software now that allows for reading practically any type of e-book format.  And with the addition of the Amazon Kindle for PC software, another door has been opened.  Tablets are lighter and easier to carry than a netbook, and have touch screens.  The screens are color too, so comics will look just as good as black and white manga.  It’s like they were made to be e-readers!

It’s hard to believe that just 2 years ago, the e-reader was a novelty, something only hard core techies would be interested in.  Now, the field is wide open with so many options, and more being announced every day.  While I don’t see e-readers as being the savior of newspapers or magazines, they certainly can’t hurt.  Especially as e-readers (and other similar devices) get more widespead acceptance.  And my shelf space would be grateful for the break.  All we need now are more publishers to make their books available digitally, so we can fill SD cards and hard drives with books just we do with music and movies.

It's Censorship

I don’t get upset about many things.  I tend to go with a “live and let live” policy.  If what you’re doing isn’t against the law, and isn’t hurting anyone, then as a rule, I don’t have a problem with it.  I may not agree with it, but I’m not going to tell you you can’t do it because I don’t like it.  But one of the things I have little tolerance for is censorship.

And that’s exactly what these two library workers colluded to do.  Cook can dislike League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier all she wants, but that DOES NOT give her the right to keep a book from circulation because she believes a child might find it.  It’s not her job to police the library and decide what’s proper for other people’s children to read.  It’s for the parents, and the parents ALONE.  The library makes this responsibility clear to parents when they sign for library cards for their children.  Cook challenged the book, as was her right, but acted like a sore loser when her challenge was denied and chose to keep the book to herself.  To protect the children. Who cares about any of the adult patrons who might be interested in the book.  They don’t have the right to the book either.  But:

Cook says that she never wanted the book taken off the shelves so adults couldn’t see it.

“I’m an adult. I do not want you telling me what I can read,” she says adamantly when you ask.

Can anyone else see the hypocrisy here?  She doesn’t get her way, so she takes the book herself.  Yeah, that’s a mature way to deal with the situation.  I’m glad Cook and her cohort got fired.  They violated everything that a public library stands for.  They imposed their own moral standards on the whole community, invaded a patrons privacy and conspired to keep a book out of circulation.  These are the WRONG people to have in an institution that is all about making books available to THE PUBLIC.  It is not their responsibility and especially NOT their right to decide what other people, or their children, can or can not read.

As for getting “their reputations back”, it’s too late.  They’ve already proved they can’t be trusted.  Cook has essentially stolen the book from the library as she is keeping it with no intention of returning it.  They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Well, these women have paved one long road.

Review: 07-Ghost Volume 1

07-Ghost Volume 1
By Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara
Publisher: Go! Comi
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Action
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

Teased unmercifully for his past as an orphan and a slave, Teito has only his best friend Mikage to ease his days to the elite Barsburg Academy – and his mastery of the magical art of zaiphon! But even that will not be enough to save him when he discovers a horrifying secret behind the ruling empire.  Trapped in an ancient battle between a wicked god and Seven Ghost, guided by three mysterious priests, Teito discovers a power that could save the world…and shed light on his own mysterious past.

A first read through 07-Ghost can leave you feeling confused. A lot of information and characters get thrown at you with little explanation of what’s going on, who anyone is, or why they are important.  This can leave a bad taste in your mouth if you’re not willing to let it sink in or give the book another read.  Of course, you shouldn’t have to for a book that isn’t heavy on plot.  But, if you give this title another chance, you’ll find and intriguing story and some really fun characters.

Continue reading Review: 07-Ghost Volume 1

This Week in Manga 10/31-11/6/09

Tokyopop Webinar staring Domo! (‘s creator)

Tokyopop’s Webinar was actually on 10/29/09, but posts about it didn’t go up until after 11/1/09.  Lissa at Kuri-osity has a quick rundown of the webinar and questions for Tsuneo Goda.  Deb Aoki of the About.Manga Blog has a full transcript.  If you want to know more about Domo, this is a must read.  I’m kind of disappointed that Domo isn’t interested in Global Domination.  He certainly couldn’t do worse than the leaders we’ve had lately.  And as my daughter would say, “He’s Domo!”

Continue reading This Week in Manga 10/31-11/6/09

Cute Pups

Cute Pups: Canine Friends and Accessories
By Chie Hayano
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Craft
Price: $14.95
Rating: ★★★★★

Even…More…Puppies!!!  It’s like “The Littlest Pet Shop” for adults!

Even though by nature I’m a cat person, I can’t resist a puppy.  They are just so cute and cuddly!  Vertical must know how irresistable puppies are, as they release their second craft book of little dog making: Cute Pups.

Continue reading Cute Pups

Review: Yokaiden Volume 1

Yokai…Japanese spirits.  Most people fear them, and a few people even hunt them, thinking they are horrible monsters to be destroyed at all costs.  But young Hamachi wants to be friends with them!  He sees them as mischievous creatures that could co-exist peacefully with humans if only given a chance.  When his grandmother dies under mysterious circumstances, Hamachi journeys into the Yokai realm.  Along the way, he encounters an ogre who punishes truant children, and angry water spirit, and a talking lantern.  Will Hamachi be able to find his grandmother’s killer, or will he be lost forever in another world?

Yokaiden Volume 1
By Nina Matsumoto
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: 13+
Genre: Supernatural/Humor
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★½☆

The plot of Yokaiden sounds very generic.  Orphaned hero goes off to another realm filled with monsters to avenge his grandmother’s death.  But Yokaiden turns out to be much more than it’s basic plot.  It’s a showcase for many of the strange and sometimes playful, sometimes dangerous creatures that make up Japanese folklore.  The interplay with these beings often overshadows the plot, and its clueless main character.

Hamachi is your typical happy, often oblivious protagonist.  Despite losing his parents at  young age, and being cared for by his harsh grandmother, he’s a good-natured and obedient boy.  He has a bit of a temper, but his anger is very short lived.  He gets angry at a Ronin Samurai who comes to the village to offer his services as a yokai killer, but just as quickly asks for forgiveness.  And I guess it could be determination to find his grandmother’s killer that he doesn’t really grieve for her death, other than a single outburst.  He really doesn’t have much of a personality outside of his yokai obsession.  I didn’t find him interesting at all, especially when compared to all the yokai he encounters.

It’s in his search to find the kappa he thinks could have killed his grandmother and the yokai realm that we get to see the wide range of yokai.  It’s these encounters that make up the high points of this volume.  Right after finding his grandmother dead, Hamachi runs in a Grime Licker and a Bean Washer.  Upon entering the forest where the entrance to the yokai realm is believed to be, he encounters all kinds of smaller yokai, such as the Shin-Rubber which trips people, and the Namahage, an ogre that skins the feet of delinquent children.  Inside, Hamachi first befriends a Tsukumo Gami, in the form of a paper lantern, is chased by a Chimera and meets another Tsukumo Gami, this time, a one-legged, one-eyed paper umbrella that has just come to life, and was once the property of Hamachi’s grandfather.  All of these encounters, and the short facts about them at the end of each chapter are what kept me interested in this volume.  Hamachi’s quest was just the vehicle to meeting all these interesting creatures.

Yokaiden isn’t a serious title.  There are touches of humor all through the volume, usually from Hamachi and his interactions with yokai. The kappa that he rescues at the beginning has some great sarcastic barbs that seem to go right over Hamachi’s head.  Many of the yokai he meets and tries to be friends with think he’s weird.  Little jokes are thrown in all over, such as Hamachi talking back to the narrator, or King Enma rising up with a portal to hell when Hamachi is looking for the portal to the yokai realm.  The villagers have their laughs too, such as the gossiping women who sound sympathetic to Hamachi’s hardships, but really don’t care, or the discussion the villagers get into about what kind of irony it is that Hamachi’s grandmother was killed by a yokai.

I liked Nina Matsumoto’s art.  It uses all the best elements from manga without going overboard.  There aren’t any chibis or sweat drops, but there are some starry looks, which aren’t so bad.  And the yokai all look great.  With so much variety, Matsumoto does a great job making them look different, not just from each other, but also from what we as westerners expect monsters to look like.

Overall, Yokaiden was a good time killer.  I loved seeing and reading about all the yokai, but the overall story of Hamachi and his quest to avenge his grandmother, not so much.  I didn’t really like the grandmother, and didn’t feel bad when she had died.  If you like yokai and enjoy a chuckle or two, then Yokaiden is worth the time.  If you’re looking for more than a light read, then this title isn’t for you.

Handcrafting Manga

I’m a very crafty person.  Starting when I was young, my mother taught me to embroider in order to keep me busy when I had to go with her to help by Great, Great Aunt who was blind and lived in a retirement home.  From there, I moved to knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, sewing and finally cross stitch.  I also love to cross my interests, so when Katherine Farmar asked on Twitter if anyone knew of a manga about knitting, it got me thinking.  Were there any crafty manga out there?

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This Week in Manga 10/24-10/30/09

It Sounded Like A Good Idea…

The announcement of Shojo Berry got a lot of people talking, and last week Deb Aoki of the Manga blog tried to get more info on it with an interview with Garett Boast.  Chris Butcher of the Comics 212 blog wasn’t impressed with what he heard.  Mainly he takes issue with the apparent lack of a business plan, or even any real forethought on the project.  Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing (NSFW) weighs in in the comments section, where there are some interesting comments about small publishing and licensing.  Personally, I still think it’s a worthy idea to per sue, but as a fan publication.  By fans, for fans.  Any thoughts of replacing Shojo Beat as a manga magazine a little too lofty I think.  But a homegrown mag with the articles and info that Shojo Beat provided with original manga by doujin/domestic creators would be worth the time and effort.  There’s nothing wrong with thinking big, as long as you start small.

Continue reading This Week in Manga 10/24-10/30/09