Another Year Has Come and Gone

PresentsIt’s hard to believe, but this week marks Manga Xanadu’s second anniversary.  I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my posts from the last year.  I set myself a schedule of 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday & Friday, and with the addition of the This Week In Manga, one on the weekends, and have actually kept with it!  I’m rather proud of that.  It can be hard to be consistent, especially with RL and other commitments.  But, I’ve done my best and I hope you’ve been able to take away something from all my random ranting.

Over the past year, I think I’ve fallen behind on reviews for this site, concentrating on more commentary.  E-books and related technology have gotten a lot of coverage and remain among my most popular hits from search engines.  I will continue to cover this ever-evolving topic.  There is a definite future in e-books, one we shouldn’t ignore.  Searches for All Ages books have also remained high on the list.  Hopefully more teachers, librarians and parents are looking at manga as another avenue to get kids reading.  Manga is still misunderstood, and people still need to be educated about it.  Libraries have been under fire, especially in the last few months.  They need our support, and I am more than happy to give them any and all I can.

There have been some changes to the site, though no major overhauls.  I’ve started to add more personal things to the site, with my personal twitter feed and my other hobby, cross-stitch.  I may be adding some non-manga reviews int he future as my reading of audio books expands, as does my desire to share the good ones.

I’ve been keeping up with my other projects, Manga Village and Good Comics for Kids, surprisingly.  But it helps to work with a great group of people, which I do at both.  Having gotten into a good groove, I hope to continue with it, and that you’ll continue with me.

2009 Manga Gift Guide

After the NYT posted a graphic novel gift list now with manga on it, David Welsh sent out a call to action on Twitter, for manga gift guides.  This is my response to that call.   I’ve decided to put together a manga gift guide for 10 different possible types of people in your life.  I really could have kept going with this list.  There are so many good titles to recommend, but I’ll leave those to my fellow bloggers who also answered the call.

Continue reading 2009 Manga Gift Guide

Review: 07-Ghost Volume 2

07-Ghost Volume 2
By Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara
Publisher: Go! Comi
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

Teito Klein, inheritor of the Eye of Mikhail, has found refuge from the military in the Sanctuary of the Barsburg Church.  But dark forces are conspiring to return Teito to the ruthless hands of Chief Ayanami, the manga who killed his father, when Teito’s best and only friend arrives at the church under suspicious circumstances, Teito warmly embraces him, only to discover to his horror that Mikage has been turned into a tool of the military, and is bent on capturing Teito – even if it means his own destruction.

The story continues to move along as a steady trot in this second volume of 07-Ghost.  Teito must deal with tragedy again, one that could easily break him, but with Frau and Castor’s help, he is able to find the strength to go on.  This volume introduces some new characters, while increasing the danger to Teito in his supposed sanctuary.

Continue reading Review: 07-Ghost Volume 2

This Week in Manga 11/14-11/20/09

No Manga Love from the New York Times…Again

This week the New York Times released their holiday gift guide for graphic novels, and it should come as no surprise to anything that follows the NYT’s blog that manga doesn’t get any love from the writers in charge.  This list was no different.  David Welsh of the Precious Curmudgeon blog decided to take matters into his own hands.  He announced on Twitter that he would be doing his own holiday gift guide for manga, and invited other manga bloggers to join him.  Watch for David’s list on Thanksgiving, and other lists from Kuriostiy, Okazu and Manga Bookshelf blogs next week just to name a few.

Continue reading This Week in Manga 11/14-11/20/09

Digital Review: Rin-Ne Volume 2

Rin-ne 2
Rin-ne Volume 2
By Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Comedy
Price: $9.99/Free online
Rating: ★★★☆☆

It’s more ghostly hijinks with Rin-ne and Sakura, as Rin-ne works to pay off his grandmother’s debt to the spirit world.  The stories get longer in this volume, with more multi-chapter stories, but that doesn’t mean they get any better.  More of Takahashi’s formula kicks in as a new character are introduced with some petty motivations.

Continue reading Digital Review: Rin-Ne Volume 2

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

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