Monday, November 30, 2009

Chunhyang Filler a.k.a. Thank Goodness for Wikipedia

Hello readers!

This is just a little heads up (and filler, since we suck at regularly updating) to talk about an upcoming post series!

Ever heard of Chunhyangga? Depending on your knowledge of Korean folklore and/or pop culture, you may know that it's one of five remaining pansori performances. Pansori (판소리) is a Korean musical storytelling performance consisting of a singer and drummer. Chunhyangga in particular is interesting in that, according to some interpretations (maybe I'll post a link or two if I can find any) the main character Chunhyang supposedly represents the ideal Korean woman.

Chunhyangga is a sort of Cinderella story (sorry for the ethnocentric comparison; it makes it easier to describe); Chunhyang, daughter of a lower class kisaeng, and Mongryong, son of a high-class magistrate, fall in love and eventually marry in secret. However, after Mongryong is called to Seoul, he is replaced by an evil magistrate who forces Chunhyang to become his mistress. She refuses and remains loyal to Mongryong despite the consequences, and eventually love triumphs and the two live happily ever after.

But enough background info. The point is that Chunhyangga has been recreated many times over the years in various formats. This coming post series, then, will be my various mini-analyses of these adaptations! What I'm looking at right now are Chunhyangdyun, a movie made in 2000 that pretty much sticks to the traditional telling; Delightful Girl Choon-Hyang, a very popular k-drama that gives a modern retelling of the folktale; and finally Legend of Chun Hyang, a very, very loose manga interpretation by CLAMP.

Anywho, it'll be nice to spread our critical wings to Korean dramas and cinema. Look for it sometime beginning in December or January; get excited yo!!

Until then,


PS: And muchos thanks to Wikipedia since it's easily the easiest/laziest way to get information. For more information on the original Chunhyangga pansori, just look at the Wiki page I got it from! And, of course, Google.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Score One for the Anti-Twilightists

Just a short video to share. It's been around, but it deserves a thumbs up. To quote a friend, "It's what Bella should have done when she met Edward."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dewey Decimal be my Valentine!

I gobble up scanlations at such a rate these days that I'm continuously browsing for the next, but the browsing process is labor intensive. OneManga has more than 900 separate manga while MangaFox has upwards of 2000 with more added all the time. There's a lot of overlap, but there's no denying the swamp of available scanlations.

Now when I'm in the mood for manga, my craving is often very specific. For example, I might be looking for a plot about a love triangle in the entertainment industry. It's not an uncommon plot; I could read Skip Beat, Ashita no Ousama, or Cat Street to name a few. How do I find these manga? I use the search terms shoujo, josei, or romance and I wade through the slew of results for the next couple hours.

MangaFox has 36 genre tags. They describe the publisher's idea of the target audience (shoujo, seinen), basic plot ideas (romance, adventure), special interests (sports, mecha) and broad literary categories (tragedy, comedy). My first pick today, Skip Beat, is tagged as Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shoujo, Slice of Life. Comprehensive? Hardly! This list covers the bare minimum. A search with the same list returns Gokusen and Fruits Basket. What do a yakusa school teacher, a shape-changing family, and an aspiring actress have in common? Well, aside from those search terms not much. Considering the number of recycled plot devices in the average manga, it should be relatively easy to establish very specific sub-genres, but starting with categories like Romance, it's hard to see where to start.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

An Ode to Anime Conventions, or My Disillusionment

WARNING: The following is a long post that is long overdue. But it's finally here! The Animazement report thing! Please don't be discouraged from reading. Or skimming. Or commenting.

Quite an impressive spread.

Back in Manga Meditation's blog drafts are two entries detailing Polecat's and my (Blackbird) recent adventure to Animazement, a now twelve-year-old convention newly located to the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC. These posts, however, haven't been published like we had promised earlier. The reason? To be honest, they were a little boring to write. That, and the descriptions were becoming a little mean.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Megane-CHANGE!

I got my first pair of glasses when I was in 6th grade. Completely innocuous on the shelf, my pair of choice had light blue frames, rounded triangular lenses, and a polycarbonate coating to prevent scratching and chipping. When they arrived, all shiny and new, I innocently put them on without even thinking about the consequences. However, as soon as those baby blue frames settled on my face, a drastic transformation took place. My hair became rattier, my skin became mottled, my face broke out, and a group of boys running by yelled "HEY THERE FOUR EYES!" at me. Mortified, I quickly snatched off my glasses...and watched as my hair smoothed out, my skin cleared up, and the group of boys immediately changed directions and asked if they could take me roller skating. "Ahhh," I thought to myself as I fended off my new-found suitors, "so THIS is the transforming power of removing your glasses."

Obviously, the above story is a load of shenani-bull-crap, but I made it up to demonstrate a common plot point in many many MANY mangas I have read: the transformation that the main female character undergoes when she removes her glasses. For some inexplicable reason, the accessory of glasses does much to dissuade the attentions of other people, either platonic or amorous in nature. Those two pieces of concave glass do much damage indeed to one's social calendar, for the bearer of such unfortunate but necessary evils is regarded as an uninteresting, socially inept, total freak-o nerd girl, not worth the attention of anyone in her school, and certainly not worth the attention of the most handsome boy in the school.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I remember closely following my friend’s silhouette as she led me into the cool, dark room filled with booming music and sweaty anime nerds sitting in front of a large screen. As soon as I walked in I found a place along the perimeter of the room, folding my arms with insecurity. I was preparing to be bored, I admit, but instead I found myself somehow transfixed to that large screen.

Anime music videos. I never really expected to develop a crush on them, not at my very first convention of all things, but for some reason the combination of music and video, when done right was, I realized, kind of cool.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's about time...It's about CHANGE....of hair?

At the end of the school year, after the stress of finals was over and the scent of summer was in the air, the atmosphere here at Manga Meditation was one of anticipation for change...a change in hair! The arrival of summer had effectively chased away all need for the heat-retaining, long and bushy look, and all three of us were itching to try out cute summer cuts, similar to the edgy new haircut of pop singer sensation Rihanna. A short journey to the beauty salon later, all of us had chopped off the excess keratin and now sported beautiful, swishy, shiny, bouncy bobs!

While it is easy for us to cut off our hair, it is not so simple in the manga world. Characters often look similar (if not exactly the same) without hair, and a signature hairstyle, be it short, spiky, long, curly, or blue often times is the only way to distinguish characters...especially in shoujo manga.

However! Not only is hair an important characteristic in physical distinction, it also creates certain impressions regarding the personality of a character. Based on the manga that I've read, I've compiled a list of character hairstyles and the personality traits that seem to correspond most commonly.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

An Apology of Sorts

To our devoted readers:

As you may have noticed, our little online community has been sorely lacking in any type of updates much to the chagrin of us administrators. The seductive powers of summertime have proven to be too powerful for us and the goal of "updates once a week", which seemed laughably easy at the beginning of June, has now become a feat equivalent to Hercules' 12 labors.

However! A recent meeting of minds over the tesla-magnetic-supersonic-ultra-complex waves of Skype has rearranged the priorities in our respective summertime schedules, placing this blog at the top of the list. No longer shall we give in to the smell of barbeque in the backyard. No longer shall we be tempted by the sight of our swimsuits and towels and the idea of a day excursion at the beach. No longer shall we run outside to catch fireflies every time we see a flash outside our window. We serve a higher purpose, and by hook or crook (or by excessively guilt-tripping each other) we shall fulfill our quota of one post per week.

So away with ye, summer distractions. And onwards with our continuing mission to explore the manga world, to seek out new series and artists, to boldly mock where no one has mocked before (yes, even more than two months after the Star Trek movie, we are still slightly obsessed).

--Manga Meditation

Sunday, May 17, 2009

STOP THE PRESSES: Veritable Star Trek Word Vomit

Blackbird's computer wallpaper

Blackbird: After all this time, we apologize in that the following post is not actually about manga. Instead, we have jumped on the modern geek bandwagon and would like to write about the recent Star Trek (the 11th in the series) reboot movie!

Starfish: Of the three of us, only I have been a long term Trekkie and mostly in response to Next Generation and Voyager. I always found the original series a bit dated. Kirk's interaction with the female characters was too much for the feminist in me to handle. I couldn't identify with the disposable, mini-skirt-wearing sex symbols.

Polecat: I hadn't had very much experience with Star Trek previous to the movie (aside from the few episodes and movies that Starfish showed me) and I wasn't really sure what to expect. Doubts aside, however, Star Trek was PHENOMENAL. As a person with previously lukewarm feelings towards the original cast and series, I can now say that I have succumbed to the lure, and I am a definite fan of Star Trek.

Blackbird: My interest in the movie actually originated with Polecat when she told me of the quality of the recent reboot. Much to my surprise, it was received very well. Earlier in the year, Starfish had added slightly to my Star Trek knowledge (beyond what my Trekkie uncle had taught me), and I felt mildly compelled to research the movie. It was then that I stumbled upon the Spock of all reboot Spocks, Zachary Quinto, and my obsession continued from there.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our name is Manga Meditation, and you are...?

Hey... Remember us?

For those of you who might be reading our blog on a semi-regular, sort of passing basis, you may have noticed that we haven't updated in... Over two weeks. Which is totally our bad. But this blog is not dead! We are simply very busy, mostly as a result of the hell that is finals week. Which may explain as to why I am writing this at 5:00 in the morning.

But might the promise of an awesome post in the future entice you (a lame, vague reference to Flight of the Conchords)? Something like an... ANIME CONVENTION REPORT?!

That's right folks! For the low, low price of free, you too can read about the glamorous goings-on at one of those little nerd gatherings with overpriced plushies and dudes in Sailor Moon outfits. Who can resist?! NO ONE! ONLY LOSERS!

So come back once in a while, maybe even as soon as tomorrow... For our cynicism can only be silenced for so long.


Monday, April 27, 2009

All the Pretty Boys

The definition of a bishounen (courtesy of Wikipedia) is "a Japanese term literally meaning 'beautiful youth.'" Popular amongst Japanese pop culture subscribers, these delicately featured boys are objects of affection for all us hormonal women, bringing sunshine, butterflies, and screentone doilies into our humdrum lives. The bishounen who make my insides go all mushy include Sohma Ayame from Fruits Basket (love the hair), Suou Tamaki from Ouran Koukou High School (you can call me commoner anytime), and Sano Izumi from Hanazakari no Kimitachi (the ultimate roommate!), just to name a few. All these characters are an appealing mix of brooding, flamboyance, sensitivity, and of course, pleasing aesthetics, meant to arouse our darkest desires (or simply to entertain us).

Hey there Sano...

Either way, mangaka have definitely realized the marketable potential for these alluringly effeminate characters, as they are generously scattered throughout the manga canon. However, there remains the undeniable fact that these characters are not and will not ever be REAL. Sigh. So, rather than mooning over these unattainable paragons of male beauty, I have decided to create a list of real-life bishounen to ogle over.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When No Means Yes

I was recently browsing through manga on a scanlation site when I came across a maturity warning for Haou Airen. It read "WARNING: This series contains strong "consensual rape." Consensual rape? What does that even mean? It's like jumbo shrimp, an oxymoron. Luckily, the author of the warning wasn't completely oblivious to the ridiculousness of the statement. But why use the phrase in the first place?

Monday, April 20, 2009

The "New Deal" of Japan's Economic Crisis

Link The leader of a noble cause, Taro Aso

Japan Looks to Manga Comics to Rescue Ailing Economy:

"While other countries bail out banks, slash interest rates and prop up struggling industries, Japan is pinning its hopes for economic recovery on a less likely source: manga comic books."

Rejoice, fellow readers! For Japan's solution to the economic crisis means oodles and boodles of more manga available to us voracious fans. As is evident from this quote, Japan aims to increase revenue by capitalizing on the guilty pleasures of the global public.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Korean Manhwa Returns: A Counterposition

A few posts ago, Polecat argued that Manhwa was cliche and repetitive. Well, that's one side of the story. This post reflects a long standing internal argument at Manga Meditation. Manhwa is one of my favorites. Polecat can't stand it. So while Polecat might have some valid points in the earlier post, I'm not convinced that her viewpoint is unbiased. In the interest of balanced debate, here comes the smackdown-- Polecat vs. Starfish.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wish, A Celestial Shoujo by CLAMP

Ah, what to do, what to do. This manga holds intense sentimental value for me, as it was one of the very first series that I bought…yet even that cannot disguise the many flaws and problems that are present. However, do not fear, dear reader: I shall do my best to stay strong and remain as clear headed as possible.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh, Yuu Slay Me: Fans with Low Self-Esteem

In creating this blog, I inherently had to admit a bitter truth to myself. After many years of my almost unhealthy manga and anime obsession, I finally kicked my addiction and lived a few years clean of screentones and clichés. However, my former fixation began to creep back into my life, and it is with this very recent reentry into the world of Japanese/Korean comic fandom that I have had to face a few demons.

My love for anime has always been a bit closeted. I remember my slow descent, the feel of the pages of Marmalade Boy rubbing coarsely against my fingers, the acrid smell of money full of the scent of a thousand sweaty hands as it slowly dripped through my pockets and seeped into the bank accounts of manga translation companies. You know what I mean. Like, I spent a crapload of money.

No one around me, save for a very few friends, shared my love. I never fell into a true anime culture, retreating into my own bedroom to burn through pages of Bleach like the soles of tennis shoes wearing down on a racetrack, to sigh over Yuki and Kyo and uselessly try to decide which one I would like more in real life (answer: Neither). Seriously, though. I was way embarrassed. As a result, I relinquished my manga tankubon for cooler endeavors, and even though I could fake it for a while, it really didn't fit. I would use another extended metaphor here but I think you guys get the point.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Korean Manhwa: Zoolanders of Shoujo?

I'm pretty indiscriminate when it comes to reading manga, but I find it difficult for me to remain as open minded with the Korean counterpart, manhwa. My first exposure to manhwa was Narration in Seventeen, and while I did finish it, there was nothing truly remarkable about it. After that initial series, I have read numerous other titles in manhwa, among which include Goong, Bird Kiss, It's Love, You're So Cool, Hwa, Utopia of Homosexuality, Hot Blooded Woman, and Red Lion. Looking back on all these different titles, I have arrived at the conclusion that Korean manhwa is rather bland and recycled, uniform in both story and art and lacking sorely in originality. Similar to how Derek Zoolander, that infamous male model, claimed to carry a repertoire of modelesque expressions that turned out to be the same face over and over again, I am overcome by an unshakable feeling of déjà vu as I read through series after series of manhwa.

Hold the mayo, please: A Mars Manga Review

It's that time again! Here's another subversive (hardy har har) review, posted yet again on Baka-Updates Manga, now of the classic manga Mars by Soryo Fuyumi. Though not quite as disdainful as Polecat's review of Hana Yori Dango/Boys Over Flowers, I think this review makes at least a few valid, and perhaps some uncommon, points. Perhaps it shall inspire discussion? Maybe it will compel someone to actually read our blog?

Probably not. But since you happen to be here, beautiful denizen of the glorious Internets, why not have a little looksee, hm?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Logistics of Gender Bending

One theme that has been firmly established in the shoujo manga canon is gender bending. Executed with the same finesse with which Neo dogded Agent Smith's speeding bullets in that iconic scene from the Matrix, these resourceful heroines (for it is most often a girl posing as a boy) navigate the stormy waters of a male dominated environment with their androgynous looks, incredibly perky attitude, and a few other important details. For your convenience, especially for those who are planning to enroll in an all male high school and are of the XX chromosomed sex, I have compiled the following checklist for your perusal.

A Call to Arms

I'll be the first to admit that I have an addiction to Shoujo manga. My addictions are usually on a six month cycle. I jump from addiction to addiction, from soap operas, to webcomics, to paperback romances to scanlations. I have yet to have an addiction to blogging. Maybe blogging will be the next wave.

Addiction is a strong word, but for those who doubt, let them know that I spent five hours reading scanlations the night before a term paper was due. Such addictions can be hard to admit to friends and relatives. Saying, for example, "I read six romance novels this weekend" leads my father to ask what I intend to do with the rest of my life. Is it just me? I know otherwise. Those who are with me in loving these belittled art forms, we must reclaim our self-respect.

Values can be redefined. "High art" is a historical term. No one today would claim that paintings with biblical subjects are of more artistic value than genre painting. Two centuries ago, the superiority of history painting was taken for granted. Contemporary art historians are exploring the decorative arts (read crafts) as a new field of study.

I am not suggesting that in the future, "Fruits Basket" will be judged by the same criteria as "Girl with a Pearl Earring", but manga certainly can be viewed with an analytical eye.

As we redefine our fandom, the key is to move beyond blind obsession. Our unconditional love should be tempered by full disclosure of flaws. It is with this goal in mind, that I urge you to take up the yoke of a critical fan. This is not a burden to be assumed lightly. We must build consciousness among the sheep. We must fight for recognition as a legitimate topic. We must learn to hold the interest of dinner table conversations.

Together, we can discipline our addictions and turn them into something more.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hating the HYD Wave

The following review was originally posted on Baka-Updates Manga in response to the overwhelmingly positive reviews of Hana Yori Dango, a manga that has been firmly established as a shoujo classic. As a member of the astoundingly small group of people who weren't completely enchanted by its wiles, I felt compelled to write the following review.


Hello everyone.

Consider yourself fortunate. For you have stumbled upon the veritable source of the future manga revolution.

You may scoff, but we fart in your general direction. For we are here to destroy the integrity of the mangas which you hold so dear through analysis, sarcasm, and the occasional punchline.

Having said that, we think some introductions are in order. Your guides to your true manga disillusionment are:

Polecat: The oldest of the bunch. Full of incomparable wisdom with a proclivity for pretension. Loves bubble tea, scruffy men, and of course, delving deep into the world of manga. Has managed to write this blurb without using subjects, a wondrous feat indeed.

Blackbird: I love you. You love me. We're a happy family. Barney once said that, and I hope that it one day holds true for this little (extremely little, like pretty nonexistent) manga community. We're kind of jerks about manga, but we have good hearts.

Starfish: So, you've heard from the intellectual, the humorist, and now me. I toe the line as a radical feminist. Oh, I also like kiwis.

So, to conclude: We might take our manga a little too seriously, but hopefully not ourselves.

Thanks for visiting, and come back soon! Please hand us your valet ticket.