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.