Monday, August 1, 2011

Mangaka Review: Sahara Mizu

The author of the series I am currently reading (see banner to the right) is the subject of my review today. Sahara Mizu, also known as Sumomo Yumeka and Sahara Keita depending on the nature of her work, is one of my favorite mangaka out there. Not only does she have beautiful art, but her stories have depth and are thoroughly enjoyable to read.

See? Really nice art!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Losing Battle Against K-Pop

So occasionally, I develop somewhat irrational aversions to things. These aversions are based on insignificant events/experiences which result in the not-so-insignificant effect of me writing off that thing for all eternity. Or at least until my perspective/opinion is amended by some outside force. A few examples are my aversion to almonds (blown out of the water when introduced to amaretto), my dislike of skinny jeans (disappeared when I actually tried on a pair), and my avoidance of cats (overcome when I met Starfish who is a cat lover). One more overturned aversion to add to this list is my distaste for K-pop music.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Who am I? I'm their homeroom teacher.

Gokusen by Morimoto Kozueko is one of my all time favorites, but it took a bit of unpacking for me to figure out why. The ah-ha moment happened when I was watching the drama adaptation. Something was missing. Something even the ultimate cuteness of Matsumoto Jun couldn't make up for. That something was Attitude with a capital A.

The story revolves around a high school teacher and her class of delinquent students. The students are one step away from a correctional facility, and Yankumi, their homeroom teacher, aims to keep them that way. Usually, this would be a Herculean task, but Yankumi has a secret advantage. She is a third generation Yakuza heir, so delinquents are milk toast compared to what she deals with at home. The stories are episodic, switching between Yankumi's struggles at school (Will her class pass basic arithmetic?) struggles at home (How will she stop a rival gang from encroaching on her turf?), and of course, the ever present difficulty of keeping her identity secret.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Insomnia and K-Dramas: Pt. 1 - An Introduction

Due to the fact that it is crazy-hot in my room, I am unable to fall asleep. Instead of cursing the summer weather and lamenting my lack of air-conditioning like I normally would, I decided to channel my energies into a new blog post that I've been meaning to write for a while on K-DRAMAS.
Winter Sonata - Megahit from early 2000s

K-dramas, short for Korean dramas, are a staple here at Manga Meditation. You may have noticed a previous foray into K-dramas with Blackbird's review of Delightful Girl Chun-Hyang, but believe me, that is only the tippity top of the very large, extensive and all-encompassing iceberg that is the K-drama world. We shall endeavor to delve further, starting with Part 1: An Introduction.

NOTE: There's no way that I'm going to be able to fully cover everything in this post, so I'm going to just hit on the big points and fill in the gaps later. Also, K-dramas are not the only icebergs in the sea - Japanese dramas, Chinese dramas, and Taiwanese dramas are also sizable chunks of ice in their own right, though that will DEFINITELY have to wait for a separate post.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blah blah blah: Crazy Coffee Cat Manhwa Review

One of the mildly relevant title intro panels.
So far I'm not so crazy for Crazy Coffee Cat, a Korean webtoon written by Um Jae Kyung and drawn by Choi Kyung Ah. As far as I can tell from the few scanlations now available, it's a comic of the soonjung romance, slice-of-life variety. Basically it follows protagonist Kho Yang Yra, a girl who has been given a job at a coffee company. Strangely enough, however, I'm eight strips in (which are essentially eight chapters) and I still don't know too much beyond that.

I think part of it is that I don't really understand where this thing is going yet. The exposition is weird in that it feels as though all of the events just sort of happen, without too much buildup, like there isn't any forward movement or logical progression of events. I can't help but wonder if the writing was really planned beforehand, or if it was written as ideas simply occurred to the writer. Even in slice-of-life pieces there's some sense of forward progression, however small. Regardless, I'm getting the feeling that after eight strips we're still not into the meat of the story, so I'm probably making assumptions too early.

Monday, June 27, 2011

American Otome Games?: Harlequin Dating Sim

Harlequin must really be expanding their product line: In addition to Polecat’s relatively recent discovery of the romance novel manga, I just found out about a Harlequin dating sim, Harlequin Presents: Hidden Object of Desire, while researching otome games for a previous post. The game was released some time last year.

Here’s the blurb from Big Fish Game’s website, the distributor of the game:

“Allie's on a quest to find some breaking news in the Kingdom of Adamas, but must now choose between her friend's well-being and true love! The bachelor Prince of Aristo is the most enchanting man she has ever met, but she must fend off his charming advances long enough to figure out what is going on.”

In addition to the game, I think you're given a digital copy of a romance novel based in the same romance novel universe as the game. More details can be found at this review on the Dear Author blog, including screenshots.

I’m not sure how exciting the whole thing sounds, since it appears that you don’t even have any choice in your love interest. It really is a visual novel, maybe even more linear than most VNs, but maybe that makes sense for a company that makes its money being a factory for trashy books.

Monday, June 20, 2011

And I'm the Mouse: Cheese in the Trap Manhwa Review

A promo for the Cheese in the Trap drama CD.

I discovered Soon Kki/순끼's manhwa Cheese in the Trap a while ago, and I have no idea how. All I know is that I had approximately 60 tabs open in my web browser, and that the first one featured Baka-Updates Manga's page on this webcomic.

Yep! A webcomic. It's a format that I think Cheese in the Trap utilizes well, which I'll go into in a little later.

But first, the story. Cheese in the Trap follows Sul, a college student who is returning to school after taking a year off. The circumstances of her leave aren't immediately clear, but they seem to have to do with an upperclassman, a handsome guy named Yoo Jung. Not only is he super cute, but he's apparently very polite, smart, and rich. Despite the fact that the ladies line up for this absolute heartthrob, Sul isn't so taken with him.

Now, doesn't that sound positively boring and cliche? A female protagonist who has a love/hate relationship with an impossibly perfect guy. Never seen that in EVERY SINGLE CHICK FLICK EVER MADE. But that's where the cliches stop.

At first Sul's reaction to Yoo Jung seems typical of a female protagonist in a romance comic. She's highly skeptical of him, and perhaps too immune to the charm that has managed to affect every single girl except her. It seems as though she'll end up learning to love him as his sudden, mysterious interest in her slowly wins her over. However, as the story progresses, partly through flashbacks woven throughout the present narrative, the reader discovers that Sul's disdain isn't so unfounded.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The End of Tokyopop Manga

This is the fourth post I've written tagged with Marmalade Boy, by the way.
If you're savvy on manga publishing in America, you might already know that Tokyopop shut down its US manga publishing operations on May 31.

I became obsessed with manga when I was about eleven. One of my friends, older and more informed than I was about the medium, took me to a Waldenbooks at a local mall. The manga section only took up one small shelf, crammed next to the cash register. I didn't know too much about what I was looking at, since while I was a comics reader, it was mostly of collections of Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side. I had read a little manga at the beginning of the whole Pokémon craze, a flipped version of Ono Toshihiro's Pokémon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu, when I was about six, but I never went too much beyond that and some dubbed episodes of Sailor Moon. I did draw a lot of Pokémon fan comics, but we don't need to go into that.

She suggested Wataru Yoshizumi's Marmalade Boy to me, licensed by Tokyopop. The cover was pretty unassuming, featuring a smiling girl looking at some unknown thing in the corner, but the story intro hooked me in the minute I skimmed its pages in that store, and I bought it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


RE: Alistair++, a free, full-length otome game.
Since the summer's begun I've had lots of time on my hands. Thus far, I've rewatched almost all of the episodes of The Office (US version, if you care to know) available on Netflix. One would think I'd have done more than that, but sitting in front of a computer marathoning a show I've already watched takes up a significant amount of time.

So there's that. And I've also been playing a lot of Chain Factor.

Despite my packed schedule, I've been doing research on one thing I haven't looked at in a long time: Otome games! Free ones, specifically. It seems like there have been quite a few new English options to be released since I last did a post, though that also could mean I didn't do a good job researching them in the first place.

I was originally going to do another big post, but the more I wrote, the more I realized that it didn't make sense to put it all together in just one entry. So in the coming weeks, look out for reviews and other opinionated pieces on just otome games! It'll be really swell, and hopefully a little different from what you'd typically find on blogs dedicated to otome. It's not what Manga Meditation's about anyway, and those blogs already do their job way better than I could.

Speaking of which, here are a few links to games, developers, and other otome miscellanea:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Manga Review: Library Wars

DISLCAIMER: To help give some insight behind this review, I'm going to preface it with this: I want to be a librarian. I plan on going to graduate school for library science and I am aiming to be a public librarian (location TBD). As such, my review of this series may be somewhat colored by this fact. Or maybe a lot colored.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Keanu Reeves Won't Take on Akira"

Anime fans around the world...rejoice! The anime world has received its deliverance in the form of Keanu Reeves' rejection of a lead role in Akira (click for the article). Perhaps the Rapture that was scheduled to happen on Saturday decided to exert its divine influence in other areas of life for the benefit of all. By faith, I am most grateful that it did.

This headliner was a shocker for me, as I was only peripherally aware of a live-action version of Akira was in the works. My initial reaction?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Romance Novel...Manga?

So besides being well versed in all things manga, I am also a bit of an expert on romance novels. And by a bit, I mean that I have read probably hundreds of romance novels. I'm an addict, I'll admit. Though since college, I've been more or less forcefully weaned off them due to lack of time, there's something about them that always has me coming back for more. Could it be the purplish prose used to describe the love-making in which both characters magically attain orgasms that "make time suspend and the heavens shatter (no joke, direct quote) "? Or could it be the Fabio-esque men that adorn the covers, showing off whatever naturally ripply and hardened muscles they have? Whatever the reason, the point is that I enjoy romance novels, and I was quite thrilled to find a new manga genre - the romance novel shoujo manga adaptation.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Most Penitent Post

A few days ago, the following conversation took place:

Polecat: Remember that blog we had?
Blackbird: Oh yeaaaah!

Polecat/Blackbird: ...

(Starfish was not present for that conversation, but she would have certainly joined in with us on the ellipsis)

Though it may not seem as such, dear readers, we do remember the existence of this blog. And it is all too clear as to how negligent we have been with the updates...or lack thereof, as it were. It has been more than a year since we last posted, and we are rife with regret, shame, and all other emotions that are appropriate for groveling purposes.

But! Summer is upon us! And unlike the last year and half, which proved to be fallow in terms of blogposts, this summer will be REPLETE with blogposts. Such abundance as you have never seen before! The world will runneth over with sagacious words pouring from our cybernetic hands.

So please, dear reader, bear with us and continue to grace us with your presence a little longer. We will certainly try to make it worth your while. :)

~Manga Meditation

PS: Random aside, here is a picture of an ice cream plant in honor of summer, the ice cream season.

This is what true happiness looks like.