January 12th, 2015

Ranma 1/2 Volume 7 by Rumiko Takahashi

book 8: Ranma 1/2 Volume 7 by Rumiko Takahashi

In this episode, Akane gets to play Juliet in the school play, but there is a four-way competition between Tatewaki Kuno, Ranma, Happosai, and Gosunkugi to be her Romeo in this martial arts production of Shakespeare. Will Ranma and Akane finally share a lover's kiss? Then, a hidden drowned-man's spring is discovered on school grounds and may be the cure for Ranma and Ryoga's curses, if they can get past Akane and an army of on-alert girls to get into the girl's locker room. Finally, Akane and Kodachi Kuno battle to feed Ranma their best cookie, while Ranma tries to hide photographic evidence of an unfortunate indiscretion from Akane.

Ranma 1/2 Volume 8 by Rumiko Takahashi

book 9: Ranma 1/2 Volume 8 by Rumiko Takahashi

Ranma has another fiancé when Ukyo Kuonji, a master of okonomiyaki and cooking martial arts, shows up after being abandoned as a child by Genma and tiny Ranma. Ryoga finds an unexpected ally in Ukyo as she sets the bashful boy up with Akane for a date. Is Ranma actually jealous? Then the crew head to the beach where Happosai turns up with a stolen bracelet formerly owned by Cologne, containing pills that make the taker fall in love with the first member of the opposite sex they see. Finally, Mousse reappears after taking a dip in the cursed spring of the drowned duck and captures Akane to lure Ranma to his doom and rewin his childhood love Shampoo.
Dead Dog Cat

#2, 3

When you read multiple books at the same time, it isn't unusual to finish a couple of books within a short time of one another. This happened to me yesterday.

First, I finished reading a travel book by Simon Winchester called Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles. The author hiked for a few months from the southern tip of South Korea to the DMZ in the years before the fall of the Soviet Union; his book deals with his observations of the land and the people. Even though it's years out of date, I still found it a fascinating read.

Next was Memos from Purgatory, Harlan Ellison's work about juvenile delinquents. He had attempted to infiltrate a gang...must have been in the 50s...and the book deals with his experiences with this and how he came back into contact with one of the members, years later. Not bad; not classic.
malcolm in white

Books 7-8

I'm trying to clear off may manga shelves. I'm reading novels too but that takes longer :-)

A Wise Man Sleeps Volume 1 (A Wise Man Sleeps)A Wise Man Sleeps Volume 1 by Mick Takeuchi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had really liked Takeuchi's other series and this one was about alchemy so I thought why not. Parts of it are interesting and other parts are disturbing. Miharu is another tsundere girl who is down on her luck. Her mother died and her father ran off abandoning his daughter with all his debt. IN fact her creepy boss wants her to sleep with him to wipe them out. She's also met up with a rather cryptic, slightly older man in black, Rintaro, who tells her her ring is cursed and partially responsible for her bad luck. She naturally doesn't believe him.

Rintaro, however is right.Her ring's stone is a 'wise man' stone (sounds like a philospher's stone) and he's an alchemist. To save her from her boss, he dons his own wise man stone ring which brings out 'his most perfect self' and this is where it gets disturbing. Rintaro's usual form is dark haired, a bit mousy and relatively nice. But his perfect self stands taller and is SO confident he's downright arrogant and he's horribly sexist calling her all sorts of pet names 'kitten' 'baby'etc which would be okay if they were dating or something. Here they're just patronizing. However, the truly disturbing thing is that perfection means he becomes a blond man (as if his Japanese appearance is an imperfection and this is done by a Japanese mangaka. I'm not sure if he's supposed to look like a blond Japanese man or entirely Western).

Frankly his 'perfect form' and her explosive nature made this a tough one in that respect. Otherwise it reminds me of Friday the Thirteenth tv series or Warehouse Thirteen or other find the haunted/cursed artifact, in this case, gemstones and jewelry.

I did like the episodic nature though. From there it went into one with the boss's son who Miharu seems friendly with but he has a possessed ruby that turns him into a would be rapist. After that Miharu decides to work for Rintaro at his jewelry store and wants to be an alchemist (especially after she had accidentally ingested her wise man stone.).

together they keep a little girl from being hurt by her mother's ghost and saves Miharu's actress friend from a cursed cameo. It could have been a good storyline if Rintaro's alter ego wasn't the douchebag type alpha male trope (but this is probably meant to be a romance and that type of man is a dime a dozen in romance).

View all my reviews

A Wise Man Sleeps Vol. 2 (v. 2)A Wise Man Sleeps Vol. 2 by Mick Takeuchi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is all that there is of this one. Go!Comi, the publisher, is gone and in Japan itself there were problems with publication. There was a year between this volume and the first as the publisher was bought out and the new publisher no longer wanted it to be a 'horror' manga so now it's more of a paranormal sleuth thing. I get the feeling this died in Japan quickly too.

Here's the thing. I like episodic storylines. As far as I can tell other than Rintaro looking (or not) for other wise man stones and Miharu wondering about her run-away Dad, there is no major story arc. They are alchemists looking for cursed stones and nothing more. The publisher barely bothered with a blurb because what is there to say other than that?

We have a gimmel ring that's been damaged and calling up the Grim Reaper to kill all the family children This ran about a third of the book so the episodes are longer than book one. An sapphire whose dead owner is keeping anyone, especially his wife, from touching it is the next arc, also longer. Then there two shorter arcs with opals that supposedly cause the family's business to fail and an emerald hooked into an apparent suicide.

The stories were enjoyable but I'm not sure it would have been a sustainable storyline as just episodic fic. Rintaro's 'perfect' form was toned down a bit and less of an arrogant douche (but he still was a blond which is slightly disturbing to me). The art was nice but if you're looking for older manga, you would be better off with the mangaka's other series, Her Majesty's Dog which is the only one fully finished in English.

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Book #2: The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Number of pages: 240

The one thing I feel bad about is dismissing this book as a child, as reading it again I've realised this is quite good.

This Narnia book stands out from the others in that it does not feature characters from our world being whisked into the universe of Narnia. Here, the main character Shasta lives in the fictional Calormen, one of the lands that lies close to Narnia.

At the start, Shasta escapes from his cruel father by stealing a visitor's horse, who turns out to be a talking horse from Narnia. On their journey to Narnia they meet another traveller, a girl called Aravis (and her horse Hwin); they also discover a plot to invade Narnia.

Aslan appears as usual, at first appearing frightening, as Shasta thinks he is being attacked, but later on Aslan gives a great speech about the number of forms he has appeared in (at one point he appears as a cat), and how he has had an influence throughout Shasta's life, protecting him. The whole idea is that Shasta has to pay attention to Aslan, and my understanding (from reading "The Narnia Code") is that this book is all about listening out for God. The book also has a few references to remaining vigilant and not falling asleep, which put me in mind of many church sermons I've heard.

Shasta also discovers that another character, Prince Corin, is his exact double. This leads to a plot twist at the end that I could see coming a mile off, but which did not detract from the book's quality. As this book's hero himself says, "I might really have guessed it".

Overall, I enjoyed how simplistic this book was, with a straightforward adventure story, with a climactic battle similar to some of the other Narnia titles. I remember one moment that seemed unusually gruesome for a book that a reading age that seems to be even younger than Harry Potter; at one point, Aravis tells of how she almost committed suicide before being talked out of it by Hwin (this is possibly the darkest moment in the whole Narnia series).

This book was the fifth written (the story is alluded to in the book written just before this, "The Silver Chair"), but falls third in the series. This might seem odd, as at first it appears to only loosely connect to the other books through the presence of Aslan and Narnia. There is a good explanation for this, but it will give spoilers for "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe".

[The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Spoilers]

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tells of how Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, with Aslan's help, defeat the White Witch, who has turned Narnia into eternal winter, with no Christmas. At the end of the book, the four children are crowned as kings and queens and grow up to reach adulthood, before they stumble out of the wardrobe and (presumably through Aslan's magic) are turned into children again, while only a few moments passed in their own world.

This story noticeably takes place between the coronation and when they finally left Narnia; Lucy, Edmund and Susan (all adults in this book) appear as Kings and Queens of Narnia (their roles are vastly bigger than I had remembered). High King Peter is also mentioned as being away on some sort of business, and does not appear in person.

I also liked the fact that the White Witch was also mentioned; one character is mentioned as believing that she is still reigning in Narnia.

Re-reading has made me feel that this is one of the better Narnia titles, despite my previous feelings.

Next book: Shirley (Charlotte Brontë)