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May. 21st, 2012

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Review of the Higurashi: When They Cry Anime

                I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I started to watch Higurashi: When They Cry. I have heard this series described in many ways. Some call it a horror series, some a mystery, some a thriller… I have even seen it classified as ‘torture porn’. I found when I watched it that it could really be considered all of the above (except perhaps the last one).

                Despite its multiple classifications, I had heard that it was a good series worth watching, so I bought it. I was quite happy with my purchase, ploughing through two discs a night for three nights. I did not sleep well for those three nights. Not because I was scared, but because it was so intriguing I could not stop myself from watching them late into the night.

                It could be said that Higurashi: When They Cry was a collection of short stories (four episodes each for the most part), revolving around the same characters, just in slightly different circumstances. At first it is unknown how or if these stories are connected to one another. I think that this adds a certain level of intrigue to the show. I had to keep watching, just to see how it all ties in together. Each short story starts of very happy, with all of the characters getting along, just as you would expect in a small country town. It does not take long for the stories to take a sinister turn, with previously cute characters suddenly becoming very unsettling. Paranoia and mistrust reign supreme as the characters manipulate each other.

                There is quite a bit of gore in this series, though it does not show most of it in any great detail, so those of you with a weak stomach (especially in regards to torture) should not really have problems watching it. The concept of some of the torture methods however can be a little bit cringe-worthy (and I have a pretty strong stomach), and if you have a good imagination, you will no doubt be able to picture quite clearly what might soon happen to the poor victim of the torture.

                I do not scare easily, so it can be difficult for me to determine whether or not a movie or series is supposed to be a horror. I believe that Higurashi: When They Cry is probably more of a supernatural mystery/thriller than a horror, though the first arc of the series is very unsettling, and probably the scariest of the lot. Thankfully, even though the rest of the show isn’t really as scary as the first arc, it is still a great show that never allows you to stop thinking about what is happening, so it is great if you want to exercise your brain while watching anime. It can also be watched in a more passive fashion of course, though whether this is as much fun is really up to personal opinion.

                I am very excited that Season Two: Part One of Higurashi will be released in Australia in three days’ time, and I have preordered it already. I would not hesitate recommending this to anime fans who enjoy a darker series, filled with suspense, supernatural phenomena, horror, mystery and, let’s face it… violence. If you are a person that needs the darkness to be broken up a little bit, then you will be pleased to see that there are cute, funny and light hearted moments spread out throughout the more serious scenes, lending the show a nice pace.

5/5

Siren Visual is a big player in Australia, often releasing science fiction, and other alternative titles, that perhaps aren’t seen as mainstream enough by Madman Entertainment. This is a good example of a series that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but is indeed worth watching, if you are interested in a very different, dark, and at times scary anime series.

May. 14th, 2012

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Yotsuba&!

I thought that I would write a little bit about Yotsuba&! which is a charming and funloving series.

I bought it on a whim, purely because the cover design was absolutely adorable. When I started reading it, I was hooked, and within about a week, I was completely caught up with the volumes that had been released, and had preordered volume 10! I am now eagerly awaiting volume 11 to become available for preorder.

What I like about this series is the simplicity in the story, and in the character designs, and the detail in the backgrounds. I think the fact that the characters are drawn in such a simple fashion really adds to their ability to express themselves. The detailed backgrounds make the world that Yotsuba lives in much more realistic.

Yotsuba seems to be a believable five year old girl, perhaps more naive than might be expected of someone her age. She is charming, and watching her live her life day to day and discover the world is truly funny and beautiful. I wish that I could find amazement in everything. I am sure that as a five year old, I probably did.

Of course, Yotsuba is not the only character in the series. We also get to enjoy the antics of her father (known as Daddy to Yotsuba, and Koiwai to everyone else), her dad's friend Jumbo (his ancestors were giraffes), and her neighbours, the Ayase's. All of the characters, even the minor characters that only pop up once or twice (such as Shaggy Beard from the bicycle shop), are believable in the way that they act and speak, and in the way that they react to Yotsuba and her odd behaviour. You can see the amusement in the expressions of Asagi and the worry in Fuuka when Yotsuba does something that perhaps she shouldn't. You can believe that Koiwai sometimes seems indifferent to Yotsuba's strangeness, simply because he is so used to it. In fact, he even once described her to Fuuka as strange. He does not deny this, he embraces it.

I would say that Kiyohiko Azuma did a great job with this series. If that name seems familiar, then you would be correct, as he is the mangaka who wrote Azumanga Daioh, another slice of life comedy series about a group of real people enjoying and enduring the real world. Yotsuba&! is perhaps a little more down to earth than Azumanga Daioh, but this does not make it a boring series at all. Quite the opposite in fact, as the everyday banality of the world is offset quite nicely by Yotsuba's enjoyment of it!!!

If you enjoy slice of life manga, comedy, or the antics of cute little girls (not in a creepy way of course, there is no creepiness in this series at all), then I would check Yotsuba&! out. It is definitely well worth the time and money!

5/5!
Ambercrystal.

Jun. 7th, 2011

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Academic Content of Manga

As I mentioned previously, I am studying manga and anime at university. I do so, not only because I love it, but also because I believe that manga and anime have great potential as academic texts. I am of the belief that if novels and films can be studied academically, then so can manga and anime.

You would think that most people who decided to study manga at university would be of the same belief. However, that does not seem to be the case. Most of the people who took Manga and Japanese Contemporary Culture took it as a bludge subject.

One person in my class told me openly that he thought the class was a joke, both because of the students who did not take the class seriously, but also because he does not believe that manga and anime have any academic content whatsoever.

So, what do you think? Do you believe that manga and anime have any academic content, or do you think that they are merely forms of entertainment?Ambercrystal.

May. 29th, 2011

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Online Scanlations

OK, this is a point that a lot of people disagree with me on, but I am very much against online scanlations. I have good reasons to.
Firstly, it is very bad for the publishing industry. Everyone complains that manga is so expensive to buy, and the series that they want to read has not been published in english yet. Little do they realise (or sometimes care) that them reading online scanlations is contributing to the problem. If they were to buy the manga, it would become cheaper, and if they campaign for it the untranslated series would hopefully be eventually translated.

Secondly, I like the feel of actual manga in my hands, much more than the feeling of staring at them on the screen, clicking buttons. It just doesn't seem right. Then of course there is the fact that it is illegal.

There are times though when online scanlations do come in handy. Publishers understand that, and sometimes use them on their websites, by placing up sample chapters. I do occasionally use these, and read the first chapter, so that I can determine whether or not I would like the manga before purchasing it. Saving myself money and annoyance should I buy a manga I dislike.

Feel free to bring up your own points of view. This is just my opinion, and everyone is entitled to them. If you enjoy scanlations, tell us why. If you are like me and disagree with them, tell us why!
Ambercrystal.

May. 28th, 2011

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Manga Communities

One topic that we studied in Manga and Japanese Contemporary Culture is manga communities.
So, I was wondering. Do you consider yourself to be a part of a manga community?
Do you discuss manga with others, actually read it with others, create dojinshi or other fan fictions, borrow and lend manga with friends? If you do any of this, it means that you do belong to a manga community.

I myself would consider myself to be a part of a manga community. I study manga, which of course means that I discuss manga with other people, who are also fans. My teacher, Amy, is essentially me four years older, so she and I have some wonderful discussions with each other. I also discuss manga and anime and other Japanese culture with my unit convenor, Dr. Bryce. I also use the internet to discuss manga and anime. This website, facebook, Gaia Online, are all venues for my manga musings.

I don't actually literally read the manga with other people. Reading it is a solitary thing for me. I do however recommend manga to other people and my boyfriend, Luke, reads it once I am done. Then we can discuss what we think about the story for that volume, what we think might happen, and pretty much anything relating to it.

I do not create dojinshi, and I don't really make any other fan fictions... I cannot draw, and even if I did create, I would be much too shy to show any dojinshi, fan fiction, AMVs that I make to anyone else. I do however day dream about manga characters and settings quite often, so I suppose that could be considered to be a form of fan fiction, loosely.

I do not borrow or lend manga to friends often. I have borrowed from and lent to Amy because she is very respectful of her property and other people's property, and I like that. I am very picky and OCD about the state of my favourite things, so if the spine gets broken, or a page gets bent, I get very anxious. I didn't  have any problems with Amy! And I have borrowed from Dr. Bryce. They are the only people I know personally that collect manga, at least physically (I know plenty of people with hard drives filled with manga- which I do not condone), so they are really the only people I can interact with in this fashion.

So, what about you guys?
Ambercrystal.

May. 27th, 2011

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Dust... I Hate it so!

OK, this is going to seem really random, but I am really hating dust right now.

I was putting my new manga in my shelf the other day and noticed just how much the dust had accumulated on my shelf, on my manga and on my figurines. So I went on a bit of a dusting frenzy, which probably made my cold worse...

I need to get a proper duster and dust much more regularly. Does anyone have any tips they would like to share with us about dusting more easily?
Ambercrystal

May. 25th, 2011

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Introductions


Hello, and welcome to my first post. I suppose at this point I will need to do all of the obligatory stuff.
I am a manga enthusiast, and I am currently studying it, and Japanese culture as a whole, at university. One day I will do my PhD in Manga!
So, I created this journal to start my career in writing about manga and anime, and what I think of it, and also as a bit of fun. I hope that you all enjoy reading it!

Anyway, I currently have 199 volumes of manga, most of which is in English (I am starting to study the language itself next year). I am adding to my collection as often as possible (with the discovery of www.bookdepository.co.uk this is much cheaper). And now that I am studying it academically I have more excuses to buy manga and have also started to buy and read academic texts written about manga.

It is hard to say what actually drew me into manga. I know that my sister introduced me to it, and I know that I enjoyed it immediately, but I have only recently started to ask myself why. I think that it is the fact that manga is so immersive. It contains both visual and textual aspects and combines them brilliantly. I know that Western comics do this too, and they have been available longer than manga in Australia, but the art work, and stories, just weren't appealing to me.

Because manga combines the worlds of imagery and the written word, I can interact with it as both a visual text, and a written one, at the same time. This requires a little more focus and interaction on my half. I cannot treat it as merely a piece of art, nor can I treat it as just a novel. It is both. And to me, this makes it immersive, though originally I enjoyed the idea that manga was an easy read. I don't see it that way anymore. It is so much more to me now.

Anyway, it is very late and I am quite tired. Unfortunately I have a bad cold at the moment (how is the weather so cold and it is not even winter yet), so sleeping is difficult. But I have university tomorrow, so I will have to try my best.

Goodnight everyone!
Ambercrystal.