[2022] 多読/extensive reading challenge

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It kinda worked! Yesterday was pretty chill life-wise and I read the first two volumes of 鬼滅の刃.

On that note, I find it okay, but I don’t see why so many people were into it at some point :thinking:

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Yeah I was the same way. I watched like a couple episodes of the anime and dropped it. People told me it gets better, and I’m sure it does, but I haven’t bothered to continue it.

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I absolutely love the story. Anime soundtrack is amazing. The main character’ kindness and perseverence against the odds gives me strength when life gets hard.

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RachelG wrote in the poll thread that the warning message has been turned off for all categories.

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This has mostly been one of those “mean to do stuff but aimlessly do nothing at all” kinds of weekends, but tonight I did finish something I’m excited to share…

Hearing about Mandarake enabled my most self-indulgent group of Japanese-language purchases yet (which… is saying something): several issues of Monthly Halloween, a manga magazine from the 80s and 90s that bills intself as ホラー・オカルト少女マンガ誌.

I’ve said before I’m really a huge horror enthusiast, or an expert on shojo manga, but I’m definitely interested in and appreciate the aesthetics of both. And it turns out combining the two amplifies that effect considerably – I heard about this magazine on twitter, and if you google image search the name, you’ll see the kinds of cheesy covers that roped me in.
So at Mandarake prices… well, I meant to just get one as a fun novelty, but ended up with what arguably amounts to a small (and very scattered) collection of the things, and I think they’re really cool! To the point I’m a little tempted to get a scanner and go to town, since I’m really not sure how hard or not hard it is to find these online or otherwise.

But in lieu of that, I wanted to do the same rundown I did for those other, more modern manga magazines!

The first issue I read is… the first issue!
With the cover date of January 1986

NOTE: blanket warning below for gore – it turns out Halloween does NOT hold back, although I definitely won’t be including pictures of the most intense stuff here.

What's in Monthly Halloween No. 1

The very first thing is an ad for Ultraseven on laserdisc – a good sign in my book! Also advertised here on the inside cover are ヤマタノオロチの逆襲, an obscure monster movie that seems easily findable (in terrible quality), and an Umezz adaptation, EVIL HEART / 奪われた心臓, which I am truly dismayed to be unable to find except as a VHS listing on auction sites.

The second thing is your classic horror warning gimmick:

Then we get a full-color multipage rundown of the movie Creepshow, which seems to have been in Japanese theaters at the time. I haven’t seen it! I probably will because of this!

Then we get spooky spirit photography! Call me a skeptic but… I don’t see the ghosts.

They open the first issue of a new horror magazine the right way: with new Umezu.
Unfortunately though, it’s the first part of a two-parter that’s mostly setup, and I don’t have the second issue. :’( I’m curious if this story is among the many Umezu works on bookwalker but it’s a little hard to tell.

There’s a column from a celebrity (谷啓) about his horror collection – I felt a bit of kinship with him when he bragged a little about his obscure “GHOST LEGENDS” tapes from America being hard to come by!

Then there’s a giveaway where in return for filling out a reader survey, you can get a chance to win VHS OR Betamax (!) copies of a various movies, or some cheap tat objects of mystic power.
The movie selection is very strange: The Devil’s Rain, Vampire Hunter D, EVIL HEART (which I mentioned before), The Dark, They Came From Within, Blood for Dracula, Mutant, and Flesh for Frankenstein.
I don’t know how that ended up being the selection (I guess it’s just what they had??) but if I’d been alive in 1986 I would 100% have signed away my personal information for maketing purposes for a chance to win a betamax copy of an X-rated Andy Warhol-adjacent Udo Kier movie about Frankenstein from a Japanese comic book for girls.
I actually watched The Devil’s Rain after hearing about it here (it’s rentable on amazon). It’s… not very good!!!
Among the objects of power are bits of jewelry that are meant to harness 「宇宙エネルギー」and these psychic stickers.

I assume they’re very effective.
In any case, I’m pretty stoked to have now ogled crap offered in the middle of an old comic book magazine in two different languages!

The next manga is 聖餐 by 高口里純 (and others? It credits four other people, I’m not sure if they were assistants or what)
I thought it was a great mood setter! It totally has that dreamy shojo manga atmosphere, but it’s also horrifying and extremely bloody and has cannibalism elements. I kinda don’t feel like I can even show the most striking imagery here, because it’s violent and has nudity. But this panel captures the eerie unreality it’s going for:

Part of the fun of this for me was looking up the authors and seeing what happened to them, and what Wikipedia said was their 代表作. It seems like 高口里純 had a long career!

In lieu of regular bios, in the author listing, Halloween has them describe something scary or supernatural that happened to them in real life. I get the impression most of them are grasping at straws!

There’s a page where it shows you a method for 数霊うらない, roughly taken apparently from Jewish mysticism: add the digits of your birth date together until you get a number between 1 to 9, then it gives you a horoscope based on which number you get (they were less interesting than I was hoping).
A nice point about this for me is whoever previously owned this wrote theirs in pencil! Looks to me like they were born in December 1962, so if this was new at the time I suppose whoever they are would have been about 23.

The next is the start of an anthology series by まつざきあけみ: 百蝶譜


Some more striking imagery, directly referencing a famous painting by 速水御舟, which was an added educational touch I appreciated (since I hadn’t heard of it before):

ある夜の出来事 by ささやななえ is the most light-hearted by far in here, but still kinda scary! (it just turns out to be a misunderstanding)

篠原烏童ー妖獣の門 was, I thought, going to be relevant to a couple of new wanikani vocab words… but it turns out the bad boy in question has a weirder problem: his torso is like, a door with a demon inside?

There’s a small column talking about Christmas ghost stories. I never did understand exactly why magazine cover dates don’t match when they’re meant to be on the stands…

新田真子 ー 血まみれ喰人細胞
gooey zombies!!

There’s a column talking about Dracula, that after listing the details of vampire lore ends with こうして見てみると、吸血鬼って案外弱点いっぱいで、かわいそうですね.

井上宣 ー サンタクロース:地獄からの贈り物
evil santa!!

There’s a column with very brief stories about various scary things, like germs, and piercings, and ice cream (makes you fat!) and あんドーナツ (sticks in your mouth!)

永久保貴一 ー 遊ぶ踏切
This one’s about a haunted railway crossing, and it’s well-done but boy, the scenes where people get hit by the train are to me the most disturbing in the magazine by far.

There’s a column about 怪奇大作戦, a show created by 円谷英二, the special effects legend who also created Ultraman. I didn’t think to look at other stuff he had done! This looks really interesting to me, and there’s a(n expensive Japanese) blu-ray… hmmmmmmmm…

The last manga, Make Up, by 亜木蒼子 was my least favorite, but to be fair I was pretty tired when I read it. It’s about a make up artist who specializes in gore and strives for perfection… in the way you might expect with that set-up.

And we end with a discussion of what Halloween means, since after all, if you’re the target audience for this magazine, you might not be very familiar with it! Our ending note:
さて。。。乱痴気騒ぎと暴力と破壊が思いっきり許される今宵ハロウィンパーティに、貴女を招待いたします!!

Finally there’s another Vampire Hunter D ad with some great Amano art, and on the back cover, some OVA laser disc ads!
One advertised, Twinkle Nora Rock Me! is on youtube and is apparently fairly well-known for being terrible! I always knew that 好評発売中 tag was slapped onto anything!

All in all, I enjoyed this! I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect, but I appreciate a lot that despite its target audience, they really don’t skimp on the horror. After all, Tales from the Crypt didn’t back in the 50s!
I like the blend of atmospheres a whole lot, and although there wasn’t like, a standout narrative, if anything that at least just makes it easier to read with the bare scattershot of issues I have.
I don’t go in for nostalgia, but I certainly don’t mind gawking at a different time and a different place from time to time, and there’s a whole lot of that kind of charm here too.
I hope nobody minds my long self-indulgent post about it!

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Not at all! People geeking out over something they love is always great.

I appreciate getting a look into this niche you’re exploring (or, all the niches you and others are exploring and sharing). They’re usually things that I would never care to find out about myself, or just never find myself. In this case the former because horror’s just not my thing (:scream:), but it’s still super interesting.

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Finished 4th HameFura. With this, I’m at 6/18 for my year goal, but I think it’s still according to 計画? In the first half of the year JLPT preparations ate up much of my time, so. And I still have 6 HameFuras to stuff into the goal.

It was still a very nice reading, although I think it suffers from the same issue many shounen long (?) series do - everything is just so slow-paced after the initial setup…

digs out @Naphthalene’s impressions

…so apparently it was still too fast paced according to the writer/editor/publisher, huh.


And I also always appreciate your posts! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Anyone here familiar with 三日間の幸福? Didn’t see a bookclub for it (yet). It’s the best rated LN on Anilist and I read the spinoff manga (don’t know if the story is the same) and that one was really good! I was wondering if the LN is as good and if it’s a bit readable for someone who read something like 君の名は。(which will be my first novel) :blush:

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Here are the last things I’ve read.

Ever17 -the out of infinity-

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This is actually a visual novel (pretty old one from 2002) but I’m gonna say it counts. It’s my first VN, and I actually started reading it like 5 years ago but never got too far. I picked it up again recently and finally finished it! It follows the story of 6 characters trapped in an underwater amusement park that got partially flooded. They have 119 hours to escape before the whole thing collapses. You might expect something action packed, but it’s actually half slice of life, and half revelations and plot twists. It gets a bit far fetched at times but it’s gripping too (once you get to the plot twists) and has been rated an “all-age masterpiece [that] is nearly flawless in every regard”.

刀語 第一話 絶刀・鉋

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The first book of the 12 volume Katanagatari light novel, about a guy from a swordless school of kendo trying to collect 12 mythical swords, each with their own special ability. Was recommended to me by a friend who watched the anime. It’s half serious sword stuff and half humor, I enjoyed it.

インドなんてもう絶対に行くかボケ! ……なんでまた行っちゃったんだろう。

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This is a travel/humor book about the author’s second trip to India. The author runs the さくら通信 podcast which I listen to regularly, and which is why I decided to buy this book. I actually bought it by mistake, I thought I was getting his first book, which is called 「インドなんて二度と行くか!ボケ!!―…でもまた行きたいかも」 So I bought the sequel of sorts, but it can be read independently. I actually enjoyed that it was his second trip in India because as a result he already knew a lot of the scams which allowed him to mostly avoid them. And a BIG part of the book is about scams, which I found really entertaining. Some of the rest is, well, let’s say I finally got to use the word 下痢 which Anki had taught me. The style is very very casual, a bit like a blog, with a lot of font size changes and onomatopeia.

すべてがFになる - The Perfect Insider

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Mystery novel with elements of computer science that I read with the Advanced Book Club. I enjoyed it! We’re reading the sequel now.

涼宮ハルヒの退屈

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Third volume of the Suzumiya Haruhi light novel series. I mentioned last time how volume 2 bored me to death, and this one was definitely better. There’s actual stuff happening, and it’s not just Haruhi being a bully (and the bullying that does happen is not too bad). I was a bit disappointed that it’s a collection of independent stories, which I wasn’t expecting, but I enjoyed it overall. Chapter one forced me to learn the rules of baseball and boy is it a complicated game. Felt harder than learning Japanese.

I’ve wrote like a 2 line review on bookmeter which took me way too long to write and I was afraid to publish it since I didn’t want you all finding out how terrible my Japanese actually is :sweat_smile: (my skills are very lopsided) But I never speak/write japanese so it’s good practice I think.

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I haven’t read the LN, but the anime is one of my favorites. Glad you liked it!

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I hadn’t heard of it, and it looks like a search doesn’t turn up anything on the forum, but it’s got a Natively entry, for what that’s worth, and Bookwalker’s got a generous preview. Seems like it might be a little harder than Your Name but I’m guessing not too much!
Might be a good one to suggest when the intermediate book club rolls around too.

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Nice pick! I read Ever17 a few years back in English since I wanted to explore Uchikoshi’s work more. Overall pretty positive, though I did think parts of it dragged. This isn’t new for VNs, but the pacing is… questionable at times. Still, unique work, and the details have stuck with me decently to this day. Same with chicken sandwiches (which I just learned weren’t chicken sandwiches in Japanese) and kick the can.

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I finish volume 10 of Ranma 1/2, meaning I’m halfway through (…Ranma 1/4?). It’s still fun!

Here's some thoughts about Ranma 1/2

The story’s told in multichapter sections that don’t feel quite long and involved enough to be “arcs” at least in the Dragon Ball sense, but tell a clear episodic story with a beginning and end across anywhere from 1 to several chapters.

The recipe for a really fun Ranma 1/2 story seems to be along these lines:

  1. Set up a love polygon
  2. Pick a mundane theme (e.g. food delivery, card games, outdoor obstacle course, Romeo and Juliet)
  3. Throw in a mystical macguffin and/or mysterious weirdo, the stupider the better
  4. set up a bunch of running gags
  5. Make everyone fight over the macguffin and/or against the weirdo, in a convoluted battle based on the stated theme stretched to the absolute extreme, triggering running gags and relationship dynamic shifts as often and as zanily as possible

It makes for a pretty fun time!

Amid the zaniness though, I actually do like how the Ramna/Akane relationship grows with at least some amount of subtlety, as they very slowly seem to be realizing they’re into each other after all.

I especially liked Volume 9, both because it pushed that in a bigger way than past volumes (and finally gave Nabiki more of something to do in the process), but also it’s got one of the best weirdo side characters yet – this guy:

Conversely, I didn’t like 10 quite as much because the new character in that (パンスト太郎) calls Ranma おかま a lot, which isn’t my favorite…

This is from back in the first volume, but I genuinely think about it a lot. It’s just a character reacting to another character’s haircut, but I think Rumiko Takahashi draws it perfectly to make a funny reaction out of it:

And this is a page from volume 10 I just thought was funny on its own:

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The slice of life parts definitely drag on, especially when you have to go through them a second time, or more…
In Japanese the sandwiches are called タツタサンド, and I thought タツタ was just the name of the shop, but looking it up now, it must be from 竜田揚げ which is a “dish of fish or meat flavoured with soy sauce, mirin, etc., coated with starch and then deep-fried​”. They do mention a deep frier whenever Takeshi is making them. As for kick the can, it was disappointing that they never really explain who actually kicked the can :confused: But there are theories floating around the internet.

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Amazon Japan just raised the base shipping price to the U.S. by another 300 yen. I was already considering ordering from CD Japan for my next order (in a week or two) because I was tired of Amazon packaging my books poorly and them getting damaged. This is just another reason to try another service.

Has anyone used CD Japan? If so, do they individually wrap each book to minimize damage?

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I’ve ordered from them before several times and I didn’t have any problem with damaged books, though I don’t remember if they were wrapped separately. My next shipment will probably arrive in a couple of days, last time has been in 2017, so some things might have changed.

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Finished はめふら 2. Immediately saw the series on sale, but will probably refrain myself, since it’s not something I want to read long term. Light, goodhearted fun, but the situations are getting a bit repetitive.

I’m still in the middle of Misfit of Demon School, which I’m not really feeling. It’s bad for my stats though to drop it, since I’m already 40% in :smile:. Maybe I’ll push through.

Also keeping up with No Longer Human of the ABC.

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I’m back from the dead !?

With studying full time, working part time and family issues on top of it I sadly had to drop all the books I was reading (and most other things). I tried to at least keep up with WK but that had to go too.
I finally got back to WK a few days ago and when I got 30% instead of the usual +90% I got scared I had forgotten everything :fearful: But it’s slowly getting better.

Kinda sad to see my stats are still at 1/10 and 0/24. I don’t think I’ll be able to catch up at this point of the year, but I’m hoping now that I’m finally done with university I’ll be able to go back to reading. I’m excited to get back into it and hoping I can at least finish the year knowing a bit more Japanese than I did in 2020!

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Let me know how it looks once it arrives then! :slight_smile:

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