To continue my (slightly off topic, sorry) previous rant about artificial digital restrictions, today I learned that you can’t gift an ebook to someone in another country, at least as far as Amazon is concerned.
I just can’t wrap my head around that. I thought geographic restrictions were all about distribution licenses. But when someone you are licensed to sell ebooks to buys the ebook, your transaction is complete. They can choose to gift the ebook to whoever, wherever, right? Amazon needs to facilitate that due to stupid drm, sure, but the financial transaction is complete, the ebook has been bought, so why on earth does it matter at all where in the world the gift recipient is located?
So much fun to try and make a nice gesture and instead end up exchanging countless troubleshooting emails before finally giving up.
A cover-cover! Doesn’t look like a regular obi, no. It’s the anime release promo cover, but then I’m confused why they slapped on top of the existing cover and not just replaced it. The anime looks very nice judging by the frames by the way, so if anyone has finished the series, it might be worth a watch.
Big thanks all for the feedback :). After the initial shock/disgust/etc. I decided to continue the book. I’m currently at 116/168 pages and it does get easier the further I go, because there is less of the dude seemingly .
Haha, nooooo. Welcome to the modern digital economy. A physical book, sure, they can’t stop you from getting on a plane, flying to another country and just handing it to another person. But ebooks? Or digital music, digital art, anything online? They control access to that, forever. Any time they decide the licence no longer applies, they can just straight-up delete it from your device.
I feel like someone online somewhere made a pretty pointed observation about this once, but I can’t find it now. (My gut thinks it might have been xkcd, but that doesn’t feel quite right…)
TIL that there are events on Bookmeter! And they of course revolve around books and reading.
One thing especially caught my interest:
The British newspaper “The Guardian” once published a list of 1000 novels you need to read before you die, grouped into 7 categories, and this challenge is about reading one or more books from one of these categories. The challenge’s official time is the middle of the month (the next one is March 10 to 12) but you can read the book sooner or later as well. Of course the books are written in whatever language but there seem to be some Japanese books in the mix as well (or maybe they are just translations, did not check them out). But as people here are also reading books in other languages, I thought maybe you’d be interested in any case. This month’s category is Comedy. I’ve decided to read “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace as it was recommended to me by a friend recently, and it’s on that list as well, so I took this as a sign
I quickly skimmed for Japanese authors, but in this month’s section there don’t seem to be any. (Though if you open to Bookmeter event, they suggest some translations to Japanese for books from that list, and in previous months that featured the same category they suggested others.)
But in Family & Self there is
Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness by Kezaburo Oe
in Love there are
Beauty and Sadness by Yasunari Kawabata
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Diary of a Mad Old Man by Junichiro Tanizaki
in Science Fiction and Fantasy there is
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
so you just gotta wait for the matching month!
(Note that there are two books by Kazuo Ishiguro but unfortunately he wrote them in English )
I am planning to get through this book until the challenge ends on March 12th, and with the book’s 1000+ pages in tiny font, I’m happy if I can manage to hit that goal with the English version
Infinite Jest listed as comedy, wow. (Genre tags from wiki:
Hysterical realism, metamodernism, literary fiction, post-postmodernism, encyclopedic novel, science fiction.) It can be humorous, but I’m not sure that would be in the top … twenty adjectives I’d use to describe it. I hope you enjoy it!
Hmmm, it seems that their categorization seems to be a bit… coarse, maybe?
Like, Murakami is in “Love” (I haven’t read Norwegian Wood yet, so this may be correct, but…), and I noticed “The Wind in the Willows” is in Comedy (maybe I’m confusing this book as it’s been a while but I thought I found this pretty sad at times) and probably a bunch of others, so
Yes, very much! Although the writing style requires a lot of focus, not gonna lie. But I’m only one chapter in, so I still have enough time to get used to it, I guess
Oooh, this sounds fun! Though considering the official timeline is only 72 hours there is no way I’m picking a Japanese book And a short break from reading Japanese really wouldn’t hurt.
Had a quick skim through the Comedy list and what do you know - I actually have a copy of ‘Solomon Gursky was here’ by Mordecai Richler lying around. Bought it second-hand a couple years back because I thought it sounded interesting, then promptly forgot about it. Had to search for a while but I eventually found it, together with a whole pile of books I forgot I had Anyways, I might as well give this one a go :3
Oh no, is Norwegian Wood just a novel-length Murakami™ scene?
Luckily in “How to participate” it says that there is no requirement to stick to this time interval :
which is the only thing that makes sense given that nobody can validate when everybody is reading anyway
I think I mentioned in the thread that I got that book (well, 上 and 下, so technically two books) for christmas. I only checked the first ~20 pages, but I guess it could fit? The main character was reminiscing about a past relationship.
Finally read the third volume of ホテル・メッツァペウラへようこそ and it is still super wholesome and fun. This is also the only thing that I read true 多読 style.
So I actually decided to see if I could (without getting tired/bored/other) read it in one sitting/day, and I did. So that is an achievement I can check off. I don’t have perfect understanding, and there was a couple of places were I maybe missed a few too many details, but I’ve always planned to reread these at a later date, so not a great loss.
I finished a video game that I’d highly recommend to… basically anyone reading this!
It’s a 2022 game that I saw mentioned a little bit in an end of year thread or two, and I was immediately curious enough to try it out. I played the steam version which is easy to switch to Japanese from the steam menu, and while I think the game would be very charming in any language, I think it would really shine as an accessible game for someone learning the language!
The premise of the game is that a friend at school put a lot of work into an elaborate RPG for you to play, and so the whole thing is him guiding you through this pencil and paper / papercraft / etc. handmade adventure and it is ~~ adorable ~~, with tons and tons of creative uses of that concept and lots of obvious love put into each scene. The story told in the in-game game, is of course a straightforward old school Dragon Quest-type RPG story, but I think the concept and the great execution do a wonderful job of evoking the fun and feeling of adventure that makes those games work in the first place.
Since it’s really a linear adventure game evoking an RPG than an RPG itself, and it’s clearly meant to be accessible to children, none of the things it asks you to do are incredibly difficult (and there’s generous checkpoints and a hint system), but it keeps throwing fun and unexpected things in through to the end, a lot more than I was expecting when I went in (it’s around 8 hours). And there’s a LOT of text to read, since this kid is constantly describing everything you encounter to you (including a mode where you can click on stuff in the scene and get even more narration). He does the voices for all the characters and everything - again, it’s very adorable.
There’s no furigana, and no voice acting, but all or nearly all of the important text requires a button to advance, so you can take as long to read it as you need, and the level of language complexity wouldn’t be more than your average shonen manga. With a surprising amount of strange and fun situations to provide plenty of opportunity for interesting new vocabulary and chances to get that especially fun “the game told me to do X and I knew what to do!” language feeling. I’ve read enough, and played enough actual RPGs, that it wasn’t a problem for me to keep up, but it was still extremely charming and very fun, and it’s one I wish I could dial back time a little bit when it would have been extra rewarding to challenge myself and play through it!
The gimmick of the game can get in the way of the usability a bit (there isn’t really a menu for save/load and exit, it seems like, since starting the game is just presented as walking back up to the kid’s desk, so I was worried I’d lose progress sometimes until I noticed the autosave indicator), and some of the controls can be a bit strange (in some cases it wants you to use the d-pad, others the joystick, which takes getting used to), but it really is an awfully cool package, especially for you know, specifically us, where the language-learning aspect makes an accessible kids’ game with a ton of text additionally appealing.
It doesn’t seem like it has a giant amount of buzz (and it was a total surprise to me) so I feel extra obligated to recommend it strongly.
As with the first volume, various one-off horror scenarios all featuring a mysterious perpetual transfer student adept in satanic black magic that hit the spot if that’s the kind of thing you’re in the mood for. There’s one story that gestures a little at the protagonists’ place in like, a particular satanic coven’s hierarchy or something? But I’m not really even sure if she’s meant to be consistent across the episodes. I remember liking a bit with a killer doll in this one where she puffed on a cigarette and the killer doll she was holding exhaled the smoke, to show their souls were linked. That’s a good bit.
As with previous volumes, a slickly illustrated, easy to read, kinda H but surprisingly sweet gay teen vampire romance. Looks like there’s action on the horizon… the cast has already weathered one complete grim action arc, and then ended up with the love interests you’d want them to end up with, so I kinda feel like now if something really permanently bad happens to anyone I’ll maybe just be extra grumpy about it if that makes sense.
I had another surge of “I should get into some more manga magazines” feelings after writing up that last Harta issue, and tried out an issue of Monthly Comic Beam I got in a recent sale. It suckered me in pretty quick by grouping the 新連載 and 読切 at the start, and they were all at least interesting.
The impression I get of Beam is that it’s a bit more… off-putting? full-on seinen-y? than Harta, in the sense that I feel like Harta’s stories are all at least baseline interesting, and a lot of them (though not all) are inviting, in the sense of being comforting or easy-to-grasp or special interest (like, “this one’s a geology manga, this one’s about this nice boy in a hotel in Finland” or whatever), whereas I feel like my impression is Beam’s stories are all also at least baseline interesting, but there’s none of that warm inviting aspect. Which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, to be clear - it just made it an interestingly different experience picking up the magazine for the first time, since I feel like I was less motivated to get my bearings with a new series in the middle of a late chapter, but not because of being less interested in them, if that makes sense. (Incidentally, looking into a bit - it looks like Beam is also Kadokawa-published, and Harta’s lineage traces back to a Beam spin-off in the mid-2000s. Go figure!)
One element along those lines is there’s a few artists in Beam who have been in the “I’m interested in all their work but haven’t actually read much of any yet” category for me for a long time, particularly Atsushi Kaneko, Gou Tanabe, and Maruo Suehiro. Seeing their series in-progress made me more interested in following Beam, despite not necessarily wanting to join in progress and not actually knowing for sure how much I like their work yet.
In any case – I identified with the slogan at the top of the magazine: “A MAGAZINE for the COMIC FREAKS!” enough that as long as I don’t completely get distracted and not read any manga magazines for a while (knock on wood) I think I will give a shot following it for a bit at least.
This is the Atsushi Kaneko series currently running in Beam, and as I mentioned, that’s an artist whose work I’ve been interested in in a long time even though I haven’t actually read any of it yet (multiple other series are in my backlog system somewhere…), so I thought this Beam experiment might be a good excuse to fix that.
A hyperviolent cynical take on superhero comics, where a rough Superman analogue is a murderous government stooge is, I would say, very much not a fresh premise, in western comics at least, and that’s roughly the setup here, but I’d say that Kaneko’s extremely crisp and striking Charles Burnsish stark black and white art style, plus the novelty of seeing that kind of story in a manga set in Japan, at least have kept me interested so far. I’m definitely curious where it goes.
You know, Eizoken’s kind of an odd manga! I’m having a little bit of trouble fully following what’s going on since it swaps so frequently between like, heartfelt ruminations on the creative process, and zany school club warfare, but I’m generally still very on board.
Off and on I’ll read a bit more Dragon Ball and then up reading a bunch more in a chunk, since it’s so fun and easy to read. Akira Toriyama is truly best in class when it comes to just fun, anything goes adventures. The early part of 5 I read a long time ago but I remember enjoying the Red Ribbon army and seeing the Frankenstein fella who I’d seen briefly cameo in Z (I appreciate that he’s just a totally nice guy). The world’s greatest hitman with 殺 on the front of his shirt and “Kill You!” on the back is maybe my new favorite Dragon Ball character. There’s also a chapter or two where the cast from Dr. Slump just fully are around talking to Goku and stuff. As well as some of the other characteristic Toriyama stuff, off-color parts… A queer-coded effeminate villain isn’t handled the best (although thankfully not as over the top as some I’ve seen in shonen manga…), and uh, a shrinking device is introduced and then used for exactly one scene transition and then for Muten Roshi to try spying on Bulma urinating. So there’s that.
I finished コンビニ人間 in the end. The ending had a good punchline, but it was really dragging and overall I wouldn’t call it a great story. Some of the more psychological aspects of the story were rather obvious and while on one hand it had a bit of an indie movie feel to it (re: Amelia), it was also very depressing.
Phew, so I finished 海賊と呼ばれた男（下） after reading the first part (上) about 1.5 years ago. I talked about part 1 here, basically it’s a historical novel based on the life of 出光佐三, the founder of 出光興産, a Japanese petroleum company. His name was changed in the book but everything’s based on historical facts. It won the Japan Booksellers Award, was read and praised by Abe Shinzō, turned into a movie and manga…
It was really interesting and I quite enjoyed it, more than 上 I think. It can be a tad dry, but 下 has more of a continuous narrative rather than a series of somewhat disconnected events.
However, like I mentioned in my other post, you have to be prepared for a lot of nationalist and patriotic narrative, glorious Japan, praise the emperor and all that. It reminded me of France’s motto during german occupation: “travail, famille, patrie” (work, family, homeland), but without the family part. It’s all about work and homeland. It glorifies a total lack of work life balance, sacrificing yourself for your company and for your country so that Japan can rise from the rubbles of ww2 and go back to being the greatest country ever.
It turns out the author is a pretty controversial figure, “known for his right-wing political views and denying Japanese war crimes” (from wikipedia). Apparently during the last US elections, he made this prediction: 「アメリカ大統領選挙はいくつかの州で不正が見つかり、開票をやり直して、不正票が無効となり、その結果、トランプの再選が決まる」which ranks him in the idiot category as far as I’m concerned >_>
But it turns out that Idemitsu himself was also a bit of an extremist right wing, to the point where according to one of his daughters he praised the murderer of left-wing politician Inejirō Asanuma. She also said “he had a Confucian attitude towards women, and embraced a patriarchal view of the role of men and women that led to the belittling of his wife and daughters”.
Of course none of this is mentioned in the book which is a pretty one sided story about how Idemitsu is the best thing that happened to Japan since sliced shokupan. To be fair, if he did half of the things that are in the book, then he was a pretty amazing guy indeed. Overall I do think it’s really worth a read for anyone interested in 20th century japanese history and culture.