SD Alternative

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” - Dr. Seuss

quick, spend the money before it runs out!

Note to self: DEMAND BACKPAY before applying for unemployment in two weeks. =_= Yeah, that’s right, I’m out of a job. All it really means is that I now have a hard-and-fast reason to step up the job hunt, which I’d kind of let slide. In any other economic climate this would be a blessing in disguise. No, really. ^^

In an effort to make myself feel better, I went to the Borders in Upper Saddle River and bought:

1. Yuki Urushibara – Mushishi vol. 6
2. Fuyumi Ono – The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas
3.Matsuri Hino – Vampire Knight vol. 6

The manga is good! But the anime is better. The manga is still, six volumes on, largely episodic, which works better when you have episodes (or a magazine subscription) I think… if you just picked up the bound volumes, you might get tired of it, even though every episode is different. Also, the anime is gorgeous.

It’s just a really lovely series about a traveling shaman who tries to help the people he meets by explaining that seemingly inexplicable and terrifying natural phenomenon are actually caused by invisible creatures called Mushi. (Kanji means “bug”.) There’s a folklore element crossed with a scientific element crossed with a horror element, but it’s not scary. You should try the first volume at least. Yuki Urushibara has gotten really good at drawing characters as time’s gone on, but in the beginning her real strength was vegetation – you can identify the plants in her drawings by the shapes of the leaves, I swear.

Some good fanfiction for this series too, if that’s a consideration.

Twelve Kingdoms
Whoever wrote the back cover copy for this volume should be given a stern talking to:

More than just a fantasy story filled with horrific monsters, half-beasts, and magicians, The Twelve Kingdoms centers around a world reminiscent of Chinese mythology and rife with civil and political upheaval. The Vast Spread of the Seas, the third volume of this ongoing seven-volume epic, takes you on a wild ride that leaves you questioning the bounds of fantasy and reality.

I’ve been writing marketing blurbs at work recently so I know it’s not easy, but: “more than just”? “Reminiscent of”? “Rife with”? “Questioning the bounds of fantasy and reality” is a decent slogan but it has nothing to do with Twelve Kingdoms. (Which is very firmly reality-based, for all that it’s set in a “utopic” fantasy world.) And either the series is ongoing or it’s seven volumes, make up your mind!

Vampire Knight
Vampire Knight runs on angst and unresolved sexual tension. ^^; Sublimated desire drips off every page – Matsuri Hino draws the sexiest collarbones – and the emotional porn is almost as bad. The series keeps topping itself on the ridiculously intense and melodramatic character revelations front. Zero’s backstory, in volume 5, has been the series highlight so far I think, but I’m interested to see where Kaname’s evil plans go in this volume. (Haven’t read it yet.)

I can’t see any way to resolve the Yuki/Zero/Kaname triangle. Yuki knows that she can’t stop loving Kaname and Zero knows that she knows that she can’t stop, and Kaname knows he can have Yuki whenever he wants to but he just drags it out, leading her along and messing with Zero’s head, too. This isn’t going to be one of those series where the heroine realizes that the man she loves is a scoundrel and chooses the healthier option. (And it’s not clear that Zero is the healthier option, anyway, with the mutual dependence/vampirism thing they have going on. Just because there’s no power imbalance there doesn’t mean it isn’t messed up.)

The story gets more emotional every volume. In a way, it’s exhausting, and not very satisfying – somehow each volume just leaves you wanting more. At this point, after so much time spent winding up the audience, the Matsuri Hino is going to have to deliver one hell of an ending to satisfy. I’m a little bit worried that it won’t happen, and wonder if I should get out now. But I am also interested in the series’ actual plot, with the vampire politics and so on, so I just keep reading and hope it won’t end too badly.