Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Anime and Manga 101: Lesson 2 (Where to find your show/manga)

Welcome back class!  It's been a long (...long, long, long) time since our last class, but I guess that is to be expected when a volcano lavas all over your classroom.  Turns out fire alarms sound a lot like OH GOD IT'S A VOLCANO alarms. *

*See last class in which we were cut short because of an alarm.  Or more specifically, a volcano alarm.

We've got a lot of lost time to make up for, so let's get started!

Last class we went over audience classifications and I recommended a few of the anime and manga I have really loved over the years.  Your homework was to pick the anime or manga you want to start.  Easy enough, so I expect everyone to have done this *narrows eyes at nervous looking class*.

"But sensei," I can hear those of you who did your homework ask,"I picked my anime/manga....but I don't know how I'm supposed to find the show/manga I want!" Well, my little studentlings, that's what I'm hear to tell you.

Let's start with anime.  Firstly, it's important to know that anime is made in generally your anime is going to have originally been made with voice actors speaking Japanese.  These you will have to watch with subtitles, or subs.  If the anime is popular enough, they get remade with new voice actors, or dubs.  One is not definitively better than the other, although certainly sometimes the voice acting for a particular show is better than another.  Subbed shows are nice because you aren't going to be limited in what you can watch.  Luckily there are still plenty of dubbed shows, but it means you are going to be watching the show later than much of the rest of the world and that you will have a much smaller catalogue to choose from.  Honestly, about half of my favourite anime are subbed only, but the dubs I've loved have had really stellar voice acting, so I'd recommend trying both options if you can.  So the first thing to do is decide if you want to watch something that is dubbed or subbed (if you have both options available to you with the show you want to watch, anyway).  Then, I recommend heading over to either Netflix, Crunchyroll, or Hulu, and start watching!

Netflix - Some of you probably already have a Netflix subscription.  The good news is that Netflix does have anime, and that it actually has original content anime (meaning anime that Netflix has commissioned/created), which means it is exclusive to Netflix.  The bad news is that the anime catalogue is reaaaaaaaally small, so you aren't going to have many shows to choose from.

Crunchyroll - I'm actually fairly new to Crunchyroll, so some of my more advanced students might actually be more knowledgeable about Crunchyroll than I am.  I only recently discovered that it does have content available to users for free.  Basically, it's set up very similarly to how Hulu works for us as far as regular tv is concerned: it's better for new, ongoing shows but it does have full seasons of older shows as well.  There's definitely a lot more content available to a subscriber, and what's really cool is that you can not only watch shows as they come out in Japan, you also have access to their whole manga catalogue as well, which is very, very cool and is making me consider subscribing. (t's super cheap - it's only $6.95 a month, so very potentially worth it if I start watching/reading more again).  From what I've seen browsing their website it looks like they have less dubs, or for shows with multiple seasons they sometimes only have one season.  I could be wrong, so I definitely recommend checking it out and seeing if they have a show you're interested in watching available on the free version!  *Edit - Mitchii also recommends Daisuke and Funimation for subscription services!

Hulu - This is by far my favourite way to watch shows.  So far they've had all but one show I wanted to watch (which is a somewhat obscure one, and luckily Crunchyroll had it!) and they seem to have the most dubbed shows available out of these three options.  I unfortunately am not able to watch many subbed shows anymore since I don't have time (I tend to multitask while watching tv, and subbed shows don't really allow for that) so this is a big plus for me.  Even better, I haven't found a single anime show that was restricted in any way for free users.  So it's a huge catalogue, with a ton of choices between subbed or dubbed, and it's free.  Hence it being my favorite. (I also think Hulu has a deal with Funimation, so most? all? of the dubbed anime is from Funimation)

And it's as simple as that!  Manga on the other hand...not so simple.  I first and foremost always want to support the artist, and whereas it's fairly easy to do with anime....not so much with manga.

As with anime, manga is Japanese, so you're going to be dealing with content that's written in a language you can't read (unless you read Japanese, so kudos to you).  What this means, is if the series is popular enough, it gets serialized in other languages (most notably in our case, English) and you can go to your library or local bookstore and find it.  As with dubs though, you're limited by what gets popular enough to be picked up AND - horror of horrors - things happen like when Tokyo Pop lost it's licensing on a lot of it's series, so halfway through the series they just stopped being published in English.  This means, at least in my case and especially for those in more rural areas where the library might only have one or two manga selections, it can be really hard to support the artist even if you want to. The important thing to remember about mangakas is that they work more like a serialized comic or a tv show - if their sales aren't doing well, the story gets dropped.  And that's it. You can be halfway through and then BAM. There's no more. 

But there's another option: scanlations.  Scanlations are basically what they sound like - manga that has been scanned online and then translated.  The groups who do this are really, really awesome - there's a team of people who works on scanlating mangas and it's really time consuming, and they do it out of the goodness out of their hearts basically.  This is how I discovered my favourite manga ever - Cat Street.  It is not possible to find this in any other format in English.  Believe me, I've tried.  I would LOVE to buy it and support the mangaka (the creator of the manga) but I can only seem to find it in Japanese or French of all things.  This is where it gets a little iffy.  Ordinarily, I would never advocate searching out an author's work free online, but in many cases it's the only way you have access to their work since it hasn't officially been translated.  And it's definitely a more accepted thing in the community to read your manga this way (even if I am still leery of reading things for free).  Beyond that, you also want to make sure you are using sites that support the scanlation team too since they've put in all that hard work for free.  And to be honest I've had so many sites recommended and then later have been told the site rips off scanlations without giving the scanlators credit.  Basically tl;dr it may feel weird, but scanlations are a kosher thing especially when you don't have another way to read the manga. (But if you have the ability to, please support the mangaka by buying, subscribing, or going to a library!)

*Edit - Mitchii from Rainy Ink Studios, a very advanced student has some really great pointers down in the comments.  I'll try and add what she says throughout this post, but I also really recommend her site - she's well versed in anime and manga and has excellent taste, so if you're looking for something good to check out she's a great resource!

So here's where I'd recommend starting with manga:

1. The Library - the more you check out manga from a library, the more they see there's an audience looking for more, and the more they buy.  And your library might have the manga you wanted to start with anyway!

2. Buy from a local bookstore, Amazon, or join a subscription service like Crunchyroll - Most bookstores (especially if they are online) are going to have a big catalogue of manga to choose from, and Crunchyroll is obviously great because it's very little money for unlimited access to their library catalogue.  This way you still get to support the mangaka so they keep writing their story! *Mitchii says the best way is to buy direct from Japan to support the mangaka, so if you don't mind owning in Japanese, this is the super, super best way to support the mangaka.

3. *Edit with Mitchii's advice: Direct from the scanlators - Every manga has a credit page that lists where they post the original scanlation.  This way the scanlators aren't being ripped off, and if their site has ads, it supports them monetarily.  If you'd rather have all the the scanlations on one site, Mitchii recommends using batoto since the scanlating groups upload them directly.

And that's it for this class! You've chosen your manga and/or anime, you know where to find them so - get reading and watching!  We'll return in our next class to look at popular/influential/I just feel like talking about it because it's AWESOME and you should know it shows and mangas in our next class!*

*Unless I change my lesson plan because that is a thing I can do because I AM THE SENSEI HERE.

Happy viewing!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Top Ten Books Under 2000 Ratings

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish
 My only requirements for this week's topic (beyond the 2000 ratings) is that they aren't from last week's list - which has some deserving books that would otherwise be on this one.  Also I gave myself an extra 10 slots for picture books, because why limit yourself, am I right?

A Cat Called Dog by Jem Vanston

A Cat Called Dog

I will forever be a champion of this book and this will probably always be my favourite not-well-known book on the list.  It's so funny and if you've ever had a cat it is just so...exactly cattish.  (I'm running on low sleep and caffeine so forgive my lack of vocabulary at the moment).  If any of you HAVE read the book, he could really use the reviews/publicity, so first of all: read the book it's great, second of all tell everyone you know about it and review!

Death Wish by Megan Tayte

Death Wish (Ceruleans, #1)

If there is one thing I can say for blogging in the years when I was still taking books for review, it's that I never otherwise would have found gems like this book (and A Cat Called Dog).  This has one of my favourite examples of female friendship, and features a character with a physical disability that isn't ignored - but it doesn't define who she is as a character, and since these are two things I so rarely find (and want so badly) this definitely belongs at the top of this list!

The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko (Koi dano ai dano) by Ririko Tsujita

The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, Volume 1

I love this series SO MUCH.  It reminds me of a lot of the things I love about Skip Beat! (my all time favourite manga) - a heroine who has a strong drive (in Kyoko's case it's her acting career, in Kanoko's case it's her observations of human behavior) and oblivious nature to the main lead's interest in her.  But where Kyoko is naive and open, Kanoko is conniving and likes to plot and I LOVE SLYTHERIN HEROINES.  I may be a Hufflepuff, but I adore heroines who scheme.

The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

The Demon Catchers of Milan

It's been so long since I've read this one, but I vaguely remember really enjoying it because it has a strong focus on family, a heroine who travels to a country where English isn't the main language (and therefore has to learn Italian/other ways to communicate real quick), and while there is romance, there's a distinct lack of focus on said romance.  The heroine has bigger problems to deal with - like being in a strange country where she doesn't know the language.  Oh, and also not being possessed by a demon.

Seeing Red by Katheryn Erskine

Seeing Red

 This was a powerful story about loss and grief, as well as a look at small town South in the 70's.  It was really eye opening - because racism was still pretty rampant (and not that it's gone now, but I feel like it's more subtle now - in this place and time it was definitely accepted to be outspokenly racist).  And when you realize that the 70's...I mean, my parents were almost teenagers by then.  It's just...strange to thing of when put in that perspective.  This book tackles a lot - racism, loss of a parent, sexism, blame - but it manages to do so in a really poignant way.

Voyage of the Bassett by James C. Christensen, Renwick St. James, and Alan Dean Foster

Voyage of the Basset

This has been one of my favourite books since childhood - the artwork is gorgeous for one, and the story takes characters from our 19th century world and transports them (by way of boat) to the world of mythology.  All the characters have so much growth throughout the story and did I mention the artwork?  If you can find a copy, you should definitely take a look.

Destiny's Embrace by Beverly Jenkins

Destiny's Embrace (Destiny's, #1)

Historical romance novel featuring PoC's as the main love interest.  (Added bonus I think this one was a hate-to-love story) So basically something I have been actively searching for in the past year or so.  'Nuff said.

Cat Street by Yoko Kamio

Cat Street, Vol. 1 (Cat Street #1)

Ok, this is actually probably my favourite manga.  At the very least it's tied with Skip Beat.  Whenever someone asks for manga recs, 99% of the time this is the first thing I go to.  It's a quiet sort of story and I never really know how to sell it, other than that it's a beautiful story, the art is gorgeous, and I ship the ship with the fiery of a thousand suns.  So if you're looking to try out a manga...this one is definitely a good one to check out! (You'd have to go to a scanlation site like mangapanda/mangareader/etc. since it's never been officially translated into English, unfortunately)

This is All: The Pillowbook of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers

This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn

 This book is a force.  It's brutal and honest and two stories in one.  I'd never read anything in a pillowbook sort of format before so it felt completely innovative to me.  It is a big book, but I feel like it's worth every page.  It is one of those books that has stayed with me throughout the years (literally and metaphorically - as someone who has moved across the country multiple times, keeping a book as giant as this one is no small feat).

Good Enough by Paula Yoo

Good Enough

This was one of my favourite books of last year - if I could have had a book that perfectly summed up my senior year of high school, this would be it.  Auditions for school, music, dealing with life outside of that - this book feels so on point.  I don't often read books about musicians that don't make me feel like rolling my eyes, but the author clearly gets it.

Under 2000 Ratings Picture Book Edition

(because picture books never get enough appreciation!)

Tangoroas's Gift by Mere Whaanga


This book is special for two reasons: one, it would be in my top 10 picture books with great art.  Two, it's written by a Kiwi author, so it's sort of important in sort of way.  (My mom and grandmother are from New Zealand).  If I recall correctly it's a sort of Maori version of Pandora's Box.

The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox

The Goblin and the Empty Chair

First of all, if you haven't read a picture book by Mem Fox, you need to change that immediately.  I haven't encountered a single book by her that I haven't loved.  I chose this one because it is the best picture I've ever read in terms of grief because it uses context and visual clues rather than outright talking about it which makes it easy to use in a wide range of ages.

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Charles Santore

The Little Mermaid

Once again, such a sucker for art.  This is another copy I've had since I was a child and I hung on to it because A. It used to be my favourite fairy tale (I super loved Hans Christian Anderson in general) and B. this is hands down my favourite fairy tale art.

What Do You Say Dear? by Sesyle Joslin, illustrated by Maurice Sendak


The kids I nanny introduced me to this little gem - it's hilarious and treats learning about manners in about the sort of manner you would expect from Maurice Sendak (which I expect is why he agreed to illustrate the book).  This sums up the book pretty well: "What do you say when the Queen feeds you so much spaghetti that you don't fit in your chair anymore?"

Slinky Malinki by Lynley Dodd


I was honestly really surprised that this has under 2000 ratings - I'd thought it was a popular series, but I guess I just loved it enough as a kid I assumed everyone else did too haha!  This one is about a burglar cat who has to reform his ways.  The author also did the Hairy MacLary books which I also loved.

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon
Herman and Rosie

I loved this picture book so much that after the kids introduced me to it I went out and bought a copy for myself!  (IT HAS AN OBOE PLAYING ALLIGATOR THIS SPEAKS TO MY SOUL.)

Comet's Nine Lives by Jan Brett

 Comet's Nine Lives

Of all of Jan Brett's books (of which there are many.  I feel like anyone who has read more than a few picture books/has children is required to read her books at some point) this one is my favourite.  I love her signature style - the way she illustrates, as well as the fact you can always find clues to the next page.  Plus this one is about a cat who keeps getting into trouble.  Clearly even kid me knew I was going to turn into a cat lady.

Prickly Jenny by Sibylle Delacroix

Prickly Jenny

 Cute artwork, and it illustrates what all of us sometimes feel (although it's the worst when you're a teenager) where you can feel one way and then suddenly feel another for what seems like no apparent reason whatsoever.  As I still have not grown out of this stage apparently, I felt a sense of kindredness...ship...(UGH COFFEE IS NEEDED) with Jenny.

Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young

Wabi Sabi

Gorgeous artwork, haikus, and an interesting way to introduce a new somewhat difficult concept.

Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon

Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess, #1)

Ok, this one is technically not a picture book.  But it is illustrated and it is for kids.  It is also hilarious and turns tropes and gender norms on their heads and I love Ursula Vernon's books so much!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Day in the Life #44 In which Elizabeth enjoys a humdrum couple weeks

I'm linking up with The Sunday Post, hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Hmm.  Well...I honestly don't have much of note to talk about off the top of my head.  I've been working extra with the boys, which has been a lot of fun (picnics! hikes! fluxx! books!)  The oldest boy has just started reading the Harry Potter series (he's on book four now) which has me SO EXCITED YES I CAN TALK ABOUT HARRY POTTER ALL THE TIME!!  He keeps thinking he can trip me up, but he can't compete with my well over a decade of being immersed in Harry Potter culture. HA.  We took a quiz that uses the Pottermore questions and guesses which answer correlates to which house so it gives you what percentage you are of each.  I'd pegged both of them for Ravenclaw for sure, but I thought the oldest would most likely be a straight Ravenclaw and the youngest a Huffleclaw/Ravenpuff like me.  Turns out I was totally wrong - the oldest is a Huffleclaw and the youngest is a Slytherclaw haha!  (I had to console the mother who hasn't read the books and was like...wait...does this mean I have to worry about my son being evil? Haha!)  They both started reading Tamora Pierce books (SUCCESS) - the youngest is currently reading the Kel books and I think I maaaaay need to steer him away from that.  The first two books are ok, but the third book has a sex talk/sex before marriage/etc.  Nothing graphic or anything...but he is six and I'm not entirely certain his mom wants to deal with any of that quite yet.  (Probably I'll just let her know and let her decide)  The older kid (nine) is reading the Daine books and I think those ones should be fine. Clearly my plan to get them started with the Emelan books instead of the Tortall ones failed, but hey at least they're reading Tamora Pierce!  So basically my last week was Tamora Pierce/Harry Potter centric, and isn't that pretty much living the dream?

I tried to restrain myself.  I really, really did.  But I got so excited about all the musicals when I watched the Tonys that I relapsed and have been listening to this practically exclusively.  (In other news, I have been banned from listening to this any more).  I literally listened to Washington on Your Side for a straight half hour and I usually HATE listening to anything multiple times in a row.  I actually fell asleep and dreamed about this song the whole night - I woke up the next morning and new all the words.  Yes even those ones. I can sing this entire song.  All because this song was stuck in my head so deeply I dreamt about it haha!  But now that this musical has been banned, it just means I can listen to Waitress all the time instead, right? 


Tamara Pierce has been sharing some gorgeous fan art of her characters on her Tumblr!
Niall has round up the author/publisher reactions to Brexit.
More Margaret Atwood books on tv? Count me in!
Speaking of SFF Adaptions - here's a list of all the rest of them.  Any you're excited about? 
Seanan McGuire and Lee Hill on their new anthology "Every Heart a Doorway".


Bailey looks at sword fighting as dance in fantasy (in all mediums!).
Yah and Janet put together a fan mix for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and it is PERFECTION.
Christina takes a look at the YA adaptions coming to our screen and talks about why these ones will be successes.

Non bookish

Who's still obsessing over this year's Tony awards?  NOT ME. DEFINITELY NOT ME. (But for real - the four main musical acting awards going to people of color? The performances? Lin Manuel Miranda's sonnet speech? James Corbin's opening number? The outpouring of love throughout the show was a balm to all the hurt we'd been feeling about Orlando throughout the day and ok I'll stop now. )
There's going to be a live action Full Metal Alchemist adaptation...I...don't know know how I feel about this.  I mean, I love FMA...BUT...when was the last good live action adaption of an animated show? Has there ever been one?