Manga Review: Chi’s Sweet Home

In honor of the acquisition of the cutest kitten in the world, Kotatsu, I thought I would review another appropriate manga!

For people like me who are studying Japanese, it is extremely hard to find manga to read in Japanese so that we can practice.  Especially manga that we can enjoy. Then I found Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata.  It is an adorable story about a lost kitten that is adopted by a new family.  The premise is slightly sad since a kitten gets separated from its mom, then wanders around by itself until finally he is exhausted and a little kid finds it.

The story follows Chi through litter box training, vet visits, and baths, using simple words and phrases through the little boy and Chi’s baby talk. Any kanji in the series has furigana (the smaller hiragana translations) next to each character to make it even easier to understand. I know that I usually read any manga as “watashi wa ‘big fat kanji big fat kanji’ desu” when they don’t use furigana, but I promise, I am getting better lately!

With the help of a dictionary every now and then, it is easy for most Japanese students to get through as long as they have a command of the hiragana and katakana and basic to mid-range grammatical knowledge, such as conjugations and sentence structure.

The story is very cute and it was gratifying to read and understand, even with the kitten’s baby talk (it uses “ra” instead of “da” and other cutesy terms). Even veteran Japanese manga readers (including the Psychotaku) can enjoy this series since it is very comical in an innocent and adorable way (especially if you love cats, but what Japanese culture over doesn’t?!).

I recommend this to anyone who wants to work on their Japanese away from the formality of class and the manga helps to recognize more common slang words and other everyday life customs.

For those that aren’t taking Japanese (and why aren’t you?!) the manga is also available in English from Vertical, Inc. Oh wow…just realized that I am almost like a Vertical, Inc. spokewoman at this point since I already reviewed Black Jack! Ah well, I promise the next one won’t be from the same publisher, ok?!

This series has also come out as an anime as well, each three minute episode represents one chapter from the manga. The episodes are straight from the manga and are equally as funny and adorable as the manga.

Enjoy!!

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Quickie Update for Black Jack…

Today I went to Japan Town in San Francisco. Yesterday, I bought two of the Black Jack volumes put out by Vertical, Inc. from Dr. Comics and Mr. Games in Oakland. I read them without a breath between so when I saw the third volume at Kinokuniya today, I HAD to get it. I must say, the Vertical, Inc. volumes do NOT disappoint. Even though some of the stories were repeats from the original Viz volumes (they did a kind of “Best of”), I couldn’t put them down until I was done with all three. Now I need MORE!! I just wish they weren’t so expensive. The books are really nice quality volumes and have about 12 stories in each so they are about $16 a piece. Quite unfortunate. Another expensive habit, I guess.

PS. While I was there, I also got a “Lucky Star” Kogami Akira figure today to go with my Izumi Konata and Hiiragi Tsukasa figures! YAY!!! I LOVE AKIRA!!!

Manga Review: Blackjack

Black Jack was published between 1973 and 1983 by legendary mangaka Osamu Tezuka.  Tezuka wrote other great works like Kimba the White Lion and (of course) Astro Boy prior to this series and it is a great representation of his awesome storytelling powers! 

I found two volumes of this popular medical manga at Book Off in Gardena last week and it didn’t take me too long to figure out that it was a story of an unlicensed doctor, named Black Jack, that performs medical miracles for the rich and poor alike.  From the richest, most corrupt people, he charges outrageous sums in order to force a sense of justice on the corrupt and sometimes, the medical miracle he provides isn’t exactly what people are looking for from him.  The two volumes that I found were published by Viz Communications in 1999, but they are no longer in print so they were $15.99 new and I paid $11 for them used (which is a lot higher than the usual $5 for manga there).  Also, they are formatted backwards (ie. the English way, from left to right).  It should also be noted that the Viz versions are not in order and contain special stories from later on as well as some earlier stories. 

Vertical, Inc. began reproducing the manga in the normal Japanese format in 2008 and they are still continuing the series.  I haven’t seen any of the Vertical, Inc. versions, but I would assume that as long as the translations are pretty good, they are a good read as well.  You can also see “Black Jack” the anime which consisted of 62 episodes shown between 2004 and 2006 and a second anime of 17 episodes called “Black Jack 21” which was released in 2006.

The story is more episodic than serial, with each chapter being fairly self-contained, except for a few key points, like his child-like assistant Pinoko.  I really enjoyed the stories since they were fantastical, but believable.  Tezuka didn’t want to be too technical and so the medical jargon is sparse.  We are supposed to believe that Black Jack is superhuman, and he is definitely that. 

Sometimes, it looks like Black Jack shirks morals altogether, but you will have to read the series to see how that comes out.  I love that the stories are short, sweet and to the point.  The art is typical Tezuka so expect to see some Astro Boy look-alikes and the extreme medical closeups are pretty detailed (sometimes, it is kinda gross).  This is definitely an old manga so some of the art may seem outdated.  The writing, on the other hand, is excellent and edgy, I felt like I was on the edge of my seat wondering how things were going to wind up at the end of each chapter…How is he going to save the day this time?  I was pleasantly surprised each time since it seems like each ending is more of a twist that the last.

Altogether, this manga is great…unless you are squeamish.  But if you aren’t, I definitely recommend it!!  Good luck finding the original Viz translations, but I am sure the Vertical, Inc. ones are pretty easy to find at your local manga retailer.

Japanese 3 or Crazy Kanji Studying….Starting Tomorrow

I am SO nervous.  I start my third semester of Japanese tomorrow and I am so worried about all of the kanji I am going to have to learn.  If you don’t know what kanji is, it is all of those crazy Chinese characters that Japanese people use IN ADDITION TO their two alphabets of 42 characters (that’s right, 84 characters of sounds PLUS thousands of Chinese characters!)…I swear this is going to drive me crazy.  Supposedly, I am going to be able to read a newspaper by the end of this class.  It seems like such a tall order since I can barely get the meanings in easy manga (ie. Yotsuba and Chi’s Sweet Home) without asking the Psychotaku for help.  ARGH!!!

Well, I guess I can just try my best (ganbatte yo!).  I just hope that the first month isn’t too crazy since I have my Professional Geologist exam to study for this month as well.  WHY did I have to get accepted this year!!??  I mean, I am happy that I finally got accepted but why couldn’t it have been last year, when I was re-taking Japanese 1 (it had been three years since I had last taken it).  ARGH.  This is getting pretty scary.  I never thought I would get this far in Japanese.  I thought it would just be a fleeting hobby….but no.  I am going to Japan in March, DEFINITELY.

So I am saving up and I need as much knowledge of the language as humanly possible before I go.  I really don’t want to have the Psychotaku translating for me everywhere.  That would ruin my trip and make me feel like I wouldn’t be able to get by in one of my favorite cultures.  That would just be awful.  He is so lucky that I am from England and he only needs to understand accents when we go to visit my homeland. SO LUCKY!!!

Well, wish me luck in this crazy endeavor….full time work (including long days of field work) is not conducive for learning a language…I just need to get past October 2nd (my PG exam) and maybe I will have time to study all of the kanji that is sure to be thrown my way.  I already have my first two semesters of kanji flash cards ready, I just need to get a full command of most of them before tomorrow…think I can do it?!!!

Ganbatte ne!!!!

Anime Expo 2010!!!

I really wanted to get to AX this year on the Friday by way of leaving work early…that didn’t work though…and I ended up getting out of work WAY late. Though I heard that Friday was pretty fun. Boo-urns!

I DID get there early on Saturday morning and I had a great weekend!!! There were so many great cosplayers!! I interviewed some of them (along with the Psychotaku) and the video should be up pretty soon! I found the awesome-est wall scroll (I HATE wall scrolls, by the way) of Konata from Lucky Star getting an email about the second season of Haruhi and celebrating with Tsukasa and Kagami. It has her Haruhi cosplay costume in the background along with Kagami reading the Haruhi manga. It is a great crossover.

Also, we hit the Breaking Into Animation panel which was really interesting (see the two-part video on the Psychotaku homepage!). And we passed out flyers for our panel on Sunday. We went through 500 flyers in about 20 minutes! I think next time we need to pass out about 1,000!!

Here is a pic of me from Saturday (the fountain is in the courtyard at my apartment):

And then there was Sunday….Panel day!!! Yay! We were pretty nervous most of the day so we didn’t really do much except for interviewing cosplayers. My favorites were a little boy dressed up as a Bleach character that wouldn’t speak and a guy dressed up as Russell from UP (my favorite charater EVER!!!).

The panel went great, we had about 70 people there and most of them didn’t even know who we were. One funny thing was that the volunteer that was working the room knew who we were from our time on ScrewAttack and he had some pretty good questions for us. It was cool that the questions we were asked this time around were SO different from the Fanime questions. Some people came up and asked for our autographs and some people even came up and thanked us for the entertainment! It was a great vibe!!

I want to thank everyone that came to our panel! We had a great time! And we hope to see you all next year!

The Awesomer-Team…Trust me.

That’s right, there is a team that is more awesome than the A-Team. How can that be, you ask? Well, if you were at E3 this week, you would have seen the Psychotaku and JewWario hanging out….and if you ask me, they are the AWESOME-EST team.

JewWario stayed at our place for his last night in LA. It was cool since we got to take him to all of the hottest Japanese places in our area (there are quite a few). So they hit Little Tokyo after the con and, of course, they took him to Anime Jungle. I actually met up with them at Jungle since I had work. I think we spent several hours there perusing the shelves. It was fun, I didn’t know what to expect from him in real life since the Psychotaku is so different from Mark (well, except for the yelling). I think that JewWario is just about the awesome-est, funniest, most considerate guy I have ever met (except for Mark, of course).

Yeah, so we were up chatting about the shows, video games, the future of anime (you know, the basics) until about 3am. It was pretty awesome. So yeah, needless to say, the Psychotaku and JewWario make an excellent combination. I can’t wait until September when we have a wedding to go to in Denver so we can chat with JewWario in person again!!! Thanks for everything, J-Dub!! You are more than welcome to hang out at our place ANY time!!

Also, check out the cutest Thank-You gift ever (Thanks so much, JewWario!!) and the cutest soccer hooligan merchandise ever (Thanks, Mark!!).

L, thanks to J-Dub. Mario, thanks to Psychotaku

Psykoneko NYU!!!

Hey guys! Psykoneko here!!! And I am getting ready to pass out flyers for our panel at Fanime next week!! I hope that some of you all can make it up (or down, depending on your geographical location) and come see us!!!

Yes, I will be there as well and I am getting pretty nervous. What if no one comes to see us? What if we are just sitting there with no questions to answer?! Oh no!!!! This is why I need anyone who can make it to come over and support us!!! Fanime is the biggest anime convention in Northern California and we need it’s support!!!

Our panel is on Sunday, May 30th at 4pm and we will be premiering a new, NEVER BEFORE SEEN episode!!!! This one is a doozy, as well….the Psychotaku as you have never seen him before!!! Prior to the panel, I will be passing out flyers like a mad woman so that we can get as much exposure as we possibly can (maybe you will see me around 🙂 ). My nerves are going to be shot until this is all over with, but I have the confidence that we can make it work!!!!

Thanks again for all of your support in all of our different channels and outlets!!

We love you!!

–Psykoneko NYU!!!!!!!

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