Sunday, August 29, 2010

Confession Time.

'Coming to terms with manga.'
'The post I had trouble settling on a title for.'
'The Point of No Return.'
(which is also the title of a badass Bridget Fonda movie
based on La Femme Nikita)

My younger brother pointed out to me the other day, when I confessed I had engaged in one of the nerdiest pursuits this side of Renaissance Fair attendance, that there's all sorts of nerdy stuff I don't do. I don't play Magic: The Gathering, I don't play D&D or any variation thereof, and I've long since given up my WoW account. Still - it feels as though I've crossed a line, and there's no going back.

On the 12th of August, 2010, I bought my first manga. Oh sure, I'd watched a little anime here and there. I dig me some kung-fu movies, but this was the first time I went out and became one of Those People.

Those People Who Have Mangas. I try to rationalize it. "It has artistic value," I protest!
" of the funniest, most adorable manga series I've read."
-Patrick King, Anime Fringe

"....quiet master of the four-panel form..."
"...character-driven writing..."
-Jason Thompson, Manga: The Complete Guide

Azumanga Daioh is a comic-strip style serial that ran for three years in Dengeki Daioh. It's about six highschool girls basically going on about their lives.

I feel this reflects badly on me.

That I like it, that I value it, that I went out and purchased it. It's really good, but that doesn't change the fact that it's about a bunch of highschool girls. That alone makes me... a little embarrassed. It's like trying to describe Let The Right One In to someone - if you just explain the basic story to them, they're gonna' look at you like you're crazy.

But I do love the book. I bought it 'cause I've seen the anime and I loved the anime. Shortly after securing the book, I added the anime to a growing library of titles I feel no similar guilt towards. I can make a sound argument, be it of style, substance, history or even cultural value for every other anime on my shelf. Here's a few of 'em:

I can't say that Azumanga Daioh is a seminal piece that laid the groundwork for action films for years to come, it's not an incredible melange of styles or an epic clash of spirituality and science fiction.

It's really, really cute. It is... supernaturally charming.

Perhaps that's it - that's the way to explain it. It is phenomenal in the ways that the best RPGs are phenomenal. That's a way for me to quantify it - I care about these characters. I care more that Osaka finds her place in the world than I do about Major Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, than I do about Chihiro in Spirited Away, than I do about Spike in Cowboy Bebop.

So it's fluffy. It's a comedy - it's slice-of-life and it doesn't have anything really compelling or original to say - but it's also engaging.

Charming is the word. It's the best word. Azumanga Daioh will charm the shit out of you.

It did me. So I think I just talked myself into feeling less guilty about AD. Good. I endorse it, I recommend it. If you're in the market for an ultra-endearing comedy, I can suggest no better.

* * *

Having gained a level of comfort with becoming one of Those People Who Have Mangas, I also snagged The Ghost In The Shell last week.

If you're familiar with the film (and serial anime) you'll probably be surprised to discover how much humor there is in the book - and how much of the book is actually reflected in the series, but not the film.

I've not finished it yet, but shortly after I do be prepared for an education on Ghost in the Shell and how you require it, in some form, in your life.

Anyway, back to Azumanga Daioh. This is a side-story to my internal conflict with fluffy adorability...

* * *

So I get the series on DVD, bring it home and what do I discover? It's not a lovely multi-disc case like you get with, well, everything else. It's a big thick case with one peg that you stack every disc on.

Disgusting. Clearly, this required some work. I couldn't have my anime discs sitting on top of other discs! That's the storage solution of the dark ages.

I examined my Blu-ray library. The solution lay with The Lord of the Rings and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox was a three-disc case - a BR, a DVD and a Digital Copy disc.

Fucking digital copy discs. Won't work with my PSP. Goddamnit. Of the two LotR cases, one was a six-disc case (three films, three special features) and one was a (goddamned) three-disc digital copy case.

So here's what I did

Fantastic Mr. Fox on Blu-ray goes into an empty single-disc BR case along with its cover slip. The DVD copy goes into an empty DVD case (so long, 300), gets a printed-out slip and is given to my little brother, who loves all things Wes Anderson. The Digital Copy disc gets burned in a bonfire.

The Lord of the Rings Digital Copy discs also get burned in a bonfire. The three special features discs go into the 3-disc Digital Copy case, the three films go into Fantastic Mr. Fox's case with their original insert, and Azumanga Daioh goes into the six-disc Lord of the Rings Blu-ray case with a printed out slip I assembled from scanning the anime's box art.

So I efficiently culled some offensive digital copy discs from my shelf and secured a nice, comfortable home for my Azumanga Daioh discs.

'Course, now I've got DVDs in a Bluray case.

...which is gonna' bug the crap out of me. But it's certainly the lesser of two evils.


  1. I'm going to watch all of this . I've got Akira coming in the mail tomorrow.

    Also, I fucking love The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

  2. Keep in mind Akira was made in like, 1988 - some scenes haven't aged very well.

  3. Spice and Wolf comes highly recommended from, uh...a friend... Yeah, that's right, a friend. I kid, I kid, I [heart] S&W; I thought it was really good. Confusing at times (but when has medieval economics been simple?), but still really good.

    I've been meaning to watch Azumanga Daioh for quite a while now, but I don't really like torrenting stuff. It's such a dick move.

    Also... *ahem*... BONFIRE!!!

  4. Spice & Wolf... I'll make note of that.