Weekend Links – Piles of Books

The Write 4 Kids blog links to Publishers Weekly’s list of top-selling children’s books. The names are mostly the same for both print and eBooks, which leads them to the question: are digital books really hurting print sales, or are they just extending them?

And speaking of kid’s books… As you may know, I wrote my own review for the hilarious picture book, Beauty and the Squat Bears. I enjoyed it, but I’m not a kid. So how do kids feel about this book? Manga Bookshelf found out when Melinda Beasi’s 7-year-old niece, Jia Li, posted her own thoughts.

Going back to what seems to be my regular topic of Japan, Shelf Awareness gives a Japanese reading list. The books on the list are meant to help readers better understand the nation that is currently having such a hard time of it. Also, it has unfortunately and inevitably added more books to my “To Read” list. Sigh.

Also on Japan, Tony Yao of Manga Therapy looks at how manga magazine publishers, like Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump and several Kodansha magazines, are publishing there magazines online for the Japanese readers who are incapable of getting themselves the current issue. This of course begs the question, will this be a model Japanese publishers will follow in the future? It also causes me to wonder if this will be a way for the Japanese publishers to legally give digital manga to American fans by offering their own translations.

Finally, A Game of Thrones will be on HBO soon. It’s based of a fantastic fantasy series, that somehow not everyone in the universe reads. On a Topless Robot Daily List, Sean T. Collins gives the 10 Reasons Why You Should Read George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. I’d give my own recommendations for the book at its sequels, but my feelings for them are so intense all I can usually say is “It’s good. Read it. READ IT.” Sean T. Collins is much more eloquent.

Weekend Links – Heroes

Maybe you heard of this – a pudgy Australian kid was getting picked on by a classmate. So what does he do? He fights back. Now, I know your not supposed to condone violence and fighting isn’t the answer etc. But I think the Penny Arcade comic pretty accurately sums up my opinion on the situation.

Casey may be a hero for every quiet angry kid out there, but here’s a hero for every person: Hideaki Akaiwa, who saved his wife and mother from the tsunami, and is working to save other citizens even now. Go read Baddass of the Week‘s rendition of the event. It doesn’t sound real, but it is.

Going back to artists helping Japan, a friend sent me a great site, called Tsunami, with a collection of drawings showing support for the country. According to an English portion of the site, these drawings will go on auction in Paris to raise money for quake victims, and there will be a book later this year. Some of them are really amazing, and a little heartbreaking.

The Oxford English Dictionary has announced that it’s adding new words, and I feel that the death of the English language is imminent. Among the words being added are FYI, LOL, OMG, and <3. No, I’m not being cute, they are adding the symbol <3. Really? Yes, I’ve used that symbol before, but not as a serious piece of grammar! Conversely, I’m totally fine with “muffin top” now being a real phrase.

In less depressing news, looks like the Sailor Moon manga is getting a rerelease from Kodansha USA this year, along with the prequel Codename: Sailor V.  Neither the anime nor the manga was something I ever got really into, but since it will be published in omnibus for I’m interested in seeing what I’m missing. And since someone I know is working on the book, I’m doubly excited.

Pokemon Black and White have been out for a little while. I haven’t bought either one, since I never beat Pearl and would feel guilty slapping down another $50. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still interested in Pokemon rights, as you should be as well.

And guys, don’t forget about Bloggers for Japan – they’re still raising money, and doing pretty amazing!

Bloggers for Japan, Inspiring Manga Artists

Bloggers 4 Japan

Fellow blogger Daniella Orihuela-Gruber (All About Manga) has taken the initiative to start up her own charity drive for the victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. She’s raising money for two charities, Doctors Without Borders and Shelter Box, and is trying to raise a total of $2,000 altogether. She’s already rather close, and has already discussed raising her goal. In addition, she and Michael Huang are running a website for the charity drive, Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan. You can go there to learn about Daniella’s drive, and why she thinks it’s important to donate.

I don’t know anyone from Japan personally, or even of Japanese descent. So a lot of my love of Japan comes from the media I enjoy from the country, anime and manga. I also think it’s a fascinating culture, and it’s a place I want to visit someday so I can appreciate it more. I also think it’s important to help because these are people whose lives have been ripped apart, so surely I can spare a few dollars.

I’ve also written a Suite 101 article on what Japanese manga artists are doing to help: namely, making art. There are many words of encouragement, and some artists are even banding together to make a charity dojinshi. There are links to all the art I’ve come across, so check it out.

Manga Moveable Feast: Barefoot Gen Vol. 1 – I Wasn’t Ready

Barefoot Gen Volume 1

Planning on leaving the house in a bit? Got a few free minutes, think you’ll sit down for a quick read of Barefoot Gen? Don’t do it, it’s a terrible idea.

I’m not saying don’t read this autobiographical comic of a boy living through the Hiroshima bombing. It is a master work. But make sure you’re hunkered down for the night, or plan on being a shut in for the day. Because by the time you reach the end of the first volume, you might not be fit to face humanity.

Keiji Nakazawa lived through the bombing on Hiroshima at the end of WWII.  He hated the war, the Americans for dropping the bombs that killed his family, and the Japanese who started the war in the first place. So he created a comic about a boy named Gen who had to deal with everything Nakazawa and others he knew suffered.

The bomb isn’t dropped until the end of the volume, but I knew what I was reading, I knew what was coming. To put it in gentler terms than what I actually felt, waiting for the bombing to happen was like waiting for a shot: I know it’s coming, I know it’s going to hurt, just do it already!

And then he did it. And I wasn’t ready.

I was expecting the dead people. I knew from the introduction that there would be melted skin. This manga is based off Keiji Nakazawa’s life, so I knew members of his family would die. But I didn’t know about the girl with shards of glass stuck in her eyes. I didn’t realize the melted people would be wandering around like zombies, eyeless. And even though I knew it was coming, I wasn’t ready for his family’s deaths, trapped beneath a beam, his brother yelling “I hate you, Gen! I hate you!” when he has to run away, and then all of them lighting on fire.

I lost it.

I was fine through the beatings, the stealing and starvation. It was sad, but I could handle it. But this. Oh, this. If this was fully fiction, I could let this roll off. But it’s true. All of this is true.

I  get sensitive when I read. I tear up.  But I read the end of this book and I cried. I couldn’t see the page sometimes. As soon as I thought I was fine, I’d flip the page, and the next terrible thing would happen. And then you think it’s good: his mother has the baby, she’s well and alive, and Gen holds her up to show his family… only they’re not there. “Y-you’ll never know her!” Gen sobs, and I was gone again.

And then I had to get ready to go to work.

Barefoot Gen is good, it’s powerful, and it is brutal. I suggest reading it (or at least trying to). Just bring a box of tissues, and make sure you have time to clean up your puffy, tear-streaked face.

This post was written as part of this month’s Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Sam Kusek at A Life in Panels. Go to his website to see the full archive of Barefoot Gen MMF posts.