February 14th, 2012
First, Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Second, if you haven’t already heard the Cybils winners were announced today. Working on the GN panel was an honor and I’m extremely happy who won! We had some really great titles, a few I was even really torn on, but ultimately two stood above the rest. If you haven’t seen yet, our winners were
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (MG)
Zita the Spacegirl’s appealing combination of humor and sci-fi adventure already has kids begging their librarians for the sequel. It’s got everything: aliens, robots, critters from the cute to the weird to the scary, and a smart, self-sufficient heroine who’s unfailingly loyal to her friends whether they happen to be human, robot or giant mouse. The visual storytelling is just as appealing—the drawing style is loose and open, and the fun character design and sound effects add liveliness and humor. There’s enough action, novelty, and color to keep younger readers interested, and enough thoughtfulness to satisfy more sophisticated readers, making this a terrific choice for a wide range of ages.
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (YA)
Ghost story—check. Snarky but fully rounded protagonist—check. Believable teen characters and behavior—check. Humor—yep.Anya’s Ghost has the perfect blend of story elements and it deftly layers several classic teen literature topics in a relatively short space. The themes of fitting in at school and in life, avoiding toxic friends both earthly and unearthly, and learning to come to terms with who you are, are nicely underscored by the fact that Anya is an immigrant. At the same time, Anya’s interactions with the ghost add suspense and the perfect amount of creepiness. The art style is simple, engaging and funny, and works well with a monochromatic format. A fast-paced read that doesn’t skimp on story.
If you haven’t read either one, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend grabbing a copy. They’re great GNs and well worthy of winning.
January 9th, 2012
Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things Series: Courtney Crumrin #1 Release Date:
May 2003 (rereleased March 2012) Pages:
128 Source: NetGalley
Meet Courtney Crumrin. Uprooted from her home in the city, her parents have relocated them to a well-to-do suburb to live with their ailing & creepy Great Uncle Aloysius. Only he may not be as sickly as he claims to be. Courtney quickly learns there is more than meets the eye in her uncle home including things that go bump in the night. Told in four different chapters, Courtney slowly learns about the otherworldly things living around her such as goblins, changelings, and talking cats. (
I’m rather sad that it took me so long to discover this graphic novel series. I fell into instant love with this volume and quickly devoured the rest of the series. Courtney’s world is a great look into the darker, grimmer side of magic. The creatures/otherworldly things are not cute and cuddly in the least. While some play nice with Courtney and Uncle Aloysius, the majority have no sympathy or kindness towards the human race. Even Courtney finds herself in several sticky situations that would have led to disastrous results if not for her uncle.
Courtney, while a loner, is an overall likable character. Yes, she’s mouthy and messes around with stuff she shouldn’t, but can you really blame her? If I discovered magical books and beings, I’m pretty sure I would be seeking out more information as well. She is, however, a tad bit reckless. She has a tendency to leap without looking, something that will get her in trouble as the series progresses. Aloysius is also a great character. There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding him, but it’s obvious he cares about Courtney in his own gruff way, especially since he is always quick to come to her rescue. The only reoccurring characters I don’t like are her parents. Seriously, I wish I could stuff them in a bag and throw them in out for the trash man. They only care about themselves, money, and social standing. They way they treat Courtney is sometimes infuriating (more so as the series continues then in this first volume).
As for the artwork, Naifeh does not disappoint. I love the level of depth in the panels and could spend hours just soaking in all the little details. He not only establishes the characters, but the world around them as well. While I am a huge fan of the simplistic style, I do love how Naifeh made me feel like I was in the world. The version I read had the first part in full color done by colorist Warren Wucinich. I’ve always felt like full color brings graphic novels to a whole new level and Courtney Crumrin is no exception. While the black and white panels work fine, the color ones pop off the page for me. I will be excited to see the first volume in full color come March.
If you haven’t given the Courtney Crumrin series yet, I highly recommend it. The four volumes are fast paced and enjoyable from start to finish. Of course, if you have be sure to leave me a comment letting me know what you thought!
October 3rd, 2011
It’s time for another Manga vs. Anime edition. This time our star is Black Butler. I’ve watched almost all of the anime episodes and am shocked (okay maybe not that shocked) to see how fast the anime veers off-course from the manga. There are only 6 (soon to be 7) volumes of the mange out in the US right now, but after a bit of research there should be at least 12 volumes and it’s still marked as ongoing. So, who knows how many volumes it will eventually end up with. The anime only covers roughly the first five volumes, even though there are 24 episodes in season one. Honestly, this kind of excites me because I hated how the anime ended. I have renewed hope that the manga will end up on a completely different course.
Today I’m going to cover the first 3 volumes/6 episodes. There anime goes off in it’s own direction after that, but there are episodes later in the season that cover volumes 4 & 5, but I’m not sure I’ll cover it in a post. It’s a side story at best and I’m not sure I want to do the comparison, but we’ll see.
When I say that the anime covers the first five volumes, I should say roughly. Almost immediately they make up their own story line. In the manga chapter one is about introducing the main players and showing how good of a butler Sebastian is. Their guest, Chalus, is meant to be highly impressed and brings something important to Ciel that comes into play later. (More on this in a bit) It’s short and to the point, which is perhaps the problem.
There wasn’t enough meat to make this first chapter into a full episode so they needed to expand, but in the process completely changed it. Their guest is now an Italian man running one of their companies in India. It seems like he is reporting in, but in fact he has already sold the company and is trying to swindle Ciel out of more money. They also add in this horrific game where the pieces the man lands on (broken leg, ghosts, being burned in a fire) end up coming true. This episode has always kind of confused me, especially since at one point Sebastian is locking the man in an oven, but in the end he is seen limping away from the manor screaming. I wish they had kept the Chalus story line and just beefed it up a bit, especially since he comes into play in chapter 3 in the manga. However, we do still get to see how impressive Sebastian is including the very cool remove the tablecloth scene.
Chapters 2 and 3/4 are flopped in the anime. Episode two goes straight into the drug/kidnapping storyline that is told in chapters 3 & 4. This is where I’m not sure why they took out Chalus because the item he brings back from Italy is what helps Ciel nail the mobster. The flop in order would have made sense at that point since the two are so closely related. Although, I can still understand the change since chapter 2/episode 3 is kind of fluffy without much action. Beyond throwing in extra scenes with madam Red, Lau, and Grelle the episode is pretty spot on to the manga. Even the additional scenes, which are taken from later chapters, are pretty true to the manga. (Beyond moving them that is.)
Chapter 2 (aka episode 3) is another one that needed a lot of beefing up. Their solution? Throw in Grelle, a horrible butler, and get Sebastian to train him! (And the ah ha moment for why they intro’d them sooner than the manga) His ineptness is even worse than the normal crews! (I wasn’t sure that was possible.) He offers comic relief and the extra minutes they needed to make it a full episode. Beyond the Grelle moments, the episode is pretty spot on. Lizzie comes and takes over in her cute, yet annoying way. We learn she is Ciel’s betrothed and loves everyone/everything to look adorable. The only thing they really left out was that Lizzie is his cousin. They also add in some set-up for the next episode and throw in some more back-story on the Phantomhive family. All in all, the additions work and nothing feels too out of place.
Episodes 4 -6 are part of a big story arc and cover chapters 6-14. Ciel is called to London to investigate the Jack the Ripper case. There are several twist and turns and Ciel gets way more than he bargained for. If you’ve not read the series yet and don’t want to be spoiled…stop reading now. You’ve been warned…Ciel finds out that Jack the Ripper is non-other then his dear aunt, Madam Red, and Grelle. Oh, did I mention that Grelle is really a grim reaper?? Yeah.
I have to say the episodes stayed pretty close to the manga here, although I still feel as if the manga did it a hair better. There’s more back-story, especially to Madam Red that really fleshes out her story. Her cinematic record (think life flashing before your eyes at death) is a full chapter and really delves into how much she loves Ciel’s dad/her sister husband, but also how much she adored her sister and how she tried to make it all work. Losing everything she loved–her sister, brother-in-law, husband, and unborn child—really took a toll on her. It’s no wonder the poor woman snapped. I wish the anime hadn’t boiled it down to just the basic. There was such beauty in the full story and deserved to get the full airtime.
The only other thing they changed/added that really bugged me is when Grelle, who is about to be killed by Sebastian, shouts out that he knows who killed Ciel’s parents. This is not in the manga, although I’m not sure it if will be later. I do know it is a set-up for later story lines in the anime–ones that lead Ciel to the truth. And ones that I particular hated and hope does not end up in the manga. Or if it does, I hope it takes more time to fully explain it and flesh it out. (Still crossing fingers for something utterly different)
Whew. That my friends is basically the first three volumes/six episodes! The anime of course skips a couple of chapters, which made me a little sad. They weren’t important chapters in the be-all-end-all sense, but they’re good none-the-less. One chapter gave us more insight on Sebastian and how miserable…frustrated…trapped he really is, especially when it comes to the other manor staff. Plus it offered a couple of good laughs, especially with all the staff blunders. In the other one we met Lizzie’s mom/Ciel’s aunt. Okay, so I can see why they skipped this one, but it was fun to see someone give Ciel a run for his money when it comes to competitiveness. I hope sure hope that spunk comes out in Lizzie later.
While I have seen all 24 episodes of the anime, and enjoyed it, the manga is better hands down. I’m excited to see all the story lines the anime skipped and where it’ll end up overall. I may still do the last few comparisons, but most likely I’ll just review volumes 6 on up on their own merit.
If you’ve seen/read Black Butler, be sure to let me know what you think
May 9th, 2011
I have a confession to make. I have been an anime fan for well over 15 years, but until last month I never touched the manga. While I fully support and advocate graphic novels, they have always been hard for me to read. There have been some exceptions like Rapunzel’s Revenge, but for the most part I’ve stayed away from actually reading them. And when it came to manga I didn’t see a point, especially since I usually watched the anime.
After suffering two years of teasing/harassment from my Anime Club teens, I broke down and promised I would read one. I decided on Fruits Basket (aka Furuba) since I had seen part of the anime, which I adored. And since it was a finished series I wouldn’t have wait months for the next volume to come out.
To make a long story short, I ended up falling in love with Furuba. If you’re library doesn’t own it, I would buy it right now. Seriously. My teen girls adore it and it’s one of my higher circ’ing mangas; even though it’s a couple of years old it’s still rarely on the shelf. I will admit that artistically it is nothing amazing, but storyline wise it has such a good message. Of course, I may have a soft spot for the love conquers all type books.
Remember how I said I didn’t read the manga because I watched the anime? After all, they’re basically the same, right? Wow, could I have ever been more wrong this time around. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Overall, the anime does a great job at adapting the manga until the very end. Without giving too much away, let’s just say I have several WTH moments. There were several things that they changed/added that totally changed Tohru’s and Yuki’s personality and relationship with Kyo. They also add in a threatening scene with Akito that never happens in the manga. These were the biggest changes for me and shifted the storyline to a different path; part of me wonders if this is why the anime stopped at season one.
Other than that, the changes are rather small. Some events are combined or left out completely. Two of the zodiac character never make it into the anime. Of course, this is largely do the fact that the 26 episodes only cover events that happen in the first 8 volumes. Yup, that’s right, the anime never makes it past volume 8! If I hadn’t decided to read the manga as well I would have missed out on 18 volumes worth of story. When you consider each manga is roughly 200 pages–well that’s a lot of story to miss.
Which, naturally, leads me to my next dilemma. How much have I missed in other series that I’ve watched? I know Furuba is most likely not the exception to the case, especially since I’ve heard some of my teens complain a bit about it. I guess this means there shall be more manga in my future! Oddly enough, this excites me.
If you have any titles of manga you would like me to review, please leave them in the comments! I’ll use them to guide my Manga vs. Anime posts in the future.