Sunday, 26 January 2020

Komi Can't Communicate 2

In the 10-odd years of my schooling life, I had fairly ordinary classmates whose only quirk was perhaps cornering any teacher who had shaved off a couple of marks from their tests, and frying the poor teacher's brain until it had reached the perfect crisp or something - in those days, half a mark was like the movie Twister, and two marks would be like a hybrid of Dante's Peak, Volcano, and The Day After Tomorrow. I am simply rattling away the handful of disaster films that I have watched over the years, and it isn't a very big collection unfortunately - schooling life for me was quite a nightmare, especially towards its end where I had very nearly lost my life due to a few harrowing problems. I still get the odd shivers, but I am mostly fine now - I can't really picture life as a student these days, because it has since gone through many changes, good and bad. I suppose that some things are still more or less the same, though I don't know which ones - are there actually students who want to make a hundred friends in school? I still find that benchmark ridiculous, but if anybody had been there and done that, congratulations - I shall make an air toast, unless somebody wants to peek at the remains of my Café Latte. By the way, I am typing this while hanging out at Coffeesmith with Komi and gang - it is my very first time here, and the menu is hell yeah awesome but on the steeper side price wise. I am just waiting to have the reunion dinner with my family - in case anybody is confused, this will be a scheduled entry for the second day of Chinese New Year, but right now it is only the eve. I don't feel much for the festivities anymore, and maybe it has a lot to do with ageing and such (unless I am able to find a more convincing explanation) - it may be way easier to attribute my indifference or something to the ever changing world, but I don't want to get too corny. The good thing however is that I am still receiving a few red packets at my otherwise questionable age - gosh, this Café Latte is f***ing delicious! Nope, I am not ordering a second cup to aggravate my weakening bladder - I have my newly bought stretchy pants on, coupled with a comfortable Gudetama t-shirt. I also have fresh underpants and shoes Why am I even describing my outfit in the first place? 

I hadn't gone on dates with my classmates much due to low allowance, curfew and such - if memory serves me correctly, I had been to a couple of movies with a small group of classmates, and maybe a lunch or dinner gathering at some point. There was a rather embarrassing incident where a classmate had very kindly covered my share of the bill as I had forgotten to wish upon the money tree for a pot of tea or something at some café - it was also stressful for me because after that outing, I had to cut off an ear and a finger to pay back the tea money scrimp for an entire week. It must be really nice and fun to be hanging out with classmates and friends after school - the manga people are so blessed with choices like ramen, clothing stores, karaoke boxes, game centres, people's houses, et cetera. Nope, my very limited outings with my classmates were either on weekends or school holidays - hmm, in those days we couldn't do much after school as the fossils would quickly associate stuff like that with bad influence and such. Good kids had to go straight home and do their homework - the vicious cycle had carried on for several years, until extracurricular activities emerged with all the perfect excuses to stay out and have a bloody wonderful time. I wish that I had been more outgoing or something, but being an overprotected kid in those days meant adhering to strict rules and all the shitty stuff - it didn't help that I was painfully shy and introverted as well. If I could live my life as a student again, I would like to join Komi and gang in their various outings and interactions - I would perhaps be a lot less awkward hanging out with them, and honestly I do find Komi really charming despite her social ineptness. I mean, not many people can pull that kind of thing off with such beauty and grace. Anyway, I am finishing my coffee here, and it is almost time for the reunion dinner - as this is a scheduled entry, a happy Chinese New Year to anybody who is reading!
Justinn Reads: Komi Can't Communicate 2 by Oda Tomohito

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Haikara-san ga Tooru Renewal Edition

I was supposed to write about this manga sometime in October last year, but for some unknown reason I had been putting it off until today - the books come packaged in a really fine box, and there is also a set of illustrated cards in full colour that makes lovely bookmarks. The reason for my purchase however may seem too unlikely - it was the motif of a girl on her bicycle that got me checking out the manga, but its story would captivate me just as much. Haikara-san ga Tooru was first published in the mid-70s to immense popularity, and it has since seen numerous anime and live-action adaptations - the Renewal Edition was released in August last year by Taiwanese publisher Ever Glory, and fate simply brought this entire box of goodness to my attention. The story is set in the Taisho era, where societal norms, values and such were heavily segregated across the country - nonetheless, amid its stiff air of conservativeness was a pretty rebellious streak in the form of a new-age girl at 17 named Benio, who would eagerly challenge and prove the fossils wrong with her actions and mannerisms that were deemed uncouth for a lady in those times. Essentially, this manga depicts her constant struggles to find a solid footing in a time and place where just about everything was at the disposal of men, and deeply rooted in preconceived notions and such - Benio would also fall in love albeit unconventionally and hilariously. Arranged marriages still exist today, so imagine how a lot of people must have had felt back then - Benio's attitude towards romance and marriage didn't sit very well with the elders around her, but she remained adamant about not conforming to old beliefs and practices. Well, her defence had kind of weakened at some point though it wasn't long before some badass idea propelled her counterattack - the humour still holds up, and is surprisingly cheeky, witty and explosive. The illustration style charmingly reflects the atmosphere, space, time, people, culture, et cetera of Taisho - I am glad that there is so much more to the manga besides the happy girl on her bicycle! There are eight volumes altogether in this collection, and I do hope that I won't put the rest of the books aside for too long...
Justinn Reads: Haikara-san ga Tooru Renewal Edition by Yamato Waki

Friday, 24 January 2020

The Net Generation Teacher

Students of modern day (?) must be really glad to have their gadgets with them all the time, because apparently a prolonged absence of one's electronic lifeline hits just as critically as that of an actual lifeline, whatever it is really - my generation hadn't implemented the necessity of mobile phones, since they weren't exactly accessible and affordable in those days. Also, nobody in his or her right mind would call anybody about anything - news of death and such were fed through the principal's office to the teacher who would then try to break the nasty stuff gingerly to the affected student. If somebody had forgotten a textbook or something for a demon's class, he or she would sheepishly ask any teacher in the staff room for permission to call home and have the equally embarrassed parent bring the missing item to school quickly - some years later, payphones were installed in different corners around the school for the same purpose, though students also used them to ring their alleged boyfriends and girlfriends. When I was 16 and a half, I saw my first Nokia - a classmate had smuggled his prized possession to class to show off, but that boastful smile on his face was wiped off prematurely by the discipline head who said that mobile phones belonged to big shots and triad members. Whoa, imagine saying the exact same thing to the parents - then again, my school had quite a fossil collection that saw red in the pettiest stuff. When I was 19, I had my first Nokia - it showed zero potential, though the ringtones were rather amazing. Students were allowed to bring their mobile phones, yet they could neither call nor text until their day was over - news of death and such weren't promptly responded, and some distressed parent had actually screamed down the receiver, nearly bursting the poor administrative assistant's eardrum. Ironic, wasn't it? Anyway, mobile phones have since become permissible almost everywhere in any situation - with smartphones offering a lot more than just life dependency, students can be increasingly engaged in social media, social media, and social media. Discernment is a separate entity, but that also depends on how life-threatening the pickle is - falling in love with an ultimately fake profile online may not be unusual anymore, yet its repercussions remain severe to this day. There are also twists and turns that the clouded minds wouldn't have had thought of in the first place, and it is crucial to have the right support system around to alleviate and eventually clear the affected student of his or her predicament. By the way, this manga is unexpectedly profound - while it is mostly bittersweet and reminiscent of the good old schooling days, its gist is a quiet plead for help as well...
Justinn Reads: The Net Generation Teacher by Nata Kokone

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san 5

I don't really know how and what to think of this manga at this point, even though I am still having a good time with it - the routine stuff remains, and the running gags are becoming or may have already become quite stale to be honest. I do believe that Nagatoro is terribly fond of Senpai, but can't bring herself to be frank about those feelings without twitching a strand of hair - she can't stand her friends playing too closely with Senpai, and funnily enough they do know of Nagatoro's possibly romantic interest in him and her subconscious desire to keep Senpai all to herself. The looks on their faces may be annoying but gosh, they couldn't be any more spot-on! Nagatoro does defend her favourite (?) Senpai amid all that teasing and such, and when she does it she can be really intense and scary - in this tankoubon, a new character appears in the form of Senpai's senpai, or more specifically, the president of the Art Club who is quite a character. She doesn't mince her words, and has zero tolerance for low or no productivity whatsoever - in fact, the president has heard rumours of the club room being misused as a gathering spot by a group of bad people, implying Nagatoro and her friends. Wanting to get back, Nagatoro hastily agrees on behalf of Senpai to clinch the most number of votes in the popularity contest during the upcoming bunkasai with his exhibition for the Art Club as the condition for not abolishing the club. Impulse can often lead to disaster, and as much as I want to root for Senpai, I am not too sure about Nagatoro's emotion-driven intervention. Anyway, Nagatoro and her friends go magically naked with a brood of happy, clucking chickens...

Justinn Reads: Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san 5 by Nanashi (774)

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Minatoku JK

I don't really keep up with trends, because I find them relatively taxing and perishable - besides, being too fixated brings more harm than good, and I just don't get how life can ever be dependent on such though I don't doubt that there are a lot of people out there who will readily rebuke that statement in a couple of blows to hold up their possibly bruised egos. Honestly, if an image change could literally save somebody's life, I would definitely nod my head off in approval - I am not surprised that at different points in their lives, many people struggle to keep themselves together due to problems that somehow get blown out of proportion. Some of those problems may even see lives moving on dangerously thin ice, and should the ice suddenly crack, nothing would turn around the tragic outcome - suicide is just like a humongous monster cloud that looms over the repressed vulnerability of many souls, and it doesn't subside for the longest time. This isn't an agony column, so I shan't put too much thoughts into that sensitive subject - anyway, one of the main characters in this manga had very nearly lost herself to suicide at the beginning as she was constantly picked on by her classmates for her size and such. She found another student at the rooftop with a somewhat similar predicament, and they instantaneously connected - fortunately, both of them had very much wanted to save themselves instead, and hence they took drastic steps to transform into what they are in present day. While they have embraced their reborn selves, it seems that there is something missing somewhere - they don't look entirely certain or happy about stuff every now and then. Also, there is the never-ending hypothesis that people of the opposite sex can't be just friends, and the label is really nothing but a facade to conceal even the tiniest bit of romantic feeling towards the other person - sparks of jealousy and such ensue, yet nobody seems able to grapple with the gradually surfacing changes for fear of hurt, loss, and the ordeal of having to go through everything from square one again. I think that romance complicates life though it does inject a durable boost that lasts anywhere between one millisecond and till death do us part - well, maybe not in this manga...
Justinn Reads: Minatoku JK by Shibano Yuka

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Hataraku Saibou Friend 2

I dig the concept of Hataraku Saibou aka Cells at Work, though the stuff becomes increasingly darker and unsettling since it is about what goes on inside the human body, and don't we all know that health issues and such come a-knocking intermittently or for the less immune very often and perhaps even for life? While the many depictions in Hataraku Saibou adhere to medical and scientific accuracy, it is ultimately the really cute stuff that I still look out for (and attracted me to the franchise in the very first place). The spin-offs are just as marvellous - Hataraku Saibou Friend is one of the newest additions, and its main character is the leader of the Killer T Cells who is depicted as secretly soft, domestic, and yearning for friends and such but fails to elicit any of those traits on himself. Naturally, other cells are mostly terrified of Killer T Cell except for a few who are either very friendly or indifferent towards him - basically, this manga attempts to bridge the interpersonal gap between Killer T Cell and those around him in a light-hearted manner, and everything in it just kills me! This tankoubon sees a bunch (?) of cells having fun at the beach and the natsu matsuri - Killer T Cell decides to overcome his weakness to water as everybody else prepares for an enjoyable summer like shopping for swimsuits and hats. His poor communication continues to drag him down into awkward situations, though other cells do have their moments that are equally hilarious and over the top - for example, Regulatory T Cell can be overly analytical or imaginative to queries and such. She is also inept at the romantic stuff, reacting puzzledly to a love-struck B Cell's question about hobbies. The cutest of the lot are still the Platelets - one of them dons a really cute yukata at the natsu matsuri! ♡
Justinn Reads: Hataraku Saibou Friend 2 by Izumi Mio
(Original work by Kurono Kanna)

Monday, 20 January 2020

Tsumari, Are. 2

Life as a bakappuru must be nothing short of mushy, romantic, cheeky, sexy, and any other adjective that most flatteringly describes the relationship on a daily basis - the husband and wife are constantly discovering what makes the other person react in an arousing way though most of the stuff would succumb to sheer embarrassment and such that pave more comic gold for future volumes. But their relationship is at the same time healthy and loving - many married couples today are on the verge of a bitter divorce, and I am not even referring to Hollywood. Getting along with somebody has become a needle in the haystack - the average temperament is now set at boiling point on a good day, and Krakatoa on exceptionally harrowing days. There is still a difference. Maybe a blissful marriage still exists outside of a fairytale, and many married couples today are spicing up their relationships with naughty things like the nonchalant flashing of the genitalia on the pretense of overly loose pants - unfortunately, the nudity is strategically obscured by thought and speech balloons. For the more adventurous type, there is the common cold virus that is effectively transmittable via anything within close proximity - the wife takes care of the husband, and vice versa. Apparently, a high fever doesn't kill but arouses in some kinky way - perhaps that is how raging hormones come about. Going on a holiday or staycation is romantic, and getting a bikini wax is erotic - that is, until the very first clump of hair gets violently pulled off which quickly turns the process into a torture sequence from some horror movie. There is the usual (?) foreplay with sexy lingerie and a surprise attack on the husband's face with quick pats of face moisturiser - I mean, I didn't see that coming at all. Nicknaming the genitalia seems normal (?), not that I have ever done it to mine - it would probably make a bloody hilarious and raunchy comedy if I had! Then again, I am single, lonely but not clinically repressed...
Justinn Reads: Tsumari, Are 2 by Yokoyama Mayumi

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Akebi's Sailor Uniform 4

This manga is becoming or has become more of a gravure - there are a lot more captures of Komichi and her friends either in their uniforms or something else as the pages turn in subsequent volumes, and the narrative has kind of watered down since there is only so much of school life that can be told without getting redundant or something. This tankoubon centres on the Sports Festival and the Kouyasai - basically, Komichi is incorporating her trademark energy, zest, and everything else in the middle into a gratitude dance to all her friends. Erika accompanies the lengthy performance with the piano and violin - the entire segment plays out alongside the various highlights of the Sports Festival over four chapters and 88 pages. Komichi has the unconditional love and support of her newfound friends ever since she started school at Roubai - she makes such a terrific team player in sports, and also an influential cheerleader to others. After the Sports Festival and the Kouyasai, Komichi goes swimsuit shopping with a couple of friends - they decide to play in the sudden heavy rain donned in their purchases, and head all the way to Roubai. Komichi's little sister Kao looks awfully adorable when she pouts - she feels rather neglected as Komichi simply keeps bumping into friends at the matsuri, even though the latter treats her to shaved ice and such. This tankoubon ends on a pretty quick note, which isn't too surprising as the manga can be a very light read - I think that I have conquered (?) this in less than 30 minutes or something. Anyway, the illustrations are really captivating - the close-ups in particular exude a somewhat mature vibe...
Komichi and Erika ♡

The swimsuit competition parade has begun!

Probably the raciest (?) scene to date...?

A brief glimpse of summertime...

Rolling on the ground...

What are you looking at?
Justinn Reads: Akebi's Sailor Uniform 4 by Hiro

Saturday, 18 January 2020

The 100th Post: Shinmai Shimai no Futari Gohan 6

I do wonder what it is like to have somebody who is just another celebrity chef waiting to happen as part of the family - are three meals always filled with sumptuous fare? Do the serving plates have edible flowers and such? Will the cocktail glass come with a cute mini paper umbrella and a lemon slice? Is the pantry overflowing with the most sinful snacks for parties and the occasional self-indulgence? Does the whole house smell of soup? I am not surprised if the family should smell of many things - I once read a manga where its main character was born and raised in a tonkatsu eatery, although the story was about a high school swimming club. Every morning, the character would wake up to the inviting aroma of fried pork cutlets - the entire family would have the same stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner. By the way, the soup thingy is a reference from one of my favourite movies - can anybody guess what it is? When I read certain food manga, I do find some of the stuff too good to be true - while I am not undermining abilities and talents, there is however a glaring incredulity to some of the depictions. Anyway, I am still sticking to food manga as part of my staple reading - since I have neither the intention nor desire to cook, I simply read them to possibly improve my appetite, and drool incessantly at close-ups of fictitious (?) food. Well, a lot of the dishes are actually replicable with detailed recipes and such - I shall be contented with eating out though, unless some fallen angel is willing to cook for me in my dreams. This manga has a live-action drama adaptation that I am unfortunately not enthusiastic about - besides, I probably couldn't see it in the first place. Manga is way better if you ask me! This pair of newly formed sisters had quite an uneven start at the beginning of their relationship, but over time they have become much closer - it helps that the younger sister is an excellent cook, and through her vast experience and knowledge in cooking, she has overcome most of her shyness and such towards the older sister. They even have their friends over occasionally for a feast - hmm, I wish that I could have a hamburger...
Justinn Reads: Shinmai Shimai no Futari Gohan 6 by Hiiragi Yutaka

Friday, 17 January 2020

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories 2

Thanks to an ex-classmate, my teenage years weren't just about stressing myself out for academic excellence or the lack of it - entertainment had played a substantial role in those days, forming alliances among boys and girls that supported the trending celebrities, fashion, movies, television, anime, manga, and games. I was largely a blind follower, neither too enthusiastic nor fully aware of what was going on - if somebody told me something about soccer, I would just nod along like a chicken. If somebody wanted me to pick an all-time favourite song, my index finger would rest on some male idol's dance track - at one point, I might have had touched his nipple as well because half of the song title went over it. If somebody asked whether I had watched teevee, I would also nod like a chicken - in those days, anime were horribly dubbed in Mandarin but almost every kid would still hug the idiot box to the dismay of every parent. Pardon the weird association there. Anyway, I got to know about Sailor Moon through that ex-classmate even though I hadn't really caught on - I had seen the anime albeit noncommittally, and I couldn't stand Usagi aka Sailor Moon at all. Well, my favourite character was (and still is) Sailor Jupiter. The translated Complete Edition of the manga remains bloody expensive for my consideration - I don't think that its value would depreciate anytime soon, and probably over the next gazillion years as well. This is the second and last volume of the Short Stories with three chapters - the first one is a bittersweet unrequited love between Luna and a sickly man who once harboured a dream of becoming a space traveller. It is the longest of the lot covering nearly 140 pages - technically, that isn't a short story. The next chapter focuses on Rei aka Sailor Mars and Makoto aka Sailor Jupiter - their sudden melancholic feelings are caused by a cursed music box. Last but not least, there is a futuristic story of the sailors and their offsprings - the children are complete yet creepy carbon copies of their mothers. They have this dream where they transform and join forces just like how the sailors do, and defeat a meteorite or something that looks like a meteorite - by the way, with the exception of Usagi and her two girls, the remaining sailors have named their daughters after them...
Justinn Reads: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories 2 by Takeuchi Naoko