Non-manga/anime people, do take a chance! Manga/anime people, sorry I’m really clueless about this ;)
I have this t-shirt of Death Note from a looong time ago, and every time I wear it, someone comes up and starts talking about the anime, the manga or any other anime or manga they like. It’s kind of cool how approachable the otaku community is – maybe it’s all those conventions? Anyways, I always have to explain that no, I don’t know what they are talking about, I only read Death Note, the manga, ’till the traumatic 7th volume (L fan, forever), and know nothing of other Japanese stuff. Recently it changed, as I found another manga and another anime to be excited about.
Firstly, Death Note was a truly amazing story. I put it up there with V for Vendetta (the graphic novel version, mind you), which I love with all my heart and waited eagerly for its 3-months delayed arrival. Basically, an over-intelligent high school guy who finds a special notebook that kills people (there’s a whole logistic to it, but it’s beyond my point here), so he begins “cleaning up” the world, making kidnappers, murderers and thieves die of heart attacks, and everyone is confused. His dad is a cop who is in charge of the investigation to find the person (or thing) that is responsible for all those deaths. In the task force is L, a guy who no-one really knows much about, is kind of autistic in his own obsession and is probably as smart as Kira (notebook’s owner), but actually cares for people. It’s all a big, intricate game revolving the investigation and it’s really, really fun. If you like mystery, you should really give it a shot. (Though I wished I could reread it in usual novel form.)
Secondly, a very light, fun manga that should be taken just as lightly: Ichigo 100% (or Strawberries 100%, I guess the English title is). It’s really mostly fanservice (girls’ strawberry underwear appearing frequently, oversized breasts, that sort of stuff), but the characters are actually quite fun, and surprisingly appealing for the whole Jane-Austen-time lovers crowd, I think. I have no idea if this is just a reoccuring fantasy they make for mangas or if it’s actually truth in Japan, but there’s a whole different morale involved. Very nice, old-fashioned customs I thought were long dead are present here, as well as some commentary that would go in the opposite direction in most tv shows I watch. For example, to date the girl, one must “confess” (that’s really how they translated it) to her. And then she may formally answer/confess back. If she does, the guy gets to walk her home and she makes him chocolates and puts them in his shoe cabinet at school on Valentines. There must be some poetic liberty involved, but in this story, they also haven’t kissed yet. All is very naïve, very respectful and very, very cute. (Seriously, envying some characters as well as those uniforms <3) Also, when the boys make dubious commentaries, like when Manaka, the main male character who is a wanna be filmmaker, very indecisive, frequently in his own head, and mostly very gentleman-ly, asks his friends about a stunning girl (with strawberry underwear) he briefly saw on the roof (and fell in love with) they call him a pervert. They frequently call each other perverted and look very embarrassed about it, which is fresh. Especially in a story with so many panties illustrated.
I did get some hold ups for my lack of experience with mangas, especially with the names (seriously, some friends call each other by their first names, some by their last and I’m soo not used to Japanese names), which was quite confusing, but I think it works itself out after a several chapters… That’s another cool thing I like about Ichigo 100%, it’s HUGE. I’ll have stuff to read for quite a while (in Chapter 51 at the moment, out of 167!). If you wanna take a look, click here.
And then there is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiyai (I’ll never spell that without Google), which my bf sent me a clip of (there’s a semi provocative fanservice scene in the first episode – and other scattered along, fyi) just for fun and – joke’s on him – I started watching it. Just found out there is a manga too, but I’m watching the English dubbed anime version in Youtube, which is really impressive (the main male character makes excellent sarcastic comments that just sound sooo much better with the intonation I can properly understand) though the original one with subtitles is also available. It bothers me A LOT that there are different versions mixed together, sometimes you can’t find the following episode, sometimes it’s the same episode with a different number, and the whole thing is mostly disorganised (after the 11th episode anyways), BUT it’s pretty awesome, if you stick around after the crazy part begins. And I do mean crazy. Like aliens crazy, which is so not my thing. I stuck to it because I really really like the guy’s lines and the other fella (I don’t know anyone’s names!) has a really soothing voice and some metaphysical discussions that get quite interesting, if not entirely trippy (if you liked Waking Life, you’ll like it). It gets less weird (or you get less sensitive to it) and a lot more fun. There are some 13 episodes, a second season and a long movie. Give it a shot! It’s overall a very pretty anime and the characters are fun to watch. Plus they talk in Gilmore Girls rate, which is always fun. The credits at the end are super cute, with a choreography and everything, and the whole thing is really well thought. (And if you still don’t think it is funny, skip to about 3:30 in this video and tell me it isn’t hilarious.)
There was another manga I read some time ago. It was a short, really cute one a friend lent to me (and later gave me so I could drool over them at my own house :P ), but as most of my stuff is in boxes, I can’t find it! I’ll report some other time…