Friday, June 11, 2004

Waldenbooks adventure... 

Well, after work last night, Mom mentioned that the Waldenbooks in Eastfield Mall was having a sale and that the manga section was bigger than it used to be (the one in Holyoke/Ingleside Mall was usually bigger). I decided to go and look for myself, and ended up staying for a good amount of time.

Before actually getting to Waldenbooks, there was another shop I can't remember the name of (Last Minute Gifts or something like that?), which is like a better version of Spencer Gift. It had mind games, board games, puzzles, magic tricks, and lots of nostalgia. I'm really tempted to get some of the geeky shirts of classic cartoons that just have a stylized logo on them. There was a pretty nice Thundercats one among others.. I collect playing cards on and off and they had some fun ones of Scooby Do and G.I. Joe. They even had a servicable yo-yo section with some yomegas and duncans and a trick book and video. Pretty good compared to most stores that totally abandoned them afte the last boom...

Anyway, on to Waldenbooks. In the sale section was origami and caligraphy books I'd already bought in the past, but also just about all the Calvin & Hobbes books for $5-6 each. You may want to check out your local Waldens if you're in need of some of these. I didn't actually pick them up, but perhaps I will eventually. My best friend growing up was really into C&H and I was always curious about getting into them myself...

On to manga. I was really impressed by both the selection and how well stocked the titles themselves were. Almost every series in there had each book from #1 onward. It was on one wall with three cases side by side. Each one had 8 shelves of manga (foot level to above eye level!), for a total of 24 shelves. Each case actually had nine shelves, with the ninth at the very top having the American titles (really had to reach for these). Mostly Marvel hardcovers, Sandman, Hellboy, and misc. things (like a neat Transformers guide book). Interesting to note that the Nausicaa volumes were also up there (along with some artbooks like the Peach Girl one).

Across the way was two end-caps. One had gothy stuff and How to Draw Manga. In the goth was some fun books I can't remember the name of. These are nearly picture books (run spot run feel), but with a very subversive girl as the subject. Also a little book form Tim Burton and a bunch of Skelaton Key books. The other endcap was mostly plushies (Grunty!).

Sooo much stuff to chose from. Both box sets for the re-released Card Captor Sakura. All of GTO to date. All of Azumanga Daioh. All of Berserk. Battle Royale, Hellsing, Sgt. Frog, etc. A couple of US titles mixed in. As far as Marvel Age goes, there was one volume of Spidey, but unfortunately no Runaways or Sentinal..

A nice thing was seeing some new series I hadn't had a chance to check out yet. Aria involves a future Mars that has been terraformed but was done wrong and now is 90% water. One of the cities is much like Venice and the story involves a woman who becomes a gondolier. This seems very laid back and reminds me a bit of Yokohama Shopping Trip Log. I'll have to look into it more.

Suikoden III is I think based on an RPG game? It actually looks pretty interesting, though. Involves a young lady whose has been raised to be a knight, but whose father died years ago from war and now the same has happened to her mentor. Will she continue on a path of death or try to find a new way? Artwork was nice (nice lack of fanservice from what I could see), and I like the concept... I'll have to see if I can get more reviews on this..

Immortal Rain seems a story of re-incarnation and revenge, with the main character trying to kill an immortal being. Concept has the potential to be dull (hard to tell without reading at least the first volume), but I really loved the character designs and artwork. A bit of an older style almost a bit like some of Miyazaki's designs.

Speaking of interesting designs was Model. I like the concept, of a young artist who gets the ultimate model for her paintings in the form of the otherworldly beauty of a vampire. The expressions on the people seem a little weird from what I saw of it, but the designs and poses on some of the vampires especially I found pretty striking.

Duck Prince looks like it has the potential to be fun. This is shoujo and takes a common shoujo concept of body transformation, but in this case it is a guy who gets transformed into a super-attracting guy. Seems like there are strings attached to the transformation (I saw that he switches back and forth). Looks like it goes for a lot of laughs as well as drama. Still, I'm a bit hesitant as something like this could send the wrong messages if not done in quite the right way.

There was one that I can't remeber the name of involving androids that seemed a bit interesting. The artwork was a bit reminicent of Shirow actually, but like the GitS movie, there's lots and lots and lots of nudity in there. I dunno, could be a dud.. hard to tell for sure.

So, with money for just one thing, what to buy? I almost went for the first Azumanga Daioh or Aria. Angel Sanctuary I'll probably look into pretty soon. But I have a bad tendancy to keep buying more and more new #1s without continuing what I already have. I decided to try and put my foot down and continue something I'd already started.

I liked the first volume of Hellsing and the second was out. Ditto for Sgt. Frog. I could have grabbed one of the newer Kindaichi mysteries. The third volume of Please Save My Earth was out (but this is still there territory the anime covered, so not much need stuff for me in it yet). In the end I went for Berserk volume 2.

I have to say I did not regret it! Lots of action, some insight into Guts' state of mind, grotesque villians (if you thought the ones in volume one were icky), and some interesting characters, not to mention the Gehelit. And geeze, talk about a cliffhanger ending! (I got a 15% coupon whose use starts on the 24th. I think I'll use that on the 3rd volume if I can manage to wait that long..)

Certainly isn't a series that'd appeal to everyone, but it is working for me. I like the fact that Guts isn't just a typical anti-hero (let me brood and be a jerk so I can look cool). Instead, he comes off to me more like a real tortured individual who went through some major trauma to get how he is now. Seeming like he doesn't care about people isn't just some act. He has to delude himself into this state just to stay (relatively) sane. I look forward to the future volumes (that I hear take place mostly in the past) to see his origins.

I'm also really curious just to see things pan out in the curent timeline. Already, this bad guy is way tougher than the last one, and I'm not sure he's going to be able to pull off a victory on his own in the same way that the first one panned out. I have some suspicions on how things might resolve themselves in this case, but even that could end up in very different results...

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