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Juniper Berries, vol. III


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by , 4 Jul 2012 at 3:53 pm (2140 Views)
I have had very little time for discussion forum activities lately, here or elsewhere. This sucks, because I had really gotten used to listing and reviewing comics I had read (and for a number of other reasons, but I would love to stay on topic here). My next attempt is to revive the listings in a compressed form, using the ratings system I created for a similar purpose in October 2008 (AnimeB: "List All the Manga You Have Read"). It goes like this:

E - epic
C - captivating
G - good stuff
W - worth my time, I guess
S - sad attempt
F - epic fail


Bride's Story I

11th March, 2012 - C (this older review is not compressed): Finished reading the first volume of "A Bride's Story" by Kaoru Mori (ISBN 978-0-316-18099-3; Japanese original: "Otoyomegatari"). I had received the book as a Christmas present.

(If over two months feels like a lot of time, consider this: I own some manga volumes that have been waiting a lot longer. Writing my little reviews for this blog has become both a joy I anticipate and a burdening duty. That, in turn, has caused a shift in my free time interests, so that I consume less comics today than I did in, say, 2008. It still hurts that I have not properly reviewed the last "Emma" books.)

The beginning of Mori's new work is far more mature than that of "Emma". Judging the art, it is a masterpiece I have in front of me, a true manga jewel and a brilliant study of a world rich in exotic details. The story side is more complicated to sum up. Slow-paced, and that is the way the author has intended it. Slow pace is not a minus in itself, but I am not quite as much into traditional embroideries, wood carvings and the like as the author. I do find it fascinating in an educational way, but would not mind some more emphasis on human relations and deeper emotions. True, we are likely to get more of that in further volumes. And this time, the humor is more subtle and refined than in some early chapters of "Emma".

Let me point out that even those parts of the story I find less interesting have been crafted most skillfully. If you can think of any single reason you would like to read "A Bride's Story", then you should read it.

What are you waiting for? Get it today.

...Perhaps a few secondary notes are in place here.

Smith? Dammit. Only from the afterword did I learn the young researcher's name, and here I had been wondering whether he was Russian or perhaps even Finnish -- there was a time when it was widely believed that Finns were remotely related to the Turkish peoples, and more than one of our explorers set off to learn more about them back in the days. However, the English-language Wikipedia states that the story is set in the early XIX century, which makes it before the golden age of Finnish expeditions within the Russian Empire. I am not even sure how much of a foothold the Russians had gained around the Caspian Sea prior to the 1860s. Anyway, one might deduce that Smith is, perhaps without realizing it himself at all, a pawn of the British Empire in "The Great Game", mapping the lands and the culture of one Turkish people so that expanding the Crown's influence in the area would be a tad bit easier.

Amir? Please tell me that Mori has not made a major mistake when naming her protagonist. I have never heard of a female Amir, anyway.

Softcore shotacon? Perhaps. Strong arguments could be raised both for and against such labeling. If you liked the little-boy-with-hot-teen-girls setting of Negima... Here is a far more subtle and classy version of a similar idea. I wonder how it will work out in the long run. Cultural differences this big are not often addressed in comics.


Valkoinen tiikeri I

4th July, 2012 - W: "Au service secret du grand timonier", the first volume of "Tigresse blanche" by Yann and Conrad, in Finnish translation: "Suuren ruorimiehen salaisessa palveluksessa" (ISBN 978-952-5769-00-5). Probably not available in English, since even the authors are poorly known in the English-language parts of the World Wide Web.

Some of this comic's qualities would warrant a G or perhaps even a C rating, but my overall feeling was, "Easy-to-read pastime with some qualities unexpected and even weird for Franco-Belgian humorous adventure comics". Features no actual porn, yet most teenagers would much rather have their parents browse through LH than Tigresse blanche.

My thanks to V for lending the volume.


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