Fictional Friday: Manga

Courtesy of tumblr.com
Courtesy of tumblr.com

One of the most well known comic styles has to be the Japanese tradition of manga, which was developed in the late 19th century.  Manga is also one of the best examples of a fictional world.

While there are some comics that revolve around historical events, most manga actually take on some supernatural element.  Naruto, for example, focuses around groups of ninjas that can use different techniques called “jutsu.”  Some characters can breathe fireballs, others can shoot lightning; the better the ninja, the more skills they know how to do.   Another well-known manga, Bleach, also has a supernatural element; the main character gains the power of a soul reaper and helps to guide departed souls to the afterlife while protecting humans against evil spirits.

While there are plenty of great manga books, there are also many strange ones.  One of the main things when choosing what to read, so that you don’t end up with a strange one that you hate, is simply to do some research on it.  Read the backs of the books, maybe do some internet research to see what the premise is and other reviews of the manga.  Believe it or not, I do this for a lot of the books that I read, and it really does help to gauge how much I may or may not like the story.

Some manga that I personally like (I have a HUGE Excel spreadsheet full of them) are: Naruto, Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket and Death Note.  All of the ones listed have different aspects to them that I like, but they all have great concepts and amazing stories.  Naruto is still an ongoing series, however, the other three are completed.

If you have a love of horror, one horror manga that I particularly like is Doubt.  Doubt is a lot like the film “Saw,” except it actually has a storyline.  The story revolves around a cellphone game “Rabbit Doubt.”  The rules of the game state that players must find the wolf/killer among the group of rabbits as they’re killed one by one.  Six players of this cellphone game are trapped in a building and must play a real-life game to find the wolf hiding among them before they are all killed.  While some of the scenes/themes may be a bit cliche, this is probably one of my favorite comics that I’ve read.

Manga is a great way to explore new worlds.  Sometimes it seems like manga has a stigma about it being only for people that want to dress up and cosplay.  But really, manga has a lot of great concepts and interesting characters that can appeal to everyone.  You just have to find the title that’s right for you.  Until next time, happy reading!

-Lauren Pirc, Asst. Blog Editor

 

 

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Fictional Friday: Lemony Snicket

Courtesy of wikipedia.org
Courtesy of wikipedia.org

One of the biggest series I remember from my high school days (besides Harry Potter) had to be Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Lemony Snicket is the pen name of American author Daniel Handler.  Surprisingly enough, I didn’t know that until I did research for this post, but hey, you learn something new every day, right?

A Series of Unfortunate Events has 13 books total, detailing the strange lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents’ death in a house fire started by arson.  Their estate executor, Arthur Poe, leaves them with their distant cousin Count Olaf, who regularly plots to take away the kids’ substantial inheritance.  In the beginning, he does this by attempting to take Violet as his wife.  In other situations, he just tries to kill the kids altogether.

Because I know you’re wondering, yes these attempts go through all 13 books.  But the ridiculousness of the situations is what makes it so interesting.  In one case, they end up at a relative with thousands of reptiles.  In another, they end up at a slightly different version of The Village.  They do meet other interesting kids on the way, most notably the Quagmires, who seem to have also been orphaned by a mysterious fire.  And as would be expected, there’s a lot of betrayal, mystery, confusion and intense situations.

One thing that would constantly frustrate me is how dumb the adults in this series were.  Every adult, except for Olaf, would always put the children in danger.  Olaf would be in the most obvious disguise, but none of the adults would notice, even with the kids constantly protesting and trying to convince them.  Even with Poe knowing Olaf’s tricks, he would still be incredibly oblivious.  Seriously, that’s the one part that drove me nuts.  I mean, how would they not know?  But, then again, it would’ve ended a lot earlier than it did if Olaf really got caught.

For as long and confusing as this series was, it was great, and I will definitely revisit it in the future.  I know that they made a movie of the first three books, but seriously, read the books.  The movie was pretty terrible.  So, until next time, happy reading!

-Lauren Pirc, Assistant Blog Editor

Fictional Friday: A Tale of Two Cities

Courtesy of book-of-the-day.com
Courtesy of book-of-the-day.com

As a freshman in high school, we all had to read those books that we hated. For me, one of those novels was the classic A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Maybe it was because I just didn’t want to read a long novel for class, or maybe it was just because I didn’t have the vocabulary or knowledge base to understand it at the time, but I remember how I didn’t really like it.  As I’ve become older, however, I did revisit the novel last year, and now it’s actually one of my favorite stories.  I think another part of it was because I was choosing to read it this time, I was able to enjoy it more, rather than being confined to it in a class setting.

If you have never heard of this novel, seriously go read it.  The novel jumps between several protagonists in London and France leading up to and during the French Revolution.  For some reason, I really like Madame Defarge.  She just seems like a powerful take-no-prisoners type of lady, and I really like the part she plays in the novel.  I also do like Lucie Manette; she’s very prim and proper, but she’s also very sweet and down-to-earth at the same time.  I feel like most of the young girls would look up to her as a model for how to grow up.  Similarly, it seems like her husband Charles Darnay would be someone that men would strive to become.  I think I actually like Sydney Carton more though, just because of his dedication and his personality.

While I may not have liked the book while I was in high school, the ending always stuck out to me as probably one of the greatest things I’d ever read.  When I reread the book, I was not disappointed; if anything, I loved it even more.  Seriously, if you don’t know what happens, go and read this book!

I would recommend this book for anyone that likes history, dark comedy, romance, battles, and just amazing writing.  Until next time, happy reading!

-Lauren Pirc, Assistant Blog Editor

Fictional Friday: Under The Dome

Courtesy of amazon.com
Courtesy of amazon.com

As a fan of Stephen King, I’ve read a lot of his novels, the most recent being his mammoth 1,000 page “Under The Dome”.  With a new television series being made based on it, I can only hope that they stick to the story as it was written.

In the story, the small Maine town of Chester’s Mill is abruptly separated from the outside world be an invisible barrier.  It traps those in the town inside the barrier and prevents anyone from getting in or leaving.  If someone gets too close to the barrier, they will die from the strong shock it gives back.  The story switches viewpoints between a few of the main people in the story, giving a full spectrum of things happening in the town.  As would be expected in a case like this, people start rioting and turning on each other, becoming desperate for a way out of the city, or even just a way to survive.  Because the barrier is only semipermeable, the carbon dioxide isn’t getting released at a proper rate and oxygen is not coming in fast enough, culminating to the end of the novel.  I can’t tell you what happens, you’ll just have to read for yourself.

I really liked this story because even though it’s not really a “new” idea, I like King’s sort of humor and how things play out.  I think that the television series could be very successful, if it stays true to the novel.  There are going to be a lot of “mature” parts, I’m sure, but I’d still rather that it stick to King’s vision than taking something entirely different.

You should read this story if you like any of King’s other novels, suspense, strangeness and things that are just plain wrong and creepy, but still good at the same time.  Until next time, happy reading!

-Lauren Pirc, Assistant Blog Editor

Fictional Friday: BioShock

Courtesy of gametrailers.com
Courtesy of gametrailers.com

With the recent release of BioShock Infinite, let’s take a journey back to where it all started: BioShock.  Now, I know that this isn’t a book by any means, but this game definitely has a great story amidst all of the action. 

BioShock is a first person shooter video game where you take the role of Jack.  Jack’s plane crashes in the ocean near a bathysphere terminal that leads to the underwater city of Rapture.  The city was intended to be an isolated utopia but the discovery of ADAM, a DNA that grants superhuman powers, the city soon falls into decline.  Jack is contacted by Atlas, who guides the player to different objectives in order to survive the city of Rapture.  I don’t want to get too much more into what happens, as you should really find that out for yourself.

The city of Rapture is huge.  There are so many areas to explore and things to collect that it’s part adventure game, while also being the survival game that it’s meant to be.  The player is pursued by some pretty interesting enemies including Big Daddies and the Little Sisters.  When engaging the Little Sisters, the player always has a moral choice of whether to spare them or to kill them; sparing them ultimately leads to a better ending.  The graphics in this game are also really good.  There are so many textures and really cool images in this game that it’s easy to forget that you’re supposed to be scared of this place. 

BioShock is a uniquely good game that not only gives players the fight that they want but an amazing story as well.  From what I’ve seen of the new BioShock Infinite game, players that enjoy the franchise will not be disappointed and I can’t wait to play it for myself.

-Lauren Pirc, Assistant Blog Editor

Fictional Friday: Sherlock Holmes

Courtesy of publicbookshelf.com
Courtesy of publicbookshelf.com

I know what you’re saying: “Why isn’t this in the Books on Screen segment?”  Well, because I’m actually not going to talk about the movies…not this time, anyway.  I’m currently reading the first collected series of Sherlock Holmes stories as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I must say, it’s an interesting experience. 

In a lot of today’s mysteries, the reader can normally tell what happened and who did it as the story is being told.  In every Sherlock Holmes story, you’re kept in the dark the entire time.  The Sherlock Holmes story typically begins with a customer coming to 221B Baker Street with some kind of dead body, missing property or some other problem.  The reader then just is thrown into watching Holmes investigate and not really understanding the reasoning for it.  Holmes then catches the thief or the murderer and the caught person tells what happens to wrap up everything in a nice bow for the reader.  In some stories, it even goes further into the caught person’s backstory because it relates so much to the case itself.  If Holmes and the criminal didn’t say what was going on, the reader would have no idea what had occurred.  I feel like because of this, people have to approach Holmes as simply a story that they’re reading rather than having the hope or expectation that they will ever be able to figure out what was going on before it’s explained.

The stories in the collections are all diverse and interesting in their own ways, so readers won’t get bored of them.  They also have very interesting villains, yes, including the infamous Moriarty.  The characters Watson and Holmes are also very unique.  We delve inside Watson’s head for every story, so it’s interesting to see his personality and how he develops in his interactions with Holmes.  It’s also interesting to learn about Holmes’ quirks and other interests. 

I would more than recommend this series to anyone that loves good stories, mysteries, the element of surprise, and a new way to look at one of the most iconic figures of all time.  Until next time, happy reading!

-Lauren Pirc, Assistant Blog Editor

Fictional Friday: Grimm’s Tales

Courtesy tumblr.com
Courtesy tumblr.com

Some of the most iconic stories come from the Grimm brothers, Wilhelm and Jacob.  The ones that most people have heard of include “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Little Briar-Rose (Sleeping Beauty),” “Rumplestiltskin” and “Snow White.”

What most people don’t realize is that there is so much dark imagery in the tales that is lost in Disney and other renditions.  In Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel,” the kids are abandoned in the woods by their abusive stepmother.  Did anyone else not know that or is it just me?  I always saw the version where the kids just walked into the woods for some random reason and were leaving breadcrumbs, but they still got lost anyway.  In the end, the kids outsmart the witch and push her into the oven, where she dies a painful death.  The kids then find the witches gems and treasure, which they take with them and live richly with their father.  So, in essence, Hansel and Gretel are some of the first young murderers and robbers, but it’s still considered a children’s story.

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