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

 

 

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

Books on Screen: Carrie

Courtesy of spinoff.comicbookresources.com
Courtesy of spinoff.comicbookresources.com

As I may have mentioned in the past, I love Stephen King.  Needless to say, I have seen the 1976 movie “Carrie,” featuring Sissy Spacek.  There is a 2013 adaptation of the cult-classic, which will release on Oct. 18, which features Chloe Grace Moretz as the title character.

Carrie is King’s first published novel, released in 1974.  Since then, the story has become a totem for most horror buffs.  Because most of the novel is actually written in articles, letters and book passages, it makes it more interesting to the reader.  However, it does give a reason to wonder how much of the book actually comes through in the movie.

The movie is definitely in King-fashion.  Lots of blood, black humor and simple situations that turn terribly wrong.  For those of you that don’t know the story, Carrie revolves around a high-school girl who’s growing up.  In school, she’s a shy wallflower, whom everyone teases for not understanding her development into an adult.  At home, her religious mother coddles her, turning her back into a little girl.   Carrie begins to rebel, and the relationship between the mother and daughter begins to change.  When the students at her school take a prank too far, Carrie’s telekinetic powers are awakened, and she is able to exact her revenge.

Personally, I think the movie is pretty strange.  After all, why would you make fun of someone just because they don’t know how they’re going to change, especially considering the type of household that she was raised in.  I think it does bring up a lot of interesting issues to think about, including bullying.  I’ll be really interested to see how the remake version turns out.  From the trailers, I’m willing to bet that there are more fires, more violence in the way she kills her tormentors and of course, more blood.  I really hope that they don’t overdo it because it just gets tiring after a while.

The 2013 remake of Carrie will be released Oct. 18 in theaters everywhere.  Until then, happy reading!

-Lauren Pirc, Asst. 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

Books on Screen: The Great Gatsby

Courtesy of collider.com
Courtesy of collider.com

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most well known novels of all time.  It’s consistently used in many English classes, and will make its debut on May 10, 2013.

The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway is lured into the world of his friend’s neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Soon, however, Nick begins to see through Gatsby’s front and realizes the underlying problems, ultimately leading to obsession, madness and tragedy.

With an all-star cast, there has been a lot of anticipation for this movie.  Leonardo DiCaprio will take the role as Jay Gatsby.  Coming off of his role as a rich plantation owner in Django: Unchained, I have a feeling that he will do very well in the role.  Tobey Maguire will star as Nick Carraway.  While I’m a little bit skeptical about this choice, I am hoping that because of his absence from most major movies since the flop of Spider-Man 3, that his return will be welcome.  I just hope that his acting will live up to the expectation and that he will fully envelop the character.

Overall, I’m really hoping that the movie will be good.  I never really got into the book that much.  Maybe because I was in high school, and I just didn’t understand the language at the time.  Maybe some day I’ll revisit it and really try to focus on understanding it.  We’ll see how the movie goes over first and what happens with the characters.

Go see this movie when it comes out in theaters May 10.

-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

Books on Screen: Adaptations That Need to Happen

There are always those books, games or musicals that we wish would be made into stellar movies.  Here’s a few on my list of adaptations that need to happen.

BioShock

Courtesy of bioshock.wikia.com
Courtesy of bioshock.wikia.com

I talked a lot about this game in Fictional Friday, so I won’t delve into the story too much.  But this game leaves a lot of opportunities for movie adaptation.  Just imagine, seeing the Big Daddies and Little Sisters brought to life.  A fan can only hope that they aren’t CGI’d beyond belief.  Who should be the main character?  Well, I feel like a lesser known name might actually be helpful in this case.  It’d have to be someone that could be in the 2 related stories, but it’d also have to be someone who has a sense of humor and action at the same time.  Get someone like Joss Whedon or Christopher Nolan to direct it and bam, it’ll be all good.  If they were to get Michael Bay, or James Cameron, I’m pretty sure there’d be a riot, not to mention a severe debt and many Transformer references.  So BioShock.  Do it right.

Wicked

Courtesy of gemm.com
Courtesy of gemm.com

The book by Gregory Maguire was made into a famous Broadway musical that has swept the nation.  With the recent re-imagining of Oz: The Great and Powerful, it’s only right to have Wicked made into a movie.  I honestly wasn’t all that impressed with Oz, but I think that Wicked could be made into a great movie, especially with the resurgence of musicals.  As far as who to cast, I think going with people that can actually sing is the best way to go.  Lea Michele has played the witch in the musical, so maybe casting her in the role would make sense.  For Glinda, I’m not really sure who I’d choose.  I think a new face or someone from the musical would be good to have in the cast.  I think there are so many amazing things that they can do with the movie in order to integrate the book and the musical better, and I hope that this will happen soon.

Batman: Arkham series

Courtesy of fanpop.com
Courtesy of fanpop.com

One of the most iconic superheroes of all time currently holds two of the best trilogies in two separate platforms.  Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Series put a new light on the hero and was a great achievement for fans everywhere.  The Arkham video game series holds a similar notoriety in its own right.  The Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games have already gained so much of a following and there is a lot of hype for the third installment of the series.  If a movie were to be made of this, it would be amazing.  Get Christopher Nolan or Joss Whedon or maybe even Spielberg to direct it and it would be great.  I’d also say to keep Michael Caine as Alfred, but recast pretty much everyone else. Seriously though, it would be an amazing addition and it could lead to some potential Justice League action.

What are some adaptations you’d like to see?  Let us know in the comments!

-Lauren Pirc, Assistant Blog Editor