Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Guest post: Jacob Ritari on Meitantei Conan (Detective Conan)

It's my pleasure to have another guest post for you today from author Jacob Ritari. Jacob's debut novel, Taroko Gorge, was published earlier this year, and last month he shared some of his unpublished short stories with us. If you haven't read them yet, be sure to check out the links at the end of this post. He's currently living just outside of Tokyo as he continues his Japanese studies. Today he has a recommendation for us, for our reading and watching pleasure.

Meitantei Conan

Detective ConanI’m always on the lookout for ways to draw people into the world of anime and manga. I’ve discussed elsewhere the current reason for my interest in the medium: not that it offers anything revolutionary in terms of ideas, plots, imagery (though it frequently does); but that it’s churned out in such huge quantities and read and watched so avidly. While the American publishing industry is collapsing beneath its own dead weight, manga artists are thriving, and instead of reaching after some muddled idea of “literature,” providing people with stories they need to live. What’s more, the way in which manga series become anime mirrors the current triumph of HBO dramas over the novel: imagine if every bestselling novel became a TV miniseries. That potentiality might cause certain authors to craft stories people might actually, gasp, care about.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Case of the Missing Book Blogger

Actually it's not at all mysterious and there's been no hint of foul play. (You can blame the title of this blog post on the historical mystery I just finished reading!) I've simply been under the weather lately and haven't been online barely at all, but I hadn't intended to just disappear like that. I have still been reading though, spending some quality time with my sexy red Sony Reader.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guest post: Ghouls, Goblins and Hungry Ghosts by Jacob Ritari

Today I'm very happy to welcome author Jacob Ritari back to In Spring it is the Dawn. I hope you enjoyed the short stories he shared with us last month, and if you haven't read them yet, be sure to check out the links at the end of this post. Jacob recently moved to Japan to continue his studies and currently lives just outside of Tokyo. This time he has been inspired by the season, and talks about his visit to the National Museum in Ueno and in particular some ancient scrolls he saw there. Coincidentally his guest post ties in nicely with this month's Hello Japan! mini-challenge, which is focusing on all things spooky. So without further ado, here is Jacob on...

Ghouls, Goblins and Hungry Ghosts

All Hallows Eve is soon upon us, and while it may not yet have the currency in Japan of Christmas (a popular day to book a room at the local “Love Hotel”) or Valentine’s Day (another fine opportunity to induce feelings of anxiety and inadequacy among high school students), Hall’ween still carries a higher profile than Thanksgiving or Easter. The Peko-chan mascots outside the local eateries are festooned with witch’s hats, and the ground floor of the Yokohama Tokyu Hands displays a rather lovely Michael Jackson mock-up, while further back, latex masks depicting Japan’s last five disgraced prime ministers are on sale.
Japan of course is known for its wealth of ghost and monster lore. Intelligent, ambivalent spirits such as the kitsune (fox) and tanuki (raccoon) are staples of fiction; traditional ghost stories find new life in film; and one of my favorite guilty pleasure TV shows, Destination Truth, recently traveled to Japan in search of the river-dwelling kappa. Wikipedia provides a laundry list of such creatures; but recently one in particular caught my attention.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What I've been reading (and Read-a-thon Wrap-up)

I hope everyone who participated in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon this weekend had a blast! I know I did. I spent a lot of my time visiting blogs and cheering but I did fit a little reading in as well. I read the novella, The Following Story by Dutch author Cees Nooteboom, which Dutch blogger Gnoe of Graasland also read during the read-a-thon. Yes, we planned that! I struggled a little bit with the book at first, especially as I was quite sleepy and the narrator did go on and on a bit. But the ending was perfect and it has made me want to go back to reread some of the earlier parts now with a better understanding.

I also read most of the stories in Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis. The read-a-thon officially ended at 9PM Sunday, Japan time, so after a late dinner, dishes and other stuff, I couldn't bring myself to get back on the computer so I headed to bed with it and have now finished off the last couple stories. I know not everyone likes short stories but if you even remotely do, try these! These were all truly wonderful stories. I'm going to work on getting a review up this week.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Read-a-thon: The post-nap update

I ended up staying up much later than I'd expected last night but I finally decided to get to bed at around 5AM, and then showered and stuff and read to about 6. Slept for about 4 hours and have now been breakfasted and juiced and am working on waking myself up properly despite the fact that it's almost noon on Sunday here. I'll do another round of cheering in a bit but first a little update.

I've spent a good portion of the read-a-thon so far (when I've been awake that is) on the computer visiting and commenting on other blogs. So the reading hasn't been progressing all that quickly but I figured as much going in so that's ok. Along with my breakfast (a pumpkin bagel, with orange juice - a very orange-coloured breakfast!) I did finish the last 20 or so pages of The Following Story by Cees Nooteboom that Gnoe and I read together. Now having reached the end, I think I need to go back and read some of the earlier parts again with a better understanding of where the story is going. But I'll leave that for another day when I don't have all the distractions of the read-a-thon.

24 Hour Read-a-thon

It's a little past 5PM on Saturday afternoon here in Tokyo. The read-a-thon officially begins at 9PM Japan time but I've finished off the chores and other things I needed to get done today so I'm going to begin reading now, to take advantage of some quiet time before the craziness begins.

I'm taking a pretty laid back approach to the read-a-thon this time. I'm looking forward to reading, especially since I haven't been doing all that much of it the last couple weeks, but I'm not at all worried about how much, or how long exactly I spend reading. I have no specific goals. So I'm not going to keep track of the numbers (pages read, time spent reading, etc.) this time. And I plan to post just a couple of updates. I'm guessing near the halfway point, and at the end. My main purpose is to have fun!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: August & September link round-up

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the two-month double Hello Japan! mini-challenge for August and September. August & September's Hello Japan! task was to compare two works, or other elements, of Japanese literature, culture, or entertainment.
Here's what you came up with:

Violet of Still Life with Books compared the short story, Tony Takitani, by Haruki Murakami, and the film based on the story.
The film is faithful to the story, and is lovely to look at, being all muted tones of grey and brown; still, quiet, beautifully shot.

Novroz of Novroz' Favorite Things did a triple comparison. She talked about Ringu, the original book, the Japanese film adaptation and the later American movie remake.
Reading the book and watching the movie is like enjoying 2 different stories with the same outline.
As for the American remake, well...

Hello Japan! October mini-challenge: Japanese spooky

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there will be a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. You can post about the task on your blog. Or if you don't have a blog, you can leave a comment on the Hello Japan! post for the month. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above, or if you have any questions please feel free to email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com.
October's Topic

Ringu anthologyHorror is very popular in Japan, from books to movies to manga and so on. Like I mentioned last year, summer is usually the peak season for horror films (a way to cool down from the oppressive heat) but you're bound to find something on offer any time of year. And there's something so right about reading scary, atmospheric stories in the autumn (which it is in the Northern Hemisphere anyway). I know I'm not alone as there's no shortage of related blog projects and challenges going on. Carl V.'s R.I.P. V Challenge, Jenn's Fright Fest, Rob's 31 Shots of Shock, and no doubt plenty of others as well. I have to admit I don't really care for outright scary, gory movies (except for a brief period in my teenage years) but I do quite enjoy psychological, spooky, gothic, suspenseful, and otherwise thrilling stories. I'm also happy for any excuse to read something Japanese and spooky. So for this month we're going to repeat the challenge we did one year ago, for the inaugural Hello Japan! mini-challenge. (Can you believe it's been a year already?)