|Ayashi No Ceres|
I'm writing this post a little ahead of the curve here, simply because I'll be in New Orleans by the time you read it and hopefully having fun at the Authors After Dark convention. (And it's hard for me to blog when I'm out and about, so...stealth post it is.
Anyway, I've been wracking my brain for a few days trying to think of a book that I love unabashedly...and while I certainly do have some of those, I can't really come up with a specific one that I feel like I have to defend. I've got comfort books, but I'm not sure that's the same thing.
So instead, I'm going to mention more of a genre - manga.
If you're not aware, manga is essentially Japanese comic books - either in condensed book form, or sometimes serialized in manga magazines. They're often read from right to left, from the back of the book to the front. Takes a little getting used to, but I'm a purist in the sense that the artwork tends to look much better when they don't try to reverse it.
Anyway - there's a lot of grey areas and overlap and more subcategories than I care to get into right now. My main point to all this was to focus on the shojo manga. (Which is what a lot of comic book arguments sometimes delve into when it comes to wanting better female characters in western comic books. "Go read manga or girls comics if you want that." This is one of my hot button issues that I'm not going to get into.)
Hypocritical? Yup. Things I would rake a regular book over the coals for are completely ignored the moment a bishie appears on the pages. I'm not sure why. I'm a sucker for art.
And that's not to say I don't discriminate between certain artists or stories. I do tend to skew toward manga with more adult story lines, and I have an exceptional soft spot for the "magical girl" stories. (These are stories where a girl/young woman is often transported from our world into another one - through magical means or dreams and they have to adapt to the new world and usually some form of power.) Again, can't really tell you why these appeal, but there it is. And the romance. The more over the top angst, the better. Smutty scenes? Yes, please. (Not moving into hentai territory, here - I don't need tentacles, thanks, but a well drawn rendering is fine.)
|From Far Away|
1) Fushigi Yuugi - The grandmama of all Magical Girl Shojo - it's 18 volumes long, not counting the numerous spin-off novels, the 52-ep anime (which is crazy silly at times), the spin-off manga, two additional OVA movies and more merchandise than you can shake a stick at. It essentially follows the tale of Miaka, a school girl, who gets sucked into the world of a book with her friend, only to find out she's the priestess of one of the four major gods of the world. (And her friend is one on the opposing side.) There's all sorts of love triangles and over the top craziness and collecting of celestial warriors and drama, drama, drama. Her main squeeze is Tamahome. I have a Tamahome poster in my office cube. >_<)
3) From Far Away - 14 volumes - another magical girl story - schoolgirl sucked into another dimension to find out she's basically something called "The Awakening", sent to awaken the Sky Demon who is either going to destroy the world, or save it. Lots of political stuff and world building. Not as much drama as some of the other ones, but a nicely made and believable romance sub-plot.
This little summary doesn't even begin to touch the love I have for this story. I collect cels from this anime. I have trading cards. I have soundtracks and posters and artbooks. This is my favorite manga of all time. Hands down. >_< Don't even get me started on Toya.
|Hellsing (yummy Alucard!)|
(There's an anime and a rebooted OVA series too. Soundtracks are killer. Right up there with Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, both excellent, excellent animes in their own right.)