hymnia: (Shigure reading)
I am so excited that Mark has cleaned up the suggestions threads on Mark Reads and Mark Watches, because I have been waiting for an opportunity to pitch my favorite manga series Fruits Basket. Unfortunately, I seem to be having technical difficulties with posting it. It looked like my comment posted, but then it disappeared. Is it possibly because the comment is too long? I can't figure the problem out. But in the meantime, I'm posting my pitch here for safe-keeping:

Please consider adding the manga series Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya to your reading list, Mark. (There is also an anime, and it is worth watching, but the manga is much better and tells a more complete story.) It is a 23 volume manga series and it is complete. As you have not reviewed manga before on Mark Reads (and I get the impression you aren't super familiar with the genre), I will say that a single volume of manga usually consists of about 5-8 chapters and takes about 45 min to an hour and a half to read (depending on your reading speed and how much dialogue there is). I would say a single volume of manga is probably comparable in terms of story-movement to a single, longish chapter of a novel, so you could potentially do this series in 23 days, if you chose to do it volume by volume. (And that is what I would suggest.)

Mark, I can't say too much without going into spoilers. I don't even really want to tell you the premise because 1) it sounds cheesy when you try to explain it, and 2) I think the story is better the less you know about it going in. But it's a fantastic story, and I think it delves into a lot of themes that you would appreciate, such as how people cope with isolation and abuse. Yet, despite these often dark themes, it offers a hopeful outlook on life--without being cheap. It does a great job of balancing humor, drama, romance, fantasy, and mystery, and it has a cast of wonderfully complex and fascinating characters.

In addition, if you have any interest in getting a good “representative” of anime/manga into your oeuvre of reviews, “Furuba” (as it is lovingly nicknamed by fans in the Japanese style of abbreviation) is a great candidate, because it is one of the most popular manga series published in North America.

Here's an excerpt from the entry where it was spotlighted for a “manga moveable feast” on The Manga Curmudgeon last year:

“First of all, it’s almost always interesting to dig into a cultural phenomenon. In the period between the initial English-language publication of Sailor Moon by Tokyopop and its upcoming republication by Kodansha, Fruits Basket was the most commercially successful shôjo [girls'] manga and one of the most commercially successful manga, period.

Many people have made the argument that romantic fantasy for a female audience tends to be critically undervalued. Commercially successful romantic fantasy for a female audience adds another potential disclaimer for a book’s artistic value. Fruits Basket wasn’t just primarily for girls, but girls liked it a lot. And they bought as many copies of it as boys did of manga they liked. What’s that about? Or, at least that sometimes seems like the psychological subtext.

And Fruits Basket, which originally ran in Hakusensha’s Hana to Yume, is difficult to quantify. It shares a number of qualities with more generic manga of its category...But Takaya approaches that material with quite a bit of craft and emotional ruthlessness. She doesn’t brutalize her characters (or her readers), but she doesn’t spare them much. It’s not a creepy, 'suffering and terror are hot' kind of approach; it’s more of a fluid, applied grasp of the nature of tragedy. Fruits Basket has scale. If the aesthetic were less contemporary-casual, the Takarazuka Revue could operetta up this sprawling epic.”

Full entry here, but beware spoilers as to the premise: http://mangacurmudgeon.com/2011/07/24/mmf-why-fruits-basket/

In short, it's a series beloved by many manga fans, especially shojo manga fans (who are, of course, not always female), and it's a great story all around with many of the qualities that you seem to appreciate. I know your list is long, but I hope you'll give this series a place on it. I'm sure you'll be glad you did.

Edit: It's posted now: http://markreads.net/reviews/suggestions-for-mark/#IDComment269281706

hymnia: (Default)
So it occurred to me today that I never posted pics of Anime Festival Orlando, which is really a shame, because, well…I think my costumes turned out really well this year and I want to show them off!

In the pics that follow, I am dressed as Mai from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Arisa Uotani from Fruits Basket. I worked hard on the costume for Mai, and I feel this costume shows how far my sewing skills have come. The Uo costume was simpler in terms of what I had to sew, since I just modified store-bought items, but I'm pleased with how it turned out, too. (I think I make a pretty good Uo in terms of facial expressions/body language, too.) Well, see what you think:

Avatar: The Dangerous Ladies + Suki )

Fruits Basket: The Class 1-D Gang )
hymnia: (Default)
Most of you who are Furuba fans probably already know about the Fruits Basket Scrapbook competition Tokyopop recently ran to celebrate the release of the final volume in the series. Anyway, I just wanted to let you guys know that they put up five of the entries on their website, and it just so happens that the entry my cosplay group submitted is one of the five! :D Go check it out (it's the only one with cosplay pics, so it should be obvious which one it is):

Fruits Basket Scrapbook entries

It's not clear to me what that means as far as whether or not we made it into the actual scrapbook that is supposed to be delivered to Natsuki Takaya. I get the impression showing up on the website might be a "runner up" deal. Either way, it's nice to have our entry recognized.

hymnia: (Default)
I've been meaning to post these pics for over a week now. My brother and one of my friends ([livejournal.com profile] demonalchemist9) and I did an Avatar cosplay group at Megacon weekend before last, and I thought the Avatar fans on my flist might enjoy seeing them. My bro and I dressed as Sokka and Katara (both costumes made by me, with a little help from [livejournal.com profile] demonalchemist9 and [livejournal.com profile] nessabutterfly), and [livejournal.com profile] demonalchemist9 dressed as Toph.

Avatar cosplay at Megacon 2009 )

And here are a few other pics of me and my friends at Megacon:

More Megacon 2009 )

Also, we finally got access to pictures form a photo shoot we did at JACON last year done by Wasabi Anime. The photographer was fantastic, and these turned out to be some of my favorite cosplay pictures I've ever had taken:

Risa Harada from DN Angel )

Rozen Maiden )

Sailor Moon )

Also, some quick notes about my Avatar re-watch posts and Furuba chapter discussions:

I have not forgotten my Avatar re-watch posts! I've been very busy, and it's sort of ended up on the back burner, but I have another post 90% done and should be posting in the next few days, and I do plan to finish up the rest of the series (and the season 3 bonus features).

Also, I wanted to let my friends from RandomFandom.com know that I've pretty much given up on the Furuba chapter discussions. However, when I finish my Avatar re-watch, I do plan to make similar Furuba chapter reaction posts on my own LJ (picking up where we left off, with "Sorta Cinderella"), and I hope that the Furuba fans on my flist will read them and leave comments, so in some way the discussion will go on. I just don't see the point in continuing at RF.com anymore, when it seems like no one besides me and [livejournal.com profile] umadoshi and maybe one or two other sporadic visitors was even reading the threads, much less commenting.

hymnia: (Default)
Chapter 86: In which Yuki makes up his mind

Yuki continues to explain his feelings for Tohru to Manabe. He says that he ached for maternal love, and that was exactly what Tohru's behavior provided. But he also realized that she was a girl he could be attracted to. Confused, he tried to hide the maternal need and act on the attraction instead. But now he realizes that it isn't like that between him and Tohru…

We've already talked a bit about the "mother" revelation and how it fits into the story. This chapter explains it further; also, this is the chapter where the apparently romantic Tohru/Yuki interactions are undercut. Does this explanation ring true to you? Does it seem adequate to dismiss a Tohru/Yuki romance?

(Follow the fake cut for more!)

We still need volunteers to post several of the remaining threads for vol. 15-16, so if you're interested, please go sign up!

hymnia: (Default)
I've really fallen behind on the chapter discussion links, so here's a round-up of the last three threads. Instead of quoting the opening posts on these three threads (which were all great), I've decided this time to quote from my own replies because I'm narcissistic like that since this post is not so much an announcement as a recap of some slightly older threads (and since this is my own journal, after all). Honestly, I'm mainly hoping to provoke a response from the "real life" Furuba fans on my flist. COME ON, BAKA ROSIANS!

Chapter 83: In this chapter, Yuki comes to an important realization about his feelings towards Tohru…

5. What are your thoughts on Yuki’s revelation at the end of the chapter? Did you see it coming?

I can't remember if I suspected what was behind his feelings for Tohru or not. The interesting thing is, I've heard a fair bit of criticism of using this technique to resolve a love triangle: explaining one person's feelings for the other as being like a familial relationship. But I really think it works in this case, because Yuki's need for a mother is so much more powerful than his need for a love interest, and the way it's gradually built up and then finally explained in this and the next two chapters is very believable. It just fits his character arc so well. Rather than being a cop out to just get rid of one side of a love triangle and seal the deal between the other two characters, this revelation is an important part of the story in its own right. And goodness knows having Yuki "out of the way" is hardly enough to seal the deal for Tohru and Kyo anyway.

(Follow the fake cut to read the discussion and answer questions!) (Spoiler version here.)

Chapter 84: In this chapter, we get a glimpse of some of the pivotal events of Yuki’s past, and we see a complex web of relationships being sown.

6. Many of the other Juunishi think of the Rat as an exalted being, but we see in this chapter how horribly bleak Yuki’s life is. Do you have any thoughts on this contrast?

Yeah, I remember feeling a sort of emotional shock in these chapters, similar to what I felt at the beginning of the last vol. with the Rin flashbacks. With two volumes in a row having such sad openings, I remember feeling like the once peppy and fairly comical series was becoming quite dark and serious. I don't mean that as a criticism in the least. I've always felt that the best stories have to go through some deep valleys before they can achieve the sort of mountain heights that will win my heart. I'm a big fan of eucatastrophe. So I liked the way the series was going, but it caught me a little off-guard in a lot of ways.

Anyway, I think it's ironic that Yuki's supposedly charmed life—according to Kyo, especially—was so sad, and that Kyo himself had dealt Yuki a pretty rough blow when he was already down. Mind you, I was very annoyed to find a group of Yukiru supporters saying as much on another forum. Heh. They did sort of have a point, though, that in some ways, Kyo suffered less than Yuki (and some of the other "legit" 12shi, too). But no, it isn't that he suffered less; rather, he received more comfort from his suffering than most of the others did.

(Follow the fake cut to read the discussion and answer questions!) (Spoiler version, which contains the quote above, here.)

Chapter 85: In this chapter we finally hear the whole story of Tohru’s encounter with the “red hat boy”; and Yuki comes to some important realizations about life in general, and his life in particular.

6.Why do you think that Yuki gives Tohru the hat?

Mainly, because he wanted to congratulate her for making it home. But I also think deep down he knew that he couldn't return it to Kyo, so he was doing what seemed to be the most noble alternative to simply keeping it himself: giving it to a little girl who had made quite an impression on him. In terms of the story, of course he had to leave it with Tohru in order to catalyze later events.

8.The theme of darkness vs. light seems very prevalent in this chapter. Discuss if you wish.

I love the poetic language that comes up in the narrative in this chapter: "The world is more than darkness. It isn't only black." I just like the ring of those lines. It's also striking to me that Yuki describes the world using the darkness and light metaphor in a way that shows that he clearly believes it is more darkness than light. Yet, he chooses to focus on the light, small though it may be.

(Follow the fake cut to read the discussion and answer questions!) (Spoiler version here.)

Also, we still have several chapters available for vol. 15-16, so if you're interested, please go sign up!

hymnia: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ginnytoo has posted a new discussion thread at RandomFandom.com. Thanks for starting the new thread, mom!

Chapter 81: In which the School Defense Force returns!

As Yuki and Kakeru approach the student council room, Kakeru is excited to hear there is a disturbance taking place inside. He thinks this is an opportunity for the “school defense force” to spring heroically into action against “the enemy.” However, upon opening the door, they see that the only person in the room is Machi, inexplicably trashing the room as she did once before in an earlier chapter…What do you think about Machi’s rampages?

(Follow the fake cut for more discussion!)

A new schedule for volumes 15 and 16 will be posted soon, and we will need people to sign up for the next round of chapter threads, so please stay tuned!


hymnia: (Default)
Chapter 80: In which a wall comes down.

Rin wakes up after her collapse at Shigure's house to find Tohru caring for her and Hatori waiting to take her to the hospital. She refuses to go, and when she nearly jumps out a window to get away, Shigure and Hatori decide to let her stay where she is for another day or so…I remember being very startled when Tohru fights back during her argument with Rin, esp. since they hardly know each other. Very un-Tohru-like, as is Tohru's moment of intuition that Rin is also trying to break the curse. Unlikely friends, but they already seem to have some gut level understanding of each other. What do you think?

(Follow the fake cut for more discussion!)


hymnia: (Default)
Chapter 79: In which more history comes to light

Rin continues to remember/dream about her past, beginning with her memories of what it was like living with her parents after they turned on her. We see that one day it was finally too much for her: she remembers collapsing in the street and being hospitalized after Haru finds her and calls Kazuma to help…Kazuma continues to be a contender for the Best Parent Ever award. This is his first meeting with Rin, and I think it raises the question of what their relationship was like in the years between this meeting and the scene in volume 12 where she storms into his house and chews him out for talking to Tohru (which wouldn't have been her intention when she went there, since she ran into Tohru on her way in). Later volumes give us more hints, but what's your impression at this point?

(Follow the fake cut for more discussion!)

Also, I'm still seeking a volunteer to start the discussion for Chapter 83 (July 28th). Please leave a comment if you would like to sign up for it!


hymnia: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] umadoshi has posted the new discussion thread.

Chapter 78: In which we get a first look at Rin's history

Note: This is the first chapter of volume 14. It is mislabeled as chapter 72 in the Tokyopop version (at least, it is in mine).

This is the first chapter where we're showed Rin's perspective on her actions so far in the series and on her relationship with Haru. Combined with our first look at her backstory, it makes for a very sudden shift in how readers perceive her…What were your reactions to this new take on her?

(Follow the fake cut for more discussion!)

We still need a volunteer to post the thread for Chapter 83 (July 28th). It has Manabe and Kimi being their usual nutty selves, and Tohru and co's class finding out their outrageous Cinderella cast assignments. Please comment if you would like to start the discussion for this fun comic relief chapter.


hymnia: (Default)
Chapter 77: In which Yuki WILL NEVER SPEAK TO YOU AGAIN!

This chapter is Yuki-centric. It starts out with another brief flashback where Yuki asks the two younger council members, Machi and Nao, if they'd like souvenirs from the school trip. Both say no. Yuki thinks that his fellow council members are unique….Manabe is always asking questions about Tohru, prodding at Yuki. What do you think he's trying to get Yuki to do?

(Furuba fans, please follow the fake cut to read the full post and make a reply!)

Also, I'm still looking for a volunteer to post the thread for Chapter 83 (July 28th). Anyone interested?


hymnia: (Default)
So yesterday my friends and I played a little game. We decided—okay, I admit, it was my idea—to make up Western names for all the Fruits Basket characters, like some US anime/manga adapters used to do (e.g. Sailor Moon). We based most of our choices on name meanings. That is, we took either what the original Japanese name meant, or something to do with the character, such as their zodiac animal, typed it into a search engine at one of those baby name websites, and picked a name that had that meaning. But there were other factors that influenced our choices, too. We talked about the fact that anime adaptors probably tried to keep the same syllable count, or close to it—but we mostly ignored that ourselves, since it ended up being too restrictive. We're just having fun, after all!

Anyway, here's what we came up with.

First, we have Tyler, the heroine of our story
She has two best friends, tough-talking former gang member Andi, and mysterious goth Hannah
She also constantly refers to her deceased mother, Veronica

Then we have the well-to-do but mysterious Wyndham family:

Blake, the handsome "prince" of his school
Dylan, his angry—and angsty—arch-rival
Randall, the perverted novelist, known as "Randy" to his best friends (for obvious reasons)
Cordelia, a beautiful—but high-strung—girl who can't leave Dylan alone
Pippin, a sweet boy with a European flair
Edmund, the family doctor, who can't keep his best friends from calling him "Eddy"
Julian, the fabulous, the magnificent, the beautiful…! His best friends call him "Jules"
Gwen (short for Guinevere), gorgeous but very guarded and a bit tragic
Lance, her true love—half-gentleman, half-punk
Emma, a shy middle-school girl
Gabe, her friend and protector
Rory, a neurotic cross-dresser
Michael, the mysterious and cruel head of the family
Thomas, Michael's personal assistant

Feel free to make fun or our choices. Or suggest your own. And of course, there were characters we didn’t get to—Kazuma, the student council, Ren, Katsuya, the fan club girls. Anyone want to try naming them?

(X-posted a couple places)

hymnia: (Default)
To my Furuba friends: chapter discussions are back (after a bit of a hiatus) on a new bi-weekly schedule. I posted the new thread for Chapter 74 today. Also, I've been adding replies to ch. 69-71 over the last couple of days, with more to come on ch. 72-73. I hope some of you will return to the discussion--or join in for the first time, if you haven't been part of it before.

Tomorrow I'm going to start pimping it a couple places, including two LJ comms ([livejournal.com profile] fruits_basket and [livejournal.com profile] fb_spoilerland), and possibly the Rosetta Stone mailing list and a couple of other message boards. Any help in advertising the discussion to other fans would be appreciated.

Also, several chapters, including the next one, are still up for grabs.

hymnia: (Default)
I've been really distracted by Harry Potter lately, but just now I'm back in Furuba mode, at least for the time being.

The only think I have to say about the release of volume 17, though, is "I can has rite pronouns now, plz?"

And, hey! Fellow Furuba fans! Don't forget about the chapter discussions! I just posted my heart out on chapters 56-63. Go reply!

hymnia: (Default)
I think I might have come up with a reasonable explanation to resolve the issue of Kyo not being allowed to visit the "main house". If you're interested, read more here (link contains SPOILERS).


Meta rec

Jan. 21st, 2007 08:30 pm
hymnia: (Default)
I thought this was an interesting topic of discussion:

[livejournal.com profile] fernwithy ponders what makes something "fandomable" or "ficcable".

After doing a couple of posts on things my f-list isn't especially into (Warriors and Tom Sawyer), I got to thinking about the question--what is it that makes something "fandomable" and something else just popular? (I'm not talking about popular vs. unpopular; no accounting for that, sometimes, just kind of, what inspires these insanely talkative and creative fan communities, as opposed to being "the it book" or something along that line.)

Everything out there has some fandom somewhere, I'm quite convinced, but there's a difference. Harry Potter has 281,748 stories at the moment at The Pit, and will probably gain a couple hundred by the end of the week. Stephen King, who has arguably sold a comparable number of books, has 371. The ubiquitous Da Vinci Code has 190. John Grisham isn't even listed. The bizarrely popular Gossip Girl books rack up a total of 70, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants--movie and all--only gets to 203, and all of Georgia Nicholson's full-frontal snogging can only get her to 84, despite a lot of popularity when FFN was at its peak.

Go read the rest, including the comments, wherein I rank anime/manga series by number of fics at FFN and puzzle over why Furuba ranks as high as it does.

hymnia: (Default)
In the back of my mind I've been considering taking on a project next summer to make a comprehensive timeline of everything that happens in Furuba (including flashbacks), similar to the Harry Potter timeline here at the Harry Potter Lexicon.

Anyway, I won't be able to do it until summer, due to work and the fact that I still don't have info on a lot of the chapters not yet published by TP. I'm planning on purchasing the Singapore editions sometime in May/June (by which time I'm guessing/hoping they'll have finished the series). But when I do, I'm going to want some help and advice from other fans, so I hope I will be able to find that from some of you.

Anyway, all of this is preface to some questions about some continuity issues in the series that I’ve been pondering and I'm not sure how to resolve. I was wondering if anyone, especially those of you who are more "spoiled" than I am (and/or have more knowledge about translation discrepancies) could shed some light on these things.

Two issues that need resolving - CONTAINS SPOILERS )

Well, if anyone has any ideas on how to resolve these, please let me know. And let me know what you think about the timeline idea, especially if you’d be willing to help with it.

x-posted to RandomFandom.com

hymnia: (Default)
Merry Christmas, FLIST!

I’m having a lovely time with Mom, Dad, Granny, Mark, Vanessa, little Kaedmon, and Strider (the cat). So far, we’ve watched Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas (best Christmas movie EVAR), done lots of cooking (I made homemade salsa, just for general use during the next few days, and “Cranberry Delight” (cranberry sauce, Jell-o, fruit and nuts) for lunch tomorrow), and cracked out a puzzle of sexy pirate boy Will Turner to work on throughout the evening (we haven’t gotten very far yet.)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful evening, whether you are observing Christmas Eve or not.

And now, a bit of a Christmas present for my flist, especially the Furuba-loving types (and perhaps the music-sampling types). After all the music discussion this past week with [livejournal.com profile] f_ireworks and [livejournal.com profile] crimsonlady—and the lovely FSTs they recently posted—I’ve finally made up my mind to post one of my own. I chose not to do a particular character or ship; this is more of a general soundtrack for Fruits Basket. I didn’t set out with a certain theme in mind, but when I had finished selecting the songs, it was obvious that one had emerged.

Fruits Basket FST: That Precious Little Thing

The recurring theme in this mix is hope, which Kyo describes in volume 11 as a “a tiny flower, precious.” The title to this FST, from a lyric in track 12, echoes his words.

If anyone who has graphics skills and a program to use them with would like to make cover art for this, I would be deeply grateful. I’m picturing an image or images of Tohru as a child, like those in chapter 33 and chapter 63 with the title “Fruits Basket” at the top and “That Precious Little Thing” at the bottom, or something along those lines.

I’ve never made compressed files before, so I hope I did everything right. If you run into any problems downloading, please let me know.

Rar file: That Precious Little Thing (includes bonus track)
Zip file: That Precious Little Thing (includes bonus track)

That Precious Little Thing: BEWARE OF SPOILERS )

For my spoiler-purist friends, I’ve provided a spoiler-free version of the commentary. All the songs are included, but for some there are no comments or my comments are truncated. If you are spoiler-free please be careful to scroll down only, and DON'T scroll UP. The spoiler version is right above this.

That Precious Little Thing: spoiler-free version of commentary )

I hope you enjoy!

hymnia: (Default)
Back when the first garbled spoilers for chapter 134 came out, and I freaked out (warning: link contains SPOILERS), one of my criticisms of what was happening in that chapter was that More SPOILER-y commentary )

And now, there is plenty of material left to write fanfic about. I have plans for a few stories. How about you?

hymnia: (Default)
I think the final chapter looks like it is a satisfying and appropriate end to the series. The images are beautiful and quite touching in some places. I look forward to seeing a translation--soon, I hope, but I'm not too impatient right at this moment.

ETA: I decided to write up a list of what the scans show to post at RandomFandom.com, and I decided to x-post it here.

SPOILERS for Fruits Basket ch. 136 )



hymnia: (Default)

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