Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ted Reviews Miwa Ueda's Peach Girl

For my first manga review, I’m going to do Miwa Ueda’s series Peach Girl. I chose this series for a number of reasons:
1) I finished it recently, so it’s fresh in my mind.
2) It’s a fairly standard example of a major genre—a lot of the characters, situations, ideas, and so forth are hallmarks of shojo (young girl) romance, and it’s thus a good introduction.
3) It was a decent series—not great, but certainly not the worst I’ve read—so it’s a good introduction in that sense as well.
4) It illustrates some of the difficulties of translation—not just in the sense of complicated words, but also concepts and cultural ideas that Americans won’t know about.

You'll see what I mean by that last one in just a moment. Momo Adachi is a happy, normal high-school student who's misunderstood. She's got few friends, most of the boys tend to assume she's easy, and she can't confess to the guy she loves. The reason for her troubles? She's tan.

Monday, February 8, 2010

On telling stories

One of the most frustrating aspects of the life that I've chosen, where I make up stories and then try to get people to give me money for them, is coming up with what might be a totally brilliant story and then having no idea how to write it.

Right now I've got four characters, a couple situations, and some vague idea of a theme, but no actual plot to bring it all together. Moreover, I don't even know what medium to write it for. I've got a great deal of familiarity with the comics medium (okay, okay, "sequential art"), and I can do prose if I need to, though I don't like to. But this might work better as a play, or even a short film or something, and that's totally outside my realm of experience.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The library without books has lots of empty shelves

Kind of an old article, but: prep school near Boston is swapping their library full of books for a 'learning center' with Kindles, laptop spaces, and a coffee bar.

I'm just going to point out a couple things:
1) Digital copies don't degrade and can be used by an infinite number of users at once, yes, but they're more often rented than bought, so the school had better keep their subscriptions up-to-date.
2) They'd better keep their technology up-to-date, too. I'd hate to be the guy who authorized the buying of a hundred Kindles and then saw Apple announcing the iPad.
3) To Mr. William Powers, who has written the forthcoming book Hamlet’s Blackberry: Why Paper is Eternal, and who notes "Without books, students are more likely to do the grazing or quick reading that screens enable, rather than be by themselves with the author’s ideas," I would say: yes, but with a laptop/iPad/brain implant, you can immediately browse outwards to check the author's facts, follow arguments into other texts, and generally expand the intellectual environment one currently resides in.