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Monday, 16 July 2012
Apologies unending must be given on my behalf for being nothing but incompetent the last two weeks. Sorry everyone, I guarantee I’ll be more on top of it.

So for the next few posts I thought I’d talk about what I’ve been getting up to (not intentionally a justification for my lack of posting, although you can take it that way if you’d like. This is more a self-absorbed thing, I suspect) and hopefully eventually I’ll be able to keep you guys more up-to-date on everything.

Probably the most embarrassing of these, and therefore rightly the first for me to bring up and move past, is that I've been reading manga. Lots of it. To the point that I’ve had to find ways to cut myself away, and have now resolved to only read it in traditional Japanese. Hopefully this will work as an incentive while also freeing up a bit of time for writing. We’ll see... I know many of you won't be at all interested in manga, and that's fine. But this blog just wouldn't be mine unless I brought up my Jap fanaticism every now and then. Feel free to read as much or as little suits you.

I have to say a few words about a few of the series that have been draining away my time. Actually, just two.

1. 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa

Here's a cover with some kids on it.
One or two of them may or
may not feature in the story.
So Urasawa is a bit of a gem writer. This is the only series I’ve read in full (because Australia’s none too kind when it comes to accessing non-mainstream manga), but I’ve watched some of the anime of another series, Monster. Basically, he’s a genius of cliffhangers. I’m talking the type so subtle that you don’t even realize until you’ve turned the last page that you are absolutely dying to read the next chapter. 20th Century Boys begins with Kenji – the main protagonist of far more than should be possible – stuck in a nothing job and other than small hints of bigger things to come, it reads as very little more than colloquial and banal. This continues for several volumes, in fact, while flashbacking to Kenji’s past in what must be the best use of flashbacks I’ve ever seen, bar none. That being said, nothing much happens for a fair while, or so it seems.

I must admit, when I started this series, I wasn’t convinced I’d like it. I struggled through, trying to find something to convince me to finish. There are 22 volumes in total, after all, so it’s no small task to reach the end. That is, until everything starts and you realize you’re completely addicted. I won’t say anything about the plot because it’s hard not to ramble and spoil like a madman, but (and this is completely objectively speaking, because honestly, there is no denying of this) the story, the characters, the artwork, all are damn impressive. Seriously, if you want to be convinced that quality manga exists, start with Naoki Urasawa.

2. Katekyo Hitman Reborn! by Akira Amano

Tsuna is the one in the background.
The baby Reborn is the one that
looks like a baby.
This one’s a little bit wilder. In fact, it’s insane. Here’s the plot in its most basic form:

Yeah, I like it so much I added a
second cover, what of it? And no,
I don't care that Yamamoto is on
A young boy named Tsuna is a no-hoper in every way, failing in school, sports, romance, everything. To his surprise (but not to the surprise of any reader) a mysterious guest arrives and shakes things up. Who is this person? That’s right, a baby with a gun! Oh, what’s that? The baby is from a prestigious mafia family and Tsuna is set to become the new boss? Oh, and the baby (named Reborn) shoots Tsuna in the head to unlock his near-death powers? Yes, I saw all of that coming as well.

You’d be right to say it is a bit of a weird concept. Some would even say that it's, perhaps, crap? and some would say it’s a twist on the classic shounen formula (think Dragon Ball Z) just for the sake of a twist, but what makes this so fantastic is that it’s seriously, ridiculously funny. It also manages to simultaneously be out-of-this-world adorable while blowing my mind with just how awesome the fight scenes will later become.
My favourite manga/anime of all time is Bleach by Tite Kubo. That’s a contentious title as favourite, to be sure, but there’s something about it that I just can’t get over. Not since the first time reading Bleach have I been so excited by a series, not even of any other format. I never thought I’d actually have to question whether Bleach was still my favourite or not.
And almost singularly because of Reborn! (the exclamation mark is actually in the title, don’t knock it) I’ve decided to stop reading manga in English. I know if I continue on I won’t get anything done for at least a year and a half. Clearly, that isn’t the best option for me right now.

Now, I still feel bad that I have neglected my extensive and dedicated fanbase over the last two weeks. Hopefully we can find a way to push forward to the new world. In the meantime, one more wonder from the land of rising suns and maid cafés. I think it captures a little bit of a universal truth which only a miraculous treat can bring out in all of us.


If you haven't had this experience before I fear you haven't been eating pocky correctly.

Next time I’ll be bringing to The Boobahdore some news about my writing, because I have yet to mention anything about writing and I call myself a writer in the first few words of my bio! See you then!

John "the loafer" Back