The Pushman and Other Stories - Yoshihiro Tatsumi

If you've ever been to a manga store or even a comics shop, you've probably seen Yoshihiro Tatsumi's comic A Drifting Life. The volume is huge and the cover has an image of a manga artist bent over and drawing. That book, an autobiographical exploration of the artist's life, was drawn over a decade and is considered a classic, which is probably why it is so ubiquitous.

I have never read it.

I've always wanted to, but I always encounter the book most inconvienantly, normally when I'm on foot and already have way too much in my backpack. I usually give the book a once over, wish I owned it, and move on. Still, I've always been curious about Tatsumi. His art is simple, not your typical manga, which I've been steering away from lately anyhow. When I had the opportunity to pick up The Pushman and Other Stories republished by Drawn and Quarterly, I did so without hesitation.

This book isn't for everyone, but it is for me. It's dark. It's sick. It's slightly absurdest. Think Kafka meets Lars von Trier and Patricia Highsmith for tea and some pen and ink drawings.

For example, "The Pushman," the title story of the collection, is a short piece about a man who has the job of pushing commuters onto trains in order to pack them as full as possible. Anyone who has ever ridden a full commuter train or bus can testify to the anxiety, however short lived, induced in such a situation.

In "The Pushman," this feeling is pervasive. At one point, the pushman helps a woman who tears her blouse in the commute frenzy. They go on a date and sleep together. Later, she introduces the Pushman to her girlfriends, who rip and tear at him in a sexual frenzy reminiscent of the heated, tight, urgent commute.

Later, the Pushman finds himself pushed onto one of the trains by accident. Squashed between squirming human bodies, he proclaims, "I'm a Pushman."

I read this story on BART. It gave me the hee bee jee bees.

I think these stories are brilliant. You will not, however, if you can't handle sex, violence, human failings or aborted babies. Consider carefully before reading.

And Now for Something Last Minute... "Artifice" by Alex Woolfson

Since some of us are big fans of yaoi here at Squeefinity, I thought I'd recommend checking out an American webcomic that takes on the genre. You might consider Alex Woolfson and Winona Nelson's Artifice currently available online. Here is what the author has to say about the story:

Artifice is about Deacon, a prototype android soldier so advanced he is referred to as an "artificial person." On one of his first missions, Deacon was ordered by his corporate masters to eliminate a team of scientists who knew too much—and he has failed spectacularly. Not only did he let one of the targets live, he attacked the team sent to retrieve him. Now the Corporation wants answers and they bring in the brilliant robopsychologist Dr. Clarice Maven to get them—giving her the power to make sure Deacon never fails the Corporation ever again.

As Deacon tries to keep his secrets and the doctor cuts through his defenses, a cunning game of cat-and-mouse begins. The question is: will Deacon be able to resist Dr. Maven’s power and protect the only thing that has ever truly mattered to him?

Sounds pretty good to me! I've been a bit down on some yaoi lately because it seems to fall straight into hentai or pron. What I'm looking for is a good thought provoking story where the main characters just happen to be gay. So, yeah! Good for this one. I look forward to reading it, and I hope you do, too.

And for those with more interest, the author is running a very soon to be finished Kickstarter, which you can support!

Winchester Wednesday: Post Season 1 Anime Wrapup

First, hello Dear Readers, long-time no Squee.

I've been gone forever, and have no better excuse than "life got in the way." I hate when that happens. Why can't people leave me alone and let me do my thing? Ah, such is life (imagine I'm French when you read that). Apparently I've been gone long enough for Mr. Empty to accuse me of killing one of his children...which is okay, because one of his children is a super-annoying, self-referential anime series named Excel Saga. Your kid is annoying--shut that brat up! I'll post a rebuttal to his rebuttal soon. In the meantime I'm offering up this sad and depressing review of the first season of Supernatural: The Anime.

Again, I'll remind you that way back in the way back machine, when rumors had begun to stir about the Supernatural  anime, I was thrilled. How could I not be? All I could think of was possibility. But possibility, Dear Readers, filled me with hopes that did not pan out. My dreams of what might have been were dashed.
By what?

By this:

This little clip posted on Youtube is of, as the title says, "the first brotherly love moment," in the anime. Watch it.  This is supposed to be a emotional moment, right? So why does it feel like Padalecki is just reading off a page, and the person reading Ackles' part hasn't ever seen the show? Where's the emotion?

There are a few problems with this anime.  The whole thing makes me sad and angry. I've been duped! Hornswaggled! It was a bait and switch!

Problem one: 
Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester. He's not the most emotive actor in the world. If I'm being honest, that last sentence is me trying very hard to be nice. He's...not a very good actor. He has like five facial expressions, and each of them is a little unconvincing. I felt this way about him when he was in Gilmore Girls as well. (Yes, I watched Gilmore Girls, but in my defense, I did not enjoy it and I do not like the turns out my husband really, really does. Why? I have no idea. Like none. It's awful.)  Padalecki is very athletic, so that's good. And he's cute. I'll admit he's cute. But, he reads lines like he's reciting them for a school play, and relies on Ackles to carry the emotional weight of the scene. Ackles makes Padalecki a better actor. So, now, with the anime, Padalecki has an even tougher be convincing and realistic ONLY using his voice. He does not pull it off. It's weird and wooden and offputting. Sam's not always the most likable character anyway, which is what makes him and the series interesting, but he is redeemed because he is emotional (well, we're told he is) despite his selfishness (Sam you are so selfish!) and questionable morals at times. His performance is, I'll say it, a mess. An unconvincing mess.

Problem two: 
No Jensen Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester. Ackles was busy doing voice work for another project and could ONLY devote enough time to do the voices in the last two episodes, which were...SURPRISE!...better than all the previous episodes combined. Finally, there was some real emotion being voiced. Even Padalecki seemed more relaxed somehow, or at least he didn't suck as much.  Now lest you think that I'm just so Ackles infatuated that "no one else can play Dean"...well, maybe, but there's more than that. He's a good actor. Dean is a difficult role. Really. His emotions are wild and uncontrolled. He's a mix of arrogance and vulnerability. He's a lot of contradictions. And no one should be able to pull off a performance of a character that complex and have it feel genuine. When Dean's heart breaks, my heart breaks...and that's Ackles fault.

Problem three: 
I had high expectations, and I'll admit that may have swayed my response to the series. It just had so much potential, and yet...bleh. The reason my review of season one took so long to complete is that I got bored with it, and kept putting off watching the remaining episodes. That's bad. If there is a target audience for a Supernatural  anime...well, I'm it. I AM THE AUDIENCE! I couldn't have been tailor made for such a role. If your ideal audience is bored enough to step away and not return, then you have a problem. I'l admit to having watched the whole series of Supernatural more than once. I'll also admit to watching some of my favorite episodes multiple (as in more than 5) times. And I don't get bored. I notice new things--it's always interesting. But this? This was NOT interesting. And it should have been. If it can't keep my attention it is doing something wrong. Part of me knows the voice acting is to blame. Part of it is the animation style was okay, not beautiful, not chilling, not unique, just...there. Part of it was the lack of innovation. The writers and animators had carte blanche to do whatever they wanted here. They could start with the characters and reinvent parts of the story-line, throw them new curve balls, dig deeper into the situation. Instead, most of it wasn't much different than what was in the live-action series, minus a few original episodes that didn't do much for me. The pacing was slow and it didn't move forward with the same emotional impetus as the original. All in all, it did the same things as the live-action series, only it didn't do them as well.

Problem four: 
Sometimes when a story crosses mediums, say from book to movie, or in this case live-action series to anime...bad choices are made. I can remember feeling this way with quite a few book to movie scenarios.
Let's use an example of Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned. I'm a geeky creepster, so I loved this book. And it's exciting, it could have made an excellent film, but two bad things happened. If you had read the book you walked away from the movie angry because so much was left out. Oh, what do you mean Armand is an important character? He was just some guy who never talked and was in two scenes of the film, just hanging out in the background. So, book fans...are mad. But what if you aren't a book fan? Well, for some reason Queen of the Damned relied on some knowledge of the book, because it made a lot of assumptions about what viewers knew about the plot and characters. So, people who didn't read the book are just lost...and therefore mad. EVERYONE LOSES! I feel the same way about Supernatural: The Anime. Fans like me are annoyed that it isn't as good as it could be, and new viewers...I don't know how they'd follow along. I'm tempted to force someone (but I won't because it could be misconstrued as torture) who knows nothing about Supernatural  to watch the anime, just so I can ask them if they understand what's going on. Right now, I'm not sure that they couldn't follow the plot, or figure out the characters, but my gut reaction is that anyone not already knowing something about the series would just be confused. And I don't mean confused in a, ooh Davinci Code kind of way, more in a...what's going on here? Who is that again? Why do I care at all?...kind of way.

The whole viewing experience makes me sad. I don't want to have to give this series a negative review, but I have no choice.

And that is sad.
Don't cry, Dean. I still love you.
We'll just pretend the anime never happened.