Manga Review: Hikaru no go (Kanzenhan) Volume 1

ヒカルの碁 完全版 1ヒカルの碁 完全版 1 by 小畑 健

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This unforgettable series in a gorgeous new large format--complete with beautiful new cover illustrations! It was so nostalgic reading the story again from the start (and being reminded of how different the beginning of the manga and anime are--good job, Studio Pierrot! Though the manga is still tons of fun as is. :))

One great bonus of this "kanzenhan" (complete collection) version is that Hotta Yumi, the writer, has created new bonus material, commenting on her early work doing the storyboards of "Kokonotsu no Hoshi" (Nine Stars), the precursor story that won her the Shounen Jump Story King Storyboard Contest and landed her both a serialization and an artist (the now-legendary Obata Takeshi of both Hikaru no Go and Death Note fame). She is also including the 26 character sketches Obata-sensei did just for her at the end of the Hikago manga/their partnership, publishing 1-3 characters per volume. In this first volume, we get the sketch of Kaga, along with Hotta-sensei's musings on his future. ;-) (apparently, she thinks he'll become a lawyer in his 20's and only becoming a Shogi pro around age 30). And as for what she thinks of Mitani's future... @_@;;;;; Very worthwhile for all fans new and old to collect this gorgeous large size edition of this incredible manga.

View all my reviews
Summer - Hikaru no Go

Kingdom Hearts 3D TGS Trailer + Translation

Waaah, Kingdom Hearts 3D looks so awesome! Just saw the cool, new trailer from Tokyo Game Show (happening right now in Japan). I love that Sora and Riku appear to be dual protagonists this time, and I love the chemistry Sora has with tsun-tsun Neku Sakuraba (of the awesme Square-Enix DS game The World Ends With You). This makes Neku the first non-Final Fantasy SE character in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, doesn't it? :D He fits right in, though, huh? LOL.

So here's the gorgeous trailer:

And here's my quick translation:

Merlin:  We shall now commence the Master Affirmation Tests of Sora and Riku.
Sora:  Even without a thing like that, I won't lose to anyone!
Riku:  Whether I, who walked the path of darkness, am fit to use a keyblade… I believe that must be ascertained.
Sora:  Riku…
Merlin:  He who releases the keyhole of slumber and returns to this land shall be affirmed as Master.
Sora:  Huh? Where am I? My clothes changed! More importantly, where's Riku? Heeeey! Rikuuuuuu!
Neku:  So noisy…
Sora:  Huh?  
Neku:  What an awful noise. 
Whoa! Ugh…
Neku:  …You're Sora.
Merlin:  Instead of the Heartless, who made up a large part of the world's darkness, Darkness has always existed in the Slumbering World. They are called Dream Eaters, monsters that devour dreams. 
Merlin:  Defeating the Dream Eaters will lead you to the keyhole.
Neku:  This is a game. A time limit is placed on all participants. It's a game I absolutely must win.
Sora:  I don't really get this game. But shall I help you out?
Riku:  Quasimodo. Where did the monster go?
Quasimodo:  Up to the roof of the cathedral.
Riku:  Got it!
Quasimodo:  I...I'll fight too!
Sora:  That's right, I didn't catch your name.
Neku:  Dream Eater!
Sora:  Weird name.
Neku:  Uh, no, I meant that thing.
Merlin:  By unlocking the keyhole of slumber, he will gain a new power and also release the slumbering world.
Neku:  It's Neku. Neku Sakuraba. …My name.
Sora:  Neku… Sakuraba. Pretty interesting name!
Neku:  It's totally not.


Book Review: LEGEND by Marie Lu

Legend (Legend, #1)Legend by Marie Lu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can I just say right off the bat, this book LIVES UP TO THE HYPE? :D Fascinating portrait of a future Los Angeles (especially fun for those familiar with LA, since present-day landmarks turn up in interesting and very "changed-up" ways). The world-building is just remarkably seamless. There was no discernible Info Dumping, but I got so many wonderful, even minute details about the present day culture in the Republic's Los Angeles. The pacing was amazingly tight despite the amount of info you somehow obtain (through osmosis, I guess, LoL~) and the action comes at you non-stop.

The crowning glory, of course, is the characters--particularly our hero, Day, and heroine, June. I already had an idea that I would like Day based on the promo copy: he's a cheeky, street-smart, teenaged Robin Hood-type, biracial with an interesting mix of races (Russian and Mongolian--pretty!), has white-blonde hair, striking blue eyes, and is trying to protect his family--in short, a pretty enticing character. But seeing him in action made him even better. Not to give anything away, but despite being so street smart and living in the midst of such danger and infamy, he's wonderfully upbeat, generous and has a surprisingly open heart, open to love and fun as well as the danger that comes with his "line of business," so to speak.

I knew less about June going into the story, but came away equally impressed. She is the Inspector Javert to Day's Jean Valjean, and while she does start off the story with some classist and elitist attitudes instilled by her upbringing, her brilliant mind proves to be agile and her youthful idealism remains intact despite the gritty, often violent training she undergoes while being groomed to be a future military leader/war hero for the Republic. I love that the girl is the one who's enfranchised for a change, and that she gets to strut around wearing all the figurative laurels/having the proud mantle of leadership and high expectations placed on her. And she delivers too--I can't say how much I loved a YA heroine who was believably badass AND brilliant. The way Marie shows off her Sherlock Holmesian observational and deductive skills is just awesome. She and Day make excellent nemesis for one another (and more, in a totally believable and surprisingly sweet way~)

I'll stop there in the interest of avoiding spoilers. But seriously, folks--you are in for such a treat. The action, the twists, the fascinating world (both fantastically dystopian, and also visceral and REAL), and the fresh, endearing characters--LEGEND is definitely a legend in the making!

View all my reviews

Book Review: The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier

The City in the LakeThe City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful, elegiac fantasy tale that is refreshingly small-scale and intimate, focusing on only a handful of main characters (with tiny entourages of supporting characters each). As all the reviews have mentioned, the writing is beautiful and lush but not so description-heavy (or high fantasy trope-heavy) as to put off readers not as familiar with the genre. In fact, the way the story is extremely grounded in our young heroine's POV should make it very accessible to all YA readers.

Speaking of whom, our heroine Timou is a wonderfully calm, drama-free and self-assured girl (and powerful, to boot!), humanized by her quiet insecurities about whether her undemonstrative father really loves her, and how to balance her calling as a mage (which, in this world, are very detached and zen individuals) with her burgeoning feelings for a pensive young man in her village.

I also loved our second protagonist, the Bastard Prince (aka Lord Neill) and his complicated relationship with his father, stepmother and half-brother, the missing crown prince. He's a bit out of the target age range for YA protags, but his struggles to find where/how he fits into his family (and kingdom, while we're at it) are very YA and emotionally resonant.

Very good read overall. Rachel Neumeier is a powerful writer, just warming up in this first book. Can't wait to read more from her. :)

View all my reviews

Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King (Iron Fey, #1)The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very nice book! Nothing overly surprising or revolutionary about the story, but the extremely competent writing and very likable, surprisingly quick-witted/non-moronic heroine (with a very fresh voice--I enjoyed her random jokes and "otaku fairy" adlib XD) made it very enjoyable. In fact, if I were a young girl new to the YA Fantasy genre, this book would've become my bible--it absolutely does the genre and its worn but loved tropes fantastic justice.

The aloof, handsome fairy prince is fabulously appealing (and, while not a "nice boy" archetype, isn't a smart-alecky dick like most of the "bad boy" love interests popular in paranormal romance these days). Kagawa saves the smart-alecking for the mischievous best friend character--but it works pretty well/is easy to buy because he happens to be a historically renowned trickster--the fairy Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Rounding out our little band of adventurers is the obligatory cat character. I know, I know--a clever talking cat sidekick is as overused a YA fantasy trope as there is, but perhaps *because* it's been out of fashion for so long, I didn't mind him so much (and, let's be honest here--whatever our cynical conscious mind says, a big, fat, fluffy kitty swishing its tail about as it gives you a verbal lashing for being a dumb human is just an irresistibly lovable thing. Who doesn't love a big, fluffy cat??).

The final third of the book presented some interesting, slight new twists to the usual "adventure in fairyland" story with the introduction of the Iron fey--a new type of fairy born of mankind's dreams of science and technology, the way the old fairies were born of primitive man's fancies about spirits in the natural world. I like that Kagawa took the tried-and-true rules of the fey and extended it very naturally to give birth to the Iron fey. The added twist of their presence elevates The Iron King to a much higher and more interesting level of conflict and originality than the typical "Seelie vs Unseelie Court politics + love story w/ prince from the other court" story that I had been expecting (plus, the fact that their king is basically Sephiroth--complete with wings & black coat--doesn't hurt XD).

Very much looking forward to continuing this fun adventure story with its extremely likable cast. :)

View all my reviews

Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi Speaks to Berkeley Students

Hi guys,

This is really worth a listen, both for its historic value and the many deep insights/thoughtful worldviews Aung San Suu Kyi provides in answer to the students' questions. This is the first time in decades that we get to hear her speak/interact with an international audience "live" (for those not up to date about it, she was recently (permanently?) released from house arrest in Rangoon, where she had been held on and off for the past almost 20 years)--and it isn't just a speech (though hers are very stirring and intelligent as well), but answers to real questions relevant to young American adults like us--because (hey!) the questions ARE asked by young American adults (well, after the first one anyway?).

Please give some of it a listen. If you don't have time for the full thing (40 minutes), I especially recommend parts 3 and 4 (10 minutes each), where one student asks about what could be done about China's support of the Burmese junta, and another asks if she (a practitioner of peaceful civil disobedience a la Gandhi) thinks there would ever be a need to move to less peaceable means of protest. Definitely take a listen, guys--this is a person worth knowing about!

---[From the Youtube vid descriptions]---

Burma's Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi answered questions during a live 45 minute phone interview at UC Berkeley after her most recent release from house arrest. During the interview, ASSK shares her personal messages to younger generation, college students, as well as to students from Burma and the Burmese communities around the world, among other things. The event took place on March 7th, 2011.

This interview was apart of the Burmese Politics Decal course at UC Berkeley and Aung San Suu Kyi was invited to be a guest speaker for the class and its invited guests. More details below.





CAL NewsCenter:
Bay Area News:
Oltmanns from CAL School of Journalism:


The interview was historical in many sense: it was one of the longest phone interviews ever granted, ASSK answered personal questions about her family and sacrifices that she has refused in the past, and for the first time, was asked about her feelings and thoughts during the 2007 Saffron Revolutions in Burma. It was also the first time that a live interview of ASSK was broadcast on the internet on a video chatroom to an international audience.

It was the first time ASSK spoke at UC Berkeley and UC Berkeley was the first American university to receive this honor. ASSK spoke to an audience of about several hundred students of UC Berkeley joined by members of the community. The interview was also broadcast live and was joined online by about another 170 people from countries including Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and different parts of the United States who listened in and were able to chat with one another about Burmese politics and the interview as it took place.


Ganbare, Nihon -- Hang in there, Japan!

Hi guys,
This is one woman's account of how helpless it feels being thousands of miles away and unable to do anything but *want* to help Japan. I think she articulates feelings all of us have been feeling.
GlobalGiving is a reputable organization who reports back on precisely how donations to aid with relief in Japan are used (as you'll see below). If you haven't donated yet, please do. If, like me, you already donated once in the frightening aftermath of the quake out of reflex, I hope that you'll join me in donating again, now that the true, horrific extents of this tragedy are becoming apparent. Help a beautiful nation that has always been first in line to help other nations in distress get back on its feet.
Praying for Japan,

Collapse )


Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"The Name of the Wind"... wow. What can I possibly say about this monumental book that hasn't been said? It's the debut novel every author dreams of writing--so original, so sincere, and so rich/mature a voice that a reader can't help but be swept up and away for the 700+ story of one of the most REAL, memorable and sympathetic characters ever written. I was about to add "in fantasy," but that's dealing Kvothe (and Rothfuss) a gross injustice--this novel and that character stand up against any of the best-selling literary novels on the market today. The world may be fictional (and that's a part of the fun--how deeply, viscerally real this "fictional" place is, how well you know it and have familiarized yourself with its customs and conceits by the end), but I have rarely encountered such an intimate and utterly sincere memoir of any person--literary fictional or real--as I did in "The Name of the Wind."

Happily, Kvothe (for all his flaws and all that make him real/human) is extremely likable and bold for reaching out for a heavily entertainment-oriented demographic with such a personal and often times "uncool" gentleness in thought and attitude that is rare to see in a male character in American media today. I was both surprised and pleased that the general public has not only accepted this kind of a character into its heart, but loves him so fiercely that they voted Kvothe the third most popular character in all of SFF on's 2010 Character Cage Match. Not the most scientific of yardsticks, I'm sure, but the outpouring of love and empathy for this character over more typical amoral and/or uber-manly alpha-jerks was very heartening for me to see. If you're looking for a hero that is truly different, real and altogether more heroic than the various supermen that populate typical SFF novels, Kvothe and "The Name of the Wind" are exactly what you've been looking for.

View all my reviews >>

Temeraire on American Idol!


OMG, guys, I just had to share this--Naomi Novik (author of the brilliant Temeraire series) wrote an INSANELY hilarious crack-fic about how Temeraire's cage match against Jaime Lannister (of The Song of Fire and Ice series) would go. How is this any different from the write-ups on about how the staff thinks each match will go? Well, let's just say that a few familiar faces show up: Hermione of HP, Polgara of Th Belgariad, some critter called Haplo and CTHULU, and, perhaps most fearsome of all--Ryan Seacrest! XDDDD

Prepare for maximum hilariousness!

And once you've read it, remember, A VOTE FOR TEMERAIRE IS A VOTE FOR AWESOMENESS. 

Vote for Temeraire at the Suvudu Cage Match 2010 and defeat Jaime Lannister!!! XD

♥ Cy

P.S. While you're there, check out the other match-ups--the write-ups for each are hilarious!

Translation: Soukyuu no Fafner Drama CD "GONE / ARRIVE" - 1st Half

It's here at last!!! XD Or at least--the first half. ^^; I've got another translation deadline coming up soon so I've got to pause this for a moment and finish that. But for now, I wanted you guys who've been asking me for this to be able to enjoy the first half at least~

EDIT: I should note that this drama CD came out shortly after the end of the Fafner TV series run back in 2006 (I think?). The story in this drama takes place between episodes 23 and 24 of the TV series (i.e. right after the devastating attack on the island where Soushi was "killed" and before Akane/Mjolnir's visit to the island to explain that Soushi was still alive up in the North Pole).

"GONE / ARRIVE" is the second of 2 fantastic stand-alone drama CDs written by series writer Ubukata Tow (the first one being "Stand By Me," which I translated back in the day here). The two are closely linked, so I do suggest you read that one first so you can get the full significance of parts of this drama. Also, the acting in these is FABULOUS, so please listen along as you read.

So finally, here we go--Soukyuu no Fafner Drama CD "GONE / ARRIVE" Translation—1st Half!

Collapse )

Collapse ) Collapse )

[END OF 1ST HALF -- check back for more later! ♥]

Cross-posted on soukyuu