Healing Your Heart — Right After Blowing Your Fucking Head Off

I’ve been buying a dickload of manga lately, so I’ll start talking abou some of the volumes I finish. I already covered Kuro volume one, which if you haven’t taken the hint YOU NEED TO BUY (unless you are saving money for a truck, a camera, or otakon). Today I’ll cover the first volumes of something I read over the course of 2 weeks or so while on the crapper and one I’ve rather been looking forward to for, like, EVER.

Sunshine (Hidamari) Sketch volume 1: Hidamari Sketch is one of my favorite shows ever for it’s incredible healing powers. A lot of people look to slice-of-life for healing, but a lot of the time they find that healing through sheer lack of activity. I’m sorry to say it, but watching ARIA is basically like playing bored games with a Christian family – it’s kind of boring, no one’s really being obscene or talking too loud, and while everyone’s playing, they aren’t necessarily concentrating on the game. At least, though, you feel like you’re getting a little social and warm and like you aren’t alone, and the chipperness of those Jehovas Witnesses just about makes you feel like maybe some people are jus truly good.

Hidamari Sketch isn’t quite like that – it feels exactly like what it portrays – you and your friends hanging out and just living life. But it’s not enough that they are friends, of course. Any show can have a group of friends – but Hidamari Sketch is about four really close friends. They know each other, and they have fun just being around each other, and they can talk to each other with completely no reservations. It’s exactly the kind of friendship I’ve always longed for, and it’s one of my dreams to be able to watch this show with my closest most unreserved of friends (it would obviously have to be a female, because with men, they are just fucking always reserved – it’s why I get along better with girls) and just chill and enjoy it and hang out. I almost hope it gets dubbed just so I can have it playing at all times and bask in the conversational beauty.

Which is all why I was ecstatic to get my hands on the original manga! I can say I was definitely quite surprised by how much the anime had pretty much stuck to the manga. Aside from Shinbo’s little eccentricities, it’s pretty much copypasta (obviously episode 5 notwithstanding) and even some of what I thought for sure was Shinbo’s touch was actually right there in the manga. It was a little awkward having things happen chronologically, though. I rather liked how the adventures were so random whereas in the manga thye have some logical progression. The fact that the characters meet int he beginning and grow closer over time made certain scenes which happened earlier in the chronology seem a little less important than hen they were random (namely, Miyako climbing into Yunocchi’s bed seeming more just like something Miyako would do rather than something Yunocchi feels comfortable with Miyako doing.)

It also deserves mentioning that there were some difficult cultural references in there. I had to read the TL notes in the back a LOT and it killed a handfull of jokes for me.

That said, it’s still a load of fun. Once again, I didn’t even feel like I had already seen all of this twice and, like the show, I can see myself checking it out again and again and again to feel that warm feeling. It’s not as good as the show, but almost nothing is better than Shinbou, and I didn’t really expect it to be.

Battle Angel Alita volume 1: So I’ve been trying to get my hands on the 2-episode Alita DVD for something like 6 months now. I can never find the shit online (did once but dubbed). At first I wanted it because I wanted all the good products of the 90s, and then it was because I wanted cyberpunk, wanted Madhouse shows, wanted some generally good shit, but every time I’ve found the DVD it’s been out of my price range and by the time I have the money, it’s sold out. However, as I’ve heard, the manga it’s based on is quite long-running and quite kickass, but I’ve never seen it around.

Until now – my local Barnes and Noble (who have notably started getting a lot more manga lately) magically stocked the first 6 or so volumes and several volumes of the second series. Not one to push money into something I hadn’t read yet, I decided just to get volume one and come back later if I liked it. I really had no idea what to expect with this one except cyberpunk, classic, and some good ol 90s art.

Pleasant surprise! While it’s a little less elegant than the art and title lead me to believe, it’s some really good shit. i had no idea, but it’s bloody as fuck – lots of delimbing, beheading, large blood sprays, and even some good ol’ brain drinking. Admittedly, the enemies area a little campy, but not to a fault, and they do genuinely seem dangerous. Alita, though, is so badass and sexy that I can’t help but love her. In the beginning she makes her case as a cute tomboy, but when she gets into her stride and becomes a living deus ex machina I find myself drooling. The fight scenes can be a little tough to interpret because Alita’s moves are very acrobatic, but they kick some major ass in places, are frequent, and always lead to megatons of blood. I was also surprised at how interesting a character the doctor and surrogate father to Alita was. All in all, it’s a book I definitely reccomend, especially to cyberpunk fans or people who love violence. If you like Berserk, you’ll like Alita (Funeral is salivating already).

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