In the wake of the news about the Kyoto Animation studio attack this morning, it feels tough to go ahead with this blog’s usual schedule right now, as if writing about comics and fanfiction might be dismissive of this awful event. Needless to say, my thoughts are with the KyoAni staff and their families, and surely like many of you I’m still shocked and devastated that something like this could happen.
In the meantime, if you feel like skipping today’s post, I fully understand.
You may remember that last week I had a holiday; my first for quite some time. I’d been imagining myself sitting on the beach or outside a small cafe with a good book, finally enjoying some unstructured time to read without interruptions.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Sometimes it feels so hard to enjoy time doing nothing, time not being productive. I took reading material, and I bought a book while I was there. But I genuinely struggled to let myself stop, sit and be okay with switching off for a while. The only times I actually focused on reading were while travelling – a bus trip one day, and the train journey home.
For someone who spent their teen years doing nothing but reading, it feels weird now to find it so difficult to allow myself time to read. Maybe it’s an adult thing, but any time not doing something ‘productive’ feels like time wasted.
What I did attempt to read was a biography I picked up in a charity shop. ‘Confessions Of A Mask‘ is the life-story of Mishima Yukio, a Japanese novelist who, in 1970, had himself ritually beheaded. I don’t often read biographies, but I am drawn to books about Japanese culture, and as I’m also attempting to learn more about life for LGBTQIA people in Japan, this was a timely find. The first sections of the book hint at Mishima’s earliest explorations of his gender identity and sexual orientation, as he developed a fascination for both elaborate costumes (typically women’s outfits) and images of knights in armour. It also gives an interesting insight into school life for boys in Japan in the early 20th century, and communicates effectively the isolation of growing up knowing you are inherently different from your peers.
Lately I find myself more drawn to non-fiction when I browse second-hand books. The novels that end up in charity shops are largely crime fiction and romance, and I haven’t found that many exciting fiction finds that way, but I have plenty of non-fiction books I’ve picked up second-hand that I might never have read otherwise. I’m still working through this one, but it’s a book that I’m pleased I picked up.
My other buy while I was away was volume one of ‘Monstress‘, a fantasy comic by Marjorie Lui and Sana Takeda:
"Set in an alternate world of art deco beauty and steampunk horror, MONSTRESS tells the epic story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage survivor of a cataclysmic war between humans and their hated enemies, the Arcanics. In the face of oppression and terrible danger, Maika is both hunter and hunted, searching for answers about her mysterious past as those who seek to use her remain just one step behind...and all the while, the monster within begins to awaken..."
The art is lush and detailed, with gorgeous backgrounds and architecture. Although the colour palette is dull, the occasional pop of purple or orange works to great effect whenever there’s magic being used (although I get the feeling that too much of the brown or grey beyond this first volume will start to feel tiresome).
My only complaint with it so far is that the unlikable characters are all drawn as physically unappealing – there are fat old men attending a slave auction, and a fat, wrinkled, sadistic female prison guard, and Maika’s first opponent, the woman who killed her mother, is drawn as wrinkled and fanged in close-up.
It’s a shame that a story that seems to allow female characters to lead their own stories with full autonomy would still rely on the unfortunate ‘bad people are ugly’ trope. It’s not necessary, and honestly makes me cringe when I see it in use.
Finally, I have been trying to get back into reading fanfiction more regularly this week. After digging through some old JJBA fic over the weekend, I also picked up some Eraserhead/Present Mic stories, thanks to another update from KuriKuri who has a wealth of material for one of my favourite ships. If you prefer stories about the adults in ‘My Hero Academia’, then this author is definitely worth checking out. They write beautiful mutual pining/friends-to-lovers stories, which is always my thing, and I will always read any EraserMic stuff they put out.
Maybe, just maybe, by next week I’ll have actually finished reading something and will be able to post a proper review again! In the meantime, I’m trying to get back my focus and remind myself that it’s okay to take time out from doing stuff and just enjoy a little rest and relaxation once in a while.
Do you shop for second-hand books? What kind of stuff do you look out for? What’s been your best buy? I’d love to know!