Flamecon – NYC’s First LGBTQ Comic Con

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I was beyond excited to attend NYC’s first LGBTQ Comic Con, FlameCon! It took place during Pride Month on June 13th at the fancy Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. Geeks OUT presented the con, which is a NYC based nonprofit dedicated to building a better community for LGBTQ geeks.

True Gender Equality

FlameCon had preferred pronoun stickers for attendees to wear which included “Ask Me” and “Them/Their/They”. They also had gender neutral bathrooms. Just two simple additions to a comic con made the 2,200 attendees feel comfortable and welcome.

The Happiest Con

FlameCon is the happiest comic con I’ve ever attended. This all happened because of one simple, but important word, respect. Attendees felt free to be their geeky selves without fear of harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Cosplay

There was A LOT of Steven Universe cosplay so I was basically in heaven.

Special Guests & GaymerX

My favorite special guests were Kevin Wada (artist), Cecil Baldwin (Welcome to Night Vale) and Dylan Marron (Welcome to Night Vale) to name a few! GaymerX had a game room and Nintendo and Atari both had booths.

My Loot

It was pretty hard to not spend all my money, the con was filled with talented creators and vendors. The MC in “Node” by David Rondinelli is basically Sailor Moon if her dad was Batman, so what’s not to love?

I had the chance to meet Hazel Newlevant, editor of “Chainmail Bikini” which is an anthology of comics by and about female gamers. She was super nice and her booth was full of great comics. I picked up her “Poly Glot, Cunning Linguist”. I really loved the honesty and emotional complexity of her short comic.

I couldn’t resist picking up this beautiful Hirsute Heroines postcard set by Hayley Blatte. Just look at the gorgeous purple pit hair!

I’m a big fan of simple black and white art (I blame manga for that). So I knew I couldn’t walk away from Niki Smith’s booth without buying something. “Some Did Rest” was the “depressing” comic as Smith described it. It was inspired by, “the thousands of students killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and the impact of a natural disaster on a society with compulsory population control.” It is pretty sad, but also really beautiful.

Up With The Sun” and “Friends” are Smith’s LGTBQ-friendly erotic comics. “Up With The Sun” is about a polyamorous relationship with a cisgender woman, transgender man and a cisgender man. “Friends” features a threesome with two cisgender men and one cisgender woman. I’ve read smut and ecchi manga before, so it was nice to read a comic where the eroticism of the story is healthy and balanced. You can read and subscribe to “Friends” and “Up with the Sun” on the erotic comic site Filthy Figments. She has more erotic comics as well!

FlameCon plans to have another con next year, hurray! Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Oh, and stay tuned for another FlameCon blog post about the ‘Secret Identities: Transgender Themes In Geek Culture’ panel I attended.

Girl Gone Lolita

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This past April was Geek Girl Brunch NYC’s annual Lolita Picnic at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens! Before I get in too deep, let me explain what Lolita Fashion is for those who think I’m talking about the Nabokov kind. Lolita is a Japanese street style and subculture that is heavily inspired by the Rococo and Victorian eras, but also has some influences from current fashion trends.

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What I love most is that there are lots of Lolita sub-styles so you’re bound to find one that’s perfect for you. For more info check out the post I wrote for Geek Girl Brunch, Lolita Fashion 101.

Being a Lolita is expensive, which is probably why I only seem to get a new coord (coordinate/outfit) once a year. You not only need a dress or blouse and skirt, but a petticoat, shoes, purse and accessories. You can also level up and get a wig and circle contacts for baby doll eyes. I did not level up.

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If you plan to wear the Chanels of the Lolita world like Angelic Pretty or Baby the Stars Shine Bright, dresses can cost you anywhere from $140-$500. Since I’m not ‘bout that “brand” life I’ve only worn “off-brand” clothing, which is still cute af and much more affordable. I suggest Etsy, Bodyline and My Lolita Dress for some amazing off-brand Lolita fashion.

With 14 or so Lolita sub-styles it was tough to figure out which one best represented me. I love how ridiculously cute Sweet Lolitas are, but also couldn’t deny that I wear an awful lot of black so maybe I was more of a Gothic Lolita…

In the end, I went for a Classic Lolita look with a touch of Garden Party to go with the Cherry Blossom Festival. I really wanted to wear rocking horse shoes and after an embarrassing amount of hours I found the perfect floral skirt on My Lolita Dress. My favorite piece however was the beautiful vintage hat from the 1960’s that I got from Age of Mint.

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My Coord:

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The GGB Lolita picnic was so much fun! Everyone came in their Lolita and Garden Party best. I love wearing Lolita because I feel super cute and always get showered with compliments. One little girl thought I was a princess and another asked if I was a butterfly. I just about died. There’s nothing wrong with a confidence boost!

The Lolita Brunch was extra special because I reunited with GGB NYC after being in Germany since December. I surprised Yissel and Rachel (my fellow GGB co-founders) with a commission of us three in Lolita made by the AMAZING Crown Maiden​! Check out the details of the art here

Geek Girl Brunch has grown so much in one year and we currently have 57 chapters worldwide! Join Geek Girl Brunch to get in on the geek girl fun. If you want to start a chapter in your city, email us

My ‘Steven Universe’ Gemsona: Black Pearl

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I rarely call any show perfect but Steven Universe is perfect. The only other show I’ve said that about is Avatar: The Last Airbender (I still have one season left to watch I was a late bloomer, cut me some slack).

Never heard of Steven Universe? Well it’s about the adventures of The Crystal Gems (Steven, Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl) and the people of Beach City. Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl are intergalactic warriors who get their powers from magical gemstones. Steven is a half-Gem and half-human boy from Earth who inherited his mom’s gemstone, Rose Quartz (who was also a Crystal Gem). Steven is still figuring out how to use his gem and spends his time going on adventures with the Crystal Gems and hanging out in his hometown, Beach City.

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Connie, Steven and Lion

The series is created by Rebecca Sugar who was the storyboard artist, writer and composer for Adventure Time. It’s the first Cartoon Network show by the studio to be created by a woman. Go Rebecca! Steven Universe isn’t just cute and funny but also smart, deep and incredibly heartwarming. The feels are very strong in this show.

Because I wasn’t caught up with the show for a while I avoided all internet things related to SU. So I didn’t know about gemsonas until I saw the one my brother Myles made, Hambergite. A Gemsona is a Gem persona that a fan creates, usually with fan art. They are original fan made Gem characters. You can have one or many gemsonas. Of course, I wanted a gemsona too! I’m not an artist, but my brother is and he said he would make me one. Perks of being his sister! I described to him my gemsona’s personality, body type, outfit, gem location and weapon and I was blown away at how beautiful she came out. I love that he made her in the Steven Universe art style, too. Check out more of his art on tumblr: skoots-does-a-sketch.tumblr.com. If you want to see more gemsonas, check out the tag on tumblr.

I introduce to you my gemsona, Black Pearl!

My Gemsona Black Pearl [Art by Myles]

My Gemsona Black Pearl [Art by Myles]

Gem: Black Pearl

Weapon: Trident

Personality: She’s a carefree Gem who loves to swim, surf, sing and dance.

Backstory: Black Pearl is from Homeworld but never really felt at home there. Thousands of years ago she came to Earth for typical Gem business but her ship malfunctioned and she ended up on an island in the South Pacific. She finally felt like she was home and has stayed there ever since.

Myles’ Gemsona Hambergite

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Myles’ Gemsona Hambergite [Art by Myles]

Gem: Hambergite
Weapon: Giant Rocket Launcher
Personality: Kind of mean and rude but has a soft side that he tries to keep secret.
Backstory: Hambergite is a Homeworld Gem that sort of bought into the goals of galactic conquest from the Gem leaders. Hambergite feels a bit uneasy about all the stuff Gems do to the planets they invade, but he’s just a goon and ultimately wants to keep his superiors happy.

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Hambergite isn’t really one for dancing… [Art by Myles]

Drowsy Musings on Doctor Who and Space

 

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So I was laying in bed one night thinking about how much I love Doctor Who (stay with me now) and felt compelled to share my drowsy musings.

Answers… Sort of

Doctor Who, as well as most sci-fi, gives us answers to science questions. Albeit a fictional answer, but an answer nonetheless. But if Star Trek taught us anything it’s that science fiction doesn’t always stay fiction. With subjects like parallel universes and time travel, some Doctor Who episodes can be seen as scientific theories with a plot.

Sapphire Waterfalls

Doctor Who exercises our imagination by showing us our possible future. Pretty much anything you imagine can be made into a Doctor Who episode, which we have learned is sometimes for the worse. But it’s in those campy plots and shoddy graphics that my love somehow grows for this show. I just hope I’m around when we discover star whales and a planet with sapphire waterfalls.

We’re His Fave

Shattered gemstone waterfalls and wibbly wobbly time travel aren’t the most important things I takeaway from Doctor Who. The most significant thing for me is surprisingly human.

Traveling around time and space can easily make any human feel insignificant. But the Doctor, a genius who has arguably seen more of the universe than anyone else (except for maybe the Face of Boe), loves Earth and humans… Even when it’s hard for us to love ourselves. Out of all of the fascinating planets and beings, he always come back to Earth. And although one answer may be that it makes filming the show much easier, I like to think that it has to do with how important we are.

The Impossible Girl

I may not have a TARDIS to take me through time and space and make me question my importance in the universe, but I do have the stars. The furthest star is 13.8 billion light years away, a distance I can’t even fathom. But instead of that distance making me feel small and insignificant, it makes me feel like the most important being in the universe. Out of all of that, I exist.

The Melancholy of ‘Oyasumi Punpun’

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Wikipedia describes Oyasumi Punpun (Goodnight Punpun) as:

“…a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Inio Asano about Punpun Punyama (later Onodera), a normal child depicted in the form of a bird. The story follows him as he copes with his dysfunctional family and friends, his love interest, his oncoming adolescence and his hyperactive mind… The manga follows Punpun as he grows up, splitting the book into around 4 stages of his life: Elementary school, Middle school, High school, and his early 20s.”

But nowhere in that description is the word “depression”, which is what I think Punpun is essentially about.

oyasumi_punpun_inio_asano_manga_6Inio Asano (Solanin, Nijigahara Holograph) tells the stories no one else wants to tell because they are too embarrassing. Because it’s how a lot of us secretly feel and act. No one wants to really admit how truly dark their dark side is. Not only does Asano admit it, but he depicts heavy and depressing themes with genius level beauty and authenticity.

I went through the ‘motions while reading Goodnight Punpun. One page would make me incredibly sad and another would have me laughing out loud at its dark sense of humor. But the one thing that was consistent throughout was Asano’s creative and compelling storytelling.

Despite how childishly drawn the bird-like Punpun is, he is one of the most realistic characters I’ve ever read. Sometimes a long-legged bird is the best character to depict the utter despair we sometimes feel as we come to age. The two-dimensional bird-boy and the realistically illustrated world and characters combine to create one of the most interesting and beautiful aesthetics I’ve found in a manga. The depiction of Punpun changes during different stages in his life. Mostly he’s a bird-like character, when he’s in deep depression he’s a floating pyramid and during other, darker times, he is an four-eyed monster with horns. The reader is able to see how Punpun feels because of these various representations, even though the characters in the manga see Punpun as a normal human being.

oyasumi_punpun_inio_asano_manga_3It wouldn’t be a far cry to describe Punpun as a psychological horror. However, the horrors in this manga aren’t monsters hiding under the bed, instead they hide in the dark corners of our minds. Asano removes the filters that we usually use to cover up our sad and unwanted thoughts. It’s the brutal honesty of Punpun that makes it seem so unreal because it’s the reality we tend to ignore.

As someone who was (and still kind of is) suffering from depression, there was an undeniable comfort I found in the melancholy of Punpun Onodera. Punpun helped me not only accept my depression, but justify it.

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Dernier Bar: The Geek Bar at the End of the World

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Back in February I spent Valentine’s Day weekend with my boyfriend and parents in Paris, the city of love… and geeks. If you’re a comic book fan, I’m sure you’ve heard of the amazing comics, artists and creators that have came out of France. The city is filled with comic book shops and you may have heard of, Angoulême International Comics Festival, a huge comic con France throws every year. With that being said, it should come to no surprise that in the heart of Paris you’ll find a very geeky (and awesome) bar called, Le Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde (The Last Bar Before the End of the World).

I heard about Dernier Bar from Geek-Art.net. I follow their site and remembered that they post about a lot of geeky exhibits in Paris. I emailed them asking if they had a gallery or shop in Paris and, although they don’t, Thomas from Geek-Art was nice enough to recommend I visit Dernier Bar while I’m out there. If it weren’t for Thomas I would have never known about the place!

I went to Dernier Bar on a Saturday night and it was packed, which is saying a lot since it has three floors. I kept saying how cool everything was the entire time… I must have been so annoying. Now it’s your turn to say “OMGSOCOOL” as you check out these photos of Dernier Bar. Needless to say, if you’re in Paris you absolutely have to go.

Steampunkish Top Floor

Lovecraft Corner on the Top Floor

The Menu

Apologies for the wrinkles.

Space Ship-Themed Bottom Floor

Bathroom Signs

Science Fiction- Themed Basement Floor

Pirate Ship & Game of Thrones-Themed Basement Floor (the other side)

My Favorite Shoujo Manga

I recently posted My Favorite Josei Manga and now it’s time for shoujo to shine! I’m super picky when it comes to anime and manga and extremely picky when it comes to shoujo. I don’t even know why I’m so particular with shoujo because so much of them are the same story. But even so, I want the shy main characters (MCs) not too cold, the love triangles not too hot and the art to be juuussst riiiigghht.

Because I prefer josei manga to shoujo this list is shorter. But I hope with my extreme pickiness that the manga on this list are some of the best of the best… Or at least in my eyes. You may be wondering why you don’t see certain (super awesome) shoujo on this list. The likely reason is that I’ve only watched the anime and not read the manga. This is the case for Sailor Moon, Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket and Kids on the Slope to name a few.

Although I end up reading more josei than shoujo, I still have a deep love for the shoujo genre. It’s a nice change from the content I usually consume. Instead of stressing about characters dying, I’m stressing about whether the MC will get the courage to give her crush Valentine’s Day chocolates. With so much sexualization in the media, I truly enjoy freaking out when the MC holds her boyfriend’s hand for the first time. I’m all about innocence, love triangles, amazing friendships and sensei crushes!

Have any shoujo titles you’d recommend? Comment below! I’m always looking for new manga to read.

 

Kimi Ni Todoke (From Me To You)

Genre: comedy, drama, romance, school life, shoujo, slice of life

Mangaka: Shiina, Karuho

Status: Ongoing (95 Chapters)

Synopsis: Kuronuma Sawako is completely misunderstood by her classmates. Her timid and sweet demeanor is often mistaken for malicious behavior. This is due to her resemblance to the ghost girl from “The Ring”, which has led her peers to give her the nickname Sadako. Longing to make friends and live a normal life, she is naturally drawn to Kazehaya Shouta, the most popular guy in class, whose “100% refreshing” personality earns him great admiration from Sawako. So when Kazehaya starts talking to her, maybe there is hope for the friendships Sawako has always longed for. Maybe…there is even a little hope for some romance in her future. [Source]

Why I Love It: OMG you guys this manga is just the best. It’s like the Saga of shoujo it’s practically perfect. You can’t help but fall in love with Sawako. She’s such an honest and sweet character. I think what sets KnT apart from other shoujo is the focus on friendship. The friendship between Sawako, Chizuru and Ayane is so beautiful and healthy. I love that it’s either more important, or on the same level of importance, as the romance in this manga. I think it’s what young girls (and women!) need to read. The anime is great, too!

Read This If You Like: Ao Haru Ride, Sukitte li Na Yo (Say I Love You), great friendships, shy MC’s

 

Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride)

Genre: shoujo, romance, school, comedy, slice of life, drama

Mangaka: Sakisaka, Io

Status: Complete (49 Chapters)

Synopsis: Yoshioka Futaba has a few reasons why she wants to “reset” her image & life as a new high school student. Because she’s cute, she was ostracized by her female friends in junior high, and because of a misunderstanding, she couldn’t get her feeling across to the one boy she has ever liked, Tanaka-kun.

Now in high school, she is determined to be as unladylike as possible so that her friends won’t be jealous of her. While living her life this way contentedly, she meets Tanaka-kun again, but he now goes under the name of Mabuchi Kou. He tells her that he felt the same way as she did when they were younger, but now things can never be the same again. Will Futaba be able to continue her love that never even started from three years ago? [Source]

Why I love it: Definitely one of my top three on this list. The art is so lovely! The premise sounds typical: unrequited childhood love, bad boy with black hair, nice boy with blonde hair and a love triangle. But this manga does the typical shoujo manga plot well very well. There’s an anime, too!

Read This If You Like: Kimi ni Todoke, love triangles, Say “I Love You”

 

Hirunaka no Ryuusei (Daytime Shooting Star)

Genre: shoujo, romance, school life, slice of life, comedy

Mangaka: Yamamori, Mika

Status: Complete (87 Chapters, 12 Volumes)

Synopsis: 15-year-old country girl, Suzume Yosano, has to move to Tokyo to live with her uncle due to her father’s transfer. She bumps into a mysterious man who ends up taking her to her uncle’s place after she gets lost. Turns out, Suzume will be seeing him a lot more often once she starts school because… he’s her homeroom teacher!? [Source]

Why I love it: This was one of my favorite mangas of 2014! There’s a love triangle (of course) but this one includes a sensei! OH THE SCANDAL! I found myself conflicted because I liked both of the guys in this story so much I didn’t know who I wanted Suzume to pick. I was so stressed out! The art is really fantastic, I plan to read more from Mika Yamamori.

Read This If You Like: Kimi ni Todoke, love triangles, sensei-student love affairs

 

Kanjuku Summer End

Genre: shoujo/josei, romance, slice of life

Mangaka: Fuji, Momo

Status: Complete (One Shot, 58 Pages)

Synopsis: Tae helps with her family’s tomato field. However, when Gen, a ruffian-looking boy from Tokyo, is sent to help with the field, it seems that a sweet love will also be ripening. [Source]

Why I love it: Summer love, shoujo style. What’s not to love?!

Read This If You Like: summer love

 

Shoujo/Josei Manga Border Lands

Basically this section is manga by Rikako Iketani. I fell in love with her after reading Six Half. I find that most of her manga overlap between shoujo and josei themes. The content and romance are a bit more mature than most shoujo, but not completely josei/adult either, which I think is a great mix.

Six Half

Genre: drama, romance, school, shoujo/josei

Mangaka: Iketani, Rikako

Status: Ongoing (I’ve been able to find up to 21 chapters in English but there are up to 44 raw chapters not translated online)

Synopsis: Kikukawa Shiori woke up from a bad motorcycle accident with severe loss of memory. Although she is allowed to go home, she has trouble adjusting to a seemingly new life with a brother who is always worried, a sister who apparently hates her, and a boyfriend who won’t give her space. Awful rumors about her previous lifestyle abound in school, too, and even her friends tell her she had it coming. Alone, scared, and angry at the seemingly awful person she used to be, Shiori tries desperately to find a place of comfort she can call her own… [Source]

Why I Love It: I really really love this story. I love that the MC, Shiori, was a terrible person before her accident. Because of this, she’s given a reset on her life and decides to be a better person. She’s depressed, for obvious reasons, and I think it’s represented in a genuine way.

Read This If You Like: amnesia stories, second chances

 

Bitou Lollipop (Bitter Sweet Lollipop)

Genre: romance, comedy, slice of life, shoujo/josei

Mangaka: Iketani, Rikako

Status: Complete/Ongoing? (34 Chapters is the complete manga apparently, but I’ve only found 19 chapters in English online)

Synopsis: When Madoka learns that her parents won hundred million yens at the lottery, she does not believe her ears. But while she begins to dream about a princess’s new life, she meets to live only in a small appendix of the house of the family Asagi… For Madoka, a new life begins. [Source]

Why I Love It: This is one of my favorites. I really like the MC, I think Madoka is strong and independent in her own way. There are layers to the story, it’s not just about romance, but there’s some family drama involved as well.

Read This If You Like: MC’s living on their own, older girl/younger guy romance, family drama

My Favorite Josei Manga

Juggling comics, books, TV shows, games, anime and manga is difficult. So I came up with a “hack”. I try to put more focus on one thing at a time. A few years ago it was comics. I read a lot of old stuff and got into ongoing series. I’m now at a comfortable place, and pace, with comics.

At the end of 2013 manga took over. It wasn’t even a decision like comics was, it just happened. When it came to manga, I stayed in the shallow end of the pool. I read a few things here and there, but never consistently. There’s so much out there I felt lost and didn’t know where to start. Which is the same feeling I had with comics. I think part of me knew that it would consume my life, so I wanted to make sure I had time to swim in the deep end.

My newfound manga obsession is all ‘Nana’s’ fault really. I started watching the anime, and after a few episodes I decided to stop and switch to the manga instead. Now it wasn’t that I didn’t like the anime, I did, and that was the point. Since I knew I liked ‘Nana’ a lot already, I figured it was a great place to start as far as manga go. After ‘Nana’ left me hangin’ I needed to fill that hole she left in my heart. In order to figure out what to read next I went on My Anime List to look up recommendations based on ‘Nana’, then recommendations on those recommendations.

Now dozens of josei manga later, I have this lovely list of some of my favorite of the genre manga. Have any manga suggestions you’d like to share? Comment below! I’m always looking for new manga to read.

 

Nana

Genre: josei, romance, drama, music, slice of life

Mangaka: Yazawa, Ai

Status: Forever Ongoing (84 Chapters)

Synopsis: Nana Komatsu is a young woman who’s endured an unending string of boyfriend problems. Moving to Tokyo, she’s hoping to take control of her life and put all those messy misadventures behind her. She’s looking for love and she’s hoping to find it in the big city.

Nana Osaki, on the other hand, is cool, confident and focused. She swaggers into town and proceeds to kick down the doors to Tokyo’s underground punk scene. She’s got a dream and won’t give up until she becomes Japan’s No. 1 rock’n’roll superstar.

This is the story of two 20-year-old women who share the same name. Even though they come from completely different backgrounds, they somehow meet and become best friends. The world of Nana is a world exploding with sex, music, fashion, gossip and all-night parties. [Source]

Why I Love It: Why don’t I love it is the real question. This is my all time favorite josei and probably in my top 3 favorite manga period. The friendship between Nana and Hachi is so strong and dynamic. All of the characters have depth are and really interesting. I stayed up ‘till the early hours of the morning reading Nana. I was so obsessed. The only bad thing is that sadly Ai Yazawa got sick and wasn’t able to complete Nana. Now she’s all better (yay!), but she hasn’t announced any plans on finishing it. For more about Nana, check out my blog post ‘Doki Doki: Anime & Manga Helped Me Get Over A Heartbreak’.

Read This If You Like: mangas about music (punk specifically), fashion, friendships, opposites attract, soap opera romances

 

Paradise Kiss

Genre: josei, romance, drama, fashion

Mangaka: Yazawa, Ai

Status: Complete (48 Chapters)

Synopsis: Yukari wants nothing more than to make her parents happy by studying hard and getting into a good college. One afternoon, however, she is kidnapped by a group of self-styled fashionistas calling themselves “Paradise Kiss.” Yukari suddenly finds herself flung into the roller-coaster life of the fashion world, guided by George, art-snob extraordinaire. In a glamorous makeover of body, mind and soul, she is turned from a hapless bookworm into her friends 22 own exclusive clothing model. [Source]

Why I Love It: ‘Nana’ and ‘ParaKiss’ are must reads for josei manga. Ai Yazawa is the shit. This was another one of my obsessions. Paradise Kiss is like a soap opera with a fashion focus. You’ll go through the ‘motions reading this but it’s totally worth all the stress and frustration.

Read This If You Like: fashion, modeling, soap opera romance, glam, makeovers

 

The One (manhua)

Genre: josei, romance, drama

Mangaka: Lee, Nicky

Status: Complete (110 Chapters)

Synopsis: Cane Lele was born into the fashion industry. Her mother, Ye Feii, was Taiwan’s top model, and her father was also a model, until a tragic airplane crash left Lele without parents.

Therefore it is no surprise that Lele hates the industry, thinking it superficial and unnecessary. Raised by her paternal grandmother, Lele reaches seventeen before she is sucked in by her mother’s sister, Ye Feihung, a fashion agent (and former model) who “convinces” the reluctant Lele to pose. Lele is adverse to the whole idea, until she sees a photo shoot of popular American model Angus Lanson, and she begins to see modeling as an art form.

When Aunt Feihung’s magazine editor invites Angus Lanson to a meeting of all the top fashion ambassadors, Lele is invited along and is curious to meet Angus. She does not know that Angus’ twin elder brother, Eros Lanson, is secretly accompanying his brother. This obviously leads to confusion and is the start of a charming story of Lele’s goals: Fashion in New York city, becoming a top model, and love? [Source]

Why I Love It: If you love ‘Paradise Kiss’ and ‘Nana’ then you might like ‘The One’. The art is similar (long skinny legs and arms and big old eyes) and it’s about the modeling industry. Oh and there are sexy twins! But beware; there are some twincesty things that turned me off for a while. :/

Read This If You Like: ‘Paradise Kiss’, ‘Nana’, modeling, fashion, twins

 

& (And Okazaki Mari)

Genre: josei, romance, slice of life

Mangaka: Okazaki, Mari

Status: Complete (45 Chapters)

Synopsis: Aoki Kaoru is a 26-year-old woman who has never had a boyfriend. Normally unattached and unmotivated in her own life, Kaoru decides to start up a nail salon as a side business in addition to her regular job as a medical clerk. Although having a severe adversity to physical touch, she is forced to confront that fear when she meets a man who can’t help but touch others. [Source]

Why I Love It: I’m in the middle of this manga but I really dig it. This is probably the most shoujo-like of this list. I like how Aoki started her own business and is independent, but at the same time very naïve about love and relationships since she’s never been in one.

Read This If You Like: older man/younger woman relationships, first love, ‘Cousin’

 

Futago

Genre: josei, romance, drama

Mangaka: Iketani, Rikako

Status: Complete (25 Chapters but only 20 chapters easily available in English)

Synopsis: Yukari was enjoying her single life when her elder twin sister, Ayaka, suddenly pays her a visit to ask her for some strange advice, and brings along a guy she met in Hong Kong with her! This is a story about a set of mismatched twins. [Source]

Why I Love It: I love Futago so much; it’s such a great story about sisterhood and friendship. They are both strong in their own ways and as their bond grows, they both change a little for the better. Futago is by the same mangaka as ‘Bitou Lollipop’ and ‘Six Half’ which I talk about in My Favorite Shoujo Manga post.

Read This If You Like: ‘Nana’, stories about sisters, opposites attract, ‘Kabocha to Mayonnaise’ (Pumpkin and Mayonnaise)

 

Cousin

Genre: josei, romance, comedy, slice of life

Mangaka: Ikuemi, Ryou

Status: Ongoing (27 Chapters)

Synopsis: Tsubomi Shirakawa, 18 years old, has graduated from high school, but while her circle of friends have already found jobs or started college, she has decided to become a “Freeter,” and begins part-timing at a local rental video store. Meanwhile, she finds out that her cousin Noni, whom she has not met from as long as she can remember, has debuted in show business.

Tsubomi may have a chubby figure but was uninterested in beauty of figure or form. However that is about to change when, a coworker, Shiro, brings her to visit a bar where she falls in love with the owner, Nasukawa. [Source]

Why I Love It: I was hooked from the start, which is good since I usually only give manga one chapter to woo me. I love how the story deals with serious issues like self-esteem and weight and lighter stuff like crushes.

Read This If You Like: older man/younger woman romance, body and self-esteem, ‘&’ (the manga)

 

Love Vibes

Genre: romance, drama, josei

Mangaka: Sakurazawa, Erica

Status: Complete (7 Chapters, 1 Volume)

Synopsis: Shouji has a girlfriend but is seeing Mako on the side. Unable to continue pretending she feels less for him than she does, she breaks it off with him. Shortly before that happens, Mako is hit on by Mika, who tells Mako that she’s interested in both men and women. Mika wants to pursue a relationship with Mako, but is Mako’s relationship with Shouji really over? [Source]

Why I Love It: I really loved the art, realism and complexity of the relationships.

Read This If You Like: LGBT love stories, love triangles, simple art, ‘Nana’

 

Blue

Genre: josei, romance

Mangaka: Nananan, Kiriko

Status: Complete (10 Chapters)

Synopsis: The life of high school student Kayako Kirishima is altered forever when she meets the class outsider Masami Endo. The two quickly form a close friendship, and as time goes by that friendship turns into deep love. But as personal traumas of Endo’s past conflict with Kirishima’s future, their love is put in jeopardy. [Source]

Why I Love It: Kiriko Nananan is becoming one of my favorite mangaka. She manages to make complex subjects feel light because her art style is so delicate. ‘Blue’ was no different. This was the story about the challenges that come with young lesbian relationships in a society that isn’t accepting of them.

Read This If You Like: LGBT love stories, young love, simple art

 

Kabocha to Mayonnaise (Pumpkin and Mayonnaise)

Genre: josei, slice of life

Mangaka: Nananan, Kiriko

Status: Complete (10 Chapters)

Synopsis: Ten stories about the everyday life of Sei, an idealistic songwriter, and Miho, the young woman who struggles to support the both of them. [Source]

Why I Love It: The beauty of the art is in its simplicity. I really liked how realistic and “slice of life” this manga actually felt.

Read This If You Like: complicated MC’s, josei slice of life

 

Anata no Koto wa Sorehodo

Genre: josei, drama, romance

Managka: Ikuemi, Ryou

Status: Ongoing (2 Chapters)

Synopsis: A fortuneteller once told her, “Marry the second man you fall in love with.” Medical clerk Miyoshi did just that. However, upon leaving a drinking party, she bumps into her first love, Arishima. Feelings reignite between the two, yet Arishima is married and Miyoshi already has an amicable husband… [Source]

Why I Love It: I like how problematic the main character is. She’s not inherently good, but you don’t really dislike her for it, but you still don’t like her either. This is the same mangaka that did ‘Cousin’.

Read This If You Like: Futago, complicated MC’s

 

Cappuccino

Genre: josei, drama, romance, slice of life,

Mangaka: Yoshizumi, Wataru

Status: Complete (7 Chapters)

Synopsis: A bittersweet love story about the life of Kojima Ari and Fujitani Sousuke as they live together in a de facto relationship (without marriage) in modern-day Japan. [Source]

Why I Love It: It’s short and simple but its realism about the challenges that come with relationships is what hooked me. It manages to tell a five year story in seven chapters without feeling rushed.

Read This If You Like: realistic relationships

 

Helter Skelter: Fashion Unfriendly

Genre: josei, horror, psychological

Status: Complete (9 Chapters, 1 Volume)

Managka: Okazaki, Kyoko

Synopsis: If you are aware of fashion in Japan, you must have seen Liliko’s face. For the last few years, she has been at the top of the modeling world, with her face and body promoting the biggest brands. But as everyone who is in this world admits, staying on top is a constant and never ending battle. There are always new faces introduced to the public. Younger models and new looks are brought into the fold every season. And keeping that position means learning to adapt and learning to cope with change.

To maintain her position Liliko has decided to under the knife. This is not her first go with this service. It is yet another round of plastic surgery, all done to keep herself looking young and vibrant. However, in this case just a little nip and tuck was not enough. Liliko is bent on undergoing a full body makeover. From head-to-toe, every inch of her will undergo cosmetic surgery, and thus begins her madness. [Source]

Why I Love It: The premise reminds me so much of a Chuck Palahniuk story. Liliko is such a sick and terrible character. But the story doesn’t rely on Liliko’s cruel actions alone, the entire story is interesting and the ending is one of my favorites.

Read This If You Like: fashion, modeling dark stories, twisted MC’s, simple art, ‘Heart O Uchinomese’

 

Heart O Uchinomese (Knock Your Heart Out)

Genre: josei, drama, romance

Mangaka: Asakura, George

Status: Complete (10 Chapters)

Synopsis: No matter how many times she sleeps with Arai, Negishi realizes that neither her nor Arai’s feelings were being conveyed. Their sex felt “like” love, but only feeling “like” something wasn’t the same thing as having it. What is Negishi supposed to do in order to get Arai to understand her true feelings?

Why I Love It: It’s dark with an interesting art style. It’s the opposite of the squeaky clean and cute shoujo romances, which is what attracted me to it. It’s actually pretty fucked up.

Read This If You Like: dark romances, Inio Asano’s manga, ‘River’s Edge’, ‘Helter Skelter’

The Beautiful Stuttgart Library

Libraries are cool, and the Stuttgart Library in Germany is one of the coolest. Seriously guys, the entire time I was like, “Ohmygodthisissocool!” I bet I was so annoying but I don’t care. When beautiful books are encased by a beautiful building it’s like cool squared (wow that was corny I apologize).

When I stepped inside the library I felt like a kid. I wanted to squeal I was so excited… Or rather squee because it sounds cuter and less pig-like. You know when you’re playing Pokemon and your Pokemon enters a battle and sometimes does a little shake and wiggle because it’s excited to whoop some ass. I wanted to do that kind of shake and wiggle inside the Stuttgart Library.

The building’s dad is a Korean-born, Germany-based architect Eun Young Yi. The design for the the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart was influenced by the ancient pantheon. It was born October 2011.

Click photos to enlarge and view slideshow. Hover for captions (not all photos have them).

The Outside

The Labyrinth-Like Staircase

I kept expecting to see Jareth, the Goblin King and his bulge walking upside-down on these stairs.

The Heart

This was when I questioned if this library was just a front for a museum.

The Inside

Some pictures of books for proof this is an actual library.

Children’s Floor

Vintage Comics from Europe

Superman & Batman Comics I got at a German flea market for 1 euro each. Dates range from 1969-1975.

Superman & Batman Comics I got at a German flea market for 1 euro each. Dates range from 1969-1975.

Since I’m living in Germany for a few months (see: Preludes & Predictions) I’m trying to take advantage of my time here by traveling. So far, I’ve spent a few days in Amsterdam and did a day trip to Strasbourg, France and loved it. While there, I visited comic book shops, geeky hobby stores and flea markets filled with old comics. Of course I bought some, even though I can’t read Dutch or French.

 

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam never gets old even though this was my fourth time visiting. I actually lived in the Netherlands for a few years when I was young. I got to visit the Van Gogh Museum again which was in that one Doctor Who episode that made everyone cry. There was this awesome geek and gamer store called Popcult which needs to make its way to the states ASAP.

Flevopark & Spuistraat Street Art

Henk Comics & Manga

The one comic book shop I visited in Amsterdam was Henk Comics & Manga which Yelp said was the best. I was expecting some sort of magical foreign comic book experience, it was kind of… normal. Which was still cool. It reminded me of the shops back in the states… Except for those anime boob mouse pads.

Waterlooplein Flea Market

I wandered through the Waterlooplein Flea Market and found a stall that had a bunch of vintage comics. I think I only paid about 5 Euro ($5.75) for 6 comics. SCORE!

 

What I Bought At Waterlooplein Flea Market

Battle of the Planets Gforce In Action (Dutch)

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Fantastic Four Three: Prisoners of the Skrulls (Dutch)

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Fantastic Four Special: Family Reunion (Dutch)

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Fantastic Four Special: Repentance to the Infinite (Dutch)

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Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, France is only 90 minutes from my house in Germany. It’s a cute French city with a lot of Germany history but I didn’t really read about it because I’m a bad tourist. I picked up some old comics and manga at the flea market and a record shop called L’occase De L’oncle Tom. I also bought a brunch of pastries because it felt wrong not to.

Strasbourg Flea Market

There were a lot of flea markets around town filled with comics (and some manga)! Most of them were french comics I had never heard of before. Since I don’t speak French I was just buying the comics I thought looked cool. Many of the comics I saw had a lot of naked women in it and seemed pretty gratuitous.

What I Bought In Strasbourg

Musk (French)

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Musk was the first comic I picked up in Strasbourg. The cover caught my eye because it’s so ’80s! The long, thin legs reminded me of Ai Yazawa’s manga style. The story seems kind of weird, lots of naked women.

Dragon Ball Z (French)

Retropolis (French)

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Star Wars The Dark Empire (French)

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