Nijigahara Holograph: A Haunting & Beautiful Manga

Nijigahara Holograph Inio Asano Manga Cover

Nijigahara Holograph Inio Asano Manga 6Nijigahara Holograph by Inio Asano (Solanin) makes you feel uncomfortable at times… well a lot. Its haunting story wrapped in beautiful illustrations  makes it incredibly atmospheric. Before I get ahead of myself, I should probably tell you what it’s about. Well… it’s about… uhh… it’s complicated. (Which is another way of saying it was confusing.) But it was confusing on purpose! So that makes it okay, right? The main reason why it’s so hard to describe is because it is all timey wimey and convoluted, except we don’t have a super genius timelord to help explain the story. Since it’s so tricky to summarize, I’ll give you the official description instead:

“Even as butterflies ominously proliferate in town, the rumor of a mysterious creature lurking in the tunnel behind the school spreads among the children. When the body of Arié Kimura’s mother is found by this tunnel’s entrance, next to apparently human traces, the legend seems to be confirmed. Is the end of the world coming? In order to appease the wrath of the beast, the children decide to offer it a sacrifice: The unfortunate Arié, whom they believe to be the cause of the curse, is shoved into a well that leads to the Nijigahara tunnel — an act that in turns pushes Komatsuzaki, the budding thug who has carried a torch for Arié for a while already, entirely over the edge.

But this is only the beginning of the complex, challenging, obliquely told Nijigahara Holograph, which takes place in two separate timelines and involves the suicidal Suzuki; Higure, his stalkerish would-be girlfriend; their teacher Miss Sakaki, whose heavily bandaged face remains a mystery; and many more — brothers, sisters, parents, co-workers, teachers, aggressors and victims who are all inextricably linked to one another and all will eventually — ten years later — have to live with what they’ve done or suffered through.”

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Even though I read Nijigahara Holograph slowly and meticulously, I’m still trying to piece together the story. Maybe part of me always will, and that’s the beauty of it. I thought about writing this after I reread it to try and make sense of everything. But I felt the best representation of Nijigahara Holograph would be my confused, yet excited thoughts. And to be honest, the experience is part of the draw. It’s like a carnival ride that looks beautiful on the outside, but it’s all horror on the inside and it leaves you feeling really uncomfortable.

Speaking of uncomfortable. Shit gets dark, man. Real dark. But you know what? That’s life. Life is beautiful, just like the mysterious butterflies in the story. And life is fucked up, just like some of the characters in the story. I respect a writer who’s not afraid to have an unconventional plot and ending. Nijigahara Holograph Inio Asano Manga 1

The setting seems mundane at first glance, but as the story progresses it’s transformed into an eerie town that’s filled with sadistic adults and children. Oh, that’s another thing. Asano shows us something we rarely see in stories, children committing unspeakable violence, sometimes at random. These kids are not possessed by any demons, they are just kids committing horrific acts of violence.

It’s hard to pinpoint the main character of the story, but one character that’s present throughout is violence. Violence in Nijigahara Holograph lurks just under the surface like a sea monster. Through the lens of this story, we all have that monster in us; some of us force it down forever, while others let it come up for air. Some people practically let it frolic freely without restraint. The only optimistic thought Nijigahara Holograph offers is a child’s wish to end the world.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Damn, Jamila. This sounds like a bummer, why should I read it?” Because it’s a brilliantly crafted story that will captivate you… oh and it’s fucking gorgeous!

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My Pull List: East of West- The Promise #4

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East of West: The Promise was exciting from panel to panel. I had to tell myself to slow down because I was so exited my eyes were jumping all over the page like a happy puppy not sure where to focus! Nick Dragotta blew me away once again with his art, especially the panels where The Raven and The Wolf transformed. How cool was that?! And we can’t forget about Frank Martin’s stunning coloring, which makes the world and characters blend and pop at the same time.

EoW definitely has some of my favorite character design in a series so far. Death and his black and white crew are the most remarkable. I’m pretty obsessed with The Raven. I also noticed in the scene when Death was kissing Xiaolian, his skin was black, and not the white skin we see now. It makes me think he’s been through some sort of rebirth (that probably has to do with her). Can’t wait to see what that’s all about. He went all Gandalf on us!

The scenes at the House of Mao were definitely the most exciting parts of the issue. When Death knocks on your door, you know sh*t’s about to go down! Not only was there a huge battle going on, but Jonathan Hickman still managed to weave in important dialogue about the story’s mythology. It was a bit of sensory overload, but I didn’t mind.

We get to see Famine, War and Conquest from a different point of view, too. Their tough demeanor falters during the scenes with Mister Chamberlain. You would assume the last thing you want is three-fourths of the Horsemen of Apocalypse angry with you, but Chamberlain told them who was boss, and his name is Death. Actually, I take that back, Xiaolian is the real boss. I mean she’s the one who conquered Death. He fell in love with her. And I hear he’s been around for quiet a while so that must mean something.

This issue showed me that East of West is the story of what happens when Death falls in love.

 

Let’s talk about Animal Crossing: New Leaf

animal_crossing_new_leaf_headerBJlBfv8CcAEVavrI’m happy to announce I’m a mayor for Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf! If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you’ve probably seen me talk about it, so I figured now’s a good time to blog about it! I’m really excited to my AC:NL experience with you before it comes out. Nintendo was also sweet enough to send me a fruit basket, and to think, I didn’t even have to plant any trees!

If you’re a fan of Animal Crossing, New Leaf does not disappoint. It’s as addictive as ever with a bunch of fun new features. I’ll do an official review once the game comes out for the 3DS on June 9th, but I wanted to talk about what’s been going on in my little town of Gotham.

One of the first differences I noticed since I’m mayor was I got to plant a tree in the town to celebrate my mayorship. I also got to pick where I wanted to build my house, which I conveniently put next to Town Hall.

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Henry is a party animal!

There’s a bunch of new shops! A Garden Shop, a shoe store called Kicks and K.K. Slider has a nightclub that’s about to open called Club LOL (which I’m entirely too excited for). I also love the Re-tail Shop, where you can resell items and buy your neighbors used furniture. It’s pretty much like a thrift/recycle store except it doesn’t sell clothes. I bought on Kid Cat’s bed. It sounds kind of weird, but it was affordable so don’t judge! The fashion design process has stepped up a notch, too. Rather than simply creating a tiled pattern for your outfits, you can create custom back and front designs.

I mean, obviously. :)

I also went on a fun little excursion to Torimer’s Beach Paradise. You have to take a boat there but it’s totally worth it. You can get tropical fruit to bring back to your own town and catch some fish and bugs unique to that island. The mini-games were probably my favorite part. You can play them with friends and win special prizes like hats and clothes. Fancy!

Another cool new feature are the Fortune Cookies. You buy with them play coins and it tells you a fortune related to a Nintendo Game, then you can trade it for Nintendo themed furniture and clothes. Overall, I’m really enjoying the new Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and by enjoy, I mean it has taken over my life.

Follow me on Twitter @girl_gone_geek for more #ACNL updates!

A Detailed Reader Experience of Batman #17 the ‘Death of the Family’ Conclusion

There will be spoilers.

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Batman #17

‘Death in the Family’ Conclusion- The Punchline

Story: Scott Snyder

Art: Greg Capullo

As a reader, you know deep down that Alfred can’t die. But then again, it’s comics and I’m sure that at least one version of Peter Parker would disagree. So you worry, and worry and worry (or at least I did) until the day has finally come. The conclusion of Death of the Family is in your hands. You have all this excitement and anxiousness built up and you delicately open the first page, not even realizing that you’re holding your breath.

batman 17 alfredYou slowly enter Gotham. Each panel takes you one more step into the city until you’re entirely consumed and everything around you disappears. As you begin reading each speech bubble, you simultaneously try to remember what happened in the last issue. It’s as if your eyes are adjusting to a bright light, slowly you begin to focus and remember. Once everything is clear, and a few panels in, you start to fight with yourself about your pacing. Do you take your time, read slowly and carefully? Or do you rush through, eager to find out what happens? In the end, you settle for a blend of both.

Then the moment of truth approaches. The Joker’s hand is on the dish, and your hand is already turning the page. You flip the page to see… Alfred is alive, a little crazy, but alive. You laugh to yourself when you realize you and Batman are like a married couple finishing each others sentences such as, “Alfred… Alfred, thank God.”.

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A rush of emotions overcomes you. Joy. Relief… and something else you’re not completely comfortable admitting. You’re relieved… but is it just relief you’re feeling? Or is there something else hidden? Is that… disappointment? Not because Pennyworth isn’t dead (I’m not that sick), but because the rollercoaster ride is over. Death of the Family was all the best parts of a rollercoaster, the big dip, the loops and fast turns. It was a lot of fun, but you were always kind of scared at the same time. And once you see Alfred’s manic grin, you hear the mechanical clicks of the track slow down your cart. The yelling stops, the arms go down and you’re left feeling like a cocktail of happy and sad emotions. You slowly catch your breath as you turn each page and realize more and more that the big threat is over… and you don’t quite know what to do with yourself.

As you read on, you feel like the Joker is talking to you. You experience a strange epiphany when you realize you love The Joker more than you love the Bat-family. You quickly tuck that thought away because you should probably feel bad about it, but you don’t.

The story arc is over, and instead of worrying about Alfred, you now have to worry about Bruce.

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Book Crush: Review of ‘Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s a Song of Ice and Fire’

“Beyond the Wall” covers the series up until “A Dance with Dragons” and season one of the television series, Game of Thrones. This post contains no major spoilers. If you’ve only watched the show or haven’t finished the series you won’t be spoiled.

Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is a book of essays about our beloved series. After the second season of Game of Thrones ended and I finally finished A Dance with Dragons, I was a mixed bag of emotions. I was happy to have finally completed the massive series, and sad that I had no more Game of Thrones to consume. But then I realized I could finally enjoy my copy of Beyond the Wall without a fear of spoilers.

I’m a huge fan of A Song of Ice and Fire series and the Game of Thrones show. After 16 years since first being published, the conversation still burns as bright as the fires of R’holler. The authors in Beyond the Wall take these conversations a step (or two) further. It’s thought provoking and thoroughly entertaining. Topics such as feminism, sexual violence, outcast/the other, fantasy realism, religion and more are all explored in this book of essays.

Not only does Beyond the Wall break down the world of Westeros and Essos, but it exemplifies, page by page, something that us fans have known for a long time, that A Song of Ice and Fire is not only a great work of fantasy, but also a great work of literature. In the foreword, R.A. Salvatore says, “A writer writes to get people asking questions more than to give them answers, and the ultimate achievement of literature is to begin a conversation. To read [Beyond the Wall] is to recognize the depth and breath of the conversation A Song of Ice and Fire has started.”

This book is filled with essays that analyze characters, events and scenes in a captivating and still very accessible way. If you were to look at my copy you would think it has been through the red waste and back. It’s dog-eared, covered in neon pink highlighter, and graffitied with barely legible scribbles, exclamation marks and notes that only I can decipher. Because of Martin’s POV chapters, you get an even deeper sense of the characters. However, there are essays that I’ve read in Beyond the Wall that gave me a better understanding of characters I thought I knew like the back of my (Quran Half)hand.

One of the more enlightening essays is “Art Imitates War: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in A Song of Ice and Fire” by Myke Cole. In this, Cole describes how Arya Stark and Theon Greyjoy are both suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in very different ways. Not only did I learn about PSTD and the Cooper Color System, but, for me, Cole also focused the lens on these two characters storylines. One of my favorite essays is by Matt Staggs, “Petyr Baelish and the Mask of Sanity”, which basically goes on to say that Littlefinger is a psychopath. Literally.

To say that George R. R. Martin writes strong female characters is an understatement. From Arya to Brienne to Cersei, all of the women are strong in their own way and all embody very different and complex representations of woman. There are several essays that delve into the women of Westeros (because one just isn’t enough). In Caroline Spector’s essay, she can condense in one sentence the role of women in ASoIaF by stating, “Martin has created a subversively feminist tale.”

You can’t talk about Game of Thrones without talking about magic and religion. The two worlds are connected; overtly like R’holler and Melisandre and in more subtle ways like the green-seers and old gods. The aptly titled essays, “Of Direwolves and Gods” and “A Sword Without a Hilt”, by Andrew Zimmerman Jones and Jesse Scoble respectively, explore the fascinating ways magic and religion are portrayed in ASoIaF and how it effects Westeros, Essos and its people.

Whether you pray to the old gods or the new, if you consider yourself a fan of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, you should read Beyond the Wall.

Order the book on Amazon

TV Talk: The Walking Dead Finale ‘Beside the Dying Fire’

TV Talk: There will be spoilers about the featured episode and previous episodes. I will not, however, discuss spoilers from the shows source material (even though I really want to). However, I might compare the source material and show only after that event has happened, or clearly won’t happen. TV Talk isn’t really a recap, or an official review. It’s how I feel about the episode and show in general. Just me, talking about TV. 

I’m writing this right after the finale ended. I’m still buzzing from Michonne‘s début. So please excuse me while I gush about how much I love her and I’ll probably ramble a bit… or a lot.

I loved Michonne from the moment she walked onto the prison in the comic series. Other than her blatant badassness and extremely cool katana wielding skills, she’s black. Now I’ve read a lot, and watched a lot of things, especially genre things, and black people, well any people of color for that matter, are under represented. So when there’s a black character, scratch that, a black woman who is also amazing, I’m extremely happy. I never realized how much of an impact it would be not seeing people who looked like me represented in the things I loved the most. But book after book, show after show, it became more apparent that there really aren’t that many people of color represented. I’ve come to realize that my brain loves Michonne because she’s an amazing complex character. But my heart loves her because she represents part of me.

Next on my gush list is the prison! Now if you’ve read the comics you know all about the prison and what happens there. The prison arc is my favorite part of the comic series by far and I’m sure the TV version will not let me down. (It better not.) Seeing the prison at the end of the finale, right after I finished screaming about Michonne’s début (yes I literally screamed out lout) was the icing on the cake, or rather the shotgun to the brain.

Now that those things are out my system I can talk about other stuff. This episode was utter chaos, and I mean that in the best way possible. They did a wonderful job really translating the madness of the zombie horde’s attack on the farm. I was tense and sitting at edge of my seat the first half of the show!

Rick’s character has went through a big transformation since the beginning of the series. Tonight was a turning point for him, where he had to let go and truly accept the “new Rick” and what comes along with that. What I love about Rick is how well he illustrates how hard it is to be a leader, especially during a zombie apocalypse. Rick didn’t ask to be the leader of the group, but he is. And living with the consequences of the critical decisions he made and will be forced to make bares down on his heart and it shows. It tears him apart, but I think that will ultimatley help him hold on to his humanity.

Overall I think the first half of the season dragged. If their excuse was character development, then I think it could have been handled differently. The second half was absolutely amazing! Each episode was exciting and engaging and the cinematography just gets better and better. Who knew zombies and a burning barn could be so beautiful? Thanks for reading my ramblings on The Walking Dead. Is it October yet?! Well at least I have Game of Thrones coming up to keep me company.

And just one last time… MICHONNE!  Okay I’m done now.

Review & Contest: UbiRock Portable Vibration Speaker

I haven’t done a tech review before but I had to do one on the UbiRock. It’s just too freaking cool! The UbiRock is a portal vibration speaker. It’s small and therefore super portable. Basically you put the small UbiRock speaker on any flat surface and it turns that surface into a speaker. I don’t know how it works, magic probably.

It’s extremely easy to use. Just plug it into your Mp3 or laptop (or anything with a standard audio 3.5mm or USB plug) and press play! It’s rechargeable so you don’t need to worry about outlets or batteries. I also had entirely too much fun experimenting with different surfaces to see what sounds they create.

Girl Gone Geek Blog readers get $10 off UbiRock! Use the code: “GirlGoneGeek” (good until April 2nd)

Playing with my UbiRock:

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UbiRock on the web: 

 

Contest:

  • – Head over to UbiRock’s Facebook Page: Facebook.com/UbiRockSpeaker
  • – Like their page and write on their wall what fictional surface you’d like to play your UbiRock on.
  •      – Example: “I’d test out my UbiRock speaker on the wall of the TARDIS!”
  • – The first 10 people who write on their wall get a code for $10 off!
  • – And you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a UbiRock speaker.
  • – Contest ends: Monday March 26th Good luck!