Friday Things: 02/06 - All About That Cake and Quackerjack

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Whoa, actually on time? Why, yes. It's because my weekend is pretty much booked, and I had the presence of mind to write this up a day early. Enjoy!]

On Disney:

Some cute Disney-themed Valentine's Day cards if you're into printing and making your own.

A few screenshots of the upcoming Frozen short, Frozen Fever.

On Books and Comics:

If you're passionate about comics and interested in writing about them, consider applying to PANELS!

If you're the type who likes to "read it before ya see it," here are three books for upcoming adaptations.

The next Hello Kitty comic has just been released! It's called Hello Kitty: It's About Time. Oh yes, I'll be grabbing this.

Stuff I Wrote:

On Panels: Art Roundup: Spotlight on Quackerjack.


Michelle Phan wrote up some tips on handling homesickness. She nailed it with keeping busy as well as keeping in touch. I Skype with folks back in the US all the time, and I try not to have too much idle time in general.

A glance at what some school lunches around the world look like compared with the US. If you read my blog regularly, you know what Japanese school lunches look like, but have a look at others like Greece and Spain!

A publication sent out a call for science writers, and dude was rejected because he isn't a science writer. His response to the lady who runs the site is appalling.

Awesome dad gets tattoos of his son's doodles.

A+, solid parody.

[See ya next week!]


Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

I just recently finished reading Hello Kitty: Just Imagine... and even named it my top comics pick in PANELS' October round-up, and I've just noticed today is the release date of the next book in the series, Hello Kitty: Work of Art. Heck yeah! Check out the cover and blurbage below:

Picture this:

Hello Kitty and her friends are making music, producing plays, snapping photos, solving mysteries and...playing with dragons? Art is all around, and Hello Kitty and her friends know exactly where to find it!

And don’t miss three lovely pieces by Maite Oz!

Stories and art by: Jacob Chabot, Giovanni Castro, Ian McGinty, Jorge Monlongo, and Maite Oz.

Manga Review: Manga Classics LES MISÉRABLES

Kristina PinoComment
"The first release in UDON's new Manga Classics line!
Adapted for stage and screen, loved by millions, Victor Hugo's classic novel of love & tragedy during the French Revolution is reborn in this fantastic new manga edition!

The gorgeous art of TseMei Lee brings to life the tragic stories of Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, and the beautiful Fantine, in this epic adaptation of Les Misérables!"

UDON has on a new line of books that has me super interested called Manga Classics. I had a look at this first release thanks to Netgalley, and I'll probably read the second one (Pride & Prejudice, presented in shoujo art style according to the copy) when I can, too. These books adapt classic novels for a young adult audience and are created with the cooperation of an Asian animation studio called Morpheus.

Rendering this classic story with a manga twist in terms of its pacing and style and illustrations gave it a breath of fresh air. I haven't actually read the book myself, though I've seen two stage adaptations and the most recent film starring Hugh Jackman and others. The manga appears to adapt the book more closely, though, and it gave me so much great backstory and extra tidbits that I didn't pick up before. I got to learn more about the motives or connections of various side-characters that I hadn't been familiar with previously, thanks to the comics format and the ease with which you can drop in characters' inner thoughts.

This presentation is longer than a typical graphic novel, clocking in at around 350 pages to really capture the depth of the original work. I read it in two relaxed sittings and didn't find myself feeling bored or impatient at all - the pacing is quick despite this length, since Victor Hugo's book is quite long in and of itself. Though plenty was obviously cut, they kept or focused on a lot of the key moments people are familiar with from various adaptations while still dropping in parts of the narrative the team felt was important to keep in the story - it's a nice balance.

The artwork is absolutely beautiful, and the designs really captured the characters well (and distinctly). At the end of the book, you can also enjoy a little look at its production with words from the creators, concept art, and mini-comics featuring some of the main characters. 

I loved this book, and if you like the classic story I recommend it for you or as a gift. Manga Classics Les Misérables is slated for release on August 12th and MSRP is listed at $19.99 USD for the paperback and $24.99 for the hardcover edition. Learn more about Manga Classics or keep up with news on future releases at their Facebook Page.

VIZ Media selected press excerpts: Miyazaki memoirs and a dose of Hello Kitty

BooksKristina PinoComment

I couldn't wait to share these once I caught up with my inbox, so here's some good news from VIZ Media.

The first is that Starting Point, which chronicles Hayao Miyazaki's career from 1979-1996 and was originally released by VIZ Media in 2009, is being re-released in paperback.

Turning Point covers 1997-2008 and will be released in hardback on April 8th, the same day Staring Point is released.


"TURNING POINT: 1997-2008 is the companion second volume to the earlier Miyazaki chronicle, STARTING POINT: 1979-1996, which was originally published by VIZ Media in 2009. This volume examined the first part of Miyazaki’s career, during which he rose from humble beginnings to create the seminal animated features Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, Castle In The Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Porco Rosso, as well as his launch of Studio Ghibli. A fitting introduction is offered by John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Walt Disney. VIZ Media will release STARTING POINT: 1979-1996 in a new paperback edition on April 8th under the Studio Ghibli Library imprint with an MSRP of $16.99 U.S. / $19.99 CAN.
TURNING POINT: 1997-2008 follows Hayao Miyazaki as his grand vision continued to mature, cinema-lovers worldwide discovered and embraced his creations, and prominent film critics such as Roger Ebert delivered tremendous acclaim for the director’s films. In his legendary career, these crucial years represent the turning point. In the mid-1990s, Miyazaki moved from success to success as his work found a fervent audience outside of Japan. His animated films of the era, including Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo, were internationally lauded, and Miyazaki won an Academy Award® in 2003 for his film, Spirited Away, which was a commercial and critical hit."

 April 8th will also see the release of the art book for The Wind Rises titled The Art of The Wind Rises (MSRP: US$34.99).

Hello Kitty: Surprise!

is finally being released this week. I can't express my love for this series enough, and you'll see my thoughts on it here soon, too. It's being released for US$7.99 in print and US$4.99 digital via the Perfect Square app.

Link Bits: 03/10 - Elsa's coronation updo

LinksKristina PinoComment

[It's Monday again!]

So, how about, these are all cakes. They're all edible.

Anne Rice's next novel will be titled Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles. Maybe now's a good time to start reading her books...

Kadokawa, a big-time publisher in Japan, is launching a free manga app later this month. The best part: it isn't just in Japanese - they're also publishing English and Chinese translations of selected works. Good move!

VIZ Media have announced many new Shoujo Beat titles and releases:

  • Black Bird (complete box set, Oct. 2014)
  • Vampire Knight LE vol. 19 (series finale, Oct. 2014)
  • Vampire Knight: Fleeting Dreams (spin-off short stories, Dec. 2014)
  • Yukarism (Dec. 2014)
  • Phantom Thief Jeanne (first vol. available now, subsequent releases every other month)

Yukarism blurb:

"Yukari Kobayakawa, an accomplished author at the age of 17, writes with amazingly accurate details about historical Japan. It turns out he has the ability to travel back in time – to his past life as a renowned courtesan in the Edo period! As he goes back and forth between the past and present, he also unravels the karmic relationship he has with his beautiful classmate Mahoro Tachibana… Catch the gorgeously illustrated historical romance from Chika Shiomi, the creator of YURARA and RASETSU (also available from VIZ Media)."

Phantom Thief Jeanne blurb:

"High school student Maron Kusakabe has a secret - she’s Phantom Thief Jeanne. She sneaks into private art collections to steal paintings in which demons reside. Jeanne’s task is to seal the demons before they can devour human hearts. So far she’s been able to evade the police on her midnight outings, but now another thief has come onto the scene – Phantom Thief Sinbad – and he’s trying to take the paintings before she does!"
Listen to a bestseller for $7.49 at!

Link Bits: GAME OF THRONES-style cabaret

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Mid-week! Time for beer!]

St. Patrick's Day is coming up this month, and if you're interested in getting into the spirit with some delicious sweets, check out the how-to video above (link here).

Another Batman game has been announced, and there's even a trailer out. Which reminds me, I really need to catch up - I haven't played Batman: Arkham Origins yet. Whoooops.

Game of thrones Opening Titles from Mathilde Loubes on Vimeo. I think I like this fan-made Game of Thrones opening sequence better than the original.

Very cool photo project by Andrew Whyte that involves taking a LEGO mini figure (with its own little mini camera) around everywhere, and then shooting pictures of it with an iPhone. Nothing but love for this. He calls it  Legography.

Game of Thrones cabaret posters.

New manga acquisitions by VIZ Media for Shonen Jump:

  • One Piece box set 2: Skypeia and Water 7 (Nov. 2014, print)
  • Assassination Classroom (Dec. 2014, print and digital)
  • Jaco the Galactic Patrolman (by Akira Toriyama, release in Jan. 2015, print and digital)

New VIZ Signature manga title:

Resident Evil (5-volume prequel to the game RE6, releases Nov. 2014). Summary:

"At the prestigious and elite Marhawa High School in Singapore, a female student suffers a horrifying transformation. Called in to investigate, Professor Doug Wright and his nephew Ricky find themselves caught up in a deadly and growing tragedy. As things get rapidly out of hand, Chris Redfield and his team from the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance arrive on the scene, while behind it all a mysterious figure looms."
Listen to a bestseller for $7.49 at!

Friday Things, Monday Edition: 11/18 - Temple Run as a movie, Pixar's rise to greatness, and going tipless

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Brrr... it's cold! But I'm good now, because I actually went shopping this weekend and bought myself a fleece jacket, fleece blanket, some gloves, and other sensible items. This weather will not get the best of me!]

On Movies:

Have you seen the movie poster for Disney's upcoming Maleficent yet? And beyond that, have you seen the trailer?

Apparently there's going to be a film based on the Temple Run games. What?



On Books:

Here's a great read by one of my co-writers at Quirk Books blog about how amazing Lemony Snicket is when it comes to teaching you new words. I mean, he's amazing in general, but in this respect, he's a standout.

In case you haven't heard yet, USPS is releasing Harry Potter stamps on Nov. 19th.

I reviewed a newly-translated/released manga titled Sweet Rein, written by Sakura Tsukuba and published by VIZ Media. It's a nice holiday read if you're into the fluffy romantic stuff.

If you're into Pixar and their work, you might be interested in a book they're releasing about how the company got started and their rise to greatness. 



On Identity:

It used to frustrate me when people asked me where I'm from, because what I identify myself as, culturally, is way more complicated than just saying the name of the place I was born. Now, I just tell people where I come from ethnically, because in the end, it's easier than the long explanation. Here's a good article related to this.

Hot Topic pulled a shirt from their stores when a bunch of people called to attention that its message was awful and wrong - and rightly so. Cosplay is all about having fun, not stressing out about getting every detail perfectly right. 




This restaurant owner decided to just have a flat service charge and stop taking tips, and the result is wonderful. I wish more stores did this.

My photo post this week was about my visit to Alcatraz.

If you're a toy/collectibles fan, one of my associate editors on Tomopop started up a link column of his own which will be posted every Thursday. Check out his first linkup, which features cake!

I also uploaded a video this week. This time, I eat a doughnut that looks like Snoopy's head.

[I think that does it for this week. Sometime soon, I'm going to go ahead and publish a holiday gift guide type thing for book nerds. Do you have any suggestions? Let me know so I can link it up! Any sort of shops with literary nick nacks or jewelry or apparel are perfect for this.]



Manga Review: 'Codename: Sailor V' vol. 1

Comics and MangaKristina Pino2 Comments

Now that Sailor Moon as a franchise is being re-translated and revitalized, it seemed like a good time to dive in. I used to watch Sailor Moon on TV in the early morning before school. It was dubbed, and Usagi Tsukino's name was changed to Serena Bunny (which does the character justice, by the way), and I didn't even know it was a Japanese cartoon until years later. I never picked up a Sailor Moon comic or even bothered with Sailor V back when it was first published in 2004. With the impending new show and Kodansha's re-release of the comics though, I decided to finally give them a shot.

The first Sailor Moon manga I picked up was the side series Sailor V, which focuses on Minako and her adventures as a Sailor Scout way before Usagi/Serena even met Luna and received her powers. I had remembered this being a point in the anime series, but my knowledge doesn't stretch beyond that.

Sailor V begins much in the same way Sailor Moon did. We get acquainted with the girl, who is a horrible student in middle school, boy-crazy, and is being stalked by a talking cat. Artemis meets Minako and tells her she's the guardian of the Goddess of Venus, and she needs to fight for world peace in a cute little sailor suit.

Once Minako starts turning into Sailor V and stomping evildoers dispatched from the Dark Agency, the story takes a turn for the shonen genre. It becomes "monster of the week," very fast paced and allows for very little, if any, character development. There was a lot of wasted potential here since Minako is just 13 and is suddenly given this huge responsibility. The author touches upon that briefly, giving her a moment in which, frustrated, she exclaims to Artemis that she never asked to be a Guardian nor did she see why she should be obligated to fight when she doesn't even know who her boss is, or what she's fighting for. That only led to one quick scene in which she's taken to the "headquarters" to talk to her boss over a computer screen, and the boss also reveals nothing at all. I guess that was enough for Minako though, because she got suited up and ready to charge quickly after.

I'm not even bothered by how absurd the villains and their treacherous plans are, because it just comes with the territory. First Japan, then the world! They try all kinds of different tricks to enslave the Japanese people, starting with making idols that entrance them, moving on to video games, and even continuing on to forming student gangs to literally beat the enrapture into them. They fail on all accounts with a few axe kicks and moon beams from Sailor V, though she isn't brought any closer to the real enemy behind it all. She just fights a different goon each mini-volume throughout the first graphic novel.

In the meanwhile, Minako is being a regular 13-year old girl. She falls for every trick in the book (and for all the wrong guys), and prefers playing video games to studying. She doesn't connect that anything run by the Dark Agency is going to be evil, even though Artemis asserts caution, and she is otherwise a lazy bum. I like that about her, though.

As for the fresh translations - while they aren't bad, I think they're lacking. Some of the diction could have been phrased better, but overall the team did a great job keeping everything in the spirit of the original. What might stand out to an adult reader the most is the abuse of exclamation marks, but that is unfortunately a result of the original script as well. At the end of the volume, there are a few pages with notes so readers could understand what some words and references mean, including some character names which have been preserved in Japanese -- it's a nice touch that not enough people go through the trouble of.

I can't really judge the artwork too harshly. I've always called myself a fan of Naoko Takeuchi and her artwork, but it's definitely dated. The proportions are way off and some of the panels are so busy you can't really tell what's going on. The flip side is the artwork makes me nostalgic. Takeuchi has also mastered the art of making comics feel animated, which not many artists can do all things considered. I have to concede that it's a wonderful piece of work altogether despite the art style not being my cup of tea.

Do I recommend Sailor V? Grab it for your kids, and if you happened to be a fan Sailor Moon back in the day, you might want to grab it for yourself. It's all-ages friendly and a good introduction to the series in general since, really,

Codename: Sailor V serves as a sort of prequel to Sailor Moon. The series features regular goon-fighting, some romance, and plenty of Japanese cultural references in between and makes for a nice, light read that you can pick up or put down over time given its structure. Volume two is also released along with the first few volumes of the newly translated Sailor Moon manga.

Buy it on Amazon:


Codename - Naoko Takeuchi - Paperback

Codename - Naoko Takeuchi - Paperback

Buy Codename by Naoko Takeuchi in Paperback for the low price of 8.35. Find this product in Comics & Graphic Novels > Manga - General.

Manga Review: 'The Clockwork Sky' by Madeleine Rosca

Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

Artist and Writing: Madeleine Rosca

Letters: Tom Orzechowski

Book Trailer (click here)

Otaku devotee Madeleine Rosca is Australian, inspired by such works as Akira, Samurai Pizza Cats, and Astroboy, became a manga artist several years ago. She started with what was supposed to be a children's book called Hollow Fields (which is successful and has won her awards, by the way), and now is working on the series A Clockwork Sky and even a web comic.

I'm not familiar with Hollow Fields, which is an all-ages manga, but a friend handed me a copy of The Clockwork Sky (volume one) the other day and I gave it a read.

Clockwork takes place in steampunk London in the late-1800's, and it's about a 12-year old girl (Sally) who is a bit too wild and free as well as a talented mechanic. Her wealthy parents send her off to her wealthy uncle (Mr Croach) in the city to get an education on being ladylike, but she keeps escaping anyway. She meets Sky, an automaton that acts as the ace of the police force, when he's sent to retrieve her from the slums, and they start noticing things that just aren't right.

In this all-ages story (which is apparently a prequel to Hollow Fields), there are a few major themes that I thought were important. First, there's the huge class distinction. The upper-class folks have it alright, but the slum folk have been cast aside and have all lost their jobs to automatons, all built by Sally's uncle. The police chief is a bit suspicious of him and his methods, so eventually he places his ace automaton Sky to be her guard. We also find out that Sky also appears to have dreams when he's on standby (sleeping).

I don't think the dreaming is a bad omen leading to self-aware automatons that'll take over humanity. Sky isn't like that. I think it's more of a creepy omen of Mr Croach's methods and what we may later learn about how Sky was assembled.

Some parts of the story are going to be predictable for an older reader, though I still found some bits surprising. Yeah sure, Mr Croach is pretty much the typical horrible villain-type person, but the predictability on the part of his character is made up by the unpredictability of Sally's character and the great relationship that forms between her and Sky. Their banter is fun, as he's got an almost C3PO-quality level of naivete that I found endearing. It was emphasized by Mr Croach that Sky was created with a child-like "visage" in order to appeal to the dirty slum folk, but I get the feeling there are more child-like qualities to his character overall than that.

The Clockwork Sky is fun so far. I enjoyed the first volume, especially Rosca's smooth art style that flowed nicely from page to page. The pacing is nice, and we were left with a rather creepy cliffhanger at the end. For an excerpt from the manga (Sky's dream sequence), check out Tor's listing. As I mentioned earlier, the book is all-ages so I have no problems recommending it to children, young adults or adult readers if they're fans of fantasy and/or steampunk.

You could also keep up with Madeleine via her DeviantArt page as well as a Tumblr page and Twitter account. Additionally, you could read a nice interview of the author over at Go Manga.

Addictive Shoujo: Itazura na Kiss

Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

I've been on a kick with Itazura na Kiss. I'm not sure what it is about that ridiculous show, but it sucks me in every time. This time, I've actually watched past what I'd previously seen, and I'm about halfway through the series. It's just so frustrating.

It's not just the events and the fact that the main character is so dumb while her lover-boy is a cold jerk, it's also the pacing. It's way too fast, with just a few montages here and there to attempt to bridge the gaps in time that come in between episodes. In the course of the first few episodes alone I think about half a year passed, and more than a year after just a couple more. A lot happens in that short time, but I'm sure there's a better way to convey it.

I never learn my lesson with shoujo, though. I don't know how I even got through Suzuka to the end (only the manga - I haven't watched the animated version), or Kimi ni Todoke (anime only, I dropped the manga). Another one I was reading is called Kimi no Iru Machi. It's a cute one, but just as frustrating as Suzuka. Why do people like this stuff?

Oh, right. Because we are masochists.

(image via)