Tag Archives: Kenji Miyazawa

The Ultimate Book Tag

Thanks to Summer at xingsings for tagging me. 😀 This is my first time participating in a “tag” sort of post, so please excuse any mistaken etiquette, etc. This looks like fun!

  1. Do you get sick while reading in the car? Unfortunately, yes. It was one of my greatest childhood disappointments that I couldn’t really read on long car trips.
  2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why? That’s a hard one. . . . There are a lot of authors who have signature styles and quirks, but completely unique? David Levithan is probably the closest to really unique that I can think of right now–he has a distinctive flavor and also does all sorts of interesting things with person, punctuation, capitalization, and suchlike. I really enjoy that about his writing.
  3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer. Harry Potter, obviously. Does this question even need asking? 1. British, not American. So much cooler. 2. So much quirky, fun magic–I love the spells! 3. Characters that grow and that are more focused on saving the world than on “the one,” whatever that means. And moreover, characters who have all sorts of credible imperfections and interesting perspectives. Should I go on?
  4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books)? I actually don’t usually, except to go to the library–in which case, just books. Otherwise, my books stay safely in my room or get carried by hand.
  5. Do you smell your books? I love the smell of books, although the smell of books that have sat on the shelf too long makes me sad. So . . . I guess I do? Not, like, obsessively sniffing or anything, though.
  6. Books with or without little illustrations? I love both! I guess it just depends on whether having illustrations suits the story or not. I adore books with good illustrations (and yes, graphic novels/manga/picture books are up there in my favorites), but if the illustrations don’t suit the story, I’d rather they just not be there at all.
  7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing? I think a lot of the series I read as a little kid were that way (American Girl, Mandie, The Boxcar Children, and suchlike). It’s not that they were terrible, they were just produced in such volume or to fit such a particular mold that they really just weren’t a full story. It was actually pretty disappointing to get to the point where I realized that.
  8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share! I can’t think of anything particularly humorous. I guess most folks around here thought I was an odd child for always having my nose buried in a book, though. Not exactly normal in small-town NC.
  9. What is the tiniest book on your shelf? Well . . . the shortest is The Restaurant of Many Orders by Kenji Miyazawa, but the narrowest is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. Take your pick.
  10. What is the thickest book on your shelf? I guess technically The Lord of the Rings has the most pages, although The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Azumanga Daioh give it a run for its money just because of how they’re printed.
  11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author? Blogging here and some occasional technical writing for work is about the limit for me. I’d like to envision myself as an author, but honesty forces me to admit I probably don’t have the talent. Sadness. I’m relying on all you amazing people out there who truly have a skill for writing!
  12. When did you get into reading? My parents read to me when I was just a baby, really. I think I’ve been into reading since before I can remember. 🙂
  13. What is your favorite classic book? That’s a hard one . . . it’s a toss-up between The Lord of the Rings and The Cat in the Hat. 😉
  14. In school what was your best subject Language Arts/English?  So . . . I also don’t really get this question. English and all the related courses (Literature, Speech, etc.) were probably my best subjects generally, although I also did really well in my computer and business classes. Math, not so much.
  15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated, what would you do? Depends on who gave it to me. If it were someone who wouldn’t ask/notice, I’d politely accept, then sometime later pass it on. If they’d notice or care that I gave it away, I’d probably keep it. How superficial, right?
  16. (Apparently Question 16 was supposed to be here, but now it’s disappeared?) Should we make up our own question here? . . . Or not.
  17. What is a bad habit you always do (besides rambling) while blogging? I tend to not be clear enough in what I mean . . . but I’m scared of being too specific and either boring folks or giving away too much of the story! What to do?
  18. What is your favorite word? At the moment, “abundant,” although that’s likely to change at any time.
  19. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above? Um, I think I’d define myself as a geek and an otaku more than any of these . . . maybe sort of a nerd? Labels are highly over-rated.
  20. Vampires or Fairies? Why? Why not both? I mean, at the moment, fairies would win my vote just because a lot of the vampire stuff that’s been popular recently is junk. But what about Robin McKinley’s Sunshine and Vampire Knight and even the Vladimir Todd books? On the other hand, you’ve got incredible stories like Curse of the Thirteenth Fey and The Earl and the Fairy, plus a whole lot of more classic tales. I vote for a world where vampires and fairies have equal representation, I guess.
  21. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why? Angels, totally. Powerful messengers of God sent to fight the forces of darkness, possessing qualities little known or understood by man? Yes, indeed. Shapeshifters . . . cool and all, but still. (And by the way, are we talking, like Star Trek’s Odo sort of shapeshifters or more like weres? Although my answer’s the same, either way.) Still, a world with both would be even more interesting.
  22. Spirits or Werewolves? Why? Again, more definition, please? I mean, I love a good ghost story (I’m reading one now), so if that’s what’s meant by “spirits,” that would probably be my choice. But, I’ve heard some pretty creepy and amazing stories about weres too. (I think Lish McBride has made awesome use of weres in her books! And Saki’s werewolf short story is utterly awfully horrifying.) Again, as with the above two questions I think having the option of both makes a world that’s more interesting–and why not if it’s a fantasy anyhow?
  23. Zombies or Vampires? Why?  Hey, isn’t it supposed to be Zombies vs. Unicorns? Anyhow, while I have heard some good zombie stories, the idea of rotting flesh and eating brains is totally not appealing. At least most of the vampires I’ve seen keep themselves half tidy.
  24. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love? Honestly, both get old really quickly, but I’M SO SICK OF THE LOVE TRIANGLE! What’s wrong with just writing a cute, sweet story? See Usotsuki Lily–it can be done.
  25. And finally: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in? I think I’ve mentioned before, but I really don’t care for romances as a general rule. Really, I’d rather read a kids’ book that’s all fun and adventure and crazy fantasy without even getting into the romance.

And . . . I confess, I’m too lazy to tag anyone specifically today, so: If you’re reading this and it seems interesting, consider yourself tagged. 😀

 

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Gauche the Cellist

Oh! Production Studio

Written & Directed by Isao Takahata/Produced by Kōichi Murata/Music by Michio Mamiya/Based on the Short Story by Kenji Miyazawa

Gauche is a simple, quiet man who lives by himself in the country near a small town in the early 1900s. He keeps a garden and plays the cello for the local orchestra, which performs concerts and also accompanies the silent movies that are currently in vogue. The Beethoven that the orchestra is planning to perform soon, however, seems to be a bit much for him, and he never can seem to satisfy the conductor. Throughout the week before the concert, Gauche has a stream of unexpected visitors–nearby animals who have been touched by his music and who want him to play for them again. He ends up playing through the night and going to bed exhausted in the morning, never realizing that while he’s playing for his woodland visitors, he’s also getting a great deal of practice.

I found Gauche the Cellist to be an enjoyable tale providing a placid look into a bygone era. It’s based on the short story of the same name by Kenji Miyazawa, which was originally published in the 1930s. The story itself is bucolic and almost fable-like; it’s certainly not meant to be taken as a true slice-of-life story. You’ve got talking animals, nights that go by in a flash, and various other improbably happenings. Still, it works in an old-fashioned way. One of the most outstanding aspects of this movie is the music; rather, music is the heart of the story. There is a great deal of classical music worked into the soundtrack–often with a Tom and Jerry-like effect, although also at times with a more Fantasia sort of feel. The animation is definitely old-school, but nice for all that. I love that the director is one of the co-founders of Studio Ghibli–and I must say that this has a somewhat Ghibli-like tone. I think Gauche the Cellist is a pleasant, simple movie that would be great to watch with children–or as a nice change from the clangor of much of today’s movie-writing.

 

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Book Girl and the Wayfarer’s Lamentation

Book Girl and the Wayfarer's LamentationAuthor: Mizuki Nomura/Translator: Karen McGillicuddy

Illustrator: Miho Takeoka

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Book Girl, vol. 5

Konoha Inoue has gone from being a loner spending all his time with just Miu to having a life filled with friends and even potential romance . . . ever since Miu tried to commit suicide in front of him and then disappeared from his life. Then, while visiting his girlfriend in the hospital, Konoha happens to run into Miu again, unleashing a maelstrom of confused memories, emotions, and desires in both them and the people around them. Miu points Konoha back to a story they shared as children for the answers he needs, but it will take the shared insight, opinions, and support of all his friends to unravel the enigma of Miu for him.

I really wasn’t sure what to make of this book at first. A lot of it reads like a soap opera, really–too much interpersonal drama for my taste. Still, the honest look at people’s motives and the way the author expresses the rawness of human emotion are illuminating and moving. Probably the factor I enjoyed most about this book is the way the author built it around Kenji Miyazawa’s Night of the Milky Way Railroad. (In general, I’m a fan of stories that point back to other stories; they’re informative and provide a sense of continuity in the flow of literature.) I think I’ll try reading some more of this author’s work before I make a real judgment either way.

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