Tomorrow (the 11th of July, from 1pm at the Town Hall) is the Japanese Festival (as mentioned here) and, with that in mind, here’s our Top Ten Japanese-related material (mostly) in the YA area. In no particular order.
1. Final Fantasy VII : Advent Children (ファイナルファンタジーVII アドベントチルドレン) – This is based on the highly-regarded console game, and although it might be a little incomprehensible if you’re not familiar with Final Fantasy it’s still a spectacular CGI film. (Website.)
2. Kino No Tabi (or Kino’s Journey : The Beautiful World, キノの旅), by Keiichi Shigusawa – This is the first in a series of novels about Kino, who travels through many unique lands with her talking motorcycle. That might sound a little twee, but the story looks at some pretty profound themes. We’ve only the first book, for now (sadly).
3. Anything by Studio Ghibli Inc. (株式会社スタジオジブリ) – The films produced by Studio Ghibli are some of the best out there. Most people have seen Spirited Away (the first anime to win an Academy Award), but Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle are definitely worth the 50c rental fee. And Ponyo (trailer) is at this year’s Wellington Film Festival (on the 17th and 19th of July).
4. Tekkon Kinkreet (鉄コン筋クリート) – Another anime that I highly recommend; it’s stylistic and lush to look at (the backgrounds are works of art). The story – about two orphans who take on the yakuza – is multi-layered and moving. (Trailer.)
5. Usagi Yojimbo : Volumes 1- (兎用心棒), by Stan Sakai - This epic comic series is about Usagi, a samurai who happens to be a rabbit (everyone is some sort of animal). He’s modelled on the real-life samurai/swordsman/writer/philosopher, Miyamoto Musashi, whose life truly was epic. The 23rd volume is due out later this month.
6. Number9Dream, by David Mitchell – Grimm recommended this book, about 19-year-old Japanese student, Eiji, who has come to Tokyo to search for his father. There’s an excerpt to read here. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001.
7. Naruto : Volumes 1- (ナルト) – Naruto Uzumaki is a young ninja-in-training. He also has the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox within him, which means that if he can control it he can be a pretty powerful ninja. There are at least 45 in the series (held at the library, anyway) so there’s a lot to keep you going. Failing that, there is …
8. all the other manga we have. Which is loads.
9. Aranzi Aronzo’s books, Cute Stuff and The Cute Book. Aranzi Aronzo is a Japanese company that specialise in ‘cute, strange, cool, silly, a little bit horrible, stupid and comfortable’ design, and these two books show you how to make some very, very cute (kawaii, or Japanese cute) felt toys. Cute! They have a website.
10. Sushi for Dummies, by Judi Strata – Knowing how to make sushi (寿司) is one of those skills that everyone should know, as it’s a) delicious and b) healthy as anything, and c) pretty easy to make. This book isn’t in the YA area but we must include it in this list anyway.