Friday, November 16, 2018

Comic Review: A:TLA The Rift by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko

Note: I wrote this review more than a year ago, and apparently never posted it. Whoops. Better late than never I guess. Sorry if it feels a little disconnected. I'm sure that I meant to add more to this, but it's been so long since I read this comic (and I don't have it in Japan to reference) that I can't really do that now.

ISBN: 1616555505
Published: February 11, 2015
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Received: Christmas present
Read: July 1, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Avatar Aang and friends honor an Air Nomad holiday that hasn't been celebrated in over one hundred years, but when cryptic visits from the spirit of Avatar Yangchen lead Aang to a refinery operating on land sacred to the Airbenders--they soon find themselves in peril as a dangerously powerful ancient spirit awakens with vengeance and destruction on its mind!
This collection of The Rift Parts 1-3 features annotations by Eisner Award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and artists Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four), with a brand-new sketchbook section! 

Of all of the Avatar comics I've read so far (which is through to the end of Smoke and Shadow), The Rift has been my favorite. That isn't to say that I didn't have a number of problems with it, but many of the issues that kept me from connecting with the previous comics either weren't present in this trilogy or weren't as bad.

I'm glad we got to see Toph again as she'd been missing for a while. In the story, we see her begin to reconnect with her dad. Since the Legend of Korra, I've wondered what Toph's relationship with her parents was like as an adult considering her relationships with her own daughters, and this comic partially answered that question. It gave me enough information that I can fill in the blanks, and it's more or less what I wanted to see come from their relationship. I appreciate the comic for that. It's one of the few times the comics have given us new information and I've been completely fine with it.

Aang and Toph also have quite a bit of conflict in this story, which I almost feel should have happened in one of the earlier comic series. They identify most with opposite elements, after all, and it felt well within their characters to get angry with each other like they did in The Rift.

Honestly, I think Toph as a character was what made this comic more successful to me than the previous comics. I've always been very fond of her, and she's one of the few characters who I feel is written faithfully in the comics. (I find that the others act out of character too often for my liking.)

Monday, May 28, 2018

Life Post: Fanfiction, Reviews, and Traveling

Long time no see. I shouldn't be surprised that it's been two months since I posted anything (and I'm really not). That's just the way life has become for me.

Actually, I have been incredibly productive when it comes to writing. It's just that none of that writing has been blog posts. If you follow my fanfiction, you'll know that I've been posting something or other nearly every other day, and I've really appreciated getting into fanfiction challenges. That's how I've been getting my creativity out recently.

As a consequence, though, I haven't been writing blog posts or making Youtube videos or even reading. That last one really throws me more than anything. How little I've been reading over the past month or so just really gets to me. I don't like it, so I'm going to have to work on that before I make too much of a commitment to post to the blog on a regular basis.

In other news, season 3A of Shadowhunters is over, and I still need to talk about season 2. And Race to the Edge is over, and I still have nearly two seasons to talk about. That has me hanging my head in shame. I'm still going to talk about all of those episodes because I love both shows and really do want to talk about them. Even if a lot of what I have to say has already been said over on Tumblr.

This is getting longer than intended (as is so often the case), so I should at least mention "real" life a bit. Not much has changed on that front. So much of my life is work now, and as a teacher, I don't want to talk too much about it for privacy reasons, which I've said before.

I did go to Nara recently over Golden Week, and it was such a nice trip. Nara's a lovely place, even if a deer did try to eat my shirt. It was a pretty quiet trip, so there's not a ton to share, but I enjoyed the peacefulness of it.

And in two weeks I'm going to Universal Japan, so I'll try to talk more about that after the trip. I'm looking forward to seeing Hogwarts again!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Life Post: Changes and Being Productive

Look at me writing another one of these when it's only been a week. I'm probably more impressed than you are.

This week promises to be a big one as all of our kids classes finish up and we prepare to start new ones next week. Because I've been teaching the same kids classes since I started working, I'm sure this change is going to feel really weird, especially since the kids I'm teaching will be changing.

One of the other teachers is also leaving, and we're gaining two new teachers come next week. That will also be a huge change, I know, and it's definitely sad to see people leave, but I don't want to turn this into an upsetting post.

I've been doing an incredible amount of writing lately. I got back into challenges, and they have me churning out stories at a speed I haven't in ages. That's partially to do with the length. It's easier to churn them out when they're short and not long, chaptered fanfics like I usually write, but it's made me feel incredibly productive.

Recently, I also increased how much time I'm spending studying Japanese, and I'm taking an online class now. (That might sound strange, taking an online Japanese course while living in Japan, though it is a course from a Japanese university, but I feel like it works better for me than going to the free class they hold here, which just isn't good timing for my schedule.)

All of that has left me feeling pretty good recently, so I'm pretty excited about it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Life Post: Eight Months in Japan

I realize that I haven't written one of these posts since July, right after I came to Japan. For the past eight months, I've had a to do list that keeps growing and never gets any shorter. And that's not a metaphor. The terrifyingly long to do list is a thing that actually exists, and I stare at it every day. It's at the point where I don't think it will ever be under control again.

But we don't need to talk about that anymore.

As you can imagine, far too much has happened over the last eight months for me to talk about it much in this one post. I've actually captured moments of various things in videos on my phone, so I'll eventually get around to editing those together for Youtube. (It's on that massive to do list.)

Work is going well. Since Japan's school years begin in April, our kids classes are finishing up, and we're preparing for our new kids classes in a couple of weeks. That means I'll be teaching some classes I haven't taught before, so I've been learning a lot about those classes, including a trip to Okayama for training just yesterday.

I'll also go ahead and mention that I'm officially staying in Japan for longer than the one year that I was initially contracted for, so that's exciting. Here's to exploring even more while I'm here.

Eventually, I'll do more in depth posts on this, but I've been to Osaka several times and also Kyoto and Hiroshima so far. And some trips around Tokushima prefecture where I live. I've loved all of the places. The geography of Japan was one thing I never considered before moving here but that I've fallen completely in love with. I was so "ehh" about mountains before, but now I think they're amazing. I've never seen mountains like those in Japan.

Just yesterday, on the bus to Okayama, I spotted a group of monkeys sitting together by the side of the road and thought, "Well, that's definitely not something I get to experience in America." I appreciate that I'm still having those moments where I get genuinely excited about stuff in Japan.

On the "terrible things about Japan" side: I've become way too obsessed with melon pan, and it might be becoming a problem. How am I ever going to survive in America again when I can't get melon pan? Or, the even better question, why isn't melon pan a thing in the US? I feel like that needs to change.

Anyway, it's past midnight here, and despite the fact that tomorrow is a national holiday (the spring equinox) and I don't have to work, I need to be getting to bed. I'm already a little sleep deprived because the Okayama trip ended up interfering with my sleep schedule. I'll do my best to not let eight months pass between life posts again so that I can keep you better updating on what's happening here in Japan.