Tag: japanese

Here at Writing Across The Lines, we want to keep things interesting. What better way than reviewing a manga? Of course, I can’t review the whole story because I have not ready every volume, but I can review the first volume.

What is a manga? It’s essentially a Japanese comic book. Why am I reviewing a manga? Because I like manga, just as much as I like books, comic books, musical theatre, and movies. I am not into anime and manga as much as I used to be, but I do like indulging in them from time to time.

Vinland Saga is a story about vikings. It opens on a scene where a Frankish Fort is being attacked and it is going in the favor of the defenders. A viking group lead by a man named Askeladd, offers his help to the losing side in return for half the riches. Thorfinn, the man character as we will see, wants nothing but to challenge Askeladd. Askeladd tells him, that he will fight him if he kills a high ranking officer in the Frankish Fort. This serves to show the reader what lengths Thorfinn will go, his skills at killing, and his clear obsession with challenging Askeladd. It also makes the reader question why this is so important.

After the Vikings help win, outsmart the army that they helped (who were going to turn on them anyway) and make off with all the riches, the Vikings celebrate their accomplishments in Denmark. Thorfinn finally gets his challenge and although he is very skilled for his young age, Askeladd defeats him, sending Thorfinn into angsty brooding.

This leads us into the history of Thorfinn as a boy. He had a mother, father, a sister, and listened to the tales spun by the great Leif Ericson firsthand. His father, Thors, was a well know Viking and was even called “The Troll of Jom,” but gave up fighting to lead a quiet life. Thorfinn, wants to be a great fighter like his father, but doesn’t even know that Thors had abandoned the Jomsvikings by faking his own death. Now, he is found and they are asking him to return to battle, or the people of his new found home will be punished. He decides to put his people first, without knowing that his son, Thorfinn, snuck onto his boat and is now heading to battle with him.

What happens after, is the start of Thorfinn’s quest for revenge.

I am not a huge fan of the art style, the order of the story in the first volume threw me off, and if you don’t know much about Viking history, there are some Viking words that are not explained until the end of the manga. Overall, the story is great and some of the characters are based on real Viking figures in history or at least share their names. It moves very quickly and it doesn’t take long to get through the volume. The plot is not overbearing and it doesn’t throw things in just for fun. There is a reason for everything that happens that leads to another situation. It keeps your attention.

I rated this volume a 4/5 because I definitely want to keep reading and because I do have a thing for Vikings.

-K.

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Hello Again,

Time for another review. I finished The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw a couple of weekends ago. I wanted to write a review right away, but I had to sort through my thoughts and by the time I did that, life caught up. Now a funeral and a company holiday party later, and here I finally am.

The book opens up with Inspector Jovert and his accident after a mysterious letter (be prepared because I found some other literary references in this book). The letter was from a woman claiming to be his daughter and asking to meet. After he recounts his accident, a Japanese man named Professor Omura comes to him and invites himself in. He explains that he, too, had a daughter, but she was not biologically his. Most of the novel is Professor Omura explaining the tale of his friend Katsuo, the real father of Omura’s daughter, flaked with Omura’s story as well as Jovert’s.

At one point, Omura explains that his father liked puzzles. He liked them so much that he ordered a “western puzzle” and was disappointed because once complete, the image was the same as that on the box. This novel is one big puzzle.

All the characters’ stories in this book are based on lies. I don’t recall anyone telling the complete truth except one minor character.

The story is also told in fragments out of place, which you have to piece together to get the complete story, which again, is based on lies. So is it really the whole story?

I felt the ending was very confusing and did not explain anything at all so you are kept guessing. I like cliffhangers, but this wasn’t one. I don’t want to give anything away, but I came out of the novel feeling confused and not complete. I was a bit angry because I could not mentally tell if I did not understand, or if that’s how the book wants you to feel.

Overall, I gave it a 3/5 due to the story fragments being captivating, especially Katsuo’s, and the characters were interesting. The mystery was well kept and hard to guess (and I am normally pretty good at guessing the twists). I just didn’t like the way the stories were scattered, how they didn’t come together at times, and so many loose ends.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Am I missing something? Let me know!

-K.

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