The task this month is to read or watch something scary, spooky, or suspenseful, and Japanese of course! You can read a book (for those that like to multi-task, remember that a Japanese spooky read would also count for both the R.I.P. IV Challenge and the Japanese Literature Challenge 3!), but if you don't have time this month for a whole book you can read a short story, a ghostly folktale (there are some available to read online, see below), or a manga. Or you could watch a movie, or an anime.
I was searching through Netflix looking for a J-horror film but then decided to be a little more bold and try my first manga. I looked through some review sites and finally found one that looked interesting to me, The Cain Saga: Forgotten Juliet. Here's the brief description on Amazon --
Born under an evil moon harboring dark secrets, Earl Cain C. Hargreaves, the youthful heir of the aristocratic Hargreaves family, is a man on a quest to find the truth about his family's past. Written in dark, harrowing episodes, The Cain Saga chronicles how Cain solves the strange crimes that seem to plague his cursed existence, yet somehow bring him closer to deciphering the puzzling circumstances surrounding his father's tragic death.
Five gripping stories of love, friendship and betrayal--"Forgotten Juliet," "Branded Bibi," "The Youths Who Stopped Time," "Double," and "The Death of Cleo"--comprise this poignant first installment of Kaori Yuki's hit gothic manga series. Gothic fans will be left in awe long after this series has ended!
This is the start of a prequel series to the Godchild series by Kaori Yuki. She is apparently rather private although she has brief "letters" to her fans throughout her work that explain some of her influences like Twin Peaks, Young Sherlock Holmes and Dead Poets' Society. Funnily, I recognized some of these references and styles and was quite amused by them. The stories were all short but well fleshed-out and entertaining.
The hardest part of this reading was of course getting used to the right-to-left style. Also, I had trouble keeping track of characters because of changes in appearance. Still, I enjoyed reading these stories and am somewhat curious about the main series. Cain seems to be somewhat typical of the handsome loner that you see in other Japanese animation -- like Roger Smith in Big O. The husband and I used to watch a lot of Japanese series but it really is a different experience in print.
Since this read was mostly about learning more about Japan, I also went and read a bit about manga. This image is the kanji (Chinese characters) for manga and the word translates to "whimsical pictures". Most manga are in black-and-white and the artist of the manga is called the mangaka. Modern manga started showing up after World War II and incorporates both traditional Japanese themes and many American influences that came to Japan during the Occupation. You can find a manga about almost any topic or genre and just like graphic novels, many are written specifically for an adult audience. There are words designating whether the target audience is girls (shōjo manga), younger males (shōnen manga) or adult males (seinen manga). Some popular manga series in the U.S. are Sailor Moon, Ghost in the Shell and Akira -- though most Americans know these better as animated series and movies or anime.
I am going to count this one as another read for the R.I.P. Challenge. This little book had it all -- a poisoning, a stabbing, a shooting, an axe attack, a supernatural anti-aging potion and revenge, lots and lots of revenge. It was interesting to see these stories come to life through the illustrations. Since this manga was in black and white, it wasn't gory or anything but the faces of the characters were certainly expressive. Also, the text helped to fill in some of the details like in the story with the green poison. Yuri is a talented artist!
Using someone else's imagination for a bit,
Support our site and buy Forgotten Juliet (Cain Saga, Book 1) on Amazon or find it at your local library. We borrowed this book from the library.