Read or Die Review

R.O.D. the TV is an anime series based off the series of light novels titled Read or Die by Hideyuki Kurata about Paper Masters, characters with the ability to control paper, and who absolutely love books.

The anime follows three Paper Masters and a writer facing writer’s block after the disappearance of her best friend four years prior.

This anime gave off a slightly melancholic vibe despite having a light-hearted art style and bright colours. And I liked that. I thought it was a creative use of paper, of books and of stories. I loved how the characters, most of whom were acute bibliomaniacs, lived half in their world of books, absent-mindedly engaging in real life activities.

And okay, I could relate to their excitement at seeing bookshops.

These characters lived in a book nest, sleeping in beds buried under mountains of books, the writer working under an avalanche of books and papers. As an avid reader myself, I loved the setting of the story.

As for the story, personally, that mattered less because of how engaged I was in the characters. But the story revolved in a fairly logical manner, with the paper masters having to use their abilities on secret missions to earn money to fuel their book buying sprees.

And eventually, these secret missions reveal the underlying plot in the story – a diabolical plan to reform the world through writing.

Finding this anime was like a dream come true, a series revolving around books, about stories and how they have the power to change the world. I am not a fan of the art style but I am drawn to books and this anime had plenty of that.

“Please give me back my book!”

~by Yomiko Readman

 

Sippy Cup Review

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Sippy Cup is a song from Melanie’s debut album Cry Baby released 14 August 2015. She was a contestant in The Voice (USA) in 2012 and made it to the Top 6 before she was eliminated. After that, she signed on with Atlantic Records and released this concept album. All thirteen songs in the album are somehow tied to each other by theme or by character and they focus on heavy themes like drugs, identity and family (or the lack of).

This song in particular is flooded with meaning and emotion. She sings about skeletons in the closet, vulnerability and the desperation to appear normal. Being a concept album, most of the songs surround the life of Cry Baby and her twisted family. A father who’s working in a drug company and sleeping with another woman. A mother who’s dieting, drinking and desperate to forget reality. Cry Baby who’s caught in this mess and dressed up to make the family appear normal. (There is also a brother who’s not present in Sippy Cup but he’s doing drugs too.)

But behind all the backstory, with just the lyrics, Melanie paints an abstract picture loaded with references both to drugs and childhood memories. A sippy cup. A cradle. Harmless happy things.

But are they really?

What if the things placed inside can hurt you? What if the cradle is a prison? What if the sippy cup is a drug? What’s inside?

You can put trash inside a gilded gold box and call it treasure. Colour tissue paper red and call it roses. Paste smiles on skeletons and call them humans. It’s not wrong is it though? We make treasure out of trash and roses out of tissue. But that doesn’t mean we should forget that the treasure is still trash and the roses are tissue paper.

Blood still stains when the sheets are washed

Sex don’t sleep when the lights are off
Kids are still depressed when you dress them up
And syrup is still syrup in a sippy cup
He’s still dead when you’re done with the bottle
Of course it’s a corpse that you keep in the cradle
Kids are still depressed when you dress them up
Syrup is still syrup in a sippy cup

I think that we do that all the time. Pretend that nothing is wrong. “Going on with life,” we call it. “I’ll get over it.” We don’t. We just lock up the skeleton and place it in the back of the storeroom with the rest of them. Hiding doesn’t solve problems. Oh, but we do it anyway.

Twenty-Three Review

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“Try to guess.”

Sung by South-Korean singer-songwriter IU (Lee Ji Eun), Twenty-Three is the first single in her latest mini-album ‘Chat-shire’. And by far counted as her most personal piece of art.

In this song, IU sings about her life which people try to unravel for her, deciding that they know her intentions just by looking at her face, deciding that they understand what she wants based on something she says or does. It is a smart way of doing it, telling it through an Alice In Wonderland concept using abstract lyrics. With this kind of video and lyrics, one would be inclined to either hate or admire it. But just as the song says, which one?

Do you really know?

What is the meaning behind someone’s smile? What is the meaning behind a hint? What is the purpose of that action? Is it so simple to think that I am doing that just because I want to? I have motivations even I don’t know, how can you know what I want?

I think that IU is mature for her age and this honesty that she has, coupled with her ability to abstractly paint her thoughts out loud will allow her to separate the sheep from the wolves pretending to be sheep. But then again, I don’t know, do I? No-one will really know.

Which one?
You cannot tell with my face
Making an opposite facial expression
to the heart is really simple
Which one?
Actually I don’t know either
At first, I never wrote
even a single line of lies

Pretend to be a fox that pretends to be a bear
that pretends to be a fox
Or completely different one

It is true that you cannot judge someone at face-value because you never know their intentions. What they say about themselves, what they say about the world, what they say is the truth… do they mean what they say or are they saying something else?

All these puppet strings that people haphazardly string around themselves by judging before they know, by knowing before they judge, they tangle you up one day. The way to cut them all is to not care. If you want to care, you’ll be hurt, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong does it?

“Try to guess.”

The Little Paris Bookshop Review

the-little-paris-bookshop

Title: The Little Paris Bookshop

Author: Nina George

Summary: The Little Paris Bookshop is a delightful, bittersweet tale about the distance one man will travel for love and friendship – On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop, or rather a literacy apothecary, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers…

I have not touched a storybook in so long or found solace in one for over a month. Life happened. And the words just seemed to slide off the page when I read the books.

But I was intrigued by the idea of books being used as emotional medicine. As a creative writing student, I have been caught up in the whirlwind of ‘write to engage your reader’ and ‘not interesting enough – boring’. I forgot that I was writing to capture specific details for specific people even if there is only one other person out there who needs it.

The Little Paris Bookshop pulled this off cleverly with a main character who knows how to help others although he himself is being consumed by his own sorrow. The story charts his own emotional voyage with his barge of books and his battle with love, friendship and pain.

My favourite passage of the book is this:

Pain, for example, he said: it reserves the polarity of cells. It starts after only three days: arousal cells become pain cells, sensory cells become fear cells, coordination cells become pin-cushions. Eventually tenderness only causes hurt; every breeze, every musical vibration, every approaching shadow triggers fear. And pain feeds hungrily on every movement and every muscle, breeding millions of new pain receptors. Your insides are completely transformed and replaced, but it is invisible from the outside.

By the end you want no one ever to touch you again, Vijaya says. You grow lonely.

Pain is a cancer of the soul, says your oldest friend. He says it like a scientist; he doesn’t consider hte nausea such words will trigger in non-scientists. He is foretelling everything that will happen to me.

Pain makes the body dull and your mind with it, as your Vijaya knows. You forget; you can no longer think logically, only in panic. And all your healthy thoughts fall into the furrows the pain gouges into your brain. All your hopes. Eventually you too fall in and are gone, your entire self swallowed up by pain and panic.

The way Nina George describes these little details, emotions, the breeze, the atmosphere – it settles over you like a comforting blanket. I have forgotten that I need books to survive. I forgot because I hated the way I read in order to feel better. In order to come to terms with this very subject in the passage I quoted. Pain.

Yes, books do soothe the troubled soul. I am addicted to this medicine. It’s good to be back, it’s good to inhale words so that I can breathe them out again.