Teens

Category Archives: Reviews – Teens

These book reviews have been written by teens you know!

Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese: Mob Psycho 100

Posted on September 13th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Movies, Previews, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

mob-psycho-100Hello Otaku! I hope the new school year is starting well for all of our fans back in classes. On the theme of “new things,” our club members at Hyde Park recommended the new show Mob Psycho 100. This new series is an action/psycho thriller combo with clear links back to the world famous and groundbreaking film Akira, from 1988. Mob Psycho 100 anime is produced by the same makers of One Punch Man. On this new team, they assembled director Yuzuru Tachikawa from Death Parade and composer Kenji Kawai from Ghost in the Shell. (reference and link credit: Kotaku.com) 

 

 

 

 

akiratetsuofinale03

Tetsuo unleashing his telekinetic power in Akira

 

mob-psycho-100-blogThe hero of the story is Mob, a mild and reserved middle school kid who has trouble expressing himself. He seems generally unremarkable except for his one talent, ESP. ESP stands for “Extra-Sensory  Perception” and is not completely confirmed by science. Some people believe it exists and it is often called the “sixth sense.” Common forms of the phenomena can be referred to as “vibe”, “aura” or “spirit.” Spirit is a common theme in many Japanese anime so it’s not surprising we’re seeing it here. But rather than involving magic or classic supernatural themes, Mob Psycho 100 makes reference to a more scientific approach to tell a similar story.

mobpsycho100[Click image for GIF] The artwork and animation are amazing here and I want to take the opportunity to compliment (and brag about) our wonderful teens at Hyde Park. I am sure you and your friendly Otaku would make the same observations as our teens. First, the artwork is simpler than standard cutting edge titles that are taking advantage of HD resolutions and thousands of brilliant colors. Instead, BONES studio uses a simple art style, like that used for One Punch Man. This allows the artists a lot more time and flexibility to create fantastic animation and psychedelic spirit characters. Really though, the art work and creativity erupt with action and dynamism. The balance of time and effort in the production work is clearly evident. These were some of the first things our teens commented about when we started the show last week. They were right on top of this with critical analysis, examples and their reactions. It was great to hear and they had me sold in less than half an episode. I sometimes wondered why the drawing style was more simplistic. Now I understand.

So check out Mob Psycho 100 on Crunchyroll or Kissanime

john250-150x150Did you know that in addition to physical books and DVDs, your library card gives you access to anime and graphic novels online? The BPL subscribes to Hoopla, a streaming service that allows you to check out and enjoy the media you love on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can learn more about the BPL’s digital media collections here.

Want company while you’re watching anime? The Hyde Park Teen Anime Club meets on Thursdays at 2:30 p.m.

*”Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese” features reviews of anime and manga by John, the Teen Librarian at the Hyde Park Branch, on the second Tuesday of every month.

Anime Review: Serial Experiments Lain

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Movies, Programs, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

serial lain

Serial Experiments Lain [R 17+] is a powerful science fiction anime series from 1998.  This psychological thriller centers on the experience of Lain Iwakura and her introduction to cyber-life in “The Wired” [Internet].  After a tragic suicide by a girl in her high school class, she and many other classmates receive emails from the girl after she has died.  This mystery sets the scene for the main thrust of the story.

Other characters include Lain’s best friend Arisu Mizuki and her larger circle of friends, Masami Eiri – apparent designer and god-like figure of The Wired, Knights – “men in black” who are ambiguously involved with the wired, Lain’s family and father who is a computer expert, and a group of younger children who provide another perspective to the developing sense of cyber-life.

Masami serves as the main foil in the series.  A large portion of the plot centers on ideas of self, divinity, physical versus spiritual, real versus virtual, and other wrenching questions often faced in the teen years.  The visual palette contains strong use of “white field” contrasts and fills as well as other shadow fills using “blood pool” and collage-like patterns.  The white fields get repeated emphasis as a sunlight effect in the morning scenes as Lain leaves her house for school.  After a few appearances, the technique is familiar and the artistic style of the series is clearly set apart.  Its continued use serves to amplify the sense of drudgery and emptiness that Lain experiences going to school.  At the same time, the technique itself is stark and almost blinding, creating a confusing crosscurrent to an otherwise static and low energy scene.  It’s truly masterful.  The soundtrack is very strong with its selection of music and an audio “hum” effect that is used to represent the ever-present activity on The Wired. It is usually combined with views of power lines and transformers at scene changes.

Serial Experiments Lain has received notable praise from the critical community and I strongly recommend it for Anime fans.  You can watch it for free on Kissanime.com and Animefrost.com

Anime Review: Samurai Champloo

Posted on January 25th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Movies, Music, Programs, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

samurai champloo

Samurai Champloo is an action [shonen] anime from 2004-2005.  Based on the original manga, this story is an adventure combined with poignant drama and comedy that follows the heroine’s search for the “Samurai that smells of sunflowers.”  We have some episodes available on DVD but the title is widely available over streaming sites.  Ask your teen librarian!

The three main characters are Fuu, Mugen and Jin.  Fuu is a teenage girl with a happy-go-lucky attitude and always seems to be hungry.  She is searching for the famous samurai.  Jin is a ronin [roaming samurai] with the classic stern character of the period.  He wears glasses which were actually available at the time but his are modern and lend a stylish flare to his otherwise quiet character.  He is of course, a master swordsman.  Mugen is another great swordsman but of an unconventional style.  He wears his hair in short crazy dreadlocks, and his sword is curved more like a scimitar with z shaped hilt.  He has a chip on his shoulder and is always looking for a fight.

The art work is quite good with strong “brush lines” and solid earthy colors.  The drawing style is slightly elongated with a linear quality that distinguishes it from other modern series such as Fairy Tail and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.  One great feature of this series is the inclusion of Hip Hop music and samples.  The theme music is a hip hop song that viewers will probably want to listen to each episode.  Hip hop culture and even Chinese kung fu are referenced several times during the series and at least once each with more focus in their own episode.  These elements as well as a few other surprises add an entertaining enhancement to the ongoing story line and themes.  Fight sequences are strong and dynamic, and character development is sensitive and engaging.  Viewers will not be disappointed.

Scholarly Books on Anime

Posted on January 25th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Books, Movies, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

anime napier anime adapt

The Hyde Park Branch recently added two books on Anime to our Teen non-fiction collection.  Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle, by Susan J. Napier and Anime and the Art of Adaptation, by Dani Cavallaro.

Napier’s work was well researched and effectively supported with lots of end notes and references to the works she examined.  She covers a lot of ground including controversial genres and the edges of popular culture.  She also provides a lot of insight on the influences of Japanese political and economic history.

Two titles she analyzed in particular were of great interest to me.  Akira, the groundbreaking film from 1988 and Serial experiments Lain, a powerful television series from 1998.  With Akira, she interprets the surrealistic and cataclysmic ending in a different way than I did.  I did further research and found corroboration for my interpretation from criticism of the original Manga and film versions by other authors.  Still, the symbolism and dramatic devices she addressed are clearly present and used to great effect in the film.  Serial Experiments Lain is a mesmerizing psychological thriller in the form of cyberspace science fiction.  Napier’s analysis inspired me to watch the series.  Lain lived up to her criticism and I was very impressed with the visual and audio effects in the series.

I have only just started Anime and the Art of Adaptation, by Dani Cavallaro.  I was pleased to see a still from Grave of the Fireflies used as the cover for the book.  It gets analyzed in chapter two under the title “The Nightmare of History.”  The atomic bombings that ended WWII had a deep and far-reaching impact on modern Japanese culture.  It’s effects can be seen in many different areas of the Anime genre and should be explored by all fans.  We Anime Otaku [Anime Fans] are all too familiar with the challenges of adapting Manga titles to moving animation and I look forward to reading more.  Cavallaro’s book is also well researched and includes a filmography and extensive bibliography.

Book Review: Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices

Posted on February 13th, 2015 by rschmelzer@private.bpl.org in Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

“If your imagination isn’t working-and, of course, in oppressed people that’s the first thing that goes – you can’t imagine anything better. Once you can imagine something different, something better, then you’re on your way.” -Lee Maracle

New to BPL’s shelves, this book is a beautiful collection of art, photography, poetry, personal essays, songs and stories. Put together they tell a story of modern Native Americans outside of Hollywood movies. At times fascinating and sad to learn about current social injustices that Native Americans still face to date. At the same time, this book is a wonderful exploration of universal themes that Teens can relate to, such as bullying and finding one’s own identity.

Pages 84 - 85 features the merging of traditional Coast Salish art with everyday pop culture objects by Louie Gong.

Pages 84 – 85 features the merging of traditional Coast Salish art with everyday pop culture objects by Louie Gong.