Posted on January 27th, 2016 by firstname.lastname@example.org in Movies, Programs, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services
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
Posted on January 25th, 2016 by email@example.com in Movies, Music, Programs, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services
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.
Posted on January 25th, 2016 by firstname.lastname@example.org in Books, Movies, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services
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.
Posted on November 9th, 2015 by Mary in Books
Tags: Books to read, Teen Read Week 2015, Teens' Top 10 - 2015
The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominations for favorite books are listed during National Library Week in April and then teens vote for the 3 favorite books from August to Teen ReadWeek , this year was October 18-24, 2015. Following is the winners for the 2015 Teens’ Top Teen:
10. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
9. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
8. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
7. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
6. The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare.
5. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
4. My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak
3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
2. I Become Shadow by Joe Shine
and the number 1 book is The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen
How many books have you read from this list? If you haven’t read any of these titles but are interested, click on the title and it will take you to the catalog.
Posted on July 3rd, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: 2015, book, classic, fiction, ken kesey, mental illness, one flew over the cuckoo's nest, review, Summer Reading
(Book 3 of 8 of my Summer Reading book reviews.)
Title/Author: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian
Summary: In Nurse Ratched’s ward of the mental hospital Chief Bromden is a patient pretending to be deaf and dumb for the last twenty years. When a new patient, Randall Patrick McMurphy, walks through the door, swaggering larger than life, Chief watches him begin the hard task of rallying the other patients to challenge the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched with fishing trips, alcohol, gambling, and even women. Along the way, however, Chief realizes that McMurphy isn’t just challenging the other patients, but Chief as well.
Genre/sub-genre: Classic Fiction
Relatable characters: Yes.
Would I recommend this to others?: yes.
Personal thoughts: This is not for the feint of heart. It’s a very dark book covering some dark topics, some that are only hinted at, while others are blatantly spelled out. That being said, I loved this book. Along with Chief, I was able to watch the men slowly regain their personalities, regain the right to be human against a nurse who sought complete control over them, which was a beautiful thing to see. The ending came as a huge surprise I wasn’t expecting, and yet, I found it oddly fitting for these characters. While it was published in 1962, I also think it’s still very relevant in today’s world. I highly recommend it.