Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese: Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. Second Gig.

Posted on June 14th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

Ghost in the Shell SAC 2nd Gig_smallWhew! That’s a long title isn’t it? And S.A.C. stands for Stand Alone Complex. Hello again manga and anime friends. The Ghost in the Shell franchise is a rich collection of science fiction and action stories based on the original, and highly influential movie from 1995. But this month, we look at a later sequel series, made for television. The entire franchise has had an R rating for violence, profanity, and some mature themes but older teens should be fine watching compared to much of whats on the air today.

The famous “Section 9” unit is an anti-terrorist SWAT team with cutting edge cyber-terrorism training and equipment. The heroine of the story is Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg officer with incredible athletic, combat, and IT skills. Her human brain is all that remains from her original body that was lost in a horrible event when she was young. Not much is known of the circumstances around the event. Over her life she has had hardware and software upgrades and trained to become a military officer and then joined the police force after recent major wars.  Her main partner on the force is Batou, another veteran military officer and policeman who has cybernetic vision. He probably lost his eyes in combat during the recent wars. Much of the crew is made up of former military veterans who have joined the elite Section 9 unit after distinguished careers. They include a sniper, information specialist, and a junior officer gaining valuable experience. The section is lead by Daisuke Aramaki. He is a seasoned director combining vast experience and keen judgement. His character is distinguished by his balding head and prominent locks of silver hair over his ears and beard on his chin.  Comic relief is combined with mecha butt-kicking power in the form of the sections dated, but lovable spider-like robots. These “Tachikomas” have all kinds of advanced weapons and technology even though their A.I. is archaic.  Their voices even sound like children and lend to their effect in comic relief.

Artistically, a TV series is of course more limited in what it can invest in image quality and detail than what was originally offered in the famous feature film. Still, a good color palette was developed that works well with the frequent night scenes and urban battle situations. Technical drawing of aircraft and vehicles are a favorite subject for sci-fi anime crews. 2nd Gig does not disappoint.  Often times you will find vehicles “rendered” in 3D animation graphics first, and then edited into the video frames of the story with the characters “rendered” in 2D, drawn by the artists hands. This is more and more common these days and some stories are completely animated with 3D graphics. We’ll have to look at some of those in the future. A great example is the film Avatar, but there are 3D anime films that we can discuss.

Musically, the score is impressive with use of modern Pop and EDM styles in the title songs. Incidental music includes more of the same, but also makes notable use of classical chamber music styles and genres. One trend in particular is the use of expressionist, “quasi-tonal” string quartet music during mysterious or psychological scenes in the story. Memory and A.I. hacks are great examples to listen for. It’s spooky and very powerful.

2nd Gig offers an exciting story weaving together political intrigue, national security, terrorism, cybernetics, SWAT tactics and gear, a refugee crisis, and deeper questions of the human experience. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a machine? Humans can have a spirit, can machines have a ghost? The Ghost in the Shell franchise started with this question and a resounding “yes” was the answer. But on deeper examination, the question was only ever about humanity. The lines have just become blurred by the development of computers, cybernetics, information technology and artificial intelligence. Sci-fi and action fans will love this series. So will existentialist philosophers and political scientists.  The dialog can pass very quickly so with this series, you have my permission to watch the English dubbed episodes, if you want. Listening to the Japanese is always great but you may find yourself rewinding at various points to catch all the plot and character development. The stories are wonderfully written and demand concentration.

So check out Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. 2nd Gig. You can find it at kissanime or gogoanime.



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.

Cooking with Caren: Buffalo Chicken Dip

Posted on June 10th, 2016 by crosales@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

Buff Chicken Dip

Five steps to greatness!


1. Shred 2 cups of cooked chicken.

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2. Combine 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, 1 (8 oz. pkg.) softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup of hot sauce (we used FRANK’S RedHot® Original), 1/2 cup blue cheese or ranch dressing, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

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3. BAKE at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through.


4. Sit back and admire your hard work!

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5. Devour with chips and/or vegetables.

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Recipe courtesy of: FRANK’S RedHot®

icon of carenAre you still looking for more recipes? The Boston Public Library has a huge collection of cookbooks that you can browse, check out and take home.

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.


*”Cooking with Caren” features recipe posts by Caren, the Teen Librarian at the Mattapan Branch, on the second Friday of every month.

Stop the Press: Early School Start Times

Posted on June 5th, 2016 by rschmelzer@private.bpl.org in Teen Services



How many hours of sleep do you get a night? I remember in High School having to wake up in the cold dark mornings and hustle to school in time for the first 7:15 am bell. The first few periods of the day were a constant battle to stay awake. It didn’t seem to matter what time I went to bed the night before, the exhaustion never went away. And now science is showing there is a reason for that. Studies have shown that teenage brains secrete Melatonin, a hormone that causes drowsiness, at around 11 pm. So this means that if you are not able to sleep until 11 pm, either because you’re not sleepy or because you have homework/work/after school activities, to get a good nights rest (between 8.5 and 9.5 hours for teens), you would need to sleep until at least 7 am. But for Boston teens, that’s just not an option. Students can’t get enough sleep based on their biology if they have to rise before the sun to take public transportation across the city in order to be at school by 7:15 am.


LA Johnson/NPR

LA Johnson/NPR

Schools outside of Boston are starting to explore the benefits of later start times for students. In this Boston Globe article, Middlesex County schools are recognizing research showing that lack of sleep leads to anxiety, depression, and even car crashes. Another Boston Globe article discusses the fact that switching to a start time of 8:30 am or later drastically decreases student tardiness while increasing grades and test scores.

This is great article written by a Boston parent for WBUR, a local NPR News Station. As a newcomer to Boston, I find the history and unintended consequences of segregated schools fascinating.  It’s especially interesting that one of these consequences is lack of sleep.  I’m in full support of school choice, but don’t completely agree that the Boston Public Schools have swapped out T passes in lieu of providing busing for Boston Public School students.  Economically it might make more sense, but the reality I’m seeing is exhausted teenagers waking up before the sun, making several bus and train transfers across town to get to school on time.  It’s the students that are losing, and I see later school start times as an advantage that Boston teens deserve.


icon of Rebecca

Are you interested in keeping up with the news and current events? The Boston Public Library has subscriptions to newspapers that you can read in the library or online.

*”Stop the Press” features current events posts by Rebecca, the Teen Librarian at the Grove Hall Branch, on the first Tuesday of every month.

Teens Leading in the Community: Meet Reginald Fils

Posted on June 4th, 2016 by jsnow@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

For this special Teens Leading in the Community post, I interviewed Reginald Fils, a junior at Saint Joseph Preparatory School. Reginald is not only a CEO of Urban Inspired CO (an urban clothing company he started and built) but a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Teen Arts Council.  Today we talked about his involvement with the Mayor’s Youth Council.









What is your role with the Mayor’s Youth Council?

This is my first year with the Mayor’s Youth Council. We meet twice a month, once with the city agency we are specifically working with and once with all other 80 members of the MYC.  I’m on the Arts and Culture Commission and work with seven other teens to survey teens in Boston and get input from them as to what they think the City should focus on in terms of arts and culture.  Other members of the MYC are on different commissions, when we meet each month with the big group we share out the type of work we are focusing on.  We essentially are experts in that area.

How did you get involved with the Mayor’s Youth Council?

I found out about the program through friends because I really wanted to be more involved with the community and this was a great way to do just that.

Do you feel you’ve gained and specific skills working with them?

I feel that the Mayor’s Youth Council is an excellent gateway to the community and really gives you a platform for public speaking and advocating for other teens. The other thing I think it pretty important is that we are responsible for a multi-million dollar budget and the input we share is crucial but we’re also learning from government officials in how to manage a budget. I’ve really learned a lot about city government and met some pretty important people and this has presented me with some networking experience.

Would you encourage other teens to get involved with the Mayor’s Youth Council?

I absolutely would! I think if other teens are interested in the city government process and how things work as well as being connected to people in city positions the experience is invaluable.

For more information about the Mayor’s Youth Council, the projects they work on and how you can become involved, check here Mayor’s Youth Council


jessi250-150x150Are you interested in learning more about leadership opportunities? The Boston Public Library, Teen Central has a Teen Leadership Council that meets monthly in Teen Central and there is a job help page that provides information on  job opportunities, volunteer and internship opportunities.

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.

*”Teens Leading in the Community” features interviews and stories about teens leading in their communities by Jessi, the Teen Services Team Leader, Central, on the third Tuesday of every month. (This post is a special post)

Curl Up & Read: Calvin

Posted on June 3rd, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services
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Title: Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Read by: Anna, a Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Calvin is a young teenager with a lot of similarities to the Calvin & Hobbes comic strips by Bill Watterson. What Calvin isn’t prepared for, however, is the seemingly sudden diagnosis of schizophrenia. He can hear Hobbes talking to him and he can’t seem to make the tiger go away.  In a rash decision, Calvin takes his friend, Susan, on a hiking trip across frozen Lake Erie in an attempt to find Bill Watterson and get him to write one last comic strip… without Hobbes.

Genre/sub-genre: contemporary fiction

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Length: 181 pages

Personal thoughts: 

Such a small book for such a serious topic! But without many books for teens about schizophrenia, this is a good addition to the list. The author did a great job making this topic readable, lighthearted, and at the same time, serious, as Calvin explains his story in a letter to Bill Watterson.

The characters, while loosely based on the Calvin & Hobbes comic strips, had enough originality that they stood apart from the comics.  I do wonder though, if having Calvin talk to Hobbes, a cute, fun-loving stuffed tiger makes schizophrenia seem a little less of a big deal. After all, who wouldn’t want to talk to a tiger like Hobbes? The anchor to this plot, is the fact that Susan can’t see Hobbes or hear him when he’s talking to Calvin. But what if she’s also a manifestation of his schizophrenia? The questions keep you reading and keep you guessing at what will happen next, who’s real, and who isn’t.

While I enjoyed the plot for most of the book, the ending threw me a little because it seemed too abrupt and too easy for something as huge and scary as schizophrenia. At the same time, it was good to see someone like this have a better ending than most.

While I felt this book did have some minor flaws, don’t let them stop you from giving it a read. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a Calvin and Hobbes fan, or those who may be struggling with Schizophrenia or know someone who is.



Looking to borrow this library book? Look no further!

Wondering if we have the original Calvin & Hobbes comics? We do!

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow this book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.

*”Curl Up & Read” posts book reviews by Anna, Teen Librarian at Teen Central, the first Friday of every month.