Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese: Gintama

Posted on May 10th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

gintama1Welcome back, Otaku! This month we dig in a little deeper. At the Hyde Park Anime Club, we’ve been watching many different series, both new and old. Along the way, we found the classic, Gintama. Starting as a successful manga, it has also won rave reviews as an anime and sits near the top of many lists. I figured we needed to look more into it, so this month I will review both the manga and the anime so we can compare them.

Gintama takes place in the future, where earth has been occupied by aliens known as the Amanto. The setting is a mix of present day technology and life with the ancient ideals of Feudal Japan and science fiction alien technology. All swords have been banned and samurai are now disrespected as obsolete and unnecessary. A peace treaty was struck when the aliens “friends” arrived but life is not great under the occupation.

The story starts with our main character Shinpachi Shimura, a boy who wears glasses. He is trying to keep a job at a restaurant while Amanto aliens (with animal hybrid bodies) play games and harass the native Japanese and the old samurai class. Shinpachi is the son of a samurai dojo owner who died when he and his sister were young. They trained well, but were on hard times when their father died and have been struggling to survive without him. Enter Gintoki Sakata, a man who does odd jobs but still burns with the fire of Bushido and carries an illegal sword with great skill. Volume one, chapter one starts with the chapter, “Nobody with Naturally Wavy Hair Can Be That Bad” referring to the dynamic Gintoki. Comedy and action fill this manga from the very beginning. After a touching introduction around Shinpachi’s father’s sickbed, the second scene is a classic slapstick comedy where Shinpachi’s boss is furious with his performance and smacks him around a little. The excitement takes off from there. About half way through the first volume we meet Kagura, a girl who carries an umbrella and seems to be hungry all the time. Gintoki and Shinpachi literally run into her as they flee the scene of an epic “illegal” battle with a gigantic alien monster. Several side stories continue involving two-bit loan sharks and wanna-be gangsters with crazy outfits and hairstyles. Lots of nose-picking and potty humor occur throughout but the blend is really quite funny and should keep most teen readers entertained. Parody is also used a lot and lends to the lighthearted air of the series. The artwork seems to fit between Dragon Ball Z vintage and more modern styles which is consistent with the manga’s original release. There isn’t much landscape art at all in the first volume but some architectural details and more intricate alien technology does appear in the city scapes and battle scenes. You can request the manga using your Boston Public Library card here.


Gintama the anime is available online from many streaming sites. Our current favorite is Kissanime.com. The first two episodes are combined on this site as well as Animefrost.com. The anime differs here in that it basically adds an episode up front, to provide more back story and foundation. The first part of the episode follows Gintoki and a bunch of feudal style citizens on a chase around town. This serves to establish a better sense of the old culture that has been suppressed by the arrival of the Amanto. Great comedy ensues and eventually gets integrated into the current futuristic landscape. The animation is pretty good, showing the style and performance of its era in the mid 2000’s. You could say it fits in “post-Dragonball” but “pre-Fullmetal Alchemist.” The anime makes great use of the action inherent in the story. It’s a great combination of Shonen action and Slice of Life Comedy. This is probably why it’s been so successful. Gintama is a long running series and I hope to be able to get through it like I did Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Fairy Tail. There’s a lot to look forward to.



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.

Curl Up & Read: Reunited

Posted on May 6th, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services
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Title: Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham

Read by: Anna, a Teen Central Librarian

Summary: 3 ex-best friends, 1 concert, 1 1976 green VW camper van, and 1 long road trip. How bad could it be?

Genre/sub-genre: contemporary fiction/humor

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Length: 325 pages

Personal thoughts: 

Hilariously funny and achingly real, Reunited had me hooked from page one.

Summer, Alice, and Tiernan are well developed characters, that easily drive the story forward, and keep the reader turning pages. With the point-of-view rotating between the three ex-best friends, we get to see their fears, their anger, and their joys, as they navigate the wild events of their road trip and attempt to forget the night they broke up at the school dance several years before. Along the way, the girls learn a little something about life, love, friendship, and about themselves.

Peppered throughout, are the catchy lyrics to Level3’s songs, including title and album information, making the band feel that much more real and a part of the story.

The ending was unpredictable, realistic, and hopeful. It’s clear that there is still work to be done for these three friends, but the ending was every bit satisfying. I’m just sorry I didn’t read this sooner.

I recommend this for anyone who enjoys reading contemporary fiction about best friends and music, especially with a good dose of humor.




Looking to borrow this library book? Look no further!

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.



Stop the Press: Patriot’s Day Filming

Posted on May 3rd, 2016 by rschmelzer@private.bpl.org in News, Teen Services
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With the three-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing this month, something that has been in the news a lot recently is the filming of Mark Wahlberg’s film Patriot’s Day.  Wahlberg, a Dorchester native, (who teens would mostly likely recognize from the Ted movies), has been spotted in the Boston area for filming.  His role in the movie is of a Boston Police officer during the events and the aftermath of the bombing.

Photo property of Jim Davis/Boston Globe.

Photo property of Jim Davis/Boston Globe.

As this NPR article points out, the filming in Boston has been controversial.  Wahlberg, whose own teenage years in Boston weren’t without controversy, was spotted just last week  filming scenes at the marathon finish line outside of the Central Library.  While some Bostonians are excited for the film, others feel that the recreations trigger too many incredible scary feelings they experienced just three years ago.

What do you think?  What are your memories of that day?  Do you think this film is a good idea, or do you wish they had waited a few more years?


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.

On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in May

Posted on April 29th, 2016 by vkovenmatasy@private.bpl.org in Books, Previews

Get your library card handy and call your local library to reserve these new May releases! Due to a hiccup in the BPL’s online catalog, their records are not currently displaying properly, but library staff will be able to place a hold for you.

Please note: all summaries are taken from WorldCat unless otherwise noted. They may have been edited for length and clarity.


court of mist and furyA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Summary: Though Feyre now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, but as she navigates the feared Night Court’s dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it.

Why We’re Excited: It’s the next Sarah J. Maas book. Need I say more? Okay, how about this: one of my teens came up to the desk a few weeks ago to tell me that she’d just finished A Court of Thorns and Roses and she had to have the next book. I trust her judgment.


geek feminist revolution coverThe Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
Summary: The Geek Feminist Revolution is a collection of essays by double Hugo Award-winning essayist and fantasy novelist Kameron Hurley. The book collects dozens of Hurley’s essays on feminism, geek culture, and her experiences and insights as a genre writer, including We Have Always Fought, which won the 2013 Hugo for Best Related Work. The Geek Feminist Revolution will also feature several entirely new essays written specifically for this volume. Unapologetically outspoken, Hurley has contributed essays to The Atlantic, Locus, Tor.com, and others on the rise of women in genre, her passion for SF/F, and the diversification of publishing.

Why We’re Excited: Who run the world of speculative fiction? GIRLS. If you like reading science fiction or fantasy — and those genres make up a big part of the YA landscape these days — it’s worth reading about how science fiction and fantasy have treated and are still treating women (whether you happen to be a woman or not). If you can’t wait until The Geek Feminist Revolution comes out to read Hurley’s pearls of wisdom, you can read “‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative,” the essay she won a Hugo Award for, here.


if I was your girlIf I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Summary: Amanda Hardy only wants to fit in at her new school, but she is keeping a big secret, so when she falls for Grant, guarded Amanda finds herself yearning to share with him everything about herself, including her previous life as Andrew.

Why We’re Excited: As #WeNeedDiverseBooks continues to change the landscape in the young adult publishing world, one thing I think we all need to keep in mind is to look for and listen to #OwnVoices in particular. There are several well-known and well-respected YA books about trans characters, but If I Was Your Girl is the first book on the scene I know of whose author writes from experience. I’m also excited for a happy ending, honestly; this area of YA has a history of being brutally dark, and while many of those sad books are very worthy reads, all grimdark all the time leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Transgirls deserve happy endings too!


summer days and summer nights coverSummer Days and Summer Nights, edited by Stephanie Perkins
Summary: Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Why We’re Excited: Stephanie Perkins has a strong reputation in the field of YA romance (see: Lola and the Boy Next Door, Anna and the French Kiss, and Isla and the Happily Ever After), so she knows what she’s doing when it comes to putting together a collection of short stories about summer romance. (Did we mention that she also edited a holiday romance collection, My True Love Gave to Me? This lady has series bona fides.) Plus, check out that list of contributing authors! Leigh Bardugo? Libba Bray? Veronica Roth? Come for your favorite writer’s story, stay for the other eleven.


outrun the moon coverOutrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from poverty in Chinatown, and she gains admittance to a prestigious finishing school through a mix of cunning and bribery. She soon discovers that getting in was the easiest part, and must carve a niche among the spoiled heiresses. When the earthquake strikes on April 18, Mercy and her classmates are forced to a survivor encampment, but her quick-witted leadership rallies them to help in the tragedy’s aftermath.

Why We’re Excited: Lee’s debut novel, Under a Painted Sky, was one of my favorite YA novels of 2015. I’m beyond thrilled to have another historical novel coming out from her so soon! The Great San Francisco Earthquake isn’t a time period I know much about, but everything I know about the California Gold Rush I learned playing Oregon Trail, and that didn’t make me love Under a Painted Sky any less. I’ve actually read Outrun the Moon already (thank you, Penguin Random House, for the ARC at ALA Midwinter), so I can promise you that Mercy Wong is an absolute delight of a protagonist. If you like history or take-charge heroines, this book is for you.


icon of VeronicaDid I get you interested in reading one of these books? Just call your local library and let them know! Library staff can place a hold for you even before the book comes out, so you’ll be the first to have it in your hands when it hits our shelves.

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


*”On the Radar” features book previews by Veronica, the Teen Librarian at the Dudley Branch, on the last Tuesday or Friday of every month.

Hold The Popcorn: Deadpool

Posted on April 27th, 2016 by jlevins in Movies, Teen Services

deadpool making a heart shape with his hands

For those who like their Marvel heroes a little bit on the snarky side, there is Deadpool. Just when eccentric (to put it lightly) ex-military mercenary Wade Wilson (played brilliantly by Ryan Reynolds) falls in love with Vanessa (played by Morena Baccarin), a woman whose troubled past he can relate to, he discovers he has a serious case of cancer. Wade allows Ajax (played by Ed Skrein), an evil and twisted government sponsored doctor, to treat his cancer and give him special powers. While Ajax may have been successful in getting rid of Wade’s cancer, in the process he completely messes up his handsome face. As a consolation prize for the face, however, Wade receives incredible Wolverine-like healing powers, thereby transitioning from Wade into Deadpool. Deadpool, along with sidekicks Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, seeks revenge against Ajax. This film is action packed and hilarious, although some of the saucy language and situations might be a bit over the top for younger teens. Deadpool is still in some theaters, probably for at least a couple more weeks and should be on DVD in May.


animatedDo you love watching movies? The Boston Public Library has tens of thousands of DVDs you can borrow with your library card and even more that you can access online through our streaming service, Hoopla. Plus, if you can’t find a movie you want to watch in all the ones we offer, you can always suggest a purchase. Start placing holds now, and you’ll never have to pay to watch a movie again!


*”Hold the Popcorn” features movie reviews by James, the Teen Librarian at the East Boston Branch, on the fourth Tuesday of the month.