"Swan" One of the Best Mangas you've never heard of...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Swan, by Kyoko Ariyoshi. Published by CMX Manga. 15 volumes.

I have never been a huge consumer of manga. In truth, there have not been very many titles that truly intrigued me. However, there is one series that has taken my heart (and my bookshelf).
I first heard about Swan from the Princess Tutu community. I didn't know very much about it, save that it was an older shojo manga about ballet. I finally found the first issue for sale at Wondercon, and I was hooked.

User ImageThis manga is beautiful. Each page is an artistic delight as characters dance across each page, their emotions and feelings beautifully penned in a 70s style that is very appealing. The main character, Masumi Hijiri, is a very aspiring character. She struggles to succeed in a prestigious ballet school, even though she is from the country and does not have the best technique. However, she has a deep passion for dance that will be familiar to anyone who has ever felt the desire to make their dreams a reality. She has has believable flaws - no Mary Sues here!

I was surprised by how well researched this manga is. It is thick with ballet technique, famous dancers, and classical ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Little Humpbacked Horse, and La Sylphide. However, even a non-dancer should enjoy it, since it does provide helpful notations on more obscure subjects.

~Where to Buy Swan~ 
Swan can be difficult to find. I have picked up most of my volumes at conventions and at Kinokuniya book stores. If you local bookstore doesn't carry it, you can always try requesting it. It is currently out of print.

Here is a collection of quotes about the series from different reviews. They capture the feeling of the series perfectly!:
I fell in love with Swan not because it’s about ballet, but because it’s so hardcore about it. The dancers sweat as hard and compete as ruthlessly as any athlete in a sports manga....Swan is the tasty manga equivalent of gritty American films from the 1970s. It is the Taxi Driver or the Apocalypse Now of ballet manga...The art of Swan is freaking amazing. During ballet sequences Ariyoshi illustrates time in gorgeous cinematic sequences, following the dancers’ movements in trails across the page. Drawn in the experimental 1970s, Ariyoshi experiments with panel layout. Masumi’s worries and fears break out of square borders into explosive layouts. Even through the psychedelic sequences, everything stays legible. Reading across a page of Swan is much less confusing than picking your way through the randomly scattered dialog bubbles of modern shojo. ~ Erin Finnegan

Incidentally: The real tragedy here is the fact that CMX still had six volumes to go in serializing Kyoko Ariyoshi’s ballet drama, Swan, quite conceivably the most formally daring children’s comic ever drawn. Working hot on the heels of the revolution in shojo manga in the early 1970s, Ariyoshi’s daring page compositions skillfully blended imagery and structure to evoke mood, motion and emotion like few other cartoonists before or since — I can almost picture sweat flying from her brow as her pen leapt across the board, setting new benchmarks for innovation that cartoonists would spend the next three decades trying (and failing) to match. These days, we in the West lionize Bernard Krigstein and Jim Steranko’s all-too-brief bodies of work for things that artists like Ariyoshi did as a matter of course for thousands of pages at a stretch. Every practicing cartoonist should own at least two volumes of Swan. - From http://www.tcj.com, commenting on the demise of CMX.

Swan is a series so packed with drama, beauty, pain, and art that you'll wonder why today's shoujo stories feel so bare. Full of the blood, sweat, and tears of both success and failure, it's a sports manga dressed in a tutu and draped in glittering, syrupy romance. The theatrics are big, but so is life. Swan is more than just ballet; it's a rich narrative that defines classic shoujo. An unfinished run is a devastating hit to my bookshelves. - Julie Rosato from http://www.mania.com

Some additional sample pages - I love how dynamic this manga is!

This is why I love thrift stores....

Monday, January 10, 2011

My mother and I donate a lot of things to Goodwill. Not only do we get a tax deduction (which can be quite beneficial during tax time if you end up donating a lot of stuff), but we get clutter out of the house. Whether Goodwill actually helps out people in need can be debatable, but I know that our local Goodwill has prices low enough to service the people who really need it.

I don't purchase many items from thrift stores, but I enjoy browsing. The trick with thrift is to browse often, and buy little. It may take a while to find something really good, but if you have a good eye, you can find some real treasures. I try not to go overboard at thrift stores - I want to save money, so I only tend to purchase really special or unique items.

I was very, very lucky last week. I was browsing the dress racks, and I flash of black velvet caught my eye. I pulled out a gorgeous Scott McClintock short party dress from the 80s. I immediately fell in love and bought it on the spot. It has a beautiful shape and fits me like a glove. The off the shoulder lace collar has thick, gorgeous lace. I was greatly attracted the to the design, since it echos the Victorian dance dresses that I'm so fond of. It has silk covered elastic straps that help keep the dress in place and a delicate tulle petticoat with decorative lace edging.

I will most likely be wearing it to the social dance parties that my dance partner and I have been planning on going to, like Swing Goth and Friday Night Waltz.

Size: 4
Total Cost: $7 (Not a typo!)

Having Compassion for Compassionate Eaters

Monday, January 3, 2011

    Quite simply, there are a number of animals that I would never consume. While I am not yet a vegetarian, I’m conscious about my meat intake and I am working to limit the amount of animals I eat (I can’t remember when I’ve last had a steak). I have had a great deal of love, compassion, and empathy for animals since I was very young.
    I refuse to consume duck, goose, deer, and lamb/sheep. I just love these animals too much (and have known many of them personally), especially ducks. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE ducks. In having such a love for fowl as I do, I have encountered a good deal of rudeness concerning my interests. Some of the comments that I have received have been downright cruel. I don’t deserve this kind of treatment, and neither does anyone else.
    No matter who you are, what you eat, or what your beliefs on animal welfare are, you need to be compassionate and polite to people who have different beliefs than you do.

    More often than I would like, the first time I tell someone that I don’t consume ducks, I almost always get some comment about ducks being eaten/hunted/killed. This is rude. When someone tells you that they don’t eat an animal, you do not return the conversation by talking about how delicious that animal is. Firstly, it’s cruel, insensitive, and rude. Secondly, it shows your poor conversation skills. If you someone tells you that they don’t eat an animal, and the first thing you say is “Oh, I LOVE eating [insert animal]!! They are SOOOOO yummy!“, then you have a lot to learn about how to carry on a polite conversation, and quite frankly, you are rude and insensitive.
    Do not talk about how someone you know is a duck hunter, how you ate duck last night, how your dog is trained to retrieve the dead carcasses of ducks, how you LOVE to eat ducks, how stupid it is not to eat ducks, how yummy ducks are, what balut is, or anything related to the destruction of ducks.
    Instead, you need to find something nice to say to carry on the conversation.
    “Oh, that’s really sweet. I’ve never met anyone like that.”
    “Do you have a pet duck?”
    “I used to feed ducks at the local pond when I was a kid. They had really wet bills…”
                                    “What is your favorite kind of duck?”
    Remember Thumper’s famous words: “If you can’t say nothing’ nice…don’t say nothing’ at all”. The same holds true when you encounter a compassionate eater. If you feel something insensitive and mean welling up in you, do these two things: First, realize that you have compassion issues to work on. However, be proud with yourself that you were able to catch your impulse and hold your tongue. Second: smile, give an interested “huh!”, nod, and change the subject. “What kind of foods can you eat?” is a good way to steer the conversation in another direction.

    If you encounter some one who has dietary practices that you are not sure about (such as a vegan or someone who follows Kosher practices), you need to curb the desire to approach something you don’t understand with aggression, fear, or hostility. Instead, politely ask some questions. What does keeping Kosher entail? If you don’t eat animal products, what are some of your favorite foods to eat? Are your parents the same way? How long have you been eating like that, or have you been doing it all your life? Make sure you ask these with a smile, not a smirk. Don’t be haughty or confrontational. If you are afraid that your question might be rude, either don’t ask it, or start off with a disclaimer - “Oh, I hope this isn’t rude, because I’ve never known anyone like you, but I’m really curious…”
    I would advise against drilling into someone about religious beliefs, if they have any. “Why do you believe this? Are your parents forcing you?” are questions better left unsaid. It can cause tension!

    When eating out with friends, keep their dietary choices in mind. Make sure to choose restaurants that have something for everyone, and don’t stupidly point out, “Oh they serve DUCK here! Look!”. Strangely, some people almost impulsively begin to point out every dead duck in the vicinity after they learn about me. They don’t seem to mean to be cruel, but it’s almost like an impulsive reaction that some people tend to have. Someone once even ordered roast duck during my birthday dinner - when they knew very, very well of my sensitivities. Always try to check yourself - are you feeling urges to hurt someone based on their interests?
    Should you refrain from eating a treasured animal in front of your friend or loved one? In my personal opinion, if you genuinely care about them, yes. You can eat baby puppies on your own time, but when you’re with your best buddy, spare them the discomfort, and spare yourself the chance of an argument or a tense day.

At the end of the day, remember that your Compassionate Eater-friend is probably refraining from eating certain (or all) animals because she has a love for life….And what could be wrong with that?

Ballet Polyvore

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...