Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chobits, plus the rest of Absolute Boyfriend

I finished the manga series of Absolute Boyfriend online quite some time ago, and I've been wanting to do this review for a while. It's okay though, because I recently finished another series very much like it, so I'll just talk about both of them.

Absolute Boyfriend, as I explained in my most recent post, is about a girl who buys a hot robot who is designed and programmed to be her ideal boyfriend. She has to keep his true identity a secret from everyone while sorting through her feelings for this robot and her old childhood guy-friend who has a crush on her, but is afraid to admit it. Hilarity ensues. I loved reading this 6-book series immensely, due to the colorful characters and great premise.

In the last few volumes, however, some of the scenarios got a little crazy, things started happening without much explanation or reason, and the characters made decisions that didn't make sense for me. The ending is sort of predictable, but in a way, I guess it was satisfying... In any case, it was a cheerful, light-hearted romp that I, personally, liked a lot.

I'm still watching the Japanese tv show, or the dorama, based on the series, and enjoying that a lot. Currently I'm on episode 7 now. It keeps some elements from the manga intact, but the characters are largely different from their counterparts, and for some reason there's an emphasis on the characters trying to make the perfect desert? I guess because the setting is a company that produces fancy pastries.... Anyway, it's an entirely unique experience, one that I'm very much enjoying.

Now for the other series, Chobits. This was something my sister Annette came across when we were looking for other manga to get into. This is a very quick series to get through, at 8 volumes long, and carries the same themes of people falling in love with human-shaped robots. There are a few key differences, though. For one thing, it takes place in the future, and humans and their robots, or persecoms, live side by side. So the main character doesn't really have to keep it secret that he has a robot. Oh, and the story is told from a guy's point of view, not a girl's. The hero, Hideki, who is young and broke, finds a cute, long-haired, child-like female persecom lying around in the trash. Since they're so advanced, persecoms are very expensive. Excited at his good fortune, he takes her home and "turns her on". (Warning, younger readers: this carries a very innuendous double meaning. =P)

At first, the persecom seems broken, and the only thing she can say is "Chi", so that's what he names her. She has no memory, no data at all, but it soon becomes apparent that she's an incredibly powerful machine with unknown function. She has learning capabilities, though, so Hideki goes around teaching Chi everything, all while juggling cram school and his job. Even though everyone says it's impossible, that persecoms don't have emotions and only do as they're programed to, Chi slowly becomes aware that she is in love with Hideki. And even though he knows full well that she is a machine, Hideki can't help but fall in love with his persecom as well, as many have before him.

I think this series goes a lot deeper into this moral dilemma than Absolute Boyfriend did. Perhaps because, in this world, robots are more common-place. But why do people dream of making and using machines that are shaped like us, only smarter and more perfect in appearance? What happens when you develop feelings for those robots? Can you call it love, or are you just deluding yourself? How about the robot? Is it doing everything you ask, trying to please you, because it was programed that way, or because it actually wants you to be happy?

One thing this also gets deeper into is mature content, especially the anime. I don't want to point any fingers, but perhaps it's because it's largely taken from the male mentality? I don't know, Hideki sure notices how attractive his landlady, teacher and coworker are, and thinks a lot to himself how cute Chi is, but how he shouldn't be thinking of her that way, since she's a machine.

This manga was also turned into a tv show, only an animated one, much to my pleasure. The anime is hilarious, colorful, great quality, and very true to the story and characters with only minor changes. I've seen 3 episodes out of 26, and it is fantastic. I highly recommend both the manga and the anime. I can't find a good preview for the Chobits anime, but here's a collection of some of the show's funniest moments, to pique your interest. I'm sure you'll get quite a kick out of it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Absolute Boyfriend

One of the most fabulous manga series I've had the pleasure of reading yet! I first learned about it when I saw the recommendations list in the back of the Sand Chronicles books.

Our heroine, a high-school girl named Riiko, is unlucky in love and doesn't have a boyfriend. She meets a strange business man who directs her to a website where she can customize her "ideal boyfriend". Thinking it's a game or something, she actually ends up ordering such a "figure" from this website, and the very next day she gets a special delivery at her door... a totally hot and naked guy! O_O She finds out that he is actually the robot she ordered, and when she "activates" him (gives him a kiss) and he comes to life, he brightly claims that he is now her boyfriend!

In my personal opinion, the robot boyfriend, whom Riiko names Night, is just a fabulous character!!! For one thing, he's absolutely cute (just take a look at him! ^_^). He reminds me of what a certain friend of mine looks like in manga form. To me, Night really is the perfect guy. He's sweet, caring, totally romantic, protective, really smart, has super-hero strength and agility, and all he thinks about is making his girl, Riiko, happy. He's always got this playful, innocent attitude and the most adorable smile on his face! You almost forget that he's not really human, but a robot specifically designed to be the perfect boyfriend.

Of course, there's also Riiko's childhood friend and school-mate, Soushi, for Night to contend with. I like Soushi well enough. He's like the underdog, a total contrast to Night. He's the strong, silent, studious type. He's a good friend to Riiko, and gets jealous when he finds she has a new boyfriend. It's a great love-triangle!

I read the first volume for real, but then I found a website where I could read the rest of the manga online, and so far I've read the 2nd and 3rd volumes, which are equally awesome! I believe there's 6 volumes in all, so I'll probably finish this very quickly.

Just warning you: as you can probably see from the cover of the first book... Night likes to get naked. O_o He's always asking Riiko when they can, uh, do it. So this series may not be for young readers who haven't gotten the talk about the birds and the bees. =P But for the rest of us, it's totally awesome. ^_^

Something else I was happy to discover is that Absolute Boyfriend was developed into a Japanese drama series, called "Zettai Kereshi". I've seen 2 episodes of it so far, and it is amazing! Just warning you though, the drama differs wildly from the manga, like a ton! For example, the characters aren't in high-school; they're young adults in a business setting. For another, Night is much more of a robot, and more easily damaged. He's not as hot as he seems in the manga, but he's cute enough. The character of Soushi is completely unrecognizable. He's not Riiko's childhood friend, but her lazy boss who just starts developing feelings for her.

But really, I'm watching this drama for the main actress who plays Riiko. She is just adorable! Also for the novelty of the thing. I love seeing a foreign TV show, listening to the characters speak Japanese (I read the English subtitles), and getting a little taste of their amazing culture! Anyway, it's an interesting story. What if you had a robot boyfriend?

Take a look at the trailer for the series, and see if it doesn't hook you into it.

Graphic novels I read in Boston

I spent a lot of time at the library when I was up in Boston for a week, particularly in the teen section, where I got to read graphic novels to my heart's content. ^_^ I read 3 more volumes in the Sand Chronicles manga series, and a standalone book called "Hereville".

Unfortunately, there's not much for me to say in this review without spoiling all the books. It gets a lot more complex as the story advances and the characters get older. The love situation gets very confusing, because Ann and Daigo break up (nooo!) and get a new boyfriend and girlfriend, but it's complicated, because they both still love each other. It's a whole triangle, or love square, or whatever shape you want to call it... it's a messy love web. But it's still a great story.

I also read this fascinating book, "Hereville". It's about this Jewish girl with a big imagination who dreams of slaying dragons and being some sort of hero. She meets a witch and a talking pig and gets in crazy messes. I'm not sure how else to describe it to you, but it was particularly interesting to me, because I'm Jewish myself. There's a little bit of Yiddish spoken in the book and interesting Jewish traditions I didn't know about, and I liked that there were little footnotes that explained what these things meant. It was a quirky story that I enjoyed a lot and would probably recommend.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Remember Me?

This is an appropriate title for my blog post, since it's been a while since I did any reviewing. =P But guess what? That's actually the title of one of the books I read this last week.

Sophie Kinsella's "Remember Me" was a book Annette and I found when we went to Boston and stayed in our apartment there. It was one of the books a past tenant just happened to leave behind, and the premise on the back seemed very interesting, so we thought we'd check it out.

Well, I loved it! Great characters, great humor, great romance, and a very cool story idea. Imagine this: You get in a car crash and knock your head a bit. Next thing you know, you're in the hospital and you're told that you have amnesia. But a very specific type of amnesia. You remember who you are and have memories of your life, luckily, but you forget the last 3 years of your life. Think about it. So much can happen in 3 years!

That's what happens to the main character, Lexi, a twenty-five-year-old woman from 2004, who suddenly finds herself in the year 2007, and nearly everything about her life has changed. She used to be a low-level office worker, but now she's a driven and ambitious head honcho at her company. She's filthy rich partly because of this, but also because she married a hot multi-millionaire. She didn't have a steady boyfriend before, so suddenly having a husband... let alone a dream husband... is the shock of her life. She lives in a very swanky mansion, owns tons of fancy clothes, and even changed her appearance a little. In a word, everything changes for Lexi.

It was very cool to read about how this character handled her bizarre situation, and came to terms with her new life, because she gets lots of surprises. One of the more interesting ones is that she has a secret affair behind her hot husband's back. At first she thinks, "Why on earth would I want to leave my husband? I'm not the unfaithful type. Yes, I don't know him, but apparently we love each other..." But eventually she realizes that the guy she married isn't as perfect as she thought. I won't spoil anything, but it's a really great story. Maybe the ending is slightly anti-climactic, but the rest of the story was good enough that I wasn't disappointed.

This book really made me think... a lot can happen in 3 years! I mean, imagine what would happen if I got this selective amnesia and forgot the last 3 years of my life! I was such a different person at 17 years old. For example, I didn't blog 3 years ago! That has absolutely changed my life. I can't imagine forgetting all the books I've read, and all the fantastic friends I've made... I wouldn't have known how to drive as well as I do now! So yeah, I'm very grateful that I have all my memories and I'm living the life I have now, and this book absolutely gets a thumbs up for me.