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review 2018-01-19 14:34
Words fail me
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

Alright, there is a lot going on in this little piece of poison dripping, mind-fuck of a story, and I don't know that I'm up to the task.

 

First of all, because it's the immediate, I call bullshit on that end (I'm talking of the 21th chapter that was cut-out of the USA version; if you've not read it, this paragraph will make little sense). I read the author's introduction and explanation, and I more or less agree that our empathy and sympathy tends to grow as we mature (and we are more or less savages as kids and teens), but having read the book, I don't believe this level of inner cruelty and utter disregard for other people, or the length it was self-indulged and brought out onto the world can be called "a folly of youth" and hand-waived like that. I do not believe that level of monstrosity is something that can be redeemed, worked out, grow bored out of, and the person just go on to be some well adjusted adult.

 

I also do not know what is to be done with such a person to be honest, even if my knee-jerk reaction if I was the victim would be to kill them. Brain-washing into effectively loosing their free will does not seem to be the answer though.

 

Next: There is a very strong undercurrent of the battle of the generations going on here. The way money is treated, those articles in the diary, and the mention of day hour and night ours, and whom the street belongs to, and even, who has the power in the first part vs. the second, and what it consist on.

 

Actually, the three parts are distillate poison on abuse of power: young hooligans for first, then the police and other punishing/correctional institutions for second, politicians in the third. Everyone screws everyone over, and in the end I hated the lot, little Alex, and his little followers, and the police, and the jailers, and the priests, and the doctors, and the politicians, and the social fighters, and even his victims.

 

Shit, I wouldn't recommend this one, even if I found it oddly compelling *shudder*. It is interesting, and effective, but a vicious way to provoke thought, maybe unnecessarily.

 

Done. Onto "I am Pusheen the Cat", ice-cream and a helping of crack fics for the soul.

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text 2018-01-19 09:59
Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 213 pages.
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

I'm still reading. Oh, my God, I'm still reading.

 

If the first part was trigger fest and violence slide-show (I almost wrote horror-show and then decided it was too twisted), and some bits (and not even the most violent, mind you) gave me real anxiety (it was how close to life some of the situations, initial set ups and general descriptions felt), this second part was the sickening counter-push, just as violent and disturbed, only in a different manner.

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review 2018-01-11 03:39
Orange: The Complete Collection (manga, vol. 2) by Ichigo Takano, translated by Amber Tamosaitis
orange: The Complete Collection 2 - Ichigo Takano

Warning: this manga deals with depression and suicide. You've probably already read the first volume and know that, but this volume goes into more detail and includes a lengthy section from the POV of a character up to the moment he makes his decision to commit suicide.

I enjoyed this but had some issues with it that I’m not sure I can articulate. Well, I’ll give it a shot.

Orange is only the first two thirds of this volume. The last third is an unrelated story with a completely different tone. I’ll discuss them separately in this review.

Orange:

This volume picks up right where the first one left off. Naho is still trying to save Kakeru, but now she knows she isn’t alone - literally all of her friends also received letters from their future/parallel universe selves and are also working to save him. Things have changed enough now that the letters don’t always help, although they can still provide a little bit of guidance. But will it be enough? And will Naho and her friends’ efforts really manage to save Kakeru?

One of the things that worried me about the previous volume was the possibility that Takano might be taking the story into “high school romance saves Kakeru” territory. That worry never quite went away - although Takako thought that Kakeru would be fine even if his romance with Naho didn’t work out, Suwa was so unconvinced by this that he continued to sabotage the future he knew he could have with Naho. That said, the way the ending was written indicated that it was everyone, not just Naho, who was necessary to save Kakeru. What he needed wasn’t specifically romance, but rather relationships with people who cared about him, worried about him, and thought about him enough to try to stand by him through everything, even when he actively pushed them away.

Which brings me to the thing I’ve been avoiding writing directly about: suicide. While I think Orange is very good, it feels like something that was written more for people like Naho, Suwa, Takako, Hagita, and Azu than people like Kakeru and his mother. The section from Kakeru’s POV is part of the reason why.

At one point in the volume, Takano includes a flashback to Kakeru’s POV in the original timeline -

all the things that happened to him and contributed to his depression, as well as the one horrible thing that pushed him over the edge and made him decide to commit suicide. It was a very effective bit of storytelling, setting up a sort of final countdown and showing readers the things that Naho and the others didn’t know about but would somehow have to overcome in order to save Kakeru. And as someone who grew up with a mother who was depressed and who worried about contributing to that depression, I can say that Kakeru’s POV felt painfully real.

(spoiler show)


I probably wouldn’t recommend this series to someone who was dealing with depression and/or suicidal feelings unless they had someone they could go to that they felt comfortable talking to. The ending

was intended to be a happy and hopeful one, with Naho and the others accomplishing what they set out to do and determined to keep helping Kakeru even past the point where their letters could guide them. However, all I could think was that, despite everything they knew and all their daily efforts, they still only barely managed to keep him from killing himself. There was, for me, something deeply horrifying about that. And after all that, Kakeru’s reaction to what Naho and everyone else told him felt kind of...understated?

(spoiler show)



When I first started this series, I said that it could maybe be considered science fiction. After reading this volume, I take that back: it definitely isn’t science fiction, despite its occasional passages about parallel universes. Takano’s explanation for how Naho and her friends managed to send their letters back in time and start a parallel universe where Kakeru doesn’t die was absolutely ridiculous. Rather than coming up with some kind of brilliant plan to save Kakeru, they

literally threw their letters into the ocean and those letters somehow made their way into a black hole (or something similar). The letters then somehow all ended up in just the right time and place.

(spoiler show)


Haruiro Astronaut:

Chiki and Mami are identical twins. Mami’s the cute one that guys are always asking out. Since she can never bring herself to say “no” to any of them, even if she isn’t interested in them, Chiki always ends up being the one to break up with them for Mami. And then they ask her out because they view the twins as interchangeable. Chiki wants to find someone who sees her for who she is, rather than as an acceptable substitute for Mami, and who wants to be with her.

Mami introduces Chiki to Yui, a hot new guy in her class, and Chiki falls head over heels in love. Unfortunately for her, he’s interested in Mami. As if the situation weren’t already painful enough, Mami starts to fall for him too. So where does that leave Chiki?

This one’s light and fluffy tone was a welcome change after finishing Orange. The worst thing the characters had to worry about was whether the person they liked happened to like someone else.

This story had not one, but two love triangles: the one mentioned in my summary, involving Chiki, Mami, and Yui, and one involving Chiki, Yui’s best friend, and a guy who initially says he’s interested in Mami. To my surprise, I actually kind of liked these love triangles. Although they both had aspects that were painful for the characters, neither one got to the point of truly hurting anybody and wrecking friendships. I’m still not sure how I feel about the final pairings, but the fact that everyone could still talk to each other and have fun together after everything was said and done was really refreshing.

(And I wonder, am I the only one who looked at that last page and had a sudden vision of Chiki, Tatsuaki, and Natsuki all going on a date together? Natsuki would quietly and happily soak up the atmosphere, Tatsuaki would be overly loud in a failed effort to hide his nervousness, and Chiki would blush and laugh.)

 

Rating Note:

 

If this volume had included the end of Orange and nothing else, I might have given it 3.5 stars. Something about the way Takano wrote about Kakeru and his mother's depression didn't quite sit well with me - I don't think I've figured out exactly what bothered me, but I don't know that I care to spend more time digging into it either.

 

Haruiro Astronaut really was a breath of fresh air and managed to nudge my rating up to 4 stars, which is a bit funny considering that I probably wouldn't have given it that rating if I'd read it on its own.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-01-08 06:08
Reading progress update: I've read 384 out of 384 pages.
orange: The Complete Collection 2 - Ichigo Takano

Orange (yes, I know the title is supposed to be lowercase, but it feels too weird) - I'm not sure how I feel about it. The ending was a little bit "high school romance saves Kakeru," but it's more "having people who care about him enough to do everything they can for him saves Kakeru." And

even that level of commitment to Kakeru almost didn't save him.

(spoiler show)

 

Now that I've read the whole thing, I don't consider this science fiction. At best, I suppose you could call it fantasy. Takano's explanation of how the group managed to send letters to their past selves and create a parallel universe was very hand wavy. Basically:

they put their messages in bottles, threw them in the ocean, and somehow they ended up traveling through the past via some kind of black hole. Maybe located in the Bermuda Triangle? And these letters were somehow removed from the bottles and delivered to each of the characters at exactly the right time.

(spoiler show)

 

Haruiro Astronaut - This took up the last third of the volume and was better than I expected. The main character was the responsible twin, while her sister was the one who always dated the first guy who asked her out and then depended on her sister to break up with him for her. This has two love triangles, one between the twins and a cute guy, and one between the main character, the cute guy's best friend, and a scary-looking guy who was actually a secret softie. I liked the love triangles, I think? They resolved themselves less painfully for everyone involved than I thought they would. I'm glad this was just a one-shot because I'm not sure I could have taken more than a volume of it, but it was pretty cute.

 

I still haven't decided how I'll rate this volume.

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text 2018-01-08 00:54
Reading progress update: I've read 190 out of 384 pages.
orange: The Complete Collection 2 - Ichigo Takano

Guessing on the page number, since there are none.

 

I really need to remember to add a content warning for depression and suicide to my review when I write it, because dang. I just got through the series' first (only?) Original Kakeru POV flashback, including all the stuff that snowballed into his final decision, and it was a horrible reminder of some childhood stuff I would rather not have suddenly remembered.

 

Although this is good, it's leaning an awful lot towards the message I was hoping Takano wasn't going to go with ("high school romance can save Kakeru"). There are signs Takano might have something else planned, though, so I'm crossing my fingers. It looks like Orange ends about two thirds of the way through this volume, and after that there's an unrelated (?) extra manga.

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