Way back at the end of October last year I was pretty busy. I was a solid month into a new role at work, and I was gearing up for our first frozen embryo transfer. My friend at work discovered that I'd never really read a graphic novel or any Manga and so set about trying to educate me.
The first of these two books that she lent me was Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play, 1. Priestess by Yuu Watase, which I decided to read for Week 43 of the Reading Challenge, under a book by an author you've never read before (because I'd definitely never read anything by this author before).
Miaka finds a mysterious book and somehow ends up inside the pages in the Universe of the Four Gods. Suddenly she's a Priestess and she has to round up her Celestial Warriors, all the while dealing with the fact that there's a guy she likes and she's just a regular Earth girl really.
I found this book easier to read than I was expecting. I'd already had a primer from Hannah on how to actually read this book (i.e. back to front compared to the books I usually read) but the book came with a helpful diagram on the back so you knew what you were doing.
It was 208 pages long but it didn't take me too long to read. I read a few pages in bed before I switched out the light, then read the rest in about an hour and a half the following morning when I couldn't sleep.
To be honest, Miaka was a little bit annoying, but then again, she's probably a fairly realistic fifteen year old. She was pretty obsessed with guys and how everyone else saw her, so a teenager.
I've seen Manga and Manga-style images before online, I do quite like the Manga versions of Harry Potter characters. There was a mix of cartoon styles in this book. Most of them were what I think of as Manga, but then there were some smaller images smattering the pages in what I think is a Chibi style. I preferred the regular pictures to the cutesy ones. I'd love to see this book on glossy paper and in colour.
Hannah did warn me when she gave me this book that it was the first in a series, but I still think it's kind of sneaky how it sets up all the story and then ends, leaving you to get the next book in the series to find out what comes next. Then again, I think that's how they were originally published, it's kind of like the old Victorian stories in The Strand where they're serialised to keep you buying.
Throughout the story are little notes from the author, which felt like little blog posts as she checked in on her readers. I'm not sure if it's just the translation but in a couple of them she came across as a little bit smug. Then again, she was a young writer/artist who had got her work published, so she's allowed to be smug.
I followed this up with The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It was originally a novel but it has been adapted into a graphic novel by Peter B. Gillis, illustrated by Renae De Liz and Rey Dillon. This book is about the last unicorn in the world who sets off on a mission to save all the other unicorns who have been caught and held prisoner by the Red Bull.
I really love the pictures in this book. They were so beautifully drawn that it was almost like watching a movie. Case in point:
I was aware that there was a film, thanks to my friend and her sister gushing about it, but it wasn't until I actually read the graphic novel that I discovered there's an original novel as well. I really feel like I need to read this some time. Apparently Christopher Lee was a massive fan and lent his voice to the film when it was made. He has a habit of doing that with his favourite books I've noticed.
I will admit that I found this book a little tricky to follow in places. I think it'd be easier to follow if you were already familiar with the story through the novel or the film. I can't help but feel that this is a comic which is written for the fans more than anyone else.
My two favourites in this story were the character of Schmendrick, he's just sort of sweet, and the butterfly at the beginning, with his poetry and Shakespeare references. I can't actually remember what the poetry and references were to now, but I made a note in my book journal that I liked him for them.
This book has made me curious about other graphic novels. I know that there's one of The Hobbit that I've always kind of avoided, but now part of me would really like to get my hands on it. It's got Tolkien's name on the cover so no doubt it will happen sooner or later. I'd also like to read the source novel for this story and perhaps some of Beagle's other books as well.
On the whole, I really enjoyed this one. It's always nice to discover something new.