Posts Tagged ‘Books’

kekkaishi_v6Getting back to one of my top manga of all-time, we look back at Volume 5 where we experienced the mysterious visit of Lord Uro, learned a little more about Toshimori (Yoshimori’s brother,) and found our two Kekkaishi in a battle against a powerful three-team ayakashi.

Story overview:

After defeating the ayakashi–which formed into a large owl–Tokine is tipped off to the presence of the one observing the fight. Yoshimori goes after him, but the man gets away. In the process, Yoshimori discovers that he is not a man at all, but an ayakashi hiding in a man-skin.

Paranoid about the possibility of ayakashi walking around the day disguised as humans, Yoshimori suspects a new student named Gen Shishio. But the obnoxious Gen turns out to be an agent of the Shadow Organization, sent by Yoshimori’s older brother (Masamori.)

Meanwhile, Yoshimori’s grandfather visits an acquaintance named Heisuke Matsudo, who is a seventy-year-old retired university professor that does not look seventy-years-old. They discuss the possible origin of the man-skin that Yoshimori recovered from the battle.

Elsewhere, Gen’s bad boy attitude does not fit in well with the two Kekkaishi, but the three of them end up working together to take down a tough ayakashi. Gen realizes he was sent to join the group because he has more in common with Yoshimori than he first thought.

My thoughts:

Gen’s character brings out more of Yoshimori’s personality and it is fun to watch them interact (and butt heads.) It is also obvious that Gen has more to him than meets the eye. Good stuff.

Things to consider:

The entrance of Gen brings in some gory depictions as he does not terminate ayakashi into nothingness like the Kekkaishis. Still, this is nothing inappropriate for thirteen-year-old boys. There are no sexual references or offensive language. So far this is one of the cleaner manga series I’ve seen.

Opportunities for discussion:

Gen makes the comment how he cannot restore or fix anything; that he can only destroy. We see a conflict here in his character, which will be interesting to see unfold; however, we also see a good opportunity for discussion. Ask your teen what they think of Gen’s attitude, and the ask them why they believe he can only destroy. From there explain how destroying is much easier that creating (or maintaining,) and how important it is to be one who observes and understands which to do and when.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)
3) Kekkaishi (Volume 3)
4) Kekkaishi (Volume 4)
5) Kekkaishi (Volume 5)

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Iron Wok JanI’m going out on a limb here; even though many of the character’s abilities are fantastical, this one really can’t be considered speculative fiction. However, I thought it worth mentioning as I do have a section for manga after all–and manga has become very popular among youth today.
 
Let me start by saying that this is one that I’ve constantly seen on the library shelf. Every time I looked at it I had a hard time making a decision. It’s a manga about . . . cooking?
 
Not being much of a cook myself, this idea did not really appeal to me. Even if I did love to cook, I mean, it’s a manga about . . . cooking . . . okay, so I said that already, but really, the idea seemed so absurd to me that of course I had to give it a shot.
 
Story overview:

Sixteen-year-old Jan shows up at the number 1 Chinese food restaurant in Tokyo Japan. His aggressive demeanor instantly rubs everyone the wrong way, however his talent and skills soon prove him a worthy Chef.
 
Jan’s goal? To become the #1 best Chinese food Chef. How does he go about attempting this? By insulting, challenging, and antagonizing everyone in his path. One being a girl named Kiriko, who is another trainee at the restaurant. She insists that cooking isn’t about “competition” but “heart”.
 
A glimpse into the past shows Jan’s tyrant of a grandfather, which gives us an idea as to why Jan acts the way he does.
 
My thoughts:

I have to say that my mind is not totally made up yet about this one. There was a lot more to the plot and story than I had imagined, and a lot more action than I would have guessed, but I think I need to read a few more before I’m convinced either way (I have the next two volumes at home as we speak). I admit that it’s nice to see a manga that’s not about kung-fu, robots, girls in skimpy school uniforms, or men waiving around big swords. One thing’s for sure: this one’s unique and very original, and its easy to get caught up in the melodrama and bizarre recipes.
 
Things to consider:

The back of the book says thirteen and up, so I’ll stick with that. This seems to be targeting boys, but it’s worth noting that I don’t think it would offend girls at all. Nothing sexual, no extreme violence (save for a suicide scene), and the language is tame.
 
Opportunities for discussion:

This is a good time to challenge your children as to what their motives are in life. Do they do things based on heart? Pride? Competition? Motives are an important topic, and this manga does a great job at addressing that.

MagicA common question I hear from Christians is whether or not it’s “evil” to use magic in stories.

To quote a fellow writer: “I think a lack of understanding and the continual problem of confusing fantasy magic and myth with the real world continues to plague many Christians. Pretty much every fantasy book I’ve read deals with a fantastic sort of magic that absolutely has no real world component.”

I look at fantasy magic as just another tool. If I pick up a rock I have a decision to make: Do I drop it; do I keep it for decoration; do I throw it at someone walking by? The rock itself is just a rock, a tool. How I use it is based on my “will to use it”. As the rock leaves my hand and cracks the skull of my victim, what becomes evil is my will to throw it.

Magic’s appeal is that it provides a more powerful tool for exercising one’s will, and in a fantasy setting, it adds depth to the story. The main difference between using fantasy magic and a rock is the source of its power. One can throw a rock by their physical body; flexing their muscles and tendons. How one manipulates fantasy magic is really left up to the author. In my Wizard story, I intend to demonstrate the power behind magic from two different sources: evil and good. In doing so the character may find that the power of evil is easier to tap into, but it corrupts, contorts and darkens the individual’s soul. But in the end, the character will discovery that it’s all about doing the will of God, not their own.

It is the responsibility of each and every parent to inform their child/children of the difference between real-world and make-believe situations. Stories teach our kids important lessons in life, and they have the great advantage of being able to use elements unnatural to our world. Christ told stories—parables—so that people could understand the ways of God in a format they would relate to. So let’s stop looking for the next “witch hunt”, where we point fingers and say, “it’s evil, it’s evil! It uses magic!!”, and start to use these opportunities to expand important lessons in our Childrens lives.