The Rabbi’s Cat

by Joann Sfar

rabbi's cat

The story begins in 1930’s Algeria. A rabbi’s cat ate a parrot, and suddenly finds himself able to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (“I didn’t eat any parrot!”) The rabbi decides to educate him in the way of the Torah, and the cat insists he wants a Bar Mitzvah, and that by cat’s age he is well past thirteen.

The author cleverly works interesting questions about religion and culture into the story in a charming, humorous and witty way. There is a magic, a tenderness in the story telling. I didn’t exactly like the look of the cat, though I have to admit a good resemblance to the artist’s own pet. He looks a bit devilish in the beginning, but his unique view of things make for interesting narration. The rabbi character is so disarmingly endearing in his honesty, and his love for his cat and his daughter, it’s impossible not to love him.

I am happy to find that there is a second volume. Definitely will get a copy of it!

Published in: on April 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm  Comments (1)  

Hana Kimi

Argh. I have been staying up late these few nights. Why? Because I got suck into Hana Kimi.

The original title is 花ざかりの君たちへ, Hanazakari no Kimitachi e ~ “For You in Full Blossom”, which is really a mouthful in any language. It is a Japanese manga series about a girl who disguised herself as a guy to attend an all-boys high school. Mizuki Ashiya is a Japanese girl who lives in the United States. One day, while watching a track and field competition on TV, she becomes enamoured with one of the high jumpers, Izumi Sano, and decides to transfer to Japan to attend the same school that Sano does.

Needless to say, there are plenty of jokes and funny scenarios of a girl living with a dorm-ful of high school guys, including overtones of homosexual loves. One of her classmates starts wondering about his sexual orientations when he finds his heart fluttering at the sight of her(him). Yes, a manga with a harlem of ikemen!! I don’t know how Mizuki manages not to blow her cover (to the whole world). I mean, Asian guys tend to be less muscular and hairy, and more androgynous, but still, to have her walking around in shorts… maybe she does have some hairy legs? Then I remember reading Norah Vincent’s Self Made Man, in which she disguised herself as a man with remarkable success, and mentioned that people choose to believe what they believe, and once they identified her as a male, she could be careless and still maintain her cover. Either way, once you let go and enjoy the manga, it’s actually a lot of fun.

It has been a while since I got that into a manga. The last one was Hikari no Go. I only have vol 1-9 on hand, so after blowing through them, I went on to YouTube to see what anime version they have. To my surprise I found that there are in fact two TV dramas made from this title, one Japanese and one Taiwanese.

This is a pic of the cast:

I am not sure about the Japanse Mizuki. I mean, NO ONE will for a moment mistake her for a boy. She looks like a girl with short hair, period. Not effeminate, but outright female. The Taiwanese girl, Ella, does a better job passing for a guy. In fact, I think most of the Japanese male cast scale a higher kawaii factor… I haven’t watched the Taiwanese version and opted instead for the Japanese first, but from what little I’ve watched, looks like the Taiwanese one is a very close redition of the original manga, while the Japanese one just takes the title and run away with it. They also changed the school, Osaka, from one that excels in academic and athletes to one that uses looks as admission criteria (and as a result the average IQ drop at least 3o points).

As for Sano… I didn’t know at the start that he IS Hanazawa Rui from Boys Over Flowers. Oguri Shun has lost a lot of baby fat since then… and most definitely handsomer… I like the manga version better though. Oguri seems to bring in too much of Hanazawa into this series, at least in the beginning. Moreover, being a monosyllable, expressionless, moping guy is one thing, but acting mean is not cool at all. The manga Sano is not mean. He does say a few angry words, but he’s a yasashii person through and through. There are a lot of tender moments in the manga. It’s really cute and heart warming how he goes from “what the heck do I do with a girl?” to “I want her by my side and protect her” from one moment to the next. He makes me wish I had a boyfriend like this. But in the TV drama, Sano is rather cold and said some very rude and hurtful things.

Nakatsu in the TV drama is excellent! Ikuta Toma totally steals the show, and deserves the Best Supporting Actor award he received. No wonder some fans would rather wish him to be Mizuki’s love. I would have picked him too. Interesting how the chemistry is different than the manga. In the manga, it’s so obvious Sano and Mizuki are deeply bonded, sorry Nakatsu you don’t stand a chance.

On the other hand, Umeda is so much more fun in the manga. Campy and sexy.

And… Nakao… This is the actor, Kimura Ryo’s pic on his official site. I am like, gosh, he can be Mizuki!!! What big beautiful eyes!

The handsomest of them all? My vote goes to Shirota Yuu. He’s Kagurazaka Makoto, Sano’s competitor from another high school. He’s half Spanish.

Ahem, really, it’s embarrassing to be oogling over boys a decade younger than me… Last week another BookCrosser commented that she wishes there were more manga in America that are not the typical shoujo high school romance genre, as she’s grown out of them. What failure I am!

Published in: on August 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm  Comments (2)