Archive for the 'brave story' Category

Brave Story novel wins little-known ALA children’s book award; also Tokyo Media Arts Festival awards

I have no idea when the award was given out, but the 2008 Mildred L. Batchelder Award winner is none other than Miyki Miyabe’s own epic fantasy novel masterpiece Brave Story.

You’re probably looking at me like I’m crazy and saying “What on Earth is the Mildred L. Batchelder Award and why do I care?” I hadn’t heard of it hitherto this point either, but (according to the ALA award information page I linked above) it’s an award given to a foreign-language book of exceptional merit that has been translated into English. A list of past winners is available, in case you were curious (the only book I recognize off that list is Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord,and I work in a library, so you’re not alone in going “Say what now?”) but, of course, the important thing is that it won an award, which means that at least someone out there is paying attention. Japanese books have won the award before, of course, as that list I linked proves; the difference here is, of course, that the publisher for Brave Story is VIZ Media. Which means that a manga company has won an ALA award. I’m probably the only one impressed by this, of course, due to my librarian nature.

In other award new, spurred by the Brave Story award discovery, I checked Wikipedia for the winners of the Tokyo Media Arts Festival prizes and, lo and behold, two of the four winners of the Excellence Prize are none other than Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann and Dennou Coil. It’s not as awesome as taking home the Grand Prize, like Toki o Kakeru Shoujo deservedly did for 2006, but now people can mention Gurren-Lagann and Kamichu! in the same sentence and not raise eyebrows quite so much. Past Excellence awards winners include Neon Genesis Evangelion, Serial Experiments: Lain, Tokyo Godfathers and Mahou Shoutengai Abenobashi. By contrast, past Grand Prize winners include Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Millenium Actress, Blood: The Last Vampire, the aforementioned Tokikake, and Mind Game (Kemonozume fans are probably rejoicing at this news, all three of them).

I still, however, don’t know if Youhou won a prize in the Entertainment/Interactive Art category. If anyone knows what happened with that, please let me know. It could probably win just on how interactive the fanbase is with the actual source material, in terms of generating content, but we don’t know.

Brave Story THE NOVEL by Miyuki Miyabe

I’ve always been a reader all my life (although I’m finding increasingly that anime is coming to dominate as my hobby), and I read Brave Story recently, so I thought I’d jot my thoughts down.

For those who aren’t aware, Brave Story is about a young child named Wataru whose father has an affair with another woman, and leaves his mother and bim in favor of this new, younger woman. When his mother tries to kill herself (and Wataru with her) by letting gas from the stove into their apartment, Wataru escapes and finds himself in the magical land of Vision, where he is now a Traveller on a quest for five gemstones that will grant him the wish he desires to change his destiny.

Brave Story was absolutely incredible for Part One. It was high drama with a touch of fantasy elements. All seventeen chapters were immensely powerful, and really made you feel incredibly empathetic with Wataru. There are so many powerful scenes in these 200 pages that I was solidly impressed with the book just from that.

The unfortunate thing is, when Wataru goes to Vision, things take a sharp turn downhill–kind of. Vision starts off as a bland, generic kind of fantasy land, but after having finished the book, I think Miyabe made it “bland” on purpose. I kind of soured on the book for a while, but it does improve remarkably after Wataru finds the first gemstone. That’s probably because of the introduction of the Plot Device called Halnera, where one person from Vision and one person from the real world (i.e. Wataru or Mitsuru) will be sacrificed to give another thousand years of protection from destruction. It was an interesting Plot Device, and it served to further complicate matters in Vision.

On Vision being generic–Wataru plays a lot of RPGs, most prominently the winner of the Not-Dragon-Quest award, Eldritch Saga. Since Vision is unique to every Traveller who enters it (the world is altered depending on who is viewing it, an interesting Heisenberg phenomenon that further serves to make Vision more interesting), Wataru’s Vision is based on his own experiences playing…generic fantasy RPG games. So, I won’t fault the book on the dullness of the book, although, as someone more used to fantasy authors such as Steven Erikson, the initial blandness came as quite a shock.

The ending was also quite well-done, and I won’t go into the details, but it brings a satisfying (if somewhat predictable, but I never let predictability bother me too much in things) and well-executed finish. It’s not, perhaps, as moving as the opening 200 pages, but it’s a solid conclusion.

Having not seen the movie, I have no idea how it compares, but for anyone who likes to read and likes anime, Brave Story is a must-read. It’s like anime in a book! Kind of.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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