Since when have I ever passed up an excuse to go into the city? Not in this lifetime, and probably not in the next one either. The excuse this time was a work meeting with some folks from Microsoft, but after that I made several stops along the way — some familiar haunts, and a one new one.
On the "new" side: Muji, the Japanese "no frills" store, something like a Nipponese version of Ikea. The store they'd opened near Times Square recently earned a story in the Times — especially since they're right around the corner from the offices of said paper — but this was the first time I stopped in. It won't be the last. The goodies on sale include everything from recycled paper products (with wonderful textures) to house 'n home implements of all kinds. I plan on coming back for some of those horribly comfortable polyurethane seat cushions.
Next stop: Kinokuniya, where I picked up the latest Monochrome Factor for a friend, and stumbled across a couple of other delights besides — among them, The Blue Wolf, a fictional history of Genghis Khan by none other than Yasushi Inoue. I'm planning to check that out in conjunction with Mongol and the Genghis Khan movie that FUNimation picked up recently, as a nice three-fer package of reviews. (No, I am not going to include The Conqueror. John Wayne as Genghis Khan? Get your heads out of your butts, people.)
From there, the other side of Bryant Park: Book-Off. I never leave there empty-handed, and this trip was no exception.
- What — another graphic-novel adaptation of The Guin Saga!? Yes, apparently so, although the low reviews on Amazon.jp seem to reflect a problem I had with the product myself: the art's excellent in some respects (Rinda and Remus look great, and so does Lady Amnelis) but dinky in others (Guin's face looks entirely too much like a mask — stiff and unemotional in all the wrong ways. The Seven Magi manga does a far better job of making Guin look like a character, not just a stage prop. But, still — any Guin is better than no Guin.
- Shocking Crimes of Postwar Japan has as lurid a title as they come, but get past that and it's quite an informative little volume. A full review to come, but one complaint I have right off the bat: why no coverage of the stupefying Junko Furuta case, easily as infamous as anything out there? (I'll probably grab Tokyo Confidential as a follow-up.)
- Most of us know Paprika from the anime, but the original novel — by Yasutaka Tsutsui — has never been translated into English. I bumped into a manga adaptation that appears to be much closer to the novel than the movie was. I may take a stab at translating it just to get an idea, but the novel desperately needs to be brought over here ... especially since a couple of Tsutsui's other (and probably lesser) works have already crossed the pond.
- In the CD section I bumped into one of those lovely little rarities that seem to come my way: a collection of compositions by Osaka-based musician Hiroki (sometimes Hiroshi) Okano. A more detailed review to come, for sure, but what I've heard is impressive.
And to think those were all $3-$5 each.