Tag Archives: manga

Pack Up Your Native Soil: Traveling the World with Vampires

28 Oct

In Dracula, a vampire must bring boxes of his or her native soil from where they were born to be buried in to protect them from the sun during the day.  He would certainly be lugging it around a lot, if he went all of the places the vampire myth has traveled.  Here are a few films to checkout this Halloween to see how vampires have translated across the world.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

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I had been hearing a lot of buzz online about A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night from fans of horror as being one of the most original and interesting vampire movies in years.  Technically this is an American film, however, it is set in a spooky Iranian ghost town called Bad City and the film is in Farsi with English subtitles.  A sweet love story emerges between a young Iranian man, who is overwhelmed by taking care of his drug addicted father, and a mysterious young woman who glides about town in something that resembles at times a chador and other’s Dracula’s cape.  The black and white film is visually stunning.  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is available from several BCCLS libraries and online from Hoopla.  I’m interested to check out other things by writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour in the future.

Let the Right One In

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Let the Right One In is a Swedish vampire film that centers around two children who form a strong bond over their outsider status: Oskar, a boy who is bullied at school, and Eli, who needs to drink blood to survive.  Vampire children are always extra creepy.  In Anne Rice’s and Stephenie Meyer’s vampire mythologies the creation of vampire children is forbidden.  In Poppy Z. Brite’s world of born vampires they literally absorb the life from their mothers.  Yet there is something vulnerable and touching about Eli. This is another film for those looking for something a bit more unusual than the typical Dracula retread.  An English version of the film was released in 2010 with the title Let Me In and moved the setting of the film from Sweden to New Mexico.  The book by John Ajvide Lindqvist that the films are based on is available from the Hoboken Public Library (the first English translation was published under the title Let Me In, subsequent editions are titled Let the Right One In).  Both film versions, Let Me In and Let the Right One In, are available from the Hoboken Public Library and Hoopla.

Vampire Party

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Vampire Party is a funny light French film for those looking for a bit of slap stick absurd comedy with their horror.  It is available online from Hoopla.  Three best friends Sam, Alice, and Prune think they are incredibly lucky when they manage to get invites to Medici Night a legendary party at a remote castle, but it turns out that they haven’t just been added to the guest list, they are on the menu for an elite group of vampires.  The French title for the film is Les Dents de la Nuit, which translates to teeth of the night, which alludes not only to vampires, but also to one of the silly running gags of the film that a VIP at the event is a dentist.  If you thought films like Bridesmaids and The Hangover would have been better with vampires than you should find Vampire Party a bloody good treat.

Vampire Hunter D

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Vampire Hunter D was one of the first animes (Japanese animation) I encountered.  As someone that was used to animation that was either only aimed at children or comedic like The Simpsons for adult audiences, I was surprised and intrigued by the complex and dramatic story line.  The 1985 film was based on a series of Manga (Japanese graphic novels). D is a half vampire/half human who fights vampires in a post-apocalyptic future.  Some unique details include D’s cybernetic horse and a symbiotic hand whose wise cracks add some levity to the story.  Although I’ve seen a great deal of anime since then, this remains one of my favorite with its cool blend of gothic horror with science fiction.  A second film Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was released in 2000.  Check the films and manga out from BCCLS libraries.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Four Tasty Treats for a Variety of Appetites: Bon Appétempt, An Appetite for Violets, El Bulli, and Antique Bakery

17 Jun

Whether you crave fiction or memoir, something to read or watch, the library has a variety of enjoyable delights to checkout.

Bon Appétempt: A Coming of Age Story, by Amelia Morris

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Fans of Amelia Morris’s blog and budding home cooks and writers will enjoy her memoir Bon Appétempt.  Morris is an aspiring writer, who spent her teen years and early twenties dieting and seeing food as not a comfort, but as calories to count; this makes her seem unlikely to have a popular food blog.   However, she is inspired one day to throw a dinner party for friends and after a beautifully impeccable layer cake featured in Bon Appetit she recreates fails to live up to its promised perfection and must be served in a bowl, she is inspired to create a blog that juxtaposes the food styled version of recipes from magazines and cookbooks with her own more humble attempts.  She dubbed her blog with the pun Bon Appétempt.  Her memoir by the same name, however, starts well before the blog’s creation in her childhood detailing her experience growing up with divorced parents and eventually falling in love with her best friend from high school.  Morris’s life often seems to be similar to the food in her blog, not quite reaching the perfection she had hoped for.  Yet as my French grandmother would often say about a lopsided cake or fallen soufflé, “You can’t eat the looks” and sometimes the moments that are not as expected are the sweetest and most nourishing in the long run.  Morris learns to embrace her life, imperfections and all and along the way finds joy and success in food writing.  Bon Appétempt includes recipes, many of them reinterpretations of not just dishes from cookbooks, but also from family and friends on which Morris puts her own distinctive twist.

 

An Appetite for Violets, by Martine Bailey

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For fans of Downton Abbey, there is Martine Bailey’s An Appetite for Violets to sample.  I was intrigued by the title since I’m a fan of the flavor of violets (violet ice cream is delicious), but it is something unusual to find now a days, especially in the US.  In Bailey’s novel, violets become symbolic of more than a taste, but also a desire for a life that leads to the downfall of some of the characters.  An Appetite for Violets has elements of mystery and romance.  It focuses mainly on a servant at Mawton Hall, Biddy Leigh, who though she was about to get engaged, instead is swept along on her new mistress Carrina’s journey to Italy.  A few chapters also focus on another servant Loveday, who is seen in flashbacks of his time in his village before he became a slave.  I felt this at times distracted a bit from the main story, but his friendship with Biddy was a sweet spot in a novel that contains a great deal of scheming and social maneuvering.  We learn in the very first chapter that Carrina has died under mysterious circumstances, which adds a level of suspense in the chapters that unfold after that flash back to a year before.  Most chapters begin with historic recipes that though less detailed than our modern ones are charming in their language such as a recipe for Taffety Tart where we are told that it should be filled, “with pippins and quinces and sweet spice and lemon peel as much as delights.”  An Appetite for Violets should surely delight readers of historical fiction.

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

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If you are curious about molecular gastronomy, the documentary El Bulli will be riveting.  I was fascinated by this Spanish documentary of famed molecular gastronomy chef Ferrarn Adria as he works with his team for the six months before the yearly opening of his world renowned restaurant.  The process moves from the chefs’ ideas and playing with different techniques effects on a variety of ingredients to the final scenes of that year’s finished menu.  The year the documentary was produced they were working on a water theme and one dish actually uses small chunks of ice to add texture and a unique sensory experience to a dish.  So many cooking shows involve challengers tasked with throwing together ingredients on a time limit so it felt like a unique perspective seeing how actual restaurant dishes evolve over time under the masterful taste buds of expert chefs.  Adria has since closed El Bulli, but the documentary remains to be savored.  Hoboken Public Library Resident Card holders and other resident BCCLS library Card holders can access the documentary online from Hoopla or on DVDFerran: The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food by Colman Andrews is also available for those looking for more insight into the legendary chef and restaurant.

Antique Bakery

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Those looking for a comic animated series will enjoy a visit with Antique Bakery.  When I saw that the anime (Japanese animation) for Antique Bakery was available on Hoopla (as well as on DVD), I was curious to check it out since the Hoboken Library also has some of the volumes of the Manga (Japanese graphic novels) that the series is based on in our collection.  Like many animes, Antique Bakery is intended for an adult audience.  The series centers on Keiichiro Tachibana who is compelled by a childhood trauma to open a Western style bakery, even though he doesn’t like to eat sweets.  He hires a motley crew to work at the bakery including a former boxer with a sweet tooth.  Pastry chef Yusuke Ono can attract any man he wants, except Tachibana who is immune to Ono’s charms.   The animation is unique with both two dimensional and three dimensional animation used.  I especially liked the clever intro with the drawings of the characters surrounded by what looks like a real model of the bakery.  Despite only being drawings, you’ll wish that you could taste the fanciful European style pastries the bakers create.  I found this series to be delightful fun, though it does at times touch on some serious issues such as domestic violence. At only 12 episodes it is not an overly large commitment for binge watching (and less calories than snacking on actual sweets).

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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