Reading Logs · seinen

How I Hate to Love “Bradherley no Basha”: A Long, Emotional Review. With a lot of spoilers.

“Every year, Lord Nicola A. Bradherley, one of Europe’s leading aristocrats, sends his coach round to various orphanages to adopt little girls and trains them to join his opera troupe. But most of these girls never make it onto the stage—a far more sinister fate awaits them, sacrificed in the name of the greater good. ” (From MangaUpdates)

When Japan occupied its East and South East Asian neighbors during the World War II, hundreds of thousands of young girls from the occupied countries left their home and were shipped to war zones. A lot of them were tempted with false hopes of better living; some were promised with higher education, some others were lured with prospects of working in factories. Some were abducted.

What was awaiting there were no teachers. No factories. No boarding schools. Instead, these young girls had their innocence, dreams and future shattered as they were made into sex slaves by the Japanese Imperial Army. They were raped non-stop, beaten, and sterilized.  They were even dubbed as “public toilets”.

By the end of the war, only a quarter of them survived — only to have their sufferings denied, only to be disowned and ostracized.

If you have read Bradherley no Basha, you will know what the manga and ianfu (comfort women, an extremely oversimplifying term, really) have in common: How these women – standing at the bottom when it comes to power relations – were systematically dispositioned as preys and never as humans. How some of them were lured with hopes and dreams. How these young women were sacrificed over the so-called greater good.

Curbing sexual crimes. Guarding moral of the soldiers. Preventing venereal diseases. Those were the case with jugen ianfu. Bradherley’s program was coined after a prison riot. Sacrificing these girls is seen as an immediate answer to avoid the same thing from happening in the future.

Here is the line that makes me feel extremely nauseous: “The memory of 37 who died in Hensley Uprising is still fresh today.” And the program was made honoring that very memory. I was like, wtf, what about the memory of these young women who were dehumanized and slaughtered?

I can actually rate Bradherley no Basha with quite a high score for a few reasons.

First, it successfully shook my conscience as woman living in a peaceful county in 21st century.  Second, the plots, the stories, were so alluring I just could not put the manga down.

As a woman myself, my heart was aching so much when reading this series. I could feel these girls’ despairs. It wrecked my heart, really.  It is not perfect, I know. I bet my whole fortunes that no one can ever perfectly capture what these girls feel.  We don’t experience it firsthand. Not like we will come out alive if we do.

But as I read, I found myself — just like these girls — holding on that thin thread of hopes. Dangling. Hoping things would look up for them. The more chapters I read, the more I felt sick seeing the back of these girls as the coaches took them away from the orphanages.

Only a great storyteller can do this.

Is this how they felt, those “comfort women”? Did they know Japan was losing the war, did they feel a glimpse of hope before they were killed and were forced to kill themselves?

But on the other hand, I do not feel like I should rate this story at all.

The foreword at the end of the book ruined the whole experience for me. I might not be able to see this work the same way I did when I just finished reading it, before proceeding to the foreword.

I know that Bradherley no Basha might not be created with ianfu in mind. I know that it is completely up to me to actually make a connection between this manga to them or to other similar cases.

But I feel a lot of questions rising in the back of my head. The questions I’d like to ask the mangaka, Samura Hiroaki, the same person behind Blade of Immortal.

Dear Author. I don’t know how you see the bitter part of your country’s history. And while I know they were only some fictional characters that you created, but how do you actually see these women? Were for you they just commodities, too? To make an erotic manga? What’s so erotic about all of these? This could be something grand. This could speak for those women who lost their dignity and life. You have had me fooled for eight chapters. “Redhead Anne”, really? You could have said something to respect these women you created and you killed. Perhaps you should not have said anything at all.

But however much I loathe the fact that this manga was created on a very simple notion of “sexualizing” Anne of Green Gables, I will — for at least this moment — stand on my own conscience as a reader. This kind of systematized barbarity does exist. Not every proprietor of crimes against humanity is punished, not every suffering is redeemed.

And for people who say this level of atrocity cannot exist, here’s the thing: the fact that someone in this world could actually picture this kind of brutality and made it into a manga, the fact that some times in history there were similar crimes took place and there were efforts to cover them up for decades, the fact that hundreds of girls were kidnapped in Boko Haram only a few years ago… This thing does exist. What was happened in this manga might be exaggerated. Or not. Or it even might be palliated. We won’t know. We don’t stand on their shoes.

Will I read again? Yeah. When I am ready. Perhaps then I can review and score them better. With justice. Right now I am feeling rather conflicted. And torn. And tired.

Historical, Seinen, Tragedy


Reading Logs · seinen

Yuutai Nova (mild spoilers)

I am so unlucky these days. I keep bumping into manga/webtoons that got rushed or axed. Sigh.

So, yeah, heed my warning: don’t get too engrossed, this series got chopped. And just when it started to get interesting, too!

Okay. Here we go: The manga tells a story about a 20-year-old college student who can perform astral projection. He first uses it to spy– okay, my bad– to let go of his longing toward his ex-girlfriend whom he hasn’t met for a few years. As things progress, he ends up finding things he is not ready to see and meets a mysterious girl who possesses the same — but stronger — power as him.

In my honest opinion, I think this guy starts off as a sore loser. (Here is the start of the SPOILERS.) He was being such a jerk toward his ex. And that, more or less, might have contributed to make whatever she is now. But, he does feel guilty, and knows that he was being a complete asshole. Isn’t that a recipe for a good character development?

But forget character development. There is no room for that. The manga got axed in chapter 20, just when you’ll think it might turn into something great.

What is this power? How did he get it? Who is that mysterious girl? What’s her story? These are a few questions that will, sadly, never get answers.

In the pen-ultimate chapter, the mangaka made this short comic about a pathetic, talentless mangaka. Not sure what happened, but I feel like he was feeling underappreciated at that time. I am not familiar with him. The manga itself was created in 2007 and he made more titles after that, so I guess, things look up?

Even if this manga did not get axed, I don’t think I would be fan. Depending on the development of the story, tho. However, I do agree with most people out there, this could be something good for people who love titles with darkish, supernatural ecchi hint.

Will I read again? Sigh. What for?

Drama, Romance, Seinen, Supernatural


Reading Logs · Webtoon

“Aeri’s in Wonderland”

A quick summary: Na Aeri is struggling to find jobs. Out of frustration, she signs up for a suspicious, too-good-to-be-true intern ad — only to be forced to participate in an employment game that might cost her her life.

The idea is grand, with a promising premise, but the execution is a bit meh for me. As someone who endured years in an abusive workplace, I held high hopes that this webcomic could portray the bitter truths in the cruel employment world: new employees’ high expectations met with long work hours, meager wages, unhealthy competition, lack of appreciation, unfair contracts… really, slavery in disguise.

Well, it could. Somehow. But the dialogues are off. Plots are full of holes. I know this webcomic is inspired by “Alice in Wonderland”. I don’t know, I am not even sure, but at least I can fool myself that I am actually able to make sense out of Alice’s nonsensical story. And I couldn’t with this one.

However, I managed to finish all 30+ chapters. Yay. I was curious how it would end, and it was a short read after all. So, I guess it is not all bad. It still makes an interesting read. When you are bored.

Will I read again? Umm, nope.

Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Psychological


Reading Logs · Webtoon

Find your post-apocalyptic pets at “The Willows”

In a nuclear wasteland full of dangerous beasts, Edgar and his assistant, Chloe, run a pet shop — selling normal, non-mutated animals.

But please ignore Toomics’ official summary: this shop doesn’t welcome just anyone. And they don’t accept money for payments. You have to first prove that you are worthy of taking care of these animals.

This webtoon deals with a number of customers, each of them has their own stories told in several chapters. I like Chloe’s and the last story the most.

If you love animals, and stories about post-apocalyptic world, this is your cup of tea. It’s not THAT feel good and heartwarming. But if you are not careful, you might end up weeping. But it feels too short with a few things left unrevealed. I wonder whether there will be a season two.

Will I read again? Nah. It is quite entertaining, but not that impressive. Unless there is a season two, then I might need to re-read to refresh. 

Drama, Sci-fi, Slice of Life


Reading Logs · Webtoon

Timing & Again

“Timing” might not have the best art, but I assure you it has one of the most beautiful stories out there (and it is surely not a bitch). In facts, it is one of the best webtoons I read in recent years.

Timing circles around a group of people with supernatural gifts. A woman that can foresee a coming disaster. Another that is able to see a tragedy 10 minutes before it happens. A student that can freeze time. A man that can rewind time by 10 seconds.

 A series of mysterious high school suicides binds them as they race with deaths to unveil the truth behind.

A warning for those who love beautiful arts, the drawing might appall you. But if you can take some time to read and put outer appearance behind. I promise you this series is seriously thrilling and may invoke your curiosity till the last page. The plot is deep and can be rather mind blowing. The story is, as I said earlier, beautiful.

Its sequel, “Again” has a much improved drawing. This time, the story introduces a group people who cheated deaths, and will cheat times and again, even if it means killing innocent souls to achieve it. A man, who can always position himself in a safe spot to avoid dangers, has to protect his immigrant pregnant wife from the ferocity of the group. The story can be a tearjerker, just a heed.  

Each titles have around 30 chapters, and I gobbled them in one go. What amazes me from these series are most chapters are short but they somehow deep that it feels like so many things happen in only a few panels.

If anything, tho, the plots (of both series) can be confusing. Especially with all those time jumps and handful of characters. But I still think they, in a way, make sense. I seriously think that Kang Full, the man who penned these series, is genius. As expected from the first generation webtoon artist,

Will I read again? Yes, definitely a yes.

Horror, Mystery, Supernatural, Tragedy