Book 60: Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama



I’m going to devote this entry to the entire series. You see, for about two weeks now I have been rereading and rereading the manga that I am becoming so obsessed with it and so attached to the characters that I must write something. This must be how those die-hard Harry Potter fans feel.

First of all, you kids who think DBZ is stupid: Dragon Ball is the Naruto/Inuyasha/One Piece of my generation. So if you like one of those series (or maybe all of them), take that. Dragon Ball also has influenced many of the popular shonen manga today – indirectly or otherwise. I did think for a while that the anime was stupid (because the manga always rocks), but lately I’ve been wanting to see some of the filler episodes. It drives me crazy not knowing what officially happens during the several periods of years that the manga never covers.

Rereading Dragon Ball brings back so many memories. It sort of feels like listening to the music you used to listen as a child. In fact, since I never really listened to music until I was in high school, so comic books are like the substitute for childhood music for me. It started in third grade when my oldest brother finally bought the first ten volumes of Dragon Ball despite my mother’s threat to disown him if he dared wasting money on comic books (really?). The series ended two years later. I remember losing interest because I thought the artwork and the translation were getting sloppy. (Now that I’ve read the U.S. version, I definitely know that the translation was REALLY bad.) Regardless, I spent the next few years rereading every single volume until I memorized literally every line. I was surprised two weeks ago when I found out I actually still remember a good chunk of the dialogues.

As a kid I couldn’t really put things in perspective though. Dragon Ball to me was just another fighting manga. The good guys fight, the villains either die or become good, and everyone lives happily ever after. All I knew was the Z fighters super strong and even if you put all of today’s superheroes together they still couldn’t win against Goku, Gohan, and Vegeta. These days, I’m taking a different approach toward the characters.

Let’s see. It all started with 12-year-old Goku meeting 16-year-old Bulma. Kamesennin, Ulon, Yamcha, Puar, Chichi, and Kuririn also came to the scene in the first four volumes. The series started out as a gag manga, but somewhere along the way it evolved into a more serious manga. The characters that were created merely to entertain were abandoned as the fighters became more developed. Eventually even Yamcha and Chaoz slided down the ladder.

In the beginning, Goku was a kid. Then he grew up and got married sometime between volume 16 and volume 17 at the age of 19. He had Gohan when he was 20. Gohan was 4 years old during the Vegeta saga, almost 5 during the Freeza saga, and 9 during the Cell Saga. I guess it felt like he was supposed to be older because it used to take so long before the bookstore released the newest volume. Hard to believe that events in Dragon Ball often happen within a short time frame – as in a few days.

But in spite of that, all the characters still grew up so fast. I couldn’t make sense of it when Gohan suddenly transformed from someone younger than me to someone older than me. It felt even worse toward the end of the manga when everyone was 10 years older. Gohan is now 26, which makes Goku 46, which makes Bulma 50. In actuality they shouldn’t look the old, but that’s besides the point. Not that there’s any point to all this rambling.

In any case, it feels weird watching someone turns from a child to a grown man. Is this how parents feel? One moment Gohan is just a good-hearted little kid, and the next moment he’s a dorky teenager who wants to look cool (and fails miserably – much to my embarrassment). Haha, he might be the epitome of Asian nerds today actually.

It still feels unreal. So long ago yet it feels just like yesterday. Time is relative indeed.

Book 56: Shadowmancer by G. P. Taylor (2003)



Ah, this is the kind of fantasy books I’d want to read again sometime in the future. I could care less about the religious aspect and whatnot – a good fantasy book is a good fantasy book. People need to shut up and stop criticizing fantasy books because they promote Christianity or atheism (as in the case with Philip Pullman’s Dark Trilogy) already. Don’t want your kids to be brainwashed? Don’t let them read anything.

I guess those British people must have an advantage when it comes to fantasy writing. The U.S. just makes a terrible setting for a fantasy story. Must be why I’m rarely impressed with a fantasy book written by an American writer (e.g., Rick Riordan).

Book 54: The Ratastrophe Catrastophe (Illmoor Chronicles Book One) by David Lee Stone (2004)



It’s supposed to be funny but I’m not laughing. Weird.

Book 53: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (2006)



Ack, seriously. What the hell is this?

I did like the first half of the first book, but halfway throughout this book I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve never managed to care for Percy – the main character. His narration was fresh and entertaining at first, but after a while even that couldn’t make up for everything else that is wrong with this book. As I’ve mentioned before (I think), the references to the Greek myth become really old, especially because I already know everything there is to know about the Greek myth. Everything becomes predictable. What’s worse, I find it hard to believe that Percy honestly couldn’t guess what’s in stock for him. He knows that something is a trap and yet he still falls for it.

I can see why Poseidon isn’t all that proud of him.

Book 50: Twelve by Lauren Myracle (2007)



I was very impressed when I picked up the first book in the series: Eleven. After reading a lot of books for girls, I was expecting for the main character to be whining over the most trivial things. As it turned out, eleven-year-old Winnie was a smart girl who knew what she was doing. She could be naive at times, but overall she was smart and I admired her.

After reading Twelve, though, I feel like Winnie is turning into one of those valley girls. Her narrative is sprinkled with the word “like” and the phrase “Oh God.” And at the end she decides she likes malls because she’s becoming a teenager.

She’s still bearable in this book, but I must wonder how the next book is going to be like. Should I give up on Lauren Myracle like I gave up on Meg Cabot? Stay tuned for the answer.

Movie 20: Night at the Museum (2006)



I never think Ben Stiller is funny. I think he’s a little above Adam Sandler, but not that far off. The reason I saw this movie was because my former students all couldn’t wait to see it. I was curious. Come to think of it, it has been a while since I last enjoyed a PG-rated movie. Sometimes I wonder if I understand kids’ mind as well as I think I do. I still act like a kid . . . mostly, and I still remember a lot of things that happened when I was in fifth grade, but do I really?

Anyway. The movie was entertaining to some extent. It did get a few laughs out of me. Overall it was horrible though. I hated the special effects (they looked fake), the random idiocy, and I thought some of the references were inappropriate. I can see how kids would laugh at some of the jokes, but do kids really find those things entertaining? They’re kind of . . . lame, IMHO. Darn, I better shape up and learn how to be a kid again.

Movie 19: Holes (2003)



Ever since I saw Disturbia I’ve had a little crush on Shia LaBeouf (he’s only a tad bit younger than me, so it’s no biggie). So when I saw the trailer for this movie during the commercials I swore to see it. I’ve been meaning to read the book anyway. It used to be so popular in bookstores that it wouldn’t kill me to know the storyline.

As it turns out, Holes is a horrible movie. I’m sure the book would make more sense, but all the flashbacks are just annoying. My mother could attest to that. She complained about not understanding the plot because she didn’t join in until we were halfway through. And I mean, the scenes did jump around from boys in the desert to a dead cowgirl to a Jewish family. So choppy. Definitely a bad idea for future movie directors out there.

Shia here still looks like a teenage boy (since he is still one), and I still can’t get over how grown-up he is now. I guess I never thought he was cute when he was still known as Louis Stevens, but now he’s like the male version of a girl-next-door. Funny what a few years can do to your charm, eh? It helps that the boy who plays Zero also looks so sweet. His face doesn’t suit him now that he’s older, but as Zero he is so nice to look at. He sounds smart, too.

. . . believe me, I’m no pedophile.