I’ve had plenty of good encounters this year. I met magicians, witches, vampires, ghosts and ghost killers, sea gods, a snake god, a crippled god, dream scientists, hackers, superheros and several different people who did not stay dead or could not die. I encountered secret smells, the color of death, selkies, tanuki, aliens in disguise, factions I did not fit into and districts where I did not want to live. I visited a city with a split personality, that transformed between the night and day, and saw a village entirely underwater. I got lost in two different wild forests and survived to fight another day.
In books, my number one encounter was a tie between The Mark of Athena and House of Hades by Rick Riordan
I was slow getting to The Mark of Athena, I only read it in January. I did not really like Annabeth before I read this book. She is amazing! Why didn’t I realize that before? She finally gets her own adventure, and kapow! Go Annabeth.
The quest in the book leads the heroes, both Roman and Greek, to Europe and specifically Rome. It is in Rome where Annabeth has her greatest challenge, to find famous statue of her mother stolen from Athens Parthenon eons ago by the Romans, and hidden somewhere in the city of Rome. Worst of all she has to do it alone. I also never realized before, but Annabeth doesn’t have any special supernatural powers. She can’t summon the elements, control water or wind or fire. She is just Annabeth, daughter of wisdom. How far can cleverness get you?
Well, as long as you have courage and the nerve to try something outrageous and crazy, then the answer is pretty far. Even with a broken leg Annabeth faces down her nemesis Arachne, the ill-fated woman who once challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving contest, and was transformed into a spider-monster after losing. The Greek myths can make for such great background. Its pretty obvious Annabeth can’t win in a fight, so she decides to trick Arachne.
Whenever I read Rick Riordan, I’m hoping for a scene like that. Just one scene where the dialogue snaps, where you can’t believe the audacity of Percy or Annabeth or whoever, or the fact that they are going to get away with tricking (and making fun) of the ancient gods.
So, it was the scene in Mark of Athena where Annabeth confronts Arachne, and in House of Hades it’s the scene from chapter 53 when Annabeth and Percy encounter the godddess of Night, Nyx. They end tricking Nyx into not killing them outright, because they’re on a tour of the underworld. As if anyone would go on a tour there. I love that it’s not always about who is stronger, or more powerful.
- An honorable mention goes to Another by Yukito Ayatsuji. I don’t often read horror, or japanese horror. Summertime is a good time to read them. Why? Because in Montana there is more daylight.
Favorite Opening line: “Freakish, it was.” from Guin Saga: The Leopard Mask by Kaoru Kurimoto
Winner of the Flip-flop award: Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games trilogy. Love triangles can be fun, yes, but they can be horribly annoying too. Pick one. Geez. Or get on with the ménage à trois.
In Manga: I read Dengeki Daisy by Kyousuke Motomi for the first time. It is a lovely shojo manga without too too much glitter and just the right touch of flowers. I mean she has an excuse, daisy is in the title. It’s a powerful symbol to the story too. I like a lot of things about this story. But, to be honest here, Tasuku Kurosaki is just my type. The hero with a painful past, bleached blond hair, and oh so perfect collarbones. Sigh.
Honorable mention for Itazura Na Kiss by Kaoru Tada. Classic shojo. I didn’t really expect to like this as much as I did. (I felt the same way about the Twilight series.) It’s like staring at a car accident, you can’t help but stare with morbid fascination. Is Kotoko really this stupid and obsessive? Yes. The answer is yes. And yet I keep reading.
For Movies: Moonrise Kingdom
I was late watching this too. Actually, I saw it on the airplane, on a flight over to Tokyo in the very beginning of the year. I was already jet lagged, and consequently only remember that I loved this movie. Even on a small screen it was visually striking. Maybe more so.
Honorable Mention: Cloud Atlas
This is a movie I regret. Not the movie. I regret that I didn’t go see it in theaters on the big screen. And I regret that I didn’t read the book first. I still might, but the initial impulse is gone.
I have an unreasonable affection for this show. Wait, maybe I can explain it. It has a number of features I like in a story.
- One. I have a weakness for stories that exist in our world, but have supernatural or magical elements. Red Data Girl is a modern Fantasy. Check.
- Two. The main couple, Izumiko and Miyuki. He is angry and mean to her, but its obvious he’s going to soften up, and she’s going to get stronger. They belong together. They balance each other. That sort of romance gets to me. I’m rooting for them. So, I had to watch to make sure it worked out.
- Three. The second episode takes place in Tokyo. Izumiko and Miyuki visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Building, the 45th floor, north tower. I was just there in January. I’m already feeling nostalgic?
- Four. . . . Doesn’t matter anymore. I’m done counting. It’s not so unreasonable that I love it. I just do. Visually, it’s beautiful. The ending song made me want to dance, sometimes I did.
Honorable mention: Gargantia on a Verdurous Planet
Gen Uurobuchi wrote the screenplay. That’s basically why I watched. It was definitely worth it. I’m looking forward to his next project.
You can have your own encounters here:
Gargantia is on Crunchyroll