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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
The Neddiad 
24th-Aug-2006 10:23 am
First and foremost, I have news of overwhelming importance: Daniel Pinkwater is serializing his latest novel online. It's called The Neddiad, there are five chapters up so far, and it's really good. Daniel Pinkwater is, of course, the author of classics like Lizard Music, Fat Men from Space, and Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars, many of which can be read and enjoyed in these omnibus editions. He is also my mentor and spiritual guide. Reading a new Pinkwater book online is pretty much the greatest thing that can possibly happen in the universe, ever.

The second-greatest thing is that I've added a new installment to the Overlooked Manga Festival!

I'd better start with an Overlooked Manga Update. CMX has redesigned its trade dress, making its books substantially less fugly, and From Eroica with Love has a snazzy new cover design. Also, Volume 6 is the BEST VOLUME YET. In a move of sheer unadulterated genius, Yasuko Aoike exploits the fact that she can only draw one pretty male face and has Eroica disguise himself as an exact duplicate of Major Eberbach to cause all manner of mischief and shenanigans. My head keeps exploding from how brilliant this is.

Okay, to the business of the day. It occurs to me that many of my Overlooked Manga choices thus far have been a bit intimidating in length. I mean, you've got Basara (27 volumes, with 20 available in English so far), Please Save My Earth (21 volumes, 18 out in English), and Eroica (only six volumes in English so far, but in Japan it's 26 and counting). Maybe it's time to suggest something a little breezier. Like, say, a manga that only has one English-language volume in print.

Your and My Secret was published briefly by ADV Manga before going, like many ADV titles, on "permanent hold." I hope another publisher picks it up, because the first volume is pretty damn funny. It's a body-swap story. I freely admit to being a huge sucker for body-swap stories, especially if they also involve mad scientists, as this one does. So. Nanako Momoi is a beautiful teenage girl who also happens to be short-tempered, foul-mouthed, and thoroughly unladylike. Akira Uehara is a handsome teenage boy who happens to be shy and introverted--and to have a huge, ill-advised crush on Nanako. Thanks to an accident in the lab of Nanako's eccentric scientist grandpa, the two teenagers switch bodies.

The twist, of course, is that they're both actually better suited to their new genders. When Nanako is in Akira's body, her bluntness and aggression are seen as positive traits, and pretty soon all the men wanna be her and all the women wanna be with her. And when Akira is in Nanako's body, everyone is charmed by his delicate sensibilities and crying jags. Such a gentleman is Akira that, transported into the body of the girl of his dreams, he still tries his darndest not to scope out the view. Not that he doesn't eventually give in to temptation:

Meanwhile, the infinitely more direct Nanako is taking every conceivable liberty with Akira's body.

As the days wear on and Nanako's grandpa continues to fail to repair the body-swap machine, Nanako and Akira grow increasingly comfortable in their new bodies. Akira's best friend (from when he was a guy) begins aggressively hitting on him (as a girl), while Nanako's best friend (from when she was a girl) becomes her steady girlfriend (now that she's a dude). Only Akira has the grace to periodically TOTALLY FREAK OUT.

The manga uses its wacky premise to explore both fantasies and real issues about gender. Creator Ai Morinaga puts some thought into what it actually means to be male or female, although female readers can expect to be depressed by the picture she paints of what society accepts as ideal "feminine" behavior (i.e., being a lameass). And the protagonists' ongoing explorations of each others' bodies are funny as hell. Not that it's all sunshine and roses:

So that's Your and My Secret. A fun little manga, and couldn't we use more of those?

24th-Aug-2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
LIZARD MUSIC. I cannot tell you how much I loved that book. And it was years before I even partially understood it.
9th-Oct-2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Even if you have an agent, this book will really help you understand how contracts work, how much you can expect to be paid and how “rights” work.
24th-Aug-2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
Daniel Pinkwater... serialized online?

And here I was all thinking that the Internet had finally served its purpose with the conclusion of the Great Outdoor Fight saga. I fear that Mr. Pinkwater is about to prove me wrong.
24th-Aug-2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
After perusal: Oh my crap, Colonel Ken Krenwinkle makes an appearance. So proved.
24th-Aug-2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
wait. Daniel Pinkwater was your mentor?

That is awesome.

[zooms over to check out serial]
24th-Aug-2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
This manga is beautiful, Sheanon. I know that the gender roles in Japan are a lot more rooted in tradition than those in western cultures, so I couldn't help but wonder how this story would be written if it had more western roots. I'm sure the strong female characteristics wouldn't be as taboo in the story as they seem to be in these clips and from your descriptions. The artwork is really nice though.

If you happen to find out if anyone else gets the rights to print it, please let me know...

25th-Aug-2006 01:38 am (UTC)
Not quite the same, but with some similarities;

Misfile by Chris Hazelton.

I have to fess up and say I haven't read past about page 193 yet. I left it for a while, and simply haven't gotten back to it yet, so I don't know what the current storyline is like. The early strips focus a lot on cars and racing, although there's a lot of exploration going on as well.
16th-Jul-2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
So there's a lot of exploration about where British folk met prog in the early 70s, late 60s. So ["The Island"] is definitely heavily influenced by that era.
24th-Aug-2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
That comic seems completely awesome. I love how delicate the art is, even when the character is nosebleeding everywhere.
9th-Oct-2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
Kinsella probably the finest literary chronicler of America's National Pastime is also a master at the delicate art of being sentimental without being saccharine.
24th-Aug-2006 11:12 pm (UTC)
I'm just going to gloat that I knew about the serialization of The Neddiad before you did. Gloat, gloat, gloat. Seriously, I thought you knew!
24th-Aug-2006 11:20 pm (UTC)

I've known about it for a while, but I only just got around to posting about it on LJ. Mr. Pinkwater told me to spread the word, and I am his humble servant.

See, now I'm gloating that I talked to Daniel Pinkwater.
24th-Aug-2006 11:48 pm (UTC)
I wonder if realizes how many geeks and potential mad scientists would be willing to rise up and crown him king if should command.

Or at least take him out for a decent baked potato and root beer.
6th-Sep-2006 02:15 am (UTC)
If one can generalize an author's tastes from his characters' (always risky), I think it should be a beer (not a root beer) and a baked potato. But yeah. :-)

And hooray, The Neddiad!
16th-Jul-2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
  It's good you knew about it before you left.   Just think you could be camping out at DIA. . . .
25th-Aug-2006 01:49 am (UTC)
That's okay, I forgive you. Especially for showing me that Ai Morinaga is much cooler than I thought! Morinaga will forever haunt me as the author of "Duck Prince," a book that features a plethora of characters as limpid-eyed as whoever's in Nanako's body. What makes it worse is that the main character, Reiichi Swan, is originally an outstanding geek of fine pedigree...until a magician trapped in a dog's body decides to make him "good-looking." Bah!
25th-Aug-2006 02:29 am (UTC)

Duck Prince is flippin' insane. Jason Thompson likes it, though. Go figure.
25th-Aug-2006 07:57 am (UTC)
I like "Your and My Secret" better than "Duck Prince," but that might just be because I'm a sucker for gender-bender stories.
25th-Aug-2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
I remember that "Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars" put me off Pinkwater when I was a kid, but I'll give the new one a look. Thanks for letting us know.

If you want to advertise something overlooked and not overly long, I've got two words. Short Program.
23rd-Jul-2009 03:50 pm (UTC) - Print
I don't know if anyone still looks at this (well...I'M here...) but when I went to the Elliot Bay Book Co. in Seattle recently, I swear I saw volumes 2-4 of this li'l gem. So somewhere, this good stuff is floating around, waiting for us! (can't believe I didn't buy 'em! T_T)
30th-Aug-2009 03:32 am (UTC)
woah.. looks like Tokyopop revived this.. I have to check it out now!
20th-Apr-2010 12:31 am (UTC)
This a little description about manga, Your and My Secret

Nanako is the belle of her high school--just as long as she stays quiet. Once she shows her true self, guys' dreams are shattered because she is a tomboy! Meanwhile, Akira has the looks and brains--but his personality is so dull nobody notices him. But one day Nanako's grandfather comes up with crazy, life-altering invention and Nanako and Akira are forced to keep a very big secret: When they switch bodies with each other, will they ever want to go back?!

You can buy Your and My Secret at manga astore



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