Thursday, August 22, 2013


For all you manga and anime fans out there, I have a treat for you:

If you're at all familiar with popular manga and anime, I'm sure you've heard of Bakuman.  It was one of Shounen Weekly Jump's most popular manga series, and for good reason: the story is unique, the characters lovable, and the art detailed and fun.

Most of the manga I've read is centered around a few topics: high school romance, battles, magic, and cat ears.  Yes.  

Look at the super-cliche adorableness!  And the cat ears!
While I very much enjoy a good cliche shoujo manga myself, they're getting to be pretty predictable.  Bakuman came as a breath of fresh air, and it is now without a doubt my favorite manga.  When my friend first recommended Bakuman to me, I was skeptical.  It old him I would read it, but I kept on putting it off—the whole "slice of life" genre didn't really appeal to me.  But when I finally got around to checking it out, I couldn't put it down.  

What's it about, you ask?  Bakuman follows two boys, Mashiro Moritaka and Takagi Akito, as they chase their dream of becoming successful and popular mangakas (manga-writers).  The two learn all about what goes into making a popular manga as they develop their own unique style under the pen name of "Ashirogi Muto".  Behind the scenes, readers get to take a look at what the editorial department at Jump! is like.

Along the way, the Mashiro and Takagi encounter many rival mangakas as well as discover the benefits of supporting and encouraging each other to do their best.  Among these rivals is a manga-obsessed genius, a righteous and outspoken not-genius, and a genius who hates the idea of having to do work (yes, that includes drawing manga).

The main cast.
The story also has a romance aspect to it.  Mashiro's ultimate goal is to marry his long-time crush and girl of his dreams, Azuki Miho, after his manga becomes an anime and she becomes the leading voice actress.  Meanwhile, Takagi struggles with a number of interested girls while maintaining a relationship with his girlfriend, Miyoshi Kaya.

The girl Mashiro loves, Azuki Miho.

For someone like me, a teenager who would love to make a living off of doing something creative, this manga is truly inspiring and fun.  I love the camaraderie between Mashiro, Takagi, and even their rivals, and the story moves at a quick enough pace that it's hard for me to bring myself to stop reading.  

I have to admit that it's hard to summarize without losing a lot of the fun and excitement, but it's definitely worth checking out.  The complete box set comes out on October 1st, and if you preorder it now, it's $143 for all 20 volumes :3 (I'm still trying to convince my mom to let me get it, because it's a total steal).  It is well-worth the read, after all!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Last Book Store in DTLA

This summer, I spent a lot of time in downtown LA because of the three week-long creative writing class I took. After I became friends with my classmates, we hung out and explored downtown.  It was a lot of fun.

One of the discoveries I made with my friends is a book store called The Last Book Store.  The Last Bookstore is a used book store near Pershing Square at 453 S. Spring Street.  It’s not in the absolute safest of areas and definitely has some shady characters hanging around. I would not recommend going there alone at night. In keeping with the shadiness of the area, when you first enter the book store, there is a security guard sitting at a desk in the foyer. I definitely felt safer seeing him there.

Store window.
Once you step past the foyer and into the actual store, your first impression will be a big “wow.” The Last Book Store used to be an old bank that has been closed for decades.  It occupies two floors of the building. It still has the beautiful original art deco ceiling, balconies and mezzanines of the old bank.

The books on the first floor are organized by categories, a lot like those of a regular bookstore.  It’s a good place to look for required reading books for school at extremely low prices: most of the books here are $4-6, and a lot of them are in great condition.  The first floor also has some nice sofas to lounge on while taking a look at some of the books.

Some antiques in stores off the second floor.
The second floor, however, is not as neatly organized, but it’s definitely a treasure.  The shelves are piled high with books of all genres—perhaps not in the nicest conditions—but don’t count them out just because they’re not as nice as the books on the first floor.  The books on the second floor are literally $1 each.  Isn’t that incredible?  It’s almost that the books are organized randomly, because it really forces you to take a look at books of all genres.  The second floor is also home to the Vault of Horror and True Crime, which is literally an old bank vault filled with—you guessed it—horror and true crime books. 
The Vault of Horrors
Next time you’re visiting downtown LA, be sure to check out this great store.  Or, if you’re not in LA but in the area, try taking the metro—maybe you’ll find other hidden treasures.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Whole Day of Wussy Camping-at the El Capitan Canyon

Camping can be fun when you spend your time outdoors without the distraction of the internet, and you get to sleep in a sleeping bag in a tent. For kids, camping means playing in the woods or beach all day, making a camp fire, grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, or roasting marshmallows to make s’mores.

However, if you have parents who are such city folks and who think they are too old to go roughing it, what can you do to enjoy the camping life? Well, in Southern California, there is an experience called “glamping” where you can satisfy everyone. Glamping is “glamour camping”…well at least that’s what my parents call it. I personally call it wussy camping. We decided to go wussy camping in El Capitan Canyon for a day. One WHOLE day in the great outdoors.

They have luxury tents with beds and linen and comfortable mattresses along with their many luxurious cabins, pool, and wifi hot spots. All of the cabins have mini fridges, microwaves, coffee makers, fans, heating, showers, the whole shebang! So what’s different from a hotel, you say? Well they have a fire pit outside so you can get a tiny part of the camping experience. Along with bugs and wild animals (we saw skunks, squirrels, rabbits, and lizards. No bears as of now) of course. The cabins are also spaced out so each family has their own little area which make it seem sort of isolated I guess. (But to add to the glamping part they even have a spa a little walk away and a market and restaurant for those who forget to bring firewood, matches, or any food at all. Then you could just go and get a hamburger and fries.)
Cabin with nice bed for adults, loft for kids, kitchen and bathroom
Wussy as it may be, we had fun starting our own fire, hiking along the trails up the mountain, and stargazing at nighttime. Out here, unlike hotels or your own house, you can get a clear view of the many stars in our big galaxy. I could even see the milky way and a shooting star! It was very fascinating and fun pretending to be adventurous as we sat around the fire pit outside our cabin making s’mores and bacon only a few steps away from wifi and technology. This is a perfect place for everyone in the family.